This page will be updated as we hold more practices. If you have something to add, e-mail your suggestions to me at email@example.com.
Information posted January 29, 2001:
We will be fighting the points melees with epees. If you can afford a 40" epee (about $50 from Tripplette) that can really allow you to reach out and touch someone.
Three fighters, even if they only have moderate skill, can make ANYONE very uncomfortable on the rapier field. That is why we are learning to work in teams of 3.
The three on one bit only works if you are very, very aggressive. A really good fighter could pick off three average fighters in 6 seconds if they allow him to take them one at a time. Go in all together and make that enemy run or die, NOW. Don't hit too hard or lose control, but do go in full bore.
If your teammates die, look for another team to join. A group of 2 fighters is just wasting their time and a single fighter alone is a walking dead man.
Practice with your team. Lots. Even if you only have a single opponent against whom to practice. Even if you have to practice against an imaginary opponent or a telephone pole. If the first time you ever work together is at the war, you are little better than 3 single fighters and a single fighter is...(see #2 above).
I have had great success in our practices taking out lines of people, 2, 4 or even 5 at a time. The way I have done this is by eliminating the opponent facing me and then progressing down his line to my right taking out opponents who are too busy concentrating on the one guy in front of them. I never had to violate our engagement conventions to accomplish this.
One important point is that I have always gone down the row from my left to my right. Why? Because in a row full of right handers, everyone on my right will be facing slightly away from me. I am still in their peripheral vision, but they seldom turn their attention my way (i.e. to THEIR left).
To exploit this, we must look for opportunities. If you take out your immediate opponent, the next guy to the right in not looking at you and the guy to the left (if any) if safely engaged with one of your teammates, take a big step out and poke that guy to the right. Continue on until they become aware you are there. Remember to stay within that 120 degree vision arc.
To avoid this happening to us we need to:
Learn to look around every few seconds and assess whether there are any new threats. Don't get too focused on one enemy. This is a good practice anyway.
If you see a threat to you or a teammate, yell till they notice.
Yell that you are dead if you get killed.
Mix a few lefties into the line. We never have enough lefties, but if you are at all competent with your left hand you might consider practicing your melee skills left handed. It is very hard to get away with killing a whole line when there is a lefty in that line.
Once you are legged, anything you can add to the battle is a bonus for your side. Do not scoot over to fight a legged enemy fighter. Moving once legged is a violation of Ansteorran conventions and, besides, you are more useful alive. Obviously, you must deal with anyone who is in range.
If you are in a static line and you are legged, you can still be a threat. This is especially true if an enemy forgets about the "threat from below". Watch for the people who are not paying attention to you. A kill is good, but if the leg shot is more certain, go for that instead.
You can also become an information source for your team. Look around and assess threats. Shout information, advice and warnings to your teammates. Shout false information to the enemy (especially if you know their names).
If there is nothing that needs shouting, you can go into land mine mode. Just sit quietly with your weapons down where they will not attract attention. Wait for an enemy to happen by without paying attention and zap him in the leg. Remember not to strike from behind or rise up off your butt.
If an enemy is being pressed back toward you, when he is a few steps away, shout "Behind you!". He may spin to try to face you, thus meeting his end on the points of your teammates swords.
If you can taunt an enemy into stopping to fight you, do it. Then just try to stay alive as long as possible. Getting the leg shot or the kill gets you a gold star, but being killed while trying to hit them gets you a black mark.
If one of your teammates tries to stay with you to protect you, send him back into the battle where ever they need him most. Unless, of course, he is the only non-legged fighter left on your team.
Commanders are very important to our success.
The top commander will probably not have much to do once the battle starts. He or she needs to make plans ahead of time, make sure all the sub commanders know their tasks and make any least minute adjustments before the battle starts. They may be able to make some adjustments after the actions begins, but not a lot. The main qualifications for this slot are the ability to communicate so your orders are clearly understood and a lot of strategic genius.
For all sub commanders, the single most important qualification is a LOUD VOICE that can be heard in battle. I know this is unfair to those of you with quiet voices but if you cannot be heard, you cannot command.
If you are a commander of a unit bigger than a 3 man team, you NEED to be out of the line, back where you can see the action developing and issue orders. You cannot be the commander and your unit's top killer. This is especially true of line units and slightly less true of cavalry units. If you see problems developing, send others to deal with them rather than going yourself.
If you are a commander, try to give people jobs they like. If someone HATES fighting in the line, see if you can fit them into a more mobile unit. If a fighter detests being on the end of a line, put them in the middle. If you have a great troubleshooter, hold them in reserve and tell them to use their own judgment to find and fix holes or problems as they occur, but to tell you when they are going. If one of your fighters is not very mobile, put them in the line rather than in a cavalry unit. Always try to put clever, alert, experienced people on the flanks of your line.
Make sure your second in command knows his job. Make sure everyone knows who is second -- and third. If you are legged, do not wait to pass on command, do it at once. If your second is in the line, he needs to get out of the line and in back where he can see as soon as he assumes command. Let your second take command in some practices by "dying" early in the melee.
Obviously, if our commanders are important to us, their commanders must be important to them. If we see an effective enemy commander, a squad should be sent to either kill him or keep him so busy running that he does not have time to give orders.