Last night Tom and I spent a very pleasant Friday evening at chez Steve M.
I am very fortunate that Steve lives just four doors along from me and so as well as enjoying a long friendship, an evening of wargaming it is only a short walk home after all the fun.
Steve has been building a superb collection of 28mm French Indian Wars with which we have played many a game of Muskets and Tomahawks and more recently Donnybrook. Last night it was an opportunity to take the new lady, Sharp Practice II, out for a first date.
To give the game a simple test we set up a straight forward march and ambush scenario with Tom commanding two companies of British regulars, two companies of Rangers and a company of American volunteers tasked with escorting a VIP along the road to safety. Each troop type had a II level commander and to support his force he chose a sniper specialist, a physic and a musician.
|Our game table with the French jump off markers indicated and the British march direction|
As we knew this game would take up time getting to grips with and interpreting the rules, Steve held the ring with rule book and markers to hand and a certain amount of time was spent thumbing through the rules to clarify and understand the process of play. I should at this point say, I do not intend to give a detailed breakdown of the rules and how they are played, as you can do no better for that by following the link to the Lardies You-Tube video play throughs for that level of detail.
|The British column enters the table along the road|
As the fight developed in the centre, the Indians and Rangers skirmished in the wood with honours even, whilst Tom brought the Americans through the farmstead garden to attempt to flank the French regulars.
However the British regulars were so hard hit with casualties and shock they were forced to fall back down the road, and the French regulars were able to wheel and decimate the Americans with volley fire that caused the remnants to rout back to the table edge.
At that point we ended the game.
|The regulars guard the VIP (Tom's expertly painted young lady), with American volunteers and Rangers guarding the front and flanks of the column|
Well as a confirmed admirer and player of the Lardies rule sets Sharp Practice felt very familiar and well crafted.
We all realised that familiarity would bring out the full potential of these rules as the flexibility to command and react to situations that the command (flag) cards offers demands that appreciation to take advantage of that flexibility, something none of us had in our first game.
|The view from the French ambush point|
Springing the ambush for the French was very tricky and I found myself constantly tempted to attack and shoot prematurely which I found hard to resist as I waited for a better opportunity. When the right opportunity presented, the French regulars and the Coureur de Bois were able to practically coordinate their attacks that devastated the British line, with a fortuitous first draw Tiffin card that enabled the French regulars to reload ready for the next turn.
|The French commander deploys his regulars into line in a clearing supported by the female physic (well they are French) a drummer and with the Indians deployed in the woods on the other side of the road.|
|As the ambush is sprung, Steve thumbs through the rules to check the process|
|Tom contemplates his next move as the French pour on the musketry|
|The firing was uncontrolled but at close range highly effective|
|As the French commander oversees his attack on the British regulars his eye is drawn to the sneaky Americans moving in on his right flank|
|The British regulars recoil in disorder from the surprise French barrage|
So how did our date go and what are the first impressions? I really like her. She has lots of potential to bridge the gap between skirmish and big battle type games.
The command and control rules are to me her greatest assets and the coyness of the way she suggests all the opportunities to display that control in a better understanding of the options with more playing and understanding of the rules only adds to her allure.
Sharp Practice bears all the hallmarks of her good family connections, always ready to show you a good time but with enough depth for the discerning simulation gamer. She was not designed to spend time with rule lawyers and will only be at her best in the company of gentlemen wargamers prepared to play the period and not the rules, so if like me you have been out with any of her sisters I am sure you will enjoy spending time with this young lady.