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.