As you know the musket era is one of the main hobby theme on my humble workbench. Starting from the Seven Years War the conflicts of British Redcoats during the 18th and 19th century have been keeping my interest since I started wargaming about three decades ago. My very first figures during those happy days at primary school were a couple of boxes of Italeri plastics for the battle of Waterloo and the idea of highly disciplined scarlet coated soldiers never fell off of me.
Unfortunately as you know I'm a lousily slow painter and there's no chance for me to gather larger armies for all those interesting theatres of war. Nevertheless those marvellous shiny figures from those well known companies are a constant seduction.
Thus I had been looking for a blackpowder skirmish system for a while when I stumpled over 'Sharp Practice 2' when I was published earlier this year. There was a very interesting review in Wargames Illustrated #XXX and the TooFatLardies aired a couple of interesting introduction videos on the Youtube channel.
So I gathered a few club fellows of mine and we decided to give the rules a go. A couple of weeks ago our first AWI battle took place in which we decided to use the most basic rules only to find an easy way into the unusual command mechanics of the game.
We took the rather simple first scenario of the rulebook: A kind of meating engagement.
Really a simple game with two more or less equally rated forces to try out the basic rules. So we fielded two basic lists from the rulebook.
British Army on the one side, rebellous continentals on the other:
To make things easier I prepared a couple of unit cards. Basically they have a picture of the unit and its game stats. On the back of the card I printed the explainations of the special skills to make things easier for us newbies:
Prepared this way we finally gathered around one of our gaming tables in the club HQ and two players on either side clashed while I tried to act as an umpire as good as my limited knowledge of the rules allowed me to. Here are some impressions from the game:
|More or less the initial deployment. British from the left, rebels from the right.|
|First exchange of fire.|
|The British trying to establish a line formation beyond the fence.|
|Part of Washington's army ready to meet their fate.|
|Some continentals trying to outflank the Brits.|
|But the Scots seem to smell the rat...|
|... and prepare to make an end to this daring move. Present !|
Nevertheless it's a really entertaining and challenging game in the true sense of the word. You need between 50 and 100 figures per side making it achievable for most of us. Even for a slowchoach like me.
Depite the rather low figure count and the low tactical level - you're commanding companies or battalions rather than brigades or divisions - the rules deliver a good feeling for warfare in the age of the musket.
The stats of the different units give a good impression of highly drilled Redcoats against rather amateurish continentals by their characteristics, traits and by their option to perform special commands.
Although the period the basic rules cover ends with the American Civil War I'm tempted to try Sharp Practice for my NWF project as well.
Actually all the weapons including breech loading rifle are already present but I'd have to check whether the development of British infantry drill makes some adjustments necessary. Anyway I'm looking forward to see Rich and the lardies at Crisis in Antwerp and as far as I know they're working on a colonial supplement. I dearly hope to get a chance to chat with the lads and maybe get an idea of the new book.
Until then we'll keep playing Sharp Practice with AWI, Napoleonics or ACW and we'll see how far it goes. There'll without any doubt some further games to report of...