Creating your first Open Combat profile

Open Combat is a skirmish tabletop wargame which pits rival warbands against each other in battles and encounters in whatever pre-gunpowder period or setting you wish to play within.

You construct your warband by spending points of Renown to create the profiles for each fighter. You could have several fighters that all have the same profile (and Renown value) or each fighter could be an individual, the approach you take to build your warband is entirely up to you.

This article is going to guide you through the process I use to build the profiles for my models which will hopefully help you in your own warband creation.

For the purpose of this article I’m going to put together the profile for a spearman. It doesn’t matter what historical period or fantasy setting you play within – you’ll always find a spearman somewhere.

Manufacturers (left-right) Warlord Games. Hasslefree Miniatures, Mantic Games, Black Tree Design, Wargames Factory
Miniatures from the collection of the author. Manufacturers (left-right) Warlord Games. Hasslefree Miniatures, Mantic Games, Black Tree Design, Wargames Factory

In Open Combat we measure a model’s effectiveness using a series of characteristics. These characteristics are:

Speed (SPD) A fighter’s Speed value represents their pace, agility and dexterity.

Attack (ATK) A fighter’s Attack value represents their skill at arms, aggression or natural prowess when taking the fight to the enemy.

Defence (DEF) A fighter’s Defence value represents toughness, armour and their ability to defend themselves when beset by enemies.

Fortitude (FOR) A fighter’s Fortitude value represents their stamina, health and physical ability to continue to fight.

Mind (MIN) A fighter’s Mind value represents their mental aptitude, discipline, strength of will and general desire to fight on.

A fighter also needs arming and can have a few skills and abilities too which set him apart from his comrades. We’ll get onto those later.

How do we start to give the spearman we’re putting together his characteristics? A good jumping off point can be found on page 9 of the rules.

The characteristics profile provided there is as follows:

In game terms this gives you a model which can move up to 8 inches in an activation, if it took two Move actions.

The model isn’t a complete push over in combat, if it can get some kind of positional advantage it might be able to get multiple attack dice when it attacks.

Conversely an opponent would need to have a high Attack value to get three attack dice against this model (assuming no modifiers were involved).

A Fortitude of 3 means the model would have to be unfortunate to be taken out of the battle by a single assailant without getting an opportunity to strike back.

Finally the Mind of 2 suggests the model is no great thinker, but not completely without sense. It may be susceptible to Intimidation or some other form of Psychological Attack should it encounter that sort of threat.

If we arm the model with a Spear and Shield we have a serviceable fighter ready for action. The value of the model in game terms would be 17 Renown.

SPD ATK DEF FOR MIN Weapons/Abilities Renown
4 3 3 3 2 Spear, Shield 17

It’s worth pointing out that this profile and armament could be used by several models in a warband, this can be a good way of quickly putting together a warband.

If you’re playing a game where the majority of the combatants are of similar ability, representing retainers or followers, you could have a group of similar models with the above profile accompanying a handful of heroic individuals with superior profiles befitting their quality.

Open Combat gives you free reign with profile building

I often like to go a little further with my profile building and give each model a little more character.

Let’s take each model from the image above and look at them individually. Remember they’re all ‘spearman’ and the above profile would be perfectly serviceable for them – we’re now going to look at what you can do if you like to tinker a bit.



Looking at this model I see him as a young warrior keen to prove his worth on the battlefield but not necessarily having the experience to back up his bravado. A SPD of 4 seems fine, ATK of 3 again seems fine. When it comes to defence I’m not convinced this young lad would really know what he was doing so we’ll give him a DEF of 2. He’s likely to be in his physical prime, full of youthful vitality so we’ll give him a FOR of 4. Mentally the model is most likely very naive so I’ll give him a MIN of 1.

Being a young warrior he probably thinks he’s the most powerful being on the planet so I’m also going to give him the Taunt ability to represent him shooting his mouth off. With a MIN of 1 he’s unlikely to successfully influence anyone but it might create an entertaining moment on the tabletop if he does.

So the final profile for the Celt Spearman looks like this:

SPD ATK DEF FOR MIN Weapons/Abilities Renown
4 3 2 4 1 Spear, Shield, Taunt 17

As you can see, the above profile costs the same Renown as the previous sample spearman but has a very different tone to it (simply by tweaking a few values).

28mm-Goblin-SpearmenThis model of a Goblin Spearman is painted as a member of the City Watch for a fantasy setting I’ve been pushing around for a few years. He’s a pasty looking little stinker, unhealthy and not exactly the epitome of martial prowess within the city. However he does wear armour and a nice uniform so citizens best behave if they know what’s good for them. A SPD of 4 again seems fine, he’d probably be a bit quicker if he wasn’t wearing armour. An ATK of 2 seems right for this little chap as he’s not exactly the top fighter in the barracks. His armour does give him some protection though so a DEF of 4 feels right. Not being the healthiest of individuals a FOR of 2 means he doesn’t have much staying power. A MIN of 2 seems fine for a fighter that is usually following orders.

To represent the role I envisage for the model within my fantasy setting I give the model the Distract ability, “Will ya looksee over there! It’s the brute squad comin!” The model may not be the toughest in the warband but he can set things up for his bigger comrades or otherwise give himself a chance of escape.

So the final profile for the Goblin Spearman looks like this:

SPD ATK DEF FOR MIN Weapons/Abilities Renown
4 2 4 2 2 Spear, Shield, Distract 17

Again we have the same Renown cost as the previous two profiles but a different character emerges from the characteristics we’ve put in place.

28mm-Elf-SpearmenThis elf model is part of a much larger army that I’ve been working on for a few years. He’s a member of a unit of spearman. When I use him as part of an Open Combat warband he usually works alongside a couple of his kinsmen armed in a similar fashion. A SPD of 5 seems about right, I’d have gone to 6 for a model with a less ‘front line’ role. An ATK of 4 and DEF of 4 provide him with good potential in combat especially if I can get him into a favourable position. I give the model a FOR of 3 as I don’t see him as being particularly robust. A MIN of 3 seems about right for a ‘regular’ elven trooper too in the context of the games I play.

I’m also going to give him the Evade ability which works quite nicely with a spear. Plus, bearing in mind this model usually works in conjunction with a couple of comrades, I’m going to give this model Feint ability too.

The profile for the Elf Spearman is as follows:

SPD ATK DEF FOR MIN Weapons/Abilities Renown
5 4 4 3 3 Spear, Shield, Evade, Feint. 23

More expensive than the previous profiles but likely to be a little more versatile on the tabletop too.

28mm-Saxon-SpearmenThis model is from my Anglo-Saxon/Anglo-Dane collection and sees battle in all kinds of roles in other games systems. In Open Combat he’s a regular Anglo-Saxon, probably usually tending fields, called up by his local lord to add another body to a fighting force. A SPD of 4 is fine. I reckon this chap has seen combat a few times so ATK 3 seems okay, he fights when needed but isn’t overly aggressive. A DEF of 4 represents him knowing how to defend himself even though he doesn’t have a much in the way of armour. A FOR of 4 is appropriate for this model – he works in the fields most of the time, he’s a strong bloke. A MIN of 2 feels okay for his social position.

I envisage the Anglo-Saxons in my games are fighting on land and areas they know pretty well so I also give this model the Surefooted ability.

The profile for the Anglo-Saxon Spearman is as follows:

SPD ATK DEF FOR MIN Weapons/Abilities Renown
4 3 4 4 2 Spear, Shield, Surefooted 20

This model is marginally different to the first profile above, a little more expensive due to the tweaks for my own perception of his role in my games set in the Dark Ages.

28mm-Huscarl-SpearmenFollowing on from the ‘regular’ Anglo-Saxon lets take a look at a professional soldier from the period. This model comes from the ranks of the Huscarls in my Dark Ages armies, in Open Combat this model can take the fight to the enemy. SPD of 4 seems okay, he’s armoured but he’s used to wearing it. An ATK of 6 shows that this chap knows what he’s doing when he’s going for an enemy. A DEF of 5 represents him knowing how to defend himself and his armour. A FOR of 5 gives this model some serious staying power. A MIN of 3 represents his grit and determination.

With this model being a professional soldier I think he’s learned a trick or two so I’m going to add the Shield Bash ability. I also think he’s unlikely to give ground easily so I’m also giving him Resolute.

The final profile for the Huscarl Spearman is as follows:

SPD ATK DEF FOR MIN Weapons/Abilities Renown
4 6 5 5 3 Spear, Shield, Shield Bash, Resolute 27

This model has a much higher cost and could easily be a leader in some of my Open Combat warband builds.

It’s in your hands

I hope you can see in the article above that all of the profiles can be used for a ‘spearman’. They are all different in tone and feel and play differently too. The versatility of Open Combat gives you the freedom to do this.

One thing to bear in mind with the examples I’ve provided in this article is that they are all based on the context of the games I play. All of the profiles I’ve provided ‘feel’ right to me and perform fine on the tabletop in games against my regular opponents. We have a similar mindset with regards to our builds.

You may find that as you play more games and experiment with builds you and your play group gravitate to a different sort of profile as the ‘norm’. I’ve played with warbands where the model with the lowest Renown value within the warband was 27. It was a small band of experienced fighters, individually a very powerful but few in number. I happily play with all kinds of builds and enjoy the experience of playing with each equally.

The beauty of Open Combat is that you can do whatever you feel works for you. There is no right or wrong profile for a particular model – there’s just the way you want to play it.

It’s your hobby you can play it the way you enjoy it. So what are you waiting for? Get those models out and see what you think they should be capable of.

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

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2 thoughts on “Creating your first Open Combat profile”

  1. I think a key element is having a gaming group with similar ideas on how to create a profile. Just so stats of similar troop types aren’t too wildly dissimilar.
    But with models that all represent individuals with a wide array of abilities then really anything goes. My Goblin spearman is a master at evading blows and has a DEF of 8 (ninja Goblins!) as an example. Basically it is all about adding character to your models.

    1. Absolutely – you’re right. It’s all about adding character. 🙂

      I love the idea of a goblin that just seems impossible to hit. I can imagine the model getting a groan (or a ‘I’m going to get you this time!’) response from a regular opponent that’s tried to kill it off on numerous occasions.

      It’s these kind of things that create the little anecdotes that we, as wargamers, collect over the years as we remember little situations on the tabletop.

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