Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 26: Care and Feeding of Small Units   Leave a comment

(must not make obvious jokes)

In honor of Tristan’s return to the Shire of Endewearde with a newfound appreciation for the Atlantian Way of fighting, and Miguel Mono de Hierro’s four-year mission to Hawkwood (And, seriously, at least 4 years dude) with a stated goal of raising an army of 18 year old thugs, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my thoughts on how to go about raising said army.

The usual small unit command instruction begins with: “So you’re standing at the field at Pennsic with four other people, and the Warlord says ‘You five, you’re a unit, and you are in charge!’ OMG WHAT DO YOU DO?” The instructions then go on to cover how to assess your resources and organize them. But, really, there’s a better way.

Step one: don’t be standing at the side of the field with your thumb up your butt looking for something to do. Show up with a unit, show up ready to kill (see “Group Initiative”), put a little thought and effort into the event before the day of the event.

This is, of course, not easy

What if there isn’t a unit?
So, what if you, say, find yourself in Northshield or Hawkwood or Endewearde and there’s no melee unit? You may have to make your own. Get a friend. Teach them to fight. Now you have a two man unit. If you have TWO friends, you’ve got a three man unit! You may have to become a marshal so you can run a local practice and train a unit from the ground up. This has, of course, never been done before. By anybody.

If you don’t have friends, you may need to recruit. To recruit, you need to… um… Actually, I don’t do this. I go to parks, stab my friends, and new people magically turn up every month or two, wanting to join in. Of those, 10% stick around. Ask somebody else about recruiting.

Once you have two friends, teach them how to fight in a melee. For instruction on that, might I suggest http://wistric.casabellini.org? Mostly, fight melee: One on two, two on two, grand melee, etc. Second, practice and train and drill until you’re a unit. That shouldn’t take long, just a few years.

Geography, Life, and Money
Once you’ve recruited, of course, life will all be peaches and cream. Except for all the parts where it’s not. The first problems are the barriers you’ll run in to: Geography, Life, and Money.

Geography is the most common hindrance, and the easiest to deal with: you have to travel to get to events, and for every hour or so of a drive away, interest goes down by half (we’ll call this Wistric’s Totally Made Up Ratio, but it seems to work). So you can get most everybody to drive an hour to fight all day. At 2 hours, maybe half. At 3 hours, maybe a quarter. At 4 hours, prepare to be lonely. The solution’s easy: Carpool. Depending on the number of passengers, they can take turns sleeping and keeping you awake, and if you genuinely like the people in your unit, it won’t be as much of a pain in the ass. Just make sure they chip in for gas. Nobody likes a mooch.

Life: This one’s more of a bitch. Some people, especially the young and hungry fighters, work Saturdays. Then what? While I have been known to pressure fencers to call in sick, the best way around this is to announce events well enough in advance, and hype them sufficiently, that your fencers can shift their schedule around (PS: Pennsic XXXIX starts in just 50 weeks! Mark your calendars! Request the time off NOW). Children also have a tendency to get in the way. I haven’t figured out a solution to that one that doesn’t involve latex or Schering-Plough’s products.

Money: The young and hungry never seem to be blessed with independent wealth (well, except for Robin, Joe, and Stacy. In Joe’s words: “More money than sense”). You may have to pay somebody’s site fee. It happens. Take up a collection or something. Steal. Or work Sundays.

So when you have your stout warriors, then what?
Get killing. Travel. Make a name for yourself. Celebrate and carouse. Generate “unit cohesion” so that people in your unit would rather be there than anywhere else. But, really, kill first. There is no melee training that equals fighting in lots and lots of melees, and debriefing afterward. So go to lots of events!

Battle Prep
Before you go to events, e-mail the RMiCs and get details on the scenarios. If you don’t happen to know the RMiC well, and he’s an Atlantian, ask Wistric. Chances are Wistric can get the information for you. Once you have the scenarios, complete with field layout, conventions, and goals, take it back to your unit and discuss, then train on how you will achieve your goals.

Okay, okay, but what if you DO get four unknowns chucked at you?
Start by asking questions: What are your names? How long have you been fighting? Ever been in a melee before? How good are you with a sword? How fast are you on your feet? Are you aggressive or defensive? What commands are you familiar with?

Learn their names, so that you can give them orders. Come up with some unit label (“Rejects” works well in this case). Then you can shout things like “Rejects, rally!” or “Lord Yiffy*, fall back!” Then you can communicate even more: repeat the goal, reassure them they’re doing well, suggest things to do. Be inspirational, or at least entertaining, or something.  Most of all, rememeber that we’re out here to kill people and have fun.  After you make sure they’re fighting right, ,ake sure that your Rejects are having a good time and feeling good about themselves.


So, Miguel, good luck in Hawkwood. I hope you bring a whole army of Miguerillas to WotW and come try to kick my ass. But if not, you’re always welcome with the Kappellenfechters.

Tristan, Spikespeed you in the East. Break all their bad Eastern habits just like we broke yours (most of yours, anyway), and bring an army to Pennsic thirsty for blood and bruises. And if the East won’t have you, you know Atlantia will.


*It’s period, trust me

Posted August 20, 2009 by wistric in Melee, Wistric's Weekly Warfare

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