[Actual Play Review] Freebooter’s Fate

I have a cold.

I have a cold because I spent part of my Friday night sitting on the platform of a suburban station somewhere in the greater Birmingham area.

I spent part of my Friday night sitting on the platform of a suburban station somewhere in the greater Birmingham area because I’d popped over to meet the Frontline Gamer and play some Freebooter’s Fate.

Of the available factions I alighted on the Brotherhood because, frankly, they look prettiest, and I’m trying to learn about stealth and actually using terrain intelligently.

This may have proven to be a mistake, as they seem to be one of those clever-clever close-to-short-range fast-but-fragile forces that I tend to struggle with. HOWEVER, this isn’t about faction choice or winning, this is about the system and whether I actually like it or not.

I think I like it. The combat mechanic is very, very interesting – putting this in terms that I understand, every shot is called, targeted to one or more of six  parts of the body, and whether it hits or not is determined by whether or not the target is defending that part of its body. If two are left undefended, you choose one part to hit really hard. Which hurts, as my Master Assassin will tell you once he’s finished putting his knees back on.

How hard it hits is where the random factor comes in. Freebooter’s Fate uses a flip-a-card-add-the-stat-compare-the-difference mechanic for this. The spread of random values involved results in some very, very nasty hits, although it occurs to me that you could predict and plan for this if you knew how many cards of which values were in the deck and had a good memory for what had already been flipped.

And then things get damaged, and what I really like about Freebooter’s Fate is the various sliding scales on which damage operates. It’s not just about taking wounds and continuing to operate at full efficiency until you fall over, hoo no. Damage is applied to the location it’s sustained in, and taking damage to a location reduces the model’s ability to do something and increases the likelihood that it will run off in a complete tiswas (so morale’s folded in as well). That’s some clever stuff right there. Tracking it all without a dry-wipe marker is a bit hard but WITH a dry-wipe marker it’s dead easy, as the ex-Warmachine team behind this have taken that game’s nifty card system and pursued its potential a bit further, which is nice.

This isn’t to say that it’s totally plain sailing. There are definitely a few things which alloy my enthusiasm, as it were. The first thing is, and I’m sorry to harp on this but it is a factor, the metric system. If you’re used to inches, as I am (I have played games that work in centimetres, but not for quite a few years), this takes some adjusting to. The conversion’s not hard, it’s doing it while you’re also trying to evaluate whether something is or isn’t in range or not and dealing with that instinctive knowledge that 2o is this far that could cause.

Another potential issue would be terrain. Mr. Frontline pointed out that the board we played on was a bit spartan, really, and the echoes of Infinity began to click around my brain at this point. I played Infinity once and really, really liked it, but I did feel it would have problems taking off at some of the clubs I know because it needs so much terrain, and so many pieces smaller than the usual hills/woods/walls/maybe a dodgy building that you can’t really move into. Freebooter’s Fate may have a similar potential issue – a great game that might be unsatisfying to play on the wrong board, and that requires some serious investment to get the right board together or some good fortune in having access to the right board through a club or some other person.

Still think it might be worth it though. There are games that I’ve played once and instantly disliked. This is a game that I’ve played once and want to play again, which is always a good sign, and a game where I’ve been able to say “if we changed this and that, and I did this instead of that, and yes, I see what you’re suggesting there, that makes sense”, which is a better one. It’s still fun even if you’re not playing it under the best conditions, and that counts for a lot.

19 thoughts on “[Actual Play Review] Freebooter’s Fate

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  1. Well I’m glad you enjoyed the game, even though Rosso got lucky with a flukey knee cap job on the Master Assassin. lol. Plus Curly Anne got very lucky with that rifle of hers too!!! The game needs a bit more variety of scenery for me rather than necessarily lots more of it. Some higher walls and jungle would have helped I think.

    1. Ah right, so it’s qualities rather than quantity. I get that. Must have misinterpretrated you.

      I wasn’t actually going to mention that you’re a jammy git on top of being an excellent player (the random factor’s supposed to give idiots like me a fighting chance, dammit!), but since you brought it up…

      1. I think a bit more of it and a bit more variety would have helped the cause to be honest with you. I like seeing the Assassins making death defying leaps from walkways onto hapless marks. Yeah the random factor or fog of war is supposed to help level the playing field but me flipping a 10 on Rosso’s special attack for damage and you flipping a 4 was just unlucky. But for it then to happen again with Curly Anne’s rifle and Bonaccia was just jammy and tat was two attacks in a row. Still this sort of thing happens I guess when you play against me.

  2. Did the orange sun affect you too much though?

    Damn your hides this games sounds more interesting all the time. I have deliberately not read the other unboxing articles on Frontline Gamers blog…sigh…

      1. No me neither Von, the room wasn’t that orange and pretty much all my pictures are taken in that room. I reckon it could’ve been Sorrowshard messing around with things or the cursed!!! I blame them as they were present.

        Minitrol, I’m sorry to keep tempting you, but it is ace. :P

          1. Damn subscribe to comments fail…

            It’s not so much the temptation as opponents theses days! Not many people awake at the same hours I am! And then they get all offended when I text them “hey its 3.30am I am awake lets thrown down!”

            Then there’s shipping ugh. I would have brought Relics three times over but I get put off by the shipping costs,

            You’d almost think people have lives outside of games ; P

      1. Honestly over the past few months Freebooter’s Fate has provided me with many a riotous experience. Infinity is still top dog round mine, but Freebooter’s Fate is a very different experience and is just stupid amounts of fun. I mean the image of Von’s Master Assassin leaping around the shadows and getting himself into position only for Rosso to knee cap him to death as he was about to strike is an hilarious image. Maybe not for Von but it did get a big laugh. There aren’t many games nowadays that feel balanced, with depth that just make you laugh and enjoy yourself… Freebooter’s Fate IS that game. Plus as Von says there are many a nifty game mechanic at play.

        1. I laughed. I might have done some swearing first, but I’m pretty sure I laughed. Anyway, it’s my own fault for getting greedy and trying for the sneaky shadowrun/crossbowinnaback shot in the first place… and that would have been awesome if it had worked.

    1. Yes! The goblins are awesome (but then I find that in many games its like sculptors are inherently inspired by goblins and being so derivative of so may archetypes I guess you can let yourself loose – must find a sculptor to interrogate….

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