Wistric’s Pennsic AAR   4 comments


The warpoint plan was that rapier and heavy would fight the same scenarios (mostly) on the same day, which held promise of the back-to-back woods battles, one of the best endurance tests I’ve ever encountered.  Monday was the day for field battles!


The Queen’s Spears rallied up, 8-10 in number.  Duke Vlad was tasked with handling the left flank guard and the Spears fell in with him.  Atlantia would go forward and turn right, so the flank guard would form a skirmish line to cover the kingdom’s backside against inevitable counter-charges.

I took the Mean Stick (7.5’ laminated rattan) and trotted forward in formation.  In the first go I found myself off Vlad’s right shoulder.  There’s nothing like a tall knight to draw fire, so fighters repeatedly charged him, exposing their left sides to me and the Mean Stick.  I scored the bulk of my kills just by chopping kidneys and heads as they ran past.  I wasn’t completely successful at keeping Vlad alive, and he died eventually to a spear, I think.  After a while the enemy had nothing left to throw at us so we advanced through them, turned left, and pushed their flank.  Eventually I ate a spear myself, but Atlantia had torn such a brutally large hole in the enemy line that it collapsed and we took the first field battle.

The second battle I found myself on the opposite leg of a right angle from Sir Tash.  He was, as Vlad had, receiving charges so I just laid into the flank of the charges and drained their force.  I died a little while later, I think to a charge targeting my portion of the line.

By the third one I was starting to get gassed, but I do remember laying about myself with the Mean Stick to some effect.

The Mean Stick, it should be noted, tends to do all the work for you.  There’s not a lot of give, and she’s got no small amount of mass out at the end.  All you have to do is get it moving.  But getting it moving can be exhausting, and by the fourth I wasn’t good for anything except standing there looking scary.  The fifth I barely got to swing, since some twerp ran down our line smacking people in the face.  Still… cardio.


The effect of going from heavy armor, swinging the Mean Stick, to rapier armor, with the 45”, is what I imagine astronauts feel like when they get into orbit.  You’re weightless, and all your energy returns in a rush.  You go from thinking “I can’t move enough to undress myself” to “I CAN RUN FOREVER!”

Atlantia formed up on the right, then, at the two minute mark, was told they needed to go form up on the left.  So we did.  Turned out, we were going to be the anvil to the Mid’s hammer.  Apparently, there was not confidence in all of our noble allies that we could do this.

We did.

Letia released me to “go run and be wild”, because she knows me and is my friend.  I trotted out to the far left wing and stopped their flanking unit as Atlantia advanced to mid-field.  Atlantia then set its line and hunkered down.  After three or four minutes, I counted up their flanking unit (5 of them) and our flank guard (4 of us).  I did this pointing my dagger.  One of them cottoned on and said “We outnumber them, push!” And then a hold was called.  In the hold, I looked to my right and saw that the hammer had taken three quarters of the field and was marching toward us slowly but steadily.  All we had to do was keep them from getting a break through and evening things out.  So the goal went from “Prevent stuff from happening” to “Make stuff happen” (in this case, destroy the enemy opposite).  At “lay on” they gathered to push so I legged the guy with the big round shield in front of me, and landed a cross shot on the guy to his right.  4 on 4, with one of them legged.  Then it was back to waiting, until a big wall of red tape rolled over the remnants of the blue army in front of us.

The second battle followed the same plan, but they pulled resources to stop the hammer, so Atlantia just kept going forward, squeezed our opposition into a pocket, then turned and ran the entire length of the field to take the rest of the blue tape’s back field.

The third battle we ran across the field.  I was facing a bit of a gap.  Down the line, some Atlantians got into the back field, and I saw a pair of fighters (turns out one of them was Duke “Are You With Me Atlantia?” Konrad) turn to go jump them.  So I went through the gap, neck-shotting the guy to my right, but missed the parry on the guy to my left and ate a shot to the face.  Oh well.  We still won, though this was the closest run of them.  At one point things were pretty dead even, but there was a baronial unit of Scholars that mopped up our end of the line, crunched an OGRe or two, and then hit the rest of the blue tape in the flank.  Not bad work.

In camp afterward, a Mid Realmer said “Atlantia’s performance was really uncharacteristic.”  I asked him what he meant.  He said “You guys are usually the run-and-gun crowd, and you seem to be proud of it, but you held the line really well.”

If it needs clearing up: Atlantia most absolutely and definitely is the run-and-gun crowd.  We train mobility and we train impact.  And we absolutely take pride in this, because rapier is light cav, not heavy infantry.  It’s what makes us decisive.  If you don’t think rapier’s about running, you’re wrong.  That said, when you take an army which likes to run, which fights on its feet, which thinks fast, and which maintains unit cohesion across a hundred yards of field at a dead sprint, and you make it stand still, you haven’t weakened it.  You’ve freed up more of its mental powers for figuring out how it’s going to slaughter whatever comes its way.




Tuesday was supposed to be the woods battles, back to back.  Sadly, because of rain, the ambulances could not get into the woods.  So the planned-for-Thursday heavy bridge and rapier broken field battles were moved to Tuesday, and then the rapier broken field battles were rained out (with an assist from the East Kingdom dragging ass to get started, and Aethelmarc having court scheduled right on the heels of the rapier battle).


There were five battles over five bridges.  15 minutes, no rez.  Atlantia was on the far left, which was blocked from archery or siege, so we could stand with our thumbs up our butts for long periods of time unassailed until we got a chance to get into the fray.

In the first one, Atlantia pretty much went forward at a mosey and received a whooping.  As is our way, the whoopers had to work for it and send in most of their reinforcements against us, but, still, whooping.  Our noble allies were only able to hold two out of five bridges.

So the second one they decided to have a forlorn hope of shieldmen supported by top-end spears (lots of white belts).  Unfortunately, the forlorn hope was not substantial enough, and the top-end spears ended up resisting shield charges until we could get shit sorted out.  I think it was in this one where, once I got up to the line, I had a spearman on my right who was against the edge of the bridge (and therefore safe on half his front).  So I started blocking, and waiting for him to throw, and waiting, and waiting.  He never did, no matter how much blocking I did.  Then, when I was dealing with an attack from my other side, he over-extended a lunge, ate a spear, and by the time I turned back to check on him the enemy spear was headed for my neck.  I was happy, or at least consoled, to see our spearman switch to sword and shield thereafter.  And, yes, a spear is just a long rapier.  This sort of thing should not happen in rapier either.

The third run our forlorn hope was beefed up, and Alric dragged me up to the “top-end spear” rank with him.  Despite my protestations that I in no way meet that definition, he said “I need somebody who can keep me safe”.  So we did that, me blocking, him killing (we were on the far left, so he had the same half-safe front as the guy in the previous fight).  We chewed up the enemy for a while, then fell back, caught our breath, and went back in to do some more work.  The enemy spears attrited hard, so Atlantia launched a column charge, which put the enemy back pressed against itself so it couldn’t move.  I put my spear horizontal, charged, and pushed a couple/few off the bridge, then realized we were at the end of the bridge in a killing cup and tried to bail, but took a shot to the helmet.

Run four went about the same as three.  It may have been in this one that I was on the far right, received a three man column charge, and simply angled my spear so that they ran off the bridge to my right (one threw a shot well after he’d stepped off the bridge and hit me, but fuck that noise).

They all tend to blur together, and I can’t really remember how the fifth went (probably quickly for me, because I’m assuming I had no strength left in my arms after an hour of fighting).  My general impression is that, even with spear, I ended up with more kills by throwing people off the bridge than by actually stabbing them.  But I did finally reach that point (I noticed it on the heavy field battle, too) where the melee around me started to make sense.  In previous years it’s just been wild, unintelligible chaos.

And then they cancelled our rapier battle, and we would only get to have two rapier battles the entire war.  That was some BS.



I marshalled the 5-man, being tuckered out and needing a day off.  It was small (only 16 teams) due to the weather I think, but there was actually good weather the entire tourney.



The woods were still in bad shape, so they decided the heavy and the rapier fighters would fight the broken field scenario on Thursday.


The heavy field was laid out with a series of ruins that I really didn’t pay much attention to.  Scattered through these were six banners. placed in pairs across the field, one half of each pair closer to each rez line, the idea being that each side could secure three easily, and push to steal one of the other side’s three.

Atlantia was given the right hand pair of banners, and the Queen’s Spears were placed out on the right wing of Atlantia to skirmish and protect the flanks of the main battle in what was more or less an open field.  Some hay bales made locally interesting obstacles, but didn’t overall dictate the flow of combat in the area.  There were also some Ansteorran and Trimarian spearmen and a unit of Midrealm shields.  Against that were all the Tuchux.  The day promised to be interesting.

What occurred was a series of Tuchux pushes and charges that drove the skirmishers back, sometimes to the rez line, but never sufficiently penetrated to affect Atlantia’s back field and, once the charges were depleted, rezzing spearmen would push the Tuchux back to or beyond mid-field then stabilize and attrit for a while until the next Tuchux push.

Things started off pretty clean, but there were some ‘chux who clearly had higher calibration standards.  One guy had a ‘grotesque’ face plate whose eye holes I used for point control drills, only to hear “side” in response every time.  He later was clobbered by somebody else and lay on the ground for a minute until he was able to walk back to his rez line.  I can’t help but think these things are related.

Which brings me to the ‘chux reputation.  One of the Meridian fighters who was fighting alongside us told me they were clean.  They weren’t.  They earned their rep.  A ‘chux cracked my rib, with a spear, hitting me in the back, through my pickle barrel armor. No ‘chux took positive pressure spear thrusts to the face, but one bitched that my up-calibration spear to his face was too hard.  Another one shrugged whatever I threw at him, then whiffed on me and asked “Did you feel that?”  ‘Chux used the “3 points of contact doesn’t mean you’re dead, but you should probably take it as a kill” convention among the SCA to their advantage, knocking our fighters down rather than going for a kill.  However, they did not adhere to that convention themselves.  In that article going around on Facebook they claim to be really proud of their armor, but there were guys wearing a black t-shirt and black sweatpants pulled over hockey armor, not a stitch of leather or metal except the helm.  They raise calibration when convenient, expect touch-kill when it serves their purpose, abuse others’ honor to their advantage, and exploit armor loopholes.  Sounds familiar.

At one point, I’ll admit, I was frustrated by this bullshit.  I devised, and announced, a plan to get “as close to marshal’s court as I can with a Tuchux”.  Shortly thereafter, a ‘chux indulged.  We received a charge, he took a number of blows, and I drove him to the ground with my spear shaft.  We stepped back to let the dead out, and he popped back up and rejoined his line, saying he didn’t get hit (and, remember, no 3-point convention for them).  And he immediately charged us again.  I again put my spear across his shield to stand him up, let a few blows land on him, and then pushed him backward.  Since ‘chux like those trashcan lids so much, my spear slid up and, by the time we hit the ground, my spear was against his throat (or gorget, if he bothered with it, not sure).  I asked if he was going to call any of that good.  He started bashing my helm with his basket hilt in response.  The local fighters broke it up and sent him to rez, I trotted back to rez, too (I may have needed to calm down a bit).

I didn’t need him that time (I was totally legal), but other times (like, the time I put a ‘chux over a stack of hay bales when he charged me), I had a guardian marshal standing right behind me, always appearing whenever I was concerned I might have transgressed a rule.  “M’lord marshal, was that okay?” “Yep.”  Same thing happened with the ‘chux who bitched about my face thrust.  “Looked clean to me.”  I should write that dude a thank you note, and hire him to follow me around the battle.

Towards the end of the fight, everybody was worn out and calmed down a bit, and it all got better again.  Atlantia did its job, but the rest of the line was not as steady and we did not win.


You may have noticed a pattern among the heavy battles: Defeat, but by a narrow margin.  Luckily, rapier did not suffer this problem.

The rapier broken field was laid out in three sectors: far left was the open field, with a flag in it.  Center was a broken field (hay bales that mostly served as tripping hazards), with a flag.  And a 20X20 (maybe 30X30?) hay bale “house” on the right with a flag in it.  Beyond the house was a narrow open area to provide access to the house (it was originally supposed to be wider, but they decided to run the siege battle at the same time as the rapier battle, FFS).

Atlantia was tasked with the open field sector.  We formed up on the left and I again drifted out to the far left flank.  And against was arrayed… nothing.  The East left a hundred foot gap between its right flank and the edge of the battlefield, essentially ceding everything to the left of the banner in the open field.  And as Atlantia charged, nothing came out to meet us.  We had reached their rez line and turned right before I came into contact with the enemy.  Atlantia basically formed an L shape with the angle at, or just past, the banner.  I noticed a couple goobs who were dying were trying to rez in our back field, so I drifted back, stabbed them, let them rez, come back out, stabbed them again, and offered that “We could keep doing this all day, if they wanted”.  Unfortunately we couldn’t, because Caitilin decided she didn’t want Atlantia running all the way across the field to rez, and called us back (I think we could have done it.  Remember, we like to run, though that may or may not be a good thing).

Somewhere in there I noticed the new tip on my blade was at a bad angle so I went back to rez, removed the tape, found out it had a little split on the side, and re-taped.  By the time I got finished with that, Atlantia was in a stable (and basically unmovable, like, for the rest of the 90 minutes) line in front of our banner.  The center banner was the enemy’s, though, so I headed that way to help out, we pushed, and got the banner.  I think I died this time, and when I came back from rez we still had the left two banners (with, I noticed, a strong Atlantian contingent holding the center banner, meaning, yeah, half the field was Atlantia’s).  I joined up with Connor and another guy to go work on softening the defenses on the last banner, the one in the house, or tower, or whatever it was.

So let’s talk about this tower.  Like I said, it was maybe 20 by 20, with two entrances.  There were a good 40 people inside, which meant double and triple deep killing cups defending those two entrances.  In addition to that, the No Man’s land between the two lines was centered on those entrances, meaning any attack was charging not so much into a killing cup, as a killing ladle.  The side facing the other banners was bad, but apparently the opposite side was even worse due to the dense packing due to the narrowness of the access path.  There were a lot of blind shots, hard shots, uncontrolled charges, and people getting pushed over hay bales.  There were 5 medical holds, most of them from around the house.  I don’t think I’ve seen that many medical holds on the rapier field in all ten years of Pennsics (missed 2) that I’ve been to, combined.  The field layout was poorly designed.

Connor and I nibbled at the entrance to the doorway, weakened it a bit, I died, and when I came back our side had taken the house, and held it for most of the rest of the battle.

started drifting, looking for holes that needed plugging, or weak spots in the enemy line that could be exploited.  There were times even where I came back from rez and had nowhere that needed me, so I just hung out in the back field until something looked interesting or Caitilin ordered me somewhere.

Remember the thing about the Tuchux cracking my rib?  And the 90 minute heavy battle?  That was all an hour before the rapier battle.  Not only was I exhausted, I was in pretty constant pain.  Moving hurt.  So I didn’t.  At least, no more than absolutely necessary.  Every action had to kill, which meant a lot of one-shots.  Somebody actually complimented my fighting because of it.  Which leads to my best advice from the day: Break a rib, you’ll fight better.



I got my brakes fixed so I could drive home the next day, missing the heavy fort battle, but I didn’t really feel a desire to go into a meat grinder like that.

Despite losing the war (by, rumor has it, the amount of points that Rapier would have won if we’d had a third battle) it was a pretty good one.  I mean, I wasn’t the one who broke an ankle or got concussed in the Stupid House.  It probably sucked for those people.  But I got to fight as much as I wanted to, and the Monday after found myself extremely grumpy and twitchy, missing war more than I ever had previously.

How was your war?

Posted August 18, 2014 by Wistric in Events

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