Monday, July 11, 2016

Sharp Practice 2 Game - 'Fondler's Rifles', Winter in Spain, 1809


The hardened core of 'The Friday Night Raconteurs' (meaning me and two others who evidently had nothing better to do on a Friday night) managed to get in a game of Sharp Practice 2. Feeling typically lazy, I took a scenario from 'The Complete Fondler' which depicts our hero Richard Fondler, armed with his trusty Baker Rifle and never-mashed-by-a-shako 90's mullet, bravely attempting to save his fellow Riflemen from a horde of French dragoons, who are hell-bent on converting Spain to Napoelon's version of the EU.
 
Jeremy and Peter looking far too happy. Hmm, what do they know that I don't?

As Jeremy had not yet played the rules, we decided to partner him with Peter who is a seasoned vet. Twirling my moustache and taking a swig of my (cheap) Bordeaux, I took on the role of the dastardly French commander. 

As the scenario is set in the aftermath of a British battalion being run down by French cavalry, I ruled that the Riflemen would come onto the table in sporadic groups, with Lieutenant Fondler having to regroup them in time for a defense against the oncoming dragoons. In turn, I had the French cavalry enter the same way, reasoning that they would be dispersed, having been busy sabering fleeing Redcoats. I also had their mounts move at a penalty to reflect their being blown from the previous charge and the subsequent pursuit.

The game went off rather well with the British getting very lucky on the early activations. This enabled them to concentrate most of their numbers on a rocky hilltop, forming a small ragged square to help fend off the cavalry. 

The Rifles legging it to a rocky outcrop.
The French commander, emboldened by his regiments success offboard, tried to charge the Riflemen as they dashed to the hill, but the dragoons' poor winded mounts were not up to the task and could not carry them to the enemy in time. The French, in turn, were seen off by accurate rifle fire from both the square and the Riflemen skirmishing on the rocky outcrop.

The Dragoons run out of gas in the face of the Rifles...
 Rebuffed, the French then tried to keep the Rifles in square by threatening them with a portion of their cavalry while the remainder dismounted to start peppering them with carbine fire. All the while more French reinforcements arrived...

The French crash out volleys at the Rifles on the hill. Note: My horse-holder Lothario finally gets some time on the table.
 Musketfire was fiercely exchanged and while the British took a good lashing they dished out worse than they received. The French began to waver and so the Dragoon commander, seeing disorder in the English ranks, decided to force the issue with a charge.  It was all for naught as the British held firm and decimated the French assault, wounding their brave (but foolhardy) commander.

Richard Fondler barking commands to his Riflemen.
This pretty much broke the French, who only managed a few more turns of firing before calling it a day to lick their wounds. 

Voila, c'est tout! It was a great little scrap with both sides experiencing highs and lows. Though the French seemed a little hapless from the start I thought this played to the spirit of the scenario, where the French force, emboldened from their recent victory, would recklessly attack in piecemeal - subsequently getting its nose bloodied by elite troops in a superior position.

Oh, and before I forget, here is my homemade version of the game's activation counters. I made these chits from 25mm bases / 3mm thick. I sanded the corners round, primed them white, painted them in bright red and blue, highlighted the edges, pasted on graphics I made on my Mac and then varnished them. For some reason my lizard brain enjoys the chunky, 'clicky' feel of the chits over the usual cards - go figure.


Richard Fondler will return.  Next chapter will see him and his Riflemen assisting some English engineers blow up a bridge over the Tagus. BUT, of course, the crafty French commander has his own plan up his chevroned sleeve...

Next up: Landsknecht Arquebusiers!

42 comments:

  1. A splendid evening's entertaining, but i doubt the dastardly French Commander, will take this sitting down. ;)

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    1. I tried sitting down AND standing up but I still had to take it. Next time. Oh yes, next time...

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  2. Great batrep, I need to get some forces out and try the rules for myself.

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    1. Thanks Sander. I think you'll enjoy the rules - they give a good game.

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  3. A great write up Curt of an interesting scenario

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  4. Perfect man for the job of dastardly French Commander........

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    1. Funny, my wife thought so as well...

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  5. Great AAR of a great looking game :)

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  6. Really nice game, very interesting to read. I have enjoyed a lot the command of Cavalry in "Sharp Practice 2" (French Hussars) and I like a lot that they are not too dangerous to ready infantry.
    Cheers!!!

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    1. I agree Juan. I quite like that they have varying speeds which allow (or prohibit) certain game effects.

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  7. Great battle, really love the chits though

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    1. Thanks Martin. They were easy to do and are wonderfully tactile.

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  8. Thanks ofr the AAR and photos
    I really fell in love with the chits!!

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  9. Great game Curt. Thanks for hosting and thanks for letting us off easy with the win.
    Cheers, Peter

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    1. It was good fun Pete. You and Jeremy did a great job running the Rifles. I knew it was going to be a hard slog for the French after you got ensconced on that hill. Nonetheless, the charge HAD to go in. ;)

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  10. Glad to see that you are into SP2. I am hoping to try it for the first time this weekend.
    Love your counters.

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    1. I think you will enjoy it Mike. The addition of the Command Cards (chits) really adds a new (and fun) dimension to the game.

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  11. A fun game then by the look of it .. Look forward to further instalments

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    1. It was indeed, but I think I need a fez after seeing your splash. ;)

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  12. Thanks for the report. It's good to see SP2 in action and as the glorious Spanish general Castanos, Duke of Baylen all my loyalty of course is with my heretic allies.

    However as the French Commander were you outdone in the arms race twice? 1. How dare the British have rifles when the Emperor has clearly banned their use :). 2. The more serious point in your report you speak of the Dragoons' carbines - standard issue for dragoons was muskets - so if you used the carbine rules you'll have been outranged twice instead of once. I guess if there was a shortage of muskets it's not impossible that dragoons would have carbines but I'd have thought a shortage of carbines more likely than of the standard musket.

    Like you I haven't found it easy to master the use of cavalry in SP2 but I wish you better luck next time.


    all the best

    Stephen

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    1. Stephen
      While we spoke of carbines, I believe that we used the ranges for muskets in our game.
      Peter

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    2. Yes, Peter's right, we used the stats for muskets for the Dragoons. The carbine reference, I'm afraid, was a misnomer.

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  13. Great looking game and superb mini's
    If only the French had competent officers.....
    :)

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    1. Who needs competence when you have dash and brainless bravery?!

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  14. Wonderful looking game Curt and especially love your dismounted Dragoons and horse holders base! Need to get moving with the SP2 at our club now. Great yo see such an attractive table.

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    1. Thanks Carlo. The Perry plastics are a savior with SP2 as they featured so heavily in the Peninsula. Now I need about a dozen more painted to cap-off the force...

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  15. Curt great looking battle plus agree with all thumbs up for your chits. What Mac programme did you use. Perhaps you might be good enough to put a small tutorial on the blog for all us old Tech Dinosaurs �� Re sizing importing images etc
    Thanks Peter

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    1. Thanks for the comment Peter.

      As to the chits: With a bit of Google-fu I found hi-res images of both Wellington and Napoleon on the web which I downloaded. Then I cropped the images down to feature just their faces and resized them to 20mm using the Mac's built-in 'Preview' program (using the resize feature).

      In Word I made a square border template with rounded edges, made two copies, and then 'filled' them with the two images. I then copied them 10 times each to make my Command chits. I then made a bunch more copies of the square border so I could insert numbers 1-10 into them to act as my activation chits. Both the Activation and Command images fit on a single page in Word.

      I'll see if I can post a PDF of my chits in a future blog post. :)

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  16. That's a great looking game Curt and enjoyable report! I really do need to try out the game someday.

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks Christopher! It is definitely a 2.0 version of the original rules. Intuitive, quick and fun. My friend Jeremy, who had not played them (though he has play CoC), was up to speed in a couple of turns.

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  17. A little delayed but nice AAR. You have not commented in details about the ruleset and I was curious.

    John

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    1. I think they are a very good ruleset and definitely the best thing in town for this level of napoleonic combat. The mechanic of the Command Cards/Chits really adds a lot of fun to the game as players have to make hard decisions about how to best use them. Do you spend them in the turn to get incremental activations or do you hold out in hope of getting the required amount for really big bonuses? It's good fun. Keeping track of hits/shock on the individual groups (especially within a formation) is a bit fiddly, but not bad if you keep disciplined on keeping track of their status. Also, I know the easygoing writing style throws some people off as it is not very precise in some sections of the rules. The YouTube videos really helped in clarifying some of my questions. Again, I think they are the probably best set of rules out for this scale of combat right now.

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    2. thanks Curt, I appreciate the detail of your comment. I agree with every thing you say. I am still up in the air on how to best track shock, I am hoping to find something that I can use in all my games but am still looking. For leaders and reduction of status, I started to glue tiny red beads on the base with white glue which is easily pulled off as they lose status and glued back on for the next game..simple and quick. Still not sure though about a universal way to display shock on groups.

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  18. A great looking game!

    "For some reason my lizard brain enjoys the chunky, 'clicky' feel of the chits over the usual cards - go figure."
    Me too and you've done a lovely job on your tokens!

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  19. Looks like a great time was had by all! I'm certainly looking forward to read more about Mr. Fondlers exploits.

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  20. A really interesting report, Curt.
    We'll try Sharp Practise next Friday...

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    1. Thanks Stefan, I hope you have a great game!

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