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Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile is the latest board game from Root designer Cole Werhl

Fredrik Schulz
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This news article was first published on table for ONE
 


“PLAYERS MIGHT TAKE THE ROLE OF AGENTS BOLSTERING THE OLD ORDER OR SCHEME TO BRING THE KINGDOM TO RUIN. THE CONSEQUENCES OF ONE GAME WILL RIPPLE THROUGH THOSE THAT FOLLOW, CHANGING WHAT RESOURCES AND ACTIONS FUTURE PLAYERS MAY HAVE AT THEIR DISPOSAL AND EVEN ALTERING THE GAME'S CORE VICTORY CONDITION.”

For the past couple of weeks, board game designer Cole Werhle has released tidbits of information through Twitter about his upcoming title. As one would expect given the successes of Pax Pamir 2nd edition and Root, the general interest from the board game community has been substantial. Today, we learn that the titel of the upcoming board game is Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile. Designed for 1 - 5 players by Cole Werhle and published by Leder Games, the origin of Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile is derived from a sense of “narrative dissatisfaction” according to Werhle:


Image: Cole Werhle

“I've never been wholly comfortable with how board games tell big, complex stories. The basic problem here is that games put a big burden on their players. If you want to tell a big story with a game, you usually need to either impose on players with a massive rule-set and playtime or rely on mechanisms that off-load complexity or narrative to keep the core gameplay clean. Something like an event deck is one way of doing this. Or, you could write a pre-scripted branching narrative with little rules modules that get added each game (like a Legacy game). I hate these little tricks. There's nothing wrong with them per se, but they are anathema my own design priorities. The best narrative games, in my mind, are those that offer a compelling prompt and provide players with the tools they need to create amazing, dynamic tales. The trouble with games like this is that they are exhausting.” - Cole Werhle

The solution? A heavy emphasis on a coherent, continuing narrative where the choices the player makes has real consequences in subsequent plays of the game. Unlike many other legacy style games, Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile aims to provide a campaign where players can drop out without effecting the overall story, where the same game can provide different experiences altogether as told by the publisher:

“In Oath, there are no fancy production tricks, app-assisted mechanisms or production gimmicks. The game can be reset at any time and doesn't require the same play group from one game to the next. A player might use the fully-featured solo mode to play several generations during the week and then use that same copy of the game for Saturday game-night with friends. There are no scripted narratives or predetermined end points. The history embedded in each copy of Oath will grow to be as unique as the players who helped build it.”

On paper this certainly seems like a lofty goal, time will tell if the actual game can live up to these expectations. Although not set in stone, currently the goal is to run a crowdfunding campaign for Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile sometime early 2020 according to designer Cole Werhle.
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