I didn't want to feel left out, and actually having twice as many games under my belt than another other contributor (so far), I figured I should speak up. Besides, I've never "blogged" before. Hello, 21st century!
I'm judging Frostgrave after having played Warmachine/Hordes almost exclusively for 6 years. But I also come from playing and organizing several Mordheim campaigns. While Warma-Hordes has the fine-detailed rules system that tickles by OCD impulses with delight, Mordheim is the game is the standard that I will compare Frostgrave to the most. Not only this is/was arguably the best game GW ever neglected, it really did pave the way for similar games.
This game pretty much focuses around the wizard and the apprentice, and spells aren't just "this model gains a boost to X for 1 turn". Instead, a majority of spells last the entire game. Some permanently. With 80 different spells to choose from, and each wizard being forced to dabble in other school aside form his own, this makes for some really interesting combinations.
"I'm a monster.....GRRRRR!!" - the 4e gnome
The addition of creatures in the game truly add a new dimension to a game. This makes the game more about playing the scenario then trying to beat the other guy. Sure, sometimes it is just 2 people competing over treasure. But others, it's about running away with as much treasure before you get eaten by a giant ice worm! This makes solo play actually possible, and lends itself to 3+ players at once. This can be a great equalizer in some games, something the Mordheim lacked sometimes.
Lack of Complexity
K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple and Stupid)
Although I've seen simpler games, this one does lend itself towards casual play and is a nice change of pace from the ultra-competitive world of WarmaHordes. And even if this does open itself up to some rules debates, in the end it remembers that it's just a game.
This is what it's all about. Long term campaigns where you increase in strength, find magical treasure, and are forced to evaluate the risk/reward a bit more. Do I risk fighting that giant to get to the treasure, or to I cut my loses and beat cheeks?
Don't get me wrong, I love D&D and the D20 system. But I never really liked D20's for a miniature game. D10's and D8's I can see, maybe even a d12, but the complete randomness of a D20 can really make or break the game. Maybe I'm used to the 2d6 system from Warmahordes. which gives a nice bell-curve on rolls, rather than a completely random chance.
Attack/Damage is one roll
"How's it look?" "It looks clear"
So, let's take for example I have a thug behind a wall (gaining light cover) and is shot at by a crossbowman. The shot has to cross over two more walls and around the corner of a building to hit, giving me a total +5 to my fight roll to avoid the shot. We roll off: I roll 12, adding all my bonuses I get a 19 total (+2 fight, +2 cover, +3 intervening terrain). A nice roll! But the crossbowman rolls an 18, adding his +2 shoot, and totals a 20. He still hits, but just barely, right? Wrong! Damage is calculated using his attack roll, so 20, the he add +2 form the crossbow, so 22 total. Well, my thug just has the clothes on his back (armor 10), so he takes 12 points of damage, which is instant death, even though I rolled a 19 on my opposed roll. This just feels wrong and definitely a spot for improvement or house rules.
It's all about the bling!
All scenarios seem to be about one thing: collecting treasure. Sure, that's why your band is in Frostgrave in the first place, and the situation changes each game, but I can see it getting stale after a while. Spells like Leap, Teleport, and Telekinesis become more important than attack spells like Elemental Bolt. Now, I haven't read all the scenarios from the rulebook yet, so this may not be the case, but I'd still like to see a bit more variety.
Lack of customization
We're all unique individuals, just like everyone else
In Mordheim, there are 2 basic model types: Heroes and Henchmen, In that game, one can customize anyone, even your henchmen. You can equip a regular footman with a sword and shield, or a halberd, or a crossbow. You can add armor, special weapons, etc. Your regular troops also gained experience and could improve throughout the campaign, or even become heroes themselves. This is sadly missing from Frostgrave. That crossbowman who's shot pierces the eye of the enemy wizard, does he get something special for his efforts? Nope. The crossbowman's own wizard doesn't even get extra XP. I'd rather see soldiers without equipment, with just a base stat line, perhaps some special ability, and then a list of armor and weapons you can buy for them, rather than bunch of cloned soldiers. An advancement system would be nice, too. Perhaps even adding the chance to learn a bit of magic themselves.
I think Frostgrave can be a great game. Right now, it's just a good game. With some tweaks and/or house rules, I think it can rival Mordheim for a place in gaming history. But I'm one to put my money where my mouth is. Next time: some suggested house rules (I do love rules)!