Ice Castles 2012   5 comments

(Nothing like logging in and realizing you’ve got a backlog of posts to finish.  Oops, my bad gentle readers!)

A couple weeks back, Letia and I piled in to her little matchbox hatchback and we hied our way up to Black Diamond.  Fighting season starts early in Atlantia (it really shouldn’t end: we need a mid-December event for fencing) and it was time to go to Ice Castle!

Also, Marxbruder and Baby Freescholar Baron Aldemere MacRafe and his lovely wife Juliana were being invested as Baronage of Black Diamond, so we planned to get drunk in their honor and stab some people, in various orders.

Warming Up

I warmed up with Arghylle, and right out of the gate the SOB stop-thrust my hand through the guard as I was developing a high-quarta attack.  It took off a measurable depth of skin from my middle finger.  That guy’s got some brutal targeting skill.

A band-aid and some cussing resolved most of the pain, and I went back to fighting, just in time to have Lily come up and say “Hey, Wistric, are you warmed up for the tourney?”  I said I was, ’caused I’d fought Arghylle.  She said “No, I mean, really.”

See, Lily has taken a look at the rapier community around her and come to the realization that we are all a bunch of lazy punks who think “Warming Up” requires stretching your hamstrings a little and then stabbing people.  She’s of course, right.  And as a semi-pro dancer, she knows that this sort of behavior leads to things like bad knees and ankles.  Still, I’m a lazy punk who thinks Warming Up requires stretching my hammies a little and then stabbing people.


Blacksword Tourney

The first Blacksword of the year started off the day.  Last year I was co-organizing these and fighting in them to desperately prove how good I was and WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE GIVE ME A WHITE SCARF?!?!  And then they did.  Having proven myself last year and fought as a champion at Gulf Wars and Pennsic, I found myself thinking “Gosh, I shouldn’t even enter, that doesn’t seem fair.”  Last year, though, I was encouraging all the white scarves to enter so I could kick their asses, or “Make sure that any potential champions were thoroughly tested.”  I figured I owed anybody following in my footsteps the same opportunity, and since the Blackswords aren’t *just* about assessing potential champions (Because now there’s actually a record of how well people are doing in high-end tournaments in case, you know, somebody wanted to know that sort of thing), I’d nut up and enter.

My very first round was Tassin.  Sorry dude.

My second or third round was Aedan.  Last Ice Castle he and I met in the semis (which was essentially the finals, since my finals opponent was Lord Bye).  In that fight he was one step ahead of me: About the time I settled on my plan of attack he was already attacking and I was forced into panic defense.  That happened twice, until I thought “Fuck it” and lunged.  Which worked.  This year I went for a cleaner win, and promptly got my leg sniped by the prettiest, lightest touch to the shin.  So then I was on my ass and mentally smacking myself for my stupidity.  Aedan and I exchanged a few flurries, then he lunged for my left shoulder.  I extended into his attack.  His landed on my upper left arm bone, mine caught the edge of his mask.  I thought “Well, I’m down a foot, a left arm, and that last blow was pretty damn close to an artery so I think I’ll be disinclined” and stood up.  About the same moment he said “Good.”  Then we had to figure out who was deader.  Raph came over and said “Now think long and hard about your answer.”  There’s a reason for that:

A couple Golden Rose tourneys back, Raph and I were fighting a best-of-five.  I’d taken the first two passes, and in the third grazed him across the face.  He started to call it, I said “Eh, I don’t know.”  And because of my doubt we re-fought that pass, whereupon he promptly remembered how to use a sword and whupped me for the next three passes.  So I yielded to Aedan’s wisdom, and called my left arm a wound and he called himself dead, and I was on to the next round.  Lesson learned: Call what lands.  Nothing more, nothing less.

My next round was Arghylle.  I am, I admit, a craven, vengeful man.  I took pleasure in killing him.  It wasn’t easy, but I damn well made sure he dropped.

Before our fight he brought up something worth commenting on: He asked “Are you bringing case?”  The Blackdsword tourney is a fight to fight your absolute best.  You bring your best form, you fight your best fight.  What the other guy’s bringing doesn’t matter at all.  It took a few seconds to impress this on Arghylle until, finally, I said “You are the Queen’s Rapier Champion.  What will you take to the Gulf Wars Champion’s tourney?”  And he brought that.  I still killed him, ’cause my hand still hurt.

Finals were me vs. Celric.  For some reason we got to mocking our fellow White Scarves’ guards, wasted a few minutes doing that for the amusement of the crowd, until somebody yelled “FIGHT ALREADY!”  Then we double-killed, and laughed some more.  Oh well.  As mentioned, I got nothing to prove no more except to myself.

Five-Man Tourney

We put together a Marxbruder five-man team for the tournament: Letia, Alric, Arghylle, Wymarck (who is a pirate), and me.  Then Wymarck had to go fight on his baronial team (which is admirable and encouraged among the Marxbruders), so we were short a fighter.  Lily, the other Marxbruder present, had already gotten picked up by a team (made up, as luck would have it, of Kappellenfechters.  Yeah, Letia and I were letting them fend for themselves.  Leading your local unit is admirable, but so’s winning).  So we had an open spot, which we filled with Connor.  As teams go, that’s not a bad one to take into combat.

Our first round we pulled Bom Diggity, which was Aedan, Celric, Kenji, Ilaria, and Rochelle.  Also not a bad team to take into combat.  At lay-on we pressed aggressively.  I was on the right flank and tied up Kenji to keep him from flanking us, positioning him far enough away from Ilaria that he couldn’t reinforce but angling so that I could defend Letia, who was next to me.  I was also backing him up so that their left was forced to fall back.  Connor, Alric, and Argh were backing up Bom Diggity’s right, and we had them on the edge of the field.  Somewhere in there we dropped Rochelle, and Celric cut across to reinforce their left, which meant he came charging sideways at my point (weren’t gonna be no double killing this time).  When he and sharp steely death were about six inches apart, somebody yelled “Hold”.  He still ran into Sharp Steely Death, but it was post-hold, and… yeah.

See, the field was really small, and backed up on the edge of the archery range.  So we had to back up a few steps and give them space.  This also meant that they could assess their situation, regroup, and at “Lay on” Kenji and Celric double teamed me, Aedan sniped Argh or Alric, and we were pretty quickly horse-whipped into oblivion.  All of which makes me a little cranky.  I’ll fully admit: Bom Diggity mastered the post-hold field, but that hold took away a huge advantage we had gained by superior coordination and positioning.  This same sort of momentum-destroying-hold is what makes charges damn near useless.

Which leads to a question for the readership:

What can you, as fighters and as a unit (not as marshals, because we’ll never change the marshals), do to maintain momentum post-hold? Giving it up seems to me as stupid as giving up an off-hand weapon just because you took your opponent’s hand (and, yes, I know I did that at Pennsic.  It was stupid).  But on the other hand, not letting your opponent be “safe” is douchey.  Where’s the middle ground?  A couple of solutions I’ve thought of:

  • If your opponent’s try to use the hold to position for advantage, call them on it.  That’s not the purpose of the hold.  They’re using the rules to gain an advantage, which is itself against the rules.
  • At “Ready” before the hold, you step into measure (which is where you probably were at the “Hold”) and find their swords.  At “Lay on” you kill them.

The whole thing annoys me also because opponents backing up to the edge of the field, basically surrendering initiative, should in no way be rewarded.  But it is.  And most often the aggressing team gets yelled at for “Pressing.”  But that’s bullshit.  The “pressing” team wouldn’t advance to maintain measure if the retreating team didn’t retreat.  At last Defending the Gate there were spectators and water bearers standing RIGHT behind the enemy flag, and the enemy was retreating right into them.  I got yelled at, and that right there made my temper short, because there’s not a damn thing I can do to stop them from retreating and the option seems to be to let them stab me or out-maneuver me.

So I think penalizing the winning team for winning goes up there with changing the rules in the middle of the fight goes on the list of triggers for me, and that I would be best advised to remove myself from the field if that happens.

Hmmmm… didn’t realize how cranky this made me when I started writing this.  Damn.  Oh well, that’s the purpose for post mortems (post morta?).


The rest of the fights went really well:

One started off with Alric asking “Are we going at a run at Lay On?”  Afterwards we had ourselves a clarification that this question is silly, and we are always going at a run.  Except at Gulf Wars, which has banned running.  WTF?

We also need to work on less of the “What do you want to do?” when you’re in command.  Assign jobs, don’t solicit volunteers.

In our fight with the Dragoons we did pretty well and took the win, but I don’t remember the exact details of it.  I was on the right flank opposed to Raph and Wulfgane.  At lay on I basically charged them, and broke to the outside so I could throw a hook-shot lunge into Raph while staying out of Wulfgane’s range.  Dropped Raph, and by the time I turned around a lot of the work was already done.

Lily, observing from the sidelines, pointed out that we all broke into one-on-one fights.  We said “Huh, we tried to coordinate.”  The Dragoons said the same thing.  So apparently the Dragoons and Bruders need to have a pow-wow about how to avoid that happening again.


Then there were pickups.  A lot of pickups.  Like, pickups till my arm fell off.  It was great.  I can’t even remember all the people I fought.  I worked with Wulfgane and taught a couple of new people.  I fought Caitlin, and I think I fought Mattheu, and Aedan, and… yeah, it’s all kinda blurry.  But it left me with that warm fuzzy glow usually obtained only after a few fingers of Scotch.  Afterward (like, a week afterward) Mattheu observed “Lazy Wistric fights better than Real Wistric.”  Apparently in our fights Lazy Wistric shut down the center line like a boss, and when Wistric was trying to fight his “Imma kill you!” fight opened it right back up.  Well, gotta fix that next.


Then it was first court for Aldemere and Juliana, Cajun food, drinking, more drinking, Carcassone, and a drive home the next day.  I do like that event so very much.




Posted February 6, 2012 by wistric in Events

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