Tally Ho!

Sunday 4 December 2016

Open Combat Skirmish Rules - Test Game

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This weekend we christened my brothers new Wargames room with a test game of some new skirmish rules he bought at Attack'16, back in the heady days of summer. The rules themselves are fairly generic and so would suite all periods from Ancients through the beginning of the Renaissance period.

I think its fair to say the author is aiming for something heroic in nature rather than completely bog-standard chaps fighting and there is certainly plenty of Fantasy examples given in the rules themselves.

My brother's intent is to use them for the mythical Trojan Wars, so very much in tune with the heroic style the rules seem to favour

The Rules

The rules are very simple and straight forward with the basics grasped after a few turns of play. You control small bands of figures (we used 5 each) and take alternate turns. You move alternatively, with all your troops having 2 actions each (shoot, move, fight etc). Each figures completes their actions in turn but if you attempt something complex (e.g. combat) and fail (usually rolling 1 on D6)then your turn ends early.

Troops each have a set of characterises;  SPEED (movement), ATTACK (fight/shoot), DEFEND (armour etc), FORTITUDE (hit points), and MIND (morale). Combat is very simple; if your ATK is less than or equal to the enemy DEF you roll 1D6 to attack. If ATK is greater but not double you roll 2D6. Finally if ATK is more than double DEF you roll 3D6. There are some factors that modify both ATK or DEF. Having rolled your dice you chose the result you like and then apply the affects to the enemy which are usually nothing, wounds or pushbacks. Mostly you will chose to wound but there are times a push-back might be better.

Certain troops or weapons give you additional abilities for example a spear means you can attack from 1" away or a large shield can be used to bash people back. So a lot of the tactics are choosing your activation order and making the most of your special abilities.

The Game  

For this game we pitted Achilles, Ajax, and Hector against each other, all trying to escort sheep to the temple in the centre of the table and sacrifice them to win the favour of the gods. There is a special golden sheep in the temple worth extra points.

The table from Ajax end

The table from Achilles end
All three of us adopted a fairly similar strategy of grabbing the nearest sheep and then making for the temple in the hopes of grabbing the golden sheep to win the game

Hector moves forward. The swordsmen have weak armour but a high attack 

Ajax with his heavily armed spearmen. slow but well protected

Achilles - average troops but he is a fearsome fighter 

Ajax poses by a chariot
The early moves saw Hector and Ajax square-up near the temple while Achilles moved forward under cover of his archers fire. Hector and Ajax became embroiled in a shoving-match to the north of the main temple with neither side able to inflict much damage.
Achilles heroically herds sheep 

Ajax approaches in the distance

Battle is joined with Hectors skirmisher attacked by Ajax
The tussle ebbed and flowed a little and we learnt and important lesson - if you are pushed back into an opponent / impenetrable terrain then you lose a hit instead, so careful positioning can cause the enemy problems. Luckily a large shield enables you to resist the wound so heavy spearmen are fairly safe from this.  
Achilles secures the temple

Hector and Ajax slug it out
With his opponents distracted Achilles was able to get his sheep to the temple and risked also capturing the golden sheep. Ajax and Hector reacted quickly launching a combined attack on the temple. Although it caused few hits it did push Achilles and his men back. This was aided by Achilles archer throwing a dreaded double-1 when he was the first figure activated, meaning a turn was missed a critical point. Had Achilles missed a chance to win the favour of the gods? 

A scrum forms in the temple

Achilles tries to hold the centre ground

This is where the importance of the push-back rules came to the fore. Through some careful choice of activation sequence Achilles was able to push-back his enemies in such a way that he could sacrifice both his sheep and the golden sheep to take an unassailable lead. The Archer was especially useful as it fired into the backs of Achilles enemies.

The great man himself was accumulating wounds rapidly though, as the became target of Ajax and Hector's attacks. Fortunately he was able outrun their heavy spearmen and escape the field.   

MVP = the sniping archer who cleared the way so the sacrifices could be made

The Verdict

The whole game took about 2 hours but we played at a leisurely pace and had to learn the rules as went. It certainly produced a fun game and the key points were quickly remembered. What we probably did nt do was make as much use as we might of the various special abilities.

The key will be choosing interesting scenarios to give the battle some context as the combat rules are pretty straight forward. We would a also perhaps want to reduce the FORTITUDE a little if we were playing with larger numbers of figures as its relatively hard to kill well-protected troops.  

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