Friday, 17 April 2015
Of Gods and Mortals
One of the games that has been taking up quite a bit of my time recently is 'Of Gods and Mortals' (OGAM for short) a nice little game written by the same author as another favourite in the Marshall household 'Fistful of Kung Fu', Andrea Sfiligoi.
The game centres around the Gods of myth and legend along with their heroes and mortal followers. So for instance I have been using the Norse as my faction of choice which gives me access to gods such as Odin, Thor and Hel, whilst my opponents have used various different pantheons such as Greeks and Celts - the book includes 4 pantheons (Egyptian is the other one) and there are several others available as free downloads.
Picking a force
To pick a force you pick a Pantheon and a points limit (900 points is the recommended limit for starting out) and then get started. You need to have a God (no more than one) and can spend no more than a 1/3 of your points on Legends, other than that you are free to pick.
Gods are pretty much what they say they are, the personification of the god in a semi mortal form. They are the most powerful model on the tabletop with a points cost to match but they can be slain just like any other model. However if you still have mortal units on the table you can reinvoke your god and bring him back! So its always worth keeping a mortal unit out of combat to pray. The other interesting thing about the Gods is they tend to be represented by a much larger miniature than the rest. We have been using models out of the various 54mm ranges available to provide suitably imposing centrepiece models.
The legends tend to be characters such as Hercules and Perseus as well as the more mythical monsters such as Medusa or Pegasus. Or in the Norse list you get to pick all the Giants (get your Frost Giant here), Valkyrie etc. Legends are where you can really go to town on models as there are so many cool ones out there that you can use as 'counts as' type things. They are also a great excuse to raid the bits box for that model you bought as an impulse buy and then stuck in a box and forgot about. What do you mean that's only me, must be plenty of other gamers that do that. Surely?
Finally we have mortals. Unlike Gods and Legends mortals are deployed in units of 4-8 models but fight as if they were a single entity. They are also the only units that can bring your god back to the table if he has been slain, so you need to keep them safe. Again mortals cover the archetypes that you would expect for each pantheon, the norse for example have beserkers, norse nobles, trolls and drauger amongst the choices.
Playing the game
The game uses a very simple yet elegant dice mechanic to play that is very much in the risk vs. reward type of game play. Each model / unit has 2 stats Quality and Combat (mortals tend to be Q4, Legends Q3 and Gods Q2) and to activate a unit you roll up to 3 dice and try and equal or better the Q score. For each success you get then that unit gets one action that it can spend on doing things like moving or fighting. However (and this is where the risk comes in) for each failure you opponent can try and activate one of their units in a reaction. A unit can only use a reaction once per turn (so no need to worry about rapaging gods) but it creates a very fluid game. If you end up rolling 2 or more failures when you try and activate a unit then your turn ends, even if it was the first unit you tried. This tends to make activation order very important as well as making sure you are rolling the right number of dice at the right point. No need to go for 3 actions if the unit you are trying to do something with only needs 1.
Of course as with most wargames, you want to kill your opponent as well - after all how dare this opposing god come into your territory - and that is handled with a single dice roll by both players. Basically you roll a d6 and add your Combat Score to it, along with a few modifiers based on things like outnumbering. If the difference between the rolls is less than 3 nothing happens, but if its 3 or more then someone is going to the woodshed. There is a hierarchy of effects (if Gods lose a combat to a mortal unit then they can turn being killed into just being pushed back by making a Q test, whereas if they lost to the other god they are dead) and this just adds into the risk / reward mechanism that flows throughout the game.
The book is on the order of £10 and then its onto miniatures. To play a 900 point game you probably need a God, 3 Legends and 2 units of 6 mortals. And that's it! Of course if you are reading this you are probably a gamer and know that you will never stop at just that, but its nice to dream isn't it?
If you are a gamer like me, looking for a simple yet fun system that can get played in an hour or so then OGAM is likely to be right up your street. It has a points system in the book so you can expand beyond the Pantheons included (my friend Matt is busy making a Plague God force) and the author is supporting it with new expansions (the first will be out later in the year)
2 thumbs way up.