Open Combat in Wargames Illustrated (Issue 329)

WI issue 329 cover

A little while ago Gav Thorpe and myself were invited over to the Wargames Illustrated offices to show Wayne and Dan Open Combat.

We spent a very enjoyable morning with the guys and played out a game using the demo forces we’d used at Derby Worlds last October. It was a 150 Renown game featuring three super-statted up Romans vs seven grubby Celts. It was a very close game which could have gone either way right up until the last moment when the Romans managed to squeak a win (we’ve seen victories go to both sides with these builds so we knew it would be close).

The issue featuring Open Combat is now released (issue 329) it’s a great read with plenty of ‘eye-candy’ as usual (I particularly like the terrain-making articles).

The article about Open Combat is a Rules Showcase article on pages 110-111 and includes Wayne’s impressions of the game.

WI issue 329 OC Spread

As part of producing these articles the team at Wargames Illustrated send the author of the game their article to check for factual errors and add a FAQ if they feel it would help. Unfortunately for us there was a bit of a mix up when Wayne had a holiday and our amends to a couple of errors were missed before it went to print.

So if you’ve found your way over here via the magazine article (welcome!) you’ll find below clarification of a couple of details that got missed in the article.

  • Page 110, second column, around lines 16-17, the article mentions spending Renown on weapons and armour. It should read that you spend Renown on weapons but armour is incorporated into the Defence (DEF) characteristic. You can choose how much Renown to put into DEF to represent your model’s armour or defensive ability.
  • Page 111, first column, around lines 6-12, the article discusses how to establish the Break Point of a warband. This is the point at which a warband has had enough of the fight and flees. The article is incorrect, it should read as follows, “…the total Fortitude and Mind for your force is added together and divided by two to find your Warband’s Break Point, the point at which, after losses of Fortitude and Mind, the Warband flees the battlefield.
  • Page 111, second column – the article mentions that the PDF is forty-six pages, it’s actually fifty pages.

I’ve included below some additional content which didn’t make it into the article but may be of interest if you are new to Open Combat:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How big is the area needed to play?
A. Open Combat can be played in any area but we recommend approximately 24″x24″.

Q. How long does a game take?
A. Once you’ve created a warband and got your terrain set up games can take between 30-40 minutes (depending on the Renown level you’re playing at).

Q. What dice does Open Combat use?
A. Regular six-sided dice. You only need three.

Q. How does turn activation work?
A. Players take turns but you might not get to use your entire warband during your turn. During your turn you activate the members of your warband individually. Each model in your warband may take two actions but if disaster strikes you might lose the initiative and play will pass to your opponent even if you haven’t activated all of your models. Prioritising your warband’s actions is central to the tactics of Open Combat.

Q. Are there really no limits to the Renown I can spend on any model?
A. Yes, there are no limits. You can build the profile in any way you choose.

Q. What stops models that have huge amounts of Renown spent on them destroying everything around them and being unkillable?
A. High Renown models can be, in one-versus-one situations very powerful although they are still limited to two actions an activation. It’s important to bear in mind that if you’ve spent lots of Renown on one model your opponent may have spent the same amount of Renown split across 2 or more models. The combat system works in such a way that weak models always have a chance of hurting powerful models and if a model is ever surrounded, with no space to be forced back into, they are likely to suffer a very swift demise. Creating a warband is a balancing act of building individual warriors that can stand on their own but also form part of a cohesive whole, forming potential synergies with the other models in the warband.

Q. Are there different scenarios?
A. Yes. Open Combat includes scenarios for playing: straight up fights (with different deployment options); finding and escaping with important information/treasure; and chasing down and capturing prey.

Q. Where can I get Open Combat?
A. From our online store at www.secondthunder.com/store

Q. Is there somewhere that I can ask more questions such as a forum?
A. Yes, you can find it at http://www.secondthunder.com/forum

Design Philosophy

I’ve been playing tabletop miniature games for over thirty years. I love the blend of the creative aspect of the hobby, collecting and painting miniatures, combined with bouts of historical research and the challenge of pitting my wits against my opponents during games. In many ways miniature wargaming provides a unique experience for each person taking part as there are so many aspects to the hobby.

Over the years I’ve played many game systems and enjoyed exploring a vast array of different approaches. I’ve played in lots of different settings and periods and seen many interpretations of what a fighter from any given background is capable of. I’ve also experienced the entertaining banter and back and forth chatter over the tabletop as we as players discuss the relative merits of one type of soldier or another. Cries of ‘I reckon heavy infantry would easily be capable of that!’ with the the inevitable counters of ‘No way! They’d clearly be at a disadvantage…’ are part and parcel of the fun.

In Open Combat I wanted to give you the opportunity to put your own interpretation of things into practice. If you think a particular warrior should be capable of something then you can give your model the characteristic profile to suit. Equally your opponent can put their stamp on things. If you and your opponent happen to be using models from the same faction and period, perhaps a conflict between rival Roman legions, the fact that you may have approached the profiles totally differently is completely fine. Open Combat views each man as an individual and in reality every soldier throughout history has had their own strengths and weaknesses.

Open Combat is a game about close encounters between small groups of individuals. Due to the ‘close-up’ nature of the game you can apply a much more personal approach, putting your own flavour to things which is not appropriate in the more broad brush strokes required for larger engagement games.

You can use whatever miniatures you like so it might be an opportunity to buy a handful of those models from that period you’ve not tried yet. Alternatively you many not have time these days for full scale battles and just need an opportunity to ‘scratch that itch’ to use some of those models sitting in the cabinet. However you choose to play I wish you the best of luck in Open Combat.

Finally if you’re new to Second Thunder and Open Combat you can get the PDF version now at the Second Thunder online store or if you prefer a hard copy we’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund printing the book.

You can see that here: