How to improve battles?

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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DomT
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Postby DomT » Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:50 am

A lot of groups seem to be introducing 'fighting archers'.

A lot of re-enactors (especially retreads from other periods) dont wanna use bills/glaives/hafted weapons. Equiping as a 'archer' with a maul or falchion/axe and buckler is easy and allows minimal re-training for someone used to sword/axe and shield. Looks good on the field and gives the MOPs something too look at other than fullplate and partial plate heavies.

'tis a good thing.


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Postby m300572 » Thu Jan 12, 2006 2:21 pm

Pyro problem with cannon is that the mops are used to films where cannon (any period) fire huge exploding things, whereas solid shot will bounce a bit, throwing up small clods of earth - I am sure our (ECWS) special effects aren't noticed most of the time by the crowd because they are either looking towards the cannon, or watching the people and don't notice little puffs of dirt acros the field. Where you need special effects and enough people to make them work is to have a line of men (of either sex if cross dressing is allowed in your lot) behing blasted down by a shot.



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Postby tonw » Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:44 pm

One of our group has a stunt cannon that can be blown apart in a battle/cannon display though in a battle it needs lots of space.

He was also responcible for the pyrotechnics the first time Berkley had then and used over 90 charges.

Arhcery wise I'm fine with archer combatants so long as they've trained with the sword/axe/ side arm and don't come in with head shots like what was happening at bossy

Also there were a few archers who seemed to want to punish bllmen tinnies and refused to go down despite the odd (one even went as far a snapping one of our bills underfoot [which he did replace])

Also while the combatant archers can surge forward often the non combanats often get left at the back with no route of escape, I remember this year at bossy being asked if archers were combantants and someone saying

"Well they bloody well attacked us"

Thus they all became combatants and were put to the sword so to say.


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Postby nev » Thu Jan 12, 2006 9:14 pm

the way forward as i see it for combatant archers is to try and enforce the white sash rule (fed), if you're a non com on the field you wear a white sash, this is easily spotted and marks you out, if you're not wearing one you're a target, simple as that. as a side note to this, i would always suggest that non com archers wear some sort of body protection (jack?) it looks the part, especially if its of the removable sleeve vaiety to allow freedom of movement while shooting, and protects you if need be from the over zealous idiots that inevitably find their way on to the battle field.


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Postby craig1459 » Thu Jan 12, 2006 9:30 pm

There's an issue at the moment with swords. You can carry and use a sword on the battlefield but there is no indication of ability or attitude to safety. I fought at Bosworth and Blore this year.

Bosworth - a swordsman took the head of my mate's (sturdy) glave
Blore - lone swordsman comes through the line and gets one of my crew in the gob, chipping a few teeth

I agree ability and lack of it is an issue with any weapon but if someone isn't wearing identifiable livery and does not appear to be part of any of the groups taking part, how can their participation - and safety generally, be managed?


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Postby guthrie » Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:20 pm

It cant.
Ultimately, thats what marshalls and people who can remember what people look like in the middle of a battle are for. Shouting "oi" can also help.

Personally, I like fighting archers. I understand its fairly authentic, and whats more fun, is like at Blore this year, when your hard pressed by a bunch of stanleys, to have 5 fighting archers come down into their flank. Hehehheheh.

And of course, I think that part of the whole safety thing is that you shouldnt be carrying a weapon on the battlefield that you are not trained to use, or wont use at all. I have a dagger that is very nice but a smidgeon less blunt than it should be, and so do not now take it on the field. Even if I meant not to use it, there is always a chance someone else would take it, or I would use it in the heat of battle. So, people who are not trained should not be carrying swords on the field. I count trianing as having udnergone several afternoons of practise, and several more hours of free fighting practise, such that they have been shown not to go mad under stress. Its not that hard, especially since most re-enactment sword work is pretty much modified sabre moves.



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Postby colonelboris » Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:57 pm

I thought that fighting archers were a good idea until I found myself with a tiny seax and a rather large chap bearing down on me, knowing full well that I couldn't just pop an arrow into his chops at close range. I'm going to buy a sword sometime, methinks...
We have about half of our archers as scrappers after the last volley. If we know in advance that our side is going to lose, then often I take the non-coms off the back of the field in a 'run away!' fashion, which is also fun.


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Postby WorkMonkey » Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:18 am

I was amazed out how great a seax is at close quarters, fits in all those exposed areas nicely, up under the shield, over the shoulder, just make sure they doesn't steam roll you first 8) I much prefer using a seax in a melee, swords are good for line fights where the extra reach and power are useful, but once it breaks down into a free for all the seax gives you the extra speed to dispose people quickly so you can keep an eye on your back. I'm going to miss my seax now I have to downgrade to a little 'un :(


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Postby colonelboris » Fri Jan 13, 2006 1:07 am

mine has a seven inch blade and I haven't made myself a shield yet. It's only taken me six years...


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Postby gregory23b » Fri Jan 13, 2006 11:04 am

"Personally, I like fighting archers. I understand its fairly authentic, and whats more fun, is like at Blore this year, when your hard pressed by a bunch of stanleys, to have 5 fighting archers come down into their flank. Hehehheheh. "

it should be the norm for any late medieval/WOTR fighting, rather than the exception that it seems to have become over the last ten years or so.

If the numbers were more representative you would have two major changes to WOTR battles:

1) huge displays of archers shooting at each other, which is what archers did and should do, but then that means the majority of the forces involved. Which to my mind would look sh** hot.

2) that the fighting looks very different as it would be mostly archers fighting each other once the arrows have run out, casualties inflicted on the enemy, certain positions taken etc.

It has the implication of also challenging the notion of bill blocks which are appearing to be more artificial than they should be, which resembles napoleonic maneuvering battles more than a likely mixed bag of troop types in any one unit, with the heavy armour either lining the front or mving into place when advancing with the archers behind or plugging the gaps, a right scrap!!

In respects to safety - someone mentioned that bill blocks once engaged are not to be targetted due to face up problems, ok makes sense but you are aware that the biggest targets of face up are archers who are being shot at as invariably they are drawing and shooting, who by implication are most at risk.

IMHO archers should come under the same rules as non-archers, armour and field competence, not necessarily combat but knowing what not to do as well as what to do. I do not think it should be a safe easy option for sunday drivers, it was after all the mainstay of English armies for a couple of hundred years at least and should be reflected in the fighting.

When I was a pup we had two lots of archers, hand to hand and non hand to hand, their roles were clearly laid out if they wanted to play on the field, if you want to fight you train, if you don't you watch the training and learn how to be told what to do and then run like hell or keep shooting from a safe distance. They all wore sallets at the very least, mostly they wore more armour and appropriate kit, but no training no shooting.

I remember a distinct feeling of pride when our small but competent archers did a cracking job at shooting and then piling in, it looked good and gave us more to do, which is the added bonus of being a shooting and hacking archer - two lots of opportunities to kill your mates.


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Postby Caius » Fri Jan 13, 2006 6:18 pm

What we need more anything else is far more people doing archery on the field.

Those pesky types who use contact weapons and shields just get in the way.



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Postby WorkMonkey » Fri Jan 13, 2006 6:53 pm

colonelboris wrote:mine has a seven inch blade and I haven't made myself a shield yet. It's only taken me six years...


pah shields are for cissies! Glorious deaths are for heroes!


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Postby Guest » Fri Jan 13, 2006 11:19 pm

gregory23b wrote:I remember a distinct feeling of pride when our small but competent archers did a cracking job at shooting and then piling in, it looked good and gave us more to do, which is the added bonus of being a shooting and hacking archer - two lots of opportunities to kill your mates.


Ah, but we have a few archers, who for medical reasons, or just through sheer old age, can't just wade in so much anymore. I try to avoid getting too involved as I have ligament damage to both wrists (go on, you can have that one), fine for shooting, but not so good otherwise.
Occasionally I do have a bash at the gladitorial, but that's with lighter shields and shorter swords, so not too bad.
So, it's not always laziness/cowardice that not all the archers can take part.
So there.



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Postby colonelboris » Fri Jan 13, 2006 11:20 pm

dammit, forgot to log in! That last one was me.


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Postby gregory23b » Sat Jan 14, 2006 2:01 pm

Col. Boris, you will note I said we used to have non-hand to hand archers too, for the same reasons you cite as it happens, but if they wanted to shoot they had to train in the shooting and learn how to respond on the field, even if it was to just run away, many of them had harness but chose not to fight, which was fine.

We did not nor would I advocate mandatory hand to hand fighting, but the shooting needs to be taken seriously by all doing it. Ironically of course even non-hand to handers got shot and hit so had to know what it felt like in training so they didn't panic.

I am not keen on it being seen as a soft option, ie it still needs to look the business (regardless of wading in), not just some people who have nothing else to do, it was after all the main spectacle at the time....biased? moi?

Those that did got two bites of the cherry, I was merely trying to sell the 'benefits' :D of being an archer, the fresh air, the freedom from dodgy drilling, the cameraderie, the whoops of joy as you hit the bod some distance away, the independence, mobbing some hapless man at arms who happens to get separated from his mates, ahhh joy, not to mention the rates of pay are pretty competitive once you leave the county.

Who'll be an archer, who'll be an archer, who'll be an archer for Henry and me?

And we marched and we sang as we shot the yorkists down, who'll be an archer for Henry and me?


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Postby guthrie » Sat Jan 14, 2006 7:05 pm

WorkMonkey wrote: Glorious deaths are for heroes!

Sure, and glorious carousing and wenching is for those canny enough to survive the battle because they used a shield.



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Postby gregory23b » Sat Jan 14, 2006 8:04 pm

Touche Guthrie.


Or it makes a convenient bier. Monkey might say....


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Postby craig1459 » Sat Jan 14, 2006 8:07 pm

gregory23b wrote:Who'll be an archer, who'll be an archer, who'll be an archer for Henry and me?

And we marched and we sang as we shot the yorkists down, who'll be an archer for Henry and me?


Fortunately we won most of the battles

:D


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Postby gregory23b » Sat Jan 14, 2006 8:22 pm

<cough> not the war <cough>

good liveries though...;-)


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Postby WorkMonkey » Sat Jan 14, 2006 8:56 pm

guthrie wrote:Sure, and glorious carousing and wenching is for those canny enough to survive the battle because they used a shield.


pah! cowards talk, if you're fighting properly your shield should be broken to bits in your hand until you're just left with a grip that you end up beating some poor sod unconscious with.


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Postby guthrie » Sat Jan 14, 2006 11:43 pm

WorkMonkey wrote:pah! cowards talk, if you're fighting properly your shield should be broken to bits in your hand until you're just left with a grip that you end up beating some poor sod unconscious with.

Hey, wait a minute, arent shield for sissies? Why have you got one then?

As for the wenching, we'll tell you about it when you are older.



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Postby WorkMonkey » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:40 am

guthrie wrote:Hey, wait a minute, arent shield for sissies? Why have you got one then?

As for the wenching, we'll tell you about it when you are older.



*mutters*


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Postby gregory23b » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:19 pm

"As for the wenching, we'll tell you about it when you are older."

ha!

See Monkey, now you will be renamed as 'YoungMonkey' eternal youth has its price, yours is to just miss the wenching by a narrow margin....ahh best leave it to us older wobblier chaps in our zimmer frames and sensible footwear.


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Postby RTB » Sun Jan 15, 2006 1:19 pm

gregory23b wrote:"As for the wenching, eternal youth has its price, yours is to just miss the wenching by a narrow margin...


But I miss out by a narrow margin all the time, and I don't have eternal youth, :shock:


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Postby Ben Rodgers » Sun Jan 15, 2006 8:00 pm

When do get to hit the margin


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Postby Alan_F » Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:55 pm

Ben Rodgers wrote:When do get to hit the margin


It's obvious: Fight a page.


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Postby m300572 » Mon Jan 16, 2006 12:51 pm

As for the wenching, we'll tell you about it when you are older.


That will be a Monkey Wench then!



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Postby Foxe » Mon Jan 16, 2006 1:39 pm

Having done battles in a few periods (1066, WotR, ECW, 18thC, Napoleonic) one thing that has always struck me is the short attention span of the public. It's about 10 minutes. Whether it's two massed billblocks dinging off each other's armour or two sets of massed archers shooting flights of arrows then getting stuck in with maul and buckler; whether it's pikemen pointing their sticks in the air and shoving each other or pointing their sticks at each other and prancing about; or whether it's musketeers blazing away volleys then going in with swords or bayonets; the public get bored after 10 minutes.

Some things will extend this period of interest; cavalry, artillery, and siege engines will stretch it out to 15, or maybe even 20 minutes, but no longer. Cameos are good, but in a large battle they are lost, and only entertain a small part of the crowd.

So, what's to be done? IMHO the answer is to have more stuff going on for less time. It's the other stuff going on which will engage the public's interest long enough for them to feel they've got their money's worth - the fighting should be the icing on the cake.

For larger societies where a fifteen minute skirmish isn't practical then more care needs to be taken to introduce new elements into the battle at the crucial stages. People will only watch two small blocks of musketeers manoeuvring and skirmishing for ten minutes, but if you introduce some field artillery, hastily brough from the rear and now furiously trying to emplace themselves while their skirmishers cover them you've got another ten minutes. Once the artillery have fired a few rounds if the cavalry turn up there's another ten minutes. When the main body of infantry arrive you've got another ten minutes. Allowing for a bit of running over there's your 45-50 minute battle. But, if the two armies trundle out in their entirety, line up, and have a fight you've got a 45 minute battle which is lost on 90% of the MoPs and from which 30 minutes could be cut without impairing any of the MoP's enjoyment. I would recommend cutting out the half hour that I always seem to spend standing around between bashes.

There's no reason not to have more than one skirmish going on throughout the day before the main battle.

Dead men walking: in the event of people dying early in the battle and numbers dwindling I've always felt that leaving people on the ground long enough for them to be obviously "dead" then picking them up by marching a whole body of troops over them so that nobody sees them getting up is a relatively good ruse. Of course, the guy with the dozen yellow feathers in his lid is really obvious to the MoPs so when he goes down he's gotta stay down...

Finally, and this is the most important thing I think, re-enactment battles in the UK could be 20 times as good as they are now if organisers would simply realise that what they need is MORE BOATS.


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Postby tonw » Mon Jan 16, 2006 1:51 pm

From just reading Foxe's post I'm wondering how well a staggered roll out would work for the WotR's

Having a small force on the field to be attacked by a larger force and then escelate up to the full on battle.

This could add that interest for participants as well as public.


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Postby DomT » Mon Jan 16, 2006 3:34 pm

3rd'ed.

Much as we all like a good ting tang I think Mr Foxe is correct.

The public want more action. What they dont want to see is two lines of people dinging heck out of each other (wearing manic grins all the time) while canon and archers do their thing in the background and the odd horse zaps around.

Staggering the battle and having multiple short actions is the way to go.


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