Thursday 16 September 2021

The Skirmish at Cotley's Farm. AWI Sharp Practice

Tuesday saw Martin at my place for another game, and despite the chaos, with holes in the ceiling, a ton of stuff from the shed in refuge from the leak in there, plus my office.. I was relatively well prepared this time, with laminated QRS and rosters, markers etc.. 

Sharp Practice in the American War of Independence, I mean, I painted up another six groups of 'Patriots' - so I had to use them, right? 

I even managed to put together a scenario.. 

Very simple. 1779, An important, and importantly loyal, personage was stuck at Cotley's Farm (B) with a broken carriage wheel, and escorted by two groups of British Light Infantry. One of the servants had unfortunately snuck away and alerted the local Militia, who could deploy immediately their leader token turned up at East Bridge (C). 

After two turns the wheel would be repaired and the carriage able to leave. It would move at the end of each turn (in Sharp Practice, the turn of the Tiffin card, or in this case chip). It could move 1,2 or 3 d6, but rolling two ones, would mean the wheel breaks again, so go 3d6 flat out and risk breaking down, 2d6 for a much lower chance, or the safe option and trundle along at 1d6 per turn. (As it happened in the game, the Carriage had the route blocked, and so was happy to minimise the distance moved.)

At the end of the first turn and each turn thereafter, each player would roll for the arrival of their reinforcements, the Patriots at (D) on a roll of 4,5 or 6, and the British player at (A) on a 5 or 6. 

The forces were fairly standard.


Leader 1 'Colonel' Nathaniel Collywobble Level III
3 Groups of Continental troops, (good quality, and almost able to go toe to toe with British Regulars by this stage of the war)
Leader 2 Lieutenant Oliver Whitstupple Level II
2 Groups of State Line
Leader 3 Sergeant Martin Bellwetherick Level I
1 Group of Colonial Skirmishers
And a separate command under Leader 4, Captain Prosperous Bonnheure Level II and his two groups of Colonial Militia 


Leader 1 Captain Lancelot Farthish Level III
2 Groups of British Regulars
Leader 2 Lieutenant Alexander McCrippen Level II
2 Groups of British Light (in line formations)
Leader 3 Lieutenant Perry Allen Level II
1 Group of British Light skirmishers

How did it go?

The table viewed from the American end, around East Bridge. Just visible are the British light troops, and in the distance the British deployment point on the road.

And as the first three turns progress, the Militia in the foreground were rapidly joined by Colonel Collywobble and Sergeant Bellwetherick, just appearing in the distance, while the British forces resolutely refused to roll more than a 3 and add their chits to the bag.

The State Line appear behind Collywobble, and still no sign of the British regulars and skirmishers.

The first exchange of fire comes between the British Lights and American skirmishers, a very uneven exchange which saw enough casualties to the skirmishers to force them to pull back, and they were effectively out of the game. 

After this early success, the British lights decide they need to do something before they are overwhelmed by numbers, and despite the long range - present and fire a controlled volley, hoping to do enough damage to take the Militia out of the game before the Continentals and State Line can get into action, but the British volley must have been affected by damp powder or something - and they manage to kill only one of the militia and inflict a few points of shock..   Lieutenant McCrippen hopes it isn't going to be one of those days...

But it is.....   those militia seem to be phenomenal marksmen and the return volley cripples the British Lights 4 dead and 7 shock.... another exchange and it is 5 dead and 9 shock...  

Just in time as the British player (me!) was wondering how I was going to get out of this, I finally managed to bring on the Captain and his regulars, with Lieutenant Allen on the flank. But the Lights were so badly damaged, I had to pull them back into cover behind the farm buildings to rally off shock.. 

The two principal formations meanwhile manoeuvered into position and started to exchange volleys... I pushed the Lieutenant out to the left of the British regulars, hoping that the skirmishers might pick off an officer and dance invulnerable on the flank of his formation, or force them to detach a group and diminish the fire the regulars were receiving. 

At first the British seeming to have a charmed life, inflicting shock and casualties on the Continentals, seemingly with impunity. 

And then it all went horribly wrong for Captain Farthish... 

And I stopped taking pictures... 

Martin pulled back his damaged Continentals, the State Line lined up behind the central hedge and with a stunning volley, badly damaged Lieutenant Allen's skirmishers who were forced to pull back. I tried to bring my Lights back into action, using comand chits (flags) and interrupting the Militia with a volley but to little effect, causing nothing but one shock. 

There then followed two turns, where in one I got one command chit while Martin was able to activate all his leaders, and rubbing it in, a bonus activation. The British had to take a withering hail of fire without reply...   and so Captain Farthish decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and with casualties and shock mounting, and no real prospect of victory, withdrew from the field. 

And what of the carriage? Ignominious capture by Sergeant Jonathon Bellwetherick and his reduced group of skirmishers. 

A sad scene for Loyalist sympathisers, but never fear, Farthish shall return!


  1. Nice idea for a scenario. There’s definitely some thinking to do about how best to use your force while waiting for others to deploy. There’s a temptation to use whatever is on the table but that can often see them chewed up while unsupported. On the other hand if you hold back do you give the enemy too much advantage? Militia are initially quite powerful, a lot of firepower and the large groups can absorb a fair bit of shock, I’m quite wary of them. I hope to get back to face to face gaming in a week or two and we have an AWI SP campaign planned.

  2. It was very difficult. I thought I would be overwhelmed by numbers as the supports were simply not arriving. So I took the gamble. On another day, the British lights might have inflicted enough casualties and shock to take the militia more or less out of the game, but it was not to be. I can't grumble. There have been plenty of occasions when the luck has favoured me.

  3. And I'm looking forward to your AWI campaign. I am tempted to try something myself now Martin and I are settling into a regular gaming groove.