How to improve battles?

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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tonw
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Post by tonw »

Indeed I can see thinks like Blore panning out like (i hope my history is right)

The Parley - short fight
Lancastrian Reinformenets come on and hammer Yorkists
Yorkist Parley party retreats as archers rain arrows on lancastrians
Lancastrians send forth horseys to scatter the archers while they regroup
Yorkists retaliate with horses
Horses have a bit of a bash drive off Lancastrian horses
Yorkist horses attempt to harry reforming lancastrian ranks are driven back by bill (if possibly)
Yorkists and Lancastrians clash for first time in any form of committed attack
Lancastrian reserve comes on and pushes the yorkists back
Yorkist reserve comes on an wipes Lancastrians out

Of course adding into this the deaths of notable figures who either get spectaular deaths in battle or throats cut infront of crowd lines.
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Post by Cat »

Fourthed or fifthed or whatever (I agree with the good Mr Edward, anyway), but there'd be a whole lot of whinging from the last men on-they'd have to be promised a really tasty death scene.

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Post by Foxe »

Wow, never have I been so universally hailed as right on an internet forum before!

I would happily volunteer to be among the last on. How many battles do you get more than 10 or 15 minutes good fighting anyway? Plus, if you were among the last on you can spend more time standing around with your helmet off smoking endless fags and laughing at the poor sods collapsing in the heat. Then you go on, get your normal amount of fighting and come off the field still smelling good...

Cat, you coming to Morwellham this year?
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Post by Ben Rodgers »

Alan_F wrote:
Ben Rodgers wrote:When do get to hit the margin


It's obvious: Fight a page.


Sorry slightly confussed what do you mean
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Post by Foxe »

I think before condemning smiling happy faces during battles it would help to look at some of the evidence... :lol:

Image
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Post by DomT »

Foxe>
We both know thats from a training manual (I 33 by the look) not a battle.

Trying to break the agreement by starting a dispute? I'm sure SOME people were grining, especially when things were going their way, but mostly I'm sure people were just bricking themselves. Just like they do when it goes 'loud' over in Iraq today.

Anyways, back to battle. Shows like Joust already have a bit of this in however more could be done. Joust especially suits it as there's lots of opertunity for people to swap roles with 4 battles per wk/end and two wk/ends to play with. Having fight retreats off the battle field so that lord B can live to fight another day always goes down a treat.
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Post by gregory23b »

Fifthed or sixed for Foxe's suggestion. Assimetry is more noticeable and creates a sense of movement and pace - sounds poncy but that principle is used in good image composition and what Foxe suggests is the same kind of thing, irregular (but planned) pace to keep people's attention. Nice one.

Did I mention that we need to see more archers? :-)


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Post by m300572 »

The lost of activity is a good idea - one of the best ECWS majors I have ever been to was at Hull a few years back when (in addition to the battle, complete with cannon, up the pedestrian precinct to the site of the Beverley Gate the weekend before) the action on the field included a cavalry skirmish, a retreat by an infantry unit under pressure from pursuing cavalry and infantry and an artillery duel over the earthworks, then the main battle with everyone involved. Meant there was action on more or less every hour, for a short time, from mid morning and it gave the mops a view of different types of troops at work, then all coming together for the big bash - seemed to go down well, we got a lot of comments and questions on the action on the LH site (which also went like a fair all day on both days - totally manic.

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Post by tonw »

Joust like DomT mentioned is a good starting point for Foxe's ideas there could and its already been suggested things happening all day after the first battle like Lord B returning with the cannon crews to establish firing position to be met by a small Lord T force who tries to drive them away and fails ect ect
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Post by Fillionous »

This does sound great... and it would be, but for one thing, re-enactors at times can be like hurding cats...

Without commited people willing to organise and even more folks willing to be organised, the commitment to spending the better part of the day in metal moving from one place to the next to make the scenes work (by at least some people) This grand plan will fall...
I would love to be proved wrong!

As for more archers, again I fear I might be a party pooper, for many re-enactment groups archers are seen as entry level and a long way second fiddle to the shiny MAA... and then are cast in boring parts playing ping-pong across a field with miss-matched blunts, which does not inspire the people playing archers to stay archers and build up skill, numbers or commitment.

Not that some re-enactment archers help themselves. I have seen far too many that cannot hit the broad side of a barn, continue to have problems with technique leading to bruised arms etc and are reluctant to undergo the sort of training and practice we demand of those waving metal and are happy to shoot with bows that would make poor fire wood and/or are totally inacurate in apearance. And that detracts from those few who really want to be archers and work hard at it.

I guess that because often archers don't feel appreciated (think about the classic battle... the MAA get the crowd line and plenty of to-ing and fro-ing, mean while the archers stand in two vague blocks at the back and periodically play ping-pong) that they don't want to invest the time / money and there is an expectation that next season they are going to get tinned up...

I am hoping that discussions like the ones going on here will lead to better planned skermishes and battles, which will be more fun for both us and the MOP's.

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Post by DomT »

I think that archers may be undergoing something of a revolution at the moment actualy. At least in WotR circuit.

A LOT of groups seem to be fielding 'fighting' archers, that is lighter skirmish troops equiped with falchion, buckler and light armour. That is dressed as a archer but not actualy involved in lobbing arrows back and forth. Let's face it a Bill or full plate is not for all of us and a pack of archers can mess up a bill-block or clankey as long as they arnt stupid enough to stand their ground and use the flanks.

This is a GOOD thing IMHO. At a seige or any major battle fought away from supply lines arrows are quickly exhausted and the vast bulk of English foot troops are these guys NOT the Bill block or MAA with his pole-axe.

We could use these 'fighting archers' to good effect by mixing them in amongst the actual archers and when horse or infantry advance on them the fighters come out to meet 'em while the actual archers withdraw.
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Post by gregory23b »

Looks admiringly at DomT <yay!>
Thoug I don't see that having separate archers who fight and those that shoot is necessary, ideally all shoot and some fight.

Absolutely, WOTR is unbalanced the wrong way IMHO.

Archers would be fighting each other as much as clankies.

Fillionious - I know what you are saying but that is the fault of the group, not the member as such. Some people genuinely have an issue with 'archers/billmen' for some odd reason. Some do not see archers as worthy, which is a poor attitude I feel.

If archery was sold as the done thing, with proper training (regardless of whether hand to hand gets done) and worthy of respect people will do it. I irks me that we collectively go on and on about how great the archers were at Creccy, Agincourt, Towton etc but then say 'sod it I want to be a 'billman'. So much for that admiration.

It does seem that archery tactics have changed on the field, is it true that the archers no longer shoot at the MAA or is that at only some dos or stages in the fight?

There is no reason for 'ping-pong' other than how the battle is designed.

But hey ho, we shall see.
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Post by Fillionous »

I think a couple of the reasons for ping-pong is due to the attrition of blunt arrows when they hit metal and are then trod on by heavy MAA combined with H&S issues... arrows arriving when not expected / in faces and the risks of arrows that have been damaged then being shot in the heat of the fight... sharp ends and exploding in bow.

I think esspecally the H&S issues have curtailed archery on the field.

Our group does have fighting archers and does do set piece shooting at MAA (usually with them hiding behind pavasies) durring the battle. Last season certianally introduced some more varid battle plans and arrangments of fighting, which was much better.

But I still see cases where 'enemy' MAA got close to the archery block and the archers just stand there or continued playing ping-pong... where as in reality they would have A - run away, B - Flat shot them to bits, C - turned to skermishing to get out of it.

I too understand your comments about Creccy et al. In the living history camp we wax lirical about the power of the bow and then have half a dozen archers per side on the field. :roll:

But I at least partly disagree with your comment about group training. Last year a number of good and experianced archers (including a couple of qualified coaches) in our group offered regular training, only a couple of re-enactor archers took up the offer, while the rest professed thier total competance while still missing the target and tearing up thier arms and wondering why... We ended up with the saying you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink or you can offer training but cannot make them train.
Yet similar training for MAA is regually over subscribed.

You are right, there needs to be some pride in being an archer.
But when they are offered only ping-pong, hampered by H&S expectations and sneared at by the heavy tin brigade, can you blame them from shying away from archery training and looking to metal up as quickly as posible?

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Post by Foxe »

Dom, the picture was, of course, a joke. I was looking for something else and came across this whole set of pictures of smiley blokes fighting and my evil little mind went into action...

I recall some years ago at Shrewsbury we MAAs marched across the field in our tin suits while the archers shot straight at us. It was fantastic to feel the arrows bouncing off my armour, I was INVINCIBLE! Then I lifted up my sword arm and took an arrow in the armpit from about 20 yards. Yes, I screamed, yes I went down on my knees, and yes, everyone said it was the very authentic looking. No, I didn't make an H&S issue out of it. I knew it was a silly hobby when I started, I knew people were going to be shooting arrows at me, so if I got hurt who was to blame?

Maybe I'm getting carried away here with the agreement of half a dozen people, but it strikes me that I've made a suggestion which everyone seems to think is a good one. Not one person has said it's a stupid idea, so why should it be hard to organise? People organise battles anyway, this is hardly extra work. People get organised at battles, so it's not much for the participants to take on board. So why not? All it takes is for someone to say "yes, I'm going to do it that way".
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Post by Alan_F »

Ben Rodgers wrote:
Alan_F wrote:
Ben Rodgers wrote:When do get to hit the margin


It's obvious: Fight a page.


Sorry slightly confussed what do you mean


It was a bad pun - hit the margin as in margin on a page (on a piece of paper), page as in feudal rank
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Post by tonw »

Nah this is a stupid idea really it is

Orgnaised battles?

You're having a larf!

Only kidding being the first to agree with your suggestion I think it would be good to see almost proper commanders meetings with two camps being established instead of the

"Morning peoples,"
"All hung over are we?"
"Well thats good to hear, ready for a scarp?"
"Good now remember X is supposed to win so after 3 pushed Y you lot start droppin."
"Right b**ger this wheres me breaky"

I have been to this meeting!

We need full on battlefield commanders to take control and better organise things.
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Post by DomT »

Indeed. one of the many many reasons I gave up command was down to that.
I got absouletly cheesed off with boring commanders meetings that all came down to '3 charges and die'. Notable exception being Bosworth.

I also got utterly fed up with paying serious attention to script/kit guides/start times and giving my people serious roasting to stick to 'em....and then watching other groups ignore it all.

These days I'm happy to just be a MAA or make a occasional apearence as a vike or archer.
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Post by Cat »

Foxe-Morwellham-yep! Really p*ssed off I missed it last yr.

For a good battle I've got to fly a MSS flag and say Twinwoods was the most exciting battle to be part of that I've been in for yonks.
The treb, the flatshooting of pavises, the pyros, the staggered charges, the torching of the powder store...

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Post by DomT »

Cat>Missed that one.

From all reports the MSS seem to have steped up the intrest. I'll be happy to see what happens this coming season.
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Post by colonelboris »

I like pyrotechnics! Had to do some for the big Boudicca battle at Stoneleigh when we had to torch the carts. All was well with the home-made smoke bombs (can give recipe if you want it) until they were lit and spewing smoke and burning sugar and someone dressed as a woodlouse in a red dress pretended to slit my throat, despite my protestations and threw me head first into the flaming mass. Took several weeks for the burnt patches to grow out of my hair. Fun though.
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Post by Edwin »

Do away with boring parlies and too elaborate and often incorrect scenarios
Remember nobody nowadays is satisfied with just seeing people in armour, there isn't much "ooh" factor left.

Have the bulk of the fighting as is but at least have rehearsed couples and small parties break away from the mob and run through an entertaining sword fight or killing.

Re-examine the need for water carriers all over the place. Carry your own water and try being thirsty, real combatants were.

Halve the length of the battle, halve the length of the battle. Just watch the audience slipping away at "big" events.

Try to get the archers shooting at the combatants instead of just volley arrow swapping.

Edwin

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Post by tonw »

removing water carriers is just plain stupid,

I wounder how you would feel when you collapsed due to dehydration because there were no water carriers!
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Post by Fillionous »

There is no way we should remove water carriers!

The information I have gleaned from period (WotR) battles indicates two things regarding water... They did have water/ale carriers / breaks in the fighting for recovery (sometimes as often every 10 minitues or so). Battles were often fought in weather conditions considrabally cooler than 30+oC simply because the commanders knew they would loose half thier troops to heat exhaustion if they did not... indeed there are a couple of battles faught in height of summer (like we do most of our re-enactments) and they did loose more troops to the heat than the fighting!

As a first aider I would dread the increase in casulties that would be caused by folks not being able to take on water.

And as for carrying it yourself... not to mention the considrable extra weight, the risks of breakage of bottles / drinking vessels, the lack of historic acuracy... it is almost impossible to give yourself a drink in full gauntlets and a bev / visored helmet without retreating to the back of the field, stripping off the gloves etc and generally taking time, which would be far more disruptive to the show than a few water carriers properly deployed (in good kit and hidden bottles) to walk amoungst the 'men' or check on the 'dead'.

Indeed at some shows I would say we need more water carriers and I am greatful everytime one comes past me. (Thank you to all the unsung heros of the water bottle)

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Post by TimB »

To add my 2p to the fighting archer element of this discussion, this is something I believe the MSS is planning to do more after the success of tests last season.

Part of the inspiration for this was the excellent Towton Archer interpretation at Leeds Armoury. This interpretation suggests an image of the WotR battle which is somewhat at odds with conventional re-enactment scripts, so we asked for volunteers to cross-train and make battles more representative of what, IMO, they probably looked like.

A number of the archers volunteered for specific training that would allow them to fight, with a regime taillored to their role on the field. When they engage, these archers are the main focus of the audience' attention, ironically more so than any individual man at arms, because there are fewer of them still. These archers, who are 'only' part time hand to hand fighters, had to spend proportionately longer on training to look convincing than most men at arms.

This year's project for me is to approach the problem of insufficient archers from the other end. Fillonious has kindly agreed to teach my own man at arms household to shoot safely (her posts may not have mentioned her own credentials as an archery instructor). This year we plan to ditch the full harness at various events and go on as archers, drawing our side arms as light troops for hand to hand fighting.

Now I just need to persuade some more men at arms to do the same thing...

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Post by DomT »

Kernow Levy have been training up for a while for the majority of our troops to be 'Archers' rather than MAA.

3 of us do have plate but I think a band of maybe a dozen archers, his nibbs in nice kit and a couple of mates/body guards in plate or partial plate is probably a good model for a small unit. Certainly beats the model of half a dozen guys in plate and a 20 strong bill block as a 'typical' WotR unit.

Many of our 'Archers' are pure combatents but we're working on that....just got to get the training hours in to make 'em decent shots.
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Post by Guest »

Just to add to Tims comments - as one of the part time Fighting Archers, yes, he made us sweat! (And I missed out on some of the training sessions, but thanks, Tim. More this year?)
One problem is that some archers cannot fight, for whatever reason - age, past injuries, etc. Maybe more of them should "die" on the field?
And I'd be interested in comments from any spectators at some of the bigger MSS shows last year about this.

Wobbly Paul - the awful Oxford archer.

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Post by Edwin »

tonw wrote:removing water carriers is just plain stupid,

I wounder how you would feel when you collapsed due to dehydration because there were no water carriers!


Not saying get rid off completely, why not think about ideas rather than dismiss them out of hand.

Water carriers wandering about unscathed through a fierce battle looks silly so perhaps some more organisation or disguise for them. Why shouldn't a fighter cary half a pint or so on them if they feel they are going to into a crisis if away from water for more than five minutes.

Perhaps we could try and end the spectacle of big butch warriors running round like desperate sheep looking for water by a bit of planning. Also to be permanently saturated with water is a modern obsession, nothing wrong with experiencing thirst actually.

Edwin

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Post by tonw »

experiencing thirst actually

thirst is one thing dehydration is another.

As I said if you want to be fool enough to stand on the feild at say twekesbury on one of the hottest days a year and experience thirst as you put it be my guest.

I'll be one of the first ones there when you collapse.



Not taking on enough water during a battle is one thing flooding yourself afterwards can be just as bad.

Now not knowing your period I'm going to use my own as an example

I have no issue with the "angels with water" hanging around at the back infact if you're ever one the FED fields when rusty's on the water carriers are dammed organised.

And I'm sure that Joe MOP will understand that they are there for our safety and not their enjoyment(though some of them a pleasing to look at) because if we go down from dehydration its generally a hospital trip and a quick one at that.

Being a first aider and health and safety officer I know the dangers of lack of water especially in high temperatures.

So I stand by it and if you want to be a macho fool be my guest just don't expect sympathy
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Post by Alan_F »

DomT wrote:Indeed. one of the many many reasons I gave up command was down to that.
I got absouletly cheesed off with boring commanders meetings that all came down to '3 charges and die'. Notable exception being Bosworth.

I also got utterly fed up with paying serious attention to script/kit guides/start times and giving my people serious roasting to stick to 'em....and then watching other groups ignore it all.

These days I'm happy to just be a MAA or make a occasional apearence as a vike or archer.


Dom, nearly as bad are commanders meetings where some little twerp tries to get all political - you know, the ones where you end up standing there for another hour whilst someone argues that the portaloos should be facing the treeline....
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Post by guthrie »

Whilst Edwin may have a point about random wandering water carriers at his events, most I have been at (Medieval ones) have had well controlled water carriers hanging about at the back rather than wandering across the field. In fact they usually go and water the fighters at set breaks in the fighting. So I agree with Tonw.

The point about having little groups breaking off and some show fights are fine, I think we discussed them up thread, and they are a good idea.

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