Thursday, 26 January 2012

Review: Freebooters Fate Brotherhood Starter Set

 
  
Look I remembered to take a photograph this time. Score 1 for learning!

This box actually wasn't a freebie, I actually purchased this with actual cash and everything. So I must have been impressed right? Well yep, plus these guys are assassins and how the hell could I pass up the opportunity to own an entire faction of assassins? I couldn't could I. God I'm so easy to please, I must be a marketing firms wet dream. Any way, as the Pirate box set before it, this too is a starter set for Freebooters Fate. So it's aimed at being a good base from which to build your Brotherhood faction, and learn the rules. I was worried yesterday I'd included too many pictures, turns out some of you wanted more of them. So I'll be putting even more in this review...

Product Description

Like with the review of the Pirate starter set I'm going to look at the individual miniature components one by one for each piece. As I think it turned out OK yesterday.

Master Assassin, lots of fiddly parts.

The Master Assassin comes in 7 separate pieces. The main body is the largest part, but only just as his separate cape carries quite a bit of weight too. The remaining pieces are actually quite small, the head and neck slots onto the shoulders nicely no problem. The crossbow attaching to his belt is a bit of problem, but a bit of patience sorted that out. I thought the two hands being such small pieces might prove fiddly but they weren't. The cloak did leave a bit of a gap at the join but wasn't a problem to attach and a small amount of green stuff will fix the gap.

Bonaccia. Pretty straight forward really.

Bonaccia comes in 3 parts. The base insert being one of them. She's unsurprisingly a really easy miniature to assemble. First clean up the base insert and remove any flash from the foot holes. Stick insert into base, stick main body into base insert and attach arm. Job done.

Harlequin (left), Coscritti (right).

The Harlequin comes in three parts, including base insert. The main body is the largest part, the final piece being a very fine arm holding a face mask out in front of herself. Attaching the arm isn't difficult as there is a decent sized cavity that the arm actually slotted into. The most delicate bit was getting her to stand upright in her base. A squirt or two of rapid cure soon solved that little problem! The Coscritti was a more irksome piece to put together all in all. Coming in four parts I suggest attaching the base insert and waiting for it to dray. Then you need to dry assemble the leg to the main body to ensure it stands right as the separate leg is what attaches the miniature to the base. It's not difficult to do, but you may as well get it right first time. The dagger hand is a really small piece and actually was a pain in the proverbial. The contact point is really small, so it's difficult to get right and quite hard to pin. Rapid cure for the win yet again!

The character cards.

The two other component types in the starter box are the character profile cards. Again these are stylishly printed onto aged parchment looking cards with large amounts of artwork. All the rules for the individual characters are on the cards in an easy to read format. You'll get 8 cards again as before, 4 of which will be in English and 4 will be in German. You'll also get a set of the quickstart rules on a single sheet of paper. One side is the English rules, and on the other side are also the games native German rules. As I said yesterday, having had sight of the full rules I think the quickstart rules do a really good job of distilling the essence of the game down into an easily digestible format. They cover all of the basics really well and ensure you have the mechanics down before moving onto the full rules. You'll want the full rulebook eventually but for getting started these are fine. But remember, if you want to play the game right away you'll need a pack of those specialist gaming cards as well.

Character 9.5 out of 10

Just like the Pirate starter set before them, the Brotherhood starter set are a well designed and stylish bunch, sculpted as they are in Werner Kloke's own inimitable style. Hey you know I'm a fan of his. But they're stylish in a very different way. Whereas the Pirates captured the feeling and vibe of scurvy sea dogs, the Brotherhood look every inch a bunch of Renaissance assassins. The face masks are a neat thematic touch that ties what could otherwise be a fairly disparate bunch together as a cohesive faction. I have to say I'm a huge fan of the Assassins Creed computer games and although none of these miniatures look anything like Ezio Auditore, they do evoke the same feelings.

Master Assassin

I like the Master Assassin. Of that there is no doubt. I love how regal an air he has about him, I love the fact that even after his taken his mask off he has a half mask on underneath. I like that he appears to be striding forward purposefully with his knife held tightly in his left hand in an ever so threatening manner. He's a killer and anyone who sees him knows it. It's just that he clearly does it with a sense of stylish elan. His Doublet has very finely sculpted lines on it and his shoulder pads would make Joan Collins proud! His cape hangs down gracefully behind him and frames his figure very well. Even the crown on the top of his head, which could so easily have been a design disaster, just looks right. I'm still not quite sure how that's possible. I also love his little cross bow hanging nonchalantly at his hip, like he doesn't need to worry about ranged combat because his victims never see him coming. It's fitting also that he's walking on cobbled streets as once again the base inserts fit the feel of a miniature perfectly. However, he isn't my favourite miniature in the set, he's not even my second or third favourite. Yep he's my least favourite and I think he's bloody good!

Bonaccia

Next up is the athletic and deadly looking Bonaccia. Again there's the face mask, but this time it hides what is probably a wickedly beautiful face. Again like the Master Assassin before her Bonaccia looks ready to kill. However, she is most definitely as understated as her leader is flamboyant. And I love that she's so simple and elegant. Her left arm is held carefully round her back, and in its hand is a blade hidden from view. Her right hand is drawing the cape around her body and the tip of her blade can just be seen poking out round the silhouette of her body. Her hair is cropped in a simple manner and is utilitarian as one would expect for an assassin. The only nod to frippery on her is the Ruff around her neck (the frilly collar thingy). Her doublet is plain and unadorned, and although she has sleek sexy boots all the way up to her derriere they too are simple and not at all fussy. She's a killer and she doesn't need fancy clothes getting in the way of her work! So is Bonaccia my favourite miniature in the starter set? Nope, she's my third favourite.

Coscritti

I still can't believe that a sculpt this good has been 'wasted' on a mere Coscritti grunt in effect. Obviously it's not a total waste because it's a really lovely miniature. But nevertheless I feel sorry he didn't get to be a special character. He's a little bit more unkempt than his previous colleagues. His clothes have a more rag tag feel to them, and he looks devilishly dishevelled. His pixie boots are badly fitting, his trousers all torn and tatty and held in place with string. His shirt is scruffy and ill fitting. But the best bit, or possibly worst, bit of clothing is his cape made out of bits of rag material sewn haphazardly together. It swirls and swishes around him in an animated fashion. But still he holds a deadly looking knife in his hand as he strides and prowls menacingly forward. No doubt intent on some mischief or other, but for me its his half concealed face that elevates this model. Even behind the mask its characterful. His eyes peek out from behind it, glaring at some mark. The lower half looks haggard and grizzled with a down turned mouth and a sharp chin. He might be slender and sleek of frame but his face tells you that makes him no less deadly. So you're wandering if he's my favourite miniature in the box aren't you? Well of course not, he's my second favourite. I've saved the best till last!

Harlequin

And here she is. My favourite miniature from the starter set. I'm sure some of you are wondering why I've picked the Harlequin as my star of the pack. Well luckily I'm going to explain it too you. There is a grace and elegance too her that isn't in many of the other miniatures in the range. She is prancing and dancing forward as the folds and ruffles in the cape trailing behind her hint, and I find her pose is full of playful moves. Her slender, yet powerfully defined legs are strutting and pointing like a prima ballerina. Her clothes while not as ostentatious as the Master Assassins are nevertheless a step up on both the Costritti's and Bonaccia's offerings. Her bodice is actually very finely detailed although I don't think my photograph shows it off quite as well as I'd hoped. Her bosom is poking out of the top of it and showing a little bit of cleavage, but it's to her face your gaze will be drawn. Because unlike her cohorts she has taken her mask off. It is a stern, serious, spiteful almost callous face. Her feline and fickle features though are quite strikingly beautiful and I do urge you to go take a look at the official studio paint job done by Maria Araujo Troche, as her rendition of the face is splendid. The feathered headdress that crowns the top of her head just seems to make her look more deadly as it looks so out of place on what is clearly a killer. But all of this is just a distraction to draw your attention away from the fact that she's dancing towards you with a blade in her hand. A gorgeous miniature, and that's why she's my favourite miniature in the box.


So that concludes my oh so detailed look at the character of the miniatures within the box. And what a delightful bunch of deadly blade wielding psychopaths they are too. I don't think you could ask for a better bunch of Venetian styled Renaissance back stabbers. However, I still have to tell you about those character cards don't I? Well I'm going to be lazy and cut and paste what I said yesterday. Long story short, they add to the vibe of the game, so if you read yesterdays Pirate review, you can skip to the detail section now. Given how good most games cards are now, I'm always surprised that more games don't have them. The Freebooters Fate cards are no different, they have nice big pictures on them of the relevant miniature, replete with studio paint job, or the original character concept sketch. The background to these cards look like they come on aged parchment, you know the sort of parchment dodgy treasure maps are found on. In the top right corner is the factions symbol and well, they just add a nice piratey feel to proceedings.


Detail 8.5 out of 10

Every single miniature is packed with detail and fine sculpted lines that are crisply reproduced. The Coscritti's cloak is the is the first area these fine details are noticed. It's a wonderful patchwork affair, with scraps of cloth stitched together all at jaunty angles. Each piece of cloth is well defined within the overall cape and the individual stitches holding the ragtag garment together are all clearly identifiable. A famous miniature producer tried convincing us all not that long ago that metal couldn't reproduce such fine detailing. But Freebooters Miniatures along with a few others are proving them utterly wrong it would seem. But it's not just the Coscritti's cape that impresses. The Harlequin also has plenty of fine detail that impresses. In particular her bodice, or corset or whatever it's called has a lot of finely sculpted detail on the front of it. It's again another piece of detail a certain firm would have us all believe could only be done in horrid rubbery resin. I, and this miniature beg to differ.

Hopefully this picture captures the full detail on the Harlequins bodice.

The Harlequins headdress is also a wonderfully detailed feathery affair, and again everything seems perfectly rendered in metal. But Bonaccia and the Master Assassin too have fine detail all over them. The back of Bonaccia's cape in particular has a wonderful grouping of folds and ripples as she grasps part of it and pulls it close around her. It might not be fine surface etched line work but the folds and waves within her cape are amazingly reproduced and adds a strong sense of weight to the garment. This lend it a touch of authenticity as a piece of fabric. Meanwhile the Master Assassins doublet, as you will have seen from his picture above, has some exceedingly shallow and fine etched surface detail. His various pieces of trilling on his cuffs and collars are also really well detailed and defined. I guess as a group its the clothes and fabrics which really impresses, because they all look so real. The various lines of their bodies and their toned physiques are impressive too, as are the fine detailed blades they all carry. But it really is their clothing that's the main attraction of these models.

I love Bonaccia's cape. It just looks great and the ruff at the top caps it.

This is a repeat much of it, of what I said yesterday about the cards. So if you read the Pirate review you can skip this. The background detailing is obviously meant to look like some aged parchment you'd expect to get some dodgy treasure map on. There's a nice large image of the painted miniatures on the cards that makes easy identification of relevant cards simple to do in the heat of battle. Or in the case of some of the miniatures the line sketched concept artwork. The stats are simple to identify and read. The health bar tracker is also easy to 'fill' in with a dry wipe pen once you've put them in card protector sleeves. And marking health off shouldn't cause the sort of problems that can sometimes occur when marking damage boxes on Warjacks in Warmachine. Just so you know I've found the Warmachine sized sleeves to be a perfect fit for the Freebooters Fate cards. All the important rules are on the front of the card, and are easy to read, and for someone who is dyslexic (that's me by the way) I appreciate that. In the top right hand corner is the faction badge, while on the reverse of the cards are any special rules. Or a short story or blurb about the characters. No space is wasted and they've helped when promoting the game as they're a nice card to hand out to onlookers as they do look very professional.

The gap on the Master Assassins cape
Quality 8 out of 10

The quality of these miniatures is again very high. However, they weren't quite as good as the Pirate starter set I reviewed yesterday. The primary difference is that the mould line were more prominent on a number of the miniatures. In particular Bonaccia and the Harlequin. It wasn't anything too onerous and for the most part the mould lines were all clearly visible and in places that were accessible with various files. The other slight issue was with the base inserts themselves. The foot holes again in one or two bases were covered over with a layer of flashing that was quite fiddly to remove as it was actually quite thick. It required careful drilling out with a pin vice and then judicious application on a needle file. Again not a deal breaker for me, and if your modelling-fu is strong it shouldn't be for you either. I'd also warn you to be careful when cutting the various arms, legs, heads etc off of their metal spru's to make sure you aren't cutting any bits of the miniature off. As the pieces aren't as easily definable in some cases as they were with the Pirates. so it is a noticeable difference that needs pointing out.

Bonaccia's arm is indicative of the fine joins
The only other pieces that caused me a spot of bother were on the Master Assassin. The Primary issue being the cloak. It was moulded pretty well actually and I couldn't actually see any mould lines. However, when it was attached to the body, no matter how I moved it or positioned it, it did leave a gap that requires filling with green stuff. Again not a major hardship and things we're all used to I hope. But, given how damn near perfect the Pirate Starter Set was I felt it was important to mention. The other issue with the Master Assassin was with his arms. Part of the issue was with not taking too much of either arm off when cutting them from the metal spru. Another issue was that both pieces, along with his head and crossbow had quite pronounced mould lines. On such small pieces this made them really tough to clean up adequately. But unlike the head and crossbow, which were relatively straight forward to attach to the miniature, the arms were a bit of a pain. The contact points were small, and the angle of the pose with both arms meant pinning wasn't really a viable option. For your own sanity buy some super glue rapid cure.

I'm sure all of that will have got you scratching your head at the 8 out of 10 score. But please remember I'm a fastidious and pernickerty reviewer. In short I like to nit pick so people have a good idea of what's what. No question about it these miniatures are in the main very well cast, and what I've pointed out are minor quibbles that you should be fully aware of before embarking on putting these together. So you don't make any mistakes you'll regret at a later date. To most wargamers these will be minor quibbles that you will take in your stride. The metal these miniatures are made out of is a high quality white metal and is a good firm solid material and not at all soft. The casting is also of a very high standard and some exceedingly fine detail has been picked out as part of the casting process. All the lines are sharp and well defined and on the whole every individual piece was well cast with no defects. The character cards are as good as most other companies cards, although maybe a tad on the thin side when compared to say Warmachines cards. However, dump them in card protectors and they're more than serviceable.

As a group they look absolutely brilliant together. All stealthy like!

Service 8 out of 10

As always from the Maelstrom the service was prompt, and the box was delivered well packaged. Not really anymore to add to that now is there?

Price 8 out of 10

Well obviously it's not as good as free, but I guess I have to buy my own miniatures sometime. Right? Well after I had a good look around the Internet while searching for good deals on the Pirate starter set for my review I saw these on the Maelstrom's website. £22.50 you say? Don't mind if I do, I said, and promptly ordered them. Well you need two faction don't you when running an intro game. Oh come on stop looking at me like that! I believe Firestorm games amongst others have it for the same price too and if you're better at looking round the Internet than I am you might be able to find it at other shops for less money. However £22.50 is again a pretty good price for a starter set if you ask me.

Those quickstart rules.
Overall 8.5 out of 10

In conclusion I really like the look of the Brotherhood miniatures. I love the fact that they all look like they're on an assassination mission in Renaissance Venice during carnival time. I totally got an Ezio Auditore vibe off of them. But I don't think that's a bad thing at all, I mean we all like the idea of Renaissance Assassins right? Plus it's cool a game give us an entire faction of them. I don't however think the Brotherhood starter set is as easy to get to work as say the pirates are. They're certainly more difficult to get to grips with at first because they are more specialist in nature. The Assassins are obviously experts at close quarters, and sometimes that can be difficult to achieve at first in Freebooters Fate. So they aren't as instantly forgiving as the Pirates, but once you've mastered them, they are a very rewarding faction to play. Because if they do get in close then it's a massacre! But undoubtedly the highest praise I can heap on this starter set is that not only is every miniature exceedingly useful in the game and will certainly see outings long into your Freebooters career. But, they all look simply brilliant. Seriously even the supposed grunts, the Harlequin and Coscritti look amazing.  For a 'cheap' faction filler, the Coscritti is a splendid sculpt and in other ranges I'm sure he'd have been worthy of special character treatment. Brilliant. Peace out!

18 comments:

  1. Disappointed you made this mistake in both articles:
    'having had -> site <- of the full rules'
    :-P

    Yeah, I think I'm pretty certain to pick up a box or two at Maelstrom in March. Damn you ;-)

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    1. Yeah that is one I commonly make as a dyslexic actually as 'sight' always looks wrong to me, even though I know it isn't.

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  2. Excellent stuff as ever. This faction doesn't interest me at all, oddly, but the models are fantastic regardless. I am just waiting to get paid so can order the Pirate and Armada starter sets :)

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    1. Thanks Atreides. I can understand why the Brotherhood faction wouldn't appeal to some. But I love assassins and everything Renaissance Italy, so they float my boat. The Pirates are ace, I enjoy plying games with them. The Armada starter having had a look at the profiles the other day are really good at range.

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    2. i am very much a fan of the Arquebusiers, expecially because there are already 6 sculpts and really get the impression i could have a unique skirmish line of them in larger games.

      The clean aesthetic of the Armada appeals to be as well, plus there are the twin facts that i love playing the 'good guys', and my favourite colour is almost the exact shade of blue they happen to have painted them in! ;)

      The Pirates are great fun, but actually, i am leaning more towards the Goblin Pirates now, they are just so damn funny.

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    3. Yeah the Goblin Pirates are Hilarious. My close gaming buddy the cursed has the Goblin Pirates. They make me chuckle, but they're not like normal Goblin factions that rely on swarm tactics. They actually have some pretty good specialists actually. The guy with the shark on his back has a devastating bomb attack if used at the right time.

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    4. FG: Have you seen the Confrontation Goblin clan?

      http://underthemountain.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/goblin-clan-skimmers-of-the-sea-gbbc01.jpg

      If you can get hold of them, I can see some crossover right there...

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    5. Yeah I remember the Confrontation gobbo's. Glorious miniatures. Some really nice individual pieces in the whole confrontation range. I just wished they'd bloody hurry up and get the game out again.

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    6. You're not the only one. You can sometimes find the blister packs at GenCon, but they're not cheap.

      At the moment I'm torn between the Goblins and Amazons for this game. I think I'll wait until GenCon and see what's available there. That's how I picked Malifaux Masters :p
      (Oh, and I'll poke CMON too, if they're slacking with the Conf releases)

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    7. Have yet to see the Amazonz up close and personal Andrew. But they look really good in the pictures. Very dynamic looking sculpts. The Goblins are ace though. Seen a couple of pirate goblem crews and they're really jammed with whacky character.

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  3. Cool,im useing this crew tonight. great review, that cape is a bit of a pain.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment. Let me know how you get on with them. and remember to try and force opponents into cover so your Master Assassin can use his special ability *nods knowingly*

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    2. Shadow Run is the way to go, it was a win but not by much. good game though.

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    3. Yep! As I said force people into cover and shadow run them to death. Awesome ability. Glad you enjoyed it though.

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  4. I love the way you get the feeling that they reveal their faces before they kill you.
    Very cool effect.

    These models are just lovely.
    The more modeling I do, the more I start to think I'd rather have a beautifully rendered artist's vision than a bunch of generic limbs and torsos I can assemble and pose myself.
    It's going to be my ability to do justice to the model with a stellar paint job (if I can), that makes the model...so it's better to start with a stellar model, I feel.

    Sigh...I guess I'm gonna wanna know all about the game system now...

    E-mailing you a death threat.
    Nyah.

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    1. There really isn't anything like actually painting somebodies individual sculpt. Don't get me wrong there's a time and a place for plastic multi-part kits. But for the joy of painting you can't beat a single sculpt. They're just more dynamic and better proportioned. They can be infused with character and detailing you just couldn't do with plastic multi kits.

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  5. Hi, thanks for all the reviews! I am entering freebooter's world and your work has been bery usefull. I do like this faction most.

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    1. It's my pleasure. I'm glad you found my reviews useful. I also, like you, have a real soft spot for the Brotherhood. But I also love my amazons and Pirates.

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