SPECIAL THANKS. I would like to thank Paul Watson for his sponsorship of several lead figure collections on this blog. Having decided to clear his spare/surplus figures, he generously forwarded them on with no other requirement than they deserved to be restored.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

The Battle of Portland, Maine (Dominion Wargame)

Most decisions decided by Dice

The Dominion War returned to Maine. A British flotilla had been blockading Portland for some time, but now a message had been sent to the City's authorities, 'they must commence negotiations for their surrender to Empire Forces'. The authorities declined. 


The Empire was granted the right to field as many 'Nautical' forces it could muster. The American garrison had previously thrown dice to determine their strength and it was judged to be forty-eight figures plus some supernumeraries.

While the  Royal Navy fleet would seek to engage the powerful harbour guns. a naval brigade would be landed elsewhere to take the city from the landward side. For gaming purposes, the naval action would take place largely off table. It was noted, the harbour guns comprised two siege guns, while the naval force had only two heavy and one medium gun. This would give the Americans a superior range.

There was also another condition. Portland had sent word to the city of Augusta calling for reinforcements, they were expected to start arriving in the area on move eleven. 


With time working against the Empire forces their two divisions approached the city at full speed. The flotilla suffered no losses before making range on the harbour guns. The landing party had the advantage in field guns but not enough to beat the clock. Only a resolute assault on the city by the Royal Marines and the Naval battalion really offered victory. By move six the American field gun had been knocked out, and their gatling gun had failed to inflict serious casualties on the advancing brigade. In an act of pure resolution the naval brigade charged the American position in move eight. Although casualties were similar, the American position broke (unable to rout, they surrendered). 

Now there was a spell when it looked like the harbour guns were going to win their duel with the flotilla. One gunboat had its infrastructure hit twice (4 hits and it must retire or worse), its gun was also knocked out in addition to a crew member. But the tide turned when there was a direct hit (D6) in move seven on a coastal battery, obliterating the gun, two previous hits having no impact on the fortifications.

On move eleven American reinforcements began to arrive but they were still three or four moves away from the city. On move twelve the second harbour gun was taken out and two small parties of Royal Marines secured parts of the dock, while the naval brigade secured their prisoners and two thirds of the residential area. On move thirteen the flotilla informed the American troops still holding a house just outside the city, and the far end of the High Street, that their guns were now aligned on them and would shortly commence firing. Permission was granted for American forces to retire, all prisoners being granted parole.


Garrison Commander

First Harbour Gun 5 (-1) gun destroyed

Second Harbour Gun 5 (-1) gun destroyed

NG Battalion 12 (-4)

NG Battalion 12 (-3, 9 captured)

NG Skirmishers 6

NG Field Gun 3 (-3)

NG Gatling Gun 3 (-2, 1 captured)

NG Dismounted cavalry 4

(Reinforcements nearby 10)


Naval Brigade commander 1

Royal Marines Battn. 12 (-3)

Royal Navy Battn. 14 (-4)

Royal Naval Battery 10 and 8 limber-men

Royal Marine Artillery 3 (-1)


1st Gunboat 4 crew (-1), 4 Royal Marines, 50% damage to ship including gun

2nd Gunboat 4 crew

3rd Gunboat 4 crew, 3 Royal Marines



  1. Ah ha! This is probably the real reason that the annual Huzzah! Wargaming convention was cancelled again this year!

    Great pics.

    1. Ross, in the UK most wargamers will not travel more than three hours driving to a show, our scales for travel are set so low. A local show is considered to be under fifty miles. There is rumours some UK events might resurrect themselves later this year, we will see.
      The game was good fun, but some poor dice for the gatling was almost peculiar. And the American morale dice when they were charged was shockingly bad. But it made it very exciting. Any delaying would have been a disaster for the Empire troops, I thought the conditions were too difficult!

  2. Beautiful looking game Michael! Very unlucky dice indeed for the American cause! Still very exciting throughout!

    1. Thanks Brad, I've never been one for competitive, point based games. I prefer to try and make the best of difficult circumstances, win or lose. Thats why I typically dice for the comparative strengths. I thought it was probable the flotilla would fail to knock out the harbour fortifications, and possibly have to retire vessels for fear of a sinking, with all hands. The gatling was plain odd, scoring 1 or 2 on a dice for the entire game! I knew the morale of the Naval Brigade was good if casualties remained under 50%, and even after that would probably retire in good order, but their charge was perfectly executed but I still only put their odds on winning at no more than 40%. Historically, you should aim to attack a fortified position with twice their number. The harbour gun crews only suffered two casualties and could have carried on firing for the rest of the game, but both guns were damaged, each receiving a double six on the dice. It was fun!

  3. Just fantastic to see that you're having fun with your gaming and the sheer quality of the figures - especially the coastal artillery (nice paint job BTW ) and the RN landing team. Just superb, Sir. My return to the table delayed by another 67 Boer troops and three battered pontoon wagons arriving on the doorstep last week - now got so many wagons for the collection that I'll be able to pose the haul of supplies across the veldt in some realism - 2 miles of wagons equates to just under 40 wagons in wargames years :) More power to the dice rattlin; Gatling :)

    1. Hi Paul, I'm very much enjoying my excursions to the wargames table. Have also reached that point where projects are typically interesting extras rather than necessities for staging a fair game. This makes the projects less of a chore. just working on a 1930s Chinese armoured car. I've seen some of your waggon train, shocked to hear its still not complete! My drift is into bold coloured tanks and armoured cars, made to look like 1920-50 toys, to go with the old toy soldiers. All with a gloss varnish. Was speaking to Andrew at Replica, we both celebrated your name and generous support.

  4. Excellent looking game, terrific fun.

    1. Thanks Alan, it was good fun, but its the scenario that is vital, and linking likelihood with dice (including the number of figures involved) is creating results that have depth. Hope that makes some kind of sense.