Cole Wehrle’s Root is a masterpiece in wordless world building. Tooled with the deviously asymmetric faction abilities and the whimsically delightful artwork of Kyle Ferrin (plus a few evocative titles), players can only imagine the rich history of the surprisingly ferocious woodland inhabitants. However Root is a knife fight in a phone booth compared to the sprawling open world of possibility in Oath: Chronicles of Empire & Exile.
I’ve had mixed experiences with the various tabletop collaborations between Cole and Leder Games (Root, Vast, Oath) from bad teachers and sore losers, to involved rule sets that take several sessions to internalize, let alone master. But one thing that remains consistent is their world building and settings that pull you in with the promise of rich narratives and character.
Every one of Oaths roughly 200 cards offers a glimpse through the looking glass to a world rich with flavour if you’re willing to pull on the thread. Now start combining them with endless possibilities and you’ve got a stew going. The loose campaign system has you working with a set deck and making just a few additions and excisions between games, which means there’s just enough time to get attached to a favourite card before they’re ripped away from you by a callous Chancellor.
It is however a game that requires commitment, both to overcome the hurdles of learning it’s mechanics and to let the magic of it’s collaborative world-building brew over multiple sessions. Unfortunately, my gaming group has been unable to take up the responsibility of that mantle, and the empire of Oath was left to ruin. After struggling to learn the solo mode, I decided to take a different tactic to engage with the game, and set out on a quest, making a vow of my own to explore each of the game’s factions through the lens of cuisine.
If you’re unfamiliar with my work at Board Game Feast, I look for new ways to celebrate your favourite games, bringing people together at both the dining table and games table to create lasting memories. This was my most ambitious project to date, originally envisioned as a monthly series and eventually taking about a year. Thanks to Leder Games for providing a copy of the game and inspiring so many tasty meals.
Bright lights in the night sky. Starry eyed discovery and esoteric tradition. Sights not to be seen, sounds not to be heard. Fulminating, fuming, free.The Law of Oath
The initial inspiration for this project was my being ensorcelled by the ‘Bewitch’ card, imagining what piedoughmancy might entail and whether I’d still eat the pie regardless. The trick to this dish is a fake pie topper, the cranberry filling just a thin galette placed on top of otherwise ordinary apple pie (this is just as well as the tartness of these cranberries was enough to knock out a wizard)
Never trust a Wizard. They’re unpredictable characters and they never show all the cards in their handsA wizard, probably
The home, a crackling fire. Calm, contentedness, and ease. Apathy, turning a blind eye. Drink and song. Old friend and newThe Law of Oath
Hearth seemed the most hospitable of Oath’s factions, and representative of the spirit of the approaching holiday season: tradition, familiarity and a touch of reckless excess. For this feast, I made my first attempt at a roast Turkey (they weren’t really available growing up in Australia and certainly not a part of the summer Christmas tradition), accompanied by all the fixings (homemade gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce) and an old fashioned fruit cocktail eggnog pie. For a little Oath flavour I also made some gingerbread cookies as an effigy to the chancellor.
Scratching, rustling in the grass. Fur, scale and claw. Growth unchecked. That which emerges from a long sleep.The Law of Oath
Oath’s Beast faction harnesses the fear of the unknown noise in the underbrush, the power of nature’s entropy, the ferocity of the untamed. It would only take a small offering to the forest council (a light meal perhaps) to convince the Beasts to join the rebellion. However one must tread lightly if you wish to ally yourself with such fickle forces. With a vegetarian mindset I crafted a foraged forest feast of mushrooms served 3 ways:
– King Oyster steaks with pesto
– Caramelised shitake risotto with vegan parmesan
– Deep fried oyster mushrooms with vegan aioli
Sword, stone and burnished silver. Lockstep, willing or unwilling. Hierarchy and logistics. The boot on the face, forever.The Law of Oath
It’s tough to maintain order in one’s private kitchen, let alone when you’re feeding an army or an empire. For this feast I chose to highlight bread and cheese, the staple of fantasy garrisons across the world(s), attempting to maintain order with a charcuterie board. You can see a time lapse it’s construction here:
The betrayal of a sibling. The sewers, rats chewing on spare bones. The masses struggling to survive. Knives flashing. Starting over againThe Law of Oath
Try as you might to maintain order, if there’s one constant when managing an empire, it’s Discord. The fog of war on the battlefield, the knife in the back, famine. Many will maintain that true discord is allowing any food within a 10 mile radius of your board games, but I say chaos is a platter: best shared with friends and messy hands. For this faction I cooked up a classic seafood boil complete with fresh seafood from the local BC Spot Prawn festival, andouille sausage and old bay seasoning.
The sun, the moon – those travelling bodies. Care for one’s own. Wind, rain and snow. Parched throats and gurgling bellies.The Law of Oath
I honestly struggled to nail down an idea for the Nomads, they’re an elusive bunch. But just because they spend all their time traveling doesn’t mean they can’t value hospitality and a hearty meal. If anything they’re adaptable and experimental with what they’ll eat, though eating on the road comes with it’s own challenges. So for my final feast I harkened back to my first but with a portable twist: hand pies! Both sweet (apple) and savory (puffed pastry cottage pie), perfect for eating on the long road from Cradle to the Hinterland.
Thanks for reading! My hope is to inspire others to level up their game nights and play with their food. If you have any suggestions for games you’d like to see featured, comment below.