So It’s Your First Melee….   11 comments

So, you’re about to head to your first melee event. Or third, or tenth, or whatever. Chances are that if you’re reading about how to be better at melee, then you’re probably not someone who would be considered a veteran of many wars. That’s fine: we all start there. You can’t have 20 years of experience without having 1 year of experience first.

Since you’re new, the best thing you can do is be useful. You’re probably not going to carry your team across the finish line to victory, but you can certainly help out those who can. Let’s get started.

First and foremost, melees are fights, so the best thing you can do is to get better at fighting. That’s your number one priority, so get to practice and make good use of the time and resources available to you. Your second priority needs to be your endurance, because you won’t be very helpful if you’re taking a “water” break after 10 minutes of an hour long battle. You can also practice maneuverability with 2 v. 1 fights at practice, and 2 v. 2 are all you need to practice a static line engagement or a limited front. Do those things enough, and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, and why. Stop doing what doesn’t work, and do what does as much as possible (this sounds obvious, but apparently it escapes many!).

But those things take time to develop, and if you’ve got a battle coming up this weekend, we’ve got only a short amount of time to make anything useful happen. In that case, you have limited options for what you can do at any given moment in a battle: you can be an obstacle or a distraction. In essence, your physical presence is the single best thing that you can bring to the table. To use your presence best, find out the scenarios and think about what your team needs to do, and what the opponents need to do.

In the case of a limited front, a charge, a line fight, or anything else where movement is limited, your best course of action is to create as much of a nuisance for the other team as possible. Smack their blades around, stand in the way of their progress, and simply work to impede whatever it is they want to do. This might involve being hit a lot, but that’s fine: often, all it takes is a second or two to stall out an enemy action. You’re going to get hit plenty and you can’t stop that from happening while still being useful, so be in the battle and be as frustrating a speed bump as possible. The best person on your side is going to die plenty, too, because that’s the cost of making things happen. Controlling the victory conditions matters most, always, so be prepared to take some hits to accomplish that.

If you have an open field or some other area where you can move around and attack from angles, if you’re one of the people who aren’t in the line that will inevitably form, then the best thing you can do is be distraction. This is the core of what even the best melee fighters do who are roaming freely: stand somewhere that the enemy team has to deal with you or be punished for ignoring you. Good positioning comes down to making your opponents take their concentration off whatever they are currently dealing with to deal with you instead. The big difference here is that it’s harder to deal with better people, but even if you can only manage to pull one person, that’s just as good as a kill on the line. If they come after you, go for the double-kill: you already weren’t on the line, so your team loses no resources, but the enemy team does if they had to send someone after you.

Should you find yourself ignored, DFB everyone you can or threaten it. Your mere presence in their backfield will sow enough chaos to create a huge opening for your team, and if you can DFB even 1 or 2 people the resulting panic is invaluable. No matter what your skill level, a good sense of positioning can make you utterly lethal: I can think of dozens of cases where modestly skilled fencers with excellent positioning have made a massive impact on a battle by DFBing 4, 5, 6, or more opponents per resurrection. Those ratios are huge, and as good as what the best fighters hope for. Positioning is the great equalizer..

In all instances, if you can kill a more experienced opponent, do it unless it means giving up an objective. If you are new, and can send someone like me away from the fight from a double-kill, that is a hugely advantageous trade for your team. The reality of things is that if we fight, I will likely win. If you have a mind to defend yourself, I will likely emerge unscathed. You may delay me, which is good, but I am delayed tenfold if you sacrifice yourself to hit me. When to do this is a matter of judgment, but the newer you are, the better the bet becomes to take out the White Scarf *whenever possible* regardless of other considerations.

Fighting is complicated. Melee is simple. There aren’t many, if any, really good fighters who are not useful in a melee, but there are plenty of people who are only fair fighters who are wonderful meleeists because they know what they can and can’t do, and they only do what makes them useful.
Prevent the enemy team from doing what they want to do. Force the enemy team to split their resources. Kill more than you die, or kill better than you. Win the objectives.

Posted June 17, 2014 by Dante di Pietro in Melee

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