TGN Reviews: Freebooter’s Fate

Do you like pirates?
Of course you do! You’re reading this page, so you’re a gamer and gamers like pirates!
Well, in today’s TGN Review, we’ve got a pirate skirmish game: Freebooter’s Fate, made by Freebooter Miniatures (seems appropriate).

Arrr me harteys! Set sail and let’s dive into another review…
Read on and ye might even get some loot at the end.

So I’ve been meaning to do this review for quite some time. Unfortunately other things kept getting in the way (you know… like moving halfway across the country). But now I’ve had my chance and here we go, a look at Freebooter’s Fate from Freebooer Miniatures.

Freebooter’s Fate is a fantasy skirmish game with a heavy pirate theme. Bands of assassins, goblins and pirates all vie for treasure (or “booty” if you prefer) and glory. Standing in their way is… well… other assassins, goblins and pirates. Will your gang end up with the gold or be sipping tea with the Monkees’ lead singer (that’s Davy Jones to you young folks)?

The first difference you’ll see with Freebooter’s Fate is that there are no dice. None. Not a single one to be found. Instead, everything is done using several different types of cards. There are Fate cards, Event cards and Hit Location cards.

The ones you will use the most are Fate cards and Hit Location cards. There are 40 Fate cards and they number 1-10. There are fewer cards at the extremes than there are in the middle. That is to say there are only three 1s and two 10s, but there are six 5s and five 6s. So it’s weighted so you’re more likely to draw a card from the middle numbers. These are the cards you’ll use to determine things like Initiative for the turn and make checks (such as leadership tests and tests for critical hits) and to see how much damage you do to an enemy when you hit them. Fate cards also are colored either with a black or white background, which can come into effect for various other checks, as well as little icons such as a coin, treasure chest, voodoo doll, skull and pistol. Again, those will come into play when making certain types of checks (mostly the swimming checks that you apparently are expected to make often in the game. Hey, they are pirates, after all). Whenever the cards from this deck get exhausted, you shuffle the discard pile and make a new Fate deck with it.

The other cards you’ll use most often are the Hit Location cards. These represent the various body parts you can try and attack on your opponent. Attacks are handled using these. Models have an Attack value that represents how many of the 6 location cards you pick. Your opponent has a Defense stat that tells them how many cards to pick as well. The vast majority of models have 2 Attack and 3 Defense. There are, of course, ways to modify how many cards you or your opponent get. But both of you pick your cards in secret and reveal your choice at the same time. If the Defender picked the same cards as the attacker, then the attack misses. If the Attacker picked one place the defender didn’t, then the attack hits that location. If the Attacker picked two or more places the defender didn’t, then the attack hits and it’s a critical against one of those locations (the attacker picks which spot gets it). So there’s a bit of a mind-game going on. Damage then is determined by the difference between the attacker’s Strength + a Fate card versus the defender’s Toughness + a Fate card. Models have so many wounds (and their leadership is also tied in with the amount of wounds they still have left). When they lose all their wounds, they are removed from play as a casualty.

If an attack does damage, the attacker draws another Fate card. If that card’s number is equal to or less than the amount of damage done, that hit is also a critical hit (so there are two ways to get criticals). If a Critical hit does at least 1 point of damage (in the case of the attacker choosing two or more spots that the defender didn’t), then the stat associated with the hit location will be affected, generally lowering the stat value for that ability in half (so Movement 10 would become 5 or Strength 4 would become 2). Each place on the model represents one of the various stats. Legs represents movement. Head represents attack and so forth. If a single location gets two criticals against it, then the model is removed from play as a casualty. Critical hits are a big player in the “mind games” section of attacks for where players choose to attack or defend certain locations.

The final type of card you’ll use are the Event cards. They are given out when a player draws a Fate card with a Treasure Chest on it. Event cards impose a buff or debuff in certain situations. Most of them deal with adding Strength or Attack during an attack, or subtracting Defense from an enemy. When the Event deck runs out, then that’s it for the events for the game.

From my experiences, attacks will generally get to the damage phase. With six locations and with generally only picking 3 defense cards, more often than not your opponent will choose a spot that you didn’t. Now, you might not always do damage… but even then, a lot of Strength values are in the 6-8 range and Toughness being 3-5, you’re going to be doing wounds with almost every attack you make. So don’t get too attached to your guys, as they’ll be taking the last train to Clarksville with Davy much of the time.

I like the idea behind Freebooter’s Fate in that it’s a diceless game. It’s sort of in the same league as Malifaux in that it’s a skirmish-sized game that uses cards instead of dice to determine what happens during the game. Freebooter’s Fate splits it up into a couple card types and only gives you Event cards that you can hold as a hand to play later on to surprise your opponent. The Hit Location cards are an interesting mechanic. There’s a bit of mind-game involved in trying to decide where to attack/defend. “Hmmm, that guy’s take a critical to his legs already, so I could try and get him there again… but my opponent is probably think the same thing, so he’s probably defending there… but then again, he may think that I think that he thinks I’m going to not attack there because he thinks that I think that he thinks he’s going to defend there…” and so forth and so on. The characters in the game are also pretty colorful with the various factions. The game uses alternating activations, which I also enjoy. It’s skirmish-sized, which is again something I enjoy.

There are a few things I wish were a little different, though. First is that the characters were more different. When I said “the vast majority of characters have 2 attack and 3 defense” I mean that “all but 6 characters (5 of which are in the same faction) in the entire book have 2 attack and 3 defense.” There’s a lot of potential there to have defensive masters or really strong attackers (nobody in the main book has more than 2 attack, naturally. Also, the highest is 4 in defense) and they just don’t exist in the main rule book. That’s not to say I felt bored with the choices. I just wish there was more differences that you could really see right away in stat blocks.
They’re also a little fast and loose with some of the movement rules. Like when a model jumps a gap, if they make it most of the way there, but not all the way, they’re given leeway to just scootch forward that little extra bit. Obviously that’s not a really big deal, but just a little oddity that I saw.

If you’re looking for a game that’s a little different and doesn’t rely on dice, give Freebooter’s Fate a try. If you’re a fan of pirates and swashbuckling, give it a try. If you’re looking for a skirmish-sized game, give it a try. If you like goblins wearing shark skins, give it a try. You may just like it.

So now that you’ve read the review, let us get to that contest that was mentioned before. The winner will get a Freebooter’s Fate rulebook, a deck of the Freebooter’s Fate gaming cards, plus a Pirates Starter Box. That’s quite a mighty haul.
For this one, let’s do something a little fun, like come up with your own G-Rated Pirate Name. What would yours be?

Note: G-RATED means just that! If you couldn’t say the name to your 6-year-old son/daughter/cousin/whatever, we don’t want typed below. Violators will be deleted and their entry removed from the contest.

  • grimbergen

    Thanks for the review! I’ve been wondering how this game plays… never see much about. I pledged for the indiegogo figures for other games but now I may want to give this a try.
    — First Mate Honeypaws

  • Iron Sam Kidd, because its what the internet said it should be.

  • Nosaj Verush

    This is a great game with great minis. My crew has been playing it for a year off an on. I totally recommend it.

  • Toy Marine

    Those miniatures are amazing. That goblin with the shark suit.. wow!
    – Cap’n Bonehead

  • Thargor

    I’ve been playing this since it was launched at Salute. It is an excellent game and the miniatures are beutiful. The second expansion is due soon too.

    Black-hearted Thargor, the scourge of Las Tortugas

  • Greyhound

    Thank you for the review.

    Two-Keels is the name of my pirate with 2 wooden pegs and 2 cutlass. His name is sometimes spelled wrong 2-Kills due to his dual-swashbuckling proficiency.

  • nick.ibellpasley

    Great review, according to an online generator my pirate name is: Can’t-Remember-Where-the-Damn-Treasure’s-Buried Logan which seems as good as any.

  • CaseyJone5

    Always been intrigued by this game. I already have a dozen mini games though (some of which ive never played), so ive held off on buying.

    captain casey jones 😀

  • Mahrdol

    captain lou albano

  • Mahrdol

    captain Deth O’Kay

  • Soulfinger

    Wow. Even fit in a Monkey’s reference with “taking the last train to Clarksville with Davy,” which, of course, inspires . . .

    Tomahawk Nesmith the Minstrel Mate — Nobody knows when or where the silent native came aboard, but on a moonless night, he can be heard whistling a tune to warn any wayward crewmen to stay out of his path.

    Though, I really like Greyhounds’ “Two Keels” guy.

  • Captain Robertson, the Scourge of the Black Seas!

  • Carlo Chaimo

    Captain Atrocious was my pirate name in Shartak.

  • Ghool

    Missin’ Limbs Luke, at yer service.

  • BlazeXI

    Backstabber Dan. Quite a few times his crewmates were missing in action after a successful treasure raisd. Being often a sole survivor he has always plenty booty to spend on rum and… booty.

  • Yellow Jack Johnson – Spends most of his time on a plank above the waves, playing the ukele and singing songs. The captain and crew do not object to his lazy ways, as it keeps the walking germ factory out of their reach. Enemy ships have been noted to surrender on sight/hear of Yellow Jack Johnson (ironically twisting standard sea warfare uses of the yellow jack).

    Another favorite of mine is Pegnose Pete

    Guybrush: How does Pegnose Pete smell without a nose?
    Shopkeeper: Awful!!!
    Guybrush: I should've seen that coming...

  • Lucas Blackwolf

    Briny Wits had his own peculiar way ’round the ship. He would sulk around the deck for days at a time, murmuring to himself and looking through others with a cold, malicious gaze. At times most unexpected he would erupt into fits of fighting frenzy, screaming at the unseen boarding parties and cursing in tongues not even the oldest of salts recognized. The crew would cower from him then, fearful of the rumors that Briny was possessed by the sea devils. But the captain liked the man. Not least because Briny Wits, as mad as a flogged barnacle, had a knack to pop up from behind captain’s back and dish out genius advice and suggestion. More than once they’ve won a fight or weathered a storm, thanks to the Briny Wits’ befuddling moments of clarity and reason.

  • Lucas Blackwolf

    Keelhauled Keith known as the only man to survive keelhauling, he became captain, when after the horrendous punishment he slowly picked himself up on the deck in puddles of his own blood, grinned at the captain and growled “Yer bucket’s hull needs cleanin’!”. The captain gave Keith his sword and rowed ashore.

  • Lucas Blackwolf

    First Mate Thompson Tentacle It is rumored among the deckhands that the soft-spoken, gentle and melancholic officer suffers from a dreadful affliction that saw him fled the salons and ballrooms of the high society he was born into and join the ranks of Imperial Armada. No one aboard has actually seen the man’s rumored deformity, but the last person to be overheard using the cruel moniker has been found dead in his hammock, expression of dread on his face scarred with pink burn marks and water in his lungs.

  • Lucas Blackwolf

    Doctor Morb Idson The presence of Good Doctor makes any crew more effective. In some part due to Idson’s skill with saw and sewing thread and not least because when, as the battle rages down on the deck, he perches on the poop deck like a thin black vulture, grinning at the thought of fresh samples for his studies. It’s the thought of ending as a specimen in one of the doctor’s grizzly jars that sees the men fighting with a doubled ferociousness or as an unknown seaman put it – “T’might be alcohol in them’ cursed jars, but I don’t want just me foot in it!”

  • Lemminkaeinen

    Pirate Queen “Full Sails” Anne who likes his men like she likes her grog – strong, bitter and hairy. She is famous for her large sails. On her ship, that is. The fastest fregate on the seven seas.

  • sherigon

    Years ago i had a pirate based Mordhiem undead warband. My opponent was joking around and kept throwing out all these cliched pirate names out, He joked that my leader was called Davey Bones. Yeah, its a groaner but the nickname seemed to stick and we had lots of fun with that game.

  • Gallahad

    Pepe di Pancia

    Originally from Genoa, Pepe earned his name for his enormous girth, and the complaints of his crew that if there were two ships, one laden with gold, and the other with food, Pepe would choose to chase fine Sicilian cheeses over gold.

  • wittdooley

    Dookie Dooley, the Bathroom Bomber.

  • Elric

    I love the mini’s. The’ll add some nice flavor as proxies to almost any game.
    G-rated pirate name – Treasure Chest Sue. Love a female pirate. They have to be a bad @$$ to hold there own. on the crew

  • Great to see reviews making their way back onto TGN.

    Love the goblins in this line.

    Captain Will ‘Scar’ Scarlet of the Indestructible

    (I likes me a pun-laced pirate name so I does, rhymes with rum-laced..ah..argghhh!).

  • Kilcin

    Mad Sam Walker
    A bit touched in the head, Samuel Walker is normally the one leading the boarding action, relishing the close combat on the high seas.

    Thanks for the review, been curious about this game for a bit.

  • deedoublejay

    I’ve been interested in this game since it came out, and the models for a couple of years now. My pirate name’s Sad Sam van der Croos, The Sighing Dutchman.

  • Schmapdi

    I’m going to go with Perrin ‘Rotten Lungs’ Tobaccy. He grew up the son of a long line of wealthy tobacco farmers. When he became addicted to cigars and started coughing up wads black tar he burned the family plantation to the ground and took to a life of piracy to escape the law. He’s still never without a large cigar dangling from his mouth … it’s a harsh mistress. Some say the tar is the only thing holding him together!

  • napalm87

    Here comes my pirate name: Odd Harry Teeth