středa 23. března 2016

Open Combat - AAR&R

Report and Review Mixed Together

Bad form, I know. Anyway, here goes: Saturday night, when all the household was silent and peacefull, I decided to finally try (and even play!) Open Combat. Not eager to set up the terrain  I opened the Melee Box, set up the Goblin Slayer Dungeon, decided on a simple treasure hunt scenario, picked the core of warbands and got to the first plus of Open Combat:

Statting up

In some skirmish games, you are just given fixed values and point costs. In some, you have the freedom to make up your own stats, but use of calculator or even a spreadsheet or app is necessary - there's nothing wrong with that approach, especially when you can see the underlying formula, but Open Combat has another one: Each point of a characteristic, each weapon (except fists and nails), each special ability costs exactly one point. Quite refreshing, isn't it?

There are five basic stats in OC:
  • Speed (needs no explanation)
  • Attack and Defence - their comparison gives the number of dice the attacker rolls (capped at three)
  • Fortitude - HP, can be regained through resting
  • Mind - seemingly useless, but there are mental abilities using and affecting this stat - and the first three stats are halved when the Mind reaches 0.
In addition to the stats there are rules for equipment covering most of pre-gunpowder weapons, and twenty special abilities, divided between combat skills, physical and mental abilities. Note that there is no magic - that's right, no list of spells. You can always proxy some of them by combination of weapons and abilities, but still, no fireball. Twenty abilities can seem as too few, however, along with open-ended stat system they cater for most needs. On the plus side, it's less rules to keep in mind - and if you really want more rules, you can always make them up : )

There are no hard and fast rules for any stats (the system is supposed to balance itself), but you can find many sample characters in the 2016 edition. At least similar mindset is required during warband creation though, if you don't want to meet opponent's skaven slave as strong and tough as your ogre (although you can explain it by suitable narrative). Fortunately, I got to create both warbands so I made my own rules. 

I wanted a humanoid, no matter how tough, to go down in two attack actions when all goes wrong, possibly even in just one attack. As the maximum damage a character can inflict in single attack on open plain is 3, I choose that to be the baseline Fortitude. Weak humanoids would be For 2, tougher ones For 4, heroes anywhere between 4 and 6.

Another nice thing is that the attack and defence scores are independent of actual equipment: You can have two guys with a sword, and while one has Atk 7, Def 3, the other may be less experienced and more defensive with Atk 4 and Def 4. Hell, you can even throw in a skaven slave with Atk 6, as he can be unbelievably agile and determined - there are no limits!

In the end I came up with following two warbands - they are rather small and weak, as the recommended warband renown is 150, but this is good enough for the demo. Also, it would make the bookkeeping easier.

Leader35454AxeFocussed Blow, Exert24
Axeman36453Great AxeFocussed Blow23
Defender34543Spear, ShieldResolute22
Crossbowman33343Crossbow, AxeAim, Shooter*20

*) Houserule: +2Atk for ranged attack.

Orcs and Goblins
Orc Boss46553Two CleaversIntimidate, Ambidexterous28
Orc Warrior44432Sword, ShieldShield Bash20
Orc Glaiver44332GlaiveFocussed Blow18
Red-caped Goblin42221Spear, Shield13
Blue-caped Goblin42221Spear, Shield13

At first I intended to use Orc Bowman, but for the sake of different numbers I sent in the goblins. Yes, O&G are 2 pts stronger - however, they only need to lose 12 points of For/Min to throw in the towel.


OC offers 5 base scenarios, further modified by variant deployment or other parameters, with ample designer comments. Most of the scenarios are supposed to take place in 2'x2' area with enough terrain, so that the action begins immediately.

I used a modular hexagonal dungeon map, and being in no mood for studying their rules (late night, remember?) I came a simple treasure hunt:
  • There were three tokens marking possible locations of the Object. 
  • Character could spend one or more actions by searching: 
    • Roll the amount of dice equivalent to actions spent, pick one. 
    • 1 - fail, lose initiative, 2-4 nothing found, 5 - seen something! remove other tokens, 6 - Got It!
  • The game is won by any warband that carries the Object off the board through its entry point.


The dwarves, being the good guys, came in through the door (kicked in, which can be interpreted as an attempt to knock). With a speed of 3 they were in slight disadvantage, usual in this type of scenarios. The Orcs & co. sallied from the dark corridor and managed to reach the first possible location, while sending the gobbos to flank / check the other locations.

The dungeon size ensures a short game.

Dwarven crossbowman shot at the hulking orc boss, hitting its left arm. The brute only snorted, bellowed at the red caped goblin to "Get'im!" and paid no further heed. Axeman and defender rushed to form a line of defence, while their leader searched the well. With years of experience, he discovered the Object at first sight! This simplified the decision making for the orcs considerably, reducing their strategy to refined "Surround and Beat'em Up".

The Object found!
Thing did no go that smooth, however. The surrounding part was easy, beatin'up - not so much. One goblin engaged the crossbowman and the other threatened the leader, while the axeman stoically bore the brunt of the attack, knowing well that the payback comes soon. He hefted his axe and swung it hard, throwing both orcs away and biting deep into the wall.

[Actually, in this attack I rolled both Solid hit and Fail: Turn over, and because of the two handed weapon attribute had to apply them both. And I promptly forgot about the Leader special ability, granting three re-rolls per game. Oh well, live and learn.]

The goblins have their use, after all.

His heroic moment gone, the axeman was soon finished off. On the other hand, both goblins were gone - although the blue one acquited himself well, wounding the dwarven leader - and the rest of the green band had lighter or heavier wounds. Unable to help his comrade, the leader grabbed the Object and headed for exit. Seeing that, orc boss took the matter with crossbowman into his own hands, with his remaining two underlings attacking dwarven defender in vain.

[In OC, damage in combat comes from two sources: Direct hits, and being forced back with no room for retreat. (Un)fortunately, the brave dwarf was equipped with a shield (minimizing the effect of the force backs) and was Resolute (minimizing the occurence of force backs).]

The crossbowman may have been a lousy shot, but he had definitely fight in him enough to kill the annoying goblin and go toe-to-toe with orc boss. He would have succumbed, no doubt about it, but the dwarven leader hit the exposed flank of the brute, sending his opponent bleeding in front of the wall. Crossbowman took the hint, and and with one mighty strike he fell the beast. Seeing that, the remaining orcs fled in panic, leaving the dwarves victorious.

Game over for green team!


Well, that was quite an appropriate amount of fun for nine miniatures and one hour of playing.

Open Combat falls somewhere between Melee and ASoBH regarding the amount of detail, bookkeeping is probably on the same level as in Melee. I used to play Melee as overlord vs a band of four dwarves where each player controlled a pair, and I am not sure there is enough detail to use this configuration with OC. But if I tossed in more dwarves (or Elves?) and split the players into two warbands it might be worth a try. I guess I'd need a bigger dungeon though.

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