Calvin’s Commentaries: Flint and Feather

A handful of miniatures and a table covered with terrain and you have the basis for a great night of gaming.

Skirmish battles are also fun because they are generally quick to set up, and to play, and there are rule sets which cover just about any genre of battle you might be interested in.

One of the more interesting rulesets comes from Crucible Crush Productions, a Canadian firm that has come up with a game based solidly in a part of Canada before there was a Canada.

“Flint and Feather is a tabletop skirmish game based on the tribal warfare of the First Nations of the Great Lakes region in the legendary Pre-Contact Era,” explains the introduction of the nicely created hardcover ruleset.

I will digress here just a bit to applaud the production of the book. There is a fine mix of game rules, fluff and game background that make the book interesting to just sit down and thumb through even if not preparing for a game session.

“In Flint and Feather you play a Great Warrior who must raise a War Party to lead on a heroic quest. These quests: raiding enemies, obtaining captives and plunder, and even defeating evil spirits, will grow your power or “Orenda”, bringing wealth and honor to your tribe and nation and immorality to your name,” continues the introduction that really provides the flavour of the game well.

“There were two great nations in this era that were locked in an epic conflict, the Wendat and the Haudenosaunee. The Wendat Confederation, located in the Georgian Bay region of Ontario is known to us as the Huron. The Wendat were a great trading nation and controlled crucial transit points that were vital to North American trade. The Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Federation of five nations, controlled the territory of what is now much of the New York State. Both groups shared a similar culture and both exerted significant influence upon the neighboring tribes on their borders.

“Warfare between tribes in this period was not for territorial gain as much as it was a reciprocal blood-feud. History has called these conflicts Mourning Wars, but as we have tried to incorporate some of the mythological traditions we have chosen to call this Heroic Warfare as it has many similarities to the classical warfare of the Iliad; honor-based revenge, the opportunity for personal glory and a reflection of the conflicts of the spirit world itself. Orenda is a force in itself described as representing a ceaseless struggle directed by spirits in the natural world.

“The Flint and Feather game captures the heroic nature of these battles, both large and small. Great Warriors need to inspire their followers, not command them. They must seek glory and success by being both brave and clever or upon returning home they will face the condemnation of the chief and the women of the village who were, indeed, the real brokers of power. Great Warriors seek to return with captives to replace previously lost members of the tribe. They seek to return with the enemy’s property to distribute to their friends and family. Most of all, they dream of returning with tales of valor and wonder to tell around the longhouse fires during the long winter nights.”

Now I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy of Flint and Feather, but that is not the promise of the game. You pick this one up for the rather unique era, and the interest in a skirmish game not dominated by some guy shooting a rifle from a hidden position on a rough top.

There is more in terms of strategy here based on the limitations of the era.

“Flint and Feather is played on a miniature landscape set out on the floor or a tabletop,” explains the rules. “This can be as elaborate or as simple as you like; the game is best played on a board showing a lot of cover – forest, swamp, forest, creeks and streams, forest, rock formations and caves, and yet more forest. You’ll probably want a village in due course.”

The general set up will be familiar to anyone who has played a miniature skirmish game before.

“Each player controls a war band of about a dozen models. Some forces may involve more models, consisting of less skilled (or worse-armed) warriors, depending on how you wish to design your war band. A game between two war bands should take about two hours to play,” notes the rules.

Again this is similar to other games such as MERCs or Blackwater Gulch, two of my favs.

“Flint and Feather is designed as an unpredictable game full of random events – sudden rushes, flurries of arrows, and men fading back into the forest. The winner is usually the player who can handle the chaos and still follow through with his plan. One player takes his turn, rolling to see how many of his warriors will follow orders, and begins his series of actions. His opponent is allowed to react to his actions by counter-attacking, firing on him, or retreating out of the way. The first player finishes his turn, and then the sequence is reversed,” explains the rules, which of course include far greater details.

Overall, this is a great offering that skirmish battle fans should definitely check out at

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