Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sharp Practice at FlintCon

Whats in the cabin, pard?
This past weekend we had a get together in Flint to play a ton of different wargames and it was so much fun! We had about 150 people show up which is the largest gathering yet. Thanks to Anton's Wargames Blog for coverage as well.

I worked really hard to get two forces ready for my participation games. I finished around 70 Union soldiers and 70 Confederate soldiers, some wagons, deployment points, and some terrain. Rod loaned me some cavalry as well to use which was super helpful =)

Setup went pretty well, the only thing I had trouble with was I noticed that I had glued one set of four guys on the wrong sides of the magnets, which made it frustrating. I have a new mat from Cigar Box Battles that is plush and it looks really nice – everyone commented on it throughout the day. It has a little extra ‘fur’ on it that simulates green fields.

One thing I’ve noticed that has been confusing is leader levels vs leader number (on the chips or cards). I provided some little tokens from CharlieFoxTrot that showed the leader level of each guy, but it became confusing for players at the beginning because they thought their leader who was level two was Leader Two when the chip was drawn.

I’m not sure if I’ll include those next time. I definitely want to have some way of marking which leader is which number, because players got confused, although I put it on the back of their playsheets.

Funeral for a Friend

The first game was filled up before I arrived, which was really cool! We had four players, two per side, and I GM’d. The mission was pretty simple – the Union forces had to march to the Widow Moore’s cabin in the woods and capture a rifle cache that she was rumored to have waiting for rebel forces.

You can see the setup here. The Confederates were allowed to bring on one leader per Tiffin from the DP near the house. Early on they brought their skirmishers out to slow up the Union advance and did a pretty good job of it, although they took a ton of shock in doing so from the large Union line pouring fire into them. I tried to help the Confederate commander realize that charging into the open with his cavalry wouldn’t help – they’d get shot to pieces. So he waited behind some trees until he could make better use of his opportunity.

The Union commander put his skirmish group on his right flank to try to slow up any attacks there and it worked somewhat – the Confederate cavalry couldn’t necessarily charge them head on, but did try to go around. They took quite a bit of shock trying to get around.

Meanwhile the Union forces put on a general advance on their left flank to try to get to the house. They weren’t slowed up by skirmish fire so they moved faster. They engaged in a firefight with the smaller Confederate formation and pushed them back.

The Confederate cavalry succeeded in galloping and taking one of the Union deployment points, which I can admit I didn’t foresee. The main Confederate line kept pouring the fire on to the main Union line to try to keep them pinned down and away from the house, but the Union commander was savvy with his shock removal.

At one point the main Union line actually about faced and shot the cavalry, effectively removing them from the game when they had something like 14 shock. With this threat removed, the two formations of Union forces on the left moved forward and successfully convinced the Widow Moore to give up the rifle cache. This knocked down the Confederate force morale by four and effectively ended the game, as they really didn’t have a method of catching the unit with the rifles to stop them.

Down on the Farm

The forces were the same as the first game, and again the Confederates had a forward deployment point but could not use it more than once per tiffin. They again managed to get their skirmishers on the board and, true to history, used them to slow the Union advance towards the house that had to be searched for spies and then burned to the ground.

The Union lines marched forward and were met with heavy resistance from the skirmishers and smaller Confederate formation – it was tough for them to get moving toward the house. They did deploy a smaller formation on their right flank this time and headed the cavalry off before it could do anything, effectively destroying it with a few volleys.

The main Union line deployed on the far left flank and marched toward the house, but got loaded down with shock almost immediately from the sharp shooting skirmishers. They definitely needed support in order to move forward and received it when the skirmishers came on the board from the back deployment point.

I apologize that I don’t have more photos from this one, as it lasted just as long as the previous, but the skirmishers did get on the board, searched the house, and then burned it. At this point the Confederates were again so far down the force morale race that there was almost no way to come back.

At the end of the day I was pretty happy with how the players did. Nobody was gamey and the historical tactics made their way to the board pretty well. I believe the players had fun and I look forward to more Sharp Practice!


  1. Nice.

    The problem of keeping track of leaders is a tricky one. I find people who are using their own force, or who have played the specific force in question a few times have no issues. However players with an unfamiliar force do struggle. While Status can be marked by flowers or similar, a solution providing unobtrusive marking of Status eludes me.

    1. Thanks! The other detail I've had a hard time with is explaining leader activations vs group / formation activations.

    2. I think perhaps a 'leader card' that includes a photo of the miniature in question with his name, rank, number and Status Level on it might do. The phgoto would be enough of a visual clue and the (rather confusing) Status Level/Leader identifier problem circumvented.

      I think the leader activation vs unit activation thing is just something that players pick up after a game or two. I don't think much apart from playing helps with that. I have found people struggle a little with Activations vs Actions (you get Activated and have two Actions) vs Command Initiatives (one CI activates a unit which then gets two Actions . . .) is a wee bit of a hurdle too. I think Activation and Action are too similar in sound for people to grasp the differences straight away. Again, a few games seems to sort it out.

  2. Nice game! And good job getting that many attendants.

  3. Here's the system I use for leaders. Each leader has a small tab attached to his base showing his Identification Number. On the underside of the tab, in pencil so it can be changed, I write the level of the commander.
    As well, I give a cheat sheet to each side also listing the Commander's ID number, with the Command Level beside it.
    That way, they can either check the sheet or, if moving the Commander figure, they can look at the underside and check his level. Works pretty well.