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Kingdom's Crusade: an Atlantian Archer's View (LONG)

Poster: Julien de Montfort <julien@spiaggia.org>

Greetings, all.... well, I haven't seen much yet on Crusade this past
weekend, on any of the various lists I'm on, so I thought I'd stir the
pot a bit and see what people thoguht of the event.  So, here's my own
little report on how Crusade went, as seen through the near-sighted
eyes of a meager Atlantian Combat Archer... :-)  Mind you, the
following is of course my own take on what happened, so I can't say
everything below is 100% accurate, and YMMV.

First off, the whole weekend was an absolutely great time!  Special
thanks have to go out to the autocrat and staff, and all the people who
helped and made the event such a wonderful occasion.  The site was the
same as last year's, in Darlington MD, which is a very nice site with
cabins and hot showers and everything.

I'm from the canton of Spiaggia Levantina, of the Barony of the Bright
Hills in the Kingdom of Atlantia.  Many of our members are interested
in combat archery, and last year, we fielded 3 of the 11 Atlantian
archers in Her line.  This year, Atlantia called for no less than 40
archers, and Spiaggia did her best to respond.  On Saturday morning, I
stood with 10 other archers from our canton, helping to swell
Atlantia's archer contingent to something like 35.

Such a large number of archers were impressive to see, and although I
don't know how many were from where, I of course noted Baron Ivan of
Stierbach (who shot with us that day), and I did recognize a large
contingent from Windmaster's Hill who made the long trek up from the
south to assist, and we were pleased to draw strings with them and the

In short, and as best I could tell, Atlantia took the day quite
soundly, although there was no official statement of who won at court
or anything.  I feel the archers definately had a large amount to do
with that victory.  To be honest, near the end of the day, I was
starting to feel sorry for the East Kingdom. :-)

The first few battles were standard field battles.  The archers were
not as effective as I would have liked to have seen in these, despite
the impressive cloud shoot at the begining.

Four problems reared up, as I saw it. First off, as happened last year,
the archers were brutally slaughtered if the East Kingdom could manage
to get a single fighter or two through the line, at which point they
could usually tag a couple of us before they were brought down by
heavies.  The obvious solution to this problem is a small rear guard to
hang back, whose sole job is to defend the archers.  Most of the time,
it wouldn't take very long, and with a heavy fighter guarding two or
three archers (assuming we kept together somewhat) that would be all we
need.  If someone breaks through, one of the rear guard intercepts
them, killing them if possible, or if not, simply defending himself and
keeping the target occupied until the archers split on either side of
him and shoot him full of holes. :-)

The rear guard would not be a glamorous position, I suppose, but it
would be an invaluable one.  In every case where the line began to
break up, the first Easterner through would eliminate several of us.
On several occasions, it appeared (and later discussions with some of
the East later that evening confimed) that several units were assigning
one or two people to act solely as archer-killers, and the unit would
blast the line long enough to get that single individual behind to do
his duty.  It was a very good tactic on the part of the East, and
without a rear guard to defend us, highly successful.

Secondly, there was a question of target recognition.  For whatever
reasons, instead of the red and blue tape that I (perhaps mistakenly)
thought was standard for the East and Atlantia, the East was given blue
tape and the Atlantians were given white tape to discern the two sides.

For us archers, that made things a little more difficult, especially
since about half the Atlantian had blue on their helmets left over from
Pennsics past.  Add to that the fact that several East fighters also
had white tape, stickers or what have you scattered about their helms
from fights past (does anyone ever clean off those after wars?) made
things a little complicated for us when the lines degenerated and
crumbled.  One of the marshals (I believe it was Duke Galmr, but please
don't quote me on that) mentioned that heavies with less visibility in
their helms than us were having no problem recognizing the tape, but
with all due respect to His Grace, they also were usually three to five
feet away from their targets, and not twenty or thirty.

It was also mentioned that, tape or not, we should be able to recognize
notable Atlantian fighters by their heraldry (he gave himself as an
example).  Unfortunately, for many of the archers we don't get the
opportunity to fight as often, and as such don't recognize individuals
as readily as some heavies might.  His Grace's heraldry was a prime
example -- I had never met him before, and wouldn't have been able to
recognize his heraldry from the next guy.

As a related issue, has there ever been a thought to standardizing tape
colors for the various kingdoms?  I look at many helms, and there's
red, blue, green, white, hot pink, and god only knows what other color
stickers on them.  If each kingdom had their own sticker color for
purposes of Wars, it would make it a lot easier.  It wouldn't have to
be a single color (since in order to still be easily recognizable, that
would obviously run out after seven or eight kingdoms) -- a combination
would be great.  For example, the East could use purple and yellow tape
in conjunction, while Atlantia white and blue, etc.  If standardized (a
four inch square, for example, on front and back, much like non-contact
diamonds have been standardized in many kingdoms), then individual
fighters could do the tape themselves.  Just a thought.

Anyway, back to Crusade.  The third problem we encountered was that of
limited firing space.  Several errant shots went off into the crowd
around the field. Part of this rests on the fact that there were a
half-dozen new archers on the line that, obviously, didn't have quite
as much shot control as the more experienced archers, but for my money,
the problems was a result of a number of different factors.  First off,
while fine for field combat, the site is long and narrow, and not as
well suited to handling the fire of three dozen archers or more.
That's simply a restriction of the topography, and to be fair to the
archers, there were several local holds called to corral the heavy
fighters back towards the center of the field when they started to
wander out into the spectators.

There was virtually no buffer zone around the fighting field, however,
and in fact the merchants were all clustered around the Eastern end of
the field -- the fighting area theoretically stopped where the
merchandise began (although to be fair, the ressurection points were
set up reasonably ahead of the merchant area).  Next year, I would
humbly suggest moving the merhcnats to a different area -- the wide
swatch at the Atlantian end of the field, off to the side, strikes me
as a great spot to put them.

But for the most part, these were generally small problems.  The last
problem, like many of the others, were a matter of simply not having
etensive experience with such a large numbers of archers.  5 minutes
between battles is perfectly fine for your average fighter, but for the
archers, it was a nightmare.  Since our arrows were all wood or
fiberglass shafts, they had to be rechecked by a warranted archery
marshal between battles before they could be used again.  For a handful
of arrows, this is no problem.  But when you end up with several
hundred arrows shot per battle, you can see how it takes a lot longer
to check those and get the archers back in time for the next fight.

In response to that, I would like to suggest an Archery Point set up
somewhere midfield next year.  This location would be where all arrows
after the battle would be brought, and dropped off to be reinspected
before the next fight.  Having it staffed by at least two (ideally
three or more) archery marshals would allow them to start reinspecting
them as soon as they were dropped off, and also give them a head start
when arrows are brought in during holds.  Lastly, it would allow a
single centralized location where archers of both sides could head to
collect their ammunition, and make it easier to recover them.

While I'm thinking of it, I'd like to thank all the folks who assisted
in recovering arrows during the holds that were called -- many of them
were waterbearers, doing blessed double duty, but not all, and their
assistance greatly helped us get ready in time for the next battle.

But again, these were all relatively minor things.  Overall, the
battles were fun, exciting and an absolute blast.  There was much
better shot recognition this year than last, with more East Kingdom
fighters attuned to having archers on the field.  Last year, many
fighters simply shrugged off arrow hits, even if it was blatant that
they got hit (such as the face grill) but there was a markedly better
awareness of the shots this year, and I salute the East Kingdom for
being so careful about it this year.  Also absent this year was the
deliberate breaking of arrows, which was a small, but highly noticable
problem last year.

After the field battles, there were a series of bridge battles.  There
was some confusion initially among the archers, as I understand
Windmasters declined to shoot in the bridge battles for their own
concerns, and their request was taken as indicative of all the archers.
We Spiaggians did so want to arch in that battle, however, and so with
Their Majesty's gracious permission, we split up into two groups and
went off to asisst both sides.

I had the honor of fighting for the East in that battle, and I had
great fun.  I was very proud of how well the archers cooperated on
their respective sides; I lost my bow early on, and so after discarding
it safely off-field, I acted as a mobile quiver for those on my side
that were running out of arrows.  When Giovanni lost his arm, he handed
me his bow, and I went back to shooting as he took over the quiver
position.  I remember looking over at one point in time and seeing
Mieszko assisting an East crossbowman in cocking his crossbow, as both
of them had lost an arm themselves, and they could complete the job by
cooperating.  And of course, I have to commend the noble East fighter
(whose name I unfortunately did not get) who asked me if I could use a
shieldman, and dutifully stuck with me, protecting me from incoming
fire as I went about my own arching despite the fact that he could have
just as easily waded into the fray with his colleagues.

The last fights of the day were a pair of ressurection battles, each 15
minutes in length.  These two were the most brutal, and with the
assistance of the archers, the Atlantian line pushed the East back
literally to their ressurection point, and held them there.  The only
ground they got was what we allowed them, and we got the call several
times to fall back ten or twenty feet so as to actually make the
Easteners have to physically walk back to their point as opposed to
simply turning around when killed and then turning back.  I started to
get sympathetic to the East during these, and lightened up on my shots,
instead looking for the more difficult shots as opposed to the
plentiful easy ones.

This was the only time I noticed any deliberate unchivalrous activity,
and that was on the part of one of what I can only assume to be a
member of the 'old guard' East chivalry, who would loudly yell
"Coward!" or other such statements whenever an archer tagged him.
Unlike some of the the other comments we heard, which we mostly in good
humor, his was caustic and rude.  Needless to say, that just made him
Target Prime for many of us near him, and he spent a good portion of
those battles getting pegged left and right. :-)  But, I am happy to
say, he was decidedly the exception, and just proved to be the bad
apple that makes the remainder look that much better.  All in all, the
East seemed to be exasperated with us archers again, but appreciative
of our abilities and generally respectful and friendly.

I look forward to next year's Crusade with relish -- we still haven't
come down off the adrenalin high of the weekend.  I also look forward,
and with great hope, to seeing more combat archery amongst the East
line next year.  We saw one archer and two crossbowmen in the ranks of
the East this year, and I salute them for making the effort that they
did so dutifully.  They kept us on our toes a little more than we would
have thought to be worried about this year, and I hope to see many more
next year as noble and worthy opponents.

To both the Atlantian and Eastern fighters, heavy and archer alike, I
give a hearty Vivat! and hope to see you all there again next year.

Speaking as a Spiaggian, we're thinking about bringing multiple seige
weapons to keep the balance of power tilted... :-D

In respectful service,
Seigneur Julien de Montfort

Seigneur Julien de Montfort                  De sable, seme d'hermines
"Solum Dice Nullus Sunt Suficio"             d'or, tres amphorae et un
Seneschal, Web Minister, Herald@large            caid palissade argent
Canton de Spiaggia Levantina                   http://www.spiaggia.org
Bright Hills, Atlantia                             julien@spiaggia.org
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