Ok, color me dumb or unobservant, your choice. I just noticed that Tlacopan has, like Tenochtitlan, had Blessings of God since the beginning and I had completely missed that, only noticing when I took a look at their infamy stats a while ago and then checked their history file. No need to wonder anymore how they can afford those armies...
Indeed it does. The sad thing about that is the fact that no matter what I do, there's still an element of luck involved...Now the diplomatic game becomes even more important. How long before you could tech to the point you can build boats?
Unfortunately, the ability to build ships is tied to tech group research speed so before I'm able to westernize I can't get any, ever. I believe the mechanism is hard-coded, and although MEIOU has tweaked the tech groups to allow shipbuilding for Africans with sufficient tech, New World still has no such luck.
I do in fact have sufficient tech: the units are technically available in the military screen for instance, I just can't build them.