Monday, March 7, 2016

Sharpe's Practice Game

The Bridges at Torres Antigua

            This fictional battle was set up for Sharpe’s Practice.  Four French players squared off against four British.  The scenario called for the British force to hold and/or destroy the vital bridges at Torres Antigua.  Captain Sharpe, two companies of highlanders and a cannon were already in the town to contest the advance of two full French battalions, a squadron of cavalry and two cannon.

A company of highlanders at the east bridge

A second company of highlanders in reserve in the town
  British reinforcements were on their way, including a second section of the Royal Foot artillery, a squadron of light dragoons, and, most importantly, a wagon load of gun powder for the demolition of one of the bridges.

Some of the British reinforcements

The French attacking from the north

Looking north.

Looking south

            It took a couple of turns for the French to deploy for the attack from two sides.  The companies of the legere battalion attacked from the north while the 63rd Ligne attacked from the east.  The cavalry assisted the legere companies.

The French traffic jam

The artillery duel

            In the first real exchange of musketry Sergeant Harper was critically wounded and lost for the duration of the game.  This meant that Captain Sharpe would be stretched thin in trying to lend his three leadership points to his two sections of riflemen.
            The British reinforcements were coming from the south.  In a bold move, the British players decided to send their cavalry across a ford and attack the French from the other side of the river.  This caused a degree of concern for the commander of the 63rd Ligne.  He attempted to bring two companies under the command of one of his big men so that they could fire as a line.  He also deployed his cannon to take on the threat of the British horse.
            To the north, a traffic jam prevented the French from making much progress.  The British gun fired on the crowded columns, but didn’t have much affect.  Then the French gun came into play, taking a position on a hill opposite their British counterparts.  The French fire was much more effective and killed half of the royal gunners.
            Time was winding down and so both sides feverishly attempted to push troops into the fray.  One troop of French dragoons got stuck on the northern bridge and was forced to withdraw with staggering casualties.  The second troop attempted to charge across the structure to seize the southern edge of the bridge.  Their momentum carried them into the reserve company of ill prepared highlanders.  The odds were squarely against them (36 dice against 12).  When the final toll was assessed, however, the kilted infantry had won the melee by a single casualty.  The stunned horsemen were forced to fall back and regroup.
            In the meantime, to the east, luck was with the French.  Their card was drawn first and they were able to unleash a thunderous volley into the column of light dragoons at close range.  Seven of the ten dashing cavalrymen fell from their saddles.  Their bold attempt had failed, but it was not in vain.

The light dragoons take a beating

            As the French had to take on the light dragoons, the cart with the gun powder plodded along the road and made its way onto the bridge.  As the game came to an end, the table shook from the blast of the explosive barrels.

The French secure the northern bridge, but in the background the wagon with the gun powder can be seen just before the explosion.

            The game was declared a draw.  The French had secured both ends of the northern bridge while the eastern bridge was destroyed.  Both sides’ cavalry had paid the steepest part of the butcher’s bill with little to show for it.

            It took awhile for things to get going in our game, but once they did it got pretty exciting.  It was the first time playing the game for most of the players, but they picked it up quickly and things moved along at a good pace.

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