Friday, 14 August 2015

Frostgrave vs. Otherworlds Fantasy Skirmish

I have treated myself to both Frostgrave - Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City and Otherworlds - Fantasy Skirmish books. I have given my views, or at least my initial views of Frostgrave here, but thought that a comparison between the two might be helpful to anyone who is thinking of buying one or both.

To begin with I have to praise both publishers for bringing out such beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated books, both are crammed full of illustrations and images of both figures and terrain. In this sense, I believe both to be equal and as eye candy alone, I would recommend the purchases of the two books.

Frostgave has a slightly more plush feel as being a padded hardback the book just oozes quality. Otherworlds Fantasy Skirmish more of the feel of an Olde Skool rulebook - even more than some of the later Dungeons and Dragons core books. As such the Otherworlds will appeal to the romantic or nostalgic gamer, it does to me.

Anyone familiar with any of the Osprey rule books will feel immediately at home with the layout of Frostgrave. The pages are very well laid out and as I have mentioned earlier, beautifully illustrated. This book is a real treat to browse through.

Otherworlds is slightly less impactful as the layout looks a little dated - this may have been a concious decision as I have read that the editors of the book wanted a look that harks back to those early D&D experiences, this is obviously evident by the homage cover artwork! I should also point out that Otherworlds is slightly larger at A4 and has a soft bound card cover.

The contents of both books follow a similar journey, with rules and charts laid out in a very traditional way. I found that both (at least in parts) needed careful reading and in some parts re-reading to fully understand the concepts and details although I never felt overwhelmed or seriously confused.

I have already written that I found both books a feast for the eyes, and therefore should not criticise either the layout or artwork. I think between the two I found that I keep going back to the Frostgrave book for image and illustration inspiration, while for facts and information the Otherworlds Fantasy skirmish book. They work well together.

The rules sections are where the games split. Frostgrave being Wizard led or Mordheim style skirmish with fast simple gaming - the sort that I would expect to move quickly and easily, maybe an evenings gaming with friends. Otherworlds slightly more of the feel of an early D&D or dungeon crawl game, again nothing wrong with this as as I read the rules and searched out different monsters, I was immediately transported to a time (very) very long ago when I was first introduced to role playing games. Because of this simple fact I would say that the Otherworlds Fantasy Skirmish rule book is better, Not because of the layout, images or rules but because of the 'feel'. I immediately felt at home with the style of writing and can best describe it as feeling like reading a gaming book/scenario that you would have found in a very early edition of White Dwarf. This book is all about bringing back memories and I feel succeeds well.

The mechanics of both games are so different that it is difficult to compare them directly and in truth other than throwing a couple of dice to test different reactions I have yet to play a game of either - I will therefore leave comments to other who have played the game/games.

My conclusions are a little mixed.

I love the look of both (yes I know I have gone on about this - but they are both beautiful books) and am glad that I took the plunge to buy them. I think for the layout, feel and illustrations I would go for Frostgrave (remember that I am still to play either ruleset) while for content and nostalgia it has to be the Otherworlds Fantasy Skirmish book.

Thank you to both editors, illustrators and publishers for both. I have really enjoyed reading both books and will continue to enjoy them for a very long time.



Gordon Richards said...

I picked up Frostgrave and am awaiting my Otherworld pre-order so very interested in comparisons. I've played a few games of 7th Voyage and if Otherworld is anything like it I think it'll probably favour those who prefer a more narrative (almost rpg-like) game whereas Frostgrave seems a bit more competitive and will probably favour those who are more into the campaign side of things. I also get the impression that Frostgrave games will be a bit quicker. Anyway, I'm looking forward to playing both!

Joakim Ström said...

Thanks for the reviews. I've thought a lot about buying these rules and it looks probable that I 'fall' for the Otherworld rulebook

Joseph Justice said...

Getting Otherworld soon.