The Iron Oath is a tactical RPG in the vein of Divinity: Original Sin 2 or Baldur's Gate III. You create a band of mercenaries and grow their reputation over the era. That means that your warriors will live and die based on your actions. Many of the basics in other tactical games apply here, though it's expected you'll replace your mercenaries as they grow old and retire or die in battle. The genre can be daunting for first-timers, so TechRaptor has compiled a short, simple, sweet Iron Oath guide for beginners to help you graduate from greenhorn to general. Since it's only just entered Early Access, be aware that much of the game's content is subject to change.
The Iron Oath: The First Battle
If you opt to skip the tutorial, the first battle will give you a generated Guardian, a Pugilist, and a Stormcaller. Because of the potential experience and loot, playing through the tutorial, at least the first time, is a strong recommendation. If you're new to the genre or just want a chill experience, try Adventurer difficulty or create your own custom one.
Depending on your stat generation, you may end up with a very wonky starting party. No worries! The first battle will help ease you into it, and you aren't stuck with these mercenaries forever. Send your Pugilist south, move your Guardian to cover in the north, and order your Stormcaller west. Kill enemies on the left half of the map and then regroup. Take advantage of flanking when you can, and use the tall grass for a small evasion boost and defense against attacks of opportunity. Your Pyrolancer from the tutorial dungeon will rejoin you after this fight, bringing you up to four party members.
Once you've cleared the first battle, the tutorial recommends heading to Andilon for some rest and relaxation. Treat any of your injured comrades in the Infirmary, and then head to the Inn. There, you can pass time, recruit allies, and buy rounds of alcohol. Right now, your roster is a little anemic, especially if some of them suffered injuries. It's time to fix that.
The Iron Oath Recruiting Allies
Recruit allies at the Inn. To start, it will generate several novice-level characters of random classes and abilities. Since it's so early in the game, you will want some class diversity. If none of the options are to your liking, you can reload your last autosave before entering the city and generate new ones. Don't forget to examine their abilities and traits by clicking the button to the left of their recruitment window.
After completing your first real mission, you'll gain some points you can spend to upgrade your roster. Tents is a good pick once you get to the cap of 8 characters. Instead, consider picking up things that allow you to bring more Provisions into dungeons or boost other stats.
Ideally, you can acquire a frontline tank or two (Paladin, Valkyrie, Warden) and a healer (Sage, Paladin, Troubadour) with relevant skills. With only eight starting slots, you don't have enough room in your barracks for a copy of every class. Instead, it's important to prioritize their roles: support, tanking, and striking (melee or ranged). If you need to double up, supports and tanks should be your priority, especially the latter as they'll be taking the brunt of critical hits and are thus more likely to get injured.
The Iron Oath: Using Tactics
The Iron Oath uses a hex-based system. This means at any point you can have up to six others standing adjacent to a character. A typical goal in any fight is to flank enemies while avoiding being flanked yourself. Remember that you can use E to undo your movement, assuming you haven't activated a hazard or event. Sometimes you may want to take a specific route, too, so use Shift to draw your own path. And, sometimes, the best strategy at the moment is to wait and delay until the end of the round.
Your tank should attempt to hold the line when possible, using terrain to block off avenues of attack. Use the Swap maneuver to jostle for better positions or shield weaker allies. Once your tank is in position, your ranged attackers can sit behind them and inflict damage from safety. Healers should stick close to their protectors, though some, such as the Guardian, can defend themselves if needed.
Eventually you'll get the hang of predicting the flow of combat and how much damage your units take in a turn. Use that to gauge when to heal and pull back or push forward. Given the investment in your units, a strategy that risks death is generally a poor choice, especially as they become more skilled. Remember to watch for the reddish sword icon if near an enemy. It allows them a free attack of opportunity if they catch you, so be sure to account for that. Blocking line of sight and getting to cover can give you a huge boost in survivability. The former prevents all forms of direct attack, and the latter gives a sharp boost to your effective defense.
Another major piece of advice: area-of-effects can affect both your allies and enemies. Be careful when using attacks that arc or strike adjacent targets, since you may target one of your characters as well! Check this before you commit to the action, since healing is scarce in the beginning and friendly fire can be a costly mistake.
The Iron Oath: Using Charges Wisely
Rather than use something like MP or cooldowns, your skills in The Iron Oath use charges. These are limited-use skills which refresh when you rest. Investing in these skills can increase their uses, their potency, or add additional quirks to make them better.
Don't spend your skills frivolously, but don't be afraid to bust them out when it would make your life easier, either. Holding onto limited resources "just in case" can be a pitfall. For instance, your Guardian has limited healing charges with Dawn. Overhealing doesn't do anything to help you, so try to avoid it unless you need to meet a health threshold for the turn. You can check skill potency by highlighting it and looking at the number next to the axe icon.
Denying opponents their actions is more valuable than fixing the damage they deal. You can fix injuries after the battle, unless someone is about to fall. Roots and stuns will come in handy, and don't forget to knock opponents into dangerous terrain to harm them. Spending one charge on a trap is far more economical than spending several on bringing your allies back to health mid-fight only for them to lose it again.
The Iron Oath: Customizing Your Army
You can adjust the appearance of your characters to your liking using the Customize screen! To do so, access your roster and hit the Customize key (R by default). From there, you can change the character's name, pronouns, portrait background, portrait base, colors, hairstyle, scars, facial hair, tattoos, and apparel. You can also change colors on their sprites, though each unit has a "basic look" they adhere to for easy identification.
That's it for our Iron Oath Guide for Beginner's - we've got a few more on the way, so check them out in the coming days.