24 November 2020

Review: Oathmark - Oathbreakers

Oathbreakers is out, the second expansion for Osprey Games fantasy battle game Oathmark. After reading the expansion a couple of times, here's my initial thoughts on it - it's a review. 

This expansion has a lots of goods in it, real heavy matter. We get

  • Undead Armies
  • Ledendary Heroes
  • Military Expeditions - campaigns
Setup and artwork
The book is setup as we know it from the core book and the first expansion, so we're not gonna spend time on that. One of the things I was missing in the first expansion was new photos of all the units North Star has been bringing out - and more original artwork. 

We've probably all seen the amazing North Star skeletons and metal miniatures released. These models are not in the book. But as we've learned from talking to multible Osprey authors, there's almost a 2 year release time on these book. So as the series go we'll see more and more different miniatures in them. 

So no skeletons in the book, but light elves, heavy dwarf and goblin wolf riders. All in all that makes for a much more interesting book. 

And then there's the art! Woop! A ton of new pieces of original artwork - many centered around the undead theme. I think the art is amazing. It shows a kind of undead fitting for the dark ages fantasy, not too evil or doomy. It sends a good old school fantasy vibe. Take your time and really look at the art, 
there's lots of stories told in those pieces. 

Undead Armies
This is a major expansion to the Oathmark game bringing in a full new faction. A pretty detailed faction as well. The army is primarily made up from two things: skeletons and revenants. 

The skeletons is your classic fantasy minions, cheap, not too good a fighting. Then there's the revenants - making me thinks of Skyrims Daugr. Soldiers laid to rest, kind of mummified, raised to fight again. Skeleton are obviously raised by death magic and necromancers. Revenants are raised in part from still clinging to the oaths they've sworn in life. And that angle fits really well with the story of The Marches. 

Revenants are good soldiers, hard hitting. A revenant cavalry miniatures is 70 points and a chariot is 150 points. So they're elite units. 

Oathbreakers doesn't bring rules for using chariots in other armies. That is yet to come - perhaps in Bane of Kings. The undead faction is described as bronze age (vs Oathmark iron age) - so that also explains the lack of war chariots (from a historical perspective at least). 

An undead force will be lead either by a Revenant King (his army serving him in death through oaths sworn) or a high level Necromancer. A powerful necromancer will never follow a king, he'll raise and lead an army of his own. So there's two different leader types, and it's interesting to see a spell casting leader. 

The necromancers know all the right tricks, classic death magic, leading my thoughts to old editions of Warhammer. He'll steal health and raise more troops for his units. 

Mixing races and units is a key part of the Oathmark army system and anybody will be able to use undead units (if you build the new undead territories in your kingdom). Nothing stopping you there, but living races have penalties. It's not inspiring for morale to work under an undead king and along side dead things - so no morale or activation bonus. 

Special rules
There's a bunch of special rules in place to make the undead unique. Undead and uncaring will make undead harder to kill with shooting attacks and prevent them from breaking due to morale. But they will take damage when failing morale. Classic undead. 

For skeletons it further goes that they are harder to activate (rolling only one dice, unless close to a commander) and the only work with a spellcaster in the army. No friendly spellcaster on the table and all skeltons are removed as casualties. 

Legendary Heroes
Battlesworn gave us simple rules for elite units. That's already been covered in a previous review and the rules were fairly simple. Keep the game running smooth. Oathbreakers make similar rules for heroes (commanders and champions), but with some more depth. 

Any army can include 1 legendary hero at a time (unless you agree on more with the opponent). You create a legendary hero by paying regular point cost + 30 points. The hero get to choose 1 heroic ability (there's 24 to choose from). I really like this mechanic, as you can add some really good tricks to your army. Making deadlier warriors, better commanders, more effective spellcasters. For 30 points, some tricks can be pretty good. Like in Rangers of Shadow Deep all the heroic abilities can only be used once pr game - so choose and use them wisely. 

This system is new, and I quite like it. A legendary hero will gain experience from each game they participate in and depending on how well they do. The XP needed to level up and gain a new heroic ability is the point cost of the model. So a king being really expensive (with 30 points already added) will need many XP to gain a second heroic trait. After that his point cost goes up by 30 again, and he needs to reach the limit again (starting from scratch in XP). So champions with multible abilities will be rare and super expensive. 

Injury and death
Should a legendary hero die in battle or flee, you roll on an injury table. This can see the hero having to skip next battle (or battles) from wounds, die completely or be captured. The captured result is really funny, as the ransom will be adding extra points to the opponent next game. 

The hero system adds a lot to Oathmark, without breaking anything. It's much more detailed and fleshed out than the battle honors system. And since heroes will only have one or two - one-use tricks, it's not gonna drag things down. 

Military Expeditions
A great way to make an expansion worth it is by adding these mini campaign. Special connected scenarios, with a story and consequences for winning and losing battles. The book contains three missions, with three scenarios each. All centered around part of The Marches with lots of undead activity. 

Even without the the campaign element, nine new scenarios is a good amount of game time to get through.

There's 13 new territories (not adding units, but having other effects on the Kingdom), some are unique and can only be acquired through playing the military expeditions. 

Final thoughts
I really like Oathbreakers, it's a great expansion and it adds good solid chunks to the Oathmark game. I hope this is the level of material we'll see in the future expansion. Not only a few units here and there, but huge gameplay expansions. 

It'll be really good to see which kits North Star brings out - especially how they plan to do revenant kits. And with even more kits, we'll see even better photos in the future books. Overall the artwork and miniature shots is much higher in quality and diversity now, than be the release of the core book. 

If you need to get only one expansion for Oathmark, you should go with this one over Battlesworn. Oathbreakers is really good.

I'm still hoping to see some siege rules for the game. Let that be an expansion after Bane of Kings. And some fleshing out the campaign for multiplayer is needed, as it's worded towards a war between two kinggoms now (with occupying territories etc). 


  1. So what does a revenant look like? A ghostly figure like a chainrasp? Any pictures in the book? What sort of model would you use? Great review by the way.

    1. Try giving Skyrim Daugr a search and some of the artwork I've posted here in the review. Kinda dried, mummified looking. Not ghosts. Not rotten like zombies. Preserved bodies-

  2. No chariots other than undead... Well thats a bummer...

    1. Give it one more supplement...

    2. Is there any chance of having siege rules someday?

    3. I think we'll be lucky in the Bane of Kings supplement. IIRC Joeseph mentions that in the podcats linked somewhere in the article.

  3. Thanks for the review! Looks more temoting, then Battlesworn: new art, complete new faction, interesting heroic abikities. But why does Amazon deiver it only on 7.12.? Shame...
    A wrote a bit tought-provoking about siege rules on my blog, would be really great to have it someday!

    1. Siege is really all this game is missing I think.

  4. Sorry for the typos, I hate writing on the phone.