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"Impetus vs Sword & Spear" Topic


Sword & Spear

13 Posts

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Action Log

30 Dec 2016 10:59 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to Sword & Spear board

Areas of Interest

Ancients
Medieval
Renaissance
18th Century
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©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

doctorphalanx20 Nov 2015 1:58 a.m. PST

Has anyone done a detailed and systematic comparison of the merits of these two rule sets?

I've played both games recently, but I'm reserving judgement till I play a near identical game under each set.

Snowydog20 Nov 2015 6:09 a.m. PST

I have played and really enjoyed both sets of rules. They do give different games and I currently use Impetus with my 28mm armies whilst I find Sword and Spear works best for my larger 15mm games. I have written a few S&S AAR on my blog:
marksgamingblog.blogspot.co.uk
Both sets of rules give a fast-paced game that can be completed in club afternoon or evening session.

freecloud20 Nov 2015 6:18 a.m. PST

I've played both, I find S&S is more inuitive to me personally (aka maps to my view of what an ancient battle ruleset should be) but the nice thing is the base systems are similar so you can swap easily :).

1ngram20 Nov 2015 8:08 a.m. PST

The two sets both give enjoyable games.

However they represent completely different ideas of what an ancient batle was like. Basic Impetus Augmented (the version we use) stresses the importance of melee while S+S is centred on what I would call command control, something BI takes for granted.

As a result S+S, while fun to play, is nothing like any ancient battle I have ever read about. Depending on what dice become available, units can move or halt. Priorities for allocation of action dice can change from turn segment to turn segment. Individual units attack on their own rather than as part of a phalanx or battleline. As I say this is fun for the player, who is constantly (every unit, every turn) having to make decisions about what units to do what with and when it can be done depending on what action dice are available in each turn segment. Wargamers 'lurve' this kind of thing but, as I say, it bears no resemblance to ancient warfare.

BI is direct, the rules assume armies had simple battleplans and troops were generally able to know what their priorities were (to hold a position, to attack or whatever) and capable of carrying out those priorities without having to determine what they were about all the time.

S+S units are quite close together in terms of unit melee value infantry are generally 4, cavalry 3 with skirmishers 2. It has a very complicated (maybe I'm thick) combat resolution system where combat dice are individually compared with each other. As a result the outcome of any melee shows a variation which exceeds any I have ever seen before in any set of rules. This can be fun but it means its difficult to determine whether you are likely to win an melee and the melee results from melee round to melee round can be widely different. BI has units with a fairly wide range of melee values (normally from 6 elephants and cataphract types, down to 2 skirmishers) and charging units can add impetus points as well. Hits are determined by the number of sixes rolled and double fives) but victory or defeat in any particular melee is determined by the units ability to survive a morale check (after deducting hits).

Both rules use fixed unit sizes so both can be played with the same units.

Note that I am comparing S+S with Basic Impetus though the latter now has additional rules for evasion etc. The full Impetus rules add all sorts of complications such as multiple unit movement per turn and command control which, in my opinion, detract from the elegant and excellent approach to ancient wargaming that BI represents.

normsmith20 Nov 2015 11:24 a.m. PST

Good post, thanks.

Marshal Mark20 Nov 2015 12:01 p.m. PST

It has a very complicated (maybe I'm thick) combat resolution system where combat dice are individually compared with each other.

That's the first time I've heard the combat system described as complicated ! Just to clarify, each player rolls about 4 – 6 dice and picks the top four. These are placed in order and compared. It's pretty quick, pretty straightforward and gives a good range of results.

As a result the outcome of any melee shows a variation which exceeds any I have ever seen before in any set of rules. This can be fun but it means its difficult to determine whether you are likely to win an melee

Actually it's easy to determine who is likely to win a melee, as the side rolling the most dice is likely to win. Maybe you mean it's difficult to determine how likely you are are win, as there is a wide variety of possible outcomes.

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Nov 2015 12:04 p.m. PST

command control in Impetus is mainly a subtraced or added dice for the action the unit plans to do. You can mostly do what is important to you, and have rely on luck on the rest. I like it, though the system only works representing battles, not skirmishes. Its one of the few systems where skirmishers and their correct usage really play a major role, and it imho shines for the Italian wars.

That said, I have not played S+S.

Marcus Brutus20 Nov 2015 4:06 p.m. PST

Want to pipe in and say the 1ngram is consistently asserting (when given the chance!) that the full Impetus rules adds "complications" to the Basic Impetus system. I must disagree completely with his assertion. It is also worth noting that Basic Impetus derives from Impetus and not the other way round. What BI does is take away important elements of the Impetus system that to my thinking make the game what it is. Not saying that BI doesn't have value. Simply wondering why anyone wouldn't want to play with the whole system as Lorenzo imagined?

Dexter Ward22 Nov 2015 9:21 a.m. PST

Marcus Brutus wrote:
Simply wondering why anyone wouldn't want to play with the whole system as Lorenzo imagined?
--------
Maybe because not everyone agrees with you?

Marcus Brutus22 Nov 2015 11:50 a.m. PST

Maybe because not everyone agrees with you?

Yes, that is obviously true Dexter. The question that was asked by me was "why?"

1ngram22 Nov 2015 2:46 p.m. PST

I've played both and I prefer the simpler, more elegant version. Different strokes . . . .

Tarty2Ts24 Nov 2015 4:28 p.m. PST

I would have to agree….Basic Impetus is quiet a different game to the full version.

Having said that at $3 USD for BI (actually at the moment it may still be free ?) …..it's pretty good value.

I've only played two games of S+S so far so hardly enough to give an informed opinion here as yet.

Riddcowler5827 Nov 2015 8:29 a.m. PST

I've played all three and find S & S the most enjoyable by some margin. I'm clearly not alone in this as nobody in my club plays either form of Impetus since discovering S&S but maybe we just enjoy having fun games. I always smile when someone starts talking about war games rules and reality…:)

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