Friday, 15 December 2017

A Few More Frostgrave Bits: Ulterior Motives

Ulterior Motives
No sooner had I finished my terrain and figures when a new addition to the game, that requires a few more terrain items, came out. The extra elements described here were made in anticipation of the arrival of my set of cards for the Ulterior Motives expansion, which looks like an excellent addition to the game. All these terrain items have been made so that they can be used free-standing on my basecloth or on top of any suitably-sized terrain item (except the gateway, which is really designed to stand on its own).

Of course, any or all of the items here can be used as dressing in any game of Frostgrave whether or not using the Ulterior Motives cards.

I should note that when I had finished making these, my copy of Ulterior Motives arrived, and I realised that duplicate items might be useful to have in case opposing players have the option of both placing the same item. So I made duplicates of each item as well.

Arcane Disc
Arcane Disc
This magic circle type thing was made from a pre-cut 50mm MDF disc to which I added a thin skin of milliput in a circle around the edge. Lines and runes were scribed into this with an old pen. The inside of the disc was textured with PVA/filler mix, sand and chinchilla dust and finally decorated with snow flock in layers.

Don't open that Trapdoor!
I made a door from cut wooden coffee stirrers (only one in fact) and some bits of card and tiny scraps of balsa. The door was slightly inset into a hole cut in an MDF base. I resisted the urge to make the trapdoor hinged so that it could be opened.

The Pit
The Pit: not a hole in the table
This was made from another 50mm MDF disc. I cut a circular hole about 30mm wide from its centre, and glued the disc to a piece of card cut to shape so as to be able to paint the inside of the pit. The edges of the hole were then slightly raised with Milliput, inscribed to look like brickwork edging the hole. The inside of the pit was painted black to give the impression of a deep hole.

The Gateway
I made this in the same way as my walls, from balsa wood scored with a pen to look like stonework, based on MDF. This gateway is larger than the other ones I made, and I added a small buttress to the whole just for fun. The piece was painted grey and washed black. This one was slightly harder work than most of the other pieces here but I think worth it in the end.

Sarcophagus - two of them in fact
This one was very simple. I took a cut-down small cardboard box (formerly containing medicine) which I sandwiched between two cut pieces of foamboard, toppped with a piece of card and based on MDF. I filled some gaps with Milliput to tidy it up, but otherwise that's it.

Runic Stone
Runic Stone: with added runes
This is described as a pillar with runes on. Very easy to buy a resin cast one, and because a resin-cast one would be a waste of time to imitate, mine is a lot more rustic - and easier. It is a suitably-shaped piece of broken roof tile, based on MDF. I added a skin of milliput to both flat sides and etched runes into it using an old pen.

Statue: with removable top, just in case it comes to life
I haven't actually got a figure I like for this statue yet - I intend to find a figure in a static pose, possibly a souvenir rather than a figure proper - so for the moment all I have is a plinth for it. I'll use a figure on top for the time being. The plinth is made from mounting board and more card from that medicine box, again based on MDF. The sides of the plinth were painted with PVA textured with chinchilla dust.

Constructs: small to large (L-R, obviously)
This was a frivolous idea that worked out well. I don't have any construct-type figures, so rather than buy some I made some by sticking balsa wood offcuts together into fragile-looking, rather haphazard and vaguely humanoid shapes, in appropriate sizes. I wanted them to look like they had been made from the stonework and rubble of the city itself, so they're painted like my Frostgrave terrain. They'll do!

And now for some Frostgrave games using Ulterior Motives

Thursday, 14 December 2017

29, Let's Go! - Turn 5: Cardonville

Author's Note: Apologies all for the lack of photos here. I did take some, they are somewhere, but I just can't find them. As soon as I do, they will be added here. I hope you enjoy the article anyway.
"Nein! Nein!"
The Oberst was shouting down the field telephone again. It should have been easier than this for subordinates to report, even if it seemed to always be bad news, the adjutant thought, as he approached his commander's desk and set down the tray. As a Prussian, the senior officer was supposed to be a professional - but then as a Prussian he wasn't used to being told about his troops retreating in disarray. As he began to pour the coffee, the bone china cups clattered on their saucers as the Oberst abruptly slammed the receiver down, fuming with frustration.
"More bad news, sir?" the adjutant casually asked, his question stating the obvious.
The Oberst sighed. "It seems these days there is nothing but bad news, Manfred," he resigned, leaning back into the leather chair. "Those fools left behind from 352 Panzerjager failed to even slow the American advance. We need to gain time to have any chance of regrouping, and I only have one full strength Company left in the vicinity. And I cannot contact them to make them aware of the urgency of the situation because the telephone lines have failed again. This is not how it was supposed to be."
The adjutant did not feel qualified to comment, so kept silent. He finished pouring the coffee as the general brooded in silence.
"I apologise, Manfred," the Oberst resumed. "This is simply the way things are now. The enemy has the upper hand, and it is up to us to respond. If we are to survive, that is. I must trust to German ingenuity that my junior officers take the initiative to counterattack. And thank you for the coffee." The Oberst waved the adjutant away, and picked up the receiver again, to try to get through to Hauptmann Krauss in Isigny.
Though troubled, Colonel Goode was steadily becoming more reassured. The German positions to the left of the main line of advance had now been cleared, and he had just been about to order the general advance along the Isigny road to recommence when news arrived of another enemy position ahead. One mile along the road, just to the right of the causeway, a depleted company of German infantry had been spotted in the farmland around Cardonville, almost certainly originally deployed there to defend a small radar station. Now a flanking manoeuvre was required to clear this position before the advance could continue, and he had already given the order.
D+4, 10th June 1944
Around midday the Americans become aware of the German position at Cardonville, and the order is given for a flanking attack. The main American advance remains halted in position for the time being. The position at the radar station centres on two farm buildings within an area of open fields and scattered orchards. 

The patrol phase works well for the Germans, with jump-off points placed in strong positions to rapidly occupy the buildings, while the Americans will need to advance quickly from closer to the table edge. The Germans comprise a fresh infantry platoon supported by one MMG team and an off-table 81mm mortar battery. The attacking American platoon is supported by its own off-table mortars and a Sherman tank. The Germans initially lack co-ordination and begin the game disorganised, having to make an additional roll to deploy.
It had been barely two hours since the message confirming the enemy's continued advance along the causeway towards Isigny. All communication lines had remained broken for the last 24 hours and it was fortunate that the commanding officer at St Germain had thought to send word by other means. Arriving on a bad-tempered farm horse, the infantryman who had served as messenger hadn't stayed for long, keen to continue his progress to a safer position further behind the lines. The Americans were approaching rapidly now, and were expected at the outskirts of Cardonville within the hour.
Oberleutnant Ziegler's platoon had seen no action for months, stationed around the small village of Cardonville here to garrison the radar station. They had enjoyed the peace and sunshine of the early summer, while for them the war happened elsewhere. But in the last few days everything had changed. Gathering his junior commanders, he gave instructions. Three squads would take up defensive positions in the village, close to the approach the Americans were most likely to take. They would take the tripod MG42 and a Panzerfaust with them, just in case. Mortar support would be made available should it be required.
Turn 1, Phases 1-4
The Germans position their MMG team in the central building with a field of fire towards all American jump-off points. The Americans enter the table with two squads of infantry supported by the Sherman, which rapidly advances along the road. The Germans fail to deploy two of their squads, but are able to bring on their mortar observer beside the MMG team. The MG42 opens fire, killing two Americans and causing one point of shock.
Despite the best of intentions, Ziegler's squads were slow to organise and although the MG42 was set up in a good spot with plenty of time to spare, the Americans could be seen in the distance approaching before the main body of the platoon was anywhere near being in position. Two squads of the enemy were advancing slowly, crouching along distant hedge line, and announced by the unmistakable sound of its approach a Sherman tank came into view, steadily advancing along the main road into the village. The MG42 was swung around, a clear field of fire opening towards the American troops behind a distant hedge. They opened fire, and the enemy duly halted as their men hit the dirt.

Turn 1, Phases 5-9; Turn 2, Phase 1
The Sherman opens fires, missing, while the US infantry squads advance cautiously. The Germans deploy one infantry squad at the central road junction, but fail to bring on further troops. The Americans deploy their mortar observer and a sniper. The Sherman fires again, this time killing one man and causing one shock on the MMG team while their second squad advances through woodland.

A shell whistled overhead, landing unseen somewhere distant. The enemy tank, now aware of the defender's  presence, had reacted, its aim wayward. In the distance the Germans could see khaki soldiers shifting, repositioning and advancing cautiously toward safer positions. As one squad closely followed a hedgerow ditch, the other ran to the right, its men taking turns to clamber and leap across a gate to the comparative safety of a broad block of woodland beyond, their progress too rapid for the MG42 to respond, unable tio catch them in the small patch of open ground immediately beside the gate. Urging his men to hurry, Ziegler ordered one German infantry squad into position near the house at the main junction in the centre of the village, beside the road edge, as American troops continued steadily to arrive and advance through the wood.

At the edge of the tree line, scanning the village ahead through the sight of his sniper rifle, Corporal Guthrie allowed his mind to relax, cutting out all sounds other than the calm words of his observer.
"Grey house to the right. Top left window, with the broken shutters."
He had already seen the movement, but it could have just been a curtain shifting in the breeze beside the broken window. No sign of the enemy. And then it suddenly disappeared from view.
"Sherman got there first," Private Barrington smirked. "Dust will clear in a moment."
Guthrie, who had maintained his view at the same spot, began to make out the window again as the smoke dissipated. Only one shutter remained attached, but the building seemed intact. There was still movement inside. Alert, he took aim and waited for his moment.

Turn 2, Phases 2-7
The sniper opens fire on the MMG team, missing, while the US lieutenant commands the first squad to open fire on the German infantry, killing one. The Germans deploy a second infantry squad to meet the threat of the US advance through the wood, and return fire on the Americans with unexpected success. Four Americans are killed along with three points of shock. Despite their losses they return fire, killing two more of the enemy, as the third US squad is deployed. The Germans respond in kind, concentrating their fire this time. Three Americans die and the first US squad becomes pinned. The German senior leader is deployed, and a mortar barrage successfully called as the Americans continue to advance, their second squad occupying the house at the edge of the wood.

In the house, men were coughing, scrambling. The second shell from the Sherman tank had hit the roof above their heads, and at least one man was wounded too badly to continue. Plaster dust from the broken ceiling was everywhere, turning uniforms light grey and leaving a grey-white layer over everything. Men were reminded of snow, but nothing like some had witnessed in Russia. As ears recovered, they could hear gunfire from outside, and they rushed to reorganise and reposition the machine gun. Outside, a firefight had begun between American infantry crouching behind a hedge on one side of a field, and Germans along a roadside ditch on the other. Men on both sides were falling, but the Americans, whose position was just that bit more vulnerable, were taking the worst of it, pinned behind the thin cover of the hedge, their advance halted.

At the edge of the wood, Guthrie could make out the helmet of a German through the broken glass and squeezed the trigger gently.
"No good," the observer confirmed what the sniper already knew. "Wide left and slightly down. "
"Sight must be damaged," Guthrie mumbled angrily, rolling back and examining, adjusting the rifle. He could hear more American infantry now, advancing through the wood beside him to take up better, safer positions. Ahead of them, men had reached the forward edge of the woodland and entered a house at the lower end of the street, under fire from a second group of German infantry on the opposite side of the road.

Turn 2, Phases 8-10
As the Germans deploy their third infantry squad, their mortar barrage begins, killing two men and causing shock on both US squads in the open. The sniper shoots and misses again, but shooting from the second squad in the house is more effective on the Germans opposite, killing three men. The German mortar barrage continues, shifting slightly, and the US forward observer is killed. They deploy their Panzershreck team in the house. German shooting continues to be extremely effective, removing US teams and wounding one US junior leader, and the US force morale drops rapidly to 2.

In the house, Oberleutnant Ziegler was organising his men, who were responding well under the pressure. Above, on the top floor, the MG42 had opened fire again, and he could hear the dull popping of German mortar shells outside. He smiled. Not only would the mortars cause the enemy problems directly, their smoke would protect his men from enemy fire and give them the time they needed to become organised.

Outside, the barrage was taking its toll on the American troops. In the field, the pinned squad was suffering. Few men remained active, medics were fussing over the sergeant who had taken a bad one to the chest, and their forward observer had been killed outright as he tried to find a safe place to take cover.

From the wood, Guthrie blocked out the screams of the wounded and fired again.
"Better," Barrington stated. "Hit on the window frame, about a foot from the sill on the left."
Swearing under his breath, the corporal rolled back again, repositioning the sight carefully. A thick smoke from the mortar barrage had risen, but the light breeze was keeping it away from his line of sight for the time being. Guthrie hurriedly finished the adjustment and rolled back into position for another shot.

While Americans in the building were exchanging fire with Germans outside, at the rear of the village, the mortar barrage shifted, and the first American squad, vulnerable and damaged, pinned beside the field hedge, came under the raking fire of German infantry and the MG42. Three more GIs dropped to the ground. The Americans were beginning to lose heart. Their commander, beginning to realise their progress had been halted, hesitated. There was still a chance if that Sherman could make its mark.

On the left flank, as the Sherman moved through the mortar barrage, Ziegler understood the situation in the same way.
"You two," he shouted at the men with the Panzershreck, "With me now". He pointed through the kitchen window where the tank, too close for comfort, was clearing the smoke, its turret rotating towards them, and the Panzershreck fired, its explosion and a flash of flame momentarily obscuring its effect.

Outside, the charge detonated on the front armour of the tank. There was a burst of earth, dust and a flash, and a groan of metal twisting unnaturally in anger. There was no explosion, no flame, but as the Germans recovered they could see the turret jammed to one side, the tank leaning away from vertical, its hatch open as its crew abandoned, hands held high.

Guthrie and Barrington heard the calls. The Lieutenant had ordered the withdrawal. Rolling back again, they disappeared into the safety of the woods and made their way back to safety. A few hours respite, perhaps, but they would be back soon, he knew.

Turn 2, Phases 11-13
The Americans, their options significantly reduced, shoot to no effect, while The Germans continue to inflict casualties. The Sherman tank, in an effort to redress the balance, emerges from the mortar smoke to a shooting position, but before it can fire it is hit by a shot from the Panzershreck and knocked out. US force morale is reduced to 0 and the Americans retreat.

Ever since that morning Colonel Goode had had the feeling their progress had been too good to be true. With his troops held back at Cardonville he knew the line was overstretched. Worried now, he knew they needed artillery support to advance, and was even more concerned about a counterattack from the Germans. Muttering to himself, he considered his options once again.

Closer to the action, Oberleutnant Ziegler was also considering the options. The enemy had been driven back, albeit temporarily, and he had no choice but to hold position, but there was nothing to stop other platoons in the company from making a localised counterattack. As the line were down he had sent a messenger with words to that effect for the attention of the Major at headquarters. And assuming there still was a headquarters, and a Major, someone ought to be able to do something about it.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A Scenario for Frostgrave: The Pit

There's a pit full of treasure in a hidden corner of the Frozen city
As promised, here is my scenario for use of the grille that I made when putting my Frostgrave terrain together. This scenario was originally created for a multi-player introductory game to Frostgrave, in which four different warbands fought over a small part of the frozen city. I've since simplified the scenario a bit based on lessons learned during that original game and offer it here for everyone's enjoyment. Feel free to use and adapt as you see fit for your own use.

Scenario: The Pit


As the ice sheet covering the frozen city melts, it exposes an open shaft in the ground that leads to an ancient treasure-filled mass grave. The residual magic of the city has, however, infused the vault and animated its former occupants, out for revenge upon those who would violate their last resting place.


Place a large underground entrance in the centre of the table, and fill the remaining area of the table with city ruins. Put one special treasure token in the centre of the hole.

Place four treasure items each 6" away from each side of the vault entrance with a clear path from the vault to them. Place one skeleton on each side of the vault entrance against the vault edge.

Special Rules

The grille covering the entrance to the tomb counts as rough going. Each turn any figure of a warband ends their move on the grille they must roll a die. The surface of the grille is fragile. On a 14+ they fall in and are considered dead for this scenario. Thieves and treasure hunters may reroll this die once. Wizards and apprentices may adjust their own die score in the normal way.

At the start of each creature phase more skeletons will emerge from the pit. Roll on the following table to see how many, and where they appear. Identify each table edge as north, south, east and west and place one skeleton on that side of the pit if that compass direction is indicated below.

1-4 no skeletons come out of the pit this turn
5 one skeleton (north)
6 one skeleton (west)
7 one skeleton (south)
8 one skeleton (east)
9 two skeletons (north, west)
10 two skeletons (north, south)
11 two skeletons (north, east)
12 two skeletons (west, south)
13 two skeletons (west, east)
14 two skeletons (south, east)
15 three skeletons (north, west, south)
16 three skeletons (north, west, east)
17 three skeletons (north, south, east)
18 three skeletons (west, south, east)
19-20 four skeletons (north, west, south, east)

These monsters behave normally unless any figure is within 6" of the central treasure, in which case they will always move towards and attack the closest such figure.

Treasure and Experience

The four normal treasure tokens are only worth 20 xp each while the central special token is worth 100 xp.

The central treasure is substantial. When the central token is recovered, roll twice on the treasure table and add both results together.