Sunday, September 21, 2014

Impetvs Batrep: Palmyra vs Rome

The Palmyrans  have managed to engineer an uprising in the cold northern frontier, left their camels behind, and struck Maximus' camp in Germania! Or rather Andy gave me a rematch of Impetvs at my place and I only have snow terrain! Impetvs is a funny one, not widely played as an Ancients ruleset (itself a really niche historicals period compared to WW2 these days) but it has a lot in common with the ruleset that made WW2 so popular. It is quick moving, favours attack, and can conclude a game in a reasonable timeframe. It is played a bit here in NZ, I've even seen comps in Wellington and Dunedin. However, Craig C got me on to the game and a group of us have always played it using 8cm bases for our 28mm games. I've been thinking I need to make up an army (sabot bases, obviously) with official sized bases and give that a try. Anyway, on to the game at hand.

Maximus doesn't like to brag, though he does always go on about what he does in life "echoing in eternity", so perhaps there is a slight amount of hubris there. He does have a pretty successful history at our Impetvs games, crushing Germans, Bulgars, Rebel Romans, and Palmyrans. I think it may be going to his (my) head as I've begun to recently view his command stand as a powered up legionary unit. It passes leadership tests on a 3+ and has +1 to Cohesion. Anyone who plays Impetvs knows this is not how the game works: In Impetvs, units get worn, then you need to send in fresh ones. Otherwise it is just a messy and protracted dice-off to see who keels over first. This time, Maximus' and Quintus' Roman commands (we play 400 pts, minimum two commands, halve minina) faced the Palmyrans, with Allied Romans.

 The Allied Romans in the Palmyran list are obviously from the MIR list. I miss that list. VBU 3 Javelin armed Lanciarii are my favourite troop in the game. Between these and the Palmyran composite bow, there was a lot of shooting. His army also has a pretty solid core: Both Roman Legionaries and Palmyran Cataphracts. The Legionaries were interspersed with Palmyran Archers and the Cataphracts were facing my right flank and advancing on my Camp. The centre of the board was patches of broken ground (frozen swamp) and I intended to use that to push a wedge of Auxila up and see what side I could succeed on using my Legions. Andy's shooting was proving very effective, however. He quickly rendered the lead Auxila combat ineffective. Shooting isn't supposed to do that!

 That decided me on pushing Maximus' command up while trying to spoil Andy's advance on my right. Sure that meant I was trying to break a command of Roman Legions... but at least my TWO stands of slingers could screen me from the Lanciarii? The problem with this plan was there was a bottle-neck between the swamp and a Ruined Roman Colony. So I put my trust in super-Maximus...
 Andy meanwhile, did not sit idle. Cataphracts aren't impetuous but he rushed them up and took on Quintus' Legions. The Romans actually performed well. However capitalising was a challenge when you pursue on two legs and your quarry has four... Still Auxilia are pretty fast in Impetvs so if I can just get them stuck in. Oh wait, they are more vulnerable than heavy foot to shooting? This is like some nightmarish game of rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock.
Here you see the fruits of my grand strategy: Andy's core units of Legionaries and Archers have hardly shifted at all. They haven't had to since hit and run shooting has been working well so far. All those red dice are disorder markers. There are a lot of red dice on my units. I have managed to set my left flank to put my stronger units in first. This is the reverse of how it should be done and at this stage I am really regretting the 'clever' idea to use that central terrain. Should have used some Legionaries at the back to guard the centre and kept my Auxilia where they belong: as wave one to take some Javelins/Pila/Arrows for the team.
It is sort-of working on my right. However that wasn't where I wanted it to. It was going to be hard to get unit kills in (breaking one command is key) when he could hit and fade if the melee did not go his way. One saving grace was the humble Raw Legion. Andy may have had shooting superiority, but I definitely had heavy infantry bodies. So I was cautiously optimistic that  perhaps things might work on that flank. I swear that the I did not register what the field looked like when I was jumping around taking photos. Looking at it from this next angle.... kind of looks like I and charging my general into a less than optimal situation. I had already got myself into a situation where I couldn't see good matchups to my left (he had Legions on the end of his line) so I was trying to hit the archers/Lanciarii first and hope he would charge me so I could get the Pilium advantage. Why would he do that though? The archers belong to a completely different command (that of the swift evading cavalry) and he had shooting galore. So Maximus and another unit of Legionaries charged in. and the ensuing combat did not go well. In fact, Maximus' unit rolled a six on their cohesion test.... and we discovered a chart we had never used before.

On this chart, there are a range of possibilities for when the General is at risk (from a 6 being rolled on the cohesion test). We got the one where the entire command breaks. Maximum command size is 60% of total VD and this was my largest command. Just like that, the vainglorious Maximus fell in combat and the Romans fled in disarray.

Good game, Andy. It was a crushing victory to the Palmyrans. Even without the loss of Maximus, I was definitely not in the driver's seat this game. It was heaps of fun and I can't get enough of this game. Anyone else in Christchurch play apart from Andy, Jason, Adam and I? If only there was a Roma list with Lanciarii and Cataphracts..... thanks for reading.


  1. I hadnt thought of the fact that I have a lethal mix of units in full legion, cataphracts, horse archers, archers and the Lancearii... I just chose the minimum troops and thats wat it gave me! I appreciated getting a win in but somehow I feel it was more the dice than any kind of strategy I had. The broken ground disadvantaged u I thought because normally you manage to spin me around and find flanks but this was full frontal assault... something im more adept with than the usual maelstrom. Thoroughly enjoyed playing ancients Jamie, thanks a heap

    1. The dice? Like that initial charge you made, that failed on a '1'? Or all those cohesion tests I kept passing? Or when I had infantry units out roll charging Cataphracts. Or my laser guided Pilium? Sure you has some freakish luck at times (having BOTH generals upgrade was memorable) but you played better than me all battle. :)

  2. Looks like another great game. I really do need to pop up at some point or game. I got my Sassanid Persians out today as I was contemplating selling them, looked at them all lined up for war and thought bugger that rather than sell em, I need to fight with em!

    I think Impetvs has a small but slowly growing following and is much under rated game. My main problem is that is so hard to capture the ebb and flow of the game in photos especially when a unit charges, follows up, then loses a combat and is counter charged. It really plays havoc with the I-go you-go system in a really good way.


    1. I agree, you almost need to do a video report but that would be long and time consuming to make.

      In my Dreams, Impetvs would be as successful as FOW at being a historical game that a wider section of the market would find fun and engaging. I keep meaning to give the 'official' frontages another go but I do wish that some hard thinking would go into making the game as widely useable as possible. The model ranges are there and available, with good options in Plastic. I just think the rules need a touch up and consideration given to standard games that everyone can play.

      6'x4' is the maximum standard size for a game table IMO. Larger is doable but starts to limit things. Playing a game like x wing (3'x3'!) or Infinity (4'x4') is a revelation in terms of how convenient a game can be.

  3. I'll get you yet Maximus!
    (ducks back into the history stacks...)

    1. I'm thinking ofgiving him back his Sarmatian bodyguards!