The War of Jenkin’s Ear Review

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War of Jenkin's Ear Review

The War of Jenkin’s Ear Review by Len Krol

To the Everlasting Glory of the Infantry… (The Ballad of Roger Young)

In Strategy & Tactics 308
Designed and developed by Eric R. Harvey.
Managing Game Developer: Doug Johnson

Britannia did not always rule the waves. It took generations of hard work and there were a few speed bumps on the way. The War of Jenkin’s Ear is one of those speed bumps to greatness.

The War of Jenkin’s Ear, or more properly the Anglo-Spanish war in the Caribbean 1739-1748, was fought at the same time as the War for Austrian succession in Europe. The European war would have an effect on this theater and the British wanted to open the Spanish ports to British trade, but the Spaniards refused. Allegedly, the Spanish cut off the ear of Captain Jenkins in a confrontation. This was enough of a reason for the British to declare war on Spain. It was easier to start wars in those days.

Jenkin’s Ear Is a magazine game published In Strategy & Tactics Magazine. It has one 22” x 34” full colored map and 228 counters. I was expecting a game of many mass sea battles. Instead this is a game where the most important units are the infantry. The Spanish have 20 infantry units of which only three can be replaced. The British have eleven infantry units but 9 can be replaced. The British have four transports which allow them to transport many units easily, but the Spanish can only carry the infantry on warships. The major problem is that both sides have too few units for both nations to achieve their objectives.

Both sides have units that start on the map. At this point, the Spanish have more units. Next, both sides can purchase new units. The British receive 100 points for new units while the Spanish receive 50 points. In future turns, the British receive 30 points while the Spanish receive 20. The unit cost is printed on the back of the unit counters. You can buy fresh units or bring back losses. If a unit is lost, you roll a D6 to determine if it can be replaced. If you roll equal to or less than the target number, the unit cannot be rebuilt and is put in the dead pile. The best units are worth more than six. You will have a large dead pile by the time the game is through.

Sequence of Play:

1) War Fund Purchases
2) Storm Determination Step
3) Movement Step
4) Combat resolution Step

5) War Fund Purchases.
6) Movement Step
7) Combat Resolution

8) Storm removal
9) Fortunes of War
10) Supply Step
11) The War of Austrian Succession

After the English make their purchases, they roll to determine where the storms are located. Next, the English can move their fleets. With every six hexes they move, they have to roll on the perilous seas table. Storms and leadership can modify the roll. There is a 33% chance that nothing will result. On the other hand, you can lose all the transports that are carrying your infantry. Ground forces have a 50% chance of losing a unit each hex they move on.

Combat is next. Each unit has a land combat value in the left hand corner, and a naval combat on the right corner. You roll a D6. If the result is equal to or less than the combat value, you destroy an enemy unit. With land combat, artillery and leadership are added to the combat value. Again, roll a D6 for each unit and if the result is equal to or less than the target value you destroy an enemy unit.

Stacking is unlimited at sea and on land. The capacity of ports determines how many units can be stacked in it. If the port has a rating of four, this means that only four land units and four naval units can be stacked there.

In the fortunes of war phase, you roll a D6 to determine what units you lose. You may also gain build points. In certain areas, you need supplies or suffer attrition. Then you roll on the War of Austrian Succession table. You may receive extra build points, or lose units.

You have ten turns to achieve victory. The Spanish win if they have not lost a seaport. If you’re the English player, you roll a D6 for each port. If one of them is equal to or less than the target value, the English have won.

The game plays well. I played solo. In the initial setup I bought the most expensive items for both sides. I am not sure if this was the right idea. Next time I play it, I will do it differently. On the first turn I went to Cartagena, the big port. I had a poor roll on the perilous seas table and had to turn back. I tried again next turn. The port capacity neutralizes a certain number of units. Cartagena has a capacity of 6, so six units are neutralized. I had eight units, which were lost and could not be replaced. In the next couple of turns I would capture Trinidad and Margarita. The Spanish would later march overland and recapture Margarita. They had good rolls for attrition and did not lose anyone. In the Middle of the game, the English would capture the ports of Santa Domingo, Leogane and Santiago in Cuba. In another words, I followed the Strategy the British would use in the Seven years war. At this point I stopped. I ran out of infantry. They were needed to garrison the new conquests. The last three turn there was no movement or combat. The British won because they rolled less that the port capacity of the port of Leogane.

The English are on the Strategic offense. They decide where the attacks are being made. They also suffer the most from the perilous seas table and from March attrition. A few bad rolls and any of the numerous advantages by the English are lost. The Spanish are not helpless. By garrisoning the ports with the right mixture of units, the Spanish player can either hold the port or turn it into a costly victory. He can also mount limited counterattacks to retake lost ports.

This game is easy to start and quick to play. To enjoy this game you have to put yourself into the mindset of a 18th century commander. It is a game where you have to plan ahead, gather your few resources, and hope it’s not lost to a storm or an outbreak of malaria.


  • This game is original. I cannot think of any other game on this subject.
  • Random factors upset the best laid plans.
  • You have to think like a 18th century commander to succeed.
  • The game is easy to learn, set up and play.


  • You have to be interested in this period. Most modern wargamers would have little interest in the subject.
  • Random events may be a little too random.


Rulebook Clarity - 6
Fun - 6
Originality - 9
Component Quality - 7
Replayability - 7
Average User Rating Write A Review 0 User Reviews
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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the great review Len!


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