Friday, 6 January 2017

New Year. Sharp Practice

The first meeting of the Gong Garage Gamers for 2017 saw us having a go at Sharpe Practice, two players on each side. Rather than a straight encounter battle, Gary created a set of objective cards for each side (the French and, once again, Prussians-Masquerading-As-British), with the side drawing three of them but keeping them secret from their opponents. Objectives ranged from taking and holding certain terrain features, to defeating enemy units or killing specific enemy leaders. Each side also had a bagage wagon. This might be an objective, but also counted as lost whilst it wasn't deployed on-table, giving the other side a successful objective whilst it was. This would be very important.

If, at the end of a turn, a side had achieved at least two of their objectives, they declared it and the other side had up to six turns in which to reverse the situation. The details of this are a little fiddly so I won't explain them,, but you'll see how it actually panned out in play.

As the French our three objectives were to take and hold a farm on our right, to kill one of the opposing infantry officers and finally to drive off the enemy heavy cavalry unit.

The British deployed first, bringing on a strong force of infantry, with artillery support. This was the first time we'd used either cavalry or artillery in Sharp Practice.

We brought on some line infantry, along with our baggage wagon.

We also deployed two groups of Voltigeurs, who were tasked with taking and holding the farm.

We moved forward quickly, taking some fire from the British as we did. Apparently our lie was causing the British some discomfort, as out advance down the road was bringing us close to the road junction that was one of their objectives.

Our light troops occupied the farm.

An overview of the action so far. In the foreground the French cavalry had just deployed, whilst their artillery was firing off the hill.

At this point the first turn ended abruptly. As the French we had taken one of our objectives, but the British had foolishly failed to bring their baggage wagon on early, and so it counted as an objective to us as well.  This meant it was now the End-Game!

The British now had up to six turns - actual number randomised - in which to both take our baggage wagon, and take the farm. They brought up all of the troops they could. Our baggage was safely in our rear and well-protected, so the British plan became one of forcing a draw by capturing the farm.

The dense terrain created bottle-necks, as the British advanced to bring the farm under fire.

The Voltigeurs settled in for a desperate defence.

One flank f the farm was covered by line infantry, but they were taking steady fire from the advancing British.

The French cavalry began an advance to cover the other flank of the farm, whilst more infantry arrived as a reserve.

We inadvertently achieved one of our other objectives, hitting a particular British officer. This had no effect in terms of victory, as other conditions were irrelevant now, but just showed how awesome the French were.

The British advanced on the farm, but the attack was slowed by fences and the rough, ploughed fields.

The Voltigeurs held, despite the rapidly diminishing numbers. A reserve unit stood ready to occupy the farm once the occupants were able to execute a withdrawal.

Over on the far right of the French line their hussars charged the British light cavalry in an action that had no bearing on the main battle, but which looked nice. The French were thoroughly beaten and driven off.

Meanwhile the British charged the farm with bayonets flashing! The fight was close but the British were driven off by the handful of French in the buildings.

And that was pretty much it. Before the British could mount another serious challenge to the French occupation of the far, the game ended.

The use of random and secret victory objectives was a great idea for a game of this nature, adding an extra layer of uncertainty and unpredictability. Possibly some objectives were too hard to realistically achieve - killing a designated officer, for example isn't easy as officers are easy to hit but, in my experience, relatively hard to actually kill. And the baggage objective we got purely because the turn ended before the British could deploy theirs; in a future game of this nature we'd probably require the baggage wagon to be part of the initial on-table forces. This was a large game, and took a fair while to play, but given that only one person really knew the rules that was to be expected. We got a result by the end of the evening, and that's all that matters.

Once again, thanks to Gary for the figures, scenario and looking up rules. A good start to the year.


  1. I did wonder if it would work with smaller multibased minis and your efforts seem to have proven it a success.

    1. Yes - we have four 15mm figures representing one Sharp Practice 'figure'.

  2. Yes, a good start to the year and a great game. Congratulations to the dastardly French!

  3. Great AAR! I really like the idea of secret objectives, sounds fun, I might borrow that... :-)

    1. Actually we got the idea from one of your Haitian Revolution scenarios :)

  4. This is great, can you confirm if that is a Deep Cut Studios Plains mat? Cheers!


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