Wayfarers is the newest small update to the world of Eldfall Chronicles, slotting in-between the original skirmish game and the upcoming dungeon crawler, Northern Wind (which has had just had an incredible barnstormer of a Kickstarter campaign, raising more than €260,000 against a target of €27,000, obliterating the original goal within 30 minutes of the campaign’s launch). Before we dive in we’d like to thank the folks over at Freecompany for sending us a copy of Wayfarers for review purposes.
Wayfarers takes the form of eight miniatures and their relevant cards, with each model effectively doubled. This doubling allows the player to build both configurations of each character type, thankfully sparing us from having to make that decision ourselves. Each pair of miniatures can also be purchased separately, but the Wayfarers pack does offer a saving – with the set retailing at €79 compared to €95 when purchased separately.
The models are cast in the same material as the original Eldfall Chronicles – Unicool Plastic. Unicool, a games manufacturing company based in China, touts its plastic as a “groundbreaking new material” marrying the high detail of resin with the durability of PVC plastic without the tooling costs typically associated with miniature production.
So, does the material live up to the hype? In large part, yes! The level of detail – and the sharpness of that detail, is remarkable. It’s one thing to have immaculately detailed 3d renders, and quite another to be able to turn those renders into completely faithful physical objects. There’s no softness in the edges here, that’s for sure.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though: The Unicool Plastic is still a resin-like material, which means that thin elements (staves, swords etc) will arrive bent more often than not, and require careful use of heat to reset into their proper forms – something that might leave novice hobbyists scratching their heads and feeling a little let down. I’d suggest to the Freecompany folks that an article detailing how to work with this resin wouldn’t go amiss. Since it’s not a thermoplastic, the temperature at which the material starts to deform is also much lower than that of your GW plastics, so hobbyists need to use a little caution when using a hairdryer while painting, even using the middle setting on my hairdryer it didn’t take long for the resin to start deforming (although this is, of course, not permanent, and can easily be remedied through the same application of heat.)
The sculpts themselves are the same kind of characterful JRPG-inspired designs we’ve come to expect from the folks over at Freecompany, with a pleasingly even gender split between them, with two male and two female characters (plus a very large wolf-lion-thing of indeterminate gender).
The Coalition of Thenion model. For me, this is the standout miniature of the bunch as I’m sure it will be for many others, featuring both a dismounted figure and an option mounted on a huge twin-tailed wolf-lion. She’s absolutely classic Final Fantasy, even taking her name from the Dragoon job class, typically a heavily-armoured melee character with an enormous lance. I love this design, her standing pose – with hand on hip, is a perfect combination of both swagger and skill, telling us a ton about this character. When painting I would suggest tackling mount and rider separately and then glueing them together at the end, that’s what I did and I think it makes a huge difference in the ease of achieving a good final result. The mount is very charming, and offers plenty of opportunity to paint different textures like fur, leather, metal, and rope. When purchased separately, the size of the mounted figure compared to the others makes the Slayer Dragoon quite a bit more expensive.
The Sand Kingdoms model, the core design concept is very much in line with the other Sand Kingdoms characters, fantasy elements with a strong middle-eastern flavour, this time drawing inspiration from belly dancers, but this one is a catgirl. I’ll be completely honest with you, although I really like the ethos, and the way the finished miniature looks, painting it was a real ball-ache, the silk scarf that winds around the model interfered with the brush so many times, I’m almost tempted to say I should have left it off when painting, but that ship already sailed. Definitely leave the magic smoke/wind/energy effect off the base when you paint though, otherwise the whole bottom half of the model will be pretty much inaccessible.
The Helian League model, this guy is your classic haughty noble character, from his tight fencing-jacket coat thingy, his thigh-high leather jackboots, to his standard bishonen haircut. The two variants on offer are basically the same, one has a sword while the other has a staff. In terms of painting this guy he was pretty straightforward compared to some of the others, but as with the Spellweaver, you really ought to leave the magic fire/smoke thing off the base, or you’re in for a struggle.
The Empire of Soga model, this guy is perhaps the most straightforward of any of the miniatures, without any particular fantasy elements. Like the rest of the Soga characters, he’s a Samurai from the fantasy-Japanese Sengoku Jidai faction. He can be assembled either weilding his bow or his sword, the latter stowing the huge bow over his back with a sheaf of arrows. There’s also the choice as to whether he wears a Takuhatsugasa travelling hat, or is bare-headed. While the hat is flavourful and offers a bit of mystique, I think I would have preferred to paint his face, since I love a good face. Well, that’s my mistake! I’m not entirely sure but I think only the blademaster can wear this hat, as it probably interferes with the bowstring on the bowmaster’s sculpt.
If you’re already heavily invested in Eldfall Chronicles (in possession of the all-in Warlord Bundle, for example) and want to collect everything from every faction – Wayfarers is a bit of a no-brainer, well worth the price of admission. If you’re not a completionist though, it’s a bit more tricky, given that each pair of figures can be bought separately, any disinterest in one of the four pairs might see you better off purchasing only the ones that you find intriguing.
That said, I do admire Freecompany’s attitude towards customer choice, since any of the figures from Eldfall Chronicles can be bought by itself – with the full set of rules available for free online – there’s no railroading of players into purchasing large sets that they might not want or need. That’s the kind of ethos we like to see.
Well done to Freecompany, we’re excited to see what you come up with next!
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