Frostgrave by Osprey Publishing

A lot of us know and have even grown up with the term ‘Wizard’. For some it’s due to Harry Potter, for others it was Dungeons & Dragons. For some of us it was the reason why we first started gaming. To be able to smote your enemies with a fire ball or to call down heavens fury in a flurry of lightning. Many a childhood day I spent wishing I could…

… and now I can on the tabletop in Frostgrave.

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Firstly, lets talk about the fluff of the game. In a nut shell, once there was a city of magic. One day something went terribly wrong which turned the kingdom into a frozen waste ground. As centuries passed by, the city turned to myth and legend. Now a thousand years latter the snow and ice has begun to recced, bands of adventurers have begun to enter the ruins of this once great city to plunder it of treasure and magical items.

In Frostgrave you play as a Wizard from any number of schools of magic. Together with your apprentice and a warband (of your typical fantasy stereotyphes of warriors, archers, thiefs, and thugs)…

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You attempt to plunder the frozen city of treasures.

Frostgrave by Osprey Publishing is a tabletop skirmish level game (meaning your warband would typically comprise of only about 10 models). You compete against an opposing player to find treasure and glory. The game uses a D20 (a 20 sided dice) system. At the start of a game you would choose a Wizard from a selection of magic schools, you would then build a warband based on a set amount of gold you start with. In Frostgrave your opponent isn’t the only danger you’ll encounter. Games can have roving animals, beasts, and sometimes something darker just waiting to make a meal of you.

The rules of Frostgrave are quite easy to learn as the D20 does most of the hard work and the rulebook takes you thru things in a nice easy way.

Frostgrave can be played as one off games or as part of a campaign. It is in campaign play that Frostgrave really shines. Games link up to form a narrative and between games Wizards can ‘Level Up’, learning new more powerful spells.

The Frostgrave Rulebook is hard back and clocks in at only 136 pages. It is full colour and full of artwork. The artwork in the Frostgrave rulebook is top notch, with many powerful fantasy scenes.

Recently Frostgrave was nominated in a number of catergories in The Beasts of War 2015 Gaming Awards, from artwork, to model kit, to best miniature game. For such a new game to get so many nominations and 1 big win (Best Miniature Game) is a testiment to how good this game is.

I had a chance to ask Joseph McCullough, the author of Frostgrave a couple of questions.

What was your inspiration for Frostgrave?

I think Frostgrave is the product of a lifetime immersed in Fantasy and Games. There are so many influences, it is hard to know where to start. I suppose Dungeons and Dragons would be the largest influence, but Lord of the Rings, Magic: The Gathering, Harry Potter, and Silent Death al left their mark while I was working on it.

How did you feel about your nominations and your wins on Beasts of War’s 2015 Gaming Awards?

Amazing. Really Amazing. To get nominated in so many categories, up against such big time competition, was a real honour. Especially since all of the nominations were done by public vote. To get the win in the ‘Best New Miniatures Game’ category was just the icing on the cake. There aren’t a lot of awards in this industry, so any time you get such recognition it really gives you a boost!

Frostgrave has a very narritive feel to it, rather than just pitched battles of opposing war bands, was this the intention from the start?

Absolutely. People wargame for a lot of different reasons; for me, it has always been an extension of storytelling. I wanted to create a system and a setting where people could really indulge in their creativity to invent the kind of wizard they wanted, and tell the stories that they wanted to tell. I suppose, more than most wargames, Frostgrave is less about winning and losing, and more about seeing how the story plays out. That said – he who gets the most treasure wins!

So far we have had a number of expansions for Frostgrave, any chance you could tell us anything about future expansions?

Sure, there are lots of things coming up this year. The Next expansion is a small, ebook only supplement called Dark Alchemy. This has new and expanded rules for potions, and includes a three-scenario campaign designed to be played either solo, or by two players working together. After that, in July, comes Into the Breeding Pits. This print supplement gives a bunch of new rules for running games set underground including traps and secret passages, some new spells, including some of the magic of the secretive ‘Beastcrafters’, and bunch of new monsters, scenarios, and treasures. Sometime after that will be another ebook only mini-supplement called Arcane Locations. Finally, in November, comes Forgotten Pacts, another print supplement focusing on demons. So lots to come this year!

I’m amazed at the options available to players in how they can build a war band, how much of a nightmare was it trying to balance all of the different options for players.

The biggest challenge was trying to balance out the different wizard schools. Different schools have such wildly differing capabilities it is extremely hard to see how they balance out. Mainly, it was a matter of making sure that anything one wizard could do could potentially be undone by another. Then, you just play a lot of games! I don’t think I got it 100% perfect, but it seems to be working pretty well. Now that there are thousands of playtesters out there, I am watching the talk constantly to make sure that nothing is too imbalanced. It’s an ongoing process and I will tinker with it when I think it is necessary. For the most part, the errata so far is just clarifications.

Can we expect a new box set of figures for Frostgrave?

Absolutely. With the release of Into the Breeding Pits in July there will be a plastic set of Gnolls released. There will be another box set with Forgotten Pacts in November. We aren’t saying what this will be at the moment, but the clues are out there!

Well that’s all for now, I’ll see you at the table.

– from The Man Cave

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