Monday, November 4, 2013

Impetus Rules - First Thoughts

Having played a single solo game of Impetus, after having read the rules several times in fits and starts over the last couple of years, I might as well post my first impressions. I do so with the caveat that there were lots of pieces of the rules that were irrelevant to my little medieval battle and therefore got skipped over entirely (pike and shot type considerations, pila for Romans, elephants, chariots, artillery, large units, wagonburgs, etc).

First and foremost, it was a fun and straightforward playing game. Even with my lack of experience with the rules, I didn't spend too much time flipping through the book trying to find a rule. When I did, I didn't have too much difficulty finding what I was looking for. I jotted down a short list of questions that I will seek clarification on. Nothing that occurred during the game had me mumbling "well that's silly", which is always good for a first impression.

Some specific random thoughts:
  • Differences in missile troops types, even within the same weapon type, can be substantial and will take some getting used to. In my game, the mercenary crossbows (class A) on my side had a long range of 30U. The French crossbows on the other side (class B) only have a short range out to 15U and cannot shoot at long range. That means the mercenaries can sit anywhere in the 16"-30" range band and shoot at their leisure with no ability to be shot at in return. Hmm.
  • I liked the ability to take multiple movement phases with a unit as long as you are willing to risk the disorder. This made for some interesting choices throughout the game.
  • The relationship of "damage" to actual "losses" via the Cohesion Test is subtle but effective. High VBU units like men at arms, heavy cavalry and some of the better infantry are pretty stout. As these units wear down (and all lesser VBU units from the start) they become very fragile, often only taking one damage and routing from the resulting failed cohesion test. Experience will give me a better feel for this, but it seemed reasonable.
  • A command structure rated "poor" is really ineffective, and pretty much requires that you attach your leaders to units, making them vulnerable to the effects of combat. A command span of 10U (inches) from the board edge is useless.
  • Low current VBU units locked in melee seem like they could be stuck there for quite a while waiting for one side or the other to roll the "6" they need on one or two dice. Just an observation...
And I did have a few questions:
  • Can Rally be attempted by a Disordered unit stuck in an ongoing melee when it first activates, before fighting the next round of combat? Nothing in Rally or Melee says you can't, but it doesn't seem like this should be possible. I played that you cannot. [Later says in Disorder near the beginning of the rules that units in Melee cannot attempt to Rally.]
  • Is there a limit to the number of "retreat/pursue/catch/immediate refight" cycles that can happen in one activation? In my first cavalry clash, this situation came up. The Melee rules don't say either way. I played that one retreat/pursuit/refight cycle, and then a continuing melee carrying over into the next activation/turn.
  • For units locked in an ongoing melee, if another round of combat is fought and nobody causes damage (nothing happens), is there any resulting effect at all? I couldn't find a reference to anything, but it seemed like maybe each side would pick up an additional Disorder (turning into a loss if already disordered). If nothing happens, then (as per my comment above) it seems like units could sit locked in melee for quite a while.
I guess I should set up a user ID on the Impetus website forum and post my questions, or go trolling for answers in the multitude of old posts that are already out there (I wonder how good that forum's search capability is???).

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