Monday 21 March 2022

The Battle of Cap Blanc - A Broadside and Ram Game

I had a cracking game of Broadside and Ram this afternoon on the trusty kitchen table, with a French squadron ambushing a Royal Navy coastal patrol off the North African coast in my 'What If?' 1870's war. The first three turns were tense but uneventful, as the Royal Navy squadron steamed at a leisurely pace past Cap Blanc, unaware of the lurking French squadron lying in wait behind the headland. The French commander, a wily old veteran, decided to wait until the lookouts on the Royal Navy warships spotted his squadron, releasing the ironclad ram Taureau to make the first strike.

In Turn 4, the lead ship of the British squadron, HMS Rapid, spotted the French ironclad flagship, the Flandre, signalling to the rest of the squadron before being ordered out of the way by the squadron commander in the flagship, HMS Caledonia. The British ironclads were ordered to full steam ahead, while the French squadron weighed anchor and moved to intercept, the ironclad ram Taureau also being set loose as an independent command with orders to strike a decisive blow against the perfidious rosbifs. 

The two squadrons approached each other at maximum speed, with Taureau the first to open fire, albeit to no effect, being armed with only a single barbette mounted 24cm breech loader. It was not long before both squadrons came into range, however, with the Royal Navy ironclads cutting inshore of the French squadron, which had turned to port to cut them off. The Taureau meanwhile prepared to ram the British line, resolutely steaming at full pelt towards the Royal Navy squadron undeterred by shot and shell. 

The first broadsides crashed out with the French coming off the worse, largely due to the superior armour of the Royal Navy warships. A broadside from HMS Prince Consort supported by the guns of HMS Rapid, scored a devastating hit on the French flagship, the Flandre, with a critical hit and a double six resulting in a massive magazine explosion, blasting the French ironclad to pieces in one fell swoop. At the same time, the Taureau slammed into the side of HMS Caledonia but failed to inflict anything more than a damage result, despite being reduced to silenced by the impact of her ram attack.

The Royal Navy had effectively won the game but the French now had to attempt to disengage, covered by the plucky Taureau which now rammed the next ship in the line, HMS Prince Consort. Once again the ram rolled low and ended up much the worse for wear, reduced from silenced to crippled and dead in the water. The two remaining French ironclads were now engaged by all three of the Royal Navy heavy hitters but the lead ship, Provence, managed to get away and escaped to the north, leaving the Revanche to face the music alone.

Now, HMS Prince Consort and HMS Ocean, moved to rake the Revanche, having already crippled her in the previous exchange of broadsides.  Not able to raise steam or fire her batteries, the Revanche just had to sit and take the punishment, but by a miracle was able to avoid being shattered by successive British broadsides. In a twist of fate, the Revanche just managed to roll enough AP's to effect repairs and raise steam, making it to the edge of the table and escape, following the Provence in the wrong direction but at least away from the perfidious Royal Navy.

At the end of the game, the French had lost their flagship in a very impressive and no doubt very loud 'kaboom' explosion, with the two remaining ironclads both silenced and the Taureau crippled but still afloat. I decided that the brave crew of the Taureau would have surrendered and she would have been captured by the Royal Navy, just to rub salt in the wounds of the humiliated French. The Royal Navy ironclads were all damaged but otherwise fully operational, while the sloop HMS Rapid was unscratched, despite having been in the thick of the action.

I had forgotten how much fun these simple ironclad games can be and how the Broadside and Ram rules, with a few tweaks here and there, result in a fast moving game with lots of action. The scenario stood up well despite being written on the back of a metaphorical fag packet and would be ideal as a War of the Pacific game, with the Chileans and Peruvians taking the place of the Anglo-French antagonists. I may well give that a go...


  1. A brutal little scrap. The Flandre going up like that has shades of l'Orient at the Nile.

  2. Thanks chaps. It's a fun set of rules and great for an hour or so of action.

  3. Hello there Jim,

    I thoroughly enjoyed this brisk little action and the models look lovely - I am also rather taken with the mat. Perfidious Rosbifs indeed!

    All the best,


    1. Thanks David. It's a tiny Wargames cloth. Very useful but not cheap.

  4. An excellent report, and a battle fought in the best yraditions of the Royal Navy :)

    1. Thanks David..a great set of rules, even if I use them for much smaller skirmish type scenarios, rather than fleet sized actions.

  5. That looks great fun.





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