Saturday, October 3, 2015

Summon Miscast, Inverted Heal and other popular magic tricks

Last Friday I played my first game of Frostgrave.

As I'm basing my wizard on my Carnival of Chaos warband from Mordheim, I tried to make his spell choices reflect a troupe of magical circus.

Base class I took was Summoner with:
- Possess
- Leap
- Summon imp
- Elemental bolt
- Fog
- Spell eater
- Beauty
- Strength

Initial warband was:
2x Thieves
2x Thugs
War hound

I was against a Sigilist of some kind, which was kind of an interesting coincidence - sigilist is directly opposite of summoner in the spell school alignments.

His warband was (about):
5x warhound

Scenario was the basic treasure hunt to keep things simple. Yet a few misconceptions sneaked in at least in my part.

Opponent won starting roll and initiative for first round. He picked the side where there were more treasure counters relatively close. My group comes from south and enemies approached from north.

Sigilist secured two treasure tokens easily enough. One was in the graveyard and another in a small tower in the north-east side of the table. I drew a little circles to the picture to mark down the treasure locations.

One was an easy grab for me, and thanks to Leap spell another one seemed to be snatchable - provided the thief who jumped to the treasure east on the bridge survived archer fire from the tower nearby.

Treasure on the ruin seemed like a difficult catch for anybody, so it looked like a big fight would be coming up in the middle of the board.

Though I had cast Possess on my barbarian and even Strength on my own war hound. What could possibly fail here? I had my wizard, enhanced war hound, demonic strongman and an ordinary thug there plus smoke wall screening my troops from missile fire. Opponent had four dogs and a fifth one coming up, but I also had another thug coming up, so at no point was I truly outnumbered.

One turn later both barbarian and war hound were dead and a thug was limping back to my deployment zone with four health left (which triggers injured status), and even my wizard had taken some damage via miscasts.

Now those were some angry dogs...

But in truth... well, they really were angry dogs. But I wonder if I'd been allowed to "force combat" for a couple of dogs who ended their movement less than 1" away from my thug? Well. It isn't that serious business.

Then I forget to take pictures for quite long time. So far I managed to escape with on treasure counter, but lost two thugs, a barbarian and a war hound in the process. The thug in pink clothing bit a bullet while escaping. My wizards saves himself from the crazy dogs with a successful Leap... cast by Apprentice, because he himself failed the check. Sigilist had cast a spell that raised a difficulty of my Summon Imp spell, but in defiance to that I had tried to cast the spell two or three times. It was only difficulty 13, but it never came even close to success. By far my Wizards failed more spells than my apprentice during the game.

Early in the game Sigilist failed miserably in casting some spell. But he did have healing spell backing him up. Two first times he tried to cast it, however, he not only failed casting roll but failed in badly enough to cause damage. Just as planned. But third time's the charm, so they say, and heal worked just fine.

When the third picture is taken I have only a thief with treasure counter, archer, injured wizard and injured apprentice left. I had succeeded in removing three of the five bloodthirsty hounds. I was genuinely afraid of them and didn't want to engage.

And here's the funny thing. I had thought that you cannot voluntarily move off the board. That's why I started doing some shenanigans. Sure I was losing the game, I brought my wizard to the corner of the board where the thief with treasure had been waiting. Thief dropped the treasure and wizard picked it up. Then apprentice cast Leap on wizard, who jumped off the board. Escape with a style.

But all that was useless, as everybody could have saved them already many times over. Ah well, at least this misunderstanding brought some desperate atmosphere for me.

After the game I found 100 gold and Gloves of Strength. Only one thug and one thief died completely off the roster. I bought a new Treasure Hunter for me plus a replacement Thug.

Opponent found a grimoire, a bit over 300 gold and some kind of a magic item. Though treasure rolls are very random (d20 always is...) I don't think the results were too far apart. After all I got only two treasure counters and opponent had four.

My wizard got two levels and raised the casting chance for Possess and Beauty. I don't remember how much experience the Sigilist got, but I'd wager at least three levels.

Carnival took Library for home base and the Sigilist went on a bender in an abandoned inn. Isn't that the opposite what should have happened?

Anyway. How do I feel about Frostgrave now after one real game?

Well, definitely need to play a second game. After all the melee combat probably gave more static and overpowered impression than it really is - we completely forgot about the forcing to combat and that the winner can push either model a full inch. Not to mention that few last turns of somewhat uninteresting escape runs would have been completely avoidable.

Most common damage rolls were either zero or "explode instantly into thousand tiny fragments". Only a few times during the game one or two damage points were scored in. This is not a bad thing in itself - you just have to realize ten Frostgrave hit points is not equal to ten Mordheim wounds.

It's a fun system for light hearted play. There's also enough tactics in Frostgrave that it doesn't feel like purely random dice rolling just for kicks - mostly in how you activate your models. A true campaign probably needs at least four players to keep things interesting. That way things can be kept in check even if one wizard starts to snowball itself with amazing treasure rolls. Though now I'm just speculating with after only a one game. I'll save more opinions for later.

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