Freebooter's Fate is a tabletop Skirmish game made by the German company Freebooter Miniatures. Freebooter Miniatures makes a small number of 30mm minis not used in Freebooter's Fate for use as proxies in other games (so mostly Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40000), but the range is mostly for their namesake game.
Said minis are designed by Werner Klocke, and have become very popular for their stylized and wild appearances (so mostly as Warhammer proxies). Some people feel they fall into the uncanny valley (just look at their eyes), but the game has rising popularity (if their rapidly growing Facebook group is anything to go by).
The game itself runs approximately $80-$100 to get what's needed to play (barring mini-painting). You need a crew (and the cards they come with) consisting of some specialists, characters, and redshirts as well as a deck of the cards required to play any faction. The company sells two kinds of starter kits for each faction; one consisting of the core deck and manual, plus a small crew you'll most likely always need plus one character or the same thing minus the core deck and manual. Additional characters run an average of $12 each.
The rules are relatively straightforward, leaving most of the rulebooks dedicated to fluff and background information.
Typical fantasy world, but set early in the Age of Exploration rather than Dark Ages or Renaissance.
You have an Empire that straddles between Conquistador and Napoleonic, Goblins (plus a few Orcs) who are a very mistreated (often enslaved) race who pull the same kind of batshit insane explosive-related shenanigans greenskins in current popular media are known for, typical pirates, Voodoo Cultists representing colonials, Assassin's Creed-wannabe insane nobility from the Old World, and with the first expansion Amazons who dress like animals and insects then fight like their
fursona spirit beast.
The first expansion also added mercenaries who can be fielded by any army (although individual characters usually have a faction who can't field them).
The storyline of the core game involves a string of islands in the middle of the ocean. The furthest west consists of dense, dangerous jungles while the easternmost, called Leonera, boasts a large port called Puerto Alto which was established along the main trade route by the Imperial interests. The small islands in the middle have a number of isolated colonies producing different goods. The natives of the land to the west, a cute Pygmy-like version of the
Ottomans Orcs from Freebooter's Fate version of Europe (typical Fantasy stuff here, except Orcs are at the same technological level as their flintlock-toting pink neighbors) were discovered, and virtually all were quickly rounded up. The colonists enslaved them, with the most intelligent ones becoming house negroes pets.
The port city became fabulously wealthy, winding up as a giant stationary Rogue Trader. However, a new route was discovered to the middle colonies and the city's economy suddenly fell out from the bottom.
The armada which protected the colonies from pirates suffered major losses from the sudden loss of revenue, and in the wake pirates had an opportunity to establish dominance in the seas. Each attack from pirates weakened the navy and emboldened the raiders, while every loss of taxed supplies from the colonies caused another unpaid crew to mutiny and turn their warship into a pirate vessel.
Eventually, the pirates became bold enough to launch an attack on the city itself, taking control of half the port and converting it into a pirates den called Longfall.
This was followed by a Goblin uprising, lead either from the house pet Goblins who self-educated in secret or slave Goblins taught by Orcs. The Goblins have a fast reproductive rate, can switch genders at will (with those who choose to remain hermaphrodites being called "thingy" by their peers), and attain adulthood very quickly as well, which coupled with the ability to learn VERY fast have lead to them going from a small group of slaves barely able to grasp simple concepts to the third primary power to rival the pirates and Imperial citizens. Some returned to their homeland and sought out the Goblins that had survived in the jungles where Humans couldn't follow, and brought their more savage cousins into the fold. They have established a number of settlements on the smaller islands as ports.
The aristocracy, determined to maintain their lifestyle at all costs, militarized their secret society (because of course they had a secret society) to control the situation. From Guy Fawkes wannabes attacking the Imperial Navy to powdered Queens of Hearts with Goblin guards dressed as cards (convinced they're just following a pink Goblin matron) and Jack the Rippers slaughtering random citizens of low class, The Brotherhood pays, plays, then slays all of the other factions (in a classy way of course).
The first expansion, Deep Jungle, progressed the story; pirates and took the port, booting the Navy to the western island where they encountered Amazons, warrior women (they have their own men, females are simply in the traditional male roles) of mysterious origins. The Amazons pattern their dress and behavior tribe by tribe after creatures in their environment such as spiders, mantises, gorillas, and jaguars. After skirmishing with the Navy, the Amazons found that the pirates had begun launching raids on their holy sites. The Goblins have managed to take most of the settlements on the island chain other than Puerto Alto itself, thanks to the Navy recalling their forces in defense of the city. The Imperials themselves have received word they will be getting reinforcements from the Old World (before they even asked for them...), and are rebuilding their strength for a counterattack on the usurping factions. Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated plot hook, the Brotherhood has been split between those hiding within the port among pirates and those with the Navy while at the same time getting some help from the Old World arriving very soon...They are manipulating political strings world-wide for their next mysteriously mysterious mysteryness and blah blah blah, cloak and dagger shit. Also from the Old World, mercenaries have begun to arrive to make names for themselves; from Goblin explorers to Rat Catchers using armies of rodents they will work for (almost) any faction who will pay them.
In the most recent expansion, Mystic Spirits, the Navy has finally received reinforcements from home ("Thanks Brotherhood!") and has begun fighting the pirates, pushing them back island by island. Said pirates have united into a criminal fleet to oppose them. The Goblins have consolidated their gains, freeing slaves and uniting the vastly diverse groups of their kind together bringing new strengths and eccentricities with them. The Amazons have begun their assaults, looking to claim the region and establish themselves as rulers over the foreigners and greenskins. The Brotherhood has stepped up its political assassinations, pushing the conflict in the direction they want. Calling for unity among all tribes, the Amazons prepared for full scale war and a great ceremony to begin it (requiring lots of sacrifice of course). But now the colonists, abandoned long by the Navy and mistreated by the pirates and Goblins, have begun worshiping Voodoo Loas and following a mysterious woman. Members from all factions have flocked to the Cult to learn the magics of ancient and very real gods, of animating life from the non-living, and to find advantage over their former allies.
The game relies on cards rather than dice to play. According to the creator, this was to go with the feel of a naval game as dice are bad to have on a rocking ship (I guess he imagines you magnetize your bases to the table, and keep your cards in your pocket?). Fate cards have an assigned value to fulfill the purpose of rolling. You simply draw a card for your result.
Movement is measured in centimeters, rather than inches like most wargames. As a result most models move quite slowly. In addition, ranged weapons are somewhat weak and require reloading, as well as an action to take aim to pull off a shot with a measure of success.
Characters have a number of actions they can make per turn, differing based on the character. Reloading weapons is actually one of them, as the game doesn't allow constant shooting. You can make any in any order, rather than having things like "movement subphases". Actions come in two groups; simple, and complex. Two simples are equal to one complex, and most characters can only make one on their turn. The game disallows pre-measuring.
Instead of taking an entire turn for each player, all moves are based on the Initiative of the models plus a Fate card "roll" at the start of each round of play. As a result the fastest models get to move first each round, and each in succession until every model has been moved that round where you start over with another Initiative+Fate roll again. This rapid fire between the two players allows for a more engaging game, and as a result feels more fast-paced.
In an outright Skirmish, the game ends in 8 rounds. Otherwise, each scenario has it's own length and conditions.
When in combat, you may actually select what part of the opponent's body to attack. Arms (right or left), legs, torso, head, or abdomen. The attacker selects his target(s), the defender selects where he blocks/dodges. The number of cards chosen by the attacker increase the better the attacker is at fighting, but never exceed 4. The defending model then picks as many cards as they have a defense rating for, never more than 5. If the defender fails to pick the same card, the target gets hit and they take damage if the attacker's stat (Strength for melee, Ranged Attack Value for ranged) is over the defender's Toughness, which incurs one point of damage regardless of how many points it's exceeded by. When the character loses all their Vitality (hit points), they are knocked out of the fight (not killed, since the game has an ongoing narrative). Characters who receive too many attacks to the same location suffer ill effects, and enough blows to the same region even if it doesn't do Vitality damage will still "kill" a character.
Interview with the creators of the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHNroiM6EG8