Saturday, March 16, 2013

Miniatures Playtest Review: Basic Impetus Case Study

 The Basic Impetus rules were up first.  Of the rules, this one was the only set in which movement order varied from side to side each turn.  This made a difference on a few occasions, as a bad initiative roll prevented one side or another from launching a coordinated attack.  On the other hand, Basic Impetus was the only rule set where a commander could reliably activate every unit on his side in a given turn, giving a predictable degree of control over his army.  Readers of my blog know that I am a fan of activation rolls.  I used to be the type of player who would throw a tantrum if I blew five activation rolls in a row, leaving my troops in the starting gate.  Now, I see that same blunder as a source of fun and humor.

On the first two turns, the lines marched towards each other in order, with the Roman cavalry creeping out to in advance of their line.  On turn three, the cavalry on the Roman right sprang forward, only to be repulsed. The impetuous Saxon foot raced after the Romano-Brit horsemen, catching and annihilating them.  On the Roman left, the larger cavalry unit fared much better, sweeping away the Germanic archers.  Bracing for more Romano-British attacks, the remaining Saxon infantry formed a shield wall.
On the next turn, the Germanic infantry on the right turn to face the victorious horsemen, but on their left, the heroic warband pushes onward to the line of Roman infantry only to fall back against the disciplined spearmen.  The Roman cavalry charge home, supported by the nearby infantry.  The Saxon flank starts to give way, with the enemy cavalry not allowing any room to regroup.  The sudden lunging attacks caused units to advance past each other’s flanks.  I’m not a fan of the whole “two ships passing in the night” effect I’ve seen in many ancients games.  Maybe I missed some Zone of Control rule.

On turn five, a charge against the Roman archers fizzled.  A back and forth battle on the Roman left ends when the cavalry finally break through the Saxon line.  The Saxon reserve, the noble infantry, turns to face this dangerous threat.  The Roman infantry finally fell back and were unable to rattle the Saxons who had threatened them earlier.  By now the Saxon right has completely disintegrated, but the Roman-British forces need a moment to regroup.  On the Roman-British right, a charge against the shieldwall ended in a  bloody repulse, and the Saxon counter-attack further bloodied the British.  Against all odds, however, they remained on the field, at least until a Saxon unit swung around their right and enveloped them.  At last, the stubborn Brits fled.

The last few turns settled the fight.  The Saxon spears began to push the Roman defenders back, who stood on the verge of breaking.  The Britons tried a few counter-attacks, but by now nothing was able to get through the Saxon lines.  The cavalry had delayed for too long, and their opponents were able to form a shield wall to oppose them.  A desperate charge scored a minor victory, but it was not enough to turn the tide of battle.  With the Saxon center firmly in control of the battlefield, the Roman-British defenders slink off into the woods, hoping to fight another day.

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