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With Fire and Sword, the Interview

Cover SmallWith Fire and Sword is the latest product to be added to the TooFatLardies catalogue.  Penned by Chris Stoesen from Atlanta in Georgia it is a natural follow on from Chris’ first AWI supplement, This Land Divided, that concentrated on actions in Georgia in 1779.  In this latest publication Chris looks at events in neighbouring South Carolina in the following year, presenting twenty-four scenarios for Sharp Practice along with a range of rule suggestions which may be used for this conflict.

As part of the celebrations we flew Chris in to Lard Island for the launch and got the opportunity to chat with him at the Lard Island News offices.

Chris, welcome to Lard Island.  Thanks for joining us here to discuss your latest supplement for the Lardies, With Fire and Sword.  Can you tell us a bit about your interest in the American War of Independence, or the American Revolution as I am sure you’d call it on your side of the pond?

Sure.  It has always been a fascination for me.  It was one of my favorite things to study as a small child.  At that point, I think I just liked the three cornered pointy hats.   As a college student, I lived just a few miles from the King’s Mountain battle site.  That and the fascination of how the founding fathers managed to pull it off and then manage to piece together a government that has lasted more or less intact since then.  Their lives are a marvellous mixture of virtue and vice that always make for a great story.  Living in the South, there are a large number of battlefields to visit that are only a few hours away.   It is just an easy period to get excited about.  It was the AWI that had me first find the TooFatLardies.  I was looking for a good rule set to game the period with some 6mm Adler figures.  I could not find any that I liked when I found Le Feu Sacre and wondered if I could morph those into something usable.  After that I found I Ain’t Been Shot Mum and I ended up writing the Greece supplement.  My Gamers Attention Deficit took over and it was a few years before I came back to the Revolution.

Tell us a bit about With Fire and Sword, where did the name come from?

Major Patrick Ferguson is the reputed source.  He delivered an ultimatum to the Over Mountain Men to stay out of the conflict or he would destroy them and their community “With Fire and Sword.”  It was this that was pretty much the beginning of the end for the Major.  Ferguson was an interesting character unto himself.  He developed a breach-loading rifle that had significant potential but was never adopted by the military.   I believe he was a commissioned Major from one of the Highland regiments.  As such he was entitled to a higher rank within the provincial and Militia establishments but did not take the rank.  He was one of the best leaders of British Militia in the war yet was beaten at Kings Mountain by a large number of men from what would become Tennessee and the colonies of North & South Carolina and a small Georgia contingent (Elijah Clarke’s men).

How would you describe With Fire and Sword to someone wanting to know a bit about it?  What’s in there?

It’s about the Revolution as experienced in the South.  I think it represents the bulk of the fighting that took place in the South during the revolution.  The militias on both sides carried the fight on a day to day basis.  Some of this was rather ruthless and barbaric with actions against civilians occurring on both sides.  The militia battles were passionate and sharp but generally did not involve a huge number of men, so they are ideal for Sharp Practice.  Shots were exchanges and usually after a limited exchange one side fled.  The winners and losers would be engaged again within days.  The large battles such as Camden and Guilford Courthouse are exceptions rather than the norm for the battles in the South.

What scale figures do you use for your games of Sharp Practice?

I use 15mm figures.  I have a mix of Old Glory, Lancashire, QRF and now Peter Pig.  I am more comfortable in this scale as I already have terrain for it and the cost is significantly less.  Plus my painting skills are not up to larger scales.  They are more suited for even smaller scales but that is another story.

Do you have any favourite ranges for the scenarios in With Fire and Sword ?

I really like the Old Glory ragged Minutemen pack.  It has a large variety of figure poses and they look to my eye like militia.  The Peter Pig range is quickly growing on me and probably will be my favourite when I get to see their mounted militia packs.

Is all of your gaming with 15mm then?  I know a lot of people use mainly 28mm for Sharp Practice, do you change the rules at all for the smaller scale figures?

Not all of my gaming is in 15mm.  I have 6mm armies for LFS (Russians & Ottomans), Taxes Tea and Tories and IABSM (French, Russian, British Western Desert, Italians – Desert) as well.   I had some ancients in 28mm but have since sold them.  I have some Ancients in 10mm (Late Saxons and Normans) but they have never seen a table yet.  I also have a 6mm Seleucid and Maccabean army that needs a coat of paint somewhere.

For Sharp Practice, I don’t change a thing with the rules.  The ground scale is very well suited for 15mm.    I can see doing it in 10mm or 6mm and adjusting the measurements to centimetres if I am allowed to mention the whole metric thing on Lard Island.

You can, but you’ll have to put some money in the swear box.  What’s the gaming scene like in the Atlanta area?  Is there much Lard on offer?

There are a number of us in the Atlanta area.  Mark and Terry are active on the list.  Mark gets to game far more often than I do and runs several Sharp Practice and IABSM games each year.  Terry has been playing some Charlie Don’t Surf and play-testing Chain of Command.  There are several others in the area that join in to get a helping of Lard when it is offered as well.  That is my New Year Resolution every year is to get more games in.

Ah yes, the famous Mark Luther and his stunning terrain.  It’s quite amazing what Mark can do, his games looks like film sets, wargaming meets Hollywood almost.  You’re very lucky to have him to game with.  Tell me Chris, how long have you been gaming with TooFatLardies rules?

Hmm….. I am actually not sure.  I think back in 2004.

What’s the attraction of the rules for you?

I see the TooFatLardies rule sets as tool boxes.  They give you the tools needed to craft just about anything from them.  From TW&T, I have played Lebanon ’82 out of it.  From Sharp Practice I have played the AWI, ACW and even Dark Ages.  Mark games the French and Indian war and the Seminole Wars.  Le Feu Sacré led Vincent Tsao in New York to develop Taxes, Tea and Tories.  You can bend the rules without breaking them to fit other periods.  The community offered by the Yahoo group allows you to share ideas and move on one’s enthusiasms.

I like the fact that the rules are not ridged; they make you think.  They add the right amount of battlefield chaos to make things unpredictable but reward good tactics and punish poor tactics. (Like charging a group of Ferguson Rifle Armed infantry with a group of Lauzon’s Legion cavalry as I did recently… ugh)

Do you have any favourites?

IABSM is always a great fun but I have enjoyed the smaller scale rule sets the most.  TW&T and Sharp Practice are my all time favourite rules.  I wouldn’t like to choose between the two of them.

You’ve written several supplements for the Lardies now, do you have any more in the pipeline? 

Well…. Kind of.  I have another IABSM supplement that is partially finished in a drawer.  It covers the Italians in the East Front.  I have some ideas for Dark Ages modifications to Sharp Practice with Early Saxons and Romano-British, actually I’ve got a couple of scenarios worked out for that.  I also have some scenarios written for early war ACW in Northern Virginia.  I am working on getting materials together to cover the Atlanta campaign in 1864.  I have a dream project of doing a Lardies Game Day in Atlanta doing a series of games with They Couldn’t Hit An Elephant covering the Atlanta campaign.  It would be great if we could do that at one of the battle sites, maybe Kennesaw Mountain or possibly the Atlanta History Centre.  Oh and I am looking at an AWI supplement coving Francis Marion’s actions across the swamps of South Carolina.   For Sharp Practice I am working on some scenarios to get my Cossacks out on a game table.  For TW&T I have some ideas for the Yom Kippur War and well… let’s just see where I drift off to next.

Gosh, sounds like you’re very busy.   Well, whichever path you go down we’ll be looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Thanks very much for joining us here on Lard Island, and thanks for the superb With Fire and Sword, you have certainly got us painting our AWI figures like mad to get some games going.

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