Thursday 13 August 2020

Sharp Practice: Bloody Work at Roebuck Fields

Despite being ridiculously hot at BIG (both inside the building and outside) Andy and I met up for another AWI Sharp Practice bash, Andy bringing along his nice new snake fencing he'd recently made. Looking through the scenarios in the rulebook, the Defence in Depth one immediately put me in mind of a number of battles of the Southern Campaign with the British attacking two or more lines of American troops, so Andy agreed we should try it out.

I had a primary deployment point (off camera) aside where the road exited the table on the left, with a secondary one (the hay cart) near the crossroads. Andy had primary and secondary deployment points on the right edge of the board...

A group of Light Infantry Skirmishers under the command of Corporal Lockharte reconnoitered the ground in front of two groups of Line Infantry under Sergeant Hughes...

Militia Skirmishers under the command of Corporal Rowsick spoted another unit of British Light Skirmishers led by Ensign Foley, open fire and wound the young British officer.

Meanwhile three groups of Continental Line led by Captain Pollack entered the field of battle at the American primary deployment point.

The command tokens begin to favour the British with Foley's Skirmishers moving across the road and opening fire...

...hitting Rowsick's Skirmishers and inflicting Double Shock on them!

On the other flank Corporal Lockharte's Skirmishers killed two American Militia Skirmishers under Corporal Horowitz, wound him and inflict Shock on the group...

The British Skirmishers follow this up killing another American and inflicting more Shock which causes the Patriot Skirmishers to run. The American Force Morale loses two points due to this and the wounding of Corporal Horowitz...

My cunning plan, which I had based on American tactics in the Southern Campaign, was unravelling. My flanks had been exposed and Sergeant Dorfman's Militia, who I had deployed from the secondary deployment point near the crossroad ready to face the advancing British Line found themselves outflanked!

Whilst I had wanted to save the Militia to fire a controlled volley at the British Line I had no option but to detach one group of them who promptly swung to their flank and fired at Corporal Lockharte's boys killing one and inflicting shock on the British Skirmishers.

The Gods of War(gaming) smiled on me then as the next Command token was Lieutenant Kraslow with two groups of Lee's Legion Light Infantry in Line. They immediately deployed to face the threat on the flank and unleashed a volley at the British Skirmishers...

Two more Skirmishers fell dead and the group took five more points of shock causing them to break. The British force morale dropped a point following this.

Meanwhile on the other flank Corporal Rowsick's boys engaged ineffectively with Foley's Light Infantry Skirmishers picking up more shock.

Ensign Foley smelt glory and order his boys to charge the Americans, who picked up even more shock as the British Skirmishers threw tomahawks at them as they charged in.

The hand to hand combat result was to be expected. Three Patriot Skirmishers fell dead and the remainder fled. The American force morale fell one more point. Gulp!

With Dorfman's Militia exposed near the crossroads, the two British Line Infantry formations under Captain Clarence and Sergeant Hughes bore down on them...

Captain Clarence leading from the front to engage the rebels!

With zeal and bayonets only Clarence's Line smashed into Dorfman's Militia group...

Killing four, wounding Dorfman and forcing the Militia back. Fortunately for the American force morale no one cared Dorfman was wounded when I rolled on the Bad Things Happen table!

With the situation starting to look desperate, Kraslow ordered Lee's Legion to swing round to face the oncoming British and they unleashed a volley at Sergeant Hughes and his two groups of Line inflicting some shock on them.

In a desperate attempt to stem the redcoat tide the detached Militia group turned about face and not having had a chance to reload their muskets, bravely charged into the flank of Clarence's Redcoats!

In the melee they were beaten off and forced to retire but this left it clear for Captain Pollack to order the Continental Line to fire a controlled presented volley at the British.

The British formation took more shock and Andy used his Holy Man (a loyal Methodist preacher) to 'inspire' the British - removing a couple of points of shock off Captain Clarence's groups.

Unfortunately for the Redcoats this availed them little as Lieutenant Kraslow ordered Lee's Legion to fix bayonets and charge in, throwing tomahawks at the British as they went...

Before they could do this though Captain Clarence challenged Lieutenant Kraslow to a duel!

After three rounds of duelling, both men withdrew sporting light wounds but honour intact...

Unfortunately for Captain Clarence his Line Infantry were unable to withstand the charge by the American Light Infantry and both groups broke reducing the British force morale...

The British situation was made worse as Clarence's men ran through Sergeant Hughes' men following them, reducing British force morale further.

The battle appeared to be swinging back in favour of the Americans but Sergeant Hughes snapped his men into line and bravely led them into battle against the Rebel Light Infantry...

Captain Clarence then abandoned his fleeing men and joined Sergeant Hughes formation, taking command.

High on adrenaline after routing one formation of British Line, Kraslow's men tried to charge in again. Unfortunately the amount of shock they were carrying and my shockingly bad dice roll saw them come up short.

Something Captain Clarence took advantage of as he fired and charged the Legion Light Infantry.

Whilst forced back the boys of Lee's Legion are made of stout stuff and did not break...

Fortunately they remained in formation and so do not negatively impact the American force morale,

Despite having forced the Legion back British force morale was teetering...

...and a final round of musket fire from the Militia group inflicted enough shock on the British Line to force one group back more than two inches breaking their formation and reducing the British force morale to zero! The stars and stripes flies proudly over the bloody ground at Roebuck Fields!

Another enjoyable game of Sharp Practice with Andy, I really thought I'd blown it early on as his Skirmishers took mine out and exposed my flanks. Fortunately the Command tokens came out to my benefit at this point and the arrival of Lee's Legion was able to stem the inevitable collapse in the centre. 

I had decided before the game that I wanted to use them aggressively this time, rather than use just trading musket fire with their opponents as previous, and their charge and destruction of the British Line had a devastating effect on the British force morale which then disintegrated more quickly than mine (which was dropping at a worrying enough rate early on).

With three victories under my belt as the defender in each scenario I think it is only fair that next time the Patriot forces take to the offensive to see if we can show the British how it should be done (or more likely not!).


  1. Really good AAR. A very tense game as fortune went back and forth. it makes for a great narrative which is something I don't get from other rules. I have a hard time understanding why some gamers don't like these rules. Looking forward to more of your reports.

    1. Cheers Mitch. I do enjoy Rebels & Patriots games as well which has a similar narrative approach.