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Frostgrave Rulebook

This year, Osprey Games had a surprising release of Frostgrave, a fantasy skirmish in a frozen city. The release of a wargaming rule set, is nothing new for Osprey, so why is this one so popular?

Frostgrave

First of all, Frostgrave is released as a proper hardcover with more than 130 pages. As such it is a bit more expensive, than the Osprey Wargames series (pending between 10-12 GBP), costing 15 GBP, but gives you so much more. Lovely layouted, full colour pages, with pleasant font size and high quality artwork by Dmitry Burmak, who already worked for brands like Pathfinder or Fantasy Flight Games. The rules are written by Joseph McCullough, author of Ospreys Myth & Legends Dragonslayers.

What is it about?
This is one of the key-features of Frostgrave. Yes it is a fantasy skirmish, as such in company with many, many other fantasy worlds, but Frostgrave is clean and direct. The focus of your warband is the wizard, who gathers some hirelings around him to collect treasures and artefacts from the frozen city. Straight forward, no nonsense, that's it. Combined with the fact, that the warbands are compact, usually up to 10 miniatures, this is not something that is going to suck your budget dry. On top of that, Osprey and Northstar (who offer the official range for Frostgrave), have an incredibly "cool" way handling the question about miniatures. Even in the rulebook itself, you find miniatures by Mantic, Fireforge, Copplestone and others. So in short, we have a favorable priced, good looking rulebook that encourages us to use a handful of nice looking miniatures - what's not to like about this starting position?

Frostgrave - Enchanters Frostgrave - Necromancers Frostgrave - Thaumaturges

First Impression
The book feels really good, mentioned above is the nice layout, that enables you to have a pleasant reading experience and fast progress. After a short introduction you are right there in the rules, having information about one of the schools of magic. The entire part about playing the game is covered in only 22 pages! Inside the rulebook you even find the rules for campaigns, with treasure, experience and establishing a base. Something many other ruleset, leave aside for an expansion. In the back of the book, you find 10 scenarios, a vast bestiary, along with a detailled list of spells and reference sheets.

Don't get the wrong impression by the description of "only" 22 pages of rules, you get 10 wizard schools with a total of 80 spells, 15 different hirelings, a lot of monsters and animals (from Bears to Trolls, Wolves or Zombies) and quite a bit of different (magic) items.

Frostgrave

How plays Frostgrave?
As already mentioned, the rules fit on 22 pages. So it is pretty straight forward. Every figure from your warband has a stat-line, covering six stats, Move, Fight, Shoot, Armour, Will and Health. And in this stat-line armour is already included. Some values, like Fight or Shoot, are already written as a modifier. The game uses an i-go-you-go activation systems, Player one activates a miniature, then Player two, then the next player, until all have been activated.
Frostgrave uses D20 for the game mechanics and most tests are comparison, so if two fighters are in combat, both roll a D20, add their fight boni and the one with the higher value wins. Like i said, pretty straight forward. Casting is similar, the spells have a minimum that needs to be rolled, for example 8+. If you fail, you don't only fail, but depending on how hard you fail, your wizard may take damage. Beside that, Wizards are not limited to spells from their own school, but may although use spells from aligned, neutral and opposed schools, but suffer mali for doing so. To sum it up, it is lean and quick. And if a warriors health drops to 0, he's dead - just like that. So take care of your Wizard.
The game can be played one-on-one, or with several wizards hunting for treasure in the same ruins. On top of that, you can bring wanderings monsters into the game. And as a proper fantasy game there is of course treasure. But nothing that kills the simple mechanics, things like health potions or magic items that give +X boni.

In the rule book a 3 by 3 ft area is recommended, with a bit of terrain. Combined with 8-10 Miniatures a side, you get a game played in an hour or two.

What's next?
In November there was a Nickstarter for the first expansion, Thaw of the Lich Lord. It gives you primary a new campaign with 10 scenarios, and adds a few other things as well, like new soldier types, spells and enlarges the bestiary. Next year in the summer is coming a another supplement, Into the breeding pits, that covers on a larger, more exotic bestiary and brings Frostgrave into the dungeons.

Additional note, i participated in the Thaw of the Lich Lord nickstarter and the delivery was on spot, even received it a day earlier.

Frostgrave - Major Demon

Conclusion
Joseph McCullough wrote a solid set of rules. He didn't try to reinvent the wheels, and that is good. The rules are easy to understand and to play, but offer a lot options for expansion. Beside that, being rather generic on stats and warband creation, the community already picked up and build warbands from other races like dwarfs or orcs.

Beside that, Frostgrave is quite cheap, as you get the book for 15 Pounds, add another 20 pounds for a box of 20 soldiers and get a blister with 2 wizards for 6 pounds. 41 Pounds and you're good to go. On top of that, Northstar is really open about using other brands miniatures (as they distribute quite a lot of them), that makes them and the game really charismatic.

What more can you say about Frostgrave? It doesn't need a lot of space or miniatures, the rules are straight forward and more than just fairly priced. So if you are still not convinced, just invest the 15 pounds in the rulebook, grab a few miniatures from your collection and give it a go.

Frostgrave is a brand of Osprey Games and Northstar Miniatures.

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