Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Very Eventful Skirmish - part 2

So, up went the first pair of rockets.... and down they came... about halfway to the target! The rules for them certainly made things interesting and unpredictable, and we soon agreed that the safest place on the table to be was the target they'd been originally aimed at. Simon had some nice explosion pieces containing flickering lights which really looked the business.

As my units struggled forward over the rough terrain, I was beginning to feel that I was at least as likely to hit my own troops as the enemy. It was a good premonition, as the very next rocket mischievously decided to turn hard right and plough into one of my rifle groups (which had just failed by 1" to charge the voltigeurs). Lovely. I'd been aiming at the village again, so as you can see from the next pic, this was a significant miss! One dead and a few shock (disruption) points. It could've been worse I suppose..

Still, the rifles rallied and after 1 more shot I ordered the crazy Major Brock to desist for a while, and let the enemy take a turn shooting at us. That last rocket came down short of the target like all the rest, but at least evened the score by killing a voltigeur! We were beginning to close in on the village and the fire from the rifles and the light infantry's muskets was causing Simon a growing problem in casualties and shock points. His earlier sortie, which had caused me some concern, was recalled or forced back, and his voltigeurs somehow made it back to their own lines by routing faster than my men could catch them. With 26 shock points on a unit with only 5 men left, they weren't going to play any further part in the action, and about time too.

Getting back to the mission, the church was still a long way away and there remained a lot of French infantry between me and it. Despite the deadly fire my units were now pouring into the defenders, time was running out and with a flurry of unhelpful (to me) cards and turn ends, the French cavalry finally turned up. As I'd feared, my rifles were too spread out and were vulnerable to being ridden down, even on the rough hills. As fate would have it, the turn ended suddenly again (those damned cards!) which freed up the newly-arrived cavalry to launch an immediate charge.

The first group of riflemen fought well, but were killed or sent packing, and over the next couple of turns the horsemen slaughtered another group, killing the rifles officer and the Irish priest who'd led them by hidden paths to the village. Although my speed-bump rifles did finally manage to stop the cavalry, and cause enough casualties and shock to dent their effectiveness, the game was up. We reviewed the table and agreed that despite the losses and disruption among the French, a successful assault by the remaining British would have had little hope of success. In retrospect I should probably have tried to focus on moving faster and ignoring the temptation to stop and shoot. That said, there'd have been a lot more enemies left to face an assault if I hadn't wittled them down as I did, so the outcome would still have been in doubt.

The final positions, with the rifles major and the priest lying dead on the hillside as the cavalry pull back to re-group, and the remaining attackers still too far away to achieve their objective:

All in all this was a very enjoyable game with lots of fun and surprises, and a believable outcome at the end. Simon was an excellent host, and played his position well, holding on for the cavalry to thunder to the rescue. The rockets were amusing and completely hopeless at the same time, but added extra flavour to the game. The rules are very good, but are vague in places and we were understandably rusty a year on from game 1. We certainly speeded up once we got going, despite grappling with cavalry, artillery and rockets for the first time. The card-generated turn sequence, with all its uncertainty and swings of luck, makes for great entertainment and a real challenge. Roll on the next game!


  1. Very entertaining AAR! Great board, and I love those rockets. We often play Sharp Practice and I'm a big fan of the rules, the cards can be frustrating sometimes but often help to generate an entertaining narrative (especially if combined with random events…).

  2. Thanks for your great report and wonderful pictures. I have just started with Sharp Practice, so I have some questions: How many men per group did you play? How many Big Men of what status? Did you make use of Bonus Cards?

  3. Hi Maerk, thanks for the comments. We play with groups of 10-12 figures, although generally the 12s are because we have line infantry based in 6s. My preference would be for elites being 12s, average troops in 10s and poor/militia types in 8s (the Lardies suggested this in their FPW supplement in one of their Specials). This game used the 'Sharpe's Surprise' scenario from The Complete Fondler, so the Big Men were pre-determined. Otherwise I go with the standard ratios of 1 BM for every 2 groups and their total status adding up to the total number of groups. We did use the Bonus Cards, although Simon never seemed to get any useful ones! Cheers, Dave