This afternoon four of us managed to get together for a game of Sharp Practice. For me this was a first in-person game with folks from outside my own household since January 2020. Andy, Richard P, Jamie, and I gathered to play Sharp Practice so we could test out some of the mechanisms I plan to use at Crisis Point and also to see how some of the troop types are balanced. Oh, and also to remind ourselves how the rules work!
I set up a symmetrical, 3-player scenario in which each force needed to achieve a plot point (a concept pinched from Pulp Alley) in order to find the location of some buried treasure and then return it to their deployment point.
Richard P ran a force based on his Woebetideus tribesmen. This consisted of three Groups of tribesmen (classified as Clan) and one of carbine-armed skirmishers (Irregular Skirmishers under the SP2 rules).
Jamie brought out his Arab pirates (Three Groups of Clan and a ship's gun).
Andy used my French force - three groups of Sepoys and one of marines.
I allowed some support elements that will appear in the Crisis Point story. Andy's French were accompanied by the lovely Josephine de Pommefrite, the wayward daughter of the comptoire; her presence gave them a bonus to their initial Force Morale.
John Gillick, the European who taught the Woebetideus to use firearms, was available to Richard. He counts as a Sharpshooter and as a "man of letters". The latter is one of the categories of specialist I've added to the rules for the purpose of our story. It would prove useful in this game.
I'd intended to give Jamie a "strongman" (another new type) but I forgot to mention this to him before the game. As it happened, it wouldn't have made any difference.
At the start of the game there were three Plot Points, represented on the table by small scenic bases each bearing a hollow tree. The Plot Points were positioned such that each was halfway between a pair of players' Deployment points.
When Force reached a Plot Point, they rolled a d8 to determine what kind of task was required to "achieve" the Plot Point. For example, when Richard's Woebetideus skirmishers reached the first Plot Point, a roll of 4 revealed the description, "A literary reference". This, along with a subsequent roll of 3d6, told us that a running total of 11 was needed to complete the Task. The presence at the Plot Point of John Gillick gave Richard a +2 modifier when he rolled to complete the task.
Andy's French sepoys had a potentially harder job of it. Their Plot Point required a single score of 10+ on two dice to move "A heavy weight". The sepoys proved up to the task, though, with Andy rolling 10 at the first attempt.
Jamie didn't go for a Plot Point - I think blasting away with his ship's gun was a bit too tempting. but he also had the problem of a horde of Woebetideus heading towards him through the woods...
All in all this was a fun game and a useful rehearsal for next month. Thanks players!
I'm going to clarify the rules for Plot Point Tasks as follows. Note to Jamie and Richard, this is different to how we played it:
On making contact with a Plot Point, a Leader with an unused Command Initiative may spend it to determine the nature of the Task required by rolling on the Plot Points table. This may allow the player to bring up nearby relevant specialists to assist before the Task is attempted. Otherwise the nature of the Task is revealed as part of the process of attempting it without any impact on its completion.
A Plot Point may be attempted by a Leader, who may or may not be attached to a Group. Attempting a Plot Point uses the Leader's full Command Initiatives for his Activation. If the Leader wishes to rely upon an attached Group to attempt the Plot Point (e.g. if the Group contains a marksman and this gives a die roll modifier) the Group must also remain in contact with the Plot Point marker and has no actions to spare for any other activity during this Activation.