Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Peninsular War: First Game of Sharp Practice

This Sunday say my first opportunity to play Sharp Practice 2 down at Earlswood. I refereed the game while Vlad and Dean played the French, and James and Dave played the British.

The French commander, Colonel le Grand Fromage, was leading a force of three groups of line infantry and a group of grenadiers supported by a large skirmish screen of three groups of French and Irish voltegeurs. The British commander, Major Rodger Ramsbottom, lead a force that was larger, and consisted of three groups of King's German Legion (regular line), one group of Highlanders (regular line), one group of Highland Light Infantry (skirmishers), two groups of of Hanoverian Regiment (regular line) and a group of Portuguese Cacadores fighting in line.  

The table was set and sides chosen at random. The battle was the basic battle mission for the rules- keep things simple for the first game. Because the random location of the deployment point meant that they set up at opposite ends of the table the game ended up being fought down the length of the table. The British set up inside a farm with sturdy walls, while the French were advancing from the open farmland. 

The initial  few turns of the battle favoured the French as they were able to get a lot of their men onto the battlefield before the Britsih could get organised. Major Ramsbottom led the Portuguese and the Highlanders out onto one flank to protect the farm, while the Hanoverians took up position along the walls of the farm yard. The Portuguese and Highlanders faced two formations of the French- (they were outnumbered 2-1) but their orders were to hold at all costs. If the French could break their flank the Hanoverian would be in trouble as the French and Irish Voltiguers were getting in position to out flank them. 

The decisive pivot point in the battle came when the King's German Legion turned up, along with a detachment of they Highland Light Infantry, and suddenly the tide seemed to turn in the battle. The Voltiguers who had, up until now, enjoyed the advantages of being able to snipe at the Hanoverian Regiment in the farm found themselves confronted by a huge formation of KGL firing controlled volleys into the orange grove to flush out the French and Irish skirmishers. 

What happened next was, as often happened in Napoleonic battles, a matter of turning the flank. If the Colonel le Grande Fromage could break the Portuguese and the Highlanders with his line infantry he before the voltigeurs broke he could march right up to the flanks of the British line. Similarly, if the KGL could rout the voltigeurs before the British flank broke then they could roll up the French line with ease. 

In the end it was the Voltigeurs who broke first, having been reduced to just two men and having had their officer killed by an unlucky musket ball. This was the beginning of the end for the French. Having lost the flank (and 7 force moral points) Colonel le Grand Fromage decided he would order his men to withdraw. The battle was over. The Irish Legion had lost a lot of men, and a competent officer. The Scots and Portuguese had been badly battered but thanks to the heroic leadership of Major Ramsbottom, they had held off twice their numbers of French line. 

Here are a few Photos from the game...

The French rush forward to push the Hanoverians in the farm yard while Major Ramsbottom leads the Portuguese and Scots out to hold the flank at all costs.

The French (and Irish) Voltigeurs work their way through the orange grove to outflank the Hanoverian Regiment 

The KGL arrive to save the day...and the tide is turned. 

The Irish Voltiguers skirmishing in the orange grove

Highland Light Infantry make their way through a copse of trees towards the Voltigeurs. 

The French Line try to batter the Portuguese and Scottish regiments, but they refuse to break. 

Finally the Voltiguers break, after fighting to almost the last man.

Without the threat of the voltigeurs in the orange grove the KGL begin to manoeuvre to outflank the French line, and Colonel le Grande Fromage begins to withdraw form the field, leaving victory to Major Ramsbottom. 
Overall impressions of Sharp Practice were very favourable. It flows well, and has an instinctive and easy to learn mechanics. Its similarity in many ways to Chain of Command made it even easier for my players to pick up, as we have all played that game. Everyone liked it so much that they want another game at the next club night, but I will have to get some more French painted before then.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Getting Ready For Sharp Practice- Finished stuff.

Since Sharp Practice 2 came out I have been very busy with my Peninsular War Napoleonic skirmish- mostly working on the French, as well as getting my sabot magnetic bases sorted out. in the last two weeks I have painted a house, a cart and nineteen figures!

Here are some photos of what I have been working on. 

First up- a French Deployment Point Marker- Sharp Practice 2, much like Chain of Command, uses deployment markers to denote where troops arrive on the board from. I was hunting around for a suitable marker then I found these two figures- A hussar offering a cantiniere a purse of coins  in exchange for a flagon of strong ale. The Hussar is from Foundry. The cantiniere was from the same  Ebay seller who sold me the Spanish ladies. 

Next up- a French infantry Colonel form Warlord Games. 

These colourful chaps are six Voltergeurs from Perry Miniatures plastic kit. 

 And finally here is my finished house- I want to add some interior details at some point but it will do for now for Sundays game. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Getting ready for Sharps Practice:Magenetic Bases

I was looking for a basing solution that would work well with the 1p coins I use for the bases for my Napoleonic figures, and I came across these trays made by Warbases which include small holes for magnets. I bought some rare earth magnets from ebay and spent last night glueing them into the Warbases trays, and applying sand. They work a treat and as you can see are capable of holding figures in place even if the tray is inverted. This figure is a plastic one but the magnets are just as capable of holding a metal figure. The only problem is that some older copper coins in the UK are not magnetic and when I first started basing my Peninsular War armies I never bothered to check if they were magnetic, as a consequence I will now have to re-base all the figures who don't have magnetic coins as bases (doh!). 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Getting Ready for Sharp Practice: Work In Porgress

Having agreed to run a Sharp Practice game at the next Earlswood Wargames night if occurred to me that I could do with another Spanish farm house as I usually play on a 4x4 board and this game will require a 6x4 table. Here are some Work In Progress shots of my farm house under construction. Blue foam was bought from Atenociti's Workshop, the corrugated card was from Hobbycraft and the doors, balcony and windows were from Warbases. The gaps were filled with ready mixed floor tile grout, and then additional texture was added by rubbing ready mixed fine surface plaster filler onto the blue foam with my finger tips. 

I have still got to paint the windows and the roof, but as you can see I am progressing well. I will post finished pictures as soon as I can. 

Friday, 6 May 2016

A Few Photos from Earlswood

Last weekend I managed to get a game in at my local wargaming club in Earlswood. I played Fighting Sale by Ryan Miller, and published by Osprey. It is a naval wargame- we fought an engagement between the French and British navy during the Napoleonic wars. Vlad brought along his huge armada of very tiny ships. It was great fun, even if I lost two third rate ships to Vald's shockingly fluky dice rolling. I took lost of photos of the game but unfortunately the game was not very photogenic, being fought on a big blue cloth with tiny ships.

 Elsewhere Big Al et al were fighting a battle from the American Civil War, which I had no idea who won, but looked very pretty and was far more photogenic. 

Here are some photos of both games. 

Saturday, 30 April 2016

First Impressions of Sharp Practice 2

Sharp Practice 2 arrived this week and I have just finished reading it. I have yet to play the game but I am very excited about the new rules.

I had the old Sharp Practice but I always found the rules were a bit disorganised and a little bit rough round the edges. Added to this was the fact that my regular gaming opponent, Pulp Citizen, strongly dislikes games which don’t have at least some sort of point based system to give a ‘fair’ game. I did like the quirky character generation rules that imbued your leaders with personalities and back stories, as this really helped to get the Bernard Cornwall/ CS Foster feel for the game. But in the end we never really played the old Sharp Practice, preferring to play smaller skirmishes with Songs of Drums and Shakos.

Sharp Practice 2 is very different animal to its predecessor. First impressions are that it is a slick produced, and good quality rule book:  modern and full colour all the way through, as you would expect. There are lots of nice colour photographs of figures too, although no illustrations. The next thing which struck me after a casual flick through the rules was how superficially similar it looked to Chain of Command (obviously by the same writer/production team). This similarity continued to strike me as I started reading the rules. Players familiar with Chain of Command will be already familiar with many of the concepts in Sharp Practice 2- Deployment Points, Random Movement, shock points etc. At first I wondered if Richard Clarke had just adapted the winning formula from Chain of Command to the Napoleonic period but the more I read the more I realised that this wasn’t CoC, but rather something new. It borrows form CoC, then mashes them up with the old Sharp Practice, and what comes out is a well written, well produced rules that it very fit for purpose, and yet retains much of the character and narrative driven of the original Sharp Practice rules.

The rules are written in a manner that suggest it is not to be taken too seriously (I wonder how well this will go down with some of the notoriously serious-minded Napoleonic gamers). For example close quarters battle is called ‘Fisticuffs’ and there are rules for some of your men deserting in search of loot of being lured away by attractive milkmaids. The character generation rules from the original rules have, thankfully, been retained, and even expanded on. I was glad to see they kept the rules for caddish officers seducing ladies, as these were something of a unique selling point in a wargame rules.

While the original Sharp Practice focused on the Napoleonic Wars, Sharp Practice 2 expands the period to cover from 1700-1865. There are army lists for the French and Indian Wars, the American War of Independence, The Peninsular War, The American Civil War and The Indian Mutiny included in the core rules, and Richard Clarke is promising to make many more army lists available on the Two Fat Lardies website. I am particularly please with this as I have forces for the French and the British for the Peninsular War, and I am building up forces for the French and Indian Wars. I have also always wanted to wargame Clive of India’s campaigns, and there is a good chance there rules would fit the bill nicely. The army lists have a point based system, and a lot of flexibility in how you build your forces, as well as the chance to take support options not normally used in wargames, such as supply wagons and engineers

My overall impression is that this is a great game that brings the original Sharp Practice rules up to date without compromising its charm and narrative driven plotlines. This could be my new go-to rules for 18th and 19th  century wargaming. 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Frostgrave: Bargin Terrain

Last week I walked past an Oxfam charity shop and, entirely on a whim, through I would pop in and look at the ornaments for something I could use in Frostgrave. I was looking for a little statue, perhaps a dragon or a knight, but what I found were a pair of resin candlestick holders. They were SO ugly it beggars belief that anyone would have bought them in the first place. I think the staff at the charity shop must have thought I was half mad because as soon as I saw them I knew I had to have them. They were painted red and gold, and had multicoloured plastic jewels glued to them- tacky beyond belief. 
Once I got home I had a rummage through my bits box and found a couple of  suitable figures to adorn the candlesticks- in this case two old GW wizards I had had in my lead pile for more years than I care to remember. These wizards are lovely sculpts but alas both of them had their staffs broken so had no eBay value and so, after some soul-searching, I glued then to the candlesticks and sprayed them black. 
These pictures show the end results: a quick and easy paint job; some white fine surface plaster for snow and some plastic icicles from a model railway shop and the tacky tat was transformed into two Frostgrave monuments! 
And the cost for this transformation...£1.98.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Frostgrave: A Rat Familar

One of the things I love about painting figure for Frostgrave is that you can reuse just  about any fantasy figure for you war-band., I bought this figure off a seller at the West Midlands Military Show but unfortunately I can't for the life of me remember who made it, which is a shame because it is a cool figure. I am not sure what it will be in Frost Grave (if it features at all) but it cheered me up to paint it so I don't care. It stands (sits? ) about a cm tall, pulse the head dress. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Frostgrave: The Frost Wrath

Here is another wandering monster for Frost Grave- This one is a Frost Wrath (produced by Northstar).
I painted it by by adding increasing amount of ice blue paint (instead the bone colour I usually use to highlight) to the grey as I highlighted it, carefully blending the layers together- this simple trick gave the figure a nice cold feel without being too obvious. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Peninsular War: Guerilla Leader

This figure was bought on Ebay from the same seller who sold the all female gun crew. It is very much in the Richard Sharpe style rather than any attempt at being historically accurate! It's a nice model, although the weapons are not particularity well sculpted- especially the pistol, which is very chunky and soft on details. I could have swapped the pistol, but in the end I decided I could live with it as it is. Never the less it is a good model that was fun to paint- you can see I have taken extra care with the shading on the cleavage.