Friday, 14 August 2009

Play Day! (Impetus and FutureWarsCommander)

Yup, I had a play day yesterday. Steve (of steves blog) was in the country visiting his brother, who lives about an hour or so up the road from me, so we arranged to meet up. He brought his Wars of the Roses figures with him (all Baccus 6mm) and a couple of Dark Realm Miniatures armies for FutureWarsCommander. If you have not read Steve's blog, you should at least check it out; his figures are beautifully painted.

He managed to find my house eventually, after a dreadful journey down past York. One brew later and we set up for the first game. Steve had mentioned Impetus on his blog before and I have been reading reports by other people too, like JET on Geektactica. These all made the game sound interesting. I had also downloaded Basic Impetus, a free DBA-esque version of the rules from the website, which had whetted my appetite for the game. It looked interesting, and I was not wrong. Steve had mentioned on the phone earlier in the week that he had some reservations about the rules after his first game, so I was wondering if they would live up to my expectations. We set up the game. I took a Lancastrian Wars of the Roses force and Steve took the Yorkists. Both armies were Steve's.

We deployed roughly opposite each other and commenced the archery duel, which was not particularly decisive but did disorder my archers fairly quickly. Our mounted units charged towards each other on my left flank, while the rest of the troops tried to remove disorder and advance. As we closed the archery became more furious and units started to really get hurt, with Steve's men taking the brunt of it. Meanwhile the mounted knights were in a ding-dong battle that raged back and forth across the field. My knights got the worst of it in that melee and were quickly reduced to a strength of 1. Ouch. However, despite, or possibly because of, being outnumbered they rallied and fought back even harder. Meanwhile, my archers had destroyed a couple of Steve's archer units and my melee troops stormed into the combat. Very soon the battle was over and the Yorkists were fleeing for their lives.

This was a great fun game. I don't think we used all the rules in the Impetus rulebook, but it flowed well and was thoroughly enjoyable. I liked the idea of selecting which body of troops you wished to move and dicing for their initiative versus your opponent rather than rolling initiative for the whole side. That keeps both players more involved in the game all the time and adds a layer of interesting decision-making to the game. I also really liked the fact that melee continues until one side is destroyed or has fallen back beyond the pursuit range of the other side. This makes melee quite deadly really but also led to a real back and forth battle between our knights. The quality of the rulebook is also exceptional. It has thick glossy pages that feel like they will last well. The illustrations are inspiring and there appear to be plenty of examples too. Overall, I have to say "thumbs up" for Impetus and it is now on my shopping list. Oh, and Steve's reservations about the rules? Well, it turns out that he had drunk rather a lot of alcohol before he even began that first game ...

We broke for lunch and then set up a game of FutureWarsCommander. I have had these rules for a while and it is on my regular opponent Steve's and my list to play. Yes, my regular opponent is called Steve too. That makes it rather confusing but I shall not mention him again so any references to Steve will henceforth refer to Steve of 'steves blog'. So, as I was saying, I have had these rules for a while and have been really keen to try them out. I painted up my Scandinavian Union force a while back, as regular readers of this blog will know, and had previously only used it for Dirtside 2. Steve used an Andrayadan force from Dark Realm Miniatures for this game. We picked 2000 points of troops and set up a quick encounter battle so that we could get rolling dice asap.

It all started so well. I discovered that my troops had firepower and range over Steve's force. Brilliant. In the first four turns and almost completely annihilated one wing of his army as it tried to advance on me and had reduced Steve to one point from his breakpoint. My own casualties were minimal so far. At this time I was feeling rather guilty. After all, I had won the first game and it would be rude to win the second game in such a manner. Then on Turn 5 both my HQ and my CO failed their first command rolls. My troops stood there like lemons while Steve's advanced. I started to take more casualties. On the following turn my CO again failed to activate anything while my HQ was trying to manoeuvre his wing over to the other side of the table. And that's when it happened. Steve's troops activated and activated and fired and fired and my troops started falling like flies. In the space of one turn the whole game was turned on its head and suddenly my troops reached their breakpoint. I now had to roll every turn to see if the commander would order a withdrawal. He passed the first time but the troops took so many casualties on that turn that there was only a minimal chance of succeeding at the withdrawal roll on the following turn. I rolled. I failed. My troops fled the field. Victory to Steve!

This game was brilliant. The command system is very neat and offers all kinds of possibilities for problems and amazing successes. The game flowed really well and there were no problems. We did spend a bit of time looking things up, but that was because neither of us was particularly familiar with the rules. I can't wait to get another game of this in and am even wondering whether I should collect a new army for it. The question is, which army?

So, a big thank you to Steve for an excellent day's gaming.

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