Review: Open Combat Sword Masters

Rating: 4 stars

Open Combat is a set of warband skirmish rules designed to be played with any setOpen_Combat_workinprogress_cover-image_grande of miniatures that the gamer has to hand, and is published by Second Thunder. The setting is pre-gunpowder, but can be historical or fantasy in nature – it’s completely up to the players what and how they play.

If you want more information, we talked to Game Designers Carl Brown and Gav Thorpe back on Episode 136 of the podcast.

Sword Masters is the first supplement for this game. It provides players with rules and abilities to use specialist sword fighters in Open Combat.

Whilst new weapons, skills and abilities add to the historical flavour of the game and allows such skills as dual wielding, parrying and disarm, the book unashamedly embraces the more cinematic aspects of the sword duel, sometimes with its tongue placed firmly in its cheek.


To this end, not only can players use their wardrobe as weapons (Volumous Cloaks and Ostentatious Hats!) but use Aggravating Repartee and Witty Retorts to attack the psychology of the opponent – after all, what is a good dual without the exchange of banter?

However, here is often more to a good sword fight than simply the clash of blades and razor-sharp wit. What about the good old-fashioned tavern fight?

Sword Masters introduces a whole new set of rules for interacting with terrain, be that falling over benches or that inconveniently placed flock of chickens, hurling beer mugs from a table or fruit from a market stall, fighting on, over and around tables or even swinging from a chandelier – it’s all there for the players to add fun, flavour and detail to their battles.

Three new scenarios are also included in the supplement. Whilst warbands clash in a fight For Honour, or perhaps in a classic Brawl, The Duel also allows players to face each other in single combat.

Sword Masters presents its new content in a clear, concise style with an excellent full colour layout which is easy to read and understand, and contains numerous examples and author’s notes, so that you not only understand how the new rules work, but why they were written in that way.

Sample profiles of various archetypal swordsmen are given to help inspire players with their own character creation, from Samurai to Musketeer, Swashbuckler to Clansman. An FAQ and QRS for the new rules are presented at the back of the book.

Open Combat: Sword Masters is an excellent addition to the Open Combat rules, providing the players with extra character and depth for their warbands, whilst also making terrain a much more interactive part of the game.

Sword Masters is available from the Seconder Thunder website for £8.

Second Thunder provided a copy of Open Combat: Sword Masters for review purposes.

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