On Friday after school last week we put on a demo game of Basic Impetus for boys who wanted to know more about Historical Wargaming. This was the first game for my 28mm Viking and Norman armies, and actually the first game I've played with 28mm figures. I used the Normans, under the nom de guerre of Odo Iron Arm, with Conan the Librarian taking the Vikings.
The year is about 1020. A Viking raiding force has been making itself generally objectionable in the Duchy of Normandy, nicking plasma screen TVs and so on. The local powerful bastard Odo Iron Arm drags himself away from the mead hall and wenches to call up his retainers and catch the Danish seawolves. Moving through a recently looted village, Odo's men see the Vikings drawn up on a ridge waiting for them.
The set up.
The Normans struggle to deploy for battle from the road.
The first few turns saw my Normans trying to deploy off the road and making a mess of it. My initial plan was to concentrate on the Vikings on the ridge to my left, hopefully softening them up with footsoldiers and crossbowmen first. This didn't work so well. My footsoldiers charged the Vikings shieldwall and were promptly massacred, while the missile troops failed to make any impression.
Failing that, I charged the Bondi deployed across the road. This turned into a slogging match that started looking worse and worse for me, particularly after Conan launched some of his other Bondi into my flank.
Over on my left, the Viking Berserkers finally couldn't take it any longer and charged my general. This was one of several epic moments in the game, where Odo and his retinue beat off the Berserkers and pursued them back through the gap in the Viking shieldwall, only to be hit in both flanks and destroyed by the Odalsbondi on either side.
Running out of shields to bite, the Berserkir charge.
Odo pushes back the Berserkir, but not without loss. Casualty figures mark disorder and shields with different numbers of segments keep track of damage.
Fortunately, from this point on I had uncharacteristically excellent luck. I sent a unit of knights around on my right flank and dislodged the shieldwall isolated on the right side of the road. They continued on, rolling up the Viking Skirmishers and tipping the balance in the centre. Meanwhile, over on my far left flank a unit of knights broke another unit of Bondi. The Vikings army reached its break point and victory was mine (just).
The game was loads of fun, and hopefully served to inspire a few more boys to get into historical wargaming. I did here one boy remark 'it's just like Warhammer', but restrained myself from putting him on detention. Once again, I enjoyed the unpredictability of Basic Impetus, but also the way that different armies have their own characteristics. The Viking ability to form a shieldwall, especially when deployed on a hill, made them tougher than the Norman knights so long as they kept their formation. So whereas I had all the tactical mobility and initiative, I had to try to find a way to lure the Vikings out of their strong position or end up in unpredictable slogging matches (which is largely what happened).