After our first test game of Sharp Practice, we wanted to do a proper scenario, so I chose Scenario Six: Rescue Mission from the rulebook. The backstory went like this: A Confederate spy, Annabelle, was apprehended in a farmhouse by a small force of Union soldiers. The Confederates have mounted a rescue mission while the Unionists quickly assembled a detachment to pick up the prisoner and escort her to headquarters.
At the start of the game, Annabelle and her guard were in the farmhouse. The guard counted as NPCs and would do nothing more than defend themselves from an attack. K., who played the rebels, had a secondary Deployment Point near the farmhouse and her main one on the road at the Eastern exit of the board. I could chose to place my Deployment Point at the Northern or Southern exit of the table and took the latter.
I deployed two groups of line infantry at the fence, as I wanted to capture the main Confederate Deployment Point – K.’s objective was to exit Annabelle via that road. K. immediately deployed her first group of skirmishers at the house, where they got ready to surprise the unsuspecting Union guards inside.
We ruled that the guards were distracted by Annabelle’s charm and wit and therefore surprised, so they got a couple of negative modifiers. However, it seems that they didn’t fall completely for Annabelle’s charade, as they managed to chase away the rebels knocking at the door. This bought me some badly needed time.
I now deployed my main force of three groups of line infantry and decided to march them through the woods to block K.’s way. Unfortunately, they immediately got stuck in the underbrush and moved at a snail’s pace for several turns. What a stupid idea to move a line through woods! (And it didn’t help that I rolled abysmally and forgot the Step Out! ability). At least my skirmishers managed to work their way forward.
K. meanwhile deployed her main force of three groups of line in the field opposite of my two groups. Steadily, her men marched on while mine waited until they were near enough. Then, they unleashed a devastating volley, combining First Volley, Controlled Volley and Shattering Volley. K. still tried to push forward, but to no avail – one or two volleys later and her line broke and the groups fell back.
While I held K.’s main force at my right flank, her second group of skirmishers had finally entered the house, subdued the guards and introduced themselves to Annabelle. When they rushed out, they encountered some fire from my skirmishers, but this couldn’t really slow them down. I decided it was time for some decisive action and urged my main force onwards through the woods. K. had meanwhile positioned a line of two groups to meet them, and their first volley caused some shock. Still, I managed to rush forward and enter fisticuffs.
What now followed was even more shocking than the scene on the field: After two rounds of melee (the first was a draw), my line was broken, all the groups had fled and my Force Morale was at -2!
The game was over for the Union and K. could safely escort Annabelle back to the Confederate camp.
We both love narrative scenarios and it was good to see that Sharp Practice still shines at those kinds of games. From the first turn on we had an exciting and dramatic story. We also learned some important lessons. One of them was that marching through the open against a determined foe is a very dangerous thing to do – we still have to learn how to properly conduct an attack. I guess having a skirmisher screen would help. The second was that fisticuffs can be a game changer. My Force Morale fell from something like 7 to -2 in one melee! With two Leaders wounded, the Formation broken, all three groups broken and their Leaders routing from the table I just kept on rolling on the Bad Things Happen table until nothing was left. Ok, having to fight fisticuffs twice due to the first round being a draw didn’t help, but this was one hell of a fight. K. was also pretty battered by the struggle, but she managed to hold on. Also, I realised that I still play much too static and I probably should have entered via the Northern side of the table, as this would have given me more room to manoeuvre.
Anyway, a great time was had and we are looking forward to playing another scenario!