Review -Basic Impetus 2.0

basic-impetus-2-0I have to admit that I did expect Basic Impetus 2.0 (Hardcopy from Dadi&Piombo, digital copy available in Wargame Vault) to be released a few months ago, but better late than never. First Basic Impetus has been admittedly my favorite and most played system for a long time. It has not lost it’s entertainment value over the years and it still surprises at times.

Basic Impetus is a miniature wargaming ruleset to be used from Ancient to Renaissance. Unlike in more rigid system, Impetus basing system is quite flexible, and allows little dioramas to be represent armies. My chosen base size is 60mm x 30mm for every unit (except deep formations, which are two bases deep) and have find out that as long as both sides use the same base size it can be virtually any that pleases the eye. Competitive play have different regulations but that is another story.

Of course having miniatures to try out the system is wholly unnecessary because parer armies can be used as well without much investment. Of course that is true for any other rule systems as well.


Rulebook is available in hard copy and digital version. Full color, including 340 army lists, covering vast period of time. Tables should definitely be condensed and printed out as reference cards because of some mechanics have changed from pure DR to table to be referred. That does mean reference to the tables until one remembers them by heart.

Army lists have seen a major overhaul, and one can easily expect some additional painting to be done. Fine tuning of the unit statistics has taken them closer, if not identical to Impetus, which is not a bad thing at all.

Game flows quite well but it is slower than earlier version. I am, however expecting there to be a speedup once I am familiarity with the rules and units.

Differences, old vs. new?

So, what are differences between old and new Basic Impetus then? Old basic impetus rulebook was ascetic to start with. Only few pages long, condensed to the very essentials, it was sufficient but nothing fancy. Several things were not represented, and reasoning for it was perfectly understandable given the nature of the ruleset. However, Basic Impetus grew out of it’s position of mere introduction to Impetus and started to live it’s own life. Because I have always liked the way BI handled things, I do not wonder at all why that happened. It is very hard to find game that play so fluently, so quickly and give proper thrill. Against that background it is easy to see that Basic Impetus 2 is not as much of update to the old, as it is a more mature, and quite independent game system that will stand alone, perhaps even somewhat apart from Impetus.

Many little changes mean that the gameplay, while familiar, is also much different. For example Roman pilum, earlier a multi-use weapon is now available only once – but it is much stronger. It means a different tactic to be employed. Previously, low impetus and high pilum DR on defense meant that Legions would have no strong incentive to attack, while now with impetus of 2, and 2 DR for pilum in attack, there is greater incentive to do so. 4DR on defense also means that opposition thinks twice the direct contact.


It was easy to argue that old Basic Impetus had excellent value for the money, being free it was of course hard to beat. BI2 is very, very good and enjoyable game with low complexity.

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Epic – or not so

There was opportunity to play X-wing during the weekend, and what else than with the big ships. We had something around 250pts per side, and both sides equipped forces with the huge ships. Imperials had Raider, Decimator, and two Ties. Rebels had Tantive IV, Hawk, B- and Y-wing. It was a first game with those, and we were not very familiar with things. We had a high hopes about fun game, where the big ships would pay a major role. However what happened during the game, was rather weird.

Early on turn 2, Tantive blew up. On turn 1, reinforce was used on fore, yet still all shields were lost on a first shot. Second turn choice was to either reinforce with no shields, or bring shields to max. I opted to recover. I used Hawk additional attack dice to give extra punch to my attacks, but Raider Fore was still left with ample shields after total of 11 dice worth of shots. Losing fore, I also lost all energy, crews and weapons, save one quad laser but that was before Decimator finished it off with a single shot.

The idea was to slip into very close range of the Raider that was equipped mostly with long range Turbolasers. Trouble is that even tough it was known that Raider would burn most of it’s energy in the single broadside, it was not known that this single range 5 attack would destroy Tantive without any chance of retribution. Lesson learnt, since huge ship will not survive for more than a turn, or max two, equip it for only single turn massive onslaught, with initiative of 12 for shooting. Ignore all finesse and tactics. Immensely stupid and boring, but it is the FFG way.

Y-wing and B-wing were shot down before they could make any effective shots against anyone. Only loss for Empire was a single tie that happened to be on a wrong spot. That with Tantive being able to shoot once in the whole game.

Of course Y-wing and B-wing were on a wrong side of the Tantive to start with – a fault of my teammate, but that has little to do with the level of destruction inflicted. Yes, he should have been able to be in attack position, but that would only mean that while Tantive went out, so would the Raider. In both cases, it would be close to pointless.



I have heard the huge ships being on a weak side, but what the...? I’ve always thought that the so called critical hits in regular game are, well a bit meh. Now, think about it, if you get a critical hit on Decimator (upgraded with extra hull, it has 17 health), there is not a single one that would disable, or even slow it down. Considering that fore of Tantive IV has maximum of 13 health, save one or two, every critical is immediately fatal. One could say that here seems to be a bit of disparity. Either the Huge ships should have doubled the shields and hull strength points, and/or at least have critical deck similar to rest of the ships. Ships like Decimator should have their values cut to half, and use some large ship specific critical deck which would be as severe as the one for Huge ships.

It almost looks like there has been some weird design ideology (originating from the tournament scene, no doubt) that the games must not last longer than hour and therefore the really big ships must comply and die quickly. Hence, let’s make the really big ships very, very brittle. After all, for example the aft of Tantive IV is actually weaker than Y-wing.

Hey FFG, I have a news flash for you: Epic play is long by definition, there is not point to reduce the huge ships to single shot wonders just because of some artificial tournament playtime limit…

Out of curiosity, there was another game where two extremely well performing A-wing alpha strike team harassed Decimator for a long time with one B-wing, and it took them about 10 turns to kill it. Meanwhile Decimator walked away from many, many critical hits without any trouble at all.

Posted in AAR, X-wing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Acquisition – Stone Age, a Space ship


It is apparently hard to grow up in this household without degree of board game indoctrination ;). It is quite hard to find interesting games for children, especially with two requirements. a) should offer variety of mechanics b) should also be playable by adults. I heard a lot of good things about Stone Age Junior and thought that it would be pretty good choice for four year old. Decision made, order placed and doorbell rang two days later.

Stone Age is visually very appealing. There are few decision points to make but randomness plays some part. Because of the memory dependence adults can easily optimize the building process and I am not sure how long game will remain entertaining. It is quite easy to remember where the key things are and I thought that maybe shuffling the forest tiles completely would make more sense than just moving two of them about. Of course visual appeal is quite important for four year old. Keeping this mind, I think I have to start to prepare for Mice and Mystics, where adventure plays a big part. Especially if I intend to paint the miniatures for it…

While at that, I noticed rather decent deal on one ship for X-wing. As mentioned earlier, I always liked the classics so what would be more classic than this:

X-Wing Tantive IV - 1.png

Since 40k Epic, game of that type is somewhat boring without some big things… 😛

So, brace for impact whenever we get the Raider and Tantive IV on a same table – it ought to be fun.

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Impetuous Evening

There was an opportunity to play Basic Impetus 2.0 – which I would never decline. A nice little matchup between revised Romans and Carthaginians, with the 2nd Edition ruleset. Initial impression of the rules were quite favorable and I have to say that it did not disappoint. Some of the changes have been subtle, but the effect to gameplay, well, a bit more than that. And not to worse. Opting for the classics, I was positively surprised that Republican Romans have a tad bit better assortment of troops nowadays.

BI 2.0 Rome vs. Carthage 1 - 1

Driving away the elephants and the Numidians, who retreated, well… to Numidia.

Carthaginians had an army with elephant variant. Romans had the standard Mid-Republican layout. Except, now I realize, for the Gallic allies, which I forgot to take on table. Table was the ordinary 1,5m x 1m mat with some difficult terrain and some minor features like few trees and gentle hills that had no effect in the game.

BI 2.0 Rome vs. Carthage 1 - 2

Maniples ready to take the Gallic 10 dice(!) onslaught, followed by the main force of Carthage.

It was a good match and did run quite close, regardless of the Carthaginian devastating rolls during mid game – unfortunately, and probably because of the Gallic deserters 😛, the Roman Republic suffered devastating loss. In any case, I did manage quite neatly neutralize both elephants and the CL light cavalry. On the negative side, I failed to commit my Roman Equites – probably because of earlier, rather well remembered issues with them ;).

BI 2.0 Rome vs. Carthage 1 - 3

Oops. It quite did not work out…

Legions were performing all right (regardless of most being wiped out), but probably in the future I probably would prefer to set up the legions deep if in restrained area, or forget the weaker legionaries altogether. Triarii are useful in absence of second cavalry unit of course – having an long spears and all that.

BI 2.0 Rome vs. Carthage 1 - 4

Carthaginians slicing through like the knife…

BI 2.0 Rome vs. Carthage 1 - 5

The bitter end is near. Triarii about to face annihilation.

Posted in AAR, Ancient warfare, Impetus | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Acquisition – Terrain, part II

Last time it was turn of a townscape but I generally find landscapes with minimalistic – albeit playable – setups a bit boring. Green and lush it needs to be. I have strong belief that minor terrain features do contribute to the outcome of the battle and not merely act as decoration. Hence, since I had some opportunity to build some walls and hedges, why not.

Now that I have about 1,2m of walls and about 1m of hedges ready, I am inclined to think  that (much) more is needed. On that note, I really have to figure out good way to build those darn forests. Really.

That said, now there is a right direction I think.

Walls and hedges - 8

French Cuirassiers entering crossroads, completely unawares of the trap…

Walls and hedges - 10

Hiding behind the bushes lies a nasty surprise, waiting…

Walls and hedges - 2

Walls and hedges restricting movement

Walls and hedges - 4

Forward! March!

Walls and hedges - 1


Walls and hedges - 7

Lonely farm village, a scene of bloody conflict…

Walls and hedges - 3

Who’s going to make it first?

Walls and hedges - 6

Farms and fields

Walls and hedges - 11

Hedgerow Hell?

Posted in Drums and Shakos Large Battles, Impetus, Painting, Revolutionary wars, Scenery, Scratch built | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Acquisition – Terrain, Part I

I am not imaginative enough to build nice terrain. Unfortunate fact, but there, I’ve said it. It seems that I just  lack the attention to how good terrain looks like and never seem to get it right. Or, I just cannot get the things in a way I imagine, which is probably a bigger problem. Any attempt to build small town stands out as evidence to that.Big battalions town - 2Big battalions town - 3Big battalions town - 7

Therefore I had to call for some help, and incidentally Total Battle Miniatures appears to be the answer – or so I believe.  There is couple of things to it. One being the scale, another being the seeming complexity. Hence, Total Battle Miniatures is probably my last pid to get some decent towns for DSLB – feature that has been lacking for years. I did buy  some cheaper scale town sets with universal 19th century buildings to have an idea how they look and feel like.Big battalions town - 5Big battalions town - 4Big battalions town - 1

The models look very nice. The bases are flexible and I presume that they will take terrain features quite well. Buildings are very crisp and just properly scaled down to give impression of proper settlement, yet allowing the natural scale error that is inevitable in game where 12cm frontage resembles battalion in line, which translates to approximately 210 meters in width. Towns are roughly 15cm wide, give or take and 62.500m2 – 65 000m2 area for small dense town/village dwellings without accounting fields and farming, which is not entirely inconceivable.

Big battalions town - 8Big battalions town - 6

I do like the idea of flexible townscape bases and want to see them in action. Hopefully I can now get painting mojo going and have them ready asap. Preferably before miniature gaming season starts again.

Posted in 7 years war, Drums and Shakos Large Battles, Painting, Review, Revolutionary wars, Scenery | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review – Successors

Successors cover.png

I had an opportunity to acquire 3rd edition Successors in mint condition. I have been looking for a long time but always found either prohibitively expensive or just not available. Since it is very likely that Successors will not see another reprint in it’s current form – which happen to be the form I do like it, and I would not like to have the opportunity passing me. There are four card driven games that  need to be in every gamer’s shelf. In mine they are: Pax Romana, (which is not strictly card driven, but close enough), Wilderness War, Hannibal and Successors.

Successors is a weird piece of game. Something akin to Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. One could argue that it is four player take on it, but H:RvsC is a quite bit more sensible and serious. Pax Romana would probably lend some of the insane chaos to it, but then Successors is not quite Pax either. Very seldom do you find yourself chasing dead body of Alexander around Middle East (or any other body in that matter, game or otherwise). It would be hilarious, if it would not be true. Successor wars were probably the most bizarre sideshow that ancient Macedon/ Greece put up. A pretty good act considering the theatrical history of Greece and not forgetting the fierce competition.

There, a fantastic topic to draw inspiration for a game. But then, how do you execute such a game? There are times that I do not appreciate Berg’s design philosophy (RAN for the fact that it really makes you think seriously about seppuku (with a wooden spoon I might add) when you know you’re losing, but also know that it will take another two hours or more to get there). Then in other times, like Pax Romana he has done things right, and the product is outright brilliant.

I have to admit that I was somewhat perplexed to see Berg’s name on the game designers. Then thought that since the style of the game is closer to Pax Romana than Ran, I would probably be safe. Not a mistake there. Successor is a little gem, a piece of art that has been just under the radar for a long time. There is strong theme to go about, and the act of balancing out the chaotic situation to functional factions is fantastic one. It is one thing to design a game where you have to allow people to gang up on one player, but it is entirely other matter to design a game which positively encourages people to do so. Without breaking the system, or making the game dull. Successors map.png

Successors is a card driven experience, and cards are used in similar fashion to other games, such as Wilderness War. It is a game where each of the four players (optimum group size) choose randomly two generals. Each general then has a bit of region and position. Goals are either victory points which can be obtained by conquering and several other means. Alternatively players can aim for legitimacy which can be obtained by being the good guy (and marrying & sheltering Alexanders relatives as much as possible). Prestige can be used to modify certain aspects of the game. Each faction has a satrap and some amount of armies associated with them.

Successors is not a war-game. It is not about fighting, and fighting will not take you very far. You only make yourself a lot of enemies by waging war. Armies do not really care about allegiances and battles are brutal. Every time you fight, you take substantial risk to your leader, and to the army. First sign of trouble and you no longer have an army. And you may not have general either. So an army is a device to impose power, but in reality lacks the power to execute. This brings a point about the cards. There are many, many ways to affect the gameplay by positioning armies in clever places, and by playing events that drive your benefit, but just tiniest of margin not to make you the Usurper – the target of everybody else. Then, when the time is ripe, you can strike for a victory.

So, in order to win in Successors, you have to be like Seleucus. Cunning, devious and when the time calls, tactically sound – although the last bit is not that important. Overall, if at all interested in the intricacies of this period, and have any inclination to backstabbing, diplomacy and other neat things, but are not really into fighting a prolonged war, you should give Successors a chance. If you can find it.

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