We got together last month for the first session of our Frostgrave campaign. This game was the culmination of months of planning, building, and painting! Everybody contributed to the terrain board, and everyone had newly painted models to show off for the game. We also did some worldbuilding via Microscope to develop a customized backstory and lore for our version of Felstad. Good stuff!
We had a tremendous setup for the game: John’s large, covered, well-lit back porch, which kept Oregon’s winter rain off our heads and enabled us to play outdoors and stay as safe as possible during ye olde pandemic. We also wore masks, of course.
Since this was our first game, we went with the basic scenario: a ruined section of the frozen city stocked with treasure and danger in equal parts. The table size was slightly bigger than 3×3 feet, which was a bit tight for 4 players, but we made sure to pack the battlefield with terrain, so there were plenty of cramped alleys and irregular ruins to negotiate.
The game began with us re-learning the mechanics and introducing them to the newer players. Each warband deployed in a corner and began a cautious advance toward the nearest treasure tokens. Some treasures were closer than others, which put some warbands at an advantage at the outset of the game. Here’s a look at the warbands… the images should be clickable to see slightly larger versions.
With that, the game got underway! John’s wizard, Elder Futhark, led his warband out of the ruins of a crumbling laboratory, casting Bridge to create a path up to a shattered cornice which allowed his archer to plink away at my advancing dwarf warband.
The bridge here is a massive ribbon of inscribed parchment paper, which is perfect for John’s Sigilist wizard. The stone bridge you can see on the right side of that photo became a hotly contested terrain piece, with John and I both carefully jockeying for position. At one point, he successfully blocked me out with a wall of fog, which prevented my crossbow dwarf from seeing anything on the opposite side of the table. After a few rounds of spells and combat, we agreed to a tenuous truce and redirected our forces to other hotspots on the battlefield.
Elsewhere, Vincent and Lawrence found themselves competing for a handful of treasure pieces amid the ruins of a broken wall. The Skaven were particularly interested in this abandoned well, which seemed to seethe and bubble with barely contained arcane energy.
One of the most interesting elements of Frostgrave is the optional rule for wandering monsters. These are creepy denizens of the frozen city that, depending on the dice roll, show up when you least expect them to menace and stymie the plucky warbands.
Since our group has a sizable collection of varied and wonderful miniatures, there was no question that we would be using the wandering monster rules. We even had a 5th player, Mark, who volunteered to run the monsters as they began wandering onto the battlefield. The action started off with a wild-eyed boar that showed up to gore and thrash John’s warband!
In another notable instance, a loathsome spider roped down on thick strands of webbing to attack the grim warriors from John’s and Lawrence’s warband … just as they were coming to blows over a treasure token! It’s the little encounters like this that makes Frostgrave such a joy to play.
As we entered our final turns, it became clear that the treasures in the center of the map, arrayed around the derelict docks and quays of the canal, would be a great prize for those bold enough to claim them. All of the warbands began edging closer to the docks, using spells and missile fire to cover their approach.
It was a bitter clash and I do not recall that anyone actually claimed the central treasure, represented here by a floating enigmatic crystal prism. But plenty of warbands made off with 1 or 2 treasures, and I believe Lawrence’s warband snagged 3 treasures! Wow!
After the game concluded, we walked through the post-game campaign steps. This is one of the most compelling aspects of Frostgrave, and it helps to set the game apart from other one-off skirmish games. We rolled on a series of random charts to determine the grisly fate of our wounded soldiers and to find out exactly what we had uncovered for each treasure token. It was a ton of fun and it’s already helping bring some character to our starting warbands!
Our next session is coming up this weekend, and we’re eyeing the Mausoleum scenario from the main rulebook. Stay tuned for more!