Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Dark Day for Men

Mark came over for one of our ongoing Thursday games. This week it was Games Workshop's War of the Ring games, which I've posted about before. It's a mass combat game set in Tolkien's Middle Earth. Mark is great. He brings over all the figures, the terrain and the nice table covering. He also takes some great pictures to record the game. The miniatures we use are not the 28 mm ones from GW, but a larger scale that was put out in a collect able format. Apparently they are becoming increasingly rare and hard to get a hold of. Mark does a lot of conversion work on them to make different poses and looks from the originals. They look great. I have a pile of the 28 mm but they have to watch from the display case until Dave can bring over his gigantic horde of guys.

This week it was a mixed force of Evil, mostly from the Fallen Realms list with some Uruk-hai thrown in for good measure vs. Gondorians and Rangers. My force consisted of three companies of Easterlings with pikes (24 figs), three companies of Uruk-hai (24 figs), 2 companies of Haradrim archers (16 figs), 3 companies of Haradrim cavalry (6 figs), and a Troll. I also had a Haradrim captain and an Uruk-hai captain.

Mark had three two company formations of Warriors of Minas Tirith (16 figures each), two companies of Minas Tirith archers (16 figs), two companies or Rangers (16 figs), 4 companies of Knights of Minas Tirith (8 figs), and a bolt thrower. He also had Faramir and a Minas Tirith captain.

We set our forces on the long edge of my 6 foot dining room table. The table is only 2 1/2 feet wide which means we were going to be engaging each other tout suite. I set my Easterlings on the right flank, with the Uruk-hai taking the centre with my cavalry in between them. On the left were the Haradrim archers and the Troll.

Mark divided his cavalry between the two flanks, with two companies each. Farimir was with the left cav formation. On the left flank were the Rangers, with the centre having the three formations of Warriors and the bolt thrower. The far right flank was held by the two companies of archers.

The terrain conisted of two clumps of woods at either end of the battle field and some difficult terrain scattered across the centre.

Mark won the first turns initiative and asked me to move first. I had placed my captain with the archers. This allowed them to move "At the Double", which they were able to do, moving 12" instead of 6". All of the other formations trundled forward at their regular move with the Haradrim cav leading the way. Mark moved his Rangers forward, occupying the woods on his left flank. This increased the defence of his low D Rangers. Rangers and woods, two great things that go great together, well, most of the time. The rest of his units moved up, with his cav flanking. The next phase was shooting. My Haradrim captain called a Heroic Shoot. Normally archers that have moved full cannot shoot, but the Heroic Shoot overrides this. This gave me 18 shots at the Rangers, plus another 9 shots from the cav. Despite the defensive bonus given by the woods almost a full company of Rangers were cut down, some by poisoned arrows.

Mark returned fire with his archers and bolt thrower. The bolt thrower missed, and the archers did minimal casulaties. Nobody was in charge range so there was no fight phase.

I won initiative on the second turn and advanced my cav towards one of his warrior formations. My archers moved up slightly so they could still shoot, and everybody else advanced. In the shoot phase my archers finished off the Rangers in the woods, Mark's bolt thrower missed again and I don't think I took any other hits from his archers. My cav was planning on charging the infantry in front of them but Mark called a Heroic Charge, interrupting their attempt to charge by charging them with Faramir and his two companies of Knights. I was in turn able to charge the Knights with my Troll. The knights wiped out the Haradrim cav with Faramir using Epic Strike, and were then wailed on by the Troll, who scored 9 hits. This would normally take out the whole formation. Faramir used his Epic Sacrifice ability negating 6 of the hits but going down in the process. One Knight went down with him. His other unit of Knights had gotten within charge range of my Easterling unit and hit them in the flank, taking out a company, losing a couple of Knights in the process. Those Easterlings are tough dudes.

The next turn I won initiative and moved my Easterlings and Haradrim archers into the woods that were near them. This made them considerably less tempting targets for charges. My Uruk-hai moved up the centre putting themselves into a rather vulnerable position. Mark moved his one unit of Knights so they could charge the Uruks in the rear and after the Uruks charged a unit of warriors in the centre they were charged by another unit of warriors in their flank. Not good. My archers in the woods managed to get out and charge a unit of infantry. The Minas Tirith Captain called out the Uruk-hai captain in a Heroic Duel, but was defeated, leaving the Men leaderless. The Troll was in the thick of it as well. After being whittled down by a company of Minas Tirith archers my Easterling phalanx charged out of the woods to come to grips with the archers harassing them. The resulting fight phase saw casualties to the Uruk-hai, about 12 of them going down. I was expecting worse. The flanking formation of Haradrim and the Troll did there jobs, reducing the companies of Men considerably. The Easterlings managed to get there licks in on the archers, eventually destroying the formation after a couple of turns of combat, but being reduced to a single company.

The subsequent turns were a swirl of battle in the centre of the board. Mark's bolt thrower crew finally got their range and the Haradrim archers paid the price, going down in two turns. The troll laid about him with abandon and did some pretty serious damage. He managed to stay alive despite a couple of turns of fire from the bolt thrower, receiving two wounds but not going down. The remaining Easterlings moved across the board to get into the fray in the centre. I had bad luck on initiative over the last few turns but I was able to make some good moves, most importantly having the troll resist going after a unit that was disordered and instead charging another unit in the rear. The Troll was probably my most effective unit and after the bolt thrower failed to kill it, Mark conceded the game.

At the end of the game Mark had two companies of Men left, one of which was surrounded by my remaining Uruk-Hai, Easterlings, and the Troll and the bolt thrower. My troll was wounded and I had about a company and a half of Uruks and the one company of Easterlings. It could have gone either way and the victory was definitely Phyrric.

It was a great game and we got to use a lot of different rules and was probably one of the best tactical games I've played in some time. It was probably our smoothest game to date without a lot of rules discussion. Even when things were going bad the game was so much fun it didn't really matter. As I noted above, Mark took lots of pictures and I've posted the ones he sent me. Again, thank you to Mark for taking the time to come over, bring his stuff and giving me my gaming fix.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Weekend in the Big Smoke

Last weekend the family and I travelled to the city of Toronto for the weekend. The main reason we went was take care of Matthew's big birthday present from us. Eve works really hard for Greyhound and her boss had given her a pick of the Leafs seasons tickets a couple of months ago. We'd chosen the Saturday, Novemeber 21st game against the Washington Capitols. This was cool, because Matthew like Alexander Ovechkin. It was really hard to keep it a secret but we finally got to annouce it at Matthew's birthday party. We decided to make a weekend of it, with Eve booking a room for us at the Hilton Garden Inn on Peter Street, which has a special rate for Greyhound employees.

Early Saturday afternoon we drove over the the Greyhound terminal in Guelph and caught the bus into Toronto, disembarking at the Bay Street terminal. Elizabeth was really good on the trip, facisnated by being so high up and seeing all the traffic around us. She's ridden the bus before but this time seemed to be special for her. We caught the TTC from St. Patrick Station down to St. Andrew Station and walked a couple of blocks to the hotel.

The room we got at the Hilton was very nice, with two queen beds and later a crib for Elizabeth. It had a nice flat screen tv, a decent shower, and comfy matresses that were adjustable. After we got settled in we headed out for an early supper. Our originalintent had been to go to a restarunt called the Thai Princess, just down from the hotel. It didn't open until 5 pm so we wandered down King until we saw a Greek place called Penelope that was just opening. It was big place and being early made seating easy. We ordered saganaki as an appetizer. Saganaki is cheese that has been soaked in ouzo and is then lit on fire at your table. Opa! It is very yummy. Eve ordered calamari, Matthew had chicken souvlaki, and I had pork tenderloin done souvlaki style. We brought food for Elizabeth though she did try some potatoe. All the food was very good and the waitress was very nice in a motherly sort of way. For dessert I had a raspberry souffle with a chocolate centre which was good. Eve had something with pastry and custard which she shared with E. and Matthew had ice cream. After supper we walked back to the hotel and then Eve and Elizabeth went back up to the room. Matthew and I caught the street car to St. Andrew and the the subway to Union and we walked the rest of the way to the ACC.

We were there over an hour early but Matthew was quite excited so we went up to our seats. They were very nice, in the lower bowl of the arena overlooking the vistor's starting net. There was a handful of people in our section. We were approached by a waitress who had a tablet that she could punch in orders and have them delivered to our seats. She chated with Matthew and she could tell how excited he was. She was also one of the tallest women I've ever seen, easily 6' 5". She was standing one set of seats down and she towered over Matthew. We disn't want anything right away but later ordered a big bag of popcorn and some drinks. At one point the usher by our entrance handed the waitress a hockey puck which she brought up to Matthew. He was totally thrilled. It was an official Leafs puck with the NHL logo on one side and the Leafs logo on the other. Matthew clutched the puck for the whole game.

There were several pre-game events, including a Homecoming for several ex-Leaf players, including one guy who had played in the 1940's. The game itself started at 7:30 and was pretty fast paced but low scoring. The Caps struck first, with Ovechkin scoring part way through the first. The crowd was quite loud, with Matthew adding considerably to the volume of noise. He really gets into the game, yelling at the refs and the players and making extra noise when the Jumbotron called for it. I think he was going a bit hoarse towards the end. We munched through our popcorn and drank our drinks and had a very good time. During the first intermission there were a bunch of Timbits Hockey kids having fun on the ice, chasing the puck around and falling down a lot. IIRC the Leafs tied it up in the second, on a goal that bounced off Hagman's butt. The second intermission featured a race between a bunch of psychotic goalies. There was no scoring in the third and the game seemed relatively clean without too many penalties. At one point an entire row of seats up in the nosebleeds won flat screen TV's from LG, who was a sponser for that game.

The game went to overtime which resolved nothing so that was followed by a shoot out. Toskala, the Leafs goalie did a great job over the night and her really shone in the shoot out, including a great stop on Ovechkin, forcing him to shoot early. After all was said and done, the Leafs had won! I was glad because Matthew would have been heartbroken if they had of lost. We made our way back to Union via the PATH system and went back up to St. Andrew Station. We waited for a streetcar but then decided to walk the rest of the way back. Matthew was very happy, telling anyone who would listen about the game. We got back to the hotel around 10:30 and went up to the room. Elizabeth had fallen asleep and Eve was quitely watching TV when we got in. We stayed up a bit, telling her about the game and then hit the sack after putting Elizabeth in the rather nice crib provided. Unfortunately the Hotel was situated next to a rather noisy dance club playing a lot of very loud disco tunes. It made it hard to fall asleep and at one point Elizabeth woke up crying. I calmed her down and she went back to sleep but it wasn't easy. I'm not sure when they shut down because I eventually managed to sleep.

We actually managed to sleep in until about 9:00 am. We cleaned up and packed up intending to go out for some breakfast. Checkout wasn't until noon, but we left at around 11 am. We walked down to Queen Street looking for a breakfast place. After a few minutes walk we came across a place called Cafe Crepe. We got in fairly quickly despite the crowd and I had a lovely breakfast crepe with ham, swiss cheese, and mushrooms. Eve had a crepe with Nutella and fresh strawberries. Matthew's crepe had nutella and maple syrup. They were all very yummy.

After breakfast Matthew and I went back to the Bay terminal and dropped off our luggage in a locker. Eve and Elizabeth went off to find some art supplies,picking up some new nibs and brushes at an ancient art store call Guartzman's. We met up at one of the coolest stores in Toronto, The Silver Snail. The Silver Snail is a comic shop and action figure store and games store and so on. We wandered around for awhile looking at all the neat stuff. Eve bought a neat patch from Firefly with the nose art of the Serenity on it and Matthew picked up a pack of Heroscape figures. We then wandered through west on Queen St., checking out all the cool store fronts. Our destination was a new burger joint called Oh Boy! Burger. It was brand new and had gotten a positive review in The Star. It was really busy. There wasn't a huge amount of seating but Eve decided we should perserver and got in line while I hovered near a table that looked close to being done. In the end it worked out and I managed to get the table and the food came shortly afterward. While we were waiting the owner had to shut the doors as the place had hit capacity. They were also running low or out of a lot of things. The burger was well worth the wait, very savoury and made from high quality beef that came from near Guelph. We then headed back to the bus terminal, intending to catch the 4:30 pm, but catching the 3:30 in the nick of time. We had another nice trip back and got home and took it easy for the evening.

It was a wonderful weekend and Eve did a really great job of organizing everything for the trip. Nothing went majorly wrong and the Leafs managed to win one in an otherwise dismal season.

I think that's all for now. I'll write again when something interesting happens.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Death in the Apennines

Mark came over Thursday for another in our ongoing games of Axis and Allies. Lots of little tanks and men and just a bit of carnage. This time it was Germans vs. Italians. The scenario was set after the overthrow of Mussolini. The Germans had to neutralize the Italian Army, which had suddenly become a potentially hostile force. The Italians, despite a largely undeserved bad reputation, were brave fighters with some half decent equipment, though not a match for the latest German tech.

The scenario was a meeting engagement, fought over some slightly hilly country as was standard for most of Italy. The Germans had three Panzer IVH, including a command tank; 3 halftracks carrying 6 squads of troops including, IIRC, a couple of squads of fallschirmjäger (elite paratroopers), and a halftrack mounting a quad AA mount. The Italians had five tanks (3 Carro Armato M 14/41 and two M13/40) plus three self propelled guns, including a Semovente 90/53 and two Semovente 47/32 and some trucks carrying 6 squads of infantry including one of elite Blackshirts. The Italians also had some air support in the form of a fighter that could strafe ground targets.

I played the Germans in the first game. Things started out fairly well as I quickly rolled forward, though perhaps too quickly, negating the range advantage of the long 75mm guns. I managed to damage a couple of tanks and the 90/53 but failed to kill them. Mark did manage to get some air support which disrupted a halftrack. Not killing those units would come back to haunt me. I had sent two tanks down the left flank with the other tank and the half tracks down the right and the AA unit roughly in the middle. Mark advanced, ignoring some firing opportunities to bring his units into range. By separating the one tank I lost some of the tactical advantages of having a leader.

In the second turn he also got air support, but my AA unit managed to blast it out of the sky this time. Mark focused his fire on the German command tank, damaging it. He also managed to disrupt the other tanks which allowed him to get into flanking positions. His superior numbers came in quite handy and I was faced with a tank swarm and not enough guns to take them out. By getting into flanking positions he was able to take out the remaining German tanks which basically sealed my fate. I did take out some of the Italian SPG but it was too little too late.

We switched sides and played a second game. I concentrated my SPG and a couple of lighter tanks on right flank, and sent the others 3 up the left in a long flank. It was not a good day for the Italians. Where in my game the Germans managed to only disrupt or damage the Italian vehicles, Mark managed some solid kills over the game, including the big SPG. He did some very clever maneuvering and managed to pick off my tanks one at a time, including two by infantry close assault. My infantry didn't fair much better, deploying in ground that was too open and getting shot up. It was not well played by me and by trying to take the long flank my forces were far too dispersed. If my SPG's had of lasted longer things might have gone better.
I wonder how adaptle the A&A ruleset would be to using 1/285 scale mini's which I have a pile of, unfortunately mostly unpainted. It's certainly something to look into and might inspire me to get some of it painted.
Next time we play, it will probably be a War of the Ring game as he has a new unit of Easterlings he wants to see in action.

I've included a couple of pictures, one from each game IIRC.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Matthew's Birthday Party

Our son Matthew's birthday is the 12th of November. My wife actually went into labour just as Remembrance Day ceremonies were finishing up, which we were thankfully watching on the CBC.

This year the 12th fell on a Thursday which not the best day for a party, so we planned to have it on the following Sunday. We opened a box of presents from my mom on Thursday which included two neat toys from Megablocks, some good clothes, and a flying helicopter thing from Wowee. We took Matthew out for supper at the Stone Road Mall and he spent his birthday money (a $30 gift card for Sears plus $25 from his grandmother Harris). He used it to by a bunch of Lego Star Wars stuff, including Echo Base on Hoth and a couple of small Clone Trooper Walkers.
The SCA event and guests plus the Birthday made for a rather gruelling weekend. Eve's work on the scrolls on Thursday and Friday added to her level of exhaustion. I forgot to add in my previous blog that much of her layout work done on Thursday night was ruined when the cat knocked a cup of water onto the scrolls Friday evening, so she had to start from scratch.

Our guests departed at around 10:30 am Sunday morning. Eve went out to get our groceries and I started some mad, panicked cleaning. I had a heap of dishes to do and a bunch of general tiding up. I didn't know if any of the parents of the kids were staying and I wanted the place to look a bit more respectable. Matthew had invited 5 friends, four from school and a former neighbour of ours, Milan, who had moved to Kitchener. We sent out the invitations about two weeks before the party and Milan's mom got back to us right away saying he would be there. Two other parents got back to us the Friday before the party saying their kids would be there. We don't have a huge place so three kids plus Matthew is actually pretty reasonable.

The party was planned to run from 2 pm until 5 pm. Eve got back from groceries about 1:15 and then started to work on the cake. Matthew wanted a cake that looked like the NX-01 Enterprise from the recent series. Eve accomplished this in spades by carefully cutting cake pieces and assembling them (see pictures). It was then covered in blue icing and sprinkled with moons and stars.
For some reason Milan didn't come and we're still not sure why. I tried his mom's cell phone and home number but I didn't get any answer. (Update: It turns out Milan's uncle was taken ill and had to go into Emergency in Kitchener which is why Milan couldn't come. Milian's mom will drop off Matthew's present some time next week.) Anyways, two of his friends from school did come, Austyn and Nick. They had a lot of fun messing around with Matthew's toys and playing some games on our X-Box 360. We had lots of snacks and Kool-Aid Jammers and we also served pizza and cake. Matthew got a cool Hotwheels set with a car that changes colour depending on what temp water you put it into and a $25 gift card for Wal-Mart.
We also announced his big present. Eve managed to get two of the Greyhound season tickets to the Maple Leafs, so next Saturday Matthew and I will be watching the Leafs vs Caps from really nice seats. We're planning on taking the bus in Saturday morning as a family and staying at a hotel that has a company rate. We'll have an early dinner as a family then Matthew and I will head off to the game. We'll stay over and head back on Sunday. It should be fun and it would be nice if the Leafs could win for a change.
I think that's all for now. I may post something on our trip next week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kingdom A&S

This Saturday was the Kingdom of Ealdormere's Arts & Sciences Fair, held in New Hamburg Ontario, just outside Kitchener. We brought two students from U of G with us, a fellow fencer named Isaac Spinoza and one of the new kids, Eric. As usual we supplied him with garb for the day and he was very helpful and I think he had fun at the event. Baron Giovanni and Baroness Lucia of Skraeling Althing (Ottawa and area) along with their daughter were crashing with us. Lord Neyhart from Kingston was also staying with us.

The A&S Fair is where this year's annual A&S competition was held. It's an opportunity for people to show off the projects they've been working on over the last year or more and get feedback on them from others who might have knowledge to share. It is also the place where the A&S Pentathalon takes place. Pent is a judged competition where those wishing to compete enter five items covering at least three of the A&S categories. These items are judged by previous Pent winners and by the Queen of Ealdormere. The winner of Pent becomes the A&S Champion for the next year. People's entries can be Beginner Level, Intermediate Level or Advanced Level. My wife was a Pent winner several years ago, basing her entries around the Venetian ritual marriage with the sea. She entered a hand sewn Venetian over and under dress (in silk) based on a Durer sketch from 1495; a translation of a 16th c. Italian wedding banquet description, a pair of cork chopines (think monster platform shoes), a piece of tromp d'oeil illumination based on Venetian styles, and several cooked dishes from the feast. She put an incredible amount of effort into it and I remember many late nights leading up to A&S. The Pent entries later became the basis of an issue of the Complete Anachronist, an SCA wide publication.

This years entries were laid on tables arranged like booths at a fair. There certainly seemed to be a diversity of entries, though I was a bit too busy to get a good look at them, more on which later. There were six entries this year into Pent and Asa/Eve was there to do the pent judging aw well as go over the other entries. I had considered entering Pent this year but then something came up which caused me to postpone it to next year.

The reason I did not enter Pent this year is that the venue was chosen by the Preceptor of the Ealdormere Academy of Defence (EAOD) as a place for a number of Free Scholars to fight their Prize to advance to the next level, Provost. The EAOD is an organization within Ealdormere, basically a ranking system based on the London Masters of Defence of the 16th c. The ranks are Cadet, Scholar, Free Scholar, Provost and Dean. In order to enter the Academy or advance in rank, you must play a Prize. For Cadet you must fight 10 bouts against those of higher rank, winning at least 1/3rd of them and then fence 15 minutes against all comers. Each subsequent rank adds 10 more bouts. Free Scholar, Provost and Dean also have academic requirements involving research on things related to period swordplay or the culture of the time.
Each rank also had a coloured scarf associated with it. The head of the Academy is called the Preceptor, and the person in charge of vetting research projects is called the Proctor, who is currently me.

So, for my Provost prize I needed to fence 40 bouts, and then do the 15 minutes against all comers. Quite the test of endurance. In needed to win 14 bouts.

I have been a Free Scholar for at least 10 years, because there was only one person at the rank of Provost and he wasn't particularly active. Several other people were in the same boat as me. I had submitted my research project so long ago that I couldn't remember which of the many research projects I had done it was. Lady Jocelyne, the current Preceptor, decided to do something about this backlog and thus the Prize fights at A&S. There would be three Provost Prizors, who would fence each other, and to make things interesting, an outside fencer of excellent skill and repute would be asked to join in the fun. In this case it was the esteemed Don Giovanni di Fiamma from Trimaris (Florida). The Prizors were to be myself, THL Gaerth Cambell, THL Wilhelm Potruff, and, just to make things confusing, Baron Giovanni d'Enzias of Skraeling Althing. Don Giovanni also taught a very nice class on German longsword in the morning. Wilhelm unfortunately had to bow out due to illness in his family. His place was taken by Baron Hoskuld, who was quite agreeable to everyone involved. Together my opponents represented some of the best fencers in Ealdormere and in one case, one of the best in the Known World. Quite the challenge.

Before the Prize fights started I was approached by the Baron and Baroness of Ramshaven, who asked me if I would assume the duties of their Rapier Champion, as the current person could no longer fulfill their duties. I was most honoured and accepted the cloak and the buckler of office. Things would be made formal at Court that evening.

I had a quick lunch of a very tasty cheese and mushroom pie followed by a dessert that was evil incarnate. It consisted of a meringue shell, into which was poured a dollop of custard, some fresh whipped cream, cherry compote and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Evil I tell you, but tasty evil. The lunch counter actually ran all day and had a diversity of foods including miso soup an tempura.

Jocelyn had arranged that we be heralded into the list area, our accolades read out for all to hear. I had brought a banner, which I forgot to pull out, and some chocolate coins which were to be thrown to the crowd but when the time came I completely forgot about doing it. Maybe next time.

We each had to fence 10 bouts against our opponents, using each authorization (single rapier, non-rigid parry, rigid parry, dagger and case), twice. I fought some really wonderful bouts and had a tonne of fun. I started out of the gate fast, possibly too fast, and kept going almost without break. A nice Lady named Elanor was keeping score for me so I knew who I had to fight with what form and my wins and losses. In retrospect I should have checked with her earlier what my win/loss totals were, because I found towards the end I had only 11 wins with 6 bouts remaining. I'd have to win half of those bouts to complete my Prize and, alas, it was not to be. Perhaps if I had of checked earlier I would have played my last dozen or so bouts a bit more conservatively, but I was having a blast and was going at things even more aggressively than normal. I only got one more win, leaving me two short. My fellow Prizors did manage to make their totals. Wassail to THL Gareth and Baron Giovanni, newest Provosts of the EAOD!

I was disappointed in my showing, but I have no one to blame for that other than myself. I had promised, win or lose, to do the 15 minutes against all comers, a promise which I fulfilled. With the pressure off I think I gave better than I got during the endurance round. I even got in some cut & thrust bouts with Lord Mateo. Gaerth, who is a former student of mine, had some very kind words for me, and people were generally sympathetic. I believe I have the distinction of being the first person not to achieve their Prize the first attempt, though I'm not absolutely sure of that. The Prizes are designed to be a challenge, and at least I've proven that they are not a given. The two new Provost were presented their new scarves (green with blue trim) by His Majesty on the list field. I asked those assembled if they would join me at War of the Trilliums where I would attempt my Provost Prize again, and there was general agreement that this could be done. I've since been contacted by THL Wilhelm who said that he and Lord Lars would be looking at doing their Prize sometime in the spring. Lady Jocelyn will have my Prize published in The Tidings as is required by the EAOD charter. Lady Jocelyn did a great job of getting everything organized and has breathed life into what was a moribund organization. It was nice to see Their Majesties supporting us as well.

One result of the prize fight is that my legs are killing me, and I'm discovering lots of interesting point bruises, including a welt on my right bicep. Walking up stairs is no fun at all, but hopefully I'll recover quickly, at least by the time I fight my next Prize. Eric managed to get some good shots of the fencing including some video. Hopefully I can pick it up from him on Tuesday.

While I was off fencing my brains out Asa was kid wrangling and judging A&S entries. I finished up just in time for here to judge pent, so I chased Elizabeth around, which allowed to keep my legs warm. I was afraid if I sat down they would seize up on me all together. Matthew was having fun playing soccer indoors and running around the arena bleachers with his friends. I did have to make an emergency run to Sobeys to get diapers as we were nearly out but it was made easier by Gareth who gave me a ride. I also talked Eric's ear off, explaining the rank structure of the SCA and how awards worked and various other stories.

After the conclusion of the Pent judging, which took about an hour and a half, court was held. I was called up during Baronial court to accept the cloak and buckler from THL Vlad. I spent the rest of court behind Their Excellencies thrones. It was important we be there for another reason. Asa had spent the previous two night working until the wee hours to complete two scrolls for a couple who were receiving their Award of Orion. She produced two lovely scrolls based of two halves of a gold annular broach. She always does such a nice job of personalizing the language of an award scroll and the gold work was beautiful. The recipients seemed very happy with them. Also, Mistress Keja was put on vigil for the Order of the Laurel. The winner of Pentathalon was Lady Alais de Poitiers fron Skrael.

After court we packed up and headed home. Giovanni and Lucia were going to stay awhile longer, so we decided to grab something to eat when we got back into Guelph. We made the mistake of going to the Casey's near the University. It took far to long and when we got back to our building we were mortified to find our guests waiting for us in the lobby. Next time we'll try to coordinate things better and exchange cell numbers.

The next day was Matthew's birthday party, though his birthday had actually been on the 12th. I'll write about that anon, as it is late I must be to bed.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Crown Tournament

Saturday was Crown Tourney for the Kingdom of Ealdormere, the Society for Creative Anachronisim kingdom that covers a big chunk of Ontario. For those who are unfamiliar with how the SCA choses it's royalty, every six months an invitation only armoured combat tourney is held. Those invited are those who have expressed interest in fighting for the Crown and are usually some of the best fighters in Ealdormere. The centrepiece event of the Crown Tourney event is the tourney itself. Combatant's make an extra effort to spiff up their armour and the fighting is some the best you'll see on an SCA list.

We don't often attend Crown because, well, other than the Crown, there isn't much else happening. In order to keep the event focused, there usually aren't any other martial activities at the event. This time there were a some of items of business that needed to be taken care of and Crown was the event were this could be done. By the current rapier rules, as Kingdom Rapier Marshal, I'm required to teach the Rapier Marshal's Course at Crown, though I'm happy to teach it at other events. Also, I had some painted miniatures I needed to deliver to my friend Dave, an Eagle and Burhurdir the Hill Troll from GW's Lord of the Rings Line. The troll turned out really nicely and I was also quite happy with the Eagle. Eve also had done a scroll for a friend of ours, Mistress Nicolaa de Bracton, who was receiving her Award of the Scarlet Banner for her skill and service in archery. Eve was up until almost 5 am the previous night finishing the scroll. It was illuminated in a 13th c. style with Gothic calligraphy and it turned out very nicely. Finally, we were meeting with Kingdom and Baronial officials about the future of our local group, the Canton of Der Welfengau (DW).

Asa, I and a couple of others have been working to get the Canton more active, including recruiting at the U of G Club Days, holding regular meetings, hosting A&S Sundays, teaching classes etc. Our group seneschal (president) has not been active in these efforts, as her work duties often conflicted with meetings, but she did the important paperwork like file reports. Asa had agreed to be Exchequer (treasurer) and I had agreed to be Pursuivant, the person in charge of heraldic submissions from group members.

We headed out Saturday morning around 9 am and drove over to the University to pick up Harrison, one of the U of G students who has been attending meetings on campus. The event itself was in Oshawa, at a Polish banquet hall with some very nice grounds. It had rained in the morning but it had stopped early and the rest of the day was overcast and a bit nippy. We were all wearing wool so when we ventured outside at the event we were ok. Google said the event was a 1 hour 50 minute drive and we made it in an hour and 45 minutes as the traffic across the city was quite light. When we got there we signed in at troll, I delivered the mini's to Gunthar, Eve delivered the scroll to the Lady Rusalka and we went into the hall and claimed a table. The event was reasonably well attended but there was lots of room so it wasn't crowded. Eve and I spent a lot of the morning switching off chasing Elizabeth around. The tourney was being held outside the main hall in an open area that a nifty building overlooking it where the thrones were set up. Despite the chill there were a lot of people out watching the combatants and their consorts process onto the list. There were about 12 fighters in this years Crown list. I didn't watch much of the fighting myself but I heard it was a well fought, clean tourney. Matthew found some kids to play with and spent the day running around with them. Elizabeth was as cute as always and loved to run around in the hall and up onto the stage.

Eve was dressed in her Norse finery as was Elizabeth. Matthew was wearing a brown wool tunic and I was wearing my Elizabethan green wool doublet and slops with my nice black hat and a ruff. I also had a black velvet cloak with gold embroidery. The wool and cloak came in handy when we went outside. Harrison had a black wool tunic and my brown wool Norse coat which kept him warm.

Before the tourney finals, Eve met with the Kingdom Seneschal, the Kingdom Exchequer and several other officers about the future of our Canton. I was watching Elizabeth so I didn't attend. Eve laid out what we had been doing to revive the Canton and those attending were quite impressed. We had sufficient numbers and officers to keep the Canton going. At that point the Canton Seneschal announced she was resigning effective immediately which rather put a cramp in our plans as we cannot function without a seneschal. We've been given until Kingdom A&S in two weeks to sort things out. Hopefully we can find a seneschal and keep things going. We've worked pretty hard to get things going and the meeting ended on a real down note.

I did get to see the finals of the Crown Tourney, which featured The Honourable Lord Quilliam vs. Sir Wat of Sarum. The final was fought as a best of three rounds with three fights in each round, with Quilliam winning the first round, Sir Wat the second and Quilliam the third. Quilliam was now the Heir to the Throne of Ealdormere along with his Consort, Baroness Dagmar. In 6 months time he will be crowned King of Ealdormere, possibly our youngest King ever.

After the tournament ended we decided to head out early so we could get Matthew home in time to do some trick or treating. They had some stuff set up for the kids at the event but we had no idea when that was going to start. We'd brought all the bits of Matthew's costume just in case, and he wore them during the later part of the afternoon. He was Anakin Skywalker from the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series. Eve had made the costume herself by hand. The brown wool tunic, which she had made for him for the Althing event, turned out to be perfect as the undertunic for the costume. She made a sleeveless dark grey surcoat and a padded piece of scapular armour with shoulder pads to go over the tunic. He also borrowed a pair of my padded fencing gauntlets and had a belt and pouch to complete the outfit. We bought an Anakin light sabre at Zellers which he wielded with considerable zeal.

Because we headed out early we skipped feast and second court which meant that Eve didn't get to see her scroll handed out. We heard that it was well received though, and they had to scramble a bit to find someone to read it as it was in French and the recipient was also court herald.

We stopped off at Wimpy's in Ajax and had a nice supper. The waitresses were dressed up as salt and pepper shakers and enjoyed seeing us in our SCA garb. After another uneventful drive and dropping off Harrison we got home in time to take Matthew out trick or treating. Eve was exhausted and stayed home with Elizabeth while Matthew and I went out. The lightsabre was a handy source of illumination on our travels. There wasn't a huge number of people out but lots of houses were giving out stuff. We did a local cul-de-sac and a couple of streets, As I noted on my Facebook update, Matthew must have learned the Jedi Mind Trick judging from the amount of stuff he got. We've been enjoying some of it today along with a lot of taking it easy. We also enjoyed the extra hour of sleep this morning has we Fell Back. There is currently a roast in the oven crusted with Salish Alderwood salt which is filling the apartment with a wonderful smell.

I think that's all for now. Stay tuned for my next entry which will probably be after Kingdom A&S, where I fight my Provost Prize in the Ealdormere Academy of Defence.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Death in the Desert Redux and an Event

I was surprised Thursday morning by someone ringing up from downstairs. It turned out to be Mark, he who brings over all the cool games. He had e-mailed me earlier in the week and I said yes, and then promptly forgot about his visit. I felt terrible. The place was a mess, well, more of a mess than it normally is and I didn't have any snacks. He was ok with it though and we played three games of the Axis & Allies CCG. It was a reprise of the previous weeks battles, Italians vs. British in the Western Desert. The forces were slightly altered, with the British losing their Grant tank and gaining some air cover as well as an armoured car. The Italian's lost their armoured car and two light tanks in exchange for a nasty self-propelled AT gun. I played the British twice, doing pretty horribly the first time. I don't recall if I managed to get anything off the board at all. I had a Spitfire that could do ground attacks, but I had to roll a 6 on one of four dice to get it to show. Suffice it to say, I'm going to have a long chat with my Forward Air Controller because the darn thing just wouldn't show up. I think it showed up once in each game, though it didn't do much better for Mark when he played the Brit's. Despite this my second game with the British went much better and I managed to exit some armour. I found that spreading out seemed to help, instead trying to force the pass. My armour can make it's way through the low hills. Mark did quite well with the Brits, inflicting serious casualties on the Italian forces and managing to exit two points more of stuff than I did. It was a fun afternoon and getting three games of anything in is pretty darn good.

Saturday was an SCA in the Hamilton area called Huntsman's Harvest. It is a fairly small, low key event with an emphasis on archery, but a rapier tourney and armoured combat tourney were offered weather permitting, which it was. At the Tuesday meeting of the U of G Medieval and Ren Society we had offered rides to those who might be interested and two students took us up on the offer, Harrison and Ashley. This meant putting the other seat back in the van, which Eve did on Friday evening. Putting the seats in is a pain in the arse, and the next van will have seats that fold right down. I e-mailed the students to confirm time and place of pick up (10:00 am at the UC passenger drop off near the bus loop). Friday night we packed stuff, including garb for the new kids.

Saturday morning we headed out, leaving a few minutes later than we would have liked too, but still getting to U of G just after ten. Harrison was waiting in a shelter by the pick up area but there was no sign of Ashley. We waited around until about 10:30, with me in garb outside the van so she could spot us. No luck. We drove around to a couple of other spots, but no sign of her so we headed out. I'm still not sure why she didn't show, but I hope to find out Tuesday.

In order to save room in the van Eve, Matthew, Elizabeth and I wore our garb to the event. I made a very wise decision to wear my green wool doublet and slops over my fencing armour. Eve was wearing two linen tunics, her wool apron dress, and her purple Norse coat. Matthew was triple layered in tunics, including a wool outer layer. Elizabeth had a silk tunic, her faux wool coat, and Eve added an apron dress later in the day. For Harrison I provided a linen tunic and my black wool Anglo-Norse tunic as well as a rectangular blue cloak with a pin. All the wool was necessary as most of the event took place outdoors and it was quite chilly, especially when it got a bit overcast and windy.

We made to the event successfully, though the last leg of the trip was a bit strange, driving down a dirt road towards a dead end which was rapidly approaching. I spotted an SCA sign at the last second, much to our relief. The site had a small hall which backed onto an archery range that had a covered area for people to shoot from. Surrounding fields provided venues for the fighting and fencing lists. I had promised Matthew from the get go that he would have a chance to do some archery. Eve took Elizabeth and the play yard into the hall. She looked after Elizabeth as the hall was warm and she did have a chance to run around. I showed Harrison the various things that were happening at the event. I introduced him to Mistress Nicolaa de Bracton, one of my oldest friends in the SCA and wife of one of my best friends. I had contacted her earlier so she could bring some loaner archery stuff for Matthew, which she kindly did. He got to use a loaner bow and 6 arrows. The range was nice and the person who had organized the shoots had gone to a huge amount of effort to make things interesting. The field was strewn with all sorts of fun targets, including a large number of stuffed toys, a black knight, zombies, Sponge Bob, pool noodle trees, fake pumpkins etc. I recalled a shoot I had seen years before where Barney the Purple Dinosaur was a target, and a Barney was promptly produced and set up on the range. Matthew shot several rounds, steadily improving his aim with some helpful hints from the archery marshal. He definitely wanted to do things his own way but came around when he saw how much better his shooting was when he took the advice. Harrison was also helpful with advice having done some shooting before and he showed some fine form on the range when he did his own shooting. I decided that I would get in a bit of practice as well, with Barney being my primary target. He was only about 15 feet away, which actually made it kind of tricky. Much to my sons delight I managed to nail Barney in the right breast, knocking him off his perch. I think some serious parent points were earned with that shot. I then dragged Matthew away from the archery range and into the hall for some lunch. We didn't know if there was going to be a lunch counter so we packed a bunch of stuff, including onion buns, ham, roast beef, cheese, crackers, chips, bananas, Coke, juice boxes and chocolate cake. We all ate well, including Harrison and Lady Jocelyn, who had come off the rapier list quite ravenous. After lunch Harrison and then I went to the rapier list where I armoured up and got inspected. The MIC, Lord Yoshi, in order to get around the edict against dueling, was apparently running a clinic on the Asian art of acupuncture, as practiced with three foot long swords. Works for me. I played for awhile and then I heard an announcement for a Youth Archery Tourney. I wanted to make sure Matthew had a chance so I gathered him up and took him over to the range. There were 6 or 7 other kids there, ranging in ages from 14 to 8. The shoot was done in rounds, each round being at a more distant target. The first target was a deer, the second was a large stuffed platypus, the third was a tiger, the fourth a collection of foam rabbits and squirrels, and finally there were two rounds shot at a stuffed pickle partly concealed by a forest of pool noodle trees. Matthew hit the deer once, the platypus twice and the tiger once for four points. He came very close to hitting some of the other targets as well. The person running the tourney said the results would be announced at court. I took Matthew back inside and went back to the rapier list. There had been a Warlord tourney earlier which I missed so I did pickups with various people, who all wanted to fence case for some reason. I fenced for awhile, getting some nice bruises in the process, including a nasty one near my right armpit. I fenced until they closed the list for court and we went back inside. Their Majesties Nigel and Adrielle where both at the event as were Their Excellencies Ben Dunfirth. There was an extensive Baronial Court, with Nikolai and Marioun taking care of a lot of business including some outstanding Kingdom awards. During the court the results of the archery tourneys were announced, and low and behold, Matthew won in his age category. What was really neat was the prize, bow and 8 arrows that had belonged to the Baronesses' daughter. Matthew was a bit flabbergasted when he was called up but he remember to bow to the Royals when he went up and received his prize.The bow is a very nice one, made by Yumi (, a traditional bow maker known world wide for the quality of their bows. They are made from layers of bamboo which are lacquered together in a traditional Japanese method. I'm not sure when we are going to get to use it, but it's nice he has his own bow and such a nice one too. During the Kingdom Court Lady Adelle, who both fences and does armoured combat, recieved her Award of The Scarlet Banner. It was very well deserved. I remember when she had injured her ankle during one of the armoured field battles at Pennsic, but she went out for the Rapier Field Battle, hobbling along with our King, both of whom were on crutches. That takes chutzpah!

After court we decided to call it a day. We decided we would eat back in Guelph, and we did make it back after one navigational flub on my part. So much for reverse navigating from the Google Maps instructions. We treated Harrison to a McDonald's supper and then dropped him off on campus. I think he had a good time and seeing the fencing made him want to do more. With his modern fencing background we may be able to get him authorized as early as Winter War in March.

Sunday Eve took Matthew to a birthday party for his friend Austyn that was held at a local conservation area, a less than five minute drive from the house. There was lots of great stuff there involving nature and bugs as well as a weeny roast. The present for Austyn was a field guide to insects and a Hot Wheels car which were well received.

That's all for now. Our next event will be Crown Tournament which is on All Hallows Eve.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Death in the Desert

My friend Mark e-mailed me earlier in the week wondering if I was interested in a game and, of course, I was. Mark always brings over great games and I've had a lot of fun playing. Some games have been variations on one's that I have played before and some have been completely new. The game he proposed for Thursday was the Axis & Allies WW II collectible miniatures game. I knew about the game, and I had bought it's naval counterpart as well as a pile of nice plastic ships. I figured the game would be pretty simple as most CMG's were but when I played it it had some remarkable tactical depth.

Mark came over just before 10 am on Thursday morning, after I had dropped Matthew off at school. He brought all the stuff necessary for playing. His wife had recently gotten him a set of heavy card boards with hexes and terrain on them and they were quite nice. Mark always goes the extra mile on his games. The miniatures for A&A are pre-painted plastic, but Mark was not satisfied with the paint jobs. He repainted them adding weathering effects through dry brushing techniques as well as markings. They turned out very nicely. He also re-based the infantry which made them look a lot better and easier to use than the singly based originals.

The scenario was a breakthrough in the Western Desert, North Africa, circa 1941, with Italians vs. the British. The Italians were defending a pass that the British needed to get through. Victory was based on how many units the British could get off the opposite map edge from the one they started at in 10 turns. If IIRC the Brits started off with a Grant tank, two Crusader tanks, two Stuart light tanks, two universal carriers, a truck and four stands of infantry. The Italians had two Carro Armato M 13/40 tanks, 2 M 11/39 tanks, an armoured car, two anti-tank guns and a mess of infantry, including two machine gun teams. We played the game twice, swapping sides between games. I played the Italians first. I set up in the low hills on either side of the pass and awaited the British onslaught. Mark spread his forces out, probing for a weak point in my defences. One of my heavy tanks holding my left flank died quite quickly but the rest of the battle was hard fought, with my machine guns and AT guns doing a lot of the damage. The battle ended after an infantry close assault took out his Grant tank, the closest thing to a monster on the board. He managed to exit a Crusader, a damaged Stuart, and his truck sans infantry. When I played the Brits, I tried for a more concentrated attack down the road, avoiding the mass of infantry lurking in the hills. I found out that my armoured fist was more of a glass jaw to lead with, with both Crusaders quickly being damaged, which by their special rule meant they were know effectively unmoving pill boxes. I managed to take out most of the Italian armour except for one of the M 13/40's which actually won the duel with the Grant, knocking it out. My best move was the Stuart which managed to take out both AT guns in the same turn with its "All Guns Blazing" special rule and it survived. Unfortunately it was the only unit I got off the board. So, the Italians won both scenarios and Mark won overall. I think both Italian victories could be considered Phyrric though, with them taking considerable casualties in both games. We both learned that universal carriers (small, tracked troop haulers) are quite vulnerable.

It was a fun game and surprisingly subtle for a set of CMG rules. There was also a lot of dice rolling involved. I can only imagine what it would be like with some of the heavier tanks from later in the war, where you would be rolling 18 dice for one tank instead of 9.

It's great that Mark can come over once and awhile and help give me my gaming fix. I've posted some pictures from the game above.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Trip to the 11th Century

This weekend was an event of a different colour. Most SCA events are very general in nature. The only requirement is that a person attending dress in clothing that is pre-17th century. You can get everything from your 8th century Celt woad warrior cheek by jowl with you 16th c. Elizabethan Lady (and somtimes they may even be married to each other). This weeked the Canton of Eoforwic hosted the Icelandic Althing, an event with a distinctly Norse theme, recreating as it did a Norse parliment from Iceland in the early 11th century. People attending the event were encouraged to dress according to this theme, but it was not a requirement. Normally I hang out in the 16th century, part of the doublet, slops and ruff set. It works for me as my main interest in the SCA is period fencing. I have done other periods but 16th c. stuff is my focus so doing a Norse event (call it 8th through 11th c.) was going to be different for me. I was even going to use a different name, Snorii Vikisun, one that I had used at the Viking Beer Tent at Pennsic many years ago. I don't think I actual did use it at the event though.

The Preperation

My wife, Eve, known in the SCA as Asa Gormsdottir is truly a marvelous woman. In the course of the week before the event she made new Norse outfits for myself, my son, my daughter and herself. I had a new purple and gold wool tunic and a new brown norse wool coat to go along with my Norse pants, linen shirt, blue rectangular cloak and knit cap. Oddly enough, the black and green striped Norse pants are the first piece of garb my sweetie had ever made for me and were still going strong. Matthew got a new brown wool tunic to go with his two linen tunics. He also had a red knit cap which he really didn't want to wear but eventually he did. Elizabeth got a little apron dress, a saffron coloured tunic, and a "wool" coat (it was arctic fleece but it looked just like the real thing). Eve made another tunic, a red linen one to go over her green linen. She also had her herrigbone apron dress and she topped the whole thing of with a new light purple Norse coat in wool. The whole family looked great and the new garb was beautiful.

We also had lots of Norse bling happening. I had picked a lovely Norse rooster pin at Pennsic which was for pinning the top of my tunic closed. I also had a circular embossed silver pin which apparently came from the Metropolitan Museum of Art' I think Eve's mom, finder of all cool yard sale stuff, gave it to me. I also had a copper armband that had been given to me to replace the iron armband I had returned when I left the Isengesitha in Septentia. To this I added two brass armbands I borrowed from Eve and a large copper torc that Eve had given to her father and that had been returned to us when he passed away. I also had the grogeous pattern welded saxe knife Eve got me for our 11th anniversary. Eve had a magnificant Frankish pin in gold and red she had purchased at Pennsic from Raymond's Quite Press. Apparently her husband went a Viking for it and, um, "retrieved" it from the Franks. She also had the apron dress turtle broaches she purchased from Fettered Cock Pewter. Even Elizabeth got in on it with a neat celtic maze broach to hold her coat closed.

A couple of weeks before the event I'd e-mailed my friend Ian Walsh, owner of Blackthorn Productions, and asked him if I could borrow some of his companies props to further enhance my Norse appearance. The Thursday before the event he very kindly dropped of a Norse style sword, a spear, a beautiful centre boss round shield, and a helmet (no, not a magic one).

I spent the evening packing and loading stuff into the car. Even with all the pre-trip packing we didn't get out of the house until around 10 o'clock Saturday morning. Kids always make getting going fun.

The Site

The event was in Orono which is on Highway 35/115 on the way to Lindsay. The drive was about two hours according to Google and we made good time getting there. The site was a farm owned by two Scadians and it was a good area for the event with lots of space. We passed through the site gate after paying our fees and drove into the main area being used, after passing an archery range and a thrown weapons range. One part of the site had some modern tents but a large chunk of it was devoted to medieval tents. There was also a Merchant's Row set, which was run by two other recreation groups, the Dark Ages Recreation Company (DARC) and Regia Angalorum. This row had a number of early period craft production sites including bead makers, a potter, a pewter caster, a bone craver and a lot of people working with wool and other period fibers. There were even some period breeds of chicken there.

There was an area set up for fighting which included several melee battles over a boat made of hay bales and a holmgang style one on one tourney. The numerous kids attending the event had a lot of fun with the hay bales when they weren't being used by the fighters.

They also has a tent were various Arts and Sciences classes were taught, including one by Eve.

The Event

We got changed into our Norse garb at the tail gate of our van. It was bit of a struggle with Matthew. He justs wants to play but sometimes he balks at wearing garb. This time it was the knit cap. Eventually he did wear it, along with one of his linen tunics. A certain amount of sulking was involved but once he got going he basically forgot about the garb. Elizabeth looked very cute with her orange coat pinned over her tunic. I was wearing my new tunic with the blue rectangular cloak pinned over it. Eve did a very nice job of arranging it. Latter in the day I changed into the brown wool coat because it was so nice and needed to be shown off. I was wearing my saxe knife as well as the sword I got from Ian on a baldric. Everything was topped off by a knit Norse cap in blue and grey. Eve looked like a proper Norse woman, in multiple layers of linen and wool. She also put on her Norse coat latter in the day, and was complimented on how the colour resembled that of lichen dyed wool.

I hauled our stuff over to the Eoforwic camp and established a base consisting of a couple of Norse looking blankets, my bench chest, a seagrass basket and the shield. The sheild and blankets handily cloaked the mundane items like the cooler bag that had our food in it. Eve took the car to the parking area which was about a half a click from the main site.

Much of my day was spent following Elizabeth around for I foolishly decided not to pull out the play yard. She can really go when she wants to and basically kept going for the day. She lead me a merry chase all over the site and by following her preambulations I got to see most of what was happening, including merchants row, the fighting and even as far away as the archery range which was near the gate. She also had a lot of fun playing in the hay when the fighters weren't going bashy pow over it. I didn't get to see the law cases which were one of the focuses of the day which was too bad and I didn't get to linger and look at the merchan't wares, which was probably a healthy thing for my wallet. She was quite upset when the fighters started to use the hay bales for their battles as it meant she couldn't play on them any more. I also had to steer her away from things like the woods that edged the site and the giant fire pit that was being used to bake clay pots.

Eve was prepping for the class she was teaching as well as making sure we were all fed (roast beef buns, cheese, drinks and other snacks). This was good because a delicious smelling pot of stew was being prepared nearby for the camp feast that evening. Apparently it was quite delicious and the left overs were donated to a local mission.

Eve's class was on using various celtic motifs in SCA award scrolls, including ideas from the Book of Kells, the Lindasfarne Gospels and Celtic jewlery. She had four students who were very enthusiastic about what she had to say and show. She had numerous books with examples and some large, bristol board posters she had made up.

Matthew got to run around with a bunch of kids around his age who he had made friends with in the SCA. They played soccer and other games, including "Bash the Sticks Together". They also had fun playing in the hay bales, some of which did not survive the experience intact.

The forecast for the day had been one of doom and gloom, calling for periods of rain all day. It actually turned out to be a nice autumn day with a mix of sun and cloud with temps in the high teens, good weather for wearing wool. The rain held off until late in the day, and was quite light when it started. I was able to move our stuff under an Eoforwic shelter were it kept dry until Eve came to pick it up.

In a stroke of luck I had been chatting with one of the site owners, Aurelia, on Facebook and she asked me if she had invited us to supper. I said "Not that I was aware of." She said they were having barbecued steak and I said if you'll have us, we'll be there. Around 6 pm we loaded the car and drove back to to parking area, which was almost in front of their house. We brought the kids in, along with Elizabeth's play yard (see, we're learning). Matthew played with Tatiana, our host's daughter and with Aurora, the daughter of our friends Jon and Mya (Angus and Isabeau in the SCA). Master Hector, his Lady and their infant son were also there along with SCAdian friend who was visiting while on leave from the CAF, but was not attending the event. We had a lovely supper of steak cooked over a wood fire, fresh corn on the cob, salad and pie. We stayed there quite late chatting away through the evening. It was very pleasant, the kids had fun together and we stayed dry.

In an excellent stroke of preparation, we had arranged to crash over night at our friends Dave and Susan's place (Gunthar and Nicolaa in the SCA). This was very kind of them as they were the people who had been in charge of organizing and running the Althing event. We really appreciated it because a 45 minute drive through pouring rain to Ajax was nicer than trying to make it all the way back to Guelph. Eve brought a gift of two nice bottles of sweet German wine for our hosts, Susan being a very big fan. We spent some time chatting with them and then we all crawled into bed. We slept until after 8 the next morning and before we left Dave gifted Matthew and myself with some toys he had culled including a Star Wars video game, a model Stug III, and various spaceships from the Battlestar Galactica Titanium line. We also got some ships for Axis and Allies: Naval Battles. Thank you Dave! He also leant me his copy of Alatriste which I look forward to watching. We headed out from their place around 10 am and were on the road back to Guelph after a quick, very non-Norse breakfast at McD's. The rest of the weekend was spent unloading, unpacking and resting.

All in all,it was avery good event, the organizers describing it as virtually perfect, and they probably made money on it as well. There were at least 150+ people in attendance. A person who had attended the first Althing event, more than 10 years ago, noted one important difference between this event and that one: all the kids. From were we stood, in the middle of merchants row, we counted at least 12, including my 3 year old daughter who I was holding in my arms.

That's all for now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coronation Weekend

First, an important saftey tip: Never plan to have an SCA demo, attend a major event and have house guests all in the same three day span. This can cause fatigue and even some stress.

Again events of this blog start off on Friday. Our current local SCA group, the Canton of Der Welfengau, has been, well, lets say, less than active of late. Essentially we haven't held any formal meetings in some time. I've been holding rapier practices and my wife had set up a monthly A&S Sunday were folks can come out and work on their projects. A local Scadian wants to get things more active again and we are currently working on the hoop jumping required for that. In order to have a group in the SCA it helps to have active members. One way we are doing this is by having an associated club at the University of Guelph, The University of Guelph Medieval and Rennaisance Society (UGMRS). That way we have a place to meet, a place to hold martial combats, and some new people for our group. In order to attract new members we attended Club Days at the U of G on Thursday and Friday. Baroness Eyrny and Isaac Spinoza took care of Thursday while my wife Asa, Isaac and I covered Friday. We were also helped by some students who had come out to UGMRS last year. Elizabeth, who looks really cute in a medieval dress, came with us. We brought a pile books and artifacts, including my rapier gear. We spent the day chatting with students and showing off our stuff, including the cute medieval toddler. Asa headedout early to pick up groceries and retrieve Matthew from school. Between the two days we got about 70 names signed up. That doesn'tmean they are all going to come out but hopefully some will stick around. We're having our first meeting on Tuesday night at the University Centre, about 7:30 if anyone is interested.

Friday evening saw the arrival of our guest for the weekend, the Baron and Baroness of Skraeling Althing (Ottawa and area) Giovanni and Lucia d'Enzinas. They also brought their daughter and an entourage of one with them but I have, much to my regret, forgotten the good Ladys name. They arrived around 10:30 on Friday evening and we had Elizabeth's room prepared for them with a fold out couch and air matresses. We had also picked up a bunch of food because of some dietary restrictions invoved.

The reason Their Excellencies were crashing with us is that an important SCA eevent was happening on Saturday, the Coronation of our new King and Queen, Nigel and Adrielle. I Had also volunteered to run a rapier tourney that day. The event was being held in Tavistock, which is about an hour from Guelph.

We hoped to leave at 8:00 but as always we were delayed,mostly by the need to sleep. Asa had been working until early in the morning on a scroll that was being presented in Court that day. The scroll was magnificent, a vision in gold and red with motifes from the Celtic Tara broach. It was a combined King's and Queen's Favour for Master Baron Brand. We wanted to be at the site well before First Court so she could deliver the scroll.

We did manage to make it there with lots of time and Asa delivered the scroll right away. We'd gone to the site in garb so not too much set up was required. Asa went off to first court while I gave Elizabeth a run. Matthew took off to the playground and played with friends pretty much the whole day accept for lunch and drink breaks. After the Court was done and Their Majesties duely Crowned Asa took over with Elizabeth, who, after the extensive run she had, was content to stay in her play yard for the most part and Asa even got a nap while E was sleeping.

I organized the fencing tourney. No formal location had been chosen so we picked a likely spot and set up our list. In the tourney each combatant started off with ten tokens (glass beads purchased from a dollar store, 100 for a buck!). They used these tokens a wagers on the outcome of their bouts or even other fencers bouts. Whoever had the most coins at the end would win. Bouts were set up by the fencers and they would also determine the wager and any special conditions. I really do love a tourney that virtually runs itself as it means I get to fence more. We started at 1:30 and ran it until 4:30. People had lots of fun and the final victor was Lord Yoshi from Ben Dunfirth.

One thing that did rather sour the day was an annoucement made by Their Majesties that Dueling was outlawed in a missive that, in my opinion, used some rather poor, even insulting language. The missive lead to considerable confusion among the fencers and some are quite angry with what was annouced. Part of the problem comes from the choice of words used. By banning Dueling there Majesties are outlawing fights to the death which if it occurs can lead to the fencer being "arrested". This is meant to encourage us to roleplay and find ways around the edictand is supposedly all in good fun. The problem is people have spent a lot of time getting us to the accepted status we now enjoy. This was not always so, up to including a percieved attempt at having all fencing banned, back in our days as a Principality. Many fencers feel that the edict is a return to the bad old days and we are being pushed into isolation again. I'm hoping this is not the case. It would also have been nice, as the Kingdom Rapier Marshal, to have been consulted a bit more on this. I had a pretty good idea how people would react. We can certainly still fence at events, but fights to the death must take place out of sight of Their Majesties. There are ways around the edict, but it still feels wrong and a bit exculsionary, giving the fencing a kind of attention it really doesn't need. I've expressed my feelings to the person who is acting as point for TRMs but I suspect not much is going to change. Oddly enough, it doesn't say anything about killing in the rules for rapier combat, it says that good blows are "incapacitating". I know some people are really upset by what's happening and I hope we don't lose people over it.

We left the event at around 5:30. We just didn't have the energy for Feast or 2nd Court. All in all a good day with some great fencing and some beautiful weather. Their Excellencies and company returned around 10:00 pm. We had a great time chatting with them on Friday evening, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning. They were great guests and they seemed to enjoy our hospitality. They will be returning for Kingdom A&S in October. After they left we spent the rest of the day relaxing.

We had been bad Saturday and ordered Chinese food for supper and we had it for lunch. We chilled and watched movies as well. It was also Elizabeth's third birthday. Eve went out and got here some nice presents, including some lovely clothes. She also baked a cake, lemon with white frosting and sprinkles. My mom also had sent a bag of presents so she did quite well. Elizabeth even helped blow out her own candles. It was very nice.

I think that's all for now. Thank you for reading.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

War of the Ring Game

I got an unexpected call from my gaming buddy Mark last night asking if I wanted to have a game of Games Workshop's War of the Ring game today. I was suprised because we had just played the Aliens game last week. For those who don't know, War of the Ring (WOTR) is a game of massed battle for 25mm miniatures set in JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth. The way the game is designed you can play a battle involving potentially hundreds of mini's in a day. Miniatures are grouped together in companies which in turn are organized into formations and there are individual mini's representing Epic heros (like Aragorn, Boromir, a Nazgul, or Gothmog) and monsters (like trolls and Balrogs). The formations move, shoot at another if armed with missile weapons, charge and if succesful, fight other formations. Combat is resolved through the roll of dice, often lots of them. WOTR is very much a "Buckets o' Dice" game. There can also be magic used in the game depending on who is fighting.

Today's game involved me playing a force of Orcs, Easterlings, a Troll and Haradrim against a mixed force of Elves and Gondorians. The leader of my force was Gothmog while the good guys had Boromir and Faramir. There were about 60 figures on each side. I had two companies of Easterlings, 6 companies of Orc warriors, 4 companies of Orc archers, 2 companies of Haradrim archers, 3 companies of Haradrim cavalry, 4 companies of Warg riders (lead by Gothmog). IIRC I was facing 3 companies of Wood elves, 6 companies of Knights of Minas Tirith, 2 Companies of Citadel Guard Archers, 2 companies of Warriors of Minas Tirith Archers, and 6 companies of Warriors of Minas Tirith with Faramir and Boromir.

The board was set up with a few patches of forest and some rock outcroppings. We set up along the long edges of a fairly narrow table. I won Priority for the first turn and moved my forces forward. My troll moved into cover and what units could moved "At the Double. I made the mistake of moving my units of archers a full move which meant the couldn't shoot the 1st turn. The table was narrow enough that they would have had targets right away. It would have been a good thing to try and whittle down some of his archery units, as he used them quite effectivly in his part of the shoot phase, knocking my Warg riders down to a company and a half and reducing the Haradrim cav down to one company. I was able to shoot with my Haradrim cav, taking out a total of one Minas Tirith warrior.

The narrowness of the table allowed units to close quickly into charge range. My remaining Warg Riders charged a unit of archers and were in turn charged by some Knights. The Easterlings charged the Warriors of Minas Tirith lead by Faramir. Mark called a Heroic Duel using Might, but I managed to tie him on the roll meaning nothing happened. The combat went well for me,and I destroyed a company of MT warriors, for the loss of something like four Easterlings. My Warg riders did some damage to the archer unit, and then were wiped out by the Knights charging them in the flank, despite Gothmog's use of Epic Defence. This, unfortunately, took out Gothmog, a rather high value unit.

The game was slowed down because we are still learning it and there is a lot of page flipping and rule checking. Some of the rules don't really jibe with reality, but it is a game not a simulation. Admittedly some of the rules are a bit, well, gamey, like companies using defensable terrain as a teleporter to move faster than they should. Some of the rules don't make sense and GW has yet to produce a FAQ to answer the questions that have come up. Also, one of the best resources for the game, The Last Alliance website has vanished into the ether. It's important,when tweaking a rules set, not to go too far and mess up the intent of the designers, which was to make a reasonably fast playing mass battle game. Abstractions have to be made.

The game went downhill for Evil in the second turn, with more units getting shot up by archery and the formation of Easterlings being destroyed after an epic struggle in the middle of the board. The Troll was taken out by Boromir after damaging a unit of Citadel Guard. His mighty blow was pretty darn mighty. By the third turn it was pretty much game over, with three companies of orcs getting run over by some Knights and being utterly destroyed. I still had a fightable force, but it would have been tough going against the Sons of the Steward and only one remaining hero. We had to call the game at that point anyways as Mark had to head home and I had to pick up Matthew from school. Despite taking a bashing it was still a fun game, and things will only improve as we master the game rules and work out some house rules to cover the quirks. Here are some pictures from early in the game.