War of the Wings 2009   Leave a comment

Saturday, Oct 10th, the armies of Atlantia met at Elkinburg Castle to once more settle some dispute between some guy and some other guy over something or other.  Really, after the first year, when one of the guys was my Baron, I didn’t pay too much attention.  Okay, that’s a lie, but paid attention only insofar as it extended to sending offers for bribery from my friends in the opposing parties up the ladder to the baronage.  This year, I got to pay less attention for two reasons: The Baron picked sides the day of, and I’m not the rapier warlord anymore.  That last bit didn’t read right.

I’m not the rapier warlord!  Boo yeah!  I’m not the rapier warlord, hallelujiah and smack my ass!  WOO HA!

There, that read right.  Instead, Giovan was covering rapier warlord duties this year, which made life a bit easier for me, though the change in command was not thoroughly communicated to our allies (“Wistric, how many people does Windmasters’ have?”  “I’unno… (counts in head) 9?”).  So, friends far and wide: If you’ve got a question about the Windmasters’ rapier army, don’t ask me (sadly, don’t ask Giovan, either, as real life is about to jump him something fierce).

So up trots I, halfway through opening ceremonies, and says “where’s the baron?  Huh… don’t see him on the Sacred Stone side… Oh, there he is on the Black Diamond side.  Good to know.”  And I walk up next to him and look across at the Sacred Stone side, recognizing a couple of fencers.  And I look around at my side, recognizing a lot more fencers, and realize it’s gonna be one of THOSE years.

Sacred Stone and allies had 16 fighters, from Hawkwood, Sacred Stone, and a small handful of others (including Meridies and Trimaris).  They had one combat archer.  Black Diamond and allies had 41 fighters, from Black Diamond, Windmasters, Nottinghill Coill (half of whom I’d never seen before, which is a Good Thing), and the Dragoons, and four combat archers.  Sacred Stone was in for a heaping helping of suck.

Windmasters, with 9 fighters, was the easiest chunk to move and provide a bit better balance.  But we’d given our pledge to our Baron, and our Baron his pledge to the Baron of Black Diamond.  Sacred Stone being unable to determine which of those honorable pledges should be broken, the sides stayed basically the same.

The nine from Windmasters was an excellent group: Percy and Roz, Giovan and me, Caelia (mka Dreya), Jauma, Adelric, Jackson, and Eva, our prodigal fencer visiting from her new Meridian home.

Before everything, of course, there had to be Stupid Question Time.  The event MiC summoned ALL fighters over, and then talked about the armored fighting only.  Then the armored fighters demonstrated that rapier fighters aren’t the only one who spend a half hour before each battle asking the most inane and ridiculous questions they can think of.  Eventually the rapier fighters walked off and had our own stupid question session.  I have a plan for the next time I find myself running a melee, it goes like this: “Hold all questions til the end.  Here’s the scenario.  Keep x, y, and z in mind.  Now, does anybody have any SAFETY related questions?  Don’t be a dumbass, don’t get your friends hurt.  Does anybody have any SCENARIO related questions?  If so, the answer is ‘No, you can’t, but everybody else can’.  You’re on the honor system, so if I just answered a question you were going to ask, I expect you to obey my answer.”  Three minutes, everything’s covered, and we go play.

The Woods

The woods had the three static flags and East and West rez points of previous years.  Though I think the Eastern flag was moved a little closer to the center this year as it seemed easier to get done.  Instead of having to run closer in to the rez point to get to the Eastern flag, it could be accessed by sliding almost straight to the right of the central flag for ten yards.  This year, Black Diamond had the Western rez point, and Sacred Stone the eastern.

The scenario was a straightforward one: 45 minutes, hold the flags at the end of 45.  No interim counting, and no second runthrough from the opposite rez points.

Windmasters was assigned the left flank, the Dragoons the right, and Black Diamond and Nottinghill Coill the center.  At lay-on the fast Windy Kitties (er… Caelia, me, and… I honestly don’t remember who else) beat feat.  We found the left-hand flag exactly where it always was, and set up our line, then started pushing forward.  I took a shot, rezzed, and came back to find the line advanced further, and BD and NC pushing past the center flag.  A short while later we had pushed past the right-most flag as well, and the left flank began pushing forward to the edge of the corridor that Sacred Stone was following on their way back from rez point.

There was a good horizontal corridor past the center flag which allowed communication and body shifting from one front to the other, so as the left would get pressed three fighters and an archer would head that way, stop the press, shift back to the center to reinforce it, while another archer and couple of fighters were shifting to the right flank to stop a press there.

Given the numbers, the outcome was a foregone conclusion, but there were some nonetheless fascinating developments.   The most impressive performance of the day was from the Barony of Hawkwood.  Greylond had about five or six other fighters, and they would return from rez as a unit.  Having captured the flags, we had to form a pretty spread out line across the field, which meant our overall field numerical superiority did not guarantee numerical superiority in any one spot.  Hawkwood tended to hit our left flank, where we were spread out in a wide skirmish line to do area denial.  By coming in as a compact mass they could focus their six on two or three fighters and push them back.  Any attempt to reinforce those two or three in place from elsewhere in the flank would weaken another part of the line which would immediately be exploited.  So instead the left flank would have to fall back, until two or three of the Hawkwoodies had fallen.  Then, their localized numerical advantage done, they’d be crunched and dispatched, and the left flank would move up to its original position until Hawkwood reformed and came back at us.  Greylond did a great job organizing them and leading them, but he did pay for it: while falling back the left would be reinforced with an archer who tended to aim low.  Greylond took four arrows to the gender-specific protection through the course of the battle.

On the right, on the other hand, everybody was spread out in a skirmish line, as the trees didn’t create any useable corridors for concentrated force.  At one point I ducked over that way to the far end of the line, and was engaged by one fighter.  I let him take his time coming through some deadfall.  He counted for two of me, and every minute he wasted was a minute he wasn’t anywhere else.  Soon, another teammate came up and joined him, and I had two of them busy while we chatted.  I sniped the teammate, and he came back from rez right to us.  Eventually somebody yelled at them not to let me occupy two people.  But for a good three minutes, I had the mathematical equivalent of four Black Diamond fighters occupied, and I didn’t have to throw more than three shots.  Sometimes standing there and not doing a thing is the best option.

I had a little personal squee moment.  I’d hoped to take Caelia around the battle to run backfields, but Giovan tapped her for messenger duty.  But at one point I did grab her coming back from rez point and we headed for a little one-person wide tunnel between the left flank and center.  As we got to the exit two Hawkwoodies blocked us, but to our right was the backfield of the enemy center.  I pointed it out to Caelia, and got to watch as she jumped over there and DFB’d two fighters.  Something must’ve clicked because she says she did the same thing a little while later.  “Spike, grant me the exposed backfields of my enemies…”

The Ruins

This was a new one for the war, and almost an entirely new sort of battle.  It was pretty damn spiff and I will riot if they don’t do it again.

The “ruins” were a series of waist-high walls (and, yes, you could fight over them) laid out as two small square buildings wrapped on two sides by a long L shaped building.  The ruins proper could be accessed at three points, which we’ll call “left”, “center”, and “right”, by their positions in the picture below.  Various entrances into each building faced the corridors between buildings.  A small redoubt projected out ahead of the ruins blocking direct access to the central access point.  Roughly, it looked like this:

WoW Ruins

WoW Ruins

Attackers came from “up”, and between the buildings were four “treasures” to be acquired (Zen Warrior “whacky whackers”, a must have for any fencer, from age ‘snip the cord’ to ‘nail the coffin lid down’).  The battle was run twice, and the winner would be the team to get the four treasures back to their rez point as quickly as possible.  Defenders had two rezzes, attackers had unlimited.  Given the tight quarters, we had to die as out of the way as possible, and marshals would periodically call “dead out” for the dead to go rez.

The first run through, Windmasters was attacking the Left Access point.  The plan was pretty simple: on approach our artillery would lay down a barrage, then we’d punch in, opening a hole for the Dragoons to run through.  The barrage happened, but not with complete effect.  Percy and I at the point of the Windmasters attack punched the entrance into the L building, sweeping blades down, and both getting stabbed, but our entry wasn’t followed up.  When we were released to go rez and returned, the situation had devolved into a stalemate of a rough killing cup extending from the entrance to the L building, across the corridor, and continuing on inside the next building over (from fighters fencing over the walls).  Also a factor was a couple of legged fighters tucked in against walls and firing from their concealment to no small effect.  The center or right broke first, relieving the pressure in front of us, and we were able to push in to the L and through it.  It took about three minutes start to finish.

On defense, Windmasters was assigned the Right entrance.  An archery battery was set up in the left forward building, and a gunnery battery in the right building, covering the enemy approach to our gate.  These batteries kept the pressure off our killing cup (extended through the buildings as we’d learned from the first run) until the gunners were pretty well depleted.  I took my three rezzes and was the first out (more on this in a second), so I got to watch the fighting for a while.    Eventually the center caved, and everybody fell back til it was Roz and three others defending the last doorway.  Now came the comedic moment of the day: One of the enemy bounced up behind the SS line and DFB’d two of his own fighters, right as the press against Roz was starting, freezing everything while the Black Diamond dead guffawed.  But the end had to come, and after five or six minutes of fighting the last BD’er fell.

So, I was thinking about how Roz was just about the last one standing, while I was the first one out.  I expect I may have been more useful alive than dead, organizing defenses and yelling and what not, but I had a hard time telling other people to go get stabbed and not putting myself in the fight, too.  It wasn’t a question of not wanting them to get all the fun.  I actually didn’t want them to be the first one dead, and the one standing on the fence watching everybody else still have fun.  So I tended to cross-swords with the bigger threat, or get to where I’d draw fire from the gunners away from other fighters.  And instead it was me on the fence watching, joined shortly by Dom.  I’ll have to do some more thinking about that whole “sending people to their early resurrection vs. protecting them from harm” thing.

The Field

The field this year was an interesting twist.  Most years previously it’s been last man standing.  That’s awesome and all, and rewards maneuver and unit cohesion and control, but it’s been done.  This year the barons of Black Diamond (Sir Russell) and Sacred Stone (Sir Axel) took the field.   The job of the armies was to kill the enemy baron three times before yours was killed three times.  Everybody else had unlimited resurrections.

By this time attrition had hit both sides, but BD a little harder than SS.  Russell had three guards the majority of the time, Axel had six.  Ragnarr, His Maj, and Aedan had joined in on Sacred Stone’s side, and basically made runs at Russell.  As he was under-defended, Ragnarr and Aedan were able to slip in and do their dirty work.  Caelia and I made it into the backfield of SS a couple of times, but Axel’s defense was always too thick for me to do anything against it.  At one point I stood back there yelling “I’m in your backfield!” and four of the fighters turned to watch me.  If only somebody from our line had taken that opportunity to jump them.  I think Axel had only died once before Russell was dead three times, and that was the end of the war.

Then it was time for melee practice!  We split up the interested parties roughly evenly, and assembled our group over on one end of the field.  I looked around for a scholar to volunteer to command and realized that we had a couple provosts, a couple of free scholars, a large chunk of out-of-kingdomers, and two scholars, Jauma and Caelia.  Caelia said something to the effect of, “There has to be a scholar other than me to do the commanding!  Oh, Jauma’s it?  Better be me then.”  She got herself a crate full of mean!

So she rounded everybody up and sent us out to run the right end of the enemy.  I ran out on the left and engaged their far flanker, Alric.  I think he got me, or somebody else jumped me, and I trotted off the field.  Noticing that Ragnarr, His Maj, and Master Vortigern were doing pickups, I said “Screw this melee stuff” and grabbed the Pretty Stick (hereafter known as The Big Beautiful Bastard) and headed over.  Vortigern and I were just about to play when the RMiC came over and announced the end of the day.  I was sad.  I had to put the BBB back without letting her have any fun.

Afterwards, Caelia and I polished off two growlers of fine Carolina brew between us, kept three provosts and a free scholar entertained all throughout court, and headed off to Fuddruckers with Roz and Percy.  It was, for all the sluggish start and ugly sky, a damn good day.

Still, it could be better

Raph asked us for ways to improve next year, and we came up with some sitting around talking with him.  My thoughts:

1)      End the Barony vs. Barony setup.  It means one barony goes around and gets allies, and the sides end up woefully unbalanced (as they have three of the last four years).  A different sort of setup (two knights in Sacred Stone, but please not the two dukes, fighting against each other) would make it easier to balance out the sides the day of because nobody would really care that much, and hey, you’d still have a war!

2)      Pre-plan.  A lot of the scenarios weren’t really organized until the day of.  Having everybody (unit commanders, marshals) on the same page before they show up to site means you can say “Hey, unit commanders, have your armies assembled at the entrance to the woods and briefed at 11am by my watch,” and just yell “lay-on”.

3)      Start the fighting sooner.  Things just took forever to get going.  Part of it was all the mucking about with the Stupid Questions.  Man, killing that would add thirty minutes of fighting to any event.

4)      For the woods, run a “Team Fortress” capture the flag (one flag at either end of the field, the goal is to grab it and run it back to your rez point).  There would be some safety issues, but you could do a fifteen minute battle that would be as fun as any 45 minute battle, then switch sides and do it again.

5)      The ruins battle was awesome.  It could be bigger and better, and start with both teams outside fighting to seize control of the ruins (so, more like a town battle).

6)      The different field battle scenario as also pretty awesome.  Cutting fat out of the schedule would mean more scenarios could be experimented with.

WoW gets better every year.  WoW XX should be pretty damn sweet.

Posted October 13, 2009 by wistric in Events

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