Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Sharpe Practice: The Bettys Rescue

Following last week's battle, Andy and I met up again at BIG for another Sharp Practice AWI scrap. Andy suggested we try the Sweep The Table scenario with 80 points each. The scenario requires one side to sweep across the table attempting to find something, whilst the other filters onto the table as the game progresses and tries to stop them. We decided to continue the narrative from last week's game so it was agreed that the notorious British spy Thomas Bettys had feigned death and not been killed in the escort mission and was now hiding behind enemy lines with the British looking to rescue him!

The table was quite terrain heavy with five potential hiding places for the spy marked with little bits of paper...

The American deployment was delayed and each time their force commander's chip was pulled they roll 2D6. Once the total of that reached 14 they begin deployment on subsequent leader activations. This allowed the British to steal a march on the Americans with two groups of Light Infantry Skirmishers, two groups of Light Infantry in Line and three groups of Regulars swiftly entering the field of play...

Fortunately, for me, it only took two turns for me to roll a cumulative 14 and a group of Rebel Militia Skirmishers under the command of Corporal Rowsick quickly deployed into the orchard.

The British were swiftly moving up the board though, with Captain Simmonds detaching one group of Regulars under the command of Sergeant Palmer to investigate a house to see if the spy was within. Lieutenant James deployed the Light Infantry into line, whilst Sergeant Crawley and the skirmishers moved up past their flank.

Fortunately for the Americans two groups of Lee's Legion (Light Infantry in Line - using the British stat line) arrived under the command of Lieutenant Kraslow...

And then a unit of Militia commanded by Sergeant Horowitz who slowly moved into the orchard behind the skirmishers.

Spotting  Lieutenant James's Lights nearing the road junction Rowsick's skirmishers opened fire but missed!

Crawley and the two units of British light skirmishers rushed past the junction and up the road...

Whilst Sergeant Palmer and his Regulars searched the first building... only to find Tom Bettys was not inside.

By now Captain Pollack and this three groups of Continental Line had arrived along with another two groups of Militia under Ensign Dorfman.

Lieutenant James's Lights started trading volleys with the Lee's Legion formation under Lieutenant Kraslow's, both sides taking casualties and the British a lot more Shock than the Americans...

Corporal Rowsick's Militia skirmishers opened fire on one group of the British skirmishers, again missing the target ( much for their legendary sniping capability!)

The British charged, throwing tomahawks at the Americans, forcing them to flee and taking double shock!

They then mercilessly stabbed the retreating Americans in the back capturing Corporal Rowsick! The American Force Morale dropped two points after this disastrous engagement!

Meanwhile Captain Pollack deployed his Continentals into Line despite marching through a wood.

And whilst this allowed Simmonds and his Regulars to get a volley off at them and inflict a small amount of Shock and one dead, they were able to retaliate with a devastating volley!

Rocked, the British regulars lost three men and gained a lot of Shock, but the ordeal was not over!

Before they could react, Pollack's Command chit was drawn again and the Continentals fired another volley into the British Regulars killing four more, piling the Shock on and forcing them back! The British Force Morale took a hit here...

.Captain Simmonds ordered Sergeant Palmer to hurry up bringing his house searching Regulars into line. A Firing Event caused by three flags in a row being drawn saw a pall of smoke settle between the British and Americans reducing the ability of both to hit their opponents.

Back in the orchard, Sergeant Horowitz split his formation, deploying one group of Militia against the British skirmishers who had captured Corporal Rowsick.

Eleven muskets shot out and three British redcoats fell dead, the remainder of the group taking Shock. Fortunately the captured Corporal Rowsick was not hit!

The other group of British Light skirmishers under Sergeant Crawley moved into the orchard and charged the second group of American militia...

A bloody melee ensued with four Redcoats dying but also five Americans with Sergeant Horowitz being wounded...

However he was still in command range of the other Militia group who themselves attacked the remaining British skirmshers...

...wiping them out...

...and capturing Sergeant Crawley in the process. With a group destroyed and a leader captured the British Force Morale dropped again!

Subsequently the Militia opened fire on the Redcoat skirmishers with the captured Rowsick. Accurate musket fire killed the remaining British, though the poor Corporal was knocked out by a glancing musket ball!

Back in the centre Sergeant Dorfman moved his militia up through the wood between Lee's Legion and the Continentals, one group unleashing a volley on James's Lights from the treeline...

Inflicting casualties and adding to the Shock built up against Lee's Legion, James's Lights were pushed back...

With one group breaking and running for the safety of their own lines! This resulted in the British Force Morale reducing to zero, the Americans had won the day!

A very enjoyable battle, I am getting a better handle on the rules, though thankfully Andy is a patient teacher when I get a bit confused! It was interesting to see how much more effective my Militia were in Sharp Practice compared to their usual ineptitude in Rebels and Patriots, though they still suck in melee combat.

Epilogue: aftre the battle Thomas Bettys was found hiding in the orchard by Patriot militia and will be tried and executed as a spy at a date to be decided by General Washington.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

American War of Independence: Green's Virginia Continentals

When I started painting up my American army for the AWI last year I was conscious that I didn't just want a blue-coated army and wanted to have as much variety as possible (eg. 2nd Maryland in their brown coats). Having painted the 1st Maryland in blue I realised the other week looking at my Patriot force that is was anything but blue, in fact with all the militia etc it was more brown! Consequently I thought I better crack on and raise a couple more blue-coated Continental units.

Alongside the Maryland Continentals at Guilford Courthouse were two regiments of Virginian Continentals. The vast majority of Virginian Continental troops (four regiments) had been lost at the Siege of Charleston in 1780, so the State raised a new force conscripting men to serve until the end of 1781 (they being known as 'eighteen-month men'). Two regiments of new Virginian Continentals fought at Guilford Courthouse though there is some confusion as to their designation with some sources calling them the 1st and 2nd Virginia Regiments and others the 4th and 5th (the 4th was lost at Charleston and the 5th  merged into the 3rd in 1779). Probably, most correctly, they should be referred to by their commanders names, Lt. Colonel's Green and Hawes.

My first Virginian Regiment (Green's) are painted in the standard Continental uniform of the period, although prior to the campaign there is reference to them not having enough uniforms and looking like militia en route to Chesterfield Court House. I like to think suppliers problems were resolved there and the troops sent to Major General Nathanael Greene in 1781 looked the part (they certainly fought the part).

Unsure of what standard they carried at Guilford Courthouse (if any) I opted for that of the 1st Virginia Regiment from Maverick Models as I like the flag design. The miniatures are the Perry Miniatures plastic Continentals and painted using my regular block paint, Army Painter Soft Tone dip then odd highlights approach.

Monday, 3 August 2020

American War of Independence: Lee's Legion

Following on from Kirkwood's Lights which I painted at the beginning of the lockdown, I decided, with some AWI Sharp Practice games on the horizon to paint up another unit of Light infantry, Lee's Legion, who had been sat forlornly undercoated for a few months now.

Lee's Legion (aka 2nd Partisan Corps) was a unit of comprising of both foot and cavalry, and saw action under the command of Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee in the Southern Campaign, notably at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

There is some debate over their uniforms, some sources claiming they wore an unusual lilac/purple colour (which may have been a weathered or faded blue), green jackets with buff or white pants (the same as Tarelton's British Legion) or cream jackets, faced green, with buff pants. Given the brightness of the lilac and with the green jackets undoubtedly going to cause confusion with the British Legion, I went with the cream jackets (which were also easiest to paint using the Army Painter Soft Tone dip which I am using on my American army).

The figures are from Perry Miniatures metal AWI range and I was amused to note that the figures George has used for his British Legion are the same ones I have used for Lee's Legion - good job then I did not paint them in green jackets!

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Sharpe Practice: The Bettys Barney

Given the popularity of Sharp Practice down BIG I've been meaning to get a few games in so it all sticks in my head(!)  Luckily Andy has just raised some AWI Redcoats and he was up for getting them blooded and helping me get a grasp of the rules. Andy suggested we play the Escort Duty scenario with the British trying to escort the traitorous spy Joseph Bettys across the board to safety, only to find a Rebel force blocking their route!

The first token drawn was Blue 2 which saw Lieutenant Kraslow and two units of Maryland State Line enter the field...

Next up came Sergeant Rowsick and a group of Continental Light Infantry skirmishers, using a Mobile Deployment Point (here shown by a young local woman who pointed out a hidden path through some woods). I did make a mistake with the Light Infantry using the stat line for rifles and not equipping them with muskets as the force list shows. Sorry Andy! :-(

The first redcoats were then spotted, Sergeant Strange and his Light Infantry skirmishers who quickly hid behind a building!

Next up two units of British Light Infantry in Line led by Ensign Masters enter the field of battle. The best troops in the British force they proceed straight down the road towards the Rebels...

Coming under fire from the Continental Lights who inflicted some Shock on the advancing British...

Captain Symonds was next to enter the fray with two units of British Regulars escorting the spy Joe Bettys!

A support unit of Continental Light Dragoons then arrived. These didn't have a leader attached which was to cause me problems later as I failed to keep them within command range of any of my Leaders.

Finally Captain Pollack arrived with three groups of Continental Line, capable of going toe-to-toe with British Line, deploying from the Mobile Deployment Point between the wood and road.

Sergeant Strange's Lights engaged the Continental skirmishers...

Inflicting a point of Shock on them.

Meanwhile Captain Pollack ordered his Continentals into Line and to Present their muskets towards the enemy, whilst the State Militia moved off the road to cover the flank which the British Line under Captain Simmonds were moving towards.

Ensign Masters' Light Infantry open fire at the Continental forces...

Inflicting Shock on two units of Continental Line and the Continental Light Dragoons.

The Gods of War(gaming) were with me tonight however as the chips provided me with Four Command Cards allowing me a bonus activation round so the Continental Line who having already Presented their muskets fired a First Fire volley at the British Light Infantry before swiftly reloading...

This inflicted Shock and a casualty on the British and with just two tokens left in the bag (my Level 3 leader Captain Pollack and Tiffin) I was fortunate that my Level 3 came out allowing them to Present and Fire again!

Two rounds of Continental volley fire hammered the British Lights, killing two and several points of Shock.

Pushed back both Groups of Light Infantry broke and ran swiftly towards safety! The British Force Morale took a beating this turn.

Meanwhile the Continental Skirmishers managed to kill the British Light Skirmishers Sergeant leaving them leaderless...

Within the Command range of Captain Pollack the Light Dragoons were ordered to Charge down the remaining British Lights who attempted to evade but failed. 

Retreating Skirmishers against Charging Impact Cavalry, the result was not in doubt...

...except for my awful dice rolling! 

Needing fives and sixes out of a handful of dice I managed to only kill one and inflict another point of Shock! Shocking indeed!

The British Light then began shooting up the leaderless Dragoons inflicting two casualties and forcing them to retreat, negatively impacting the American Force Morale.

Meanwhile on the American right flank, Captain Simmond's Line escorting the spy Bettys, charged into Lieutenant Kraslow's State Line  who foolishly had not reloaded their muskets.

Unsurprisingly (well to me at least) a savage bayoneting saw the Marylanders lose several men, pick up a pile of Shock and see Lieutenant Kraslow knocked out! Breaking, the American Force Morale suddenly plummeted losing them two Command cards.

However in the melee the State Line managed to inflict one casualty on the British. As this was Captain Simmonds group Andy had to role to see if his Leader or the Spy was the casualty. He rolled a one, it was one of them. He then rolled to see if Simmonds was dead or the spy... 

It was the spy! The escort mission had failed!

We decided to continue the battle to see if the British Line could reach the safety of the table edge... Captain Pollack broke up his Continental Line formation to try and shoot the British in the flank. 

Would the British get to move first before the Americans could reload and fire?

Yes they could, however Sergeant Rowsick's Continental Lights started shooting at their rear inflicting Double Shock!

Really needing Tiffin and a new activation for Captain Simmonds next, unfortunately for Andy, Captain Pollack and his Continental Line activated next, the two groups loading and firing into the rear of the British killing two and piling Shock on.

Faced with annihilation, Andy conceded at this point...

An enjoyable game, I am beginning to get my head around the nuances of Sharp Practice and its differences with Rebels & Patriots. We subsequently realised the units points costs in the rulebook are wrong and this coupled with my accidental upgrading of my Lights with the longer range muskets meant I should not have had the Dragoon support - that said they weren't as useful as they should have been!

I'm looking forward to trying the rules again soon, maybe seeing how my usually useless Militia fare under a different set of rules!