Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Review: Freebooters Fate Pirate Starter Set

The original studio photo... because I'm a clutz!

Much like I did with Bushido before it, I'm going to actually review the two starter sets I own for Freebooters Fate. The first of these reviews, as you can see from the title is the Pirate Starter set. Below that title however, you'll see the official website promo shot of the box. This is because I was so excited when reviewing these miniatures and prepping them for their pictures that I stupidly forgot to take a picture of the box and sleeve. Because I'm an idiot! Another thing to point out, although if you've read my introduction article to Freebooters Fate you'll already be aware of, is that these were given to me by Freebooters Miniatures to review. So as always I'm being upfront and honest about it because that's the sort of guy I am. Any way lets get on with the review.

Product Description

A fair criticism of my previous starter set reviews for Bushido was that I didn't actually include detailed enough close up shots of each individual miniature unassembled. So I'm rectifying that oversight with these reviews, so it might be a little bit picture heavy early doors!

Chuchillo and Pirate

As you can see from this picture, the Freebooters square bases come with a slight indentation where the scenic base insert each Freebooters Miniature comes with slots in. Both the Chuchillo and Pirate come in 3 pieces each (excluding that plastic base) and are a doddle to put together. The metal base insert actually makes securing miniatures to their bases easier.

Curly Ann, a sexy lady with a peg leg!

Next up we have Curly Ann, who has the most detailed base insert of the lot in this starter box. She comes in 4 parts, and at first glance you might wander what the hell is going on with the rifle arm. What's going on is that this miniature has been 'cut' exceedingly well. But I'll talk about that later on, there's also a pistol that actually requires some 'pinning' when assembling because there no obvious peg or notch to attach it to the miniature.

Captain Rosso

Finally we have Captain Rosso. Who is an absolutely splendid miniature he really, really is. I can't do justice to how well 'cut' this miniature is either as words sort of fail me. The over coat is shear genius and the way it sits onto Rosso's shoulders is just fantastic. His pistol and pipe hands also fit perfectly in their respective slots too. His hat is optional though and the studio miniature has it resting on the base, but I decided a Captain needed a hat. At 6 parts he's the most complex of the miniatures, but realistically like the others he's a doddle to put together.

There are also a few more items in the starter box besides the 4 miniatures. For starters there is the quick start rules that you will find in all the Freebooters Fate starter boxes. The rules come on a single sheet of paper. On one side you have the English rules, but on the reverse are also the German rules, so it could be educational as well! Having had sight of the full rules I think the quickstart rules do a pretty good job of distilling the essence of the game down. 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. The final thing in the box is the character cards, of which there will be 8, 4 English and 4 German.

Character 9 out of 10

It's pretty much impossible to talk about Freeboters Fate and not talk about Werner Klocke's unique style of sculpting. For some people his style puts them off, I think this is primarily because Werner aims for a highly stylised look. A look that I touched on my introduction article. I personally don't think if you haven't seen the original artwork you can fully appreciate these miniatures. Werner has managed to capture the spirit and character of the 2D pencil line drawings with consummate ease and has brought them into sweeping 3D. I think it's fair to say I'm a bit of fan. Although I like my realistic looking miniatures as well, the hobby world would be a very boring place if everyone sculpted things the same way and didn't try anything different. So I for one and very happy we've got the likes of Werner out there doing their own thing, because these pirates are jammed so full of attitude and sass. Yep, unique is the best word I can use to describe these miniatures, and please don't dismiss them until you've seen them in the flesh, because if you do I can promise you this, it's you who runs the risk of missing out.

Captain Rosso

Lets be honest here, he's the star of the starter set, and you'd expect him to be as he's the captain! To say he's got attitude is a bit of an understatement. Rosso strides into battle with a wry grin, plenty of beard and a pipe... oh yeah and lots of pistols! The lighting in these pictures isn't the best as the metal was particularly shiny and diffusing the light proved difficult. But trust me, from the cuffs on his coats and to his lapels Rosso is a snappy dresser. There's a lot of fine detailing on his clothes and he clearly has a sartorial elegance all of his own. His shoes are pretty stylish too, but make no mistake it's the overcoat that adds a strong air of command to him. He looks like a strong leader and he dresses like it. It's the face though that draws you into the miniature as it's just so full of personality. Look at him, he looks like a cunning brigand with a wicked plan, and of course the pipe in his right hand helps too. I love Rosso to bits as a miniature. The only slight disappointment would be the wooden decking base, it's not quite as detailed as some of the others in the Freebooters range. But, part of me wanders whether that would have been gilding the Lilly.

Curly Ann

The only special character in the starter set. But she's pretty darn cool. OK so she's mostly naked, and that's not always a good look, but Curly lives up to her name. She is a shapely lass who is just down right sexy, yes, even right down to her peg leg! Her sweeping trench coat cuts a dashing shape around her lower body adding a nice sense of animation to the piece, yet is close fitting around her upper body with an outrageously over sized collar that frames her feline like face and generous mane of hair. She looks kick ass from her gold hooped earrings to her skimpy bra. You wouldn't argue with her. Her base is more detailed than Rosso's and seems add a nice bit of 'weight' to the bottom of the piece. The one drawback I had was whether or not to pin her pistol to her left hip, and you will need to pin it. Although it's not a major imposition. I really agonised though whether I should include it. In the end I attached it as it added a nice sense of balance to her, although it does kind of get in the way of Curly's shapely hips. Still there's more than enough flesh on display elsewhere I guess. The star of the show though is the rifle slung over Curly Anns shoulder and resting on her back. Her left hand is reaching back and grabbing its stock, while her right hand caresses the rifle barrel itself. It's this detail that dictates the rest of her stance, and has her kicking her hip out in that sassy way. That it's cut all in one piece, with both arms attached is just an added bonus. It's a doddle to attach to the miniature, and frames her beautifully from the front.


The first of the two deckhands in the starter set. Obviously as he's just some standard pirate grunt, he's not quite as detailed as either Rosso or Curly Ann. But that's not to say he is without his own charms.  His baggy trousers have a great sense of 'fabric' to them, the folds and creases seem about right if a little exaggerated, but again that's the style. His belt has plenty of pouches and details on it and he's obviously been keeping himself fit, as you can tell by his barreled chest. If his pistol arm looks awkward it's because I did a pretty bad job of pinning it. I think it's supposed to be turned further back so the pistol is pointing almost straight at the ground. Another thing to point out is the face. In this picture it looks fine, indeed as it does in profile, but some pictures you might have seen of this miniature might make his face look a bit too 'broad'. I think this is can sometimes be a problem of Werners style of faces, they sometimes don't photograph well from certain angle's. So I tried finding an angle that showed off its proportions well. Hopefully I've done that! The hat just seems to frame his face really nicely too.


The second of the two deck hands. Like the pirate before him,  he comes with a hat that seems to shape and frame the head and face nicely. Sitting just above his ears as it does. His face looks like that of a grizzled veteran and he is sporting some of the best sideburns you are ever likely to see this side of a Jane Austin period drama! Like the Pirate he too is a buff individual and he too has a barrel chest bursting to get out from behind his tight fitting shirt... no hommo. He has a rather nice looking cutlas and there's plenty of incidental detail. However, I guess he's my least favourite miniature in the starter set, I wasn't quite sure why when I first looked at him. Because the detail and proportions seem fine and in keeping. It's his stance though, it's not quite as dynamic as some and the weight on his feet doesn't seem quite as well placed as the others. Not a bad sculpt by any stretch of the imagination, just not as good as the other in the box for me.

So that covers the character of the miniatures, and on the whole I think a better bunch of scurvy riddled, foul mouthed, villainous swindling swine you're not likely to see. However, I still have to tell you about those character cards don't I? 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. 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 out of 10

This is a fairly mixed bag in some respects. On the one hand we have Rosso who is without a shadow of a doubt a highly detailed miniature full to the brim with character and neat little touches. Honestly sometimes you're not sure where to focus, he's that detailed. Curly Ann is as detailed as she needs to be, and herself has a great amount of finely sculpted items on her. Her curvaceous body being her biggest 'detail' and it's realised beautifully. I love all the faces on the characters because I think Werners faces have a wonderful cartoon or comic book quality to them. That by the the way isn't an insult. I know sometimes in this hobby 'cartoonish' is used as a slur. But if you capture the spirit of the form, why can't miniatures be sculpted to look like they've come from the pages of a high quality graphic novel? The two deckhands though, aren't as smothered in detail as two other pieces. I think the lines are fine and well proportioned, but they're not as 'loaded' as it were. As a group they fit in perfectly because to put it simply they don't look as grand or important as Curly Ann and certainly not Rosso, which is kind of how it should be. Overall I think 8 out of 10 is a fair score, as I'd have Rosso at 8.5, Curly Ann at 8 and the two deckhands at 7.5.

Those Character Cards.

The other piece of detailing that needs talking about is the character cards themselves. I'm impressed. 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. 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.

Quality 9 out of 10

I guess as Freebooters Miniatures are a German firm it should come as no surprises that the miniatures themselves were impeccably well cast with minimal clean up required. It is though how well the pieces are cut that impressed me the most. That and the fact that such intricate and clever cuts weren't wasted because the miniatures hadn't warped and shrunk after being pulled from the mould. First thing I need to say is that the way Captian Rosso's coat is slung over his shoulders, and how it fixes to him is a work of art! It truly is, it hangs perfectly and there are more than enough contact points to ensure that it's a firm bond and no worry at all. Mould lines on all pieces were kept to a minimum and didn't frustratingly pass through important details. I did have a slight Problem with tails of Rosso's inner coat though. Luckily I spotted it in time before I glued him to his base. It wasn't anything serious, but there was a bit of flashing that would have been a pain to clean if I had already glued him to his base. So if you get him check this area out to ensure it's clean.

The undoubted star of the show in terms of cut pieces though is Curly Ann's rifle. If any part was going to highlight inconsistencies or defects in the moulding process used by Freebooters, it would have been this. Firstly it has to attach to both arms and slide perfectly down her back. There are so many things that could have gone wrong with this very thin and fine metal piece. Shrinkage at either end, twisting as it was taken from the mould... honestly it's a very brave piece to have gone for in the first place given the potential for slip ups. I suppose it shows that they had confidence in their abilities to produce a damn fine cast every time. Honestly, mine slotted in perfectly and was held in place by how perfect and tight a fit it was, No need to hold it in place while the glue dried. Genuinely amazed it didn't give me any grief. The only thing that might be a bit of a pain are those base inserts, as some of mine required a bit of filing to get them to sit right. But again nothing that would be a cause of any concern to most wargamers. The character cards are as good as 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.

Service N/A out of 10

Best service ever I guess (yet again). But yet again I'm not so sure it's an accurate representation of what service you are likely to receive. What I can say is that Christian packaged everything really well and there was very little opportunity for anything to get damaged. However, I'm sure you'll all have your own favourite peddler and purveyors of fine miniature soldiers that you use. And no doubt you trust them to deliver the goods in a satisfactory manner. Or indeed if you are lucky enough to have a good local independent shop, just pop in and take it right off their shelf!

Price 8 out of 10

Well obviously as it was free it should get a 10 out of 10, but again I'm not so sure that would be a fair representation of market forces, and the consumer experience you're likely to have. Having had a smooch round the Internet I've come up with the following price £22.50 from both Maelstrom Games and Firestorm Games. You might be able to find it at other shops for the same price or less. But at that price that's roughly £5.63 per miniature, which when you look at it like that is really good. Not that £22.50 is bad for a starter set to any game. I wouldn't grumble about that price for this box.

Overall 8.5 out of 10

Viewing these as 'just' miniatures there's a good selection to paint, and for the main they're all very characterful. But it's not just a collection of miniatures, it's a starter set to a game. As a starter set you hope it's a good balance of choices in the box from the off. For me the Pirate starter set is pretty darn good actually. Rosso is a good solid captain and you'll be reluctant at first to try out some of the other options available. He's Mr dependable at range and in close. Curly Ann too with her long range rifle is a great option right off the bat, so to speak. But it's not just as you learn the game that she's useful. She will see a lot of use as you progress in the world of Freebooters Fate. She'll also show you how effective ranged combat can be and whether that's the angle you want to go for in your own forces. The Pirate and Chuchillo will also become the backbone of many a pirate crew. It is a really good starting point for the Pirate faction if you ask me. It'll introduce you to the game and the basics, and offer a good all round starting point into the game as a whole. This is partly because the pirates are the jack of all trades faction. Plus it is nice none of the options will get put back in the box, so to speak, after you've learned the game as they're all useful. The biggest bonus though? Some of the miniatures like Rosso and Curly Ann are top drawer sculpts, that any painters should be happy to have in their collections. Next up I'll be reviewing the Brotherhood starter set. Peace out!


  1. great stuff. after your last review i went and bought the rulebook and a set of cards (i was at a tournament at Maelstrom and couldnt resist). i have tried the rules with some other minis and love them!

    if you every get a chance, i'd love a review of some other starter sets from the range. i am fairly sure i am going to go for the Imperial Armada, because i love the arquebustiers, but it cant hurt to have more than one crew for intro games so i suspect i shall get some pirates as well.

    1. Good, I'm glad you like it as a game. I just find it loads of fun. I'll be reviewing the Brotherhood starter set at some point this week along with my rulebook review. As for reviewing the other starters... well that's currently out of my hands given finances. But I'd love to do them in the future! :)

  2. Ok, new rule-
    I promise to actually check your blog in the morning before I start hassling you for 'coffee posts.'

    As usual, a very fine review.
    I hate to use a 'Jervis-ism,' but these are some very 'characterful' models.
    Very cool stuff...yet another game I'd deem worthy of interest.

    1. Yeah you swine. Jumping the gun and telling me to hurry up!!! Especially when I'd already provided you with some awesome quality Freebooters Fate content.

  3. I can see me picking up two sets at Maelstrom when I'm down there in March... what better way to treat myself for my 30th than picking up some pirate toys ;-)

    1. Indeed, pirates rock!!! Nothing can beat a good pirate... except a better pirate of course! If you do pick up two starters, rmember to get the deck of cards, without them you won't be able to play. You will however enjoy the game no end.

  4. Once again, I've been looking at the minis for years, and now they have awesome rules to accompany them. Another quality game to eventually invest in. Aagh!
    The one flaw I see is the whole issue with the mandatory deck of cards. If they're necessary to the game, it makes sense to me to include a deck in the starter boxes. Take note, game designers!

    1. Yes the cards are needed, but you only need one deck of cards between two of you. And having a deck of cards in the starter sets would increase the cost significantly, and thus put people off... and put people like me off of buying a second faction. It would also put off the people who only buy miniatures to paint. I think if they were to include the cards with any purchase it should be the rulebook.

    2. That makes sense, except you need the cards to play, but not the rulebook, since the boxes have the quickstart rules. Maybe just a "Don't forget the cards" reminder on the box. I think you said that already.