|Frostgrave benefits from lots of terrain.|
Firstly lets talk about the physical book. It's a nice beast it has to be said. Osprey are not new to publishing books, and this shows. Frostgrave is a slightly different format to the other Osprey wargames, being hard back and slightly bigger. I'm glad though, strange as this may seem, that they didn't make it A4. I can't quite explain why but I have never liked A4 books, they are unwieldy to hold and take up too much room on the table top (it seems I can explain why after all). The book is illustrated in colour all the way through, both with photographs of the game, and specially commissioned artwork. All in all the book is up there with best in terms of quality.
|...and tea. Lots and lots of tea.|
Frostgrave falls somewhere to the narrative side of centre. Some of the wizard builds are clearly more competitive than others. Also, being a d20 based system even the best warrior in the game (at +4 F) when fighting the worst (at +0) will only win the combat 66% of the time (though this could be augmented further with spells and magic weapons). This gives some unpredictable combat results which people will either see as a bad thing (there is a limit to the tactics involved with combat) or a good thing (it can lead to some good story telling moments, when a lowly minion fights his way bravely through against the odds). But it must also be remembered that this game focuses on the wizard and magic. Combat, although important, plays second fiddle to spell casting.
|My erstwhile opponent, Mr Legg. |
(10 points if you can spot the interloper here)
One aspect that I do think Frostgrave falls down on is its lack of balancing mechanism for battles between wizards of different levels. The author has said this was deliberate as during play testing it didn't make too much difference if wizards were off different levels. Maybe he's right, but I suspect that different campaign styles will result in this being a problem for some. If the campaign progresses fairly regularly and all participants play a similar number of games then wizard levels should advance at a relatively even pace. (Notice the use of 'relatively' here. After four games each it is perfectly possible to have wizards anywhere between level 5 and 20.) However is people play games at an uneven rate, say one person has played twice, another six times then wizards could easily range from level 3 to 40. At this kind of disparity there is little incentive for the lower levelled wizards to play the higher. They get no experience bonus and are unlikely to claim much from achieving objectives.
|Leggy couldn't even pass his tea drinking roll...|
So far I feel I have been a little harsh on Frostgrave. It is a very good game, with a lot of cool ideas. The spell lists are well thought through, giving a huge potential for a variety of playing styles. The schools are characterful and there is so much customisation available that no two wizards need ever be the same. The simple and fast style of rules lends its self to fun and eventful games, yet there is enough depth, especially in the magic system, that I doubt it will get boring, even after lots of games. Above all Frostgrave is fun, and really isn't that the most important thing.
I think the players that will get the most out of Frostgrave will be those that are willing to give and take in the name of a enjoyabl game. More tournament orientated, win at all costs players will probably not get on as well with this system. There are a few areas where literal interpretation of the rules will lead to some bias. However it is a really fun game and I'm looking forward to advancing my warband in our campaign. Watch this space for battle reports.