Last week, we had a visit from our nine-year-old nephew. After playing some games of X-Wing, which he really enjoyed, I introduced him to my collection of pirate miniatures and the Flashing Steel ruleset. We played a practice game and then decided to play a scenario of our own making.
Some months ago, K. and I came up with a simple and fun scenario generator for Flashing Steel. It’s based on secret orders: Each one draws a slip of paper with one of the following orders:
– It’s something personal! Take out the enemy leader.
– Let’s teach them a lesson! Take out at least 2/3 of the enemy crew.
– Grab the loot! Get the treasure to your end of the table.
– Get out of the way! Get at least 1/2 of your crew to the other side of the table.
For the treasure, a chest marker is placed somewhere in the middle, where everyone has equal access. (Picking up the chest costs one action, and carrying the chest reduces C by 1. The chest can be dropped any time and will be dropped involuntarily when the model carrying it is pushed back or falls down.)
This is an easy way of making an exciting game. Everybody has to guess what the other wants while not letting him or her know what he himself is up to! (There are two slips for each mission, so both sides may have the same orders.) And the missions all necessitate an aggressive approach, so a frantic game is guaranteed.
For our family game, I was playing together with my nephew against K. I let the kid put together the crews, only reining him in when they threatened to become unbalanced. Our secret orders demanded that we take out two thirds of the enemy crew. With six figures per side, that meant four figures to dispatch. (Normally in Flashing Steel, that would trigger a morale check for the player losing these figures, but as in this case the mission objective is fulfilled, the game ends immediately.)
The playing field was dominated by a large hill in the centre, where the treasure was placed near a hay cart (I also let my nephew set up the scenery, which resulted in a pretty built-up table). The kid put our captain in the middle, accompanied by three weaker characters. To the right, we positioned the other three pirates. K. also had her captain at the middle and some evenly distributed pirates on the flanks.
The game started with us advancing towards the hill, while K. had some difficulties activating her crew and ended up with a part in front and some hanging back. Bloodthirstily, the kid rushed in with our captain, which strained my nerves, as I feared K. might have the order to kill our captain and the whole game would be over soon. However, the first clash between the captains was inconclusive, and there began a dance around the treasure, as everybody wanted to make sure the other didn’t pilfer the chest out of the hay.
The first turning point came when K.’s stragglers suddenly got their act together and, with a sweeping manoeuvre, attacked our right flank. Our mediocre pirates were quickly dealt with!
On our left flank, things developed better: We managed to take out the lone figure guarding her right and advanced towards the middle. There, our captain was still locked in melee with K.’s captain. By being pushed back and moving (the kid, however, not relenting and always moving back into melee), she had managed to move down from the hill and unto the road leading towards our table edge. When K. positioned the figures on her left flank, where our opposition had faltered, near the edge of the table, it was clear what her orders were!
Now it was down to the captains. K. had to get her captain out, because she had no other figures left apart from the two waiting at the edge of the table, and we had to get her down, because she was the last figure we needed for us to succeed in taking out two thirds of the enemy crew. It became a race against time: Could her captain defeat our captain and run away before our relief from the left flank pirates would come? The duel between the two pirate heroes was a nerve-racking affair! However, K.’s captain didn’t manage to break away in time, and finally our reenforcements arrived. Despite fighting heroically, in the end she succumbed to our superior numbers.
It was a close victory for our crew and a thrilling game! The kid did great: sometimes I gave him some hints, sometimes I let him make his mistakes. But he kept on track quite fine, even if his tactics were rather straightforward. And in the duel between the captains, he rolled some ferocious dice.
It was a pleasure introducing my nephew to the concept of wargaming. Gaming with miniatures was a new concept for him, but he took to it immediately and with great enthusiasm. When he visits again, there will certainly be another clash between two motley crews of pirates!