Oathbreakers First Impressions | Oathmark: Battles Of The Lost Age

November 3, 2020 by brennon

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of the new supplement for 28mm mass battle Fantasy wargame Oathmark: Battles Of The Lost Age. Oathbreakers is the second supplement from Joseph A. McCullough and Osprey Games which introduces the terrifying forces of the Undead into your tabletop games.

Oathbreakers Cover

Learn More About Oathmark: Battles Of The Lost Age

After a flick through the book and a read of its contents I thought I'd share some of my first impressions on this supplement for the game. If you're interested in learning more about the core experience of Oathmark: Battles Of The Lost Age you can read my initial review of it HERE.

Raising Armies Of The Dead

The first element of the new book is the inclusion of Undead armies for you to use on the tabletop. Inside the book, you'll find all of the new rules you need for either included the Undead as part of a varied Kingdom alongside Elves, Orcs, Goblins, Dwarves and Humans or as a force unto themselves.

Revenant King

This means a new set of terrain with which to build your kingdom right away. You get to include a Necropolis which will allow you to choose a Revenant King or a Cursed Burial Ground which allows you to instead base your army around a powerful Necromancer. This first choice is pretty interesting as it dictates the core of your force. Do you choose a Revenant King for his martial prowess or do you choose a Necromancer with the magical power to summon the dead forth and twist the winds of magic?

Both forces will eventually be able to pick from Revenants and Necromancers as you build up different terrain for your kingdom but this early choice locks you out of choosing the King or a Necromancer that can get to level four or five. It immediately starts to tell a bit of a story. Has your army been lashed to a Revenant King's will or has it been dragged from the ground against its wishes by a Necromancer seeking power and domination over the living?

Necromancer Art

The armies of the dead are just as varied as the armies of the living and you'll find lots of options for both Revenants and their own mix of units as well as the classic Skeletons and Ghouls that would make up a force for those more familiar with Warhammer Fantasy Battles. All Undead in your army are from the grave but there is a special distinction between the likes of Revenants and other forms of undead. Many of the Skeletons, Ghouls and beasties from that side of the army are heavily under Spellcaster Control so you'll need to protect your Necromancers if you want to keep them fighting. You might find them withering away into dust if you're not careful!

You'll also find some interesting monstrous additions to your undead army here too with the likes of hulking Barrow Worms, Corpse Fires and such. These give your Undead army a little bit more of a punch. There are also more martial options including Chariots and even a Vampire who can be summoned from his crypt. I like to think that the Vampires, in particular, aren't quite the same as the ones you know and instead they are more monstrous, much like the Strigoi in Warhammer lore.

Revenant Warrior Art

This leads me onto the special rules around the Undead. They automatically pass morale tests as you might imagine and are immune to some spells. They are also really hard to kill with missile weapons and they half (rounding down) the number of hits they take from being shot! Pretty good! They do however also have the rule for Uncaring which means that instead of having to pass a morale test they take hits for each full minus two modifier to said test. In that way, they can be shattered even if they won't break and run away. This only applies to melee though which makes the Undead pretty tough to kill!

Some figures also have Unthinking which makes them hard to control. They only roll one die for activation rolls but as long as a Command figure is within range then they can increase that to two making it a little easier. You'll need to seriously think about the placement of heroes, champions and spellcasters in your games with these fellows in play!

Skeleton Warrior Art

As with most Undead armies in Fantasy wargames they tend to be cheap and not as skilled as other races but they make up for it with numbers. That said, there's little difference between a standards Skeleton and a bog-standard Human Warrior but the real changes comes in the tactical options you need to consider when fielding your undead troops. Do you risk putting your Necromancer that little further ahead to cast that next spell or will he be in range to be cut down; only to see your army crumble?

The Undead army presented in the book has plenty of depth to it, much like the other races in Oathmark, and I could see them being fun to play on their own or mixed in with others. I like the idea that they are also not presented as wholly evil too. They can certainly be full-on evil but you could also use them to represent your ancestors who have been roused from their catacombs to aid a kingdom in its time of need. A bit like the Men Of Dunharrow in The Lord Of The Rings!

Heroes Of Legend

As well as the rules for running an Undead army you'll also find an expansion to the character-driven element of Oathmark. In Battlesworn (which we'll look at next week) we got a look at ways to make a unit of warriors that grows and changes throughout your campaign. In Oathbreakers we also get the chance to see this in your heroes.

Legendary Hero Art

Any figure in your army which has the special rules of Champion, Commander or Spellcaster can become a Legendary Hero in your games. The only caveat is that they can't be a monster. In the example that they give in the book, this means that a Troll might even end up being your Legendary Hero!

Once you've chosen who your Legendary Hero is going to be they get a trait which allows them to do something impressive once per battle. For example, this could be Protect The Valorous which allows the character to cancel one point of damage it takes. Maybe it's something like Hold The Line where they and their unit can only be pushed back one inch from combat. You choose something which you think is going to build on the character of your army and the chosen Legendary Hero.

Legendary Heroes Chart

Legendary Heroes can die or be wounded and there is a simple table to consult if that is the case. This might end up with you having to pay to get them back from your opponent in the form of a ransom and even though it's unlucky, they could also perish. Alas, they are removed from your army but maybe this gives you the impetus to try something different with your next hero? Whilst they can die, these heroes can also grow in experience and unlock new traits as they succeed in their feats of daring.

The addition of Legendary Heroes helps to build up the story around your army and feels like a relatively simple addition to a game already burgeoning with possibilities. Some rarely engage with mass battle games for the narrative but this is another option from McCullough bringing the game more in line with the experiences we have when playing skirmish games like Frostgrave or Rangers Of Shadow Deep.

Military Expeditions - Linked Scenario Play

The final big addition to the book comes in the form of a Military Expedition. Much like the scenarios presented in Battlesworn, these scenarios are to be linked into a larger campaign and played out between the same two players. They allow you to build on the narrative of your campaign and allow you access to some special terrain types which provide additional options and buffs for your armies.

Military Expeditions

The three Military Expeditions are then broken down into a variety of scenarios where the outcome of each will directly affect how things pan out. Although these scenarios are linked the book does allow you to make new armies to tackle each of them but of course, you could be encouraged to try and embrace the idea that it's one force who are routinely going out to find their fate!

These scenarios also come with their own unique Strange and Catastrophic Events Tables which you can use to change up how battles unfold. I won't spoil the contents of these Expeditions but they seem like a really fun way to change up your games and make it about more than just securing the territory of your allies.

Oathbreaker - Final Thoughts

Oathbreakers is a fun addition to an already different feeling mass battle game. I really like the inclusion of the Undead, a Fantasy staple, into the world of Oathmark and the option for Legendary Heroes feeds into the character-building many people do around armies anyway. The rules are presented in a way which is simple to understand and doesn't make things too complicated when you've already got your standard army building to consider.

Military Expeditions Art

The presentation of the book is also pretty darn good and I love the inclusion of so many full art pieces by Alan Lathwell. It really helps put flesh on the bones (hah) of the armies and Oathmark in general and provides you with some fun options for paint schemes and army themes. The only thing that I would have liked to see is actual maps under the Military Expedition scenarios as a handy guide for laying out a table. The descriptions are fine but it's much easier for my poor brain to see an illustration of how it should look on the tabletop.

This is no half-arsed addition to a game, not that I would have expected it to be since McCullough has had his hands on it. If you're interested in starting a new army of the Undead and telling more stories with your campaigns then I'd certainly recommend picking it up.

If you have further questions about what's in Oathbreakers don't hesitate to ask in the comments below!

"The Undead army presented in the book has plenty of depth to it, much like the other races in Oathmark..."

"I love the inclusion of so many full art pieces by Alan Lathwell..."

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