It was my privilege to play a War of 1812 game of Sharp Practice with my friend David this last weekend. We have been looking for a good ruleset for a large scale black powder era skirmish game to run some War of 1812, Peninsula War, and AWI games, so far this has been the most fun.
For our first game, we set up a War of 1812 scenario where a column of US infantry march to rescue beleaguered US Riflemen, holed up in a farm house and surrounded by Crown-sympathetic Indians. On the first run through I got to use my recently painted 1st US Infantry and US Rifle Regiment figures, and David would attack with his Indians.
The relief column marched into the game, but had to brave a long road with the shadows of a lurking enemy.
The second column arrives, but still no sign of the indians. Command is getting worried.
My senior officer attempts to spot the foe himself from horseback,.
The trap is sprung, and the brunt of the Indian force crashes into the flank of the marching column.
The war party makes short work of the infantry line.
Meanwhile, the other hunting parties reveal themselves, and besiege the rifles, who take one too many casualties, and retire from the battle.
With my Rifle Regiment fled, and relief column torn to ribbons, it was time to cede the game. But what fun it was!
Sharp Practice plays differently from most wargames I'm familiar with, but it is a lot of fun. One of the key differences is that it breaks up the turn sequence so you cannot make meta-game plans based on a predictable pattern. Instead of each player taking their turn, armies move and take actions only by the leadership of their officers, who act when their card is turned from a deck of event cards. This forces players to make the best decisions you can with limited control over your troops, not knowing when you'll be able to issue your next orders.