Sunday 13 October 2019

A Little Action on the Spanish Coast

Today we played a game to make use of my recently completed flatboats (joined by a couple of boats from another player) idea I have had for quite a while. The game was played with five British commanders playing against the Spanish controlled by me and one other player. All the Spanish responses were programmed. Here are the details of the game.

It is 1803 and a Spanish flotilla has been raiding British shipping from a harbour on the Atlantic coast. The Admiralty has ordered that the Spanish threat is to be eliminated.

Three attempts by the Navy to enter the harbour have failed because of its narrow entrance and a well positioned shore battery. A combined operation is planned with the Army tasked with capture the battery from the land side and destroy the guns so that the Navy can enter the harbour and destroy the Spanish ships.

A spy was put ashore and he returned with this map. 

The spy  made the following observations:
  • There are only two possible landing points – North Beach and South Beach. 
  • Some militia supported by artillery is posted in and around the fishing village on South Beach
  • A camp was spotted in the rear of the battery, but he could not get close enough to determine the strength or type of troops.
  • In the town further inland he found the taverns filled with a mix of militia and regulars.
  • In the camps near the town he identified the standards of as many as six different regiments (Spanish regiments consist of between one and three battalions)
  • Cavalry and artillery are also present

Horse Guards, expecting to face resistance from as many as 20 Spanish battalions, has committed a significant land force to the venture

British Details

The Navy will put you ashore and your objective is to capture the fort and destroy the guns. Each player commands a brigade as below:

The British Force
  • 1st Brigade - 2 Line battalions plus a company of 60th Rifles
  • 2nd Brigade - 3 Line battalions plus a company of 60th Rifles
  • 3rd Brigade  - 3 line battalions 
  • 4th Brigade - 3 line battalions plus a company of 60th Rifles
  • Mixed Brigade - Naval landing party, Marines, 1 company of 60th Rifles, 6lb field gun

Command Chips

Each player starts with the same number of command chips as the number of units in his brigade. Command chips allow him to assign actions to units.  Before the game starts he rolls 1xD6:
  • 1 or 2 = Receive one additional command chip
  • 3,4 or 5 = Receive two additional command chips
  • 6 = Receive three additional command chips

Boat Movement

All boat Movement is starts from the corner of the table os the respective beach areas. Each move of a boat roll 1xD6:
  • 1,2 = 200mm
  • 3,4,5 = 250mm
  • 6 = 300mm

Spanish Force

In the fishing village
  • 4 militia battalions – in position one either side and one behind the village
  • 1 battalion of light infantry - in position at the junction of the road and the track to North Beach
  • 1 gun – in position between the village and the ridge
Cannot react until fired on or if British troops are within 100mm of the shore.

This force will attempt to defend against the landing, but if the number of British units landed exceeds their own strength, or as soon as any British unit that has landed on North Beach passes through the gap in the hills, the defenders will abandon the low ground and head for the ridge.

Camp near the Fort 
  • Texas Tercio 
  • 1 Line infantry regiment of 3 battalions
  • Cavalry Regiment
Cannot react until first shot fired. This force will take one full move to form up the move immediately after being alerted and will move to support to the support of the force in the fishing village.

Camp near the town

  • 3 infantry regiments, each of three battalions
  • 1 cavalry regiment
  • 2 guns
Will dice for each regiment to form to react after Camp near fort activates:  1,2,3 one turn to form, 4,5,6 two turns to form

This force will attempt to hold the ridge and will not pass beyond the ridge except to pursue the enemy. Its whereabouts will be concealed from the British until line of sight is established.

The Rules

The Game

The  British chose to land the First and Second Brigade on North Beach and the other two brigades and the navy on the South Beach. There were not enough boats to brings more than three brigades ashore in the first wave, so they chose to land First brigade as the second wave on North Beach while Third Brigade would form the second wave in Beach.

And so the action began.

The British Third Brigade and the Naval force head for the South beach...

... while the Second brigade lands on North Beach.

With the British Second Brigade passing through the gap  that carries the track from the North Beach, the militia began to withdraw from the fishing village.

As soon as the boat guns fired, the a Spanish troops on the ridge beside the shore battery were alerted and formed up. Soon after the troops in the distant village were called to arms.

As the British formed two battalions of Spanish regulars came down off the ridge and opened fire, inflicting some loss on one of the battalions.

The British soon counterattacked, with the Marines striking the left flank of the Spanish force, while a line battalion attacked the right. The left collapsed quickly, but the right held on for longer...

...but it didn’t last long before it too was driven off.

With the Spanish forced back to the ridge, the British Third Brigade and the Navy troops were free to advance.

Opposite the British First and Second Brigades regiment of Spanish dragoons charged. The British decided to receive the charge in line and their volley disrupted the cavalry, but the troopers crashed into the line all the same. A desperate fight ensured and against all odds the cavalry prevailed. The British infantry scattered to the wind, but the dragoons were spent and withdrew to rally.

The British fourth brigade finally lands...

...and approaches (top left in the image below)

The Naval force approached closed in on the weakened defenders of the shore battery and after a short fight carried the position.

Even though the battery had fallen the Spanish attacked vigorously. The fight swayed too and fro. The Spanish had some success, but even their best troops were lower rated than the British and the British lines held.

Having destroyed the shot battery the army began to withdraw under the cover of a frigate the army.

In the end while the British did manage to destroy the shore battery, they took heavy losses, with six of their thirteen battalions driven from the field, presumably they routed back to the boats, and another three were in a poor state.

But it was a fun day, enjoyed by all.


  1. An impressive amount of rarely seen gaming material in this report Mark, a Napoleonic naval landing is quite a gaming feat to pull off! great job :)

    1. Thanks Mark. I had this idea pretty much from the moment I saw those flatboats. Thankfully a couple of others contributed boat sand we were able t build up a flotilla of seven boats all up, plus Keith’s frigate.

  2. Great looking table and scenario Mark. The boats look excellent as part of the scenario. Also really nice to see the Spanish fighting hard.

    1. Thanks Nathan. The Spanish did much better than expected...due to a large some incredibly good dice luck and some appallingly bad dice luck on the British side at times. It was always going to be a bit of a no win situation for the Spanish.

  3. I certainly echo the above comments. Amphibious games are a lot of fun but they do take a lot of preparation as you well know. Nonetheless, having done several Chesapeake amphibious games I know that it is worth the effort. A superb scenario, photos and figures. A joy to read and view. Well done!

    1. Thanks Rod. One of my goals for these boats is to game some of those amphibious operations in the Chesapeake and Great Lakes areas in the war of 1812.

  4. Wow! This is a neat game! So satisfying to see your beautiful longboats put to shore in a game.

    Would routing British really have the organization to rout back to their boats? Then what? For me, this is an interesting question. I can envision an entire landing party quitting the field and bugging out but having only one or two battalions heading back to the boats while others continue fighting? Perhaps the boats are a rallying point?

    1. I did think of this, but in the context of the game chose not to do anything about it. You are probably right, a rally on the boats by the first group of fugitives to cover the withdrawal. In truth the Spanish were probably in as poor a state as the British at the end and more likely than not would have lacked the strength to drive the British into the sea.

  5. Splendid pictures, and great write up, what a splendid looking the ships espcially...

    1. Thank you Phil. I would have liked to have the frigate have a bigger role, but was unsure how much of the land side of the table as going to be required, so I limited the water component to just the two beaches.

  6. Great looking game and a nice change up from the usual!

    1. Thank you. As I mentioned in an earlier response I have had the idea for this game in my head for a while. It was nice to see it come to fruition.

  7. Great scenario and a nice overview of the rules.
    Thanks Mark.

    1. Thanks Stu. It was all a bit of fun. The original plan was to have all the other players on the British side playing against me as umpire - a sort of Free Kriegspiel. However when we had another member become available (and thankfully he did because he had two of the boats - and the frigate) I changed to a slightly more conventional game.

  8. So good to see Spanish in action!

    1. It was indeed Brian...and despite everything against them they nearly won!

  9. That looks great, and nice to see those boats in action. Those Spanish dragoons performed magnificently, and it's not often you can say that.

    1. Thanks Lawrence. It was fun. The dragoons were very lucky. The decision was stand and be shot to pieces or charge at a considerable disadvantages. They did the latter and rolled brilliant dice whereas the British rolled incredibly bad dice. Mind you the cavalry was so spent by that attack they played no other part in the game other than look pretty in their yellow uniforms.

  10. Great looking game and a neat way of using your marvelous flatboats! Nice to see the colourful Spanish hit the table too!
    Best Iain

    1. Thank you Iain. It was indeed nice to get the various bits and pieces on the table at last.

  11. A splendid looking game and a great scenario...
    Nice to see the Spanish toys getting out to play...

    All the best. Aly

    1. Thanks Aly. It was indeed good to see those sons of Iberia out if their boxes and an equal joy to see the look on the face of the recipient of the Spanish cavalry charge when I rolled two sixes and a five against his two twos and a one, followed by much howling and his bringing my parentage into question.