Friday, 20 November 2015

Frostgrave II - A Frosty Grave

I've Got Frostbite!
It's All Skype Fight Night!

Back to the snowy city of Felstad for a second round of wizardly duelling! I, Kraken,

and I, Stylus,

will be battling our warbands as we squabble over the riches within a newly-thawed Mausoleum. Can its prizes be wrenched from the knucklebones of those guarding it?


We'll be taking our warbands from last time out again. My Necromancer, 'Gold' Dulgur, won the first round. Along with new henchmen and Stylus's injuries from last time, I have a distinct numerical advantage, as well as a big, tough Barbarian to deploy!

Goldie is now a she, since I finished the paintjob on the model that played apprentice last time. Her new apprentice is Mr Bones on the extreme left, and after injuries from last time, I was packing two thugs, two thieves, a crossbowman, an archer, a big dog and an even bigger Barbarian. 

Slothslayer's Proxies - two archers, three goblin thugs, an apprentice and a treasure hunter. The Man-at-Arms was actually injured, but managed to make the team photo anyway. 


The Mausoleum beckons - there's a big square building in the middle of the table, with extra big treasure chests on each corner. Not only are there a few skeletons lurking nearby guarding it, but it also spews out an extra one every turn. You can get big bucks here, but you'll want to do it fast, before the unending skeletons take their toll...

Here's our table. The cardboard box in the middle is the Mausoleum, topped with a big statue and with wheelchair access to the roof along the ramps to either corner. The big payday chests are on the high corners where the ramps touch, and the low ones without ramps.

We're also using the Wandering Monsters, Badly Wounded and Critical Hits rules, as we're feeling all cocky after a single match played. Bring on the complex state of play!

Here's the table from another angle. Before we started, we also got to deploy a pair of skeletons each - one ended up lurking just off the middle of each deployment zone, with one outlier in the citadel wood and another guarding the ramp access to the left-hand corner seen above. 

Blow-by-Blow Action Report

No maps this time out, for which I must apologise! I was a bit fluey on the night of the game, and discovered I'd forgotten most of the specifics when I came down to write it the following evening.

I deployed in two broad groups, The Necromancer with two thieves and an archer taking the middle of the left-hand edge and the Apprentice taking the Barbarian and two thugs from the upper story of the Dreadstone Blight towards the Mausoleum roof. I had a lone crossbowman on the top of this same tower, and a lone wolf out in the swamps, figuring these two could either snipe or close quickly with threats, thus making them capable of acting by themselves.

This hastily photoshopped image has the deployment scrawled in. Red blobs are the Necromancer's guys, blue is the Soothsayer. Yellow rings are the treasure chests, lime green with a dark red ring is a wandering skeleton. Thanks, technology.

The Necromancer's apprentice, Barbarian and Thug tag team. Plus sniping support.

With only eight members of my depleted warband, I could split evenly between spellcasters. The Soothsayer took the treasure hunter, archer and thug into the ruins by the nearest treasure, ready for a quick dash. The Apprentice had an archer and two thugs behind the lone tree, ready to leap out and deal with the skeleton.

Soothsayer's Apprentice in Daring Deployment Scandal
Soothsayer and team, ready for action

Turn 1

I got a lot of very high rolls for initiative for the first half of the game, and stole a lot of marches. My Necromancer started by sending his trio forwards and engaging the skeleton just ahead.

Down you go, boney.

The thugs had no problems hacking it apart, and then the archer shot down the one guarding the bridge, leaving the way clear for the Apprentice. A good start, marred by my wizard's attempt to cast Elemental Shield, which merely hurt himself instead.

My Soothsayer dashed forward (rather recklessly in hindsight, given I was outnumbered and half my party had bows) and the Treasure Hunter made it to the first treasure chest. Opening it trigged the first our special rules - wandering monsters! Appropriately, I rolled for a pair of skeletons which fortunately appeared on Kraken's board edge.

I then continued my good start by actually managing to get off a spell - Mind Control - and take over one of the Nercomancer's thieves. Sadly, he had already moved this turn, so I could get no mileage from him, but it was all I could see.

My Apprentice sent his group forwards down the bridge, and then also muffed an attempt to cast a Bone Dart at the only target he could see, the skeleton by the woods. The crossbowman also later missed the same shot.

As for my Apprentice, having seen the ease with which Kraken's boys despatched the skeletons, sent a couple of Thugs into the undead sentry before us. Unfortunately, this one must have been taking calcium supplements in life, because it's tough old bones prove more than a match for my goons, who come off considerably worse for wear.

I think my Apprentice then flubs something easy, like Awareness.

Unkillable Undead Champion

Traitors in my midst already? Lucky I had a warhound to sniff them out. I pounced the big dog on to the mind controlled thief, and started tearing, removing half the turncoat's wounds. Alas, it was a drawn combat, which means we both hit simultaneously, and the wolf was wounded too.

You smell like betrayal.

Wandering monsters always go last, and follow an AI routine that tells them how to act. The two newcomers rushed my archer, who amazingly managed to put them both down! The one off in the woods couldn't see anyone, so pottered around in a random direction for a bit until he could, then set off towards the Soothsayer's Apprentice.

The heroic one guarding the altar killed one of the Soothsayer's Apprentice thugs facing him, and new one appeared on the north side of the Mausoleum.

Turn 2

I got the jump on Stylus again, and my Wizard sprang his team into action. The loyal thief ran and grabbed the big spangly treasure chest on the nearest corner, with the Necromancer casting Leap and going up on the roof of the mausoleum, ready to join up with the Apprentice.

The warhound continued trying to eat the thief, but got put down for his pains. At least that left him wide open for a shot from the archer, who killed him. Good, I had dealt with the threat from within! Which of course left me two men down.

Ah, my bewitched minion didn't last long. Still there are plenty more where that came from - I cast Mind Control again and ensnare the other Thief (who has also just moved - I'm having no luck going second here). 

Elsewhere, my Treasure Hunter picks up his own find and ducks into cover, while my Soothsayer leads remaining Thug and Archer to the corner of the Mausoleum.

My Apprentice powered forwards with his team, chucking a Bone Dart at the second disloyal Thief in the process. It knocked off a few wounds. Nothing serious, just a stern reminder of how I deal with wavering commitment to the team. One of the Thugs secured a second super treasure chest.

Back at the indestructible skeleton, my Apprentice charges in to relieve the one surviving Thug. We manage to remove it, but I lose the Thug in the process. Meanwhile, the Archer is appointed our treasure-recoverer and sent off to secure the ground-level chest at the Mausoleum.

My Crossbowman had a long shot at the archer sneaking about at the far corner of the Mausoleum, but all that cover made him too hard to hit.

There was only one skeleton left, and it had just enough move to reach but not actually attack the Soothsayer's Apprentice. And then there was another one on the table suddenly, popping right out next to help its pal, right in the middle of Stylus's plans. Bah.

"Against the children of the hydra's teeth there is no protection..."

Turn 3

My long run of initiative stealing had finally failed me, and the Soothsayer and his team were already grabbing the other roof treasures. My Necromancer advanced and fluffed another Bone Dart, leaving himself hurt and a bit exposed. He took the Barbarian and a Thug with him, taking them off the Apprentice's hands, although neither was in range to engage anything.

My Soothsayer could forsee that he was about to be out-matched on the rooftop, and so lingered at the back, covering the slow retreat of the laden Treasure Hunter, and sending the Archer and Thug forward to retrieve the rooftop chest.

The Apprentice rushed towards the side of his stricken master, using the central statue for cover, and managed a pretty effective Bone Dart on the nearest enemy Thug.

The Soothsayer's Apprentice bopped the skeleton who had appeared to attack him. I may have then burned three whole wounds to achieve a Mind Control on the Barbarian - who immediately resisted its effect. The Archer reaches the ground-level treasure chest and secures it.

The minions phase saw a lot of action, as we both had models out of command range by now. After my Crossbowman failed to shoot the Archer again, I got a boss treasure chest a little nearer my edge courtesy of the Thug bearing it.

My mind-controlled thief still has a piece of treasure in its possession, so I immediately get the Thief to thieve it, and drag it slowly towards me. Sadly, he then realises his perfidy, and throws off the spell.

Back on the rooftop, my Archer finally gets off a cracking arrow on the Necromancer (I'd been missing shots all game) and sticks him for most of his wounds.

More skeletons tried mugging various people, and got caned for their efforts. All the new ones that had shown up so far had appeared nearest the Soothsayer's band. This was hilarious, of course, but I couldn't help but suspect I would get my comeuppance shortly.

Shots Fired!

Dirty double-crossing thief.

Turn 4

As Gold Dolgur ordered the Barbarian in against the treasure-carrying Thug, he also tried a Bone Dart snipe against the enemy Apprentice. Fool! His wounds were so severe, he got an extra penalty for spellcasting now.

That meant he screwed it up, and that meant he was out of both wounds and therefore the game. Curses! At least the Barbarian made a red smear out of the Thug.

My third attempt to bring the Necromancer's Thief onto my side goes very badly and I take a lot of wounds for my failure. Suddenly finding myself in the middle of the field, without any minions, and facing a number of enemy combatants, I swig a Potion of Invulnerability to try and last out the turn. 

My Apprentice gets to go first for a change, and rushed in to help the Archer against the newly-arrived skeleton. Working together, we manage to see it off.

Behind you!

Masterless, I now sent the Apprentice to plug the gap his master had left. In keeping with his fallen tutor's example, he screwed up another Bone Dart and lost some wounds. Modern education, I tell you, the Tories don't care how shit it is as long as it's private.

All the remaining minions were mine by this point! Hurrah. I could make up for the fact I no longer had a Wizard phase. The Barbarian and Thug in the middle split up, with the Barbarian heading for the Soothsayer's Apprentice and the Thug (who was wounded somehow by this stage) going for Slothsayer himself.

I also remembered I still had that lone archer, and he went and grabbed the normal treasure counter out on the north side.

Turn 5 Onwards

The next few turns saw a series of messy combats! I get a bit vague at this point, probably due to my Wizard being out of the game.

Although Slothsayer was nearly tag-teamed by the Thief and the Thug, a wandering skeleton from the Mausoleum managed to interrupt my fun. In a messy combat, the Soothsayer took out the Thug, the Thief took out the Skeleton and then the enemy wizard, and then grabbed the chest and started dragging it.

That treacherous thief! Doing what he's supposed to do.

The Barbarian arrived at the Soothsayer's Apprentice's party, and promptly started breaking heads. He kept getting pushed away and scragged by roaming skeletons, but eventually got a good hit in.

The Apprentice was basically running interference for the Archer at this point, trying to get that treasure chest home.

We did discover an amusing mechanic whereby my Apprentice (who had also been obliged to quaff a Potion of Invulnerability) could 'push back' the Barbarian into a skeleton who was creeping up behind it. The skeleton was duly smashed, but there you go.


The Necromancer's Apprentice made good use of the Leap spell to carry the nearby Treasure counter all the way off my board edge, which was good.

Although my surviving thief was now being covered by his Archer comrade, carrying the chest meant he was too slow to avoid a stream of skeletons from the Mausoleum. They quickly caught and killed him, reclaiming their gold, so the Archer legged it.

I think you'll find this belongs to me, thanks.

My crossbowman had nothing to shoot at, but no way down from his tower either. A problem I also discovered I had with the Thug who'd lugged a treasure counter all the way to the lower storey. In the end, I decided he needed to get it home, so he jumped out of a window. It left him badly wounded, but still able to limp home with the goods.

My own team was somewhat decimated (or whatever the mathematical term is for when 7 out of your 8 guys get splattered). Between the Barbarian and even more skeletons, both Apprentice and Archer got skragged.

The only member to get out of there in one piece was the Treasure Hunter, who very sensibly got in early and got out quick.


Another win for the Necromancer! I'd taken more treasure home, and still had men standing on the field as the final Soothsayerites fell. Rubbing my dirty hands with glee, I started resolving the injuries I'd taken.

At which point I discovered that 'Gold' Dolgur had taken his philosophy of death to its logical conclusion, and was going to be staying in the Mausoleum permanently.

If your wizard is below a certain level (ten), this means you're best off starting with a new band. And so I will be for our next session! All that experience and loot wasted, simply because I'd been massively slapdash about keeping my wizard off the front lines and alive unlucky. Rats.

I was a little downcast, obviously - it doesn't take long to get attached to a character in a campaign. Looking at the options now open to me, I was quite pleased to have another go at Warband creation. The two games played have given me a better idea of what works, and I've got a new idea to try out for the next game. Slothsayer, we're coming for you...

So ... I won? It doesn't feel like I won, having secured only one bit of treasure and been thoroughly curb-stomped by enemy warbands and the undead alike. As it happens, in the campaign phase, I got off quite lightly, losing only a single Archer to death, and the rest of my chaps making a full recovery.

With two of my injured warband back off the injury bench, I was almost back to full-strength. I decided to fill in the tenth and final slot by hiring the Barbarian that had smacked me about so roundly. I could do with some more muscle in the warband, he had clearly impressed in his audition, and now the Necromancer was dead, what better way to rub Kraken's nose in it than to hire his former underling?

Other than that, I didn't advance much - one treasure didn't bring me much in the way of loot, and my warband didn't do much worthy of experience. I managed to scrape together enough to go up one level - using it to make Mind Control easier, since I'd like to be good at something.

I got fairly unlucky with the skeletons, but that's the scenario. Tactically, I clearly blundered by charging forward with inferior numbers against superior foes. I should think about having the Wizard and Apprentice parties support each other too - they were too quickly isolated and destroyed.

I do feel bad for the crappy luck that cost Kraken his Necromancer, although I do envy the fresh start he gets to make. Having only a couple of games, I would definitely have gone for more movement-based spells, and picked a greater number of low-casting ones, however meagre they seemed. As it is, I'm tending to rely on a couple of stalwarts (you may have noticed the ubiquity of Mind Control) through lack of options.

Still, I'm sure I won't have to wait long - the way I'm playing, my wizard will soon be joining his rival in his frosty grave.