When the Spanish arrived in New Mexico, the Navajo were a small, semi-nomadic tribe of hunters and farmers who lived in the country to the north and west of most of the more sophisticated Pueblo tribes (except the Hopi who lived to the west of the Navajo). The Navajo culture was centered around a well-developed religion which emphasizes the beauty of life.
When the Spanish arrived in New Mexico, their first efforts were directed at subjugating the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico. While the stated goal of the Spanish was to impart “civilization” and “Christianity” to the “savages” of the “New World,” their actual efforts more closely resembled slavery and exploitation. The Spanish efforts were initially less than successful and many Spanish resources were wasted in the effort. New Mexico was at the end of a very long line of communications from the capital of New Spain. New Mexico was the frontier of frontiers! Whereas the conquest of the tribes of Mexico went relatively swiftly, the conquest of New Mexico proved to be a much more difficult enterprise; one which neither Spain nor Mexico accomplished.
The Diné watch from the periphery. Longingly, they see the Spanish sheep and horses being used by the strange newcomers as well as some of the more powerful Pueblos. If only they could acquire these, they could become powerful! The Diné of the Tse'bitaah (pronounced tsay-bih-ta-ah) or “winged rock” people (today the winged rock is known as Shiprock) swoop down upon New Mexico! One band of raiders happens upon a flock of sheep. Without warning, the young Spanish shepherd is struck down by a hail of Diné arrows. The sheep are driven back into the Dinétah. They will forever change the fortunes and the way of life for the People.
Other Diné raiding parties from the Tse’bitaah slip into Spanish stockades at night to steal a few horses. Having watched the strange animals being ridden by the newcomers as well as their Pueblo “allies,” the Diné see the potential of the animals. Within a generation, the horsemanship skills of the People will become legendary and the balance of power in New Mexico completely altered.
Unfortunately, the Navajo depredations on New Mexico have had an unfortunate side effect: about a third of the Pueblo tribes, seeing the growing power of the Diné, have given in to the Spanish. In exchange for Spanish “protection” from the Navajo, these Pueblo tribes offer allegiance to the King of Spain and baptism into the Spanish religion. Spanish power is growing in New Mexico. Soon they will target the People. The Diné of the Tse'bitaah people break off their raids, having taken only what they needed.
Meanwhile, the Diné of the Chʼínílį́ (pronounced chin-lee) or people of the place where water “flows out” of the rocked canyon move their families into the Zuni Mountains. They had intended to farm the plains to the east of the Hopi Mesas but scouts reported that the Hopi intended to go to war with the Diné. Preferring peace, these Diné move eastward into the pine-forested land of the Zuni Mountains. In time, these Diné will plant great cornfields and build up a cache of food.
In the north, at the feet of the Rocky Mountains flows the turbulent stream called by the Spanish, the Rio San Juan. Here, the Diné of the Nanizhozhi (pronounced nah-nij-ho-ji) or people of the “bridge” plant great fields of corn along the banks of the stream they call Tsé Dogoi Ńlíní, or “flowing over projecting rock.”
Most of the People are at peace with their neighbors, planting crops of corn, beans, and squash; tending their beloved peach orchards in the Tséyiʼ (pronounced tsay) or Canyon (known today as Canyon de Chelly; pronounced de-shay). But the small bands of Diné who have raided New Mexico have given the whole of the People a name for being ferocious bandits, bloodthirsty savages. This will likely spark a cycle of violence that will perpetuate for generations.
In New Mexico, the effects of the first Spanish wars with the Pueblos and the Navajo raids are beginning to wear off. As time goes on, the land begins to recover from war and enjoy a measure of quiet.
In game terms, card #27 was pulled as the first card of the game. The player chose to forgo the option to Preempt and take his Operation first, preferring not to spend the 3APs necessary and wanting to watch and see what the Spanish did before executing an Operation.
The Spanish began by collecting 4 Action Points (APs) and spending 3 APs to execute the first two instructions: Subjugation of the Pueblos. In the execution of these two instructions, three cubes are drawn from the draw bag: brown, yellow, and black. Since a red cube was not drawn, the Pueblos have resisted the Spanish attempt to conquer them. The harsh landscape of New Mexico gives the natives an edge in the early days of the Spanish colonization of New Mexico! The three non-red drawn cubes are placed into the Recovery Box on the game board. That these cubes are not immediately returned to the the bag means they are not available to be drawn by the player. They are exhausted Spanish resources wasted in the unsuccessful Spanish campaign against the Pueblos. That these cubes are not in the bag means that the Diné will have a more difficult time stealing resource when raiding New Mexico.
The Player then takes Family A (Tse'bitaah), spends 2 Movement Points (MPs) and raids New Mexico twice. On the first raid, a white cube is drawn and a sheep counter is placed into the Resources Box. On the second raid a red cube is drawn and is placed into the Subjugation of the Pueblos box and another cube is immediately drawn. This time, a brown cube is pulled. A horse counter is placed into the Resources Box. The red cube will unfortunately give the Spanish a bonus AP on subsequent Operations Cards. Fortunately the white and brown cubes are placed into the Raided Cubes box and each will reduce the number of Enemy APs collected by 1 — and so the net effect is on subsequent Operations Cards, the Enemy will get +1 AP and -2 APs for a net total of -1 APs. Feeling he’s pressed his luck enough, the player spend his remaining MPs to move deeper into the Shiprock country, away from the Spanish-held area of New Mexico.
Family B (Chʼínílį́) spends 4 MPs to leave Canyon de Chelly and move into box 3 of the Zuni Mountains. Since the family lacks the MPs needed to plant corn, the Family ends its activation.
Family C (Nanizhozhi) spends 4 MPs to plant corn in box 1 of the San Juan Valley area. One corn counter is drawn and placed face-down in the box 1 of the San Juan Valley area.
With the Player’s Operations Segment concluded, the Major Event: “Hopi War” is resolved. Since no Family occupies the Hopi Land area, there is no effect.
Finally, the Minor Event: Recycle Cubes is carried out. Cubes in the Recovery Box return to the bag; cubes in the Raided Cubes Box then shift to the Recovery Box. This, unfortunately, represents a loss of momentum for the Navajo. The next Operations Card will not be impacted by cubes in the Raided Cubes Box since that box is now empty!
And so you can see how in a SINGLE card play, an immense amount of narrative can be generated! This is one of the rich trademarks of NAVAJO WARS, one which I enjoy above all else.