Nov 28, 2014

The battle of Moonshine Ranch - A South American Sharp Practice AAR

The morning heat was already painful for the well-dressed men of the Ortosilian army as they climbed through the walls of Rancho de Santos near the Tropezonian border. As it goes with most hostilities, the Ortosilian leaders were convinced that the Tropezonian army started them and they were rightful in marching their freshly recruited troops against them near the border, as said in the Portadoro Daily, for 'drill and target practice'.
The ranch has been long abandoned. The de Santos family moved inside the nearest Tropezonian town, the women worked in the clothes manufactory and the head of the family bought some cattle kept in the outskirts. While they lived in the ranch Juan de Santos, son of old Juan, tried to achieve some profit for the place by distilling basically anything he could lay his hands on - and the ranch had enough grapes, peaches and wheat to make all sorts. When they left, quite hurriedly, some of this moonshine was left behind. Now both the Ortosilian and Tropezonian leaders found it would be great motivation for their men to loot this nectar.

Ortosilian OOB (respective Sharp Practice big men's ranks after each name)

CiC - Don Carlos Cristobal Guerrero, Reverend Major Rk.III

1st Foot Line Battalion, 12 men - Capitan Don Alejandro Jimenez Rk.I
1st Foot Light Company, 4 men - Capitain Jules Descramps Rk.II
Guard Grenadiers, 7 men - Capitan Don Jacobo Juarez Rk.I
Guard Cavalry, 6 men - General of Cavalry Don Simon Martinez Rk.III

The Ortosilian contingent was more numerous but had less commanders. However, two high-ranking officers were present - and they did not like each other very much. This resulted in the cavalry commander not being able to give direct orders or remove Shock from Don Guerrero's units.

Tropezonian OOB

CiC - Generals Don Ivan Padilla and Don Iker Fernandez Rk.III (treated as one commander)

1st Foot Line Company, 7 men, Capitan Don Lorenzo Hernandez Rk.II
1st Foot Flank Company, 4 men, Teniente Juan Martin Guzman Rk.I
1st Foot Grenadier Company, 4 men, Teniente Emilio Lopez Rk.I
1st Foot Cazadores Company, 4 men, Sargento Juan Sebastian Perez Rk.I

Dragones Amarillos, 6 men, Teniente Alvaro Santos Rk.I

Unmanned 6-pounder field gun with 2-horse limber

The Tropezonian army just moved out on a whim to Rancho de Santos, and they did not really think about what they would do with the cannon.

The battlefield

The ranch had three wooden buildings, a vineyard on a hill to the southwest and an orchard on the other hill to the northeast. Most of the plough fields were walled but the clay brick walls deteriorated quickly when the buildings were abandoned. 

So the Ortosilian foot had a very fractured advance towards the rearmost building and the vineyards, through the field. The Tropezonians had even less luck as their Groups did not combine, so the flank & grenadier company darted forward while the main infantry force lagged behind.
The Tropezonian yellow dragoons moved out with a trot then flew into a gallop and crashed into the Ortosilian guard cavalry... Some fumbling in melee later the Ortosilians lost five men out of six and the last one fled the table. So much about fancy uniforms boosting morale. However, at least General Martinez could escape.
Capitain Descramps chose to hide in the chicken scoop with his men to be protected from the  victorious Dragones Amarillos.

On the left, the Ortosilian Guard Grenadiers advanced on the hill against the Tropezonian light infantry. They exchanged some volleys then the grenadiers moved in for a melee.

They have killed the three riflemen and captured their sergeant.

The commander left him under the watchful eyes of the sapper while the rest moved in positions on the hill and began shooting quite ineffectively at the Tropezonian line company that had just arrived in a steady (read: sluggish) pace.
General Martinez joined the foot in the Ortosilian centre, and was denied command every time he asked the Reverend Major Guerrero. By then, the grenadiers manning the vineyards had fled from the superior(?) firepower of the Ortosilians and taken control of the then unlimbered cannon. They have then succesfully set fire on the ranch's main building with it, having less luck with hitting any living target.
A volley from the enraged Ortosilians ('what, they're shooting at US?') sent the Group fleeing so the two high-ranking officers had to engage in dirty work yet again (they have moved and unlimbered the gun themselves). This time they aimed at the troops that were in the least cover and managed to land some hits with grapeshot.

The heroic Tropezonian flank company chose this moment, to the astonishment of their commander, to move up against the moonshine bottle placed next to the burning building, and begin drinking all they could, right in the face of the enemy. 'Such bravery shall not happen in vain', pondered General Fernandez with a water bucket and sponge in hand.

It did not, for the Ortosilians, enraged this time by their adversaries consuming the moonshine, charged in and routed the enemy company. And they were in more cover so the cannon's next shot was ineffective, despite taking two turns to load as the two Generals were not used to hard labor.

'Fuego!', shouted confidently Capitan Jimenez, knowing that the moonshine-soaked counter-fire of the Tropezonians will have only a slight effect in his companies' ranks.

In the meantime, on the left, the shooting continues, the Grenadiers scored two kills and the Tropezonian foot one.

Due to infinite amounts of shooting, the Dragones Amarillos had a large number of Shock on them when they joined the fray, attempting to save the flank company - the Ortosilians emerged victorious again as the cavalry routed. Monsieur Descramps then chose to move out of the chicken scoop and fire a 'yes, we were there' sort of volley into the retreating Tropezonians' backs.

The Ortosilians managed to doze off the fire with some water from the well and then opened up the small barrel of moonshine that had been untouched... yet. With their strength gone, the Tropezonians watched in envy as their opponents took the ranch and the prize - the generals ordered a retreat, with plans of vengeance already in mind...

Discard of Nettle cards - after the end of a turn, extra activation cards must be discarded because they are kept for too long.
Reloading a gun - Learning from the previous game, I set the task score at 8 which was achieved immediately 3 out of 4 times. Maybe I should raise the bar a little.

Other news:
All the Napoleonic figures are stripped now - during the process I have lost many backpacks from the Zvezda French that will be replaced with green stuff. But the figures are all nice and clean - I'm going to pick a rule set for larger scale actions (and probably write a post about it like the medieval rules). It was a tiresome process that consumed most of two days, kneeling at the bath tub and brushing the remainders off everything, rinse, repeat with soap, etc. I'm thinking about purchasing more staff members (Zvezda French HQ) and artillery (Zvezda French line artillery).
I hope the armies will grow and the South American nations will prosper.


  1. Very nice looking game! I especially like your vinyards.

  2. A brisk little action. A great deal of fun and incident can be had with few figures. On the matter of activating the gun, what were you rolling: a D10 or 2xD6? If the former, the probability of rolling 8 or more on any given roll (0 counts as 10) is 30%. The probability of 3 or more successes in 4 rolls is a little over 8%.

    But if using 2xD6s, a roll of 8 or more has a probability of 15/36 or 5/12 per given roll. Achieving this score 3 or more times in 4 rolls comes to about 20%. That sounds reasonable to me. Your Tropozonians simply 'performed wonders', 'made superhuman efforts', and 'showed a heroism above and beyond the call of duty' in the handling of the cannon. :-)


    1. Thank you - SP uses 2d6 to complete 'tasks'. Otherwise the cannon would just be reloaded at the end of a turn with a full crew and casualties/Shock on the crew would reduce reloading speed, but it would require more figures serving the cannon.
      I could invent some other ways to make the cannon less powerful (which is necessary based on the previous game with the gunboat) like penalize the first shot (less dice or more score required), having the crew spend more actions to limber/unlimber or move the piece with human force etc.