Spring Assessment of the Army 2011

Gulf Wars looms large, and so Atlantia (or, at least, 10 members of its rapier army) gathered to train at the Elkinburg Castle on Saturday.

First: what a miserable damn day to fight.  If the weather had been any worse, if just one more drop had fallen, we’d probably have canceled the entire thing.  It was gray the entire time (and has been pretty much ever since), the sort of weather that called for hot cocoa and a book, not for fencing.  It kind of rubbed off on me, leaving me in a meteorpathic funk, and I was lethargic and grumpy the whole day.  I tried to catch a nap, but that was unsuccessful; oh well.  But the fighting was good!

It started with pickups

Did I mention being sluggish?  Yeah.  I received a couple of hits that I’m pretty sure I was standing there drooling for and didn’t even realize my opponent had moved.  When I did move, I moved pretty well, actually, but there was just so little energy in my body that motion required a committee hearing to occur.  When we wrapped those up, we went on to actually training.

Atlantian melee success is really just about fundamentals

So we practiced fundamentals.  We started with the sort of “glove drill” fighting I’d tried at practice a month or two back (except no gloves, just poking with fingers).  This gave us a chance to, masks off, visualize the formations and the actions, and talk through them so that everybody could actually hear.  Then we masked up and actually fought it.  We worked the fundamentals of line fighting: movement, dressing, and diagonal targeting.  I provided an impromptu demonstration of munching the right that dropped all five of the opposing team, so we discussed what had happened.

We worked, briefly, running the right and running the left.  I still wonder what everybody else thinks “run” means, given the usual pace for these actions.

Then we worked on killing cups, and punching through the ends on them.  This was a nearly successful strategy, so I’ll take a moment to discuss:

Against a small-ish cup, say, 3-5 people, you can advance to the doorway in a column of two.  One side plays “wall”, blocking off 3 of the defenders from being able to attack the other column, while the other side busts in and kills the person closest to the door.  This fighter will die, but must die out of the way.  The fighter immediately behind moves hard and fast through the gap and into the backfield, possibly killing a second defender on the way.  That right there?  That’s the hard part.  We are so trained to engage the swords pointed at us that almost all of us had trouble getting the push through down.  So that goes on the list of skills that absolutely must be trained (especially because it comes up in breaking through gaps in line fighting, too).

Other Field Skills

We finished the day working 4-on-2 and 5-on-3.  Alls I can say about that is: If you’re outnumbered, break and run.  Everytime the 2 or 3 bunched and tried to fight a stand-up battle, they got clobbered.  Continually running and disrupting the unit cohesion of the larger unit allowed opportunities to pick off the enemy one by one, and some of these fights even came out with a victory for the underdogs.

It was, all in all, a little under-attended and miserably damp, but more training never killed anybody (except the enemy).

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