Got in a game of Impetus last night, 300 points of Spartans vs. late Achaemenid Persians. JJM (of the THMG)was kind enough to bring along his old school 25mm figures, and I was able to get in a test run of the Spartan list I'm planning. Led by the brave general Vadizonos, my Spartans set out to drive the barbarian king and his slaves back from whence they came.
I ran a couple of Spartan phalanx, an allied phalanx, my max cavalry allotment (that would be one unit) and assorted peltasts and skirmishers. Across the table I faced three phalanx (two made up of traitorous mercenary Greeks, and one of barbarians seeking, for once, to fight like men), along with a number of cavalry. I was defender, and managed to choose ground that would funnel the barbarians into my phalanx while guarding my flanks. We tried the alternative deployment that's mentioned in this year's tournament pack, with each of us holding back a number of bases equal to our commander's bonus as a second deployment.
Typically fearful of the might of Greece, the opposing general hid himself on our far left, while the brave Vadizonos took up his place at the front of his Spartans.
The goal was to hold off his left and centre long enough for my Spartans to move into the "chutes" defined by the terrain, and core through him. While this would mean the allies would likely end up casualties, I figured the loss of some non-Spartans was a small price to pay for driving off the barbarian invaders (to the greater glory of Sparta).
The first few turns saw some fairly rapid movement. I pushed forward, aiming to get my skirmishers and peltasts into the forest and onto the hills, securing the flanks of my phalanx. My overall plan was to refuse the right flank, and throw the allied greeks, a skirmish unit, and if necessary, the cavalry at him on the that side.
The central hill became a focus of real conflict. His phalanx(es?) was deployed on the other side of it, and although by the end of the game they had pushed their way on, it acted to slow him down, and gave me the chance to move, and choose where to fight.
He advanced his cavalry on the left:
And on the right.
I think his plan was to use his horse archers on my right to flank / fold me up. Ever since playing against Otherdave and his horrific horse horde, I've had a healthy respect for CL with composite bows, and frankly, was more than a little worried about what might happen if he got around my flanks. Fortunately, he pushed them forward far enough that they disordered, and overlooked the threat my javelin-armed skirmishers represented. They slid into position to shoot point blank, and Mars was with me. They got a couple of hits, he rolled a 6 on cohesion, and poof:
No more CL. This prompted a running discussion about whether the modifiers for point blank shooting are too powerful. As someone who's been both on the receiving end (pesky Numidians, curse them!), and the giving, I quite like them as is. They don't pose a reliable threat to any unit that isn't already weak or damaged, but the potential forces both you and your opponent to take them into account.
With the horse archers out of the way, I was able to bring my allied phalanx and Spartan cavalry up to support one another, and was fairly confident I could hold the right flank, at least long enough to get the job done on the left.
He brought up his cavalry, but wasn't able to evade when I pushed my phalanx forward.
This had fairly predictable results, although as I recall it took a round or two of combat.
On the left, things were heating up. His Paphlagonian CL and Satrapal Guard CP ended up jostled in the tight terrain, and were ultimately pinned between the forest and my Spartan phalanx. For barbarians, the Satrapal guard were almost decent fighters, and despite the forward grind of my brave Greeks, managed to keep making cohesion tests, so that I was only able to wear him down one VBU at a time.
Perhaps it was the presence of their king, driving his slaves onward with fear?
His greeks, seeing their flanks in trouble, began to push forward across the hill in the centre, while their Persian imitators did likewise. I threw forward a screen of light troops to occupy them until Vadizonos and his picked men could choose their moment.
On the right, the allied phalanx had been thrown back by the Persian cavalry, with not insignificant losses. I wasn't too worried however, in that I expected that even if the damaged phalanx broke, the Spartan cavalry would plug the gap.
In the centre, a unit of his Persian bow had boldly marched into the midst of my army, and despite repeated showers of missiles from my own light troops, refused to leave. I can only assume they had stumbled across their first taste of good Greek wine, though given my troops total inability to score even one hit, perhaps the drinking occurred somewhere else . . . .
On the left, things were going well. His Paphlagonians had fallen to combined missile fire from my Skiritai and Peltasts, and his Satrapal guard retreated from the fury of our Greek spears. Clearly, whoever was leading the barbarians had decided to retire while his skin was still intact. Instead he advanced his barbarian slaves, dressed in a mockery of hoplite panaloply, towards their inevitable doom at the hands of the Spartan phalanx.
On the right, my allied phalanx had finished off the cavalry, but they were sorely damaged, and over-extended.
When they were charged by a group of mercenary traitors, however, I think Nike herself must have possessed them, for they fought like true sons of Greece.
The drove the enemy back, licking their wounds, and rethinking the choice they had made to accept barbarian gold as the price of their honour.
In the center, his kardakes managed to roll over one of my peltast units, but this left them exposed to the vengefull fury of Vadizonos and his men, who drove into the midst of them so hard, that when the killing was finished, they had passed completely by the second group of mercenary traitors.
At this point, my foe was all but vanquished, his army teetering on the edge of breaking. With his cavalry gone, and a great hole torn through his phalanx, the slightest factor could tip things in my balance. It was then that the skiritai, showing the honour that has long served Sparta, and desirous of glory, rushed forward. Daring the remaining satrapal guard to charge them, they hurled their javelins at the foe, and one, guided by the hand of Athena, struck the barbarian king through his heart. Broken, their leader dead, the barbarians fled the field.
It's been a long time since I played a game in this scale (the last time was back in June), and I'd forgotten what it was like. Playing at the larger scale is almost like playing a different game. Units move much faster, relative to the available space, and the table feels much more claustrophobic. It all makes for an even more intense game, through I think at the cost of some of the tactical manoeuvre, and the sense of pacing (skirmisher fight, cavalry fight, clash of the heavy infantry) that I've come to expect from the 15mm game.
Spartans, I must say, are a blast to play. At the beginning of the game, I was feeling a tad intimidated, in that it seemed pretty clear I was outnumbered, and looking at a serious mobility deficit. I was able to use terrain to guard my flanks, however, and was also aided by the fact that JJM hadn't taken any light infantry. This meant I could pretty much seize control of the choke points between channels of clear terrain, which let my phalanx move with security. Which they did. Spartans can, when they need to really put on the gas, and in 25mm scale, the can cover ground. For the phalanx with my general, moving 30cm a turn only meant passing a discipline test at 2+, and then one at 3+, meaning I had less than a 50% chance of failing. Spartans fight where they want, and they do it well. It was also a novelty to be able to oblique and otherwise get creative with large units, something my discipline B Antigonids can't do.
I had a blast, and hope JJM did as well. Now I just have to convince him of the validity of those point-blank modifiers . . .