Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The D6 Generation Reviewed Frostgrave

First of all, if you don't listen to The D6 Generation, you are missing out. Russ and Craig are two of the most entertaining hosts of any podcasts out there. The shows are fun, well-structured and always have interesting topics. Speaking of topics on the show, the most recent one had a long and well-thought-through review of Frostgrave. Check it out:

The D6 Generation Episode 175: Travel Games & Frostgrave Detailed Review


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ptolemina, High Priestess of Aridais, the Forbidden City (Game 2)

This was game two for Ptolemenia's Band. I was pretty excited to see her make it to the table again. A second game means more progress and hopefully a continuing for our multi-part endeavor that is trying out Frostgrave.

My party was the same as last time, with one addition, another thug.

The Necromancer's Troupe:
Necromancer w/ Staff
Ptolemina, High Priestess of Aridais, the Forbidden City
Apprentice w/ Staff
Renyard Strake,ex-Friar and Acolyte of the High Priestess of Aridais, the Forbidden City
Thief
Lady A
Thug
Thug Underboss, Big Tom
Thug
Thug, Kay Az

Thug
Thug, Kaz Ay
War Hound
Dog
Crossbowman
Seth
Apothecary
Gorman the Wolf
Man-At-Arms
Mr. Holt
Spells
Bone Dart
Raise Zombie
Steal Health
Animal Companion
Fleet Feet
Leap
Push
Teleport

I didn't have any new spells or magic items, due to my rolls last time. But I did advance a level, so I chose to have +1 Fight.

So, first, we rolled up the scenario. "Genie in the Bottle" was to be it. We set up the table with some cool new terrain that Dan made, and some of our normal pieces that hang around the game store. I picked up a lot of trees to use, they made the board look fuller and worked quite well.
We set up the treasure and did our initial rolls, and the game began.


Highlights:
(As sadly I am writing this a week after the fact, the specifics of the game elude me.)


  • My Warhound acquired a name. After rolling two natural 20s and taking out two of my opponent's war band in two consecutive rounds, he is now, "Badaz!"
  • Dan's group killed the Genie and found, and recovered the Genie bottle. This gave his wizard an instant 250 xp. Seems excessive to me, but thems the rules.
  • I think my opponent and I both were maneuvering better than in the previous games.
  • I kept my wizard and apprentice out of harm's way, unlike last game.

Results:
  • Ptolemina:
    • I got a around 300 gold from the encounter.
    • Grimoire of Awareness
    • Grimoire of Wall
    • Dagger +1 Fight
    • 1 Level
    • My thief was removed from the game, and is out for a game.
  • My opponent:
    • Some amount of gold (plus the amount for the bottle).
    • A magical two handed sword.
    • Robes of Arrow Turning
    • 3 Levels
    • 4 of my opponent's dudes were taken down during the game: 3 were fine, 1 out for a game.


I do think that the fact that a wizard can gain 3 levels in a game is too much and extremely unrealistic. I am used to, and like, games where you can only advance one level per game (or session) - but again, thems the rules.

I wish you could sell grimoires. I get the idea behind why you cannot, but it seems silly to me. I now have 3 grimoires that are not spells that I care about and cannot sell. So, useless treasure... ugh...

Well, on to the next game...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ptolemina, High Priestess of Aridais, the Forbidden City (Game 1)

We have begun a small Frostgrave campaign in our FLGS, Battleground Games (come out on Monday nights if you want to meet us or play a game). There are three of us that are for sure participating, though a number of other people have shown some interest and might join in as we move along. It would be nice to have at least four or five people.

We are playing random scenarios and just moving along in a linear fashion with our Mages. There has not been a definitive number of games decided on, and as a matter of fact, we have even said it is ok to drop your Mage in favor of just constructing a new Mage and war band. This makes it fun, easy, and no one feels bad if their wizard gets killed early on. Besides, I am sure we will start something more set in stone before someone reaches Level 10 or so, where it might start to matter some. 

I really like the concept behind a number of the mages and schools of magic in Frostgrave. So, choosing one was not easy. But I decided since this is not our "for sure" campaign, that I would play something fun and maybe a bit off the normal path for me. I chose to do a Necromancer.


The Necromancer's Troupe:
Necromancer w/ Staff
Ptolemina, High Priestess of Aridais, the Forbidden City
Apprentice w/ Staff
Renyard Strake, ex-Friar and Acolyte of the High Priestess of Aridais, the Forbidden City
Thief
Lady A
Thug
Thug Underboss, Big Tom
Thug
Thug, Kay Az
War Hound
Dog
Crossbowman
Seth
Apothecary
Gorman the Wolf
Man-At-Arms
Mr. Holt
Spells
Bone Dart
Raise Zombie
Steal Health
Animal Companion
Fleet Feet
Leap
Push
Teleport


Back Row Left to Right: Thug, Thief
Middle Row Left to Right: Crossbowman, Man-At-Arms, Apprentice, Thug, Apothecary
Front Row Left to Right: Wizard, War Hound
Date Played: 9/21/2015

Scenario: The Living Museum 

Opponent: Enchanter War Band of Dan

Highlights:
We ended the game after about 4 rounds and about one hour and a half as I had to head home. We hope that our game play gets a little faster as time goes on.

  • Four of the Six Statues came alive. One of them ended up killing Dan's archer who was carrying a treasure - DOH! 
  • I took out two of Dan's dudes. I believe one was with a Bone Dart and one was with a Crossbow bolt.
  • Ptolemina took a crossbow bolt to the throat and came within 2 points of being taken out of action in one shot!
  • My guys rushed the treasures and strangely avoided being hurt very much at all, despite being completely exposed. 
  • Dan ended up with 1 treasure, that netted him like 3 potions and a ton of gold. 
  • I ended up with 2 treasure, giving me a Fast Act Grimiore and 140 gold.
  • I made just enough XP to go up a level.

Things we learned:
  • If you don't have enough terrain, the game becomes a shooting gallery. Use all the terrain you got!
  • Though three of Dan's dudes we taken out of the game, all three ended up surviving. So, although a character can be taken out for the game, the brutality isn't quite what we were fearing - they aren't dead.
  • We need to speed up, I guess. The game seemed to move a bit slow, even though I did not think we were really taking all that much time.
  • Bone Dart is crazy good.
  • The Apothecary is actually worth the points!
  • Fog is really good too.
  • It was still fun.

So, I don't know if Dan is going to continue with his Enchanter, or if he will drop him for a new wizard. I think I am going to stick with Ptolemina for a few games. I did learn a lot from this particular game - I don't think throwing my wizard directly into the middle of the fray is the best thing I could do, especially considering she got hit so hard that had it been anyone else in the crew, they would have died. I might try to keep her back a little further, I mean come on, Bone Dart is Line of Sight!

I still have not decided what I am going to do as my advancement. I am leaning toward lowering the difficulty on a spell, maybe Leap. Or maybe I'll learn that Fast Act spell... not sure yet. Upping my Fight by 1 would be good too. Too many decisions!!!

I did decide that for my lair I am going with the Laboratory - to get the +20 xp after each game. And that I might actually drop the Warhound and pick up another Apothecary and another Thief. More speed and more healing - woohoo!

I am really looking forward to the next game. I think that this war band has great potential - next game, I'll have to cast my Summon Zombie and Animal Companion spells before I play. We shall see how it goes.

I need to write up a short history of Ptolemina... that coming soon.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Treasure Tokens - Scrolls

This will be a quick tutorial to start off my series on making treasure tokens. 

We are making scrolls today! 
This morning, you might have made coffee the “old-fashioned way”: with a filter.  I recommend unbleached basket filters for crafts.  You can use them straight out of the package, but soaking them in tea or coffee (or just using them to brew) softens any manufactured edges and ages them perfectly.  Set out coffee and filter in the sun outside to dry.

SIDETRACK:  You can wash the coffee grounds and dry them in the oven or outside to use as dirt for basing and terrain work.  Dried, used coffee grounds are great for terrain and bases!

Sorry for getting side-tracked – back to the filter.  Once the filter is dried (likely that night unless it is Summer) you cut pieces from it.  I made my strips 7/16th of an inch wide, or just under an inch (approx. 2.3 cm).  I made the length 2.5 inches long for each scroll (6.5 cm).  You can cut them longer to make them more bulky, but I wanted these smaller. 
 
 
 
As you can see from the first photo, even after you scrape off the coffee, there is residue.  That side of the filter will be the outside of your scroll, but you still may or may not want the residue on there.  Take a stiff brush or an old toothbrush and sweep your filter with medium pressure until you have the right amount of residue for your project.  My scrolls might have been on the ground, so they would have collected some dirt.  I brush it twice to clear off any large pieces, but the rest of residue clings to the paper.
 

Take a toothpick and press it to on the inside edge of the cut paper.  Then, roll the paper up on the toothpick like a spool (see image below).  Pinch lightly so it does not unravel and slide the tooth pick out.  Take a small dab of white glue and apply it to the inside of the edge and then light press so it sticks together.  You can unroll a part of the scroll and glue it farther down the length to give it the look of the scroll unraveling, exposing its arcane symbols and esoteric text.  That can be applied with a fine point pen – I do not recommend ballpoint.  I really like Uniball pens. The gel ink offers sharp edges and the thinner tip means less to smear for those left-handers like myself.


 After the glue dries, you have your scrolls, ready to be added to Treasure Tokens, onto bases, or attached somewhere on your miniatures.  You can wrap some twine around a single scroll to give it the look it is being stored or transported; you can tie together a  whole bundle of them an put them on a cart, in a crate, or on a bookshelf.  You can also get some thin satin ribbon to make the scroll/bundle look more precious, regal, or official.   The ones I made are going to be the scrolls belonging to a learned wizard and were left behind in the wizard's haste to flee , so they are not bundled, one has partially unrolled where it lies.
 
There are more tutorials to come in this series on treasure.  We will making chests, sacks, books, potions, and anything else catches our eye.  Any suggestions?
I hope this sparked some imagination and I wish you a great day as you enjoy your journey!

The Well Takes Shape


Now, we want to start adding filler to shape the well and create a mood that fits its potential environments.  I want it fairly weathered and asymmetrical; I am thinking abandoned towns, ancient cities, and dank dungeons.   So, I am only going to add enough spackle to fill in the gaps and make it appear the mortar has either eroded away or only a small amount was used in the original project.  This is what we are starting with:

 

You can see quite a bit of gaps allowing light to shine through - that's ok; I think of these gaps as room for the model to develop personality.  Let's get those gaps filled and see what becomes of our mysterious well.
Normally, I always add a bit of water and a bit of paint to prepare the spackle for application.  When the spackle is wet, it is easier to work.  Adding a little bit of water, the spackle still holds it shape and has some spring to it; good for vertical fills and connecting two points.  Adding more water creates a slurry, good for when you want gravity to work for you and have the spackle settle into low areas.  I advise starting with a bit of water, as I almost always do, because you will be wetting your tools and fingers as you go, so the spackle will get wetter as you need it o without turning to soup.


I also recommend acrylic paint being mixed into the spackle.  The paint will make the spackle crack less when it dries, gives it some springiness once dry (resists chipping….a bit), as well as helps in the later painting stages if your spackle is supposed to be some other color than bright white.

I wanted to use up some spackle I was using for my desert terrain before it dries, so this spackle in the photos will be reddish in color because I had used a burnt sienna acrylic paint to tint it.  I would recommend using two drops of black and four drops of brown paint because it makes a nice “dirty” base.  The reddish color needed a lot more work than I had thought.  It was not as bad as  if i left it bright white, but it still required an extra few steps of inking after the spackle dried before the painting began.   I carved a popsicle stick and toothpick so I could get the spackle into every single gap, no matter how small or inaccessible.

Next step is adding the spackle.  I start with the inside gaps.  Any place light shines through (hold the well up to a lamp or shine a flashlight onto it) gets spackle pushed in.  I use my hands, but you can use a popsicle stick, too.  Either way, remember to dip your finger/tool in water periodically so the spackle releases easily.  You want the spackle to fill all the holes.  Below is a snapshot of the inside filled.  You do not need to worry too much if it cover your stones.  The next step is when you determine how much of the stone ends up exposed.  The amount of coverage depends upon the look you want to achieve. 

 

Now, get a sponge or some foam.  I use the foam that I pulled out of my miniatures carriers.  You can also use the foam that is packed in most miniatures when they ship.  Grab a cup of water.   Wear some clothes you don’t mind getting splashed (just in case) and put down some plastic or paper.  With the wet sponge, wipe across the spackle-covered stones with medium pressure.  This will smooth the spackle, push it into the lower crevices, and remove it from the upper part of the stone, leaving it exposed.  Again, you will wash as much or as little to get your desired look.  Keep the sponge wet and continuously clean it out with fresh water so you are not just smearing spackle everywhere.   I used medium pressure and I did the entire inside well once, let it dry, went back to that night and wiped it again to get my final look that I liked. 


 I wanted a look where the mortar has worn away and the only remaining mortar holds the stones, for only a few more years.  If I didn't remove enough spackle, I would wash it again for a third time.  If I remove too much, I have to add some spackle and then wash again.  I like the inside so I repeat the same steps for the outside.  This is what it looks like after the outside is done:

 

I then let the well dry for the night.  In the morning, I will begin the staining of the spackle and then the painting of my well.  Until then, make your miniature world in your image!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ancient Well

This will be my first Malifaux/Frostgrave crossover terrain piece.
This piece will be used for the Scenario: The Well of Dreams and Sorrows

 Supplies Suggested:

Small lid -- the lids from mini cups are perfect. Diamond sells a bagof 50 cups with lids are the greatest for various projects.  If you can’t find a bag of mini cups, the local take-out or salad bar has them.  Order a salad with dressing on the side and you will have what you need after a healthy lunch! (Make sure you wash the cup and lid well if repurposing)

Wax paper  -- Protects your work surface and allows your glue to dry evenly.  I like the results much better than newspaper, but reusing the flyers they endless stuff in your mailbox are an ok substitute.

Small stones – I bought a bag of gravel from the local hardware store.  The gravel is various sizes, but for this project I pick out stones that are big enough to fit 3-4 onto a penny.  This creates a scale where it seems feasible the stones were hand carried to site and manually assembled.  This well is going to look ancient, but can also be used in settings where it looks like the denizens did the best they could with the material at hand.

Wood Glue – Flexible and strong.  A little more expensive than White glue, but a bit cheaper than Hot glue and I prefer than either when it comes to gravel.

Paint --  I am picturing this being used for Frostgrave mostly, so I imagine grey stone.  Inexpensive, Craft acrylic paints in Black, White and Grey. 

Spackle – This is the mortar.  Get a tub of spackling paste from your hardware store, you will use a lot of it in your coming terrain projects (great for hills, cliffs, cabins, water features and basing, too!)

 

1.   Find a lid that is slightly smaller than you want your finished product.  Cut a piece of wax paper that will be slightly larger than your finished product.  Place the lid centered on the wax paper, with the inside facing up.  The lid is not only going to serve as the guide for your well’s circumference, but it also  holds your “water”.



2.       Squeeze your glue (I recommend wood glue over the other options) onto the wax paper around the outer edge of the lid.  This glue will not only connect the stones, but it will also bond the stones to the lids.


 

3.       Start placing your stones around the base, flush against the outside of the lid and to one another.  Do not worry about spacing them, there will be enough gaps and space due to irregular shape and roundness of the gravel.  I create an irregular base, randomly alternating between large  and medium –sized gravel pieces.  You can create a more uniformed look by just using medium -, or even two small, –sized gravel pieces deep, but I like the irregular profile and it allows the second and third level of stones to settle in interesting ways.

 

4.       Once you get the initial base surrounded with gravel so it looks how you want it, let the glue set. 
 
 

 
5.     Now comes the fun part….. Well, fun in a fiddly  I-hate-gravity way.  The second level is you finding the stones that naturally settle into the gaps created by the base layer of stones.  It doesn’t have to be perfect because you are adding the “mortar” later to fill gaps and smooth the outer and inner profile.  The second and third level are your chance to create your well’s personality.  Will the stones be of uniform size, shape, and spacing, or are some going jut out, tilt, or even be missing in places?  It all depends on the story you want the well to tell.  I went for the middle ground.  Most of my stones are the same size, but some stick out more than others and some are rounded and others have sharp points.  I want the look that the builders had to use available material which might not have been ideal, but it was still useful and had a lasting result.  I also wanted to give the impression that the stonework was starting to shift from over the centuries so I allowed my pieces to sometimes move how gravity wanted them to settle.  I suggest letting each level settle and for the glue to set before going to the next level.  This is the project that will take a few days, but each day is only 30 minutes or so of gluing.

This is what my well looks like after the final level.  I went with 3 levels.  For 28-32 mm scale, I think anything higher seems impractical from the fluff of citizens getting water and also from a terrain perspective of giving cover, but not blocking LOS.

 


Next entry will discuss the addition of mortar and paint.

Let me know if I skipped anything, you have any questions, or was unclear about a step.
Have fun building your miniature world!

 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fun with modifying models (or making a Frostgrave Warband on a budget) - part 3

Some progress on the mods for the minis...

Some progress on my Necromancer's apprentice. Coming along nicely.

Had to use a flash on Harlan to see how it was coming along.

The new Master Holt is looking alright. I think I might need to go a little lighter on the overcoat.

Seth is coming along nicely.


All of them still need some clean-up and details, but so far, so bad.

Next update will be the finished products. Looking forward to getting these guys on the table!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Frostgrave Review #2

I didn't want to feel left out, and actually having twice as many games under my belt than another other contributor (so far), I figured I should speak up. Besides, I've never "blogged" before. Hello, 21st century!

I'm judging Frostgrave after having played Warmachine/Hordes almost exclusively for 6 years. But I also come from playing and organizing several Mordheim campaigns. While Warma-Hordes has the fine-detailed rules system that tickles by OCD impulses with delight, Mordheim is the game is the standard that I will compare Frostgrave to the most. Not only this is/was arguably the best game GW ever neglected, it really did pave the way for similar games.


Pros:

Magic
Abracadabra!
   This game pretty much focuses around the wizard and the apprentice, and spells aren't just "this model gains a boost to X for 1 turn". Instead, a majority of spells last the entire game. Some permanently. With 80 different spells to choose from, and each wizard being forced to dabble in other school aside form his own, this makes for some really interesting combinations.

Random Encounters
"I'm a monster.....GRRRRR!!" - the 4e gnome
   The addition of creatures in the game truly add a new dimension to a game. This makes the game more about playing the scenario then trying to beat the other guy. Sure, sometimes it is just 2 people competing over treasure. But others, it's about running away with as much treasure before you get eaten by a giant ice worm! This makes solo play actually possible, and lends itself to 3+ players at once. This can be a great equalizer in some games, something the Mordheim lacked sometimes.

Lack of Complexity
K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple and Stupid)
   Although I've seen simpler games, this one does lend itself towards casual play and is a nice change of pace from the ultra-competitive world of WarmaHordes. And even if this does open itself up to some rules debates, in the end it remembers that it's just a game.

Campaigns

   This is what it's all about. Long term campaigns where you increase in strength, find magical treasure, and are forced to evaluate the risk/reward a bit more. Do I risk fighting that giant to get to the treasure, or to I cut my loses and beat cheeks?

Cons:

D20's

Don't get me wrong, I love D&D and the D20 system. But I never really liked D20's for a miniature game. D10's and D8's I can see, maybe even a d12, but the complete randomness of a D20 can really make or break the game. Maybe I'm used to the 2d6 system from Warmahordes. which gives a nice bell-curve on rolls, rather than a completely random chance.

Attack/Damage is one roll
"How's it look?" "It looks clear"
  So, let's take for example I have a thug behind a wall (gaining light cover) and is shot at by a crossbowman. The shot has to cross over two more walls and around the corner of a building to hit, giving me a total +5 to my fight roll to avoid the shot. We roll off: I roll 12, adding all my bonuses I get a 19 total (+2 fight, +2 cover, +3 intervening terrain). A nice roll! But the crossbowman rolls an 18, adding his +2 shoot, and totals a 20. He still hits, but just barely, right? Wrong! Damage is calculated using his attack roll, so 20, the he add +2 form the crossbow, so 22 total. Well, my thug just has the clothes on his back (armor 10), so he takes 12 points of damage, which is instant death, even though I rolled a 19 on my opposed roll. This just feels wrong and definitely a spot for improvement or house rules.

Treasure
It's all about the bling!
   All scenarios seem to be about one thing: collecting treasure. Sure, that's why your band is in Frostgrave in the first place, and the situation changes each game, but I can see it getting stale after a while. Spells like Leap, Teleport, and Telekinesis become more important than attack spells like Elemental Bolt. Now, I haven't read all the scenarios from the rulebook yet, so this may not be the case, but I'd still like to see a bit more variety.

Lack of customization
We're all unique individuals, just like everyone else
   In Mordheim, there are 2 basic model types: Heroes and Henchmen, In that game, one can customize anyone, even your henchmen. You can equip a regular footman with a sword and shield, or a halberd, or a crossbow. You can add armor, special weapons, etc. Your regular troops also gained experience and could improve throughout the campaign, or even become heroes themselves. This is sadly missing from Frostgrave. That crossbowman who's shot pierces the eye of the enemy wizard, does he get something special for his efforts? Nope. The crossbowman's own wizard doesn't even get extra XP. I'd rather see soldiers without equipment, with just a base stat line, perhaps some special ability, and then a list of armor and weapons you can buy for them, rather than bunch of cloned soldiers. An advancement system would be nice, too. Perhaps even adding the chance to learn a bit of magic themselves.

Synopsis

I think Frostgrave can be a great game. Right now, it's just a good game. With some tweaks and/or house rules, I think it can rival Mordheim for a place in gaming history. But I'm one to put my money where my mouth is. Next time: some suggested house rules (I do love rules)!

 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pros and Cons from one on the frozen fence


ATTENTION:   As you read this, keep in mind that I have high hopes for Frostgrave.  There are great things about Frostgrave, enough of them for me to suggest people give it a try.  Yes, I am saying play this game.   That said, I must warn you:  I am a contrarian by nature and even things I really enjoy are critiqued - it just is how it is in this brain of mine.  I am fighting that nature and, to show my good faith, I ordered myself some Reaper minis to replace my current Hordes proxies.  So, I am invested.  I am ready to give this game a fair shot.

I have identified Frostgrave as the Monopoly of miniatures games.  What do I mean?  No two families ever play Monopoly the same way; no board game has been house-ruled so much.  Now, I think a lot of house-rules for Monopoly come from poor reading skills, boredom, alcohol, ADD, or Uncle Darren’s need to cheat.  I can see this game getting hundreds of house rules in hundreds of different variations.   Frostgrave will exist in a multitude of alternate universes all similar but very much different.  I am calling dibs of calling our universe FG704 (Yep, the first group in an area code should get to claim it!)   Anyway, this game screams for house rules.  I dare to say it necessitates house rules.  Why?  Well, Frostgrave reminds me of the games I made when I was in junior high.  Those were great games full of twists and endless possibilities, but they also had unavoidable gaps that left a lot to the imagination and required frequent on-the-spot rule creation.  I consider the comparison a compliment, a very tender compliment, while also being aware that it may be something someone else might not necessarily want associated with a published product. 

To illustrate my meaning, let’s get into the Pros and Cons. 

 

Pros:

Cost of Entry - You do not need to spend much on this game if you have played other fantasy-type games, board or miniatures.  The book is inexpensive anywhere you get it and the warbands are so generic your minis can be proxies from any fantasy board game or miniatures.  I dipped into Hordes, Malifaux, Descent, Castle Ravenloft, Super Dungeon Explore, Shadows of Brimstone, and Zombicide.

Easy rules - The book is 134 pages, but the game’s rules end on page 47 and the book lay-out is very reminiscent of school text books so those 47 pages are not a wall of tiny text nor hard to understand.  You will pick up the rules in one sitting, with a few errors made, and you will master it by the third game.

Terrain – This game is as in love with terrain as I am.  Sort of like the girlfriend that laughed at all of your jokes, I think that is why I am still on-board despite other misgivings.  Miniature games that require lots of terrain and make the players deal with the drawbacks of said terrain are the only ones that deserve to be called war games.  That is my stance.  This game gets a B when it comes to how it integrated terrain into the essence of the game.  For perspective, I give Malifaux 2e an A- for terrain and I love Malifaux 2e, so Frostgrave did well here.

Random Encounters – I like the idea of monsters and wild animals cropping up in these ruins and them suddenly becoming a bigger problem than your opponent.  I actually enjoy this aspect of the game  over the Scenarios included in the book.  The NPC Bestiary is a very welcome addition to the skirmish game and Frostgrave has a nice selection to choose from within their rulebook.

Spells – There is such a variety of spells and so many ways to combine them.  So many possibilities and it makes your Wizard seem so powerful… if the spells go off.  Grrrrr. Those spells do not go off that often.  This is as good as any time to move on to my first Con.

 

Cons:

D20   Spells just don’t cast in FG704.  I was able to pull off two Fog casts and a Poison Dart.  That was it between Wizard and Apprentice in an entire game with them both casting each turn.  It felt like a magic show on a street corner.   d8’s or d10’s would be leaps and bounds better.  I thought I disliked d6’s, but d20’s in a skirmish game are nonsense.  None of the dice gods have ever liked me, but I must have slept with d20’s daughter and never called her back because my d20 rolls fail beyond what probability would dictate, catastrophically fail.  2d10 might have been a better choice.  Possible House Rule!

Optional Rules  -  Really?  This basic of a game and the designer thought it might be too overwhelming to include Critical Hits and Wounded in the main rules?  They should have just been part of the rules.

Generic   No races, no classes, no skills, no diversity of equipment.  Cyril is a Thief.  Cyril is the same as any other Thief and will always be just a Thief.  It’s no better for Gus the Thug.  He carries a Hand Weapon until his dying day.  What is a hand weapon? It doesn’t matter according to the rules.   What if it is a whip, spear, sword, axe, flail, mop, or rubber chicken?  Does not change anything; if a weapon fits in one hand and swung at something,  it has the same stats as anything else.  This is good forpicking your  miniatures because you do not need to find specific models, but it gets boring and frustrating in-game.  This pairs with the next point regarding Warbands.  Possible House Rule!

Warbands  – This is where the RPG feel disappears.  Your Warband never advances, levels-up, or even changes equipment.  If Reginald the Sneaky and Sylis the Daring are both Thieves, they are same thing coming into the game and will remain the same until they are killed off by a Bone Dart or rabid Giant Rat.  You might as well not name them.  Give them a number like the Monarch does in Venture Bros..  Yes, you can give them a magical item that matches their normal item (magic dagger can replace starting dagger, magic mail armor for mail armor, etc.) but they can never equip anything outside their starting equipment’s type and they can never add to it beside a potion or jewelry.  They will never get better at using said knife.  There areno new skills or improved stats for the warband either.  Who cares if Cyril made it through ten Scenarios?  He still stabs and grabs treasure like the new guy.  Why not have promotions?  A very large opportunity missed here.    Possible House Rule!

 After Party – Rolling for treasure is awesome.  What seems anti-climatic is after getting your gold and magic rings and scrolls and all that stuff, you just declare something bought or sold and it magically happens without rhyme or reason.  You do some bookkeeping: erase an item off your page and add a number to your gold value.  Or, you subtract some gold from your stash and now you magically have a kennel attached to your hideout (which appeared out of the mist), or you just happen to hire some drifter who just happens to be this awesome Marksman which is so awesome because your last one died ten minutes ago.  There was an opportunity to have a post-fight RPG element (thinking something along the lines of Shadows of Brimstone) that would have created some fun moments.  RPG elements would also create a balancing cost for advancement or making rash decisions.  Why not make it the cost of your Apprentice riding back to town to collect new heroes, sell/buy  items, oversee renovations?  The Apprentice is absent from X amount of games while looking for said supplies or overseeing the job?  It is cost with a benefit at the completition.  Possible House Rule!

Turns – A game can go on-and-on-and-on.  This is a frozen ruin; could they not have something about inclement weather or attracting ghosts if the warbands stay too long?  5-7 turns would have been fine for game length.  Malifaux has a nice mechanic of 5 turns with a test at the end of 5th to see if there is a 6th turn.  That might even be nice for press-your-luck moments.   Possible House Rule!

Collecting treasure – If you are the only remaining one on the board you auto-collect.  So, really, you just need to murder the other team and then you win.  This does not seem like the fluff for Frostgrave where you are explorers and you stumble across another band and things get bad.  Also, if the game ends and treasure is lying on the ground, why would it magically transport itself to town for you?  It makes no sense; at least, make a spell the Wizard has to add their spell list and successfully cast to do this.  To coincide with the Turn rule, why not make it mandatory to exit the board with the treasure to get the treasure? Also, if you finish the game holding a treasure but were not able to exit, have the fluff where the chasing ghost or oncoming storm made the warband question the need to hold onto a cumbersome treasure at the potential cost of dying, so you wouldroll for treasure as usual  but pocket the gold value of the treasure only since Cyril chose life over that +1 two-handed weapon that he can’t use anyway.  Possible House Rule!

 

I am sure I could find more Pros and Cons, but this is the general idea.  The game has such great potential with the addition of house rules.  If you are the type of player that wants the rules fleshed out or wants complexity, this is not going to be your game.  I think this game is great for those in a group that can democratically vote for house rules and build a rich world using the seed that is Frostgrave.  I even hope future expansions from the maker might add races and classes (sub-classes!!!!) and even skill trees.  I am getting some Reaper minis in the mail soon and into the frozen ruins I will adventure again.  I will be posting terrain pictures, warband builds, bat reps, musings, and townhall minutes concerning new buildings erected in town as well as new “laws” instituted in the land.  Stay tuned and ideas, opinions are always welcome!

Fun with modifying models (or making a Frostgrave Warband on a budget) - part 2

My progress so far has been pretty decent for my first attempt at doing mods on minis. I will lay out exactly what I did to each one in the pictures below:

Necromancer's Apprentice
I mended the broken part of the friar's staff with some Gray Stuff. Then I found an old animal skull thing, I believe it went with some GW Beastmen bits (or Giant bits). Then primed him with some ancient GW Chaos Black Primer - super surprised it still had any left.

Crossbowman
For Harlan, I clipped the top off of his gun and attached a Dwarf Crossbowman's crossbow bit to it. I removed the sword I had attached to his back. I then used a small bit from some old Dwarven stuff to sit in that hole and to make the straps on his back look right - sorry, I forgot to get a picture of it.

Man-At-Arms
For Master Holt, I removed his actual arms and replaced them with some spare arms I had lying around (maybe Dwarf arms?). Then I used Gray Stuff to smooth the transition from arm to body. Then I attached a shield to his left arm, using Gray Stuff to make a strap. Then the right arm got an ax attached, which has fallen off - might need to pin that. 

Crossbowman, or maybe Marksman
For Seth, I removed his sword from his back and Gray Stuffed over the hole. I then found a pretty decently fitting Dwarf Crossbow bot that, with a little snipping and Gray Stuff, fit in the correct place for his arms. You can tell what is metal and what is plastic under the primer. I imagine when I paint it, that will become less obvious.

No pics of the Construct... I did some surgery on it. It still needs some work though, and it is in a different spot than the other models.

More updates to come!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fun with modifying models (or making a Frostgrave Warband on a budget)

So, I wanted to make a Frostgrave warband, but I am running a little short on funds for new miniatures at the moment. So, I thought I would try my hand at modifying some of the existing minis I already have. Mind you, other than SUPER SIMPLE modifications, I don't have any experience into this-this is my first foray into the world of model alteration.

First, I decided on a few minis that I didn't mind messing with...scratch that, I scrounged for a few minis I could use for something remotely like what I was looking for in my warband. These are the stock photos of the minis I will be altering and what I want to do with each:

Battleguard Golem from the Bones line of Reaper miniatures. I want to remove his sword and re-position his right arm to look more menacing. 

Friar Stone from the Bones line of Reaper miniatures. His staff has a chunk missing out of it, so I am going to try and fill that in. Then I am going to try and find something to give him and more necromatic look, maybe a skull of some sort.

Harlan Phineas Versh, Illumnated Hunter from the Warmachine line from Privateer Press. I am going to try and use some pieces off an old dwarven crossbow to make him a crossbowman. 

Seth Alkot, Monster Hunter from the Iron Kingdoms line from Privateer Press. Same as with Harlan, I am going to try and use some pieces off an old dwarven crossbow to make him a crossbowman, or a marksman. 

Master Holt from the Warmachine line from Privateer Press. Ok, I am going to try and make a Man-At-Arms out of Master Holt using different arms and some sort of hand weapon and shield. 


Those are the plans at least...

Wish me luck!

Progress update soon!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

After playing my first game...

Keeping in mind we surely played much of it wrong (see red for things I know were wrong), as first games usually go, the Pros and Cons of Frostgrave:

We played the following 350 point warbands:

SoldierSoldier
Summoner w/ SwordThaumaturge w/ Staff
Apprentice w/ SwordApprentice w/ Staff
Tresure HunterTemplar
Thug
Archer
Archer

Summoner's SpellsThaumaturge Spells
Summon Demon12TouchSumBlinding Light10LOSTha
Bind Demon10LOSSumDispel12LOSTha
Leap8LOSSumHeal8TouchTha
Bone Dart10LOSNecCombat Awareness14TouchSoo
Curse12LOSWitPush10LOSSig
Elemental Sheild12LOSEleTeleport12LOSIll
Willpower14LOSSooMud14LOSWit
Monstrous Form12SelfIllEnchant Weapon12LOSNec

We played the Mausoleum Scenario. We used Warmachine, Hordes and Reaper Bones models for our warbands.

Pros:

- Designing the Wizard and his warband.
- The variety of spells.
- The simplicity of the basic mechanics.
- The ability to affect a large portion of the table with your mage's spells as most are Line of Sight.
- Odd tactical depth to the "group activation" mechanic in it. Roll initiative, winner's Wizard and up to 3 soldiers within 3 inches of him move/perform first action, then they perform their second action. Then your opponent's Wizard does the same. Then you apprentice and up to 3 soldiers within 3 inches of him move/action, then their actions. Then your opponent's apprentice ... Then any soldiers of yours that haven't activated, then your opponent's soldiers. Then creatures (yours, your opponent's, the "wild" creatures).
- BIG ACTIONS are possible. For instance, my Templar (a soldier) killed Dan's apprentice AND his archer in one round (we totally played that wrong btw. A soldier can only get two action IF one is movement-oops!).
- Interesting scenarios.
Cons:
- It is ALL about the Mages. The soldiers are basically there to execute your plans, though they can get magic items and whatnot. This is not all bad, but it is much more of Mage and Apprentice and a bunch of dudes rather than a warband.
- My opponent (his first game too) disliked the extreme randomness of the D20. Didn't bother me, a little chaos is in my blood.
- It felt like it needed a time limit, or turn limit, but for the life of me, I couldn't find one. I actually think with more dudes the game would go faster, as counter-intuitive as that sounds. We played a 350 point game - warbands of 4 and 5 dudes. With more bodies on the table, you would get the treasure moving off the board quicker (which is really the object of most games). Plus, the only other thing that really slowed the game was picking spells, which would get quicker over time, of course.
- The ruleset could be clearer on most things.
- There needs to be quickstart guide and a qick reference chart.
Those are my initial thoughts...


BTW, it did end in a Wizard duel atop the tower, which is awesome!