Sunday, 31 December 2017

The Battle for Christmas

Last post of the year is going to be the promised Frostgrave AAR. It's been my first approach to the game and I've enjoyed it beyond imagination. I wanted to have played it some days ago, but you know what's calendar like these days. Anyway, there we go!

The ruins laid silent, the thin snow shining under the light of dawn, giving the whole view a true magical aspect. Magic would indeed be unleashed in a matter of minutes. Both Wizards felt each other. Close, really close. Father Chistmas and his Elves better run to get as many treasures as they could. The Grinch and his evildoers would do everything in their hand to beat them and avoid them to take the presents for the Children of Men. The Battle for Christmas was about to begin...

The Grinch Warband on the Left. Father Christmas' Warband on the right
Let's see how this goes. My pal will lead Father Christmas (Illusionist) and his merry ransackers while I take command of evil Grinch (Witch) and his green grin henchmen. The Elves have a bowman, a treasure hunter, a barbarian and thieves; the Gnolls have two bowmen, a templar and thugs. The spells were selected with the characters in mind. For example, Father Christmas has Beauty (you have to be a &%$# bastard if you want to beat Santa, for heaven's sake!) or Furious Quill (seriously, imagine a giant feather tickling the enemies, can you think of anything merrier? Ho ho ho!). The Grinch had Monstrous Form (needless to explain!) or Steal Health (as the Grinch steals joy, life and anything good in Christmas) instead. That kind of stuff helped the game to be more in the 'proper' mood.

I guess that Frostgrave is quite well known by now, so I think I can skip the rules explanation thing (if there's something you want me to explain better, please let me know in the comments!). For the first turn, Father Christmas got the initiative. He and some of his soldiers moved towards the closest treasure...

It's inside the church. Spoiler alert; you see it's half painted/half built. You will see it finished during 2018
So did the Grinch and some Gnolls...
Keep formation!
The Elf Apprentice casts Beauty on herself and more Elves run for the treasures...

Yeah, you run while I think of how beautiful I am
Gnoll Apprentice and his followers move on the other flank
So the first turn was about moving through the ruins and running towards the presents. Second Turn started and soon blood would be shed...

The Grinch throws a Grenade to the Elves (a stone embedded with evil magic)
Kills a thief and hurts the treasure hunter. Glups!
A thing I've liked about Frostgrave is its lethality. Strikes really disable you. That doesn't mean it actually kills you, but at least leaves you out of combat (which is the same in terms of gaming). Not many fantasy games dare to give this approach to its rules.
Meanwhile, a Thug reaches a Treasure
Father Christmas teleports close to more treasures
Rudolph gets the treasure inside the church and the other Elves move against the Gnolls
The Elf apprentice casts a spell sings a magical Carol and a Furious Quill begins to harass the Grinch:
Tickle tickle, ho ho ho!
Nasty Gnolls attack father Christmas!!
Gnoll offensive is not to be taken lightly
Rudolph takes advantage of the mess and drags a treasure towards his lair
The Elf bowman decides to shoot to the Father Christmas melee. Two Gnolls agains his master, what are the odds he accidentally hits his own boss? Well... Let me tell you.

1/3 is enough. The arrow hits the bearded wizard himself. Ouch!
On one side of the board, we have a one-on-one fight over some gifts
On the opposite one, we have the epic clash between the treasure hunter and the templar
A thief tries to sneak out with more presents
General overview of the battlefield by the end of Turn 3
The critical moment arrives...

Father Christmas is taken down by the filthy Gnolls!
Oooops! This may turn the tide of the game. Not only the elves' Wizard is killed, the treasure he was to get is in the power of the enemy!

In addition, the Grinch steals the treasure hunter's health, leaving her dead
A Gnoll takes another treasure...
But not everything are bad news to the Elves!

A critical hit immediately kills the Gnoll thug
And a pinpoint arrow kills the Gnoll Apprentice!
Well, things get interesting! A Gnoll leaves the board with a treasure. There are still 5 on the board. Two of them in the Elves' power (and a third left by Rudolph, so he can finally get into combat) and the other two in possession of the Gnolls.

End of Turn 4. can you spot all the treasures?
So let's go for Turn 5. Initiative is for Father Christmas Warband...
Frenzy Rudolph charges against the murderer of his master
The archer takes down the Elf thief. The treasure falls derelict
On the limits of the board, the Gnoll templar charges the Elf thief
The poor Elf has nothing to do
Neither has the Elf archer, slain with a critical hit
Green grinning hyenas begin to smother the Apprentice
At the beginning of next turn, the Grinch uses his magic to leap...

...and support his minion against Rudoplh
No matter how beautiful the Apprentice was, she is ruthlessly dismembered
Well, by now two Gnolls have left the board with treasure and two more are on their way. Father Christmas' Warband is reduced to just poor Rudolph, and things don't look good...

But he decides to give battle till the end. Respect
In fact he delivers a deadly blow to the Grinch himself!
But only to succumb immediately afterwards
The desolation after the battle
So in the end the Gnolls had three treasures out of the board and control over another one, while the Elves hadn't taken any for their profit and the whole Warband had been killed. Ouch. Appaling, I'm afraid. So yes, though the Grinch didn't survive to see his evil deeds fulfiled, the spirit of Christmas has been smashed. Spoiler: That explains why you didn't receive gifts this year and had to buy them yourself. Sorry, my fault.

What can I say, I've enjoyed the game a lot. The alternate activation system works perfectly and gives a lot of thrill; even if you have the initiative this turn, if you don't have a Wizard, your enemy is moving first, that kind of things. The spells were selected with care, trying to fit the characters' traits, and they have given a lot of flavour to the battle.
The game is tremedously agile, and deadly, as I said before! You have to be cautious about your actions, and I think that is what failed to my rival. He didn't make the most of his Wizard, using him mostly as a regular combatant, and the same goes for Rudolph the barbarian, who only used his full potential in the final turns, when all was almost lost. Besides, I have to say my pal had some extrememly awful dice rolls. That didn't help, of course, he jinxed almost all his rolls and had some catastrophic results at crucial moments that in the end turned the tide for the Gnolls.

Anyway, the system works and now we may have to think about a campaign. I'll have a look at the book, as many ideas may fit in this context. New characters and settings. Hmmm....

Until that moment comes, I hope you have the best 2017 ending and of course the best 2018 greeting! Happy new year!!


  1. Best wishes and a lot of fun of our great hobby in 2018 :) !!!

    1. Thank you very much! Same to you, all the best!

  2. May you have many more boardgame fun like the one above (AND paint many more minis) in 2018!!! :)

    1. Thank you very much! Here's to it and my best wishes for you this year! :)