Monday, January 15, 2018

Sharps Practice 2 at Barries's

I had a go at at Too Fat Lardie's Sharps Practice 2 at Barrie's Sunday School.
As always at Barrie's the figures & scenery were beautiful, the company good & yet another new-fangled set of rules.  SP2 can be used for small actions in any Horse & Musket era.  In this case it was  French & Indian Wars - the same figures & scale of action as Muskets & Tomahawks which I have also played at Barrie's. 
SP2 uses special cards drawn from a deck (like M&T) or equivalent numbered disks drawn from a bag (like BA) to determine the order in which units are moved in a turn.  In BA the command dice allow you to choose which unit to apply it to.  In M&T a card tells you which type of unit you can action & you can action all the units of that type if their card comes out.  In SP2, the card/chit tells you specifically which unit you can activate.  In SP2 the turn ends when a certain card/chit is drawn (so not all units get to move in a turn) & there are some special chits that can be saved & used for specific purposes like interrupting an enemy action, enhancing a unit's fire or moving a unit at the end if it did get an action due to its own card/chit.  All three systems break the traditional system of the players taking turns to action all their units.  In both M&T & SP2 it's pure luck whether you activate the unit you really should activate tactically.  In SP2, a lot of the skill in the game is in using the special cards/chits well, so success largely depends on knowing how to use the system rather than simply applying good military principles.  In BA, choosing which unit to activate adds a skill element to the game with choices that can be made purely on military principles rather than knowing how to use the system.  In this regard I think BA has the best system.

Movement distance is randomised by move distances being the number of inches in the sum of 2 dice.  In difficult terrain you use the best or worst of the 2 dice depending on how difficult. You can use 3 dice at the risk of disruption.  As a Hail Caesarian, randomised movement is a feature I'm familiar with & this isn't a bad way of doing it.

Shooting is by throwing a handful of D6 with a score to hit & then another D6 roll to kill or add disruption markers (like BA pins).  So very similar to the BA system, but seems more complex - it  may just need a good QRS to demystify it which we didn't have. 

Like M&T, there are random events provoked by certain draws of cards/chits which some people might like, but I think these are a Mickey Mouse distraction from the main game.

It's not fair or wise to rate a game on the basis of one game played without oversight by someone who knows the rules well & without a good QRS (& without a copy to study).  All games are so much better when you know the rules.  Inevitably it was slow to play & my side suffered some unfortunate surprises.  A devastating first volley on the British lead unit pretty much decided the game - the chit draw gave the French first fire, the British players' lack of knowledge precluded them using a saved chit to mollify it, & a whole bunch of sixes really topped it off.  But the French players sure enjoyed that.  With a bit of practice SP2 would certainly speed up & become much less of a lottery.  I need to get to know it better to make a definite judgement, but I suspect it might be better than M&T - so it's worth playing some more. 

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