Monday, November 11, 2013

Impetus Campaign - Beren Roadblock

Henry de Cheraute's detachment is on the road to Beren with a little pillaging in mind when they find the road ahead blocked by a small force of enemy infantry...

Turn 1 (Henry advances...)
Friendly - All units move ahead two moves, only the left flank light infantry under Larcevaux disorder as they enter the woods.
Enemy - All units are on opportunity. The crossbows elect to fire on Boncarre's skirmishers, rolling one damage that luckily only causes disorder (skirmishers are very fragile with a low VBU and thus a low critical number - one damage and one bad cohesion test and they can vanish in an instant).
End of Turn 1

Turn 2 (...and advances some more...)
Enemy - The crossbows fire again, missing. No other actions.
Friendly - Larcevaux's light infantry fail to rally and move ahead into the woods. Pominville's heavy infantry move twice along the road (but not on it) and disorder. Boncarre's skirmishers rally, move ahead once, fire their javelins at point blank range at the crossbows...and miss. Oops. Morenz's light infantry move up behind the skirmisher screen. Wilkinson's crossbows move forward once and shoot at the heavy infantry directly to their front and cause one damage, but this only disorders the target. Cadogan's little band of Scottish pike men move forward along the road then form up, ending in disorder.
End of Turn 2

Turn 3 (The enemy gets aggressive)
Friendly - Boncarre's javelinmen breathe a sigh of relief at the double move (two friendly turns in a row; lost initiative last turn, won it this turn) and shoot at the crossbows, disordering them. Wilkinson's crossbows hold their ground and shoot at the disordered heavy infantry, failing to hit them. Pominville and Cadogan both fail to rally and move once forward. Larcevaux's men in the trees rally and move once forward, clearing the edge of the woods. Thomas' mounted men at arms wheel toward the open flank and move forward, disordering.
Enemy - At the start of the enemy turn, I roll a d6. On a roll of 6, some number of enemy units will appear, but the roll fails. I step back and survey the field, noting that I have pushed Henry's lighter units forward in advance of the heavier troops, leaving them somewhat exposed. I decide to randomize the enemy reaction, and on a d6 scale of 1 being very cautious through 6 being very aggressive, roll a 6. Aggressive it is, then. I decide the most logical course of action would be to attack with the enemy right and center, and refuse the left flank unit against the advancing knights. The left flank heavy infantry moves once to the rear, disordering. The crossbows rally, shoot at the skirmishers at point blank range and miss again. On the enemy far right (left of the picture), a unit of levy heavy infantry charge forward into Larcevaux's light infantry, disordering themselves as they charge far enough to make contact. In the ensuing fight, no casualties are inflicted and the units will remain disordered and locked in melee. Next, the enemy commander urges his own unit of heavy spearmen forward, wheeling once and charging Morenz's light infantry behind their skirmisher screen. Boncarre's javelinmen, seeing the enemy heavy infantry charging in from off to their side, toss one last round of javelins ineffectively before dispersing and fleeing the field. [A review of the Evading rules when this situation arose showed that a skirmisher unit being charged by a unit that began entirely outside of its frontal projection does not permit an Evade and learn]. The enemy unit continued its charge through the fleeing skirmishers and into Morenz's unit in good order. Both units cause damage but only manage to disorder each other; they also remain locked in melee.
End of Turn 3

Turn 4 (The enemy waver...)
Enemy - The enemy win the initiative, so now they get a "double move". Another reinforcement roll fails. The melee between the levies and Larcevaux's men goes another round, causing a loss on the levies and forcing them to retreat 3 inches. The enemy commander's men fighting against Morenz's light infantry are not as lucky. In a ferocious and bloody melee, 2 losses are inflicted on Morenz, but the enemy suffers 3 losses in return. Morenz suffers a minor leg wound, but the enemy commander is swarmed upon as his unit retreats and is killed. Amidst the carnage to their right, the crossbows fired on Thomas' knights and inflicted a loss.
Friendly - Larcevaux's men fail to rally but charge the retreating levies to their front. They cause one damage, and yet another "6" on the cohesion test has the levy unit rout. Morenz, apparently distracted by his wound, fails to rally and holds position. Wilkinson's crossbows target their counterparts and cause one damage. The cohesion test results in the third "6" in a row, and the enemy crossbows rout. Seeing the combat in front of them, Pominville's heavy infantry rally and move ahead, as do Cadogan's Scots. The knights fail to rally but wheel to face the remaining fresh infantry unit.
End of Turn 4

Turn 5 (...and then crumble)
Friendly - Morenz's light infantry fail to rally, but move to the rear, interpenetrating Pominville's fresh troops as they go. Pominville rallies off the resulting disorder and charges the remnants of the enemy commander's unit. In the ensuing combat, the enemy unit takes its final loss and routs from the field, effectively ending any organized resistance.
Enemy - There is nothing left for the enemy but for the survivors to flee the field of battle as best they can, as only one unit remains.
End of Turn 5 / Game

Game recap and a few more thoughts on Impetus
This was a short little game that ended very quickly once the forces became engaged. An untimely string of three "6's" in a row on enemy cohesion tests effectively vaporized the enemy battle line in a matter of moments. Without those bad die rolls, this could have been a very different game (or certainly a longer one!).

These little games continue to serve their purpose for me. I am becoming more and more comfortable with the core rules and can focus more on learning the implications of the various charts and rules and their effect on game play. I still haven't come across anything that I really dislike. There are a few things that I still need to get used to, and formulate an opinion on. One is the fact that a poor cohesion test die roll can make a lesser unit disappear instantaneously; one moment fresh and perfectly fine, the next moment gone. The other is the lack of any morale rules. Nothing effects a unit, despite whatever may be going on around it, until the whole command reaches its break point and picks up and disappears. I suppose this works fine for a fairly simplistic game.

One possible criticism I would have is a similar one that I would have with many other miniatures game rules, and that is the draconian adherence to unit facing with regards to movement and charging. In truly linear periods such as the Seven Years War or the Marlburian period, this makes sense. I would argue that in much of the medieval period, where "units" as we would consider them would be more along the lines of "a bunch of guys", things shouldn't need to be quite so rigid. We need structure in the rules, I understand that. But I find that the result of the "thou shalt move very rigidly and in geometric precision only" rules tend to result in tabletop occurrences that often defy common sense. Movement often devolves into a weird stylized version of chess. I do not like the commandments of "thou shalt not deviate from a straight forward move." Or "thou shalt not wheel while moving." Or "thou shall only be permitted to wheel if it is the very first thing you shall do during your move." Why? If movement is a function of time spent and ground covered, why can't I wheel during my move and not only at the beginning (or the end), or as an entirely separate movement action? This is why I find games like Armati to be an unplayable exercise in ridiculousness. Which isn't to say that Impetus movement rules are any worse than most, they just trigger a personal pet peeve of mine, that's all.

All that being said, there is an aspect of the movement rules for Impetus that I really do like, and that is the opportunity to have multiple moves, discipline tests permitting, and with the risk that pushing your men too hard will result in disorder, leaving them vulnerable to the enemy. This creates good decision making points in the game, and adds a lot of uncertainty. This is good stuff.

Campaign - Henry's easy defeat of the enemy force allows him to plunder Beren, pillaging the village and burning crops, mills and property. No substantial losses were inflicted on Henry's forces, although Morenz's light infantry took a couple losses, so I will put a note next to them (maybe next time they get a discipline penalty or something).

Next...I need a scenario #3...

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