Oathmark: Battles of the Lost Age, Joseph A McCullough

Oathmark: Battles of the Lost Age, Joseph A McCullough

This new Osprey wargame is a small scale fantasy game, designed for battles with 30+ figures, each representing an individual soldier. The wargaming rules are supported by a fun kingdom creation system that you can use to produce an overall army list from which you build the armies for each game.

The combat system is fairly simple, with all of the various offensive and defensive modifiers added together to give a target number, then a number of dice rolled to see how many hits are achieved. Melee combat is simultaneous, so both sides calculate their target number and the number of dice to roll based on the unit size at the start of the melee. There are no defensive dice rolls, so any successful hit will do damage.

The basic rules cover normal melee and missile combat, movement and morale, allowing for some fairly simple games. However a lot of the fun comes from the advanced rules, which cover the usual array of special characters, magic items etc, but also some more unusual ideas. I rather like the idea of ‘strange events’, which are triggered if either player rolls a double on their 2D10 initiative dice and give a range of generally positive effects, and ‘catastrophic events’, which are much rare and require both players to roll the same double on initiative. These will have a major impact on the battle – I rather like the one that sees each player gain a dragon!

A key feature of the game is that each player creates a kingdom, which they then use to create their armies. This uses a system of concentric circles, with the middle one containing your capital, which decides what type of army you have, and the outer ones containing a range of territories, which decide what type of units you can have. As you go further out from the centre each circle contains more territories, and you have more flexibility for what you can select. Each army has some units that are specific to that army (linked to the capital), but the outer ring of territories can contain anything from any territory list. The system gives you one capital and eight outlying territories, which then gives you an army list of every troop type available to you, and in some cases how many you can have. The campaign rules are based on the idea of a clash between two kingdoms, with the winner of each battle generally getting to occupy one of their enemy’s territories. You can still pick troop types from the occupied area, but they will be slightly harder to activate in battle. However each sides capital city provides enough troop types to fill an army so even on the verge of defeat you would still be able to field an army without the penalty.

The armies presented here are pretty generic fantasy types – Human, Dwarf, Elf and Orc/ Goblin, mainly using the same basic troop types with slightly different stats, but with some units specific to each type – these are mainly monsters, but there is some variety amongst the basic types as well.

As an example we will look at the stats for the basic Soldier on each side, as they reflect the general differences between the armies. In most cases high figures are good, apart from the A (Activation) stat, where low is better. Each time you select a unit you roll 2D10 and if you equal or beat the A score with either dice you can carry out two actions, if you fail with both then you can only carry out one simple action. Nearby commanders can make it easier to activate a unit, but even the Orcs and Goblins have a 75% chance of success. All of these basic units have one Combat Dice, but a normal sized unit is likely to reach the maximum number of five dice fairly easily. Each player then calculates their target number, starting by subtracting their F (fight) from the enemy D (defence), before adding modifiers for things like the number of full ranks you have, if you attacking or defending the rear of a unit etc. Each side calculates their own modifiers, so if each side has four full ranks (the maximum allowed), they both get -3 to their target number – the ranks don’t cancel each other out. Each successful roll counts as one hit, with the option to do more hits if you beat your target number by 5 or 10. Given that combat uses D10, the stat differences are significant, but not overwhelming, and the lack of defensive counter-rolls means (apart from some magic items) avoids the frustration of seeing all of your successful attacks bounce and means the game should move along quite quickly.

 

A

M

F

S

D

CD

H

Pts

Dwarf Soldier

4

5

2

0

10

1

1

15

Human Soldier

5

6

2

0

9

1

1

12

Elf Soldier

3

6

3

0

9

1

1

20

Goblin Soldier

6

6

1

0

9

1

1

10

Orc Soldier

6

6

2

0

9

1

1

13

Orcs get special abilities that help them when charging, thus their higher points total compared to Humans.

The largest unit you can field contains twenty figures, in four ranks of five, putting the battles very much at the skirmish end of the scale. Exact unit position can be crucial, with flank and rear attacks very effective, again reflecting the small scale of battle being modelled. A round of melee combat will almost always produce casualties on both sides, and see one or both units pushed back, avoiding static slogging matches

Overall this is a fun system, that should produce fast moving battles, combined with a satisfying kingdom building system and a campaign system that will have an impact on your armies, without leaving one player crippled after a few defeats. 

Chapters
The Basics
Playing the Game
Advanced Rules
Building and Army
The Campaign
Appendix A: Special Abilities
Appendix B: Spells

Author: Joseph A McCullough
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 192
Publisher: Osprey Games
Year: 2020


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