A few weeks ago I asked Jon from Palouse Wargaming Journal if he was interested in showing me his variant of the Basic Impetus rules on a hexgrid. Sengoku Jidai is a period I’m very fond of, so Jon and I worked out all the details for a samurai battle. As he plays Basic Impetus and remote games quite a bit everything worked out very smoothly. I’m used to remote work and have a working setup, which further helped.
Mikatagahara is a typical example of overconfidence. Takeda Shingen was not looking for a battle when moving his army of about 35,000 men through Totomi province. His goal was the capital of Kyoto. Takeda’s rival Tokugawa Ieyasu, however, was determined to stop this trespassing army with a mere 11,000 men. Not much is known from the battle itself but we can imagine how well it went for the Tokugawa when attacking with odds of 1:3.
Our scenario, which was worked out by Jon, had the Tokugawa at a much more modest disadvantage. As the attacker, they had the advantage to move pretty much unhindered for the first two turns unless they took aggressive action. Here is the set-up, which was similar to my camera angle for the game and provided me with a handy guide to identify unit types. I had the option to switch to the Tokugawa angle as well, but quickly decided to stay on my side of the table. After all I already have the advantage of flying high above my command tent instead of sitting inside of it.
My army was arrayed in roughly three lines which made it impossible to bring superior numbers to bear from the start. Several strategies came to mind but I had to wait for the first two turns before deciding on one. Jon opted for a coordinated but careful advance, not activating my troops by aggressive action. This solidified my plan to pull my first line back and my third line forward to contract my army on the second line.
In the above image you can see the fruits of this effort, as my blue troops on the left are in a strong linear formation. It certainly helped that Jon’s attack were thwarted by vicious closing fire. His bow and arquebus fire did their damage as well and my forward units became brittle. Something I expected and my army morale level was able to take. My focus was on maintaining a strong line anchored on rough terrain hills on both flanks.
After some turns my strategy began to pay off, but I have to stress that it did so in a very unexpected way and with a portion of luck. Jon attacked at certain weak points along my line without committing his full force. With my line in place I took the opportunity to counterattack his advancing units in an opportunistic but isolated fashion. Both sides took their losses in these skirmishes but on my right flank, one of Jon’s Ashigaru Spear units was beaten back with heavy losses. I took the risk to move out of position for a counterattack with one of my Ashigaru spear units and destroyed it. This happened at the location of the small red die on the hill in the upper right of the image.
To my luck, Jon had already activated his central command and I was able to exploit the situation in a double turn/activation (activations per command being another clever addition of the variant). In the above image you can see my Ashigaru flanking. In the variant of Basic Impetus we played, units are rather sturdy, a change I liked a lot. But a flank charged unit losing the melee is still destroyed immediately. Where any combat is deadly under standard rules, here flanking is very deadly in contrast to frontal melee. With two activations, I weakened his center with ranged fire from the front and my single unit chain charged and routed unit after unit. I think we both looked on in sheer terror as this happened 🙂
But this was all played out in good spirit and laughter. Jon helped me out with many rules questions and graciously let me take back a decision or two where I was missing vital rules. With this very unexpectedly effective Ashigaru unit, the battle was decided in my favor, but I was well aware that my victory took advantage of the fortunes of war, which is so often the case in history. More importantly, it was a very relaxed and fun social wargaming experience. Something that is rather rare for me as predominantly solo player. Stay tuned for the rematch with switched sides!
Note: All images have been provided by Jon and are used with his permission. All figures seen are from his collection.
3 thoughts on “Mikatagahara 1573 – Basic Impetus”
Excellent battle report! I enjoyed seeing your thoughts on the rules and the game, itself. I wonder if the punishing attack by your Ashigaru spear against the Tokugawa left was even more devastating than you describe? Helplessly watching my left completely collapse, I certainly thought so! Your play was brilliant leading the Takeda to a convincing victory. Well done!
As you say, the game was great fun and conducted in a relaxed and social wargaming session. This was a real pleasure for me. I look forward to the rematch but not certain that I can pull off your level of success. We will see.
Thanks Jon. I’m certainly looking forward to the rematch / getting my line flanked 🙂