My absolute fascination with the Frostgrave skirmish wargame continues to grow. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a combat wargame that takes place in the once frozen city of Felstad with wizards battling each other over the once-hidden treasures that are now revealed. Each player controls a warband of 10 that includes the wizard and the apprentice, plus eight soldiers. The game is easy to learn, the rules are not overly complex, and the ten different wizard schools offer plenty enough variations to ensure that every game is unique and every player can customize their warband to suit their style of play.
With the basic game, you can play just player vs. player in one-off games OR you can play any of the many scenarios that have been released inside the basic rulebook and the various expansion books. With basic games, you’re just trying to survive and get away with as much treasure as possible. With scenarios and campaigns, there are additional goals that must or can be met for added experience that helps level up your wizard and apprentice. With all the various scenarios the game has released, it’s going to be hard to exhaust all the possibilities. But just in case you think your Frostgrave game needs an upgrade, the folks over as Osprey Games are releasing a new set of oversized cards called Ulterior Motives that are guaranteed to shake up your games.
The box comes with two reference cards and forty “ulterior motive” cards that provide each player with a unique goal for a one-off game or a scenario/campaign game. The motive cards are divided into two types – Secret and Reveal — and each player pulls a random card from the deck prior to the game starting and any treasure, creatures, or other obstacles placed on the table. The Secret-type card is one that the player keeps the details private until the end of the game or a specific goal is met and needs to be verified by the other player. The Reveal-type card starts the game out with both players aware of a certain condition, but typically only benefiting the player who drew the Reveal card at the start of the game.
Each card has a title (Base Raid! or It Shall Be Mine are examples) followed by a bit of flavor text that sets the stage for the rule(s) that are explained next. The rules can sometimes supercede the basic game rules, so be sure to read all of the explanation to see if/where any differences (such as XP earned or special die rolls that must be made) may exist.
In many instances, there is a goal that will exist on the table as a visual object. When this happens, many of the cards also offer up two or more Red Herrings. These are extra objects that are placed to confuse the other player. In most instances, only one of the objects will satisfy the motive card’s objective(s) and mini-missions, so while the red herrings can be used to keep your opponent guessing, it won’t keep them from getting nosy. I many cases you should let them! Some of the objects aren’t so friendly and can do shower some harmful effects on anyone who approaches or uses it incorrectly.
Game designer Joseph A. McCullough has created a great upgrade to the Frostgrave game. I sat down and read through all forty cards and there’s not one of them that wouldn’t be crazy-fun to pick and play. One reference card provides a slight modification to your game involving initial treasure placement and a few rules changes, but nothing that will break the game or change its overall flow in my opinion. The other reference card provides the details for how to create the eight different types of red herrings that are possible. (This means if you’re using the Ulterior Motives deck, you may want to create at least two or three of each red herring type per player just in case multiple cards need the same red herring.)
Note: The Ulterior Motives deck is releasing on June 20, 2017. I received a review copy of the deck.