The Norman(ish) Conquest

I was able to take a day off writing book three of my Dark Angels trilogy (The Unforgiven) to squeeze in a couple of games of Open Combat with Second Thunder-incarnate Carl Brown.

I tried out an all-cavalry force of Norman knights against a warband of Saxons from my collection. Usually I go for a slightly larger warband, but the knights deserved to be tough and mobile, so the 150 Renown we had agreed on for the game didn’t go far (Renown is the points you spend creating your warriors).

An open combat game starts

The kitchen table is plenty of room for a game – I happen to have some bigger boards.

Without going into all the details, it was one win apiece. I didn’t quite use the knights as well as I could first game, and ended up getting slightly mobbed. In the second game I kept more compact and was able to get ahead and keep the momentum.

Carl gets out a tape measure

Carl checks line-of-sight for his archers. Most missile weapons have no maximum range.

The core rules contain some quick and easy cavalry rules to make them a little harder hitting but unruly. Essentially, you have to test for each cavalry model when activating them and theres a 1-in-6 chance of losing the initiative (which means your turn has ended!). I used a couple of leader re-rolls to keep things going.

Norman knights charge into Saxon archers.

The left flanks gets stuck in.

There are lots of areas where the rules will be expanded, and cavalry is on the list – getting off and on, the particular  pros and cons of mounted combat and so forth.

Carl has rolled a six.

A Solid Hit! That means a loss of FORtitude and a push back against William. Push backs are a really important part of the tactics in Open Combat.

Somewhat bravely it turned out, in the first game my leader, William the Conqueror himself, went straight for Carl’s leader. This proved to be a bit rash as spearmen rushed  to the Saxon chieftain’s aid and my follow-up knights were held up by a loss of initiative…

After both games Carl and I had a great chat about where the game is going next. There’re so many articles and micro-expansions on the list that it’ll take some time for things to take shape.  We chatted about magic, new scenarios, campaign systems. sample warbands, duellist abilities, scenario interpretation, and all kinds of cool stuff.

Be sure to have some games and let us know what you would like to see.

Saxon infanty surround the Norman knight

The counter-attack from the Saxons proves the doom of William. How different history would have been!

Models are from my collection, by Gripping Beast.

Published in: on October 22, 2014 at 7:10 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nice report! I just got this game last week, and I’ve had a couple of solo test games. I plan to introduce it to my club if there’s any interest. It’s a really nice little game.

    Magic and a campaign system are the two additional bits I’d like to see the most. Also maybe a quick reference sheet available for download.


    • Magic and campaigns keep coming up, that’s for sure. We did discuss whether to include a QR sheet in the book, but the central mechanics are so simple it didn’t feel right. However, I think a download with a quick reference that also included the skills, weapon rules and such in one handy place might be useful. I’m sure Carl has it on his (ever-growing) list!

      Let us know how you get on at the club – really keen to see how ‘real people’ use the system.


      • Well, Mattias did a good job selling us on the game! I’m one of the guys from his club, and while we haven’t played it yet, what I read made me pick up the rules. Looks great so far!


      • Brilliant! Once you’ve cooked up a warband or two and had a game, come and tell everyone how you got on at the Second Thunder forum. The more ideas we can share, the better for everyone.


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