Historical Situation or Mission
Setting: Nombre de Dios, Panama; 29 July 1572
Nombre de Dios might have been the treasure house of the world, as Drake once said, but is
was not even properly fortified, although plans to erect defenses there had long been topical.
When Drake saw the town it had no more than a crude bulwark on the beach, behind which a few guns
were mounted, a totally inadequate protection for a bay as open as that at Nombre de Dios. There
was no regular garrison. Only when the flota was in port did Nombre de Dios spring to life as a
raucous frontier settlement, capable of resisting a determined attack. For the rest of the time it
languished sultrily in the heat, a humid, disease-ridden outpost of empire, periodically lashed by
sharp tropical thunderstorms and consisting of perhaps two hundred mostly wooden houses (Sudgen,
1990, p. 47).
Nombre de Dios was the port from which the annual treasure fleet – the flota – sailed for Spain laden with silver from the mines of Peru: an obvious, and fiancially alluring, target for a privateer such as Francis Drake. Eager to wreak revenge on the Spaniards for their treacherous attach upon Hawkin’s ships at San Juan de Ulua in 1568, from which only two ships – the ‘Minion’ and his own ‘Judith’ – had escaped with only seventy men out of four hundred to return safely to Plymouth.
After leading expeditions to the West Indies in 1570 and 1571, Drake had thoroughly reconnoitered the coast of the anchorage to use as a base for future operations against the Spaniards. He now decided to attempt a more ambitious raid upon the treasure houses of Nombre de Dios to capture the bullion while it was still ashore, awaiting shipment to Spain.
This scenario recreats Drake’s night time attack on the town. It uses a version of DBR although at a much reduced scale.
Ground scales: 2 cm = 5 paces
Time scale: 1 bound = 5 minutes
Figure scale: 1 element = 3-4 men
Key features are:
Spanish Player (Defending)
Protect the Treasure House and drive off the English, preferably inflicting as many casualties on them as possible.
1 Art (S) @ 25 = 25
24 Pk (I) @ 3 = 72
24 Sh (I) @ 4 = 96
Choose 1 to 3 officers (generals) from Captain Garcia de Paz, Lieutenant Francisco Rameriz, and Antonio Juarez (officer of night guard).
The Spanish deploy first. The Spanish commands are assumed to be the same size, except one command has the artillery.
The Spanish note where the sentries are deployed; all other Spanish are assumed to be asleep in the town. There are four elements of sentries, which must include the artillery, and must all be of the same command. They can be deployed anywhere on the board. Historically the artillery was on the beach front platform, and Antonio Juarez was in the market place with six arquebusiers (two elements of shot); I presume there were other sentries posted, possibly on the east road.
After any Spanish element sees the English, they throw 1d6 per turn for each command in each of their bounds. This is the number of elements which rally to the colours. These reinforcements can be placed anywhere in the town beyond visibility of the English. Half must be pike elements, and half shot. The first reinforcement for a command is assumed to include the general, if he is not already on the board.
English Player (Attacking)
Begins scenario with initiative.
Take the Treasure House and get off table with as many men as possible.
10 Sh (I) @ 4 = 40
6 Bw (S) @ 7 = 42
6 Pk (I) @ 3 = 24
2 Bd (O) @ 7 = 14
Plus four boats which can fit 6 elements each.
Choose 1 to 3 officers (generals) from Francis Drake, John Drake (brother of Francis), and John Oxenham.
The English deploy after the Spanish on a table edge or the beach front. If they deploy on a table edge their boats are assumed to be along the coast; otherwise the boats are on the beach. The English can assign elements to commands as they choose.
The English have three victory conditions to achieve:
1. An English element spends an entire bound at the location of the treasure house, without moving or fighting.
2. The English lose less elements than the Spanish.
- All surviving English exit the board off their entry edge, or
- All Spanish are eliminated from the board, and there is nowhere in the town where they can rally reinforcements.
The English win if they meet all three conditions, if the English meet two objectives the game is a draw, otherwise the Spanish win. Under these victory conditions the original raid was a draw; Drake met the last two conditions, but not the first one.
Scenario Special Rules
English leaving the board
|English in buildings||10 cm|
|Spanish in buildings (local knowledge)||15 cm|
|Any in open or along roads||20 cm|
|Any in woods||10 cm|
Lights (fire pikes, torches, arquebus, artillery) can be seen any distance, if the troops are awake.
Bits from Sugden (1990)
Spanish officers during attack
- Alcalde Antonio Juarez
at time of raid on mule train
- Alcalde Diego Calderon
- Captain Hernando Berrio (organised and commanded initial land pursuit)
- Captain Antonio Suarez de Medina (commanded second wave of land pursuit).
- Captain Cristobal Monte (commanded naval pursuit after raid)
Governors house contained treasure (silver). Different to treasure house.
- 73 men
- three pinnaces and shallop
- 6 shields
- 12 pikes
- 6 firepikes
- 24 arquebus
- 16 bows
- 6 spears
- 2 drums
- 2 trumpets
Note: between the arquebus and bows 40 of the 73 men were missile armed.
Both sides make up a DBR force from DBR Army Lists book 1.
Spanish = 220 points from List 41 Spanish Colonial.
For convenience, Regular foot Pk (O) can be taken as Pk (I) instead; this means you don’t have to keep track of who turns up when.
Can also have FO (2 AP) and/or F (4 AP), 0-1 for each element of foot.
English = 130 points from List 42 Buccaneer. This is a much later list, but has the right feel. Sh (F) are usually musketeers, however, this classification adequately distinguishes the aggressive English Arquebusiers from their Spanish counterparts.
Maxima and minima are divided by 2 and rounded up.
|C-in-C||1 Wb (O)||24||C-in-C||1 Sh (F)||26|
|Ally-general||1 Wb (O)||14||Ally-general||2 Sh (I)||28|
|Arquebusiers||7 Sh (F)||42||Regular foot||2 Pk (O)||8|
|Other English||12 Wb (O)||48||2 Sh (I)||8|
|128||Militia foot||12 Sh (I)||48|
|24 Pk (I)||72|
|Artillery||1 Art (S)||25|
Harman, A. (1989, October). The treasure house of the world: Nombre de Dios. Miniature Wargames, 77, 32-35.
Sugden, J. (1990). Sir Francis Drake. London: Barrie & Jenkins.