HATE Club are starting a new campaign for Frostgrave next month, so I decide to get one of the more experienced players at the club to walk me through an intro game last night. I originally picked up a copy of the hardback rules some time ago, but larger scale games like 30k/40k have burned up all of my hobby and gaming attention for the last year.
I have a number of random GW & 3rd party miniatures that I have acquired on a whim over the last few years with a view to playing Frostgrave, but nothing resembling a finished warband. However, I do have a bunch of Dungeon Saga minis which I painted up to a basic tabletop standard and make a perfectly serviceable Necromancer themed warband in the interim.
As a quick summary, Frostgrave is a narrative skirmish wargame which pitches wizards leading warbands seeking ancient treasure from a frozen, ruined city. While there are official miniatures, it is very much a ‘grab what you have available’ kind of a game. Usually you have 6-12 miniatures to a player on a 3’x3/4’x4′ size board with as much terrain as you can muster. Since it is based around d20s it can have some pretty ‘swingy’ results and it is really about narrative campaign play as it doesn’t really worry too much about being strictly balanced: after you initially build a warband by spending your points (gold coins), you will gain additional funds as a result of how well you have made off with any loot during games and experience points gained from previous scenarios – so even if you play a game against another wizard of the same level, there might be a lot of difference in the relative wealth and resources available. Injuries can also permanently effect your wizard and apprentice stats, and you roll for random wandering monster encounters when picking up loot so there is plenty to amuse and entertain the beer & pretzel gamer, but probably not so much for people looking for a perfectly balanced competitive game.
An interesting observation is how evocative the background narrative of the game is through the use of small random quotes and contents of the random treasure/encounter tables rather than through volumes of background material to read through in the core book. It is quite simple to pick-up the core mechanics, but the diversity of spells adds a lot of potential variety and depth to play, meaning no two wizards are likely to be exactly the same. Spells range from buffing your warband in-game, summoning additional undead/demon allies or directly blasting your enemies. This definitely favours a terrain heavy environment with lots of things to block line of sight.
We managed to a learning game done in around an hour excluding set-up which is great with a quick ‘school night’ game, which is a refreshing change from trying to cram in a 30k/40k game into 2 hours. Also, I can see how it would be a lot of fun to play with additional players with 3-4 probably being a fair number. Recommended – I look forward to playing in a small campaign and hopefully next time I will remember to take a few pics 🙂