Category Archives: Editorial

The Open Combat Kickstarter is live and already 45% to it’s target!

Well – I launched a little earlier than initially expected but crikey what a start?!

The Kickstarter to get Open Combat into a printed edition is now live and in the first 24 hours (or so) has reached 45% of it’s initial funding target.

You can find out more below (I’ve also installed a widget on the sidebar for the duration of the campaign).

If you’ve been considering Open Combat now is a great time to get involved.

If you’ve already bought the PDF please rest assured that you’ll be getting an updated edition (when one is available) even if new content is added following a successful Kickstarter project.

Please do pop over to the link above and join us as we expand the reach of Open Combat.

And don’t worry – while all this is going on I’m still pushing the first expansions along. Once the Kickstarter is complete I’ll have a much clearer picture of where things are.


Turning the Open Combat skirmish rules into a printed book

Okay, I start with a bit of an apology related to my last update. I’ve had to rethink my development plan so the release schedule for the expansions is getting a bit of a shake up.

Why all the hubbub bub?

Since releasing Open Combat in PDF format back in October 2014 I’ve had many people contact me asking when I’m planning on putting the book into print. Many of us (I include myself here) prefer having a physical rulebook for use in games, they’re great things to own aside from simply being a handy rules reference.

Tabletop miniature gaming is a very much a visual hobby, but also a physical one. We collect and paint cool characterful miniatures, there’s a wealth of fantastic terrain available (or we can build our own) and the rulebooks we use offer us wargaming ‘eye candy’ and inspiration in any number of ways.

I’ve mentioned in a couple interviews (Fools Daily and Meeples and Miniatures podcasts) that I’ve been planning on taking a very slow grow approach with Second Thunder. Growing the business gradually and seeing if I could get things to market only when the financial situation was right. I still believe in slow and steady growth but I am acutely aware of the risk of the growth being stifled if I don’t give it a bit of a boost every now and again.

The steadily increasing number of people asking me for a printed edition of the rules has led me to the conclusion that now might be the time for a bit of a boost.

So during January, while I’ve been moving the swordsmen Open Combat expansion along, I’ve been doing some serious number-crunching and weighing up of options for putting the rules into print.

I’ve looked at Print on Demand and I’ve looked at the many potential sources of investment for businesses to get a product to market. There’s lots of permutations and I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty here but none of the options have been totally discarded (lots options open depending on how things pan out).

I’ve worked in design for print since 1992 and during this time I’ve had the kind of product I’d want to produce tucked away in the back of my mind if ever the day came when I could do it. The hobby market has vast wealth of beautiful products available and if I’m going to enter the physical product market I want Open Combat to stand up with it’s peers.

Funding Open Combat rulebook

After weighing up all the options and possibilities I’ve decided to run a small Kickstarter project to attempt to raise the funds to get Open Combat into print.

I’m not going to go into all the details at present as there are several things we’re still firming up but February 28th (or thereabouts) is the start date. The project will run through to the end of March.

My ultimate aim is to be able to fund a hardback book but we’ll have to see how things develop over the course of the funding process.

It’d be cool if we managed this though!

Open Combat Hardback book visual

What does this mean to the expansions?

There’s a few factors I’m still weighing up at the moment with regards to the expansions. I could simply continue with the PDF release approach or I could hold fire, see how the Kickstarter goes and look at whether I can afford to release expansions in digital and physical format simultaneously. These wouldn’t be part of the Kickstarter, but I could potentially reinvest any surplus (cash left after pledges have been rewarded) from getting Open Combat into print.

I’m leaning towards the latter of those two options as I can then have three options for purchase at release: 1. Digital; 2. Physical; or 3. Digital & Physical Bundle option.

Which brings me onto something else – I will be ensuring that anyone that buys the digital (or already has the digital copy) doesn’t lose out on any potential bundle pledge during the Kickstarter. So if you’re considering picking up the rules you can still buy the digital version as you won’t be missing out on anything if you later choose to pledge for the physical book. I’ll explain how that will work another time.

But for now – start limbering up your noise making devices in readiness for spreading the word. We’ll be wanting as many people as possible to join us in Open Combat!


New Year Plans for Second Thunder and Update on Open Combat Development

I know we’re two weeks into 2015 but a happy new (ish) year to you anyway. I hope you had a chance to recharge your batteries over the festive break and got some cool new hobby toys to play with.

Last year was a crazy time for me. I finally finished the production of Open Combat and got the game released. It’s been fantastic to see and hear the positive comments around the various blogs and podcasts and good to know that it’s been very well received (many thanks go to those of you that have been spreading the word about Open Combat).

So what happens next?

Those of you that follow me on twitter or visit the Second Thunder Forum may have heard me mention some of the expansions that I plan to release this year. Several people have asked for a bit of a roadmap to get an idea of the direction I see the releases going and before Christmas myself and Gav Thorpe got together and discussed the options in taking things forward.

Open Combat Digital (PDF) Expansions

The first three expansions for Open Combat are as follows, note the titles are simply ‘holding’ names for the moment:

End of Jan 2015 – Swordsmen
End of Feb 2015 – Scenarios
End of Mar 2015 – Trolls

Open Combat Wishlist for further into year (the order is still up in the air at the moment):
Magic (General)
Warband and Character Advancement System
Campaigns – Territory Control
Campaigns – Wealth Acquisition
Expanded Cavalry/Mounted Model Rules
Necromancy and the Undead
Elementalist (and Elementals)

So what can you expect in the digital (PDF) expansions?

The Swordsmen: This expansion adds new skills, optional rules and two new scenarios to Open Combat. It’s aim is to allow you to incorporate the swashbuckling type of hero and character/s into your warbands although it applies equally to any kind of specialist expert in sword fighting.

Scenarios: More ways to pit your warbands against each other.

Trolls: Expanded rules for Monsters, specifically Trolls, although they could equally be applied across any monsters you wish to use on the tabletop in the absence of other special rules. Including monster behaviours and special attacks (such as picking up and throwing things…).

…and there’s more

There’s also a number of aspects of Open Combat that I’d like to explore this year which may need more input from players. I’ll be releasing optional rules which players can ‘have a go’ with and offer feedback before it goes into a ‘finished’ state.

I’ll be releasing these as free downloads so that you can easily access them during the year.

The first of these will be gunpowder weapon rules. I’ve tinkered a bit with them already with a view to playing with pirates (plus also the horse and musket period). But I’ve not really given them extensive testing and rather than sit on them I’ve decided to let you have a play and see what you think. I’m likely to release these at the same time (or within a week or so) of the Swordsmen expansion as the two seem a good combination if you want to play piratical swashbuckler warband games. They’ll be a free download – the rules won’t be as polished as the rulebook or expansions but it’ll give you another dimension to explore within Open Combat and a chance to offer feedback during development.

Second Thunder Future Releases

Open Combat is the first release for Second Thunder but is in no way the only game we have in the pipeline. There’s two more projects that I know we’ll be bringing to life this year and I’ll add more details here another time.

Other things that will gradually happen are a reworking of this website, I plan to produce a mix of content to provide hobby articles, game support and development teasers/sneak peeks. I’m also going to get my own podcast off the ground.

I think 2015 is going to be a very busy but very exciting year – I hope you join me or the ride. 🙂

If you’ve not got Open Combat yet you can buy it here.


Open Combat PDF update

Open Combat was released back at the beginning of October 2014 and over the last seven weeks players from all over the globe have been downloading and enjoying the game.

During this period I’ve received very encouraging comments from players about the universal nature of the system and what they can do with it. The fact that you can ‘stat’ up your models as you see fit has certainly appealed to many of you. In addition to this the core mechanics within the system have also been met with approval which is very good to see.

I’ve also received questions, suggestions and feedback to help improve the PDF. In response to this I felt it was time to make a few adjustments to the document to answer the recurring questions before commencing with more support material and exposing the game to a wider audience.

The updated PDF was uploaded on the 14th November. All of you that bought Open Combat prior to the update have had your download links reinstated (and been notified) so that you can download the updated file from your account*.

What is in the update?

The majority of the updates are typographical or grammatical so I’ll not cover those in detail. Along with these changes I’ve taken the opportunity to tidy the odd bit of layout and to alphabetise the skills section for easier reference.

Listed below you’ll find the clarifications which have been added to the document in response to player feedback (note page numbers refer to new pagination).

Page 3 – Contents : Adjusted to account for page number changes owing to expansion of content.

Page 6 – Six-sided Dice & Tape Measure : Added in how to roll D3.

Page 8 – Calculations : Added in how order of calculations for modifiers.

Page 24 – Sling : Specified that when taking two shots as a single action they must be at same target.

Page 27 – Psychological Attacks (third para) : Clarified that these attacks can be made against friend of foe.

Page 28 – NEW PAGE Creating a Profile : A short guide to illustrate the process I use to put an initial profile together.

Page 34 – Climbing (added 6th para) : Clarifying that players should discuss what models are suitable for climbing different bits of terrain before a game starts (cavalry is generally not known for tree climbing skills!).

Page 38 – Scenario 1 Open Combat : Clarified the deployment maps.

Page 40 – Scenario 2 Retrieve the Prize – Objective And Victory Conditions (second para) : Clarified that models leaving table count towards Break Point.

Page 40 – Scenario 2 Retrieve the Prize : Clarified the deployment map and use of Board Edge deployment.

Page 43 – Scenario 3 Capture – Objective And Victory Conditions (third para) : Clarified that models leaving table count towards Break Point.

Page 43 – Scenario 3 Capture : Clarified the deployment map and use of Board Edge deployment.

Page 44 – Scenario 3 Capture – Securing Prey (second para) : Specified a maximum of 4″ during Move Action with secured prey.

Page 45 – Afterword – updated links to Second Thunder blog and social media.

Page 47 – NEW PAGE F.A.Q – A short frequently asked questions in response to a number of queries. Note, I’ll be setting up a living FAQ on the Second Thunder Forum (as soon as I get a chance) to respond to any further questions rather than constantly update the Open Combat PDF.

Page 48 – NEW PAGE Quick Reference Sheet – Collated combat modifiers, actions and the rules for weapons, skills and abilities for easy access.

…and that’s it!

Thanks for your ongoing support!

Many thanks to those you that have been in touch over the last few weeks with your questions, queries and suggestions I do appreciate you taking the time to let me know your thoughts. I’d also like to thank those of you that have sent messages of praise & support relating to the system – it’s incredibly inspiring knowing that you’re enjoying Open Combat.

If you enjoy Open Combat please help spread the word amongst your gamer circles.


I’ve very recently been a guest on the Fools Daily podcast and you can hear me chat to Mike and Conrad about Open Combat over three episodes here. It’s a great podcast and covers a lot of different games so well worth tuning into while your painting your minis or going for a drive.

I should be recording with Neil at Meeples and Miniatures this weds too so will let you know when that becomes available.

I’m going to be recording my own regular podcast too (I’ve been test recording recently – trying to get a reasonable sound quality with my limited kit). I have a series of topics to discuss but if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to cover please do let me know.

If you’ve got a comment or response to this article please join our forum and start the discussion here.

If you want to buy Open Combat you can get it on our online store here.

* If you’re bought Open Combat prior to the 14th November and have any problems accessing you reinstated download link drop me a message with your name and order number and I’ll investigate.


Open Combat is one month old. What’s been happening?

The Open Combat miniature skirmish game has now been available in the wild for a month – hooray!

Villagers rush to claim 'their' prize as the herd escapes into the wild! Miniatures by Gripping Beast and Wargames Factory.
Villagers rush to claim ‘their’ swine as the herd escapes into the wild! Miniatures by Gripping Beast and Wargames Factory.

I’ve been very pleased with the reception Open Combat has received. I think the concept of having complete control over the characteristics, armaments and abilities which you can give to your warband, along with the freedom to use whatever miniatures you like has resonated with many of you.

It was fantastic to see the wave of enthusiasm as you looked at your miniature collections with renewed interest. I think many of us have miniatures in our collections which have been left behind as the hobby magpie in each of us flies off to the next model or miniature we’ve seen. Open Combat provides a you with a system which can help get some of those models from your lead/plastic pile into fully painted action very quickly. You only need a handful to build a warband and play. Of course, it also means you may stray into buying ‘just a couple’ of miniatures from a new range or historical period too as Open Combat also allows you to dip your toe into totally new ranges.. but it’s only a few isn’t it?

Complete freedom – you choose the characteristics for your models

Some of you have struggled a little with having complete freedom when creating your first profiles which is understandable, I don’t know any other games that give you that kind of freedom. In case you missed it I wrote an article about creating an Open Combat profile last week which you can see here which can help get you off the ground.

I didn’t want to put any preconceptions of what ‘x’ creature or fighter from a particular historical period was capable of into your mind which is why I didn’t include a list of sample profiles within the rules. I feel they could very easily be adopted as the ‘norm’ and that would be contrary to the freedom that the rules put into your hands.

Be sure to share your ideas for your warband profiles on the Second Thunder forum as I think many other players (and myself) like to see what your particular ‘take’ on your models is. It’s good for sparking ideas and conversation – all nice ingredients for fellow gamer creativity.

Second Thunder and Open Combat on social media streams

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those of you that have retweeted on twitter, shared on facebook, blogged or otherwise helped spread the word about Open Combat amongst your gamer circles. There’s far too many of you to individually thank but take this as a big thank you and hug of gratitude from me, a fellow tabletop gamer.

Please keep on spreading the word, being a tiny independent publisher (even with Gav Thorpe’s assistance) means every little bit of ‘noise’ helps.

There have been some really interesting discussions/exchanges popping up on twitter and our own forum which is very pleasing to see (and useful for my own future reference). If you’re on twitter please give me a follow on @second_thunder and let me know you’re there.

I’ve very recently returned to Facebook, I’ve been juggling so much recently I’d not got to it for a few weeks, and if you’re on there please give Second Thunder Facebook page a like.

Doing some video?

I have been asked by several people to produce an introductory video to give them a stronger idea of what Open Combat is all about and it is something I am working on. I hope to have it ‘live’ towards the end of next week so will be sharing it then – the YouTube channel is in place ready for me to upload the first vid go and subscribe in anticipation of seeing my first effort at video production.

I’ve spotted a typo! What about a quick reference sheet? Fear not – free updates

As is always the way with publishing as soon as you’ve released something, you (or someone else) spot a typo, error or other little anomaly. I’ve been contacted by a few people about one or two little things in the Open Combat PDF which could do with correcting. There’s nothing huge or ‘rulesy’ it’s all mostly typographical.

One thing I told myself when I released Open Combat was that I wasn’t going to constantly micro-amend the book. I have been collecting the feedback and I’m at a point now where I think I can update the PDF before embarking on another big marketing push.

I’m also going to take the opportunity to revisit a couple of sections to see if I can add more clarity to the wording of the odd sentence which I’ve received questions about.

Another thing which several of you have asked for is a Quick Reference Sheet. This is something that Gav and myself didn’t think Open Combat needed as the game is so simple ad intuitive after you’ve played a game or two. But in the interest of completeness I’m going to put one together and include it in the update.

What does it mean if you’ve already bought it? Well, you won’t need the update if you don’t wish to download it again – the game isn’t changing. If you do want to download the update you’ll be pleased to know that once it’s uploaded to the store I’ll be resetting the download clock for everyone that has purchased it so that you can download the updated file if you want to. You’ll just need to login into your account and navigate to your purchase and hit the download button. I’ll send an email out when the updated file is there.

What’s next?

There are several expansions in the works at the moment. We are nudging along expanded rules for magic in fantasy settings which I discussed in a recent blog post here. Mounted models and monsters are also being tickled along. Perhaps the one which is of interest for many of you is an advancement system and, by extension, campaigns. This is something I’ll come back to in another article but I have moved it forward on my development list. It won’t see release until the new year but it is moving along.

The first micro-expansion which I’ll be releasing is currently living under the working title of ‘Swordsmen’ but this may change. This micro-expansion will introduce new skills/abilities to expand your options along with a new scenario to play. I’m excited about it as the skills do add another dimension to combat decisions which is very entertaining.

If you want to buy Open Combat you can get it on our online store here.

If you’ve got a comment or response to this article please join our forum and start the discussion here.