Saturday 5 September 2020

Back Gaming With First Carlist War

Chris kindly invited me to a socially distanced game at his place whilst the kids were at the pictures, the first game in nearly 6 months, we were to play a largish First Carlist War Sharp Practice, I had forgotton all of the rules.

A very closed down table with a deep-ish river to cross would cause difficulty for the attacking Isabelino's, whilst the Carlists had a village to defend, they couldnt fit much of their force inside it.

Its 1839 and the Carlists have a shipment of Gold to try and help raise their flagging fortunes, one of the villagers has dobbed them in to the government and the vanguard of a punitive force is about to enter the table and dash for the glory without waiting for the rest of the army.

Both forces were reasonably large for Sharp Practice, the Isabelino's having 8 groups of regulars, 2 of militia and 3 skirmish groups with a gun, a rocket and 5 commanders. The Carlists had a simlar sized force but no rocket, originally they were planned to have cavalry but sitting on the motorway for 2 hours due to a crash meant I was late and we decided to crack on without them.

We rolled for commands and I got the Isabelino's.

Initially I was really unsure how to use them, with 5 commanders I would need to put my 8 groups of regulars into 2 formations, but these big formations would struggle in the closed down terrain. Chris would have the same problem but needed to be able to move a little less as he was defending.

In the end I decided my best plan of action was to form column of march and throw my main force down the road and over the bridge as quickly as I could and hope Chris took a little longer to line the walls of the village and shoot me up.

Subtle as a sledge hammer thats me.
The artillery would have to be commanded by the cards as I didnt have enough commanders to spare them one, they also deployed on the deployment marker so would block anything else coming on so I left them off table to start with.
The first card out was my first unit of regulars who hurtled off down the road, Chris got his skirmishers lining the walls but didnt do too much damage, the Militia and skirmishers followed them and once I had 4 flag cards out I reactivated the first unit so they were on the bridge and half way to the target straight away. So far so good, I now just needed my card out early so I could get off the bridge before I was mown down.

Meanwhile on my left Chris was moving his movable deployment point towards a small ford at a weir. I decided to ignore him for now and throw everything over the bridge if I could.
Unfortunately for me Chris's regulars got to the wall before I could get of the bridge and their first volley inflicted some very serious damage on my troops. However I was commited so needed to press on.

Move 2 and I get my figures moving off the bridge, however the shock has slowed them down and I dont roll well, Chris on the other hand fires another devastating volley and things are looking really not very good for me. I am potentially making up time for traffic jam on the way here and could still be home for tea with my force wiped out.
The skirmishers fire into the same target and my woes are compounded as casualties and shock mount, then the officer is hit and his command rating is reduced by his wound. Oh dear.

Chris has now deployed on my flank, his skirmishers supported by a formation of two regulars, I dispatch a formation of two groups of skirmishers to cover this, I just need to keep him busy whilst I push on with my all too bloody assault.
Chris managed to get his skirmishers over with no difficulty but I had deployed twice as many skirmishers to block him in the cover of some rocks so he wisely waited for his formed troops to get over and join him. Unfortunately with too many flag cards coming out at once his formation rolled on an event table and had to reduce their speed by half next go.
Meanwhile I am finally almost over the bridge with my first unit, however I now have so much shock I have run out of counters and started to use dice. The shock has also slowed me down so much I cant get out of the arc of fire, I am really unlikely to recover these guys now so its up to the rest of my formed troops to save the day.

Next card sees my artillery come into action, hopefully they can support my distressed regulars and inflict some damage on the Carlist defenders. First the mountain gun which fires on the Carlist skirmishers and inflicts two shock, our account is finally opened. Then the rocket, "These are fun" says Chris with a knowing smile. I have to roll for direction, 6 inches to the right and 12 inches forward is my first roll and the rocket is over the river in between my two formations of regulars. Second roll explodes the rocket where it is, well I am not sure fun is the word I used, Chris is having trouble keeping his laughter in.

One casualty and 5 shock on my fresh formation of regulars and another shock on the badly shook one which has now started to disintigrate and I am losing morale points at an alarming rate.
I decide we wont be using the rocket again!
The Carlists however are unable to bring their firing under control and shift targets to my fresh units which is a bonus, as the front unit falls to pieces the Militia step forward towards the Carlists and the large formation starts to wade through the river.
Getting into range the Militia volley the skirmishers and one of the units breaks along with its commander, finally we are making progress. My regulars line out in front of the smaller Carlist formation and another volley inflicts another bunch of casualties, Chris moves his large formation around my flank and its now a race to see who charges first.

Over at the ford my skirmishers have seen off Chris's unit whilst the formation has been stuck on the slippy rocks for two moves, it is all going to come down to the next round of fighting over the wall of the village. My morale is almost spent but Chris's has started to slip too.
My card comes out first and Chris is left with his column of troops about 6 inches short of mine, ignoring them completely my two formations charge the barricades. Chris's dice are awful and mine finally come good,  4 units of Carlists broken and two commanders seen off sees his morale depleted to minus 1 and victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat. Hurrah!
Un-believable, if you had asked me an hour before I would have laughed at my chances, the way a game can shift and pivot is one of the things I really like about Sharp Practice and despite being on the wrong end of it this time I know Chris feels the same.
Thanks for the invite, hospitality and Battenburg Chris, hope to see you again soon.


  1. Very entertaining and, as ever, great to see a Carlist War game.

  2. Gotta love Sharp Practice. Feels like a good representation of conflict. Super game and great to see you. I have rockets for my Mahrattas too... :-D Cheers, Chris

    1. Agghh no, mine British one for the Sikh ars has slipped from the top of the painting pile I think.

    2. Well we'll have to see how the Mahrattas get on with theirs. I'll bring that unit up the painting queue! :-P

    3. Well if you are commanding them.........

  3. Nice to see this period get an airing. I need to recruit for my outnumbered Carlists. An engaging report - reading it the result was looking unlikely. Spend the gold wisely.


    1. Cheers Stephits a wonderful period, lots of After Action Reports in the back catalgue.en,

  4. Fantastic looking game and outstanding table and figures. It is great feeling to return to table after such a long break.

    1. Bartek you are not kidding, great to be out and enjoying the simple things.

  5. Snatched from the claws if defeat! Great barrel Roger.