Last weekend we had another game of Sharp Practice with the Naval Landing Party. I’ve put a pdf of the Force List we used in the Resources folder – feel free to try it out, I’d appreciate any feedback!
To spice things up, we also used a mechanics for secret objectives. We’ve used this system before for other games and it always provides an exciting experience – there’s a lot of second-guessing as it enables the attacker to makes faints and forces the defender to keep a reserve.
For this game, I made up three cards which would thematically fit with the background. The attacker (the Landing Party, which turned out to be K.) drew one of three cards – this would be her objective for the game. I didn’t know which card she drew, of course, so I had to watch every move and be prepared to rush in quickly.
The judge was located in the big house on the Northern edge of the table, the livestock were in the pigsty and the telegraph line went along the road on the Western table edge.
The game started with K. deploying her sailors. For the first couple of turns, the Leader commanding the Marines didn’t come up, but in true navy spirit the impetuous sailors rushed forward nevertheless.
One group ran towards the judge’s house, so I deployed one group of skirmishers there. The ball was opened by those groups exchanging some shots.
However, the bulk of the Union sailors ran towards the small homestead with the pigsty and took position behind the farm-house.
Could this be the Union’s objective? Better save than sorry, I thought, and deployed a line of my regulars to cover the farm. The others I deployed on the table but kept in reserve in column formation so as to be able to quickly react to any threat.
K. also deployed her Boat Howitzer on the hill and shot at the skirmishers on my left flank. However, we forgot two important artillery rules (round shot reduces cover and canister gets a +1 to hit), so it didn’t do much damage. Perhaps the powder got wet during the landing…
On the right flank, my guys at first kept the sailors in check, but then the Marines arrived.
I still feared some kind of ruse but had no other choice than to commit the rest of my regulars to my right flank. Normally, K. is a pretty cunning player, but this time she went for a rather direct approach, trying to force her way to the pigsty by bludgeoning my troops head-on.
The Marines positioned themselves behind a fence and began a withering fire. The firepower of a skirmish formation is quite formidable, especially if it is hidden behind an obstacle, which enhances its cover bonus even more. Having spent their first volley, my regulars kept up a ragged fire which didn’t make much of an impression on the Marines.
There was, however, a fierce struggle for the pigsty, with sailors heading into the muck only to be driven away by charging Confederates.
As always with Sharp Practice, melee is risky for both sides and the best way to drop Force Morale fast. K. also neglected to withdraw her broken sailors, so they came under fire from my skirmishers, which made them rout off the table. This was enough for the Union Commander: despite his Marines still being in good shape, he decided to pull out and call it a day. No pork for the crew of the USS Sasquatch today!
Another great game! The secret missions were fun and contributed to making the game more exciting. Forgetting the artillery rules was an embarrassing mistake – my skirmishers came under artillery fire a couple of times and probably would have been severely mauled if we had played it right. Also, if K. had pulled back her broken group, I couldn’t have dealt her the finishing blow. Her Marines were still strong and might have pulled off a victory by overwhelming me with their firepower had they had more time.
All in all, I think that the Landing Party works well. Our next plan is to play a campaign using the new supplement, Dawns & Departures.