Pennsic XL Part 5: Which contains almost no rapier melee   7 comments

For reasons that will become clear relatively shortly, this post has almost absolutely nothing to do with the stated purpose of this blog, musings on rapier melee.  The staff apologize.  But it WILL have something to do with

Heavy Bridge Battles

The setup: 5 thirty-foot wide bridges (Call them 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, with 1 being closest to the fort) with flags in the middle.  Some amount of time (I never figured out how much) was allotted to each fight, and victory was determined by whoever’s flag was raised.  Also, no resurrections.  Fought three times.

The overall strategy seemed from my perspective (which, again, is the extra playing grunt number 5 in the diner scene) to be to push bridges 1, 2, 4, and 5, or some portion of those, enough to have the flags be contested, while Atlantia looked big and scary on their end of bridge 3 and did not engage, but forced the Mid to dedicate multiple units to oppose us just in case we attacked.  We’d look scary while our allies whittled down their opposition, until the reserves were pulled from in front of us to go reinforce another unit, at which time we’d attack.  Windmasters seemed to be at the front of this a lot.  Lucky us.

Round 1: After lay on was called, we got to watch everybody else go have fun and beat people while we did our job of looking scary.  We advanced to the near side of the flags, played around a bit, and when the two large reinforcing units in the enemy backfield broke off to go support other bridges, began our push.  Somewhere in there, while I was about dead center on the bridge, I took a spear shot and got to die defensively with my polearm to protect me (which is dumber than dying to the ground in rapier).  There was a hold, dead got out, and I sat on the rez line hay bales and watched as Atlantia blew out the end of the bridge and crunched in on the back side of bridge 4.  The East’s allies had taken bridges 1, 3, and 5, and seemed to have the enemy bottled up in the middle of 2 and 4 and the fight locked down.  Right up until our noble allies, guarding the far end of bridge 2, were obliterated by a last minute push that sprinted on to Bridge 3, overwhelming the fighters left behind to guard, and raised the flag.  They repulsed a counter-attack just as the final gun blast came, and the Mid had won a point.  What’s more, they’d done it on Atlantia’s bridge.  Can you say angry Atlantians?  I thought you could.  But, such is what happens when you forget Rule #4.

Round 2: Again we followed the “wait… wait… wait… charge” strategy.  And again Atlantia was doing its thing, trading lives for ground.  It being a bridge fight, there just wasn’t a lot of subtle art to the fighting.  You killed people, charged, counter charged, pushed, and took ground.  A couple of charges ended up with me crouched down, holding my haft up and forward to stop somebody from running over me while the shield men hammered on them.  At one point, a strong column was formed up on our right side and pressing forward, and a large shieldman was crouched in front of them holding them back.  A spearman was buttressing him, and taking angle shots into the flanks of the fighters advancing past his shieldman, and I figured I could shove the spearman off the bridge.  About halfway to him, though (a space of 10 feet or so), I realized his line of shieldmen were coming forward to thump me, and the haft-toss plan was replaced by “flying check” which took us both over the bridge wall.  I don’t know that my contact with him was entirely haft-on-haft, or that his haft was anywhere near mine.  The marshal tapped me with his staff, and I thought “Crap, it’s marshal’s court” but he just ordered me to get out of the way, so I did, and watched Atlantia explode out the back end of the bridge, and this time make sure they kept the thing.

Somewhere in there, I think, somebody got this footage of what the receiving end of a Windmasters charge looks like:

The rapier woods battle was supposed to start soon, so we were all anxious to get done with this, changed, and up the hill, but we still had to fight

Round 3: Had archers and ballistas!  So while we waited, we got to play the “BALLISTA!” dance (forty out of shape guys in armor all frantically jump up and down at the same time to get out of the way of something that feels like a middle-weight right hook).  Eventually, we realized that we should probably communicate more than just “BALLISTA!” which caused everybody to look around and not actually dodge, and started shouting which side, as in “BALLISTA RIGHT!”  Which helped.  Also, communicating that they were loading, aiming, and so on helped us keep track of where the next threat was coming from.  We had more ballista, though, and more and better archers, so we were willing to let them do their work and cut our enemy up.  Our enemy, for their part, advanced a skirmish line out past the flags, raised their color, and sat there taking fire.  Eventually that skirmish line fell back, and we had two armies at either end of the bridge, with the flags unprotected in the middle.  “Hey,” says Wistric, “Gimme a dollar if I go out there and raise our flag?”  “Sure,” says Girard and Ruarik (and you two thought I’d forgotten).  So Girard, a spearman I didn’t recognize, and I went out to the middle of the bridge and started trying to raise one of the two flags.  The opposition’s advanced guard came back to press us, but a group of spearmen from our side came forward, hit them in the flank, and we had the flags up.  The skirmishers reformed and were reinforced, and came forward again in a line.  It hesitated a little ways away from us, just long enough for one of the enemy to be hit in the back of the head by his own ballista.  Atlantia had a good laugh at that, then killed them all.  I was over on the far right, up against the hay bales, and the charge put a whole stack of enemy dead on top of my legs.  I lay there, flailing with my polearm, until a hold was called, and the dead got out and off of me.  “Hey, weren’t you dead?” asked one of the enemy.  “No, I was trying to kill you!” I replied.  I crouched on the ground, waiting for “lay on”, and knowing a couple of the enemy would be trying to end me.  One of them, a spearman, lined up his shot about six inches from my face as I crouched there, and we were both listening to the marshal-in-charge over the radio, for the “lay on” call.  At it (and before the nearby marshal was done talking) the spearman began his shot, but I popped it up with my polearm and jumped forward (if you’re dead, go gloriously).  I pressed between the spearman and a shieldman, trying to put the spearman over the edge, but mostly just making a big ass hole that I hoped people would be able to exploit.  I ended up at the very end of the bridge, in front of some Mid knight, who clobbered me as was my due, and that was the end of my battle.

Girard was out shortly after me, we dropped armor and loaded up our rapier gear, and headed for the top of Mt. Eislinn for the rapier woods battle.  But before that:

The bridges were long periods of boredom punctuated by brief moments of hitting people (better than terror, eh?), and as a fencer I tend to hate bridge battles.  The thing was the heavy fighters all seemed to hate them, too.  So why do they ever happen?  Why not spend that time on something the fighters actually like?  Maybe more and different woods battles, or field battle scenarios, or… something else?

Anyway, back to the

Rapier Woods Battle

Is that authorial gimmick going to get worn out soon?  Probably, one day.  But it is not this day!

The Setup: The rapier woods were set up along a north-south line on a patch of woods that sloped down from west to east.  Three flags were set up along the west-east line.  Except for a stand of spruce trees screening the northern rez point, the woods were open enough that the flags could be seen from rez and from each other.  There was some ground clutter, but the trees could be moved between, and some logging roads ran along the edges that also provided access.

Atlantia was going to take the left, West, side and secure the high flag.  East had the center flag, and Aethelmarc the far right ( “eastern” flag).

There was just one small problem:

I broke my foot walking in to the woods.  I didn’t realize it was broken (and walked around on it for a week and a half before I found out it was broken), just thought I’d torn some tendons in it and was limping along.  I was corralling Windmasters, though, and intended to hobble in to the woods behind them and stand on the flag and kill people who tried to take it.

But the woods battle was taking forever to get started, and many fighters were worried that we would miss the start of the Rose Tourney.  I was thinking I’d fight for a half hour, then go fight the Rose Tourney, but Giacomo came over and said “Wistric, take your broke ass foot and go tell Her Majesty we are running late, but will be down there as soon as this is over.”  I sighed, left Letia in charge, and hobbled off.  On the way I found the chirurgeons, got my foot checked out (“probably just sprained” they said, one of them a doctor, so I felt vindicated), and got one of them to drive me in a cart down to camp, but not before the gun sounded and the Aethelmarcian army came running past to kill people.  On the way we passed Ella, who said, “They’re holding off on the rapier part of the tourney until the woods battle is over” so my mission was more or less unnecessary, but I had promised I’d tell Her Majesty, so I did, then sat around in Her Majesty’s camp resting my foot until it was time for the Rose Tourney.

I find myself in the unpleasant position of having to admit that we lost the Woods Battle.  Atlantia held its flag, but the Mid was able to push the other two and control them enough to take the victory.  It’s the general tendency of the fighter who was benched to think “If I’d been there, we’d have won,” but that said:

Ogedai’s plan had been to take the high ground and dominate the center from there.  I don’t know why the “dominate from there” part broke down, but from what I’ve been told there were many opportunities.  I hope I would have seen them and, if uninjured, led some forces down to clear off the Mid on that flag, or, if injured, ordered somebody to go down there and do that job.  Still, armchair generalling is really easy (and I do mean armchair, I was in one while everybody was fighting).  So if you were there, let me know what happened.

The Rose Tourney

Her Majesty and Her Highness Atlantia, realizing there was no Rose Tourney planned about a month before Pennsic started, made one (Bright Shining Center, and, oh yeah, they live in Windmasters, Bright Shining Center of the Bright Shining Center).  I took this opportunity to finally, hopefully make full amends to Her Highness Padraigin for that error of mine at Gulf Wars, by fighting for her.  As she put it, “The e-mail announcing the Rose Tourney showed up, and your e-mail showed up before I’d opened the first one.”  I totally had dibs.

Unfortunately Her Highness  had to go home earlier in the week, but Her Majesty delivered her favor and letter of introduction to me, and served as my surrogate Rose.  Also, Her Majesty apparently put the word out that if anybody saw me standing up they were to force me to sit down, so I was being shoved onto benches pretty regularly.

My fighting overall went really well, I think.  The foot didn’t keep me from moving around on my heels so I was still pretty agile.  The format was Bedford Points, and there were a couple of 7-3 splits that I wish had been 10-0, but can’t complain too much.  Ella and I had a great fight with our 30″ swords, because Dante insisted on it (despite his constant harping on them).  My last opponent was Will Paris, who moved like I might as well have been a statue.  Even with my foot working at 100%,  I don’t think I could have taken him, but I’ll welcome the opportunity to any time.  The man has an excellent, delicate mastery over his sword.

He ended up in the finals against Tora (who apparently doesn’t think he’s the equal of a White Scarf).  They had a great fight, and Tora ended up taking the win.


That night was Baronial Court, which happened while I was still at the tourney.  I got back to camp to find out that all four of the Kappellenfechters (Jaume, Gawin, Ruarik, and Tassin) received their Tempests (baronial fighting award), and well deserved.  Vivats to them!

Then it was beer bash time.

Posted August 31, 2011 by wistric in Events

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