Tuesday 26 May 2020

Oathmark 2000pts, Elves vs Orcs and Goblins

As previously announced, Kevin and I played a game this evening. I had laid out the table, so as soon as Kevin arrived and had his army out of the boxes, we could start placing our units on the table.

The first turn we used the Forward unto Battle rule to get things moving. I made my first tactical mistake by timidly turning  my Mounted Rangers in behind my battleline - they should have hung around on the flank to make a dangerous counter-attack later in the game, but, well...

My second mistake was to advance too fast in the center, but I was afraid that the Goblin Archers would wither down my few units too fast (I still think archers are too effective in this game). As it were, my infantry got stuck in way too early for my Archers and Rangers to have had enough impact on the rather large force I was facing.

The end of Turn 2:

My Linebreakers broke the Goblins in front of them, and then my Spearmen tried to do the same with the Orcs, but, alas..

Abysmal dice rolling on my part, well done by the Orcs.

I sadly do not remember what broke the other Orc unit (those to the right of my Linebreakers), but break they did... It may have been my Mounted Rangers shooting at them, but I am not sure.

I was beginning to feel a tad of pressure on my position.

My remaining Spearmen were annihilated by Goblin bowfire, and my Linebreakers defeated and pushed back the last Orc unit, but were Disordered in the process, which meant that I coiuld not exploit the wide open unit of Goblin Archers the following turn. My Archers (left flank) were suffering bad casualties, and my Rangers were just about to be caught by the Gobbos on the right.

This was the situation before the last turn. I did not take further pics, but my Rangers were charged and lost more than half their numbers, my Mounted Rangers moved forwards and fired at the Goblin Archers in front of them, without hitting a single time (5d10 rolling 5 or less, go figure), and my Linebreakers shook off the Disorder but could no move to contact an enemy unit. The two remaining Archers were killed off. When the Linebreakers then lost half their number to bowfire, I conceeded the battlefield; my Mounted Rangers were too far away from the Goblins on the left to reach them, so they would most likely be halved or worse before making contact, my Rangers were only 3 strong, and the Linebreakers faced annihilation by the Orc Wsrlord and his retinue.

Thoughts on the game:

This one played rather smoothly. I think that having way fewer units than in my solo test game contributed heavily to the faster pace, as units had more space to maneuver without ending up at strange angles facing each other - but looking up stats for combat was of course much easier, too, because I only had to look at my own roster this time.

The Champion Dice had some impact on some of the fights (we only had the commanders being able to use it - plus the Troll, but it never succeeded in catching an enemy), and the extra Activation/Morale dice provided by the Commanders was also quite prominent - especially for the Orcs/Goblins. We did not use the Death of and Officer option, but I shall add it to my next game.

I still think that calculating the variable Target Number for every to-hit-roll feels a bit 1980, but we were actually doing it without having to look up the modifiers after a few turns, so it can be lived with, as not slowing down the game all to much (it still may if rosters consist of several pages - this game I only had one page).

Because of the few units, maneuvers were mostly made to swing around terrain features, and there wasn't any occurrences of units being pushed deep into the rear lines (as there were none), so I did not see any awkward situations this time (but from my test game I know they can and probably will occur in large games).

I think I would still prefer a system with some range modifiers for shooting, but I have not played enough games to assess the overall impact on the game of such a change.

Morale had a significant impact on the Orcs/Goblins, with several units breaking, and panic spreading. It is a feature that I rather like, although it may sometimes come down to a few bad rolls whether your army stays fit for fighting or runs away.

The game today took about two hours, including placing the armies on the table (I had prepared the table/terrain in advance, but it had taken me less than 10 minutes), which is faster than I expected, but we had relatively few units, did not use more than one character each, and we had no Wizards. Next game I play, I shall add more Characters, and let Champions kill off Officers. I have not yet even read the rules for Magic, but I think I shall start out with a single low level Wizard in one of the next games I play.

It feels like Oathmark is better balanced than God of Battles. Playing Undead in GoB, I often faced enemy units I could hardly scratch, because of the many dice they roll regardless of the number of hits scored on them (elsewhere on this blog you may find my musings about how to possibly mend some of the worst flaws of that game, but I never got around to trying them out, yet), but in Oathmark it rarely feels impossible to damage an enemy unit (some cavalry units possibly excepted - I have to play some more). The possibility to roll only five or four dice for attacks somewhat evens out the difference between elite and standard units - which can be both good and bad. My abhorrent dice rolling may have made the elite Elves seem somewhat underwhelming, but if the dice had fallen more normally statistically, the game might have hung more in the balance at the end.

I am still not sure if this will be my go-to fantasy battle game, as I still have some reservations regarding some of the rules, but today's game did not put me off. I shall try to get a game against Duregar/Ulolkish arranged within an overseeable future - probably Middle-Earth themed.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Oathmark Solo Test Game, Turn 8

I finally found some time to wrap this up (sort of), so here is what was to be the final turn of my solo test game of Oathmark.

The Warg Riders managed to contact the Minas Tirith Archers, this time actually drawing serious blood, and forcing the Humans back in disorder.

The Warriors then wheeled back before slamming into the Warg Riders, who were not able to fight back very well, and were pushed back.

The Trolls were still unable to comply...

The Dwarven Archers broke the Dunlendings closest to them - I forgot to roll for Cascading Panic.

The Orc Archers (Goblin Archers) managed to take down a single Dwarf.

I had forgotten to mark the Minas Tirith Warriors as activated, but luckily the Dice Gods had me covered when I tried to activate them.

The Dunlending Spearmen failed their activation roll and stayed put.

The Dunlending Militia smashed into the very small unit of Dwarf Soldiers, but got mauled.

The psuhback send ripples right back through the Dunlending lines.

The Rohan Archers failed their Activation Roll, and thus had a +1 to TN when shooting at the Orc Archers...

...but never the less all but annihilated them.

At this point I could see no use in continuing - Saruman's invasion had been brought to a halt - for now.

The last couple of pics show the battlefield as it were when I called it quits.

Thoughts on the game so far:

It is NOT as simple as God of Battles - far from!

To me, the mechanics seem a bit clunky; I, for one, cannot memorize the stats and special rules for every type of unit, and I have to look to the roster and meticulously calculate Target Numbers every time some interaction occurs, which slows down gameplay considerably. In GoB, I really only had to memorize one stat for each type of unit, and 'rank bonuses' were sort of worked into the number of dice rolled (depending on unit size). Tomorrow evening, I have a gaming session with a live opponent (2000pts), and after that I shall have a better idea of how the game flows.

Movement: Some really quirky situations arise when units are close together, and one is trying to make contact, and I think some houseruling/consensus of rules interpretation will be necessary to avoid heated discussions when battles hang in the balance.

I like the way some of the Special Rules work - especially Charge (X), which forces you to carefully position shock units before committing them to battle. The Brace rule (spears) can seem a bit meh, but I think that careful positioning of spear units to take some of the air out of enemy shock troop attacks can be the key to success in many battles.

Missiles: Brutal!
I still think that defensive tactics will be very hard to cope with. Place a line of Spearmen units in front, a line of archer units close behind them, have some crack troops (Warriors and/or Linebreakers) guard the flanks, and the enemy should have a very hard time cracking your position. Of course, if the enemy has a lot of Elven Archers and/or catapults, you may want to reconsider your tactics...

I think terrain is not going to be very popular. Having to halve one's move is not nice when facing enemy archers, as it gives them even more chances to decimate your units before you can reach them.
Some units have 'Nimble', which allows them to ignore terrain movement penalties, and as mentioned before, I really think that Wolves/Wolf Riders should have this special rule. As it is now, some Elves on foot move faster through rough terrain than those quadrupedal predators, and I think that is weird and just wrong.

I already toy with the idea of making a house rule that lets units assume 'mob'-formation to gain Nimble, but get an Activation/Morale penalty, lose rank bonuses, and have TN+1 when fighting (but maybe force enemies to shoot at them at TN+1) while in this loose formation. This would make it more viable to play games in dense terrain, which to me is more interesting than a large open battlefield. But it is too early to introduce this, as I still have to learn all the ropes of the game (although I do have the rules ready in my mind).

I am in two minds about these rules.
The game works, although I fear that it runs too slowly for my taste. I like the versatility of army composition. and with the right additions (Oliphaunts. anyone?) it may cater very well for Middle-Earth battles like the one I just snailed my way through. I think some of the peculiarities are really weird, and will have to be houseruled in order to not create awkward situations too often; it can be done, but it is often harder to find consensus on house rules than finding a ruleset all can agree upon.

Well, as mentioned, I am playing a 2000pts game tomorrow evening, and I shall of course record it here, as always.

Friday 22 May 2020

Frodo's Quest: Black Rider

Some days ago, I finished painting up this mounted Nazgûl, and I used it as my second entry for the Modern Fantasy Painting Party at LAF.

After finishing the base, I realized that I can relatively easy bevel the edges of the upper layer (MDF pill-shaped base from Sarissa Precision) for a less obtrusive base edge, and I shall be doing that from now on (this was my first attempt at this kind of base, And as usual, I learn on the go).

Next up for Frodo's Quest are som members of the Silent Watch, and then I shall have to finish painting some 3D-printed Smials.

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Oathmark Solo Test Game, Turn 7

I started Turn 7 with a major blunder: Eventhough the Rohan Spearmen were Disordered, I had the charge the Uruk-Hai Warriors. I did not realize my mistake until somewhat later; A Disordered unit that passes its Activation Test removes the Disordered status, but cannot perform more than one Simple Action (i.e. cannot charge), so the combat would not have been possible as per the rules.

As it were, the action delivered an almost cinematic moment when the Rohirrim, suffering dreadful losses, managed to break the much larger enemy unit!

In the center, the Warg Riders managed to move through the Orcs, and then charge the Minas Tirith Archers. The result was rather underwhelming, though, and the charge was stopped in its tracks.

The Dwarven Archers picked off another Dunlending.

The Stone Trolls did not move. I probably should move them somewhere else, before the Human Archers start showering them with slow death...

The Dunlending Warriors did not impress anyone.

They were pushed back in disarray.

The Rohan Archers were not exactly having a heyday, either.

The Uruk-Hai Scout Archers could not hit a barn side from 3 yards away.

But the Orc Archers (Goblin Archers) managed to overcome whatever highr winds were impeding their colleagues.

The Dunland Spearmen decided to put and end the the harassment form the Dwarven Archers, but, well...

Then Dunland Soldiers (I think) moved through the fallen back Spearmen, and used their second action to make contact with the Dwarven Linebreakers. Which proved to be a stupid move.

On the far right, the newly arrived Uruk-Hai Scouts made minced meat out of the Rohan Spearmen.

The lone surviving officer decided to fight another day.

That was pretty much it. The Isengard lines are thinner than ever, and I do not think they can keep up the attack much longer. I shall play one more turn before deciding whether to call it decided or not, but the forces of Evil need nothing short of a dice miracle to turn the tables.

Here are the usual overviews of the battlefield.