Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 32: Melee Training Cheat Sheet

Yes, something actually melee related.  On Saturday, the Canton of Attillium hosted a war practice, and His Excellency, Letia, Miguel (taking a weekend off from his studies in the great university city of Asheville), and I trucked down to the site for Tournoi d’Amity Island to work melee (His Ex with the armored fighters, me with the rapier fighters).  I had an hour on Friday during a department meeting to think about what I’d work on with melee fighters, and made up a cheat sheet.  I didn’t follow all of this, given the experience levels I was working with, but I’m going to keep it handy for the next batch of these (and post here so Miguel can take it back to Asheville):

Part 1: Concepts Discussion

Dying Safely and Securely

  • Without disrupting your team’s actions or the enemy
  • Without risking getting mistaken for a live opponent

Commands to know

  • Forming a Unit
    • Rally
    • Form a Line
    • Dress the Line
    • Stay the Line
  • Moving
    • Advance
    • On the Double
    • Charge
    • Fall back
    • Slide Right/Left
    • Wheel Right/Left
  • Attacking
    • Engage Lightly
    • Run Right and Run Left
    • Charge (as an attack)

Killing Cups

Wistric’s Rules

  • Rule 1: Don’t die
  • Rule 2: Don’t let the guy next to you die
  • Rule 3: Kill the enemy
  • Rule 4: Remember the Goal
  • Rule 5: First one to say something is in charge
  • Rule 6: Plans should be given in 10 words or less
  • Rule 7: Don’t ask stupid questions
  • Rule 8: Take every advantage of terrain and position


Threat Assessment


  • Two rules (and only two rules) at Society level
  • No rules at Kingdom level
  • All other “rules” are just convention
  • Don’t be an asshole

Part 2: Skills Practice

Start with Leaderless Melee

  • Provides opportunity to analyze skill sets of unknown fighters

Movement in a Line (orders from concepts discussion)

Running the right/left

Breaking a line

Breaching a room

Munching a flank



Part 3: Drills

Galen’s Line Drill:
Split the practice in half, 2-3 on a side. When you get killed, take a large step back, take a deep breath, then step back in. That way, everyone gets time in a melee without lots of running or stopping ’cause you’re outnumbered 3 to 1.
An extension of this is to do 3 fighter and 1 commander drill. That way a bit more tactics can be employed. I’m not sure how the fast res would work if the fighters became too mobile. We’d also need more than 4 fighters at any given time.

Dante’s Charge Drill
Form up in two lines, one line advancing on the other.
At the moment your points cross, begin taking control of your opponent’s sword, keeping the line closed as you continue to move forward. Don’t stop advancing even for a moment, and don’t throw yourself forward hoping for a double kill.
An entire line that doesn’t stop and doesn’t suicide will CRUSH an enemy who falters.
Practice it at a walk with no masks for the “Atlantian” side; you’ll figure out the difference between being covered vs. uncovered real quick.
This does NOT mean “sweep with my blades and try to draw cut like a damn fool”. Thrusts only.

10 Second Drill (3+ fencers)
“Victim” starts fighting “First Dude”. After ten seconds, “Second Dude” reinforces “First Dude”. After ten more seconds, “Third Dude” reinforces “Second” and “First”. Etc.
Victim’s goal is to kill each opponent in detail, within the ten seconds. “Dudes” goals are to stay alive long enough to be reinforced and gain a numerical advantage.
Variations: Reduce 10 second count to 7 or 5 seconds. Start with First and Second Dude engaged with Victim.   Have two victims.

Sharks and Minnows (aka “Knights and Unbelts”, 5+ fencers)
Two to three “sharks” take on approx. twice their number of “minnows”. The minnows’ job is to cross the field as a cohesive body (if they scatter, they fail) with minimal loss. Sharks are trying to disrupt and destroy.

Zipper Drill (6+ fencers)
Form lines at line engagement range (123 v ABC). Start with slow work: Fencer 1 lunges and hits A. B hits 1, 2 hits B, C hits 2, 3 hits C. Repeat, starting from any point on either line. Then work up to real speed, with the goal of landing the shot and recovering without dying, or protecting your exposed teammate, etc.

Melee w/ 2 fencers
Use inanimate markers to indicate lines while practicing the maneuvers of running left/right, engaging lightly, breaking a line, et al.

No Orders Drill (To build individual judgment)
Equal sides.  No orders, commands, or plan given before or after lay-on.  Discuss in-depth afterward.

Line Breaching Drill
Start as with the Zipper drill.  One fighter calls “dead” and walks out of the line at random, opposing line exploits gap

6 comments to Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 32: Melee Training Cheat Sheet

  • Dante di Pietro

    Threat Assessment: I am curious.

    • What visual cues a fighter can take to make a quick judgment, on the field, as to the relative threat level of an opponent. Scarf color, in Atlantia, is one of the easier ones to go by. A fighter’s armament, how the fighter carries their weapons, and how the fighter moves become more complex variables that feed into the calculus. None of them, individually, are hard and fast rules (some white scarves are more of a threat than others, some fighters do a good job of appearing non-threatening despite their advanced skill level), but a fighter must be able to assign a relative threat value to an enemy fighter. This relative threat value dictates whether the opponent needs to be double-teamed to delay, double-teamed to destroy, singled to delay, or singled to destroy. Ultimately, these decisions of resource allocation must be made by the commander (who has to do the same calculus), but I train all fighters at a practice I lead to be commanders because of my tendency to get over-eager and die, leaving a command vacuum.

  • Bastyaen (Kubali)

    Great checklist!

    2 Suggestions
    – Stay aware of who is where (Don’t get tunneled vision!)
    – (To go along with threat assessment) Use the secondaries everyone brings as part of your plan. And make sure those people know the plan. (Corollary: If you have unbalanced secondaries, either recreate the plan to use that as an advantage or ask nicely if someone is willing to swap secondary/role)

    • The vast majority of melee training I do I prefer be done with single, at least while working on concepts and skill sets. The more “we’re going to fight a melee, and talk about what happens” training definitely is a bring-what-you’ve-brought setting, but I don’t want fighters thinking about their case or buckler when they should be thinking about timing and coordination.

  • Michael Wymarc

    Cool. I have several newbies here at Tech I am hoping to work on melees with once the snow melts and this will definitely come in useful. One question – Is Part A in order? Or, why is it ordered as it is? It seems like discussing what a line is before going over not dying through one would make more sense.

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