The Port Diversion on El Quattar’s Mother’s Town – Part One

While the main attack was going in against the landward wall of the town, a smaller force was assigned the task of making a diversion against the town’s harbor. 120 small and medium ship’s boats took part, carrying 3 regiments of British, American and British East India Company Marines and about 100 heroes. 840 sailors from the fleet were at the oars. Their job was to ferry the troops to shore, then return to the fleet.

John Monteith, Armand van Ingen, David Dougherty, Charlie Elsden and I played a map game of the approach of the boats to shore. Using a collection of boats from the Milton Bradley “Broadsides” game, we laid out a formation of 30 cutters (each holding 12 sailors, 24 Marines and a hero),  60 jolly boats (each holding 6 sailors, 12 Marines and a hero) and 30 small gigs (each holding 4 sailors, 4 Marines and a hero) on 2 large tables. As the flotilla moved towards shore, Charlie, playing the defenders, rolled dice to determine hits against the boats. He did remarkably well against the small craft, sinking all but one of the cutters and about a third of the others, but his marksmanship was unlucky on the followup shots to determine casualties. Though over half of the assaulting force was left swimming in the harbor, barely 5% were removed as dead or hors de combat.

The photos accompanying this narrative show several views of our force touching shore and beginning to fight our way to the top of the outward-facing sea wall and the city’s harbor defenses. More will follow as we fight our way into the town.

This first shot shows a view of the town looking south, as if one were standing on the sea wall looking back towards the center of the fortified harbor complex. The buildings which I used to create the town are by Barzso, Classic Toy Soldiers, Hobby Bunker, King and Country, Steve Weston, The Toy Soldier Company, Conte and a few assorted bird houses which I have acquired over the years. I used the Barzso buildings from his Shores of Tripoli Playset as painting samples, and decorated most of the rest of the structures to look like they came from the same time and place. (Click on the photo to enlarge it)

This is a view of the town looking north, over the sea wall and out towards the Mediterranean. The fountain is a 1/6th 21st Century Toys item. The building with the awning and the striped mosque tower are by King and Country. The wall, including the gatehouse in the foreground, is a home-made fortress which I traded for 30 years ago, and which has been used in many of our games. Figures used for El Quattar’s army include Starlux Renaissance figures and Pirates, Britains repainted Saracens, Reamsa Arabs, Hat Zouaves, Barzso Robin Hood Merry Men, Armies in Plastic Boxers, Charbens Pirates, Ideal Pirates, Cherilea Zulus and Nubians, Preiser Arabs and others. (Click on the photo to enlarge it)

Four Harold’s Rangers were able to insinuate themselves into the town when we first began this campaign, posing as merchants. Knowing the diversion was coming, they took shelter in the Weston “Magnificent Seven” church tower. You can see Sharpe (in green), Barry Lyndon (blue uniform and tricorn hat), Zetta (in tan) and Lola Montes in the striped skirt. They are biding their time, waiting to see what help they can offer the attackers.(Click on the photo to enlarge it)

The attacking force split in two during the final approach towards the harbor. Most of the boats went to our right, to attack the long sea wall. The smaller number rowed toward the left side of the harbor mouth. There, several boatloads of troops stormed the water-level gun positions which had sunk so many boats. The rest raised ladders (not shown here) to take the walls. The dock and gun battery are made of Playmobil Bridge and Trestle sets, a King and Country Wharf, CTS Palisade Wall, Hobby Bunker Defensive Wall, Barzso Tripoli Defense Works and a Britains World War One Artillery Redoubt. The Walls are Barzso Tripoli fortifications, Barzso Spanish Fort pieces, Hobby Bunker Adobe Buildings, Birdhouses and our TSC Wooden Tower. Boats by Moby Dick (real wood), Barzso 7-man Indian War Canoes, Playmobil Wrecked Ship and a beautiful home-made pirate ship by John Monteith (Monty). (Click on the photo to enlarge it)

This shot is of our boats just touching ashore below the town’s sea wall (the home-made fort). British, American and British East India Company Marines by Barzso, Accurate, Replicants, Armies in Plastic, Hat, Timpo and others. Many hand-animated Marines and Harold’s Rangers characters.

We raised pre-fabricated ladders and assaulted the walls. The fighting was tough, and we took casualties as the defenders were shooting down at us and throwing numerous grenades. But a lucky shot by one of the Rangers hit one of the enemy grenadiers in the hand. He dropped his grenade, killing himself and several others. One of the others was another grenadier, who dropped his grenade, killing himself and several of his comrades. As luck would have it, one of them was also throwing a grenade, so he, too dropped his, blowing himself and others up. This ripple effect, which had never happened in one of our games before (in over 40 years of playing Harold’s Rangers) cleared the whole western corner of the wall, allowing the attackers to climb up and use this position as a staging area for the next wave of the attack.

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6 responses to “The Port Diversion on El Quattar’s Mother’s Town – Part One

  1. David Dougherty

    Jamie
    The Pictures look great, they really convey how exciting this game is!
    Not to mention how much fun we had that Saturday, which was Bastille day.
    (Insert rousing chorus of “La Marseillaise”.)
    The only thing of note you left out was the Heroic stand Col Chiba made playing ring toss with El Quatter’s Mom. Yikes! This game still gets a solid G movie rating.
    David D.

  2. Such a large battle! It looks great, I especially like the Rangers on the tower, sneaky “fifth column” type action. I look forward to part two.

  3. Awsome stuff Jamie! Can’t wait for the next installment.
    Best wishes, Brian

  4. This diorama is awesome. The depth and detail of the scene is incredible.

  5. Keep this blog going, Jamie. You have inspired my own grand scale game of the battle of Stalingrad. I just finished painting about 300 figures that took all summer to do, and have begun ideas for scenery.
    Im interested in how to resolve combat with large quantities of men as well.

  6. Very anxious to be awarded a close encounter with part two of this tremendous 54mm adventure (the Netherlands)

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