Battle Report – Aztecs vs Tarascans

I recently finished up the Aztec and Tarascan armies I wanted to use my day off to get them on the table for a battle. The rules are To the Strongest.

The armies arrayed for battle. Tarascans on the left, Aztecs on the right. The black tokens indicate ammunition, so as you can see the Tarascans like to keep things at range while the Aztecs prefer to get up close and nasty. Note that the cloth is bigger than the playing area, the Tarascans are on the back line of the playing space.
The Tarascans get the advantage of scouting and open the battle by throwing forward as many bow armed troops as they can to unleash a missile storm on the Aztec forces. The Aztecs push forward into the onslaught, losing some skirmishers in the process.
The Tarascans backpedal in the face of the Aztec advance, keeping up the pressure with their seemingly endless arrow supply.
Tarascan skirmishers move into the woods, hoping to rain slingshot and arrows into the Aztec Tlatoani and his bodyguard. Failing that, sneaking into the enemy camp is always an option. The Aztec infantry advance on the enemy lines, smelling blood.
The Aztecs surge forward but the missile onslaught fells a unit elite eagle and jaguar warriors. The green commander escapes with his life to join the main bulk of his warriors. The red commander comes under a heavy onslaught after pushing back the enemy. An arrow slices through his arm knocking him to the ground. As he rises a shout comes from the nearby undergrowth as three Tarascans burst forth and charge the commander. He rises with a roar and swings his obsidian sword in a wide arc, cleaving first one, then the other in vicious sweeps but the third assassin is upon him and plunges his knife deep into the commander’s torso and into his heart. As he falls his killer screams in agony as a spear pierces through him. The newly arrived warrior falls to his knees, tears streaming down his face as he cradles the dying commander. “Little brother, I should never have let you convince me to let you wear the mantle this day.” The true commander gently lowers his now dead brother to the ground, removes the mantle of command, affixing it on his shoulders, and raises his spear with a cry towards the enemy. Behind him his warriors join the roar.
The Aztecs increase the pressure on the Tarascan flank.
Now in charging range of the enemy, the Aztecs prepare to unleash their assault.
The Tarascan bowmen retreat, while the infantry move forward to try and hold the mass of enemy warriors bearing down on them.
A unit of Tarascan infantry is caught in the open, overconfident after having felled the fanatical Aztec warrior priests, and finds itself with warriors falling on it from two sides.
The Aztecs churn forward, glad that the endless battery of arrows has abated and enemy after enemy fall to their blades, the ones still alive captured and dragged back to the camp for sacrifice.
The remaining Aztec skirmishers drive the enemy from the woods and the Tlatoani and his bodyguard move into action now the camp is safe. He surges forward like a juggernaut to join the assault on the weakening Tarascan left flank.
The ferocious Otomi mercenaries in the centre of the Tarascan line are given the signal to move forward and bear down on the advancing Aztecs.
The green commander, unphased by the loss of his elite troops, continues to press into the Tarascan lines with his remaining warriors. Despite being pressed on all sides by the enemy, including the Cazonci and his personal guard, the green warriors keep the pressure on the enemy.
The Aztecs push the Tarscan line back, giving it no space to breath and allowing only the occasional pot shot from the much depleted archers.
The battle between the Otomi warriors and the elite Eagle and Jaguar warriors of the Aztecs gets bloody.
The Aztec centre falls back slightly to recover, but the Otomi are bloodied and in poor shape after the battle.
The green warriors take some damage but are inflicting much more than they receive. The centre line rallies and pushes forward again. In the distance, the Tlatoani and warriors on the Aztec right have broken through the Tarascan left and begun to roll up their line. (The light was pretty bad here so the photos of this happening were unusable.)
The green warriors break through the line while the Tlatoani and his elite troops continue to press the exposed flank and the Otomi collapse in disarray as the refreshed Aztecs push their advance. Knowing defeat was upon him, the Tarascan Calzolari sounds the retreat. The Aztecs scream in glee, capturing all they can lay hands on to sacrifice in celebration to Huitzilopochtli. It has been a good day.

As a first run with the armies, the game went pretty well. I forgot/mixed up a few bits in the first turn or two but got things straightened out and the game ran smoothly from there. It played out much as I had hoped. The denser Aztec forces were suffering heavily under the archery of the Tarascans as much of their front line skirmishers and elite troops were wiped out or disordered. However, once they were able to close with the Tarascans the tables turned and the powerful warriors cut a bloody swathe through the enemy. The extended lines of the Tarascans helped, but I think in future games it would be advantageous to try and extend them further still, so the maximum frontage of missile fire can be brought to bear before the fearsome Aztecs manage to move up to close combat range. I also wonder if a deeper play area might have favoured the Tarascans as they’d have more space to fall back, replenish their ammunition and keep up the missile onslaught. I will just have to play again to see how things may go differently.

I was pleased the rules worked out as well as they did. I was concerned that the lack of cavalry may prove a difficulty since the game mechanics are primarily based around “old world” warfare where cavalry was much more abundant, however as an all infantry battle it worked pretty well and didn’t feel too slow or ponderous to play. Will be good to get a few more games in future, but overall I’m pretty happy with things and happy with how the army lists I’d put together played on the table.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

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