DBA Resources

Army Notes

Inca (1438 AD - 1534 AD)

The Inca were a small group of Quechua speaking peoples from the central highlands of the Andes who through good luck, political deviousness and not inconsiderable violence, managed to carve out one of the largest empires seen in the pre-Columbian Americas. The empire of Tahuantinsuyu (the four corners of the earth) stretched along the spine of the Andes from what is now Ecuador to the north, to the Maule River in modern Chile to the south, and from the Pacific coast to the west, to the steamy jungles of the Amazon to the east. It was ruled from the Inca capital of Cuzco situated roughly in the centre of the empire.

Tradition says the Inca empire was founded by the first Sapa Inca (highest or first Inca) Manco Capac sometime after 1200 AD and ended with the death of the 13th Sapa Inca Atahualpa at the hands of Spanish conquistadors in 1532 AD. While the later Sapa Inca are certainly historical persons, the earlier ones are now considered legendary at best. The list begins with Wiraqocha Inca and the wars against the Chanca in the early 15th century, followed by the period of Inca expansion. It ends a couple of years after the murder of Atahualpa when Spanish control was consolidated after the crushing of an Inca revolt.

The mainstay of the Inca army was the Inca warrior armed with spear, mace and sling, protected by helmet, padded jacket and shield. All Inca males had military training. One interesting weapon was a bronze halberd-like axe which was in limited use, mainly by nobles. The sling was ubiquitous throughout the whole of the Andes, with the same level of personal firepower being reached in Europe only during the 18th century. Inca and other contemporary fortifications bear an uncanny resemblance to European "star forts" of the 17th and 18th centuries. The Sapa Inca and other noble commanders were carried into battle on litters, surrounded by the most noble troops. Also carried into battle were the huaca, or holy items, the holiest for the Inca being the huanacauri, a curiously shaped stone covered with bright, gold and silver embroided cloths. At the hight of the empire the army would contain a great many subject peoples, whose enthusiasm varied. Baggage was carried by porters, mainly women, and by llamas.

While it is popular to view the Inca as a great power whose people were in tune with nature and the forces of the universe, another picture is one of a vicious, blood-thirsty and selfish empire with a penchant for burying children alive on mountain tops. However they were very good bureaucrats and the empire they ruled fed, housed and clothed a population much higher than exists now. The Spanish proved to be more vicious, blood-thirsty and selfish than the Inca, and the area is only now recovering from the depredation of Spanish colonial rule, some 500 years after Pizzaro stumbled literally into a gold mine.


The Inca list includes the following element types:

Lit This is the general's element. It represents the Sapa Inca being carried on the pillco rampa (scarlet litter) surrounded by his noble warriors. Alternatively it could be represented by the Inca general on foot, followed by a sacred huaca or mummy bundle being carried on a litter. Remember that Litters differ from normal Warwagons in that they don't shoot.
4Ax Regular Inca warriors armed with spear, mace and/or sling.
3/4Ax Either regular Inca warriors as above, or irregular Quechua or Aymara tribesmen similarly armed.
2Ps Irregular Quechua or Aymara skirmishers armed with sling. Alternatives could be Antisuyu (Amazonian) troops with bow, or Colla warriors with bola.
5Wb Quechua and Aymara highland levy infantry. They should be mainly armed with slings with a scattering of other weapons. These troops are graded Horde(Fast) in the DBM list.


Chanca (IV/70), Chimu (IV/71), Amazonian (IV/72) and Inca (IV/81). The Inca opponent is for the numerous civil wars fought between factions vying to be Sapa Inca, or for the wars of expansion against other Quechua or Aymara speaking peoples. For these opponents you might want to substitute all the 4Ax and 5Wb for 3Ax. The Spanish conquistadors are not represented, however you could use an Inca (IV/81) army and substitute a 3Kn//4Bd element for the generals Litter element in order to fight the wars immediately after the conquest.


Essex, Naismith, Minifigs and Falcon Figures all make Inca ranges in 15mm. Sizes range from true 15mm (Naismith) to nearly 20mm (Falcon), so shop wisely. In 25mm, Ral Partha used to make a range and the Foundry have released some Inca and plan an extensive range.

See my Figure review of 15mm pre-Columbian South American figures.

Other Resources

See my Fantasy Miniature Wargaming in South America page for information on Inca standards, litters, and warriors.

Here is a list of the Sapa Inca.

Fanatici Feedback

Chris Brantley: Inca warriors are featured in the Osprey's The Conquistadores by Terrence Wise, as well as in Ian Health's Armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, Other Native Peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores (Armies of the Sixteenth Century) published by Foundry Books (July 2001). Both titles are available through the De Bellis Bookstore.

Roy Beers: I have a large collection of 15mm Naismith Incas as DBX elements and they are nice stocky little figures with "attitude". The Inca army was based around four regular regiments, each representing one of the four great provinces of the empire. and these were a standing corps d'elite, who might be better dressed (wuth transverse crestded helmets) and who may have had a higher proportion of men armed with the halberds described in the article, and similar melee weapons. The rest of the army was a more or less willing levy, each with its own area symbol on the front of the headband. I suspect the royal regimental regular regiments should be somehow different from the normal Ax (in the original DBA they were rendered as an optional three 3Bd) but you could assume they and the Litter element are one and the same. Or you could dress them better and simply give them a +1 against other Aux. Strikes me that the new DBA (2.0), with its greater influence on terrain, would be particularly interesting -- lots of scope for gorges and chasms; an Inca fort would make a terrific camp.

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My thanks to John Garvey for contributing this army essay. Comments, questions or suggested additions to this page can be sent to Chris Brantley, IamFanaticus@gmail.com.

Last Updated: August 23, 2001