Mapuche 1461 AD - 1552 AD

Araucanians: Cold. Ag 0. WW, Rv, H(S), H(G), Wd, M, RGo, H(S) or Wd.
Other Mapuche: Warm. Ag 0. WW, Rv, H(S), H(G), Wd, RGo.
Nominal list scale: 1 element equals 250 men (normal scale)

C-in-C - as warriors, Irr Ax (O) @ 13 AP or as archers, Irr Bw (O) @ 14 AP 1
Sub-general - as above 0-1 per 20 warriors
Warriors - Irr Ax (O) @ 3 AP 12-72
Archers - Irr Bw (O) @ 4 AP 2 per 2 to 3 warriors
Skirmishing slingers - Irr Ps (O) @ 2 AP 0-12

Only Araucanians:
Regrade warriors as Irr Ax (X) @ 13 AP if a general, @ 3 AP otherwise All
Replace all skirmishing slingers with skirmishing bowmen - Irr Ps (O) @ 2 AP 0-6
Dugouts - Irr Bts (I) @ 1 AP [Ps, Bw, Ax] 0-2

Special rules:

Ps (O) can support Ax (X).
This list covers Mapuche armies from the Inca invasion until captured equipment and changing methods of warfare were used against the Spanish. In the south, bowmen equipped with long two handed clubs for close combat formed up in distinct units between blocks of spearmen wielding 5 metre long pikes, formations that were to later evolve into Spanish-style tercios. In the north, arms were more similar to the those of the Inca, with most warriors combining short spear and club, while the sling was also favoured. While the northern Mapuche were quickly overrun by the Spanish, the Araucanians of the south were never successfully conquered. Armies of up to 40000 men are reported in Spanish accounts, and the population is estimated to have been some one million when the Spanish arrived.


This list is entirely based on George Smithson's excellent article in Slingshot 222 (May 2002), pages 8-18, subsequent discussions with him, and further subsequent discussions on the TNE discussion group. Although George presented a DBM army list in his article, I didn't think his list was particularly accurate - in particular being overly permissive in troop categorisation. Accordingly, I will only discuss changes from George's recommendations - readers can do no better than read his article for themselves.

List dates: George dates the Inca invasion to 1461 but then starts his army list off in 1460 for some reason, so I have changed the starting date to 1461. After 1552, the Araucanians not only started making use of captured Spanish armour, guns and horses, but were changing their tactics as well, using fortifications for instance, and employing their pike and 'shot' in imitation tercio formations.

Terrain: I have made a wooded feature compulsory in the south as George recommended in the body of his article but omitted from his list. I see no reason why southern armies should be limited to either woods or marshes as he had it, and hence they are not an either/or choice. Woods are often found near marshes - a swamp after all is marsh with lots of trees as opposed to shorter vegetative cover, and from what I know of Chile, Chile is no exception in this regard.

List scale: The original draft incarnation of this list had an elemnt scale of 1:128, wherein the minima come to 182 AP and the maxima come to something like 1000 on the assumption that a smallish army (ie. a single large tribe [ayllarehue]) is typical, and that it was better to exceed the usual 600 AP barrier while keeping to a smaller scale. But I have changed my mind on this issue; Kevin Donovan made some comments at the time that it seemed odd. The above list at normal scale of 1:250 gives an AP minimum of 81 AP (with 1 general, but 142 AP with the current rule-mandated 2 generals) and a maximum of 572 AP. This seems far better in that the smaller than average minimum does not actually allow any more choice at large APs than if the minimum were 200 or so AP, since the troop types in the army are very limited and must be bought in a rather strict proportion, so it is all just 'more of the same'. The list maxima total to 40000 men, the largest recorded force; the minimum with one general works out as 5250 men - a somewhat larger than average (but not greatly so) ayllarehue. Some 9000 men are needed to get the first sub-general however, which is more than any recorded single ayllarehue could field.

Generals: I had thought of making the sub-generals allies, but discussions with George and others on the DBM-list have convinced me against this despite the C-in-C's position being elective (the C-in-C was called a Toqui). These extra generals represent Lonko, ayllarehue chiefs. Despite having political independence, they seem to have had no military independence on the field - the Toqui was not usually a Lonko himself it seems, and all Lonko were bound by his commands. Four generals are allowed because one large battle has the Araucanians attacking a Spanish force from four different directions. I have tied the number of generals to the number of men participating in the army to emphasise that the sub-generals could only be present if their forces were, representing a substantial army formed from a coalition of ayllarehue, smaller ones being assumed to be grouped under the mantle of the Lonkos of the larger ones.

Warriors: George grades these as Wb (F) in the north while at the same time noting their similarity in equipment to the Inca (Ax (O)) and Chimu (Wb (F)). Since he then notes that they were considered dangerous to Spanish foot only when present in large numbers, Ax seems much more appropriate than Wb - Ax (O) require rear rank support to have any chance of even standing against heavy infantry, and two overlaps in addition to have a decent chance of defeating them, while Wb (F) are quite dangerous even in small numbers. They were ridden down easily by Spanish lancers - and Ax (O) are at least as vulnerable as Wb (F) against Kn. George also allows any proportion to be graded as Ps (S). I have two grave problems with this - firstly there is no evidence that any of the club and spear-armed warriors could skirmish effectively, let alone all of them, and even if they could, since they seemingly did not use shields, they should be more properly be graded as Ps (I). Since I grade the warriors as Ax, any javelin/spear throwing is more easily subsumed within each element of Ax.

In the south, George allows the option of Pk(I) in addition to Ax (X), but I believe this is unwarrented. Pk (I) are essentially invulnerable to lancers while Ax (X) are not, and the subsequent evolution of Araucanian pikemen shows that their initial fighting style had weaknesses against lancers as they had not yet adopted the practice of grounding their pikes when receiving a charge. Allowing a mixture of Pk and Ax is especially unwarrented, since these really are two different troop types, and the Araucanians clearly only had one. I believe all the warriors should be graded as Ax (X) rather than only the 'spearmen', since the southerners are only recorded using slings and javelins from fortifications adopted after the period covered by this lists. George's wording would allow a southern army with no spearmen whatsoever.

Archers: I think George allowed a far too permissive range of numbers of these compared to the close-combat specialists; I have tied the number much closer to the one to one ratio noted by contemporary Spanish observers (some variation downwards is there too cover the 'skirmishing' archers). George's troop type classifications also leave a lot to be desired. The rules have an explicit category for bowmen with the aptitude and equipment to fight in close combat - Bw (O); there is no reason to make them half Bd (X) and half Bw (I) or Ps (O) to get the right effects - especially since in my opinion they would produce exactly the wrong effects! Bd (X) are the premier foot troop type in DBM, and no list gets more than 18 (other than the DBEd Early Swiss); furthermore no list gets more than 4 of them with Ps support; George would allow 40 of these monsters to appear, and Ps-supported to boot. In reality, Araucanian archers needed protecting from Spanish lancers by their accompanying pikemen; if they were Bd (X) supported by Ps, they would be hunting lancers down on the tabletop rather than needing protection. Allowing any of them then to be Ps (O) is also over generous. George notes that some could skirmish ahead of the battle line and then fall back to use their clubs; I believe these are best modelled as allowing a proportion of them to be Ps who can support the spearmen (and also skirmish ahead if need be). As their numbers do not seem to have been that great, I have limited the number of elements allowed accordingly.

Slingers: I have graded those in the north using slings as Ps (O). George subsumes them amongst the warriors; I prefer to keep some separate, perhaps by analogy with those archers in the south noted as skirmishing ahead. However, I do not make them compulsory to cater for those that believe they are best represented as being part of the warrior elements. I have denied them the ability to support their warriors given their reported weakness against Spanish horsemen.

Dugouts: Canoes are classified as Bts (I) and not (O), as George had them, unless of unusual size, which these were not.

This page last modified 17 August 2003.

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