Monday, 15 June 2020

Frostgrave 2 – Soldiers!



While the system for creating wizards and apprentices has changed very little between editions, the system for recruiting soldiers is probably the single largest change in Frostgrave: Second Edition. As I have played and watched hundreds of games of Frostgrave over the years, I have noted two problems with soldiers. First, if a player got really badly defeated – gained no treasure, and lost several soldiers – it could often be impossible to dig back out of this hole in a campaign, especially if it happened early in a campaign. The other problem is that I allowed so much freedom when buying soldiers, it allowed players to create warbands that were just no fun to play against – the ‘all archer’ or ‘all treasure hunter’ warbands are the most egregious. Now, in truth, very few people actually played this way, so it was never a huge problem, but it bothered me as a game-designer, a lot.


In order to fix these two issues, I started by dividing soldiers into two categories: standard and specialist, in much the same way I did for Ghost Archipelago. Now, when you are creating a warband, you can have 8 soldiers, with a maximum of 4 specialists. Standard soldiers include thieves, thugs, men-at-arms, infantrymen and a few others. So, they aren’t all bad, but they are mostly limited to just fighters. Additionally, thugs and thieves can now be recruited for free. This means, no matter how badly your warband gets mauled, you will always be able to field a full complement of figures for your next game. This eliminates the biggest potential imbalance in the game.

The specialist soldiers include archers, crossbowmen, and all of the higher-level fighters such as treasure hunters, knights, and barbarians. In the appendix, at the back of the new book, there is a list of all of the soldiers found in supplements, stating whether they are standard or specialist soldiers.

While I was initially worried about these restrictions, I actually believe they make constructing a warband more interesting. Now, you really have to think about how you want to approach the game. If you want lots of archers, it means you aren’t going to be as good in hand-to-hand (especially since archers and crossbowmen are no longer as good in hand-to-hand). Not only does this eliminate the issue of ‘unfun’ warbands, but it has a couple of knock-on effects which I like. First, it helps keeps a campaign balanced, preventing a player who has made a big score treasure-wise from going out and spending it all on the best soldiers. Also, it means the rules work better with how most people actually play the game. Most people like to buy their ten miniatures, paint them up, and continue to use these same miniatures throughout a campaign. Maybe just upgrading a figure or two. These rules work better with that idea, as players will end up keeping more of the soldier they have instead of immediately discarding them for better ones. That said, players still have the freedom to switch out soldiers as often as they want.

Some of the soldiers have had their stats changed, and many of the prices for recruitment have changed, but I’ll leave that for players to discover when they get the book. Okay…Treasure Hunters are now only Fight +3, the rest you’ll have to wait to find out.

I’ve accompanied this blog with another rocking piece of the new artwork by aRu-Mor. This is the ‘knight’. I like this piece because it shows that the soldiers are open to a lot of interpretation, a lot of imaginative wiggle-room. A knight can be a classic knight in shining armour, or it can be an evil looking guy in a grotesque demon mask. The rules don’t care, so go with whatever fits for your warband!

30 comments:

  1. Well done! This will also make single player scenarios a lot more fun as well, as it pushes the focus from efficiency towards narration.

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    1. this! so much this. Pushing to narrative is exactly where this game shines.

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  3. there will be rules for soldiers progress?

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    1. No. That's not really part of the game. If you want something like that, you could pretty easily use the system presented in Rangers of Shadow Deep.

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  4. GreatKhanArtist15 June 2020 at 07:02

    I already liked Frostgrave, but I'm super excited for the new launch. I was totally planning on making an archer-heavy warband, though...

    I wish you'd done a series of articles on Oathmark. I'm interested in it, but don't know much about it.

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    1. The osprey games website have a blog section with just that. Got me to buy it 😁

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  5. Thanks for the update Joe! With the Pandemic, it pretty much stalled our campaign, so this temporary delay should hopefully see all of us witht he new rules for the campaign relaunch!

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  6. Almost totally off topic, but please tell me that North Star Figures is working on a 'Frostgrave Soldiers III' kit inspired by the bloke used to illustrate this article.

    I want an entire Oathmark army that looks like him.

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  7. Sounds great, is there going to be a kickstarter Joe?

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    1. Joe doesn't do Kickstarters. Now Northstar tends to have Nickstarters for the frostgrave stuff...

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    2. It sounds like, with the pandemic and all, Northstar will not be doing a Nickstarter for this, and probably won't be doing a Nickstarter for a while, until they get a better handle on backorders, logistics, and how best to operate in this strange new world of ours!

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  8. I love aRu Mor's Art!!! I also like how, even though it's a different style, it still fits with the Frostgrave look.

    All the Rules changes sound great. These little updates keep me hyped for the new edition!

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  9. That painting of "The Knight" is great; novel and evocative.

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  10. Fantastic news Joe, really great ideas on warband construction. Glad and sad that TH are getting a nerf, totally deserved mind. Going to have some converting to do (no bad thing). Cheers.

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  11. I really like the way you're taking into consideration your experience of the game being played and the tons of games you've watched and played. This v2 seems to be polished and seamless so far, keep up the good work!

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  13. Hey, artwork looks amazing. So you can only ever have 4 specialists, or is that just on creation?

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  14. I am so excited for this! Started playing Frostgrave for real with my girlfriend now during social distancing (even though I have owned the book since release).

    Since then we have picked up Thaw, Folio and Perilous! And built a ruined terrain board for home!

    Just can't wait to see what second edition will bring, might have to pick up the Rangers premium book for some vacation reading before I can get my hands in that one though.

    Keep up the good work!

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  15. Does this mean that characters that are decent all rounders will be the new "treasure hunter". Thinking Deamon hunters, Trackers and Rangers. Decent shooters, and no slouch in melee. Might be the new defaults?

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  16. My hope is that there won't be a new treasure hunter, but we shall see.

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  17. Nice. Sounds like some better balance with takeaway from some of your other projects. Down the line is there are incentive apart from costs for keeping guys alive; Particularly when you draw a line between soldiers and specialists? I guess I was hoping for companion scale improvement like in Rangers. It was never gamebreaking and unlikely to result in runaway warbands because of the slow progression and mortality rates.

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  18. Hi Joe, think these changes are decent. Can't wait for 2nd edition. Close combat still very risky and swingy so archery is a much better way to play Frostgrave. King is not going to let his best archers go out an get killed in crazy quests. Think they need to cost more. Restricting them increases chance of combat.
    Just a suggestion. Having to fit your summoned creatures into your limit of 12 is a bit restricting. If each spell caster is restricted to only one summoned creature. Negatively effects some spells like imp for example. If you can cast more impressive things imp would not be cast. Why not cast multiple imps based on your level.
    Also having all the wild creatures not move till the end phase after everyone has moved is a bit civilised.
    Might I suggest every time you roll a natural one on any D20 roll firing weapon, Will check or archery ect. your fumble draws the attention of the nearest NPC creature who moves towards and/or attacks the fumbling character out of turn order. Unpredictable wandering monsters are surprise encounters right. (Plus less things to move in end phase)
    Hope you have improved some of the soldiers. Crow masters look great but not too impressive for 100 points.
    How about a dog handler/hunter who lets you take hounds over your 12 man restriction. Bit sad that we don't see any warhounds outside of starting warbands. Are theives still out an out better than thugs because of +1 movement?
    Looking forward to trying Oathmark too.

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  19. I'm a new player just getting into the game. Will the spells be updated in 2.0? If so, will there be an updated grimoire coming out? I just wouldn't want to get something that will be obsolete in a month.

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    1. It was mentioned that the spells were mostly not being changed drastically, but there will be changes. You only have a month or so to wait for the 2nd edition. Osprey do have free online resources if you search Gaming Resources - Frostgrave. The game is definitely worth it though.

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    2. They do plan on releasing cards for FG2.0, but not yet due to COVID-related production delays. I haven't seen the estimated release date.

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  20. I just wanted to say Thanks for all you've done so far. We got into Frostgrave about 18 months ago by chance. We played the 10 scenarios in the book and really enjoyed it. However, we came across some of the issues you mentioned here and in your official blog post about the release. So it is great to hear those are being addressed as well as revitalising the game. Really looking forward to Oathmark too.

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  21. are all the monster listed in the new rulebook?....

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