Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 7: Après Melee

Melee is, in my experience, the second best way to spend an afternoon.  And like the best thing, it’s recommended for all involved that you don’t just hop right up afterward and go play Nintendo.  This leaves the experience feeling incomplete, possibly disappointing, and can leave your teammates (or opponents, if you’re into that sort of thing) frustrated.  Instead, take a little extra time and make sure that they remember you for what you are: A god in the… it’s just gone too far now, hasn’t it?

The Mind

Okay, so to start with after that final “Hold” is called: Breathe.  Breathe deep.  You’ve just been running around, your brain is starved of oxygen, and you might want it to be functional sometime soon, like if the Queen walks over and compliments you and you have to be able to put together a coherent sentence.   And while you breathe, decompress.  Your adrenaline is still pumping, your body’s all tense, just take a moment to relax.

You may have just had your ass handed to you.  Don’t get cranky.  The adrenaline and the tension and the emotion make it real easy to be a jerk or a whiney brat (I’ve done both).  Instead, just take another breath, and think back to the time you were reading Wistric’s Weekly Warfare and you read this story:

At the Town Battle at Pennsic, I had just DFB’d a guy and he pulled the “No you didn’t, I turned my head!” trick.  Dirty cricket, if you ask me, and the sort of thing that might make a cranky scholar even more cranky.  I, of course, have never been cranky.  Ever.  Immediately after, a field-wide hold was called, and during the guy talked to the marshal and basically got validated.  The marshal said to me, “Is that alright with you?”  And I thought for a minute.  It was 9:15 on a Monday morning.  And I said to the marshal, “My lord, I could be staring at a gray carpeted cubicle wall or a computer screen, nursing a coffee, and dreading the phone ringing.  If the cost of being here is that I just have to stab this guy again, I’m willing to pay that price.”  There were much chuckles all around, “lay on” was called, and I totally punked my victim.

I think there was a message around here somewhere.  Oh, found it: If a melee goes bad for you, just remember that, dude, you’ve been in a melee.  Sucks to lose, but you could be somewhere else not in a melee at all.

On the other hand, you could have pwned the entire field.  It could have just been the day that you stepped out on the field and were possessed by all the gods of death, and proceeded to wade through the enemy as Moses through the Red Sea.  Don’t get cocky.  Seriously, nobody likes an asshole, even if he’s good with a blade.

The Marshal

At about this point, the Marshal should say “Are you all satisfied with the conduct of the bout?”  If you are, say yes.  If you aren’t, very politely explain what happened that has made you dissatisfied.  If you cannot explain politely, go back up to the above section and start again.

The Enemy

Shake hands with the enemy.  Compliment them, whether you’ve won or lost.  If you just rolled a bunch of Meridian newbs, you still compliment them.  Make stuff up if you have to.  “Good teamwork,” is vague enough that you can spit it out if nothing else will come.  Every guy in a team that had horrible teamwork will assume the other guys on the team stuck together better than him.

Next comes one of Wistric’s essential rules of melee.  As most marshals will remind you before a melee, “We’re here to kill our friends, not to hurt them”.  This is not Wistric’s rule.

Wistric’s rule is “We’re here to kill our friends, and drink their beer afterwards.”  If you are an ass to your opponent, no beer.  If you injure your opponents, no beer.  If you don’t comport yourself in an honorable manner, no beer.  The beer is the measure of your honorable victory.  So find out where your opponent’s beer is and drink it, with permission.

The Team

As you exit the field, grab your teammates and head for somewhere quiet.  It’s time for a Learning Moment.

First, especially if you’re running the team, compliment their performance.  Reinforce what went well.  Just like with that other thing I was discussing, it doesn’t hurt to say “Baby, you were great,” at least if you want a repeat performance.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to give pointers to improve performance, either.  So next discuss what worked well in your strategy, and what didn’t.  If you’ve lost, figure out why, or at least put together a good guess.  Next time, you can test your theory (the over-extended metaphor really wants to go back to my teenage years now, but I won’t let it).  If you’ve won, figure out what worked, and what you could have done better.

Then, just bask in the afterglow.  And go play Nintendo.

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