Thursday, November 8, 2012

Last ride of the Mongols


Got in a test game last night with my planned Mongol army for Basic Impetus against Nick the Lemming's 100YW English / Free Company morph.  The games, as have all of mine against Nick, were a pleasure, but it solidified two things for me.  First, I like the full game of Impetus far more than the stripped-down, basic version, and second, I'm not going to be doing a Mongol army after all.

Bonus points to those who know this guy.

I had actually started painting the Mongols over the last week, finished one, and had a few others on the go, but I just wasn't feeling it.  At the time, I wasn't sure if it was just that I was more excited to do other project, or if it was the figures themselves.  While the Mongols, and Mongol history, are of great interest to me, painting the little buggers was proving difficult.  Then Nick and I sat down to play.

The first thing to note is that I managed to forget my camera.  Nick, bless him, remembered his, and was kind enough to share pictures, so bear in mind that these are from his side of the table.  We rolled for attacker / defender, and with my super-abundant cavalry, won the roll to attack.  Nick set up terrain, I pulled off the most irritating element, and we deployed.  Nick put his archers and FL in his centre, with knights on the wings.  After a turn or two of me working towards the flank, the table looked like so:


Nick had got one of his knights rather tangled up in the woods, which gave him some problems, though the combined shooting penalties from moving, being in woods, and being disrupted were blunting my CL advantages.  On the other flank, I'd scored some hits on Nicks uber / general / "your base VBU is how much?" unit, and Nick decided he'd better charge in while the charging was good.  That would be at 10 or so dice to my 4.  These four:


Didn't work out for him the way he hoped ;)

On the right, Nick worked his way out of the woods, and lined up a charge on my CM which fell short.  After a couple rounds of fighting, and an assist from his second unit of CP, he cleared my cavalry, and lined up on my general's unit.  2 on 1, but his units were a little more torn up than mine.


However, Genghis's destiny held, which is to say, my dice continued hot, and Nick couldn't roll to save his life.


Mongols win.  The game took less than 40 minutes, so we set up again, this time with Nick playing Free company.  This game went more or less the same, except Nick was a little more guarded on his flanks, didn't let me get around him as much, and I didn't catch the same ridiculous breaks on dice.  He won.  Second game was a little over half an hour.

Basic Impetus has certain strengths.  First, it's quick.  I'd say 45 minutes is more than enough for set-up, how d'you dos, play, and clean up.  This means it's excellent for large events.  The rules are straightforward, simple, and decisive.  Because much of the command-driven mechanics of the full game are absent, there seems to be a more even playing field across periods / lists (in the full game, my CL could have evaded like mad, avoiding contact with his knights almost at will, and blunting the impact of his archery), which means structural mis-matches are less likely.

I think this qualifies as a "structural mismatch".

But, at least for me, it's not as much fun.  What I love about Impetus is the emotional charge of the game, the role of command and manoeuvre, and the choices available.  ALL of these elements were absent for me in the basic game.  I never really felt invested when I played.

The other problem is that in the full game, Mongols are a really bad match up for anyone other than other high VBU CL armies (see here for an example of this kind of mis-match).  While I think the outcomes are pretty accurate historically, the experience for the non-Mongol is, I suspect, less than thrilling.

Coupled to the fact that I don't seem to be excited about painting the Mongols, this is a bit of a problem.  The February club event is strictly medieval.  I had no plans to do a medieval army, and no plans to do something only for BI beyond this event (because I don't get much out of it), so whatever I do (and I'd better do something, as I'm one of the primary Impetus fan-boys at the club), then it has to be for the joy of painting, or as something I want to do as a full project for full Impetus, preferably both (helllo, leadpile!).  So much for my 2013 aspirations . . . .

So I've sold my Mongols to Foxlington, who had planned on doing them too.  Now I have to decide what to do instead.  Leading candidates are Ayyubid / Saladin-era Egyptians, Nevsky Russians, Komnenian Byzantines, or Andalusians.  Damned if I know which though.  In the mean time, I think I'll stick to painting more BA 15mm stuff, while blowing my lunch-hour hunting for ideas.



  1. Your Mongol army was looking very nice! As the dices, I want the same ones!
    For the future, Byzantines and Ayyubid are really beautiful armies .. but I do not know those rules!

  2. As an Ayyubid player I can inform you they play similar to the Mongols with a reliance on cavalry using archery and evade to wear down the opponent before going in for the kill being standard operating procedure. Yes they have some infantry giving you a bit of a break from cavalry, but it plays largely a supporting role.

    If you found painting horses hard going with the Mongols then Ayyubids won't relieve that very much, but it seems your other choices have quite a bit of cavalry too so maybe that's not it. If your looking for colour then Ayyubid's would fit that bill nicely.

    Either way good luck on your new choice!


  3. I think any of those armies listed would be good ones, and some pretty colourful ones too.

  4. Well, at least you figured it out before you were knee deep in Mongols.

    I love the look of the Ayyubid army but Chris is right. I've played the Crusaders v the Ayyubid and the Ayyubid shoot and evade, shoot and evade. The trick is to get the knights into the Ayyubid foot before they're all busted up. That's hard to do.

  5. At least you found a buyer straight away and now you've the perfect excuse to buy more. The figures did look nice on the table though.

  6. The painted figs are actually Nick's. Mine are the cereal box cutouts ;)

  7. Yep, the figures are mine, you can see them slightly more clearly here:

    You can tell the pictures were mine, they're more blurry and crappier than the ones Markus normally takes. :D