Sunday 9 February 2014

Review of At the Sharp End

TooFatLardies recently released the much anticipated campaigns supplement for Chain of Command called At the Sharp End. This is a 47-pages book (only available in electronic format) edited in the same style as the rules book divided in four main sections.
The Ladder Campaign, which  explains this innovative system to run campaigns in which both players fight and move along the typical structure of a battlefield, made of the no man’s land, advanced outposts, main line of defense and the final objective. Games are organized by fighting in this different areas, and winning or losing implies moving up and down the ladder as well as gaining or losing the initiative, providing endless possibilities to the players. 
A defender gaining initiative for example, is allowed to counterattack and eject the enemy from their recent gained ground; or to reinforce its defenses, making the attacker’s life more difficult in the following campaign phases
In the Field provides the detail of the campaign system, including the options available when the initiative shifts to the enemy (counterattacks, consolidation of defenses…) or handling casualties and replacements 

Men under Fire brings to WWII the concept of the leader career already introduced in its Dark Age rules set Dux Britanniarium. Adding a role-playing dimension, players can provide a nice background to the main platoon and the junior squad leaders.
However combat performance and how your leaders are viewed by both, the men under command and the top brass at the battalion will have an impact in the development of the game:  it can affect from the men reaction under fire to the supply of reinforcements.
Finally, Building a Campaign provides a set of useful and hands-on advice to create your own games extracted from the experience of the designers while testing the system. This includes sources for contemporary maps or (literally) application of common sense ideas to conforming your games, adapted to the real conditions of the battlefield you are planning to play.

Overall and as usual by TooFatLardies, this book brings a very innovative and original system, resulting in a simple mechanism to create campaigns, reducing the paperwork and  the accounting to a minimum, and with the possibility of starting your own game even without a  map if you fancy!

I'm already having some ideas for a short campaign in the ifrst days of the Spanish Civil War around the so called Batalla de los Puertos (the fight ffor the mountain passes) around Madrid in late July 1939.
At a price of 6 pounds it is really value for money and the system offers quite good ideas for running campaigns even if you are not a CoC player. Alternatively, you can still win a free copy participating in my blog's 200k views celebration, still running until Sunday February 16. 


  1. Great post AV, you can always rely on Richard for a fun system, I will follow your link and post to my blog to spread the word of lard.

  2. Sounds interesting! I enjoyed the Dux B. campaign system quite a lot so I think I'll give CoC a try in the end.

  3. Great adition to this wonderful rulebook. I expect to use it with Pacific War games soon!

  4. I'm going to try a win a copy, they sound damn good.

  5. Any idea to use this system in a multiplayer campaign? I mean, the ladder system works perfectly in 1vs1 campaign but imagine you have several players each one with his own platoon.

  6. Fenrir, there's nothing in the book about it; it's really designed for one-on-one play rather than any sort of league. It shouldn't be impossible to rotate platoons in and out in a sort of tag-team style, maybe passing up the initiative in order to do so.

    (My name tag above links to my longer review.)

    1. Well you can play with two platoons per side (see page 102 of the book) and nothing prevents from having a muyltiplayer campaign. Actually it opens interesting possibilities like losing in one sector and winning in another, and in the following turn taking decisions about what to do with the surviving forces