An Introduction to ‘Oathmark’

With the most careful of precautions in place, I was finally able to get in a game recently - with our editor Guy, as it happens!

Having heard an awful lot about it, I asked for an introduction to Oathmark by Joseph A. McCullough (author of Frostgrave, which is about to go into its second edition), and I wasn't disappointed.

Owing to restrictions on what we can access forces-wise and terrain-wise, we went for a fairly straightforward 'pitched battle' approach (I always enjoy this as an introduction to a new system - I find it offers a good strong baseline for comparison even if it is maybe a little... unadventurous).

As the background within Oathmark encourages players to mix factions, I took a dwarven force with some allied goblins, whilst Guy faced me with ranked up elves.

A dwindling block of goblins

I'll happily admit that - having not had a chance to familiarise myself with the rules beforehand - it took me a little time to work out and get used to the five-d10 format, but I grew eventually to enjoy the streamlining effect it evidently has on the pace of combat, even if it did feel a little reductive, maybe, at first.

Things almost went terribly wrong in the first round, as the elven magic user rolled high enough to teleport their heavy cavalry to right behind the centre of my line:

You probably didn't spot the elvish cavalry in the pic above, but this is where they were magicked to at first. a bit of rules-checking led us to repostition them shortly hereafter, as we realised they had to reappear within the speelcaster's line of sight.

Thankfully, this was mitigated at first by our realisation that they couldn't thereafter take an action in the same round (phew!) and then by the entirely unscripted arrival of three trolls 'from my reserve'. I think Guy felt bad about his sneaky elvish tricks (it certainly is a terrifyingly powerful spell) but it was a very sporting gesture and it allowed the balance of the game to be re-established.

My surprise reinforcements start trolling the deepstrikers.

...Unlike my archers, who didn't even so much as dent the teleporting heavy horse.

With the help of the trolls and my stalwart dwarven linebreakers (as well as some surprisingly resiliant goblin spearmen) I finally turned the table and the dwarves won the day, but not without losses. More names for the Book of Grudges.

Okay, so they have the lithe manoeuvrability of an oil tanker, but these linebreakers did hit home hard once they'd pivoted!

I enjoyed the game - especially its pace and relative simplicity - and I can see why its fresh approach to fantasy gaming with a streamlined old-school rank-and-flank style is enjoying some popularity right now, and I look forward to bringing my (decidedly human) Gallic-Celts to the table for a fight soon!

The Author ponders his next move (the cat ears are a temporary response to 'Covid hair').

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