More Sharp Practice 2 – A Raid Scenario

Varesi, the Medetian Lieutenant of Engineers, never had liked the bad-tempered nag that pulled his equipment cart. It was ironic then, when it fell on him and the two of them died together on the outskirts of Auterlin. Such are the fickle outcomes that games of Sharp Practice can produce, and a good laugh they provide too.

Last weekend Jase and I returned to the post-Napoleonic conflict between Medetia and Fleurie and played a game of Sharp Practice 2. I devised the plot for a 2-part scenario, and we played through the first game. The second will hopefully take place early in the new year.

The Medetians have landed an assault party on the Fleurian coast with orders to march inland, cross (and hold) a bridge – which will be the scene of game 2 – and destroy part of the enemy’s siege train which is temporarily holed up at the village of Auterlin.

Selecting 5 groups of infantry (a mix of grenadiers, line and bersaglieri) and an engineer team from his overall force, Jase took command of the Medetians and set off on his mission. As the Fleurian commander I had 4 infantry groups and a light gun with which to defend the important heavy guns, ammunition and powder.

The scene of the impending action, as dawn approaches:

The siege guns outside the church, which was being used to store the powder and shot:


On the first 2 turns the Tiffin card came up before any significant forces had deployed onto the table. I managed to get the Fleurian light gun crew woken up and assembled in the village square, which was to be very helpful in the early stages of the game.

Before long, though, the Medetians had arrived, formed up in a couple of formations, with skirmishers moving among the trees and Lieutenant Varesi bringing up the rear with his engineers and cart (and its horse).

A bonus move (4 command flag cards being played at once) allowed the commander, Major Corvina, to get everyone dashing towards the village at the double. Goaded into action, the horse shouldered Varesi out of the way and left the Lieutenant sprawled face down in the dirt and being left behind…

With few Fleurians as yet on the table and the Medetians coming on fast, the light gun opened up with canister and did some damage to the lead formation. This slowed things down and gave the rest of the Fleurian force time to make an appearance.

Fortunately for me, my main force then arrived and took up positions to prevent the enemy from reaching the church. The first Medetian controlled volley, however, hammered the Grenadiers and sent them reeling back from the lane, to try to rally behind the cottage.

The shooting seemed more deadly than in previous games we’ve played, with lots of 6s coming up and plenty of casualty removal. This was pretty evenly divided between both sides, so things remained in the balance for some time as various groups took up positions and continued to fire away at each other.

A Fleurian patrol came on from the table edge and started to make its presence felt, distracting the enemy’s Bersaglieri for a few turns.

Things got more interesting when a group of armed locals, led by a monk, decided to intervene when the Medetians finally entered the village. Their timing was good, as they plugged a gap left by a shot-up and routing group of infantry.

Varesi’s big (and last) moment came when the engineers responded to an order to advance and dashed forward at an unexpected pace, leaving them squarely in the sights of both Fleurian infantry and a fully loaded gun! Engineers went down like nine-pins and the Lieutenant was wounded. Almost inevitably the next card out of the re-shuffled pack led to another volley. The horse took the brunt, falling dead and crushing the hapless officer. Thus, their uneasy relationship was brought to a grim end.

As time wore on and Force Morale levels started to drop, the Medetians moved in to decide the issue at close quarters.

With bayonets fixed, Major Corvina bravely follows his men in a charge intended to put the villagers firmly back in their place..


Heroically they slaughtered the lot with no loss to themselves. Interestingly, the Fleurian Voltigeurs (top right of the picture below) subsequently charged the Medetians, and not one of the figures in this picture survived the game, including the Major who was killed with the rest of his men. Fisticuffs sounds a bit like ‘handbags’ but it’s VERY bloody in SP2!

Below – pretty much the end of the game, with the last Fleurians about to relinquish the village and the siege train to the victorious attackers. Both sides’ Force Morale took a tumble with the losses from fisticuffs, but the Fleurians hit zero first and that was that. We agreed that it was probably a good thing that the remaining engineers didn’t have to actually attempt to blow the church in-game, as with the way their luck/competence had been so far, it would have inevitably ended in catastrophe!

So, a posthumously successful mission for the Major, and now they’d have to get back to their ship via the bridge that their colleagues were hopefully still holding. This will be the focus of game 2, when Fleurian patrols try to cut off the invaders from the coast.

The game was great fun, played in the best of company.

Warbases Engineers’ Wagon

Another nice model kit from Warbases, this wagon was quick to put together (once I’d worked out the assembly order). Everything fitted neatly and the engineers’ equipment load can remain loose for removal when not required.

Great value and perfect for Sharp Practice, either as a general wagon, engineer option, or just as a piece of scenery.


Sharp Practice 2 – Game 2: Spy Hunt

So, on to the second game of the weekend. We did some mild shuffling of the terrain and scenery and came up with a simple plot for the game.

Word has reached the respective HQs of both armies that a brave/notorious (depending on your point of view) female spy has been exposed (ooh-er) nearby, and both sides have dispatched a small force to bring her in before the enemy can get to her. Despite their recent exertions, the two forces from the first game are the closest troops to hand, and they are duly ordered into action once more.

On the run, the spy has gone into hiding in one of the cottages (placed in secret by a neutral assistant we drafted in for the purpose) in the small border hamlet of Frinchy. We’d have to enter and search (defined in the rules as a Task) these buildings in order to discover her, and naturally there’d be some violent competition to get there first.

The table for ‘Spy Hunt’, with initial troop positions after their turn 1 arrival via their deployment points:

Jase’s Fleurian skirmishers and line infantry move rapidly towards Frinchy.

My Medetians were busy doing likewise at the other end of the table. Somewhat freakishly, both players managed to collect 4 command cards before the end of the first turn and both used them to activate their force commander a second time, granting them useful extra movement for their troops.

A unit of Fleurian Voltigeurs made quick progress to the nearest cottage and looked poised to enter and start searching. However, they hadn’t counted on Brevet-Lieutenant Lambrusco leading his Bersaglieri rifles at speed to cross a fence and deliver a crushing volley which downed several men including Ensign Jacquere (who only came-to at the end of the battle to find that while he’d been out of action, his small group had been reduced to a single man!)

In the following turns Lambrusco left his men to cover the door while he dashed inside to check the premises for the elusive spy. Despite a quick, thorough search, he came up empty-handed.

Meanwhile, in the middle of the village things were hotting up. The Fleurians managed to take up some useful positions, hurting the Medetians with effective fire and knocking out their force commander, Captain Gattinara.


This left the Medetians with a command and control problem at a crucial time and they continued to come off worse in the on-going exchange of volleys. The leading column was halted, with casualties and shock building up. Another group under veteran Sergeant Fiorentina did manage to enter one of the other cottages to search it, but were badly shot up as they made their way inside.

Again they found nothing (albeit this was unknown to the Fleurian player) and clearly this meant that the spy was in the building that was currently surrounded by Fleurians. Damn!

By this time the Fleurian leader, Captain Corbieres, had established a strong central position and used a couple more flurries of command cards to very good effect. He was able to detach a group under Sergeant Luberon (whose derriere seemed to have recovered since the last game), who redeemed himself by duly locating the spy and escorting her at great speed through the trees and away from the fighting.

The Medetians tried to press forward to harry the enemy’s withdrawal but struggled to make headway. Captain Gattinara rose groggily back to his feet but could do little to get a pursuit underway quickly enough. The Fleurians had won the race to find the spy and the firing petered out as they fell back the way they’d come.

Post-Action Round-up

After the game we drew a card to see which side the lady in question had been spying for, to ascertain her likely fate now she had been discovered. As (her) luck would have it, she turned out to be working for the Fleurians and therefore the outcome was a successful rescue of their own heroine! The men on the ground wouldn’t have been privy to this information when they received their orders, they just had to carry out their mission as best they could.

So, glory for Corbieres and little for the Medetians this time, but there’d be another chance to win some honour soon enough. I’m keeping a bit of a tally on the leaders (Big Men) that are involved in my Sharp Practice games. There are chances to win promotion or receive awards for valour, and one or two are getting close to qualifying. Whether they can do so before making the ultimate sacrifice remains to be seen!

Similarly, the ‘Black Widow’, as I’ve decided to (code)name our spy, might return to be the subject of a future game…

One post-game note: neither my musician nor Jase’s Holy Man had any impact in either game, circumstances just didn’t give us a chance to call on their potentially beneficial effects. Next time perhaps!

Sharp Practice 2 – first games

In between drinking the occasional beer this weekend, my friend Jase and I gave SP2 a couple of goes using my 28mm post-Napoleonic imagi-nations collection. As expected, the rules gave a very satisfying gaming experience and, once we’d got the gist of things, we really got into the command challenges they present to players. I can certainly see why so many people are playing this revision of the rules.

After a small test session with a couple of groups a side to get some familiarity with the core mechanisms, we mixed and matched a bit with scenarios for the 2 games we played. For the first game we drew from Neil Thomas’s One Hour Wargames book, which a lot of people seem to use as a go-to place for clearly defined, interesting scenarios. We chose no.4 Take the High Ground as it offered a focus for a fight and would get us into action pretty directly.

The table for game 1, with the hill objective clearly visible next to the road:

The forces were drawn from my Medetians and their perpetual enemy, Fleurie. I haven’t  looked at the force/army lists for SP2 in any great detail yet, but clearly there’s plenty of scope to tailor troop characteristics and capabilities to get to where you want. For simplicity, we went with the Medetians using Peninsular Portuguese unit types and the Fleurians using Peninsular French.

We rolled for sides, and at 60 points each, we had;

Leaders of levels III, II and I
5 groups of Line infantry
1 group of Skirmishers with rifles (Cacadores)

Leaders of levels III, II, I and I
2 groups of Grenadiers
2 groups of Line infantry
2 groups of Skirmishers with muskets (Voltigeurs)

For the first game we rolled for support and this generated us each 4 points worth to choose from the list.

As the Medetian commander I selected a further Level I leader to increase my command options a bit, and a musician to extend the command range of my leader.

Jase’s Fleurians gained a Level I leader too, and a Holy Man for a bit of shock-removing inspiration when it would be needed.

No blow-by-blow account, but here’s some of the action from Take the High Ground, SP-style..

The Medetians deployed 2 groups on the hill in a Formation. None shall pass…

.. well, except possibly that lot!

The Fleurians arrive en-mass, with skirmishers out in front and 2 assault columns following behind.

The first of the Medetian main force make a timely arrival in the form of a group of riflemen under Brevet-Lieutenant Lambrusco (who did sterling service as an Ensign in SP1 games, surviving several wounds)

Fleurian Voltigeurs move to the flanks to start harassing fire on the Medetian line, creating space for the columns to move through in the centre.

Men in blue start to fall and they’re forced to loose off their initial volley to hit back at the pesky skirmishers.

But the columns are getting menacingly closer. The Fleurian Grenadier column decided to open up on the formation on the hill too, and did some damage – not least to their unfortunate leader Sergeant Luberon who was shot in the backside by his own men! C’est la Guerre 🙂

Despite this amusing set-back, a well-coordinated Fleurian attack sees Voltigeur fire cause further Medetian casualties and a lot of shock, which is followed up in the same turn by both columns hitting home. Although the defenders did some damage in the ensuing melees, they’re almost wiped out and the survivors flee. Can the Fleurians get re-organised into line on top of the hill before the Medetians can launch a counter attack?

Although doughty Captain Gattinara has led the main Medetian body (3 groups of line infantry in a formation) forward in a fairly leisurely fashion, he suddenly gets a hurry on and the line surges forward a maximum roll of 12″, arriving on the crest of the hill at the perfect moment.

Lambrusco’s rifles have been pouring accurate fire into the flank of the nearest column, causing 3 casualties plus 10 shock in 2 rounds of shooting, and causing the Fleurians to recoil a little from the top of the hill. At that point 24 Medetians present their muskets and deliver a devastating first fire volley, clearing away both enemy columns and securing the hill, and victory.

Final positions. Although their plan was a good one, and they enjoyed initial success, the Fleurians are in too poor a shape to rally and try again. They concede the hill to the Medetians and withdraw. Losses were fairly even, as was the remaining force morale for both sides.


This was an excellent introduction game for us, we really enjoyed the command and control challenge generated by the randomness of the leader activations and the options presented by the command (flag) cards. There were always choices to be made, which you felt you could focus on without getting bogged down by the moving, shooting and fighting mechanisms, which were mostly committed to memory after the first few turns.

We then re-set the table for a second game, which will be the subject of the next post.

Getting a Few Bits Done

A shortage of posts doesn’t mean I’ve been totally idle – I just haven’t finished much recently so have held off taking pics.

I have made short work of a recent order to Fantasy Arte in Germany though. They sent me some very nice pieces I can use in my 15mm dungeon game, and being intended for 28mm they’re nicely oversized and look impressive in my setting.

So, a portal arch, a couple of skull-clad pillars, some braziers/fire bowls (I’ve only painted 2 of one type so far, and they’ll be placed on stone plinths soon) and a free sample figure base that fits in perfectly and will be used in the game as a certain type of marker.

It’s all very high quality stuff (resin except for the plastic braziers) and a pleasure to paint.

I’ve also ordered a few Reaper Bones figures which will serve as (very) big monsters in my game. More on those when I get a couple painted.

Also, taking just a few minutes from start to finish, I assembled and painted the Warbases water cart, which is a very nice model and will get used in Sharp Practice and other 28mm games. I’ve got a couple more of their MDF carts to do and will get onto them soon.

Apart from these few bits, I’ve painted most of a new force/faction for Dragon Rampant and made more progress on the 6mm SYW Austrians that had been stalled for a while. As soon as the bases are painted I’ll get all of this lot posted here too.

New Boats from Partizan

In the limited browsing/shopping time I had at Partizan I did manage to pick up a few bits and pieces, including some ready-based S&A hedges and treasure chests from Fenris.

I also added to my growing collection of 28mm boats, with a couple from Empress Miniatures and one from Coritani. Both types are excellent – a bit bigger than the ones I’ve got, and good value too (Empress £10 and Coritani £8). Everything is resin except for the Coritani mast, which is wooden.

I’ve now got them painted up, which was a simple job and done to match my other related stuff. The two from Empress are very suitable as ship’s boats or launches, and the Coritani one comes with a mast and some stowage.

The seats come out of the bigger boats, to allow more figures/cargo, etc, to fit in. Very handy. I’ve also left the mast and stowage loose for the other boat so that I can use them in different ways.


I’m very happy with them, they’re handy additions for river and coast-based skirmishes, and suitable for a wide spread of periods.

Loose Ends

Before getting back to my 6mm FPW stuff, I painted a few 28mm figures on returning from the Ayton weekend. Normally I’d be burnt out after hitting the big deadline, but apparently not this year!

Nothing special, just a few more bits and pieces ahead of further Sharp Practice games I want to play this summer. They were painted in 1s and 2s and weren’t too onerous. I’ll probably pick off a few more lead-pile stragglers over time just to keep my interest levels up while I concentrate on other projects.

The Medetian marines finally get their Big Men – 2 officers, from the Gringos Maximilian-Mexican range (great beard on the senior guy!):


Then there were a couple more Fleurian line infantry that I didn’t need for Ayton but who will round out my 3rd group of 10 for Sharp Practice, plus some further Fleurian light troops. These include a couple of big men (an officer and a sergeant) and a couple of extra soldiers to go with the mountain gun to make the crew up to the normal group of 5.


Ayton Day 2

Clear-headed and mentally razor-sharp military geniuses prepare the table and their respective battle plans for the big ‘off’ on the Sunday; it was to be a mighty clash:


Below – our glorious campaign organiser (and all credit to him for that, because it was excellent). However… to think that we put this man in charge of our vulnerable left flank after its initial commander had to depart.. Well, we got what we deserved.

It may look impregnable, but Iain found it’s weaknesses. Unfortunately he was in charge:

Paul deployed a colourful array of troops:

Simon’s massed Sepoys got to build a nice long wall to defend:

Meanwhile, at the other end of the 30 foot table, the Medetian army (and navy) deployed to defend the 3rd key position.


Our side’s collective failure on Saturday meant that we had to hold all 3 key locations throughout the Sunday battle. The loss of any of them would mean defeat. From left to right our line was; Pete, Paul, Simon and me. We set out our defences and loaded them with men. Our combined reserves were to be a shared resource. After a quick rendition of ‘Men of Harlech’ we folded our arms and waited.
It was time for the enemy to arrive..
Andy setting up the Savage Swans and their colleagues for another long march. He had a hell of a battle with Paul’s lot and neither side seemed to yield an inch all day (apart from when Andy’ units fled).

To borrow from old Nosey, trying to tell the story of a wargame with thousands of figures and 180 square feet of table is like trying to tell the story of a ball. It can’t be done. So, some general snippets and pics..

Medetian light troops deploy to strengthen the extreme right flank as Bob’s forces appear in the distance.

Paul’s (the other Paul) asiatic hordes drove a wedge between Simon and me, so we tried to plug the gap with reserve cavalry.

General shot of the battlefield after an hour or two.

Buff somehow steered his unsteerable giant nellies right across the table and through my decoy Chasseurs. We killed 2 out of 3, but were swept away. Heroic stuff but bloody.

Al Cekic killed men in pith helmets and then targeted the behemoths, before all its crew were shot down:

The Medetian Navy says ‘none shall pass’, although in an Italian accent:

The Medetian Army says ‘watsa matta you, hey, gotta no respect?’ Or something similarly argumentative:

Our light cavalry arrive to save the day and close the gap:


Mehicans swarm forward, the only manoeuvre they’re taught:


Zap guns zap Andy’s troops. Hopefully they got the Oompah band.

Allies discuss battle plans. Long story..

The light cavalry rescue goes wrong, a lot:

Fortunately the Medetians were blazing away and seeing off their attackers:

Although the Grenadier Guard was called on to fill a dangerous gap at one point:

With the Medetians holding firm and dealing with all-comers on the right, and events too painful and inexplicable to photograph taking place on the right, Simon had to hold in the centre against enormous odds as Paul’s masses closed in:

I believe he did so by the thickness of a cartridge case, but boy was it close:


In the end, we’d lost one and held two positions, so our evil plan was undone and we’d have to make peace or slink off to plot a dastardly return. One day, Phetaea will be ours, all ours!

Great fun.

Ayton Day 1 – The Other Game

There were farsands of ’em, but they still couldn’t win.

The other table on Saturday saw a massive clash as the Phetreaen rebels attacked at the Pass of Ishta, and the Convent defended by the savage nuns of the local order (don’t ask). Technically these rebels were my allies (although I doubt they’d have approved of our plans for a general take-over and massive canal project) so I was wishing them well, but a victory with heavy casualties wouldn’t go amiss..

Mwahahaha, etc.

Simon and Pete took charge of a LOT of natives, everything from Arabs to Zulus, and, well, charged forward – as you do. They even got to recycle dead units I think, and you’d think that would be enough. But no, they couldn’t quite break their opponents, or capture their objective buildings either. There was no shortage of effort though.

I didn’t spot the Lucozade bottle when I took the pics, sorry.

Gary provided a Zulu horde to bulk up the rebels:

Simon tried repeatedly to capture the convent, scaling the walls each time and duking it out with the tough old dears inside, only to be chucked back out each time. Every time I wandered past looking for a cup of tea or a bit of cake, there they were, clinging to the outside of the building like a zombie horde, but the defences were just too tough.

It was a tremendous looking battle though..

Many Mexicans fought, and quite a lot died. But there was no huge massacre to repeat the scenes of two years ago. I guess the rebs didn’t have enough artillery for that!

Mexican horse artillery – are they leaving their mates to get slaughtered??

The Mexican lancers even reached the enemy this time – nice one Ken!

So, on two battlefields the combined forces of rebellion and capitalist imperialist oppression (that’s us) had failed. Oh well, it would all be settled at the capital on Sunday.

The ACW – In a BIG Way

Alongside the two campaign-related games, there was also a fantastic 54mm ‘toy soldier’ ACW game put on by Tim H and Tim W. I popped over as often as I could to keep up with progress, but am ashamed to find I only took one picture, early on the first day. Sorry guys, it wasn’t through lack of appreciation.

The figure collections only came together this year I believe, yet there were very large Union and Confederate armies marching towards each other for a big clash. The variety of poses, and the overall sense of motion and activity in the figures, made it a wonderful spectacle and the players seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.

Day 2 report to follow..

Ayton 2015 – Another Superb Wargaming Weekend

The May Bank Holiday weekend has, for the last 4 years, meant a game and beer-fest get-together of LAW forum members at Ayton in Yorkshire. This year’s event was a morphing of some of the events and forces from previous years, resulting in a fictitious late 19th century colonial clash in the deserts of Phetraea (next door to Byzarbia for those who’ve heard of it!)

Most people arrived on the Friday for what was to be a couple of day’s battle, following a lead-up of a couple of months of pre-game campaigning, mis-communication and dastardly deeds between the players, all very well run by Iain.

It was a brilliant weekend, with excellent gaming and great company as always. The result never really matters (good job too this time!), just the taking part and contributing to the culmination-of-the-campaign narrative. Thanks to everyone for making it such a good time, and it was nice to see a couple of unexpected faces who made last minute efforts to get there.

Even more importantly – get well soon Peeler, you were very much missed over the weekend.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s event, and the one after that which we’ve laid tentative plans for too.

I’ll post pictures of day 1 here, and of the other tables, and day 2, on a couple of other posts to keep things manageable.

Day 1 – The Battle of Leptis

We shouldn’t have fought a battle here at all, but I’ll not knock a man when he’s down. Too much. Let’s just say that Lord Peeler must have been several sheets to the wind when he dillied and dallied and thought this was the capital, forcing Iain to divert some of my force to Leptis to help bail him out. Still, we had to fight somewhere. 🙂

Here, then, is the Saturday table. My Medetians attacked alongside Peeler’s troops (ably handled by Phil as an emergency stand-in). Our objectives were the two buildings beside the harbour and the railway respectively, although the enemy (Andy and Gary) began mostly deployed in the town of Leptis which they’d fortified before our arrival.


Phil and I agreed a plan, which Peeler and I had discussed the day before, and set out to keep the enemy busy on the left and in the centre with light troops and the odd probing attack, while Phil assaulted at full strength along the railway on the right. We managed to draw out most of the enemy reserves by the end, and I had some sneakiness planned for the left flank for late in the game, by which time hopefully Andy would not be expecting anything…

Needless to say my ‘surprise’ dawn attack was anticipated and interrupted by Andy’s American Indian natives who popped up as we approached the first bit of high ground! At least they didn’t all drop out of a single tree this time.. Undaunted, we charged in, had an inconclusive melee where both sides fell back, and managed to snatch the position when Andy failed the Indian’s control roll.



The Cossack skirmishers snuck about and hid a lot, but did some fighting before the end.

Al Cekic (‘The Hammer’) lined up on the harbour building and did a bit of damage to the Altfritzenbergers, but it was a tough nut to crack.

After some delay while we sorted ourselves out, the first attack went in, but although the Sepoys did their job and soaked up enemy firepower, they couldn’t break into the building and both they and the regular unit in support were forced to withdraw to avoid being wiped out. This upset timings for a later co-ordinated attack somewhat but at least we were keeping Andy occupied while Phil tried (repeatedly) to storm the railway station and the train parked inconveniently in front of it.

My Jezzails spent the bulk of the day sniping at Andy’s guys, mostly ineffectually at the harbour garrison (although we did whittle them down a bit), but also had some fun winning a long range duel with some artillery and forcing them to re-deploy out of sight.

Finally, with only a couple of turns remaining and completely out of the blue (for Andy, at least) my floating reserve arrived and charged into the harbour. There must have been a haze on the river or no lookout, or perhaps it was just Iain’s sense of mischief! My naval battalion leapt from the boats and assaulted the building while the Byzarbian Queen pounded and gatlinged the nearby enemy artillery.

It was a lot of fun, but despite the worried looks on the defenders’ faces, it was not to be. We couldn’t force our way in and took a lot of casualties charging back in again a second time, and that was that. Unfortunately Phil had been unable to take the train station either, despite many assaults, so the attacks came to nothing in the end.




Fortunately we’d already arranged (in the campaign phase) for both the road and rail bridges to the north to be blown by saboteurs on the enemy’s arrival (although we’d hope it would be after we’d already passed) so we still made it to the capital first, taking the scenic route by boat – although presumably it took a few trips!

This meant we’d at least be defending in the big battle on day 2, but what of our allies on the other table…?