Sapphire Joust 2011   2 comments

Before writing this I went back to last year’s entry just to see how that started.  Last year: I griped about fighting with a 37″ because my 40″ was really floppy.  I was schooled by Connor and Dom, which kept me out of the playoffs in the tourney, and meant I only fought 4 opponents, which made me kind of grumpy because I felt a little screwed by the draw.  I did my best to pull on my big boy panties, though, and got on with the event.

Saturday’s Tourney

Fast forward one year to Saturday, where Aedan promised us 14 fights and damn well delivered.  We were split in to four pools and fought round robin in them.  I think there were 8 or 9 fencers in my pool, including Connor, which meant “Hey, revenge time”.  Oh, also, the whole 37″ thing?  Yeah, I upgraded and Happiness, the 45″, was my main weapon for the day.  No way in hell was I giving up a range advantage I didn’t have good reason to give up.

And, well… I owned my pool.  Owned it good and hard.  It wasn’t a light pool by any means.  In addition to Connor, Percy was in it (he’d schooled me pretty well at practice the Thursday before, but I may have been using the 37″), and Rochelle, and I think another free scholar but can’t recall, and a whole suite of good scholars.  But, still, end of the pool play, I think I had more wins than anybody else.  Which naturally meant that the quarterfinals were going to be kick my ass hard (see: Gulf Wars Populace Tourney).  The quarterfinalists gathered up, and looking around the circle I thought “I just hope they don’t put me against Dante.”

Sapphire Joust Quarter Finals

Yeah, that’s my clown-doublet fighting Dante in the quarters.  Go watch that.  There’s very little I can say about the fight that can’t just be seen (things like: “Wistric shifts back into Italian, then slides forward again”).  But, overall, fricking epic fight.  Too bad Dante won.  But he went on to win the tourney, so I can sit around and say “Yeah, if I’d beat him, I’d have won, too,” except that his finals opponent was Armand, who gives me a certain amount of trouble.

How does this happen to me?

Remember at Gulf Wars when I won that courtesy prize?

At Sapphire Joust, there are two prizes: The Ruby Prize for the victor, which Dante took, and the Sapphire Prize, for the most courteous fighter.  In court, they called Dante in to award him the Ruby Prize, and there was much rejoicing.  Her Maj called in Armand because she gives personal prizes to the best non-White Scarf performance of the day.  All through this, I was sitting in my reclining nylon chair at the back of court, in the shade, being widely envied by all who saw me, and barely awake.  This is the way that Wistric goes to court whenever possible.  And then Wistric was called forward to receive the Sapphire Prize.

Now, really, it’s…

No, I mean… I should recount a couple of things about my reputation.  Like, the e-mail to Rapier Net, saying “You should go take the Capo Ferro class so that you can kill me.”  And I end up with courtesy prizes.  Alric asked me how, I have no idea.

Also, when Her Excellency of Caer Maer was giving me the award, she said “This is for the Smurfellency comment”.  That’s a long story, suffice to say I nearly fell over laughing, and had to wonder again why she awarded that to the guy who sang the Smurfs theme when she walked in to court at Defending the Gate.

Nobody Lost an Eye, and We Have a Good Story to Tell

A while back, Connor came up with a game.  Mattheu suggested that, Saturday night, we play this game.  Wistric thought this sounded like a great idea.  Look at those three names, and then think, “Do I really expect this to end well?”  The game: Dagger for shots.  You win a fight, you take a shot, eventually everybody is fighting on an equal level.  Genius!

But there were some modifications on the original plan.  For one thing, our masks were way far away from where the beer keg and the liquor were, so we figured we could do without the masks, we were skilled fighters, after all.  And instead of fencing daggers (which, really, I would have insisted on a mask for, honest) we were using Aldemere’s hard rubber training knives (Aldemere is an army-trained knife fighter, so he has these things, of course).  Now, I reiterate, nobody lost an eye.  Wymarc, unfortunately, did spend the next day with ice over his eye, but two days later it was fine (for a definition of fine that includes being asked “You lost a rubber knife fight, didn’t you?” by everybody he met).  For my part, I received a flying tackle from a shodokan black belt and a head butt to the right cheek, and having won a few times already figured that was the sign that I should stop.

Now, you may be wondering, which dark corner of the event site we were doing this in?  We were directly in front of the royal camp, and observed by, I’m pretty sure, Her Majesty.  You know that whole “Connor, Mattheu, and Wistric are responsible for this” thing, and the “Where was the adult supervision?”  It was standing and watching, or just shaking its head.


Sunday of Sapphire, as is almost tradition by now, is Melee Day.

Aedan’s Grand Melee

This really should be its own format.  Aedan runs these as a standard grand melee at first, but when you die you go over and stand by him.  As the remaining fighters start to ally up, he starts resurrecting the dead in small units to go either do whatever they want, or form up with one of the existing groups.  As the fighting continues and more units are ordered to form up together, they get larger and larger.  The result is highly educational chaos.

Right now I’m maintaining a bit of a hard-on for the ideas of initiative and cohesive action, so I’ll talk about how those played out:

When Unit X was told to go form up with unit Y and fight unit Z, usually unit X would come up behind unit Y, say “On your left” or some such, and start fighting unit Z.  Me, I preferred the come up behind unit Z approach, kill unit Z, and say “On your side”.  Initiative, acting together without standing in a line together, etc, etc blah blah blah.  Counter-examples of this were spectacular, including the time that a unit came up behind us, we turned and started killing them, and they said “We’re on your side!!!”  Two things could have avoided that: communicating loudly, clearly, and early, or just killing the other people instead of forming up on us.  I prefer this latter approach: find your allies squared off against the enemy in the woods, just kill the enemy, you don’t have to be pretty and march in unison with your allies.

And the takeaways from all that chaos are wonderful: Communicate, both with the small unit you’re part of (“Hit that flank, kill them all, rally” was my standard) and whoever you may be allied with; Take the initiative and stomp your enemy rather than giving them time to know you’re coming to stomp them; Act in concert, though not necessarily co-located; Be aware of the field around you so you don’t get stomped by Unit X if you’re Unit Z.

Field Battling

Next, Aedan split us in to two roughly equal groups.  One side, let’s call it Black Diamond and the Marxbruders, because we did, was pitted against the Dragoons and a chunk of norhern Atlantia.  The Marxbruders may warrant their own entry one day, but for now suffice to say there were 6 fencers (Wistric, Alric, Letia, Thomas, Lily, and Jean-Maurice) who had something to prove and were looking to get tested thoroughly by the Dragoons.  And boy did we.

For the most part, JM and Lily took the left flank to make sure it was well anchored.  The bulk of the Marxbruders formed the right flank, set against four Dragoons and Master Vortigern.  The first run we took the charge of the Dragoons and attrited pretty quickly as Dante worked around our flank.  Our left flank accomplished some good, but that was a loss.

The second run we charged across the field, stood the Dragoons in place as their charge was forming, cut them down while our left flank was also doing good work, and wiped that line up.

The third run the Dragoons seemed kind of interested in getting revenge, and “lay on” was quickly followed by them sprinting at us (I’ll point out here that we now had only 3 Bruders as our right flank), pushing us back and pretty much crushing us.

There’s a reason I am all gooey about initiative right now.

The Ravine

We then shifted over to the ravine, with the same teams.  For the first run, two trees at the center of the ravine were the “flags” to capture, and the rez points were on either side of the ravine.  The Bruders and Black Diamond started on one side (call it “North” or something), the Dragoons on the South side.  The first fight went solidly for the Bruders.  We split into two small-ish detachments to hold each tree, and the bulk pushed past the center mark to screen the entire line.  I was at the center of this (ordered so by JM who was commanding that battle; we rotated throughout the team, not just the Bruders, for each fight) and our line was in a place to exploit some opportunities.  The primary was that, when forces concentrated to push one flag or the other, elements from the line could jump onto the exposed flank, pull the momentum out of the push, and re-establish control quickly.

The second run we switched sides and added a third flag-tree.  This originally had been intended as well for the first run, but was limited due to civilian traffic, and in that case we had planned to focus on trees 2 and 3, which were close together and had some bad ground in front of them to slow up the attack.  This was exactly what the Dragoons did.  On top of that, the South side was at a steeper slope, which was great for running down, but killed on the run back to rez.  We’d picked up Duke Jason for this run, but the other side had picked up Sir Roland and Count Vlad, which didn’t hurt them none at all.  At the end of it, we pushed hard and captured one flag-tree, but had been locked out of the rest.  We were all flagging, and I noticed halfway through this fight that we had Duke Jason, Kberger Jason, and the Marxbruders, the rest of our team having fallen out.  That sucked, and made it harder to achieve anything, but oh well.

Limited Front

We finished with a set of limited front fights.  We got Sir Roland for these and re-evened the teams in general, and for both of these runs the Bruders took the day, usually by hammering the soft flank (not the one stacked with Dragoons) and keeping the other flank entertained enough that they didn’t break away to reinforce the other end of their line.

By then I was thoroughly spent, and it was time to go see She Who Must be Obeyed and show her the shiny prize I won her, and hang out with my actual brother and his wife for the rest of that day and the next.

Posted June 8, 2011 by wistric in Events

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