Wistric’s Weekly Warfare #4: Chain of Command

(from the archives)

Ahhhhh Pennsic, and all the fun of a week away from home dedicated to killing people.  Time to start talking about what I learned, and I’ll begin with something that cropped up in the woods battle on Friday:

I’d sent Letia to go DFB the enemy.  We’d been parked on a line for most of the battle and it was just boring.  Just as she got up to the line to sneak through, somebody grabbed her and said “Stay here.”  Should she obey that order or not?

I realize that I haven’t really discussed the chain of command in rapier melees (probably because I believe I am invincible and will always be there to give orders).  But here goes:

At the top of the Atlantian rapier army is the Rapier Warlord.  Selected by the queen, he or she is responsible for command of the entire army.  They generally have a lieutenant of one variety or another.  The regions (North, Central, South) have regional commanders.  Below them are the baronial commanders.

Before going in to any battle, make sure you know who all these people are.  If I haven’t told you, yell at me.

But what do you do if Bad Things Happen and the warlord, the regiona commanders, the baron and baroness and even, Cthulhu protect us, I am dead?  Then you have to use judgment.  Any random fool can yell any thing he pleases on a battle field.  It doesn’t make him right.  So take a quick look at the fool: Is she wearing a white scarf or yellow scarf?  They generally know their business.  Is he wearing a Kittyhawk?  It’s a well-established fact that Windmasters are superior in melee (Actually, it’s just better that the barony stick together as a unit.  Which reminds me: when you resurrect, return to your unit).

Do the orders make sense?  If the random fool has ordered that you turn your flank to the entire Eastern army, then ignore him.  Really. 

However, orders from your chain of command always override anybody else.  Unless it’s stupid to keep following those orders.


Easy, huh?  This is why I like cycling unit command at practice: Even if you never want to do anything more than form the front rank of the barony and die gloriously in every charge, you should have a grasp of what is and is not a good order and, if things have gone to hell and everybody’s looking at you, you had best be able to give a good order, too.

And remember, if nobody else is in charge, the first one to yell orders is the commander.  If you want the job done right, then make sure you’re the first one, and that your orders make sense.

2 comments to Wistric’s Weekly Warfare #4: Chain of Command

  • Dreya

    I hate melee. Just so you know.

  • Dreya

    Why do I hate melee?
    I think my main guff about melee is an instinctual dislike of being attacked from all directions in low light with limited visibility. Organized melee is one step worse, since instead of paying full attention to watching my back I have to try and pay attention to a greater goal as well (while depending on other people – that’s never a good idea!).
    No doubt my antipathy will ease as I find myself more comfortable with SCA-style fencing in general. The ten-second drill is probably a good way to work through this, since it introduces melee ‘gradually’. All of the melee drills, really, are a good idea. I find the idea of not having melee practice, when melee is something frequently done at events, absolutely baffling. How do other cantons do it?

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