Monday, August 15, 2016

Pennsic 45

Random Thoughts:

This blog will not be in the usual format, because Pennsic is long and there's so much to write about. I will of course leave a lot out. I've already forgotten a lot of important stuff, and I left mu paper journal at home.

Pennsic was too hot to enjoy most of it.

A person who would know told me there were nine heart attacks on the field this year, leading them to close down all martial activities (even target archery and thrown weapons) on Thursday, after cancelling the woods and shortening the alternate resurrection battle from 90 minutes to 30.

I was in armor for five days.

I fought in the Known World Baronial Rapier Champions tourney and killed lots of people but totally wiffed my showcase fight. However, I was the best talker, and extemporized a poem for my introduction. By the time I was ready to get into heavy armor, the pickup field was empty. Too damn hot.

The Pennsic Open field battle is still the greatest spectacle, and most fun battle, in the SCA.

I fought most of the battles with spear, except the open fields, which I fought with a short polearm.

Over the eight days I was there I walked over 140,000 steps/70 miles.

SATURDAY of war week I did not get into armor. I attended opening ceremonies, marching as Ostgardr rapier champion, and basically tried to stay alive.

SUNDAY was the day of champions. I always armor up for the champions battle even when I'm not chosen (I've only been chosen once as an Easterner). It's not so much that I'm the guy hoping to be asked to dance (though I am) as what Duke Lucan once told me: we are all alternates to the Bellted champions team, and we should always be ready to fight in it. I was not needed, however.

What seemed to me to be the Midrealm's cunning plan worked, and we lost the battle for the first time in 17 years. I've always said that the reason we always win that battle is the guys at the top of our team--Lucan, Brion, Andre, Omega, Gregor, Stephan, Balfar, Russlan, Ron, Douglas Henry, Randal, etc, are just too tough a core. We've always got at least five of those guys out there, and two of them are always the last ones left at the end and win the battle for us.

This year they split the belted champions into three teams of seven: fighters who had been knighted more than 12 years, 7-12 years, and 0-6 years. The first team consisted of Brion, Greggor, Balfar, Lucan, Thorsen, Russlan, and Jan Janovitch. That team cleaned up. Our other two teams had one duke a piece on them, and they both lost. I don't know the number of dukes and counts on each of the Midrealm teams, but concentrating our top guys on one team took away our advantage and they won.

We won the unbelted fight.

We also won heroics 6 bouts to 4, in large part because of our allies.

The best fight of the war was Hanse vs. Branos:

Was billed as the MOAB (Mother of all battles). This involved an portion of the field that was open, a portion that was broken up, and the castle. It was fought in two segments, in the field and then, after a break to reset, in the castle. One side had unlimited resurrections, while the other could resurrect in the break between segments only. There was a siege weapons element as well, as they had to hit a target on the castle three times to breech the walls. The battle was scored on time.  This battle sucked. It would have been better if it had been fought in more segments, like the open part of the field, the broken part, then the castle. Instead, both sides just fell back to defend the outside of the castle, then the inside. The East won with a truly heroic stand by the King's retinue and the unbelted champions in the gate house of the castle, but it did not come off at all like planned. They set up most of that terrain for nothing.

The heat was hardest on my on Monday, when I was fighting in my crusader great helm.

So we had five bridges, and we fought them five times in times ten minute battles, with ten minutes in between. We fought with the Southern Region and had a great assignment--front rank in every battle, meaning we went in, fought, and usually died quickly enough that the heat never became an issue. I got into some good spear duels and killed some guys, and died every time. Because of the beastly heat, I got my conical helm strapped and padded:

Much better.

As I was leaving the field Hanse asked me for some pickups and I borrowed Ron's sword (no thrusting) and shield. I took one of three and they were all great fights. I has down a move that always gets me killed, lifting the bottom of the shield with his own and thrusting.

This was the killer day. Due to storms the day before, they had canceled the woods battle. The alternate battle was a wall battle with three gaps, the center one with block houses set back 30 feet, and each gap with a flag. As I said, they shortened it from 90 minutes to 30 because of the heat. Spectators were collapsing, as well as fighters. I fought spear, but only got into the fray two or three times. I spent most of the battle on the sidelines during the two long medical holds, sitting in the shade and drinking water. I was on my way out with the short polearm when they called it. I did get in two sets of pickups with it--one against a sword and shiled, and I won a few of those, and one against a 7 foot polearm, and I won all of those. Then they closed the battle field.

Friday at Pennsic always seems to make it all worthwhile. THey shortened the field battles from five to three, but they were still awesome. I took the short polearm and wore my crusader helmet and surcotte and had a blast.

I killed lots of people--more than any other day. I also saved our bacon twice in the same battle. Amusingly, somebody posted a picture to Facebook of me wearing that same surcotte in 1992. I don't wear it very often.

Our plan was basically the same in all three battles: attack the center and left, while Black Tallon and the Tuchux held in reserve, and then when they tried to attack our right flank those to units would engage and, and one of them would get a flank. Then they would roll up that side. We were the exposed right flank in all three battles, which is the most dangerous place to be.

In one battle I got to use my ensign skills. As we attacked we were getting separated from the unit on our left and falling a bit behind, with Darkyard right in front of us. I took command and started shifting us left, using my sort polearm to guide/push (gently) our shieldmen into place, the way Alfrik taught me. By the time Darkyard charged we had closed that gap and were able to repell them. After that charge, however, we were in trouble. Our left had collapsed, and our center had pushed forward but was bogged down, and we were now in a classic double envelopment. I saw this and used my polearm to  grab some guys who weren't engaged on our line and pull them to our left flank as it collapsed. We engaged and refused for awhile and the battle fragmented, eventually getting turned around so that I was now facing West instead of East and we were surrounded on all sides. We were backing up and keeping out of range of the unit in front of us. I thought we were gonners, but I checked over my shoulder and saw the Tuchux coming up from behind. They had blown right through their left flank and just as our center was about to collapse, had hit their center from behind. The center disintegrated, they were left standing, and they just came straight through to us. SO I stopped walking backwards, started walking forwards with them, and got in three or foru mor kills as we hit that last unit and mopped up. Hence the short polearm in the open field: it's good in a press, good for breakthroughs, and great in command.

The training for Crown Tourney begins the minute the open field battle at Pennsic ends, so I changed helmet and fought pickups after that. I wanted at least five sets of three each. I got six, including two knights. I fought pretty well.

There are (assuming it is on the normal date) 81 Days until Crown Tourney. My next time in armor will be next Monday at McCarren Park.