tisdag 21 juni 2016

A first foray into Open Combat.

Hi gang.

Our small but intrepid gaming group decided to try out a summer campaign of Open Combat. All very short and sweet, five players each meeting the others twice. So everyone plays eight games and as it should be able to get two games in one session we can hopefully bring the campaign to a successful end.

Open Combat is a generic "Sword and Shield" skirmish ruleset with built in campaign rules, published by Second Thunder. It has lived a while in PDF form but was released as a hardback rulebook recently following a very successful kickstarter. When I say "Sword and Shield" it's because while it can be used for fantasy figures it doesn't have any special rules for those typical fantasy staples like short and burly dwarves, firebreathing dragons and magic wielding spellcasters. The system caters for any figures though and since you decide the stats of your figures yourself you can use fantasy figures, but to call it a fantasy system is a bit much. Simply put it's an excellent and open combat game -- hence the name.
The Rulebook. At least a picture of it from the Second Thunder webstore.
When creating your warband you simply look at your miniatures and decide their stats -- as long as you use the same number of Renown (or points) as your opponent the game will be balanced. There are five stats: Speed, Attack, Defence, Fortitude (hit points) and Mind. Each point in each stat costs one Renown. If you want some equipment like a sword or bow that costs one Renown each too. Skills like Intimidate or Shield Bash also costs a Renown. If your model has armour and you want to reflect that simply increase Defence. It's deceptively simple but tactically very clever. You can simulate spells by giving your magic user ranged weapons for magic missile type spells and relevant skills for boost or mind attack spells -- things like Leap, Raise Skeletons or Heal are missing though.

The Voluptuous Vixens from the Village of Voluptuous Vixens. Yes the name is a lure to attract easy prey.
One problem with a totally free environment is that my view of how tough or effective different figures are can differ from my opponent's which causes a slight disconnect -- I might think that an Attack value of 5 is average and give that to my support figures while my opponent thinks that 5 is very high and gives it to his main fighter figure -- the game still works and will be balanced since my opponent will have more figures than me, but seeing the club-armed peasant hold his own against a knight will feel a bit strange perhaps. With that in mind the rulebook does contain a lot of sample characteristics and sample warbands with explanations about their design philosophy.

Barbie the Barbarian
I chose the warband template "Band of Heroes" consisting of a Warrior, a Wizard, an Elf, a Dwarf, a Barbarian and a wardog. This meshed well with my Heroines in sensible shoes figures. I didn't have a Barbarian but I had the Frostgrave soldier with doublehanded mace that I converted earlier -- wearing mostly thick leather it fit well with the lower Defence score -- I named her Barbie of course. Also the Heroine Dwarf had a twohanded hammer while the dwarf in the warband template had both a Shield and the Shield Bash ability, so I used the Templar figure instead. Her slower Speed I attributed to her youth. I also had a Rottweiler I intended to use for Frostgrave which filled up the last slot. Just like Frostgrave you can use any figures you like, really.

My first game was against Jocke's The Random Reavers in a spooky graveyard. The backstory (which we made up on the spot) was that my band was looking for men to abduct while Jockes warband were looking for humans to... well... eat, probably.

Starting positions. The red line is the table edge, next to us Håkan and Mats were battling it out too.
Vile, chaos thingies approach!

Jocke got first turn and advances on my right flank...
...and on my left flank.
Battle is joined and the beastmen turn out to be not as scary as they look. One is wounded by an arrow and pushed back.
On the other flank my Wizard lets loose with a lighting bolt (counts as crossbow) and tries to leg it.
Barbie and her dog try to get behind the chaos sorcerer.
My leader dispatches one of the beastmen while my templar fells the other to the ground with a shield bash.
The dog bites and distracts the Sorcerer but gets a whack by the Sorcerer's staff.
At the same time Barbie is in trouble against the Jocke's leader, Glorian the Arbitrary.
My wizard is also in trouble but the elf comes to her aid...
...yet the Beastman manages to kill the Wizard before being slain by the Elf. My leader kills the mutant as well.
Here the game hangs in the balance. I have the upper hand, but losing the wizard has cost me dearly. In Open Combat you take the average of your total Fortitude and Mind as your break point, and each time you lose a Fortitude or Mind point from a figure you get one step closer to breaking. As a figure dies you also lose their remaining Mind making high Mind figures a bit of a double edged sword -- you better take care of the party wizard you know! It also means you can lose the fight without losing any figures if all are wounded enough.

Losing the wardog wasn't as costly, but meant my Barbarian was alone against two other figures. As we both is near our breakpoints I decide to go on all out attack, mainly because I can't hide Barbie from the Sorcerer's spells.

HAMMER TIME!!! With two well-placed blows -- I rolled two sixes in a row -- Barbie wins the fight.
One of the drawbacks with a generic system like this is that if you want to represent wizards with "counts as" missile weapons they use the Fight stat. We adopted a simple houserule in that any magic missiles uses Mind against Defence instead. It makes spellcasters good at what they do but not good in combat. It slightly skews the break point of the warband, but that is compensated by spellcasters being juicier targets with the big loss of Mind if they are taken out.

All in all it was a VERY fun and also VERY tactical game. Highly recommended. You can buy the PDF or book directly from Second Thunder, but if you need some more figures (and who doesn't) I recommend that you order the rules and figures from Annie at Bad Squiddo Games at the same time.

7 kommentarer:

  1. Very nice. I need to get a game of OC in, I have not played since I got the hard back book.

    1. We have to rectify that...

    2. Same with me. We had a game or two with the old rules but I haven't tried the revised one.
      Many games to play when summer is over...

    3. Yep. I'm drawing up a couple of other warbands as well.

    4. Yep. I'm drawing up a couple of other warbands as well.

  2. Great stuff. I've played a couple of games of OC and really enjoyed it.


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