Friday, October 14, 2016

Impetvs Batrep: The Legions vs the Shadow of the East

At least that's what I'm calling whatever Andy's force actually was. It has been MUCH too long but the Legions of Germania (in their MIR incarnation) did battle once more against their preferred foes: Something containing at least traces of other Romans. I think those Warlord boxed deals made a huge impact on our collections around the time we all got our armies. I believe Andy's force was something like Armenians. Imperial intelligence is hazy on this though so maybe they were something fitting, like Sarmatians with a substantial light infantry components. Andy is, I think, in the midst of a rebasing so my Romans may soon need that treatment so we can be on 12cms... but the 8cms worked so well I almost want to stick with them. The format was 300pts, 28mm troops and only the haziest understanding of the rules (sorry Andy!) but much fun was had. But who won?

Germania, Vendebona - the Ides of March 180 CE. Augustus had the right idea when he left these guys alone: Hairy brutes, Savage Alans, Rebels from the East, the snows and shadowed woodlands seem to breed them. Here we are again boys, the thin red line of the Roman Legions, holding back the darkness. Or is that burnishing our ailing Emperors laurels? We've got the infantry laid out in a line and the scorpions ready to gun down whatever comes out of the snows. All,we need to do is keep the camp safe. There is poorer ground on the right flank, and the General has the Auxiliaries and Cavalry ready to get stuck into the barbarians and rebels, as soon as the dogs show themselves.

Their General no doubt thinks to lure us on his right. He's laid out the defence of his camp with only a screen of light horsemen and javelin men to protect it. We weren't born yesterday, well the raw recruits were but we set them straight: cross those snows and try and ford that river, and they'd cut up disordered lines with arrow fire and ride what's left down with their Cataphracts. We didn't get the discount for being impetuous, so no need to act like it. 

Their main line looks formidable. Lots of forests for those javelinmen to filter through and I bet those armoured lancers hit hard. Oh well, enough grousing, Roma Victor and all that. Better get the scorpions firing. 

I hear tell they procured all that shiney heavy cavalry by buying the rasher and less disciplined troops. I also hear tell that, through the wonders of Roman procurement, we can get every cohort it's own integral scorpion for the same cost in sestertii that a single ballista used to cost us. The combination of plentiful Warmachines and onrushing large targets initially worked in our favour as heavy attrition was inflicted. 

The brassy sounds of trumpets could be heard to our right and solid local killers, backed by detached Lanciarii from the Praetorians, stumped forward through the woods. I've heard all sorts of tall tales about what faced them on the other side. Including longbowmen from India! The Auxilia are pretty good at what they do and gave the enemy light troops a bit of a fright, pushing them back. Meanwhile, the Centurions kept our men solid and in line. Like military parade in the snow. I don't think the enemy commander was enjoying the 'salutes' from scorpions all down our line though! 

Then, when I had almost gone to sleep, a lot of things happened at once. A unit of screaming cataphracts came hurtling into our frontline. The only warning given had been a volley of Javelins just minutes earlier. These had which caught the commander's own unit of horsemen. He and some nearby veterans scrambled to then halt the following lancers, which seemed to be intent on barrelling through to our tents. The excitement of it all actually got our boys on the left to bestir themselves from their vantage on a hill and make their way awkwardly down to at least contribute something if asked. The quick enemy action had exposed a gap between the main line in front of the camp and our light troops pushing on the right. What we had in reserve was already committed so I pray we don't betray Roman honour before Mars and hold the barbarians. Somehow. 

It got even messier when the enemy sent their minimal amount of light foot on our left to interfere with the Praetorians and so clear a path for the rest of their lancers to make for our centre. They must have got those guys real drunk or told them a lot of lies before they went in. They didn't last to long once in gladius range (we seem to have been supplied dud pilium) of the glory boys. Nice of the ailing philosopher-emperor to loan them to us. 

For a moment there, we though we had them. Heavy cavalry was reatreatig from our Legionaries in the centre, and the left jaw of the trap was closing around to finish them. The General had managed to hold it and the Praetorians would surely finish the job. The band of enemy javelinmen making their way toward the camp was a concern but we were aiming to break the enemy morale before those bandits did any real harm. It was not to be though. Unsatisfactorily, we had to break contact due to the gathering dusk. Counting up our dead - it came to a bloody draw.


It has been much too long since we've played Impetvs. So long in fact we may have lost some time looking up rules. The extensive list of amendments doesn't help with that either. I think second edition or a second printing can't come fast enough. Still. Heaps of fun. I hadn't realised how much I've missed my trusty Legionaries on 8cm bases. I really like how Impetvs can be played at two speeds. You can keep your army predictable and slow and never really risk anything not working as planned or you can push your lunch with multiple orders. My Romans were admittedly playing the averages but got a bit exposed by Andy pressing the attack on my centre. It almost looked bad there, after my initial scorpion fire had gone so well for me. 

Rematch is whenever I make it out to Andy's outpost at the forgotten frontiers of Christchurch. I think we'll be swapping the snows of Germania for the dusty Eastern provinces. Wish me luck.