I spent last night trying out (solo) a first full game of Basic Impetus. Using my old Wars of the Roses figures blu-tacked to cardboard sabot bases I managed to get to a conclusion in 10 game turns and three hours.
The Yorkist army deployed in what seemed to me a reasonably standard deployment. From left to right, two units of longbows, a unit of bill, dismounted nobles, men at arms, more bill and more bows, oh and some handgun-armed skirmishers in front:
Units are referred to by their livery colours in the write-up that follows as I hadn’t taken particular care to ensure that I had the right nobles represented on the right side.
Having set up the Yorkists I decided to do something different with the Lancastrians and went for a heavily echeloned deployment intending to swing round anchored on a steep hill at the right hand end of the line. Again from left to right we have two units of bills and one of Borderers (with a unit of French mercenary crossbows in front of them) and then two units of archers in front of dismounted men at arms and mounted nobles.
The game kicked off with the Lancastrians getting the initiative (they would do so for each of the first four turns) and pushing the crossbowmen up onto the hill. The rest of the army began to move forward with the left flank leading. The Yorkists responded with a general advance and some ineffective long range shooting.
Game turn two saw the first casualties as a series of extreme die rolls saw one of the Yorkists’ right flank longbow units routed by uncannily accurate shooting by its Lancastrian opposite numbers. The remaining Yorkist archers replied in kind but the Lancastrian archers held their ground despite heavy casualties.
Game turn three saw advances on both sides without any significant developments.
With game turn 4 things began to get hotter. The Lancastrian left wing archers wheeled to target their opposite numbers and the mounted nobles began to manoeuvre to pass them.
In the centre, the Lancastrian “blue and yellow” bills charged the Yorkist handgunner skirmishers – they would surely sweep them away? No, despite rolling 7 dice to their opponents’ two, the billmen inflicted no casualties and had to continue the melee! Elsewhere, the Borderers charged the Yorkists’ “black and white” bills but were beaten back after heavy casualties on both sides.
When the Yorkists turn to activate came up, the handgunners amazingly managed to hold off the enemy billmen again.
On game turn 5 the Yorkists suddenly gained the initiative. In an odd quirk of the dice they would retain it for the rest of the game.
Yet more dice oddity saw the Handgunners actually drive back the Lancastrian “blue and yellow” billmen. Meanwhile, on the Yorkist left, their longbowmen reached the top of the hill and began an archery duel with the French crossbowmen.
The Lancastrians spent most of their turn reforming their main line and wheeling the mounted nobles into a position from which they could charge the Yorkist line in flank. There was ineffectual shooting in their vicinity.
Game turn 6 saw the handgunners, who could be well pleased with their performance so far, withdraw through the Yorkist line leaving the Men At arms and dismounted nobles free to charge the enemy billmen. This they did but surprisingly the men at arms were driven back. Despite the subsequent arrival of the Yorkists’ “black and white” billmen, the melee continued.
Without the nobles managing to inflict any decisive damage.
Meanwhile the Lancastrian knights continued to wheel into position on the left whilst the crossbowmen inflicted heavy casualties on their Yorkist archer opponents.
On Game Turn 7 the Yorkist general must have begun to appreciate the threat offered by the Lancastrian cavalry. Whilst throwing his main battle line back into the fray, he hastily manoeuvred the hand gunners towards a position where they could perhaps slow down a charge by the enemy cavalry.
The knights now began to trundle forward towards the right flank of the Yorkist line. Elsewhere melees and exchanges of missile fire continued and as a result of one of these the French crossbowmen succeeded in routing their opponents.
Game turn 8 saw more of the same. The only major development was the rout of the Lancastrian “red and black” bills. This put the Lancastrians one unit away from defeat.
On Game Turn 9 the knights made contact with the handgunners. The combat was brief and to the point with the skirmishers quickly swept away.
Game turn 10 saw the climax. The first crucial combat wasn’t obvious at the time but up on the hill the Yorkist “red” billmen charged into the French crossbowmen and got the wrong end of some extreme die results. With only 1 VBU left they were hanging on by the skin of their teeth when the Lancastrian knights thudded into the Yorkists’ dismounted men at arms.
The Yorkist general had been hastily wheeling bits of his line to face the oncoming storm but his men at arms, weakened by their long fight with the Lancastrian billmen, were shattered by the first impact. They streamed away from the point of impact taking the “red” billmen with them. In one combat the Yorkists had lost two units and enough to take them below their break point as an army!
I really enjoyed the game and for a solo it was remarkably intense. At game turn eight I was convinced the Lancastrians were doomed and would break before the knights could intervene. It was not to be though – that decisive charge would have looked great in a Hollywood movie!