Pennsic XLI: Part 5 – Big morning woods

Really, if you’ve got any idea of my mental age by now, that title should not surprise.  And as it might suggest, the next morning (that would be Friday for those of you following along at home) brought a woods battle.  Though not, technically, so big as the Armored Woods Battle.  As with last year, the Rapier Woods was sequestered to a smaller subset of the woods, a single hill side, slanting downward from left to right, with paths along the top and bottom (and a game trail through the middle), and flags at the top of the slope, the middle of the slope, and the bottom of the slope (though, unlike last year, this one was across the lower path and in a stand of fir trees).

Of course, first I had to get there.  As you may recall this has not always been so easy.  The first barrier was convincing Mistress Who Must Be Obeyed that prohibitions on fighting in the rapier woods might not be the best way to keep me from doing things that made her want to kill me.  “It’s my favorite battle of the year, it comes once a year, and it’s the day before you have to drive home in the same car as me.  Do you want to have to deal with disposing of my body on Saturday because of my whining?”  She didn’t, so I got to go play.

Then came the second, and slightly less imposing barrier: Wistric’s Hill.  We crested said hill and I again found myself gazing down the scree of baby-head-sized chunks of granite.  No worries.  I’d done this the day before.  Of course then I was in my work boots, not my fencing boots.  I made my way down slowly, making sure I had firm footing and stayed away from the ditches on either side of the road, and finished as fit as I’d started.  And then when I got to Atlantia’s rally point, they all cheered it as “The first victory of the day.”  Thanks guys.  As a side note, when I returned to camp I made sure to limp up to Sweetums just so she could have that warm fuzzy sensation of thinking “I told you so,” before I told her I was fine.

Atlantia was formed up on the left (as seems to have been the case for the vast majority of the battles this war).  We’d take the high road and the game trail and secure the up-slope flag, then pressure the middle flag.  Aethelmarc was going to focus on the bottom flag.

The upper path was a forest road, clear and good footing, but uphill all the way.  It formed the far left boundary of the fighting area, and ran close to a thirty foot drop from the quarry days.  The point where it got too close to the drop they put “caution” tape across the path and closed it from there on.  This point, though, was in line with the flags, so a 90° right turn there would carry you down on to the flank of whoever had the flag.  Between this point and the flag, though, was a lot of brush and dead fall, so the footing was crap and frontage was limited to no more than two people in any give spot.

The game trail split off from the upper path and ran more or less straight to the upper flag.  Between the road and the flag, the ground was fairly open along the trail, but slanted, buried in deep leaf clutter, and occasionally blocked by a fallen pine tree.

These two access paths were the only access available, so for most of the battle we put a traffic cop at the split and sent resurrected fighters down one or the other.

At Lay On, I took a run team down the game trail and came upon the flag long before the enemy reached it.  We formed line at the outlet from their primary access route and met their front rank.  Their access route was not completely screened along the sides, so they were able to push out on either side and extend their line, but Atlantia was already in place and waiting for them.  Their numbers began to mount, though, and I have the feeling they had a much shorter rez run, and we were pushed back until the flag was in contention.  Which was about when our column of resurrectors began to return, and so we could press back.  Which is pretty much how the fighting went for the entire hour, a struggle over a few tens of feet of turf around the flag.  We lost it at some points, retook it, relost it, wash, rinse, repeat.

But that’s also where the overall plan broke down: We didn’t have the resources to throw against the middle flag and push them off of it, so they pretty thoroughly held it.  And, given the results (2 points for the Axis, 0 for the Allies) and the way they were counting flags (if you had 2 of the flags at a time check, you got 1 point) then I think either the time checks fell when our flag wasn’t in our possession, or when Aethelmarc wasn’t holding its flag.  Jingoistic pride leads me to insist it was the latter case, but I do attempt to be a realist on some matters.

As I mentioned, the battle fell in to a pattern that broke very little after that.  My own personal favorite moments of it, though, are:

Coming up on the road to find Sir Angus (he auth’d in April) squared off with about five Axis fighters, calling, “You got this, Angus?” and getting an affirmative response.  Mattheu, Armand, and I fell in with him anyway, chewed up the line in front of us, and then turned right and worked our way down their flank.

Doing a totally legit, somewhat cheeseball, kill that damn near got me sent to marshal’s court.  I had drilled a chunk of a line, but the next fighter in line was over-extended and I was not in his front 180.  So, thinking “What do you do in this position?”  “Foul blades!”  “What’s the best way to do that?” “Well, I bet a dagger in front of his face would get him distracted,”  I laid my dagger on his throat.  He took a step back (so that I was well in his 180), looked at me, verbally acknowledged me, and I drew.  Of course, it turns out his verbal acknowledgement was “THAT’S NOT HOW YOU DO A DFB!  MARSHALLLL!”  The Marshal yelled at me, sent me back to rez.  On my way I stopped at the marshal and explained what I’d been doing.  “Well, it still wasn’t a good engagement,” he said.  From other fighters, I heard that fighter stood in front of our flag and bitched, pissed, and moaned about it for a good long time, preventing Atlantia from forming a solid line in front of it when the Axis reinforcements arrived.  Oh well.

Later, I ran in to Trap while defending the flag.  He was screening out to kill high value targets while a charge formed up in their rear.  Seeing the charge forming, and seeing him offering fight, we engaged, though I worked to position myself so that I could intercept the flank of the charge when it came in (figuring that he and the charging column would think he had my attention occupied, giving me some shorts at unguarded targets).  Then he surprised me by taking a quick shot at me.  I tried to parry with my 30″, but he nailed the back of my off-hand.  I then returned the favor and took a shot at him, and landed.  At about that point the charge had got underway and was parallel with me without a single head looking my way.  Spike, give me the flanks of my enemies.

As mentioned, we lost, but it was a good fight, and I found myself entirely bled of any crankiness left over from earlier battles.

Rain was threatening, the camp needed packing down, and I had reached that state where my inner cave man was saying “That’ll do, pig,” so I skipped the armored field battle.  Somebody else will need to chime in on how that went.

And that was the war, for me.

 

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