I finally managed to change both of those last night with a game of Impetus with JP at the South Yorkshire Dice Devils, a fairly new club that JP has played at a few times.
Impetus is a game that I've been "playing" for years, but I've never been able to play it regularly. Partly I think it became a bit of a victim of its own success for us - it covers everything from ancients to medieval to renaissance in a single set of rules, but that causes people to all get the armies they're most interested in, which cover a range of periods.
This means that I've never really internalised the rules as I have for Flames of War, for example, but I'm hoping we can change that now as both Pete and Kieron have acquired armies that work for the period of the 2nd Punic War, matching my Republican Romans. I took Pete through a demo game this week which led nicely to last night's live-fire exercise with JP's ancient Britons.
As there was only a 4'x4' table left at the club when we arrived, we both cut our armies down to 300 points. I was using the updated Punic War Romans list from Extra Impetus 4, and had everything in a single command, which I deployed first.
I made a mistake here - I didn't notice that only the area on my left was wide enough for JP to set up his traditional massive block of infantry, which pushed his cavalry and chariots to the other side. Once he deployed I saw my error - my anti-cavalry triarii were on the wrong side of the battlefield.
My plan was basically to sit and wait for the British to attack me, reasoning that their poor discipline might cause them to become disordered as they got close and allow me to attack them while they were out of formation. Since my triarii were in the wrong place, though, I tried to redeploy them to the other flank. Triarii have the highest discipline class in the game and can in theory move 6 times in a turn. However, both units failed every discipline test they had to make, and only succeeded in turning their flank to the enemy and becoming disordered.
I sent my skirmishers and light cavalry off to throw javelins at the oncoming chariots - there seemed to be little point in a shoot out between the skirmishers.
The triarii continued to flounder, preventing the legionaries behind them from moving up, and coming under lots of fire from the British skirmishers.
The light cavalry had much more success, wiping out an enemy cavalry unit that charged them in the flank and causing some damage with javelins. They were then able to retreat behind the lake when charged by the surviving British cavalry and kept shooting at them from there.
The medium cavalry turned to face the British chariots, who were all now disordered.
The surging British infantry scattered my skirmishers, and the beleagured triarii just had time to turn to face the enemy before they were charged.
On the flank, the Roman and British cavalry exchanged charges to no real effect, and the Roman light cavalry moved to intercept a breakaway unit from the British line. They had to evade some charges from them, but were able to tie up this unit for the rest of the battle.
Following some semblance of the original plan, the block of hastati and principes waited until the triarii eventually succumbed to their enemy's superior numbers before charging home. The Britons had taken some casualties to get this far, but were still able to swamp the Romans as they had more units.
However, with the new army list, the Romans can use large units (just like the Britons), and this eventually allowed the better quality troops to win out. The Romans were reliably scoring hits (even as they took hits themselves) and with some lucky rolling, eventually killed the British general, causing his command to rout, and take the smaller cavalry command with it! The Romans had won the day. Despite their general's attempts to use clever manuevers, it was simply the ability of the legions to dish out more punishment than their enemies that carried them through.
I still have more to learn with Impetus, but this was the first game where I really felt like I stood a chance with this army, thanks to the subtle changes in the new list. In future though, I need to remember to look at the ground better when I deploy, and if I must move units to the other flank, to do that behind my line instead of in front of it!
The Dice Devils seem to be a nice friendly club, if a bit heavily focused on GW-style games at the moment. I expect I'll be down there from time to time, but at the moment at least I'd like to keep up the home games as much as possible - those games seem to be better planned and just flow more easily than the pick up games I seem to get on a club night.