Mexican Army Lists for New World DBA

These are Army Lists for my revised New World DBA.

Check out the section on the Military History of Mexico including Figures to Use, Painting guides (Spanish, Aztecs, Shields, Aztec Enemies), Rulers, Glossary, and New Mexico.


I’ve updated the Mayan army list to reflect the FOG army lists rather than the original DBA list. This is mainly because in the DBA list the entire army are basically Auxilia, whether Noble or Common, which is a little dull.

Maya 600 BC -1697 (DBM III/22; DBR I/34)

Ag: 0.
Tropical Terrain. 1-2 Compulsory: Woods. 2-3 Optional: River, Marsh, Rough, BUA, and/or Road.

Camp/Stronghold: Step Pyramid

Pre-classical (c.1800 BC to c.200 AD)

Pre-classical armies were small and noble. Few commoners served. Few large battles fought. The typical Maya warrior carried a short thrusting spear, a club and a light rectangular shield that could be rolled up like a window blind. The clubs could be quite large.

Number Description Troop Type Cost Example 75 AP Army Example 90 AP Army
Number Cost Number Cost
9-32 Nobles and Military Societies (Gen) BdS 5 15 75 16 80
0-6 Commoners Bd0 3 3 9
15 74 19 89

Classical Period (c.200 AD – 900 AD)

The Classical period saw large scale urbanisation including large stepped pyramids and palaces. Tikal used troops from Teotihuacan (350 to 500 AD). More commoners began to serve in the armies as skirmishers, including some using the Central Mexican spear thrower. The southern Mayan centres collapsed at the end of the Classical period, most likely due to drought.

Number Description Troop Type Cost Example 75 AP Army Example 90 AP Army
Number Cost Number Cost
7-20 Nobles and Military Societies (Gen) BdS 5 11 55 12 60
0-6 Commoners Bd0 3 3 9
0-18 Skirmishers (Sling, Spear Thrower)  Sk 2 10 20 10 20
0-6 Teotihuacan Troops in Tikal Armies (350-500 AD) BdS 5
21 75 25 89

Post-Classical Period (from 900 AD)

northern Mayan centres continued to flourish after the southern centres
disappeared. Chichen Itza used Toltec troops from 900 to 1100 AD. The
nobles began to use the Central Mexican spear thrower but this doesn’t
change their status as close combat troops. The commoners began
to use bows either as skirmishers or massed. Around 1300 AD the Maya began
to use the obsidian edge sword from Central Mexico.

The initial Spanish incursion was
defeated (1528-1535) but a second Spanish invasion (1542) succeeded and then managed to
suppress a Mayan rebellion (1546).

Number Description Troop Type Cost Example 75 AP Army Example 90 AP Army
Number Cost Number Cost
3-9 Nobles and Military Societies (Gen) BdS 5 4 20 5 25
11-31 Commoner Archers Sh0 3 14 42 16 48
0-15 Skirmishers (Bow, Sling, Spear Thrower)  Sk 2 6 12 8 16
0-4 Toltec Troops in Chichen Itza Armies (900-1100 AD) BdS 5
0-4 Holcan (“Braves”) Professional Troops (from 1300 AD) BdS 5
24 75 29 89

Chichimec 800 – 1521 (DBM III/41; DBR I/32)

Ag: 3.
Dry Terrain. 1-2 Compulsory: Rough. 2-3 Optional: Gentle Hills, Steep Hills, Woods, and/or BUA

Camp/Stronghold: Adobe village on a cliff face, group of simple huts or tents, or a cave

Number Description Troop Type Cost Example 75 AP Army Example  90 AP Army
Number Cost Number Cost
0-3 Warrior Societies BdS 5 3 15 3 15
18-62 Tribesmen (Gen) Either massed ShO 3 16 48 19 57
or skirmishing Sk 2 6 12 9 18
0-4 Skirmishers Sk 2
25 75 31 90

The Aztecs called all nomad invaders Chichimec (however the term actually covered a variety of peoples including the Aztecs themselves (Davis, 1973; DBR). The term Chichimec is commonly rendered as ‘Dog Peoples’ but more likely suggesting ‘New People’. This list covers all waves of migrants and those who remained nomads in the north of Mexico; it does not cover these peoples once settled (see Toltecs, Aztecs and Settled Chichimecs).

The various Chichimec nations had different cultural levels and backgrounds, ranging from completely nomadic through to semi-civilised. The semi-civilised peoples are most likely to have been settled groups on the fringe of the Mexican civilisation who began migrating south into Mexico when their home was struck by a natural disaster, and either acquiring desert survival skills on the journey or mixed with true nomads who already had these skills.

All Chichimec peoples are assumed to have been organised as the Pueblo Culture Indians, with some of whom they shared a linguistic affinity (DBR). Their Warrior Societies were prototypes for the Eagle and Jaguar knights of the nations they encountered in Mexico. Most Chichimec are assumed to use bows as they gave rise to nations favouring this weapon, however some, the Toltec-Chichimecs and Toltecized peoples (Tepanecs, Acolhua, Mexica), used slings (for skirmisher) and atlatl dart-thrower (for tribesmen). As it happens the type of weapon does not affect the classification of the troops.

An army must be one of the named waves or general Chichimec representing an unknown nomad people.

Period Wave Description
800-930 Toltec
The Toltec-Chichimec were the first nomad wave and conquered central Mexico to set up a major empire circa 930. Their language (Nahuatl), weapons (altatl dart-thrower and sling) and culture were adopted by the more civilised of the subsequent waves.
950 – 1100 Tepanec A Toltecized people, who didn’t speak Nahuatl, and had Otomi connections (they probably spoke Otomi and certainly worshipped the Otomi god Otontecuhtli). They probably came from the Matlatzinca region, in the Valley of Toluca. They settled to the west of the lagoon, taking over the existing settlement of Azcapotzalco (“Place of the Ant-heaps”) as their principle city. Other Tepanec centres were Churubusco (formerly Huitzilopochoco), Tlacopanya, and Coyoacan. The settled Tepanecs were in the process of building an Empire when they themselves were overthrown by the Aztecs.
1100 – 1200 and 1246 – 1328 Chichimec One of the invading waves adopted the name Chichimec for their nation. This group, under their warlord Xólotl (‘Monster’), defeated the Toltecs (Tollan fell in 1156 or 1168). They founded Tenayuca as their capital and like other nomad immigrants began mixing with the Toltec remnants. In 1246 a coalition of cities overthrew the Totec-Chichimec empire. The refugees ended up occupying Tlaxcala (1328), Huexatzinco, Totomihuacan and Cuauhtichan (see the eastern Settled Chichimec).
1168 and 1260 Acolhua A Toltecized people although they probably spoke Otomi not Nahuatl. They entered the Valley of Mexico between A.D. 1168 and 1260, coming from Michoacan under the leadership of their chief Huetzin. They were under the authority of the Chichimec chieftain Xólotl who directed them to settle along the eastern shores of the lagoon in the region of Texcoco – an area already with a mixed Toltec-Chichimec population. Their main centre was originally Coatlichan although other important settlements were Acolman and Huexotla. The settled Acolhua eventually evicted some of the Chichimec who then went on to become the eastern Settled Chichimec nations.
1111-1345 Mexica The last wave were the Mexica who became the senior partners of the Aztec Triple Alliance. They combined elements of Toltec culture (multiple simultaneous rulers, knowledge of Mexican ritual calendar, speaking Nahuatl, using the altatl dart-thrower and sling, building, and practicing agriculture) and nomad culture (use of the bow, at least before arriving in the Valley of Mexico, and hunting), so were probably themselves a mix of peoples, both settled and true nomads. Despite being Toltecized on their arrival in the Valley of Mexico they were considered savage and uncivilised by their contemporaries. They were also known as Tenochca, a name derived from a legendary patriarch called Tenoch.

Toltec 930 – 1168 (DBM III/58)

Ag: 2.
Dry Terrain. 1-2 Compulsory: Rough. 2-3 Optional: Gentle Hills, Steep Hills, Woods, and/or BUA

Camp/Stronghold: Step Pyramid

Number Description Troop Type Cost Example 75 AP Army Example 90 AP Army
Number Cost Number Cost
0-3 Eagle, Jaguar, and Coyote Knights BdS 5 2 10 2 10
15-52 Warriors (Gen) BdO 3 19 57 24 72
0-5 Peasant Slinger Sk 2 4 8 4 8
25 75 30 90

Although the Toltec started as an early wave of Chichimec migrants they went on to create a large settled empire in central Mexico (Davis, 1973). Mixcoatl (“Cloud Serpent”) founded the first city, Culhuacan, in 930. His son Quetzalcoatl (“Plumed Serpent”) founded Tollan (now called Tula) in 968, and it was this city which became the capital of the emerging empire. A rival, Tezcatlipoca, forced Quetzalcoatl out of Tollan, and although legend has it that he sailed east across the Atlantic, it is more likely that he invaded Yucatan in 987 as the Toltec invader of that time was also called “Plumed Serpent” (Kukulcan in Mayan). Internal dissention led to the destruction of Tollan in 1156 or 1168 and the empire subsequently fell to a new wave of Chichimec although the invaders then mixed with the Toltec remnant to form new Settled Chichimec societies. Toltecs warriors were equipped with pillbox hats, maquahuitl, atlatl dart-throwers, and small shields. Their classification as Blade, not Shooters, is based on the assumption that their emphasis, like that of the later Aztecs, was the maquahuitl not the atlatl.

Purempecha or Settled Chichimec 1168-1521 (DBM IV/19; DBR I/30)

Ag: 1.
Hilly Terrain. 1-2 Compulsory: Steep Hills. 2-3 Optional: River, Woods, BUA, and/or Road
Camp/Stronghold: Step Pyramid

Number Description Troop Type Cost Example 75 AP Army Example 90 AP Army
Number Cost Number Cost
2-7 Suit Wearers (Gen) including Coyote, Eagle and Jaguar Knights BdS 5 3 15 4 20
0-10 Archers mixed with Shield Bearers ShS 5 4 20 5 25
11-24 Archers ShO 3 12 36 12 36
0-3 Skirmishers and Scouts Sk 2 2 4 2 4
0-3 Otomi mercenaries BdS 5 1 5
21 75 24 90

This list covers those peoples of central Mexico the emphasized the bow over other weapons. Their battlefield tactics involved massed archers backed up with shock troops such as Eagle and Jaguar knights.

The Purempecha lived in Michoacan (‘Land of Fish’) to the west of the Aztec Triple Alliance and were known to the Spanish by the Nahautl word Tarascan (‘distant relatives’) (DBR). They are of unknown origin but possibly spoke a language related to Quechua of Peru. Their metallurgy was more advanced than other Mesoamerican peoples and hence their weapons were often edged with copper rather than obsidian. They fought the Aztecs to a bloody stand off.

‘Settled Chichimec’ covers both the Chichimec Empire in the Valley of Mexico (1168-1280) and the later Toltec-Chichimec cities to the east of the Triple Alliance (1328-1521). The Chichimec Empire was formed from a fusion of remnants of the Toltec empire and nomadic Chichimec new comers. The new comers, under their warlord Xólotl (‘Monster’), defeated the Toltecs (Tollan fell in 1156 or 1168) and founded Tenayuca as their capital. Like other nomad immigrants they began mixing with the Toltec remnants. Their empire peaked around 1200-1250.

At some point after 1246 the Acolhua drove out the Chichimec on the eastern side of the lagoon. After a period of wandering the refugees relocated to Culhuacan, Huexotzingo, Cholula and Texcala (1328). As time progressed these cities found themselves isolated within an expanding Aztec empire. Culhuacan was the oldest and most cultured, being a Toltec city before the arrival of the Chichimec, but it was also the first to fall to the Aztecs. Huexotzingo, Cholula and Texcala fought against each other but more often together against the Aztecs. Texcala survived long enough to aid the Spanish in defeating their old Mexica enemies. Unfortunately the Spanish mistook the name Texcala (“the crags”) for Tlaxcala (“tortilla”).

(The term Toltec-Chichimec is sometimes used to describe what I’ve called the Settled Chichimec. However, this term equally applies to those peoples who formed the Aztec Triple Alliance – the main difference militarily is that the Aztecs favoured shock tactics over the bow. The term Toltec-Chichimec also applies to the specific tribe of Chichimec who formed the Toltec empire. I’ve avoided the term to circumvent this ambiguity.)

Mixtec and/or Zapotec 1280-1521 (DBM IV/53; DBR I/31)

Ag: 1.
Hilly Terrain. 1-2 Compulsory: Steep Hills. 2-3 Optional: River, Woods, BUA, and/or Road
Camp/Stronghold: Step Pyramid

Number Description Troop Type Cost Example Army
Number Cost
12-42 Warriors with atlatl dart-thrower (Gen) ShO 3 19 57
5-12 Skirmishers with Sling Sk 2 6 12
Only if General is Mixtec Priest
0-7 Upgrade Mixtec Warriors to temple soldiers (Gen) ShS 5 4 20
29 89

The term Mixtec is actually a Nahua-Aztec word (John Pohl’s MesoAmerica). The Mixtecs called themselves Ñuudzahui or “People of the Rain” in their own language. The primary weapon of the Mixtec and Zapotec warriors was the atlatl dart-thrower, which they used to maintain a distant combat, rather than to precede a charge like the Aztecs (Pohl, 1991). Their usual side arm was a short copper axe or a stone-headed or obsidian-studded mace.

Aztec 1260-1521 (DBM IV/63; DBR I/29)

Ag: 3.
Arable Terrain. 1-2 Compulsory: BUA or Road. 2-3 Optional: Rivers, Steep Hills, Gentle Hills,
Woods, Road, and/or Waterway.
Camp/Stronghold: Step Pyramid

Number Description Troop Type Cost Example 75 AP Army Example 90 AP Army
Number Cost Number Cost
4-16 Military Orders with supporting noble apprentices 0-2 Cuachicqueh ‘Shorn Ones’ BdS 5 8 40 9 45
0-2 Otontin
1-3 Eagles
1-3 Jaguars
2-16 mixed Veterans (Gen) and Warrior Priests
8-25 Macehualtin Clan Warriors BdO 3 10 30 12 36
2-6 Skirmishers with Sling Sk 2 2 4 3 6
0-2 Mercenary Archers Up to half with shield bearers ShS 5
Remainder ShO 3 1 3
20 74 25 90

The term ‘Aztec’ is problematic as when the Spanish arrived the people concerned did not seem to use the term (Davis, 1973). Although the terms Azteca or Aztlaneca – derived from Aztlan, their legendary place of origin – did exist, they had passed out of use and the peoples actually used other names for themselves. In modern parlance the term Aztec most closely applies to the people of the Triple Alliance, i.e. the Mexica (pronounced ‘Mesheeka’) of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco, Acolhua of Texcoco, and the Tepanecs of Tlacopan (now Tacuba). All three peoples started as Chichimec nomad migrants but when combined founded an empire that rivalled that of the earlier Toltecs for size, power, and grandeur. The Mexica were always the senior partner and formed the backbone of the Empire and army.

The Army List starts with approximate dates the Tepanec (1000), Acolhua (1260), and Mexica (1345) settled in the Valley of Mexico and began integrating with the local population; the earlier dates are uncertain but both peoples were already firmly established in 1345 when the Mexica founded their capital of Tenochtitlan on an island in Lake Texcoco (Davis, 1973). Although Cuachic and Otontin would be present at any Aztec battle they might not be present in sufficient numbers to warrant having a complete element. Warrior Priests are unlikely to have formed separate units. Although the Aztecs used the atlatl dark-thrower they used it merely to precede a charge not for a prolonged exchange of missiles.

The military orders were formed from warriors who had captured a certain number of enemy. None of the orders are distinguished in capability in the game. The Cuachicqueh and Otontin may not have had supporting noble youths, but the other types of military order are best represented by a rank of suit wearers and a rank of lesser equipped youths eager to learn from their more experienced companions.

Following Jim Esler, Otomi tribesmen are merged into the Clan Warriors:

It appears that the [DBM] list confuses the Otomí, one of the ethnic groups who were settled in Central Mexico before the arrival of the Mexica, the dominant ethnic group of the Aztecs, with the otontin warrior society. Although the Otomí did provide troops for the Aztecs, I cannot find anything that suggests they performed any differently than any other ethnic group within an Aztec army. At the battle of Otumba (also Otompan), fought on July 7, 1520, a substantial proportion of the Aztec army consisted of Otomí from the surrounding area. (from Meet the Aztecs)

Spanish Conquistador in Mexico 1518-1524 (DBM IV/19; DBR I/30)

Ag: 4.
Arable Terrain. 1-2 Compulsory: BUA or Road. 2-3 Optional: Rivers, Steep Hills, Gentle Hills,
Woods, Road, and/or Waterway.
Camp/Stronghold: Captured Indian Palace or Stockade

Number Description Troop Type Cost Example 75 AP Army Example 90 AP Army
Number Cost Number Cost
1 Lancer (Gen) Ln 15 1 15 1 15
0-1 War dogs Dog 3 1 3
3-7 Sword and Buckler men BdE 7 4 28 4 28
1-7 Crossbowmen and Arquebusiers ShE 7 2 14 2 14
0-1 Field and/or Light guns Art 15 1 15 1 15
0 or 4-15 Indian Auxiliaries Warriors BdO 3 6 18
Shooters ShO 3
9 75 14 90

Cortez and his lot. Half-pikes, although initially carried by some men, were soon abandoned for sword and buckler.

Spanish Ln, Dog and BdE are Impetuous: Under the same conditions as can Warbands they can move a
second or subsequent tactical move during the same bound (p. 9), and must pursue their own base
depth when a close combat opponent does a recoil, break-off, flee or is destroyed (p. 11).

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