There is a new version of Basic Impetus going to be released shortly, and as Fraser is a man with connections he obtained a playtest copy of the rules for us to try out. I brought my Late Romans, opting to use the Eastern Empire list, while Fraser opted to use the early republican list, so geographically ok but a few hundred years apart from each other.
The new Basic Impetus has set army lists, representing a "typical" army of the period, with just a couple of optional swaps that you can do to try and change them about a bit.
My list consisted of:
Heavy Infantry with supporting Archers
Cavalry ranging from light horse archers to heavier Clibinarii
Light infantry with Plumbati and Javelins
Skirmishers with Javelin and Sling.
Fraser had a mix of heavy infantry, representing the Triarii, Hastati etc.
One unit of Cavalry and some skirmishers
The new rules have quite set rules for selecting terrain, with a die role dictating what your options are and taking it in turns to place it. We ended up with some hill, some broken ground and small wood.
Initiative is decided by a dice roll, adding in any cavalry units you have, with the lose having to deploy first. Having more cavalry I had a good advantage here, but Fraser won the roll off and I had to deploy first, opting to take control of a large hill in my deployment zone with my heavy infantry.
I deployed my cavalry to the right of them, and guarded my left flank with my skirmishers.
Fraser deployed in a fairly solid line, with his cavalry and skirmishers on my right.
Early game saw a cautious advance from my troops, as I had the cavalry advantage. I hoped to turn one flank of Fraser Romans and get round the back of his army. The only major hurdle to overcome was one unit of skirmishers, which should have been easy for my cavalry to overcome. Alas it was not to be and my entire cavalry flank was bogged down trying to defeat one unit of skirmishers.
|Where it all went wrong.....|
|Left Flank not ding much better|
|Waiting on the hill to soften the opposition with shooting. No effect though.|
Mid game and things only got worse. My cavalry were destroyed by the Roman reserves and my left flank also started to disintegrate, thanks to some truly awful dice rolls.
Late game saw the infantry lines engage, with the Republican Romans having a clear advantage thanks to a higher VBU and the use of Pilum. Eventually my army was broken, with Fraser only losing a couple of units of skirmishers, making for a repeat of last week, only with a different system.
So the first attempt at Basic Impetus went badly, in terms of how the game went, but more importantly how were the rules?
The main problem with the main Impetus was that there were too many "trick" that could be done, and the whole movement/interrupting your opponent movement mechanic all got a little bit too precise, making for a game with a very tournament feel to it. Basic Impetus removes a lot of these issues, as you now cannot hold your troops in preparation of your opponent doing something and then reacting at precisely the most advantageous moment.
I think we got most of the rules correct (or Fraser did anyway, I just sort of did what I was told), apart from the javelins/Plumbati rules, which only work in the first phase of a combat and we were using them in every phase.
The things I liked:
Set army lists, no more min-maxing to get the most efficient army
Evasion is simplified, due to most units being unable to perform a second move
Stand and shoot
Pursuit and retreat rules from combat.
Initiative is very important now, and you get a couple of re-roll included for free, with the option to swap out some troops for a couple more.
Things I wasn't quite as keen on:
No counter charge. You can evade, or you can stand and shoot, but there is no chance to counter charge. Why? It doesn't strike me as a difficult thing to add in.
Shooting is largely useless, especially skirmishers shooting at other skirmishers, as the -2 dice usually means you cant do anything. Put skirmishers in front of your main force and you are pretty much missile proof.
Also a minor gripe but why bother with the supporting archers? I don't think they have ever done anything of any note in any of my games of Impetus beyond providing additional casualties to the main unit, preserving its Impetus and fighting ability. It is certainly not worth building any kind fo strategy around them. They must have been useful for something or they wouldn't have been fielded. it is a bit of a mystery.
Still I enjoyed the game, and think the rules have some legs. We will give it another go in January and see what happens.