Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Impetus Game

Sunday six players and a referee to facilitate play gathered for another introductory game of Impetus.  The game would feature the impetuous French Normans against the missile-weapon heavy Byzantines.  Somewhere around 1055.  Since this was just my second Impetus game as a player (I'd watched a couple too.)  I'll give my reactions and review of the system as well as the game.

This was a big game with around 500 points a side, but was appropriate for six players, even if some of us were very inexperienced.
The Byzantine center and right wing.  The left was somewhat similar but lighter weight.  Our best troops, the double line of cataphracts, were here under my lucky command.
Here the impetuous French (literally) are advancing, eager to close with the Byzantines.  Being impetuous, such troops must attempt to close on any enemy within 30" of their front.  This makes timing important for both sides.
Especially when nasty horse archers await the ride by.  Note the gallant leader at the front of his knights.
Now note him enjoying the hospitality of the Byzantines after his unit was eliminated and he was captured.  An unlikely, but fun little option.
On the Byzantine left however, things were not going as well.  Here we see the dreaded "pick up" result from lose of cohesion and casualties.

As we ran out of time due to the need for an early departure, we had played about 8 turns in three or four hours with lots of time outs for explanations, and each army saw their left wing break and run.  I believe the Byzantines held the overall advantage since their super cataphracts were intact but anything could have happened.  The French were already poised to exploit our flank whereas the Byzantine right needed to move.

In the game system, each army was divided into a left, center and right division.  At each "pulse" we nominated a division or wing for action and diced off using the commanders modifiers.  The winner then selects one unit at a time, runs it until they are either satisfied or the unit has to stop, usually due to disorder.  You then go on to the next unit in your command until finished.  Now in most games the loser of the dice off would now get to go, but in Impetus each side again nominates a command and dices off.  So it is possible that one side completely goes before the other.  I understand an option is to dice off for army moves, but given the "one at a time" nature of moving units I don't think it would work well except for very small forces.

Combat is all six sided dice (d6) based.  You want to roll either sixes or pairs of fives.  For the impetuous knights, they had a base combat value of 6, plus 4 for their impetuous nature, so with no other modifiers rolled 10 dice looking for sixes and pairs of fives.  So a bit of luck could cause catastrophic losses in a hurry.  Archery is very effective, especially against cavalry.  It causes disorder as well as losses and for each disorder chit, figure lost and times you moved costs you a combat dice. 

Multiple moves for a single unit (remember you move them one at a time) is possible.  Unless you perform an automatically disordering move you can shoot and move, move and shoot, move ordinary, charge (d6 bonus), etc.  At the end of your move(s) you make a cohesion test to keep from falling into disorder.  So my highly disciplined Byzantine cataphracts offered me a lot of options.

I haven't played the game for two years and some good improvements have been made.  My basic criticism remains the same as two years ago.  When you are actively moving or fighting it is great fun.  But with moving by commands and one unit at a time, I spent a lot of time Sunday watching the Bears struggle on TV.  Granted it is not intended for multi-player games but rather tournament point games, but that isn't always possible. 

So I give Impetus one and a half thumbs up.  A good combat system that drags in the nature of our typical games.  There is a lot of difference between the basement weekend game and club games.  One on one or even two on two I think it would be a very good experience.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your comments. I've got the rules but have never played them.

    By the way, you are talking about the full Impetus rules (and not Basic Impetus) aren't you?

    And I've never played Basic Impetus either . . . so I'm interested in peoples thoughts on which would be better for one on one games . . . and why.

    -- Jeff