All Fun and Games   8 comments

Folks who attended Holiday Faire were treated to Dante’s “All Fun and Games [Until Someone Loses an Eye]” tourney, wherein fighters fought in eight iterative bearpits, with head-shots being the only way to definitively eliminate a competitor from the pool. The champs of each pit squared off at the end in a single-elim tournament.

The format produced plenty of fighting, and plenty of interesting fighting. Observing as a MIT, I could pretty well tell when a fencer was just going for survival, killing opponents without aiming for the head or devoting their offhand defense purely to their skull, or attempting a higher-risk face shot. Unfortunately the reaction of many of the more timid fencers was to turtle up completely and never throw an attack.

But a handful were bright enough to play the longer game; Benjamin, for example, parried shots into his chest after being wounded, thus securing himself another round. He won two pools, then the single-elim playoffs at the end. A few even took the strategy of attempting to leg or arm dangerous opponents rather than get the face shot; since wounds were retained the people behind them could clean up. It’s much easier to get the Provost when he’s sitting.

Another nice aspect of this tourney was that the newer fencers were considerably less likely to go two-and-out, a perennial problem of most tourney formats. Even if they did, the structure was loose enough that fencers could wander in and out, perhaps getting water or doing a little shopping while the next pit organized.

All in all it was a fun experience, and got me thinking about branching out from the usual tournament forms that might include a larger strategic aspect. Straight round-robin or bracketed tournaments are fun, but there’s not much beyond the series of fights–and a fair number of those are going to have nigh-given outcomes, one way or the other. If my hypothetical round-robin pool includes Celric, Mathieu, Tassin, and two fencers who authorized earlier in the morning, I can look forward to two easy wins and two certain losses; five fights, and my prowess only matters in one.

King of the Hill

Fencers may recall the “reinforcement drill” for kill-mode or melee practice, whereby the “defender” faces a single “challenger”, with additional challengers taking the field at regular intervals (usually 10 seconds or so). The defender’s objective is simply to survive as long as possible, and this is easiest if he kills his foes before they start piling up.

This could be converted to a tourney format without much trouble. Set up two lines, defender and challenger. Initially the defender line should consist of a single person. Give the defender a (largish) patch of ground to hold (if an enemy is within while he’s outside the boundaries, he loses as if killed), and send in challengers at short intervals. A marshal times the defender with a stopwatch; when the defender dies or is driven off, he writes the time on a card and sends the defender off to report to the MOL’s.

A challenger or defender who dies (re)joins the challenger line; a challenger who defeats the defender joins the defender line. When there are no more challengers, the tourney ends. Best total time wins.


      Each fencer can only join the defender line once (or X times); tourney ends when the defender line is empty

Reinforcement time intervals are shorter for defending FS and Provosts

Naturally you’d have to keep fencers on their toes and insist they don’t go off talking when they’re not fighting (although if the field is deep enough, they could leave and rejoin the line whenever).

Courtier’s Tournament

This idea started with Jaume and is based on Baldassare Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier, published in 1528, which describes grazia (grace) and spretzzatura (a sort of nonchalant, effortless success) as being the prime qualities of a good Renaissance courtier–in all things, from oratory to dress to, of course, fighting. The theme is simple: you want to use the least number of actions possible in your fight, and dying effortlessly may be better than surviving through a flurry of actions.

There is no elimination; losers and winners both rejoin the line. For each bout, fencers get (say) 20 points for a win, and (say) 10 points for a loss, and lose a point for every action taken during the bout.

Naturally you would need a couple judges and some agreeable consensus on what constitutes an “action”. And most probably, actions would be counted from the first aggressive movement.

The unusual nature of the tourney would make it unpalatable to some; it would be best suited to a properly themed pas, perhaps, or run in parallel with a conventional tournament, with individual fencers choosing which tourney they participate in. In the case of the former, you could combine this with other activities throughout the event centered around a similar theme.

Hmm, I may have to make that happen someday.

Other ideas?

Posted November 22, 2012 by Ruairc in Musings

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