Freebooter’s Fate – A Review

FF_logo_smallRegular readers will know the following:

1. I’ve reviewed quite a few Freebooter models.

2. I use them in Mordheim warbands because I like them far better than the Games Workshop models I’m supposed to use.

3. I have never played Freebooter’s Fate.

Well I decided that needed to change as it’s all well and good prattling on about how nice a range of models is, but it really should come from a place of understand as to how they work in the game they were intended for. So without further ado I give you Freebooter’s Fate

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that Freebooter’s Fate is just another fantasy skirmish game. And you’d be right in so much as it’s a fantasy skirmish game. Where you’d be wrong though is that Freebooter’s Fate is really quite unique.

A main point of difference is that it’s unashamedly tongue in cheek. The book opens with a fantastic short story very elegantly introducing each of the main factions and why they want to kick each other’s heads in. But more than that it injects a light heartedness that is rarely seen in wargaming but doesn’t take it too far. It doesn’t mock itself or the gamer for that matter. It’s light and has a sense of humour but it’s still all about the kicking of face.

It’s other main point of difference, if two are allowed, is that it doesn’t use dice. At all. Of any kind. In fact the rule books threatens you with a miserable and gruesome death if you so much as look at a dice during play. No really. Freebooter’s Fate uses a deck of cards to determine not only the strength of the attack you unleash but also where you hit. The location, in turn, has a cumulative effect on the stats that part of the body relates to.

This is all rather clever because characters may not be terribly strong and therefore but brilliant at the swashbuckling game and so may take a while to reduce an opponents vitality to zero, however, they may have enough meat on bones to wound and wound reduces effectiveness which means that the character has a fighting chance of felling their opponent before, they too, get their face kicked in.

That’s not to say it’s without its frustrations as, depending on how well the deck is shuffled, you may find that you cave in someone’s skull quite quickly with a rash of high powered hits. However, because you can choose the location you hit and defend it adds an agonisingly tactical, and psychological element to the game as you attempt to second guess how your opponent will act.

What it also means, however, is that characters aren’t killed too quickly which is just as well as games can have a few as half a dozen blokes on the board each. Were it more along the lines of Mordheim it’d be over very quickly indeed. The downside of this, however, is paper work. I’ve always had mixed feelings about having to keep track of things by marking it on a card or paper. And with Freebooter’s Fate it’s made slightly worse because you either have to get card sleeves for all your character cards or, basically, ruin them by drawing all over them.

I have nothing against games in which all the characters are named…well I do actually, but Freebooter’s Fate has enough named tertiary characters that it works, but having to buy items that you wouldn’t normally need to play a wargame does bug me slightly. Dice, tape measures, boards, scenery. These are all things that are generally needed to play a wargame beyond toys and rules. Protective card sleeves and wipe clean pens, not so much. A roster pad, much like the ones available for Battlefleet Gothic, back in the day, or a double page spread that could be photocopied, I think would make things much easier. Granted, not as pretty as using the cards – which are very pretty – but it’ll keep the cards pretty for longer.

That aside, it’s a brilliant game. Characters are restricted to either 2 basic or 1 complex action a turn and the sheer volume of actions that characters can perform is staggering. There are dozens of them. This does mean that there’s quite a lot to remember, but that’s true of many games. Particularly one set in the grim dark distant grim dark future where there’s only grim dark war. Grim. Dark. There’s also a big pile of traits which make the characters unique. Although the mechanic is robust enough that there’s strong stat variation anyway. So coupled with the traits it does make for interesting games.

Although the rules are well written, and there’s handy tips throughout, I do wish that rules for actions is explained earlier on as the various rules mention simple and complex actions throughout but until you get to section 9 of the book you don’t know what any of them are. So I spent much of my time reading the rules slightly confused. And then felt like I had to go back and re-read the book with my finger marking the actions section like a child reading a fighting fantasy novel.

That aside, the game works very well. It’s detailed without being fussy, and quick without wondering why you bothered getting the game set up in the first place. The factions are also nicely presented, interesting and fairly balanced. I’m not sure how big you could take Freebooter’s Fate considering the record keeping involved but that’s fine. It won’t be the end of the world if you only play with half a dozen blokes at a time because the models are ace and the faction lists are varied enough that you can keep yourself amused for game after game whilst working your way through the fairly decent number of scenarios.

Freebooter’s Fate isn’t perfect and it isn’t for everyone. It’s style and sense of humour is a different direction that not everyone will be on board with but I’m not one of them. I think Freebooter’s Fate is a brilliant fun game. I still want rosters, and I still want the rules to have a layout tweak but I’ll live without them. It’ll still be a characterful and fun skirmish game that allows me to swash-buckle, shout avast at my bemused opponents – even when it’s inappropriate to do so – and kick in a respectable amount of face.

Freebooter’s Fate is available from Firestorm Games priced £22.50 and the Freebooter’s Fate deck of cards priced £7.65.

The Freebooter’s Fate core model range is available from Firestorm Games from £7.19.

Freebooter Miniature Review – Casimeere Flynn

The third part in my Freebooter Miniatures review is the eagerly awaited, and currently unavailable, Casimeere Flynn. I’m reliably informed by Hendrik at Freebooter that this is the model all the ladies have been waiting for.

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The thing that first struck me about Mr Flynn is that he tells quite a different story to pretty much every other model in the Freebooter range. Flynn is the cadish, fopish…something else beginning with ish swash buckler who woos the ladies whilst secretly stealing all their gold. And most likely wearing their underwear. What? It’s the hair style.

Flynn is another nicely understated yet cinematic offering confidently striding forward whilst…er…smelling a rose in a manly fashion with hand and drawing a fecking huge sword with the other. Despite the Hugh Grant hair circa 4 Weddings and a Funeral (showing my age now) and the aforementioned flora, the sword points towards only once conclusion. For all the flower sniffing and sensitive hair, this chap means business.

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The model itself, once again sorry for the shoddy photography, is a little light on detail especially if I was to compare it to Macati that I reviewed yesterday, however it does have a lot of nice little touches that points towards the characters wealth without being ostentatious like his other more black-hearted cohorts. For one thing he’s wearing a duelling jacket complete with offset buttons. His trousers also have tassels at the hems which is just a mad level of attention to pay towards a models trousers from a sculpting point of view.

There’s even clear detailing on the rose in his hand and the two he’d discarded on the flower. Presumably he’d used up all the smell and needed fresh ones…

If you take a look at the snap below it’s actually a great pose. It’s the start of the fight scene where Zorro, or some equally attractive demigod who all the girls fancy, smarmily tosses the girl with the massive boobs in the gypsy top a rose before drawing his big weapon (a-ha!) and then promptly dose in everyone in the saloon/taver/bar/ale house*. And as mentioned it’s a seriously big weapon (stop it!) sword. It’s also really nicely sculpted. The scabbard is, for a change with 28-30mm models, correctly proportioned and the basket is excellent, to the point that you can actually see Flynn’s fingers between each piece of metal. Which is just mad attention to detail. Love it.

*delete where appropriate.

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As I’ve come to expect from Freebooter Miniatures, the casting quality is very good with little cleaning at all and overall the sculpt is very clean. Building it is a bit on the fiddly side. That’s not to say it’s taxing but because both arms go across the body they slightly get in each other’s way regardless of which way round you glue them on. And because the rose needs to be near Flynn’s face and you’re dealing with super glue you have to get it right first time or there’s a lot of faffing and cursing. By no means the end of the world and the model still looks ace, it’s just something I found when building it last night.

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At first glance Casimeere Flynn seems very simple. Understated. But I think that’s the point. On the surface this styled and manicured sissy man looks more softy than swords men but it’s only when you start noticing all the little details that you realise that you’re dealing with a stone cold killer that will probably toss the rose he’s been sniffing – and that you’ve been teasing him about – on your lifeless bleeding corpse. Then go and sleep with your wife.

Freebooter Miniatures Review – Macati

Part two the Freebooter Miniatures triple is the Macati mantis warrior from the Amazonian range. When I first saw the model on the Freebooter website my exact words were ‘that’s mental’. Because it is. I saw the shot below and just couldn’t believe a model like that would go together easily or without some pretty horrendous weaknesses.

There are times when I’m happy to admit I’m wrong. Just don’t tell my wife. In fact, this conversation never happened…

Aside from the antennae which are a bit of a faff requiring filing and far nimbler fingers than my own to stick in place, the arms actually go together rather nicely and with enough surface area for both parts to get a good purchase. I’ve deliberately treated the model quite rough – knocking it over and picking it up by the mantis claws – to see what it’ll take to break but so far it has remained intact. And that’s with using GW’s shit thin super glue.

If I’m honest, I don’t know really where to start with Macati because it is, as mentioned, mental. The pose is so dynamic with fabrics flowing all around the model giving it an outstanding feel of motion which is a wonderful contrast to Totol that I reviewed way back in February. Totol possessed the elegance of a hunter. She was balanced on a tree stump ready to stick anyone who came too close. Macati’s elegance comes from her presence and the fluidity that she clearly moves with. It’s a very different but that’s what makes the Amazonian range so good. Each model tells a story whilst still working as a whole range on a gaming board.

Please excuse the dodgy photography, but hopefully you’ll be able to see the presence Macati has. It’s a big model with so much detail it’s actually a little tough to know where to start. The mantis headdress is awesome and not only is it, in itself, very detailed but you can still clearly see the eyes behind it. And it may seem strange to comment on it but the mouth is superbly sculpted. She’s not screaming or wailing, she’s singing. Tied to her movements and the elaborate outfit, the chunky Amazonian necklace and even the slightly ornate corset that Macait is wearing gives the model a great sense of occasion and points towards a very ritualistic form of combat.

A great deal of love went in Macati. She even has charms around her ankle and going up her legs. She is a very busy model but everything feels deliberate, emphasising the importance the mantis warrior has within the Amazonian faction. But despite all the elegance and the baubles that decorate her person there’s no getting away (literally) from those massive mantis claws.

Aside from being really well sculpted they are ugly, vicious looking things and stood next to another model there is absolutely no question that she means business. And not the good  kind of business. I love the juxtaposition of the inherent femininity & elegance of the model with the insectoid menace of the mantis claws and the headdress. It’s a strange balance between ceremony, honour, duty, religion, nature and war. The Macati model tells quite a story and is completely and utterly awesome.

Freebooter Miniatures Review – Female Barbarian

It’s been a wee while since my last Freebooter Miniatures review so to make up for it, I’m doing three. Part one is the Female Barbarian model released back in 2008. Regular readers will know that I’d had my eye on her as a member of my Middenheim warband for Mordheim which you can read about herehere and here. So I’m quite pleased I’ve got her at long last. Wait, did that sound creepy?

I was originally going to review this model alongside the new Amazonian Macati mantis warrior model but decided against it because on the surface the Macati model just craps all over the Barbarian model which wouldn’t be fair or true.

As I’ve talked about before with other Freebooter models, the Female Barbarian is dramatic in its simplicity. Her pose is one of barely controlled power ready to be unleashed. Her stance is one of complete combat readiness, her swords held loosely by her sides seemingly unprepared but will undoubtedly lash out viper quick to lay low any attacker. The phrase ‘come on then if you think you’re hard enough’ springs to mind.

She is, for want of a better phrase, badass.

To be fair, because of its age it doesn’t have the detail of the newer models but that’s to be expected and should be taken into consideration. The features are also more stylised than recent Freebooter models but I like it so I’m not bothered. But the important thing to remember is that its lack of detail isn’t a bad thing. Yes we all lusted after Lucy Lawless as Xena Warrior Princess back in the day but her get up was totally ridiculous considering all the arse-kickery she got up to. The weight alone would have flattened the heaving breasts that we all really watched the show for.

And that’s the point; this chick means business and she doesn’t need a brazen bodice to mang you in the face. If she did have a brazen bodice she’d mang you in the face with it. All she needs is two very serious looking short swords which I think are two of the coolest short swords I’ve seen on any model, ever. Again because there’s nothing fancy about them, they’re not exaggerated they just look like they’ll cut someone up right nice.

I also love how her outfit is essentially rags held together with leather bindings. Not for the kink I should point out, but because it’s simple. The bindings hold her outfit together whilst affording protection to torso without restricting movement. This is a model for people who like to get stuck in when wargaming. Pussies with crossbows (Lee) need not apply.

And as for the casting…no word of a lie I think the only time I used a file was to take off the bits of flash the arms were attached to and take off one mould line from the arm and that’s it. I’ve never seen a more perfectly cast  model in my 23 years of gaming. I know this could be a one-off but either way, those chaps at Freebooter know their trade and deserve to have it mentioned. Although my only grumble was that the pony tail was separate. And I’m grumbling not because it didn’t fit in the hole provided at the back of her head, which it did, but because I stuck my fingers together whilst doing so, because it’s fiddly. And I’m a numpty.

Freebooter April Releases

Over on the Freebooter Miniatures website they’ve got greens of a rather funky new Amazonian boss bird and her entourage of trained killer cats.

Tecuani, as she is known, and her Oncas make up the last of the Amazonian models so from April players will have equal factions.

As you can see from the greens, she, like the rest of the Amazonian range, is a bit tasty and considering you get one Oncas included with her, she’ll be a bargain too.

Freebooter Miniature Review – The Huntress

This is a bit of a bonus review as, whilst digging out parts to make a new Flagellant for my Witch Hunter warband I found the Huntress – strictly speaking it’s called the Female Hunter, but I like Huntress better. Again, regular readers will know that I’d decided to use this model as a champion for my slow burn Middenheim warband and so her rediscovery was serendipitous to say the least. Aside from a severely scratched undercoat and a missing pistol, she’s in top condition and so I thought I’d pen a quick review as it’s a model that I’ll be actively using in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

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As with Lobo the Old Warhorse that I reviewed the other day, it’s one of Freebooter Miniatures‘ older models. In fact it was the purchase of this model at Salute years ago that kicked off my fascination with Freebooter Miniatures to begin with. This may make me slightly biased but I don’t care, because it’s an ace model and still holds up very well.

Like Lobo, it isn’t athletically posed as some of the more recent models but what it does have is arrogance. Bags of it. The; one hand on hip, the other casually holding a hunting spear, oozes confidence and combined with her array of weapons strongly suggests that should anyone try anything it’s not going to end well for the other person.

It kind of smacks of a steampunk Lara Croft-esque warrior woman, which is by no means a bad thing. If anything it makes the model transferable to steampunk or sci-fi games as all that you’d need to do is get rid of the spear and pistol. As a model it’s a mass of contradictions, and I love it. The high cheek bones and icy stare is reminiscent of Russian nobility. The Knee high boots and front fastening corset suggests she’s a rogue in more ways than one but the heavy coat and ushanka suggests that she’s use to harsh conditions and knows her trade. And probably cut the pelts for those items herself.

And it’s that attention to detail, as with so many of Freebooter’s models, that makes it so good. Arguably, because of its age there are better models out there for the money, but sometimes it’s not about the casting process (are you listening Games Workshop) but the love that goes into making the model in the first place and this model is no exception to that. She even comes with her own bed roll which, for me, completes her story as a hunter living off the land or, in the case of my character in Mordheim, someone who has tracked her father for weeks, always sleeping rough, out of sight, lest she be spotted and sent home.

The Female Hunter is, still, a great model as a statement piece or the focal point of a diorama. Or, in my case, as a hard-nosed, hard-arsed warrior woman that’s going to bring misery to any poor son of a bitch that strays within reach of that hunting spear.

Freebooter Miniature Review – Lobo the Old Warhorse

Regular visitors to the The Shell Case will know that a little while ago I decided I wanted a Middenheim warband for Mordheim, but, as I have no real love for the models available, I’d decided to use Freebooter models for the heroes as I had done with my Witch Hunter warband.

So enamoured was I with the models I selected I even wrote some back story, which can be found here. The figurehead of this warband was Count Kaiser von Braun aka Lobo the Old Warhorse. So you can understand my joy when I say that the old bruiser is in my possession.


I love this model. Sculpted back in 2004, it is by no means Freebooter’s newest or most dynamic model such as the Amazonian Totol that I reviewed on the 1st February but that’s fine with me because instead of agility or menace the model exudes strength, wisdom and barely restrained fury. One doesn’t carry a warhammer like that unless they know how to use it…

But as with so many of the best models around, it’s not the overt stuff that makes the model great. It’s all in the details that add to an overall whole. He’s gained a few pounds from age and a tad too much good living – the result of too much time spent away from the campaign trail. His garb is grand enough but it has a patched elbow which suggests leaner times, and over it he wears a padded jacket intended for war. Lobo even has crows feet and a slightly flat, wonky nose that points to more than a few brawls. That’s mad attention to detail. That, FYI, Ian of The Chaps would simply love. He’s a bit like that you know… Even his hair suggests that he’s a little thinner on one side than he’d like to be and so has combed it across to conceal the worst of it at the cost of looking slightly lopsided.

The casting quality that I’ve come to expect from Freebooter is evident as I couldn’t see a single mould line on the model. And I really looked. The only filing I had to do was after I’d clipped the hammer and dagger from their bit of flash but I can’t grumble at that. Not without looking like a fool anyway.

I’ve deliberately not said much about the impish child that Lobo shares a base with partly because it’s creepy and two because, although there’s nothing wrong with it, I don’t think it adds much to the model and I’ll probably give it to Lee of The Chaps for Ludwig von Bomburg – the foppish Marienburger who, between supping wine, shouting and firing drunkenly at nothing with his duelling pistols, is gathering a plethora of men servants around him to be stabbed in his stead.

I think the thing that Freebooter does exceptionally well isn’t the detail, although it is all there – even on this older model – but it’s that every piece of detail adds something to the story. Whether you’re using them for Freebooter’s Fate or something else, the crows feet, the broken nose, the big belly and the hefty warhammer all say something far more profound than ‘Lobo the Old Warhorse’ or ‘Mercenary Captain’. It gives the models a soul and it makes you care about it when it’s on the board which only gets worse as the games go by and the campaign progresses.

And that’s actually a very special quality indeed.