Last night I played my first game of Frostgrave, against my friend Tom at our FLGS, Just Games Rochester. A veteran wargamer who hadn't gotten his Frostgrave figures built yet, Tom provided the scenery (a mix of Warlord Games ruined hamlet, some old GW scenery and homemade stuff) while I provided the armies and treasure tokens. He remembered a tape measure, which I'd forgotten, while I brought a laser pointer (borrowed from my cat) to check line of sight.
Tom took control of "The Undying Host of Sutekh-Ra," an Egyptian mummy-themed Necromancer warband, consisting of a Wizard, Apprentice, three Men-at-Arms, two Thugs and two Warhounds (represented as scarab swarms). I, in turn, took "the Diabolists of Belphegor," a Summoner warband consisting of a Wizard, Apprentice, two Knights, three Thugs, one Thief and two Warhounds.
Rather than a pitched battle, we decided to dice for a scenario, ending up with "The Complex Temple," in which the treasure tokens are clustered at a central location and guarded by animated columns.
So here's the layout of the table, from my perspective:
I ended up with a bit of a bottleneck to maneuver my troops through, but them's the breaks. Now, I don't remember the exact play by play, but I can give you some highlights:
Tom took an early lead in pursuing treasure, his Wizard Sutekh-Ra and three Men-at-Arms surging forward to claim the first treasure token on the board while Belphegor led a contingent of his forces through the bottleneck, and his apprentice Bifrons led another contingent over the wall. The thief Tiviel, accompanied by a Warhound, worked her way east to try and claim the outlying treasure token.
Seeking a little bit of heavier support, Bifrons tried and failed to summon a demon, while Belphegor succeeded (with a natural 20 on his casting roll), calling up a six-armed, snake-tailed Minor Demon.
His jubilation at this summoning was short-lived however, as Sutekh-Ra swept forward and cast Bone Dart twice before the Demon could react, sending it back to the Lower Planes in a puff of smoke. The necromancer directed his Men-at-Arms to deal with Tiviel, while his apprentice, Skelos-Ptah and two mummified thugs, clambered into the temple, two swarms of scarabs sweeping wide across the battlefield.
In response, Belphegor launched his own assault on the temple, sending Bifrons, two thugs and the vicious albino knight, Lady Cassiatta, over the wall as the remaining thug, warhound and the hellborn knight Vaeloth assaulted their way up the stairs, with Belphegor holding back from the fray.
Swooping forward, Sutekh-Ra silently bashed Bifrons' head in with his staff, sending the young diabolist to an early grave and a place in Hell. Belphegor responded with an Elemental Bolt, blasting his mummified opponent but failing to destroy him. Sutekh-Ra replied with a dismissive gesture, and Skelos-Ptah cast "Push," sending Belphegor hurtling backwards.
Vaeloth and Cassiatta entered the fray, with Cassiatta engaging Skelos-Ptah, Sutekh-Ra coming to his apprentices' aid, and then Vaeloth charging in to assist Cassiatta. In a moment, Vaeloth and Skelos-Ptah were both dead, Tiviel and the Warhound with her had been slain by Men-at-Arms and scarabs, and Thug slew Thug.
Sutekh-Ra's Men-at-Arms converged on Belphegor, and while he made a good accounting of himself, he ultimately fell before their ancient blades. Sutekh-Ra himself dispatched Lady Cassiatta with a swing of his staff; the three remaining Thugs Belphegor had brought with him shouldered their bundles of treasure and beat a hasty retreat, as Sutekh-Ra and his two surviving Men-at-Arms cleaned up the battlefield.
All in all, we each claimed three treasure tokens, and while we didn't tally up experience points, I imagine killing my wizard and apprentice would put Tom ahead of me this game - but we'll still call it a draw.
I had a blast with this; I've got a set of the ruined buildings that Tom had here, and I'll be assembling them this weekend to be able to bring to our next game. Between set-up, break-down and figuring out the rules as we went, this game ended up lasting about two hours, which was not too shabby,
What I was not anticipating was how different this experience was from my usual RPG experience; I came away from this game much more relaxed, less spent, than I do from running an RPG session. Not surprising, really - here I wasn't having to jump through hoops and think on my feet in response to the chaos 4+ players bring to the table, it was just me and Tom engaging in a gentlemanly proxy war.
More than anything, it left me wanting more, more, MORE! I can't wait for a rematch with Tom, and I'm eager to engage some of the other patrons of Just Games who have Frostgrave forces handy. I've even begun bandying around talk on the store's Facebook page about setting up some sort of Frostgrave league. Wargaming has proven thusfar to be everything I've wanted it to be since I first set foot in a Games Workshop store in high school, and I couldn't be happier.