Søren 'Bloodbeard' Bay from Bloodbeard's Garage is back on the blog with his a battle report for Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago. Be sure to check out his blog for more great content!
"You have to watch your footing in this swamp. That goes without saying all over the Archipelago - but especially in this part! That area is called the Grabbing Bog for a reason. There was a temple there once, a big one, home of some weather wizards. Called down lightning, used the power for all kinds of things in that temple.
No one knows how or when the temple was destroyed, but the Dricheans don't go there anymore. It's the lightning you see, that power. It's been doing something to all them sailor corpses in the area - they're living dead. Lurking there, under the shallow waters, grabbing at anything alive - or just wandering around the flooded temple grounds.
You Sirs are great big fools to go there. Sure, there's treasure! Lots of it! ... But at what cost? Those corpses will bite right through a wet leather boot like it was butter..."
For our third game of Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago our crews are going into the swamplands. The last game we played was on an island, so we skipped the suggested setup and went with a lot of rivers instead.
We setup a lot of temple ruins around the battlefield, and our Ulterior Motives turned out to play right into the story. The Swampland scenario sees a lot of zombies wandering around the board. At the same time my opponent had an Ulterior Motive that would summon even more zombies and give extra XP for killing them.
My Ulterior Motive was about a pillar calling down lightning at random on the battle field. So that's how the story of an ancient temple where lightning reanimates the corpses came from.
Being the third game in the campaign, I had already made a trip back to the mainland, selling all my loot and bringing onboard some great reinforcements; a bosun and topman instead of some regular crew, two hunters to battle all the dangerous fauna of the jungle, and lastly a swordmaster to act as bodyguard tp my Heritor - Hector Fernandez Rodriques Gonzales.
Having saved his cash, my opponent was a specialist down from the previous game - so I figured this would be a cake walk.
Both the crew were going to start in small boats for this scenario. A quick and effective way to get into the center of the board fast, secure those treasures and get out of the swamp.
My crew went first and wasted no time in moving up a stream and disembarking right away. The sailors in the first boat quickly split up, moving onto two different islands to grab some treasure.
The bosun and swordmaster move towards a treasure, while my Heritor stays in cover by a ruin. He's not as fast, as he is covered in heavy plate mail.
The last member from the first ship counts as a regular crew member, but in my mind this is actually the captain of the ship. My Heritor is a fighter, a leader of men in combat, not a sailor.
The enemy use a small boat to quickly get into the center of the board with their heritor and a men-at-arms acting as bodyguard. This boat also brought an archer with them and the Heritor is carrying a crossbow. That's why my own Heritor is staying in cover!
Another part of my opponents crew takes another route into the swamps hunting for treasure.
This is what my crew is after, harvesting the power of the Arcane Pillar calling down lightning. My Heritor and Warden will get some great XP if they can get close to the pillar without getting hit by lightning.
Another part of the temple is an old sacrificial pit - probably filled with snakes as well! This is part of the set of Ulterior Motive objectives I've built for the game.
Safely in cover behind a shrub, protected by deep water in the river, this archer would spend the entire game shooting arrows at my crew - not being able to get across to her - constantly having more pressing concerns.
A swamp zombie emerges from the water close to the lightning pillar that's the cause of the reanimations
An ability of my Heritor is wraith walk, the strongest of the abilities he's inherited from his forefathers. Phasing out of the material plane and into the spirit realm he can easily cross the dangerous waters. With a swing of his mighty two-handed sword decapitates the swamp zombie.
The swordmaster and bosun secure the first treasure for the crew, with the enemy archer I mentioned earlier just across the river, behind the visible tree.
Quick on his feet the newly hired topman sprints past the ship captain and engages another swamp zombie.
The ancient temple is filled with treasures left by the Dricheans when the disaster struck and ruined the entire complex.
Having taken their time, staying in cover and taken a few shots, the enemy heritor and the men-at-arms are prepared to pick up some treasure for themselves. There are some zombies close by.
The enemy beast warden summons a random monster to the battlefield and with great success. A dangerous tiger enters the swamp. Now the enemy gets to place the model on the board - and with so many ruins it was no problem placing it fairly close to me and covered from line of sight. A fierce opponent, blocking the best route out of from the swamp.
My heritor and warden were greedy, hoping to get near the lighting pillar quickly and then return to complete safety, but I completely miscalculated how fast my opponent could be. Winning the initiative, sailing close to me by the river and disembarking straight into combat.
Suddenly my warden is attacked by two crew members and a savage is quickly closing in.
While there's a lot of combat and getting into position for it at the center of the board. Over on the right side of the battlefield the enemy beast warden is sneaking through the jungle - slowly getting closer to an arcane disc. Somehow it's tied to the zombies being raised in the swamp and there's good XP for the warden - if she can figure it out.
In the swamp, any wandering monster coming from picking up a treasure is another swamp zombie - very fitting for the story. And a zombie bursts from the shallow muddy water and attacks the men-at-arms protecting an archer.
The battle at the lightning pillar is brutal. And in the battle it's completely random who'll get struck by lightning every turn. An enemy crew member is taken out with a zap and my warden has a slightly better chance of survival. Meanwhile my heritor has engaged the savage in a duel.
Near the arcane circle my topman is closing in on a treasure, but is facing both enemy crew and summoned venomous flies - super nasty critters. Finding yourself with only a single activation point is devastating for a model
Roughly half of each crew is tied in combat and only a few members are free to pick up uncontested treasures. An enemy crewman use the fact that zombies are slow and stupid to his advantage, climbing some temple ruins to safely pick up a treasure.
My bosun and swordmaster have picked up some treasure and in an attempt to keep them safe, my Savage attacks the tiger. He could use himself a new cloak and gets ready to bring it down along with a swamp zombies.
But things turn bad for the savage and he's ripped apart by the angry beast!
A crew member of mine has spent a long time crossing the river near the lightning pillar. Despite being unarmored and lightly armed he kept failing his swim roll, he even took a lot of damage doing so. Picking up the central treasure, he hopes to make it back to a boat and safety.
I have no crew members left to sail to his aid, everybody is tied down in combat ... fighting for survival really. The crewman never makes it to the boat, he drowns in the swamp. I figure zombie hands grab him from below and pull him under - no sailor would naturally have that hard a time crossing some water.
Back at the arcane circle, both my topman and the ship’s captain have been brought down by enemy crew and the summoned flies. Desperate to get some treasure to make up for my losses, my hunter moves in. But even he fails to take down the enemies and they secure the treasure themselves.
Meanwhile the enemy beast warden has made it to the arcane circle, scoring a load of extra XP, but summoning even more swamp zombies to the battlefield. The place is getting crowded - and my troops are falling.
Hungry with growing power, the beast warden of my enemy have gotten important knowledge and strength from the arcane disc.
My warden was tied up in combat for most of the game from a mistake on my part early on. At one point he did however manage to summon a crocodile to the swamp - a big one. Also getting in close to the enemy, hidden in a ruin.
My heritor didn't fair well - and the enemy savage turns out more powerful than my own. He brings down my heritor Hector Fernandez and jumps straight at my wounded warden.
The battle is a massacre. All of my crew, except a single hunter, is brought down by the deadly swamp. Frenzied tigers, venomous flies, swamp zombies, enemy crew - all but one falls in their quest for treasure and power.
The lone survivor, spending his last turn to run away from the tiger, already smeared in the blood of my savage. ... a poor end to the game.
That was a bloodbath! The bloodiest. ... One of the games where everything went bad for my crew. Not everybody will make it in the Ghost Archipelago and this is a story like this.
While my opponent got out with all the treasures and a maximum of XP on both his heritor and warden - my crew was broken.
My heritor died from his wounds. So did my savage. My crew having only a few gold coins, must use everything they have and sell every item to get back to the mainland. Other specialist are missing the next game from their injuries. ... they'll make their way to a tavern and hope a heritor will join them.
At least it's a perfect chance to paint up a new model and I already have one in mind. And any time spend gaming with friends, even though everything turned bad in the game, is a good time for me.
It turned out to be an amazing story, entering the Grabbing Bog despite being warned - and ending exactly like the stories said it would.
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