I’ve been reading up on Impetus. Downloaded the free Basic Impetus rules and had a go in a solo game tonight.

I thought it would be a good alternative to Warmaster, which has been getting on my nerves lately. In the last two games I’ve played we’ve had these irritating, L-O-N-G flank charges and they seem to happen most every game. And be game winners. And only can be done with cav. If you are stupid enough to bring any infantry to the battle in the first place. Which I am.

Anyway, Impetus was mentioned on Angus Konstam’s site, as was Field of Glory. I looked around the Internet and came to the conclusion that Field of Glory had more fiddly movement to worry about. So Impetus it was. So far, I like the feel.

In my first game, a Chaos Warmaster advanced into Empire territory. I used the Viking list for Chaos, though I converted one of the Bondi to Odalbondi. Harpies dropping rocks and making swooping attacks subsitituted for skirmishers. The empire turned out with halberd-armed city militia, imperial crossbows and knightly heavy cavalry from the Empire Frederick II Swabian list.

The two sides advanced toward each other in simple lines, the empire with a block of infantry in the centre, flanked by crossbows and knights.

The Chaos left was all warriors who advanced, but then refused the flank and formed shield wall. Well, two of the three units did. The other kept taking fire from the skirmishers and crossbow that kept it disordered so that it never got into shield wall. The Chaos centre was a unit (mob?) of Storm of Chaos norse, acting as berserkers. Screened by the harpies, they stormed ahead of the rest of the line. Fortuitously, my daughter had been playing the Empire princess and wheeled the crossbow on the Empire left out of line angled toward the Chaos centre. Their fire was ineffective against the skirmishers right up to the moment the berserkers broke through and crashed into them. Forced to retreat, the crossbow disordered the one unit of knights on the Empire left. The crossbow put up a spirited fighting retreat, which led to the berserkers losing contact with them but slamming into the halberds. At which point they ground to halt for a turn, before pushing back and eventually destroying the militia.

At this point, it was apparent how much slower and more restricted armies are in Impetus compared to Warmaster. In addition, the Chaos general was cursing the rash advance of the berserkers as there were no units behind to build on their success. The skirmishers were doing such a good job of absorbing missile fire that I started to dream of skirmish-heavy armies when I move to playing the full Impetus game. It was especially apparent later, when the Empire skirmishers charged the Chaos ones to clear a line of fire for the remaining crossbow. That unit was able to keep one of the heavy infantry tied up in disorder and rallying for the whole game. Disorder matters! When disordered, no impetus and no shieldwall. And units quickly get disordered, especially in melee.

So at this point, the bulk of the Empire cav was bearing down on the refused Chaos left while a lone unit of Empire knights charged the two Warriors on the Chaos right. Again, impetus matters. The knight was able to chew up one of the warriors but was disordered and damaged in the fray. The next turn, the supporting Warrior unit was still fresh and was able to first see off the charging knights, then catch and finish them off. Truth be told, the Chaos gods were smiling as the dice were thrown, while Sigmar was somewhere else this day.  But it was nice to see good infantry not being simple meat for knights.

At this point, the Empire left was reduced to single understrength crossbow, facing berserkers and warriors. Again it fended them off surprisingly well. But it took time for the surviving militia to wheel to the attack and the cagey Warmaster had brought up a reserve Marauder unit that had been skulking behind the warrior on the Chaos right.  The combat was a slow grind, as the rest of the Chaos right rallied and the skirmishers gamely kept missing each other. At this point, the Empire was but a unit from breaking. But the two heavy cav on the Empire right were just about to hit the shield wall on the Chaos left.

Again, we learned that impetus matters. In shieldwall, the chaos infantry (as Odalbondi) equalled the Empire knights. The two units at end of the line tussled inconclusively and stayed locked in combat. Then the second knight slammed into the Chaos line and pushed the infantry back… but both cavalry failed to catch the reeling infantry. The next turn, the Empire halberdiers faced annihilation. Weighing the odds (wrongly as it turned out), the Empire general threw his rightmost knight into the fresh infantry to its front where the two units locked. Before the second knight could charge the militia were routed and the entire Empire left was gone. In Impetus, you calculate army break at the end of the turn. But clearly Empire morale was shattered as the second knightly charge failed to break the Chaos Warriors. The infantry shield wall was broken, but the knights were disordered so unable to claim the impetus bonus that might have handed them victory over their wavering foes. The only bright spot was the Empire skirmishers who finally dispatched the harpies (which upon a later reading of the rules turned out to be impossible).

All in all, an enjoyable first foray into Basic Impetus.

– Dan

P.S. You can find pictures of the battle here.