Thursday, February 24, 2022

Adapting Sharp Practice ver1 scenarios

Having written some notes on covering Bob Mackenzie's Command Decision scenarios to TacWWII, I thought I'd have a go at presenting something similar on adapting old Sharp Practice scenarios to version 2.  My chief source of pre-version 2 scenarios is The Complete Fondler and I propose to work through a sample here. 

Let's look at Chapter Thirteen - Fondler's Siege. The scenario begins with some of Richard Clarke's deathless prose in which we learn of the improvised plan to give a bloody nose to a raggedy army of British and French deserters holed up in a ruined castle. Oh and of course there are ladies to rescue! 

A lady - perhaps not in need of rescue

I wouldn't dare to challenge this stuff; with its ridiculous names and stereotyped characters (including the charming Major O'Stereotype himself), it is the very acme of Sharp Practice pre-game story-telling.

So we move on the the two sides' briefings. To some extent these recap information we've had from the introduction. Umpires will want to adjust these briefings in line with any changes they need to make to the scenario for logistical reasons (see below).

Force Sizes

Fondler's Siege has a British force consisting of ten 95th Rifles, thirty 60th Rifles, and twelve men of a rocket battery with four launchers. These numbers don't work for version 2 of Sharp Practice as version 1 didn't use the standard-sized Groups. We need the Rifles rank-and-file to be multiples of six and the artillery should have five gunners per piece. 

Then there's the enemy - in this case assorted deserters from both French and British armies. Here we require about 170 rank-and-file figures; rather more than we've come to expect of a typical SP2 force!

A typical (smallish) SP2 force

As a result, the advice must be to adjust the forces to meet the models you have available. But how to do that?

My suggestion would be to start off by maintaining the same ratio of force sizes. In this case, the deserters need to outnumber the British by about 3:1. In addition, though, we need to maintain the ability to split the forces as required by the story. In this case, the doughty Sergeant Paisley starts the action "off-camera" with a quarter of the riflemen rescuing distressed gentlewomen. 

If we say that he needs a minimum of one Group of six rifles to accomplish this, the implication is that Fondler's force should have a minimum of 24 riflemen in total. Again maintaining approximate ratios of men, we'd then have one rocket team with five crew and their Leader Lt Cholmondley (of whom later).

Keeping the deserter forces in proportion we'd then need a more manageable 72 figures or thereabouts. All the more manageable when we consider that the nature of the force means you can mix and match figures from all over the place! If you think your player representing Fondler needs a few more toys to push around, you'll need to up the enemy in proportion.

Oh, and if you don't have any RHA rocket troops you could either have them firing from off-table or replace them with attached group of guerrillas. 

Unit Stats

The Complete Fondler and SP1 both identify troops as Elite, Good, Regular or Poor. Obviously SP2 doesn't use that approach. In addition, SP1 allows troops to switch between line and skirmishing roles during the game. SP2 has them start on one role or the other and stay that way throughout.

We therefore must decide how to "stat up" the troop types and how to divide them into Line and Skirmish troops (or indeed Mass troops if our scenario includes natives or sailors). 

The Rifles and British artillerymen are easy in our sample case - the stats for Rifles are in the rule book and we simply need to swap rockets for guns for the artillery.  

But what about the deserters? I think I'd take a lowest-common-denominator approach. The British would have been "Regulars" and the French "Conscripts and Volunteers" before they left the colours. Let's go with the latter for the mixed deserter units. This reflects their reduced discipline. Both rated "First Fire" and could "Always" enter Formations so we'll let them keep those statuses. The French can only fire a Controlled Volley the first time they shoot and I can see a bunch deserters being somewhat flaky under fire so let's apply that rule to them.

Taking the worst value for "CrashingVolley", "Step Out", and "Drill" we end up with all threes. And finally I'd be inclined to remove the British Sharp Practice and the French Pas de Charge rules but perhaps give them Aggressive to reflect a degree of desperation? They know that capture probably means hanging.

In terms of unit types, I'd suggest the mutineers are mostly Line troops. Maybe you'd want to give them one unit of Skirmishers to represent the occasional more well-organised deserters. Oh, and Weedy Coves to represent those deserters who are drunk still applies in SP2.


This is just a gut feeling that I can't really justify but I rather feel that SP1 assumed a slightly higher proportion of higher-grade Leaders (Big Men in SP1 terminology) than is common in SP2 games. You may want to consider being slightly less generous.

The SP1 descriptors work out as follows:

  • Cock of the Walk = Status IV
  • Jolly Good Chap = Status III
  • Fine Fellah = Status II
  • Young Buck = Status I

Clearly we need to include the major characters - Fondler and Paisley for the British and Hogshead and Noudelle for the deserters - without them a lot of the essence of the story is missing. Cholmondley to command the artillery makes sense. We could perhaps do without Frederick Williams but if you have the perfect figure to represent him it would be rude to leave him out.  

The deserters have a few minor characters and I'd perhaps leave out one of the "Captains" given that we'll probably be scaling down the rank and file.

Leaders' character descriptions generally read across quite well from SP1 to SP2. The following equivalences might help:

  • SP1's An accomplished swordsman = SP2's Flashing Blade
  • SP1's An accomplished horseman = SP2's View Halloo
  • SP1's Handsome Devil or Pretty Boy = SP2's Handsome Devil
  • SP1's Linguist = SP2's Stunning Linguist
  • SP1's Athlete or Countryman = SP2's Sporting Life 

Where a character description isn't given above and you don't recognise it from SP2, like "an occasional horseman" or "a slasher with a sword", you can ignore it for rules purposes and just regard it as a bit of background colour.


SP1 used a different deck of cards (in fact two decks) and used them in a quite different way to SP2. As a general rule the Game Cards and Bonus Cards sections of an SP1 scenario can be ignored by SP2 players. However, note that our example scenario uses the Blank Card to determine when the deserter reinforcements arrive. This will still work with SP2; there's a blank card in the deck available from TFL. More on this below.


When it comes to deploying units onto the table there are two significant differences between SP1 and SP2. Perhaps surprisingly, one of these is shooting range. In general, weapons shoot about one-third further in SP2 than they did in SP1. This means that the battlefield is effectively smaller - troops get into the action more quickly and there is less need, or scope, to play out the forces' approach marches.

Given this, the designers were able to do away with Blinds, which were templates moved on the table to represent units not yet spotted by the enemy. SP1 used a system of spotting rolls to see if a Blind should be removed and replaced by the troops it represented (if any). Although they did add some interesting fog of war, I've also known them give some game-breakingly silly results. Fortunately, I don't think ignoring them will seriously unbalance most scenarios. 

As a general rule I'd suggest that you ignore the notional change in the size of the area covered by the scenario.  Place your SP2 Deployment Points in the locations where the SP1 scenario suggests units enter the table.  It should be easy enough to assess which of the entry zones represents a Primary Deployment Point. Often Secondary Deployment Points will just be "where-the-road-meets-the-edge-of-the-table" or the like.

If your scenario really does require some degree of hidden deployment or hidden movement there are a few ways you could allow for this:

  • give a sneaking attacker a Moveable Deployment Point
  • let the attacker dice to see how far forward his fixed Deployment Point can be deployed
  • and (defenders in particular) remember that just because your Leader's card has come up, you don't have to put his troops onto the table straight away!

Game Duration

In the context of how long (in game turns) a scenario should last, I think we need to consider what proportion of the plot development each turn represents. Our sample scenario requires Fondler's men to capture the ruined castle, search it for clues, meet up with Sgt Paisley and the rescued ladies, and then hold off a deserter counter-attack. Does the number of game turns required to do this vary significantly between SP1 and SP2? 

Having played a few games of both, I'm fairly comfortable with the idea that a turn represents about the same period of time in both editions. As a result the so-many-turns-of-the-Blank-Card approach mentioned above (and used in several of the Compleat Fondler scenarios) should be fine without modification.

Note also that the Task system (roll 1D6 for each action used in attempting a Task) is the same in both versions (unlike Infamy Infamy, which has a unit rolling 1D6 when a it spends its entire activation attempting a task). As such, Task values should port over fine from SP1 scenarios to SP2.

That's it for now, I think, unless any of my horde of readers have any questions about specific SP1 scenarios?

Saturday, February 19, 2022


Just finished this evening in another plastic kit but this time one that I can definitely see coming in useful in a war-game. 

I'm not sure where I bought this Trumpeter 1/72nd scale kit of the British Warrior MICV but as you can see I only paid a fiver for it.

This is a really nice kit and I think it's probably worth getting on for twice price that if you want a Warrior to support your British infantry.

It's a fairly easy build with all the parts going together cleanly with very few gaps. The tracks and the outer road wheels are moulded as a single piece - so no messing about with individual track links or rubber band tracks.

The moulding is nice and crisp with excellent detail. The only slight concern I have about using it in games is the potential vulnerability of the wing mirrors.

The black-and-white illustration of the paint scheme and where to put the decals would be better in colour. I got a bit confused and put the rear vehicle number plate in the wrong location. By the way the vehicle comes with two sets of these so if you bought two kits you wouldn't have to scratch around for spares so as to avoid having two vehicles with the same number in your force.

I'm pleased with this model and I look forward to seeing it in support of the NATO intervention force in Andreivia.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Russian Officer Backgrounds

To support our Livonia 1812 "campaign" - not sure how many games we'll get in - I had a go at producing a set of background tables for Napoleonic Russian officers. This first appeared on the Too Fat Lardies forum but I thought I'd save it here as well.

Roll initially 2D6 for your Leader's ethnic background and then follow the rabbit hole in most cases.

Russian Officer Background for Sharp Practice

2 Russian minor noble, poor, joined a Guards regiment as a gentleman sergeant

3 French emigré:
  • 1-3 Minor noble
    4-5 Officer in the former pre-revolutionary army
    6 Disenchanted former Bonapartist (thoroughly bourgeois but trying to hide it)
4-5 Minor noble born in the Russian Empire of non-Russian stock:
  • 1-2 Polish or Lithuanian
    3-4 Baltic German or Finnish
    5-6 Georgian, Tatar or Caucasian
Roll again as for Russian below for detailed background

6-9 Russian* noble: (Roll 1d6, adding one if rolling for your Force’s overall commander)
  • 1 A poet and a dreamer; joined the army out of misplaced romanticism 
    2 Illegitimate son of a household serf - found a place in the army by his noble father
    3 Spent most of his life on his family’s small country estate
    4 Known at court for his dangerously modern ideas but still fiercely patriotic
    5 Son of a respected noble family (it’s rumoured that his true father is a prince of the blood)
    6 Family have been army officers for generations
    7 Younger son of a princely family
10-11 German emigré officer:
  • 1-3: unemployed as a result of limits on the Prussian army after Jena
    4-6 refuses to serve under Napoleon
12 Other emigré professional soldier:
  • 1 Italian
    2 Swiss
    3 Swedish
    4 Polish
    5 Scot
    6 Player’s choice

* Note that for the purposes this table “Russian” includes Russians, Ukrainians and, because I love a bit of historical obscurantism in my terminology, White Ruthenians.

I must acknowledge the contribution of Captain Fortier on the forum, without whom this wouldn't be half as good.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

On the workbench - Starport Security office (updated)

Updated to correct the name of the supplier of the prison cell furniture
I've had several bits of sci-fi terrain from Scotia for a while and I've finally started turning them into a Starport Security station. 

The structure is foamcore as usual. I've used it for the walls and, unusually, also for the floor. I did this because the Scotia resin pieces feature 5mm thick bases and in some cases walls too. By cutting away one layer of the facing paper and the foam behind it, I can set the Scotia pieces flush with the interior walls and floor.

So far the building has a single floor with reception area (it'll be getting a counter for the desk sergeant to stand behind), a locker room, a small store room, a cell for miscreants, and an access ladder to upper floors and to the basement.

The bed, toilet and washbasin in the cell are from Actualsize Miniatures, who I met at the recent Penkridge war-game sale.

Since taking the pics I've painted the tops of the walls black and started on a roof. The plan is that I can add as many upper storeys as I like given a sufficient supply of foamcore but for now there'll just be a roof with a nice Scotia resin hatch above the interior ladder.

I also need to decide how I'm going to finish the exterior of the building. I fancy something different from my usual Tetrion adobe approach.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Winter trees

I wanted to add some trees to my Death of Gustavus Adolphus in 6mm set-up. The battle was fought in November but there's no indication of snowy conditions but I thought bare trees would indicate the time of year.

Several people suggested Woodland Scenics smaller tree armatures but whilst looking for something else I stumbled across a pack of 0.7mm florist's wire. I'd bought it on the grounds that it would "come in useful one day". This was that day.

I started by cutting the wire down into shorter lengths. I started about 10cm or so but subsequently went shorter. I took a bundle of between five and nine lengths of wire and twisted them together with two pairs of pliers. The idea was to get a tree trunk of tightly wound wires that would hold together without needing glue. 

I left both ends unwound but one (the roots) shorter than the other (the branches).

The next phase was to take two or three of the branch-end wires and twist them together to make a main branch. Again, don't wind all the way to the end. 

If your branch started off with three wires you can go down to two half way along leaving a single wire as a side branch. Finally your two-wire branch can diverge into two single wires.

Using a hot glue gun, I then fixed the splayed out roots to a small piece of artist's mounting board to act as a base. Then I could start adding texture.

I tried a few techniques; caking the tree trunks in clear adhesive (UHU type) or applying a coat of hot-glue gun glue but the best technique was the super glue and bicarb approach.

Basically apply superglue (cyanoacrylate) to the trunk and twisted branches and then sprinkle on bicarbonate of soda. The catalyses the settling of the superglue but also gives it a pleasing texture.  Make sure you let the glue throughly dry before you go on to painting as otherwise it will trash your brush.

I make plenty of time for drying by next adding my usual gloop of paint-stained household filler (Tetrion or Polyfiller) on the bases.

Finally I painted the trees in Vallejo German Grey followed by progressive dry-brushes of German Fieldgrey WWII and then Green Grey. The bases got my usual Miniature Paints Earth Brown dry brushed with Vallejo Iraqi Sand before I added a little flock to finish off.

Since making the six trees in the pictures above, I've made three more. With practice I find I can make small copse of these in a couple of hours, albeit with an overnight drying phase for the basing filler and to be absolutely sure the superglue's gone off. Might have a go at doing some larger scale ones for winter games of Chain of Command.

Friday, February 4, 2022

FW190 A-8

After last week's DH Vampire I'm now presenting a 1/72nd scale aircraft that I've built right from the start as a display model rather than with wargaming in mind.

The Airfix FW190 was available at an attractive price from the Aldi supermarket chain a few years ago and I picked one up thinking it might be useful one day. After that it sat on the shelf until recently when the Youtube algorithm threw up some suggestions including the Model Minutes channel.

Inspired to have a go at putting together a kit for its own sake, I decided to build the FW190 straight out of the box.  

There were one or two slightly tricky bits around positioning parts of the undercarriage and the armour protection behind the pilot's head but otherwise it was pretty straightforward to build.

The quality of the acrylic paints that came with this starter set left a little to be desired. It wasn't easy to get a smooth finish and a bit of decal silvering is visible despite my trying a softening solution I picked up a year or so ago.

The biggest gripe I have is that the colour of at least one of paints provided bore no resemblance to that depicted on the box illustrations. I ended up replacing the recommended colour (the dark element of the upper surface camouflage) with Vallejo German Camouflage Black Brown, which I happened to have bottle of - it's a terrifically useful colour for all kinds of jobs. I'm pleased with the effect.

To allow for sale in Germany and a couple of other European countries, the decal sheet comes without the swastikas that should be displayed on the tailplane. I looked though the piles of ancient decals I have left over from my long-ago modelling days but there was nothing suitable.

I'm basically pleased with how it's turned out. I can't see myself going back to building kits for the sake of it as a regular thing but the idea of building a small collection of early jet fighters is kind of tempting.