Bane Of Kings First Impressions | Oathmark: Battles Of The Lost Age

June 22, 2021 by brennon

Osprey Games is releasing the latest expansion by Joseph A. McCullough for their mighty mass battle Fantasy wargame, Oathmark: Battles Of The Lost Age. Bane Of Kings offers up a new set of rules for your battles, kingdoms and more.

Bane Of Kings Cover - Oathmark

Learn More About Oathbreaker: Battles Of The Lost Age

Previous to this we have looked at the first two expansions to Oathmark, namely Battlesworn and Oathbreakers. If you're interested in finding out about what they offer to the game then don't hesitate to check out our articles! With Bane Of Kings, we get even more to add to the depth and breadth of Oathmark.

Special Formations

The first new addition to Oathmark comes in the shape of Special Formations. Different areas of the kingdom can be used to train your troops to be able to undertake these formations on the tabletop for a selection of benefits. This ranges from the likes of the Shieldwall through to the likes of Phalanx or Javelin Storms.

Bane Of Kings Art #2 - Oathmark

Some of these formations are available permanently for a given unit during a battle (Phalanx), whilst others can be adapted and changed depending on their need during battle (Shieldwall). Each formation is restricted to certain units to try and make things fair and they do make units cost a little more too. Finally, you can put together a Dwarven army that is ready to hold the line behind a bulwark of wood and iron.

I quite like the different formations they've gone with, six in all, as they are pretty general and should apply nicely to all manner of armies. With the fact that kingdoms in Oathmark are made of multiple "factions", it certainly makes sense to not tie these to the likes of Dwarf only or Goblin only. Instead, these formations add to the mix-and-match nature of the game and make things very tantalising for the tactically minded.

Kingdom Events

Another of the new elements of Oathmark which is presented in Bane Of Kings comes from the Kingdom Events. Oathmark has always struck me as a game that is more minded to explore the narrative side of things rather than the competitive. I think this is a theme that runs through pretty much all of McCullough's games.

Bane Of Kings Art #3 - Oathmark

With that in mind, Kingdom Events allow you to find out what's going on behind the scenes after a battle. There are, much to my glee, many tables for you to roll on! You could be struck with a Notable Death which has a direct effect on the next game you play. Maybe your newly erected Border Towers have spotted the approach of an enemy army, therefore, gaining you more points for you to play with next game!

These in-game effects are also joined by kingdom-wide effects from natural occurrences, magical disturbances and more. It all helps to add to the narrative of your kingdom and builds up a story for you and your friends to get involved with. These, much like any changes to your kingdom, can get noted on your records sheet and will act as a timeline of the rise and potential fall of your kingdom. As someone who loves a story, this is pretty darn perfect.

Another nice thing about this particular optional addition to the game is that it's "just enough". Both this and the Special Formations options presented in Bane Of Kings allow you to tweak and change things in Oathmark without utterly changing the landscape of the game and its mechanics. If you started out with the core book and have been enjoying that for months, this is going to be a nice easy step up to make things that little more detailed and granular.

New Units

One of the smaller sections in the book is given over to the new units available to different armies. Chariots were introduced in Oathbreakers for the Undead but they are now options for Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Orcs and Goblins too. Mount up and start rampaging across the battlefield.

We also got a few more monstrous units for you to include in your armies. Towering Living Statues can now stomp into battle to defend your kingdom with each being tied to a particular terrain type that can be added as you grow and develop your lands.

New Military Expeditions

As is the case with each of the expansions for Oathmark, this book also comes with two Military Expeditions. The High Seat and Palace Of The Ice Queen are designed as three-scenario arcs which you can follow with your army. Much like with a lot of what we've been seeing in these expansions, they offer up another story to help develop the narrative within your campaigns.

Again, I really like these. I haven't had a chance to play any of them yet but I have heard good things about them. They remind me of the kind of stories and campaigns that you read about in old White Dwarf magazines and were just dying to play.

I like the idea that, if you're playing with a bunch of friends, you could all work on designing some new pieces of terrain specifically for the different Military Expeditions. Then, once the dust has settled you can use it as a reminder of the landscapes you've fought over. Much like with the Kingdom Events, they become a living reminder of the story you've told.

...And More! Is It Worth It?

There are a few more options for you to dive into as part of Bane Of Kings. New Unique Territory rules are there, tied to the Military Expeditions and you've also got a brand new appendix full of spells and special abilities which you'll find useful.

Bane Of Kings Art #1 - Oathmark

Coming in at around £15, I reckon that Bane Of Kings is another great book to add to the collection if you're deep into Oathmark. The Kingdom Events table in particular is very good, especially if you're a big fan of storytelling like I am. The Special Formations are also another welcome addition to a growing game.

I quite like the way that we're getting these added to the game too. A few folks have complained that this should all have been in the core rulebook. Personally, I'm glad that they have slowly been added into the mix so that people could get used to the core rules before diving deeper into the nitty-gritty. It also works nicely as a prompt to maybe start up a new campaign or dive back into an existing one that has started to go off the boil. Throw in those Kingdom Events and such, perhaps with a new army, and you've just given the game a shot in the arm.

Oathmark still stands out very nicely as a great mass battle game to dive into. My local store has gone mad for it and they're looking to run a grand campaign for the game later this Summer which was neat to see. I think they've managed to hit the sweet spot of a mass battle Fantasy game in the rank-and-flank style which doesn't feel like its overwhelming you.

What about you? Have you been enjoying Oathmark and if so, will you be picking up Bane Of Kings?

"...these formations add to the mix-and-match nature of the game and make things very tantalising for the tactically minded"

"I think they've managed to hit the sweet spot of a mass battle Fantasy game in the rank-and-flank style which doesn't feel like its overwhelming you..."