Friday, 13 May 2016

First Game of Sharp Practice 2

Steve and I made our way over to the Ilko Gaming Hut last night so that the combined Sherwood Hucknall Ilkeston Team could give Sharp Practice 2 a go.
Both General Ballroom and I have been quite excited and giddy about this ruleset. Though inevitably it is Steve who has done the most painting.
When it turned out Gen. B had painted only a single 8 man group and myself just a further two whilst he had a fully painted force "and plenty more besides". Steve, being a quiet and retiring type, hardly mentioned it at all over and over again for the next three hours or so.

Anyways, we cobbled together roughly equal forces from the Peninsular pre 1812 lists (another failing here - apparently I'd misremembered and suggested Steve only needed to bring six Voltiguers. True to form he hardly mentioned this every five minutes for the next three hours either)

So we set forth, thumbing frantically back and forth and questioning and remembering stuff and then forgetting it all.

The French had a second deployment point (note to self: this was very handy - get one in future) and had most of their force deployed in defensible positions before any redcoats arrived. As a result we spent much of the game pinned in the corner of the board.

The Frenchies deploy

Over the next few turns the rifles pushed up on our left flank and initially shot up the French advance. Meantime the British regulars indulged in a futile firefight with the Voltigeurs behind a wall.

And give fire

Eventually the weight of the French attack fell on the rifles and we discovered how fisticuffs work (in favour of the formed up infantry, not the puny skirmishers as it happens)

Allez mes braves!

By this time the British right had awoken and was advancing on the French, though three command cards in a row turned the field all muddy or something and slowed me right down.

The thin red line gives fire

At this point we ran out of steam and beer and called a halt.

So how was it?
Overall it was OK.
We struggled a bit at first with the rules, but soon had most of the basics down.
The French looked splendid and overall it felt quite Napoleonic and rewarded the better player (Steve) using the better tactics.
It all felt a bit static and repetitive at times, but that is probably more to do with the rapid initial French deployment and failure to use the Command Cards very well. And I suspect that was a bit true of Napoleonic firefighting (though I seem to remember CoC bogging down like that a little at times too).
I think we'll get faster and better and when we work out how to use Command Cards effectively we'll be proper dangerous.
However herein lies my chief concern - the core rules are very simple and effective, but it's the command cards that make the game and I worry that my old simple, straightforward brain hasn't enough space in it to ever master the cards effectively.

I cautiously enjoyed it. I liked it much better than Dux Brit - it's much clearer and easier to understand. From my limited knowledge it looks like it gives a pretty good approximation of Napoleonic skirmishes. In the hands of clever players who know what they're doing and remember all the card stuff I'm sure it'll be great - but I'm not convinced we'll ever quite master that enough to get a really challenging game going. As a rulesset I think it's good, well written, mostly pretty clear and with lots to get your teeth into. It just may be a bit too challenging for what we can cope with.

But I'm certainly going to paint up some more models and give it a good go.


  1. Nice review - looking forward to giving it a go too. Also think the command system will favour players with bigger and more cunning brains than mine. Just as long as it's fun!

    1. Yes, I suspect that's my issue Mike. It'll reward my oponent who has a better brain for this kind of thing.
      I much prefer games that eliminate the ability to remember stuff from the equation.

  2. Very good review. One of my concerns about CoC is that of the "static and repetitive" game, some times.

    1. Thanks Juan,
      I have to say that's not been my experience in *every* game, but sometimes CoC does bog down a little as groups fire over walls at one another.
      On the other hand it's probably quite a realistic depiction of the reality of both Napoleonic and WW2 skirmishing.