SP2 - too static?

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Jargo
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SP2 - too static?

Post by Jargo » Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:13 am

I love the Lardy ethos of playing the period, use of friction and the passion of the game and Napoleonics is my first wargaming love and I've never been able to get over her. Sharpe Practice 2 seemed a perfect skirmish set.

My problem is that I, and some of my friends are having issues with SP2 as a gaming experience. After a few games we've noticed a tendency for firefights to become static, bogged down and attritional. In short, not at all fun. As one doesn't have so many units you become occupied with handling casualties and not telling the story. I watched the videos on YouTube and it seems the same thing. I know one should use the flags to buff your men, to get them moving or give them an edge but if you don't get the cards (yes I know this is like blaming poor dice rolling - but the cards are such an integral resource) it just becomes a repetitive shooting match. Historically correct? Probably. Fun gaming experience? Meh.

I follow a lot of the Lardy community on Twitter and see how they all have a lot of fun playing the game and I think I must be missing something. Maybe because most them attend Lardy Days, get to play with the authors and belong to a tight bunch of friends that criticisms are brushed over. I hope to go to a Lardy Day next year - I'm not giving up on the game.

So, am I alone in thinking this? What are we doing wrong?

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Captain Reid
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Re: SP2 - too static?

Post by Captain Reid » Mon Nov 18, 2019 3:07 pm

Generally speaking Missions (Sweep the Table, Escort, Rescue) will by their nature drive the narrative more than the Battles (Encounter, Objective, Defence) do.

However it is very true that players often get suckered into static long range musketry duels.

I think if each side has the potential to make up at least two Units of Line Troops (so having at least 4 Groups so as to be able to make two Units of two), then the tendency is mitigated to a degree (so long as at least one player is content to manoeuvre rather than simply exchange fire at long range) because if one of the Units gets into a shooting match, the other is still free to move.

But if, for instance, a scenario involves one side burning a village and the other side having to stop them, then one side has no incentive to form a firing line, they're much better sending single Groups to burn buildings down. Or if one of your officers has to talk his way into a convent to rescue or apprehend a spy who is sheltering there and remove her from the table to win the game, then the shooting match becomes secondary. Or if you're racing for a river crossing (both forces starting on the same side of the river and the winner being the force that gets at least X Groups more than the enemy has over the river), you're again promoting manoeuvre over firepower).

And/or give officers 'traits' which count to a victory score. For instance a Cold-Steel Merchant might want to engage in Fisticuffs and be rewarded for each time one of his Units initiates Fisticuffs, whereas a Gay Hussar might get rewards for launching cavalry charges but also seducing female minor characters. If victory is then determined by whose commander was most successful in his character-driven objectives, not which side actually won or lost the battle, you've promoted narrative over simply beating the enemy. (Equally you could have a Traditionalist, who gains rewards if his Line Troops only fire Controlled volleys and gets bonus rewards of they also fire a Crashing Volley).
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BaronVonWreckedoften
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Re: SP2 - too static?

Post by BaronVonWreckedoften » Mon Nov 18, 2019 4:50 pm

Jargo - Captain Reid is an experienced SP2 player and his advice is always pertinent. I'm nowhere near his level as a player, so I'll come at this from the military historian viewpoint.

To some extent, you are going through the same learning process that actual leaders of the day had to in order to gain experience of commanding troops in action. It was generally considered a mark of an inexperienced officer - certainly in the smaller type of action that SP represents - to get suckered into a prolonged firefight, which generally achieved nothing except burning a lot of powder at best, or losing a lot of men to no purpose at worst. This is reflected in the commentaries on battle tactics by almost all of the good commanders in the H&M era. As you become more familiar with the rules, you will find alternative ways of overcoming your opponent, as the good Captain has explained. True, there will always be troops that excel in a firefight, but these will be rare - even the British in the AWI, or later in the Peninsula, tended to give one or, at most two, volleys and then in with the bayonet whilst the enemy was still recovering from the initial firing.

Stick with it, it's worth the effort.
No plan survives first contact with the dice.

Munin
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Re: SP2 - too static?

Post by Munin » Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:13 pm

Another thing to consider is the scale. We found that when played in 15mm (vs 28mm), the difference in unit movement compared to unit frontage made maneuver much more of a factor. It was much easier to clear the narrower line of a Formation's fire arc, which made regaining control of uncontrolled firing and wheeling much more important. "Step Out" became much more attractive in this regard.

siggian
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Re: SP2 - too static?

Post by siggian » Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:56 pm

The other factor to consider is the terrain. If the terrain makes it easy to defend, the game is more likely to devolve into a firefight. For example, if there's a large open area in the middle of the board, it takes some experience and nerve to still attack across it and win. It's often seems easier to get into a firefight and hope that luck falls your way. What I try to do is have the terrain at an angle to both sides so that it might be an advantage on one flank but isn't on the other. Alternatively, I might plonk a large feature that hinders movement and visibility right in the middle of the battlefield, and thus forcing the two sides to decide whether to attack on one side or the other.

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bandrsntch
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Re: SP2 - too static?

Post by bandrsntch » Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:40 pm

All good comments above, but I understand your concern. Having put on several games at conventions, I have seen that novice SP players do tend to sit back and fire at each other, they being too timid to try anything else. I have long felt that morale rules in games are un-neccessary as players tend to make their own morale. Many gamers seem to think only in terms of win or loose rather than seeing it as an enjoyable narrative regardless of how you do in battle. Giving each player an individual goal along with a team one may help. See the "Clear your Name" objective on page 78 in the rules. Providing mini objectives for each player to achieve may change the flavor of the game. As an example perhaps one Leader on one side has a grudge against a leader on the other side and must engage him into a duel. Maybe another leader must gain honor by leading his men in a charge. One has to use a bit of imagination to come up with reasonable inducements to not just sit there and engage in long range firefights. It's a bit of work and unfortunately falls on whomever is setting up the game. The Characteristics "Thin Red Line" and "Pas de Charge" are helpful in inducing charges,but few players make use of them although they can have dramatic effects on the game. You might try reducing their cost to just one flag to get players to use them rather than just removing Shock. Good luck and I hope you would get back to the forum with your results either way.

Munin
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Re: SP2 - too static?

Post by Munin » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:39 pm

Novice Chain of Command players often fall into the same trap of letting the action devolve into a static firefight. And FWIW, green troops in actual combat often exhibit the same tentativeness. Aggressive, well trained troops with able leaders are much more likely to actually engage in fire and maneuver, and for the most part TFL games reward this.

BaronVonWreckedoften
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Re: SP2 - too static?

Post by BaronVonWreckedoften » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:14 pm

Munin wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:39 pm
Aggressive, well trained troops with able leaders are much more likely to actually engage in fire and maneuver, and for the most part TFL games reward this.
I've been telling myself this for years. Unfortunately, my dice always seem to have other ideas. :roll:

(Ah, just seen the able leaders bit.....)
No plan survives first contact with the dice.

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redmist1122
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Re: SP2 - too static?

Post by redmist1122 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:41 am

Completely agree with Captain Reid wrote...good stuff there!
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SchutzenU
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Re: SP2 - too static?

Post by SchutzenU » Fri Nov 22, 2019 1:18 am

Excellent responses and in particular Captain Reid and Bandrsntch. One more thing I have found is that too much terrain and too many troops can clog up a game. Less is sometimes more. Give all commanders different minor objectives and characteristics. Limit the overall size of the commands so they have room to maneuver. I have found this adds to the narrative and gets things moving. I have done this with a group up to 7-8 players on one board and it was really fun for all. They especially liked the randomly drawn minor objectives that added to the overall objective of the game. Even I didn't know who had what minor objectives. BTW, I totally stole this idea from other SP2 players.

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