Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 37: Rule 1 redux

As was hinted at in the discussion of the Pennsic Town Battle review, Rule 1 needs some caveats and corollaries.  Highly (pathologically?) observant readers will have noticed that, actually, Rule 1 was updated a few weeks back.  Now, “Don’t die” is no longer a hard and fast rule.  It has some considerations included for the more thoughtful, intermediate-to-advanced grunts to mull when faced with a situation.  Rule 1 now reads:

Rule 1: Don’t die

Corpses are useless (mostly).  Even in a rez battle, if you die you are out of the fight for the time it takes you to run (RUN!) to rez point and back.  If you die, you are useless.

Corollary to Rule 1: Unless you have to

See also the corollary to Rule 4.  Now the thing is, you are probably not the best judge of whether or not you have to die.  If your train of thought is “I need to stay alive” or “I don’t want to die” or “Mommy!” you’re probably in the wrong.  If your train of thought is “I may die, but it’s for a good reason,” you’re also probably still in the wrong.  When do you die?  If ordered to.  By an Atlantian.  If your train of thought is “That guy just ordered me to advance, so I’m going to advance, even if it gets me killed,” THEN you’re thinking the right way.  Also, orders to hold a spot of ground, to open a doorway, and to crush a flank, are orders that might involve you dying.  It’s okay, we’ll pour out a beer on the ground for you after.  Oh, and take one of the bad guys with you when you die.

“If you die, you are useless”  I stand by this statement.  However, your death itself may be useful.  It may gain ground, it may attrit the enemy, it may achieve some goal that your hesitant clinging to life may not.  But it’s generally not going to be for you to decide.  Still, if in doubt, I have thoughts on this.  I always have thoughts on just about all things.  I do not guarantee the quality of these thoughts.

When Not to Die

If the goal is to hold ground, your death means you have given access to that ground to the enemy.  Of course, holding ground and not dying is difficult, especially if outnumbered or outgunned.  Still, this is a time when your goal should be not to die for as long as you can avoid it.

If there are no resurrections, it’s generally a good idea not to die.  There are exceptions, these will be discussed shortly.

If you are at a numerical disadvantage, every death your side suffers hurts your side far more than a death on the enemy’s side.  It benefits them to reduce your side’s numbers, even if they trade a life for yours.  Don’t die.

If you are ordered not to die, then don’t do it.  This comes with the usual caveats about chain of command.

When to die

If you have numerical superiority, your life is worth slightly less, so long as you take at least one of them with you.  Also, consider the skill/impact level of your victim vis a vis your own (back at the first War of the Wings, Flailing Scholar Wistric spent the “fort battle” trading lives with Walter Triplett until he was out of resurrections, then Alric, who is tall and has two long swords and is no slouch.  If Baby Provost Wistric spent a battle trading lives with Just Authorized Scholar John, Baby Provost Wistric would be proving his stupidity).

If the goal is to take ground, or a house, or a flag, and your death moves the line towards the goal, then consider going out in a blaze of glory.  This especially comes in to play in doorway breaking scenarios, where the first guy may just be doomed to being a pincushion, but all his teammates are coming right behind him to destroy the defenders.

If you’re ordered to (and again, chain of command and what not).

How to Die

I’ll go with Dom’s, or Mattheu’s, can’t remember, wording on this: Die big.  Be the pincushion.  Glory isn’t dying to one guy, glory is dying to ALL THE GUYS.  Get their blades in you and buy a little bit of time for your team to act.  Sweep other blades down, too.  However don’t be a jackass.  Don’t trap their blades, don’t push through their line, just die downward.

More about that dying downward: If you’re in the middle of the scrum between two lines, or in the doorway, die down.  I don’t advocating lying down unless you really want to, but die into a crouching ball that takes up as little room as possible.  If you can, crouch off to the side so you’re not directly in the line of the push.

How to Train this

Here’s where it always gets interesting.  I have a few ideas, but in sum it doesn’t seem sufficient.

The 10 Second Drill: It trains one fighter how not to die (for the first 10 seconds) and then how to die to achieve the goal (for the second 10 seconds when reinforced)

Other than that, just training door and line breaking with some discussion that “A) you will die and B) this is how to die”

Anybody have other thoughts on how else to train this?  Or dying in general?

1 comment to Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 37: Rule 1 redux

  • Brendan deHay

    I really liked your original Rule 1. I have always been fond of the opening scene in the movie “Patton.” Heavily paraphrased, “No SOB ever won a war by dying for his country. He did it by making some other SOB die for -his- country.”

    As a practical matter, you’re right. There are situations that call for actions which will almost certainly result in one’s death, and if the commander sees that as the best use of resources, the individual fighter should act accordingly. (Fortunately, we are playing a game, and the consequences of a bad command decision are unlikely to include Leavenworth.)

    Philosophically, however, the idea is not to go die in the breach, but to carry the battle through it–most likely dying in the attempt. Mastering the fear of death to carry out the mission is the true goal. If you go into the breach planning to die big, you WILL die. If you go in with the intention of carrying out the mission, you -might- be good, fast, or lucky enough to make it through. (There are plenty of literary examples, and I suspect historical ones, as well.)

    If your goal is to come up with a series of memorable, useful rules, I recommend you stick with the original phrasing. Remind people that battle conditions (like the rest of life) require a constant re-assessment of priorities–learn to re-number the rules in your head as needed.

    For training, there is only practice, as you described. I would recommend re-phrasing the discussion as “A) you will almost certainly die and B) this is how.”

    Cheers!
    –BrENdan deHay

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