31 May 2016

Frostgrave Gets Nasty…

Just before the month comes to a close myself and Bull managed to get another game or two of Frostgrave in. After the opening games earlier in the month, followed by some frantic list re-building, things were developing rapidly.

We rolled for random scenario this time and got one with random encounters and Giant Worms, having to roll every time we picked up treasure. This added another level to the standard game and kept the nerves jangling with each 'worm roll'. Bull was the first to attract one of the monsters, who proceeded to kill his Thief and take a chunk out of his Man-at-Arms. It took a concerted effort and a rather large fire bolt from his Wizard to take the thing down.

Game 1 – no Giant Worms yet but they were coming!

Just before that happened though I managed to have one appear next to my Wizard. It killed the Zombie who had woken it and turned to a group of my guys who were skulking behind some terrain. However, having watched Bull struggle against the monster at the other end of the table, and see how fickle combat is, I devised a plan. Rather than charge my guys in one at a time and swing a sword, I charged all my lowly guys in without actually attacking (thereby not risking a bad dice roll and taking wounds). I then sent my two best combat guys in at the end, who now had the benefit of supporting models. This made the job a lot easier, despite mediocre rolls, and the beast went down in two rounds of combat.

A scramble to get loot off the table and the game was done. We rolled for injuries, loots, etc and revised the teams for the next game.

I had managed to go up 4 levels of wizardry so had lots of little improvements (mostly reducing casting target numbers). I also picked up a couple of magic items and bought a couple more. My wizard was starting to look the business, and now had increased armour and health.

Game 2 – where the randomness became ridiculous

Game 2's random scenario involved little stone huts that may be haunted by wraiths containing the treasure. Only problem was we had no magic weapons between us and wraiths are immune to mundanes. Only the wizards and apprentices could take them down.

We effectively had three huts each to raid, but I decided to raise the stakes. Up to this point we've played things very cautiously, grabbed our three loot each, fired the odd shot across the bow of our opponent and escaped off the table to roll for goodies. I had three huts pretty well within reach, but a fourth could be got at with a bit of a push!

I sent the wizard's group down the right flank to the furthest of my 'safe' huts and sent the apprentice and her group on an attack run down the left, to try and grab a fourth hut. The huts were gradually opened, none had wraiths in them… except for the fourth hut I was after. Bull had his wizard and three guys over there, one being mauled by the wraith. He had dropped walls all over the place to block line of sight, but I had two Marksmen and a Knight alongside my Apprentice waiting on the other side. I would either grab the loot while Bull was distracted, or take down the wizard.

On the right, Bull had similar ideas and sent his apprentice and followers against my wizard. I had dropped fog to stop the pot shots and we both lined up either side waiting for the opportunity to pounce. I spotted an opening – Bull had left his apprentice very close to the fog, and well within range of my Treasure Hunter. He sneaked behind the apprentice and slit his throat…dead.

Back on my left Bull dropped more walls to slow me down, so I moved my apprentice round to take a Bone Dart shot at his Ranger. Damage done but not enough to kill. I was left exposed and she was taken out with combined shots from the Ranger and Sorcerer. No apprentices left!

Back on the right, I charged all my guys through the fog, outnumbering a Marksman 4-1. Two attacks later he was dead. Then the silliness began.

Bull moved his Knight into base contact with my Wizard, in doing so giving me the same 4-1 advantage. The next several round of combat involved me losing guys to this single Knight, despite the massive numbers advantage. My dice rolls were single digits, Bull's upper teens. This showed how flawed and random the combat mechanics are in this game. I should have killed the unsupported Knight in a turn or two, or three. No, I was reduced to taking a massive risk with my Wizard on his last 5 health points to attack the Knight, taking off a couple of wounds, before my supporting Ranger finally managed to finish him off. In the early rounds I had had a +10 attack bonus and still lost four rounds of combat due simply to extreme dice rolls!

The flaw is the use of a 20-sided dice. It allows too big a swing between results and you can end up with ridiculous outcomes. Throw in the critical hit (optional) rule that doubles damage and things are just daft.

It was something I had wanted to test for a while – what happens if you really go for it against your opponent? Your soldiers are easily replaced – even an unequipped Apprentice is easily replaced, gold is so easy to come by. Would the reward be worth the risk?

Anyway, having survived by the skin of their teeth my Wizard and Ranger fell back through the fog, grabbing cover where they could. To no avail though as Bull's Ranger followed them through and shot the Wizard at point blank range.

By this stage things were starting to get silly. Bull had pulled his Apprentice away from the Wraith to avoid my troops. My troops meanwhile waited behind the wall for things to develop. The Wraith eventually killed Bull's Thug then skulked back into the hut.

Given that I had no magic users on the table and Bull's had moved to the other side of the table, we would have been playing for hours before the Wraith had been killed and loot extracted. We called the end of the game.

The aftermath…

Despite the heavy losses on both sides, one of my Rangers spends a game on the bench and Bull's Marksman died. Just goes to show that taking a chance and having it go badly wrong is not the end of the world in Frostgrave (as it would have been in Necromunda). It also shows that stacking a combat as much in your favour as possible (as good generals and wargamers learn) does not always affect combat the way it should.

Next we'll see what the warband looks like now…


  1. Interesting sounding games :)

    As for the d20 issue, I know some people roll 2d10 to even out the score distribution. If the score is 2, roll another die to see if it should be a 1 or a 2 as the final result.

    1. Fantastic idea… we may have to try that! Thanks Tamsin

  2. Sounds fabulous, giant worms and wraiths! I have to confess, when I read the line, "However, having watched Bull struggle against the monster at the other end of the table, and see how fickle combat is..." I thought you were going to add, "I sniggered quietly to myself." :D

    1. Oh he was sniggering alright and even had the gall to come in and finish off my Man at Arms who had been mauled by the first from!!

    2. Now that would be right - the swine! :D

    3. I may have had a smug look on my face, although I knew I would have to face a worm before the game was done!

  3. It was great fun and no mistake. I think that the scenarios and creatures really added to the gaming experience. Loving it.

    1. The creatures definitely add a bit of distraction to proceedings.

  4. Looks like your having fun. Thing about the Knight doing so well you cold look at it as the Rules letting you down, or bad dice rolls etc but I think even when you on the receiving end you could just look at it as a story of heroism, where the out numbered knight bravely fought like a lion in a dramatic stand. Then as the evil necormancer you need to hold a grudge and try to bring that knight down a notch with a good humiliating defeat, First pot shot of the game or Zombie fodder.
    Even when things don't go well and it feel like the random number are against you you can still make a story of it to take forward.
    I had a chaos lord basically fail all game to kill anything much, at the end it was a choice between letting him charge the remaining character on the table (a lowly unit sergeant) or just unceremoniously gunning the space wolf down with the Squad nearby, I assumed the squad had lost confidence in their lord and out of spit opened fire leaving the lord a disappointment in the eyes of the gods. A fun and enjoyable moment for both players coming from my bad dice rolls.

    1. I've had bad dice playing 40k for years – one of the reasons I refuse to roll white dice is they've become my bogey colour. If Frostgrave used D6s too then nobody would ever take a wound (which is one extreme) as it is you can take up to 40 wounds in one hit if your opponent rolls well (the other extreme) – ridiculous when most characters only have 12 wounds to start with!