Review: Tail Feathers – flying mice

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I am scared. I have never been so high. I peeked out the window on the first floor once, but it was in safety behind glass. Now wind ruffles through my whiskers and I have only abyss of danger under my feet. I am looking around for rescue, but trees are all too far away. Unprepared, I entered the courtyard just, when battle between mice and evil minions of Queen Vanestry took place there. Sharp claws caught me by my tunic and now, I am hostage in an armored claws of a bird. But prince Colin will surely come to my rescue!

New mouse adventure has started and its floating there, up in the air. Who would not be excited about that? In the world of Mice and Mystics board game is set story of new game called . It was created by author of original mice game, , and his work launched into stores in a beautiful processing (we are getting ahead of ourselves, but there is not other choice) by company.

Square and solid heavy box bears a trio of armored and winged birds in flight. On their back sits none other, than mice and their foes. Our good old acquaintances heroes. And inside are primarily two brochures – one with a description of the rules and second book with scenarios, which again have a common story.

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Inside box are cardboard components, that help players create any battlefield in the first place. These pieces are treetrunks and branches, but also several leaves. All this is only the beginning, because players are also finding nests made of cardboard and their damage indicators, that have to be first put together. But number of tokens will be vast, whether its damage in shape of hearts, cheese tokens, different labeling for units, and also status, big tiles for air movement and of course the title tail feathers.

Then there are cards of units with necessary data about number of lives (hearts on the bottom edge), attack, defense and movement values. Units come in three levels recognizable by number of nuts in the upper left corner. There are, however, also action cards and almost round (notched) quests. Most important thing, without which Tail Feathers will not be Tail Feathers, are units. Miniatures represent mice and now also their great friends – birds. You need to place these flying creatures into their stands. Each piece has a hole on the back, which allows riders to sit on it (only riders – mice used to flying). And then there is one distance meter in form of plastic shaped twig.

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At the beginning of the game, players create battlefield using tree parts. Rules recommend minimal dimensions. In the middle of the playing area is placed a compass. Then, both rivals choose their side of conflict, thus becoming Downwood militia or Vermin Raiders. Each is assigned a tree like home. Player puts his nest on it and distributes all his miniatures across its branches. Right before that, players should also choose a combination of bird-flier, connect their pieces and cards together and mark their color with number for easier orientation (on stand and on cards). Besides the board, they prepare their cards, whether its large faction card (with place for cheese and two areas for units), missions or units for their side of conflict.

Each scenario has its own minor deviations. And, of course, every story of the campaign includes specific condition of victory. However, actual course is no different. In each round, players must first choose a secret mission for their ground troops. Both choose one of six possible cards (which can bring them an advantage at the end of the round) and put it in the middle of the playing area in designated circle. Then they take a group of their units (in number of their choosing) and place them on the mission area on faction card. These units will not be available for combat in this round and will be trying to sneak past enemy defense and carry out some secret mission.

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Even before battle, player can prepare his flyers for maneuvering. He does that by tilting bird miniature on one side or the other, but also backwards. If bird was sitting on a branch, it can rotate freely, as player wants. In flight, it can tilt only by one step. Player must also decide, whether perched bird will fly this round and possibly tilt it back to prepared position.

Then comes roll for initiative with two dice. Sum of their values ​​determines, which of the rivals will begin activation phase. Their chances may players support by culling cheese tokens and for each receive one extra dice. And then everything is ready for action. Players will therefore rotate in activating all units, that are currently located on the board. But in the case of ordinary troops fighting in a group, players can use only part of their figures (allowed number can be found on the card).

Units move between tree spaces and have a classical limit – four small miniatures on a single space or one large. When sharing space with opponent’s unit, it is not easy to leave such crowded positions. Creatures block their movement and players have to roll for evade.

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However, a completely different situation arises, when a player activates his bird friend. Before the beginning of the movement, player may change their mind and try to tilt it (this time only through successful dice roll) change. Flight itself then uses templates and according to tilt of their bird, players must choose specific notch on each connected tile – middle or side one. Thus the bird will at all times turn or vice versa will fly straight the whole way. When moving birds face barrier and get damage. But if its mouse is good at maneuvering, in turn do attack not only on foreign airmen, but also swoop attack on ground targets. One can even use it to transport other mice.

Fight is taking place also on the ground and always uses dice. Both sides compare their results – rolled swords (bows) against shields. Number of dice is always decided by statistics printed on the unit cards. Distance is also important for combat. Mouse must be within close range to make a melee attack marked by broader part of the twig (with attacking physically) and archers can shoot through its whole length.

For rolled cheese symbols and early completion of the round, player gets tokens of cheese cutouts, that they place on their boards. Later, they can be spend not only for initiative, but also for revival of units he lost or activating some abilities. However, pilot with its bird, who have fallen can not be saved like this. They seem to be lost forever.

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Fortunately, this is not true, because their liberation can be done with one of the missions. But each placed mission can certainly be attacked and destroyed by the opposing player. In the event, that it was not destroyed, successful player will receive a bonus attacks on enemy troops or move on to any tree. Units may be immobilized during fighting or even get burn condition.

Each scenario has its own conditions to be met. One of them, however, usually is destruction of enemy nest. Its lives are maintained by players on its own rotary indicator. When someone’s number drops to zero, this side is eliminated. Usually, its two player game, meaning end of the match. The only survivor is also the winner.

Tail Feathers are absolutely unique experience. It offers on one side bloodthirsty and uncompromising conflict between all the players involved, but on the other hand, it primarily provides tremendous atmosphere and theme during whole match. Dramatic play and picking up, where Mice and Mystics left off. Everything is designed to promote overall impression.

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There are small details, that make the game even better. What is the main focus is a combination of ground and air units, each with their own tasks and abilities and this is transformed into one hell of an adventure. Carrying out missions each round can be an important tip of the scales, but everything revolves around higher goals. Players want to win and to do well, they must use all forces and coordinate them.

But basic rules are far from everything you can expect in the game of Tail Feathers. There are also special cards, that can be played in turn (sometimes at the price of cheese) and thus improve your chances. And there is more. When you fly on the backs of birds, you can get into a deadly spiral with another airman and you will be caught in claws duel. Or you can chop leaves in the role of a frightened mouse and soar with it to another location plan using a unique mechanism of rotation. And then there is the campaign, which will allow players to improve their units and transfer them to their next fights. It’s not quite as strong campaign as with Mice and Mystics (this one is cooperative, remember?), but a certain charm that definitely has. This altogether means great variability of matches.

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And Tail Feathers go even further. They leave up to the players to create their own deathmatch scenarios. And for this purpose, there are also goals included in the box, of which you uncover just a few  and every time, you will face a unique experience. But adjustments is not thing only around cards. Players can even choose different troops assembly, than their actual scenario offers.

Game looks stunning and so is playing itself. Game is perfect for two players, who will compete against each other. Higher number is allowed by a team game, but actual scenarios in the booklet always clearly state „two players.“ If you would like to fight with more people as mice, you still do not get what you would expect, though there might appear variations on publisher site. Combat is tactical and therefore takes a little longer and is running towards ninety minutes.

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Tail Feathers is a game, which we had huge expectations from. After all, it is a loose continuation of our beloved mice game. And it did not disappoint us at all. Of course, it is a different experience from the root, because its all against all in here. However, strong thematical focus was preserved and game even has its campaign. Tail Feathers are certainly one true experience, surpassing many games.. at least in miniature / dice rolling world.

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DesignerJerry Hawthorne
ArtistJJ Ariosa, Chad Hoverter, Chris Quilliams, David Richards, Brian Valeza
PublisherPlaid Hat Games, CrowD Games, Galápagos Jogos, Heidelberger Spieleverlag, Raven Distribution
Year Published
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 2 players
(10 voters)
Playing Time90
Mfg Suggested Ages9 and up
User Suggested Ages8 and up
(6 voters)
Language DependenceModerate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(4 voters)
CategoryAnimals, Aviation / Flight, Fantasy, Miniatures, Wargame
MechanicAction Queue, Dice Rolling
ExpansionTail Feathers: The Wilderberry Patch, Tail Feathers: Four Captains Scenario, Twitch: Unique Mouse Pilot
FamilyAnimals: Mice, Animals: Rats, Components: Miniatures, Game: Mice and Mystics, Theme: Anthropomorphic Animals
Primary NameTail Feathers
Alternate NamesSchwungfedern, О хвостах и перьях

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Tail Feathers – flying mice
Final word
Tail Feathers are definitely one of those games, that will get its fans at first glance. And when you start playing, totally immersive atmosphere of the world will grip you even further. In the roles of mice, you will stand agains usurpers or vice versa. Two players face each other and this is, when the game works best and not as a team fight. Battles have momentum, because they take place both on land and in the air, and the whole story is really exciting. Game is obviously difficult to learn, but it will reward all fans of great combination of miniature fights with battles on the ground and in the air. Tail Feathers are tremendous fun in the small world of mice.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
wonderful atmosphere
combination of air and ground fighting
card missions affect game flow, but can be destroyed by other side
campaign
wonderful processing
several unique concepts (flying leaves, tilt movement,..)
dice guarantee unpredictability
Cons
complex rules
5
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