Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Leadership Skills - Sharp Practice AAR

This past week's game at Ted's was my first opportunity to play Sharp Practice. It's one of those rulesets that you hear a lot about in the historical side of the hobby; usually in terms of endearment or revilement. 

This was the second time Ted was running this scenario. The previous week's game used Muskets & Tomahawks, which I missed. The overall opinion of the rules weren't great, with the players saying it felt clumsy and took too long to go through. 

The scenario was set early in the American War of Independence, with untested American Continentals and untrained militia squaring off against a combined force of British and Hessian infantry. 

Ted was gamemastering for us. Chip and Steve commanded the Americans, while John and I played the British and Hessians, respectively. 

Unlike the Muskets & Tomahawks game, where the two sides fought over an arbitrary set of objectives, this was a straight-up fight with both sides aiming to reduce the others' morale. 

Chip's militia were the first to filter onto the table, making their way past a couple small buildings. 

John's British came on at a brisk pace in a formation of three groups. 

At the end of the first turn, the battlelines were starting to form. The Americans were moving through the woods as the Hessians tried to catch up to the British on the far side of the farmstead. 

My Hessian Jaegers were the only rifle-equipped units on the table, giving me a range advantage (with a rate-of-fire disadvantage). 

John ordered his Regulars to hold and aim, waiting for another turn to hit the American skirmishers with a volley. 

And my Jaegers continued to be a nuisance, with Chip losing one of his Big Men from their rifle fire. 

John's initial volley looked spectacular (with a lot of dice!) but failed to do much damage. 

My Jaegers continued to trade fire with Chip's infantry, although I was more nervous at the number of militia approaching from the distance. 

One quick turn ended with a house suddenly catching fire! Maybe it was an unattended fireplace, or maybe a jostled candle?

To Chip's frustration, my Jaegers wounded another of his leaders, leaving the American's right wing stalled with no leadership. 

While Chip's flanking maneuver was halted, the Americans did have a decent line that forced the British and Hessian fire to be spread out instead of hitting single groups. This helped keep the Americans in the fight despite the initial morale losses. 

And they would need the help! John's invincible light infantry seemed untouched, despite a hail of lead fired from the Americans. His Regulars split into two groups, one moving to flank the militia in the woods. 

This would see the main battlelines form, with the Americans taking cover in the treeline and the British firing from within the farmstead. 

The Hessian Grenadier and Fusiliers finally managed to get into the fight, but the distance, light cover, and numbers of American militia saw the damage spread too thinly to have an effect. The Hessians didn't take any casualties from return fire, but started to accrue Shock. 

John's redcoats were taking a beating from the militia. Sharp Practice doesn't seem to differentiate much between the shooting abilities of militia and trained soldiers, apart from being able to take certain actions like 'Present' or 'Sharp Practice.' This means a horde of poorly trained troops can still put the hurt on trained troops, as Steve was able to do. 

For several turns, this is how the battle looked. The Americans had formed a decent line with their militia horde, while the much patchier line of British and Hessians were managing to hold but taking casualties. 

Chip's wounded leader on the far left recovered and gave the Jaegers a terrible blow. Between that and a 'Dampened Powder' random event, the Jaeger unit was effectively useless. I had to pull them back, rather than let them take any more hits and risk a loss to our side's Morale. This left the flank open for Chip to advance. 

Steve's militia also finally managed to hit the Light Bobs, forcing John to start withdrawing the group lest they also be lost.

However, with how John was rolling (see above; in Sharp Practice, rolling low saves lives), the British seemed invincible! Just ignore the casualties off to the side of the table, there. 

Another random event forced John's flanking group of British Regulars to charge towards the American lines. If they had gone just an inch further, it may have gone badly for the outnumbered redcoats. 

After a few more exchanges of fire, and at the primping of the assembled players, Steve ordered his Militia to charge into the isolated British group. 

In an unexpected turn of events, the British gave better than expected and the Americans ended up fleeing. 

We decided to end the game there as it was getting late. While the British were currently in the lead (8 morale points to the Americans' 5), had the game gone on for longer it may have swung the other way. As I mentioned earlier, the Americans had the greater number and could both put out more shots and spread return fire out through there lines. 

This was a great scenario to learn the rules, so I'm looking forward to playing again, hopefully with some more space to maneuver or with different objectives. But overall, this is yet another win for the Lardies when it comes to writing fun rules that I enjoy. 

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