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Author Topic: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History  (Read 4310 times)

Offline Bearwoodman

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Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History
« on: September 12, 2022, 09:02:59 PM »
It all began with a Thieving Thegn…

I very much enjoy playing Frostgrave.  It was the first set of wargames rules I bought after re-starting the hobby from scratch about five years ago (my previous experience of wargaming was playing 40k as a teenager in the ‘90s), and it is the game I have played the most since.  So a thread on it is perhaps overdue.
 
I think the reason that I did not start a thread when I first started out exploring the Frozen City I did not really know whether it was going to be interesting for me, let alone random people on the internet. Moreover my painting and modelling skills were even more limited than they are now and it would have seemed presumptuous to start broadcasting what I was up to on a forum such as this where the quality of the games and painting presented seemed so high.  By the time I had taken the plunge and started posting here and realised how friendly this place was I had already accumulated a bit of a backlog of games and was well into a campaign and it seemed too much effort to go back and post it all properly.

I am currently in the throes of preparing for my second Frostgrave campaign and I would like to share this journey with my fellow forumers.  But I want to start at the beginning and work forward, which means introducing a sprue of Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns...
« Last Edit: September 16, 2022, 07:01:21 AM by Bearwoodman »

Offline Bearwoodman

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: A Complete History
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2022, 10:09:28 PM »
My first wargame as an alleged grown-up was a quick try of the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game hosted by one of my (then 6 year old) son’s friend’s dad. It caught both of our imaginations and I determined to try and find out whether I would enjoy painting toy soldiers as an adult as much as I remembered enjoying it in my teens.  I had not painted a figure for approximately 20 years and owned no paints or specialised equipment.  I bought a basic set of paints and a few brushes and started to look for some reasonably priced reasonably generic figures to practice on.  10 Saxon Thegns from eBay for roughly £5 seemed to fit the bill.   These my son and I assembled and painted (it turned out his technique was faster than mine - before I had finished applying the base colours to my first figure he had generously applied orange and silver paint over the other 9).

It was while looking for inspiration for a paint scheme for these tiny warriors that I came across both this hallowed forum and reference to a game called Frostgrave. It appeared that you could use any figures you liked and you only needed 10 in a team.  Perfect!  I ordered the book and set about trying to convert/overpaint our new Saxons so they could be used as a warband.
     
Once I had the rule book I realised that my Saxon warband could not be perfectly true to the descriptions of the soldier types – they were all clad in mail armour and most carried both spear and shield. 

I decided that the Saxons armed with spear and shield would have to count as Thugs (maybe the armour was leather painted to look like mail?  Maybe the shields were just made of fabric and used to protect the user from snowfall?), which was a bit of a fudge, but the guy with the shield and an axe was perfect for a Knight.  I cut down the sword on another chap to make it a dagger and tied some cotton thread “rope” around his torso to make a Thief (on the basis that a thief was more likely to carry a rope for climbing in and out of windows for the purpose of nicking stuff than a Barbarian or Templar etc).  My first Frostgrave conversion.

Another couple of Thegns became my Wizard and his Apprentice by giving one chap a magic glowing sword and a book of spells made from cardboard and giving the other fellow a long staff and a Reaper Bones familiar as a magical pet.
   
I added a Reaper Bones dog as a Warhound...

...and, imitating posts I saw on this forum (apologies but I cannot remember who the original poster was), I made a small and a medium construct from cardboard, cork, matchsticks and left-over Saxon weaponry, just in case my spellcasters managed to cast "Animate Construct".   I distinctly recall finding it very inspiring that we as players could (without needing any particular sculpting talent) make our own unique figures for use in this game out of bits of common household items and that this was entirely in accordance with the spirit of the game.

I had my first Frostgrave Warband!         

Offline Spinal Tap

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: A Complete History
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2022, 07:28:41 AM »
Loving this thread already.

Warband for 5 quid- awesome.

Offline Grumpy Gnome

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: A Complete History
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2022, 09:32:22 AM »
Loving this thread already.

Warband for 5 quid- awesome.

I quite agree. Great stuff! 👍
Home of the Grumpy Gnome

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Offline Bearwoodman

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: A Complete History
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2022, 10:25:54 PM »
Thanks both!

@Spinal Tap: I remember working on those Saxons and happily thinking to myself what an inexpensive hobby this was going to be! Of course I kept finding new things I needed; paints, tools, storage, scenery, books and, naturally, more figures, and my total outlay soon increased substantially.  But I did not mind, as I was enjoying myself and increasingly confident that the items I was buying were going to provide years of entertainment and relaxation.

With a rule book and a warband the next thing I needed before I could properly start exploring the Frozen City was, well, a frozen city (or at least part of one).  I backed the Ulterior Motives Nickstarter, which provided a few nice pieces of scatter terrain, and I obtained some very simple, generic, and inexpensive mdf ruined buildings from ebay.  I tarted these up by adding cereal packet floorboards, matchstick window ledges and piles of polyfiller debris, coating everything in a diluted pva mixed with sand and finally painting them using cheap tester pots of emulsion using simple techniques learned from YouTube.   I was pleasantly surprised with how the pieces came out despite (or perhaps because of) how generic and uniform they look (all walls are grey, all floor boards are brown), and this collection of buildings has formed the back drop to every game since.

The Saxon Enchanter and his men pick their way through the (new) ruins...

The next step was to try to entice my new (and more experienced) wargaming friend to try the game.  Previously he had only ever played GW miniature games, so I was not sure how open he would be to trying a game he had never heard of from a company he did not know.  He had, however, played D&D in the past and I think the character creation part of Frostgrave appealed to him so we (and our sons) gave it a try.   

My first ever game; my noble Saxon warriors took on a disparate band of adventurers from Middle Earth (pity my poor level zero wizard - his first foray into Felstad and his opposite number is Gandalf!).

   

Offline Bearwoodman

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2022, 09:11:08 PM »
I could tell that my friend and his son had enjoyed their first game of Frostgrave (as had I), but I was surprised and pleased when he announced when we next spoke that he had not only ordered a copy of the rule book for himself but had started work on a special Frostgrave board to play the game on.
 
The new board in progress:


The new Frostgrave board (designed and constructed entirely by my friend and his son) consisted of two 2x4 foot pieces of mdf backed with felt and covered with sand and pieces of cardboard cut to form flagstones laid in different patterns and formations.  I don’t seem to have a picture of the completed board on its own to show you (one of the reasons that I have re-titled this thread “An Incomplete History”) but in the picture below you can get a reasonable impression of it. 

It features the positions of the clock in Roman Numerals around the edge of the board (so a D12 can be rolled to determine a random direction) and with deployment zones and treasure placement zones defined by patterns in the flagstones (my friend was very proud of the number of different paving patterns used).  The subtle variations across its surface mean that no part is boringly uniform but also that no part is so distinctive and recognisable that it feels like you are playing in the same place over and over again.  It immediately improved the look of our games and has been used in almost every game we have played since.

A Violent Fungi (Thief - painted by my son) breaks cover and runs across the new board watched by a Reaper Bones Minotaur (Barbarian - painted by me) and a cork and lolly stick construct (Medium Construct - built and painted by my son).

Offline syrinx0

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: A Complete History
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2022, 03:13:51 AM »
Playing fun games and getting your kids involved? Doesn't get better than that.   :)
2022: B:168; P:56;

Offline Bearwoodman

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: A Complete History
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2022, 04:56:53 PM »
Playing fun games and getting your kids involved? Doesn't get better than that.   :)

@syrinx0 – you are quite right, it is a special thing to be able to share a hobby with your own child.  I have a strong suspicion that my son dabbles in it mainly because he gets to hang out with his friend when playing games and because painting is a good way to get “Dad time”.  I fully expect that at some point he will drift away from painting and gaming to pursue his own interests.  In the meantime time, however, while he is willing to indulge me, we will continue and I will appreciate the moments. 

Offline Bearwoodman

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2022, 05:19:25 PM »
Thaw of the Lich Lord

Scenario One: Total Eclipse

With a board, set of city ruins and an increasingly firm grasp of the rules we launched into our first campaign – the Thaw of the Lichlord!  In order to try keep the games from becoming overlong and risk losing the boys’ interest we restricted ourselves to two warbands, one controlled by my son and me (Elementalist) and the other by my friend and his son (Witch).

This scenario does not require much preparation or any specialised scenery so we set up and got stuck in.  I cannot honestly remember much about the game other than that it involved my son’s poor elf swordsman (Infantryman) being set upon by a vicious gang of frenzied hobbits (Thieves).     

Fortunately the first hairy-footed burglar was dispatched and the rest of the light-fingered pipe-smokers fled in the direction of the Shire having learned:
a) that if you want to get the maximum benefit of your superior numbers don't attack your enemy on a narrow walkway where you can only fight him one at a time; and
b) to only pick on people their own size (or smaller). 
« Last Edit: September 18, 2022, 05:27:37 PM by Bearwoodman »

Offline Bearwoodman

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2022, 10:23:49 PM »
Thaw of the Lich Lord

Scenario Two: Battle on the River

Following Scenario One some re-jigging was required as the boys decided they wanted their own joint warband rather each sharing with their respective Dad. My son provided the Wizard and his friend the apprentice. The boys had also recruited a large construct in the form of a Reaper Bones Bronze Bull which my son had insisted on painting metallic purple.

My friend and I would therefore combine to run the Witch warband (I would control the apprentice). My friend bought and painted up a set of the official Frostgrave Witch and apprentice figures specially for the occasion (because newly painted figures always bring luck on the wargames table, right?).

In stark contrast to Scenario One, Scenario Two required a considerable amount of specific scenery. The centre of the board is meant to represent a frozen river with the banks on either side. For the river I used a felt battle mat I had bought and my friend's mdf board provided the river banks. The fact that the board had been designed in two halves proved unexpectedly useful!

The focal point of the game from a terrain perspective was to be a ship trapped in the ice in the centre of the river, surrounded by a number of smaller vessels. I did not have a ship, and although there are a number of lovely ship models available they were all rather expensive to my mind for something that might only be used once.  I therefore had a look online to see if I could find ideas for a home made option and stumbled across a series of blog posts chronicling the construction of a pirate Brigantine to a design produced by Gary Chalk and features in Wargames Illustrated
https://wargaming.info/2010/avast-ye-lubbers-a-pirate-ship-in-28mm-part-1/.

I had not scratch built anything since attempting an Ork Gobsmasha Tank following plans featured in White Dwarf in the 1990s, and this ship was a lot bigger. Having said that, the plans and instructions were very clear so I gave it a go:







It was fun and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. It took quite a long time to do and I did not get a chance to finish the ship properly (I still have to add the lantern, anchor and the ship's name) but it was deemed good enough to game with! I also built a number of row boats following the Gary Chalk plans and a small section of jetty.


The game itself was great and the advantage seemed to swing backwards and forwards until the end. Key moments:

1) Our band cornered and killed the Lich Lord's servant as he tried to flee the ship and we recovered the treasure he was carrying.
2) The scenario includes rules covering the risk of slipping on the ice while running and incurring damage. The only figure in the game to suffer damage in this way was... one of our wizard's Animal Companions - a polar bear!
3) By the end, with most of our minions dead or having run off with treasure, our Witch apprentice and wizard were stalked across the ice by my son's Elemental Bolt-hurling Elementalist. In true wargaming tradition, the freshly painted figures were reduced to scorch marks in the snow, leaving the boys crowing joyfully. The post games rolls (made by me) confirmed that our wizard and apprentice were both in fact dead, so we would be starting the third scenario with a level-zero wizard. I felt quite guilty!

« Last Edit: September 18, 2022, 05:27:20 PM by Bearwoodman »

Offline Pattus Magnus

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2022, 05:55:23 AM »
Wow, the ship and boats look great, and the set-up seems like it would be perfect for that scenario!

Offline Grumpy Gnome

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2022, 08:12:02 AM »
Wow, the ship and boats look great, and the set-up seems like it would be perfect for that scenario!

Yeah, I have to echo that. Brilliant work. And it sounds like it was quite the game!

Offline Bearwoodman

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2022, 04:13:37 PM »
Thanks guys! I would like to finish the ship off properly but I have not needed it for a game since so there have always been other projects higher up the list of priority.  Maybe I need to get some pirates to crew it - what pirate games do you recommend?  I own The Silver Bayonet, and have recently picked up Ghost Archipelago (although I have not yet played either) and it seems a ship would be easier to work to scenarios for those games, albeit only as terrain pieces. I note that The Maze of Malcor features "Sky Gondolas", but I think the ship is possibly rather large to count as one of those! Either way, once it is frankly done I will post pictures.

Offline Bearwoodman

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2022, 05:14:02 PM »
Thaw of the Lich Lord

Scenario Three: Loot The Cart

The next game called for broken down cart protected by Death Cultists. As I had made the ship for the previous game my friend made the cart, while I painted up a sprue of official Frostgrave cultists.

In terms of adjustments to the warbands, my son's friend introduced a new apprentice, a lightly clad female holding a candle. On the Witch side as both our apprentice and wizard had perished on the frozen river in the previous game but my friend was loath to exile his newly painted figures after a single game and to acquire and paint replacements, we decided that our Witch's identical twin brother had heard the news and travelled to the frozen city in search of revenge against the blood thirsty Elementalist who had killed his brother (and maybe pick up a few bags of gold coins in the process).

The game itself was characterised by both warbands placing missile weapons in positions overlooking the cart and sending soldiers to race to the cart, grab treasure and drag it back to safety.

The cultists fell quite quickly in the crossfire but the key moment came early on when the Elementalist who had caused such carnage in the previous encounter was felled by a well aimed crossbow bolt. Although the post-game roll confirmed that he had survived the incident without any long term effects it was a clear statement of intent from the Witches.

In fact things did not go well at all for the boys' spellcasters as their new apprentice was cornered by a gang of Ghouls with only a Hobbit Thief as escort. Her candle seemed to attract the shambling, glowing-eyed creatures and both the young lady and the halfling were eventually overwhelmed and devoured in a most tragic and unpleasant manner.

After the taunting we had received from the boys at the loss of our wizard during the previous game our sympathy was limited.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2022, 09:42:03 PM by Bearwoodman »

Offline Grumpy Gnome

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Re: Bearwoodman in Frostgrave: An Incomplete History
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2022, 03:03:33 PM »
What goes around comes around.

If you want to use your ship for more than static set dressing terrain I would recommend Blood & Plunder.

 

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