Monday 19 February 2024

Getting to Grips with Oathmark

 I got another game of Oathmark in over the weekend. This time I expanded the armies to 1000 points and set up on my dining table with an area equivalent to 4'x4' marked out. I still only used the basic rules (no characters and no monsters, for example) and the armies were Orcs/Goblins versus Humans.

First things first. On setting up, I felt that the playing area was too narrow which meant the Goblin wolves could not run around the flanks, as I feel they should be able to do because they are more like light cavalry than anything else. I should have used the whole dining table for an area equivalent to 6'x4'. Lesson learned. I'll do that for all future games. Be nice if I had a terrain cloth for it too. It's on the shopping list.

The view from the Human lines

The rules recommend 2-4 terrain pieces for a 4'x4' playing area so I diced and got three terrain pieces. I diced again based on what is in my terrain box and got a grave mound with stone circle (one of the hills had fallen inside the stone circle and I thought it looked good so I left it like that), a ruined building and a wooded hill. I diced again and they were set up in three corners of the battlefield. A further dice roll saw the Orcs setting up between the grave mound and the ruin, while the humans set up ready to occupy the wooded hill.

The view from the Orcish lines

Due to numbers, the Orcs had to set up in depth, which I thought they might be able to use to their advantage with the Fire Over ability of their archers, but it turned out that it worked against them instead, because they wound up starting shooting later than the humans and did not have space to really use their numbers. The humans deployed archers on the wooded hill, planning to snipe from cover and the rest of their force set up across the field.

The heroic Orc and Goblin Alliance

The main focus of the battle was in the centre where units wheeled and pivoted and charged until there were almost no troops left. There was little attempt to hold a line, which seems like a most non-Orcish thing to try to do anyway. On the flanks, the Goblin archers did sterling service, while the Human heavy cavalry rode down almost everything it came across. Even sandwiching it between two units and attacking from front and rear was not enough to send it fleeing from the field. In the end, the heavy cavalry told and the Humans won.

Both sides starting to get stuck in

Of course, if the Orcs had activated properly more often, things might have been different.

It was a fun game, and the activation system lends itself well to solo play. I supplemented that with dice rolls to determine which unit should activate next, based on where I saw the need to act. Once combat was joined, there were few obvious choices as priorities and need changed. For example, at one point one heavy cavalry unit was surrounded and needed to act, but there were other opportunities for taking out Orc units by charging or by missile fire. The dice decided the general's priorities in this situation: should the general sacrifice the cavalry to destroy Orcs on the other part of the battlefield, or not?

Ducking and diving, wheeling and pivoting in the middle of the battle. Orange beads mark Disordered units

I'll read the advanced rules properly for the next game and introduce the other figure types. Let's see what an Orc shaman or champion can do to that heavy cavalry. Or maybe the Unseelie Court (Elf/Orc alliance) can take to the field against those horrible Humans and show them that the Hidden Folk are not happy with them. We'll see. I'm looking forward to finding out and experimenting with the rules some more. It's a nice change of pace from Five Leagues from the Borderlands and I can see me using Oathmark as a way to get more usage out of my existing figures.

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