Category Archives: Editorial

Open Combat Supplements and Accessories Update

It’s been a long time since I posted an update on the situation with the Open Combat supplements. So where are things at?

Open Combat Black Powder

I’m aiming to put the Black Powder supplement up for preorder in mid to late October 2020 for release in November 2020.

Black Scorpion Pirates fight over wreckage
Pirates fight over the spoils amid wreckage on a stormy coast. Black Scorpion miniatures and terrain from the private collection of Mike Jarvis.

In the same fashion as the Sword Masters supplement, Black Powder will be available in printed and PDF formats.

The Black Powder supplement introduces a number of entertaining new rules and weapons, some of these weapons involve templates. I’ll be including the templates as a PDF available to download from the Resources page of this website so players can print out and make their own for free. I’ll also be releasing the templates as an optional accessory if you prefer to buy them rather than use DIY templates.

Open Combat Battle Gauge prototype
Prototype of the Open Combat Battle Gauge combining all of the templates required in the Black Powder Supplement. Separate templates may also be available.

Along with rules for black powder weapons the supplement will also introduce new skills and abilities along with providing new scenarios to play.

With several of the weapons in the Black Powder supplement capable of rendering models dazed or stunned (such as choking fumes from a stink pot!) your models may lose Actions. Some leaders or trusted subordinates have the personality to urge their friends on in those difficult situations, to represent this one of the new abilities is Alert.

Influence ability: Alert

Numerous events can cause a fighter to become distracted, stunned or otherwise confused. At moments like this a shout or warning from a nearby comrade can alert them to danger and speed their recovery from their temporary daze.

This model can encourage, warn or otherwise berate a nearby model to try to remove the effects of losing one or more Actions.

Compare the MND of the model taking this action with the MND of the target model and make a Psychological Attack.

Range: 6”
Terrible Miss – Despite this models best efforts the attempt results in frustration as the target ignores their entreaties. Lose one action from this models next activation. Lose Initiative.
Minor Hit – Target model regains one lost action.
Solid Hit – Target model regains two lost actions.

Open Combat Multiplayer Supplement

Tentatively titled ‘Open Combat Battle Pits’, the Open Combat multiplayer supplement introduces rules for playing games with three or more players in a battlepit or arena style conflict.

The supplement introduces an alternative approach to turn sequencing and includes extra rules specific for games with three or more players.

There will also be guidance on using existing scenarios to play multiplayer games along with introducing new scenarios for arena style games.

I’m currently considering whether to release this as a physical book or to make it initially a PDF only release with a view to rolling it into a physical ‘omnibus’ book of several supplementary pieces in 2021.

The reason for this is that I have a selection of supplementary material that does not necessarily fit within any specific setting, period or genre or require enough pages to warrant a full book. I’d like to release these digitally as I get the production aspect of them completed to gradually build up enough material to form an omnibus if the interest exists to have a physical version.

Open Combat Magic Supplement

The Open Combat Magic supplement is going to be the main Open Combat release in 2021. This supplement will be released in both PDF and physical format at launch.

I’ve spoken about it to those of you I have met at shows over the years, and once the Black Powder supplement is finally released I can move onto the Magic supplement and give fantasy players several cool new tools to create warbands with.

One of my personal favourite aspects of the Magic supplement is the use of the MND and how that interacts with other aspects of Open Combat.

If you already play Open Combat you’ll know that the Break Point of a warband is based on the combined FOR and MND of your models. In the Magic supplement you will need to balance how much MND you want to sink into your spellcasters as they will be using it as a resource to cast spells. This then makes them important models for your Break Point.

But don’t worry, you won’t always have to batter your own Break Point when casting spells. There are power stones which can be bought as part of creating a warband which can be used in lieu of using a spellcasters own MND. Using charges from a power stone instead of spending MND to cast a spell won’t affect your Break Point, but relying on power stones can be risky. They can be stolen by the opposing warband!

The magic supplement also introduces the concept of enthralled minions. These are followers of a spellcaster who, in addition to being a potential protector can also be used as a resource by a magician needing to recover MND points previously spent casting spells. Normally a model can only recover MND or FOR by taking a Rest Action but an enthralled minion can take a rest action on behalf of their controller. We can imagine the spellcaster drawing energy from their minions to sustain their own magical powers.

Another aspect of the magic supplement I really enjoy is the ‘build your own’ system of creating magic items too but I’ll talk about this more next year.

Open Combat Accessories

If you’ve spoken to me at the various shows I’ve attended over the years you may have heard me discuss getting various accessories put together to support Open Combat. I’m finally sorting out getting them produced.

Over the coming months keep an eye out for:

  • An assortment of counters and tokens for various states/modifiers such as losing actions to Distract, ATK bonuses etc.
  • A customisable deck of cards. I’m still working out the practicalities of this one but essentially it’s a set of cards which allow you to modify the faces to suit the scenario you might be playing. Perfect for creating a draw deck for Retrieve the Prize scenario or a random Hazard generator.
  • Break Point Tracker.
  • Open Combat dice tray.
  • Plus a few other things I’ll talk about another time.

Second Thunder newsletter

That’s where things are at the moment. I’ll be getting the first issue of the Second Thunder Newsletter out soon. It’ll include a number of details relating to playing Open Combat solo. If you haven’t already signed up please subscribe.

Note: You’ll have to click on the confirmation email you get (and prove you’re not a robot) as I think the process is a double opt-in process. I think that’s how I’ve set it up – you’ll find out when you stick you email in!


A new year, a new approach

2018 was a busy year for Second Thunder but, as many Open Combat players will know, I didn’t manage to get any new product released. This year I aim to finally release a number of products that have been bubbling along for far too long.

Most notable of the releases that didn’t materialise last year is the Black Powder supplement for Open Combat.

There are a number of reasons why I didn’t get this book finished in 2018. Without going into too many details it boils down two things: 1. My working on multiple supplements concurrently so as to keep an eye on any cross-compatibility issues resulted in me failing to focus in on the ‘just finish it’ stage on any of them. 2. We had some pretty big time-consuming changes in family life and being a one-man-band business everything stops if I have to put the metaphorical tools down for an extended period of time (everything is fine, by the way, it just took a lot of time to adjust).

But, after much juggling and wriggling things are finally settling into new patterns and I can finally focus back on supporting Open Combat and getting all the cool new things I’ve been working on finished.

There will be some changes to my approach this year though.

I’m taking a year off from the UK trade show circuit

I love the UK trade show circuit. We’re blessed with loads of wargaming shows on our small island and it’s brilliant.

One of my favourite parts is meeting you guys, the players of Open Combat, chatting to players is one of the most rewarding parts of writing and publishing rules. Hearing what people are doing with the game, answering questions and listening to suggestions all go to help feed the creative machine perpetually whirring away at the back of my mind. The same goes for all the new people I meet at shows too whether it’s simply interested observers who want to have a chat about what I’m doing or painters/terrain makers just wanting a short chat about the hobby in general, it all feeds into the hobby brain for later digestion.

A more ‘nuts and bolts’ benefit of attending shows is the sales. Selling stuff is clearly important (it keeps a half-starved creative from completely starving) and I thank everyone that has supported me at the shows last year and bought into Open Combat, especially those of you that still wanted to buy after listening to me talk at 100mph when you visited my stand!

Another perhaps easily overlooked benefit of being at wargaming shows is exposure. I know, I know… some of you may be thinking “exposure doesn’t pay the bills” and that’s very true but we wargamers take our time over decisions, particularly when looking at new rules. In my experience attending shows and being present at all the different venues has been hugely beneficial to spreading the word about Open Combat. I’ve had many people buy from me who had first heard of Open Combat by seeing me at a show several months prior, or else have ‘seen me around for a while now’ and finally decided to take a closer look. Another way to get exposure is paid-for advertising, either in magazines or online. All of this has it’s place but being physically present and chatting to people, especially about rules where you can take interested gamers through a few examples of play is an incredibly powerful way to spread awareness of a game and wargames shows provide this opportunity.

I’ll also miss the camaraderie with other traders, big and small, even when sometimes it’s just a wave and a nod at someone I’ve been meaning to speak to but we’ve been too busy to chat during the show.

So with all of that said you might be wondering why am I taking a year off the circuit? (… and yes – I’m not even trading at the ‘big’ ones)

There’s a few reasons, in no particular order they come down to:

Time – Attending shows uses up a lot of weekends in the year. Last year involved a lot of juggling diaries in our household, this year is going to be very busy too so I could really do with having flexibility and my weekends available over this next 12 months.

Energy – Attending trade shows as a one-man business promoting rules, particularly the busy shows or the multiple day events, is very tiring, I’m talking constantly. It can physically and/or emotionally drain me for a day or two after the event, particularly if I’ve had very long drive each way. This has a number of knock-on effects but the main one is that it essentially knocks back writing time (see writing below).

Writing – I’ve found that I have to ‘sink to depth’ (rather like a submarine submerging) to write fluently for any length of time. If I get into the writing groove and the words are flowing but I have to stop or I have the groove disrupted and I have to ‘surface’ I then have to go through the whole process of sinking to depth again, which takes time. Attending shows, at least attending as many as I have tried to do this last few years, has meant that I have had very stop-start, sporadic writing periods which has not been very helpful when it comes to completing things.

Perspective – This is perhaps a bit of an unusual reason but it’s important to me when I have my marketing hat on. I want to attend a few shows as a regular attendee to assess them from a visitors perspective. I can then feed this point of view back into how I approach my attendance when I return to the show circuit in 2020. I know I could improve on the way I do things at shows but when I’m actually trading at shows on my own I don’t have a chance to look around the show, let alone consider how I could improve my approach. I’m wanting to do that this year. So I’ll visit a handful of shows this year for a few hours to wander around and think over how I can improve my own stand.

Filling the ‘exposure’ void

As I mentioned above, the trade shows provide important exposure for small companies and that physical presence is particularly important when showing how rules work. It’s also a great way to communicate what is happening with things and how different projects might be progressing. How am I going to maintain an Open Combat presence in the minds of existing and prospective players this year?

There’s several components to my new approach for this year which I’ll talk about as we get into the swing of the year but one of the main elements is that I’m going to publish a quarterly newsletter.

The Second Thunder Newsletter

Inside I’ll be promoting new Open Combat products, other new releases as they come along and highlighting interesting discussions on the forums and/or social media. I’ll promote any Open Combat organised play events that may be occurring over the year too. I might even manage to get some ‘play through’ videos sorted this year!

Perhaps the biggest thing I’ll be doing through the newsletter is providing links to work in progress documents so that players can have a tinker about with new rules in development. I’ll set something up on the forum for conversations to be kept in the same place.

It will hopefully keep Open Combat in mind while I’m off the show circuit and establish something which we can continue when I renew my attendance at shows.

I’ll be publishing the first issue of the Newsletter at the end of January and you can sign up using the form below.

Sign up for the Second Thunder Newsletter

Note: You’ll have to click on the confirmation email you get (and prove you’re not a robot) as I think the process is a double opt-in process. I think that’s how I’ve set it up – you’ll find out when you stick you email in!


ROBIN show and Campaign Days

On the 11th of February 2018 I was trading at the second ROBIN (Red on Blue in Nottingham) wargames show run by the wargames events team.

The Second Thunder trade stand at ROBIN wargames show in 2018
My stand at ROBIN 2018, I’m taking the pic which is why there’s nobody manning the stand!

I don’t get to look around shows when I’m trading (usually being on my stand on my own) so I didn’t really see much of it but the atmosphere seemed to have a happy, positive buzz about it and I was busy all day so from my position it was a good show. This impression is further supported by the general noises I’ve been hearing from the other small independent producers and web comments by visitors to the show too. All good signs for the future of one of the new kids on the wargames show circuit.

Along with trading at the show I was running an Open Combat Campaign Day. I’ve run two of these previously, one at DAFFCON in Firestorm Games, Cardiff several years back and one at Spirit Games in Burton-on-Trent a year or so ago and on both those occasions I’ve had four to six players. It was initially looking like I’d have six players at ROBIN but with one thing or another three couldn’t make the weekend and another had a family situation which meant he had to drop from it. All of this reduced the player count down to two. Could it continue? Of course it could!

An organised play event in the traditional wargames mould is a competition or tourney where the intent is to use swiss pairings (winners versus winners etc.) to end the day with an outright winner. This requires a decent sized field of players to run and two players would have been impossible in this environment. (I can imagine some wargames competitions need more than four players to be viable). There’s also a bit of a tendency to get a bit intense at these events, especially at the top. It’s a competitive environment so this is understandable in the circumstances, but stressing out while wargaming isn’t necessarily what many of us look for in the hobby.

An Open Combat campaign just needs two players. Granted, more players will provide more opponents (with their own cunning minds and strategies) to pit your wits against but two players is still absolutely fine for Open Combat. I spoke to both the players at the begining of the day to explain things and Dave and Mike were happy to simply play against each other over the course of the day.

The beauty of Open Combat is that every game is different even with the same opponent and this is especially so in a campaign environment…

The campaign day consisted of four games, the first a straight up Open Combat fight using Confrontation deployment. The second encounter saw the warbands clash as they sought to Retrieve the Prize, split into three pieces, using Board Edge deployment. The third game used a variation of the Capture the Prey scenario using Confrontation deployment and the final game saw the warbands clash again in Open Combat but using Corner Edge deployment. Each game was played over a different terrain setup with its own Hazards in place so there were situational considerations to make and each encounter developed along its own lines to keep the players on their toes.

The fact that it was a campaign day too meant that, on top of the changing physical environment on the tabletop being fought over, the warbands themselves were changing too as they suffered casualties and/or hired new faces to support the effort.

The number one aim of a campaign day is to have fun, it’s about the story unfolding over the course of the games rather that simply winning. With this in mind both players had a very relaxed day chatting, playing and nipping off to have a look at the show between rounds. But at the end the day as a nod to the heroic efforts of the warbands taking part we all like to see who the ‘winner’ might be. The winner in a campaign day is the warband that ends the day with the highest Reputation. If you’ve played other games with an experience/advancement system the best way to think of Reputation is as Experience Points. In Open Combat you earn Reputation through your efforts (causing damage, grabbing objectives etc) and thus add towards your victory tally but if you wish to add to or develop your warband you have to spend Reputation to do so.

I only got to see little snippets as the day progressed but it was great fun hearing the stories unfold. The first game saw Dave C. and his orcs take a bit of a battering from Mike J’s Vikings and while the goblins which had been taken out of the action made full recoveries the Orc leader died outright (a one in six chance of happening). The Orc with the next highest Renown assumed control of the warband without a need for a leadership fight. Dave joked as long as the goblins don’t have to compete for the leadership he’d be okay. If a leader is killed in an Open Combat warband the next highest value model assumes control but in the case of a tie the contenders have to fight for it which can result in injuries.

The second game saw the slightly battered orcs once again given a taste of Viking axes and amazingly, once again, the goblins survived and the new Orc leader was killed outright! Rather nervously Dave assigned his last remaining Orc as the new leader of his warband. I think at this point we were all getting suspicions that the goblins at the bottom of the pecking order might be somehow rigging the demise of their ‘superiors’. While Dave was watching his warband being gradually demolished over the course of the day Mike was adding extra punch to his already pretty formidable line-up of hard northern men and women. You’d be forgiven for thinking that after two batterings Dave would have little chance in the last two games but this was not the case. Open Combat has an underdog system built into the campaign rules allowing a warband with a lower Renown level (the points size of the force) to hire mercenaries to reach a semblance of parity when facing a higher Renown level warband. The mercenaries don’t earn Reputation but they do give you an expendable resource to send into the action.

The third encounter saw the fortunes of battle start to swing the other way. The high Renown levels of all of the Viking models in Mike’s force meant that if they left the field of battle with captured prey they were having a big effect on the Break Point of his force as a whole. A warband’s Break Point in Open Combat is a measure of how much FOR and MND the warband can lose before it flees, think of it as morale. After a close fought battle both warbands had stolen the same amount of Victory Points worth of Prey items but as the Viking Break Point was reached the orcs claimed the field. It was a draw on points but a valuable moral victory to the orcs.

The final game of the campaign day at ROBIN saw an epic battle as the two forces fought for ultimate victory.

The final battle loomed. A quick check of Renown levels (how powerful the warbands were) and Reputation (a measure of victory points for the day) showed us that Mike had a whopping Renown in the region of 180 allowing Dave to hire 60 Renown worth of mercenaries. I can’t remember the actual numbers here but the Renown difference was significant as Mike had been building his force up over the previous games while Dave had been relying on mercenaries and spending Reputation to fill the gaps in his force. Checking the Reputation levels we were provided with an extra spice to the final battle, the forces were separated by only a few points of Reputation, I think they were on 41 and 30 (ish).

The final battle commenced and with some crazy archery antics from goblins high up on a rocky outcrop the sole archer in the Viking force was taken out early on. The battle would be resolved up close and personal.

The ensuing battle had some epic moments in it. I only caught bits and pieces of it from my trade stand but I did witness the moment when some critical dice rolling and moves were taking place. With his rerolls already all gone, but positioned well Mike J rolled a double 1 on an attack and lost the initiative early in his turn. Play passed to Dave who managed a couple of moves and attacks to pour some pressure onto the Vikings with models being threatened from behind before he too, having burnt the last of his rerolls rolled a double one and the initiative swung back to the Vikings. Both warbands were precariously close to their Break Point at this moment in the battle. Mike had the satisfaction of Taunting one of the pesky goblin archers from the top of the rocks causing it to fall flat on it’s face, wounded. But then disaster again, a double one losing the Initiative mid-turn.

Could the orcs that had taken a battering all day pull something out of the bag? With only 1 FOR damage required to break the Vikings Dave make a two dice attack roll, attacking into the back of one of the weakened Viking warriors, he got the damage he needed and the Vikings broke. I think, if I remember rightly, he actually rolled a double-six at this point which was a fittingly heroic final blow!

As the two players started to add up their final Reputations it became clear it was going to be close. We weren’t disappointed, after four battles through four different environments with four different objectives the Viking force had developed into a warband of high Renown but what of it’s Reputation? The final tally, after a double-check and a calculator was 60. The Orcs, having seen two of their leaders slain during the day, propping themselves up most of the time with mercenaries and spending Reputation on new warband members to fill gaps also did a double-check and a recount, they scored 62!

Clearly the tales of carnage, skullduggery and rumours of downright dodgy-dealing by goblins gave the orcs the edge in the Reputation stakes. But the Vikings took away many a tale of epic battles, enemies slain and treasure stolen so much so that their Reputation was worthy of a saga back home.

Both players enjoyed the day and as a backdrop for the show for me it was fantastic to hear the stories coming from the games on the tables. All with just two players too!

This was the third campaign day I’ve run with pretty much an open theme to allow fantasy and historical figures of any description to be mixed and matched to suit the whims of the players. I am thinking of being a little more proscriptive in the next day I run which will be later in the year when the gunpowder supplement is out. With this in mind I’m considering doing a pirate themed campaign day next time. I’ll probably keep it open in the sense you can have fantasy pirates too because there are some fantastic pirate models across historical and fantasy ranges to choose from.

I’m planning on doing more campaign days and the idea of running them at clubs as part of a wider demo day is something I need to look into properly as the year progresses. Obviously if I was running a day at a club I’d be happy to run it to a theme of their choosing to suit the needs of their members.


Wargames Shows 2017

We’re very lucky in the UK to have a thriving wargames show circuit and I try to attend one a month (ish). If you’re a big enough trader, or the main focus of your business is trade shows, you can attend a show nearly every weekend of most months of the year. If you add into the mix the wargames shows overseas, both in Europe and beyond, you could have a very busy schedule indeed (and I know some UK traders do attend several overseas shows).

I’m far too small, being a one-man-band, to attend every event so I have to pick and choose based on a loose criteria of distance, cost and juggling the weekends on the calendar with family commitments. But I do try to take Open Combat to as many wargames shows and events as I can, which as I said above, equates to approximately a dozen shows over the course of a year. During the past six months I’ve attended seven shows.

January 2017

I didn’t get to any shows in January this year, I’ve heard a lot of good noises about Crusade in Wales but never actually managed to get to it yet. It’s one I’m bearing in mind for the future, it’s a fair old trek to get to from where I’m based and probably has a waiting list too but one of these years I’ll try to make it.

February 2017 – ROBIN

In February I attended the inaugural ROBIN wargames show in Nottingham, early indicators give it a lot of promise with a good turn out for it’s first appearance. Next year I will be running an Open Combat campaign day there (more on this at another time) as well as running a trade stand so I might need to muster a helper for that.

March 2017 – Hammerhead, WMMS

In March I was running Open Combat participation games at Hammerhead in Newark aided by Gav Thorpe, where I think we both got beaten multiple times as well as presiding over many battles between visitors. Also in March I attended the West Midland Military Show (WMMS) in Wolverhampton. Aside from chatting about Open Combat I had a great discussion with visitors that along with playing wargames for a hobby, also fight with medieval weapons on weekends. I’m planning on visiting their wargames club to play Open Combat in the near future (alas, I don’t have the time to join their fighting club).

April 2017 – Salute

In April Gav Thorpe again helped me out by running the participation game table of Open Combat while I ran the trade stand at Salute in London. The participation game used one of the work in progress multi-player battlepit scenarios from the forthcoming Open Combat Arenas and Battlepits multi-player supplement. It sounded like everyone enjoyed themselves and also provided useful feedback which is always good. Salute is an incredibly busy show and next year Gav is looking to run games of his own Big Stompy Robots game so I will be needing to pull in some new helpers – especially as I’d like to run a Open Combat games table using the Magic supplement with battling wizards. If you fancy helping out, let me know.

May 2017 – Partizan, ChillCon

In May I was running games of Open Combat on the Ainsty Castings / Northstar mega stand at Partizan in Newark. It was great fun and incredibly busy. One young visitor came back to the table three times, beating me with both sides of the Sword Masters based warbands I had on the table. It highlighted something I’ve witnessed over several years of attending wargames shows. In all the games I’ve played with youngsters the one thing that sticks with me is that there should be some way to bottle their dice rolling skills. You could make millions selling the kind of positive-energy-infused sorcery I’ve seen at play. In May I also attended the new show that started in Sheffield called ChillCon. Again for a new show this one shows a lot of promise and I’ll certainly be attending again.

June 2017 – UK Games Expo

In June I was at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham and I have to say in many ways it’s my favourite show. This is possibly because I’m very much a tabletop gamer that plays all kinds of games and the UK Games Expo has card games, board games, roleplaying games and wargames all under one roof. I’ll admit that I don’t actually get any chance to browse when the show is open (having to scurry around before and after hours) but simply being surrounded by everything for several consecutive days is great sustenance for the soul. Plus, it’s a very good show for Second Thunder too.

Carl Brown demonstrates the freedom of creating your own profiles when putting together a warband roster for Open Combat at UK Games Expo 2017.

Rest of 2017 – Barrage, The Other Partizan, Hereward, Derby Worlds, SELWG, FIASCO

I’m now moving into the second half of the year and I’ll be attending another six shows. These are:

  • Barrage in Stafford, 9th July.
  • I’ll be helping out and running Open Combat on the Ainsty Castings / Northstar stand at The Other Partizan on 20th August.
  • 3rd September will see me over in Peterborough at Hereward 2017.
  • October sees me with a very busy month to end my year of wargame show attendances. On the 7th and 8th I’ll be in the new venue at Derby Worlds then on the 22nd I’ll be at SELWG in London. On 29th I’ll be in Leeds at FIASCO which is held in the Royal Armouries complex.

Open Combat Campaign Days or Events

The preceding blurb is part mini diary of events I’ve been to and part a ‘heads up’ for my show attendances for this year. But I do intend to run a couple of campaign days or events for simply playing Open Combat too this year if I can manage it. Daffcon has been cancelled this year so I’ll not be running an event in in Cardiff in August.

I’ve got to work out some dates and venues but I’ll be talking to Spirit Games in Burton on Trent next week about running a campaign day at their shop again this year.

I’d also like to run a Open Combat open gaming day somewhere in the East Midlands, where I have several tables setup with terrain. Players can come along in a freeform fashion and just play games on different setups against different opponents and maybe try out different warband builds. I could run demos for people that just fancy giving it a try. For existing Open Combat players I could potentially take the opportunity to throw some playtest material into the mix too if they fancied having a go at something still in progress. I’m not sure how viable this kind of thing is yet so if you have an opinion please let me know if it’s something you’ve be interested in.


Salute Interview about Open Combat

While I was at the Salute show this year Pete from the War Gamer youtube channel played in the multiplayer Open Combat game we had on a games table. Gav Thorpe did a sterling job running the game for me while I manned the trade stand (we were both moaning about our knees at the end of the day like a couple of old geezers).

I’ve yet to put together a proper updated introduction video for Open Combat but in the meantime you can see me babble for a few minutes about the game and the hardback book here:

Incidentally it’s worth taking a look at Pete’s youtube channel, there’s some good reviews on there about all kinds of wargames and products.


Open Combat – general update

It’s been a long time since I last posted here, this is due to being crazy busy with shipping books out, attending shows and generally keeping lots of things happening all at once.

So, this is a general catch-up update to say what’s been happening and what’s coming up. I’ll be covering most things in much more detail over the coming weeks.

If you follow me on twitter then you may well be aware of most of this information as I have managed to keep that feed updated on a regular basis over the last few months.

Open Combat Hardback book

Open Combat is now available in a hardback book edition to complement the PDF edition.

If you backed the Kickstarter you’ll either have your copy, it’ll be on it’s way or you still have to pay your shipping – check the updates on the kickstarter page for details.

Open Combat Dice

I’ll be making the Open Combat dice sets available on the website in the next few days (after I’ve updated the way the store handles shipping).

Open Combat can be played with regular six-sided dice but if you’re like me and enjoy playing games with custom dice, the Open Combat dice offer visual shorthand rule reminders with useful images on each of the faces.

Shows and Events

I’ve been to quite a few wargames shows and events over the last couple of months including Hammerhead in Newark (demoing), WMMS in Wolverhampton, Triples in Sheffield, Daffcon in Cardiff (running a campaign day), Salute in London, the RAGE Hundred Years War event at the Leeds Royal Armouries (demoing) and Campaign in Milton Keynes.

I’ll be writing up a few reports of some of the shows and events in the coming weeks but for now a big thank you to all of you that have taken the time to come over and talk to me, play a demo and/or buy Open Combat. I’m thoroughly enjoying meeting you and hearing what players are up to with Open Combat and how well it is being enjoyed.

You can find out what other shows I have lined up this year here.

I will be running more campaign days later on in the year too – I just need to get a few things organised before announcing the next one.

Retailers and Trade

Open Combat is gradually moving out into retail now and I’m currently working on some support material to help retailers. You can view a list of retailers currently carrying Open Combat here.

Supplements and Expansions

I’ve had a lot of people asking me about the supplements and expansions for Open Combat and it’s something I’m keen to get moving on again. I’ll be swinging back on to the Swordsmen supplement in the next few weeks and aim to release it in the summer.

I’m currently looking at several options for how I can release it. Ideally I’d like to release it in PDF and physical format at the same time but this does depend largely on being able to afford a reasonable print run.

I’ve also had quite a few players asking for the Magic supplement, Gunpowder and Monsters along with the steady calls for the Sci-fi version among other things. I’ll be covering this topic in more detail in a future post but things are starting to move again after the initial mayhem of getting the core rulebook printed. I also have several mini-campaign/scenario based supplements in the works for digital release over the coming months. Like many things, it just requires me organise my time to get the production completed on them.

Website Content

I’m going to be doing quite a lot of updates to the website in terms of content (plus a bit of design and layout tweaking) over the next few months. This will include hobby articles, discussion pieces about tactics/strategies for use in Open Combat and maybe even a few extracts from ongoing work on supplements.

Second Thunder Podcast

I will be recording the first episode of the Second Thunder podcast this month, it’ll be a bit of a test recording to get a feel for producing one. I enjoy listening to hobby related podcasts while painting and I know I’m not alone in this so it might be something that interests you too.

Youtube Channel

I’m hoping to get access to a reasonable video camera in the next few months with a view to producing some ‘how to’ gameplay videos and response to questions regarding gameplay. I’ll post more about this when I actually get this moving but felt it worth mentioning as I’ve had several people ask me for video examples of gameplay.

So there’s lots of things incoming. I thought I’d quickly provide a sum up/preview to catch-up after such a long absence from here.


Open Combat rulebook preorder page now live

Firstly I must apologise for the delay in adding any additional content to the website for the last few weeks. Due to working on preparing the Open Combat rulebook for print and the surprising amount of surrounding administration related to becoming a publisher my time has been filled.

I’ve got several Open Combat related articles in draft form awaiting the time I can return to finish them. So, once the book is published and everyone has their copy I should be able to swing into bringing new Open Combat articles and content online quite quickly.

Now, with all that said, the news.

I’ve setup a preorder page for the Open Combat hardback rulebook and it’s live on the webstore (link opens in new tab/window) so you can get a bit of a discount by ordering it now rather than waiting for release.

The main purpose of setting the preorder up is to help me to order a sensible quantity when the book goes to print. I know how many I need for the Kickstarter backers that have helped to get the book to this stage so I’m now trying to gauge how many I should sensibly order to provide a stock level for shows and so forth.

Another thing I’m very conscious of is the weight of the hardback edition so any future print runs may be softback (and perhaps even A5 rather than A4) to help with international sales. This print run might be the only time it’s available in hardback format, I simply don’t know what the future holds so it is a possibility I have to keep in mind. I have to recognise that I’m just a one-man studio at the moment so don’t have the financial weight or sales volume of the medium-sized hobby companies and publishers that can keep hardback editions in print for long periods (even if I’d like to).

Work in progress front cover - new photos are being shot.
Work in progress front cover – new photos are being shot.

The design and layout is coming along nicely, although i still have a lot of long hours to put in. I’m really pleased with how it’s all coming together and really looking forward to getting it out to everyone that has helped make this book a reality.

A sample double page spread from the book.
A sample double page spread from the book.

Once the book is off to print I’ll be organising the shipping paraphernalia to ensure I can get everything out to everyone as fast as possible. The order of shipping will be Kickstarter backers first, followed by any preorders followed by a general release.

I’m going to be at the Derby World Wargames show on the first weekend of October so I really want to be able to release the book to the general public then.

What’s happening with the PDF edition?

If you have the current PDF edition you may be wondering what’s happening with that.

Short answer is it will be getting an update.

The longer answer is that the Kickstarter campaign has seen me produce a substantial amount of new content for the book. The content is so substantial that it has increased the page size dramatically so the PDF update will take some time to produce due to the slightly different media considerations required for designing for e-readers rather than printed material.

A knock-on effect of this increase in content is that the price of the PDF edition will increase in October to coincide with the update. Everyone that has previously bought, or buys the pdf before the update will get the updated edition so if you’ve not got Open Combat in digital format yet now would be a good time.

Check out the online store here.

Right – I’ve got loads to do on this book so I better get back to it. In the meantime if you (or you know someone that might) want to get into Open Combat now would be a good time to hop onboard before the preorder phase ends and the prices go up.