Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Spirit and Energy Part 1 An unorthodox campaign for Sharp Practice 2

I've been trying for a while now to get my teeth into a longer term project, and hopefully I may have found it.

I bought Sharp Practice 2 (SP2) last year and was quite happy with it - it looks very interesting to read, but when we tried it out I found it a steep learning curve. Actually that's not the fault of the Lardies, who have used variations on the "Big Man" rules mechanic for years now, but more of a case of trying to run before we could walk by throwing ourselves in to a full sized game without getting enough practice with smaller forces. For whatever reason we have stayed away from it after an initial flush of enthusiasm. I suppose its a bit like watching Kurasawa's Seven Samurai - you know its great but sometimes you just cant be arsed to put the hours in.

I'm also a fan of Bernard Cornwell, who tells a good story. OK its the same story - eponymous hero overcomes prejudice and initial disadvantage to succeed in the end, transposed onto a back drop of historical events, but he does tend to tell it well. Which is why I found his stand alone book "The Fort" rather interesting. Unlike Sharpe and the other series this is an embroidered telling of a historical event, but this time with "real" characters. It is the story of the Penobscot Expedition, an attempt by the Americans to prevent the British building a base of operations in what is now Maine during the American War of Independence. It is clear Cornwell is fascinated by the story, and particularly how the American Command system seemed to work against themselves. I was interested too, and that sent me searching for other sources. The more I looked into it, the more I thought this could work as a campaign.

The campaign is split into two totally different elements. The first is a Committee game with three players each representing the three main American Commanders . They are each provided with overall briefings and also personal objectives, some of which may conflict, plus maps etc, and they sit down and decide what plan of action they will take. That plan is then translated to an on table scenario that will be played by a totally different set of players using SP2 and the result fed back to the Committee for further action. This has the advantage for me as freeing me up to act as Umpire, but also generating smaller scenarios that will allow me and the players to get up to speed with SP2 without the "sink or swim" problem.

That's all for now -  part 2 will deal with the logistics and some more details on both sides of the campaign.