Friday, 9 February 2018

Frostgrave: Genie in the Bottle

Ragner leads his men into the city...
We returned to the icy precincts of Frostgrave this week. Reading the rules background, I can't help feeling there is a Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting here. I'm mulling over in my head what a map of Frostgrave would look like! But to the action. Last time my adventurers / looters, led by the soothsayer Ragner MacDervish, got a bit of a mauling from a rival band of goblins and orcs, but redeemed themselves near the end when their goblin apprentice was slain. Sadly, that was through no skill of mine, but the luck of the dice or, er, Skeggi Boozehound's axe.

Poor old Skeggi is resting up, as he was wounded in the last encounter. The party has discovered an abandoned library and have made that their base of operations. With Skeggi recovering, they have started looking around for more magical texts, but to no avail so far.

To replace Skeggi, Ragner decided to hire a second man at arms, as the party needs a bit of combat muscle. In addition, a new dog was purchased to replace the one killed in the last encounter. Let's now get to the action.

We played Genie in the Bottle this time, in addition to which for the first time we made use of Ulterior Motives, a deck of cards which, I suspect, was inspired by Malifaux. It gives the sides additional, secret objectives which can bring them further benefits. Ragner's was to get to a trap door which would open a magical vortex, but at the same time grant an opportunity to find some additional loot.

Tracker encounters some giant rats!
The centre of the field was dominated by an ancient mansion, and to the right was a large, icy ridge on which stood an abandoned inn. I split my party into two - Ragner took the right with a man at arms, a tracker and the zombie he raised before the game. His apprentice, Nordgrint, took the left with a second tracker and the pack of dogs. This seemed to work well.

The game was defined by a number of key phases in the action. In phase one, I was able to secure two treasure chests, and assigned my man at arms and a tracker to remove them. The man at arms was my best fighter, and all he needed to do for this game was climb onto the icy ridge, pick up a chest, and man handle it off the field.

My party got into the mansion first. I posted a tracker there with a bow who tried his best to stop the goblins grabbing the chest that sat in the gateway to the mansion's grounds. He managed the kill one goblin early on, but it was not enough to stop a second goblin from finally making off with the chest.

My other tracker found another chest guarded by a zombie, which he and the apprentice Nordgrint managed to dispatch. Nordgrint sent the tracker home with the chest, but he was ambushed on the way by giant rats. He shot one with his bow as they closed in on him, and killed the second with his staff, then picked up the chest again and left.

My pack of hounds proved their usefulness once again. This time I used them to get in among the goblins, and particularly to go after their witch. In this game you really need a weapon that can harass the enemy and stop him from doing things. However, I was also aided by the fact that almost immediately the goblins had found the lamp with the genie in it. The genie was keeping them occupied and their apprentice was having trouble casting anything. He was a poor stand in for his predecessor!

The squigg tackles the genie while a goblin grabs the chest.

The goblins came up with a good solution for the genie by setting their squigg on it. The squigg kept the genie occupied, allowing the rest of the goblins to get on with business. Later on he used a zombie to distract it as well. These were good tactics as the genie was invulnerable to normal weapons, and neither of us has much, if any, magic that can more than distract a creature like this.

Dogs get in among the goblins.
Back in the mansion, which was filling up with mud as the goblins bombarded it with mud spells, Ragner climbed to the roof, where he was more exposed than I expected, but there was a treasure chest up there. Unluckily for him, two orc archers were up on the icy ridge to his right. He was also in sight of the trap door which was on the same ridge, and he had a potion of teleportation in his pocket. It looked so close!

Frostgrave is a great game because it inevitably faces the player with hard tactical calls. Here Ragner was confronted with the choice of whether to risk all and use his potion of teleportation to get to the trap door before the goblins, or grab the chest on the roof of the mansion. It was as tough call. The trap door sat on the ridge, and Ragner would have no support from the rest of his party. My mind was made up for me when the soothsayer was hit by an arrow from the orcs, costing 75% of his health. He promptly downed the potion, teleporting off the roof with the chest to eventual safety.

Meantime my dogs had caught up with the goblin witch, forcing her to use her potion of invulnerability to keep her safe from their fangs. The goblin apprentice continued to struggle to distract the genie with various spells - I wasn't sure what he was trying to cast, but the curses from the other side of the table told me it was not going well.

With two chests off the table and a third on its way, it was time to begin withdrawing my troops. Both Nordgrint and the second tracker left the mansion, stumbling through the mud that was now knee high on the ground floor. The dogs covered their retreat but were gradually picked off. However, that's what they're there for. They're fast and cheap.

We emerged the victors this time, with the majority of the chests. We've also picked up a couple of grimoires which include spells Ragner can learn, and a magic crossbow +2! Counting the final cost, we had one dog killed outright but the rest of the pack will recover quickly. It's now time to ponder whether we buy a second dog or look at recruiting someone who can shoot a crossbow. Both trackers are fair shots with their bows, but a marksman would be an interesting prospect. The dwarf Skeggi is recovering and should be able to rejoin the party for our next foray into Frostgrave!


  1. Great fun and a well deserved win for Ragner's boys!

    Apprentice Skizz is going to hit the books for some spellcasting revision after that poor showing. I don't think he managed to cast a single spell.

    Given my ineffective apprentice and the marauding genie, I'll take a 3-2 loss!

    1. Yeah, Ragner is likely going to be hitting the books too. There is some debate about building a kennel, but I think the marksman may come first.