Faint heart never kissed a pig!
Well, Basic Impetus produced another enjoyable nailbiter of a game last night!
This time we played an English Civil War battle using the Basic Baroque rules. We had Scottish Covenanters facing Late Royalists outside of a small town somewhere in northern England. The spoils of war were — what else? — a six-pack of Newcastle brown ale. So it was a hard fought battle.
I took the Royalists, anchoring my right on the village. I put my cannon in the middle of a nice ploughed field that would slow down and disorder any Scots who might charge it. The cannon dictated my strategy entirely. The Scots had none, so I thought I’d let them come to me and get blasted to smithereens as they did so. This would come to haunt me.
The Covenanters facing me consisted of five Pike & Musket infantry regiments, with two units of cavalry on each flank. My three pike&musket were better shots, but not as good at ‘push of pike’. My Galloper cavalry were clearly superior to his, though again I had only three to his four.
Battle is joined
I won initiative and didn’t move a thing, letting Franaine come to me. Having surrendered the initiative, I lost it every turn but one thereafter.
The Scots advanced all along the line. At first my cannon did little, but in the second round they took out a unit of his lancers on my right. On my left, my Gallopers with General attached charged his reiters and swept them from the field. I found myself stuck in front of his advancing infantry, too close to my own table edge to do the double retreat movement. Allowing him to advance was a mistake for my cavalry, who did not have room to manoeuver. In game terms, there must have been a river or forest to their backs. In the real world… our table was a bit small for 28mm at 3.5 feet across and a bit over 5 foot wide.
Since retreating wasn’t an option and about facing then moving would see the cav get shot to pieces, I decided to charge the infantry on the Scottish right. We rather liked the idea of the infantry being able to shoot at cavalry charging them frontally, so used that rule (even though it technically is part of only Impetus, not Basic Impetus). On top of it, the cavalry don’t get their impetus bonus when charging pike and the pike&musket units end up having a VBU of seven vs their six. All in all, we conspired against Royalist success!
Still, it made for a taut game. My cavalry charged repeatedly and were repulsed repeatedly.
Elsewhere, my infantry were acquitting themselves well, despite being outgunned. They drove off the Covenanter cavalry on my right, as well as a unit of pike and musket. The way that the shooting table works, it makes as much sense to move in close as it does to stand and shoot. So I pushed my infantry forward aggressively, knowing I needed to do some real damage before losing my cav. Initially, this didn’t work well. I screened my own guns and rolled miserably for two consecutive turns of musketry.
At this point, the Covenanter general’s unit had neared my line. It was fresh, accompanied by the general, and his musket modifier of -2 meant that he had a further point of VBU advantage on me in melee. I quite sportingly pointed this out to Franaine, but he was already well ahead of me. His infantry charged forward to push of pike.
It was a truly satisfying seesaw battle. First he drove me back, then I pushed him back, then he regained the upper hand, and finally my men prevailed. Or at least the survivors did — my unit was down to a VBU of 1, just barely able to fight.
Throughout this, my cavalry charged, retreated and charged and retreated.
When I lost my second cavalry unit, though, I was done.
Thoughts on the game
Once again, we have the really rather simple Basic Impetus rules producing a fine game in yet another historical era. Once again, I came within one point of breaking Franaine’s force. Once again, there were great swings of fortune (Franaine thought he was toast after losing two units so quickly on turn three… but thereafter had the upper hand). Once again, there were epic combats — the push of pike in the centre and the repeated cavalry charges on my left. Once again, we were able to finish a game by 11:30… instead of the usual 2 a.m. finish when we play Warhammer.
All in all, I am pretty impressed.
We did have some rules questions, which I will post about on the Impetus forums.
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