My personal love for Frostgrave is no secret and I gladly put on my wizard hat and venture the frozen city of Felstad, either with friends (aka competition) or as a solo-wargamer.
Consequently, I was a very happy wargamer, when the mailman delivered my (preordered) copy of “The Wildwoods”, the most recent supplement for Frostgrave, by the very talented Joseph A.McCullough.
Leafing through the booklet, I fell immediately in love with this installment, since it added a new (let’s call it) setting, to the game: the wilderness around the frozen city.
What is all the fuss about?
Prior expansions, like “Blood Legacy” or “Forgotten Pacts”, gave the player a glimpse into the world outside. The Wildwoods opens the hinterland of Felstad as an active playground for your wizard and his merry men. The premise of the supplement is that you leave the “safety” of Frostgrave to venture into the Wildwoods, the wilderness surrounding Felstad, in search of (drumroll) more loot.
Although The Wildwoods comes, like previous supplements, with a mini campaign, its rules section is much more extensive and easier to combine with a regular Frostgrave game.
Thus, it feels to me more like Perilous Dark, which introduced solo-play on a more refined level to the game. It is more a “proper” rule supplement and less a narrative campaign book.
The below comments are based on the contents of the supplement book itself, without having been tested by us at the time being. That said, we are planning to do so thoroughly by running a Wildwoods campaign in the future.
The Wildwoods comes as a 95 pages paperback, with the familiar layout and design of previous supplements.
The artwork is done by aRu-Mor, who already contributed to the second edition rulebook, “Blood Legacy” and “the Red King”. The visual style is consistent with previous artwork and offers an idea of the Wildwoods to the reader.
In the book you will find the usual goodies: (new) rules section; new types of soldiers and specialists ; a very interesting bestiary; the tutorial-esque mini campaign.
I will cover some further down.
As with all the works of Joe McCullough, the rules are easy to read and to get your head around. (Obviously, you have to be familiar with the main game)
New stuff (my writing-fu forsakes me atm)
I won’t cover every new element, but I try to give a brief overview of the most notable content.
• The land may kill you
Let’s start with my favorite new part: terrain that might actually kill you.
The Wildwoods makes the terrain an effective and active gameplay element in your Frostgrave game. Now, I like an unforgiving game and this is right up my alley.
As your warband explores the Wildwoods, you cross various kinds of terrain.
In order to represent this, you will randomly define a main terrain type for each game
< mountains … stones
< bogs … moist
< forest … trees
< ice: think of a frozen wasteland
< urban: any kind of buildup area, ranging from isolated hamlets, to domains or small farmsteads. Don’t confuse it with the vastness of the ruins of Felstad.
Each terrain type has its own special rules. Some features might kill you (like falling of cliffs or breaking through ice), others influence movement etc.
I like that the author offers some ideas how to best represent the different terrain features on the board. As a long time wargamer, we often forget that not everyone already has a vast terrain collection. This makes the Wildwoods, despite the many new rules, also very accessible and inspirational for the beginner Frostgrave-player. (thank you, Joe)
Utterly new is a rule set for weather changes, which are decided by (you guessed right) a die roll. Depending on the outcome, the weather is either good (no real consequences), rainy or snowing (reduced vision) or ghastly (penalties on rolls).
Except for the odd scenario special rule, weather is new to Frostgrave. It is an optional rule, that might be fun to try out. The book itself states, that using the weather rules would add more danger to the game… but we aren’t made of sugar eh? 😉
– new friends and foes
As with every Frostgrave-supplement, the Wildwoods introduces new soldiers and foes.
Both the new soldiers and the creatures come with wilderness thematic special rules.
Most of the new creatures are wild beasts, with the occasional undead, demon or other fantastical creature. With some exceptions, I should be able to proxy most of the creatures with my critterbox.
The “random encounter tables” are adapted to the different terrain types.
• campaign mode
Campaign mode is a real treat. Running a campaign or consecutive games in the Wildwoods differs slightly from a regular Frostgrave campaign.
Since you are supposed to be away from your homebase, you must actually manage resources (called supplies) during of the campaign. Supplies are used in between scenarios and failing to provide enough supplies for your warband may have serious consequences, like loss of HP.
Supplies play a role in the game itself and may be stolen by your opponents.
Additionally the Wildwoods introduces cargo transports to the game. They can range from sleds to pack animals, to je ne sais quoi… Like your Homebase, your cargo may be upgraded with special rules. But unlike your Homebase, the cargo can be attacked during a game an even be damaged and/or raided.
I got the book on release date and the internet already provides the first examples of very creative people showing of their cargo. I will make do with a sled I once built, until I find the time to build a cargo worthy of mighty Arthrose.
Final thoughts on the Wildwoods
As a long time Frostgrave player, I am looking forward to try out the new rules, since they will add more depth and randomness to the game.
At the same time, I can understand that the added randomness from terrain and weather tables might put of some people who prefer …err… more stable conditions.
The many specific special rules, e.g. for the different terrain types, might take some time getting used to. Then again, I don’t mind leafing through the book and look it up ingame ;).
During the pandemic and confinement, I started a brief solo campaign, ingeniously called “the adventures of young Arthrose” (a small heads up to my favorite archeologist). My mage, in a younger version, explored the areas around Felstad with a smaller warband. I made up some simple rules for supplies and traveling as well as movement and exploration of a hex map.
I intend to revive that project using the rules proposed in the Wildwoods and some homebrew.