It’s a kind of magic…

Open Combat has been available online for a couple of weeks now and judging by the emails I’ve been receiving, and the comments scattered about online, it’s well received by those of you that have downloaded and played.

In amongst the comments and emails there’s been several mentions of ‘magic’ from gamers using Open Combat for playing fantasy skirmish games.

A few days ago I had an email exchange with one gamer, Steve G, about the issue. Here’s what Steve G had to say:

I’ve just purchased ‘Open Combat’ & want to congratulate you on producing such a professional, elegant, straightforward & fun set of rules – brilliant! I’m really looking forward to trying them out but was a little disappointed to find no basic magic rules for fantasy games included. From what I can gather, these will follow at a later date, but it’s a shame something wasn’t included already.

That minor gripe aside, good luck with your new release & I look forward to seeing what else follows.

…and here’s part of my reply:

Magic in the core rules is something that is partially handled by the Psychological Attacks (see page 27). We haven’t expressly used the term ‘magic’ but the intent is that those attacks could be magical abilities by sorcerous individuals or regular verbal assaults from fighting men (which is more appropriate in an historical context)…

…In playtesting ‘Intimidate’ was used by a Celt Fanatic in some of our historical games and by a warlock in our fantasy games. The same rule but with different models and environments.

My reply to Steve went on in a little more detail which I’ll get to in a moment.

One of the key intentions when writing Open Combat was to produce a system which allowed you to use whatever miniatures you owned to play whatever kind of games you wanted to play. With this in mind, I made the conscious decision to use terminology suitable for historical games as much as fantasy settings. This resulted in less fantasy language appearing within the text. I did originally have a sentence in the Psychological Attacks section which mentioned that these attacks could be sorcerous or verbal in origin depending on setting but it got removed at some point along the way.

So, where does that leave us?

If you’re playing games in a pre-gunpowder historical period you’re good to go with the core rules ‘as is’. That scruffy looking Viking model you have gesticulating wildly at the enemy could well be using ‘Taunt’ to get them to move closer ready for a good kicking. In a fantasy setting that same ability could easily be viewed as representing some magical mind control.

But that isn’t the end of it for those fantasy gamers amongst us (including me!) wanting to fling fire and lightning about the place. In my response to Steve I went on to suggest he look to the weapons section and view them as spells rather than weapons. The Renown system is intentionally flat so you pay a single point and you get single ‘something’ in return.

Looking for a fireball? Pay a point and give your wizard the crossbow rule. Looking for a lightning bolt? Pay another point and give the model the bow rule. What about some kind of mini magical shards attack? Try paying another point, giving him the sling rule too!

This model isn’t lugging around a crossbow, bow and sling along with ammunition for each. It is using some mystical, magical means to blast it’s enemies from afar in a similar fashion to these weapons instead.

Your imagination and the model collection you put onto the table bring the mechanics of the rules to life. You decide whether it’s the solid thunk of a Norman crossbow bolt putting the enemy down or a blazing inferno of magical flame blasting the enemy from the tabletop. It’s all good if you’re getting those models in your collection into action.

It’s all in the Mind

The above suggestions are perfectly fine going forward and give you plenty of possibilities to tinker with but it isn’t the end of it as far as magic in Open Combat is concerned.

Both myself and Gav have a number of expansions in various states of progress which will expand and explore the magical or mystical aspects of fantasy gaming in Open Combat. In most cases these focus on using ‘Mind’ stat as a resource for your magic using models.

I can’t go into much detail at this stage but the intention is that use of magic does drain the individual using it but that’s the price they pay for meddling with powers they may not fully understand. (Mechanically speaking it keeps things clean and simple too!) They can always take a rest action to get their head back together.

To give you an idea of how it may work here’s a little preview (Please bear in mind this may stay as is, change or otherwise disappear entirely depending on how development goes):

New Ability: Magical Assault
The blaze of magical flames, an eruption of strangling tendrils or the sudden attack of ethereal beasts upon the hapless target, this magical assault can take many forms as it rains agony upon your enemy.
Range: 12″
Model may make a Shooting Attack, reducing it’s MIN by 1 to gain 1 Attack dice for the attack (instead of comparing ATK and DEF as a normal Shooting Attack). A model may reduce its MIN by a maximum 3 for 3 Attack dice in any one Action. May score Additional Hits.

You’ll see that this ability while costing a single point of Renown to gain does cost MIN (and contribute to your Break Point) as you use it.

We’d love to hear what you think and how you get on if you give it a go.

As I’ve mentioned, both myself and Gav have a number of expansions in progress and exploring various magical abilities is in amongst the mix. We may drip the odd preview out along the way but bear with us as we’re in this for the long haul so we’ll be taking our time with product releases.

The Open Combat core system provides a huge amount of flexibility and this is something I will be illustrating over the coming weeks and months on the blog.

Thanks for your support!


Open Combat has started to spread…


I’ll start this post by saying a hearty thank you to those of you that have already bought Open Combat. I’d also like to thank those of you that have expressed an interest, fired questions at me or otherwise shown you want to know more. It really is incredibly encouraging. Like many creative endeavours in our hobby it’s good to get confirmation that you’ve produced something that resonates with other gamers when you produce a set of rules.

So what has been happening?


To put things into a bit of context Second Thunder is a new, independent publisher of hobby games and rules. The Open Combat skirmish game is the first release and it’s produced by myself with the support of Gav Thorpe in a consultative role. At the time of writing I’m the only ‘doer’ at Second Thunder, so the webstore, blog and (soon to be) forum all come down to me organising and ‘doing’ them. This is along with the marketing, responding to contacts, making the tea and so on… Oh and producing additional product (writing, painting, photography…). Although Gav is involved there too but I’ll cover that another time.

Yup, just like many other very small businesses – lots of juggling going on.

Over the last couple of weeks I made Open Combat available to purchase online (after having a weekend demoing the game at Derby Worlds wargame show in the UK). It was initially promoted very quietly on twitter and since then I’ve been gradually adding to the places it’s mentioned on online.

I didn’t quite expect the rapid escalation of interest and the hunger for more information.

I do have a list of support material to publish to help explain and promote Open Combat and I’m going to be working through that as fast I can to get the information out to you. Please bear with me as I get this all organised.

I’ve got lots of other exciting things to discuss along with several topics to cover such as Magic for fantasy settings and the eventual addition of a campaign system.

Plus for those of you wanting more information before committing to buying I’ve got video to produce and a few other bits and pieces to write up.

It’ll be here when I catch my breath – I’m working away behind the scenes even if you can’t see it.

First up is sorting a forum… Hopefully I’ll have that ‘live’ today.


Introducing Open Combat – the miniature skirmish game (Q&A)

Open Combat is a tabletop miniature wargame suitable for any pre-gunpowder historical period or fantasy setting. A fast-paced skirmish-level game that lets you create the heroes, battles and adventures of your imagination.

You can guide the ragtag remains of a Roman expeditionary force through barbarian territory, become a Saxon lord with his retinue as they face off against a local rival, or chart the story of a group of adventurers fighting for fortune and glory in a goblin-infested wilderness.

It could be anything you wish to play out on the tabletop.

Open Combat has a Renown system which you use to build your warband. You literally create the characteristics for the members of your warband, adding weapons, skills and abilities to make the fighters your vision of what they represent.

Romans fight for their lives deep in Celtic tribal territory. From the collection of the author. Models manufactured by Warlord Games
Romans fight for their lives deep in Celtic tribal territory. From the collection of the author. Models manufactured by Warlord Games

What is the period/setting?

Open Combat is a game which allows you to play the encounters that you want to play. You could play games within your favourite pre-gunpowder historical period or you could engage in fantasy battles with your favourite races and factions from that genre.

What kind of miniatures does it need?

We use single based 28mm miniatures in our games. The miniatures you use can be from your favourite manufacturers or existing collection, the choice is yours. (If you’re anything like me you’ll like buying all kinds of cool miniatures when you see them. Open Combat provides you with a game in which to use them).

How many miniatures will I need?

The number of miniatures you need to play depends entirely on the way you create your warband. Literally how you ‘stat’ up the individual members of the warband and spend your Renown. As an example in a 150 Renown game you could have a force with only three powerful individuals facing off against a 7-10 lesser beings. How they fair in battle is up to you.

A burly barbarian faces off against two evil orcs as he searches for treasure. From the collection of the author. Models manufactured by Heresy Miniatures and Mantic Games terrain pieces manufactured by Ainsty Castings and Reaper Miniatures.
A burly barbarian faces off against two evil orcs as he searches for treasure. From the collection of the author. Models manufactured by Heresy Miniatures and Mantic Games terrain pieces manufactured by Ainsty Castings and Reaper Miniatures.

How big is the area needed to play?

Open Combat can be played in any area but we recommend approximately 24″x24″.

How long does a game take?

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).

What dice does Open Combat use?

Regular six-sided dice. You only need three.

How does turn activation work?

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.

Buy Open Combat now on our online store – instant download access following successful payment.

What do other gamers say?

There are a few early adopters active on twitter if you want to ask them their views they can be found following the links below:



Welcome to Second Thunder Blog

Hello and welcome to the Second Thunder blog.

We have all kinds of exciting content lined up over the coming weeks and months. Initially this is going to be in support of Open Combat our first product release but there’ll also be plenty of material of a more general interest to hobby gamers.

So please check back, give us a follow using whatever your favourite method of blog following is and please join in with comments on articles of interest.