The Attack on the Griffon Inn – a Sharp Practice solo game

With the table still set up I thought I’d have another game of Sharp Practice, like you do. So, the Fleurians decided to take revenge for the recent Medetian reconnaissance raid that had caused so much bother.

A little to the south of the bridge scene from the last game sits the village of Chiesa, with the Griffon Inn (a favourite haunt of off-duty Medetian officers and a regular stop-over for wealthy merchants) nearby. Burning the inn down, capturing idle officers and possibly making off with a bit of loot would be a good way to pay the enemy back – and in the detested, but tough, Major de Grenache, the Fleurians had just the man for the job.

The Griffon:

De Grenache gathered a raiding party from his regiment, made up of 20 line infantry, with a further 20 chasseurs and 12 elite voltigeurs drawn from the light companies. He was assisted by a junior officer and a veteran sergeant. The force approached the inn at dawn, entering the table on blinds and moving swiftly forward.

The unsuspecting Medetians were scattered and asleep, with only a single sentry (who turned out to be sleeping on the job..) posted. Major Nebbiolo was in the Griffon after a bawdy night, with some riflemen down in the taproom and a group of line infantry camped in the trees behind the yard. In the village were young Ensign Lambrusco and Sergeant Gerduzzo, who between them commanded a further group of infantry, one of elite grenadiers, and a light gun with its crew.

The sleeping sentry (his card failed to come up for the first 3 turns) was surprised (to say the least) when the Fleurians sprang out of the early morning mist and made straight for him! He legged it and called out his alert but was captured before he get get over the wall and rejoin his comrades. The net was closing in and the Medetians were still stumbling from their beds and blankets.



First to react, the grenadiers looked decently smart when they piled out of their village billets and took up a defensive position:

Table overview at this point, the Medetians haven’t exactly established a defensive line yet:

Things soon descended into typical chaos and violence as the fighting began. The grenadiers held the flank and their fire forced the voltigeurs to seek cover in the trees. In proper grenadier fashion Sergeant Gerduzzo led them in the first of several bayonet charges and routed the enemy skirmishers, before following on to offer support to the beleaguered Major and his rifles at the inn.

The rifles had done well initially, spilling from the front door and shooting down a number of the enemy attackers, Major de Grenache among them. He slumped to the ground where his men, grateful to be freed from his vile oppression, happily left him and followed the second in command over the wall and into melee with Major Nebbiolo and the riflemen.



The Medetian Major was struck down too and his remaining men were pursued into the building where, despite a death-or-glory charge back down the stairs after they’d taken refuge above, the last 3 men dropped their weapons and surrendered to the victorious Fleurians. The new Medetian leader, Captain Verona (also wounded in the fighting) derring-do’d his way out of the upstairs window and hurt himself again as he came down in a merchant’s wagon out the back..

A little dazed, he took charge of the men who’d been camping behind the inn and tried to regain control of the situation. Unfortunately for him, Captain Corbieres had stepped into de Grenache’s shoes, as it were, and led his men on a successful ransack of the Griffon, before setting fire to the spirit store and evacuating again via the front door.

The fighting continued with both sides blazing away and the artillery piece taking pot-shots when any Fleurians wandered (or were chased) into view. There was plenty of hand-to-hand as the Fleurians sought to get away, their mission complete. Both Captain Corbieres and his adversary Ensign Lambrusco (valiantly leading a charge in his first action) received light wounds in these clashes. Eventually the remaining Fleurians who hadn’t already routed made a fighting withdrawal and the exhausted, and equally bloodied, Medetians let them go.

The inn burnt to the ground while the Medetians tended to their wounded (including Major Nebbiolo), and dragged the bleeding and abandoned Major de Grenache into captivity. With both his senior officers wounded, 18 year old Ensign Lambrusco found himself temporarily in charge of the mess but, like any sensible Medetian young gentleman fresh from the academy, he started to make order out of chaos and soon forgot the pain of his bandaged arm. Welcome to the war!

Good fun and plenty going on every turn, the Sharp Practice rules make solo play a pleasure and all the prep has certainly been worthwhile.

Return Journey – Sharp Practice Solo Game, Part 2

Following the steady build-up of troops on the table, after a few turns things started to kick off. I’d rolled randomly for which Fleurian groups were on which blind, and sure enough the cavalry suddenly appeared, making for the middle of the table to cut off the enemy. The Medetians looked warily to their right but were ordered to march on.


The riflemen in the farmyard took a shot as the hussars swept past and managed to empty a saddle, but the rest rode on:

The rifles had problems of their own, however, and an enemy infantry group almost reached them with a charge from the woods. Halting just on the other side of the fence the Fleurians taunted the riflemen, challenging them to a rumble:

Remembering their mission, the rifles said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and made a hasty departure:

At that point the Hussars hit the lead infantry group, winning the close fight and wounding Captain Gattinara. Although pushed back, the Medetians refused to run and were saved by their comrades in the other infantry group, (and the rifles) who charged the cavalry in turn and saw them off with heavy casualties. That was the last we saw of the horsemen in this game.


At the bridge, the artillery held back the Fleurian Chasseurs and managed to wound Captain Corbieres. A long firefight ensued between the Fleurians trying to close the bridge escape route, and the defending Medetians, who were increasingly aided by their arriving comrades under Captain Gattinara.



The rifles continued their excellent work, acting as rearguard and stopping the pursuit in its tracks:

Several of the final turns were cruel to the Fleurians, with the Cappuccino Card (replacing the Tiffin Card – we are in southern Europe after all) ending them before their Big Men could act. With the Medetians able to pour in enough effective firepower to build up Shock on their pursuers, they eventually managed drive them back from the bridge, and prevent a final counter-attack.

Wounded but victorious, Captain Gattinara was the last to cross the bridge. He turned to salute the similarly injured Captain Corbieres and marched his men off into the woods. The Medetians had suffered only light casualties and had succeeded in their mission, bringing back valuable intelligence from behind enemy lines. The Fleurians had lost many more men, and these units would be in no state to fight again for some time.

The game was great fun, with the cards providing suspense and drama (Captain Gattinara fleeing in fear and dragging his men away with him just as they were nearly at the bridge for the first time, being a particular classic!). The characters have begun to take on a bit of personality already and I look forward to returning to this small part of the Medetian Wars soon. Next post will contain a few summary comments and observations about how I got on with the rules, etc.

Return Journey – Solo Sharp Practice

With the cards and figures done, and the terrain still on the table, there was no excuse but to try a first solo game of Sharp Practice at the weekend. I devised a relatively simple scenario based on a Medetian reconnaissance force making its way back to its own lines after its mission, and a force of Fleurians attempting to cut them off before they could do so.

The Medetians (2 groups of infantry and 1 of rifles) were led by Captain Gattinara, assisted by a Sergeant. Waiting for them back at the bridge they were making for was Lieutenant Apricale with a further group of infantry and a light gun, with orders not to cross the river but to provide covering fire for the recce force.

The Fleurians were under Captain Corbieres of the Chasseurs who was accompanied by a scratch force made up of 2 groups of light infantry, 2 of line infantry, and 1 of hussars. He was assisted by a Lieutenant and a Sergeant.

The Medetians would start in the top left corner of the table, as seen in the (unfortunately slightly blurred) pic below, the Fleurians on blinds in the bottom left along the river bank, and the bridge defence force was tucked into the trees on the Medetian side of the river, with a sentry on lookout duty in the watermill’s attic.

Lt Apricale’s force covering the river crossing:


First on the scene – the Medetian riflemen approach the rear of the farm and dash through to take up a position to cover the flank of the rest of the column (first enemy blinds in the distance making for the mill and the bridge beyond):


First to deploy off their blind are the Fleurian line troops, their paint still fresh(!):

The Medetian sentry has done his bit and races back to warn Lt Apricale that the enemy are coming down the road towards him, with the recce group nowhere in sight. Alone, and chased by enemy Chasseurs, the sentry managed a fear-inspired roll of double 6 for his movement! He slows down and tries to look nonchalant as he makes his report:

A long way off still, the main recce group starts hot-footing it towards the river, Captain Gattinara urging them on:

Fleurian Chasseurs are already at the mill though..

The rifles take the first shot of the day, earning their pay by putting a good amount of shock on the nearest enemy as they try to sneak close through the trees:

Back at the bridge, Apricale sees the enemy for himself and calls out to ready his men, ordering the gun crew to traverse left a little:


Things are about to hot up!

Part 2 to follow, mainly to keep the number of pictures to a manageable number per post.

Line Infantry Batch 1 Done at Last!

..And I am very glad to see them off the painting table, they’ve been there a while!

These are the first Fleurian line infantry, to go with the light troops I did in August and September. I started them in early October (I think) and although they haven’t been unpleasant to paint, it was a big batch and I struggled to keep my momentum up. That said, it may have been a good thing as over the same period I have fitted in some other painting and figure prep while avoiding them! The NCO and men are plastic Perry Austrian Napoleonics and the 2 officers are from their metal ranges.

20 done then, and plenty more to do, but there’s no urgency for those. I will need a handful more to make this lot into a regiment of 30 (including command) for next year’s Ayton game, but for now I have what I need: 2 groups of 10 and a few Big Men for Sharp Practice: Medetia vs Fleurie. I’ve finished a couple more Big Men as well but haven’t based them yet.

I hope to have a first solo game of SP at the weekend. Having made some alterations to the St Evian table from last week’s game I intend to play a small-ish scenario just to get used to the rules again.

A few more pics, taken with varied lighting as you can see:





All Ashore!

Although technically I’m currently focused on painting line infantry to bulk up my Fleurian forces for Sharp Practice.. I fancied a break and have painted a couple of samples for another small Medetian force – the marines. Medetia is a maritime nation after all!

These figures are from Gringos, specifically Austrian Jager from the Maximillian campaign in Mexico. I decided that the hats fitted in well with the tyrolean-type headgear worn by most of my Medetians in this period, and there are a couple of very nice command figures in the range that I wanted to include as ‘Big Men’. It’s only going to be a small contingent of marines – one that can be deployed as part of the naval landing party I have planned (those river and coastline terrain sections I made last year got me thinking you see..). They should get a run out at Ayton 2015 too, fighting their way across the dark continent with everyone else.


The figures are quite chunky but fit in fine with the Perry and Victrix that make up a lot of the rest of the collection. They received traditional Medetian colours; sky blue, white and red, and I think they look the part for what I had in mind. Now I just need to make sure I don’t get too distracted and rush to paint the rest before finishing enough Fleurians for a game!


Chasseur Standard

Quick post – I finished the flag for the Fleurian light battalion. It’s a simple design with the Fleurian deep red, the green of the Chasseurs, and the national fleur de lys symbol in black (I thought a muted flag was suitable for the light infantry) – plus the unit name below.

Naturally this was all done on the computer and highlighted with paint. I can’t paint lettering like that and free-hand fleur de lys are tricky!


Final Light Infantry

I’ve now finished the second batch of Fleurian Chasseurs a Pied. This gives me a further 10 men and 2 leaders (Big Men for Sharp Practice), making 3 dozen light infantry in all, when added to the earlier Voltigeurs.

They are the same Perry early ACW figures as before, including a command pack this time. When done, the flag will be a clipart printout and highlight paint job. The sergeant (who was originally another standard bearer with an empty hand) has had a plasticard and greenstuff sword added.

This batch:



Combined Fleurian light infantry (minus 1 figure which I foolishly left in the drawer). This makes 3 ‘groups’ for Sharp Practice, or 1 battalion (on magnetic sabot bases) for the big games at Ayton when we do 19th century:






Light battalion deployed with Voltigeur flank companies skirmishing out front on open order bases (as per Tim Hall’s excellent ACW rules):



On to the line infantry next.

Chasseurs for Fleurie

Despite having a week away I am maintaining momentum with my Fleurian 19th century forces, and have finished the next group – a dozen light infantry Chasseurs to fight alongside the Voltigeurs from the previous post.

These are very nice figures from Perry Miniatures – early ACW militia in capes/greatcoats and full kit. With the shako they look nicely European so I have pressed them into Fleurian service. The colour scheme is basically the same as the Voltigeurs; green and red, with brown and grey kit.

I have another dozen of these to do including some command figures, some of which will be based as Big Men for Sharp Practice. I’ve made a start already so they should be the next finished figures I post.

Combined with the Voltigeurs they’ll give me a regiment of light troops for next year’s big multi-player imagi-nations bash at Ayton. I think that being able to form up (on their sabot-type bases) as well as operate in skirmish order will be very handy in the desert where ambush could lurk behind every bush or wadi!






Finally Some Fleurians

Last weekend’s game of Sharp Practice reminded me of my plans to paint the opposing side for my early 19th century Medetians. I’ve got most of the figures, I’ve just been busy on other projects and hadn’t made a start. This has now been remedied with an initial batch completed.

These are a dozen Fleurian Voltigeurs, ready to take the fight to Medetia’s Bersaglieri in the hills and forests of the borderlands. I have used the key Fleurian colours of dark red and light grey, and gone with dark green greatcoats. The line infantry will be in the same grey and red, with rolled green greatcoats on their packs, so things should tie in well.

These ‘Voltigeurs’ are actually Perry Isabelino infantry from their Carlist War range, which is great to delve into for post-Napoleonic imagi-nations armies. They were nice to paint but pretty awful to prepare and clean up. The number of small ‘worms’ from the casting process is pretty bad on many Perry figures it seems, and there’s always at least one left that you only find when you start painting!





I’ll be doing more Fleurian light infantry next, a couple of units of Chasseurs. Then it’s leaders (Big Men), line infantry and artillery. Cavalry will generally be hussars borrowed from the 18th century armies and deliberately single based for this very reason.

A Very Eventful Skirmish – part 2

So, up went the first pair of rockets…. and down they came… about halfway to the target! The rules for them certainly made things interesting and unpredictable, and we soon agreed that the safest place on the table to be was the target they’d been originally aimed at. Simon had some nice explosion pieces containing flickering lights which really looked the business.


As my units struggled forward over the rough terrain, I was beginning to feel that I was at least as likely to hit my own troops as the enemy. It was a good premonition, as the very next rocket mischievously decided to turn hard right and plough into one of my rifle groups (which had just failed by 1″ to charge the voltigeurs). Lovely. I’d been aiming at the village again, so as you can see from the next pic, this was a significant miss! One dead and a few shock (disruption) points. It could’ve been worse I suppose..


Still, the rifles rallied and after 1 more shot I ordered the crazy Major Brock to desist for a while, and let the enemy take a turn shooting at us. That last rocket came down short of the target like all the rest, but at least evened the score by killing a voltigeur! We were beginning to close in on the village and the fire from the rifles and the light infantry’s muskets was causing Simon a growing problem in casualties and shock points. His earlier sortie, which had caused me some concern, was recalled or forced back, and his voltigeurs somehow made it back to their own lines by routing faster than my men could catch them. With 26 shock points on a unit with only 5 men left, they weren’t going to play any further part in the action, and about time too.


Getting back to the mission, the church was still a long way away and there remained a lot of French infantry between me and it. Despite the deadly fire my units were now pouring into the defenders, time was running out and with a flurry of unhelpful (to me) cards and turn ends, the French cavalry finally turned up. As I’d feared, my rifles were too spread out and were vulnerable to being ridden down, even on the rough hills. As fate would have it, the turn ended suddenly again (those damned cards!) which freed up the newly-arrived cavalry to launch an immediate charge.

The first group of riflemen fought well, but were killed or sent packing, and over the next couple of turns the horsemen slaughtered another group, killing the rifles officer and the Irish priest who’d led them by hidden paths to the village. Although my speed-bump rifles did finally manage to stop the cavalry, and cause enough casualties and shock to dent their effectiveness, the game was up. We reviewed the table and agreed that despite the losses and disruption among the French, a successful assault by the remaining British would have had little hope of success. In retrospect I should probably have tried to focus on moving faster and ignoring the temptation to stop and shoot. That said, there’d have been a lot more enemies left to face an assault if I hadn’t wittled them down as I did, so the outcome would still have been in doubt.

The final positions, with the rifles major and the priest lying dead on the hillside as the cavalry pull back to re-group, and the remaining attackers still too far away to achieve their objective:

All in all this was a very enjoyable game with lots of fun and surprises, and a believable outcome at the end. Simon was an excellent host, and played his position well, holding on for the cavalry to thunder to the rescue. The rockets were amusing and completely hopeless at the same time, but added extra flavour to the game. The rules are very good, but are vague in places and we were understandably rusty a year on from game 1. We certainly speeded up once we got going, despite grappling with cavalry, artillery and rockets for the first time. The card-generated turn sequence, with all its uncertainty and swings of luck, makes for great entertainment and a real challenge. Roll on the next game!