Gulf Wars XXI (aka 2012) Part 7: I wouldn’t really call that battle my… Fort?   Leave a comment

(and, yes, for those of you playing at home, “fort-AY” is how you pronounce the musical term “forte,” “fort” is how you talk about “Somebody’s strong suit,” also the part of your blade)

Last year I woke up on Saturday of Gulf Wars and an inner voice said, “I think you’re done.  You’ve had your war.”  I really had.  I had nothing left to prove, no stabbing left to do, so I figured I’d marshal the fort battle.
This year, what with the not stabbing anybody on Tuesday or Thursday, the sword was still calling my name, saying, “Pick me up.  Find somebody to devastate with me.”
“Alright,” says I to my sword, “Let’s go warm up.”

Up at the rapier field I found Trap and we proceeded to have the most painful warmup fight ever.  Basically, two grown men stood looking at each other and fighting as though the only thing they’d ever learned about fencing came from a movie.  Seriously, painful.  Trap said he was maybe giving his C game.  I was pretty sure I wasn’t even doing that good.  My fight was not so much USDA Choice as the green stuff on sale for half price in the barely-functional cooler.  Not promising for the rest of the day.

There was more fighting, it didn’t really improve, it was time for gyros.  Then, the Fort.  Oh the Fort.  As mentioned earlier, when things are run stupidly, I bristle.  I bristled.  Again.

Take, for instance, the first scenario: Unlimited rez for both sides, 10 minute battle.  Win condition: “Most fighters in the fort at the end of 10 minutes.”

Overall layout: The Fort is… like… Fort-ish.  There’s a main entrance, a sally port on each side, and a crenalated wall containing it all.  Or, better yet, there’s a map:

We weren't using New Gate

Attacker’s rez point was outside, to the northeast.  Defender’s rez point was a little back from the line between the two ports, inside the fort.  Recall the win condition.

“Well, maybe the marshal just wanted to make sure everybody got enough fighting!” the charitably-hearted might suggest.  Hogwash.  If that’s your concern, run that sort of thing at the end of the day, not at the start of the day.  All it does at the start of the day is make your fighters spend 20 minutes running back and forth from rez point, in the sun, getting worked up and overheated.  Might as well say “Maybe the marshal just wanted to make the fighters less safe.”  Damn, I’m a cranky old man.

The marshal also violated a couple of my key tenets:

  • It seemed like he hadn’t planned anything and was making it up as he went (and if that’s the truth, it’s a good thing I didn’t know because I would have started trying to knock him off the marshal’s platform with my mask)
  • He did not corral and communicate with the fencers well at all (stood on the platform above the main gate, shouted at the inside fighters while the outside fighters got bored, then shouted at the outside fighters without making sure they were all paying attention first, answered questions without passing on the question and the answer to both sides)
  • He did not communicate well with his marshals to make sure they were all on the same page
  • He changed the rules mid-way through scenarios (which, as some know, hits my big red trigger button)

Anyway, the other scenarios were variations on limited rez capture the fort, “sneak attacks” into the fort, and White Scarves vs. World.

Okay, so that’s out of the way.  Now, the good things…

As with most fort battles (see: La Rochelle) there was a higher proportion of newer fighters, which meant I got to play.  A few times I set up with one of these fighters next to me, and used the pretty white scarf to entice somebody in to attacking me, so that the newer fighter could get the kill.

Also, unlike La Rochelle, you could climb in the crenellations.  Doing so was stupid because you could not be sneaky about it and would be guaranteed to be outnumbered (and in one instance, as soon as your feet hit the ground my sword would be in you).

However, if you were a defender you could also jump out of the crenellations, and this was the real tactical advantage.  The indents south of the two sally ports, and on the northeast edge (if there was nobody at rez point) provided blind spots where a fighter could exit the fort and come up behind the attackers in the doorways.

In my first such run I went out the northeast indent and came around on the attackers at the Black Widow’s Breach.  I DFB’d and killed at least half of them, two or three more were tangled up in the breach, one was legged, and another one was in the backfield and turned to engage me.  “COME OUT OF THE BREACH!” I yelled.  Or, sort of yelled.  That walking pneumonia thing had robbed me of most of my voice for two days.  I yelled again, fighting off my attacker, and heard somebody inside yell, “Don’t go out the breach!”  The WTF moment of it all (Was ANYBODY paying attention to the outside of the fort?) froze me, and I died.  When I rezzed and came back to the sally port I asked who had called that out, and told them, “That was a stupid order.”  I felt a bit of remorse at the scolding, but not an overwhelming amount.  Situational awareness, people!

Other runs were more successful.  I cleaned the opposition from Alexandria’s Breach and pushed on to the main gate towards the end of one battle, and in other instances occupied reinforcements long enough for defenders to clear out the attackers at breaches.  Mostly this required me dying and rezzing after a lot of “Hey look at me!”

Lesson learned: Situational awareness, people!

After the first scenario or two I realized that the defenders were losing more fighters to engagements through the crenellations (which gained nothing), and began ordering our fighters, when defending, to stop engaging at the crenellations and make the enemy come through the choke points where we could kill them easily.  Same rule goes for La Rochelle now.

Lesson learned: Don’t fight through the crenellations, make them die in the breach.

The “sneak attack” scenario had most of the defenders in “barracks” around the rez point, except for pairs of guards at each gate.  The attackers could come in to the fort (“fortified town”) unmolested, until one of the guards saw a gun or a sword held by the handle, or a shot was fired.  We were defending first, and the attackers all filed into the central area until the last one shot the gate guard.  At which point the defending guards, en masse, exited the barracks.  The attackers were in a line, exposed in the open, with their flanks unprotected.  The opening volley from the defenders tore up the line, and attackers fell in upon the flankers (I pulled the Wistric maneuver: Joined the attackers’ line, stepped forward a step, turned, got their attention, and killed them.  And because Gulf Wars has “Line Engagement” on the rules, I was then engaged with the entire defending line).  The attackers ended up pocketed back in a corner and were boned.

When our team was attacking, we opted to kill the doorway guards immediately (guaranteeing six dead defenders with limited risk of loss for our team), and use the relative cover of the ports to engage the defenders.  Also, as they exited the barracks, their flanks became exposed to our sally port attackers (one of which, on the Black Widow’s Breach, was Raphael, Greylond, and me) who then were able to crunch their line from both ends.

Lesson learned: Use surprise to kill your enemy.

At one point in one of the battles, we were engaged at the Black Widow’s Breach and Raph said “Wistric, go check out what’s going on at the other breach.”  I looked, and there were no fighters visible there.  They’d vanished.
I hustled over and looked out to see that about eight defenders were strung out along the wall of the fort, pressed against it by equal numbers of attackers.  They’d pushed out of the breach when they gained a brief numerical advantage, and had been caught out in the open when the attackers rezzed in force.

“Back in the fort!” I yelled.  Two of the defenders fell back to the mouth of the sally port and blocked it so the other six couldn’t get in.  “NO REALLY, BACK IN TO THE FORT!” I yelled, and eventually harangued them all until they let the last fighter (Davius) in, with only one fighter lost.  I knew Davius knew better, so I told him, “Don’t let that shit happen again,” and headed back to the other sally port.

I think this was when Amanda (the lady who fights from a wheelchair) said to Letia (her “horse”), “He doesn’t play well with others, does he?”
“No,” she said, “he does, he just has a big mouth and likes being in charge.”
Yeah, Letia’s known me way too long.

White Scarves vs. World

Guess what? I wasn’t “World”!  First time!  Trimaris Hawke was there, and we squee’d about that just a bit.  Then the Atlantian white scarves took up the defense of the Black Widow (we just liked that port, okay?).  The Atlantian “World” showed up at this gate, too, so we got to have fun.  One of Greylond’s students was there, so we kept ordering him to “Lunge!”  He declined.  Then I tried  “Greylond says he’ll make you his cadet if you lunge!”  Still nothing.  Oh well.  Letia was in the center of the breach, commanding, and she also wouldn’t lunge.  Just no fun whatsoever.  Meanwhile, Raph was kiting fighters into the breach where he could get them, except every time he got one close, Trapon or I would lunge at them and scare them back, forcing him to start over.  Eventually he said to the fighter, “Look, come here!”  The fighter said, “No, those guys will attack me!”  “No they won’t,” Raph said.  “We won’t, we promise,” Trap and I both said.  And then Raph got him.

There was some goobishness from other white scarves that did not reflect well on our brotherhood, but I’ll let others address that.

It was also great to see the King of Trimaris (and is he a Miami surfing hippie or something?) fighting alongside us.  The last fighter was Amanda of the Horse, and His Maj requested single combat and fought her from his knees.  It was pretty awesome to see.

Then we headed back campward, dropped the tent and threw it in the van, and hit the road home.

Posted March 28, 2012 by wistric in Events

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