The Vanguard – A Sharp Practice AAR

Before everything got tidied away it would have been rude not to have had a final Sharp Practice bash, so I did.

I decided to try more of a stand up fight so this time the scenario was straightforward – the Medetians were launching a campaign into Fleurian territory and their vanguard needed to clear the way by exiting at least 2 groups and a big man off the Fleurian table edge within 12 turns. The Fleurians needed to stop them of course. It was a deliberate attempt to get a few more figures on the table and see how the rules dealt with it.

The defending Fleurians were partly in place (occupying a roadside farm in the middle of the table) but mostly advancing from their own baseline. They had a force under the newly painted Major Mauzac, made up of:

32 light infantry in 3 groups
20 line infantry in 2 groups
1 light gun and 5 crew
12 militia cavalry in 2 groups
3 additional Big Men

The Medetians were under the fit-again Major Nebbiolo, assisted by a command group of 4 other Big Men. Between them they commanded:

10 bersaglieri riflemen in 1 group
50 line infantry in 5 groups
24 grenadiers in 2 groups
1 light gun and 5 crew
10 hussars in 1 group

I’ve decided to go with fixed group sizes depending on troop quality; elite, average and poor. Infantry are in groups of 12, 10 and 8 respectively and cavalry are in groups of 10, 8 and 6. Some of the Medetian infantry were on group bases to assist with the early moves in particular, and I was trying out some new markers I’d made up for various things (such as for groups who’ve lost their Bottle and to keep track of some of the random events).

With a game limit of only 12 turns, and a card-driven turn sequence that ends on the turning of a certain card, the Medetians had to attack from the start to have a chance of beating the clock. They were in pre-determined groupings that would be allocated at random once the blinds were successfully spotted by the enemy. With more troops involved I managed to use formations for the first time, each side forming a line during the battle to ease command and control and increase firepower.



The fighting built up slowly but became pretty intense once the Medetian infantry advanced into the open. The Fleurian elite voltigeurs were particularly unfortunate, being targeted by the bersaglieri rifles and eventually being run down by the hussars. Equally, the Medetian grenadiers were badly shot up in front of the farm, and the right flank was very slow in coming forward to support them (held up by poor luck with the cards and the fire from the Fleurian light gun). These right flank troops seemed to suffer from a general lack of discipline on the day, with a man passing out drunk and careless musketry causing the adjacent barn to catch fire and burn down!





Despite the grenadiers’ woes a Medetian success looked likely, however, with numbers beginning to tell on the left. However, a few unexpected reverses and a surprisingly tough stand by the Fleurian militia cavalry put everything in doubt. Two groups of infantry were therefore ordered to form up in line and marched forward to try to break through. Things then descended into a series of violent melees that saw victory within the Medetians’ reach.




At the start of the 12th turn Major Nebbiolo (sporting a sprained ankle) had to try to get into line of sight to order the hussars to join the rifles in moving off the Fleurian table edge. He had to use all the available Grasp the Nettle cards and roll a big enough move to do it – he rolled an 11 and even with the penalties for his injury he made it and ordered the 2 groups to move, winning the battle and forcing a Fleurian retreat. A close run thing, but very entertaining to play.

The final turn, with Nebbiolo (between the flag and drummer) finding the hussars frustratingly out of sight behind the trees:

Once again there were casualties among the leaders, although still nothing terminal. Notably Ensign Lambrusco again did well but this time succumbed to a bad wound and was carried off the field by his men. I’m sure he’ll be back when I play again. For now, though, I’d better get back to the painting table!

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