Flint and Feather Article to be Released in "Forging a Nation" eZine

This article about the Flint and Feather game and miniatures line will appear in the online magazine 
Forging A Nation. We present the first part of the article here to provide some background to the Flint and Feather project.
You can find the magazine on facebook at ACW Gamer: The Ezine or on the web at http://www.acwgamer.com/

Issue 3 Winter 2016
By Alexander Mitchell

Wargaming the Legendary Pre-Contact Era in North America


Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, warfare was an integral part of Iroquoian culture. Conflict was a regular occurrence between the tribes of the Wendat, Mahican, Cofitachequi, Susquehannock, Petun, Oneida, Micma and Algonquin . The five Iroquois nations, identifying themselves as “The People of the Longhouse,” were the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and
Seneca, later to be joined by the Tuscarora. Conflict among these peoples is characterized as primitive warfare due to any lack of desire for territorial gain or economic advancement. This combat, known now as The Mourning Wars, could become blood feuds and was characterized by
raids for supplies and people. It also provided warriors an opportunity to avenge the deaths of kin or tribesmen murdered by other Indians. As depicted in the Flint and Feather rules, it gave young men the opportunity to earn the prestige needed to become respected and influential members of their tribe.
Why choose this period to game? Our interest stems from a great book called ‘The Orenda’ by author Joseph Boyden [Oneworld Publications: 2013]. The book concerns the interactions within a group of characters, two native and one Jesuit, in the Great Lakes region of North America in or about 1640. Gaming miniature sculptor Bob Murch discovered this book through the yearly Canada Reads contest on CBC Radio and while reading it became engrossed with the peoples, their struggles and conflicts, and the historical significance of the era. Murch immediately began sculpting Huron and Iroquois warriors. The journey towards creating the Flint and Feather game had begun.
Imagine a time when a culture dominated North America that had nothing to do with Christianity or the history of the European continent. Native peoples were considered savages by their European discoverers but, in truth, had their own, highly developed way of life. Culture and political organization for Indian peoples was every bit as structured as in Europe, if not as technologically
advanced. Their conflict was characterized as primitive by the invaders because it lacked recognizable formal structure. Iroquoian warfare’s main goals were to enhance the social status of the participants, and the taking of captives and goods was merely a component of the practice. When tribal casualties mounted replacements were desperately needed so captured members of the enemy tribe were integrated into victor’s tribe. A culture of incessant warfare emerged now known as the “Mourning Wars”. Ritual torture and revenge killing became hallmarks of this period though it
should be recalled that Europeans at this time were quite adept at these practices as well.

Rules designers Howard Whitehouse and Roderick Robertson have brilliantly created a skirmish level game to portray this period on the tabletop. Along with Bob Murch’s finely sculpted 28mm miniatures we can now present this juncture of history with the detail that it so richly deserves.
Mourning Wars began when a brave would be chosen to become a War Chief and gained the tribes approval to begin a campaign. The reason for the campaign would be debated at length among the tribal leaders and eventually a consensus regarding the goal of the campaign would be determined. This might be the goal of helping the village obtain new members or simply taking revenge on an enemy tribe for a previous conflict. The next step required the War Chief to assemble a raiding party. This would often require the War Chief to promise furs or other goods as spoils to the members of the party. The size of the party and which braves would be involved was the decision of the War Chief. Strategy would be discussed among the members of the War Band and, again, a consensual agreement would be arrived at in determining the strategy of the campaign.
In the Flint and Feather game this War Chief is called a Great Warrior and those that are his lieutenants are titled Companions. Veteran Warriors, War-bearers and Striplings round out the ranks of the War Band with perhaps a Shaman or Healer being involved as support. Therefore, the first step in the game is to create your own War Band. Each type of warrior has a minimum and maximum number of models allowed in your War Band. Each type then costs a certain amount of “Furs” to convince to accompany you on the expedition. Each type is given a Combat Value, amount of equipment they can carry and a number of Abilities. Abilities can be random or chosen at this point,
depending on the type of model and come in Advantages and Disadvantages. Some examples of Advantages are Eagle Eye, Fleet of Foot and Lithe, while Disadvantages range from Awkward and Clumsy through Weak and Weedy. At this point there are twelve different Advantages and twelve
different Disadvantages to choose from in the basic game which range in helpfulness and hindrance level.
The process for creating a War Band can take up to 30 minutes and you can mix and match Abilities to work through a strategy for your band or you can work to a back story if that is your desire. Flint and Feather is a skirmish level game that represents detailed individual combats, so the characteristics of your models can have a dramatic effect on strategy and tactics.

The rest of the article can be read at the ezine website.

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