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Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 6:38 am
by maerk
I am not sure how to apply the Sharp Practice card correctly. Most bonus and national cards (like Grasp the Nettle, Pas de Charge, Thin Red Line, etc.) once revealed, are kept by the owning player until he decides to make use of them.
However, for the Sharp Practice card, the rules say: "On this card a Group or Formation may fire immediately, or if unloaded it may completely reload." (p.6, 2nd paragraph). So I have played it that, at the moment when the Sharp Practice card is revealed, the british player has the opportunity to fire or reload. The card is then discarded regardless of any actual shooting or reloading. Is this the correct way for playing the Sharp Practice card? Or should the british player keep the card for later use, i.e. fire or reload a group without the need of activation by a Big Man or the Tiffin? How do you do it?
Thanks for your comments,

Re: Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:03 am
by SteveBurt
You have it right.
The card goes in the main game deck, not the bonus deck, so on average it comes up half the time.
It can't be reserved for later use - use it or lose it; we find it is often used to reload.

Re: Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 5:35 pm
by Richard

Absolutely correct, as Steve says. It happens immediately and the card is then discarded. You don't keep it for later.


Re: Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Sat Nov 15, 2014 9:56 am
by sjwalker51
As Steve and Rich have said, you've got it absolutely right but, to reinforce the key point, the SP card is the only national characteristic card that goes into the ACTION deck, rather than the Bonus deck.

Re: Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:53 am
by maerk
Thank you all four your help!

Regarding the difference between the Action Card Deck and the Bonus Card Deck I have a preliminary remark and then a question:

There are no TFL-rules players in my vicinity, as far as I know, so I have learnt the Sharp Practice rules from scratch. In the half dozen games I have played so far, I have always been the one introducing the other player to the game (at present they are at two or three games each). To keep things simple in these first games, I left some of the rules aside (no leader casualties, no cavalry, no random events, etc) and have added complexity game by game.
Now here is my question: I think of adding the odd Bonus Card (Pas de Charge, Thin Red Line) to the Action Deck, so I could still leave the random event rules out and have no Bonus Deck in the game while adding some Bonus Card flavour to it.

What do you think of this? Is it a grave violation of SP rules concepts?

Re: Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:56 am
by sjwalker51
If you don't want to use the random event table (which is a bit clunky and we all forget the 'more 1's than 6's rule anyway), but want to introduce bonus cards to your games, I suggest you add a faction-specific 'pick a bonus card' card to the Action Deck to determine when a player can take such a card from the Bonus Deck.

Drifting a bit further from the original rules, you could also add scenario-specific random event cards to the Bonus deck, which are activated immediately when drawn.

It's more difficult than you might think to further add the standard firing/movement random events to the bonus deck in this way, unless you make it clear in the description of the event who should be affected by the card.

Re: Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:31 pm
by bandrsntch
Our Group found the Random Event table clunky to use and have instead inserted a Bonus Card in the Action Deck. When it comes up the player who had the immediately previous action(or subsequent, however you want to play it) gets to draw a card from the Bonus Deck. There is also no reason you couldn't insert Bonus Cards in the Action Deck similar to the Sharp Practice card, but just be careful that they don't overwhelm the game too much. Trick is to have Bonus Cards come up, but not too much so they ruin the game. A lot of players object to the Sharp Practice card coming up too much as it is and it might be better put in a separate Bonus Deck.

Re: Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:50 pm
by sjwalker51
I've never heard a British player complain about the Sharp Practice card coming up too often!

The SP card is important to game balance because it's the only way that a well trained, veteran unit can shoot more rapidly than less experienced ones - you know, the bit in Sharpe where he demonstrates how the British can fire 6 rounds in a minute when the perfidious Frogs can only manage 3 or 4 - so it gives them an edge over the opposition but not really a great one, given that there is only 1 card in the deck and there's only a 50% chance of it coming out each turn.

Don't forget it only allows a single fire action, either Fire OR Reload for muskets, we're not talking semi-automatic weapons here. Actually, the little-used "Make Ready" order from a Big Man can be much more devastating if used at the right time...

In the typical SP game, the SP card is usually the sole preserve of the British but there's no reason why, in other theatres and genres, there shouldn't be 'faction-specific' Sharp Practice cards in the deck for equally well trained, fast-shooting troops - I've played in games that have given the card to Kentuckian long riflemen and jezail-armed Pathan tribesmen (not the same game, I hasten to add).

Wait till you start playing TSS (ACW) and later periods, where breech loaders and repeaters/magazine rifles significantly increase the rate of fire - then things get very dicey in more ways than one!


Re: Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:17 am
by maerk
I understand and recognise that the Sharp Practice Card in the Action Deck is an integral part of the british forces' abilities in the game.
Nevertheless from a rules concept point of view, there is no difference between the Sharp Practice Card and the Pas de Charge Card for example. On using them both cards allow a one time deviation from the basic rules. To place one card in the Action Deck and the other in the Bonus Deck may look inconsistent to the neutral observer and adds complexity to an otherwise simple and easy to grasp rule system.
For my person I consider the Sharp Practice Card as a likeable oddity of a british-based rule system ;)

For the Bonus Deck I have made me two "Pick a Bonus Card" cards (one for each side) which will be added to the Action Deck. Looking forward to test it!


Re: Sharp Practice Card ?

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 2:36 pm
by Archdukek
While it might appear a "likeable oddity", it is also worth remembering that the rules were originally and specifically created to allow players to recreate the exploits of their favourite heroes of historic fiction, including a certain Richard Sharpe and a chap called Hornblower. In some respects it is amazing that the work so well for recreating historic actions.
I have sometimes wondered if there is a French or Austrian equivalent to Sharpe or Hornblower.