Three days’ ride from Madge’s Crossing, on the lonely road that winds through the Grey Mountains, past the turn-off that leads to the more civilized lands of the Empire, stands the Stoic Arms — an outpost of civilization amid the encroaching wilderness. The massive, solidly built inn, located at a strategic crossroads in the very shadow of the Grey Mountains, has for centuries played host to travelers, adventurers, and rapscallions of every caliber.
As blustery winds heralded the arrival of autumn, the Stoic Arms prepared to receive its latest guest — Argus Nul, a halfling wizard of considerable reputation, accompanied by a cadre of capable bodyguards. Argus carried with him a tome of magic, wrought of the finest material and festooned with many precious jewels…including a curious green stone that radiated mysterious power.
In truth, the green gem was in fact a polished piece of raw warpstone, and its mere presence was enough to draw the attention of Snik Soot-Fang, a Skaven warlock engineer who had spent three fruitless weeks with his motley warband prowling the mountain passes for unwary travelers. Summoning his best warriors, Snik Soot-Fang descended from the mountain heights and set about developing an elaborate, multi-pronged attack on the Stoic Arms. Poor Argus Nul wouldn’t know what was happening until it was too late…
Vincent and I got together last month for another game of Open Combat — this time using his gorgeous inn from 4Ground. We’d been itching for an excuse to get it onto the table after our first game of Open Combat back in September. The amount of work that Vincent put into assembling and finishing this terrain piece was considerable. It’s a truly impressive terrain piece.
With 4 stories of detailed, playable interior space, the Stoic Arms was an entire battlefield unto itself. But just for good measure, we decided to deploy Vince’s medieval marketplace terrain in the area surrounding the inn. We also dropped out a dozen or so civilians (speed bumps for the Skaven raiders, more like) to add some local flavor. All in all I think you’ll agree it was a visually stunning battlefield.
For the scenario, Vincent deployed Argus and his bodyguards to a few specific locations within the inn. They were scattered and initially unable to support each other. My invading Skaven would have a turn or two to gain entrance before the guards could raise the alarm.
I had about twice as many figures as Vincent, but that also meant that his guys were about twice as good as mine — I had a horde army, poor fighters on their own, but dangerous in groups. By contrast, his guys were much more effective at fighting alone. This would prove to be a critical edge as the game unfolded.
At the start of the game, I sent a few of my more capable warriors into the inn to engage with the bodyguards, hoping to pin them down, while Snik Soot-Fang the warlock engineer made a beeline for the front door in an attempt to catch Argus Nul unaware.
Outside the inn, my giant rats and rat swarms began to wreak havoc among the defenseless peasants. I had ostensibly planned to keep my ratling gun and some other units outside in a support role, but I ended up sending them into the marketplace because it was just so damn fun slaughtering peasants!
Inside the inn, I quickly realized how potent Vincent’s bodyguards were in single combat. The cramped quarters inside the inn meant that I couldn’t easily outnumber his figures, which allowed him to engage and destroy my Skaven raiders one at a time. Argh! Things were not going according to plan.
Here’s a look at Tyroth Lowbrow emerging from a basement trapdoor in the floor to engage Vincent’s dwarven bodyguard while a buxom lass looks on in terror.
In desperation, I forced another entrance by sending a squad of stormvermin up to a second story window. They piled in and encountered yet another bodyguard with frightening stats and abilities. The rat body count continued to increase…
Open Combat is a particularly brutal system for close quarters fighting. We quickly learned the value of shields as we battled through the narrow hallways of the Stoic Arms. In Open Combat, a typical fight results in loss of Fortitude (think hit points) or being pushed back — sometimes both once! But if you get pushed back into another object, like a wall or even a friendly model, you’ll suffer even more Fortitude loss — really speeding up your warrior’s eventual demise! In short, the Stoic Arms was a real meatgrinder for Skaven and human alike.
By this point, Snik Soot-Fang had reached his objective, confronting Argus Nul as the halfling wizard was studying his tome of magic in the Stoic Arms’ well-appointed library. The halfling tried to flee in terror, smashing a stained glass window and tumbling onto a canopied overhang.
Elsewhere, the inn was crawling with warriors as the Skaven fighters clashed with the wizard’s bodyguards scattered throughout the four-story structure.
Seeing that Argus was on the move, I made the crucial decision to withdraw Tyroth Lowbrow, the Skaven warrior who had burst out of the basement hatch and into the kitchen. He wisely retreated from the fury of Vincent’s dwarven bodyguard, who had been battering him in the intervening turns. Using his speedy Skaven movement, Tyroth exited the inn and emerged in the rear to await Argus’s arrival.
But first, there were yet more civilians to slay. Upon exiting the inn, Tyroth saw a poor stable boy and was offended by his innocence and purity. With a stroke of his savage axe-hammer-thing, Tyroth slew the youth and ransacked his pockets for a few copper coins. Such brutality! Never take your eye off the Skaven, boy.
At this point, Argus Nul tumbled off the edge of the overhang, pursued by the slashing claws and sputtering flintlock of Snik Soot-Fang. Both landed in an untidy heap at Tyroth’s feet, where it was a simple matter to bonk the halfling over his head, toss him in a burlap sack, and vanish into the autumnal gloom.
And so Soot-Fang’s Skaven withdrew to the trackless caverns beneath the Grey Mountains, even as Argus’s bodyguards mustered a search party and set off in hot pursuit. Our next game will take place in the damp tunnels beneath the mountains as the Skaven prepare to unspeakable rituals to pry arcane secrets from Argus’s round little head.
This game was an absolute joy to play. The tabletop setup and the scenario gave us everything we could have wanted in a game of Open Combat. And we learned quite a bit about the game itself, proving yet again that OC has quite a bit of depth in its slim rulebook. Stay tuned for the next chapter!