Sunday, October 10, 2010

Some thoughts on tactics

The battles at War of the Wings were a lot of fun because the outcome depended largely on tactics rather than absolute skill or numbers.

Sacred Stone had a numerical advantage (about 35 vs 30), but I'd say Stierbach had the skill advantage as they were boasting half a dozen provosts, 2 or 3 free scholars, and a couple scholars with a lot of melee practice. In contrast, most of our army was people I'd never seen before, including half of the Windmasters unit. We had 3 provosts and 3 free scholars I think.

In my opinion, the choice of how to assign units played a large part in how the melees went. It seemed that Dante used his provosts and free scholars to form "elite" units, let Black Diamond's fencers form a unit together, and then simply divided the other fencers into units. In contrast, one of Sacred Stone's strengths was that we had baronial units that were assigned tasks. Nottinghill coill and Sacred Stone were sent to capture and hold flags, Windmasters initially was sent to get the BDO and was then used to reinforce as needed, and perhaps the most important note was that the provosts and free scholars were mixed with those units and took a very active role in commanding them.

This allowed our units to take a lot of opportunities that units of inexperienced fencers would have missed. Even when Giacomo, Sir Johann, and Alan slipped into our back-field, they fought us as individuals and we found it easy enough to occupy and then surround them with 6 fencers.

This brings me to an important consideration in forming units when you have inexperienced fencers present. There is a tendency to form "elite" units of experienced fencers while leaving inexperienced fencers to awkwardly form into units by themselves. However, this is undesirable for a variety of reasons.

The most straightforward reason is that it serves to make new fencers feel unwelcome at melees and if they spend the day feeling overwhelmed, they may not have much fun.

However, by assigning experienced unit commanders to units of new fencers, you can, for the most part, create a unit of moderate tactical usefulness. It is important to understand that melee is a very different game than dueling and individual fencing skill is less important than unit cohesion as the greatest individual fencers cannot withstand a unit of 5 that is working together appropriately. If a unit of new melee fighters can be controlled and guided during the fight, then they will be much more effective, giving you effectively a moderately effective unit of 5 instead of a unit of 4 beginners and 1 experienced fencer elsewhere on the field. 

If you instead leave new fencers on their own, you are sapping your own number, as they will not be as tactically useful as they could be in the melee. They will simply not see opportunities, they will not use their numerical advantage when they have it, and ultimately they can even serve to trick the warlord into a false sense of security (e.g. "Oh, that point should be covered, I just sent 5 guys up there...").

"Elite" units aren't inherently bad, but if they come at the tactical expense of the rest of a fighting force, then their usefulness needs to be considered. On Saturday in the woods, each death was worth a point, and while Dante's elite unit was troublesome, they were fairly easily nullfied by just keeping them busy. At the same time, the rest of Raph's army was busy being led by Mattheu, Letia, and Ulrich to take every opportunity they could, to push their numerical advantage, and ultimately managed to kill a lot of Dante's force while his "elite" unit was pinned down in the briars. 

As an additional example, Dante's force pushed hard at the beginning of the second woods battle led by his better fencers. Meanwhile we failed to take control over our less experienced units. However, after a few minutes this changed, and we managed to recapture the flags and take the BDO. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sunday Demo

Sunday we had a demo at NCSU and it went pretty well. We had 6 fencers there, Ros taught a dagger fighting class, and we ran a bit of a melee practice.

I fought case most of the day and I thought I was fighting pretty well. I still need to get used to using my second sword to attack. I'm currently using it largely for defense and clearing blades.

His Excellency requested a melee practice on Thursday and I suppose a bit of a primer might be useful before WoW this weekend. Eldred has made similar requests and Jlona would also probably be interested if she authorizes this weekend. Perhaps we can run some 2v2 runs and a 2v1 bear pit this week at practice.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

2 down, 4+ to go

Congratulations are in order for his excellency Girard for his authorization and victory in the tourney today at coronation.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A few youtube videos for your viewing pleasure

Last night at practice I promised Master Eldred a few youtube videos, particularly this one with a lesson on fencing with a buckler.

Part 1:
Part 2:

A lesson on gaining the blade & mechanical advantage:

Italian lunge:

These are fairly basic lessons that I think are pretty good. There are a few videos of Tom Leoni I found while getting these links that I'll have to check out and write about in the future.

A project list

Well, it seems I've finally gotten past the post-Pennsic not working on projects phase.

My current project is my first landsknecht outfit. I've started on the shirt, and we'll see how the pleated collar goes. Its proven a bit more complicated than my previous shirts and I'm trying to decide whether to finish it with a neck band or a cable stitch. I suppose I'll get lots of practice with these because I've promised to help Jlona make her shirts/chemises and the Hungarian shirts seem to work the same way.

It will hopefully end up something like this:

My goal is to have my landsknecht kit ready for Ymir, as it will be one of the few events I might need/want to wear a bunch of felted wool. I'm partial to some of the outfits in this series of illustrations:

If I get particularly ambitious, I might start working on an arming doublet as well this weekend. The inside of my arms got a little chewed up by the strap at heavy practice the other day.