Adventures in Midgard – “Prologue”

Well it’s been quite a while – I started talking about Fantasy Skirmish way back in August 2018, with the purchase of Open Combat and the Frostgrave sprue. Fast forward almost 3 years and I FINALLY have put some fantasty figures on the table and played a game of them using Open Combat by Second Thunder

The idea behind this game was something a little simple, to get myself and my Dastardly Regular Opponent up to speed with the system and have fun over a couple of hours on a sunny day. Combine this with the Sword Masters expansion sitting on my desk and having been planning some Swashbuckling games with The Sister to introduce her to wargaming, well it was time to actually play something. And for the first time since September, actually rolling dice against someone else!


As you can see from the handy paper prepared by a friend of mine, The Swordmasters of the Empire (think a combination of diplomat, spy and assassin) have been sent off into the wilds to hunt down a group of cultists that have captured a nobleman from one of the Empire’s client states. These Cultists are from a group worshipping the undead, seeking to summon various undead creatures to go forward and attack the Empire itself.

The team of Swordmasters have managed to catch up with the Cultists just as they prepare their ritual to summon a Shadow Knight from behind the curtain of unlife. The ruined Chapel amongst the trees is a suitable place for such a ritual, and the cultists have gathered in numbers.

Here we have our group of Swordmaster, their horses left further up the road for purposes of sneaking up on their opponents. All of them were made using the Swashbucklers profile in the Sword Masters addon book, but I tweaked each to fit their characters better with a profile adjustment and a new ability.

From left to right

  • Benfrey Jochman – The oldest of the three Initiates into the ways of being a Swordmaster. He’s the tankiest of the three, used to taking hits in a bar brawl.
  • Alastair von Ferrumgard – One of the leaders of the Swordsmasters, an inspiring Tutor to the Juinior initiates. He has trained the other three and, although age has slowed him, he is still able to inspire his students.
  • Lacelle O’Dicca – A rising star within the Swordmaster, Lacelle has proven herself to be deadly with the blade and quick on her feet.
  • Zorros Colvieri – The son of another Swordmaster, Zorros is… an asshole. Delighting in taunting his rivals, he also wears a suitable extravagant hat and cloak (and yes, these are items in the rule set).

All of them also have sword fighting skills like Lunge, Parry and Riposte which lets them do all sorts of things you’d expect from a group of heroes ala The Musketeers.

Zorros start off the plan by doing what he does best – distracting the enemy by making a lot of noise and standing out in the open, Taunting his opponent to lure them out of positions. However, as good as his skills were, the cultists were still wary.

Of course, Zorros hadn’t expected one of the cultists to step forward and pull his hood back to reveal a grinning skull! Turns out the cultists already had two undead servants, able to Intimidate our heroes to reduce their courage. This reveal may have shocked Zorros for a moment but he quickly continued his part of the plan, calling out the cultists and luring the guardians towards him.

Meanwhile, the other Swordmasters crept into position nearby, ready to sneak into try and disturb the ritual.

Of course, the Swordmasters hadn’t expect the cultists to have brought bows with them. As Zorros continued to heckle the guardians closer, one of the archers pulled his bow string and let loose. The arrow struck home, wounding the flamboyant Swordmaster.

Who responded by leaping upon the nearest piece of cover, insulting the cultists and dragging them closer to him.

Eager for the fight, the cultists joined in.

On the other side, Lacelle crept forward, planning to outflank the archers. However, the other skeleton warrior spotted her, revealing his frightening facade to her and causing a sense of dread in her. No one had mentioned there would be skeletons!

Despite their personal difference, Jochman considers it unwise to leave Zorros alone, and so creeps into position.

Pushing past her fear, and leaving Alastair to deal with the Skeleton, Lacelle instead climbed the wall, preparing to sneak up on one of the archers too focused on their ally.

Speaking of which, Jochman decided to take a more direct approach to assist Zorros. While the fight stood atop the barrels lunging forward to land strikes on his opponents, Jochman came barrelling in, trapping the Cultist Guardian between his and Zorro’s assaults

(Rules note: Landing a solid hit pushes a figure backwards, but if they can’t actually move the full distance they take an extra wound)

Very quickly, the skill of the two fighters took out the first of the cultists.

With a shout, Lavelle also managed to land a solid hit. As well as stabbing the archer, the battle pushed him off the top of the ruins and, with a cry, he fell to the floor, sustain almost enough damage to kill him. Almost.

While his younger colleagues got into the main fight, Alastair squared up against the skeleton… and entered into a multi-turn duel that had them moving back and forth like it was a fencing match.

With a cry, Zorros lept down from his cover and quickly finished off the other skeleton with a fancy set of sword fighting moves that pulled the undead creature apart.

In contrast, Jochman simply took a single strike to bring down his foe, before turning to hunt down a new target.

One of the archers, having just recovered from a fall off the ruins and starting to dust himself off, was surprised to see a very angry Swordmaster in black sprinting across the field towards him.

Meanwhile, Lacelle, seeing that the ritual was reaching a high point, decided that enough was enough and now was the time for drastic action. Running to the edge of the ruins, she dived towards to the Cult Leader…

Failed. Terribly. Landing short, she managed to attract the attention of the cult leader who turned around and, as all swashbuckling films tell us villains do, began to monologue.

Alastair, after several turns of back and forth with his skeletal rival, finally managed to land a killing blow.

Meanwhile, filled with revenge for the arrow that pierced his cloak, Zorros proceeded to run towards the archer. Sadly, an attempt to throw his hat (to distract the archer) ended with it fluttering gently towards the ground.

At the same time, Jochman also finished off the downed archer, knocking him down with a shoulder charge before rushing past to….

Come to the aid of Lacelle! Jochman interrupted the crazed rambling of the cult leader, giving time for O’Dicca to quickly recover and leap to her feet.

Now outnumbered, and with Alastair joining the fight too, the Cult Leader did the only thing sensible. Turning around to the captive and finishing the ritual, he slayed the Siccarian noble.

With a terrifying hiss and a sudden fog, the crumpled corpse of the nobleman was replaced with a Shadow Knight, a terrifying creature of undead bones and metal. With more attack, defence and fortitude than any other figures on the board, this would be a challenge.

Now, what the cult leader hadn’t realised it that Shadow Knight obeys no masters. So, when he attempted to order it around, it instead went and knocked a chunk out of his fortitude.

Facing such a betrayal, and unwilling to hang around to see who won between the Swordmasters and the horrible creature, he instead managed to disengage and flee the battlefield. Perhaps we’ll see him again?

Back in the centre of the battlefield, the three Swordmasters now engaged the horror from beyond space and time. Despite losing some mind to the Intimation of a such a monster, and wounds from it’s sweeping sword strikes, the Swordmasters managed to get in a good few hits…

And eventually, with one final rasping hiss, the Shadow Knight was defeated!

With only one model left, Zorros decided to end the battle with a final taunt. Finally, after a game of partial successes, he managed to fully succeed drawing the evil archer forward. In his rage, he failed to see that the platform ended where he stepped, leaving him to fall down and lose his final point of fortitude.


Well that was a pretty awesome game! I think Open Combat is a really great little system – it’s a quite simple core setup, using only D6s with a very small number of modifiers. In terms of play, it’s light enough that you can pick it up quickly but not too light that it feels simply like an excuse to roll dice with a beer or two – there are still plenty of tactical challenges and actions to consider. There is also so much you can play around with in the system, making it perfect for setting up a wide variety of characters to play around with, with various abilities, skills and weapons to let you create anything, especially with the Sword Masters add-on to include that final few touches.

You will be seeing a lot more of Open Combat in the future. I still want to try out Warcry properly (as well as other games) but Open Combat has (after this first game) definitely fit the niche I was want of some rules sit behind the narrative I’m wanting to write with my games. Not sure when the next game I play will be, but you’ll know for sure when it goes up!

May 2021 Project Update

Welcome to June! May was busy and so I ended up…

Wait. That picture seems… different to last month. Something is off. It’s almost tidy.

Oh yeah – I upgraded my office/hobby room with a new piece of furniture. I’m probably going to do a little thing on it (mostly because I love it) but it’s an Eket setup to give me a little more storage space.

Project 365

So lets take a look at the numbers for May.

Painted: 30

DescriptionMakerNumber
British InfantryEmpress19
Pulp AgentWargames Illustrated1
SwashbucklerWargames Foundry2
Ogroid MyrmidonGW1
Warcry Catacombs TerrainGW7

Purchased: 6

DescriptionMakerNumber
Dark Elf ShadowbladeGW1
Dark Elf SorceressGW1
Undead Vampire LordGW1
Galen ven DenstGW1
Doralia ven DenstGW1
Warsong RevenantGW1

Well good news! I painted more than I bought (by a fair chunk). I missed my goal by 1 (and more until I did my terrain painting on Monday night). On the other hand, the month was quite busy for work, I had some pretty bad brain days which made painting hard to do and A LOT of time was spent assembling models (thanks to Cursed City).

PROJECT Database

And so, having painted some terrain for a game, I have triggered a trap in my work. To make sure my data is correct, I now need to add all of my terrain to the database to bring the overall number of items up to the correct level, letting my overall completion percentage actually be accurate.

I’m setting up another table in the database and will start filling it with all the various items. The main problem with terrain vs miniatures is going to be cataloguing it, tying an entry in the database to the actual item. Part of me is tempted to start assembling asset tags to stick to the bottom of them, although I fear that may be a step too far.

PROJECT FANTASY

Although the painting numbers aren’t the highest, I think the main focus this month was fantasy. This is because there has been a lot of assembly this month, both starting from scratch but also finishing off some partial assemblies that have been sat around.

First up we have the entirety of Cursed City. 50 models and 10 tokens is a pretty hefty addition, and took me a while to build and then undercoat. These are going to be painted up as part of the Battered Brush challenge Games Workshop York is running in June (which due to the Dastardly Regular Opponent being based there is going to drag me in to it).

I actually have some duplicate models to assemble as well, three of the posing vampires and the heroic captain. I’m still debating my exact plans for how to assemble them, but I’m thinking of some weapon swaps for the vampires (using some Elven weapons I have) while the Captain might get a headswap and weapon tweak.

As part of my tidying up, I bit the bullet and finished off my Chaos Lord’s assembly. This required an evening of green-stuffing fun to rebuild a hand at the join between the arm and the Keeper of Secrets spear I was using. After originally doing it with way too much greenstuff (so that it looked like it had swollen up) I had to frantically trim big chunks of it away as it started to set. However, now that it’s been done and undercoated, I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. More pictures of the process once I finish him off.

And speaking of green stuffing, I also finished off building my Keeper of Secrets. From the start, I’ve always declared how much I dislike the crab claws. As I was building her as a Warrior Queen turned Greater Demon, I wanted to use weapons on all four arms. this required a little bit of cutting and green stuffing repair work to the arms, covering up the joins between the hand and the crab claw wrist. I had planned to be a little bit more experimental, bringing the shield a little closer to the body. However, when I got round to actually assembling, I decided not to risk it; the default pose is perfectly suited for the pose of the giant warrior creature casually advancing on her opponent. The model is now undercoated and at some point, I’ll get round to painting her.

The final bit of assembly and mod work for this month was the Soulblight Vampire Lord. I adore this model but I thought the bats in the hair were a little over the top. It was also confirmed when, upon assembling the model, I realised the larger base was only need to make sure the bats in hair actually fitted. Wanting this lord to fit with the Crimson Court band I got last month, I decided to give her a haircut – of course, this required me to then add some tips to the hair. My first few attempt was purely green stuff (as you can see above) but I could get the detail I wanted. Because of this, I decided to instead use some donor parts from some left over Dark Elf pieces, giving me the sharp points and meaning I only had to fill in the gaps with liquid green stuff. Now she’s undercoated, I’m really happy with her. You’ll see the results once I get to painting my vampires.

Now for painting, I finally took a look at my Swashbucklers. Getting the first two painted up as a test, I’m really happy with the models, perfectly suited for what I have in mind for the Swordmasters in my setting. I am looking forward to getting the rest painted up and ready to be used in games moving forward.

The other fantasy painting was the Ogroid Myrmidon. This, I believe, is the single largest model I’ve painted so far. He’s a glorious model, a Minotaur like creature with shield and spear that towers over it’s opponents. It took me a couple of days to paint him up, but I love how he looks and I’m really excited to get him on the table. More details and photos once I finish the rest of my half naked Chaos followers.

And yes! Terrain! During my week off (which I’m currently on) I decided to arrange a game with the Dastardly Regular Opponent so we could roll some dice. I’ll talk about all the joys of Open Combat (the ruleset we used) in the battle report but more importantly, OH MAN, it’s nice having painted terrain to play over it. As much as I dislike how much time it takes and how much it murders my paint brushes with slapping paint all over it (not helped by my brain preferring to work from a black undercoat) but on the plus side, I really like how it’s turned out. Now I just have to work on the rest…

Uh oh.

PROJECT WW2

Offt okay. So I am very close to finishing off my Brits but man it’s a bit of a slog. I don’t know if it was just this month or if I’m getting bored of painting green and brown but it was hard work kicking my way through the rest of the figures.

That said, I did rather enjoy converting and assembling my sneaky recce boys. I really like the camp comforter look and, with several duplicate figures, I decided to make some special figures. As well as the green-stuff’d cap, I also painted their faces with black contrast to tone it down and look like it had been blackened prior to some sneaky business.

As well as the recce boys, I also finished off a few extra riflemen, a pair of prone support teams (giving me an extra PIAT and Bren gun), the spotters for my Vickers guns, four SMG soldiers and Agent Carter. This is the Wargames Illustrated “Pulp Agent” but lets be fair, it’s obvious who it is. I’m… Not Really a fan of this model. It’s definitely a much more heroic/pulp figure, with different proportions that don’t quite fit my painting style. I would definitely love a version of this character with the same style as the Paul Hicks Brits, but for now she’ll work as a little bit of fun.

In terms of the project, I now have two vickers machine guns, two radio teams and a platoon of Churchills to do to finish off the projects. With lockdown easing, it’s likely that soon my British will be clashing with Germans under the control of the Dastardly/Creative Regular opponents.


That’s it for this month’s update, I’ll see you in a month!