Thursday 3 December 2015

New Frostgrave Scenario

Just a quick note to say that the new issue of Tabletop Gaming Magazine is out today, and includes an exclusive Frostgrave scenario called The Bridges of Mal Dreath. I wrote the scenario when I was still very much in the Thaw of the Lich Lord mindset, so it should slot right into that campaign. In the UK, you can pick up a copy at WH Smiths. Elsewhere in the world, you are probably best off ordering direct. Anyway, here is their Facebook page.

I like to think that I was going to be on the cover until I got bumped for Wil Wheaton and then he got bumped for Darth Vader!

Monday 23 November 2015

Frostgrave – State of Play (and Spoilers)

It is now just three days since the official release of Thaw of the Lich Lord, the first print supplement for Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City. I am excited to report that the book has already sold out in Europe, which means you can’t get it directly from Osprey or Amazon at the moment. That said, it should not be too hard to find a wargames dealer that has a copy if you want one. A second print run is inbound and should be here in a few weeks.

The main rulebook is currently on its fourth print run, and, in total, has sold somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 copies. While that doesn’t put it anywhere near ‘the big boys’, it is a very good number for a wargame. In fact, it makes it Osprey’s third best-selling wargame after Bolt Action and Field of Glory.

Perhaps more amazing, there are now two plastic box sets of figures for the game, and over 30 different blister packs of metal or resin figures (most of which contain two figures each). There is also a printed deck of spell cards.

Not everything has gone perfectly, however. A number of copies of the second print run of the book proved defective, which resulted in the spine cracking and pages falling out. Thankfully, this doesn't seem to have effected too many books, but if you have a book that is falling apart, please contact and let them know.

What does the future hold for Frostgrave? Well, the first half of next year, will see the release of two small, digital-only supplements: Sellsword and Dark Alchemy. For those that are wondering, why Osprey is releasing new material this way – well, that is mostly my fault. As soon as Osprey realized the game was a hit, I was asked to write more material. However, the result of having a full-time job and a full-time baby daughter is that I only have so much writing time. I said there was no way I could work another full supplement into my schedule…however, I could do some smaller ones.  For those, like me, who much prefer print of digital, I can say that the plan is to collect these smaller releases into a print companion in the future.

July next year will see the release of the next print supplement with Into the Breeding Pits, which I've talked a bit about in a previous blog.

The Spoilers

One of the most common requests I have received from fans of Frostgrave is for some kind of ‘captain’ to help lead their warbands. Thankfully, this is something I also wanted for the game. Sellsword presents new rules for hiring captains, a soldier who can choose his own weapons and armour, who can gain experience up to a limit, and who can learn ‘tricks of the trade’. (Not exactly skills, you see, but I’ll leave that discussion for another day). Of course, captains want a bit more than the mere retainer paid to other soldiers… Sellsword will also include three new scenarios, all of which have some sort of magical ‘limitation’ in them, so that wizards have to rely a bit more on their soldiers in those situations.

The focus of Frostgrave has always been about the wizards, and that is not something I want to change. Most soldiers will always be ‘extras’ as far as the rules are concerned. But the idea of a wizard having a trusted swordsman friend is just too good for me to ignore. Hopefully players will find the little bit of added complexity a worthwhile trade off.

I won’t say too much about Dark Alchemy at this point, except that it will focus on potions, scrolls, and grimoires. I have never been completely happy with the rules for these magical treasures, and with a lot more time to think about them and hearing a lot of people voicing various opinions, I think this will be a good opportunity to review and tweak those rules, as well as introducing a lot of fun new magical items!

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Heartbreak Quadrant

My best buddy from high school, Barrett Stanley, has just launched a kickstarter to print his own comic book, Heartbreak Quadrant. Barrett has spent years working on it, doing all of the writing, pencilling, inking, lettering, and colouring himself. He's done all of this while holding down a full-time job and being a father, which is no mean feat! So, if you think it is something that might interest you, take a look and maybe support his efforts.

For me, this is exactly the kind of project that kickstarter should be used to fund.

Check out the campaign here:

Thursday 15 October 2015

The Loot From Spiel!

To those who have never been to Spiel, it is very hard to describe. Imagine all of the people from a major rock concert crammed into four large halls, filled with stalls and booths selling games. Many areas are just given over to numerous tables where people can sit and try out games. Everywhere you look are games, people, more games and more people. The noise level is a steady, good-natured, roar.

I went to the show as part of work, so it was a very, very long weekend. That said, I did get a couple of chances to slip away and do some shopping! Most of the show is devoted to board and card games of all descriptions, but there are also sections for comic books, wargames and role-playing games. It was in these last two that most of my personal interest lay.

My first purchase was a Reaper bones figure I had been wanting to pick up for a while, an elf wizard who serves as a counterpart to the elf ranger I painted a while back. Then I made a wonderful discovery, an original Silent Death box set! The box has taken a few knocks, but the contents appear to have been untouched since it was first printed. I have actually been looking for this box set for awhile to replace one I lost long ago. I can still remember, in my youth, when I saw the game first advertised in Dragon magazine. I got the box set then, and I played the game to death! I still think it has one of the most elegant combat mechanics I've ever seen in a game. I have been looking to replace my lost set for awhile, but copies aren't that easy to come by. So, as you can gather, I was thrilled with this purchase.

Finally, on the last day, I went past a stand that was selling off 3e and 4e Dungeons and Dragons books for €2.50! Hardback book for about £2! Okay, they aren't for the current edition of the game, and they are perhaps some of the more obscure titles, but since I'm only getting them as reference material anyway...we'll, I got more than a couple! 

All-in-all, an extremely successful shopping experience. It was also a huge success for work as well.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Super Glue Disaster

My wife was out, my baby was asleep. So, being a Renaissance Troll, I had to decide which of my geeky endeavours to indulge in. A bit of writing? reading? Sci-fi TV? Maybe later. First I would head to my miniatures cupboard, and do a little repair work on a broken piece of terrain...

Seconds later, I managed to squirt super glue straight across the fingers of my left hand.

I didn't panic (well, maybe for a second). Thankfully, I managed to get my wedding ring off before it fully adhered to my hand and kept my fingers apart as I ran to the sink. As you can see from the picture, the ring is not in great shape at the moment. For that matter, neither is my hand. I spent the rest of the evening, trying to scrub the glue off my hand. White spirits, nail polish remover, salt. None of them really worked. Instead, I am slowly picking off little flakes whenever I can manage it. However, my fingers still scrape together as I type.

Unpleasant, but not really a disaster. At least the baby didn't wake up. Now, what to do about my ring...

Monday 28 September 2015

Save the Children - The Campaign Continues!

It has been three weeks since I launched my first campaign for The Order of the Sword and Dice, a quest to raise £500 for Save the Children to help their efforts in the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. My first effort was to write a special charity Frostgrave scenario and ask those playing it, or downloading it, to please donate to the effort. Thanks to the generosity of a few good souls, a few named, most anonymous, I have so far raised £205!

For those just finding about this, you can see the charity scenario here and donate here.

Regardless of your personal feelings about immigration, I encourage everyone to remember, children have no say in these matters. Their suffering is not of their own making. I hope, however, that when they grow up, they will be able to look back and remember that people came to help them...

So, my quest is off to a good start, but I still have a long way to go. It appears that my first effort is not going to be enough to reach my goal. I'm currently pondering other ways in which I can try and help out.

I am thinking about having a miniatures sale. A chance for me to get rid of a few miniatures that I either never use or am never going to paint, and hopefully raise some cash for the quest as well. I'll be back with more on this soon!

Saturday 12 September 2015

Frostgrave: The Hunt for the Golem

The Hunt for the Golem is a PDF mini-campaign for Frostgrave. It features three new scenarios, a unique monster, and a few new treasures. It will probably be especially interesting to Enchanters and other construct lovers. I originally wrote it as a part of the Frostgrave 'Nickstarter' pre-order campaign. Now, Osprey have put it up for sale so that everyone who wants can get a copy. It is currently available as a PDF on Wargames Vault. It's a US company, but I'm pretty sure it will sell to anyone anywhere. It will also be for sale on the Osprey website soon. A kindle release is also planned, but I'm not sure of the time scale on that.

So, if it sounds like something you might like, head over to Wargames Vault! I have purchased several ebooks through Wargames Vault in the past and always found them a top-notch company.

Saturday 5 September 2015

The Order of the Sword and Dice

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

The above quote is generally attributed to the Irish philosopher Edmund Burke, although there is no direct evidence that he ever actually said it. Regardless, it is a hugely powerful line, and one that has followed me my whole life.

I was raised on the tales of fantastical heroes like Gawain, Aragorn, and Spider-Man. Heroes who fought against evil monsters to save lives, free the oppressed and protect the powerless. It was my childhood desire to be a hero like them that first drove me into fantasy gaming, first as a role-player and later as a wargamer. I wanted to be the hero that smashed down the walls of the tyrant's castle and freed the captive people. In fact, even today, when I play an occasional solo wargame, it usually includes a clear good vs. evil set-up, and I have even been known to cheat a little to ensure that the good guys win.

As I've gotten older, wiser, and more self-aware, it has become clear to me that I will probably never be on the front line of the fight against evil. I don't posses that kind of strength or courage. Yet, the quote stays with me.

A few years ago, I had an idea to found my own knightly order, The Order of the Sword and Dice. It would be a collection of wargamers, role-players, and other dice-flingers, who felt like I did, who wanted to change the world for the better but weren't quite sure how. Together, I thought, we could raise money for organizations that really are on the front-lines tackling problems like refugees, human-trafficking, and disaster relief. I even got as far as getting my friend, the noted historical artist, Peter Dennis to paint up a heraldry for the order, which can be seen above.

As I was getting it all organized, I shared the idea with a few people. Some were supportive, but a few others thought the idea was 'silly' or even 'dangerous'. Sadly, these comments were enough to dishearten me, and I ended up putting the whole thing away. In fact, I was convinced to do nothing.

Well a few more years have passed, and my world has changed. The birth of my daughter has caused a huge shift in how I perceive life and the things that I value. I have come to realize that even if it is silly, The Order of the Sword and Dice is important to me. It is there as a reminder to do something, to try and be the good man I want to be. If it is dangerous, it is only dangerous in the way that any call to action can have unpredictable results.

Thanks to the publication of Frostgrave, I currently have a bit of a 'voice' in the gaming community. That may or may not last, but while it exists, I would like to try to use it to do some good. And so, today, I am officially founding The Order of the Sword and Dice. Later today, I will start its first campaign, a campaign to raise £500 for Save the Children to aid their work during the current Syrian refugee crisis. To start the campaign, I will be posting up a new Frostgrave scenario on my blog. I will ask that anyone who plays the scenario, prints it out, or otherwise adds it to their collection of Frostgrave material, to please kindly donate at least £1 to Save the Children through a MyDonate page that I have set up.

If you join in this campaign, you can consider yourself a member of The Order of the Sword and Dice, or not, as you choose. Either way, I hope you will help out, and maybe we can all be heroes, at least in some small way.

Friday 4 September 2015

Numinous Occulum

The biggest news in the wargaming world over the last year has been the release of Warhamer: Age of Sigmar, or the destruction of the Warhammer Old World, depending on your personal feelings about it all. I actually don't have any strong feelings about it. I liked the Old World well enough, but I didn't play the game and only rarely bought any of the figures. I think it is clear that Games Workshop had to do something in order to preserve fantasy as a core part of their business, and so they went with a bold new redesign.

I haven't read the Age of Sigmar rules or played a game, so I can't really comment on it. However, I am a big fan of some of the terrain kits that they have put out for it. I think they are some of the coolest, most interesting fantasy terrain pieces I have seen in a long time. Some of them, dare I say it, would look really good in a game of Frostgrave. In fact, I have been so struck by the terrain that I recently ordered my favourite, the Numinous Occulum (great name). I ordered from Firestorm Games as they had a competitive price, and they have been a good supporter of Frostgrave. My order came quickly and well packed.

The kit comes with four sprues of pieces, all of which are cast in heavy plastic. I have no doubt they will easily withstand the rigours of the gaming table. I started assembly while watching the new Godzilla movie. Assembly required a lot of clipping, cutting and filing. I've probably put in about an hour's work all told, and I would guess I'm a bit less than halfway done. That said, it is look pretty cool so far. What the picture here doesn't related is just how big a piece it is. I suppose it is designed for the new, extra-large Age of Sigmar figures, which means for standard 28mm figures, it is a big piece of terrain. I'll try to get a shot with a figure in it next time for scale purposes.

So far, I'm really pleased with the kit and look forward to getting some more work on it.  I might even have to write some Frostgrave rules for playing with such a terrain piece.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Merry and the One Ring

Of the four principle hobbits in The Lord of the Rings, two carry the One Ring - Frodo, who carries it all the way to Mount Doom, and Sam who takes it off Frodo when he thinks he has been killed and who returns it when he realizes his mistake. The other two hobbits are never directly tempted by the ring. I think, however, it is safe to assume that Pippin could not have handled it. He couldn't even resist the temptation posed by the Palantir. Which leaves just Merry. It's hard to say how Merry would have handled the One Ring, had he been forced to carry it. He was certainly brave in battle, but that is no measure of resistance to the Ring (see Boromir). 

So, we are left to our own thoughts on the subject. Personally, I believe Merry could have carried the ring, and, while I think he would have found it more difficult and more tempting that either Frodo or Sam, with support, he could have made it. Feel free to disagree.

All of this is just a long-winded introduction to show off the two miniatures I have managed to paint lately. The first is Merry in his Rohan equipment as produced by Games Workshop as part of their The Lord of the Rings line. A very nice little figure and fun to paint. Strangely, as far as I know, GW never produced a figure for the One Ring itself, at least not all on a base of its own. It seems a bit of an oversight somehow. My One Ring is one of the Frostgrave treasure tokens that were originally made as giveaways during the Nickstarter, but are now generally available.

It's not a huge painting output, but it's not bad considering the time I've had lately. It is funny how even a little bit of quiet hobby time, and a little bit of progress on some miniatures really improves my general outlook.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Coming in July 2016!

With this new supplement for Frostgrave, players can lead their warbands into the vast network of catacombs, sewers, and dungeons that run underneath the Frozen City. It was in these dark confines that the ancient wizards known as Beastcrafters experimented on living creatures, creating strange hybrids and deadly monsters, many of which still roam the forgotten passageways. Along with a host of new scenarios, treasures, soldiers, and creatures, the book also contains rules for the traps and secret passages that are often found in the dungeons. With the wonderful and rare magical treasures to be discovered, will players risk taking their warbands down into the Breeding Pits?


So, here is what I'm working on at the moment. Right now it's just a bunch of scattered pieces, but slowly I am pulling it together into a coherent manuscript! I think Dmitry Burmak has done another amazing job on the cover artwork. It's a testament to his own imagination that he can take my notes and turn it into something like that!

Saturday 22 August 2015

Frostgrave – The State of Play

It is now just over a month since Frostgrave was officially released, which is hard to believe. So much has happened in that time, it is hard for me to process. So, I thought I might try and summarize everything that has happened, as much for my own benefit as anyone who might be reading.
Frostgrave officially launched with a pre-order campaign from Northstar known as a ‘Nickstater’. The various deals in the Nickstarter included the book and a load of figures, some of them official Frostgrave figures, others just great figures that could also be used. The Nickstarter raised just shot of £40,000 in sales, and, I believe, had about 1,000 participants.

The game officially went on sale on 20 July. It sold out in the UK about two weeks later, and in the United States about a week after that. A second printing is now all but exhausted and a third is on its way. I think it is safe to say that both Osprey and I have been a bit caught off guard by how quickly the book has sold!

In September, the mini-campaign Frostgrave: The Hunt for the Golem, which was originally given away as part of the Nickstarter will go on sale as an ebook. In November, The Thaw of the Lich Lord, a 64-page print expansion will go on sale. This will be preceded by a second Nickstarter which will feature a second set of plastic soldiers and a bunch of new metal figures.

I can say that I have now been commissioned by Osprey to write more Frostgrave material. There will be a second ebook mini-supplement in January and more beyond that, although I have been asked not to reveal too much about anything at the moment.

As for the rules themselves, the reception has been generally very positive. I think people have been most attracted to the game for three reasons. The central theme of magic and wizards, and the wide variety of spells to choose from; the openness of the setting that allows almost any fantasy miniatures and terrain to be used, and the narrative feel of the game that encourages storytelling and has an rpg-light feel to it.

The game has not been without its controversies though. Most of these have revolved around the campaign system and the potential imbalance between wizards of different levels. The single biggest controversy has been about wizards getting experience points for killing opponents. Some believe this too greatly favours wizards who feature more offensive spells. I understand the logic here. Certainly, a wizard with a powerful attack spell has more chance of getting experience points for defeating an enemy than one who does not. However, I have found that such wizards also have a greater chance of death. They have to put themselves in harms way in order to use their spells. That said, the play-testing I was able to conduct while working on the game is nothing compared to the thousands of games that will hopefully be played over the next year. The experience system is something I’m very interested in, and I hope to see a lot of reports so I can better determine if there is an issue.

On a similar subject, there has been a lot of talk about the lack of a 'balance system’ in the game, meaning some kind of rules that attempt to create an even game between two warbands of differing experience and wealth.  There are two reasons I didn't include such a system. First, I think, so far, most people greatly over-estimate the actual power difference between warbands. The difference between a level 1 wizard and a level 10 wizard is noticeable, but it is unlikely to dictate the outcome of a game. Secondly, I believe that the players in a given campaign are actually in a better position than I am as the author to determine if there actually is an imbalance and what to do about it. A lot of the power of a warband is situational. In truth, the spells you pick for your wizard, compared to the spells your opponent picks, combined with what scenario you end up playing and/or what random monsters you encounter is far more likely to effect the outcome of a given game than a difference in experience level or wealth level.

I do believe there is a potential problem with wealth level right at the beginning of the campaign. A couple of lopsided games to start a campaign can see one warband jump quickly ahead of the other – especially if the winner spends all of his money just on improving his warband to buy the best soldiers possible. This problem tends to fade away as a campaign continues, but can be very disheartening to a new player. I’m not quite sure what to do about this at the moment, but am continuing to think about it. In the meantime, once again, I think the players are probably in a better position to determine if this is actually an issue in their own campaign than I am.

A lot of people have already introduced house rules to work on these issues. I try to read them all. Some I contain very good ideas that I might want to incorporate into future supplements, or a future ‘Second Edition’ should I be that lucky. However, the game is still very young, and I don't want to be hasty about introducing rule changes unless I think they are absolutely necessary.

One thing that has somewhat surprised me is the number of people playing 3 and 4 player games. While I designed the system to handle this, I assumed most people would be playing 2 player games. In many ways helps mitigate some of the perceived issues discussed above. Multi-player games tend to naturally help balance a campaign due to the extra chaos generated and the gang-up effect on anyone who appears to be getting too powerful. However, in the future, I need to give more consideration to what effect given rules and/or scenarios might have on a multi-player game.

In the main, it’s been really exciting watching the chatter and hobby activity that the game has generated. I love reading the back-stories that people have created for their wizards and their warbands. I also really enjoy seeing after-action reports. It is extremely gratifying to hear about people having fun in part thanks to my rules, and also these help inform my opinion on the game going forward.

Finally, I just want to thank everyone who has given the game a try. The support from the gaming community has been wonderful and a great encouragement to keep working on Frostgrave.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Historicon Meetings

Although it seems a long time ago, around the end of July, I was in Fredericksburg, Virginia, running demos of my new fantasy game Frostgrave at Historicon. At the time, the game was getting a little interest on the forums and such, but I had no idea how the game would actually be received. I ran a lot of demos that weekend, met a lot of nice people, and even sold a few books. However, there were two people in particular that I met that really made it a stand out show for me. The first was Howard Whitehouse. Howard is the writer of many wargames, probably the most famous are Astounding Tales and Science vs. Pluck. Howard came up, introduced himself, chatted for a bit, and then bought a copy of Frostgrave. After only a few minutes of conversation, it was easy to see why he is such a popular guy in the wargaming world. The next day, I ran into him again. He held up his copy of Frostgrave, and said 'There's some good stuff in here'. He then gave me a little piece of terrain he had made to sell at show. It is in the photograph above. It's just a couple of pieces of wood, with, I think, a bit of old jewelry glued to it, but it such a perfect piece of Frostgrave terrain that I could believe it had been made for the game. Thanks Howard!

Later that day, a guy came up to the stand carrying a box of plastic Frostgrave soldiers that he'd bought from another dealer. He introduced himself as Bobby Jackson. It took me only a second to realize he was 'the' Bobby Jackson, who had sculpted so many of my favourite figures for Reaper Miniatures! In fact, I was using a wizard that he had sculpted to lead one of the warbands in my demo. His enthusiasm is completely infectious. He too went away with a copy of Frostgrave. It was only when I got home that I realized that Bobby Jackson also sculpted the last miniature I had painted before I left for the show, the Elf Ranger (seen in a previous blog).

So, while most of Historicon has been pushed out of my memory by jet lag and everything that has happened since, those two meetings have stuck in my memory and made it one of the best wargaming shows I have attended.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Friday 24 July 2015

Frostgrave Scenario: Troll Hunt

Time for a little Friday fun. There has been a lot of talk on various forums about 'balance' in Frostgrave and how some warbands can become much more powerful than others. That's true. It's part of the price of playing a game with lots of random treasure tables and ways to earn experience points. However, I believe with only a bit of effort players can create scenarios that can easily address this imbalance. Here is my own quick attempt. It's unofficial, and I have not play-tested it. So if anyone gives it a try, let me know how it comes out.

(A player may call for this scenario whenever he is facing a wizard who is ten levels, or more, higher than his own).

Two days ago, an errant fireball came crashing through the door of the ruins where the snow troll Gronash made his home. The resultant explosion destroyed two small barrels of wine and a rangifer carcass that Gronash had been looking forward to devouring. Needless to say, Gronash was not pleased. Calling upon a couple of his cousins, Gronash has gone off in search of the wizard who destroyed his dinner.


Set up the table as per a standard game of Frostgrave.

Special Rules

During the creature phase on the first turn of the game, a snow troll figure should be placed at each of the middle points of the two side board edges (the sides not used by the warbands to enter the table). These snow trolls may act immediately. In the creature phase of the second turn, a third troll enters the board in the same fashion as the previous two. Roll a die to determine on which side of the board he enters.

These trolls have caught the scent of the wizard they believe to be responsible for the destruction. They are only interested in teaching him and his gang a lesson; they are not concerned with anyone else. The trolls follow the standard rules for creatures with the following exceptions.

-       These troll are highly motivated and have a Movement of 6.
-       The trolls are uninterested in the warband of the lower-level wizard. Ignore these figures when determining the troll’s movement. Trolls will not force combat with these figures. They are never considered In Combat with a member of this warband unless a figure from that warband is in base-to-base contact and declares an attack on the troll.
-       If a troll would normally take a random movement, it instead makes one move in the quickest line towards the higher-level wizard. (If there is any doubt about this line, the lower-level wizard gets to move the troll).
-       If the higher-level wizard is killed or flees the board, the trolls start moving toward the nearest board edge. At this point, they will not move into contact with any figure, nor force combat. They will move around any figure that is in the way.

Treasure and Experience

Treasure is the same as in a standard game of Frostgrave. Calculate experience in the normal fashion with the following additions.
                +25 Experience for each snow troll killed by the higher-level wizard.
                +25 Experience for the lower-level wizard for each snow troll that exits the board or is still on the board at the end of the game.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Frostgrave - The Forum!

There are lots of reports coming in from across the UK that people are receiving their Frostgrave - Nickstarter packages. Hopefully, people in other countries should be receiving theirs soon. I look forward to hearing reports about their first games and how they find the rules.

In the last couple of days there has been an exciting little development for Frostgrave. The game has been granted it's own board on the Lead Adventure forum! Lead Adventure has been my favourite wargaming forum for awhile now, so I'm thrilled that these guys have gotten behind the game.

I will be using this forum as my main place to discuss rules, scenarios, and all things Frostgrave. That said, I will continue to post any major news items on this blog, as well as sharing occasional articles for the game or thoughts about game writing and design.

Anyway, head on over to Lead Adventure and check it out!  

Saturday 4 July 2015

Elven Ranger

A few weeks ago, I was in London for work and got a chance to stop by The Orc's Nest, a little gaming store just off Shaftsbury Avenue. Among the many fun items on the shelves, were a batch of the newest Bones releases from Reaper. I have only minimal experience with Bone miniatures. I have been somewhat put off by their kind of rubbery texture and that fact that the weapons within the packs often look badly bent. Still, I thought it might worth giving them another try. One figure, especially, jumped out at me, an Elven ranger who looked like he would fit in well with the Dunedain I had recently painted up. Considering the soft nature of the Bones material, I thought I might be able to cut the figure off its integral base and mount it on a GW base, so it would fit in with the rangers. Well, for a mere £2.50, it seemed worth the risk.

I am pleased to say, working with this figure was a terrific experience. I was able to easily slice the figure off its base and remount it. Now they claim that Bones miniature don't have to be primed, that paint will stick to them just fine without it. I am curious if that's true, but in point of fact, I much prefer to paint over a black base instead of a white one, so I went ahead and primed the figure.

I took my time with the painting, doing my best to match the colours and treatments I used on my Dunedain. While white, rubbery bones material tends to make the detail on the figures look soft, I am happy to report that's not actually the case. The detail is very crisp - perhaps not quite as crisp as metal, but not far off. The only potentially bendy element on this miniature is the top of its bow, but it looked fine, so I didn't worry about it. (Apparently bends can be fixed by reshaping in hot water).

Anyway, I recently finished him up, and I've got to say, I'm very happy with results. The miniature really fits right in with The Lord of the Rings ones, a perfect Elven ally for my Dunedain. After this experience, I'll definitely be paying more attention to Bones.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Frostgrave - The Reviews

Over the last few weeks, all three of the major English-language wargaming magazines have carried reviews of Frostgrave, and, well, they are really good...

The first one I saw was in Wargames Illustrated, which I believe has the highest circulation of any wargaming magazine on the market. I wasn't too surprised to get a good review there as I did make a special trip up to Nottingham in order to play the game with the editor. Still, WI had this to say:

'I think Joe McCullough and the folks at Osprey Games should be justifiably proud of their achievement and I urge those of us who remember the AD&D adventures of our youth, who have ever read a fantasy novel or seen a fantasy movie to seek out a copy of this tome and sally forth on the road to adventure!'

Next came Miniature Wargames, which I believe is the longest-running wargaming magazine out there. Their reviewer said:

'For me, Frostgrave has a real flavour of the old school, fun, tabletop adventuring that was prevalent when I first got into D&D over three decades ago...Recommended - especially for the money (I think fifteen quid for a hardback set of good rules is a bargain).'

Then today, I got the new issue of Wargames: Soldiers and Strategy, which features a three-page review of Frostgrave, and it is probably the best of the three! This is probably my favourite passage:

'Frostgrave enables you to recreate this spirit on the tabletop. It allows you to play a game that has the narrative feel of an adventure by J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, or George R. R. Martin, rather than play a medieval wargame with spells and monsters added on. The simplicity of the rules system also contributes to the atmosphere of heroic fantasy. Frostgrave is one of those games where the rules allow a game to be played, rather than the game being an enactment of a rules system. This is absolutely vital in a genre such as fantasy, where we are trying to have rip-roaring adventures, rather than creating historical verisimilitude.'

It is certainly flattering to have my game mentioned in the same breath as some of my favourite authors! More to the point, it does appear that the reviewers understand the intent of the game, and it definitely sounds like I managed to tap into a bit of their childish enthusiasm!

After writing the last blog, I saw a negative comment about the game online, and it got me down. (Enough that I've instituted a  'no more checking forums before bed' policy!). I've heard that to be an author, you have to have thick-skin. You don't (I don't) - but, if you don't, you'd better be able to get back up when you get knocked down! I'm back up. These reviews help. Really though, I just need to flip through the book again,to remember - hey, I'm proud of this game.

And many thanks to the guys who commented on the last blog - that helped as well!

Sunday 28 June 2015

Frostgrave – Anticipation

Officially, it is still about three weeks until the release of Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City, but I suspect people are going to get their hands on it much sooner than that. I know the Nickstarter is hoping to start shipping the week after next, and undoubtedly copies will start getting out to people early – they always do.

This is great; I know a lot of people are really looking forward to getting the game, reading the rules, and giving it a try. The response to the Nickstarter has been overwhelming. It’s nearly hit £38,000 worth of pre-sales. The discussion about Frostgrave on the Lead Adventure forum has carried on for nearly 700 posts, while the Dakka Dakka forum has another 300. There are over 200 members of the Frostgrave Facebook group!

Amazing. I’ve written several books, but never before has anything I’ve written been ‘anticipated’.
However, what for everyone else is anticipation is for me trepidation. While the early reviews for the game have been positive, it is going to be the wargaming public that gets the final verdict. Will people want to pick up their dice and play the game? I suppose I will know soon... 

In the end, I wrote Frostgrave because it is the kind of wargame that I wanted to play, a game with a narrow focus (like the exploration of a lost city), but with huge variety. I wanted a wargame that was similar to the role-playing games of my youth, where I could construct my character, my wizard, just the way I wanted him. I wanted a game with lots of different spells and lots of different magic items. I wanted lots of monsters. Even if they weren’t necessarily integral to the game, I wanted to be able to use all of those miniatures I had bought and painted just because they were cool. I wanted a game that encouraged me to tell stories, that felt like my miniatures were ‘adventuring’ instead of just lining up for battle. I wanted a game where I could play a heroic wizard supported by shining knights, or an evil necromancer and his band of grave-robbers, or anything in-between.

This style of more ‘open-ended’ miniatures gaming might not be to everyone’s taste, but it is certainly to mine. I just hope, that when the game is judged, it will be judged in the spirit it was written.

Now, back to writing that supplement – hydras, Frostgrave definitely needs hydras...

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Frostgrave - The Hunt for the Golem

It wasn't my original intention to become directly involved with the Frostgrave Nickstarter campaign, but there has been so much excitement, and so many people are supporting the game already, that I guess I just got caught up in all the fun. I told Osprey and Northstar that if the Nickstarter hit £30,000, then I would contribute a new mini-campaign that I had been working on as one of the spend-goal giveaways.

Well, for those keeping score, the Nickstarter passed £30k sometime this weekend! So, it looks like most of the backers will be receiving Frostgrave: The Hunt for the Golem as a free PDF. The campaign consists of three linked scenarios involving a rogue construct from the earliest days of Frostgrave's history. Along with the scenarios, some fluff, and the new monster, there are also a few new treasures that can be discovered during the campaign that will be especially interesting to wizards who like to make their own constructs.

I finished writing the campaign over the weekend. I just need to do some editing before I send it off to Osprey.

In other Frostgrave news, I painted up my first official plastic Frostgrave soldier. I went with a basic thug, because you are always going to need a few. I gave him the axe, because it looks tough, and then I gave him a swag bag. Well, that's what I'm calling it anyway. It's my favourite piece on the sprue, just a sack that can be thrown over the shoulder. Not only does this give something for the thug to carry in his off-hand, thus explaining why he only carries an hand weapon, but fits well with how I usually use my thugs during the game. Their job is basically to grab the loot and get out of there, while my better soldiers and spellcasters do the real fighting.

Anyway, I just want to thank everyone who has supported the game so far, and I hope they enjoy the new mini-campaign!

Sunday 7 June 2015

40 Reasons My Life Has Been Great!

I am a year shy of forty, and, as far as I know, in perfect health. If I’m lucky, I’ll live for another forty years, maybe more. There are numerous experience I would still like to have and adventures I’d like to undertake. Yet, if I had to check-out tomorrow, I don’t think I could really complain too much. You see, I’ve had a pretty darn good life so far. In fact, sometimes, when I’m feeling down, which I do far more than I should, I think it is necessary to remind myself just how good it has been. So here is a reminder to myself. A list, hastily scribbled and in no hierarchy, of 40 reasons why my life has been great!

1. I am a citizen of two counties.
2. I have written six books that have seen publication.
3. I knew all four of my grandparents and three of my great-grandparents.
4. I grew up in a mansion, even though my parents were poor.
5. I attended a good grade-school, a good high school, and a great university.
6. I married Stephanie Bell.
7. I have travelled in fourteen different countries on three continents.
8. My baby daughter is healthy and happy.
9. I have been to five Major League baseball stadiums and seven Minor League.
10. I have hiked into the Grand Canyon.
11. I have been sprayed by the water of Victoria Falls.
12. I have ventured into the Skojan Caves.
13. I have worked under many kind and generous bosses.
14. I have attended Dragoncon, Pulpcon, Historicon, Salute and Spiel.
15. I have cycled over 10,000 miles in the last six years.
16. My father read me The Lord of the Rings (several times!).
17. I have lived in two unique cities: Washington D.C. and Oxford U.K.
18. I have never been truly hungry nor feared eviction.
19. I have stood in an ancient burial mound and camped in a ruined castle.
20. I have seen elephants, lions, giraffes, and zebras in the wild.
21. I have seen Tom Petty, Robert Earl Keen, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Bob Seger, The Oyster Band, Mark Knopfler, and Steve Earle in concert.
22. My mother taught me to be a writer.
23. I have been a spectator at two Olympic Games.
24. I have walked in an on-coming hurricane, stumbled up the stairs in an earthquake, and stood near a fence that was struck by lightning.
25. I have hiked to the top of several mountains.
26. I have read hundreds, maybe thousands, of books.
27. I have toured the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Met.
28. I have stood in the graveyard of my ancestors.
29. I have seen plays in the West End and on Broadway.
30. I have played the stock market, bought a house, and battled out of debt.
31. I have two sisters, a niece, four nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and God parents.
32. I have climbed into a frozen waterfall.
33. I spent countless hours in a dingy basement store, playing games with friends who made me laugh until I hurt.
34. I have seen the peak of Mount Olympus hanging in the sky.
35. I have stood on Chimney Rock, slid down Sliding Rock, and felt the wind at Blowing Rock.
36. I have crawled into a cavern too small to sit up in.
37. I have starred in amateur plays.
38. I have gotten into a tug-o-war with a wild baboon... and won!
39. I have taken ferries across the English channel and the Irish Sea.
40. I have been a member of a garage band, a softball team, and a ghost-hunting group.

Not bad, not bad at all! 

I not only really enjoyed making this list, but I think it has been good for my mental well being. I would suggest everyone do something similar. In fact, I challenge my fellow bloggers to make their own lists! And if you do, let me know, I'd been interested to see what you write.