Friday, 3 February 2012

Catching up on things completed in 2011: Napoleonic Skirmish Set for Sharpe Practice

One pair of armies that I seem to have missed out documenting for this blog is the Napoleonic skirmish set that I knocked out in the middle of 2011. The set had its origins in a conversation with Rob at my old club. I had bought a stack of Revell 20mm British Napoleonic Riflemen for 'paint conversion' to light infantry but Hat has since produced a British Light Infantry set, so I wasn't sure I'd need them. He mentioned he was inspired by a chapter in Bernard Cornwall's Sharpe books and might be interested in acquiring them to try out the Too Fat Lardies 'Sharpe Practice' ruleset. We never got around to arranging the sale and when I jogged his mind about it a year or so later he said if he was going to do it he would probably now do it in 28mm.

So in an idle moment I took a few Revell British Riflemen, based them on 2p coins(instead of the old 5 peseta coins or 1ps that I'd been using up to then) and painted them up. They weren't as good as the Italeri Indians which I tried lke this, but still looked quite nice for a little skirmish game. I had some Hat French Light Infantry that I'd bought and based and painted up a similar amount. Overall the two forces made a nice, if modest little set.

Based on 2p pieces they look great when terrained

I still didn't have any rules, so I was ordering a few different rule sets from Northstar games and included 'Sharpe Practice' on the list.

Once I got my hands on the rules, however, I discovered the rules were more designed for 'small unit' actions rather than man-to-man skirmishing, so my 15 or so figures per side would not really be enough. So I painted up a few more of each of the forces that I'd already done and ordered a box of Hat's Pennisular War British infantry.

I found a bunch of Italeri French Napoleonic Infantry I'd already undercoated and painted up three more units of each, so I had about four units of around 24 figures for each side. I based one of of each (British Light Infantry and a French Voltiguers) on 2ps in the same way.

I decided that for the close order troops 2ps did not look right, so reverted to 1p coins.

These guys are mounted on some of the movement trays for figures mounted on 1 pence pieces that I ordered from 'Warbases' when I got my 'War of the Rings' bases from them. I got them to try them out, and really liked them. They'll look even better once I've terrained them.

All the time I had been building this force, I had been working hard on my 'main' Napoleonic armies, and although finishing any of these big armies has for yet another year proved elusive, I did finish and terrain the bases of all my British and Napoleonic Cavalry and artillery.

Next up I needed a scenario and hunting on the internet I found a brilliant account on the 95th Rifle Renactors site of the action at Cacabellos on the retreat to Corunna. The action was perfect for our first 'Sharpe Practice' action.

I made up some cards on the PC and Steve and I had a game at the club. Both of us are 'grognards' and have seen lots of sets of rules come and go, but whether I'd set up the scenario well or it was the hidden strengths of the rules, I'm not quite sure but we had a really, really good game. It really added character to the gameplay to call out 'Captain Lawrence, 2nd Battalion 95th Rifles' as you drew each card which determines the order units move in, and even without the fancier character generation rules which we ignored, each commander developed their own character simply due to the number of influence points each one had, whether the dashing General Colbert, a 'Cock o' the Walk', who could quickly order and rally his dashing cavalry or a stumbling Lieutenant who struggled to get his men into action. We will DEFINITELY be given this rules another spin!

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