Friday, May 06, 2016

Sharp Practice v2 1st Attempt

This is not an AAR as we didn't really finish the game since it was our first attempt at playing and we were unfamiliar with the new procedures. Plus all we had was pdf versions of the rules, the hard copies having not yet arrived.  Nothing like having a hard copy when you arr learning a game as it is much easier to look things up, at least for us Baby Boomer types. Two of our tablets ran out of power about 2/3rds way through the game.

This is more like a first review of the new rules and how they played. SP v1 was a good game, but had some problems I've noticed at conventions. Sometimes the Big Men's card hardly ever comes up and the player spends most of the time sitting around doing nothing. Can make for a very boring came especially if you are near enough to the action to be able to shoot. In SPv1, units that didn't activate during the turn, can shoot but not move after the Tiffin card comes up.

I have since modified SPv1 to fix this by allowing players to use the "Grasp the Nettle" cards to activate Leaders instead of just adding Initiatives. Also I added a second Tiffin card and combined with the former modification, that pretty much fixed the inactivity problem. SPv2 has fixed the problem is a similar but slightly different way.

So how does SPv2 compare to v1. Short answer is that its a much different game. If you were expecting SPv1 on steroids, you will be disappointed. It's much more like SPv1 on Ritalin. It's smoothed out, calmer and much more organized. Gone are the "Grasp the Nettle" cards being replace by Command Cards of "Flags" there being usually four of them per side in the card deck or in a set of Tokens whichever you prefer to use. Although that can be used to add Initiative as in SPv1, they can also be used for other things and that is essentially the Key to the game.  With different numbers a Command Cards you can do a variety of things from activating a unit with no leader for two Flags of activating a leader  a second time for four Flags who can then activate units even if they have previously activated. It is essentially a powerful bonus move that can have a great impact on the game. After the Tiffin card is drawn, any units that did not activate during the turn can now be activated by playing one Command Card. So TooFatLardies has essentially incorporated the fix I began using for SPv1 in a much more elegant way that becomes the essential element of the game.

So what else is different. The shooting and melee(Fisticuffs) are pretty much the same mechanism used in v1. There are some slight differences, but players will find them easily adapted to. The requirement that a Leader can command a number of Groups equal of less than his Status Level is gone. A Level one Leader can now activate a Formation of two or more Groups, bu there is a caveat. The following Rule may have been intended for SPv1, but was rarely followed. It was one of the things I felt was wrong about v1. The new rule is as follows:

"Where more than one Leader is attached to a Group or Formation, only the most senior
Leader may activate the Unit."

So no more can players use their lower Level leader to activate units as soon as their card comes up. Command Control is now a big part of the game. Lower Level leader are now used to remove Shock and keep units in Formation. There a few other things they can do, one being to call out a Specialist within his Command Range to perform a task such as a "Marksman" to take a shot. This one Rule makes a big change to the game and is a big improvement over v1.

Set up is different also. There is no reference to "Blinds" in SPv2. Players use "Deployment Points" from which they deploy their units onto the table. This speeds up the game getting forces into contact much sooner than v1.

So what does a game look like. Well here a look at our first attempt. We played for three and a half hours when we had to call it.(The wife wanted her dining room table back for supper). I had set up a simple scenario which was similar to the " Defence in Depth" Scenario given in the rules. American were defending a position with the Brits advancing onto the table. I gave each side two deployment points. Forces were as follows:

British Force:  80 points for core force.

Line Infantry 7th Fusiliers:  30 points
Three Groups of 8 men
One Leader Status III: Ldr 1

One Leader Status I: Ldr 5

Light Infantry:  25 points
Two Groups of 8 men
One Leader Status II: Ldr 2

Provincial Loyalist Regulars:  11 points
Two Groups of eight men

One Leader Status I: Ldr 3

Loyalist Ranger Skirmishers: 10points

One group of six men

One Leader Status I: Ldr 4

Rebellious Colonists:  77 points
Continental Line:  33 points
Three Groups of 8 men
One Leader Status III: Ldr 1
One Leader Status II: Ldr 2

Va. State Line:  21 points
Two Groups of 8 men
One Leader Status II: Ldr 3
One Leader Status I: Ldr 6

State Militia:  12 points
Two Groups of 10 men
One Leader Status II: Ldr 4

Rebel Artillery:  11 points
Med Gun w/5 crew
One Leader, Status I: Ldr5

Additional Canister

So here we have the British side of the table with a Primary Deployment point on the road and a secondary one near the stone wall at the field.

Patriot side of the table with Primary Deployment point near the road and a secondary oneon ther hill in the woods.

Leader One on the British side is first up and he brings the Fusiliers onto the Road in March Column. They get an extra die of movement in this formation as long as they stay on the road.

The Americans 1st bring the Militia on behind some cover(cowardly bastards that they are) and deploy their medium Artillery behind the stone wall on the hill.

 This next photo is a couple of turns later. The Continentals have deployed behind the stone wall on the hill and the Virginia State Line is moving up between the Continentals and the Militia. The gun has been firing at the Fusiliers moving up the road and doing some decent amount of damage.

Another view of the American side. They stayed pretty much in this same position for the rest of the game. The American player lucked out by getting a couple of turns where four Command cards were available. By using his Level III Leader he was able get Bonus Activations for three of his units and was able to do some significant firepower damage on the British.

On the British side, Fusiliers are advancing across the Bridge. The Loyalists are getting hung up due to crossing the stream. Loyalist Skirmisher Group is advancing through the field followed by the British Light Infantry who have been changed from a Line formation to Skirmish Order.

 A view down the table so you can see the relative positions of both sides. Shooting ranges in this game are quite long. Musket range is 24 inches. The 6 pounder medium Gun can shoot out to 60 inches.

The Loyalist Skirmishers took a big hit from the Continentals taking no kills but being encumbered with six point of Shock. It would take them awhile before rally off the shock and be able to do anything. Controlling Shock is a big part of this game as it hinders everything you do. If the Loyalist had received one more point of Shock they would have had to retire.

 This is pretty much as far as the British advanced. The Fusiliers are trying to form Line, but being exposed to the fire of the Artillery, the Va. State Line and the Militia, they ended up taking a lot of casualties and Shock.

 This is as far as the Americans advanced. Both sides were content to sit there and fire at each other.

So with the Sun setting in the West and only one tablet with the rules remaining charged, we decided to call it a day with our first incursion into Spv2.

 I was really impressed with v2 of the Rules. We had trouble because we were unfamiliar with all the details and had to keep looking things up. Next  time I'm sure the game will run a lot smoother and much faster.

I hope you found something worthwhile in this review. A much better explanation of how the game works can be found in this excellent report by the Rules author on his Blog here:  .
I'll be running a SPv2 game at the NHMGS ENFILADE convention over Memorial Day weekend.
There are also two other SPv2 games scheduled so if you can get to Olympia WA for Memorial Day weekend, and are interested in SPv2, then it will be a good opportunity to see the game.