So, on to the second game of the weekend. We did some mild shuffling of the terrain and scenery and came up with a simple plot for the game.
Word has reached the respective HQs of both armies that a brave/notorious (depending on your point of view) female spy has been exposed (ooh-er) nearby, and both sides have dispatched a small force to bring her in before the enemy can get to her. Despite their recent exertions, the two forces from the first game are the closest troops to hand, and they are duly ordered into action once more.
On the run, the spy has gone into hiding in one of the cottages (placed in secret by a neutral assistant we drafted in for the purpose) in the small border hamlet of Frinchy. We'd have to enter and search (defined in the rules as a Task) these buildings in order to discover her, and naturally there'd be some violent competition to get there first.
The table for 'Spy Hunt', with initial troop positions after their turn 1 arrival via their deployment points:
Jase's Fleurian skirmishers and line infantry move rapidly towards Frinchy.
My Medetians were busy doing likewise at the other end of the table. Somewhat freakishly, both players managed to collect 4 command cards before the end of the first turn and both used them to activate their force commander a second time, granting them useful extra movement for their troops.
A unit of Fleurian Voltigeurs made quick progress to the nearest cottage and looked poised to enter and start searching. However, they hadn't counted on Brevet-Lieutenant Lambrusco leading his Bersaglieri rifles at speed to cross a fence and deliver a crushing volley which downed several men including Ensign Jacquere (who only came-to at the end of the battle to find that while he'd been out of action, his small group had been reduced to a single man!)
In the following turns Lambrusco left his men to cover the door while he dashed inside to check the premises for the elusive spy. Despite a quick, thorough search, he came up empty-handed.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the village things were hotting up. The Fleurians managed to take up some useful positions, hurting the Medetians with effective fire and knocking out their force commander, Captain Gattinara.
This left the Medetians with a command and control problem at a crucial time and they continued to come off worse in the on-going exchange of volleys. The leading column was halted, with casualties and shock building up. Another group under veteran Sergeant Fiorentina did manage to enter one of the other cottages to search it, but were badly shot up as they made their way inside.
Again they found nothing (albeit this was unknown to the Fleurian player) and clearly this meant that the spy was in the building that was currently surrounded by Fleurians. Damn!
By this time the Fleurian leader, Captain Corbieres, had established a strong central position and used a couple more flurries of command cards to very good effect. He was able to detach a group under Sergeant Luberon (whose derriere seemed to have recovered since the last game), who redeemed himself by duly locating the spy and escorting her at great speed through the trees and away from the fighting.
The Medetians tried to press forward to harry the enemy's withdrawal but struggled to make headway. Captain Gattinara rose groggily back to his feet but could do little to get a pursuit underway quickly enough. The Fleurians had won the race to find the spy and the firing petered out as they fell back the way they'd come.
After the game we drew a card to see which side the lady in question had been spying for, to ascertain her likely fate now she had been discovered. As (her) luck would have it, she turned out to be working for the Fleurians and therefore the outcome was a successful rescue of their own heroine! The men on the ground wouldn't have been privy to this information when they received their orders, they just had to carry out their mission as best they could.
So, glory for Corbieres and little for the Medetians this time, but there'd be another chance to win some honour soon enough. I'm keeping a bit of a tally on the leaders (Big Men) that are involved in my Sharp Practice games. There are chances to win promotion or receive awards for valour, and one or two are getting close to qualifying. Whether they can do so before making the ultimate sacrifice remains to be seen!
Similarly, the 'Black Widow', as I've decided to (code)name our spy, might return to be the subject of a future game...
One post-game note: neither my musician nor Jase's Holy Man had any impact in either game, circumstances just didn't give us a chance to call on their potentially beneficial effects. Next time perhaps!