Monday, 1 February 2016

Die Me A River

An Unholy Rite!
And SkypeGrave Fight Night!

Back to the icy expanse of Felstad tonight, for a second clash between Chronomancy and Enchanting. Kas and I have been racking up the games this week, as both X-wing and Frostgrave are really firing up our hobby love right now. Quick, easy and satisfying, like a box of chicken nuggets. Probably just as good for our physical health too. 

Mmmm nuggets...

Yes, three consecutive evenings and four games played. Loving both games.

If you haven't been following our Frostgrave series so far (unforgivable), a quick recap is in order:

Kraken has terrible luck whenever he plays games, whereas Kas is ludicrously lucky most of the time.

So my Enchanter is two for zero against the Kas's Chronomantics. They're coming out of the gate twelve strong, with a fancy new Captain from the recent Sellsword expansion as well as some pretty tooled up nasties. 

And a dog, don't forget my new dog.

This is only half of them, the buggers.

For my part, as well as the grudge of the twice-beaten, I'm also low on men after my new and expensive Barbarian took a nasty wound in the last match and decided to sit this one out. Worse, all my pre-match attempts to brew potions or animate constructs all failed. I guess nursing a poorly barbarian is pretty stressful.

That was very unfortunate, with four spells failing before the game. Making the numbers game even more unbalanced.

Here's my Apprentice, heading up a pack of thieves. This is more than half of my warband. Rats.

We decided to continue the Liche Lord sequence, so tonight's match is across a frozen river, rather lighter on terrain than some matches we've had. After a few turns, an evil sorceror will be emerging in the middle, heading for a table edge with all speed and carrying a treasure with him. Bonus points for stopping him, and his bonus treasure to be had for the victor...

All we knew, is that it would be some of the Liche Lord's prized trinkets.

I broke my band into two halves. The Wizard with two Trackers for sniping and an Infantryman for stomping would head for the central tower and try and intercept the necromantic minion when he arrived.

The Apprentice and his three thieves would try and grab a treasure token, and run interference.

I expected to split into four groups: treasure hunter and thief on one flank heading for a treasure on the ice. Apprentice, dog, archer and infantryman in the centre. Captain and barbarian in the woods. Wizard, infantryman, archer and marksman on the bridge. 

"Wait! I think I see them."
As the game kicked off, so did the action. As my guys flumped around on the back lines and muffed their spell rolls, the enemy archers rained a steady hail of arrows and bolts on my Wizard. I was down to a single wound already, thanks to the damn Captain and his crossbow!

Whilst the soldiers let fly with arrow and bolt, both wizards went to buff both infantrymen with speed.

And the Infantryman lost his footing on the ice, slipping and bruising himself. Silly sod.

The second round bought me a little rest, as I knocked back a healing potion and then managed to cast that very spell on myself immediately afterwards. And then some git sniped all the wounds right back off me, just enough for a final shot to take me down. The apprentice, having learned well from his master, messed up a second spell and sent his thieves to their dooms.

The Chronomancer's Barbarian raced over the bridge, whacking thieves as he ran. Those that weren't already full of crossbow bolts, anyway. My apprentice tried to Push him back, although he had to burn a lot of health to get the spell off, but he was too strong. And too good at fighting, I got smacked down in short order.

Almost flung 12 inches back across the ice, until Kraken reminded me I had a roll I could make to prevent; I think I laughed with incredulity when he passed. 

After that, it ran pretty predictably. My ice-bound infantryman produced a couple of surprise results, taking down a warhound and then the Barbarian thanks to a potion of Strength.

Yes, he was probably tired after running across the bridge, and had just picked up the chest, so was encumbered too - perhaps I should have just gone for the fight.

And a wandering giant rat surprised the Chronomancer, then managed to bite the face off his shiny new Captain when that guy tried to help out.

Critical hit from a rat, no amount of armour or dice was going to prevent that.

By now, we had an evil sorceror running through the middle of the fight. Although he could hurl firebolts, he luckily failed to do so at any point. I knew I was supposed to be shooting at him, but vindictively kept my missile troops sniping away at Kas's men.

At one point, I had the option to shoot the wounded infantryman or the mage, I was about to try and take Kraken's man out, but realised that would leave the mage with only one target... me. 

Here he is. Owing to a typographical error, he serves the Fishe Lord.

There was quite a nice shootout in the central tower, in fact, with an archer and a tracker giving each other horrible wounds and then popping out of cover to trade shots for a couple of turns. My guy lost eventually.

It was like the Blakes Seven ending, the archer killed the tracker, another tracker killed the archer and the tracker fell to another.

It was just like that Jude Law film about the nice lady sniper, only without a nice lady sniper.

The evil minion made his run right through Kas's warband. It would have been through mine too, but I only had the two trackers and a badly wounded Infantryman by this point. The latter was about to perform his famous Platoon impression, and die in slow motion, riddled by missile fire, only a few inches from the evac point.

Noooooooooooooo arg.
The same missile fire whittled the evil dude down to nearly nothing. At which point I changed my priorities and picked him off with a single well-timed bow shot. Nothing like letting the other guy do the heavy lifting, I find.

Yes, bonus experience points for you, shiny treasure dropped right among my central line for me. I think it was my apprentice who had the chance to bone dart the last wound, but again fluffed his spell, for the third time in the game. He suffered four wounds in the game, all self inflicted with failed spells.

But that was it, bar shouting. My last remaining Tracker managed to kill an enemy archer in a quiet hand-to-hand duel in the tower, then got lit up by Bone Darts by the Chronomancer. I'd lost my whole band, taken home no treasure, and wasn't looking forward to the recovery rolls. At least I'd done the right thing, though - no fancy magical items for the Liche Lord this time!

At one point, I thought it was starting to turn, I'd run 4 guys off my table edges, the captain had bought it to a rat, the dog and barbarian to the strength boosted infantry man, and an archer had been pushed from the tower (i mean ship's) roof. So I had my wizards, a marksman and an archer clutching to the last of his life; so although more men down or out, the starting weight of numbers left me with an advantage. I think the missing members of team (either real or construct would have made a big difference).


Yeah, I knew I wasn't looking forward to this. Two dead guys, a thief and that magnificent Infantryman, as well as an income of zero. I had 5 gold in the kitty, so I had to sell off a couple of pieces of loot from previous games (my Eyes of Amoto and a scroll of Circle of Protection) in order to hire myself back up to a reasonable rota.

Three nil down to the Chronomancer, an entire warband down to the Soothsayer, and I'm still loving it!

The captain's dog went to the everlasting kennel in the sky, but thankfully the captain was okay, and he did not mourn long and found a new hound to play with. One the archers died, and so the chronomancer: Faryll hired a new marksman, Serena, to replace the fallen archer. (three games in: people are starting to get names... which is probably a mistake!)

Treasure was kind, but the captain stood closely watching the tally and then demanded his share of the spoils. He was going to get drunk tonight on that haul!

Item wise a couple of potions, a fatestone, gloves of strength, and then from the Liche's mage a Horn of Hellfire (once a game shooting attack); and Scarf of Obscurance (+1F when defending against ranged)


  1. Campaign-wise, it seems very easy to get on the back foot with this. And with a warband of 7 vs one of 12 (plus lots of loot), it would seem difficult to bounce back.

    Is this just an aberration, or something that ought to be balanced with a 'gang rating' bonus for taking on greater odds?

    1. We were talking about this.

      Yes, probably, is our thinking. And the introduction of a 10-20xp per level difference underdog bonus might help redress the balance, so we might try that.

      However, I reckon the game's core mechanic makes it slightly redundant. Because the bonuses you can get are generally slight, a lot comes down to the vaguaries of the dice. d20 gives you a bigger spread of numbers, and even a mighty captain can be brought low relatively quickly, as the rat proved!

      I did have a slightly raw game this time round, with the dice generally falling against me, but it was still fast and fun. Having the extra options of magic items and so forth - I'm not totally sure that any of them are particularly more powerful than most of your normal attacks anyway.

      Having been whomped, I'm still back up to a warband of nine (place for one construct) and will often score free potions before a game, so I don't feel miles behind. That's my ten cents, at least - there may be some fresh warbands starting in the near future, and that will probably give a clearer picture!

    2. I think it was 8 v 12, but the point still stands, and it would have been a different game if two extra constructs had been there.

      I think the xp per level will work, and should try at 10, and if proves not enough, up to 20. Especially as you say with some new players/bands coming in.

      Kraken: you mentioned potential for extra treasure to help balance the potential runaway. Instead of extra treasure, how about an extra roll when rolling for treasure. So if collect 2 chests, roll 3 times, and choose 2 of the rolls. (This extra roll can only be done on the standard treasure table). Thoughts?

    3. Not sure - that seems like a good balance.

      I'm not sure how much of a problem we're dealing with here, though, whether it's real or perceived. Most warbands can easily start with ten, for example, and as the rulebook points out, quantity tends to outweigh quality in this system. For example, if I'd tried constructing some smaller constructs, I'd have had two more men - it was my own stubborn attempt to get the large ones that did for me.

      tl;dr - Happy to try tweaks, but not sure we need them.

    4. True - it's only been a few games and quantity is what made the difference for sure.

      You'll be pleased to know that the quality of my rolling tonight was the complete opposite of Saturday. One attack, at critical point: 8 red dice... 8 blanks (not even a focus in sight).

    5. Watch this (outer) space...

  2. A swift errata - shooting rules say that any figure counts as 'intervening terrain' for a modifier, including troops from either side. Soft cover is +2, hard cover +4 (more than half your body covered), so I didn't get those quite right.

    1. Also, the penalty for being encumbered is only -1! Had that wrong for a while.

    2. I thought we opted to use the +1 for people as terrain even though were not sure; but yes, I think we downgraded the cover to be only +1, rather than +2 when we said he was not half covered.

    3. I'd spotted that too on re-reading; at least we've played -2 in all games and both fallen foul of it.