Got in a somewhat spontaneous game of Impetus last night at the club. Vonplutz, my opponent in the recent Maurice game, has been expressing some interest, specifically in hoplites, so Watts and I broke out our figures to provide him with a demo game. As always, it was a squeaker. Watts' army is in a bit of a transition, as he's moving from ER to Marian Romans, and it's a bit of a mish-mash of figs right now. My Antigonids, however, were beautifully painted ;)
We decided to incorporate some of the rules updates recently released on the Impetus forums, along with a house rule suggested by Nick the Lemming, intended to remove a gamey situation that allows skirmishers to oblique into point-blank range, while avoiding ZoC issues. We also played on the "tournament" sized table for a 300 point game, which had some impact on how things unfolded. I chose to attack, we set up terrain (one side had a forest and marsh, I removed the forest on the other side), and we deployed. I had my heavy infantry in the centre, my cavalry massed on the left, and a light infantry escort on my right. Watts mostly mirrored me, with his gallic foot opposing my peltasts, his legions in the centre, and his horse opposing mine.
|The Corinthian with no Name surveys the field.|
Watts had a commander advantage (his was expert, mine fair), and his initiative rolls ran pretty hot, so he got first move through the bulk of the game. Early moves were fairly straightforward. I followed my usual approach vs. Watts, of trying to envelope his flank with my cav, turn it, and apply pressure while driving the phalanx through his guts. In the early stages, this was complicated by my near total failure to make discipline rolls.
|I find it hard to play with phalanx and not make train noises.|
I had some concerns with the large unit of Gauls Watts was pushing through the woods. They have a monster Impetus rating, and if they got in on the flank of my pike, could cause serious problems. Luckily, they're impetuous, which meant I should be able to lead them off in another direction, at least for a while. I tasked my peltasts (who've well earned the nickname "The Disposables") to that duty.
On the left, I pushed my medium and light cavalry forward, slowly advanced the elephants, and began to bring the Agema across to coordinate with the mercenary Greek phalanx.
|Clever tactics, or poor deployment? You decide!|
As it turned out, I pushed the cavalry a little too far forward. Not having paid much attention, I overlooked Watts' response, which was to flank my cavalry with his skirmishers, and unload at point-blank range. Luckily, his dice were cold, and I got away with it. This time ;)
|Couldn't roll a discipline test to save my life.|
On the right, the infantry lines continued to close, my advance still hampered by poor discipline. It didn't help when I rolled snake-eyes for initiative, dropping my commander down to Poor quality! I also pushed the Persian skirmishers forward, hoping to plink the Gauls.
|Like I said.|
On the next turn, my Greek light horse returned the Roman's fire, and managed to wipe out the offending unit. Take that, Roman-boy!
|First blood to the good guys. Annoying skirmishers removed by my trusty Greeks.|
Things were starting to heat up on the left. Watts put both his cavalry on opportunity, and there was a turn or two of muttering and measuring and "are you interrupting?" while we weighed our respective chances. In the meantime, my heffalumps trundled up, and the Agema continued their sweep across to support the infantry.
|Kind of like curling. SWEEP! SWEEP! HARDER!|
In the centre, the skirmish lines continued to duel, with my boys getting the better of it for a while.
|Because, why fight fair?|
On the right, things started to heat up. The Gauls, provoked by the impudent Persians, charged ahead. The Persians evaded, running right through the peltasts behind them, who ended up receiving the charge instead. At 8 dice to 4, I figured to lose this one, but the dice gods were with me, and he actually lost the combat, recoiling from my doughty disposables.
|Come at me. No, please.|
This was sort of the tension point in the battle. The lines were about to engage across a broad front, and it was still pretty much anyone's game.
|Like the falcon, about to stoop . . . .|
The fight started on the right, with Watts charging home his gallic and German cavalry (one of which fell short). Sadly, it's also the part where I got so caught up in what was going on, I started forgetting to take pictures ;) I'm pretty sure we forgot about Vonplutz as well . . . .
|Actually got lucky here. My Greeks recoiled, and almost backed into the elephants. That would have been a jumbo problem.|
The cavalry fight on the left eventually came out in my favour, with me losing my Greeks, but my Persians left intact, while Watts lost both of his units. My mercenary phalanx charged home, destroying one legion and mauling another before going down under a swarm of gladius-wielding proto-imperialist fanatics.
|Romans. Romans everywhere.|
On the right, my disposables pulled the Gauls waaaaay off course before going down. Watts spent most of the rest of the game trying to bring them back into the fight, but at Discipline C, he had a tough time getting them moving. Meanwhile, the dual pain-train of the pike phalanx and the agema cavalry crashed into the Roman lines.
|Agema on the left, pain-train centre, slow-poke Gauls bottom right.|
Both ground their way through legions, dealing out damage left and right, but slowing taking hits themselves. Things hung on a knife edge. Watts held a slight advantage - all he needed to do was kill one more unit, and I'd break, while I needed to take out a legion. On the other hand, my elephants and Persian cavalry were fresh and closing in, I had 3 heavily damaged legions in front of my pike, and my Agema, battered heroes all, had fought clear of the melee, trampling Romans into the dirt as they went.
|The agema fight clear, the elephants lumber. Persians are actually out of shot to the left at this point, something like 31 cm away from their target.|
It all came down to who broke first. My elephants lumbered forward, but couldn't shake of their disruption, slowing their advance. My pike surged ahead, but couldn't break the stubborn legions. Then, out of nowhere, my Persian cavalry lept forward. Shaking off disruption, they moved once . . . twice . . . three times, and charged home into the rear of the Roman general's legion. All I needed to do was win the combat . . . and neither of us did damage. Another round! Again, my pike pushed ahead. Almost there, but no! The legion just would not die. Again, my Persians slammed into the general's legion (we forgot about the auto recoil on medium cavalry). This time, the Romans got two hits, I rolled for cohesion on a target of 2 . . .
. . . and rolled 6. 4 points damage. Good bye Persians, good by game.
Oh, the tragedy! The gnashing of teeth! The once again fantastically fun game of Impetus, where victory and defeat hang by a thread!
|A 6? Really? You couldn't roll that for attack dice?|
What a blast of a game. We were talking about it afterwards, and the only time I can remember not having a great time playing Impetus is when my Antigonids took on an all horse-archer Ayyubid army. Cannot recommend it enough.
The small tweaks we applied this game all worked pretty well. We used a smaller playing area, which made it harder to abuse my cavalry advantage, but still allowed for fluid movement of horse. We applied the official amendments / clarifications to evasion, which cut down the abuse of light horse, and we used our point blank house rule (PB shooting must be directly forward), which eliminated the "skirmisher shuffle" problem. All in all, I think useful additions to the game.
Vonplutz seems to have caught the bug, as he's now putting through an order for some Xyston Athenians. This has prompted me to get back to work on my Spartans, and go through my figs with an eye to some other options (*cough* Persians *cough*). Next update should be on the weekend, as I've finally finished at least a basic paintjob for the Blazing Sun carrier, but the next base of Spartans are primed and I've started on their skin, so it shouldn't be too long before they make an appearance.