Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sharp Practice - Mini Review

Sharp Practice by Too Fat Lardies is the second Napoleonic Skirmish rules set I have been raving about.  You have probably figured out by now that I really like Song of Drums and Shakos and may be wondering why in the heck I'm messing around with Sharp Practice.  Well, it is because they are two different animals, and they are both excellent rules for two different styles of games.  I think everyone should own both sets.

Sharp Practice (SP) uses card decks to activate officers and NCOs referred to as 'Big Men", as well as a myriad of other special capabilities and random events to always keep you guessing.  SP is a game that takes a lot of control away from the player and makes him respond to constantly evolving conditions during the battle.  Good tactics are rewarded, bad tactics only compound the arse whooping you will get!

Like Sharp, I have only three rules that I expect from a rules set to pass my test!
1.  SIMPLE.  Must be fairly simple to learn and minimal book keeping if any.  If a new player cannot grasp the basic idea and funtion in a Convention game in three turns the game is simply no good.  Key word here is "game".  I've been gaming for a long time and some historical guys just can't seem to get the fact that they are playing games with toy soldiers.  "Realism" is a myth and games that claim to simulate only make for lousy games you cannot ever hope to finish.  A reasonable amount of historically reasonable results can be achieved with good simple rules much easier than complex nightmares.
2.  PLAYABLE.  Gotta be able to finish a bloody game!  If the game cannot be played in a couple of hours or less it will become a paperweight.  I don't mind getting a little crazy and playing bigger, longer games, but the quick play option has to be there.  You will never get new converts if you cannot finish games.
3.  FLAVOR.  While keeping to simple, fast play mechanics, the game should give you a good "feel" for the period and not allow the player to have God like capabilities.  I like surprises, and it makes for much funner games.  In Napoleonics for example, I like to see troop characteristics and I also like to see my little soldiers having some sort of sense of self preservation.  It is also important that rules can be slightly modified to taste without breaking the system.

I have read the rules several times and only played four games of SP so far but I can already tell you that it abides by my rules.  SP is in my toy chest for the long haul so we are taking our time to learn the rules completely, and are play testing it exhaustively.  Finally we will make our tweaks and house rules.  The main thing I need to completely test out is our basing system which uses multiple figures on a base while they are in close formation.  This will allow us to take SP from company level to battalion level.  I'm convinced it can handle it with a little thought.

Here are some photos with descriptions from one of our learning games.  This is not really a batrep or a review, but just an illustration of what your games might look like if you choose to try out this excellent rules set.  We've only dipped the pinky but are already having a very good time with SP.

It really gripes my arse that we were only able to mess around for about an hour.  I really wanted to see where Jil's Kamikaze column was going to end up.  Up to this point it had taken a bloody nose but was by no means ready to quit.  With the right cards he may have been able to roll through my skirmishers and then I would need to get my close boys deployed or I'd be in trouble.  SP will march again!


  1. Another quality report!!

    You really should post a report on the 6mm forum so those there can see this.

  2. I am really impressed. Did you change the distances when you dropped it to 6mm? I have found most of the lardy rules do very well in 6mm but I have to say, Sharp Practice is the one I have not tried this with yet. I was trying to achieve what you have using 15mm. Your column looks perfect. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Wow, impressive batrep.
    Always a pleasure to read from your blog!

  4. Um, my French may be rusty, but I do have to ask what "Pas de Charge" is supposed to mean? My best translation is "No charge" (as in battery charge) or, "foot of a charge" which makes less sense....

    P.S. took your advice, bought Songs of Blades and Heroes, and though I've only done a couple solo test matches, I am thrilling myself classifying all my D&D, Heroscape, and various applicable Star Wars and Heroclix figures into the system (Gammorean guards are, and always have been, fat orcs!)

  5. 6mm Sharp Practise, who'd have thunk it? Looks amazingly good: The Sharp Practice chat group would love to see this.

    I think the 'pas de charge' is the drumbeat, but I'm not sure.

    I suspect that there are issues with the formation rules which might come out at this scale since it looks like you are more likely to use them.

    You were remembering, I hope, that the formation rules mean that all the groups in the formation share the shock evenly - it makes formations very hard to stop by single groups.

  6. Interesting report and approach (6mm!)to SP.
    I too am in love with the rules and can not recommend them more.

  7. Michael, Lobo, Furt: Thanks!I enjoy writing about stuff I like.

    Chris: I just left them the same. As long as the proportions stay the same everything works. I like longer ranges as it looks "right".

    Macavity: I hope I didn't botch that, but I think it is from the 1791 Drill manual for march rate set by the drummer as Peter suggested. SOBH is a very versatile set.

    Peter: Thanks for the tip, I'll have to look up and join the Sharp Practice group as I am hooked to stay. So far so good on formations, but I'm sure some stuff will creep out at us. No worries though, we are creative. I was wondering if someone would pick up on the pile of shock points lumped up front, but no, we remembered. The bridge was in the way so we just threw them down and assumed they would distribute evenly from front to rear.

  8. Only in Willy's world could a Napoleonic skirmish end with the appearance of a T Rex1 I laughed my arse off!

  9. Pas the charge is charge pace, or charge step, not sure how to say it in english. Is the infantry speed for a charge, and a drum sound.


  10. I'm a 6mm fan myself! Nice job of using your figures for SP.


  11. Thanks Emilio, I thought I remembered that being the case.

  12. Looks interesting.

    Can you explain your rationale for the number of figures per close rank base (it looks like 8) and the base dimensions?


  13. Snowcat,
    There is actually no significance to the close rank basing in relation to SP. SP actually uses all single based figs. These were based for another game and luckily they work out in SP because it uses groups up to 12 men. I like the close rank figs all in one base at this 6mm scale, makes for very fast movement and we can deploy larger forces. It requires the use of kill markers though since we cannot remove figures.

    These are based as 12 men in three ranks or 8 men in two ranks. If I remember right, the bases are like 3/4 square for the three rankers, and 3/4x1/2 for the 2 rankers.

  14. Excellent, thanks!

    And you've played this on a 2' x 2' board/table?
    I have a 3' x 3' table that's extendable to 4.5' x 3', so this 6mm technique of yours for SP seems ideally suited.


  15. I think this SP game was on a 2x4 but we play a lot of skirmish games on a 2x2.
    3x3 is ideal and a 4.5x3 is all I think you would ever need unless you go really nuts!