It’s winter (for some of us), and though it’s not snowing, I thought I’d share some Frostgrave session reports. Frostgrave is a skirmish tabletop miniatures game, or specifically, the rules for one, and the second edition came out this year. You can play with any miniatures you own and even your own terrain. Though over the years, official releases have come out that you can buy. I don’t have that kind of money, so I was always hesitant to try it out. At some point, I had decided to throw together my own terrain using cardboard boxes and miscellaneous pieces. Still haven’t bought the official solo rules, just used my own variation based on the rules for the spiritual sequel, Rangers of Shadow Deep.
Here’s the session report I posted on BGG Jan 2019 using first edition rules and house rules for enemies.
I had seen this one before and thought it looked neat, but I don’t know anyone with an interest in competitive skirmish miniatures games (my brother doesn’t like head-to-head games and my game group likes Euros). Not long ago, I heard there was a solo “mode” and decided to check it out. I was a little disappointed to see it was a small, 3-part mini-campaign with very restrictive rules on exp and warband sizes. I don’t remember why, but I recently decided to give another look. I also looked into the fully solo/coop Rangers of Shadow Deep which is based on the same system (same designer). There were some neat changes to the system, but some things I wasn’t so sure on (removal of casting mechanic, no gold, you just earned ambiguous “build points” or something). So back to looking at Frostgrave. The AI rules for Frostgrave were extremely simple, but I did watch a playthrough of a scenario for Rangers and it gave me some ideas to tweak the AI behaviors for Frostgrave, at least enough to make my own scenarios or play others solo.
So, I worked up a scenario (your goal is to clear out a location for a potential base; since that really is the first thing you get in a campaign anyway, it was perfect for a first scenario). I’m certainly no stranger to homebrews and creating modules (I’ve created several for Runebound 2nd Ed). I went through my minis looking for things I actually had access to and worked them into a random table that determined the enemy forces. For the sake of testing, I just grabbed the Undead set of enemies which for the scenario is 4 zombies (thugs), 2 skeletons (modified Thief with hand weapon and shield), 2 skeleton archers (Archer with +1 Fight and 10 Armor), and a necromancer (level 0 wizard with 3 straightforward necromancer spells: Bone Dart, Bones of the Earth, Raise Zombie). I then gave each enemy type their own behavior list so they operate in at least a somewhat dynamic fashion for added challenge.
For my Warband (above), we from left-to-right (front row): Bree (Archer), Loka (Captain with 2-handed weapon, Dodge and Furious Attack tricks), Old Baris (Enchanter Wizard with Enchant Armor, Enchant Weapon, Telekinesis, Elemental Hammer, Glow, Absorb Knowledge, Wizard Eye, Brew Potion), Naida (Apprentice), Ezrin (Archer)
(back row): Kilith (Thug w/sword), Burin (Thug w/sword), Shal (Thief), Yon (War Hound), Arkamon (Thug w/axe).
The aforementioned enemies (4 zombies, 2 skeletons, 2 skeleton archers, 1 necromancer).
This is what it looks like when you don’t own terrain or an appropriate game mat (I don’t even have a plain white tablecloth or bed sheet). Whatever works. The plain boxes had their flaps cut off (and turned into rubble/walls as seen). Didn’t take long, and it’s not pretty, but it functions. A bit of rubble, a patch of rough ground on the left, 2 walls, and a few buildings. I used treasure tokens I made for one of my Runebound variants, as well as used the scenario tokens from Runebound 3rd Ed for activation markers to keep track of who activated. I also pulled a few other tokens for other markings (various spells that were cast). Note, I did shift things a touch after taking the picture; I had left too much unused space in the back and wanted to add distance between my warband and the enemies.
Here’s the view from the bad guys.
First hero turn, not too much happens. Enchanted Armor cast on my captain, a zombie gets sniped by Bree, and my melee guys cover the gate to setup an ambush. Unfortunately, Burin was in LOS of the necromancer, triggering a cast of Bones of Earth which was successful and locked up Burin. One skeleton and the remaining zombies came pouring through the gate, and Burin wasn’t able to force combat and close the opening. Luckily, Yon (the dog), managed to take out the skeleton before it did much harm.
A few rounds in and my wizard has been handing out weapon and armor buffs like it’s Christmas again, but my apprentice has not had much luck (I think she successfully casts once or twice in the whole game). The melee with the zombies in the gate gets a bit messy and we start taking casualties (Arkamon and Burin going down and my captain being dropped to low health). Shal sneaks around the left and grabs some treasure, meanwhile, my apprentice takes two others (Kilith and Ezrin) to sneak around the right. It worked; until it didn’t. The skeleton archer (near the treasure by the chilly penguin box) takes out Kilith. And a skeleton was busy guarding the treasure just behind the building which charged in and took out my apprentice, Naida.
Poor Ezrin was left alone, but at least by then, my other guys had cleared the zombies and broke through the gate (my dog had finished off 2 more baddies and was running around giving others +2 support). Glow is cast on the necromancer for +3 Shoot against him and one shot takes him down to 1 health. Bree saves Ezrin from the skeleton (which was only about 2″ from him after defeating Naida), and Ezrin takes the final shot on the necromancer and ends him. In this scenario, the goal is to defeat the necromancer and half the opposing forces. After that, remaining enemies begin fleeing and the scenario is won once all enemies are removed from the board (assuming you still live). Because the necromancer did the logical thing and kept back from the fight, letting his minions handle us while he cast spells from afar, by the time we killed him, there was only a skeleton archer left who had backed up to keep at a safe distance and was within 6″ of the edge by then and just ran for it.
Here is the final tally:
Of my warband, Naida got a Close Call on her post-game injury roll and lost her sword (no biggy). Arkamon is fine and joins the next battle. Burin survives but has to sit out the next one. Kilith, unfortunately, died from her wounds. RIP. For treasure, I made 240gc (10% of which goes to my captain), found a magic two-handed weapon, gloves of casting, and after securing the Library, I found a scroll of Elemental Shield. My wizard did get enough exp for 2 levels, so I just knocked 2 levels off the casting value for Elemental Hammer so I can use it more reliably. I might lower Glow next since it can be really strong with my archers, but maybe I should make my wizard more battle-ready so he can fight and earn more exp.
Overall, I enjoyed it. It was partially a playtest, so some things were fudged on the fly to make the enemies behave more intelligently. I did play it maybe too safe with my wizard and shortchanged myself on exp since he didn’t do much fighting. The system is very clean, flows really easily, and doesn’t take long. I want to say the game was 60-90 minutes? Didn’t track it though. It’s a great, non-heavy system that still has some tactics to play with. This is what I wanted Warrior Heroes: Legends to be (but it wasn’t; it was garbage. Messy, unfinished, overpriced, garbage).