Oak and Iron is the third game from Firelock Games. Set within the age of piracy, you take to the seas controlling fleets to battle your opponent and attempt to sink them to the bottom of the ocean.
Cracking open the box to see what’s inside, I have high hopes for the game. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Black Seas, which has lead me down the rabbit hole of naval wargaming.
Looking at the contents we have everything you’d expect. Dice, tokens and 2D scenery are all here, the card stock is also nice and clean cut. There is even a paper mat, allowing you to start playing even more swiftly. Being able to play Oak and Iron right out of the box is one of the absolute joys of the game. The ships hulls come in one piece and you just need to stick the masts into the hulls. Before you know it, you’re ready to catch the wind and head off for to sink your foes!
Some of the card stock has a fair amount of wasted space incluced, which is a shame. Whilst not essential, getting a few extra tokens on them to reduce the wastage seems like it would have been a fairly sound idea.
With a small quick-start game suggested, the basic rules are straightforwardly laid out. At the start of each section there is a ‘new terms introduced’ component. This will certainly support newer players as all the jargon is bunched together with concise explanation. Throughout the rules there are lots of simple-to-follow examples showing the rules as you read through, along with diagrams.
Each phase of the turn is explained in detail for the basic quick-start game. The section that follows that is the advanced rules containing such shenanigans as formations and colliding with other in-game objects. It also introduces weather and other terrain features.
Oak and Iron is a miniatures game. Thus, no miniature game is complete without a whole bunch of new plastic to paint. Included in the starter set are 6 different ships. Whilst not a massive amount by comparison with other sets, there’s enough to field either two smaller forces or one larger force. The base points of the ships come to 63 points but with the addition of a few admirals and some upgrades, you could easily get to the 100 point limit for skirmish games. For anything larger than that you will need to get your hands on some expansions.
The models look good, they aren’t as detailed as some of the other ships available from other manufacturers. However, and this is a big however, they come almost fully assembled! In fact, if you forgo the masts, which you only need push in the corresponding hole on the hull, they are ready to play straight out of the box. The bases that come with the game have everything you need on them and are even “one size fits all”. Having a large Galleon sitting alongside a small sloop on the same size base takes a little getting used to but is nothing that most gamers cannot overcome.
Games are reasonably straight forward and are easily enjoyable and comfortable after a few games under your belt. In fairness, I would quite like to see how the bigger games play out by comparison! The back of the rulebook has a fairly comprehensive quick reference section which is handy mid-game. All of this accompanied by the well-laid out rulebook makes playing a game of Oak and Iron both enjoyable and accessible. There’s something here for both beginners and those slightly more seasoned should they be willing to invest in more vessels.
You can pick up a copy now from Firelock Games.
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