Monday, December 7, 2020

Oathmark Achipelago

I have been playing Frostgrave and Ghost Archipelago since they first came out and am a big fan of the rules by Joseph McCullough.  I particularly like the setting concepts of both rule sets but I always wanted to try larger battles in these settings. His Oathmark rules have given me the opportunity.  Although Oathmark is not part of the Frostgrave family of rules (and are not set in the Frostgrave universe), they similarly mix of simple mechanics with the opportunity to make satisfying tactical decisions.  For the various unit stats below, I just analogized to the ones contained in the army lists.  For example, for the foot knights I used the states for dwarven linebreakers.  The figures for the Bronze league are from Crocodile Games, Old Glory, and Foundry while most of the Alliance figures are from the Ghost Archipelago line with some from Gripping beast and Queen Melwyn from Hasselfree.  The mat is from Cigar Box Mats.

This was a solo play test of what I hope will be a game I some day put on at a convention.

The setting for this game is the Ghost Archipelago, a mysterious chain of islands that appears for only a few weeks every hundred years.   They contain fabulous magical treasures and mystical locations including the great Crystal Fountain, a source of enormous powers for those that drink from it. Rather than search for the Fountain in small furtive groups, several leaders from Minaria, the great continent across the eastern seas, have decided to launch a full scale invasion of the islands.  Although the islands are mostly primordial, there are several Bronze Age city states that are the first target in the invasion.

The fleet of the invading Heritors' Alliance has arrived in the Bay of Sighs in the territory of the Kingdom of Bandari, foremost state in the League of Bronze.
They land near an ancient temple complex.  It is the site of three Oathmarks that were placed to mark the founding of the Bronze League.  The Alliance hopes that by destroying the Oathmarks, a psychic blow will fall upon the League, breaking its will.
The League's army is under the command of King Nesis, the Lion of Bandari, a veritable demigod, who stands with his elite archers upon the Tower Mount that anchors the right flank of the League forces.
To his fore are the unskilled but enthusiastic levies of the allied city-state of Olusis, supported by a stone golem.
The center of the line is formed upon the great Golden Phalanx of Bandari, the finest troops of the League, commanded by Prince Apollon and supported by the sorcerer Coresis and the great mechanical Bronze Bull of Bandari. 
To their left are the horn-helmed warriors of Tencerie.
The League's left flank is held by Bandari peltasts, hard-fighting but nimble warriors.
Coming to aid of the League is a large band of tribal allies, hardened by the trials of life in the deep jungles. 
Landing as the right flank of the Alliance army are the Corsairs of Zefnar, sea-faring adventurers from the Sultanate of Shucassam, led by the Vizier Zanwee who is aided by the magus Shinar.
In the center of the landing force is it's leader, Queen Melwyn from the rough-and-tumble Kingdom of Hothior and her fierce bodyguard, aided by the court enchanter Lord Flupius
Knights from the northern Kingdom of Immer, under the courtly Count Rufio have joined Melwyn's crusade.
Forming the left flank of the Alliance army are a group of rogues from the pirate realm of Rombune.  Hoping for rich booty, they are led by the famed pirate The Bilge Rat.
The landings are supported by three great-ships armed with heavy catapults.  Additionally, a mobile reserve is kept in small boats just off shore.  It contains a collection of the finest Bravos recruited from all across Minaria.

The battle begins when the Olusian levies make a premature attack on the Rombuni pirates.  Despite supporting fire from Nesis' archers, the levies are thrown back.
In the center, the men of Tencerie advance to protect the most exposed of the Oathmarks.
Shinar delivers a fireball attack on them, disrupting their lines, a state in which they will remain for the rest of the battle.
At the end of the first turn, the two lines are approaching each other for a definitive clash. 
The first blows are struck in the center.  The invading knights are being attacked by the Golden Phalanx and the Bronze Bull.
The fighting between Melwyn's guard and the Phalanx is particularly hard-fought.
The Immerian knights have thrown back the mechanical beast but Melwyn's men are beaten and fall back disordered.
Another group of Tencerie warriors move forward but are devastated by another of Shinar's fireballs.
On the League's right flank, the Bilge Rat and his men are able to destroy the stone golem.  
Further attacks by the levies on the pirates and their crossbowmen are repulsed.
Just as the Phalanx is about to split the Alliance army in two, the heavy catapults on the ships, enhanced with Flupius' Explosive Ammunition, wreck the proud Bandari.
The tribal allies are moving rapidly to support an attack on the Alliance's right flanks.  
The Bravos are landed to support the Zefnari corsairs.
The end of the second turn:  the League attacks on the Bilge Rat and his men have failed, the units in the center of both armies are depleted and the fight here could go to the last ones standing.
The Tencerie launch their attack, killing the brave Shinar but their drive toward the beaches is disordered by the dying magus' final spells.
The Bravos prove they were worth their pay.  They counter attack the Tencerie who break. 
This has a cascading effect on the other Tencerie warriors who break and flee from the Oathmark they were defending.  Vizier Zanwee leads the corsairs to capture this first objective.
At end of the third turn, things are looking grim for the League of Bronze.  Their right has been driven back to the Tower Mount and the center is almost gone.  Only on the left is there hope in the form of the arrival of the tribal horde. 
In the center, the Leagues forces are particularly depleted. having been devastated by fire from Lord Flupius and the fleet's catapults.

 To protect the center Oathmark in the ruined temple, Coresis uses a glamour spell to transport the relatively fresh peltasts to defend the holy site.
In the meantime, the Bronze Bull makes a last desperate charge against the thin ranks of Queen Melwyn's bodyguard.
Her men all killed at her side and the Queen herself wounded, she manages to deliver a fatal blow to the metallic beast.

The fourth turn ends as something of a lull settles in on the exhausted armies. The League hopes to hold their remaining positions until nightfall.

The fifth turn begins with the much anticipated attack by the belated tribesman. They charge Zanwee and the corsairs at the Oathmark but are rather handily driven back.
The Alliance forces go on the offensive.  The Immerian knights strike down Coresis despite suffering casualties from this magical defenses. The last of the Golden Phalanx are killed ignominiously by catapult fire.
The Bilge Rat and his pirates cut their way through the Olusian levies.  
The remnants flee to King Nesis' protection on the Tower Mount.
But the Bilge Rat and his pirates are hard on their heels, charging up the steep slope.
The much reduced pirates now face the great King and his elite bowmen.

A desperate fight ensues.
In the end, the bronze warriors are hurled back but the pirates have suffered heavy losses.
The sixth turn begins with the Immerian knights, now under Queen Melwyn's direct command storming the ruined temple and capturing the second Oathmark.  

The Zefnari and Bravos easily break the remaining tribal forces.
In the game's final action, the fleet's catapults have left King Nesis alone to defend the last Oathmark.  However, the only one facing him is the Bilge Rat.  The two square off for a duel.  The odds are heavily in the King's favor, he needs strike only one blow to kill the pirate while the Bilge Rat must inflict three wounds to kill the king.
And here is the roll, the King's dice are the red and blue while the Bilge Rat's are white and black. The demigod scored no hits while the pirate got four!
With great cunning and skill, the lithe pirate slipped under the blade of the great King and slew this legendary hero.  The Alliance had achieved their hardwon victory and secured their landing.

The much-bloodied victors began to wonder what difficulties lay ahead, once they began their march inland...