Tuesday, August 17, 2021

InDarkest Aithiops - Oportonovo


The colonial seaport of Oportonovo

The account of the 'Jellyfish's' attack on Oportonovo is soon told, but first, let's lay out the situation.  I suggested that the m'Butu had achieved at least a partial surprise, arriving hard on the heels of the fleeing patrol, with just enough pause to carry out a quick reconnaissance.  The garrison, it transpired, was stronger than Yavuyavu expected and hoped, but he trusted they were sufficiently unready to offer reasonable prospects of a successful assault.

Together, Paul and I decided that all three fortified strongpoints would contain one element. He chose the gun to be in the southern redoubt; the other housed a militia platoon and the stockade some regulars.  To simulate the rest of the garrison scattered about the town, Paul rolled for each stand 3 D6s, two to determine, counting from the north end of the table (his right), how far along the table; and the third counting in from the edge. This determined their initial placement. This meant a fair likelihood of a stand being placed in the ocean.  I suggested that that would indicate a platoon that required as many turns as their distance from the beach to assemble and be available for action. 

Yavuyavu masses his army


As it transpired, none were so affected; all were ready for action!  However, one platoon found itself around the northernmost house.  That was to place them far from the action, at least to begin with.  Captain da Gama himself was down at the beach at the bottom of the street leading from the Church - Rua da Igreja.

The gun redoubt overrun
Having observed the garrison's dispositions, Yavuyavu massed his 300 warriors in the bush at the south end of the town - and charged.  Straight for the redoubts they ran, striking first the gun-armed fort - the 'gun redoubt'. Yavuyavu's lack of personal streamlining kept him well clear of the leading ranks, but he soon joined in the fighting. Soon the earthworks were covered with struggling soldiers and warriors, spears, bayonets and swords flashing in the sun.  Unable to hold their redoubt, the gunners managed to haul their gun clear, but the rapidly following warriors soon caught them in the open and put to the spear whoever stayed to protect the piece.

Assault upon the militia redoubt

Soon after, the fighting overlapped onto the second redoubt, where the frightened civilian militia found themselves hard put to keep the warriors off.  By this time a cavalry platoon and another militia band, coming up from the beach, were entering the fray.  The cavalry charged the group that had just overrun the gun, and soon became locked in a close quarter melee.

Overview as militia and cavalry join in
Meanwhile, the town's Commandant, Capitao Ferdinand da Gama, had been for a moment undecided whether to take his stand at the stockade, or to throw himself at once into the action.  Making up his mind, he joined the band of militia close by some houses and directed their rifle fire into the masses surging up to the militia held redoubt.
Capitao Ferdinand da Gama takes command

Colonial cavalry almost surrounded
Shortly thereafter, just as the first cavalry troop broke out of their melee, badly depleted, the second arrived between the stone wall of the cemetery and some rising ground, whence they poured a galling fire into the flank of the warband frontally assaulting the redoubt.  The defence was now becoming better organised, and the m'Butu had already taken heavy losses.  Then Yavuyavu himself took a rifle ball that broke his left collarbone.  The assault at once began to flag, the fall of a few more warriors (one more strength point) finally discouraged the m'Butu.  More fell as they faded back into the bush, and out into the farmland bordering the jungle.   
Second cavalry troop opens fire into the warriors'

The m'Butu had been beaten off - quite comfortably as it seemed in retrospect.  Yet the Commandant had experienced several moments of anxiety with the loss of the redoubt and his artillery, and the loss of a cavalry troop and the second redoubt apparently imminent.  For his part, Yavuyavu accepted the outcome with his usual equanimity.  He'd given himself a little exercise, though his collarbone ached and would have to be reset soon, and he'd given the Azeitonians a fright.

The losses amounted to:
5SP: 1 militia, 2 cavalry, 2 gunners.
2SP return at once as lightly hurt - 1 infantry, 1 artillery
1SP return after 2D6 RED turns after this one (i.e. 7 turns) - 1 cavalry - count as battle casualties
2SP dead or severely wounded (1 cavalry, 1 gunners)  - count as battle casualties.
Cavalry or Artillery returns may instead be substituted by infantry.

So the Azeitonians lost maybe 30 men to the attack (mostly cavalry and gunners, with a few infantry scratched and bruised)


14SP: 2 from Yavuyavu, 12 from warrior bands.
4SP return at once as scratched and bruised 
4SP return as recruits/ reinforcements 2D6 BLACK turns after this one (i.e. 10 turns)  - count as battle casualties
4SP dead or severely wounded - count as battle casualties

The m'Butu battle losses amount to 80 men.

What of the 2 SP lost from Yavuyavu?  I'm inclined to the view that as a subordinate command that loss went to the morale of the m'Butu and brought them within 1 of their exhaustion point at 13SP lost.  Perhaps (if he reappears during this campaign) he will recover his full strength after the 10 BLACK turns following this.

The m'Butu pull out, having lost too many 
Just as the colonists stood about congratulating themselves upon their victory, burying the dead and tending the wounded, a farm boy mounted bareback upon a horse lathered with sweat, raced into the town from the Vertiginus north road.  He galloped up to the Commandant. Without salute or preamble, he spoke up.

The last few shots of the day bring down the last
few warriors in the field

'Ships!' he gasped, 'The sea's full of sails!  Men with muskets and swords and cannons are coming ashore in hundreds!  They're heading this way!  And fast!'
Aghast, the Commandant stared into the eyes of the tired young messenger.
'Corsairs!' he breathed.

To be continued: The Corsairs of the Coast.


  1. Exciting and very interesting battle report. The m'Buto always seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory !!!! Regards

    1. Hi Tony -
      I think victory on all occasions has been just out of reach for the m'Butu. But give 'em credit for trying hard! But it is all pressure upon the expansionist Azeitonian colony as you will discover soon! I'm developing a certain sympahy for these fellows, whose motivations are rather different from the predatory Corsairs and Touaouin desert dwellers...

  2. About time those bloody pirates showed up...

    1. Their descent from the north as been swift and sudden...