Take that Hill!

We now feel confident enough with Sharp Practice to try out some additional options. We’ve already had a short game with artillery, which was a bit dull due to the scenario and some really bad dice rolls, so I decided to skip the AAR. Our last game featured cavalry, and this, however, was a blast and one of the most dramatic games we’ve played.

The scenario was inspired by scenario 12 in Neil Thomas’ One Hour Wargames, a treasure trove of interesting ideas. The objective was to occupy the hill at the Northern edge of the board. Both our deployment points were at the Southern edge, mine (Confederates) in the Eastern corner, K.’s (Union) in the Western corner. A river ran between us and the hill, with a bridge on K.’s side and a ford on mine.

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During the first turn, we both swiftly deployed our troops and marched one column of three groups across the river. Our skirmishers also ran forward at the double. K. had her cavalry canter towards the hill, while I decided to try a gamble: What if I threatened to take her deployment point with my cavalry? No sooner said than done, my cavalry charged toward K.’s side.

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Unfortunately, K. had time to deploy her second detachment of infantry. She put them in line to counter my charge. A devastating volley stopped my troopers in their tracks and threw them back.

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However, I had now given K. an idea! She immediately advanced her line, intent on grabbing my deployment point now. My cavalry skedaddled behind the fence and dismounted, bound and determined to hold their ground.

Now was one of those crucial decision points: Should I use my second detachment of infantry to check K.’s advance towards my deployment point, or should I hurry them across the river and make my greater number count against K.’s troops there? I decided upon the second and had them cross the river.

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K.’s cavalry had reached the hill and dismounted, but my first column was already forming line and soon put devastating fire into K.’s troops. In no time, my second column followed. I took some fire from K.’s skirmishers, which were positioned in the woods, but I caused lots of shock to her regulars. K. now had her hands full removing the shock and keeping her men in line.

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However, on the other side of the river things were deteriorating for me. I never really managed to rally my cavalry, and they couldn’t withstand the pressure.

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When K. charged, they immediately fell back, making way for the Union troops. K. handled her advance masterfully: Once she had crossed the fence, she dissolved the line and had one group advance toward the deployment point while the other fired at my troopers, making them fall back each time, which in turn forced me to roll on the Force Morale table continuously.

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In the end, my Force Morale was pretty low. K.’s also had suffered, but her line of infantry on the Northern side of the river was still holding their ground. I decided to go in and end the whole affair with cold steel, but before I could do that, K. had routed my dismounted cavalry, which brought my Force Morale to zero. A glorious victory for the Union!

What an exciting game full of dramatic turns! I knew the cavalry charge might be a bit too gallant (not to say suicidal), but I wanted to try it and had the idea of at least buying my advancing columns more time. It kind of did work, as K. detached two groups to go for my deployment point, giving me a huge advantage in numbers in the battle for the hill. However, while K.’s line took the punishment and stood firm, my dismounted cavalry on the other side of the river just kept retreating. Maybe I should have invested more Command Cards to rally them, but then I wouldn’t have had those cards on other side… such decisions make Sharp Practice the brilliant game it is!

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