Introduction to New World DBA

For many years I’ve been keen to wargame within the New World. Aztecs and Conquistadores took my fancy, as did Tupi and Portuguese Bandeira when I discovered them later on. But there are a few problems with this:

Human Sacrifice
Codex Magliabechiano

  • There are lots of interesting armies and I want them all!
  • Large scale games (e.g. DBM, DBR, Armati, Conquerers & Kings, etc) require too many figures to make my grandiose schemes possible.
  • I don’t know any small scale games which fit the genre well.

DBA and the condensed (100 AP) versions of DBR and DBM seem to offer the most potential. All of these requires a fraction of the figures of the full scale DBx games and they all have army lists to cover the Aztecs and their enemies. Unfortunately none are quite perfect for me:

  • DBA’s fixed 12 element army size is silly for battles between Conquistadors and Indians. The condensed (100 AP) versions of DBR and DBM can offer something here as they include mechanisms for constructing armies which aren’t restricted to 12 elements; you can get large Aztec armies facing small Conquistator armies. Of the two condensed rule systems DBR is probably more suited as it drops DBMs rather artificial distinction between Regular and Irregular; a distinction that does not appear relevant to Mesoamerica.
  • Due to a a quirk of the DBx troop classifications and the associated basing recommendations Aztec armies have many more figures than their Mesoamerican neighbours. Seems a little odd to me, and despite my desire to keep the number of figures down, I’d like all the indigenous armies to look similar in bulk and hence equally “massed” when facing Conquistadores.
  • What about guns? DBA is an ancients game and doesn’t have guns. DBR does have guns but I don’t like the distinctions DBR draws with other missile weapons (e.g. bows) or even within the Shot class itself: Musket (Sh [S, O]) versus Arquebus (Sh [I]) versus either of these used by a nation using shock tactics (Sh [F]). DBM’s Art [X] seems just as strange. Me, well, I’m happy to lump bows, crossbows and guns together – which is exactly what HOTT has done with their Shooter class.
  • I don’t like some of the troop allocations in the Mesoamerican army lists. I’ve never liked Warband as a troop type as I’ve typically seen it cut through Blade opponents. And guess what, in DBA Aztecs Clan Warriors are Warband and Conquistadores are Blade! This requires a rethink. The Horde classification offers some possibility but more on that later.
  • Similarly, I read a review of the DBM Aztec army somewhere and it said that the elite troops (Eagle & Jaguar knights) being classified as Bd [I] were easily cut to ribbons and it was the Superior Horde (Hd [S]) of the Clan Warriors that would win the battles. Clearly the internal differential must be maintained as well; elite troops should be better but still worse than the Europeans. .
  • DBA doesn’t support different grades of the same troop type, e.g. the S, O, I, F of DBM and DBR. Although this isn’t necessary for all troop types it can help with the problematic ones (more later).

All, in all, DBA with some modifications to address the above will do it. Many years ago I found an article (Duckworth, 1992) about adapting DBA to Aztec warfare. It’s ideas were sound, but are a bit dated now with the various rules having moved on, none-the-less I’ve used some of the ideas presented in that article.


Duckworth, P (Nov 92). The Death of Quetzalcoatl – Fall of the Feathered Serpent The Conquest of the Aztecs. Wargames Illustrated 62, 12-13.

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