My son Charlie and I managed to get a game in last week. We played Songs of Drums and Shakos, a game from Ganesha Games. Based on the same mechanics as Songs of Blades and Heroes and Fist Full of Kung Fu. As you might have guessed Drums and Shakos is set in the Napoleonic wars and introduces rules for muskets, rifles, cannons etc. It has two advantages (as far as I am concerned) over Sharp Practice: you only need 10-20 figures a side, which makes it much easier to get a game together, and it is a really simple mechanic, which makes it great for Charlie to learn. In fact Charlie said that this, and Blades and Heroes, are his favourite games, even better that Lord of the Rings!
The game was based on a shore party from the HMS Endurance, attempting to find a well or spring where they can replenish their ships depleted water reserve (following an unfortunate accident involving a rat and a cabin boy). Lieutenant Ragley was in charge of the party, which consisted of 13 sailors.
Lt Ragley (Q4+ C2, Leader, Pistol, Sword)
Able Seaman Stumpy (Q4, C2, Sword)
4 Big Lads (Q4, C2, Strong, Sword, Pistol)
4 Salty Seamen (Q4, C2, Muskets and Swords)
4 Jack Tars (Q4, C2, Muskets)
Unfortunately for Lt Ragley and the crew of the HMS Endurance, the area of coast line they had landed on, was being paroled by Jean Bonnet, a lieutenant in a French imperial line infantry regiment. He was accompanied by 9 grenadiers and 2 fusiliers.
Lt Bonnet, (Q4 C2, Leader, Pistol, Sword)
Grenadier (Q4, C2, Strong, Muskets)
Fusiliers (Q4, C2 Muskets)
Lt bonnet lead his grenadiers to the orange grove, where they formed up a firing line, ready to repel the sailors. The grenadiers were all big, strong soldiers, and didn't think much of the sea rats they were to fight- they hardly compared to a red-jacket!
The Battle began with the crack of musketry as the grenadiers and the jack tars exchanged ineffectual fire at long range. The big lads, armed for boarding actions and close quarters battle took advantage of the French reloading to sprint forwards, vaulting over a rickety fence and closing to within range of their pistols.
The two fusiliers moved up one flank to snipe at the RN officer, but their fire wasn't terribly accurate, and all they succeeded in doing was driving him into cover.
It was quite a coup for Lieutenant Ragley (RN). He lost only one sailor, but captured a French officer. Who knows what intelligence the navy will be able to learn from the prisoner. As for Bonnet, well it is likely the Frenchman will spend the rest of the war as a prisoner-of-war, or else be ransomed back to the French in exchange for some British prisoners.
As for the game, both Charlie and I thought that Songs of Drums and Shakos was a great system, full of fast pace action, and very easy to learn. The sizes of the forces involved were ideal for my mini table and for my collection. Personally I get bored if I have to paint 20-30 minis of the same type, but these sizes of engagements are ideal.