The Nahua: aka the Aztecs
The Aztecs were an alliance of three major city-states - Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. Since Aztecs aren’t necessarily the focus here, I decided on calling them the Nahua. Aztec tends to refer specifically to the Mexica people who settled Tenochtitlan, but I’d like to broaden the focus and give Texcoco and Tlacopan some flavor as well. Hence, the Nahua!
The Nahua cannot build cavalry. As interesting as it would be to give them access to the Horse mechanic introduced in my Seven Fires mechanic, the only reason that works so well there is because the Seven Fires needed a replacement for both Stone and Gold, while the Nahua do not. Hence, the Nahua just cannot build cavalry units.
This does not mean their military is lackluster in these regards, however.
Chinampas - unlocked with the first Town Center
Tenochtitlan grants the Nahua the ability to build in water, utilizing both fishing boats and regular villagers. However, they must build buildings directly connected to each other - IE each building must be built directly next to another one or connected to the shore.
Farms built over water generate bonus food and gold equal to the amount of bonus food generated.
Town Centers built over water have a higher LoS and more attack. Same with towers.
Walls cannot be built over water, but buildings over water automatically have more health and resistance to fire attacks.
Units may walk over water as long as they are on buildings the Aztecs have built. This includes allies. Boats may freely move between buildings built over water.
If any building is built over water, their bonus aura is carried over to all buildings directly connected to that one building. This is to allow the Aztecs to access their water-based bonuses on maps that lack large amounts of water. Additionally, villagers may slowly build artificial ponds to generate the bonus from. This is to allow the Nahua to function on maps with no water.
Floating Gardens: Nahua farms are larger than normal, covering 2 squares instead of one and allowing for 3 villagers to gather, allowing for a net increase in villagers needed for the area to gather food.
Tlaloc - unlocked with the second Town Center
- Texcoco grants the Nahua the ability to construct canals through their cities, allowing water to flow freely wherever the Nahua may decide the water should go. Canals boost farm production independently of the Chinampa bonus, and may be stacked alongside it, again generating bonus food and an amount of gold equal to that of the bonus food. Aztec units move faster through canals and heavily slow the movement of enemies.
Betrayal - unlocked with the third Town Center (Sorry this one doesn’t have a cool Nahua name. I couldn’t find a relevant word.)
- Tlacopan unlocks the ability of the Nahua Priests to convert enemies without holding a relic. This ability has a long cooldown, but is done quickly. As this requires three Town Centers to be built, it’s unlikely to be used that much aside from later-game stages and mostly as a defensive tool. It is the smallest bonus because Tlacopan was the smallest city, who made themselves a part of the Triple Alliance because they betrayed their king to side with Tenochtitlan and Texcoco.
- Enemies within a Nahua canal are converted instantly.
Some More Specific Differences
Honestly, not a whole lot of other differences. The largest differences with the Nahua lies in the Chinampas and the Canals, but their economy otherwise functions largely the same. Their military has its own section discussing it.
- Spearman - Yes. Tepoztopilli were super useful spears, and the Nahua Spearman should have a slightly lower bonus against cavalry than other civ’s spearman, but have a higher attack and better upgrades. Tlamani.
- MAA - Replace with a UU, the Cuextecatl. Give it a macuahuitl.
- Archer. Tlahuitolli archer, with a range that exceeds the English Longbow, but a slower rate of fire. Higher attack, less health. Capable of dealing fire damage to buildings at maximum range, but are no use against stone structures. Papalotl.
- Crossbows. Replace with a UU, the Eagle Knight. Eagle Knights are not necessarily good against heavily armored targets like crossbows are, but their higher rate of fire and much higher attack will make them an effective unit nonetheless. Teocalli unit.
- Horseman. Replace with a UU, the Jaguar Knight. Faster moving infantry, but not a pseudo-cavalry unit. Still slow compared to a cavalry unit, just fast for an infantry unit. Teocalli unit.
- Knight. Replace with a UU, the Otomies. Very fast infantry unit. Heavily armored. Teocalli unit.
- Bonus UU - Shorn One. Very fast infantry unit. Lightly armored, but much higher attack than the Otomies. Teocalli unit.
Note: All Teocalli units can be upgraded to have their attacks heavily slow enemy units. The slow increases against heavily armored targets, but in exchange, the Nahuatl do not have any units specifically good against heavily armored targets. The Eagle Knight may have a small bonus, but nothing approaching that of a regular Crossbow.
Blacksmith: The Nahua can access the first few tiers of Blacksmith upgrades, but cannot access the last tier. Instead, they are given additional upgrades through other means that give their units more utility, but not always the same level of raw stat increases. That aside, it’s likely that, through other means, they will still have units that can go toe-to-toe with units who do have access to the full Blacksmith.
Teocalli - Secondary Barracks, used to train elite infantry units.
I have an interesting take for this one - Rather than the usual “build a new landmark” concept, I had an idea - Build a new landmark over the top of your previous one, making it stronger, bigger, and increasing the area of its passive aura. The Temple would be a singular Landmark, similar to the Abbasids, but it would get larger over time and the previous aura from the previous temple would not be lost upon adding a new one - Rather, aging up would increase the area the temple’s aura affects. The Nahua cities had a tendency to just build over a previous temple rather than demolishing it, resulting in temples that had upwards of 5 layers of different projects overlaid on the previous one.
Anyway, thanks again for reading this through, if you did. I do enjoy the history of Mesoamerica, and it’s something I’ve been needing to study for the last while anyway, for a book I’m writing. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, I’m a fantasy author at heart. I utilize Native American stories and history for the basis of my fantasy, however, rather than better-known European fantasy that pieces like GoT and LoTR are set against.)