Tail Feathers: Strategic Attacks
Master the art of the cheese, the sword, and the bow.

Tail Feathers | 2015-09-04

Tail FeathersTail Feathers is the exciting new miniature skirmish game by Jerry Hawthorne set in the beloved world of Mice and Mystics. Soar across the table, send your troops on dangerous missions, and defend your nest! Previously, we've discussed phases of play, flight movement, and taken a look at a bird-pilot tandem. Pre-order Tail Feathers today for $15 off the retail price and a free promo Mice and Mystics Lost Chapter compatible with Downwood Tales!

So you have mastered the air and are feeling pretty good about yourself. But what will you do now that you have superior positioning? Today we discuss attacking and action cards, both vital to achieving ultimate victory in Tail Feathers.


When activating units in Tail Feathers, you can attack after your figure moves.  Determine whether your target is within range and clear sight using the included range finder twig and then… roll the dice!

(The full range finder is used to determine range for the sake of ranged attacks. The shorter notched portion denotes close range, which is close enough for melee attacks.)


diceIf you’ve played Mice and Mystics, you’ll be comfortable with the Tail Feathers dice because they are identical in every way.  Roll sword and sword/shield symbols to score melee hits and roll bow symbols to score ranged hits.  If you roll any hits, your opponent has the opportunity to roll dice for defense—every sword/shield symbol rolled blocks a hit from reaching its target.

Just like in Mice and Mystics, cheese rolled when attacking or defending get added to a cheese wheel (more about how that will be used later in this article), but if you already have a full wheel, you may choose to re-roll any cheese results one time if you’re looking for that one extra hit or block.

cheese wheel

Pilots and ground units have melee and ranged attack values, but what of their avian friends? Birds instead possess a battle value which is usually combined with their pilot’s melee attack value and used for two additional types of attacks: swoop attacks and death spirals.

Swoop attacks can occur whenever your bird flies over an enemy mission or occupied space. Combine your pilot’s melee attack value with your bird’s battle value and roll that many dice. Since this is a melee attack, sword and sword/shield symbols count as hits that the attacking player can assign to any figures that were attacked. The defending player rolls defense dice as normal for any figures that were hit.

How about when your bird crosses paths with a flying enemy bird? Your birds are now desperately scrabbling against each other in a death spiral! It sounds deadly because it is. Both players grab a big handful of dice (melee attack plus battle value) and whoever scores more hits wins the spiral, inflicting a wound (or several) in the process. A tie means the death spiral continues, with the units risking a permanent drop. Try to avoid these unless you’re throwing a lot more dice than your opponent or have some special action cards that will help you control the outcome…

Action Cards

Tail Feathers comes fully loaded with 60 action cards. You and your opponent will each choose 7 unique cards at the beginning of the game. (And don’t worry… if a card could be chosen by both forces, there will be 2 copies in the box!) There are two broad categories: hero or pilot action cards and bird action cards.

action cards

cheeseHero or pilot action cards will feel somewhat similar to ability cards from Mice and Mystics. Pay a cheese cost from your cheese wheel and then do something awesome like controlling your dice rolls, gaining extra attacks or… well…there’s a lot of variety! These action cards return to your hand at the end of each round.

Bird action cards are a little different. They can only be used by birds in flight and there is no cheese cost; however, once a card is used, it can’t be re-used until your bird perches. Think before you play these because it might be a while before you see them again!

Each card has certain requirements regarding who can use it, whether it is a certain unit type or proficiency, and when it can be used—some are meant to be played on your turn and some are meant to be played on your opponent’s turn. Either way, each player may only play one card per unit activation, so choose carefully!

I won’t spoil all the cards today, but here are some ideas of what these cards are capable of:

Awesome Attacking

Cards like Precision, Poison Know-How and Battle Squeak will let you attack more effectively by altering your dice, whether by letting you choose their facing, making them hit harder, or simply giving you more of them.  Other cards like Beetle Bomb and Talon Strafe give you completely new ways of attacking your enemies.

Magnificent Maneuverability

The key to aerial supremacy is being at the right place for a successful attack and then fading away before your opponent can strike back.  Cards like Veer, Battle Wind, and Tumbling Free-fall help your birds be where you want them to be.

Tricksy, Tricksy

There are also a ton of cards that just do tricksy things. Maybe you’ll take a Passing Swipe at an enemy bird that has come too close, or perhaps you will Set Traps for figures on a mission to invade your home tree. Build Ballista brings a powerful new unit into your force, while your pilot’s Bird Bond might bring back an action card faster than your opponent would expect.

Be creative while attacking and while using action cards and you will be well on your way to mastering the battlefield.  Use swoop attacks and death spirals to your advantage and time those action cards for when your opponent least expects them.  Those rats won’t know what hit them!

Click here to pre-order Tail Feathers today for $15 off the retail price and a special promo Mice and Mystics scenario with initiative and search cards compatible with Mice and Mystics: Downwood Tales!

Tail Feathers Preview Articles
Week 1: Round Phases, Story Part 1
Week 2: Flight Basics, Aerijin & Zure, Story Part 2

Written by Jonathan Liu.
Jonathan Liu is a Plaid Hat Games rules editor and playtester.