Tag Archives: Frostgrave

Building a Frostgrave Warband

Frostgrave is, as I’ve noted, happening at Madicon. Although I’ve seen some rather impressive Frostgrave setups at the various HMGS conventions, this is going to be a fairly low-key afair: just a 6×4 table stuffed with terrain and folks handed wizards and warbands to push around until they run out.

For this to work, though, everything has to be pre-generated. We’ve done the Frostgrave-day thing before and it takes hours for people unfamiliar with the system to make decisions about school, spells, and hirelings. Wasted time. So, I’ve generated cheat sheets for the warbands I’m bringing to share: everything someone would need to play on the single sheet (with the QR sheet on the back).

Am I not considerate?

(Download these cheat sheets)

This process brought to mind some rules of thumb I’ve had rattling around for the best way to approach Frostgrave from an army-building perspective.

First off, all hirelings in Frostgrave (not counting the hirelings in the supplements) fall into the following ruthlessly broad categories:

Equipment Hireling
Hand Weapon Thug, Thief, Apothecary
Handweapon & Shield Man-at-Arms, Knight
Two-handed Weapon Infantryman, Templar, Barbarian
Two Hand Weapon Treasure Hunter
Crossbow Crossbowman
Bow Archer, Tracker, Ranger, Marksman

And I mean ruthlessly broad, here.  An Apothecary’s got a Staff… but you’re Two-handed weapon guys are going to be more martial than some skinny jackass with a Health Potion, so just give him a stick with a nail in it and call it done.  You could probably even conflate the Hand Weapon & Two Hand Weapon groups, but Treasure Hunters are so useful (and supplemental options), it’s justifiable to treat them separately.

(Most of the options in the supplements fall into these categories as well: they’re almost all Hand Weapon or Two Hand Weapons.  Only the Javelineer, with his javelins, and the Pack Mule, who I really just want to run as an actual Mule, are problems).

Within each category, you want some differentiation.  Two-Handed Weapon dudes, for example, ultimately come in three flavors: if you have three models equipped with two-handed weapons and they’re all different, you can point to the shoddiest-equipped and call him an Infantryman, the better armored one a Templar, and the gnarlier looking on a Barbarian.  Or you can say that they’re all Infantrymen, or Templars, or that the two with the scarier looking weapons are Templars and the guy with the spear is an Infantryman… whatever. By making your models individual, you buy yourself flexibility.

At a minimum: simply build two from each category. You’re not likely to need to run eight Thieves, right?  Two Crossbowmen will set you.


  • Hand Weapon Dude x2
  • Hand Weapon & Shield Dude x2
  • Two-handed Weapon Dude x2
  • Two Handweapon Dude x2
  • Crossbow Dude x2
  • Bow Dude x2

And make each model of each pair sufficiently distinct from the other (worrying less so about the two Treasure Hunters & Crossbowmen).

If you want to do more than that, I think it’s worth pushing a couple of those groups up to three models each:

  • Hand Weapon Dude x2
  • Hand Weapon & Shield Dude x3
  • Two-handed Weapon Dude x3
  • Two Handweapon Dude x2
  • Crossbow Dude x2
  • Bow Dude x3

If you really want to run more than two Thieves, go for it, but I just did the two (plus the two Treasure Hunters).  There are a couple of options across the Hand Weapon & Shield that you might want to take, and several options for the Two-handed Weapon and Archer models.  In the case of the Archers, I made a point to give at least one of them a Hand Weapon: remember, you want to be able to distinguish between the two models.

Both approaches obviously give you more models than you can run at once, but it’s so much easier to paint the 12/15 models together and be covered for the duration of your Wizard’s treasure hunting than to not and end up needing to assemble and paint a second sword-and-board guy halfway through a campaign.

Of the four warbands I’m bringing to Madicon, I’ve used this model for two of them: I’m bringing an assortment of Skaven just culled from my many, many Skaven models. I’ve got a Clubmen warband that’s simply a Warlord Games clubmen blister with a best-match for model to Hireling type.  But this is the approach I’ve used for my Cultists and my Barbarians: basically how I’ve wrangled all of the different options in those kits.

With models built: which models to start with?  I gave JC the following advice yesterday: “M is good, take as many bodies as you can, and Apprentices only look optional.”

Which equates to: 8 bodies in a starting warband with 300g to spend. Take two Thieves.  Take two of the following: Man-at-Arms, Treasure Hunter.  Then take two of the following: Archer, Crossbowman, Infantryman,.  Obviously, there are many more ways to spend your starting gold, but it’s good place to start, and stays within the above recommendations for building models.

Terrain & Mat

The subject of Frostgrave at Madicon came up, and was sufficient motivation for me to pull the couple of terrain pieces I have hanging around unpainted out and fix that.

Not much: a second set of Pegasus Ruins, as well as a Warhammer Fortified Manor I picked up at my first Games Day.  They’ve been around assembled and unpainted for a closer to a decade than not.

I also pulled out some fabric I’ve had and painted it: green felt in a 3×3 with all the green and brown craft paints to give it some modulation, and some brown felt sliced up for roads.

And, on a whim, hit Home Depot for a mat to make fields, and lucked out in finding one with no print: so a good 2×3 worth of crops.

Nothing magnificent, but definitely serviceable.

I don’t think a 3×3 will cut it for Madicon: we’re going to give a bunch of folks pre-gen’d warbands to push around in a grand melee.  I’ve got more terrain than this, but probably not enough to pad out a 6×4 with -this- density.  It’ll probably be okay, though.

Staycation Painting

The confluence of two holidays prompted me to take the days in between off: giving me a staycation and the quiet downtime I’ve needed for months.

Of course, me staying home and barely leaving the house means that this is the real winner:

Down time meant painting time.  I’d lost my momentum after burning through getting everything ready for Black Ops.  I’ve started a bunch of Pike & Shotte minis… but took on too many at once and stalled out.

A palette cleanser was called for.

First, I finished off some half-done Mantic sci-fi zombies. These are nothing to get excited about. The models are adequate.  The paintjob no better.

The right sized project to take on when needing Something Different: a Frostgrave warband.  Over the first few days, I built my baseline set of models from the Barbarian kit, then ordered an appropriate Wizard and Apprentice from Red Box Games. I’d forgotten how charming and characterful those models are: I need to order a few more and give them some real attention.

Then, bam: just ground out a Frostgrave warband, like you do.

While I was at it, I knocked out the tokens that came with the Barbarians, as well as some rats (War Dogs) and a Raven) I’d based for my Cultists a while back.

A good use of some much needed quiet time.

Frostgrave – Well of Dreams and Sorrows and Horrible Death


Played another game of Frostgrave last week with Casey.  Third in the series.  The campaign is nominally “Thaw of the Lich Lord” (literally: that’s what I’ve been putting on my warband sheet), but we’ve mostly been goofing around with it.  Game 1 was Thaw’s “Total Eclipse”, Game 2 was “The Mausoleum”, and this one (Game 3) was “The Well of Dreams and Sorrows” except, obviously, we used the Dungeon Set-up.


Because things blend in a bit: yellow stars are treasure, green stars are special roll-on-the-Lich Lord table treasure tokens, blue stars are dungeon entrances (we didn’t have enough ways in, so the stairs down are warband entrances and Wandering Monsters can pop up out of floor hatches or, if undead, out of sarcophagi.  We also parked Giant Frogs on top of the special treasures because that 16+ for Random Encounters doesn’t produce enough mayhem for my tastes.

The pool of blood in the center is, obviously, the Well.

I neglected to take photos turn-by-turn (maybe we’ll make a point of doing so next time?), but you can kind of see the direction the game goes in: both of us break some guys off to each side and push down the middle with our Wizards.  Wizard vs. Wizard, Apprentice vs. Apprentice.

On the left, my Treasure Hunter chumped the Giant Frog, leaving the special treasure for the Thief to collect.  He sent two models into the secret room to fight the Giant Frog on his side, which was a Mistake.   They were obliterated by the Giant Frog immediately.  What was going to be an Apprentice-on-Apprentice showdown ended early when his Apprentice caught a Crossbow Bolt to the face.   Things are going my way, right?


Not as much in the middle.  A bit of back-and forth, a few henchmen cutdown, and a clever gambit on my part that fell apart after reading all of the Leap spell text, and before we knew it the game boiled down to both of our Wizards, standing a few feet from each other, on their last legs, flinging Bone Dart at each other.


At this point, I would really like you to picture two guys, somewhere further along the Kovacs’ Wizard DCC evolution track:


standing in a mall food court gibbering, spitting, and flinging chopsticks at each other for an extended period of time. People stand by, uncomfortable and unsure how to respond. It goes on and on.  Suddenly, a chopstick embeds itself in one of the combatants eyes.  He screams, and blood sprays across across the bystanders as he dies messily.

Seriously, round after round of “I’m at 1 wound.  I probably should run away, but he just missed Bone Darting me, and he’s only at 1 wound, too, and if I can Bone Dart him I’ve got this!  Okay.  Bone Dart it is!”  Ending, of course, with my Wizard getting eyeball chopstick’d and dying messily.

We’re using the Just Play rules, that are explicit about between game order of operations: roll for Treasure, then roll for injuries.  I got out with one of the Lich Lord treasures.   Rolled: Crystal Rose (lets you reroll on an Injury table).  Rolled for my dead henchpeople, then the Wizard: rolled a 2.  DEAD.  A dead hireling isn’t a big deal, but a dead Wizard is HUGE.  But wait: Crystal Rose!  Re rolled the 2, and got a Close Call!  My wizard lost all of his gear (Magic Spectacles and a Staff of Power (3)), but lived on!

Talk about close calls!

Frostgrave – Campaign!

Frostgrave Logo

I pretty much immediately got pumped about running a Frostgrave GameDay after my first game. I envisioned a couple of simultaneous 1v1 games, culminating in a larger melee with everyone on the table.

We’ll be running this at Huzzah Hobbies on 10/23 and, I’m sure, as a TGS weekend event.  If you’re interested in playing in the 10/23 game day: let me know!  There’s room for 8 and that’s it.

You can get the campaign here: Frostgrave – The Confluence Game Day

Frostgravin’ It Up

Frostgrave Logo

Casey and I have gotten a few games of Frostgrave in and I’m definitely a fan.  Expect a handful of Frostgrave-related posts in the near-term.

It’s not the tightest game system, but it hums along pretty well.  It’s easy to build for, easy to play, and with all of the rolling on tables (a thing I am known to love), there’s a lot room for emergent gameplay.  The campaign system is interesting: detailed enough to make it worth the hassle, but simple enough to keep it from being a hassle.

The game plays pretty quickly: most things are resolved in a single die roll: two, max. The swinginess of the d20 goes a long way towards mitigating any disparity between warbands.

The setting is evocative, but there’s also there’s an immense room for flexibility and creativity in terms of warbands.  Take a look at the FrostGrave FB group: the variety of models and themes in play is bewildering. Basically, if you have about 10 models and can map those models to the types of hirelings used in Frostgrave, you’re set.

You should give it a shot.

(See also: Just What the Hell is Frostgrave Anyway?)

Frostgrave Cultists

Frostgrave - Cultists Group 2

I painted up a batch of Frostgrave Cultists to use as henchmen last week and was pretty pleased with them.  Pleased enough that I had to do more!

Frostgrave - Cultists 1

This is the original batch of 7.  2 crossbowmen, 2 two-handed weapon guys (infantrymen), 1 scarier two-handed weapon guy (templar), 1 dual-wielding guy (treasure hunter), 1 jackass with a stick with nails in it (thug).

On Thursday, I ran them with some painted Bones wizards as Wizard & Apprentice, which was okay except the scale and style was all wrong.  So: new wizards:

Frostgrave - Cultists Wizards

The Apprentice is just a Cultist model; the staff is brass rod and a Skaven skull. The Wizard is an Empire Battle Wizard (still one of my favorite kits) with a head and staff top swap.  Nothing fancy, but it doesn’t have to be, does it?  The Skaven stuff is incidental: I needed spooky evil looking bits and as it turns out I have a lot of Skaven bits.

I’d planned on making their hoods and mantles purple, to make them stand out from the henchmen, but decided that would make them too cartoonish.  I think the brown is almost as effective without being stupid looking.

Frostgrave - Cultists 2

I’ve built another seven henchmen, but just painted these three with the wizard: a sword-wielding guy (thief), a sword and bowman (marksman or ranger), and a spear and dagger guy (treasure hunter).  I’ve got two archers and two men-at-arms that will have to wait until after the big NOVA push to get painted.

I’ve definitely started to prefer the face’d heads over the hooded heads.  It’s a shame that the models with faces are in that next, tbd batch.

Observation: there are no right-handed dagger hands on any of these Frostgrave kits.  It seems like there’s a strong motivation to take a lot of thieves, but you kind of can’t build them with the kits.  Lots of off-hand daggers, but then even worse left-hand options.

Here’s another group shot.

Frostgrave - Cultists Group 1

Green! – Frostgrave Cultists, Veer-myn

I’ve been painting the Deadzone starter Strike Teams; I’m most of the way through the Veer-myn models.

DZ - Veer-myn - Group

I was very excited when Mantic first announced these things, and ended up getting a box of them around the time the first Deadzone started shipping.  Restic, though, so they’ve sat around in the hobby closet ever since, however.

As I’ve noted, a lot of the Mantic hard plastic sprues are enough to make one yearn for the good ol’ days of restic.  The Veer-myn sprues are a good example of this: not great contact points, with weirdly balanced models that are kind of a pain to glue to the base, and so-so detail.  I haven’t been super-impressed.  (I’ll have a couple of them done by the end of the week, I hope.)

DZ - Veer-myn - Nightstalkers

The restic Veer-myn, though: swing the other way in terms to detail: a lot, probably too much, detail for what should be a rank-and-file model. Also, the ones with Pistols? Blech. Whoever decided to make the arms metal but the pistol + hand and the arm itself as separate pieces is someone with exceedingly poor judgement: I can’t see how it adds anything beyond a super convenient place to have your model break.

DZ - Veer-myn - Broodmother

The Broodmother is a sufficiently impressive model.  It’s big enough that I ended up screwing around with oils on it a bit.  Not very well, mind you, but a bit. I like it… but the detail around the head is not very good

Frostgrave Cultists

I scheduled a game of Frostgrave for later this week, which is funny because I was just fussing at Shades about how Frostgrave was DOA at Huzzah.  Because I’ve been happy painting this green, and because I’ve sort of Needed to shut myself in the basement for a day over the weekend, I went ahead and painted up a bunch of the Frostgrave Cultist models for the game.

I blew through them over the weekend. I’m very happy with them; I’m not sure how well the faces (the few you can see) show up in the photo, but I’m extremely pleased with them.