Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Action At Macho Grande

So we played our first game of Sharp Practice for some time this weekend.  As I was umpiring and struggling to remember the rules, I didn't take too many photos.  Here's an atmospheric black and white shot of the table.

Gus with two nine man groups of 95th Rifles started on the left between the wheat field and the cabbage field. Arthur (with a group of British Light Dragoons and the overall British commander, Major McLeod) began behind the woods on the right.

Jamie, who had a unit of French Dragoons and the escaping Colonel Lamarck with his wagon and mules, began on the road in the middle of the village of Macho Grande.

Andy meanwhile had a large force with two French guns atop the far cliffs and 40 fusiliers at their base.

The Colonel's mule train and dragoons escort just had to make a dash for the cliffs at the far end of the table where the French Artillery, and safety, awaited.

Jamie got the chance to move first and immediately moved his Dragoons to occupy the houses to the left (west) side of the road.  This would prove vital later. Andy meanwhile began a general advance with his infantry.

To the east of the road, Arthur moved his light dragoons up through a cornfield towards the village.  It looked like he would be best placed to intervene to stop Lamarck's caravan.  Gus moved towards the two houses making up the western side of Macho Grande.  His first group launched an attempt to storm the bigger (northern) house but they were weakened by the dragoons' carbine fire and artillery fire from the hills.  They failed on their first attempt to fight there way in at sword-point (rifles fix swords, not bayonets).

While this had been going on, Andy had continually advanced his fusiliers.  He was soon able to form a line formation facing towards the wheat field Arthur's light dragoons must cross.

Riding across the front of a formed infantry line was never going to be easy for the British horse.  By the time the photo below was taken they'd already lost two men and picked up a couple of shock points.

The cards and the dice were cruel to Arthur and he didn't get to move quickly enough to get out of the fire zone.  By the next turn he was reduced to just the two Big Men (McLeod and the light dragoon sergeant).

Unable to prevent Lamarck's escape, Arthur and Gus decided that discretion was the better part of valour and the survivors made for the bridge and safety.

Whilst I was reasonably happy with how Sharp Practice handled the action, I've come to the conclusion that the Too Fat Lardies design a good set of rules but they don't always write them well.  There were a few cases where the wording was unclear or ambiguous.

In one case we had to "reduce the number of dice rolled by two thirds (round up)".  What does that mean?  Calculate two thirds of the total (rounding up to a whole number of dice) and then deduct this from the total?  Or deduct the two thirds and then round the resulting number of dice up to a whole number?

Now you might point out that it's only one die either way and as long as you're consistent what's the worry?  But it caused confusion and slowed down the game unnecessarily while we worked out what to do.

Nonetheless the effort we've invested in relearning the rules will stand us in good stead in two weeks' time when we play another Sharp Practice game a few days before the 200th anniversary of Waterloo.

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