Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who shot me?


Got in another Impetus game last night, 300 point, 15mm, my half-finished Pyrrhic army vs. Otherdave's (of the THMG) Khurasanians, posing as Ayubbid Egyptians. And, man, my poor Greeks didn't know what hit them. To be honest, however, their fate was as much from my inexperience vs. horse bow as anything else.

I ran the same list as last week: two blocks of heavy infantry (one pike, one now complete greek phalanx), two units of light foot, three skirmishers, two elephants, and one each of heavy, medium, and light foot. He had four units of medium (heavy?) cavalry, and the rest of his army was light horse with composite bows, plus one unit of spear-armed lights. Imagine this but, you know, turned up to eleven:


With that many mounted units, he ended up as attacker, and I had the opportunity to place terrain. At which point I made my first, and probably worst mistake. In a "standard" Impetus game, the defender can place up to 6 pieces of terrain, and the attacker can move or remove up to two. I really, REALLY should have placed all 6. Instead, I only put down four, he removed two, and ended up with plenty of room for his light horse to manoeuvre.

I deployed with my Thureophoroi to the right on a hill, then my heavy infantry, then elephants, then Cavalry, with light cav and skirmishers to the fore. He had his heavier cavalry in the centre, and his lights on the wings. You can get a sense of the deployment here (Thureophoroi are off camera to the right).


He advanced, swinging his wings in towards me, and I replied by pushing forward my Tarantines and skirmishers. There was the usual disruption-causing "pew-pew" between the lights at longer range:


And then things got a little more serious. I knew that my best shot would be to try to tangle him up with the skirmishers, and then hope I could push home my elephants or heavy cav, and began to manoeuvre in an attempt to do so. He began a stead movement to my left, in an effort to draw me in and flank me with his light cavalry.


This is how things looked from the perspective of my cavalry on the left. You can see the basis for my concern.


On the right, I was starting to wonder how in blazes I was going to come to grips with opposing units that moved more than twice as fast as mine, and without many of the movement restrictions I faced (turns out the answer was, I wasn't).


After a few turns, he'd begun to envelope my left flank, and began to pepper my medium cavalry with a hail of bowfire. LC, with a 360 degree firing arc, composite bows, a base VBU of 4, and the ability to move oblique without disruption, make pesky numidians (curse them!) look like a bit of a joke.


I tried to hold off the advancing LC, but I felt a little like Biggs in the Death Star run, they were just coming in too fast.


This ended fairly predictably, with my poor Greek CM riddled to death by arrows. They seem to consistently fill the role of sacrificial lamb. Maybe I should have painted them with red shirts? At any rate, they did their job, and held the CL off long enough for my CP to run a charge in against his heavier horse. They more of less pulled a "Scots Greys", and pursued to exhaustion. They died gloriously in the effort, and managed to do serious damage to two of his heavy units before being ground down.


One the right, my skirmishers had pushed forward, and done a bit of damage / disruption, but just couldn't handle the multiple engagements at point-blank range from his powerful compound bows. This left the way clear for my elephants, and me with a bit of a quandary. There was no way I was going to get my ellies in against his light cav, and no way they were going to survive multiple turns of bowfire. With my heavies and my skirmisher screen gone, I figured it wouldn't be long before he trotted up and began picking off my heavy infantry at leisure. The situation looked something like this:


I figured it would be better to have the ellies go down fighting, and it might shake things up, so I sent them both in. One of them never got to close, and was arrowed to death. The other apparently had John McClane as a mahout. I managed (with discipline c) to advance, wheel, and charge, and then actually said, out loud, "I only need a two up to make this". Of course, I promptly rolled a one, and my disrupted elephants were left about a centimeter away from two of his remaining CP/M units. They, of course, promptly charged.


But the elephant didn't die. So another unit got stuck in. But the elephant didn't die. In fact, one of his cavalry units did.


They poor heffalumps did go down eventually, of course, but it was with their trunks wrapped around the bloody corpses of their enemies. I don't know if elephants go to Valhalla, but Odin, if you're listening, you might want to look into it.


This left me in a pretty sketchy situation. All I had left on the table were my heavy and light infantry. He had complete control of the board, had lost only three units, and was making eyes at my camp. I had nothing much left to lose, and pushed forward my infantry, the outcome was pretty much forgone.


What's not visible in that photo are the two or three units of CL off camera to the bottom. They were able to raid the camp (which they'd have done sooner had we discovered the update allowing I: 0 units to sack the baggage), and ended the game.

This was a tense, exciting game for me. We had a few odd situations come up, including one dealing with the interaction of evasion, zones of control, and opportunity charges we're still trying to sort out, but Impetus has solid forum support, and I suppose we'll get the rules right eventually. It's the first time I've played against a list with this much of a ranged and mobility advantage over mine, and I suspect there's going to be a learning curve. There's plenty in my army that can kill his CL - my CP, EL, and FP can all do the trick handily, but it's coming to grips with them that's killer. Pinning CL in combat seems to depend on a combination of three units: an S to disrupt them, an initial charger to force an evasion, and a follow-up charge to pin them in combat.

The trouble is, three-on-one setups like that require skill to set up, and the local superiority of units to permit the combination. While hopefully time will provide the former, the latter requires deliberate redesign of the list, something I'm a little loathe to do. I'd like to play this list again but taking advantage of the ability to put more terrain down. My FL never really got into the game, but might have done good service with more terrain and different deployment. At the end of the day, I need to learn how to use my list against this kind of force. I'm looking forward to a rematch ;)

I'll leave you with a picture of Otherdave's rather spiffy camp. One of these days, those sheep are in for a rude surprise . . . ;)



  1. I good lively write-up! I think the elephants need swords to be considered for valhalla...

  2. Poor sheep - they always seem to get the short end of the stick in our club.

  3. Great AAR for a set of rules I own but have never played !! the big 'elements' look really good