Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Oathmark: Battles of the Lost Age ...Part II: Game on!

***Associated Narrative Post HERE ***

Hi all!

After the big build up of the last post lets jump right into the game and see how it plays out.  Just a reminder that this is a follow on to the previous post which laid out the background and army selection for this game.  In these posts I am presenting my initial experience and thoughts about Oathmark: Battles of the Lost Age.  The intro post can be found HERE.

Turn One
Right away I knew it was going to be and interesting night when I rolled for the very first initiative roll and wound up with this insane tie....

So this led straight into a careful reading of the initiative rules...which is good I guess? In the event of a double tie like this the only recourse is to re-roll...and this time the Elf/Dwarf force won and elected to activate the Dwarf Soldier unit.

In Oathmark you have to roll to activate each unit alternating with your opponent.  If you are successful with your activation then the unit fully activates and can perform two actions.  If you "fail" to activate your unit can only preform one simple action (move, maneuver, or shoot)...and may not enter combat.  So successfully rolling to activate is an important thing to ensure your plans unfold as you wish.

...but I digress.  The first Turn was entirely movement based for both forces and no one failed their activation tests.  This image is a summary of the movement performed in the first turn.  This is basically the action described in the narrative portion of the last post.

The human forces wheeled off the road way and deployed into the open field between buildings.  All except for the unit of Spearmen who moved to turn the flank of the enemy by maneuvering in between buildings out of sight of the onrushing enemy.

The Elf and Dwarf infantry advanced straight forward hoping to take the marching column in the flank.  The mounted rangers advanced into the walled enclosure near the barn on their right flank.

Initial Thoughts
Just working through the movement from this first turn gave me a good exposure to the movement rules.  I had troops wheeling and pivoting, crossing hedges and performing double movement.  The rules for this are fairly straight forward and logical.  No cumbersome leadership tests to see if you can turn your unit around etc.  That is all taken care of with the activation roll.  If you pass that then you can expect your troops to do your bidding to the best of their abilities.  They are in control and prepared for action.  If you fail your activation roll your troops are timid or reluctant to approach the enemy etc.  Again, this seems like an elegant and functional solution.

I really like the alternating activation.  Even when playing solo I found it an interesting alternative to IGoUGo systems like WFB.  I imagine against a live opponent it would be quick and engaging for both players and keep them both at the table throughout the game and not off wandering around while you advanced your entire army 4" and waited for them to come back.

Units move fast!!!  Now this is coming from the perspective of a long time player of Dwarf Armies in 3rd ed WFB...which move 3" a turn...6" with a reserve move.  In Oathmark my Dwarf Soldiers base move is 5"!!! ...its like light speed!   The elf cavalry moves 8" in a single action!  That really brings the troops into contact fast...and I like that.  It also allows you to consider big flanking movements and other bold actions because the troops might actually make it back to the fighting before the game is over!  The Rogue Cerf unit (human spearmen) are attempting just such a maneuver.

Turn Two

The start of turn two saw the initiative shift to the human forces.  The attempt by the Dwarf/Elf Forces to ambush their enemy had failed and the marching column reacted quickly and and deployed to meet them...

...But some of them weren't entirely sure...:)

I chose to activate the human spearmen first, hoping to push them around to the flank of the Elf infantry, but the dice had turned cold. They only needed a 5 for Christ sake...

Oh well, they are still allowed to make a simple action and chose to continue their advance between the buildings.

Surprisingly the Dwarfs also failed their activation roll and were only able to advance 5"

Louis' unit of human Halberdmen grit their teeth, ready for combat and fully activate.  They move decisively to confront the Dwarf warriors bearing down on them.

Seeing the possibility of a flanking opening up on the halberd unit, the Elf soldiers fully activate and move to exploit this apparent opening.

Concerned that they might miss the fun, the trailing unit of Human archers (the ones with the potent wine cask!) quicken their pace (fully activate) and move across the hedge into the field behind the advancing halberdmen.  They opted to move instead of shooting this turn, but will be in position to lay down a volley next turn.

The wood elf archers also move up to support their infantry and since they fully activated the also unleash a volley of arrows at Louis' unit, killing three of them!  First Blood to the Elves!

After seeing the damage done to their brethren in the halberd unit, the Human cavalry is a bit skittish and advances slowly toward the enemy, not wanting to get caught too far ahead of the rest of their line.

They advanced cautiously, but still brought themselves into the fire arc of the mounted Elf rangers who fire a volley into the human cavalry, unhorsing one rider.

The final unit to activate is the other unit of human archers.  They fail their activation roll and balk at their Sergent's orders to advance.  Instead they stand firm and fire a sheet of arrows into the oncoming dwarf soldiers.  But they are shaken and misjudge the distance, only managing to kill one dwarf.

And that closes out Turn two. 

Here is all the action summarized one one image

Things are starting to heat up and I'm beginning to get the impression that missile fire is going to be a very important part of this game.  One really significant difference in the way archery works in Oathmark versus WFB is that many archer units have the ability to fire over a unit of friendly infantry whom they are within 3" of.  This one rule completely changes the way I think about deploying my forces.  The archers are there to support the combat units and weaken their opponents before the crush of combat begins.  The combat units protect the archers from enemy infantry.  I think its a really fun rule to play around with...but does pose one problem.  I don't have any units of Dwarf bowmen!! I have plenty with crossbows, but that is one weapon that is not covered in these rules and from the sounds of it, they are not likely to be added in the future.  So I'll have to find a work around for that!

Anyway, The reasons for the high cost of the elf troops is becoming apparent as well.  The Elf Archers dished out a significant amount of damage with just a single volley of arrows.  They can put the hurt on a unit while well hidden safely behind the sturdy dwarf soldiers.

Wrap up
I'll hit the pause button there before this post gets Stupid long.  Next post will be a narrative post and then I should be able to wrap up the final turns in the post after that.

Please let me know what you think of this format of battle report.  I'm still working through how best to do this.

Cheers for now,



  1. Good review! Having played against dwarfs way to many times and now playing dwarfs, the idea of quick dwarfs imitating combat is slightly terrifying. Looks like rapid and supporting movements will be more important than in WHF.

    1. strange to say but it was kind of exhilarating to move that unit so :)

  2. Great report. I'll have my first game coming weekend!

    1. Cheers! I hope you like the rules as much as I have so far.

  3. To be frank, i've skipped the narrative part, as i'm more interested in your analysis of the rules.

    1. sadness...ok thanks for that input my friend. more to come on the rules as the two forces finally make contact!

  4. That and the painted armies you're playing with

  5. I think your report is quite clear. Seems to be a good format. I'm finding your explanation of the rules quite interesting. It seems odd about the lack of rules for crossbows. Do they have other handheld direct fire weapons? Could you treat the crossbow as essentially a gunpowderless musket for instance?

    1. frustratingly no...this game is supposed to have more of a "Dark Ages" feel to it and therefore doesn't include crossbow...or gunpowder weapons of any sort. So...we could just run them as bows and change nothing? or we could treat them like bows but no "shoot over" allowance to account for their more direct fire nature...? Or...we could get John Pickford to sculpt us some dwarfs with Bows!! lol

    2. I was going to suggest just treating them like bows. Once you have a better sense of the rules you could start tinkering with how to make them more crossbow like. I'm sure a 'no shoot over' could be offset by a strong hit/armor reduction bonus. It's hard to know till you get a better sense of the game though.

  6. Blue really enjoying the analytical battle report. It looks like it could be a good alternative rule-set for us to use. Looking forward to the next post.

  7. Interesting and very pretty AAR. I like the style with its combination of narrative, explanation and analysis. A critical difference between the races which also accounts for the high cost of Elves is their Activation/Morale scores - 3 for Elves, 4 for Dwarfs, 5 for Humans. I noticed you didn’t mention morale at all.

    There is a distinct Tolkeinesque feel to the rules so Dark Age/Early medieval vibe with no crossbows and definitely no gunpowder weapons. You could just treat your Dwarf crossbowmen as archers without the Fire Over special rule as you suggest.
    You can build all the Dwarf archers you will need from the Dwarf Warriors box of Oathmark plastic miniatures sold by North Star.

    1. Thanks for your feedback. Yes at this point Morale hasn't played much of a part in this battle but as the Melee kicks off next round it will have more of an impact and I will discuss it then.

      And I understand about the "vibe" of the games as created...and I do know that North Star is releasing lots of excellent figures for the game...but, one of my goals with Oathmark is to use the hundreds of painted figures I already have...most of which happen to be old citadel figures. Which means for dwarfs in particular there are very few Bowmen...hence my desire to develop/modify rules for Xbows. The Dwarf Bowmen that come in the Plastic kit are great but wouldn't fit with the rest of my troops in style.

  8. I like the style you’ve adopted here Blue. I enjoy the story telling from a foot soldier’s perspective including the conditions they are forced to endure before putting their lives on the line fighting in a war leagues away from them. Your photos are great and the game system seems fluid enough, I especially like the shooting rules it seems as though support units will get more bang for their buck than out of WHFB.

  9. Great article thank you! I love your table and the painted forces.

  10. Nice article. I love those spearmen with the stags on the shields. What kit are they from?

    1. Hello! those spearman are 5th ed WFB Bretonnians, all metal. The shields are from the Old Marauder fighter shield sprue.