Friday, September 5, 2014

Skirmish in the Northeast (AWI Sharp Practice)

Awaiting the coming storm.
A continental officer stands at the edge of a wood, watching the horizon. The sounds of the birds and the wind are joined, then replaced, the beating of drums. Over the crest of the nearest hill the glint of steel rises above the grass and the silhouette of those carrying it.

Up the road is a barn being used to store powder and shot for the local regiment and militia, but resources are thin, and only a small detachment of Continentals are allotted to guard the pass. They are supported by local militia and a few rangers.

The Continental Line and rangers held a wood near a choke point on the road, while the militia moved discretely toward a flank.

The Crown Forces appeared on the battlefield already formed in a line.

The sight of the encroaching red line sent the yankees moving for a better position. Their captain, however, stepped in something the horses left, and stopped to clean his boots. They're French leather, you know, the Devil to keep clean.

But the first casualty of the day came from the cook fire, not enemy fire. One of the american regulars lost an argument with his lunch, and went scrambling for a little privacy...

His privacy did not last long, though. Two groups of state militia soon manouvered into position atop the same hill, with a good vantage point out toward the approaching redcoats.

The militia opened up with the first volley, but, due to poor training, fire prematurely and ineffectively at an out-of-range enemy.

The British line wheeled around to bring their guns to bare and unloaded into the milita, who took cover behind trees. Some of the line fouled their barrels in the engagement, and went in search of water to clean them. They found a nearly-empty bucket, which was not much use. They never found out that the water they needed had already been used to clean a pair of expensive boots...

The Continental Line, retrieving their nauseated comrade, also took up position at the edge of the wood and joined the firefight.

The Rangers made a bold flanking move, waiting behind a rock outcropping and threatening to enfilade the line. Hessian grenadiers broke off the formation to engage them, but were driven away by heavy well-aimed fire. I'm told some of those men would later desert and settle in this very valley.

The militia, now themselves formed into a line, continued to trade volleys with the remainder of the Thin Red Line. British officers were being quite conservative with their maneuvers, but maintained good discipline in the ranks. The Marines' Lieutenant attempted to counterattack, but the heat of the day kept them from advancing as far as they would have liked.

Snapping out of an apparent swoon, the Captain ordered his Marines to engage the rangers on the flank. They fired a neat volley, and followed through with cold steel, driving the rangers, unequipped with bayonets back along the road. The other group of regulars was entrusted to a young Lt., and sent in a desperate grab for the objective up the main road.

The Regulars' numbers quickly dwindle, as their fire proves ineffective against the partially concealed rebels. As both remaining groups of redcoats fall below usable strength, the decision is made to withdra, hopefully to return with larger numbers.

*          *          *

This was a small game with my brother Tim to test the cards from the Sharp Practice rules supplement With Fire & Sword. 

Overall, the cards work well, giving the game its distinct flavor and some of its more memorable moments. This game was played without too much forethought, but it seems that with a little planning and careful Bonus Deck Selection, you could craft a fun and unique experience.

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