Monday, January 29, 2018

Sharp Practice 2 at Barrie's

I wasn't that impressed with Sharp Practice 2 last week, but as Barrie was so keen on them I wanted to give them a fair trial with another go.   Sometimes rules grow on you if you persevere.
Gandalf & Gimli commanded the US v. Barrie & Darren's Brits in an 1812 scenario.
The battle certainly looked good with Barrie's figures & scenery, but the battle dragged on at glacial pace & after 3 hours not really a lot had happened & we agreed to a draw. 

My first impressions last week were that SP 2 was over-complicated & not intuitive to play (as usual with every other Too Fat Lardies game I've tried).  My second go at it did nothing to change my opinion:

- Since last week Barrie had prepared more summary sheets.  Not only do these extend over no less than 6 pages but they were confusing & difficult to use - they really didn't help that much.  A lot of time was spent looking up rules about fundamental things that should have been re-memberable after a couple of games.
- The firing rules are the pretty standard stuff:  So many dice - so much to hit - then re-roll hits for effect. But they manage to make it confusing by it not being obvious which factors affect no. of dice, which affect score to hit & which affect damage.  The handfuls of dice also tend to get a bit over the top (like 20 dice at a time).
- Hits can cause figure removal or disruption counters (like BA pins).  Disruption reduces the no. of dice when firing & when disruption exceeds no. of figs there are morale issues.   Not bad.
- The command system & use of leaders is very complex & un-intuitive.  I'm sure there is a great deal of scope for skill in optimising the chits as they are dealt & using commanders but it's a matter of learning the game system - not simply applying military principles.
- There is a lot of fiddly details that can be tricky to keep track of, eat up game time, & make it necessary to have specific knowledge of the game system to do basic military tasks.
- There is a lot of unnecessary detail like random events that don't appear to add to the skill of the game but slow it down.
- Movement is typically 2D inches with deductions for difficult terrain & an extra dice for road movement or fast movement causing disruption.  Not bad.
- I can't comment on the hand to hand combat system because we never figured out how to use the system well enough to get into contact.
- Some issues I had as the game progressed turned out to be misinterpretations of the rules which were later corrected.  But the fact that the rules can be so easily be misinterpreted is a fault in itself.
- Some of the slowness was due to learning curve, but Barrie & Darren were on their 3rd game & were not improving. 

With wargames rules one man's meat is another's poison.  It seems SP2 has a following, but it does not suit me - for the same reasons that I prefer Bolt Action to Chain of Command.  I believe that a good set of rules should be playable pretty much on basic military principles, have an easy to use QRS, have simple easy to remember systems & be fast to play.  I think SP2 fails to meet any of those criteria.   Muskets & Tomahawks is similar in scope & scale to SP2 but I think it is a better game.


Darryl Munro said...

How does Black Powder compare to SP2?

Jim Gandy said...

They are different beasts. BP is for bigger battles with the emphasis on grand tactics, BP uses fewer troops with more tactical detail. But the Warlords systems in general are much more to our particular taste than the TFL systems. We like our rules to be simple & efficient.