Sharp Practice


The Pearl of the Antilles. - The Haiti Campaign - The Battle of the Sugar Field - 9th August 1791

Jean - Charles a name given to him by his plantation owner peered out from the sugar field looking across the estate, an estate that had for so long been his home if you can call 25 years of slavery and imprisonment home. But free he was now and he was not going to let the Spaniards return him to a life of slavery.Having been beaten a few days before the next engagement in the Pearl of Antilles Campaign is a further engagement between the Spanish and the slave army of Princess Amethyste in the north of the Island.The battle is a fighting withdrawal with the Slave forces seeking to delay the Spanish by giving them a bloody nose before falling back.The Spanish had learned much since their last encounter with Jean - Charles one of Princesses Amethyste's most trusted lieutenants. They knew the freed slaves would be waiting for them anywhere on the table, with numerous plantation houses and slave quarters. The enemy could ambush them from anywhere, but the Spanish had a one advantage they had recruited a local man

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Yet more Spanish - Trent Miniatures Black Militia

With the varnish just about dry the Spanish Black Militia make it to the table top for the battle between the Spanish regulars and the rebellious slaves of Princess Amethyste.The full battle report should be up this weekend.Some great castings from the guys at Trent, at the moment only enough to make up an Irregular skirmish unit, but eventually I will paint up the remaining 14 to give me a couple of militia stands.Let's hope the curse of freshly painted figures can be broken... :-)Next up.... something a little more modern.

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The Spanish Army in Haiti - 1790 - 1802

With a change of job just around the corner, I seem to have a little more time on my hands in the evenings, which is good as the Spanish won't paint themselves, with a self imposed deadline of Thursday evening I wanted to ensure these were off the paint table.Within the campaign setting they will be regulars in sections of 8. I have a couple of Big men to bolster the ranks with a couple of mounted figures to come later. As usual the Infantry are from Trent Miniatures, with Officers and drum from Front Ranks Spanish Range, they are a good match once painted and based.The Spaniards whilst a major player in the region seem to be somewhat overlooked in terms of history and documented accounts, I suspect because they seem to be on the losing side in a number of the encounters. There may be some Spanish text but I have not been able to track down much.Here's my take on events pulled from a couple of different sources for those interested.Once the French Revolution reached Haiti shores it's impact was bound to sprea

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Encounter in the Hinterland - 9th August 1791

Try as he might Georges Biassou could not shake off Louverture and his forces, they were better organised, armed and trained after yesterdays initial Biassou's slave forces had been forced back. But before they could reorganise the lead elements of Louverture were amongst his pickets.George Biassou called his men out it was an all out attack...He would be defending the left hand side of the table while the General would come on from the right.So the scene is set. Biassou knew where the loyalists would be advancing from so rallied his men seeking the best ground he could in the limited time available to him.He had high ground to his right and a small orchard to his left. The battlefield was littered with slave shacks and small plots of merger crops. Biassou ordered his men forward.Biassou ordered his men up to the wooded ridge but the going was tough and despite his urging his men struggled to make progress up the steep incline.On the far right his skirmish troops grabbed cover in a small plot of crops and awa

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The Pearl of the Antilles. - The Haiti Campaign - Day Nine - 9th August 1791

The orders are in and after a lull to reinforce. The fight for control of the Pearl of the Antilles is underway once more.Across the island the various protagonists make their moves.The British under Thomas Maitland continue their onward march along the peninsula knowing that the day will soon come that they will have to engage the defenders of the island. Meanwhile the Republicans and Free Mulattos under Andre Rigaud continue to view each other with suspicion waiting for each other to make a mistake or show their hand.To the North the French Planters ready themselves for future engagements. After the attack by rebellious slaves at Bahon, they scout the surrounding area for the enemy to establish their number and directions of potential attack. Dutty Boukman and his forces bloodied but unbowed spread around the surrounding high ground and cut the routes back to the regional capital. If the Planters are to receive future reinforcements they are going to have to force their way through the slave lines

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The Pearl of the Antilles. - The Haiti Campaign - The Battle of Bassin-Bleu - 8th August 1791

Bolstered by reinforcements General Toussaint Louverture launched his offensive on the riotous slaves of Georges Biassou. Tensions had been building since the the war broke out, Baissou had moved to forces to defend the border at the Los Trois river, however Louverture had found a crossing point undefended and had caught the slave forces in the flank.Louverture significantly outnumbered the defenders and had spent wisely with both a secondary and moveable deployment point, the table was a scattering of slave huts and the occasional plantation field.Biassou's force was limited with 3 sections of militia a handful of skirmishers. They had been bolstered by a mass of unarmed slaves keen to defend their newly found freedom.The insurgent forces positioned their deployment point behind the orchard and were quick to throw their skirmish troops into the wooded area just as the first unit of Haitian loyalists appeared on the road to their left letting off an opening volley. The insurgents ducked for cover but their in

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The Pearl of the Antilles. - The Haiti Campaign - End of Day Eight - 8th August 1791

After a week of campaigning the various factions spend their Sunday reorganising and regrouping, from an umpires perspective it's interesting to see the various recruitment strategies taking place, mass troops, retraining or saving for bigger and better in future weeks.A number of players are realising that the typical losses are not bloody as first thought and losses can quickly return to the fray, it also means you need to keep the pressure on opponents especially given the chance to over run their camps and catch valuable supplies and perhaps kill or capture the wounded.Welcome to Week 2 in Haiti.The British under Thomas Maitland continue their relentless advance they have bolstered their number and pass through the occasional gathering of huts without stopping to garrison such insignificant locations in their single focus on joining the fight. On the evening of the 8th they arrive at Pestel.The stand off continues further east with the Republicans and Mulattos continuing their standoff

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Sunday morning paint table - Bn Guyane Regt - St Domingue 1790-1792

These seem to have been on the paint table for such a long time but finally they make an appearance, just in time for the latest campaign outing. I knew there was a reason why I was running it.They represent troops of the Guyane Regiment garrisoned in Saint Domingue from 1790 - 1792To separate the Royalists from the Revolutionary French, I gave them the round hats I could always paint in a tricolour cockade if they switch sides later in the war. I wanted these to have a far more "lived" in feel to them, perhaps out in the mountains for several days or those who have been garrisoned on the island just a little to long.The figures were from Trent Miniatures again originally from the Polish packs but with colonial cavalry heads added in.This is the supporting plate. Its the gentleman in the background on the far left who seems to be far less formal. Next up more early French, I have a hankering to paint up Pondichery Regiment on the right....

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The Pearl of the Antillies. - The Haiti Campaign - End of Day Six - 6th August 1791

The sun sets on day 6 as factions go into a day of recruiting but not before in the North of Haiti the Slave army of Dutty Boukman attacks the French forces holding the Fort at Bahon....  In later years there was an extensive building programme to defend against future French invasions, but bad news for the Viscount de Blanchelande the fort on our battle won't be this impressive. The French Royalist forces whilst out numbered perhaps as much as 2:1 do have the advantage of defending and have the newly acquired cannon to add to their forces.But the Slave forces are lead by the infamous Dutty Boukman.Boukman born in Jamaica he was sold to a plantation in Saint-Domingue after he was caught teaching enslaved Africans to read. The moniker “Bookman/Boukman” was an indication of how slave owners viewed enslaved Blacks at the time who knew how to read.One of the early leaders of the revolution he said to have declared at one of the meetings at Bois-Caimon, "God who has created the shining sun above

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The Spirit of ’61 – A Big Game of Sharp Practice

On the occasion of my birthday, I invited Sigur, Virago and Stephan to a big game of Sharp Practice. I’ve always wanted to play a game with four players and more units than usual and this was a perfect opportunity to try this. Our forces’ objective was to confiscate a whiskey distillery. Both had a wagon to transport the destillery as well as an assortment of infantry and one unit of cavalry. Sigur and Virago played the Confederates, while Stephan and I took the Union. I split the commands, Virago and Stephan playing the C-in-Cs and each getting three Leaders (apart from Sigur, who had four). I took the opportunity to field my 5th New York Zouaves, a colourful troop I just finished painting. Deployment started a bit slow for the Confederates. They were still crossing the bridge while the Union cavalry was rushing forward and Col. Bendix (Stephan) moving his men into line and into the field. As my cavalry was rather wimpy in close combat, I had them dismount and advance on foot. When SigurR

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Sharp Practice 2 - Zulu War - Playtest & yet more tweaks.

It's not until you put the toys on the table that you get to iron out some of kinks.The initial worry was the two rounds of fire from the British would stop the Zulu's in their tracks  but when I looked at the casualties at the end of the game that was simply not the case.The first thing came to mind was that there were simply not enough Zulus for 60 points, you really want then several ranks deep to get the period feel.60 Points for each side only gives you a couple of sections for Brits with some Native Horse and a group of NNC, but the Zulus were only around 50 men strong. Not quite enough to give you any more than a single horn.The Skirmish unit on the hill proved to be very useful, but arming them with breach loaders gave them to much firepower, even with a minus one for being poor shots.The moveable deployment point proved to be useful and the Tactical trait which allowed them to launch a surprise move and get close enough to launch a fearsome charge into the NNC who unsurprisingly were forced back

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More Photos from the Lard Day

A bit of a random mix but lots of nice terrain and figures. I had to grab some photos in the tea break, so didn't get round all the tables, which was a shame. My favourite was the Boshin Wars Sharp Practice game, which looked lovely and was really original. I'm hoping the event will run again next year and, if it does, I'll definitely be back to run a game of Bag the Hun or What a Tanker! or perhaps just take part.

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Sharp Practice 2 - Zulu War Modifications.

Blimey 8 years ago I published a short note on adapting Sharp Practice for the Zulu Wars. Over the weekend I got to thinking about bringing these into line for Sharp Practice 2.I have been able to do away with units sizes as in SP2 these are clearly defined.The Zulu's are your classic Clan nasty if they get into hand to hand, we talked about gving them big choppers but as they are already the best of non-regular forces, Tomahawks felt better with the ability to inflict shock just before they close, afterall you have to have something to counter breach loaders that fire twice a turn. To reflect the Warriors chant I also gave the Zulu's the equivalent of Pas de Charge, the Zulu player can play two command cards allowing them to move towards the enemy with three actions of movement whilst also removing two points of shock per group present.  To reflect the Zulu's ability to make the best use of cover, we added in a house rule of "Going to Ground" at the end of a movement phase the Zulu group or formation ma

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Wall’s Bridge Revisited

Almost two years ago, I played a Sharp Practice scenario from Grierson’s raid. While a fun game, the scenario suffered from several issues. The publication of a new book on the raid by Timothy Smith prompted me to revisit the scenario. My staunch Sharp Practice opponent Sigur took the Confederate defenders (and he also took the pictures), while I played the Union attackers. Last time, one of the problems was balance: the Union is equipped with breech-loading carbines, which offer a severe advantage in firefights. I wanted to keep the technical superiority of the Union, while also taking into account the state of their troops: at that moment, they had been in the saddle for almost two weeks, moving hundreds of miles through enemy territory. They were exhausted, but had to act quick and decisively, as large numbers of Confederate troops were hot on their heels. Therefore, I introduced two special rules: The idea behind the Exhausted special rule was to skew the distribution of random events a bit in the

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The Pearl of the Antillies. - The Haiti Campaign - End of Day Four - 4th August 1791

Another day draws to a close and the political factions edge ever closer to open conflict, several hot spots are starting to open up across the island and whilst there is open communications between the factions you can't help but think no one really trusts one another.Haiti the Pearl of the Antillies with all the various factions and their known troop concentrations. However many of the local towns and villages now have local garrisons hidden across their territory. These will provide the defenders with 20 support points should they be attacked and a source of reinforcements at the end of the week.In the south of the Island the village of Kescoff has become the area of focus, high on the mountain top it is now firmly in Mulatto control however Republican troops can be seen growing in number in the foot hills. Republican troops continue to send out patrols into the local area securing supplies and fodder for their troops, one such patrol stumbles upon a diplomatic pouch which is taken directly to Sonthon

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