Order of battle to Sharp Practice

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simonhl
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Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by simonhl » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:06 am

I am hoping to use Sharp Practice in the near future and was wondering the best way to take a historical order of battle and convert it for Sharp practice. My main interest at the moment is South America where most of the battles were small affairs and, starting with Chacabuco, if I were to use the historic OB's, is there a reasonable way of converting the numbers involved ( somewhere around 2-3000 combatants per side) for use with the rules?
So, if a line unit contained around 400 men, would this equate reasonably to two groups of figures plus command?
Thus a unit of 400 men at a scale of 1/20 would consist of 20 figures, with these rules is it safe to assume that it would be represented by two groups plus command (or would three groups look better)?
I would like to try to refight smaller battles and the larger scale Napoleonic rules available cater for larger armies.
Thank you in advance
Simon

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sjwalker51
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Re: Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by sjwalker51 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:46 pm

As a general rule, SP seems to work best up to approx 1/10: so a single Group of 8 Line represents a company. Beyond that, you start to lose the intricacies of small unit tactics - when your 400-man unit is represented by 4 -6 Groups, you really appreciate the difficulties of manoeuvring a battalion and keeping its formation.

Archdukek
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Re: Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by Archdukek » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:32 am

Sharp Practice is designed to operate at a figure to man ratio from 1:1 to 1:5 hence its designation as being for large skirmishes. So a Group of figures can represent from 8 to 40 men. 2-3 groups would be a company, not a battalion.

As Simon says you can push beyond those boundaries a bit but the rules are not designed to handle battalions or represent armies of 2000-3000 men. For that you need battalion level rules like General D'Armee where 20 figures can represent a battalion and the command and control rules reflect that.

John

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sjwalker51
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Re: Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by sjwalker51 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:34 am

And if you want mass appeal, use one stand of 3-4 15mm figures rather than a single 28mm, so one Group of Regulars has 8 stands of 32 figures, with two groups representing a company - then try and manoeuvre a half-battalion in line. :-)

simonhl
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Re: Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by simonhl » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:39 am

Thanks for the replies. Having looked through various posts on here and had some further thoughts, I might try to scale down the forces involved so that a group of cavalry represents a squadron and two to three groups of infantry a battalion, although even scaling down the games may be too big for these rules. I know it is probably stretching things a bit but when playing smaller battles from the Napoleonic period (South America or 1812) many of the battalion level rules don't really cater for anything less than one brigade.
I am going to try GdA but was really pondering on whether by scaling the forces down as mentioned these rules might give a reasonable game at the smaller level.
Simon

Munin
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Re: Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by Munin » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:18 pm

One facet that often gets overlooked when people are talking about figure-to-man ratios is the command experience that the rules are trying to offer to the players. At its core, Sharp Practice is about the difficulties of directing men under fire, with effective movement, firing, and management of morale (Shock) being of paramount importance. For a regiment- or brigade-scale game, your command challenges are different, and largely involve things like bringing your brigades into action (i.e. from reserves) when and where you want them, coordinating your actions across a wide frontage, and keeping your units oriented and moving such that you don't get units uselessly bunched up or blocked in behind friendlies. For even larger scale games (division- and corps-scale) you start getting into scenarios where logistics challenges are becoming increasingly critical.

Games at all levels will have some aspects of each of these challenges, it's just a question of how much focus is paid to them. The presence of ammo and water carts in Sharp Practice 2 is a nod to the difficulties of logistics in the black powder era, but it's just that - a nod. For 90+% of games, ammo consumption isn't critical in a skirmish game. But if each game turn might symbolize half an hour (or more) of fighting, ammo consumption suddenly becomes a critically important piece, and being able to effectively rotate fresh units into the firing line to relieve depleted units can mean the difference between victory and defeat. This effect is something that a larger scale game like Pickett's Charge models by applying "Fatigue Casualties" when a unit loses fire discipline - and if it goes on long enough the unit becomes hesitant not because it's taken actual casualties from fire, but because the men are wary about advancing into danger with nearly-empty cartridge boxes. This too is an abstraction, but it's a more common occurrence within the rules and therefore a more important aspect of the particular command challenges being modeled by the rule set.

So before you decide on a particular figure-to-scale ratio, it might be worth taking a step back and deciding what kind of command challenges you're looking to model.

On the plus side, if you're clever about what scale figures you're using and how you base them, you can play multiple different scale rule sets using the same figures. :)

siggian
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Re: Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by siggian » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:22 pm

You may also want to look at rules for the War of 1812 (not really in the TFL oeuvre) as well because they would looking at forces of about the same size in roughly the same time period. You may have to bolt on some cavalry rules though because cavalry played a very minor role in that war (often not appearing at all in most of the bigger battles).

simonhl
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Re: Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by simonhl » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:30 pm

Thanks once more, your comments have made sense and have made me think about the games I want to play, it looks as if I will be working in two game scales, one Battalion sized for larger battles (probably GdA) and one (Sharp practice) for smaller company sized actions.
having started to read around the war of 1812, including the SP supplement, it seems there is enough smaller actions to make it worthwhile, and if I can be clever with basing then the figures can be used for both, (or two sets of figures). Rockets Red Glare has scenarios for 1812 at company size, so maybe SP is the way to go for these smaller battles.
Simon

Archdukek
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Re: Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by Archdukek » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:43 pm

Hi Simon,
That sounds like a sensible approach to use SP for the smaller company actions in the War of 1812. The TFL supplement by Mike Hobbs will be a good guide to achieving that.

If you want your figures to double duty then I would recommend that you mount them on square bases and use movement trays. Most popular higher level rules in this period seem to have settled around 4 figures in 2 ranks on a 40x40mm as standard for 28mm figures, two such bases can make a Group for SP and some of the Napoleonic figures I use for SP are based like that and I use microdice to track casualties. Works fine.

However, where I can be bothered I now prefer to use figures based as 3 pairs on a 40x20mm base with a couple of singles on 20x20 bases to remove as casualties when needed for SP. They are still easy to arrange on a movement tray when used as a battalion in other rules.

One key thing is to try to keep your Leaders on separate bases for SP. Some of my Napoleonic battalion command stands are now rebased to provide an Officer and musician on single bases while the ensign is on a double base with an ordinary infantryman. Makes life easier.

John

Munin
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Re: Order of battle to Sharp Practice

Post by Munin » Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:45 pm

If you want to leave room for maneuver in larger games, you might want to go with smaller figures. I use 15mm (really closer to 18mm) figures for my American Civil War stuff. Individual troops are mounted on #8 washers (7/16" outer diameter, or roughly 11.1mm) which I can then either sabot in a group of 4 in a 1" x 1" movement base or 8 in a 1" x 2" movement base. The number of units/figures you'll likely want to have for larger brigade-scale games is likely going to look pretty crowded with 28mm figures. Unless your gaming table is huge, in which case go big!

EDIT: One important factor about miniature scale - changing the miniature scale to smaller or larger miniatures does make a few changes to the dynamics of the game. If you're playing at a scale like 28mm where a 4x2 Group has a frontage of about 4", your ability to shift laterally (say to evade incoming fire) is going to typically be limited to less than your total frontage (using your first action moving 1D6 to the side, then using your second action turning to face forward again), as your average roll is 3.5". If you're playing at 15mm where that same 4x2 Group only has a frontage of 2", that same average roll of 3.5" is actually wider than your group's 2" frontage, meaning that your units are a little more "nimble" in their ability to position themselves. It also means that a Formation's arc-of-fire is going to be narrower, making facing/wheeling a little more important. Just some food for thought.

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