So it had to happen eventually – after ‘only’ 20 years together I will be getting hitched to my better half at the end of the month. Being a nerd of a certain age, I decide to celebrate in the form of an ‘unstag’ weekend of gaming and beer so I gathered together all of my old RPG buddies and we played through a 4 game mini-campaign of Frostgrave.
As is commonplace with Frostgrave, we had a cobbled together four different warbands from a collection of GW Fantasy/AoS figures, Mantic/Dungeon Saga, Foundry and various other fantasy manufacturers – the only real criteria being that everything on the board needed to be painted. This proved to be a great excuse to get out (and finish painting) random Salute purchases which have languished at the back of our miniature collections years. It isn’t everyday you get to see a Tzeentchian daemon on the same table as a war-shrew and a humanoid red panda wizard’s apprentice!
We deliberately decided to pick a range of scenarios to make as much use as possible out of the figures we had brought and the scenery I had been working on:
Game 1 – The Mausoleum
This uses lots of basic skeletons as neutral/NPC monsters focused around a central graveyard. Skeletons are quite weak, but abundant and so this is a perfect learning game as only two of the four players had played Frostgrave before. The first half of the game is mainly dealing with the NPC skeletons and then in the latter half this flips over as people focus on each other in order to grab treasure.
Game 2 – The Well of Dreams and Sorrows
For this game there is a central well of knowledge that the Wizards are attempting to drink from. We decided to position 4 relatively powerful NPC creatures around the centre of the well as ‘guardians’ and then automatically bring on a random wandering monster at the end of the turn for added chaos. After people had learned the basics from the first game, everyone now got into the swing of abusing spells as much as possible to redirect the guardians towards opposing warbands which proved much more devastating than direct warband conflict in the end. With the benefit of hindsight we should probably have toned down the guardians a little as we were still relatively low-level wizards.
Game 3 – The Living Museum
Living statue constructs acts as the main treasure guardians in this scenario around a central plaza. Again we threw in some random wandering monsters to mix things up. Given the number and resilience of the constructs along with this being the last game of the day (most of us being tired and drunk by then) it took a lot longer than expected to play out!
Game 4 – Dragon Hunt
We all allied together for the final scenario to attempt to take down an Adult Dragon and his pet Frost Toad (this was the only wandering monster we had brought which hadn’t yet been used).
All in this was great fun and I can only thank my mates for both travelling across the UK and putting up with my usual gaming treachery.
Frostgrave is simply great game for multi-player casual games. Normally in a two player game where both players are relatively experienced it can be played in around an hour on a 3’x 3′ board. We managed to fit in 3 games in a day along with the initial warband creation and post-game book keeping around spending experience points and treasure. It probably averaged out to around 3hrs/game with 4 players using a 4’x 4′ board and we were playing at a relatively relaxed pace and with two players whom had never played before.
The rules are pretty simple to pick up for the most part and we had only one issue which tripped us up – we realised by 3rd game in that we had been using the Leap spell far to offensively and it seemed too insanely good to be true. At that point we bothered to check the FAQs to discover that the errata specifically prohibits using it on enemy models as we had been playing – just goes to show you should always check the FAQs if in doubt!
We used a custom experience system which was a hybrid between the original Frostgrave XP system (from the core book) and the newer suggestions from the Maze of Malcor expansion: this aims to reward players more for casting a diverse range of spells and focusing more on treasure capture rather than just murdering the other player’s warbands. We then doubled the standard scenario special bonuses so that month players were averaging around 3-4 levels per game which means that we all got chance to pimp out our wizards in time for the show down with the Dragon.
As is often the case with a ‘swingy’d20 based game like Frostgrave, the Dragon managed to survive a barrage of arrows and spells before Morag the plucky treasure-hunter managed to sneak in a lucky close-range killing blow. With hindsight we should probably have given the Dragon a few more henchmen or bumped it up to being an Ancient Dragon to make it a more epic fight, but since we hadn’t used the Dragon rules before it was all a learning experience.
I still haven’t given GW’s new Kill-team or Necromunda a spin yet, but I’m hoping that if I can find the time to organise a similar campaign day that they would work in a similar timeframe. On a related note, give that I painted up so many of the figures for this event, I only have around 5 model to finish from the Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower boardgame so I’d like to give that a spin if I can finish that off before then end of the year if I can get around to finishing them.