frostgrave treasure

Frostgrave

My hobby gaming has been consumed by a new miniature skirmish game the last few weeks. I stumbled across Frostgrave, published by Osprey Games, about a month ago and was instantly excited. The designer described it, somewhere online, as “Mordheim meets D&D”, two games I really love, so I had to get it!

frostgrave bookIn Frostgrave you play a wizard who has gone to a long forgotten city of wizards that was mysteriously frozen in ages past. Being a sensible sort of wizard, you take an apprentice and a band of soldiers which might include war hounds, thugs, thieves, knights, rangers and all the other character types you would expect to find in a typical D&D party!

The Frostgrave rulebook is a beautiful hardcover, full colour book, well written and entertaining to read. There is very little background /fluff, but scattered amongst the rules are little “quote boxes” with things that visitors to the city have said and they are so evocative.

The rules themselves are quite straightforward, as all the Osprey war-games are. Everything runs on opposed d20 rolls, with a few modifiers here-and-there. Games move quickly, combats are bloody and deadly and the game is quite a lot of fun. The campaign system awards experience to wizards based on what their war band achieves (usually killing other wizards and taking treasure award the most XP). Only the wizard “levels up” – the apprentice has all the same skills and spells as the wizard, but cannot cast as well. Soldiers have no experience, no special skills and are basically there to grab treasure and protect the wizard.

Frostgrave isn’t as complex as either Mordheim or D&D, but it doesn’t need to be. In fact the streamlined simplicity of the rules remind me a lot of the “Old School” D&D revival movement, and a host of fan-made mods for new campaigns, characters, abilities and scenarios has already popped up. I would prefer a little more detail in the campaign system, for instance, and there are already a bunch of fan-made alternatives that I am looking forward to trying.

North Star Figures make an official line of miniatures, but the character descriptions are so broad you can use any figures you like. It has given me a good excuse to pull out a whole bunch of figures that have been begging for a paint job!

I have been so excited about this game i went a little overboard building model scenery while I waited for the rules to arrive!

Frostgrave board Frostgrave mausoleum Frostgrave treasure

Comments (4)

  1. Tom Pliska September 7, 2015 at 4:13 am

    So, what are your experiences playing the game? I have the rulebook and the Chronomancer minis (I chose the Chronomancer during the Kickstarter because they looked most generic), but can’t get anyone to try it out here in Los Angeles. The reviews have been largely positive but with reservations. Someone commented on the huge random swings in success or failure caused by the d20s. And I also loved Mordheim, but there was the perpetual heartbreak of having warband characters killed or crippled or rolling up useless advances, and Frostgrave looks like that could happen here too. Still looks cool though. Maybe I’ll get my fellows to stop playing 40k or Pulp Alley temporarily.

    • Nathan September 22, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Hi again! I have really enjoyed playing Frostgrave so far. Yes, the d20 makes some of the rolls really wild (and damage, therefore potentially NASTY!) but when you adjust your thinking and just accept that it is a stylistic choice, it is a lot of fun. This is not a realistic simulation, but more “pulp adventure” (in my mind), so when you fail, it is awful, and when you succeed it is awesome.
      I am also a big fan of Mordheim and when I first read the rules I was a bit concerned with character advancement and (particularly) losing my favourite characters. Once again, with a slight mindset shift, things become much easier. For a start, only the wizard advances, so you never fear a high-experienced henchman getting killed off. The soldiers in Frostgrave are meant to me nameless “grunts”, hired by your wizard to get a particular job done. My personal preference is to invest some energy into naming my wizard and apprentice and maybe thinking up a cool back story, but then just hiring the soldiers needed for the job. The wizard has far too many important things to do than remember the names of all the sword-fodder he brings along with him!
      I hope this has helped a bit.

  2. Tom Pliska September 8, 2015 at 3:01 am

    Do you have any After Action Reports re Frostgrave? There’s a number of reviews of it (mostly positive) but not much specific detail about how specific spellcasters worked out, or how good any given henchman was.

    • Nathan September 22, 2015 at 8:48 am

      Hi Tom! I haven’t written any after-action reports, but have enjoyed the game. I am going to write some more about spell casters pretty soon, so maybe that will help.

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