Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Review: Freebooter's Fate Imperial Armada Starter Set


Yeah I am re-using a picture again. Look I'm trying to be environmentally friendly

So I thought that my reviews of the Pirate starter set and the Brotherhood starter set would have been enough to sate your appetites for all things Freebooter's Fate. Turns out I was hideously wrong. My inbox was filled with requests for me to review the remaining starter sets, and indeed the Deep Jungle expansion rulebook. Luckily for you lot those terribly nice chaps at Freebooters Miniatures thought it would be a terribly good idea for me to review the rest of their range too. So here I am starting my review of the Imperial Armada start Set, these guys are the other main protagonists in the back story to Freebooters Fate. The flip side of the coin to the Pirates, and the most requested review. So what do I think of them?

Product Description

This is the third Freebooter's Fate starter set that I've reviewed. I will be following the same format that I did for the previous two reviews, so there are going to be a lot of pictures. This starter set contains four metal miniatures, which I'll now discuss in closer detail.

Nicely animated miniature despite the small amount of components

Capitan Garcia is, as his name suggests, the leader of the bunch. For a leader though he isn't comprised of as many components as some of the others I've come across. The majority of his bulk is contained within his main body. Attach a sword arm and he's whole again. The base insert is a nice simple affair that replicates a ships deck, there's also a box of cannon balls to glue to the insert. This is so Garcia can step onto it as he's standing. All in all it's a simple miniature to assemble.

This picture doesn't show it very well but there's a lot of detail on her

The Teniente of the Armada like Capitan Garcia before her is comprised of only 4 components and the plastic base. Again the majority of the miniature is cast in a single piece, her main body. Like the Capitan there is an uncluttered and neat wooden deck base insert. The other two components being a pistol arm and on open pistol box to be placed on the base insert in front of her. Again an exceedingly easy miniature to assemble.

Every faction needs it's bog standard deckhands

In keeping with the simplicity of the previous two miniatures the male and female Arquebusiers are themselves straight forward miniatures to assemble. Each of them comes with a base insert, although not the wooden decking of the previous two miniatures, these inserts appear to be a sandy tropical beach. They both carry a rifle (or arquebus d'oh) and the final component is their respective main body part. Attach it all to the base and bingo you're done. So that's your lot in this box for miniatures. You do also get 8 playing cards for your four miniatures. As before, four of them are in the games native German tongue, and four of them are in English. There are also the quickstart rules, which come on a single sheet. Again one side is in German the other English. Speaking of the quickstart rules you can now download a set of the rules for yourself to peruse.

Character 8 out of 10

In my first two reviews I mentioned that for some Werner Klocke's unique style of sculpting was off putting. However, I don't think his style appears as pronounced with this group of miniatures as it is with say the Pirates or the Brotherhood miniatures. His wonderfully expressive and 'animated' faces are still present and correct and there's still a free hand sketch vibe to them, but it's fair to say it's not as visibly evident as it is in some of his other pieces. For some that will  be a plus, but for me personally I think it's a bit of a shame.

Capitan Garcia 
(and yes it's meant to be Capitan)

As with Captain Rosso in the Pirate starter set, Capitan Garcia is my favourite of the bunch in the Imperial Armada starter set. Part of me feels that your leader should always be the best miniature in your force. The one with the best cape or sharpest sword, a sense of gravitas. Lets be honest, Capitan Garcia cuts a swathe, dashing and swashbuckling figure. His cape is billowing in the sea breeze in a highly dramatic fashion, swooshing around his frame and trailing out to his left. He looks every inch the well coiffured Imperial captain, with his hair slicked back and his goatee beard trimmed to perfection. His angled and Mediterranean features look aloof and foreboding, he's not a man to be trifled with is Señor Garcia. The high collar cut tight to his slender neck adds him further air of authority. As does his highly detailed and elegantly embroidered overcoat. His loosely fitting belt, slung around his waist adds a nice air of nonchalant arrogance to the piece. You can just tell his nicely cobbled boots are polished to nice high glossy sheen. Nothing but the best for Señor Garcia. He simply exudes class and demands respect.

Teniente of the Armada

The specialist in the box. Every starter has at least one and she comes armed to the teeth with enough weaponry to make even Chuck Norris think twice. I count at least four pistols in total. The large ornate hilt of a cutlass and God only knows what else she has hidden under the hem of her skirt! I mean why else have it hitched up so provocatively and bunched up on her left hip? I tell you why, because she's trying to 'disarm' stupid men with her feminine charms, that's why. But I bet there's a dagger or two under there as well... and possibly another pistol! She might look like a walking munitions dump, but she is at least a sexy munitions dump. Obviously the frilly hemmed skirt slashing up like it does to reveal a bit 'too much' leg helps with that. As does her ample bosom popping out the top of her bodice. But is there anything more attractive than a sassy bossy female totally in charge? No? Just me then! Her face has an air of superiority etched on it, a smugness that stops just short of arrogance. The way her right arm is slung back, pistol casually resting on her shoulder also adds to this illusion. Her short cropped hair screams professional and competent. Her long leather gloves and boots while attractive are actually more practical by design. She's finished off with a long sweeping trench coat that swooshes around her stylishly. The open pistol box that you attach to the base insert while a nice touch isn't quite as well integrated into the piece and the cannon balls are with Garcia, but they do lend a nice bit of detail.

Male Arquebusier

If it wasn't for the distinct lack of boobs this pretty boy could pass for a fairly convincing lady! His hair is a bit 'Courtney Cox' circa Friends, and his delicate facial features have a touch of the feminine to them. He's a pretty boy to be sure! And he does look fairly sharp in his military uniform. The neat looking doublet and trousers combo that denotes the uniform of the Imperial Armada grants an unsurprisingly cohesive look to the miniature. He's no ragtag conscript or pirate. I also like that there is a bit of 'action' taking place with this sculpt too, as he peers down his sights before taking his shot. Although understated in comparison with his Capitan and many specialists within the wider range, this sculpt actually has a lot of surface detail on it. Especially when compared with other deckhands. His bandoliers appear to be crammed with supplies, as do his various belts. But its not over done in any way.

Female Arquebusier

The second Arquebusier in the starter set is however unmistakably female. What with her long lustrous hair billowing out to the side as if she were in some shampoo commercial. Because she's worth it! It's not just the hair though, nope this lass also has child bearing hips and a behind J-Lo would be proud of! If that didn't confirm her female credentials those lovely tailors of the Imperial Armada have given her a helping hand... or two. They've handily cut a hole in her doublet to allow her, erm, 'puppies' to poke out a bit more. It's more obvious with the studio paint job on the miniature. Her pose accentuates her feminine form too, stepping onto a rock like she is and kicking her hip out. Her arquebus is held across her body in her left arm, as her right hand reaches for her next shot in a pouch on her hip. Where else? The pose thankfully stops short of being 'cheesecake' or 'catalogue model', but it does give a knowing nod and a wink to both and remains firmly on the playful side.

I guess they fulfill their design brief, and if you want to play the authority figures faction in a Pirate based universe then these are the guys and gals to go for! I can definitely see the appeal of these as a force it's just that my particular boat happens to fly the Jolly Roger. I guess I'm just not that conformist, plus being a pirate is way cooler. In terms of the character of the remaining components, as before the game cards are nicely detailed. As with the other two factions I've reviewed there is a nice big picture of the studio painted miniature on the front. There's the 'aged' parchment look and everything looks suitably stylish. The cards fit into the same card protection sleeves as the HoMachine cards do, so if you have some of them to hand I'd slip them in those.

Detail 8 out of 10

On the whole the miniatures in the Imperial Armada starter set aren't too badly detailed at all. Unsurprisingly it's Capitan Garcia that has the finest detail of them all though, but only just. In the picture to the left you can see at the bottom of his doublet some very fine looking trilling. When I first saw the studio painted miniature I was certain it was all freehand painted detail, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see it was actually sculpted detail on the miniature itself. Garcia's face is also incredibly well realised, and his cape has a nice weighty appearance to it, thanks in the main to the clever sculpted lines and folds. However, the other pieces aren't bereft of details themselves. As I said in the character section of this review the male Arquebusier is jammed full of ammunition pouches and belts to hold it all. The Teniente of the Armada also has plenty of fine detail on her too. I just feel that they're not quite up to the 'detail' standards of the Brotherhood. It's also fair to say that while I've placed them on a par with the Pirates, with an 8 out of 10 score, there is far less variance with the Imperial Armada figures than there was with the pirates. By that I mean to say that while Garcia is more detailed than the Arquebusiers, the disparity isn't as great as it was between Captain Rosso and the Chuchillo.

This is a repeat of what I have said in my previous two reviews, so if you read the Pirate or Brotherhood reviews you can skip this next bit. 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. 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 8 out of 10

Well I guess there is less to go wrong with these miniatures than many others in the Freebooter's fate range, simply by virtue of the fact that they are comprised of less components. The 'cuts' aren't as adventurous as say Captain Rosso's overcoat or Curly Ann's rifle arm. Nevertheless they still had to be well cast, and they are. Like with the Brotherhood miniatures though there were more than a few visible mould lines. Nothing I'd be overly concerned by, as a quick swipe or two with a needle file sorted most of them out. I remain slightly concerned by Capitan Garcia's sword arm though. Although it fit's snugly into his body and under his cape I still have a nagging doubt about the bond, as it was very difficult to pin, and in the end I decided against even trying to pin it. It appears to be held in place quite well enough though. I'll say the same I've said for the cards in the other reviews, the print quality is very high, and the cards are perfectly functional enough. The only point I would make is that they're not quite as thick as say the HoMachine cards are and as such do actually need those card protection sleeves, but you'd need them anyway to use dry wipe pens.

Service N/A out of 10

As with my review of the Pirate starter set I can't fairly judge Freebooter Miniatures service for you. Besides, many of you will choose to use your own favoured supplier of toy soldiers anyway.

Price 8 out of 10

I got them for free, but unless you're as silver tongued as I am you will most likely have to pay for these miniatures. However, here in the UK you can easily pick this starter set up for £22.50 from either Firestorm Games or Maelstrom Games. You makes your choice and picks your poison! Whichever you choose, as a way into starting the game with the Imperial Armada I think it's a good sound bet, and a good price to boot.

A group photo. How nice!
Overall 8 out of 10

I like the Imperial Armada starter set from a gaming point of view. I even like the miniatures contained within the box, but not as much as the Pirates and the Brotherhood miniatures. I guess being part of the establishment isn't really for me. I much prefer my piratey brigands and shadowy murderers. However, if it's Spanish themed conquistadors you're after then look no further than these guys. They do capture that vibe so very, very well. But while Garcia I like a lot, the others I could take or leave. As I say they're not bad sculpts or miniatures, they just wouldn't be my first choice of faction on looks alone. On the gaming table though that's a distinctly different kettle of fish! These chaps and chapesses are effectively the 'gunline' faction of Freebooter's Fate, and boy are they good at it. The Arquebusier's will form the backbone of any Imperial force, and at times you'll wander why you should bother with anything else. They can be that effective, they'll remain in whatever Imperial list you write long after your first games. Capitan Garcia too is actually my favourite of the Imperial Captains so far. He adds a good amount of close quarters steel to an otherwise totally ranged faction. Even Teniente has her uses, although I'll concede the fact that there are other specialist I personally rather take... but she's no slouch, it's just personal preference. As before I find myself nodding sagely, as I know that yet again this starter set is a brilliant starting point for the Imperial Armada faction. What more could you want from a starter set? Peace out!


  1. I ADORE Freebooters Fate, I did my review of it last year. I've got two different Pirate Crews and an Imperial Crew LoL! LOVE IT! Nice Reviews Dude!

    1. Cheers Doc. I know about your review too, I'm sure I posted a link to it in this article:

      I'm really enjoying Freebooter's Fate as it's a solidly designed game with some fun mechanics and really nice miniatures. It's just a good all round product.

  2. Sigh.
    Obviously, yer like a big, juggernaut hobby pimp or something, and won't be stopped.

    Clearly I need to rob a bank.

    1. Hey SinSynn, don't worry about robbing abannk the bastards robbed us all a few years back and have been dipping into our piggy banks for decades and decades. Screw 'em I say!!!

    2. Now you're encouraging your readers to rob banks to pay for hobby goods?


      You really ARE the worst influence ever!

      ...Yer right about the banks, though.

    3. I am in no way endorsing or condoning the robbing of backs... but neither am I saying you shouldn't. :P

      Yeah I'm a terrible influence.

  3. 8 out of 10 is a good score you've got to leave a gap for the Goblins!! unless your review can go to 11! ;-)

    1. I'm currently writing up my review of the Goblin Pirates, hopefully that will go live either tomorrow or Friday at the latest.

  4. interesting. personally, i'd call the Armada the most characterful faction, but that is because their character appeals to me i expect. regardless this was a great read and i'll be picking this set, and the pirate set up next month for certain.

    i'd really like to know if it is viable to run a crew with lots and lots of Arquebusiers because there are so many sculpts and they are all brilliant.

    1. Taste is a personal thing. I can appreciate these as miniatures, but for me personally they're not my favourite faction on looks alone. Still think they're nice miniatures though.

      As for the Arquebusiers hell yes you can run a list heavy with them. I'd go as far as to say I'd suggest it. You'll need a close quarters specialist or captain to help hold the line when / if the opposition get to you, but it's more than workable and I'd say that ranged combat is what the Imperial Armada excel at.

    2. great, i just love the idea of a small group volley firing away at the encroaching hordes of bloodthirsty pirates.