The hardened core of 'The Friday Night Raconteurs' (meaning me and two others who evidently had nothing better to do on a Friday night) managed to get in a game of Sharp Practice 2. Feeling typically lazy, I took a scenario from 'The Complete Fondler' which depicts our hero Richard Fondler, armed with his trusty Baker Rifle and never-mashed-by-a-shako 90's mullet, bravely attempting to save his fellow Riflemen from a horde of French dragoons, who are hell-bent on converting Spain to Napoelon's version of the EU.
|Jeremy and Peter looking far too happy. Hmm, what do they know that I don't?|
As Jeremy had not yet played the rules, we decided to partner him with Peter who is a seasoned vet. Twirling my moustache and taking a swig of my (cheap) Bordeaux, I took on the role of the dastardly French commander.
As the scenario is set in the aftermath of a British battalion being run down by French cavalry, I ruled that the Riflemen would come onto the table in sporadic groups, with Lieutenant Fondler having to regroup them in time for a defense against the oncoming dragoons. In turn, I had the French cavalry enter the same way, reasoning that they would be dispersed, having been busy sabering fleeing Redcoats. I also had their mounts move at a penalty to reflect their being blown from the previous charge and the subsequent pursuit.
The game went off rather well with the British getting very lucky on the early activations. This enabled them to concentrate most of their numbers on a rocky hilltop, forming a small ragged square to help fend off the cavalry.
|The Rifles legging it to a rocky outcrop.|
The French commander, emboldened by his regiments success offboard, tried to charge the Riflemen as they dashed to the hill, but the dragoons' poor winded mounts were not up to the task and could not carry them to the enemy in time. The French, in turn, were seen off by accurate rifle fire from both the square and the Riflemen skirmishing on the rocky outcrop.
|The Dragoons run out of gas in the face of the Rifles...|
Rebuffed, the French then tried to keep the Rifles in square by threatening them with a portion of their cavalry while the remainder dismounted to start peppering them with carbine fire. All the while more French reinforcements arrived...
|The French crash out volleys at the Rifles on the hill. Note: My horse-holder Lothario finally gets some time on the table.|
Musketfire was fiercely exchanged and while the British took a good lashing they dished out worse than they received. The French began to waver and so the Dragoon commander, seeing disorder in the English ranks, decided to force the issue with a charge. It was all for naught as the British held firm and decimated the French assault, wounding their brave (but foolhardy) commander.
|Richard Fondler barking commands to his Riflemen.|
This pretty much broke the French, who only managed a few more turns of firing before calling it a day to lick their wounds.
Voila, c'est tout! It was a great little scrap with both sides experiencing highs and lows. Though the French seemed a little hapless from the start I thought this played to the spirit of the scenario, where the French force, emboldened from their recent victory, would recklessly attack in piecemeal - subsequently getting its nose bloodied by elite troops in a superior position.
Oh, and before I forget, here is my homemade version of the game's activation counters. I made these chits from 25mm bases / 3mm thick. I sanded the corners round, primed them white, painted them in bright red and blue, highlighted the edges, pasted on graphics I made on my Mac and then varnished them. For some reason my lizard brain enjoys the chunky, 'clicky' feel of the chits over the usual cards - go figure.
Richard Fondler will return. Next chapter will see him and his Riflemen assisting some English engineers blow up a bridge over the Tagus. BUT, of course, the crafty French commander has his own plan up his chevroned sleeve...
Next up: Landsknecht Arquebusiers!