Sunday, 2 November 2014

Impetus at NWS

I was in the big smoke the week before last, so was able to attend a club night at the Napoleonic Wargaming Society. Carlo (pyjamas) had organised another game using Impetus and kindly allowed me to join in. As followers of his excellent blog will know, he has recently begun using the rules and is enjoying them immensely, so is attempting to introduce them to other members at the club.

The game on Wednesday 22nd was played by me and three novices to the rules. Mark (of one-sided fameaka 'Marc' to the ANF 'family') and Stephen Y., took the Sassanid Persians, while Stephen B. joined me with the late imperial Romans. Carlo umpired, with me, being an experienced player of Impetus, 'assisting'.

Overview of the board. Figures all from Carlo's collection, mainly pained by Vinnie (Lonely Gamers).

Seasoned player? Assisting? It became clear on turn 1 that I, (actually Mark, aka ‘Markov', and I both) had a different interpretation of a key aspect of the rules—permanent losses of VBU (base unit effectiveness).

When explaining this important aspect to the new players, Carlo mentioned that it determines the fighting capability and resilience of a 'unit'. It is the basis of a cohesion test, which determines if 'damage' from firing and mêlée is converted into permanent losses.

All good, exactly as Mark and I play them, except that he went on to say that the unit in question has its VBU reduced for all remaining calculations, i.e. its effectiveness is permanently reduced in addition to permanent losses (which it can ‘absorb’ up to its original VBU, before it is considered routed).*

* This may read like double-Dutch here, but I can assure you, dear reader, that it is a simple and quite elegant mechanic.

“Wot? Really? That’s not how we play it.” I re-read the rule:
A Unit that fails the test [cohesion] is disordered and loses a number of VBU equal to the difference between the number rolled on the dice and the Critical Number. If a Unit’s VBU drops to 0 or less then the Unit is Routed and is immediately removed from the table. […] A Unit… that is Disordered a second time while passing the Cohesion Test caused by receiving fire [or from damage in a mêlée] also takes a permanent loss to their VBU.
Yes, I could see his interpretation, but I could also see ours. “Are you sure?”

Carlo consulted with Geoff, Andrew and Dave, all dedicated players of ancients and, more recently, converts to using Impetus. They concurred. Andrew had even checked on the Impetus forum. 

Now, I did not wish to doubt them, nor to be particularly ‘argumentative’, but I’d have to check for myself. This is fundamental. It could wait until after the game though, so more on it later.

Back to the game...
We arrayed our troops, legionaries and supporting archers in the centre, with medium and light cavalry on each flank. I took the right, Stephen the left.

The Persians had their cavalry strong in the centre and their left, with a few light horse archers on their right.

We advanced boldly, at first… those blokes in armour on heavy horses all shoot!! Fortunately for me, Stephen Y’s firing dice were not performing well.

I sent my equites against Stephen Y’s cataphracts. A slightly ‘crazy’ move, not helped by me erroneously allowing him support units in both mêlées, so that one of his units was able to be a main and support unit—silly me. It was the VBU thing, my confidence and concentration were ‘shot’…!! :)
Still, one of my units of equites bravely fought on, thanks to a roll of 1 for the cohesion test, see die on base, the only roll that would save them.

I managed to repeat the dose… twice more!

On the left, Stephen was doing well against Mark’s light cavalry (at left of photo).

 His legions resisted the attack of Mark’s cataphracts…

While his equites got the better of the Sassanid levy spearmen.

These minor successes not withstanding, it was looking like a(nother) Persian victory when we called time on a most enjoyable evening’s game.

After the game I searched the Impetus forum and, by jingo, it seems that the NWS fellas are correct in their interpretation!

It is there in the on-line tutorial. In the step-by-step description of turn 3, Charlie’s (blue) unit CPa in step 2 of image 9 only rolls three dice (original VBU 7 - 1 for demoralised - 3 for losses = 3).

One should not question one's elders and betters, hey?! (hehe).

When I was first ‘digesting’ the bombshell from Carlo, I had thought, “that will make for an even more ‘brutal’ game that is potentially all over sooner”. Interestingly, and importantly to me, it does not seem to make the game more fast-play (based on the n=1 experience of the game reported here). We’ll have to see what happens the next time we play a game of Impetus at the ANF.

So, provided that it does not turn them into an ultra fast-play set, we'll be using the rules  (more) correctly from now on! :)

Coming next: our re-fight of the Battle of San Domingo, 6th February 1806.

Vice-Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth’s British squadron descends on the French fleet at anchor outside San Domingo bay.

Will Contre-Admiral Corentin-Urbain Leissègues’ jolly little boat.. err little jolly boat reach his flagship, Impérial, the most powerful ship in the world, in time to take command and save his fleet, his reputation and the ire of the Emperor?

Watch for Julian’s report soon…


  1. Great loking game with the Sassanid levies, these armies look wonderful!

    1. Thanks Phil. It's a pleasure and a treat to be able to merely 'turn up' and use such lovely figures.

  2. Excellent BatRep, James! Impetvs is my game of choice for 28mm Ancients too. Elegant system with great replayability and moderate unpredictability. In Impetvs, the game rarely is over until it is over.

    1. We are of one mind as far as Impetus are concerned Jonathan!

  3. ice report, James. Carlo's Sassanids sure are purty!

    1. No snow this time Peter (haha!). They are beautifully painted, hey?

  4. Hmmm, I recall the Roman light cavalry being flummoxed by my light cavalry and the legionnaires coming off much worse versus my Cataphracts. Only the Roman cavalry was drawing equal to my militia and (here I am getting hazy) only because I wasn't able to use both flank militia units. In the past four weeks I have played four new rule sets and I am suffering as a result, but I think it was Impetus that didn't allow me to adjacent units, only those in contact.

    A fun game and I enjoyed using the big figures on the big bases. As it was only my first game I am holding judgement on the rules. Must admit however I am looking forward to my DBA and FoG games this weekend.

    My post on the same game can be found here (for a more biased report)

    As for rule interpretations, it wouldn't be Ancients if there weren't!

    1. First casualty of war?!!!

      I did not forget you mate, link to you report in the second para of mine :)

      We'll bring you around to Impetus, don't worry...!!

  5. As always Fish a very entertaining post and some great piccies. When are you next down so we can run amok again?

    1. Thanks to you for putting on the game Carlo. Hopefully in a couple of weeks?

  6. I'm glad its not just us that have These issues. Am tempted to give these rules a bash

    1. Do it Phil, do it. Jonathan and we cannot be wrong!!