How to improve battles?

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How to improve battles?

Postby Alan_F » Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:15 pm

Following on from one of the "what's wrong" threads, any comments welcome. I think that a lot of battles are becoming too similar, what does everyone else think?

1) Stopping the same group from forming up at the crowd line every time. As i said above, it bores the crowd rigid to watch the same two groups fighting it out over and over again. This would take some effort - there are, as we all know full well, some group who will try and take that spot so that they can show themselves off to the crowd and they are usually not happy about having to change to the middle of the battlefield. To which I would (were I running the event) say to them "Goodbye". If they can't comprehend that the event isn't put on so that they can fight in front of the crowd all afternoon, then perhaps they shouldn't be invited back.

2) Ensuring that groups stick to the script. Again, there are groups who want everything run their way at events, despite the fact it's not their event! If a goup persists in trying to rewrite the script when the battle is underway, then perhaps that should be the last time they get an invite to an event.

3) Dropping the crowd charge at the end. I've been to Multi-Period events, do you know how boring it is when the same thing happens at the end of each groups turn in the arena?


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Postby craig1459 » Mon Nov 14, 2005 8:25 pm

Good points. I haven't done enough to get fed up with any particular aspect but the feedback I've had from MOPs is that battles are not that interesting. I've put these points in on of the other threads but ill put them again.

Suggestions:
1. Break it up - don't try and re-enact a whole battle with two hundred bods in 45 mins but focus on a particular event or set of events
2. More sub-plots going on, also using more non-combatants in support roles
3. More detailed storyboarding. On the ground it feels disjointed and messy.

I like just hitting people with my pointed stick but we do charge people money to come to these events and they should get a good show for their hard-earned or they'll just go off elsewhere


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Postby Alan_F » Mon Nov 14, 2005 9:47 pm

Some other points that I think need addressing are:

More people taking their hits. Some friends of mine were deeply unimpressed at a battle they saw when one side were clearly getting hit but refusing to acknowledge it.

Groups threatening to leave if things aren't doen their way. If an event calls for no archers on side A and plenty on side B and one group wants to be on side A and do archery, then perhaps it's time for that group to be given a reality call. They're not in charge and should perhaps be invited to leave.

Sticking to the script - it would seem obvious, but there are groups who will try and change the script midway through a battle. Again I would ask them to leave.

Clearly defined guidelines. If an organiser wants something a particular way, then that should be honoured. However, the guidelines of what is and isn't acceptable should not only be clearly defiend, but also published beforehand.


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Postby colonelboris » Mon Nov 14, 2005 11:50 pm

Chavs. Plenty of them, and no-one would miss a few. A few really grisly chav deaths and that'd liven up most battles. If you want, I can do a collection from round here and post them to you. Second class, that is.
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Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Mon Nov 14, 2005 11:51 pm

I can't say much from the battle point of view. But as a trader I am usually busy after 5 mins of a battle whilst during a joust I can go to the loo, brew a coffee and eat my lunch. Now whay should that be? This a serious question and not a pi@s take.


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Postby Alan_F » Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:23 am

Lord High Everything Esle wrote:I can't say much from the battle point of view. But as a trader I am usually busy after 5 mins of a battle whilst during a joust I can go to the loo, brew a coffee and eat my lunch. Now whay should that be? This a serious question and not a pi@s take.


Many reasons, such as the ones I've written about above. :(


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Postby DomT » Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:10 am

Fair Points all.

I think we've all got into a 'comfort spot' where the battle is moderately safe, easy to organise, allows people to get water on board and fits the time slot.

I do several periods but basicaly it comes down to "3 Clashes with a couple of scripted bits, normally a parley and some champions fights, in between. Ranged weapons stand at the sides and bang away at each other (depending on period)."

It's boring to watch. It can be boring to do.

Here are my thoughts:-

Either rotate or script the crowd line groups. It's all very well saying the same groups shouldnt be on the crowd line but if you can get a couple of groups with Gucci kit and/or some decent personailties who can ENTERTAIN on the crowd line I'd rather that than showing the crowd every group. Especially if some of the groups are scraping the kit/entertainment barrel.

Totaly agree on Non-coms. Some decent looting/finishing off the dead looks great, gives non-coms something to do and allows people to check on the fallen therefore improving safety. Also some character stuff for the 'fallen' who have a touch of ham in them. (No not my wallet! ARGH! GET HER OFFFFF ME! HELP urkle......)

More vareity of the battle plot line requires organisers (battle organiser that is) to think about what resources they have, on the day (all very well planning the great cav charge of the polish lancers only to find they stayed up in the beer tent to long last night and havent surfaced) and USE them.
The last implies a 'O-Group' where all the sub unit commanders know the script and have communicated it to their troops (much more common outside of Medieval and other ararchic periods. This why Vike battles have picked up on the intrest front recently)
If you have a couple of decent characters GET THEM ONTO THE CROWD LINE. Do the parleys, blessings, indivdual challenges and any set peices RIGHT ONTOP OF THE MOPS not in the middle of the field. Stop picking Champions at random and get them sorted in advance. There are a nunch or groups who can do some nice 1-1 displays, split 'em up and get 'em fighting each other where they can be seen.

Beg borrow or steal the best person you can find to do the speeky to the people bit on the mike. Make sure they know the plan. Send runners for updates to them if you havent got him and your commanders on radio comms.

Dont try and re-create Waterloo with 10 blokes, 3 girls and a boy.
Tell the MOP's it's a skirmish earlier in the day or the day before.


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Postby Steven » Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:22 am

Alan_F wrote:More people taking their hits. Some friends of mine were deeply unimpressed at a battle they saw when one side were clearly getting hit but refusing to acknowledge it.


I've seen MOPs noticing and laughing at this sort of thing.

You'll get a shield charge and no one is on the floor by the end of it. Well, not at least until the last charge anyway. It's not just those of us with contact weapons either - I've seen `gunpowder groups' blazing away with no one lying one ground until the last few minutes.

Why? Well - it's a mixture of the `I didn't pay £2,000 for armour to take an early death brigade' (plate or mail, take your pick), overenthusiasm and the odd bod not noticing they have copped a good one (although this last one is rare).

Personally, I'd say not taking your hits is up there with wearing trainers wrapped in hessian on the field. It reduces what we do from `That's not bad!' to `Bunch of sad egotistical dweebs!' in my books.

There have been times when I have got a better reaction out of a crowd for taking a particularly nasty death then surviving till the end - I've been hard pressed to not smile as I lay there listening to audience going `Oooo - that's gotta hurt'...


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Postby mac (crucesignati) » Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:34 am

Instead of having the fun-police present at larger bashes with their walkie-talkies, have the commanders of smaller units forming the lines, be in control of their units. Their control would come from orders issued from a field commander/king/whatever in overall command of his sides tactics. In other words, run it with a degree of realism as far as controlling the battle is concerned.
It would be interesting to see how they get on when:
Their orders are followed well by sub-commanders
Their orders are ignored by sub-commanders
They issue orders with bad results etc etc.



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Postby tonw » Tue Nov 15, 2005 10:42 am

[quote="Alan_F"]Some other points that I think need addressing are:

More people taking their hits. Some friends of mine were deeply unimpressed at a battle they saw when one side were clearly getting hit but refusing to acknowledge it.

[quote]

This causes a problem

As a WotR's re-enactor and a Yorkist to book I am usually standing opposite superior numbers (for some reason the Lancastrians have more men)

Yet we are supposed to win.

If we took our hits and died the battle would work out all wrong, plus there is the even worse issue of the dead standing up again after they have clearly been killed its looks worse trust me when the dead get up.

It appartentky scares the children when a dead knight stands up again.

if however you back down and hype up the "I could be injured!" act while somone checks you out seems to work


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Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Tue Nov 15, 2005 11:03 am

Again, from the point of view of a non-participant, I think the commentary is an importatnt part of holding the interest of the public. EH have a good policy of encouraging the crowd to choose sides in the jousts (and it sells lots of flags in the appropriate colour :twisted: ). The jousts are said to be competative so that also gives an edge.

The problem with battles is that someone is meant to win. i.e. scripted. So even if you are the smaller side you will win. Maybe this can be improved by management of numbers before the battle.


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Postby Uncle Bulgaria » Tue Nov 15, 2005 11:14 am

The 2 main problems i've seen in most battles is...........

People don't die. Somethimes very obvious :evil:

and

smiley, happy faces on a battlefield. The amount of time you see members chatting to the other side, whilst leaning on the bills, waiting for things to re-start or generally smiley happy faces while beating the living daylights out of the enemy :roll:

They're supposed to be fighting a battle, not discussing the beer tent jokes from the night before :twisted:


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Postby Sigurd » Tue Nov 15, 2005 11:37 am

This has already been touched on but in Dark Age, I always thought it looked silly to try and pretend that our 40 – 100 warriors were actually the massed armies fighting out the battle of Stamford Bridge. A much better bet to me is not to try doing a vast battle at all, but to recreate a fictional skirmish that could have been part of the actual campaign, that way the numbers don’t matter, one side doesn’t have to win, so if your hit your dead rather then “I know I got filleted, but my side has to win so I’ve got to pretend it didn’t happen!”



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Postby Sal » Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:26 pm

DomT wrote:Totaly agree on Non-coms. Some decent looting/finishing off the dead looks great, gives non-coms something to do and allows people to check on the fallen therefore improving safety. Also some character stuff for the 'fallen' who have a touch of ham in them. (No not my wallet! ARGH! GET HER OFFFFF ME! HELP urkle......)


Oooh.. looting, yes please :) . Always good fun.... I had to kill off a mortally wounded bloke by the crowd line at Herstmonceux a couple of years ago, and that was great fun! Crowd loved it, and I loved it. Definitely adds to the whole thing, IMO.



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Postby Ann » Tue Nov 15, 2005 2:26 pm

I think more explanation of what is happening is needed, I have watched battles where parents have had to try to explain to their children why there is a battle going on at all, because the organisers have not given a clear concise description of historical events. MOPS need to know why the fighting is taking place.
I have found that when I have watched from the crowd (in kit so I look as though I know what I'm talking about) and I have explained that the purpose of the first part of a battle reenactment when people do not die is to demonstrate the skills and techniques involved, that is acceptable to MOPS, provided I can talk about those skills, point out examples as they happen and keep people interested. That works fine and keeps people happy but I don't want to always be in the crowd to talk throughout a battle. That can't be done by one man with a megaphone as he can't see the whole field (nor can the crowd).
So maybe more 'set pieces' promoted as fighting skills demonstrations with running commentaries (including how to kill your opponents) before battles would be a good idea. That would put each group of re-enactors in the spotlight for a while, and then the battle itself could be more 'authentic' with people getting killed when they are hit.


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Postby Alan E » Tue Nov 15, 2005 2:38 pm

Ann wrote:So maybe more 'set pieces' promoted as fighting skills demonstrations with running commentaries (including how to kill your opponents) before battles would be a good idea. That would put each group of re-enactors in the spotlight for a while, and then the battle itself could be more 'authentic' with people getting killed when they are hit.

Hmmm... Living History fighting techniques on the reenactment battlefield .... Are people ready for that ? (Strictly avoiding the question about what >are< LH fighting techniques of course :twisted: )


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Postby DomT » Tue Nov 15, 2005 3:23 pm

Thats fine when everyone involved knows the game.

Which tends to mean splitting a group up so they can do their WMA/LH fighting style thingy on their own.

Of course if someone was to form a training school to teach a extended version of 'the fives' to allow groups to fight each other with a fast showey style that impresses the audiance then they'd be onto a winner.

Did I just describe Knights School? I'll think you'll find I just did. :twisted:


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Postby WorkMonkey » Tue Nov 15, 2005 4:41 pm

I think you can make a fair-o battle into a really awesome battle if you can get someone decent on a mic over the P.A systems, my family have watched me at a couple of shows and my mom in particular pointed out how Kim Siddorn on the mic totally bought the thing to life, I remember there was some kind of orchesteral music playing which itself gave it that "feel" but if you can get someone who sounds the part to do it in a descript 'story' fashion that brings the feel of it to life makes it so much more accesible to people.


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Postby mac (crucesignati) » Tue Nov 15, 2005 4:59 pm

I think the best thing to do would be to ask our audience - the public. We can come up with loads of ideas about what they need to see, but that's our re-enactor point of view.
Ask the public and I'll bet they say they don't (as a majority) want to see; battles following a plan of an original event; long-winded talks or demonstrations on methods of killing, how to load a gun etc. They want pomp, ceremony, noise, aggression and colour.

Maybe an idea would be to pool all the complaints we've heard from MOPs and see if we can tailor our shows to their needs and expectations.



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Postby Alan E » Tue Nov 15, 2005 5:12 pm

mac (crucesignati) wrote:I think the best thing to do would be to ask our audience - the public. We can come up with loads of ideas about what they need to see, but that's our re-enactor point of view.
Ask the public and I'll bet they say they don't (as a majority) want to see; battles following a plan of an original event; long-winded talks or demonstrations on methods of killing, how to load a gun etc. They want pomp, ceremony, noise, aggression and colour.

Maybe an idea would be to pool all the complaints we've heard from MOPs and see if we can tailor our shows to their needs and expectations.


It's a plan sure, but I think someone may have beaten you to it :

All together now "Hooray for Ho Li Wooood" !

Sorry, but that's what you get if you simply tailor your shows to the MOPs expectations.


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Postby tonw » Tue Nov 15, 2005 5:26 pm

I have asked a large group MOP's what they would like to see during a battle

Their reply was

More guns and lots of shooting and killing


My personal beef is the hand gunners and cannons

they look cool they go bang they produce lots of smoke.....

They do b**ger all!

No - one ever dies from a gun or cannon, at bosworth there were bill blocks infront of cannons and advancing if memory serves out of the four or five volleys only two people died even when they were right on top of them.


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Postby craig1459 » Tue Nov 15, 2005 5:44 pm

Problem with C15 handguns was they were more likely to kill their own troops. While obviously they could be lethal - as far as I am aware they were more use AS a special effect.

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Postby Cat » Tue Nov 15, 2005 6:43 pm

...and as Colin of the Courtenayes always reminds the crowd, 'the smell of brimstone can cause loosening of the bowelllls'.



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Postby Alan_F » Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:32 pm

tonw wrote:I have asked a large group MOP's what they would like to see during a battle

Their reply was

More guns and lots of shooting and killing


My personal beef is the hand gunners and cannons

they look cool they go bang they produce lots of smoke.....

They do b**ger all!

No - one ever dies from a gun or cannon, at bosworth there were bill blocks infront of cannons and advancing if memory serves out of the four or five volleys only two people died even when they were right on top of them.


That's not that unusual when it comes to ranged weapons - when I was a musketeer in the SK, we would line up our musketeers 3 or 4 ranks deep and blast away at pike units who would stand there and ignore us. In reality, they would would have been an ugly red mess on the battlefield.

The answer that we found was to take on other units using ranged weapons, be they musketeers or canon. As those units had all had the same experience with pike units, they would quite happily take casualties when fired upon and we did the same in return.

I think more explanation of what is happening is needed, I have watched battles where parents have had to try to explain to their children why there is a battle going on at all, because the organisers have not given a clear concise description of historical events. MOPS need to know why the fighting is taking place.


Ann, I would agree totally, one things that annoys me is when the commentator takes the point of view that because he/she knows about the period, then everyone should. It doesn't matter if there's only two people or 2000 people watching, a clear concise commentary can be hugely rewarding. It would also help if the commentator got together with the organisers and the groups involved so at seperate times in the battle the commentator can highlight what the different groups are doing.

This has already been touched on but in Dark Age, I always thought it looked silly to try and pretend that our 40 – 100 warriors were actually the massed armies fighting out the battle of Stamford Bridge. A much better bet to me is not to try doing a vast battle at all, but to recreate a fictional skirmish that could have been part of the actual campaign, that way the numbers don’t matter, one side doesn’t have to win, so if your hit your dead rather then “I know I got filleted, but my side has to win so I’ve got to pretend it didn’t happen!”


Sigurd, I absolutely agree, the problem is that it can be what the people paying for the event want. What I find best is to show people a part of a battle, rather than the whole battle, unless there are numbers to support it.

The 2 main problems i've seen in most battles is...........

People don't die. Somethimes very obvious

and

smiley, happy faces on a battlefield. The amount of time you see members chatting to the other side, whilst leaning on the bills, waiting for things to re-start or generally smiley happy faces while beating the living daylights out of the enemy

They're supposed to be fighting a battle, not discussing the beer tent jokes from the night before


Uncle B, I'd also say I'd rather not see people clowning about on the battlefied - at an event many years ago, there was a woman dressed in highland kit who was jumping up and down and whooping at the top of her voice. When asked what she was doing, she said that it was a technique used by warrors in Africa to unnerve their opponents - so why the hell was she doing it if she was portraying a woman from the highlands of Scotland? I think it has to be made clear that, while everyone is there to enjoy themselves, there is a line and if people cross it they're out.

This causes a problem

As a WotR's re-enactor and a Yorkist to book I am usually standing opposite superior numbers (for some reason the Lancastrians have more men)

Yet we are supposed to win.

If we took our hits and died the battle would work out all wrong, plus there is the even worse issue of the dead standing up again after they have clearly been killed its looks worse trust me when the dead get up.

It appartentky scares the children when a dead knight stands up again.

if however you back down and hype up the "I could be injured!" act while somone checks you out seems to work


Tonw, would it be possible to get some of the Lancastrians to swap sides, even if for the day? I hve had no problems at Bannockburn with fighting on the English side - I rather enjoy it as I get to rabble rouse the crowd.


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Postby Steven » Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:42 pm

Alan_F wrote:Tonw, would it be possible to get some of the Lancastrians to swap sides, even if for the day? I hve had no problems at Bannockburn with fighting on the English side - I rather enjoy it as I get to rabble rouse the crowd.


Not sure about the details of this period, but is there a chance that this question could be similar to asking `Would it be possible to get some of the Celts to swap sides and fight as Romans?'

Serious question - are there some people so attached to the `side' that they portray that they'd refuse to do anything else? Are there people in the WOTR period who want to be on the winning/most `romantic'/`coolest' side (whatever the hell that would be)?


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Postby latheaxe » Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:46 pm

Use more Horses... :wink:



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Postby Alan_F » Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:54 pm

Steven wrote:
Alan_F wrote:Tonw, would it be possible to get some of the Lancastrians to swap sides, even if for the day? I hve had no problems at Bannockburn with fighting on the English side - I rather enjoy it as I get to rabble rouse the crowd.


Not sure about the details of this period, but is there a chance that this question could be similar to asking `Would it be possible to get some of the Celts to swap sides and fight as Romans?'

Serious question - are there some people so attached to the `side' that they portray that they'd refuse to do anything else? Are there people in the WOTR period who want to be on the winning/most `romantic'/`coolest' side (whatever the hell that would be)?


I can see the Celts/Romans thing as a problem (Auxilia perhaps?) but there are those who do get very attached to a side and won't swap sides, even if it does make the battle look odd when the huge units have to be on the losing side.


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Postby Jenn » Tue Nov 15, 2005 8:07 pm

I think set pieces - display, practise whatever you want to call it have their place especially if you're trying to be authentic as they're a great of legitimately demonstrating stuff
having watched an awful lot of battles over the years - my answer would be: 1) fighting somewhere nearish the crowd line so you can see it
2) some explanation of what is going on and some kind of playacting of the part of the participants dead that die, enemy commanders that don't look like they're having a chat, shaking of fists weeping of women etc
3) the battles need to be reasonably short as it's a long time to ask someone to stand for - about 45 mins maybe an hour tops
4)A storyline that 's is explained to the crowd and that they are asked to participate in some way - this does not need to be cheering and booing. I have often used the technique of looking for my regiment/man depending on what is appropriate and asked people in the crowd to keep an eye on them/ can they spot them etc? a few people doing this in the crowd involves a fair number of people
5) some actual fighting that we can see and appreciate is fighting - waving sticks at each other or rugby scrums don't count
6) flag waving etc is good so is shiny



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Postby guthrie » Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:42 pm

I think we all pretty much agree on what makes a good battle. The problem is communication this to other people, and then organising the battle.



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Postby Dave B » Tue Nov 15, 2005 11:35 pm

O.K.

I think a couple of people, Dom especialy have got the big bits. I particularly agree with the bit about 'battle of the champions' It isn't really the thing for a serious battle re-enactment but for a bit of fun (esp at tintagel which is gothic/arthurian rather than historical as such, and all hte better for being openly that) it can be great.

But when you draw, by random chance and full plate clankey with a two handed sword against an unarmoured man with a dagger, you just know it' going to look pants. and the unarmoured chap will unacountably win!

What would it take for a couple of people who know each other well enought to do a good one on one to pre-arange to be on opposite sides.

Another pet beef. When I have just done my very best to do a really extra heroic dramatic death on the crowd line, don't stroll over and shout 'eh love - do you want some water' 'come on love 'ave some water'

I'm mortally wounded. either be tending the wounded, or looting the dead, and find out that way who is in distress.

My biggie is having a bit of consideration and thought. Those lightly armoured swordsmen. evidently beginers from the look of them. Do you think they want to be kicked up and down to field by a bunch of heavily armoured and hard as nails billmen? No they don't. Go fight someone else. and Visa Versa.

Spleen vented

Excellent topic by the way - overdue for doing agian.


Find time in every day to look at your life and say; 'Well, it could be worse'

Kurt's uncle Bob.


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