Midnight at the Oasis II

This post must start with giving props to Giovan, the Rapier Marshal in Charge at the event.  Through far more research, careful thought, and ingenuity than I’ve ever brought to an event where I was RMiC, he pretty much invented a novel melee scenario.  The closest parallel is what happens at La Rochelle after the killing cups collapse.  And ZOMG it was fun!

The Castle Battles

Anything previously referred to as a castle battle, except La Rochelle, should now be considered a Gate Battle.

From what I remember of Giovan’s historical note, in 11-somethingorother, a group of Crusaders were besieged in the Castle of Jacob’s Ford by the Saracens. The castle formed an isosceles triangle, with a short side and two long sides.  Each vertex was a tower/keep/other such building.  The breach was along one of the long sides, with the base and its two buildings to the left, and the single tower to the right.  The two buildings (A and B) at the base each had two doors, the tower (C) to the right, only one entrance.

Confusing?  Yep.  As much as I love me some thousand words or so, let’s go to a picture:

jacobsfordThe scenarios each began with the breach already made, and the defenders spread evenly through the three buildings.  At six people to a side, it came to two people per building.  Instead of starting with a killing cup just inside the breach, the battle was a real melee confined within the walls of the castle.  And the novelty of it all meant that a whole lot of tactics were tried.  Within the first four runs, the same plan was not used twice.  The teams switched roles between each run.

But of course, first there were the stupid questions.  Or not.  Aside from somebody asking about DFB, and I think somebody asked about suicide, having a field full of Windmasters meant we all knew what to do.  And the suicide question got fun, because since I spent way too much time with the society melee rules last week, I remembered the “friendly fire” rule.  Basically, the rule reads, if somebody on your team lands a valid shot on you, you have to take it.  I argued “You are on your own team, so the rule applies and permits suicide.”  I think I won.  Somewhere, my lawyer parents are very proud of me.

Run 1:

The attackers sent one fighter to occupy the two fighters in C.  The defenders in B ran to A to occupy it with 4 fighters.  This put 5 attackers outside A, and 4 defenders inside.  The small size, and two entrances, meant a bulletproof defense of A was impossible, and numerical superiority of the attackers carried the fight there, after which the remaining attackers finished off the defenders in C.

Run 2:

Having learned from the fates of the defenders who bottled up in their buildings in the first run, the defenders this time counter-charged.  The attackers did not seem to expect this, as the defenders in building A (including me) hit the rear and flank of the column entirely unexpectedly.

Run 3:

The attackers, expecting the same counter-charge as in Run 2, pushed on tower C, but were held up long enough for the counter-charge to swarm in.  It quickly became chaos, with lots of DFBs and a couple of tumbles to the ground, but the attackers ended up crushed between the defenders in C and the counter-charge from A and B.

Run 4:

The attackers started out in a single column, ready for a charge through the breach.  There is no better way of broadcasting “We’re not going to charge!” to your enemy.  And sure enough, at lay-on they formed a killing cup outside the breach.  The defenders ambled out and engaged the cup with their own.  The attackers’ cup was formed a little weakly, with the ends too close to the breach and vulnerable to cross-shots.  Also, one of the defenders had a 45″ blade, and proved fairly dominant.  The attackers never set foot in the castle.

Run 5:

The defenders counter-charged from both ends, the fighting quickly broke down into singles, and ended up with a 2 defenders vs. 1 attacker, which resolved itself quickly enough into 2 defenders and no attackers.

Run 6:

The defenders set up a strong pair in C, the attackers sent their strongest pair against it as the point of a column charge, and overwhelmed the defenders, then set their entire team inside C to defend against the counter-charge from the defenders.  And it worked really well.

The Woods Battles

We then headed into the woods, where the armoreds had set up a tower in the middle of a clearing, with four paths leading to it.  We set up rez points on two of the paths (call them North and South), and shifted the hay bales to make the tower into a house with openings East and West.  And then we fought three (or was it four) 5-minute rez battles.

The openness of the paths meant that it was not particularly woodsy, just more of a battle with trees in the vicinity.  However they were useful in providing choke points along the paths at which one could block the enemy’s return from rez point, and defensive screens to attack the flanks of rezzed fighters.

Numbers proved pretty decisive here.  The shift of one newly-authorized fighter from one side to another also shifted the advantage, as even a newly authorized fighter can stand inside a house, occupy a doorway, and keep an attacker busy until reinforced.

One of the solutions to the problem of numerical disadvantage was leg-and-leave, which was done with varying degrees of success (Celric spent half a fight legged, Johann spent half of another legged).  Resorting to the tradition of “no suicide”, nobody legged ever took their own life, despite the earlier discussion.  Maybe I lost that one after all, and didn’t realize it.  At one point I got what I felt was a really pretty leg shot on Jackson (the numerical advantage maker): He was advancing to engage a teammate, and I trotted between them, threw my shot at his knee, and kept going without ever stopping to take a guard.  A lot of my fighting on the rez path was to prevent opponents from DFBing their legged teammates, and the one time I broke off from that fight Ilaria DFB’d Jackson and Johann, both her legged teammates, and they went and rezzed.

Galen pointed out that our house defense was massively deficient.  Almost everybody was fighting in the doorway, looking to hit targets when they were still outside the door.  This, of course, exposed them to immediate attack.  His preferred method was to stand so that your range ended at the doorway, the choke point where only one fighter could pass through at a time.  This is an effective defense, assuming your ability to strike at your opponent at range and avoid their opening binds.  However, it can be hampered by the size of the house and other openings into it.

Towards the end I was getting tired and throwing less-controlled shots.  This has been happening more than I’d like, and so I recommit myself to busting my ass back to a semblance of stamina.

Issues that Arose:

Engagement was, as always, an interesting issue.  Chris Cunning (Southern Regional Rapier Marshal) spoke to it, and actually avoided the shoulder definition of the front of a fighter, resorting instead to Justice Potter Stewart: “I know it when I see it”, which is really all that’s available.  He mentioned a couple of interesting (and new to me) twists.  Being just inside the 180 does not generate “automatic engagement”.  There is an expectation that, even standing in the 180, you say “Hey, guy, I’m over here” or something else to notify your opponent of your presence before you start hammering away, unless eye contact or other acknowledgment has already been made.  Additionally, he said that, once warning is given to your opponent if you’re behind him, and he acknowledges, and DFB is not permitted, and after a certain amount of courteous patience, you can go ahead and strike him in the back.  That’s definitely a new one on me.  We’ll see if it is still around when the melee rules roll out for rapier.  In clarification on the line-on-line engagement, the decision was that, if you’ve wrapped your line around theirs and are outside the 180 of the target, you can still fire, but do so gently and on a soft, padded part of your opponent.  Just a sort of a “hey, I’m here, we’re engaged, and you’re dead”.

At one point Sir Johann took a tumble to the ground.  A fighter immediately called hold.  At the same time, a DFB chain had been set up (of, I think, three provosts).  In this hold, then, everybody got to stop and look around, the provost in the middle of the DFB chain and his target could then see they were about to be DFB’d, and the team getting pushed from behind could see they were about to be flanked.  All of the momentum was taking out.  And, really, Sir Johann was not in any danger (partly because Sir Johann is impervious to the vast majority of dangers known to man, partly because he’d only hit the ground and wasn’t about to be stepped on).  This “butt hits ground, fighting stops” attitude is a holdover from armored fighting (where they have a three-point rule).  Given my druthers, hitting the ground would not stop a fight.  I say this as somebody who hits the ground more than the average fighter, and is more than willing to fight splayed on my back because I’m a cocky enough son of a bitch to think I can still win that fight, or at least roll out of it.  Also, I’ve been on the other end, charging a unit where an opponent stumbled backwards and fell, a hold was called, and all the momentum and opportunity of making it into the enemy backfield was lost.

Bad Idea Bear of the Free Scholars

A while back, I commented on the wisdom of listening to the advice of the gold scarf’ed class.

Though, it’s worth remembering that Free Scholars MIGHT intentionally give bad advice, for their own personal amusement.  If the advice is, for instance, “You should go pick a fight with Giacomo, by kicking him in the cup,” or something similar, stop, think, and notice whether the Free Scholar is trying not to snicker.

Poor Jackson, nobody had mentioned that to him.  At one point in the woods, he was in the house and I was outside it.  So I said “Jackson, I call you a coward if you do not come out and fight me!”  He took two steps forward, to the doorway, and I stabbed him in the throat.  I felt kind of bad, but, well… I had the house and he had a walk back to rez point.

There was discussion later about the level of fun of the woods battle, and somebody blamed it all on me, saying it was “Wistric’s idea”.  Celric commented that Wistric’s ideas are always fun, but always end up in a bad, bad place.  So I adopted the title of Bad Idea Bear of the Free Scholars, and said “We should take the tips off our swords and fight.  It’ll help our calibration!”  Considering half the fighters gathered started nodding and saying they’d do it, I think I proved Celric’s point.

So, yeah, I’m not one who tends to sign my e-mails with all of my titles and positions, or even my last name.  But I may have to start putting that at the end of my e-mails, at least to the rapier net.

All in all, a really fun day, and the fighting was great.  And you know what?  Screw this rez battle and blowing the gates at La Rochelle.  Defenders start in the towers, attackers start at the gates, last man standing wins!

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