How to improve battles?

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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Medicus Matt
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Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:16 am

Steven wrote:
Serious question - are there some people so attached to the `side' that they portray that they'd refuse to do anything else? ?


Well matey, you ain't never going to find me marching UP the hill at Senlac Ridge. :wink:


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DomT
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Postby DomT » Wed Nov 16, 2005 9:59 am

Well depends on which 'hat' I'm wearing.

As a Black Company member we're Merc's and as such will fight for whoever can foot the bill. I've had the joy of having been the cause of a three way argument at Bosworth. In the end the promise of a couple of pints was all we got but its the spirit of the thing! Historicaly the familly Schwartz's mercenary outfit fought late in WotR and for the 'York' cause but Stoke doesnt get re-enacted to often.

As a member of the 'Kernow Levy' and the 'Arudell Household' I mostly fight for the Lancastrian banner (although the Arudell's did switch breifly to York after Tewksbury, long enough for John Arundell to get killed trying to force de Vere's Oxfords out of St Mikes Mt, but they were at Henrys side at Bosworth).

So no....I'll fight for anyone I just switch 'persona' and have a story handy. I suspect a few WotR re-neactors are fervent enough Yorkist/Lancastrians to at least put up a fuss about which side they're on. After all if you're livery is particularly fine and prominant it might be a issue.


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Postby m300572 » Wed Nov 16, 2005 3:21 pm

I can see the Celts/Romans thing as a problem (Auxilia perhaps?)


Not if you have some spare kit - I have created an instant block of auxiliaries from a group of Dark Agers by issuing them with the same pattern shields as our auxiliaries carried - recently recruited unit under their own tribal officers with a Roman in command - auxiliary shields cost about three quid each to make plus the bosses.

My ECWS unit has fought on both sides, sometimes authentically - Loudoun's is the only Scots regiment in the ECWS.

Its always worth remembering its only re-enactment - don't get too precious about which side you are on, you can always pray to the shades of the fallen for forgiveness afterwards if you feel that strongly about it.



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Postby WorkMonkey » Wed Nov 16, 2005 4:33 pm

Medicus Matt wrote:Well matey, you ain't never going to find me marching UP the hill at Senlac Ridge. :wink:


aye,


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Postby Sigurd » Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:28 pm

I'll fight for anyone who'll pay me. Might draw the line at Normans though :wink:



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Postby Colin MacDonald » Wed Nov 16, 2005 11:20 pm

Warning: Contains Mild Peril

That's pretty much what Joe MOP is there to see. Severe Peril, if possible.

I'm of the opinion that a ten minute skirmish where people are (safely!) beaten down regularly is often more entertaining than a 40 minute tap-tink-tap ballet with an all-fall-down at the end. Of course, then you get the problem of reenactors getting grumpy because they didn't get enough play time, but those people just aren't wearing enough armour. ;)

Also, why aim for equal numbers? A forlorne hope rearguard battle might be fun, and I mean actually fight it out with the small unit already on the field and the larger force having to deploy through a small (and very well roped off) gap to push them back and envelope them.

Or how about live King's Table? At Bannockburn, for example, can Edward's small personal guard of knights (using some sort of multiple-hit or retreat-to-the-banner system) get him off the field through the encircling Scots rabble? It's fairly apparent what's going on there, and it actually takes into account the usual Scots numerical advantage at that event.

All of these short-sharp battles can be done for the entertainment of the MOPs who're just there to see a good thrash, and then after they've had their blood lust sated, we could have a 'training session' where those reenactors want to have an extended tinky-tink competitive fight can demonstrate small unit tactics for the benefit of any interested MOPs. But that doesn't have to be the centrepiece of every event.



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DomT
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Postby DomT » Thu Nov 17, 2005 9:15 am

I'd LOVE to be able to play around with small unit tactics.

Currently we're very staged. Being able to fight a proper unit/manuver battles would be great. Tewksbury and Caldicot used to have elements of this and I REALLY enjoyed it. Got to be more entertaining than three clashes of two lines clubing it out.


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Postby Fillionous » Thu Nov 17, 2005 12:46 pm

I think a lot of re-enactment battles (esspecally the large or multi group ones) have been reduce to three advances and a ting and one side die; partly due to the sheer unappreciated effort of trying to organise a large number of re-enactors... in a short time, with no real idea untill they turn up to muster who you have playing, when every one just wants to have a bash and get out of thier hot gear and are not that interested in listening to a horse voiced organiser trying to explain how having a more complex skermish / battle will look better and give the MOP's a good show.

It just becomes easier to get every one in two vaguely even sides (although even that can be a challange) and fall back on a patten that even the dimmest, over heating, comand ignoring re-enactor can follow without hurting himself or his mates or the other side... too much.

Then there are the constraints of H&S, which have imposed all sorts of constraints on how we fight... now some are much needed and appreciated, but others have become unspoken extentions - well we cannot do that, what if it does not go quite to plan... the HSE will tear us apart, so lets just not do that... stay simple, boring and safe. Everybody in thier lanes, no out number blocks, limited 'show piece' fights and archers playing ping-pong with each other, even when the enemy are two yards away and advancing... (When a bunch of skermishers defending the archers retreat or a few well placed flat shots would look so much better and be much more realistic.)

To get better shows, requires planning, imagination and comunication. It needs experianced re-enactors to put themselves forward with thier knowledge and create workable battle plans. It needs an announcer who knows what is going on and can express that to the MoPs with enthusiasum. It needs unit comanders who are prepared to go to pre-battle meetings and pass the information on to thier units. It needs the general re-enactor to listen to those plans, be at muster in good time and work with thier unit, even if that means that they only get a background part in 'this' show.

Now it is not all doom and gloom... I have seen this work, the resulting event was brilliant, everyone got to play thier part by the end of the weekend... we had props on the battle field, selected re-enactors to play important parts and a crowd who bayed and cheered the whole way through and then came round the camp congratulating us on our victory or comisorating on our defeat. It was hard work, but it was also one of the best and most fun events I did last year.

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Postby Carl / Sir Geoffrey » Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:19 pm

There are some really good ideas here. I think it would be great to see more variety at events in terms of the battles, and smaller skirmishes with uneven sides certainly sound interesting.

I definitely agree about the battle of champions. It does look really pants to see two mismatched opponents. If we are trying to entertain (and possible educate) the crowd then (I believe) they want to see two combatants really slogging it out. If this can be done near the crowd line so the audience can hear the grunts and groans and the clash of weapon on shield / armour then so much the better.

Two examples: I did two battles of the champions at Tintagel. One of them I stepped forward from our line (in full plate) to be met with a celt armed with a short sword and shield. I didn't know her, didn't know her fighting style and didn't know whether she was up for head shots. So we pranced around a bit and I let her beat me. Because I didn't want to hit too hard and didn't want to risk hurting her (Please note, this is not a "clanky's hate fighting skins" whinge)

The second battle of the champions was against Mac. We had agreed on it before hand, we know each others fighting styles, we know we are both well armoured and up for some heavy shots. I don't like blowing my own trumpet (well not much anyway :lol: ) but I think we put on a blooming good fight. And several people commented how good it looked afterwards.

It doesn't matter whether the style is knights school or anything else. As long as the two champions know each other then they can put on a good show.


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Postby mac (crucesignati) » Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:45 pm

I second that Carl, a champions scrap will always look better with combatents who know each other well and certainly amongst those that train very frequently together. Whilst the authenti-police may disagree with its accurate recreation, the MOP will certainly enjoy it, as will the combatents no doubt. I know I did, even if I did lose. Which, actually happens quite often. In fact...all the time - not taking anything away from your victory Carl :lol:



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Postby guthrie » Thu Nov 17, 2005 2:03 pm

Maybe its the background I'm from, but I dont recall ever seeing a battle of the champions that wasnt pre arranged and set up. I would be amazed if anyone ever thought that doing anything else was an option. (but obviously they have done)

What do the public think of battles of the flag with hit points?



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Postby DomT » Thu Nov 17, 2005 2:10 pm

Gutherie>-

As a rule tjhe MOPS HATE battles of the flags 'cos they dont understand 'em.
They also promote competition and can end up with a higher than usual proportion of damaged re-enactors.

However I think at a smaller show with a good person on the mike it could be explained as a tornament event and plug into the same sort of speil that makes jousting popular with the MOP's.

Putting a few 'personailities' in as 'commanders' and getting the crowd to egg on their favorites might work well.


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Postby tonw » Thu Nov 17, 2005 2:51 pm

I would like to hear what the Parley says in the centre its one thing for two groups to move forward and wave arms etc but the mops who are watching its a boring 5-10 minutes while it happens.

Or drop it al together.

Maybe small skirmishes before the battle even starts wet the MOP's interest before the long slog.

you can also add the comedy value to the skirmish with one group being backed up by a bill block and their opposition running away leaving them to think they've scared them off. untill the bill block marches through them.

I'm also keen on the camp life Idea people have been putting about during the season Shrops I think was talking about the green room/"brothel" idea

other people have been discussing camp disputes/theft/gambling arguements things that lead to incidents in camp

instead of wake up sit around eat talk to joe public explain things kit up fight explain a bit more

they have brought in the idea of breaking up the armour talk with a dispute in the background between two soliders who've been gambling etc etc


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Postby Carl / Sir Geoffrey » Thu Nov 17, 2005 3:20 pm

tonw

Having been at a couple of parleys I can let you in on the secret. They normally go something like this:

Us: "OK this is the first clash. I'll bring my left flank in against your right flank"

Them: "I thought my left flank was going to advance first"

Us: "No that is the second clash, after the battle of the champions"

and so on...

On one occasion (at Rougham) it was just me and Despencer:

Me: (after finding myself alone in the middle of the battlefield with Despencer) "Oh, what are we supposed to do no?"
Despencer: "I don't know. I think we are supposed to have an argument about something"
Me: "OK - what are we arguing about?"
D: "Doesn't matter, we just argue. This is me pushing you" (as he pushes me in the chest
Me: "And this is me pushing you back" (I push him back)
We wrestle
Me: Right - I'm off to get some mates

:lol:

Seriously - we would have to start working on scripts and stuff if the MOPs were to hear what was being said at the Parleys. Personally I wouldn't want to go down that line. Parleys are great for both sides to react to changes in numbers and situations on the battle field and adjust things accordingly.


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Postby tonw » Thu Nov 17, 2005 5:16 pm

I've been in a parley like that its just when they start blabbing about something to remotely do with why we're fighting and shout it out and about 5 people hear it.

I filmed the Sunday of Blore 2004 and they did the whole Parley shouty stuff out like For King and Country etc

I was right on the battle line infact I was between the safety ropes and I couldn't hear it the camera however picked it up.

So whats the point if only technology can pick it up

Maybe we should do the whole

You do this I do that
then you do this and I do that

Then your the son of a pox ridden whore!
Pardon
You're the son of a pox ridden whore

ting ting


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Postby guthrie » Thu Nov 17, 2005 7:58 pm

I dont see any reason why we couldnt mike up the main peopel in the parley, so that the crowd could hear it. It would sound much better having them slag each otehr off than having the announcer say "well, his dad killed his dad, and Lord so and so stole the Earls land, so they hate each others guts as well". Theres so much room for some decent hamming and showing off. So, I think its worth trying, unlike that blok up thread, but on the other hand I cant act at all and dont have any tin, so I'm not volunteering.
Having the crowd egg on their own side is good as well, get them into the competitiveness. Thats how I think battle fo the flags could work, as long as you get the crowd on each side.

I was at a wee event 3 years ago, and the battle started by having a couple of blokes hammering a fence into the ground, and someone well dressed strolling up saying "oi, get off my land!", and then degenerated into a battle as the landowners fought over whose bit of land it was. I think the public liked it.



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Postby Alan_F » Fri Nov 18, 2005 12:13 am

Guthrie, I like hamming it up for the crowd - at Bannockburn I usually end up fighting on the English side and walk the crowd lines warning that I'll take names if they support Robert the Bruce and there'll be retribution later!


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Postby Guest » Sat Nov 19, 2005 12:04 am

I think the communtary also makes the battle the past few years as Bosworth i though the communtary was brillant it really got the crowd involved,and at the end of the day i think that what we are therefore.



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Postby Ben Rodgers » Sat Nov 19, 2005 12:06 am

Dont people just hate it when people make a comment and forget to sign in (oh wait )


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Postby Alan_F » Sun Nov 20, 2005 12:35 pm

Anonymous wrote:I think the communtary also makes the battle the past few years as Bosworth i though the communtary was brillant it really got the crowd involved,and at the end of the day i think that what we are therefore.


I agree - a good commentator can really get the crowd involved. I've been at battles where the commentator has been in off in their own little world and ignoring the fact that the crowd has drifted away from the fighting.


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Postby Alex Clayphan » Wed Jan 11, 2006 11:49 am

One of the problems, especially with the really big battles is that the public cannot identify with backs. Hastings is great fun for the participants, but pants from the audience point of view, unless you have a good emotive commentator. A thought I've played with on a small scale at our events (Anmod Dracan) has been to put up a few posters explaining who the most obvious characters are, use of pennants, properly coloured shields and a bit of flyer/poster work would mean that the public were far more aware of who is on which side, where they are, and how things are going, would probably help the commentator tie in withe action more too. after all that's what the numbers and colours in footie are for isn't it?


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Postby EmanwelOfGwent » Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:53 pm

Something that really lets a battle down is lots of immortals on the winning side. It should be possible for the winning side to win without that, by having the losing side a smaller size or having a unit defect at the end. Then the battle won't end with the winners virtually unscathed.

Another thing about medieval battles in that the archers usually shooting at each other or shooting at combatants who ignore them. I don't know about other units, but the general feeling in mine is that arrow hits would be taken more often if there was a chance of killing the archers - which there isn't because the archers are non-combatants. Perhaps there ought to be combatant-archers who are prepared to be engaged hand to hand.

guns with their own firing lane are also a real nuisance, and not at all enteraining once you've got over the noise they make. On the other hand I've seen guns use really well at Berkley - with pyrotechnic charges set into a bank so that at lease some of them DO something, and the rest actually pointed at the battle lines, providing some entertainment while the side sort themselves out.



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Postby tonw » Wed Jan 11, 2006 5:00 pm

Well towards the end of the season in the Fed the archers were combatants

At Bosworth they charged a bill block on both days
At Blore they charged a bill block on Sunday

The problem with this is many archers are ARCHERS and have no idea what to do with that sword in their hand.

If combative archers are going to be on the field, they either need to all be combatants or none be combants.

When in combat are you going to notice one from the other if they are stood next to one another?

How ever I do agree that archers should not only be wanging arrows at archers but also at blocks of men and for those blocks of men to suffer injuries.

I happen to have been in a line that had literally just walked onto the feild and one of their number was hit by and arrow he prompty fell down right on the crowd line only to have his captain go and put the boot in and tell him to get back in line it was only a flesh wound.

another good display on the feild this year was a shilltron over a fallen group member who then got up and joined his group as they formed up again. this was aided by the water carrying surgeon who would minic checking people over while they drank.


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Postby Guest » Wed Jan 11, 2006 8:47 pm

Most of the time I've seen non-com archers they're either way off to the side or they leave the field after they've done their archery duel. Under those circumstances distinguishing between them wouldn't be a problem - combatant archers being the only ones close enough to the fighting to be engaged. I supposed that'd only really work for a battle organised in a certain way though.

For archers who aren't hand to hand combatants, there's always the option of doing what they do now - withdrawing behind their own line when the action gets close, or just running away to safety.

mmm I'll have to try and make it more battles...
The checking-on-the-wounded sounds like a good way to go.



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Postby EmanwelOfGwent » Wed Jan 11, 2006 8:49 pm

Ooops. Forgot to log in.



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Postby nev » Wed Jan 11, 2006 9:27 pm

the main problem as i see it with regards to archery is this, archers tend to be (i acknowledge there are exceptions e.g the coventry's) made up of people who want to take part in battles but due to injuries and personal preferences don't want to get involved in heavy combat. the second point about firing on foot(be that bills or sword blocks/skirmishers) is a saftey issue, taking fire while marching to combat is all well and good but once a unit is engaged hand to hand heads go up and archery becomes a danger (we had one lad in exactly this situation last year who got caught on the nose by an arrow, 1/2" either way and he'd have lost an eye). in the fed we do try to compensate for the lack of casulties from achery by doing a march into arrow storm display, where we form a massed wedge (normally with yours truly carrying the target....i mean banner) and march slowly into archery and get shot to bits, looks great for the crowd and gives the archers something to do.

to answer the earlier comment about having mikes on the main people in a parley, the issue is one of cost versus risk, mikes on the battle field tend either not to work (as at bosworth/blore this year) or get destroyed (as at blore this year).


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Postby Alan_F » Wed Jan 11, 2006 11:05 pm

EmanwelOfGwent wrote:Something that really lets a battle down is lots of immortals on the winning side. It should be possible for the winning side to win without that, by having the losing side a smaller size or having a unit defect at the end. Then the battle won't end with the winners virtually unscathed.


Some friends of mine once complained to me of exactly this: They had seen someone, right in front of the crowd line, get hit with a sword. His reponse was to tell the guy with the sword to "F**k off". If you're not prepared to take your hits, don't join in the battle.

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Postby craig1459 » Wed Jan 11, 2006 11:24 pm

EmanwelOfGwent wrote:guns with their own firing lane are also a real nuisance, and not at all enteraining once you've got over the noise they make. On the other hand I've seen guns use really well at Berkley - with pyrotechnic charges set into a bank so that at lease some of them DO something, and the rest actually pointed at the battle lines, providing some entertainment while the side sort themselves out.


I thought C15 guns were more for effect though - lightning, brimstone, thunder etc here comes Lucifer. More chance of killing yourself than any of those Lancastrians...


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Postby EmanwelOfGwent » Thu Jan 12, 2006 1:13 am

They're a damn sight more frightening when you're looking down the bore of one.
Yeah, I see what you mean - small explosions on a grass bank aren't a great imitation of solid shot hitting the ground, but its better than a set of guns blasting away without apparently hitting anything.
On the subject of guns I think there's something in the Osprey book on Tewkesbury about a sort of primitive grape-shot being used, but there not being enough ammunition to make it effective.
I wonder if there's any (safe) way of representing a misfire.



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Postby Fillionous » Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:01 am

Masses of good information here!

This year, the group I am part of introduced skermishing archers. These were people with light armour, a bow, and a second weapon (usually a falchon (sp) or an axe). Most of the time they were archers doing the usual ping-pong, but at certian places in the battle they would break from the archery block and skermish with other light troops / scouts / falorne hope runs from the other side or attempt attacks against the guns / 'power store', sappers etc. They were also used to cover the retreat of the main archery block (admitidly getting slaughtered in the process) when it was set piece charged by a heavily armoured block.

Again we introduced certian events where the archers could shoot MaA or blocks. Usually at the beginning of the battle / skermish as the lines draw up or as an opening volly against one flank which then could explain why that block was low in numbers / colapsed latter in the battle.

We have for a long time used pavaises to shield people either going to attack the archers (who get to flat shoot them) or to recover 'dead' from the field as well as using water cariers / priests non coms to assist the 'wounded' back to thier lines. This also means that if there is a problem we have a way of getting the person to safety (or someone to them) without alarming everyone and the MoP's.

We are lucky as a group in having a very good pyro bod. The result is that we have had charges and explosions set in all sorts of places - large bursts for the 'powder store' going up or miss fires of the guns, small 'fire cracker' like ones on pavases taking fire from hand guns, smoke charges that detonated when the 'stones' from the treb hit castle walls, torches to light sap's or to be run across the field to light the 'powder store' as well as ones set in the ground to simulate cannon shot landing. Again it just needs good organisation so that every one knows the script and where the charges are so that folks stay in safe zones.

It added quite a bit of varity to the usual battle plan, but did require that everyone knew the plan and knew thier part in it and was prepared to stick to script.
I am very much looking forward to more and improved things this season.

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