November 7, 2017 by crew
Welcome to Part Two of my look at the different Periods of Sharp Practice. I’ll be using the words Patriot (American/Rebel) and Crown (British/Loyalist) to help make everything clear. I’m using the American Revolution as our setting, specifically the southern theatre in the Carolinas.
Tit for tat raids and looting between the militia on both sides really brought the war into the homes of average people in the Carolinas and Southern Theatre of the American Revolution. The Patriot, a movie, is based in the Carolinas contains a number of scenes that would translate very well onto the tabletop using Sharp practice although the historical accuracy of the movie itself is basically non-existent.
The Cotton Field ambush with Crown troops deployed on a road and Patriot deployment points on either side of it would make an interesting game. While the British counter ambush with two deployment points sandwiching a Patriot force who must escape at all costs would replicate the famous scene from the movie and make a fun game.
This time we’re heading to the Carolina frontier in the year 1779 where members of a local town have been arrested and held for questioning in a small farmhouse near Crown lines. A Crown detachment is on its way to interrogate them and find the location of the Patriot supply base hidden in the nearby area. Getting wind of this the Patriot forces race to the town attempting to release the captives before the Crown forces can arrive.
The mission is ‘Rescue Mission’ from the main Sharp Practice book using the Southern Militia and Mixed Regular Force lists for the Patriots and Crown respectively. The scenario begins with the prisoners deployed in the corner of the board, Patriots in the opposite corner and the Crown in between the two. The Patriots then deployed a Secondary deployment point near the farmhouse while the Crown deployed eight men along with a Status I leader in the building containing the prisoners. Only one Crown leader may arrive per turn.
Patriot forces are made up of a status two leader commanding four groups of eight State Line, a status two leader commanding two groups of eight Continental Marines and a status two leader commanding two groups of six Frontier Skirmishers with rifles. The Crown forces are made up of a status three leader commanding two groups of eight regulars, a status two leader commanding two groups of eight light infantry and a status one leader commanding six skirmishers.
Both forces have a Marksmen who is a powerful long-range sniper while the Patriot forces have bought both a Preacher, who can lift shock, and some implements to start fires while the Crown has enlisted the services of a doctor to keep their leaders in the game.
The Patriot’s tactics are simple, The Marines and Skirmishers will quickly overwhelm the prison guards while the State Line will rush along the road to hold it while the prisoners, escorted by the skirmishers, make a run for the deployment point while the rest of the force holds the Crown off.
If the Crown forces won’t leave their buildings the Marines are perfectly willing to burn them out. The Crown’s plan is to rush the road and cut the Patriots in half before mopping them up one by one. The prison guards are going to dig in as much as possible and delay the prisoner’s release.
We shuffled the deck and started the game.
To Your Posts Gentlemen!
The battle kicks off with the Patriot State Line deploying on the road while Patriot skirmishers deploy in the woods near the prison and fire on the guards inflicting massive damage on them, with some very lucky dice rolls, wounding their commander and making them essentially leaderless. The Marines then deploy in the woods in support of the skirmishers. Crown skirmishers deploy and head towards the prison, taking pot shots at the Marine’s rear inflicting some shock.
Hearing the gunfire the Crown Commander advances onto the field with caution while the Patriot skirmishers reload and move to flank the prisoner. The State Line start moving along the road but not as fast as their Commander would like, they too must be spooked by the unseen musket fire. The prison guards present and fire at the Marines but inflict no damage.
The last of the Crown forces, Light Infantry in line, arrive on the field and run towards the road along with their Regular counterparts. By now the Crown and Patriot forces are the same distance from the road. The Patriot Skirmishers fire at the Crown skirmishers inflicting some shock and killing one man, the leader then activates the marksman who takes careful aim and manages to kill the Crown Skirmishers leader.
The next turn consists of Crown Light infantry advancing towards the road, State Line getting into position but not where they would have like to be and Patriot skirmishers reloading as the only activation. By now the Patriots have done some damage to the Crown’s Force Moral.
The Whites Of Their Eyes
Here we see a big difference between the American Civil War and War of Independence; ranges. During the Civil War the Patriots could have been under effective flanking fire as they took up position on the road but because of the shorter ranges, they were able to get into position without incident.
The Patriot skirmishers fire on the Crown skirmishers causing them to flee from the field while the Marines fire a volley and rout the prison guards. A random event then occurs and due to a lack of ammunition the Marines have their shooting halved and since they don’t have an ammunition cart this will last for the rest of the engagement. The State Line receive two volleys from the Crown Line bearing down on them but stand fast on the road and fire back.
The Patriots skirmishers move into the woods in an attempt to close down on the Crown deployment point but find navigating the woods difficult. The Marines free the prisoners and start escorting them on a path behind the State Line to the deployment point. The Crown Regulars and Light Infantry fire and advance towards the State Line.
Hold The Line! Hold The Line!
The State Line deploy their preacher who fails to inspire many men and they subsequently attempt to charge the Crown but fail as the Crown Commander seizes the initiative and charges his own men into the State Line. Using his superior men the Crown Commander manages to throw the Patriots back who are then charged in the rear by the Crown Light infantry who rout the State Line and capture the Patriot commander.
Sharp Practice has an excellent mechanic when it comes to Prisoners. For every five prisoners, one man must be allocated to guard them. This meant that even though the Crown wiped out the Patriot Line they still lost a few men to Guard Duty. If you do want to take prisoners, whether it’s for a particular scenario or for narrative effect, as we did in this scenario, you have to weigh the cost of losing those few men.
The Marines swing toward the Regulars but take a while to get into position. The skirmishers halt their advance towards the Crown Deployment Point and fire at the Light Infantry to no effect.
The Crown Regulars pivot and reload, ready to react to this new threat in their rear which is also done by the Light infantry as the move to engage the Patriot Skirmishers. The Marines struggle to form up but eventually get into position and either they or the Crown Regulars will get to volley and charge in the next turn.
The Crown Regulars come under fire from the skirmishers before the Skirmishers are routed by the Crown Light Infantry. The Crown Regulars then activate, fire, then charge the Marines who they route from the field while capturing the Marine Leader who was wounded in the melee. The Regulars recapture the prisoners along with the Patriot Leader putting Patriot Force moral over it’s breaking limit. Victory for the Crown.
All In All A Fine Outing Chaps!
In this game, the Command cards took on a different role than in our last game. Rather than a strategy of using four cards to reactivate units, both players used their cards to boost their units with crashing volleys and step out orders. The Crown player also used three cards to interrupt the Patriot turn and counter-charge the State Line which was the turning point of the game.
If the State Line had been allowed to charge the Crown not only would the Crown bonus for having a higher troop quality rating be cancelled out, because they were unloaded, the State Line would then not be charged in the rear by the Crown Light infantry, which was the nail in their coffin.
Another excellent part of Sharp Practice is the ability to gamble with your Command Cards. It’s a huge part of the game especially when it gets to smaller engagements like this one where a crashing volley here and an interrupt there can turn the tables. A random event also caused a lot of grief for the Patriot player with the best unit in his force being hobbled when shooting.
Small rules designed to add flavour to the game also played a large role in this battle with the Patriot skirmishers tap loading their rifles twice to rout both the Prison Guards and Crown skirmishers in quick secession. Rifles, in this period, require two reload actions before they can be fired again but players can opt to ‘tap reload’ them which involves pouring the powder into the weapon and spitting the ball down the barrel rather than using a ramrod which takes a long time.
The weapon is then treated as a musket rather than a rifle. If you’re curious, check out Sharpe’s Eagle where Sharpe demonstrates it.
The other important special rule was “Hearth and Home” which the Patriot State Line had. Hearth and Home have two versions depending on whether you’re fighting in your home region, as these men were, or fighting away from home if these men had been fighting in another State or away from their homes.
The first version allows your men to ‘step out’ easier which lets them move faster using fewer cards. The other version makes your men worse in close combat in historically appropriate scenarios.
British Steel Or Revolutionary Zeal?
Being of a higher troops quality the British had an advantage in melee and combined with the Militia being unloaded it gave the British player an incentive to get close to the Militia while they decided it was better to charge than be charged.
The Crown knew that the Militia couldn’t retreat as they needed that road. In a normal situation, the Militia could simply have backed away and kept firing at the Crown troops giving them an extra round or two of shooting before they’re charged but anchoring themselves to the road proved to be a huge problem. Crown troops would have been far better at holding the road as they had the option of taking the fight to the enemy in melee intentionally instead of as a last resort.
With their Prisoners back in irons, the Militia Leader Captured, a Continental Marine Lieutenant taken Prisoner, the spirit of one of the last Patriot forces in the area broken for good, a few dozen extra prisoners and most of the Crown forces in good order the Crown achieve a Major Victory.
What do you guys think? Do you prefer lots of cheap troops or only the King’s best?
Join us for the next instalment where some American Provincials attempt to turn the tables on a French Raiding party in the French & Indian War.
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"This time we're heading to the Carolina frontier in the year 1779 where members of a local town have been arrested and held for questioning in a small farmhouse near Crown lines..."
"What do you guys think? Do you prefer lots of cheap troops or only the King's best?"