Whilst I was painting my Mound Builder American army for HOTT/DBA, I had a look at possible opponents in the DBA 3.0 lists. One of these was Aztecs. Now, as you know, I have an Aztec army for HOTT, so I got the box out and had a look at it in comparison to the DBA list. I was thrilled to discover that, if you ignore the number of figures on some of the elements, I had all of the elements needed for it bar the two psiloi. A quick painting session during the week created those, and suddenly I found myself with two matched pre-Columbian American DBA armies.
Now, at the moment Wollongong is hosting a Queer Arts Festival to celebrate the city's LGBT community. The centrepiece of this is an art exhibition in one of the city's galleries, and I have a couple of pieces on display. One of my obligations as an exhibitor is to spend a morning or afternoon minding the gallery. Since this involves just sitting in an art gallery for several hours, I took along my two new DBA armies, and decided to give them their first outing.
So here's the game in it's somewhat unusual setting. Unfortunately the desk where the gallery sitters sits is in a fairly dark corner, and I'm afraid my photos of the game suffered accordingly.
Here's the armies set up and ready to go, with the Mound Builders on the left and the Aztecs on the right. The Aztecs have the option of running the bulk of their infantry as either auxilia or hordes, on an element by element basis even. But where's the fun in auxilia? I went hordes all the way. Fast hordes. And the Mound Builders have them too. In fact, nine of the twenty-four elements on the table were hordes.
Anyway, against the odds the Aztecs were defending against a Mound Builder incursion, although their terrain type is the same. I used a random terrain selection table from the Fanaticus page, and the battlefield ended up with a waterway along one edge, two ploughed fields in the middle (which ended up as good going), and a scrubby hill in one corner. Basically a billiard-table.
The Aztecs massed their hordes in the front line, with the better warriors in a supporting line. All of their elements are reasonable fast; I reasoned that a bold, headlong attack was the way to go, using the hordes to soak up the archery, and the reserve line to pug or exploit any gaps. The psiloi were on the right flank, tasked with taking the hill and using it to attack the Mound Builder flank.
The Mound Builders had their strongest warriors in the centre, flanked by hordes of archers. On their left the psiloi held the hill, whilst the stinkard hordes were on the right.
The stinkards moved forward to meet the oncoming Aztecs, which allowed the Mound Builders to properly expand their archer line. The Aztecs shifted some warriors across to that flank, and a horde vs horde battle ensued. In DBA hordes don't recoil in close combat, so basically the two lots of elements became locked into combat for turn after turn after turn ...
Archery cut down one horde element on the approach, but two other headed straight for the Mound Builder centre. They had no chance of a win, but would certainly act to disrupt the line.
Battle is joined.
Whilst more hordes were destroyed, the Great Sun was actually pushed back, forcing the Mound Builders to reorganise their line as the main Aztec force came up. At the bottom of the picture the archers on the Mound Builder right were swinging around to menace the Aztec left.
Massed hordes continued to fight on the waterway flank. The Aztecs committed the Eagle Knights in support, hoping they'd kill the upstart stinkards more quickly. They didn't.
The main Aztec force now hit the Mound Builder line, whilst their general watched from the back.
The Aztec general came under bow fire as the Mound Builders turned the Aztec left.
Gaps began to appear in both lines as Mound Builder archers began to fall under the Aztec onslaught. In fact the Mound Builders' left was under some pressure as they were losing the psiloi battle on the hill.
Jaguar warriors attacked the Great Sun, but were driven back.
The Great Sun fell back, and his nobles charged into combat in his stead, supported by some archers. The Jaguars were slaughtered.
The nobles now charged the Aztec general himself, whilst the archers tried to move into position to provide flank support on both sides.
On the waterway flank, the hordes still fought. One Aztec element had been lost, allowing the stinkards to gang up on the Eagle Knights. But that combat just became a stalemate as well.
The end came on the Mound Builder left, as veteran Aztec warriors cut down more archers, supported by the surviving skirmishers who had finally won the battle for the hill.
The losses. Hordes don't count as lost elements, so the slaughter was massive. The Aztecs had lost five of their six hordes, but the only significant casualties were the Jaguar Knights and some skirmishers. The Mound Builder only lost a single horde, but lost two archers and both of their psiloi.
A final view of the battlefield. On their right and in the centre, the Mound Builders actually had the upper hand, but their efforts had been spent in killing worthless hordes of warriors. The real fight had been on their left, where the Aztecs had dominated, and destroyed troops that counted.
This battle was enormous fun, with most of the infantry being fast-moving, lots of shooting, and hordes charging and falling everywhere. It seemed to be a good matchup too, with the Aztec hordes and their heavier infantry working to offset the Mound Builder superiority in missile troops. The Mound Builder are not really an attacking army, since their general is not able to contact enemy troops, but their archers allow them to stand and receive an attack. The Aztecs seem to be all about attack, and can do it well.