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.


Vladgothic said...

It was very good fun, more French required as you know :-)

Looking forward to the next game!

Simon Quinton said...

It looks fab dude.