Gulf Wash XXV: Spin Cycle – Wistric’s Tuesday   2 comments

This year saw Wistric’s return to Gulf Wars, and perhaps the gods were unhappy about that. Really, though, I think the gods just think there are too many MODs: Damiano (Glean Abhann) and David (Meridies) got postponed due to the weather (more on that later) and Caitilin nearly did.

Having finally managed to Iron Man Pennsic last year, I decided I would do the same, as much as possible, at Gulf Wars. The Rapier Rose Tourney and a planned Saturday morning departure meant I really wouldn’t be able to do it, but I figured I’d get what I could.

This year, Meridies allied with Trimaris, the Mid, and Gleann Abhann, against Ansteorra, Atlantia, Calontir, and the East.

First things first, though: the ritual of the Monday New Orleans trip!

Except it went poorly. I am allergic to everything that grows, and it turns out mid-March is when everything grows in Mississippi. I spent four hours in New Orleans sneezing and wiping at my nose and eyes, and called it a day. Next year we’re spending the weekend and I’m double- or triple-dosing zyrtec.

Monday night was a MOD get together. I got to meet a lot of people I only knew online or by reputation and had a generally fun time hanging out.


Diamond Tourney

After Opening Ceremonies the Diamond Tourney was held. I swapped out of the Suit of Great Pantsness for my fencing garb, and trotted over to the field. It took a little while to get going, but when they announced the pairings Meridies was the first, against Athelmearc. For the Diamond Tourney, the queens pick a heavy champion and a rapier champion (I was subbing in for Her Majesty Thorkatla’s rapier champion, since he couldn’t make it till later in the war). The kingdoms’ teams fight each other in a best of three passes, alternating forms: armored for the first pass, rapier for the second, and armored for the third if needed; or rapier-armored-rapier. Which form would have the first and third pass was decided by coin flip. Our set went armor-rapier-armor.

The armored fighter, Lord Jochi, fought really well, trading legs and then having a ground fight that lasted three or four minutes. It was great to watch, but ultimately he lost his first pass.

Aethelmearc’s rapier fighter was Mistress Illadore, which meant all of my range advantage was gone. I held my guard low in Giganti’s invite to the left shoulder, and she tracked it down with her own, leaning her head forward as she did so and advancing a bit squared up. I retreated a bit to bring her forward more and get her leaning in more. She circled to my left, creeping into distance as she did so. When I judged she’d come close enough that I could hit her with a clean lunge, I lunged up the gap between her sword and dagger into her exposed chest (see: my whole theory of sword and dagger from Giganti, somewhere on this blog).

And realized I am now of an age where I need to warm up before a tourney fight. Instead of throwing a clean lunge that would end up just pressing against her chest, it was a kind of ugly shot that would have ended up six inches out her back. Don’t feel too great about that, and it is a big ol’ lesson learned for me.

Unfortunately, Jochi wasn’t able to take the third pass, so Meridies lost and was out of the tourney. Thus did I have my one single tournament pass of the entire war.


Armored Town Battle

After that I went back to camp, picked up my spear and not-so-magic helmet and headed off with Sir Morgan to kill the wabbit, or at least the enemy.

This was planned to be two 45 minute long halves, swapping attack and defense roles in between the two halves. I learned last night that they decided to make it two hour-long halves sometime after lay-on. Because heat stroke is a Good Thing!  And why did they do this insanity as the FIRST battle? Were they worried they’d have too many fighters for the rest of the war?

So it was that we mustered up, in the sun, in the heat, in our armor, and did the dance of standing and waiting for fighting start.

Since my very first rapier warpoint at Pennsic 11 years ago, I’ve formed up with Windmasters, or when I shifted into the command structure, Southern Atlantia. On the armored field, it was Windmasters or the Queen’s Spears. Last year at Pennsic I fought with Atlantia on the rapier field. On the armored field I fought with the Spears again, or hopped over and fought with the Meridian army, which was small enough to operate as a single unit.

When I arrived at the armored field for this battle, though, I realized I had no actual unit. It was odd. I felt significantly less effective because of that lack of familiarity with those around me – scratch that, I felt damn near useless. I’m already discussing with His Excellency South Downs and some of the local knights having a monthly baronial unit training day. We’ll see what comes of it.

I can’t find a map of the town, but it was basically six objective buildings scattered on the banks of a “Y” junction of two rivers, outside the fort. Defenders started inside the fort, attackers outside. The rivers had to be crossed knee-walking, or by one of a few bridges around the field. Knights, being on horse, could “ride” through the river standing up. I modestly inquired if this might apply to other peers, or at least other martial peers. It did not. Oh well. One day we’ll have a rapier melee and make the knights knee-walk. (Kidding… maybe? It would be funny! But it would go over like a lead cluster bomb.)

Meridies started on the defending side. At “Lay on” we exited the main gate, crossed the river, and turned right to hold the left side of the field and one of the objective buildings there. The space between the river and the edge of the field was narrow. We ended up compressed into a three- or four-deep rank, and it turned into a meat grinder.

I swear the attackers’ rez walk was shorter by half. I know it was shorter because I fought the second half of that battle and did that rez walk, too. We attrited hard just on the differential in numbers of fighters doing the rez walk. That guaranteed numerical inferiority, which is always going to be shit. There was a lack of rezzing as a unit, so we didn’t get much temporary numerical superiority to exploit for gaining ground and holding, though Kynric, the commander, did do a good job of holding people at the traffic cop checkpoint and sending them in as a burst. However, the constant immediate urgency of demand kept it from being a significant punching force (usually no more than a half dozen).

We had a preponderance of shieldmen to start with (double ranks usually), and they were not so good at giving spearmen room to move side to side or back up, so there was a lot of “try to void back, find a shield stopping you, get hit in the face,” and not a lot of room to support each other, so our spears got hit hard. Despite our numbers of shieldmen, we did not do a whole lot of crunching their spears when they were exposed in front of their shield wall. That would have helped our spears’ survival rate a lot. The combined shield-and-spear tactics could be worked on. It’s on the list.

Ultimately, with the numbers the way they were, and the heat and the length, people started falling out, and it seemed spears were especially hard hit. After a while I felt like the only spearman, or one of just a few, while the line commander was hollering for spears to fall-in. At the fifty minute mark I started feeling chills running through my body. I grabbed shade, water, and popped my top for five minutes until I’d vented and hydrated, then jumped back in and fought the last five of the first half.

In between halves I shed every single unnecessary thing I was wearing (shoulder pads gone; coif gone; underarmor shirt gone; surcote gone) and evaporated for a while. And here’s where I found out a thing – the MiC doesn’t have a bullhorn, unlike Pennsic. I was putting my now-reduced kit back on when I heard somebody yell “Lay on” and everybody started charging across the field. Oops.

I fell in at rez and followed the army up to the same side we’d been fighting over in the first half. This time, though, we had the short walk. Also this time, we were against Calontir and Atlantia. This meant FRIENDS!

With the reduced armor I was moving much better, and my body had finally acclimatized, and could actually pay attention to what was going on and who I was fighting. Also, I think the attrition had thinned our ranks enough that we weren’t packed like sardines and I ended up with much more room to work.

I got to stab Sinclair in the eye, found out that Gawin has the same tell with spear as with rapier (your right shoulder rises), and was reminded that Alric’s range is two inches longer than mine.

I also found out that Sir Daemon has been taking his glucosamine. He danced around and popped me a couple of times. It was pretty. At one point the non-Meridian fighter next to me was trying to nudge Daemon’s spear out of the way, and kept waiting for me to take the shot, and I kept not, because I knew Daemon and can see a trap when there’s one. Finally, my wingman took a shot, and when Daemon came back with the return into the tempo of their recovery, I landed my shot. Then the wingman tried to explain what had happened (“See, you just have to close the center-line”), and I realized my collar was hidden under my chain mail. That was fixed later in the war (just in time for my white collar to get mud all over it), and a permanent solution is in the works.

I almost got to spear duel with Ragnar Rainbowthighs, but as I was waiting for him to approach our line two Mid knights pushed me out of the way. That happened more than once. The river was under-manned with spears, and yet these guys were on the bank pushing me out of the way. They could have been in the river, and then we’d have a nice little cup of spears for Atlantia to attack into, but nah, they wanted one-on-ones. And they lost. *sigh*

After two hours of fighting, plus holds, it was done, and all I wanted was to sit down and drink a beer. So I did. Because I was camped in Al Mahala which is really convenient to the battlefield, unlike Atlantian camp, which isn’t convenient to anything at all except parking.

Posted March 25, 2016 by Wistric in Events

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