Category: Wargames

Review: Runewars

From Fantasy Flight Games, Runewars is a grand strategy conquest games for 2-4 players. Set in it’s own fantasy universe drawn from Terrinoth, the same world as Descent, each player is a race seeking to control several powerful dragon runes. The first person to obtain 6 runes (or have the most by the end of the game) wins.

The game plays over 7 years, or rounds, with each year split up into 4 seasons. Every season has a specific event. Spring allows units that retreated or were exhausted in the previous year to ready. Summer has a special hero turn (more on that later) allowing these characters to scout through the lands, begin a quest, or duel other heroes. Autumn allows players to earn influence or tactical cards, while Winter, an especially important season, requires the feeding of your troops.

There are stacking limits of 8 units per hex area. At the end of a player’s turn, if there are more than 8 units they must be eliminated. During the winter season each area containing armies from the player must match their food resources (which runs from 0-8). Any hexes containing more units than the player’s food resource value must have troops eliminated until they match. Woe is the player that doesn’t plan out maneuvers and troop movements to account for the bite of winter.

In addition to each major event associated with a season, there is a random event. Events somewhat follow a theme depending on the season. Spring and Summer typically have events that are beneficial, while Fall will have more obstacles and difficulties. Winter will have negative events but can also have events which allow a player to gain dragon runes through bids for influence.

As mentioned, the game is all about gaining dragon runes. When players set up the board, different tiles of various terrain hexes are placed together. Then players decide their home realms and place one dragon rune, along with a blank rune counter just outside their homelands. If a player moves one of their units into a land containing a rune, they can look at it. If it’s a rune token they secretly tally that to their total. If an opposing player attacks and controls the area, they control the rune token. The tokens can be shifted around as an action, including adding a blank token. Essentially you end up with a large shell game of rune tokens and dummy counters being scattered among the map.

Aside from huge armies, players can control up to 3 heroes. During the summer season these heroes can undertake quests offering a chance to earn rune tokens as rewards. They can also skirt through enemy territory acting as a scout, effectively snooping through rune tokens (learning which ones are dummy counters and which ones are the real thing), but watch out! While they can slip through enemy territory, opposing heroes can duel them in the summer season too, gaining all their rewards if they vanquish them in one-on-one combat.

What stands out for Runewars is the order system. All players have identical sets of cards representing various commands they can give to their troops, and each order has a numerical rank. Every season a player chooses one order that all of his troops can undertake for the season. The orders for the turn resolve from the lowest numbered command up in numerical order. If values of command orders are tied, the player with the highest influence (or if needed the most starting influence based on their race) acts first. Essentially there is always a set order for how commands resolve during a season.

This makes commanding your forces a great challenge. You effectively only have 4 ‘moves’ per year. And for many units if they are given a command to essentially attack, they are exhausted for the year. To add some flexibility to the order system, each command has an additional superiority bonus, or an extra order that can be given to your units during a season. The superiority bonus only takes effect if the value of the order is currently the highest among the other commands you’ve given during the year (ignoring opponent’s orders).

Most attack and maneuver orders are lower in value and commands to gain resources, build defenses, and recruit troops are higher in value. As you have tight limits on the number of commands you can give each turn, you really want to plan out the year so that each order played as the seasons progress have a higher value than the previous season commands. Another interesting bit is that the spring of each year will always get a superiority bonus. As there are no other orders played, it will always have the highest value of command orders.

This part of the game really shines. You can quickly amass large armies, but to maneuver them year after year gets unwieldy. Every time an army moves into an area containing a neutral or enemy unit, it stops the movement of the troops for the season. You cannot rapidly advance them across the board and have to slowly trundle them forward in short jaunts. This makes planning out attacks and movement to cut off avenues of attack important. You are constantly trying to ensure the current order has the highest command value compared to other played orders, so that you can gain those important bonus actions. It really is an enjoyable strategic part of the game.

Resources and recruitment of units are managed by special player boards. Resources are split between wood, ore, and food. Each are a track of numbers recorded using dials. When players give a harvest command order, they will gain all the resources their dial is set at, including all the units below it. In addition players have influence and tactical cards which are special resources.

Influence is essentially a currency resource used for bidding on special titles and other seasonal events. Many of these titles are paths to gaining dragon runes. Tactical cards are special bonuses and events that players can use to gain an advantage during combat, allow units to cross seemingly impassable mountain territories, or force a player to reduce their resource dials. Both tactical cards and influence can swing events to their fortune, adding a little unpredictability to the game.

Combat is a little unusual from what you might expect from this type of game. Instead of rolling buckets of dice, it is card driven. When units move into an area containing enemy troops or neutral forces, a battle ensues. All the unit pieces are removed and placed on their player board (or on a neutral player board for non-player forces). All units have an initiative order and are represented by a base symbol. Units of higher initiative resolve their actions first. Players draw a number of cards equal to the number of particular units in the battle and resolve them simultaneously for that initiative round.

The battle round is determined by the base symbol of the unit and matching results on the card. Each card has four outcomes for all four unit base types. There may be no effect, a rout result causing it to drop out of the battle, inflict a wound, or possibly execute a special attack. The distribution of the outcomes vary depending on the base symbol of the unit. Units that have a higher initiative and attack in earlier rounds of combat will have less of a chance to damage units outright. Conversely, lumbering units of slow initiative will attack in later rounds, but have more card results that match their base symbol.

After each unit has a chance to attack (provided they weren’t eliminated or routed in earlier initiative rounds), players total the number of standing units. The player with the highest total of standing forces wins the battle, with ties going to the attacker. The loser has their forces retreat to a friendly or unoccupied area and all of their forces are routed. They will recover automatically at the beginning of the next year, but are essentially out of action for the remainder of the current year. Further if they are attacked again, they are helpless (a player can’t draw cards for routed units). Lastly, if forced to retreat and there are no adjacent areas that are empty or have friendly units, the entire force is eliminated. The combat resolves relatively quickly and composition of forces have some bearing on the battle.

A player doesn’t necessarily have to fight neutral units when they are in the same hex. They might be willing to be recruited into a player’s army through diplomacy, but is difficult to pull off. Players draw cards (the same used for battles) which have additional icons to represent 3 outcomes. The card number is based on the amount of influence spent, and the player chooses one card to resolve the diplomacy action. A precious few cards will mean the diplomacy attempt is successful, while others can cause neutral units to retreat. However most will result in a combat breaking out. Diplomacy is risky but many neutral units are very powerful and can be a huge boon if a player can sway them to fight under their banner.

In addition to building up armies, players can take control of cities and build up strongholds. Cities are important for gaining resources while strongholds are key for recruiting new forces. Given that movement is so limited, being able to muster new forces closer to your fronts is important.

The Good – Runewars is an epic wargame that requires strategic planning. How orders are executed make the game for me. You have a limited number of orders to issue over the game, and need to judiciously deal them out over the seasons. The hero mini-game is also an enjoyable addition which adds some story moments to what could be considered a cut and dried wargame of armies clashing.

The random events of the seasons as well as the layout of the board adds replay to the game. I also appreciate that each army has a particular flavor and unit abilities, giving each a certain feel when you command them. This also opens up the means to try different strategies but up to a point. Clearly some armies are better at hoarding tactic cards or wielding influence over others. It doesn’t mean you can’t dabble in these options, but you’ll likely not be a natural fit compared to some other races.

The components are solid. The rulebook is well written. The art is well done and a ton of well sculpted plastic bits. It really does capture that feeling of seeing huge forces sweep across the landscape.

The Bad – Movement is not dynamic and may not mimic the grand sweeping hordes of what people would expect from a game like this. Battle resolution is also something people might not enjoy with the cards and trying to computate outcomes can be murky compared to rolling dice. The hero turn interspaced in the game can at times be jarring and breaks up the flow of play some.

Lastly, the game can suffer from a kingmaker syndrome while poor opening seasons can cripple a player (essentially trying to claw out of a hole and get a shot at victory almost impossible). There aren’t many opportunities for actions and losing one season can result in a chain of disasters.

Also the game can be long. Not Twilight Imperium long however getting new players up on the rules will take time which dampers the amount you’d realistically get this to the table.

The Verdict – I really enjoy this game. Runewars has a sweeping, epic feel. The season events and tactic cards throw just the right amount of wrenches into player’s plans. There is a thrill to taking advantage of a temporary boon, or thwarting an enemy’s attack. It allows for those peaks and valleys in the play experience that you might not typically see in other games of this kind.

Each season you have to make difficult choices. You are constantly balancing the plodding movement of forces across territories, with the end of season culling due to lack of food in the winter. You want to gather up huge forces to ensure victories, but then must be ready to scatter them before winter. Yes you can replenish forces, but it takes time which you never seem to have enough of as there are precious few orders you can give during each year.

This isn’t a game you are going to get to the table much. It easily will take up most of your afternoon. However it does provide a foundation to have grand, sweeping fantasy battles where you muster huge armies and have them clash against your opponents. I love how it’s all about securing dragon runes. It can lead to some swings of fate but it doesn’t just reward the person that has the most optimized kingdom engine, but instead rewards risks and subterfuge. Runewars isn’t for everyone. But if you want a sprawling, epic wargame with a fantasy theme, you certainly won’t be disappointed with this game.

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1/48 Hobby Boss 1942 KV-1

Now that my mid-war 28mm Russian platoon has been painted up, I figured I needed a tank to go along with it. The KV-1 was an obvious choice for historical reasons, however given Bolt Action is pretty much Hollywood history with the point platoons, I’d have to settle on fielding it for 1,200 point games. The KV-1 is a monster tank on the table, but it’s a chunk of points. For 1,000 point games I’m going to have to settle on a T-34 instead.

I picked up a 1/48 kit from Hobby Boss. It’s a really nice kit which I would garner needs a tad more modeling skill to assemble. I’m still pretty much a novice and some of the sections (especially the treads) were a bear to assemble. Nonetheless the instructions were clear and the parts labelled well. Some of the tread sections had individual links, but you had jigs included to help with assembly. Another fiddly part were the side struts over the track skirts. These were metal and I had to break out superglue to get them on.

I gave it a simple paint job using Tamiya spray Field Gray TS-78 and a wash with Vallejo Military Green. The treads I used a heavy wash of Tamiya Dark Green XF-61 and drybrushed with Vallejo Gunmetal Grey. I also gave the treads and some sections some weathering with Modelmates mud. I need to work on how to weather decals more. The color sections under the transfer didn’t quite seem to match up, even after a matte spray. Still it turned out pretty good and the model is a huge chunk of plastic on the tabletop. It’s a beast!

Algoryn AI Unit

I’ve been making slow and steady progress on my Algoryns for GoA. Thankfully for my wallet, Warlord has released plastic kits for rank and file units. They offer quite a few poses and aren’t too difficult to assemble.

Out of the box you get a command unit with choices to arm them with a mag gun, mag repeater, or a mag pistol (with a X-sling option), while the rest of the sprue provides mag rifles and a couple of micro-X launchers. You also get a spotter drone along with bases for all the figures. Overall they piece together pretty well. My only complaint is that it can be a little tricky to figure out the ‘proper’ way to assemble the chest and back pieces, as the heads have a lot of play on the chest peice (and lack of assembly directions or pics of the figure’s rear).

I went with a super simple painting scheme. I’m still not too keen on it and likely will retouch the chest pieces some. I’m using a stark highlight of orange over base coat like what I used for my Russians, but even after drybrushing it doesn’t seem to pop much. It’s a very subtle effect which doesn’t photograph well (using a crappy phone camera doesn’t help much either).

I’m also on the fence some with the micro-X launchers. Likey retouch them up again with some OSL effects on the weapons to give them some life. Regardless, they’ve been languishing too long on sprues, packed away. Glad to finally get some of the figures assembled and a coat of paint on them.

28mm Plastic Soldier Co. Russian 45mm AT-gun teams

I’ve been a long time fan of playing Bolt Action in 20mm. However I figured if I ever jumped into a local gaming scene I might be in a bit of a pickle using minis at that scale. I had a hankering to field a Russian force and decided to do it in the ‘proper scale’ of Bolt Action using 28mm figures.

There are lots of choices out there for models and I went with some cheaper plastic sets. Looking to round out options I wanted to try and get some different unit choices. One of which was a small AT gun team. I’ve freely admitted my love of Plastic Soldier Co. before and used their models extensively for my British and German 20mm platoons. For Russians, PSC makes kits both in 15mm and 28mm, so I was in luck.

The 45mm AT-gun team kits have parts to make 2 guns and a total of 8 crew members. It’s a very flexible kit for light AT guns, as there are barrels to make a 43mm M-1937 and a 45mm M-42 AT gun. Yet, the box name is somewhat a misnomer as there are barrels to also make a 76mm M-1943 (OB-25) regimental gun which could be used as a light howitzer. PSCRusAT2

I went ahead and made a M-42 45mm AT gun (pictured left below) and a light howitzer (pictured right below). While the M-42 was made throughout the war, it was certainly phased out as German tank armor was improving. If going the min/max route most folks would likely spend the points for a ZiS-3. But if focusing on an early war platoon, this kit is a great resource.PSCRussATA

The details on troops are a little muddied but not bad for digital sculpts. Another small quibble is there is no instruction sheet/diagram for assembly of the guns (but not too difficult to work out). Assembly was pretty easy but the barrels and trail supports had to be sanded down some to fit within the gun frame.

PSCRusAT1

PSCRussATCrew

Despite my small niggles, overall it’s a great kit for the value and wonderful for wargaming. A good buy if looking for early-mid war AT options for Russians in 28mm.

Chain of Command – Making jump off points

I picked up Chain of Command and been digging it. Likely later I’ll get some thoughts on the rules written down. For now I’m busy modeling some 28mm Africa platoons and other bits I’ll likely use for the game.

CoC has a mini-game of sorts at the beginning where the table is cordoned off in areas allowing for forward deployment using markers. Some markers will end up becoming staples on the table once the battle starts. Right now I have some paper disks you can download for patrol markers. But I decided to whip up some simple markers to represent jump off points.

I picked up a 1/48 oil drum and jerry can set from Tamiya to use for modelling the markers. They have a lot of small bits which are well detailed (almost too much so for my purposes). A bonus is it also includes stowage for axis and allied vehicles which I’ll likely use on other kits. All in all, a decent spread of stuff to add to terrain and vehicles.

I traced out circles on plasticard and cut them out with scissors. Using some sandpaper, I buffed the rough edges to even them out some. Being plasticard, I could use model cement to glue oil drums and fuel cans directly to the card.

After priming, I used a base coat of gray and olive drab to the respective axis and allied jump off markers. A wash of sepia ink gave them a little more depth and all I had to do was dress up the bases a bit more. In addition to a flat green and a dabble of flock, I also painted the edges of the bases with different shades of brown. My intention is that each color will be used by one player, just in case there’s a little confusion as to which model drum represents which nation.

The end result looks pretty decent. I have lots of spare weapons and other bits I can add later if I want to. Likely I’ll chalk that up on my possible-but-not-likely list. I’d rather put more modelling effort into armies instead of terrain and markers. Still they look pretty nice and blend a little more into the battlefield over paper tokens. Now I need to try and get some CoC games in!

1/48 Tamiya Russian infantry and tank crew set

tamiya-WW2-russian-tank-crew-and-infantry-setSo a long, long, long while back I picked up a handful of 1/48 Germans and Russian infantry from Tamiya. I was thinking about having a couple of squads to do some quick and dirty skirmish gaming with some odd rule systems. This was long before Bolt Action was on my radar and they sort of languished in a pile of unopened model kits. As I started working on a full Russian platoon in 28mm scale and decided to add these models into the mix of my force.

I’ve got a metric ton of Wargames Factory Russians which are pretty good figures. So having some other miniatures from a different manufacturer would be cool to add a little variety. There are 13 figures in the kit including a couple of tank crew members. For the most part they are in light, cold weather garb with a few light cloaks and a couple in winter coats.

Most are armed with PPsh-41 smgs and a few have Mosin Nagants. One carries a DP lmg and there is also a soldier pulling a Maxim mmg. As functionality for independent models to push around on bases, there are a few in sitting positions, so it’d require some base modelling to make them work. However on the flip side it’s great to have a few sitting models as I can use them to indicate a tank is carrying tank rider troops.
TamyiaRusA
TamyiaRusB
I ended up having 8 models including a soldier with a lmg to form just that, a tank rider squad. They have a lot of nice detail. Scale wise they match up pretty well with Wargames Factory figures (right) however against some 28mm Plastic Soldier figures (left), they are a little smaller in bulk.
Tamiya Russian Comparison
If you wanted to pick up a few figures that were smg-heavy, this is a nice kit to get. Also, if you wanted a few figures to represent tank riders, it’s certainly a great kit to buy. They have good detail and are pretty easy to put together. Mind however that you’ll also have to get a few bases though. If looking for a small squad in winter gear to supplement your force with a scout squad or tank riders, check these figures out.

Board Game Stores in Seoul: BoardM

A long standing board game store in Seoul I never managed to visit has been BoardM. They have an extensive online store but also have a physical storefront in Seoul. I was finally able to give the place a visit and immediately lamented my failure at not visiting it earlier.

Located on the fourth floor of a small office building, they have an extensive selection of games both in English and Korean. The games range from modern classics, Kickstarter darlings, party and children games, to even heavier GMT war games. They don’t appear to carry much in collectible card games but instead carry box sets for many LCGs.

For the physical store, I dare say they have nearly 300 games on the shelf. They also offer a full selection of Mayday card sleeves as well as generic brands. Individual polyhedral dice can also be purchased. The owners were very friendly and fortunately for me were able to converse in English.

The store is well lit and fairly open with a cavernous ceiling. There are a few tables set up in one section to allow for in store gaming. However I’m not sure on policies the owners have for playing games on the premises.

While the store claims to have set hours of operation, in truth they’re flexible. Apparently the people that run the store are pretty active in conventions and other events. It’s recommended to call or text a day or so ahead of time to make sure the store will be open (you can find the number at the bottom of their online store page).

They do have an active online store and are willing to ship within Korea. I would recommend checking out the site before visiting the store. If you have a title you absolutely must have, it’s best to text them you’d like that game when arranging a visit. The owners will try their best to make sure it’s on the shelf for you to buy (pulling it from back storage if needed).

Getting to the store is a little convoluted. By subway you need to get off at the Bulgwang exit from either Line 3 or Line 6. You can use exit 7, but have to pull a 180 and then go left at the main intersection. However it might be easier to take exit 8, and then cross the street further up. The store itself is behind the Seobu Intercity Bus terminal. There is a branching street from the main road that you can follow which runs behind the terminal.

Mind that there is a basement area but this appears to be mostly for storage and stock for the online store. You want to actually enter the building and go to the fourth floor to get to the physical store.

I have to say the selection is impressive carrying both classics and the Board Game Geek hotness. The only hiccup is that it’s best to be sure to drop them a line before trying to visit. If wanting to just stop by, you might find the store closed. Regardless, they have a fantastic selection and it’s so far been the best place I’ve visited recently with the great stock of games on the shelf. BoardM is a must stop if checking out game stores while visiting Seoul.

Review: GoA Strike on Kar’A Nine

Warlord Games a while back released a starter box set for Beyond the Gates of Antares. It’s is a smaller set with fewer models and designed more to be an introductory box set. Strike on Kar’A Nine is focused on Concord and Algoryn forces and provides a more ‘complete battle in the box’ compared to its other starter box.

First off I’ll commend the choices for armies within the box. Algoryn verses Concord is a better choice of introductory forces compared to the Ghar. The Ghar are cool. But they play completely different from just about every other faction. Even worse, new players will likely get stomped by them and their near impenetrable battle suits until opponents learn to play against their weaknesses (cough… net ammo… cough) and turn the tide, making Ghar difficult to play effectively. This faction just takes a bit more finesse to tune and play compared to other armies. As an introduction to the universe, Concord/Algoryn troops are better matched.

I won’t spend much time covering the minis in the set. You can likely dig around and find that info elsewhere. You get 10 Concord troopers and 15 Algoryn with a full spread of drones (plus 2 light drone platforms for the Concord). The figures are plastic and are nice sprues with a full range of options for weapons and gear. I’m really happy to see the Algoryn get plastic for rank and file minis. It certainly keeps the cost down when building up a force and they’re nice minis.

Aside from the minis you get a set of templates, pin markers, a full set of dice, including a few special order dice (which I’ll use for distortion dice as I’ve got sets in other colors for Bolt Action). Included is also a paper playmat and cut out terrain. There are also a few printed rulers and a cardstock reference sheet. A decent battle-in-a-box spread of goodies to allow people to get cracking (once they assemble all their multipart figures of course). The battle mat also has a full art poster so you’ve got something to throw up on the wall if you’ve got your own battle mat.



Along with this are several books. A short booklet covering the modeling aspects for assembly and painting tips/color schemes, an A5 (pamphlet size) edition of the rules, and an introductory scenario booklet. The introduction scenarios break the rules up into short chunks. They offer a short narrative setup and give precise force lists for most of them. If the rule basics aren’t covered in the scenario write up, they recommend the players to read specific sections. The first few scenarios just use a handful of models and cover movement and shooting at the basics.

As how the 5 scenarios progress, more rules and larger forces keep increasing until the full range of models in the box are used. It’s a good way to get people exposed and learning the game. Instead of dumping a full rulebook at their feet along with a 20+ forces to paint and assemble, they can learn the game in bite sized bits of information.

The scenarios are really small, truncated engagements. The first scenario has only 3 models (each with their own order die) for one player, while the other players has 2 two-man squads. The rules cover just the movement and fire rules with one player only trying to get their Concord troops off the table.

The second scenario ups model count introducing ambush orders and squad drones. The Concord player is trying to get to the deployment area of Algoryns with destroyed squads offering points. The third scenario presents larger forces including support drones. This third fight adds pins and details the full complement of orders like Down and Rally. It’s a big fight, but bonus victory points are awarded for getting forces off the enemy table edge.

The fourth scenario is more of a narrative battle. The Concord are recovering a drone while Algroyns need to destroy it. This adds sprinting and assault rules. Lastly, the fifth scenario is an all out battle adding additional ammo types for leaders and their mico-x launchers. Each scenario is designed to build on the previous, just adding additional rules once some basics are out of the way. A pretty clever implementation to make the experience of learning the game a bit easier.

Now onto the rulebook. As mentioned it’s a softback small sized edition that is somewhat truncated. The book covers much of the rules including terrain (a full 4 and ½ pages). They do provide a short overview of each faction and a smattering of the universe background. The rules do not have army lists which is fine. Otherwise complete rules save one thing, no vehicles.

This omission for the rules kills the set for me. I can’t imagine the extra 4 pages and a bit of added art layout would be a deal breaker keeping the costs down. Honestly I feel it would leave a sour taste that you buy into the game, a touted rule book included being somewhat the carrot to entice your purchase, only to find out vehicle rules are missing. You have to buy the PDF or hardback edition to get the full set of rules. It’s a poor decision on what could have been a great product.

Otherwise Strike on Kar’A Nine is a solid set. You have base forces for creating two armies, where you could focus on one faction and still have a handful of models to teach the game. You have a smattering of paper cutouts and battlemats to provide a full experience to GoA, all of which is portable and leaves a small table footprint. It’s just marred by an incomplete rule book.

So I have to make a plea. Hey Warlord, do a right for your customers and release the vehicle rules as a free PDF. It’ll be a nice nod of thanks to new players that bought into Gates of Antares through the Strike on Kar’A Nine boxed set.

Frostgrave in Summer: Final Excursion

After several delays and a short hiatus due to holidays, we finally wrapped up our campaign. For our seventh and final excursion, unlike my last game we’d be playing no special scenario. Just a basic run and grab with a small twist. Wandering creatures would enter the table on a 12+ instead of a regular 16+, increasing the likelihood something would muck up the battle.

I was facing a necromancer that had a pretty tough warband. We both got off our out of game spells allowing me to add an additional treasure using Reveal Secrets and my opponent getting a zombie to add to his warband strength. Despite the normal scenario, we decided to go all out with the terrain and add an unusual feature. The entire map would be bisected with a deep stream that was uncrossable save using a few key bridges. Fortunately the span of the stream was just long enough to jump at a full 6” sprint.

The layout made the battle unfold over the bridges. I’ve come to realize my AAR is just a general impression of the entire game with tons of details missing. As per usual I got caught up in the action and didn’t record many notes during the fight.

My opponent was flinging bone darts left and right which kept my spell casters trying to hide behind cover much of the initial part of the game. Both my opponent and myself got initial enemies flung far forward on the table using Leap and Push, respectively. I was able to get my barbarian forward on the right bridge, while my opponent got his infantrymen across the bridge to my left.

I managed to get most of the luck regarding wandering creatures though. Most came in on the right edge and on his side of the stream. That tied up his wizard and retinue, allowing me to be more aggressive with my soldiers. On my left, I had a healthy distance covered with Push and threw my infantryman into the fray, allowing my thief to sneak off with some treasure.

To my right I backed up my barbarian with a man-at-arms and my wizard. All the while my treasure hunter sneaked around the back, securing some treasure. Only to have a swarm of undead spawn and start to shamble towards him. To my left I had quickly gathered a pile of treasure near my deployment zone with one of my thieves.


One of his trackers got hit with Blinding Light, effectively neutralizing him. His other archer got harassed by a pack of rats. They weren’t much of a threat, but for several turns he was locked in melee and could not get any shots off. This gave me some breathing room to pepper his advancing soldiers with my archers. My bowmen didn’t take out any key soldiers but certainly put the hurt on wounding a few.

The undead to my left kept pursuing my treasure hunter. However he was able to use his superior movement rate and had just enough distance to get away. My archer positioned himself to be closer to the creatures and on the following turn they clambered up a ruin wall to go after him instead. This allowed my treasure hunter to sneak off with some loot.


Of course my cunning plan of controlling the bridges went to hell when my opponent starting using Telekinesis to drag treasure over to his side of the stream! I had not time to waste and got my soldiers stuck in. I figured I had to hit him hard near his wizard and threaten him with my soldiers to keep him from positioning unclaimed treasure out of my reach.

The right side became a bloodbath, where soldiers dropped from each warband. But I managed to come out on top. However, quite ominously my opponent halted me whenever I tried to remove one of his casualties. He calmly corrected my actions with a, ‘No. Don’t take him off the board. It’s important to mark where the bodies are.’ I realized then I’d likely be knee deep in freshly raised zombies shortly.

Fortunately a bit of luck came my way and I was able to snatch the initiative for a round. I skirted my wizard around to get his zombie soldier in sight and used my scroll of Control Undead. The shambling follower lagged behind so my opponent had used it as a bodyguard for his apprentice. Now it became a follower for my warband! It harassed his apprentice, getting into a round or two of combat. His apprentice would manage to win rounds but not hit high enough to inflict damage. So he’d push off and then spend most of the next turn moving trying to keep his distance. At this point in the campaign, losing an apprentice would have been a disaster.

Taking that cue on protecting your apprentice, I had mine scurry behind some cover and try to stay out of sight. Both my barbarian and man-at-arms crossed the bridge to my right. They cut down the soldier opponents, including the poor blind hunter that could not shake off the effects of Blinding Light.

My opponent gathered up his Necromancer and flung bone barbs at his attackers, felling my man-at-arms and impaling my barbarian so much so, he eventually wounded him. I still hurled my barbarian forward trying to get into melee with his wizard. However the crafty necromancer kept his distance throughout for the remainder of the game.

In the end my opponent has cast nearly twice the number of spells I did. Despite having several spells that only needed 7 or 8 to cast, I failed them miserably. I can’t complain though as the initial part of the battle I got much of the turn initiative and was able to keep the pressure on his warband. At the conclusion of the fight, I had most of my warband intact where my opponent had most of his felled. Because of his losses, he wasn’t able to effectively get the treasure off the table. He got 2 piles to my 4, and I even managed to be holding a 5th for a slight bonus of coin and xp (one of our better house rules I think).

This was the last battle of the campaign for me, and I could not have had a better one. All the chaps in my league are a ton of fun to play against. In fact to be blunt I can be the most competitive bugbear of the bunch. I don’t know how they put up with me sometimes. I had dug myself in a hole the first battle of the campaign and never managed to get myself out. In points based primarily on getting treasure, I was solidly in last place for the league.

The big question for us was will we do another. We were all full of piss and vinegar at the beginning of the campaign. However time and schedules got swamped, and our ‘Summer’ league turned into a spring one. The progression and several fights are fun, but realistically we can only get one game a month in. Originally we hoped to get about 2 games a month in which would have been perfect for a summer league. Seems 7 fights are just too long for our schedules.

My other complaint is the progression. If we compress our league I might consider proposing doubling the XP and tweaking getting new spells, or more out of game actions. Maybe even increase the starting budget to allow for more base improvements, just something to give a boost to the warband management portion of the league. We adopted a rule that you could freely buy spells from your school at the grimoire vendor, in addition to random offerings. Likely reducing the cost for in-school spells would also be an incentive to get additional spells.

Ghost Archipelago is in my mitts. I doubt I’ll get into that too heavily and likely never even play a game. But we might lift the campaign rules and treasure tables from it. Seems to curb the excessive swingy results that you get in Frostgrave some. Might have to play [with our campaign rules] a bit more. Regardless, it was a fun league. Maybe this year we’ll revisit the ruins of Frostgrave again for another campaign.

Frostgrave in Summer: Genie in a Bottle

I had the gaming scheduling gods show me favor and was able to sneak in another game over the past few weeks. To break up the typical magic schools I faced throughout the campaign, my opponent would be a chronomancer this time. We were nearing the end of the league and I decided I needed every moving body I could get on the table. I opted to give my wounded man-at-arms the boot and hire an infantryman and barbarian as replacements to casualties I received from my last game.

This battle would be a challenge. There was a 25% chance each treasure picked up might create a genie that would wreak havoc on the table before eventually wandering off. Not having any spells that would cause magic damage worried me. I did have a magic weapon though. I failed to notice Banish as a spell within my school tool. In retrospect after my last game, having a chance to destroy a demon outright would have been useful, especially as a genie is also considered one.

Nevertheless I pressed ahead. I was successful in casting Reveal Secrets and made it a point to ensure when I placed treasure that I’d get a chance to put a bonus pile close to my deployment zone. Other than that, I stuck by a standard with my setup. I had two groups with my wizard and apprentice each leading one with my archers ready to clamber up some terrain and provide covering fire.

This pretty much was a repeat from last time regarding documenting the game. I just got caught up in the action and didn’t keep stringent notes. But it turned into an unusual game. Both of us were able to quickly get forces towards the middle and scoop up piles close to us. My opponent being an chronomancer was rapid firing Fleet Feet, giving his slower troops some additional movement each turn.

Being a crafty opponent, he was able to cast Wizard’s Eye at a perfect spot. That allowed him to fire off spells from a great vantage point over most of the treasure. It worried me enough to keep my casters out of direct sight. I could have tried to dispelled it but needed those precious initial actions to cast Push and other spells on my own warband.

The wizard’s eye went to great effect, as his boosted quick moving troops were able to gather treasure and then be targets of Leap, vaulting them off towards the table edge. I got my forces forward quickly with Push, but was unable to hamper any of his troops effectively. I easily was able to cast Blinding Light several times, including targeting his apprentice. But my opponent shook them off easily, practically maxing every willpower roll to dispel them.

My opponent made quick work of an infantryman that I rushed in towards the left. His soldiers cut him down and I tried to keep them at bay with archer fire. Meanwhile to my right I got a man-at-arms and treasure hunter up to take on one of his infantrymen. They were able to overwhelm him but then scattered as one of his trackers peppered my followers with arrows.

All the while my archers suffered the same fate of amazing defensive rolls from my opponent. In the end we managed to wound a soldier or two. But between ineffective hits and good shooting rolls that were shrugged off by high defensive rolls by my opponent, missile fire was ineffective the entire game. My opponent cast Elemental Wall to break up the table and get some cover for his men, however I was able to dispel it.

Between all the activity and melee at the middle of the table, I was able to scoot my thief forward and scramble off the table with some treasure. I also was able to manage a successful Transpose and a few more Push spells to get others carrying loot to away. For the battle overall, I did pretty decent getting 4 treasures, but overall for the league that wasn’t enough. I needed to prevent my opponent from gathering any treasure. They were able to get 3 treasures gathered, evading any arrows shot at them from my archer as they retreated towards their home camp.

What stood out from this game was that we had seven treasures on the table. Every single time we picked one up we were gritting our teeth waiting for the genie to appear… and it never did. Everytime we rolled under a 15. A couple of wolves and a skeleton roamed in but were quickly dispatched. Super strange that it never happened. We pretty much decided then on a new house rule for further games using this scenario. If the second to the last treasure does not spawn a genie, it will immediately appear near the figure closest to the last remaining treasure pile, ensuring that it spawns.

It was fortunate for us, but also a bit of a letdown as we were both expecting havok from the genie. I can’t complain too much though as I recovered 4 treasures and managed to get all my soldiers back alive. In the end I scored some nice scrolls of Summon Imp and Control Undead, two +1 staves, and a grimoire with Destructive Sphere. I decided not to invest in learning the spell as the elemental school wasn’t quite my strength. Instead I went about improving willpower, health, and my fight skill (which oddly enough doubles as a means to dodge arrows). I put my last level into Transpose hoping that with a roughly 50-50 chance of casting it now it might come into play.

One last game and our league will wrap up. Hee, have to see if I can manage to get out of my solid position of last place.