Saturday, June 28, 2014

Impetvs: Aspurah pursued along the Danube

Adam kept his Impetvs promise and we faced off once more, last Thursday. Adam's Bulgars (see here for Beta list) vs my EIR from Extra Impetvs II. I really need to get some (Thematic?) Byzantines at some stage but I'm sure all Romans look the same to Barbarians anyway.
After our last clash, the Bulgars' had been driven back in disarray and finally turned to fight on some open ground next to the fords of one of the Danube's tributaries. 400pts again. We use the 15mm 400pt guidelines, since the 28mm guidelines only do 300 or 350pts. The key difference between 350pt and 400pt guidelines are that the maximums are not halved so the lists work better. The other restriction is that there must be two commands and that the largest can't be more than 60% of the points.

My first command (bottom left) was led by Maximums (Good General) with average command structure. It had the Equites as well as 2 Legion (one with General), 2 Auxilia, 2 Funditores (Sling), and 2 more raw Legion. Second command was Quintus' Praetorians (Poor General), as well as 2 Legion (one with General), 2 Auxilia, 2 Sagitarii (Bow), and 2 more raw Legion. Quintus again had the honour of guarding the camp and was deployed first with it. Adam then put his camp in the opposite corner.

The Bulgars were in one command with all the good Cavalry, that command went in front of the camp. The other command with allied Pechenegs etc went out in the middle of the table. So our two stronger commands faced off. However, Quintus' command was no slouch if it could get to grips with those weaker troops.
My initial moves were to double up the whole Roman line. Better to suffer the inevitable disorder early and spend the next turn rallying, while at least my shooters could be in position. The Bulgar response was to send some tribesmen with javelins up the far flank by the river while sending the cavalry toward me in two waves.

Since this left a lot of empty space to my left. I decided to just rush the Auxiliaries forward as fast as they can run (which is fast)  in the hope that none of the vicious Bulgarian cavalry turned to the side and, well, ran them down in the snow. The effect of this was that the screening Bulgar light cav and skirmishers on the flank had to evade. The Auxiliaries were disordered though, so I hope they like being shot at! At thsi stage of the game, I realised that I am using the same approach I use in X-Wing. Which means I probably got that from my Romans (I even play Soviet tanks like I play Romans). And every other game I play.

At this point, Bulgar wave one hit the lead elements of the Roman line. I always stagger my line in Impetvs. Axiliaries and skirmishers to the front, then raw legions where I expect the charge to hit, some Legion to counter-charge, and others to try and flank. This is usually bad for the Auxilaries but they can freely interpenetrate (if necessary, I leave gaps) and don't cause casualties behind when driven back. So the Bulgars hit and were themselves staggered by my setup. They also suffered the double misfortune of some amazing sword play by my soldiers. The only thing that prevented disaster for them was good rolls on their cohesion tests. It was not until much later (in my defense, only one of this unit type in my whole army) that medium cav actually always withdraw if they don't win combat.

I also shot my own unit of medium cavalry up the flank into the Bulgar light infantry, after disordering them with my slingers.My charge worked much better. Initially the Bulgar allied foot was driven back. Then another good cohesion test and they stuck. Again, my Cav should have retired but I hadn't figured out that rule yet. Since all the Bulgar cav was locked into my line, I couldn't shoot them up with the waiting bow and slings but they did not enjoy my counterattacks. It was pretty far away and the wind was up, but I think Khan Aspurah muttered something about Bovine Excrement.

The Bulgarian light horse bow were trying to disorder the end of my line but my Archers were lethal. I don't think that unit missed getting a hit all game and it generally was rolling two dice. In the top of the picture you can see the Khan smashing into the Roman line with wave two. This did better, even Maximus' Legion unit was thrown back. However, my setup frustrates attempts to try and followup these types of successes so the end result was the overall line held, wounded units got to re-group, then the Romans began to grind down this wave too. 

Quintus' Auxiliaries had done so well at chasing off the Bulgarian flank troops what the Praetorian Legions had long ago all wheeled about to hit the Bulgarian Cavalry in front of Maximus. That left my light troops stuck with furiously running at the the enemy skirmishers. Because if they let up, they'd get shot to pieces. By this stage, I needed to kill one more Skirmisher to break the smaller command and all but seal victory. So of course, his stand and shoot reaction to my charge shot the Auxiliaries to pieces. That was anti-climactic.

So I was left having to earn my victory. Who am I kidding, Romans didn't forge and Empire that lasted over a millennia and a half by fighting fair. You fight, then units who were offset back or to the side of the fight join the fight, and you re-fight it with them as the main unit. You can see to the right of this pic that Khan Aspurah is actually making headway against the end of my line. However, I am focused on killing units at this point.

And Quintus and his fellow Praetorians are getting the job done in style. Earlier on, Adam had committed the general for his light troops to melee with my Legion there. Typically, he made one of his great cohesion rolls to stick in place after getting rightly thrashed. So I made him reroll it. By the end of the game, three units of Praetorians (with some help from the newbies) were charging amongst the Bulgarian light cavalry. I had managed to set it so they were coming in from the side and their targets could not evade away. See those bows? they are for keeping your distance. The Legionaries finally broke the enemy army.

Super-fun game, Adam. I really liked having such an open table as it meant I could do more sweeping moves (even with my slow heavy foot). We use the same frontages as 15mm but the 1U=2cm from 28mm and that means there is comparatively more open space than there would be otherwise. I find this fits well with the fluid sort of game you get in Impetvs.

Having a chat after the game, I think the Bulgarians need to play to their strengths. Romans get a lot of stick in Impetvs circles for being hard to use but I find them incredibly flexible (even when not using the awesome MIR list) and able to achieve a lot through good use of formations and combined arms. The Bulgarians on the other hand have two things IMO: scary shooting from light cav with bows and light foot with javelins. To be fair though, I also have some counter-shooting of my own. They also have state of the art (for the period) VBU 6 shock cavalry. When I first fought the, I got totally rolled by a massed cavalry charge. I think that if I get less opportunity to be tricky, The Bulgarians will be able to make kills stick.

Anyway, thanks Adam. And thanks for reading.


  1. Nice report :) Must get a game of this soon...
    Like the captions - very amusing!

    1. Thanks Mike. I think it is probably the best out of the commercial rulesets I play, being both technical and fun. I can only assume its not more popular because it is not an English ruleset originally.

  2. Fun game mate, and a good write up to boot. I'll get my version up soon.
    I do need to stop playing these guys like they're my US Cav in Flames!
    Set up clockwork armies like you want them to fight, then go...
    crunch! Yippee the fray!

    1. Well, to be fair, I'd imagine that your FOW recon would hate playing my Soviet tanks, so yes definitely don't play the Bulgars that way lol You know, writing that report gave me a few cold moments of realisation that there was potential for you to have really exploited some of the things I did. So I'm glad I did the AAR as I have some lessons to learn.