Oh, man, I’m excited for this game. Let’s not bury the lede here. I’ve been hankering for a good skirmish wargame lately, and this game hits all those buttons.
I grew up playing Mordheim pretty extensively, where you gather up a warband of cutthroats and criminals and toss them into a ruined city to battle for riches and glory. Frostgrave follows in that same tradition, but with some interesting twists.
In Frostgrave, an ancient city has recently been uncovered, buried in the ice for a thousand years. Powerful spellcasters have made their way to the city with their warbands in order to claim the treasure within.
You begin by choosing between ten different schools of magic for your wizard, and choosing spells for them to learn. You then have 500 gold to spend to bulk up your warband, which can include an apprentice (who serves as a secondary spellcaster) or more than a dozen other types of characters (knights, barbarians, rangers and men-at-arms). Your warband members come fully equipped, but you can spend further gold to provide new weapons and items for them to carry. Your warband is then ready to venture into the ruins of the frozen city.
The game utilizes a opposition-based d20 roll as its main mechanic, so even when it’s not your turn you’ll be rolling dice in an attempt to avoid arrows, sword attacks, spells and monsters.
Because every team has at least one spellcaster, spells fly everywhere, and have a huge variety of effects. Some bolster your troops, some weaken you opponent’s troops, others cause direct damage. There are more than 80 spells for your wizard to learn.
There’s a great campaign mode set up for the game, in which your wizards gain experience points as you cast spells and kill enemy troops, as well as carry treasure off the board. If your wizards are injured, you roll on the injury tables, and your wizard can lose eyes, gain a bum knee or take a host of other injuries. All of this is handled very quickly, taking about 5 minutes in between games. Each game lasts only about an hour, so you can play multiple battles in an evening of gaming.
While there are official miniatures for the game, the rulebook encourages you to use whatever miniatures you have on-hand. I’m partial to Reaper Bones, and have a ton of them due to getting in on their first Kickstarter. The game, having vague descriptions for their warriors, makes it easy to reskin. If you want a Necromancer warband, you can’t go wrong with using Barrow Wardens for Knights or using Skeletal Spearmen for Men-at-Arms. The possibilities are huge. Do you have an extensive collection of Skaven from Warhammer Fantasy? Those can easily be formed into a warband. I’m assembling a warband right now for a friend that involves a Mind Eater as the party’s Warhound.
As I said, this game really hits every point I’ve been looking for in a skirmish wargame. I’ve been digging through my Reaper minis and have found at least five different warbands I could play. I can’t wait to try to find the time to put together a group to run a campaign.
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