Friday, 23 December 2016

Building an Impetus Army Part 3 - Ecce Romani

 or “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

The Early Imperial Roman Army is something of a classic. The hard core of the army are the Legionaries. These are the benchmark Heavy Infantry in Impetus, and they represent the Romans at their most basic, a simple and horribly efficient meat grinder. You feed the opposition in at the front and mincemeat comes out at the rear. You need to take a minimum of four units, and a theoretical maximum of twenty. At a basic cost of 28pts each they’re not cheap, and you can upgrade them to A class if you really want to push the point home.  The trick is to ensure you keep these efficient killers in fighting condition and get them into contact at the appropriate point. The rest of the army exists to funnel the opponent into the blades, or protect them from pesky things like cavalry and skirmishers. 

To do this you have two different supporting arms, both of which are worth getting. Firstly there is the Cavalry. Roman Cavalry is not very special. There is nothing wrong with them, it’s just that they’re a bit err, Meh. They can have some average medium cavalry, and a couple of javelin armed light horse. You don’t get enough of either to make them a main fighting arm, and the opposition are usually either better or more numerous, or both. That is in many ways fortunate in that it makes you concentrate on doing the main thing, staying uncommitted and keeping the opposition cavalry off the Legionaries until they’re in position to do their thing. 

The other troops you need are your light infantry. You get some Auxilia infantry, and a few skirmishers. The Auxilia are a bit of a puzzle in some ways, particularly to new players, as they look a little bit like weak Legion, and they don’t have a missile weapon unlike most other light infantry. They do have a high initial combat factor and also the handy ability to negate the Impetus bonus of warband. They’re also very good at clearing woods – something the Legionaries are pretty poor at, and you really should take at least a couple of units. You also need some skirmishers. These can harry opposition heavy infantry as the Legions move up, or screen the Legions from enemy missile troops.  

Proportionally I think you need enough Auxilia to intersperse them between your Legionaries, so 4 Legions will require 3 Auxilia, 5 Legions 4 Auxilia, That allows you to intersperse an Auxilia between each Legion if you are fighting Warband, or to mass them to fight enemy light troops in bad terrain or operate as a mass on a flank if your opponent does not. Half as many skirmishers as Legions is more than enough to act as a skirmish screen. Your Cavalry force needs to be large enough to hold it's own, or rather not get overrun too early, so one or two medium Cavalry and two light Cavalry are probably enough.

So where does that leave us?

4 Legions @ 28pts each = 112
3 Auxilia @ 23pts each = 69
2 Funditores (Skirmish slingers) @ 14pts each = 28
2 Equites Alares Medium Cavalry @ 23pts each = 46
2 Mauri Javelin armed Light Cavalry  @ 21pts each = 42

Total so far is 297, so plenty to play with if we are planning a 400 point Army.  Romans have an Average or Good Command Structure, for 12 or 20 points, and you will need some Generals too. How many Generals and how good they are is up to you, but at least two. There's a big debate to be had as to the merits of three smaller Commands over two larger ones, but the Romans seem to be able to make 2 work as long as you are careful with the cavalry, so you can split the cavalry into one Command and the Infantry into the other, which is a straight 60/40 split so within the list building constraints. The Romans don't rely on flamboyant or high risk tactics, so they don't really need high value Generals - two Fair, or even Poor Generals will manage, but you do probably need some help from The Gods so maximise on 3 Rolls of Destiny (re-rolls) at 5 pts each.

So here is the a suggested Roman Army based on the above ideas. It's solid, conventional, and efficient.

Average Command Rating
3 Rolls of Destiny

Commander in Chief (Poor)
4 Legions
3 Auxilia
2 Slingers
Total Break 20, Breaks on 10

Cavalry Command (Poor)
2 Medium Cavalry
2 Light Cavalry
Total Break 8 Breaks on 4

Army Break Total 28 Breaks on 14
Total points 344

Your opponent will only guarantee a win if he breaks the main Infantry Command, or the Cavalry and a chunk of the Legion. If you are cagey with your Cavalry he will find the latter hard to do, and if he breaks the Legion its Game Over anyway.

That leaves you 56 points to play with. The Romans get a lot of support options, and plenty of Allies too. The Allies are a bit risky as they have to deploy as a Command themselves, so at 400 points I would tend to avoid them. You could upgrade you Legions to Veteran for 11 points each. Veteram Legions are superb, but if you are fighting enemy Warband you will probably not be doing much other than walking steadily forward so the extra training and experience is probably wasted. Other options are to add a couple of Archer units, or maybe some Light Artillery.

Weaknesses - deep heavy infantry - here I mean good quality Hoplites or Pikes deployed as large units. In Impetus large units maintain their fighting power longer than normal ones, so Legions are in danger if fighting 1-1, however those Large Units are sacrificing width for fighting power, so can usually be outflanked and then surrounded - another good use for your Auxilia.

Charging cavalry can sometimes bowl the Legions over, but they are rare and will certainly be outnumbered.

So that's it - a possible Roman Army for Impetus - next, what to buy and where? 

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