I got to play a 3-player Frostgrave game over the holiday and it was pretty good. It’s a game ALL about your wizard and needs very few dice types (mostly a D20 is all you need). Each player makes a warband that consists of a wizard, wizard apprentice and ‘soldiers’ which could be anything really.
Wizards have a spell school that is their primary school, and a secondary and teriary that they can draw spells from. Each spell has a casting value (like WFB or Mordheim) and wizards have to hit that on a D20+level to case the spells. If you ever play, remember this part and that you are LOW LEVEL wizard. Take spell you can cast often, and don’t pick ones that have high casting numbers!
The play unfolds in initiative order but with phases for each type of character. Wizards go first (all player’s wizards), then apprentices, then soldiers and finally monsters. Once all four groups have gone, the turn is over.
Combat is simple and while similar to the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle game which is a D6 roll off between fighters, with ties going to the higher fight value, Frostgrave uses a D20! What’s more the fight bonus differences between different fighters is not very high. Even in a fight where someone has a +2 over another fighter really is not too good– it’s essentially just a roll off between the fighters.
Once a hit is scored, if the original die roll is over the character’s armor value they take some damage in hit points, like D&D. It’s a very swingy system and you can lose by lots even if you have superior fighters, which can be frustrating for some.
Overall the game is all about the spells and the magic. Since it was our first play, we chose spells that were far too high level for our wizards, and suffered for it with not a ton of spells hitting the table.
So after one play, I would put Frostgrave as better than Mordheim due to Mordheim’s bollocks combat system but it’s not as good as Necromunda. It’s a tough call with Lord of the Rings but I think Frostgrave wins out because it has the campaign setting.
Overall the book is cheap and you can use whatever mini’s you have lying around. The system is simple enough where you won’t have to totally start from scratch with the rules if there is a long time between plays. Likely worth buying.