Today I would like to show you some of the gaming aids for Sharp Practice sold by Too Fat Lardies and let you know what’s important, what is less important, what’s naughty and nice.
So let’s say you read my favourable review of Sharp Practice and you want to order the rules via Too Fat Lardies‘ website. You will find a whopping 13 different bundles and packages to order there. The reason for this is that there are some gaming aids available as well as the rules as a digital PDF version and the printed version (soft-back, full colour). Apart from just the rule book, either the printed or the digital one, you can order a bundle of both, which is handy to have so you can look up rules even if you don’t have the physical rulebook with you.
Now let’s take a look at the gaming aids offered by TFL. Sharp Practice uses a card activation system, so a set of printed cards are the prime thing to get. What you get is a full set of colourful activation cards in a nice cardboard box. The format is regular playing card size, the quality is as you know it from other playing cards.
The set consists of 12 Leader cards for each side, seven command cards for each side, a blank card as well as one Tiffin’ card which ends the turn. Twelve leader cards for each side is a lot. I don’t think that a regular game will ever have more than 7 or 8 Leaders or Big Men a side maximum. This leaves you with plenty of cards to just leave out of the deck OR you use them for the activation of other things. Just like the blank card. This one (or leftover leader cards) can be used to make use of civilians moving about, have NPC allies act or have any other event happen. The clever thing about card activation systems (plus the command cards of course) is that you can modify them to fit the scenario. This card set will supply you with enough cards for two or more players to play, so you only need one deck per game.
Some people don’t like playing cards in their wargames or are used to pulling bits out of a bag. For these people TFL have an alternative to the cards – poker chips.
These are a set of laser-cut MDF chips to be painted to the players’ liking. They work exactly like the cards system in the results, but the process is that you throw them into a bag and randomly draw chips. Same thing, different medium. I prefer the cards, so that’s what I got.
Apart from these activation tools TFL also offer game tokens for playing Sharp Practice.
The set comes with 6 Uncontrolled fire tokens, 6 Present tokens and 6 Shock tokens. They are made of 3mm thick plastic and very sturdy. Uncontrolled and Present! tokens are slightly translucent and the words are engraved, so they won’t rub off.
The set covers most important states units might be in during a game. Uncontrolled will be used for units which are firing in an uncontrolled manner. If you read historical accounts units during the black powder era mostly (if at all) were only disciplined in their fire on the first salvo. After that everybody often just loaded and fired as fast as they could.
This is taken into account by Sharp Practice and many units, once they start firing, sometimes are hard to be stopped from doing so. In this case they require the Uncontrolled tokens. The Present tokens denote units using controlled fire for which the process is “load – present – fire” rather than just “load – fire”. These controlled salvos have a chance of having much more impact though.
The red Shock tokens are an important part of the game and as such have to be included in this set. The problem is that there is just six of them included. Especially towards the end of a game they tend to pile up on your units, so thrice the amount of Shock tokens would have been more useful. What you could do is write numbers on the tokens on both sides with permanent marker. Either way, you will probably need a lot more of them.
There are no tokens for unloaded units. I suggest using bits of cotton to show which units have fired and you remove the cotton from units as soon as they reload. Broken tokens would have been nice too.
What do you actually need out of the merchandise above? Well, you don’t have to buy any of them. You can print your own cards or use your own chips to draw. You could just raid your scrabble set and put red and blue numbers and dots on them and a green dot for the Tiffin result.
When ordering the SP rulebook I got the bundle with the tokens and the card deck. I figured that I would need the cards anyway and I like the design. Unless you prefer having cards reflecting the specific conflict/theatre you’re playing I suggest getting the card deck (or the chips if you HATE cards). The chips aren’t as pretty and require some work though. The card deck comes with plenty of cards and enough to support any SP game you could come up with. You won’t need the cards AND the chips unless you want to send extra monetary love towards the Lardies or have two groups of friends, one of which hates cards.
The tokens are a bit more iffy. While I think that there are sufficient Present and Uncontrolled tokens the six Shock tokens are just way too few. The make and quality are very good (watch out though, these Shock tokens are rather sharp and pointy!), but you will need more Shock tokens.
A side note on the PDF vs. printed rulebook: Some people prefer PDF, but I tried both in Chain of Command and I find a physical copy way more comfortable to navigate and for finding stuff. Especially with the index added on the printed version.
I hope that this little overview helped with deciding which bundle you want to order. The cards deck, chips and tokens are available separately for GBP 8 each.