Hornblower Wars – a Miniature Wargames inspired campaign- A Jaunt Ashore (Thank you Conrad Kinch)


April 25, 2021 by wargamerchris

20mm Napoleonics – who needs to paint another scale for Napoleonics? With more than 8K of 15mm Napoleonics, a largish 28mm Penninsular collection, 6mm and 10mm starters, who would need more? Then Conrad Kinch writes a really slick campaign idea in two successive issues of Miniature Wargames entitled A Jaunt Ashore… – June and July 2020 if I’m not off by a month. Find them – they are worth a read.

In those issues, he reveals a very clever solo campaign for the marines and sailors from a Napoleonic frigate – think Master and Commander. The frigate has been dismasted in a winning fight with some French frigate, but is now in a natural harbor along the shore of a Spanish colony. The crew must choose a path to a set of tall mast-friendly trees spied by the carpenter.

The solo player chooses his force list from a points list – armed sailors, marines, sailors with pistols and cutlasses, a small cannon and crew.

I remember reading these two articles in late July 2020, and two months later I had ordered a handful (okay a bunch) of Newline Designs excellent 20mm French, British and generic sailors, British marines, and Spanish militia/ irregular types. They are very mice figures -clean lines and excellent detail.

Was I really going to paint another scale for a one-off campaign game series – yes I was. I also found that there were a number of additional characters I wanted to have unique figures for – I turned to 1/72 plastic sets for British Nile campaign artillery, infantry and light infantry. I found a number of officer figures wearing the round hat for officers of the period.

Finally, I bought an Old Glory 28mm frigate. I had planned to paint it for an alternate ending – I’ve always wanted the model anyway – well it still sits in dry dock – not quite ready for painting, but I did get enough figures painted to play the campaign through. The results hang in the balance on my table now – battle number four. The crew has found a suitable mast, but have to cross a river at a bridge. Our Spanish opposition has rallied on the far side and also deployed their only artillery piece to bar our way. Sadly the game has been setup for months, but it will get played.

I made some additions to the game – livestock and types of counters to represent the various supply levels inherent in the campaign. I should mention that the tactical rules are The Men Who Would be Kings. To be honest, next run through I may try some different rules for the tactical resolution. TMWWBK is bloody and fast, which is fun, but didn’t necessarily feel like it had the individual heroism I had in my head for the campaign.

The Spanish opposition is mostly local militia – supplemented by armed civilians, sailors, and in a rare case a troop of militia cavalry and a small battery of artillery.

This post has been languishing for months, so rather than spell out the battle I will just share the pics I took so you can get a feel for the fun I had with this. Gaming solo has kindled some creativity and it was a clever campaign design. As a side note, Conrad sited the old pre-WH40K Space Crusades game for the skeleton of the campaign design.

So not necessarily something that has to be done in 20mm, but it worked this time and helped me find the figures relatively easily.

I don’t know if I would have had the brainpower to devise this campaign by myself, but now that I have, it has certainly given me a new perspective on narrative campaigns not requiring a map….

One thought on “Hornblower Wars – a Miniature Wargames inspired campaign- A Jaunt Ashore (Thank you Conrad Kinch)

  1. Veroo says:

    Fascinating choice of subject and scale, all expertly executed! Regarding rulesets, have you considered Sharp Practice?

    Liked by 2 people

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Small Soldiers

I’m a father, soldier, wargamer and traveler. This site is for my kids and to share my work over half a lifetime musing on the history of warriors and the portrayal of their efforts in miniature.  I’ve never really known why I do this

Wargame Rules

Rules I’m gaming with now:

Lions Rampant/ Dragons Rampant
Black Powder
Age of Eagles/ Age of Valor/ Fire and Fury
Force on Force/ Ambush Alley/ Ambush Z!
Hail Caesar
Command Decision: Test of Battle
Battles for Empire 2
Pride of Lions
The Sword and the Flame

Rules I’m Considering:

Sword and Spear/ Sword and Spear Fantasy
Regimental Fire and Fury
Open Combat
Chain of Command
Sharpe Practice 2
Wilderness Wars
Test of Honour
Field of Battle
Pike and Shotte (Warlord)
General de Armee (TFL)
Flames of War – Vietnamese/ WW2

Rules I still need to find to make my life better:

15mm Napoleonic mass battles rules (holy grail)
15mm War of the Spanish Succession mass battle rules
15mm Zombie mass battle rules


Command Decision Test of Battle Forum:


Din of Battle:


Henry Hyde’s Site:


Dan Mersey – author of a couple of rules sets we like:


Miniature Addiction:


Wasatch Front HMGS (Journals):




Big Force on Force (Great modern gaming)


Last Stand Dan:



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