I’ve finally painted up enough figures for a first game of our new Haitian Revolution project. We are using the Sharp Practice rules, which we have never before used for what they were intended – we’ve only played the Wars of the Roses variant so far. Naturally, we were quite apprehensive how we would manage.
I played the French (i.e. the Black Republicans under Toussaint L’Ouverture) and K. played the British expeditionary force that wanted to snatch the rich colony of St Domingue away from the French. In our scenario, the British had to blow up an ammunitions depot hidden in the jungle. Some of my militia guarded the depot while French reinforcements were on the way.
The British entered in column formation, consisting of two groups of eight line infantry and one of six Black Chasseurs. Another group of Chasseurs was advancing on their left flank. While the British were stepping lively, the French main force (eight line infantry and another group of six militia) dawdled. The maroons however rushed through the jungle to flank the British column. Those troops represent independent bands of guerillas, only lightly armed but good at melee, which in our games may move through jungle terrain without penalties.
K. initially wanted to change her line into column but was afraid the maroons would hit her in the flank, so she decided to manoeuvre her groups independently. This was a relief for my militia, which was advancing headlong towards the British and taking quite a lot of shock from their volleys. Unfortunately, my regulars still wouldn’t budge and kept behind. The militia at the hut was taking cover behind the building after exchanging some quick volleys with the British.
I knew I had to do something quick and decided to thrown the maroons at K.’s flank. Unfortunately, she had it guarded by her Black Chasseurs, which are not the weedy coves her disease-stricken regulars are.
The Chasseurs repulsed the first group of maroons with ease, making them flee back into the jungle. The second group however did better and threw the Chasseurs back, thereby opening up K.’s flank.
However, this was of no avail. At the hut, my militia was desperately making a stand but could not prevent the first group of British regular making contact with the building and preparing the fuse to blow it to smithereens.
At this moment, we ended the game as we had run out of time. I conceded victory to K. as she would only need one or two more turns to prepare the fuse and I don’t think I could have stopped her. Sure, the maroons were back in the game and threatening her flank. But her regulars were still fresh and keeping up a lively fire, which had worn down both my groups of militia. My regulars were advancing slowly, but then K. still had a second group of fresh Chasseurs, which could deal with any threat.
This was a fun game and an interesting experience. The tactical challenges are very different from the melee-dominated Wars of the Roses games and we both felt that we still had a lot to learn. Neither of us managed to form a line, which could have made the game more decisive, as line formations get a big bonus when firing. K. didn’t dare because of the threat my maroons posed to her flank (lines are more vulnerable to attacks into their flanks than groups), while I couldn’t activate my regulars to move. Shock points have more weight when there is constant shooting and it’s much more difficult to decided whether to activate groups or to just remove shock to keep them from running away.
We both agreed that we like the ‘proper’ version of Sharp Practice very much and are looking forward to trying other scenarios and experimenting with different tactics. Liberté, égalité, chance aux dés!
The Raft makes an Easter break and will be back on April 10. Have a nice time and hopefully get some games or painting in!