Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Sharp Practice at NHMGS ENFILADE Convention

I put on two Sharp Practice games at the Northwest Historical Miniature Gaming Society's annual Enfilade Convention in Olympia, WA over Memorial Day weekend. I'm not sure how I liked the way the games played. There were a few problems. Things never go as you intend them and I was probably a little over ambitious with the amount of troops I put on the table. Even so, I had fun with the games and so if nothing else, with this write you might learn "How Not to Do Things" with Sharp Practice.

The first game which I did on Friday evening's game session was a large game titled "Sharpe's Underwear". We only had four players which included myself. The second game I did Saturday evening  was a smaller "Blow up the Bridge" game, but I had more players. I'll try to do an AAR for that game at a later date.

I originally wrote up the Scenario for "Sharpe's Underwear" as a sort of meeting engagement with troops coming on to the table on Blinds. I did that at a previous convention and it just took too long before the troops got into action. So this time I started the game with a melee and most of the troops of both sides well onto the table. That worked well and we soon into it with plenty of action going on. The Briefing for the British Side is as follows:

The British objective is for Captain Sharpe to meet up with the partisan girl Rosarita at the Chapel where she will show him where the Sacred Undergarments of Saint Facundus are hidden. Sharpe must spend an action to recover the box. Once acquired they must be turned over to the Spanish Captain and safely exited off the table within 2 feet of road at entry point A.

Richard Sharpe, Status III, commands along with Lieutenant Longrod McHugendong, Status II, Sergeant Harper, Status II, Ensign Oxebbauls, Status I and Sergeant Vyle Habet, Status I. They have with them twenty riflemen and thirty red-coated infantry of the 89th Regiment. The Rifles are good troops, the infantry are average. The battle begins with Sharpe and Harper assaulting the French Sentries in the Church and the other troops deployed as shown on the map.

The Spanish are commanded by Capitain Don Juan Alehandro, Maria Esteban, Alphonso, Status II. With him are Sergeant Benardo Eduardo, Status 1 with twenty soldiers. They are Poor troops and set up just South of the wooded hill near the center of the table.. Their goal is to simply acquire the sacred relics from Sharpe and exit off the table as above. Capitain Alphonso need not follow Sharpe’s orders as he feels he is superior to the English. There is also a Group of ten Spanish guerrillas under El Ratto, Status I in the Northeast section of the wooded hill. All the Spanish are rated as Poor Troops. 

Lt Shrapnel Smythe, Status I commands the Rocket Battery which enters at Point A on the second turn. He has 4 artillery men with him and will follow Shape’s direction

So the game starts with Sharpe, Harper and a Group each of Rifles and Light Company infantry assaulting the Chapel which is defended by eight French who have been distracted by Rosarita.

The French are easily defeated and route out the chapel and down the road where they might possibly get rallied. Rosarita shows Sharpe where the sacred underwear, but when he opens the box there is nothing there but some bones. Sharpe must then decide whether to give the box "as is" to the Spanish or perhaps put someone else's underwear in there. Hey! They'll never know. He has several choices:
1. use his
2. order one of his men to remove theirs
3. use the one form one of  the dead French
4. convince Rosarita to remove hers.

The reason for all the intrigue with the underwear, I'll explain in a minute, but here is the Briefing for the French player:

Major Pierre Dufos of the Imperial intelligence Service has been thwarted too many times by the devilish, Richard Sharpe. He has now laid a fiendish trap in which he hopes to rid of the pesky British Rifleman once and for all. By chance, the relics of Saint Facundus have come into his possession. Aware of their significance, he knows Wellington will send the dastardly Richard Sharpe to retrieve them. He arranges the box to be delivered to the local priest. With all the guerilla activity in the area, it won’t take long for word to reach the British. Although commandeering all available troops in his area may have exceeded his authority, he knows the success of capturing or killing Sharpe will certainly overshadow any transgressions he may have made.

Major Dufos has arranged for some Polish troops who were passing trough, to patrol to the west of town. He tells their officer, Kapitan Bronski to attack toward the chapel when he hears the bells being tolled. He has placed some French sentries in the chapel to ring the bell when the British are sighted. To the South and West he has some Dragoons also ready to attack when the signal is given. He and his French troops will attack from the town thereby hopefully surrounding Sharpe and preventing his escape.

Kapitan Bronski is an Officer in the 4th Polish Regiment in the service of France headed to join his battalion in the South of Spain with new recruits. For some reason he has been temporarily ordered to assist the local French Commander, Major Dufos with an ambush of British troops. While the Kapitan dislikes Major Dufos, he will follow his orders as he is an honorable man and believes his service to France is in hope that Napoleon will eventually restore the Polish nation. As a devout Catholic Kapitan Bronski had visited the local chapel to pray. While kneeling, he noticed a stone out of place near the altar. Investigating he found a box hidden there. Upon opening it he discovered only some old bones and a filthy rag. Using the rag to clean his boots, he is surprised when the local priest comes in, sees him, shouts something unintelligible and promptly falls over dead. Thinking the box contains the bones of some revered Saint and not wishing to commit a sacrilege, Kapitan Bronski returned the box with bones to its hiding place. The rags he later burned in the fireplace. He now waits on the outskirts of the village, waiting for the signal to advance toward the old chapel.

The French force is made up of ten Voltiguer Elite Infantry and twenty Fusiliers rate Good coming down the road on the North side of the bridge. Lieutenant Gillet, Status II leads them along with Sergeant Bagel, Status I. Sierzant Fiutek, Status I whose Light gun is sitting unmanned on the hill just North of the bridge arrives with three other artillerymen down the road with Lieutenant Gillet’s Groups . In the church is Sergeant Ordour, Status I with four more Fusiliers and four Polish Gunners who were supposed to be acting as Sentries but have been distracted by Rosarita.

Major Dufos, Status III is in overall command of the French and Polish troops and arrives with Lieutenant Gillet’s Fusiliers .

Crossing the Cala de Mierda at the ford, is Kapitan Bronski, Status III, Lieutenant Piotrowski, Status II and Sergeant Hallitoski, Status I with thirty Polish Infantry. The twenty Polish Fusiliers are all Regular troops. The ten Grenadiers and Voltiguer group are Elite. The Voltigeurs are just across the ford with the Fusiliers following behind..

Off table to the South is Lieutenant Baguette, Status II and Sergeant Sauvignon, Status I with 12
Dragoons. These cavalry are good troops. They will enter at Entry point C on the third turn. Lieutenant Fontenoy , Level I, follows them with ten Fusiliers on Turn 5.

Ok, so that's the setup. We used some mods to the rules, the main one being Simon Walker's use of GTN cards to allow Big Men to activate before their card comes up ( it's described here: http://toofatlardies.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=2011&hilit=grasp+the+nettle#p15163). Also, in addition to the Sharp Practice card in the deck there was a Pas de Charge and an Ancient Relics card. Whenever the Ancient Relics card came up, the side whose underwear ended up being placed in the Box got a choice of one of the following:

1.       Unit gets one extra Action Dice to use.
2.       Add +1 dice per three men firing
3.       Add +1 to each firing dice
4.       Add +1 to Effect of Hits dice roll
5.       Add +3D6 to fisticuffs roll
6.       Immediately remove up to three shock points

So the game started with lots of action. Sharpe convinced Rosarita to put her undergarments in the box, but then the player managing Sharpe continued to occupy the chapel instead of high tailing it across the table to join up with the Spanish. Not sure why but it certainly made it extremely hard for the British to have a chance at winning. Below the Riflemen and Redcoats have no trouble ejecting the French from the Chapel. I think there were two killed on the British side and four of the Frenchmen.

 Below is a view from the French side. Poles are about to cross the ford and French Voltiguers at the Bridge. Polish gunners are manhandling a light gun up to the front of the hill. It was not terribly effective during the game, but did some damage, mainly adding Shock to the Rifles at the Chapel.

Below we see the Spanish moving up and the Guerrillas advancing into the woods.

 Ensign Oxebbauls with the rest of the British and the Rocket Battery advancing. It took them awhile to get into position mainly because the last Tiffin card kept coming up before they had a chance to move.

 Lieutenant Baguette and the French Dragoons wasted no time, charging toward the Light Company British outside the Chapel as soon as they arrived. They made short work of the Redcoats who retreated into the Chapel. The Rifles had already moved into the courtyard behind stone walls to take pot shots at the advancing French.

Below we see the French staring to form up to engage the British holding the Chapel. Previous to this the Polish Elite Voltigeur Group had charged the Poor Quality Spanish Guerrillas in the woods and were soundly trounced loosing half their number and getting eight Points of Shock. Ouch! The Spanish seemed to have the lucky die rolls this game while the Poles seemed to roll consistently bad. Maybe it was Rosarita's underwear in the box that did the trick. Next time I think I will rate the Guerrillas as "Weedy Coves"  to reflect what should be their true nature..

Here is view from the Spanish side with the Poles now in Line formation dueling the Spanish also in Line.Right side Spanish look disorganized but really weren't. The figures just wouldn't stand up properly on the edge of the hill.

 Ensign Oxebbaul has gotten his command to engage the newly arrive French under Lieutenant Fontenoy but game ended before much damage was done to either side at this end of the table.
The Rocket Battery fired a couple of rounds which went all over the place before exploding uselessly and doing no damage. They have been pretty much useless weapons in every game we had them, but are fun to watch..

It was getting to the end of the game period and Sharpe was still stuck in the Chapel Courtyard so we allowed him and the rifles to make one last charge against the dismounted Dragoons. The Rifles won the melee by one, but suffered casualties one of which was Captain Sharpe who was grievously injured. Since Sharpe was out of action and the French were closing in, the game was ruled a Victory for the French.

I enjoyed the game, but would have to say the scenario is flawed. There were perhaps too many troops on the table for the number of players, but even so I thought the game moved quickly with lots of action going on each turn. I think maybe the map needs to be redone to facilitate Sharpe having some cover to get across the table. The threat of the French Cavalry perhaps discouraged the player in charge of Sharpe from attempting to leave the Chapel. We had playtested this scenario before the convention and Sharpe was easily able to succeed but the French arrivals were delayed more than this game. So i had the French cavalry arrive sooner, but perhaps it was just too soon.

The map came from another scenario we did a long time ago entitled Skirmish at Cala de Mierda.

In that game we were using a variant of TSATF Rules. The AAR can be found in the Files Section of the NapSkirmish Yahoo Group:  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/NapSkirmish/info

I had wanted to use the same map as the name of the stream translated to something that seems appropriate to a Richard Sharpe adventure. In any event, I'll tweak the Scenario some more and try it again. Any suggestions or comments you have are welcome.


DeanM said...

Mitch: I'm a bit surprised, and impressed as well, that you're still running SP. I recall being in your game several years ago when the rules first came out. Since then, I've found it a bit too fiddly - particularly for conventions. I'm thinking Muskets and Tomahawks (modified to fit the period) would also work for Napoleonic skirmish. It seems to flow faster and card driven too. Anyway, great to see you at the con - although I didn't have too much time (as you) GMing several games.

Mitch Berdinka said...

Yes Dean, GMing takes a lot of time ans then your too worn out to play in someone else's game. Don't know why we keep doing it. Had fun though. Have to admit I'm kinda hooked on SP. Just need to do smaller games. Looking forward to doing it again next year.