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Last night Greg and I gave the draft 4 version of Flashing Steel a more comprehensive workout.

Flashing Steel is the title of our set of skirmish rules for 1560 to 1660 for the Ganesha Games Song of Blades and Heroes. The rules themselves are largely stable now. We probably only need a couple more tests to really iron out the last details.

This game used the Paizo Flip Map of the Bandit Outpost. Greg’s men were bandits who had intercepted a coach and stolen some papers (possibly). My team had to make entrance to their hideout – an old disused fortress on the border – in the middle of the night and get them back.

My mission started to collapse as soon as my team reached the walls. The Captain fell and broke his leg, leaving the Sergeant to lead the team. Like true professionals he led them up and over the top, silencing one guard in what would have been an unpleasant silent murder. The team then split: one heading along the battlements to silence each guard in turn, the other dropping into the courtyard.

Without a blow by blow account the battle flowed around the buildings in a realistic-feeling manner. Morale checks and intimidated fallbacks happened in dramatically appropriate moments. The firearms performed as I had hoped, proving to be almost lethal at close range, but effectively one-shot.

The Paizo Map, too, fulfilled its promise of livening the table and giving focus. For a skirmish game especially (but then, that’s what the map is scaled for) it concentrated the action in the middle 60cm x 60cm, confirming my belief that that is the used area in any game at the best of times. The detailed map gave structure to that concentration in a satisfying cognitive way.

It was a good and successful night all round, with some editing to come on the rules.