Open Combat Warband

Sample Open Combat warband – Saxon Village Defence

I’ve talked about writing profiles for individuals on previous occasions so today I’ll look at a full warband.

You can see a pic of the warband below (click the pic for larger image).

Open Combat Warband
Saxons on the outskirts of their village prepare to defend their homes.
Open Combat warband, miniatures from collection of Carl Brown including models manufactured by Black Tree Design, Gripping Beast, and Wargames Factory.

Saxon Village Defence

The force represents a group of saxon villagers accompanied by a few professional fighting men sent by the local lord to help protect them from raids rumoured to be occurring in their locality. I can imagine the fighters have been sent to see what is behind the rumours. Is it a local rival trying his luck or some outside agency nibbling at the border?

I’ll look at each of the fighters in turn:

The professional fighters

4 6 4 7 3 28
Weapons/Abilities:Double-handed Axe, Sword, Shield, Taunt, (Leader)

Cyneweard, Saxon Open Combat warband leader
Notes: Cyneweard is the Leader of the warband. He’s confident in his abilities and happily challenges others to fight him (Taunt), this is a reflection of his desire to protect those around him. He has learned that this is a good way to pull attention away from others less capable than himself.

4 7 3 4 2 24
Weapons/Abilities: 2 x Hand Weapons, Shield, Ambidextrous

Notes: Eardwulf is young and full of fire. He likes nothing more than to be in the thick of the fighting. He has been told on more than one occasion by Ceolmund to pay more heed to defence but these words fall on deaf ears. Eardwulf prefers to practise his skills with two hand weapons by engaging multiple foes.

4 4 6 4 2 23
Weapons/Abilities: Spear, Shield, Shield Bash

Notes: Ceolmund has fought in several shield walls. he knows the strength of a good defensive position and has learned the value of the shield as a weapon. In combat in will attempt to keep his enemy at a distance, only engaging to Shield Bash if an advantageous moment presents itself.

The local villagers

4 4 3 2 2 18
Weapons/Abilities: Bow, Dagger, Marksmen

Notes: Heard is the best hunter in the village, although he is getting old now.

4 3 2 3 1 16
Weapons/Abilities: Sling, Dagger, Marksmen

Notes: Aelfstan tries to learn as much as he can from Heard and is often to be found hunting birds with his sling.

4 2 2 3 3 16
Weapons/Abilities: Staff (counts as spear), Intimidate

Notes: Eoferwine is a very angry man (Intimidate) with a fearsome fury which will give anyone pause for thought before confronting him. He has farmed this region his entire life and he’s not about to let any thieves make away with his lifestock.

4 1 2 2 5 16
Weapons/Abilities: Inspire, Enrage, (Fists)

Notes: Ealdgyd is Eoferwine’s elderly mother, she is no longer cares what others think when she speaks her mind. She knows exactly how to deliver a verbal lashing to those around her when she feels they are slacking or doing something wrong. Which, to be fair, is usually absolutely anyone she sets eyes on.

4 1 1 2 1 9
Weapons/Abilities: none (Fists)

Notes: Hrodulf is Eoferwine’s son. He was supposed to go with his mother to a neighbouring village where she is helping an ailing relative. He hid in the nearby woods so that he could stay at home instead. When hostile forces arrive he helps out where he can – like many small boys he can make a real nuisance of himself when he wants to!

Profiles reflect the roles the models will play in an encounter

You’ll be able to see by looking over the above profiles that there is quite a mix of approaches within the warband. Different models have different jobs to do within the context of an encounter.

The professional fighters have profiles to suit their roles. If we think about the way combat works in Open Combat we can see that Cyneweard and Eardwulf are the aggressive fighters. Both are able to take the fight to the enemy, potentially engaging multiple opponents using their high ATK values combined with double-handed weapon or two hand weapons. Ceolmund is a very different kind of fighter, playing a more supporting role using his spear from range or attempting to knock enemy prone to make it easier for others to aid the fight. The FOR of these three models is also at a level where they would be unfortunate to be taken out of action without having the opportunity to respond. They should have reasonable staying power during a game.

The local villagers are very different with profiles to reflect their different lives. I see these models as being the handful of locals that have stuck around when a conflict begins, the vast majority of the inhabitants of a village would most probably have fled to the hills at the first sign of danger.

The FOR of the villagers is lower than the professional fighters which means they are less likely to survive a sustained or heavy attack. Heard and Aelfstan are certainly best used at range. The fact that missile fire can Force Back models in Open Combat can be put to good use with these two models. If the angle of attack is just right you could force the enemy into positions more suited to the needs of the rest of your warband. Driving models into engagement with your fighters or forcing them away so that they must expend Actions getting closer again. They could also score some points of FOR damage on enemy models from a safe distance.

Eoferwine and Ealgyd can help the warband in a conflict by using their psychological abilities. We can imagine them bellowing obscenities, shouting encouragement and/or whipping up a rage depending on the situation in front of them. These models are built as support roles – boosting or attacking profile characteristics on friend and/or foe.

Which leaves Hrodulf. At 9 Renown the profile for this model may make this model look a bit useless but used in the right way this young lad can still have an impact. In several games I’ve used him in this model has caused more than a few points of FOR damage on opponents by being worked around the back of models and blocking off Force Backs.

Blocking Force Backs is something worth considering if you’ve not discovered it in your own games of Open Combat. None of the villager models mentioned above are particularly suited to fighting but if two or three of them surround an enemy model then you may be surprised at the outcome.

How the warband plays

Open Combat is very situational so the best course of action will depend on the prevailing circumstances surrounding your models and the scenario that you’re playing. That being said, the above warband is built with flexibility in mind while reflecting the colour and flavour of the historical period it represents.

In straight up Open Combat fights I try to work Heard and Aelfstan around a flank so that they can use their missile weapons most effectively. I try to keep them out of reach of enemy models as much as possible though. Eoferwine and Ealgyd are used to mentally soften up the enemy (I see it as sowing a bit of doubt and confusion in the minds of opposing fighters with their heckling) before the professional fighters wade in to do their thing. Hrodulf nips about getting in the way as best he can.

In Search for the Prize and Capture the Prey the number of models in the warband and the split in the roles they have is very much a boon. The professional fighters have the job of causing problems for the enemy warband and are meant to stay on the tabletop while the villager models do the job of grabbing things and attempting to run off table with them. The low FOR and MIN of some of the villager models mean that they have less impact on your overall Break Point when they leave the tabletop carrying a prize or securing a prey.

In future articles I’ll look in a more abstract fashion at some of the potential approaches to warband builds you could consider when putting together your own.

If you have any questions or comments about this article please let me know.