Sunday, 12 October 2014

Open Combat

Recently I have become very excited about a new rules set that has just come out called 'Open Combat'. It's a skirmish game which can be used for either pre-gunpowder historical or fantasy settings the idea being you can use any figures you want for those periods and make the stat lines to fit your image for them.

 I managed to get a game in last night against one of my locals, Dave Golden. I used a halfling warband, the miniatures are from Arcworlde which currently don't have a rules set so it seemed a perfect opportunity to get some table time. Dave rekindled his love for chaos warriors, even putting some paint on one of his models before the game!

 The game play itself was as I expected. The mechanics are pretty simple and without objectives, which both me and Dave have had drilled into us from Malifaux, it seemed strange to just bimble into each other and start swinging. The turn mechanic is excellent, however, and adds loads of tension and thought to the gameplay. If one of your guys does very badly, your turn can abruptly end and be passsed to your opponent! The game really was short, it lasted about 20 mins maybe 40 mins art most (I wasn't really keeping track of time) and laughs were had all round. The highlights were probably when Dave's leader three turns in a row was distracted by his image in his mirror shield and did nothing (cavalry rules can have your mount disobey you but it was more fitting to think of him taking selfies) and Pod making the first attack in one of my turns and surrendering the initiative straight away! You had one job!

Balancing didn't seem too bad. Dave had an elite crew of 4 models to my 7 and it was a very close game. Having less models means your less likely to lose the initiative and make the most out of what you have, but it's easy to get swarmed and rapidly lose FOR (essentially wounds)

 So what are my thoughts? It's not a game you can play competitively, the designers made it very clear that was not their intent. I'm not sure it has the depth of play to really give any back if you tried to do that and making your own stats would become a chore (maxing this or that stat could get to some weird rock, paper, scissor situations, I think). It has, however, give me loads of inspiration for different warbands, scenarios and progressive campaigns. It's crying out for a progression system, for example, because you can change the stats of your models so freely to represent how well they have done.

I'm really quite looking forward to getting some more games in. I'm thinking that it can work quite well as a little additional game to be played at clubs. It's great to get those random minis you love onto the table, I highly recommend it. You can find the rules here


  1. Great report Conner.

    Absolutely love your warband (and collection) of the Arcworlde halflings - great stuff!

    Interesting point you make about competitive play. Knowing that you play Malifaux and that in Malifaux events you change your crew before each game I think that colours your perception of how an Open Combat event might run.

    If I were to run an Open Combat event I would lean heavily towards players writing an all comers list before the event and using it throughout the day. The day would be about charting the fortunes of their warband through the trials and tribulations they face, not about optimising a list for each scenario. A narrative approach which is a lot of fun and removes the potential analysis paralysis that can happen when changing things up before each game in a competitive environment.

    1. Thanks for your reply and compliments :D

      On the point of competitive play I was imagining a fixed list sort of environment, I get the feeling that it could get pretty messy. Say if someone decided the MIN was not a particularly useful stat they could only put, say, one or two points into it, and get an advantage against a crew which put in more when neither used it. However, if they were to face a warband which did focus on it, they could end up on the backfoot. All this being said, however, they are just my impressions from 1 game. Hardly substantial playtesting!

      Regardless, thanks again for making the rules, they really have got me quite excited. Currently making rules for a mini-campaign for some local gamers so expect more reports soon.