Wistric’s Rules of Melee

Rule 1: Don’t die

Corpses are useless (mostly).  Even in a rez battle, if you die you are out of the fight for the time it takes you to run (RUN!) to rez point and back.  If you die, you are useless.

Corollary to Rule 1: Unless you have to

See also the corollary to Rule 4.  Now the thing is, you are probably not the best judge of whether or not you have to die.  If your train of thought is “I need to stay alive” or “I don’t want to die” or “Mommy!” you’re probably in the wrong.  If your train of thought is “I may die, but it’s for a good reason,” you’re also probably still in the wrong.  When do you die?  If ordered to.  By an Atlantian.  If your train of thought is “That guy just ordered me to advance, so I’m going to advance, even if it gets me killed,” THEN you’re thinking the right way.  Also, orders to hold a spot of ground, to open a doorway, and to crush a flank, are orders that might involve you dying.  It’s okay, we’ll pour out a beer on the ground for you after.  Oh, and take one of the bad guys with you when you die.


Rule 2: Don’t let the guy next to you die

The great joy of unit cohesion is that the fighter next to you is worrying about covering your ass so you don’t have to.  If you drop the ball and don’t cover his ass, and he gets killed, he’s no longer covering your ass.  And then you die.


Rule 3: Kill the enemy

Having insured the longevity of yourself and your comrades, proceed then to annihilate the enemy.  And ONLY the enemy.  You may be in “DFB the archer” mode, but don’t DFB your own archers.  You may be in “kill the guy running the flag” mode, but don’t kill your own guy running the flag.  Yep, you may have to spend a half second more of your life thinking about who you’re about to kill, but damn it’s nice to capture that flag or have that archer providing artillery support.

(If the game is “Keep Celric alive” and you see somebody’s running towards you, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s not Celric).

Corollary to Rule 3: in such a manner that he’ll give you beer afterwards…

Remember, killing the enemy is great, but only if they still think of you as a skilled and honorable fighter afterwards.  If they think of you thusly, they’ll share their beer.  If you’re an ass, no beer.

Second Corollary to Rule 3: …and always, always remember your name

Be that good.  Everybody’s gonna lose a whole lot of fights before they go in the grave, but the losses I remember were the ones to highly skilled fighters and units, where I was just so completely outclassed that I couldn’t help but think “Damn… just… damn.”  Be that good.


Rule 4: Remember the Goal

If you do X thoroughly, but the goal is Y, you lost.  Even if X is “kill everybody else”, if the goal is, say, “keep Wistric from being killed by all the scholars”, and Wistric dies, you’ve lost.  Of course, it may be entirely Wistric’s fault, but a loss is a loss.

Corollary to Rule 4: Rules 1 through 3 are subservient to Rule 4

If dying achieves the goal, die.  If letting the guy next to you die achieves the goal, let him die.  If letting the enemy live achieves the goal, then you let the enemy live.


Rule 5: First one to say something is in charge

In the chaos of a melee, you can get twenty people standing around in a battle looking at each other blankly, doing nothing, waiting for somebody else to say something, waiting to die.  Whichever one of them speaks up first is going to get everybody’s instant obedience.

Corollary to Rule 5: Be the first one to say something

The person who speaks up could be the stupidest, knuckle-draggingest person ever to hold a sword, and suddenly they’d have nineteen other people obeying, and following him right into stupid, stupid death.

Don’t let that happen.  Speak up.  Look, if you’ve read through this much, you’ve got a leg up on the vast majority of other fencers on the field.  Have the confidence to yell orders.  If somebody better able to command comes along, they’ll let you know.

Corollary to the Corollary to Rule 5: First, yell “Rally”

If you’re all standing around, yell “Rally”.  I don’t care if everybody’s already standing in a perfectly ordered column of 4.  Yell “Rally”.  It gets everybody moving together, forming up, and immediately establishes you as the commander.  Also, it gives you a few seconds to figure out what the hell you’re going to do.

Rule 5 and its corollaries all come from personal experience: At the first War of the Wings we had a unit grand melee.  Windmasters had just punched through Sacred Stone and were all standing around gawking, waiting for the next order from the commander, Rosalind.  As is the way of things, she’d been killed and was heading for the sidelines.  So a bunch of scattered Windy Kitties were basically sitting with their thumbs up their butts waiting to be overrun.  With an  “oh shit” realization that nobody else was going to say anything, I called “rally”, formed up a column while I tried to figure out what to do, spotted an exposed flank of an enemy, and we ran through that unit (whereupon I was killed).  I’d been fencing, at that point, for all of a year.  Somebody in there probably should have figured out it was a bad idea to let me be the one yelling orders, but it didn’t happen, and it still hasn’t.  Heh.

Second Corollary to Rule 5: If you don’t speak first, you aren’t in charge.

If you don’t speak up first, obey the person who did unless you can convince them to let you be in charge.


Rule 6: Plans should be given in 10 words or less

Fencers get a little overwhelmed with sixty swords pointing at them.  Give them a plan that can be summed up and repeated like a mantra as they run forward.  Repeat it a few times for them.  Be very specific, very clear.  As you pare down your internal plan to an external description, you’ll also be able to double check it to make sure it achieves your goal.

Corollary to Rule 6: Orders should be given in three syllables or less

Orders should be delivered loudly and clearly.  When you go past three syllables, your air starts to run short and the tail end of your order gets lost in the battle noise.  Also, it goes back to the fighter’s brain’s ability to hash inputs: If they have to convert a lot of words into a specific plan for their situation, they’ll get distracted from not dying, and then probably, you know, die.


Rule 7: Don’t ask stupid questions

Questions specifically regarding safety issues are not stupid.  Questions regarding conventions, limitations, and scenario rules (basically, any question starting with “Can we…”) should not be asked.  It wastes time that can be spent fighting, it reveals your plans and thought processes, and it deprives you of potential strategies.

Rule 8: Obey George Silver

George Silver’s First Rule:
First when you come into the field to encounter with your enemy, observe well the scope, evenness and unevenness of your ground, put yourself in readiness with your weapon, before your enemy comes within distance, set the sun in his face traverse if possible you can, still remembering your governors.

These are not all, just what I have figured out so far.

Posted March 27, 2009 by wistric