Category Archives: Impetus / Basic Impetus

NOT re-inventing the wheel

As I’m sure you are aware by now, the coming weeks will see a veritable horde of new rules for gaming Ancients descending upon the wargames community (I’m aware of at least 4 sets due out between now and summer)

One of the sets which will not be making an appearance at Salute this coming weekend is the Polemos Ancients set of rules from Bacuss6mm. Pete Berry’s latest news posting explains why.

As part of that posting, Pete did note that he has added new army deals to cater for the upcoming rules – you can find these here.

The one thing that did encourage me about this was the fact that, if the army packs are anything to go by, the ‘standard’ army for Polemos Ancients is going to be very similar in size to a 300 – 400 point army for Impetus.

This I find somewhat refreshing. Why?

Well, in these days when everyone is trying to put their own ‘stamp’ on various rules, and it seems that each set that is produced (despite protestations to the contrary) have their own ‘ideal’ unit basing, which is:

  • Different to yours                     and
  • Different to any other rules system (except for some obscure rules set from 20 years ago)

It’s nice to see that here, at least, I have a set of rules that I can buy and use my existing army without even having to think about re-basing, or even buying extra figures!

Having said that, I don’t like Mr. Berry’s army packs – simply because they don’t quite fit in with the figure ratios that I allocated for my armies when I started using them for Impetus / Basic Impetus.

Peter defines all his close order infantry units as 3 ranks, whereas there are two different types of close order infantry in Impetus (FP & FL) – I use 3 ranks for FL and 4 ranks for FP (which means that a Roman units is 48 figures, 1:10 ratio for a cohort – which appeals to my sense of aesthetics)

I also tend to use more skirmishes on a base (12-16 individual figures) and my Heavy Cavalry (CP) have 12 figures, to differentiate them from Medium Cavalry (CM).

So actually, whilst I will still end up buying my armies by the unit, rather than these new army packs, the balance ends up in Mr Berry’s favour, as I will actually require more figures, and thus spend more money.

I’m sure that will make him very happy.

One reason to love Impetus

For a while now, Impetus & Basic Impetus have been my Ancient Wargaming rules of choice, if I haven’t been using C&C: Ancients.

If you are wondering about some of the advantages of Impetus, then check out this website.

This guy is a Sengoku period fan, amongst other things, and has used the large bases that are required in 28mm Impetus to create each one as a vignette – making the most gorgeous looking army.

Some people complain that Impetus doesn’t use ‘standard’ DBM/DBA basing, but when you see what some people produce, it’s hard to argue against.

Truly impressive

Meeples & Miniatures – Episode 55

Download Episode 55

Welcome to Episode 55 of the Meeples & Miniatures Podcast.

In this show, I am once again joined by Rich Jones, and we discuss various games during our chat together.

The main focus of the show are the new Black Powder rules from Warlord Games. However, we also chat about various other games, including Nuts! and Battlefield Evolution: Pacific War.

I also review Extra Impetus #2 and the new Ancible magazine.

I hope you enjoy the show.

00:00   Intro
02:40   Podcast News
05:35   Competition
10:35   Gaming (Battlefield: World at War –  Pacific Expansion, Nuts)
38:45   Review: The Ancible Magazine
48:40   Review: Black Powder
114:10 Review: Extra Impetus #2
120:35 Closing Comments

SOA Battle Day 2010 – Of Time, Space…and Practicallity

As I’ve put together the two armies for Zama, there is one thing that I can’t get away from – this battle is potentially big, really big.

We are looking at 2700+ Infantry, 200+ Cavalry and 18 Elephants – Even in 6mm, this is going to look a very impressive sight.

But are things getting out of hand? Time for a sanity check…

Size of the game

Lets take a look at the points values. I’ve roughly worked out the points value of each army:

  • Romans – 1131
  • Carthaginians – 1134

Surprisingly similar, but very large  – especially considering that the Impetus rules are designed to work with armies of between 300 – 500 points. Will the system even work with armies that are so big?

Table size

Playing Impetus in 6mm means that you use 1/4 sized based from the 28mm equivalent…which should mean that you can play the game on a 4′ x 2′ board.

Obviously with a game this size, you need a much bigger table – for example, the Carthaginian line is potentialy something like 17 base widths wide – that’s just over a meter…and you need room for the cavalry to operate on both flanks. An 8′ x 4′ table is not an excessive space as far as wargames go, but having this filled with 6mm figures does put some perspective on the size of the battle.


OK, here’s where it gets difficult. Anyone who reads this blog will know that I am not the quickest painter in the world – far from it. I can achieve some good results when pushed, but I do struggle to stay focused on projects. The sheer size of the forces required would be challenging, even for a quick painter, never mind someone like me.

So what do I do?

I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a dreamer, and I get very enthusiastic about new projects. The idea of a huge battle of Zama is, I still think, a great one. Seeing the table would certainly give an appreciation of the sheer scale of the battle. However, I think if I move forward based on the inital plans, the project may very well be doomed for failure.

So, especially considering my concerns with game size, I think a sensible option would be to start by building the armies at half size – so each unit would effectively represent double the amount of troops that it should normally.

Though it will still produce a couple of large armies (26 bases for the Romans and 31 for the Carthaginians) these are certainly much more managable within the confines of ‘standard’ Impetus game play.

Obviously, the added bonus of this approach is that I can complete 2 armies which can be used as they stand, and then still go and produce the larger armies if I have the time and resource.

SOA Battle Day 2010 – The Carthaginians

So, having dealt with the Romans, it’s time to deal with Hannibal’s army at Carthage.

As with the Romans, the exact number of Hannibal’s troops at the battle is open to some speculation, but I’m pretty happy to go with the general consensus, which is 36,000 Infantry and 4,000 Cavalry – plus 80 war elephants. This is also the small matter of 4,000 Macedonians, if Livey is to be believed, but we will come back to that.

OK, let’s start with the easy stuff – the Cavalry. This was evenly divided into 2000 Carthaginian & Spanish Cavalry, and 2000 Numidians. This gives us the following:

  • 4 Units Medium Cavalry – 4 x 9 = 36 figures (12 strips)
  • 8 units of Light Cavalry – 8 x 6 = 48 figures (16 strips)

Onto the Infantry. Hannibal divided his army into 3 lines, each of roughly 12,000 troops.

The first line consisted of Balearic Slingers, Moorish Archers and Ligurian and Celtic Infantry. No exact numbers of each are given, so I’ll make a couple of ‘gaming’ assumptions. If we allocate 4 bases each of slingers and archers (about 1,200 men each), that leaves us with 9,600 Infantry. Divide that equally between the Ligurians and Celts gives us 4,800 each. Since both of these units are FL in Impetus terms, that gives us 6 units of each.

  • 6 Units of Light Infantry – 6 x 27 = 162 figures (54 Strips)
  • 6 Units of Celts – 6 x 27 = 162 figures (54 strips)
  • 4 Units of Slingers – 4 x 12 = 48 figures (12 strips)
  • 4 units of Archers – 4 x 12 = 48 figures (12 strips)

Onto the second line, which consisted of 12,000 Carthaginian Levy. They are described as ‘Heavy Infantry’, but I suspect the are actually more like FL in Impetus, as they were Levy, so I’m going to treat them as such (and use the Baccus Citizen Infantry from their Carthage range). This gives us a nice round number…

  • 15 Units of Light Infantry – 15 x 36 = 540 figures (135 strips)

Finally, there is the third line, which consists of 12,000 of Hannibal’s veterans. These were a mix of Brutians, Africans, Spanish etc, but all heavies. Again, the maths is easy

  • 10 Units of Heavy Infantry – 10 x 48 = 480 figures (120 strips)

At this point we may also want to consider the Macedonians – if we wanted to use them, they would equate to roughly 3 units of Heavy Infantry…

  • 3 units of Heavy Infantry – 3 x 48 = 144 figures (36 strips)

And finally we have the elephants. There seems to be no basing conventions for these, so it’s really a ‘look and feel’ issue. 80 elephants should look impressive, but not be overpowering. so, 4 units? Maybe 6? I think 6 units, spread across the front of the army, would look better…

  • 6 units of elephants – 6 x 3 = 18 figures

OK, if I thought that the Roman Army was big, this is HUGE. 48 Units of Infantry, 12 Units of Cavalry and 6 units of elephants, which equates to roughly 1,584 infantry, 84 cavalry and 18 elephants.

Time to go away and have a think about this…

SOA Battle Day 2010 – The Roman Forces

So, time to think about how many figures I need for this game of Zama for next year.

covhomeThis may seem strange, but since I’m recently new to massed battle games (being a skirmish game junkie) I’ve never actually put an army together before based on the historical forces – it’s all a but of a new experience.

First things first – basing conventions.

I’m using the Impetus rules, plus 6mm figures (Baccus) and so I will be using the ‘standard’ Polemos 60mm x 30mm basing, which seems to work well for Impetus.

In order to differentiate troop types, I’ve come up with the following convention when it comes to the amount of troops that I put on a base:

  • FP (Heavy Infantry) – 4 ranks (usually 12 strips of 6mm figures – 48 troops)
  • FL (Mediuym/Light Infantry) – 3 Ranks (Usually 9 strips of 6mm figures – 36 troops)
  • S (Skirmishers) – Randomly placed troops on the base  (Usually 12 troops)
  • CM (Medium Cavalry) – 1 Rank, 9 figures in line.
  • CL (Light Cavalry) – Randomly placed, 6 figures.

But what does a base represent in Impetus? Well, according to the rules…

  • Heavy Infantry – 1 base = 600 – 1200 men
  • Light Infantry or Medium/Heavy Cavalry – 1 base = 400 – 800 men
  • Skirmishers or Light Cavalry – 1 base = 200 – 300 men

So, now that’s sorted out my basing convention and approximate figure ratios, how many figures do I actually need?

Making life easy for myself, I’ll start with the Romans.

According to most sources, the Romans had approximately 24,000 infantry at Zama, plus 1,500 Cavalry. They were complemented by an allied force of 10,000 Numidians (6,000 Infantry and 4,000 Cavalry)

Taking the Roman contingent – according to the Impetus army list, a Republican Roman legion consists of 1 unit each of Velites, Hastati, Princeps and Triarii, or 3 x FP + 1 x S = approx.  3,900 men…except that wasn’t a Republican legion supposed to number about 5,000?

A (very) rough piece of arthimetic means that, allowing for a little margin of error, the Roman Infantry contingent consists of 6 Impetus ‘Legions’.

However, this doesn’t take into account the fact that Triarii units were smaller that the Princeps & Hastati, so maybe I should up the count to 7 ‘Legions’ instead? And for that matter, were all the Roman troops in legions, or did they have accompanying Italian allies, for example? Just how many Legions were with Scipio at Zama?

I’m not sure, and I think I should remember throughout this project to ‘keep it simple’.

So, 6 legions of Roman infantry it is.

The Cavalry, by comparison, is relatively easy. 1,500 Italian Cavalry can be represented by 3 units of Medium Cavalry (1 base = 500 men)

Now, Baccuas do not produce seperate figures for Hastati or Princeps, so they can be bought together.

  • 6 Units of Triarii = 6 x 48 = 288 figures (72 strips)
  • 12 Units of Hastati/Princeps = 12 x 48 =  576 figures (144 strips)
  • 6 Units of Velites = 6 x 12 = 72 figures (18 strips)
  • 3 Units of Cavalry = 3 x 9 = 27 Figures (9 strips)

Onto the Numidian allies. Whilst the Cavalry don’t really cause an issue (though there are going to be a lot of them!) the only Numidian infantry in the Impetus army list are Skirmishers. However, I can’t believe that the Numidians fielded an army of 6,000 skirmishers, so I’m going to take some licence and treat 2/3 of this allied contigent as Light Infantry (FL) with the rest as Skirmishers.

This means that the Numidian Infantry can be represented 9 bases of Infantry – 6 Light Infanty and 3 Skirmishers.

As I said, the cavalry are much more straight forward. Assuming that Light Cavalry use a base size of 1 base = 250 men, this gives us 16 bases of Cavalry – certainly a rather large horde for one flank!

So, my Numidian allied contigent:

  • 6 Units of Light Infanty -6 x 27 = 162 figures (54 strips)
  • 3 Units of Skirmishers – 3 x 12 = 36 figures (9 strips)
  • 16 units of Light Cavalry – 16 x 6 = 96 figures (32 strips)

So, that gives us a grand total of 52 bases for the Roman army, 33 of Infantry and 19 of Cavalry, with a total of 1134 Infantry figures and 123 Cavalry.

That’s quite a few, and I haven’t even started on the Cartheginians yet!

SOA Battle Day 2010 – Starting early

I’ve recently recorded an interview with Richard Lockwood of the Society of Ancients (soon to be heard on the podcast feed) and as part of that we chat about the SOA Battle Day.

51kUN9NfK-L._SS500_Battle Day 2010, unusually, has already been decided upon – it will be the Battle of Zama in 202BC – the battle that saw the defeat of Hannibal by Scipio Africanus and the end of the 2nd Punic War.

I thought that I’d better get my research done early, so after scouring the internet, I also decided to by the book “Hannibal’s Last Battle“.

I’m hoping to use this book as a basis for building my force for the 2010 Battle Day.

covhomeAnd what will be my force?

Well, since it will be massed battle it will obviously be 6mm, and we will be using the Impetus Rules. However, rather than sticking to particular points limits, I’m going to use the historical sized forces, and split them according to the Impetus basing convention.

I’ve got several months before the armies need to be ready, so plenty of time to fail dismally!

6mm Basing for Impetus

Several people have been asking me what basing convention I am intending to use for 6mm figures with the Impetus set of rules.

First of all, I am going to use the ‘standard’ Polemos basing convention of 60mm x 30mm (it leaves the figures flexible for when Polemos Ancients comes out). This is actually 1/4 of the size of the usual Impetus basing, which means that the table size is reduced accordingly. Therefore, a game can be played on a 4′ x 2′ table.

I have only just started putting together my Marian Roman Army, but we are using the following conventions for the number of figures on a base:

  • CP (Heavy Cavalry) – 12 Figures (2 Ranks of 6 Figures)
  • CM (Medium Cavalry) – 9 Figures (1 Rank)
  • CL (Light Cavalry) – 6 Figures (Randomly placed on base)
  • FP (Heavy Infantry) – 4 Ranks of Figures (Usually 48 figures)
  • FL (Light Infantry) – 3 Ranks of Figures (Usually 36 figures)
  • T (Missile Troops) – 2 Ranks of Figures (Usually 24 figures)
  • S (Skirmishers) – 8 Figures randomly placed on a base.

Pictures to follow as I get some painting done…

6mm Ancients

6mm Roman Army

I’ve been playing the ‘Basic Impetus’ and ‘Impetus’ Ancients rulesets for several weeks now with borrowed 15mm armies, but I’ve decided to bite the bullet and start collecting new ancients armies for the game.

Several months ago, I was looking at painting up a Republican Roman army for C&C:Ancients, using 20mm HaT plastic figures, and whilst these would have been perfectly adequate for using with ‘Impetus’, I wanted a more ‘epic’ look and feel.

So, after chatting with Dave Luff, my 6mm partner in crime at Scimitar Wargames Group, we decided to start collecting 6mm armies for Impetus.

It was then down to what period to start. Looking at the Impetus army lists, there was (at the time) no army list for my two favoured periods (Sengoku Japan and War of the Roses) and so I plumbed for my next favourite – Romans.

However, I didn’t want to do Punic Wars, as I wanted something different to our C&C:Ancients campaign, and I didn’t want Early Imperial Rome (As everyone does EIR), so I decided on a Marian Roman army.


Well, firstly, the Marian Roman army list covers a time of expansion in the Roman Empire, when Rome was fighting a large variety of enemies (Numidians, Gauls and Parthians to name a few) plus several civil wars, and so this seemed to give a large variety of opponents.

Secondly, I read the ‘Emperor’ series of novels by Conn Iggulden last year, which is a fictional biography of Gaius Julius Caesar, and really enjoyed them, so it seemed in keeping to put together one of Caesar’s legions.

So having decided on scale and army, it came down to placing an order. I also decided to buy an opposing army – but since Dave Luff was buying Celts, and I wanted something completely different from Romans, I ended up going with Parthians.

6mm Parthian Army

Both armies give me lots and lots of figures to paint. The Roman army has just over 800 (although that is, in fact, two 300 point Impetus armies – so I can fight some of the Roman Civil War battles) and the Parthians are much smaller, at about 350 – 400 figures (although the vast majority of Parthians are either mounted bowmen or Cataphtactii)

So, this gives me yet another ongoing painting project – along with my 6mm French, 15mm Samurai and Battlelore figures.

Will I ever get anything done?

Impetus has arrived…

My copy of ‘Impetus‘ arrived from Italy earlier this week – why is it that it’s actually cheaper to buy this from Italy and get it shipped to the UK, rather than buying it via mail order in this country?

Anyway, first impressions are very good. It’s a well produced 50 page, spiral bound book produced in full colour, with lots of photos and diagrams included with the text for explanation of various aspects of the rules.

One of the nice things is that it’s got a good index, and also a full set of quick reference sheets at the back of the rules.

So, how does this set of rules differ from the ‘Basic Impetus’ rules, which are available for free?

Well, i’m still working through the rules, but some of the immediate differences are:

  • Command & Control – armies are now broken into ‘commands’, each under the control of a General. Initiative is now by command and not by side, so game turns are no longer such a one-sided affair.
  • In conjunction with the above mechanic, units now have an extra statistic – Discipline. This is used when units are attempting to move ‘out of turn’ – another new feature of the rules – and allows units to perform such actions as counter-charges and being placed on ‘Oppurtunity’ (which allows units to react in the opponents turn). This changes the rules from i-g-y-g into much more interactive play.
  • Baggage Trains – Each army now has a baggage train or camp attached to the army, which can be attacked during a battle (similar to the likes of DBA/DBM/HOTT)  
  • Missile ranges are increased, plus a new range – ‘Point Blank’ - has been added.
  • Armies are now allocated using points values. The rules are balanced for using armies of 500 points in size, but using armies of 300 and 400 points for smaller games is possible. The army lists have been changed accordingly.

It’s a little disappointing that the book only contains 15 army lists – luckily one of my particular interests (Marian Romans) is included, but many others from the Basic Rules have not been included.

However, new army list supplements are planned, and a beta-test list for Samurai is already available online on the Impetus Forum.

So, first impreesions are very good – I’m looking forward to getting these on the table soon.


Are Gamers like Magpies?

Ever since Hammerhead in February, I have been planning on buying a Command Horizon army from Baccus at the Partizan wargames show in May.

…that was until this week…

Over the last couple of weeks a few of us at Scimitar Wargames Group have been looking for a set of Wargames rules to adopt for Ancients & Medieval wargaming. We’ve tried HOTT (a club favourite), FoG, Warmaster Ancients and this week, Basic Impetus.

It has to be said, of all the rule sets tried so far, it’s Basic Impetus that is causing the most excitement (although the Command & Control rules in Warmaster are superb).

Part of the excitment has been caused by Dave Luff (the club’s resident 6mm fanatic) infecting me with his enthusiasm for both the scale, and potentially what could be achieved with the rules. Coupled with the fact that Baccus have just restructured their Ancients and Medieval ranges so that you can buy them by the unit for several of the more popular wargames rules, and we have suddenly been catapulted into a gaming feeding frenzy.

Using the recommended basing for 6mm figures in Basic Impetus (BI) gives you a 60mm x 30mm base size. The armies in BI are usually 7 – 10 bases in size, but given that you can represent a unit of infantry by up to 48 figures on a base, the will still allow for an impressive looking army, even in such a small scale. In fact, a typical Marian Roman Army consists of 8 elements, but actually has a total of 264 figures – which should look like an army.

Give Baccus’ new pricing structure, this means that you can buy most armies (including unit options) for Basic Impetus for between £15 and £25.

I find myself drawn to this new ‘shiny’ option. For the same price that I would pay to buy 1 (admittedly large – 7 Battalions or so) Command Horizon army I can now buy 6 Ancients armies to play Basic Impetus with.

It’s a nice dilemma to have. Do I buy lots of shiny sci-fi tanks and infantry, or lots of shiny ancient armies?