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The Navajo did not engage in pitched battles after the order of European armies. Indeed, few North American tribes did! Seldom did the Navajo mass warriors for a general engagement like the Comanche or Sioux. “Battles” to the Navajo were really skirmishes, small but sharp engagements after which the Diné warriors had to undergo an elaborate ceremony, “Enemy Way.
The Diné preferred the hit-and-run raid to a stand-up fight. Sides writes:
“The Navajos were perhaps the unparalleled masters of the raid. Small-scale warfare suited them. They were an evanescent people, proud thieves on horseback, adroit in the techniques of the swift attack and the quick disappearance.”
From a design point of view, just how to model this behavior in a way that is both entertaining to the player and faithful to history, proved a great challenge. From the start I reasoned that if I could not model the Navajo way of war in a fun and interesting way, there would be no point to undertaking the design project. And so the first priority for the design was the warfare mechanic.
You can read about this topic and more on my Designer's Notes Blog: