Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: Maze of Malcor- Frostgrave

The Maze of Malcor is another supplement for Frostgrave.  This is the fourth soft cover supplement for Osprey Games popular fantasy skirmish game.  One of my goals for 2019 was to get my gaming group and family to start a regular campaign for this game system.  Reading the description for this one it mentioned some new rules, campaign, and new wizard types.  Therefore, it made sense to me to pick up this booklet to make sure I had the newest rules. 

The rules have three main components.  The first is the new rules.  The second is the Campaign and the new bestiary to go with it.  The last piece is new wizards and spells of the new magical schools called the Pentangle.  So, let’s dig in and see what terrors this supplement will add to the Frozen City of Felstad. 

Things I Liked
I really enjoyed the new spells and the new wizards.  The new Wizards are not really intended to be “campaign playable”.  It specifically mentioned the difficulty of a wizard maxing out and being able to cast the Transcendence spell since the new wizards have to master more spells than a conventional wizard.  Many of these new wizard types were a combination of existing magical schools in new and interesting ways.  The author is full of fun magical ideas. 

I also liked the new rules for placing treasure.  It seemed to crib from the treasure placement used in the Ghost Archipelago.  You place a central treasure in the center of the board so there is always a reason to move towards the middle.  Other treasures are placed radiating away from it.  This will help cut down on treasure placement shenanigans. 

Things I Did Not Like
The campaign is pretty elaborate and had 12 new scenarios.  The scenarios themselves each use unique new bestiary creatures and unique terrain lay-outs.  Looking at the campaign, it would be quite an undertaking for a small gaming group to get the parts you need to play through it.  It would be a great club project though.

The campaign itself seems like it would be best to play with more advanced wizard parties.  The opponents are particularly tough.  Of course, it could also be played through with multiple wizard bands, and the rules reference this option as well.  In addition, the new rules have a way to start with more experienced wizards.  Perhaps to play through this very campaign. 

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The new rules also include a new experience table, an auto-success/failure mechanic, new scroll rules, and new ways to balance scenarios.  These all seem perfectly adequate and the new Balancing Scenario rules is something that have been needed since Frostgrave came out.  I am glad to see them added but I am unsure how successful they will be. 

The new Treasures are perfectly adequate and have some fun stuff.  The Bestiary also has some fun stuff.  My favorite might be the animated desks and bureaus.  There are even magical items that let you have these furniture constructs join your warbands.  This supplement adds more to the long list of fun treasures and magical items, including scrolls for the Pentangle magic.  However, none of it was really “needed” or add any new dimensions to the game like some of the other supplements. 

Well, I was a bit disappointed with this supplement.  It adds an extra layer and challenging campaign for High-Level wizard war bands.  Plus, it adds “new” wizard types and magic.  However, overall it does not add enough new elements to make it indispensable.  If I was to order the Supplements based on need, I would go with:

  1. Into the Breeding Pits
  2. Frostgrave Folio
  3. Maze of Malcor
  4. Forgotten Pacts
  5. Thaw of the LicheLord

The content that raises this above Forgotten Pacts and Thaw ofthe Liche Lord is the new rules for Treasures, the Balancing Mechanic, and the new magic/wizard types.  If you have a group committed to creating the campaign and they have experience war bands the Maze of Malcor will be a useful and fun addition for them.  If not, it is less useful but does add more Scenarios.  Scenarios are critical for a long lasting Frostgrave campaign.

If those criteria are met then this is a good buy.  If it they are not met, I would get Into the Breeding Pits or the Frostgrave Folio first. 

Note: On a related note, Northstar has come out with some great models to go along with thisrelease.  I am particularly excited by the new wizards, the new constructs, and the female soldiers plastic boxed set.  Check them out.                   

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