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!


  1. Hurrah for the positive reviews and don't bother a jot about the forum stuff- you can't please all of the people all of the time! Be proud and remember a job well done.

  2. They are some great reviews for sure, and no doubt will reflect what the vast majority of players will think of the game also. I'm not so big on Martin, however Tolkein, Howard and Leiber are all fantastic writers and excelled at bringing adventure to the mind's eye in a certain kind of way modern writers don't. I'm so looking forward to getting my hands on these rules. Thanks for sharing your rules with the rest of us gamers Joe :)

  3. Its really tough especially when your passionate about something that you've put so much effort into. But one thing to remember we aren't all the same and for somebody, somewhere its not going to be there cup of tea.

  4. I have only seen great reviews of your game and I look forward to owning a copy soon. I suppose that when you produce something you are obviously passionate about, negativity can be difficult, but by putting that passion into your design and concept, you are achieving something few of us can imagine doing. Ignore the neigh sayers, I take my hat off to you, brilliant stuff :-)

  5. Congratulation Joe to the splendid reviews, well deserved!

    Best regards Michael

  6. Great stuff have just read the WI review, will try and get a copy for my birthday in September.

  7. What issue of Wargames Illustrated is the review in guys?

  8. The Wargames Illustrated review is in Issue 333. Actually, Mack, I've got to admit, I've never read G.R.R. Martin (well, not A Song of Ice and Fire, anyway) nor have I watched the show. It all sounds a little grim for my tastes. However, Tolkien and Howard are two of my writing heroes. I discovered Lieber later, but have long be a fan.

  9. Thanks for the issue number Joe, I'll track it down now. I also discovered Leiber after Tolkein and Howard, and thoroughly enjoyed his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories.

  10. I saw an article about rules writing recently, I think from Rick Priestly, about the ups and downs of the process and wow great/rubbish roller coaster and it's good to know that the only bit that counts is the positives, you always ignore the Trolls, they were never going to be your target audience anyway.

    Looking forward to getting the rules and having a few games at the club where there are something like a dozen or more like minds and picking up the rules, not bad. Justifiably proud I would say.

  11. I would love to read a quote from the negative review as well. I try to read as many reviews I can find online but I usually miss most of them. Trying to avoid negative reviews is not the way to go in my opinion. I will get my own opinion after reading the book but now all I have is what I can find.

  12. While, I agree that the consumer should definitely look at both positive and negative reviews, I can't see what I, as the author, have to gain by pointing out bad reviews? In truth, I haven't seen any 'bad' reviews yet, just a few negative points inside of generally good reviews. That said, I'd be surprised if I didn't get a few bad reviews. No game appeals to everyone.

  13. Brace for Impact, Joe, there'll always be negative comments and as I said in a previous comment, no game system or rule set is perfect, no one expects them to be, even those that are considered excellent...and people like different things and will always house rule certain aspects of a game - this is not a bad thing or a stain on the game designer or game.

    If the review you speak of is the one I'm thinking of, it's pure opinion, not fact...and I objectively disagree with the negative aspects that were put forward.

    I've read a heap of stuff now and I'm loving what I know of the system, and I think the vast majority of those who play it will like it. My order has an ETA of this coming Friday (just checked the tracking and it was scanned out of Koeln, Germany at 4:15am this morning - oh why does it have to take the long way around!!!), I'm very excited.

    I also just saw the painted Stone Construct and Major Demon on North Stars Facebook page...beautiful!!!

  14. I wouldn't worry about the odd negative review. Opinions differ, and not everyone is going to like your game. If there is a negative review, then it gives you a chance to give a reasoned response and address the issues raised.
    I asked on a previous post on here about creating a forum for Frostgrave, and you said you had no plans to do so. I highly recommend that you do set one up. It is very easy to do, and it helps to create a community of gamers. Lots of potential players / purchasers expect to have somewhere to go to ask questions, post battle reports and generally discuss the game. Aleady there are lots of posts about Frostgrave on TMP, Lead Aventure and probably other forums. These will soon be off the front pages and forgotten about. If they were in a Frostgrave forum they would be much more easily accessible to interested readers.
    Personally I'm surprised that Osprey haven't done something like this for all of their rules, rather than leaving it to the individual authors to do.

  15. I've read through the rule book now and love it. Such very cool rules. I'll refrain from making further comments until I've played through a few games but straight off the bat I've got the feeling this is a game that will be staying around permanently.

    I'm notorious for tinkering and the only things I feel like tinkering with here is to include a Longbow (+6" range and +1 Dam) and to allow a single non-wizard model in the warband to gain experience, like a warband sergeant (and maybe allow him to carry 2 or 3 items). Everything else suits my tastes perfectly. Excellent work Joe...I've got Tuesday and Wednesday off work this week so will be diving into some games :)

    The physical quality of the book and the mini's is also excellent.

    One question, Joe. The guidelines for activating AI creatures doesn't seem to allow for shooting, so for instance skeleton archers. Would you have these guys simply attempting to move into range and LoS so they can shoot, instead of moving in a random direction or attempting to move into combat?

  16. Thanks Mack, I'm glad you are liking the game so far!

    Feel free to tinker with the game - it's there for you to have fun with. My thoughts about longbows - the theory behind the 24 inch max range is that the ruins are so close packed, there shouldn't be any line of sight beyond that. As for the +1 Damage, I guess the only question would then be - why would anyone take a regular bow?

    A lot of people are asking for some kind of Sergeant for the soldiers who could gain experience. I may have to look into some rules for that.

    The only creature in the main book who has a ranged attack is the genie in the genie in the bottle scenario. I would suggest just using his rules for other creatures with a ranged attack.

  17. Thanks Joe.

    I guess with the Longbow, I'll make it available to purchase as an upgrade, like a magic weapon. That way a normal bow is still relevant for warband members starting out...not sure but I'll come up with something suitable.

    That would be awesome if you could come up with an optional rule for Warband Sergeants or something similar :)

    I hadn't looked at the Genie scenario yet but have now and that seems like a good way to go for missile armed creatures. I've also just now downloaded The Hunt For The Golem campaign and note that the Golem has the Throw Rock ability (24"?), those rules also seem like a good path to follow.

    Such cool rules and so many cool mini's here right now, I feel like a kid at x-mas time :)

  18. Oh, disregard my question on the rock throw range, I just re-read the Golem rules and it is 10" for the rock throw range :)

  19. Clint Eastwood said "Opinions are like @rseholes ... everyone's got one" :D

    My opinion is you are on to an absolute winner here.
    This is right up my snow covered alley!

    I have the rules and have read them. The rule book is beautifully produced. They seem very straightforward, quick and easy to learn ... allowing you to get straight into the gaming. The 'gang development' aspect looks enormous fun and I can't wait to get into this with my gaming buddies.
    I am genuinely excited about getting into this game ... and I don't remember the last time I felt like that about a new game ...and we play lots of new games ... more than most .... several different games sytems in a month.

    I can see the point about some of the 'grey areas' in the rules ... but I don't remember the last time I played a game where there wasn't some rules discussion ... i don't see anything in these rules that a bit of common sense between like minded fellows would sort out very quickly. What I do see is a bucket load of fun to be had.

    I think you should be very happy with your efforts.... my sense of it is you are going to bring a lot of fun to a lot of folks
    (and I also think you are going to be busy writing more than one supplement for this game as word spreads).

    All the best,

  20. Hi Joe,
    I got the book on Saturday, generated a Sigilist warband and then had three solo games on Sunday. What a great set of rules, great fun - congratulations.
    I would echo the call for at least one of the soldiers to be able to gain experience - but as you say in the book the rules are the start point and we are free to add to it. I'm also going to equip my Men at Arms with Mail armour once I've saved enough GC.
    One Query on the "Explosive Rune" spell if I may - could it be cast on a stone (say fist sized) or an arrow or crossbow bolt and then thrown/shot at an enemy like a grenade? I'm tempted to trial that in my next game.
    Anyway - ignore the critics - those who can do, those who can't become critics..

    all the nest