How to improve battles?

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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Man from Coventry
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Post by Man from Coventry »

To return to the topic of how to make battles better.

Unfortunately I've arrived somewhat late to this discussion, but would make a few points on what people said earlier.

1. People should die and no just at the end of the battle - This is fine from the MOP's point of view but most re-enactors have the "Conan Mentality" i.e I am a war god surrounded by heaps of slain & dying is fine for others. Many re-enactors (billman especially) want to have a good scrap and an early death prevents this. Innovative scipts with opportunities to recover bodies from earlier phases of the fray, (as attempted at Blore) are one attempt at a solution but so far haven't worked due to poor application. Inevitably trying to accomodate this complcates the script.

2. Break the battle up into 5 min phases or therebouts due to limited attention span on part of the public. As tonw states this was attempted at Blore, but inevitably complicates the script leading to complaints.

3. The need for good block commanders - Where are these people ? Questionairres were sent out before Blore asking groups if they could provide people willing to take on these roles at Blore or other events. The response was just 6 people. For a decent sized battle such as Bosworth or Blore you need 13, 1 commentator, 2 overall commanders for each side, 3 Block commanders each side, 1 cavary commander each side. Many re-enactors don't want to be commanders as they do not want the responsibility and by necessity you have to stand back and direct, which means you personally have to take a backseat and cannot personally get involved in the fightig as much as you want. Also many groups will not take orders from other people from other groups, unless they have a very high profile and are widely respected such as the aforementioned Allan Harley. Consequently you get the same handful of people within the Fed such as Allan Harley, Paul Mason, Jim Smith, taking on such roles.
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Man from Coventry
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Post by Man from Coventry »

Corrections to above should be 1 overall commander a side so two in total.


To continue in the same vein

4. Poor Communication of script - this is a real problem, in my experience
a) the script is frequently not included with warning orders
b) Warning orders are often issued very late by organizing bodies
c) Group contacts often don't pass the scripts on to their wider membership, perhaps because of a) or b) not allowing enough time.
d) Indviduals don't read them when they do get them, even in the case f individuals.
e) Briefings are often a bit of a joke as illustrated above because most group captains and some of the organizers themselves don't take them seriously.

At Blore a novel innovation was to have a copy of the script with diagrams on display in one of the farm buildings over the weekend. Very few re-enactors read it.

5. Lack of inclination to make the battle work - unfortunately in my experience alot of re-enactors are not bothered about whether they put on a good display for MOP's or not. It is their enjoyment that matters. Certain groups also have a mentality that they cannot be beaten or defeated - even as part of the act & do not retreat, but march off the field undefeated, regardless if this is what the plot calls for. Some groups will also as tonw discussed not fight for the other side if the script calls for it as they were "Yorkist". Understandable if your group was known to fight in that particular battle on that side, but in many cases this isn't so.

6. H & S real or imagined is restricting what can be done. Some groups refuse to be shot at by archers with lofted arrows (I know of at least one group in the FED). Direct shooting at well armoured men would look great, but again needs to be carefully choreographed and you guessed it, requires a more complex script.

7. The Battle goes on too long keep it down to 20mins max. Easier said tha done again you are trying to balance the needs of the participants i.e billmen want at least 3 scraps, archers and gunners want a chance to shoot etc, with the attention span of the public.

8. Good Commentary - Is very important, but again it is very difficult to get good people who will do this. It is also very difficult to do especially when the battle does not go to plan (as always happens) and the commentator doesn't actually know what is going on. Radio's are one way of getting over this problem, but can suffer interfence with armour and get damaged boken if the wearer does get involved in combat.

9. Evenly matched/sensible sides - Difficult because often you have no idea of actual turnout before the day. Some historical events might call for uneven sides in terms of numbers (an attempt to even up the fighting power of the sides was attempted, by switching on of the better groups to the Yorkist side, this didn't work as they were "Lancatrians" )

Quite honestly I'm amazed that we do get the odd good WOR battle and that there are some individuals who will attempt this thankless task.
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Post by the real lord duvet »

very true Mr Coventry.

At Blore (the one before) we had a small battlefield on which they wanted the artillery moved about.

If we move the artillery around the bill blocks get to use more of the field rather than us dominating an area. Mobile Artillery also looks better.
But we can only move artillery safely if the billmen know whats happening.

They have to know to get out of the way or even simply follow instructions.


We're hoping to have mobile artillery on the field at Tewkesbury this year as a first for many years.

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Post by craig1973 »

Man from Coventry wrote:3. The need for good block commanders - Where are these people ? Questionairres were sent out before Blore asking groups if they could provide people willing to take on these roles at Blore or other events. The response was just 6 people. For a decent sized battle such as Bosworth or Blore you need 13, 1 commentator, 2 overall commanders for each side, 3 Block commanders each side, 1 cavary commander each side. Many re-enactors don't want to be commanders as they do not want the responsibility and by necessity you have to stand back and direct, which means you personally have to take a backseat and cannot personally get involved in the fightig as much as you want. Also many groups will not take orders from other people from other groups, unless they have a very high profile and are widely respected such as the aforementioned Allan Harley. Consequently you get the same handful of people within the Fed such as Allan Harley, Paul Mason, Jim Smith, taking on such roles.


Are there enough people with the necessary skills and qualities within the Fed to be Block Commanders - able to command household captains as if they were normal footsoldiers (which in the battle context they are)

I feel re-assured that there is a sense of continuity on the battlefield - if you know Allan Harley say does a good job and he is Salisbury at Blore you know pretty much how it's going to pan out (unless his radio mike breaks :wink: )

Man from Coventry
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Post by Man from Coventry »

Craig 1473 - To answer your question Yes & No.

I think there are sufficent people within the Fed who are capable of carrying out the roles.

However, whether there are sufficient people who are willing to take on the roles is a different matter. Ideally you need a larger pool of individuals than the 13 I discuss above, so that the same individuals are not always doing it.

Without a shift in the attitude of some group commanders and a willingness to follow the suggestions of their Block Commanders (who they may not know too well) then I think there will be a problem of such individuals being able to carry out the roles i.e getting their command to follow them. There are only a handful of individuals who have sufficient cross group stature.

The Real Lord Duvet

I agree moving the guns about is good and adds to the event as well as the enjoyment of the gunners.

However including this does complicate the plot, as do the other desirable features talked about above - an area for which the script has been repeatedly criticized in the past for Blore. Personally I think that a more complex battle is OK and worth a bit of effort if it will hit these buttons and yield a spectacular event for the public which we will enjoyas well.

Unfortunately we have not succeeded so far in selling this to the bulk of the member groups.

All of the above I am sure will come up for discussion at the Blore Training event, I'll be there.
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Shoggoth
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Post by Shoggoth »

Sorry, not had time to read the full thread properly (blame God, i'm doing his work ;) ), but one of the aspects that anoys me as a historian is that everybody dies on the field in glourious combat.

Historically, most died during the rout in every period I have studied in septh (except Gladiators and Russian WWII).

May be nice to see people fleeing the field rather than getting butchered in little neat piles on top of cloaks and shields in the wet, and soft grass in the dry (avoiding the dog poo obviously).

I know there is often not lot of room (Tewksbury would be messy).

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Post by Gandi »

Man from Coventry wrote:
5. Lack of inclination to make the battle work - unfortunately in my experience alot of re-enactors are not bothered about whether they put on a good display for MOP's or not.


To put the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons, why should they care? It's their hobby; if they were to go skiing as their hobby each weekend they wouldn't be expected to 'put on a good display'
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Sara
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Post by Sara »

Gandi wrote: To put the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons, why should they care? It's their hobby; if they were to go skiing as their hobby each weekend they wouldn't be expected to 'put on a good display'


Because generally you do not get paid to go sking. Of course if neither you nor your group are being paid to put on the show in question then that is slightly different but the MOPS have still most likely paid to see you, and their entry money will have paid for all the other bits that make the show possible, the space, sanitation, security etc, so is there not some responsibilty, even if to the re-enactment world in general, to make sure the MOPS get their moneys worth?

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Post by Gandi »

Sara wrote:
Gandi wrote: To put the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons, why should they care? It's their hobby; if they were to go skiing as their hobby each weekend they wouldn't be expected to 'put on a good display'


Because generally you do not get paid to go sking. Of course if neither you nor your group are being paid to put on the show in question then that is slightly different but the MOPS have still most likely paid to see you, and their entry money will have paid for all the other bits that make the show possible, the space, sanitation, security etc, so is there not some responsibilty, even if to the re-enactment world in general, to make sure the MOPS get their moneys worth?

Watch those feather fly :D

Sara


I have to say, i generally agree with one proviso: if you are being paid then it is a job and should be treated as such- by both sides.

If you're not being paid, then it is then down to the good will of everybody to put on a good show, but that is something you can not IMO force to happen.

I can't think off hand of any other hobby where the hobbyists are either expected to provide a service on such a scale as re enactment, nor one where the hobbyist would expect to have any of their costs paid for by anyone but themselves.
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Shoggoth
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Post by Shoggoth »

Gandi wrote:Man from Coventry wrote:
5. Lack of inclination to make the battle work - unfortunately in my experience alot of re-enactors are not bothered about whether they put on a good display for MOP's or not.


To put the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons, why should they care? It's their hobby; if they were to go skiing as their hobby each weekend they wouldn't be expected to 'put on a good display'


You are right, they don't have to care. If they want to go find a field and beat themselves up in private, they can.

Of course it is unlikly to have nice castle in it but what the hay. They could always climb a fence into such sites, and then if the local landowner or police turn up it is probably easy to explain what they are doing there with various weapons (especially firarms and/canon).

And who needs portaloos or camping areas provided. Any old park bench will do at a push. And if the local landlord or police turn up to ask why you are sleeping on private grounds with weaponry, I am sure it is easy to explain.

:roll:

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Post by Man from Coventry »

Just to add to what Shoggoth had to say.

If we weren't bothered about putting on any kind of display - why do we do events at historic venues, if all we are interested in is doing it purely as a hobby with no display element why aren't we all in the SCA ?

The point I am trying to get across is that it should be possible, albeit with a little bit of effort, to put on battle which will be a spectacular display, but will also be enjoyable the participants.

If we can do this then we are likely to get paid more and get better venues.
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Post by James The Archer »

Just recived the warning orders for FED Lincoln Castle, there is a scrip that's been issued with a ou line of whats going to happen so hopefully we will put a good, fun show on. The MOPS even get to decide who wins on the 3rd day, so the side that puts the best show on will win the vote, good incentive to do well. :D
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Post by matlot »

that will be yorkists winning two days then
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Post by James The Archer »

Note the name, I'm on the winning side all days as the archers can only shoot safely one way, or I'll be playing with the black powder, notting better than the smell of burnt powder in the afternoon :twisted:
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Post by guthrie »

matlot wrote:that will be yorkists winning two days then

Oh yeah? THink your so hard then? Wnat a fight???

*Pauses*

hang on, I'm a yorkist too.

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Post by James The Archer »

Mind you I don't know which side the Staffords are on.
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Post by nev »

doesn't matter whcih side we're on james. i keep telling you there's 3 sides to this WotR lark, york, lancaster and stafford. as for not being able to murder your own side...didn't stop me at blore last year and i was carrying the yorkist commander's banner! :D
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Post by Ian Macintyre »

Because the SCA use rubber and crap armour. Still never have and never will do this for the public. If they want to watch and thereby pay for my camping and to have it at a nicer venue then fine.
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Post by Ian Macintyre »

Plus I wager I spend more at every event I go to than 99% of the public. On beer, mead, bacon rolls, helmets, pionts and all the other things I buy. Lets not pretend that re-enactors are not punters too.
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Post by tonw »

Ian Macintyre wrote:Plus I wager I spend more at every event I go to than 99% of the public. On beer, mead, bacon rolls, helmets, pionts and all the other things I buy. Lets not pretend that re-enactors are not punters too.


unless you buy more beer mead and rolls than all joe public combined

pluss buying kit is cheating when your comparing your cost to public cost

as is most re-enactors spend considerably less at an actual event than the public
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Post by Jim Smith »

Iain - if you're not being paid then I understand your point of view. However, if you are being paid (either individually or as a group), then you have a duty to ensure that the visiting public get something out of seeing you and the rest of DD in action. This could be educational, entertainment or ideally a mix of both.
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Post by gregory23b »

Buying ones own kit is for ones own pleasure so cannot be weighed against the MOP spend, otherwise MOP with 4X4 can say he spends more to get there than reenactor with old corsa.

Whether any individual does it for the public or not, without the public subsidising them most reenactment groups would be doing bashes in people's gardens. That is undeniable.

Like 'em or not the public are the reason renactment has grown. The public actually like reeanctment, if they didn't the likes of EH NT etc would not be hiring groups to do it.

However if people don't like doing stuff for the public then do what the SCA do, privately hire a venue, they hire castles etc for non-public events. But I guess they cost the reenactors to go possibly as much as for no public, but then the group concerned doesn't get any earnings to further develop kit etc.

How many groups can afford to hire a castle for their own events?
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Post by Jenn »

Personally I do it partly for the public (otherwise it'd be FLRP wouldn't it?)
Yes we spend money on our kit but that's one of those things (after all so do most hobbyists). I always feel that once you've explained what it is that you do at weekends - if the first question is hiow much do you get paid then you know they're never going to get the point of re-enact ment.
That's not to say that I don't support people being paid for film work etc but I don't think that money is the prime motivator for this (including those whose job this )
Battles - speaking as someone who has spent many years watching - shorter, more stuff happening near the crowd, some showy stuff is nice, as many people as possible, lots of colour - drums, flags etc before and after to build up the excitement
Last edited by Jenn on Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by craig1459 »

I enjoyed the new stuff that Allan threw into the mix at the weekend. Good bit of variety for the billman, a lot going on and it focusses your attention
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

As someone who intends to spend a lot of time pulling big guns here and there, I would like to ask if there is any more that could be done amongst re-enactors in camp. Like a zealous priest having a go at the "washer women" charging extra for special relief and get a verbal (or actual) doing over by the girls and their Tom. The camp provost making tours and clamping down on stuff (maybe bribes being handed out). Bar room bravado over whose burd is whose turning nasty, rough justice being dealt out to a theif by the soldiery, stuff like that. A battle could take place just between two Households on the same side bored stupid, wound up and doing the my bow is bigger then your bow thing. Then every one else could get involved in trying to remind them to kill the enemy and not each other. Well its just a thought no-one need take any of my suggestions to heart.

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Post by tonw »

Marcus

while your ideas are good ones there are a number of problems

1 you need volenteers to portray the roles

2 you need everybody else to acknowledge that they are there, nothing like a provost getting told to F* Off and stop being a T* by a group of rowdy campers
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Post by Man from Coventry »

Craig - now you've appended a photo I do recall seeing you at a distance at Blore this weekend. Alot of good stuff at the weekend, but Allan was to a large degree preaching to the converted, as it was only generally the keener members who took part.

Marcus - this is all good stuff but as tonw says the difficulty is actually getting people to take on these roles and for the other participants involved to respect them. Unfortunately at present the load of organizing everything falls on a dedicated few.
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Post by craig1459 »

Man from Coventry wrote:Craig - now you've appended a photo I do recall seeing you at a distance at Blore this weekend. Alot of good stuff at the weekend, but Allan was to a large degree preaching to the converted, as it was only generally the keener members who took part.


Agreed - we're one of the bigger Fed groups and had only one billman on the field. Me! :roll:
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Post by craig1459 »

tonw wrote:Marcus

while your ideas are good ones there are a number of problems

1 you need volenteers to portray the roles

2 you need everybody else to acknowledge that they are there, nothing like a provost getting told to F* Off and stop being a T* by a group of rowdy campers


I don't have a trade but sometimes wander the site tooled up - charging at video cameras and the like

A watchman or constable I suppose, easy to do :D
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Post by tonw »

well people being tooled up just need to ask a sly question as they come into camp, I would be happy to be hauled off by a provosty type. especially an ugly one
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