For months now, I have been reading about Frostgrave. Battle reports, adventure, warband building, and reviews. All of them were positive OR the few that weren't had issues with thing I didn't really care about (too small, scope too limited).
For those who do not know what Frostgrave is, it is a Mordheim-like fantasy skirmish game where every player takes on the role of a wizard (and there are 8-10 types of wizards) that travels to the ruins of the city of Frostgrave to loot its secrets and treasures. Pretty simple premise, right?
I had the kids play the roles of one wizard each. To keep it simple, we did not use any magic. I wanted to get familiar with the basic rules of the game first. I built two warbands using a little variety based on model. They had thugs, knights, man-at-arms. Kitty's band was mostly composed of girls and ActionMan's band was all boys.
I used some of my terrain - trees and tents. As a base for the whole thing. It was simple, but I did not need anything more. And frankly, it looked pretty good as a battle site: a few narrow funnels created by the tents and the trees.
So we had Kitty the Fire Wizardess vs ActionMan the Primed! Their forces were (I go from memory here):
ActionMan's Warband: Wizard, Apprentice, 2x knights, 1x man-at-arms, 2x thugs 1x warhound
Kitty's Warband: Wizard, Apprentice (with sword), 1x knights, 1x man-at-arms, 1x infantry man, 2x thugs, 1x thief
JP's Warband: I played the GM and the monsters. Next time around I will have a warband of my own.
The Clash: Turn 1
Kitty placed her models in a rather haphazard way, seeking to visit the board while ActionMan bunched his guys with the clear intent of going to take as much treasure as he could.
The Clash: Turn 1
Both forces move forward. ActionMan grabs two treasures and one of them reveals two skeletons! Kitty's moves are still quite random.
The Clash: Turn 3
Kitty grabs a treasure and then a big melee brawl featuring many knights arise in the center of the board. This fight would last until the end of the game with the flow going from one side to the other.
The Clash: Turn 4+
In subsequent turns, a giant rat appeared and got quickly squished by one of ActionMan's thugs.
My wife called it around the 6th or 7th turn. By then the game had devolved into a number of ineffectual melees. ActionMan took four treasures to Kitty's two. There was only one casualty: Kitty's infantry man died.
ActionMan REALLY loved the game and he asked that we keep the warbands for another game. Kitty seemed to enjoy herself also. Jojo was really annoyed that she had to go to bed before the others... Especially since she refused to play...
What I did wrong
- Double move After a few turns I remembered the double-move rule. By then I decided to just let the kids play on as we had before.
- Shooting rolls That one I COMPLETELY bungled. From what I can see, shooting is rather useless in this game. I wonder why one would bother using them. I will have to try it again.
- Spells Quite simply, we did not use any spells in the game. This will be for next game.
- Weapon Damage Once the game started, I completely forgot that some weapons had different damage, particularly the thugs with two handed weapons and staffs. Not a biggy as we were trying out the rules. This could be one of the reasons our combats went on and on without any damage.
What I really liked
- Quick flow The game flows very quickly, having both players constantly engaged in doing something. The phases are clear and flow well. I like the way the phases are separated, encouraging small retinue-style action.
- Random Encounters This was one of the elements of the game I was most warry of. At some random time, monsters may appear, adding chaos to the game. They do indeed add a layer of surprise. Now you can't be sure that your flank is fully secure when surprise a group of skeletons appear in your rear.
- Treasures I remembered playing Mordheim and Necromunda. Gathering treasure and loot was secondary to killing the enemy. You got WAY more per kill than for loot. Well Frostgrave is the opposite. You want to move in get some stuff and run out before you get yourself killed. It gave me some opportunities to use some of the misc terrain I had.
- Use any model This will sound a little petty perhaps, but something I thought was really cool. I used a variety of models: bugbears as thugs. However, I could image a more themed warband with dwarves or elves. Which makes me think of a Saggakar plugin for Frostgrave... Fun...
What I would've like to have
- I would've loved a cheat-sheet with the basic game math. As it stands a lot of the very important stuff is "stuck" in paragraphs and does not appears as a simple and clear mathematical operations. I'm sure there is such a thing on the internet and I will search for it before our next game. Tonight?