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Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

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Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by AncientWarrior on Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:05 pm

In continuing to study and learn my around Version 6.0 (the most current version?) of the Quick Reference Sheet, I noted the additional number of dice permitted in melee situations involving large units of pike as well as the +1 for FP with long spears vs infantry.

In looking over the Impetus portion of this QRS, I was somewhat surprised to find that infantry did not lose impetus when advancing against enemy foot units armed with either long spears or pikes.

For example, in a recent Romans versus Later Macedonians scenario, I managed to have hastati and some principes formations run/charge straight into very large units of pike and not lose their impetus.

Is this based on the idea that the Romans would use shield and sword to get underneath the reported 5 rows of pike points so they could start hacking away at the “defenseless” phalangites in the front line?

I see the sense of such a rule for mounted units charging into a wall of spear/pike points. I was just wondering why there wasn’t a similar penalty for foot attempting the same feat. I do suppose that a house rule would settle it.

On a somewhat related note, it seems to me that Roman pila into large units of pike would probably have little effect - so a reduction in dice rolled? - due to that wall of pike points as well as the subsequent ranks of pikes that would break up a volley of incoming pila.

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Gwedd on Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:30 pm


Interesting. I hadn't noticed that. I don't quite understand the rational behind allowing foot to use their impetus bonus against pikes, unless those attacking units were also armed with pikes. Same with long spears on each side.

If I recall correctly, the only time the Romans broke a Macedonian pike formation was when they attacked it on it's flank.
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Oldentired on Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:07 am

yep. foot keep their impetus, and mounted lose it to long spear and pike.

i think the rational is that horses aren't so great with charging onto pointy objects.

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by AncientWarrior on Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:18 pm

Interesting . . . For what it's worth, I am play testing a house rule that takes away impetus from foot charging frontally against a mass of long spears or pike points. It seems that a rational man would hesitate as well to run onto or into such a series of sharp points.

Regarding the horse question, there's been some in-depth discussion over on an Society of Ancients board about this very question. And Mr. Barker wrote a brief piece in a recent issue of SLINGSHOT about the behavior of horses when it comes to dealing with pike points, etc.

All very good food for thought!

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by GamesPoet on Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:39 pm

Well don't keep us in suspense. And tell us the basic gist of what is being shared? Thanks!

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Wed Jul 01, 2015 5:13 pm

Two points. AW I'd encourage you to play Impetus a bit longer and play more games with other people before going about making house rules. Our group made a commitment to playing the game as written and we have resisted the temptation to change things we didn't like. So far we have done well in this regard and it has worked out to our benefit. Initial thinking about a rule has evolved over time and we would had been too hasty to make any changes. I'd say after playing 100+ games (not including solo play) you may be in a position to think about house rules for your gaming community.

2nd, overall I think the play balance between pike and warbands works reasonably well in Impetus (this opinion is based on 200+ games of Impetus. We had a game last evening between Ancient Britons and a Successor army that I watched.)  

I think there could be merit to denying impetus to warbands versus pike if the pike unit is in good order. Once disordered I think the warband deserves its impetus against such troops.
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Oldentired on Wed Jul 01, 2015 6:13 pm

i agree with gaius. there's a temptation to change rules so that they suit your own position on things none of us have experienced.

having played foot versus pike in a lot of games, they're pretty hard to put down, even with warband. that third rank just soaks up the casualties from the initial charge, and the minute they warband falls back they're on 4 or 5 dice to your 8. they die in droves.

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by AncientWarrior on Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:51 pm

GamesPoet - Would recommend joining the SOA forum and or subscribing to the publication. To sift and separate and copy and paste would involve a lot of work . . . Joining the SOA website seems the easier and more productive route.

Gaius - You group's commitment and number of games is impressive and should be admired. Would that we all had such resources to draw upon. I confess to not being aware of having to play a certain number of games (of any published rule set) before being able to tinker or tweak the rules - whether based on one's understanding of history, one's perception of gaming mechanics, of a combination of both.

Curious that you would not change the things you didn't like. It seems to be the equivalent of eating food without seasoning. Yes, it's food and it serves. But with seasoning, does not the meal taste better? Then again, tastes are an individual thing, so to each his own.

Speaking for myself, I don't mind tinkering with rules-as-written after 3 or 4 games. For me, that's part of the enjoyment of the hobby. One might suggest it makes as much sense as pitting an Ancient Briton force against a Macedonian Successor army.

Many thanks, as always, for your experienced responses to my posts.

Chris

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Thu Jul 02, 2015 2:31 pm

The problem I have with someone tinkering with the rules after 3 or 4 games is that they don't have enough experience working with the system to understand it. I can vouch that Impetus, for all its simplicity in design, is a very sophisticated gaming system that takes much play to master (I still haven't!) I don't mind people changing a game but I think they should master the original first and see the full panoply of outcomes before doing so. The other advantage of not making changes is that everyone has one common reference, the printed rules! There is also the further advantage in my mind of learning to set aside one's hubris in thinking we are smarter than the rules designer. Any set is one person's opinion on how to model warfare. I am happy with that. If the overall effect works I am happy. We are still tinkering with Pilum as you probably know but we are doing this based on 50+ games of Roman armies fighting various opponents.

The beauty of our approach is that we can play Impetus with anyone in the world and probably pull it off (I am sure there are certain interpretive and unconscious conventions that local gaming groups develop.) It is my intention someday to come down to Little Wars and run an Impetus game (my brother lives in West Chicago so it would be easy to make it work.) Wouldn't it be great to have you play in the game and be able to trust that we are playing the same rules set.
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Jim Webster on Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:24 pm

I've fought with and against pikes and don't have a problem with them. If Pikes are drawn up very deep they are powerful frontally, and their army is on a very narrow front which makes it vulnerable on the flanks
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Oldentired on Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:28 pm

Jim Webster wrote:I've fought with and against pikes and don't have a problem with them. If Pikes are drawn up very deep they are powerful frontally, and their army is on a very narrow front which makes it vulnerable on the flanks

wait... a miniatures game that reflects historical realities!

genius!
Laughing

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Jim Webster on Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:32 pm

Oldentired wrote:
Jim Webster wrote:I've fought with and against pikes and don't have a problem with them. If Pikes are drawn up very deep they are powerful frontally, and their army is on a very narrow front which makes it vulnerable on the flanks

wait... a miniatures game that reflects historical realities!

genius!
Laughing

don't worry, it'll never catch on Wink
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Tarty on Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:57 pm

Pike are no push over I'll second what the others have said here...very hard to stop when going forward.
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Pezhetairoi on Fri Jul 03, 2015 12:48 am

If you have played a lot of other different games, read a lot about the period, and perhaps designed a few of your own it can be rather easy to spot what you don't like about a new rule set -- or at least what doesn't fit your own model of understanding. I spotted a few right away, I imagine most of us do. The trick is of course to not let your own bias get in the way of letting the little details unfold. Some of the issues that don't work for you are part of the process/system that creates the elements you do enjoy. Making a quick change here or there can result in unexpected issues later.

The Impetus bonus, for example, represents more than the "charge bonus" in other games. It also represents a units "freshness", and the individual soldiers eagerness to engage and willingness to physically and emotionally push himself. Once a unit has lost it's "impetus" it's effectively starting to tire and wear out. This in a way, is the point of the game. A player who can hold fresh reserves and keep their bonus while wearing down his enemy is rewarded with the extra dice. This opens up some cool historical strategies.

Though you have a point ( Laughing ) that charging a wall of pike/spear will diminish anyone's eagerness that's not all the impetus bonus represents.

There are things I don't like about this game, and I've asked others for opinions about changing them since those with experience can help. The most useful comments to me have been "if you change that, then this doesn't work so well". But you have to sift around for those between all the not useful comments. Rolling Eyes
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by GamesPoet on Fri Jul 03, 2015 10:17 am

Making adjustments to rules is what folks do in the hobby.  Experience with the rules can be helpful whether or not one has played 100 or more games.  Some players aren't looking to "master" the rules, but instead just have some enjoyable games when they might be able to find the time to play.  If someone with less "mastery" has an idea, whose to say it might not be a good one because that player doesn't have the "experience".  And common reference can be the game itself, with any local rules adjustments taking back seat to the rules that are used at a tourney or convention anyway.  Making adjustments doesn't seem to be about setting aside one's own pride or confidence, maybe I don't get where that comment using the word hubris is coming from.  Making adjustments to a rule set is going to happen, and from a competitve standpoint it can make sense to stay as close to the rules system as possible, yet beyond that, if something isn't working for one group, and they find something that does, it can be set aside if people from that group show up to another location to play competively or under the situation of someone else's GMing a single game.  The world is never going to be ideal anymore than a game system is likely to be, life is full of making adjustments from so many perspectives.  However, I understand that being careful with rule adjustments can be wise, because a change in the rules can have an impact that permeates out into the rest of the rules, and sometimes in a way that becomes less than desireable.

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Fri Jul 03, 2015 5:53 pm

I was introducing Impetus a while back to a friend and he was mentioning during his first game what needed to be changed. Of course, every rules set he touches he changes. What does this do? It often creates confusion and arguments because no one remembers what has been changed and what hasn't. I think most of us would agree that one game isn't sufficient to make any decisions about what stays and what gets changed. Personally, I don't think 3 or 4 games is enough either.

Impetus is the first game system my group has played that we haven't made any significant changes to. We did that intentionally because as Pez said above, there are levels of complexity and changes may lead to unintended consequences. More to the point, we have enjoyed simply trying to learn Impetus and not trying to recast it in our image (ie. how we imagine ancient warfare being modelled.) I have found the instinct to recast often leads people away from learning the rules.

As I said above, by all means make changes for your local group if you wish but please master the game as it exists first. And that to my opinion will take at least a 100 games of play (unless you're playing with the same armies in every game in which case it will take less play.)
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Pezhetairoi on Sun Jul 05, 2015 5:48 am

I don't mean to discourage you, GamesPoet, from making alterations. This system can easily be tweaked here or there. Sounds like you are not really interested in competitive battles, and looking more for re-creations. If you are looking for meet/play arrangement like a game of chess, Gaius is right. But if you are more into once a month meet up at home for a scenario is a very different thing -- more like playing out a story.

I offer my comments because I suspect this particular change may not work out too well. The Roman perspective needs consideration. The republican period Romans (the ones most likely to face the spears/pikes) rely on the Impetus bonus for parity with the upgraded 3-deep Hellenistic pikes.Let's compare the very basic numbers.
They get 6+2for impetus vs 5+1+1+1for impetus assuming both charge successfully. The Romans benefit from 1 Pilum die, which is a minor advantage.

The way the interaction is modeled in Impetus plays out as follows: Pike/Romans meet at fairly equal terms, thereafter the Romans steadily lose the advantage. The damage they take directly affect their VBU and thus dice in the next combat, whereas the pike will continue with the same number for many rounds since the large units take damage from the rear. This means you can expect the pike to roll over the Romans, slowly perhaps back and forth, but it's a good chance they will. This is a bit of a problem.
There were a number of defeats, but the Romans were able to overcome the Phalanx. We read that they were able to outflank the Phalanx or catch it in rough ground, but these reasons were often created in low-level action (century level tactics) -- much smaller than we are modelling on the table.
This deficiency I think this is part of the reason for the "exchanging ranks" mechanic -- where the Republican Romans can interpenetrate and charge through each other. This gives them the opportunity to get that impetus bonus again -- and another chance at dice parity (or slight advantage) with the pikes. SO if a Roman player is careful (and lucky) he can keep up a better ratio longer and improve his chances. Without an impetus bonus versus pikes ... well I don't think the Romans have a lot of hope in any sort of frontal exchange.
You could probably make a similar case for the Gauls.

I have have purposefully left out the concept of strategic flanking and points comparisons since that's really more of a player vs player and list vs list consideration.

As an aside -- Oddly enough, I think this interaction is essentially backwards from reality. I suspect the phalanx was the most horrifyingly powerful at the beginning, but then steadily become weaker as the battlefield friction wore on. Casualties, fatigue, disorder and confusion would probably have taken its toll on phalanx effectiveness almost immediately. The performance of the Romans on the other hand, flexible and all-purpose, well motivated, less rigid, would likely not deteriorate as quickly even though their formation was initially at a disadvantage. I think what Polybius was trying to tell us was that the Romans could out-endure the phalanx. This is not really what happens in Impetus in my experience.
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Jim Webster on Sun Jul 05, 2015 7:19 am

It's an example of why we have to be careful because small changes can totally unbalance the game.

For example there was some discussion about making the loss of Impetus more gradual, so rather than losing 1 VDU and suddenly losing all your impetus, you lost Impetus more slowly.

This is fine but what you then have to do is work out a way of ensuring that, for example, English longbowmen can still stand up to French men at arms from behind their stakes, and you either give them a higher VBU (But run into problems with them machinegunning lesser troop types)

Wargames rules are subtle beasts. If all you do is fight with a small group of armies then you can probably get away with fiddling with them, but don't be surprised if somebody turns up with a new army and you find you've inadvertently created a monster Very Happy Very Happy

Jim
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by GamesPoet on Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:55 am

In an effort to not give folks the wrong impression ... the group I play with locally meets up for small tourneys, although we are into doing historical recreations as well. We are relaxed about it, and we don't change the rules for the tourneys because we realize how this can have a game system going astray in ways the rule adjustment may not intend. However, that doesn't mean another person's suggested adjustment to the rules needs to be ruled out because they have "experience" of less than 100 games. Ideas are better ruled in or out on how it does or does not effect the rules system, not whether or not a person has what may be seen in another's perspective as being "experience" or not.

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by AncientWarrior on Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:31 pm

Following this discussion has proved to be both interesting and instructional.

It seems quite evident that my solo experiments with the written rules garner greater number of readers and responders than do my submitted battle reports. (The last 3 after action narratives accounted for almost 200 reads and less than a dozen replies.)

It's interesting and again, instructional, to see that some of my rule tinkering (specifically with elephants - and admittedly based on efforts of others with different rules sets then supported by some additional reading) after less than a dozen games earns approval - or at least recognition that the current rules need a bit of work - while other rule tinkering is criticized.

Stipulating to my limited experience with IMPETVS (I think I almost alway make this statement when submitting a report), I have used the rules for historical refights as well as scenario play.

On the general question of rule tinkering, by my experimentation, I do not mean any disrespect to Lorenzo and his work. From what I've been able to see, he seems at ease with allowing customers to adopt rules that suit them - whether out of a sense of history and or out of a sense of game play. For example, there are those IMPETVS players who only allow the amount of damage on a unit to equal - not exceed - the number of hits rolled by an attacking enemy unit.

I will say it again: It's been interesting and instructional following the course of this discussion.

Respectfully,

Chris

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:56 am

Pezhetairoi wrote:
I offer my comments because I suspect this particular change may not work out too well. The Roman perspective needs consideration. The republican period Romans (the ones most likely to face the spears/pikes) rely on the Impetus bonus for parity with the upgraded 3-deep Hellenistic pikes.Let's compare the very basic numbers.
They get 6+2for impetus vs 5+1+1+1for impetus assuming both charge successfully.

How many Roman units will be in the front rank vs how many for the 3 deep phalanx?

The Romans should be getting extra width and support as well as supported flanks. And given the mechanism of choosing the order of melee it is entirely possible that the Romans will roll that support benefit down the entire line of melee.

And most importantly, don't go one out with pike. Make the phalanx move around terrain and attack it at your advantage. Or best of all get them into rough terrain where they get disrupted to break up their line and also suffer penalties to the cohesion test.

Pezhetairoi wrote:
The Romans benefit from 1 Pilum die, which is a minor advantage.

I think it is a considerable advantage, not because of the 1 die but because it is a supplementary phase. It will only come off one time in six but it means disruption at the very least when it does.


Pezhetairoi wrote:
...We read that they were able to outflank the Phalanx or catch it in rough ground, but these reasons were often created in low-level action (century level tactics) -- much smaller than we are modelling on the table.

Agreed, and you answer your own question. If you choose to meet a phalanx head on in open ground then you're at a disadvantage.

Which seems entirely reasonable.


Pezhetairoi wrote:
This deficiency I think this is part of the reason for the "exchanging ranks" mechanic -- where the Republican Romans can interpenetrate and charge through each other.

Or they can go the Large Unit mechanism where their VBU6 gives them the long term cohesion test advantage.


Pezhetairoi wrote:
I have have purposefully left out the concept of strategic flanking and points comparisons since that's really more of a player vs player and list vs list consideration.

Which is kind of important, one on one in ideal terrain your analysis is correct, but there are always other considerations that will come into it and they should not be ignored. It's pretty poor generalship to plough your Romans into a head on attack where they are at a strategic disadvantage.


Pezhetairoi wrote:
[i]As an aside -- Oddly enough, I think this interaction is essentially backwards from reality. I suspect the phalanx was the most horrifyingly powerful at the beginning, but then steadily become weaker as the battlefield friction wore on.

I agree with you here, I would see the phalanx with the longer weapons getting advantage in round 1 of melee but the guys with the shorter weapons getting it in round 2 once they are "inside" the weapons of the enemy front rank. Sure there are the second and third rank of pike to contend with but they were obstructed to some degree by those in front of them.

But that's an entirely new mechanic.

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Pezhetairoi on Mon Jul 06, 2015 5:14 am

Sorry Granicus, what was the point of that? I missed it. I was commenting about the OP's suggestion to remove impetus bonuses. scratch
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Granicus Gaugamela on Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:44 am

Pezhetairoi wrote:Sorry Granicus, what was the point of that? I missed it. I was commenting about the OP's suggestion to remove impetus bonuses. scratch

I just addressed your points in order and pointed out that things must be viewed holistically, not on a one out basis

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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Pezhetairoi on Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:00 pm

OK, sure. If it wasn't clear, my point was that the interaction is basically OK as is at a rudimentary level, and if you universally take away the Roman's impetus bonus you would upset the balance.
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

Post by Gaius Cassius on Tue Jul 07, 2015 3:38 pm

I am remembering again that when I first started playing Impetus my gaming partner and I began immediately making small changes to the system. A few new guys joined later but they insisted that we play Impetus as written. So we undid all our changes and played the game as written (at least as we understood it.) I can tell you all that it took many, many months of play to get over certain eccentricities in Impetus. We also struggled to get past our own gaming expectations and historical opinions. The Forum has showed us where we wrongly interpreted the rules and we've had to make further adjustments. But I am glad we returned to playing the game straight.

I know a bunch of guys who play Shako 2 and they constantly argue with the outcomes (because it doesn't conform to their ideas of Napoleonic warfare) and have made a constant stream of small changes before they even understood how the game works. The result is that there is constant arguing at their games because they can't remember what is changed and they've distorted the overall flow of the game to its detriment in my opinion (even if some of changes makes sense on its own.) In contrast our Impetus games have no arguing and no complaining about historicity but does include griping about the dice rolls!

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Gaius Cassius
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Re: Foot have impetus vs units with long spears and or pikes?

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