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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Saturday 3 January 2015

Open Combat and skirmish games

I find myself playing many more skirmish games than I used to. With work and other commitments eating into my limited time - shorter games and less painting is a big plus. Certainly compared to the big projects I have done in recent years.

Bolt Action isn't really a skirmish game, but it only needs 30 or so figures compared with 100 plus for Hail Caesar or Black Powder. However, Saga has been the real driver, again with less than 30 figures.

The current supplements only cover the Dark Ages and the Crusades, but there are a growing number of unofficial battle boards. I have recently played with Romans and Gauls, thanks to battle boards developed by Doug Colbeck, available through the Saga forum that is a great resource. They play really well and with a tweak or two, I plan using them for my Dacians.

Listening to the Meeples and Miniatures podcast drew my attention to a new set of skirmish rules called Open Combat from Second Thunder Games. These are real skirmish level games, arguably pretty close to role playing, with the introductory 150pt games involving six or eight figures a side.

The beauty of these rules is that they work for any army in a pre-gunpowder setting, including fantasy. You can produce your own warband list using the simple point system. Each ability level; speed, attack, defence etc and special rules all cost a point each. So you can create different ability levels within the same warband.

I used the Romans and Gauls again to test the rules. My Roman band had Macro and Cato from the Simon Scarrow novels with higher attack, defence and fortitude levels than the rest of the legionaries in the warband. The Gauls were of course led by a super stat Asterix. Sadly, his stats didn't save him from Cato's pilum, even after our cat had made one of his increasingly regular interventions on the wargames table. Razzy has a high 12 attack factor!

The rules themselves play very well and games can be finished in a hour or so. I quickly switched to the QRF with only occasional references back to the full rule set on my iPad. They are available as a PDF download for only £10 and the production quality is excellent.

I can see some great possibilities for this system, with super heroes battling their way through hordes of low quality troops, using the flexibility that you just don't get with other systems. It also means that you can get troops onto the table quickly. Good for the early stages of bigger projects as well as some niche games using figures that don't have a bespoke rules system.

Highly recommended and at £10 you really can't go wrong.





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  2. The cat on the table is a familiar sight. My kitteh loves to lay in the middle of my games too. The only issue is he is a massive black 25 pounder kitteh. Good luck with the feline incursions!