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So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:02 am
by Primarch
I was talking to Konrad about Frost Grave yesterday, and it seems kind of interesting I guess. I certainly have a gajillion models I could use for it thanks to Reaper. It seems pretty popular with the Japanese crowd as well.
So, for those of you who have played it, what are it's strengths? Why should I play it over Mordheim? Are there any weak/broken areas to the game? Has anyone tried it and found it lacking?

Anyone care to sell me on this game?

Re: So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:48 am
by me_in_japan
OK, I'll take a crack at this.

good points 1: Warband creation is both interesting and simple.

Any minis can be used, as there are only one set of rules for wizards and their warbands. The variation in the game comes from your choice of wizard (necromancer, elementalist, etc.) There are a great many different variations of wizard (10 in the main book plus more in expansions), and as each school of magic has 8 spells, with wizards choosing from their own school plus affiliated ones, the potential for variation in wizard creation is massive. Likewise there's plenty of options for warband building with all the archetypes present (There are 15 soldier types in the main book, including thief, barbarian, generic grunt, archer, etc. Again, expansions add a few more types.) Warband creation is simple as each soldier type comes with a specific loadout of gear that doesn't change from game to game, with the small exception of if you find/roll up a magic item in a post-game sequence, each soldier can carry a single magical thingy in addition to his normal stuff. Generally you'll find soldiers tend to be run bare-bones because they dont gain experience in any way, and die a lot. All experience growth is for the wizard only. This simplifies things massively.

good points 2: different ways to play

The game is won or lost based on scenarios, but generally speaking it's safe to say you're "winning" if you can get more treasure off the board than your opponent. This can be achieved by using magic to enhance movement, sneak up and grab stuff quickly, or by beefing up your team and killing the opposition, or by just shooting fireballs everywhere. All are viable tactics. The expansion books have a whole passel' of scenarios, but even the main book has lots of variants. There's also a nice wee bestiary, as the game can be played with a bunch of wandering monsters who cause problems for everybody.

good points 3: game mechanics are fun

mechanically speaking, the game is pretty simple with good player interaction. The game turn basically goes:

roll off for initiative (each turn)
1. wizard phase - the player who won the initiative activates his wizard and up to 3 guys within 3" of him. Models get two actions which can be a combination of move plus shoot, cast spell and whack in melee. This is simplified, but that's the basics. After player 1, player 2 does his wizard phase, then player 3, and so on.
2. Apprentice phase - like the wizard phase, but with an apprentice. (an apprentice is very similar to a wizard, but basically not as good at spellcasting. They're not compulsory, but I've never seen a warband without one.)
3. everybody else phase - as above, but with everybody else. No group activation in this phase.

shooting, casting spells and combat use D20s. For a simple example, Attacker Joe shoots Defender Steve with a bow. Joe checks range and LOS. All being good, he shoots Steve. Joe rolls a D20 and adds his Shoot stat of 2. Steve rolls a D20 and adds his Fight stat of 1. Joe's total is 10 and Steve's total is 8. Joe wins, but he now compares his total with Steve's armour, which sadly is also 10. Ping - his shot hits but bounces off. Basically, you're rolling against both the defender's Fight stat (plus his D20 roll) and if you beat that, comparing your total number to the Defender's armour. If you beat it, the difference is the amount of damage he takes. So, there's scaling damage. This is the same for spells, with the added fun that a spellcaster can burn his own health to increase his casting roll :twisted: If you flub your spellcasting roll badly enough, you get burned anyway, so this is actually a valid technique sometimes.

So, that's basically it. Games tend to play fast, and the post-game sequence is fairly straightforward, too (mostly working out who's dead, and how much money you got, then buying stuff.)

It's one of those games that's pretty intuitive, and a seasoned gamer like y'self should have no problem picking it up. I'd be happy to give you a game, maybe in December some time?

*edit* also, the writer, Joe McCullough, is very active on Facebook, and I've personally seen many conversations on the Frostgrave groups where someone has queried a rules point or design idea and someone else has poked Joe and he's come along and offered his opinion/clarified intent and suchlike. Very happy to interact with the players, and also willing to take things on board, too. Seems a decent chap.

Re: So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:12 am
by Primarch
Is there anything to balance out experienced gangs Vs. rookies?
Honestly, I'm not overly in love with the lack of experience for anyone but the wizard. I get that it is simpler, but it does seem to go against the trend other games of this ilk follow. I haven't played the game yet though, so maybe it doesn't matter that much.

Re: So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:02 am
by Konrad
MIJ sums it up quite nicely. I've played a few times now, and had fun every time. Plays much different than the GW skirmishy games that I'm used to, so I'm still sort of figuring it out.
I'll be the nay-sayer and say a few nays just for perspective. Or more accurately nig a few niggling details, as this is all small stuff.

1. There is no mechanism for balancing out power levels. If you have a Level 1 Wizard and Warband and your buddy is Level 25...well your buddy is TFG and ought to use a different Wizard..... Probably not a big problem among grown-ups.
I know that the XP/income bonuses that weaker gangs get for fighting stronger ones causes as many problems as it solves.

2.An interesting note on earning XP is your wizard/apprentice gets 10xp each time a spell is successfully cast. Easy spells or hard spells all the same. Seems that if you take the risk and pull off a big spell, you should get more xp than casting and "Untie Boots" cantrip. I read some talk that XP is totally lopsided on the "Take out the enemy Wizard" side. Apparently it is hard to beat an Elemental Bolt slinging assassin and the payoff in xp is quick and easy. Not sure myself yet. Need to get some more games in. I'm finding it's all about treasure, treasure, treasure. Get the treasure. Do anything to get the treasure. XP means nothing. Only gold...gold....gold.....muhahahaha.......

3. Treasure is easy, but odd. Very dicey as it's a d20 table. For each Treasure counter you grab you get one roll on the table. Could be anything from pocket change to a chest of rubies and the original Necronomicon. In strange contrast to all that randomness, you can buy any spell or magic item you want. Sort of begs to ask why tromp around in the snow seeking arcane knowledge when apparently any rich slob can run down to Arcana-R-Us for those Boots of Speed.

But I've really enjoyed it so far. Need to get more games in before I can really review it.

Re: So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:39 am
by me_in_japan
XP for spellcasting is a bone of contention in the Frostgrave community, for sure. For those who play often, yes - it looks like there are certain spells that lend themselves to quick XP gains. There are, however, a number of counters to any given kill-spell (fog being a common one. It blocks LOS, and without that, no shootyshooty. Fog spells tend not to dissipate, so with a Wiz and his apprentice casting one each per turn, the table gets pretty damn foggy pretty fast.

I’d counter the imbalance of experienced gangs vs new ones with the no-experience for warband members issue. It doesn’t matter if my Wiz is lvl 25, my thug is exactly the same as yours. It’s worth mentioning that a knight costs the same as 5 thugs, but he is in no way able to take out 5 thugs in melee. Also, there’s only 1 knight, so while he’s fighting a thug, the other 4 are off nabbing treasure. Yes, a warband with 10 knights will be better than one with 10 thugs, but at that level of imbalance you shouldn’t really be playing against each other.

Meh, at this point I think the best thing to do is get in a game, new warband vs new warband. That done, you can decide whether or not to bother continuing a campaign or what have you.

Re: So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:07 am
by YellowStreak
It's fast and fun are probably the strengths. There are also alot of available scenarios and campaign materials. The D20 is very 'swingey' though and can throw up all sorts of results - which i quite like, but can frustrate some. I had a L10ish gang go up against Koji's L1 warband and he tabled me by rolling quite a few natural 20s!

Because of the way progression works, even a high level warband isn't hugely different to a starting warband. They may have slightly better guys (can afford better henchmen) - but there isn't a massive difference between the lower and higher (more expensive) guys - usually a point or 2 of armour and a +1 or +2 on their to hit rolls.

Elementalists are probably the closest thing to being OP - tooling one for full-on assault makes them pretty nasty.

One of the most interesting ideas for XP i saw listed on FB (that the author also liked) was granting the spell difficulty in xp for casting a spell, rather than a flat value.

Re: So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:10 am
by YellowStreak
Primarch wrote:Is there anything to balance out experienced gangs Vs. rookies?
Honestly, I'm not overly in love with the lack of experience for anyone but the wizard. I get that it is simpler, but it does seem to go against the trend other games of this ilk follow. I haven't played the game yet though, so maybe it doesn't matter that much.


You can also buy a 'captain' who gains xp (from the sellsword expansion), although much more slowly than the wizard. The concept that only the Wizard gets XP fits with the idea of the game - it's all about the wizard - everyone else is faceless hired goons!

Re: So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:32 am
by Primarch
Apart from the wizard's choice of spells, is there anything that sets warbands apart? Equipment, model restrictions, that kind of thing? Would a Necromancer's gang necessarily be at all different from an Enchanters?

Re: So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:31 am
by YellowStreak
Primarch wrote:Apart from the wizard's choice of spells, is there anything that sets warbands apart? Equipment, model restrictions, that kind of thing? Would a Necromancer's gang necessarily be at all different from an Enchanters?

Truth is not really. As part of the simplicity of the game, the gang members have the same stats if they're an elf, an orc or a dwarf man-at-arms, although you can pick up magic items and equip them to the gang members. An from memory there's no restriction on only specific guys joining specific warbands.

On the plus side there is a wide variety of gang member types (especially once you include the expansions), e.g.: thugs, infantrymen, men-at-arms, knight, templar, barbarians, archers, crossbowman, ranger, thief, apothecary, pack mule, bard, marksman, warhound, etc.

Re: So what's this "Frozen Gravy" thing all about then?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:41 am
by Primarch
Can you buy them mundane equipment so you can have, for example, A bard with a bow and a bard with a halberd?