This was the first outing for my 15mm Punic Wars armies, and the first use of the newly released Impetus 2nd edition rules. Ian randomly was assigned the Carthaginians whilst I got the Roman army that basically comprised 2 standard legions with minimal Italian allies. The terrain was pretty open but I did manage to add a river on which I could secure my right flank. The most obvious problem I faced was how to deal with the Carthaginian cavalry command. I had little choice but the use one legion to hopefully hold out against the mounted threat, whilst the other legion pushed on to take out the enemy infantry/elephant command.
|Carthage to the left and Rome on the right|
The battle developed pretty much as I expected. My right hand legion held and then prevailed against the Carthaginian infantry, destroying some Libyans, Spanish and Campanian foot units. The elephants were also close to death. The large unit of Gauls were tough and prevented a quick Roman victory on this flank. On my left flank the Carthaginian cavalry, especially the excellent Numidians, ran rings around the plodding Romans, quickly destroying the small Roman cavalry detachment. Ian was helped by rolling double 6 on his first initiative, which upgraded his general to Expert (Hannibal?). Incidentally on the other flank I rolled double 1, which downgraded my General to Poor (though this had little effect on the game). I did manage to kill some enemy, particularly when one Roman maniple made multiple moves in good order to kill some Spanish and box in one unit of Numidians. The end of the Roman command came with the destruction of a unit of Triarii, dying surrounded by a swarm of enemy horse. The collapse of this Legion signalled the end of the game and a win for Ian and Carthaginians.
|The Roman right flank about to take on the elephants|
|View from the Carthaginian perspective|
Overall a good game and deserved win. I think the Romans will always struggle against the Carthaginian cavalry, and I need to give some thought to how to overcome this inherent problem facing Rome.
|The Roman left flank and the Legion is about to die|
The original Impetus rules did require a 2nd edition; there were so many additional rules and modifications scattered through the various supplements that needed bringing together and clarification. But the 2nd edition is not simply a compilation exercise, there are significant changes as well. This did slow our first game down because we needed to refer to the rule book many times to check different situations. Generally I think the 2nd edition is good, beautifully produced with good graphics and nice binding that allows the rules to be open on the table. The type of game is essentially the same as that produced by the original Impetus rules, which I think is a good thing. I don’t intend to give a detailed review of the rules themselves (I have not played enough yet) but instead just raise a few points based on this single game and my quick read through of the rules.
Terrain selection seems too basic and will always result in an open battlefield. This will favour some armies and disadvantage others. I would have liked to see more options available to cater for different army types and theatres of conflict. I really like the improved range of options available when being charged (in our game I forgot to use Close Ranks when my Triarii were charged), and the Evade rules are much clearer now. The Roman Pilum is now an effective weapon, especially when first charged. I like the variable Retreat and Pursuit tables which make things much less predictable. I like the more gradual reduction in unit status by becoming Worn then Exhausted. I still think ‘Large’ units are overly powerful (I am considering trying a ‘house rule’ whereby loses are inflicted on the front element of a large unit, and only transferred to the back element at the very end of the turn). I also noticed that the rules for Impetuous units have largely been removed from the 2nd edition, and replaced with a single Frenzy Test to potentially break up group charges. I have yet to play using my Roman versus Early German armies, but I suspect the problems for the Romans have got much tougher. Previously I could manoeuvre my more disciplined Romans to force the impetuous barbarians in to uncoordinated charges. Now I don’t think that option is available, and if the enemy has ‘large’ units, then I don’t hold out much hope for victory with the Romans. We will wait and see. I am sure both Ian and I made some rules errors during the game; for example, in melee when both participants cause no potential hits, then both should take a disorder (7.7.1), which may result in a loss to VBU.
To conclude Impetus 2nd edition has a tentative thumbs up from me and will remain one of my favourite rule systems for Ancient/Renaissance gaming, but more games need to be played before I come to a firm conclusion.