Once again, the armies of Athens and Achaemenid Persia face off.
For those who don't follow my Gathering of Hosts blog, I have tried a couple of games of Basic Impetus and have been favorably impressed. My friend Ron and I have tried the Full Impetus and have decided that we prefer the less intense Basic Impetus. We have however borrowed a few things from the full game and he has adapted it to a Hex grid. When checking out a set of rules, there are two tests I like to subject them to. The 1st is to try them on favoured Table Top Teasers, the 2nd is to play a game based on an historical battle. Basic Impetus has passed the 1st test with flying colours, it was time for the 2nd. The first game I reported on when I started this blog was a refight of the Battle of Marathon. A simple, straight forward game that would be easy to adapt and run again.
Part of our adaptation of the game to hexes was to adopt an 8cm unit frontage to fit Ron's Hexon terrain. My own hexes are a little bit cruder, but they work and are compatible. I have only based a few sample units on the 8cm bases but since whatever is in a hex constitutes a unit, it was easy enough to fudge the order of battle. I used the Beta army lists from the Impetus website with Harry Pearson's order of battle from Battlegames magazine with a few minor tweaks for the Persians. Interestingly, while the WHAB version had the Persian army out-pointing the Greeks by 2:1 or more (iir), using the Impetus lists, the Persians had a very small advantage. Because I had insufficient hoplites compared to the OB 2 years ago and had had to cut the units back to 12 figures, the Greek army was about the same size this time but I used substantially fewer Persian figures. To be honest, I didn't miss the extras. To fit my test grid, I had to turn the game sideways on my table (the grid was drawn before I cut the table down). Luckily the new armies fit perfectly. I only needed 1/2 the table though.
To represent the Greek's famous charge at the run, I allowed them a 1 time only charge bonus of a full d6 instead of the usual 1/2 die for infantry.
So, how did the game go?
Those nice orderly lines break up as the fight rages.
On the Greek left, the phalanx came up first against the Phyrgians who had withstood Ron's cataphracts earlier in the week, then the Skythian archers who had given the Greeks such a hard time two years ago. Both of these units lived up to their reps. It wasn't enough to stop the Greeks all together but it was enough to slow them down and seriously hurt a couple of units.
In the center, one unit of Immortals was broken but the line first held and then repulsed the Athenians, routing one unit. As the Persians pushed forward, the Greek center bent, but the Athenians held on tenaciously. At last the weight of the attack on the flanks told and as the Greek wings wheeled inwards, the Persians broke.
The end of the game. Units are labelled P for Persian or A for Athenian.
Historically, this run through came closest of my 3 games of Marathon to matching historical accounts. Something that hadn't struck me before was it was the only set of rules of the 3 that allowed the Greeks to be forced back without being broken. It was also the only set which allowed for an army to break thus ending the game before the cavalry could intervene.
Game wise, it was short but faced paced with frequent moments of tension of the enjoyable white knuckle variety. I meant to play the game tomorrow but I kept sneaking away from chores to play another turn. Looking purely at units lost, the game seemed like a lopside win for the Greeks with the Athenians having only lost 1 unit vs 8 Persian units but looking closer, the Greeks had 5 units that were teetering on the edge of rout. The game had been up for grabs right down to the last melee.