Saturday, October 9, 2010

World War II, The Early Years

Yes, it’s been quite awhile since I last blogged. I’ve been busy with other projects, one of which will be the subject of my next blog, and I just haven’t had the time or the proper frame of mind to blog.

Mark has been over for two game sessions recently. Both times we played the Axis & Allies Collectible Miniatures Game, which has been featured in previous blog posts. This time we were going even earlier in WWII than the Western Desert. This time the battles would be fought in France, with the German’s blitzkrieging their way into Western Europe. It was a very interesting, and frequently terrifying, period in warfare. There was a doctrinal clash between the Allies and the Germans. The Allies were prepared to fight a static positional war, like the one they had fought in WWI. The German’s were using a relatively new set of tactics, the above mentioned Blitzkrieg, or lightning war. German tactics relied on movement with infantry and armoured units working in concert, the infantry being transported in trucks and half-tracks so they could keep up with the armour. Enemy forces could be encircled and cut off, often being forced to surrender or be mopped by slower moving follow on forces. They also employed their air forces tactically in support of their ground forces. In the Battle for France, the Germans were forced to use pretty much everything they had, even older tanks like the Panzer I which had been relegated to training duty and were only equipped with machine guns. It was an era of war.

It was an era of warfare where tanks were not the juggernauts seen later in the war. Their armour protection was relatively thin, the cannon they mounted were quite weak, and there were often questionable choices made in their design. The Briitish employed two kinds of tanks, the fast moving but lightly armed and armoured Cruiser tanks and the slower, better armoured Infantry tanks. As can be seen from the name, the Infantry tanks were designed to support infantry, and were designed to move at speeds not much faster than walking infantry and armed with guns for taking on infantry targets with High Explosive rounds. The cruiser tanks were supposed to dash around the battle field taking on enemy armour, using their speed for safety, much like the lightly armoured fast battlecruisers of WWI. Perhaps Allied tank designers should have paid attention to things like the seabourne Battle of Jutland to see how well that tactical doctrine worked. Most tanks had thin armour relative to later tanks, and were vulnerable in some cases even to machine gun fire. Anti-tank weapons were also relatively weak, but then again they were facing the aforementioned weak armour and even anti-tank rifles could be effective.

Mark and I played four games of A&A over two sessions. In each session we got to play both the German and Allied side. The scenario was a German assault on a village held by British and French forces. No Allied forces were in the village at the start of the game, but they had a screen of forces across the approach to it. The objective of the Germans was to occupy the village buildings by the end of the game. The board was arranged so that there was a single road leading down the right side of the map to the village, passing through a gap in some wooded hills that were part of the Allied deployment zone. I can’t remember the exact composition of the forces but the Germans had a several trucks carrying infantry including machine gun and mortar squads, a couple of early StuG’s, some Panzer I, Panzer II and Panzer III, two SIG assault guns and some recon armoured cars. The Allies had a least sixl early cruiser tanks, three French light tanks, some Panhard armoured cars, some Universal Carriers, several 6 pounder anti-tank guns, and a whack of infantry including mortars and Vickers machine guns.

I can’t really give a blow by blow of the games as I simply left writing this blog too long and I don’t remember much beyond some of the highlights and interesting tactical situations that arose. I didn’t do particularly well in any of the games, but the fourth game, with me as the Allies was still in the balance when we had to call it. We will hopefully be able to resume it at a later date.

In the first game I was playing the Germans. I spread out my forces across the board, with a lot of my heavier armour near the road, the trucks safely in some woods, and my left flank covered by the lighter armoured forces. I lead with my scout armoured cars, as they would be able to spot the hidden anti-tank guns Mark had deployed and give something for the long range firepower of the SIG assault guns to target. The game went fairly well initially and I was able to destroy several AT guns, but I bogged down trying to dig forces out of the wooded hills that formed the backbone of Mark's defence and I lost sufficient forces to make it impossible for me to take the village. When we switched sides, Mark tried something a little different. When I played the Germans, I held my infantry back in some woods, hoping to rush them forward when sufficient Allied forces had been destroyed to make it relatively safe for them to move up to the village. This didn’t work but they did survive the game. Mark tried an infantry assault, rapidly moving the truck mounted infantry forward. Unfortunately, the dismounted infantry got caught out in the open and were largely destroyed. My mortar team was awarded the Military Medal as, despite the puny nature of their weapon, they managed to do serious damage to the exposed infantry. He still had some infantry remaining and his StuG’s were closing on the village and there was not a lot I could do about them.

The second session, which was a couple of weeks later, saw the same scenario with roughly the same forces. We had both given the scenario some thought in the intervening days and planned some new tactics. Again, I was playing the Germans and placed the bulk of my forces for a mass attack down the road and through the gap. I was spearheading the attack with the StuG’s and Panzer III and hoping the lighter armour could cover my flanks as I charged down the road. Much to my chagrin, Mark countered by blitzkrieging me, charging his Cruiser tanks forward in order to try and take out the SIG assault guns that had been the bane of his AT guns during the previous session. He managed to take them out and heavily disrupt my forward movement. He also managed to pick off some of trucks that were vital for moving the infantry up to take the village. Most of his armour died in the attempt, but it took a lot of mine with it and I was left with a much reduced force facing his line of entrenched AT guns and infantry. My infantry, which had survived the destruction of their transport intact, would have to try and foot slog it to the village and they simply wouldn’t be able to get there in time. I tried a similar tactic when I played the Allies and lost much of my armour without getting the SIG’s. One tank was still holding out, despite being damaged, not going down despite multiple shots at it. I think he gets a VC. My death ride did slow him down a bit and forced the SIG’s out of position. My armoured cars were racing forward for a shot of them, and had a chance of keeping them tied down. He would still have to get through my AT guns and infantry to get at the village. How this one would end, well, we’ll hopefully get a chance to finish it some day.

As always, they were fun games. Mark’s use of the counter-blitzkrieg was especially memorable and very effective. I always look forward to when Mark comes over for a game as he puts a lot of thought into each scenario and brings everything required to play. I’m looking forward to our future battles, regardless of genre.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hard Crossing in Osgiliath

Last Thursday was another great War of the Ring game with my friend Mark. I haven't blogged about it until now because of other stuff which I will talk about in my next blog.

Mark had recently acquired the new Osgiliath ruin set from Games Workshop. He combined this with some Warhammer terrain and put together a wonderful board with ruined buildings on both sides of the river Anduin representing the mostly destroyed Gondorian city of Osgiliath. I had a force of Orcs lead by Gothmog, including some Morannon Orcs as well as a Troll. My objective was to exit a formation of the opposite edge of the map from where I started. I was facing a number of formations of Warriors of Minas Tirith including some Osgiliath Veterans. The force was lead by Faramir and there were a couple of other heroes as well.

I had one of two ways to cross the river, either to use boats to cross, or a central bridge. If a company made it to the rivers edge it could start to cross the river. It could do this even if it were part of a larger formation, as we were allowed to break up formations for the crossing and reform them on the other side if they made it. A unit in a “boat” rolled a D6. On a one it was spotted from the other shore and could be targeted by bow fire. On a 2 or 3, it drifted down the river one base length. On a 4, 5 or 6 it could begin to move across the river about one base width. The bridge was about as wide as a single company base.

Mark had a large number of archers in his force most of whom deployed in buildings along the river’s edge. A two company formations of WoMT held the bridge edge and he had an Avenger bolt thrower near the centre of his line. Like my other battle reports, this is more of gloss than a blow by blow account.

My forces started about half way up the board on my side of the river. I quickly moved my archers up to occupy the buildings along my edge of the river, two companies on the far left, two companies in the centre and one company on the far right. The buildings mostly masked my assault forces for the first turn, but I did take some bow fire which caused a few casualties. I focused most of my fire on his formation in the open holding the far side of the bridge. It would have been very difficult to get hits on the guys in the buildings. I would have to roll a 6 on a D6 followed by another roll of at least 5. The city ruins made it difficult to set up cohesive formations but I kept two strong formations of Morannon Orcs on either flank and the regular orcs less one company in the centre. Mark had priority for the first few turns and steadily whittled down some of my units as they tried to get to the river. My archers in turn pounded his centre, slowly reducing the troops holding the bridge. I had a lot of difficulty crossing the river, with several boats rolling ones, which meant they drifted and could be targeted by missile weapons. As they crossed they were only single companies, which meant they only had to lose four casualties to be destroyed completely. Mark later changed this so you had to kill at least 6 before the company broke and ran. I couldn’t coordinate the landing as I had a lot of bad drift rolls and individual companies tended to get destroyed soon after they landed. The Avenger took a heavy toll, with its fire plus bow fire taking out the force trying to get a across the bridge and then killing the troll that was using the first wave as a screen. I haven’t been having much luck with trolls. Sometimes they do very well while other times they act as shooting magnets and die quickly. I think there should have been a rule that the troll could have forded the river and have a less chance of being hit because he was mostly underwater, but that’s just me. I did have some luck, calling out one of his captains in a heroic duel which I one and messed up one of his formations despite some abysmal rolls. After a few turns, most of my regular assault force was destroyed and I had to start pulling archers out of the buildings and forming a second wave. Gothmog and two companies of Morannon had managed to make it across and link up, forcing their way into a building and wiping out the Men that were there. Unfortunatley, the low defence of the Orc archers made them easy meat for missile fire, but they did manage to take out the Avenger after a couple of charges. Mark still had sufficient forces to contain Gothmog’s formation and he went down after a heroic effort to break through the men who almost surrounded him, eliminating the last of my forces.

I know now what I would do differently, but I don’t want to broadcast it as I know mark reads this blog. I hope we get another chance to try the scenario as the board was magnificent and it’s a fun game to play. I’ve posted some of the pictures we took of the game at the beginning of this blog.

My next blog will be on events that happened last weekend. Until then, keep watching the skies, or don’t. It’s really up to you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

War of the Trilliums VI

Last weekend was held one of the truly special events in the Ealdormerian calendar, an event called War of the Trilliums. I have been attending this event from my earliest days in the SCA. It originally was called Septentrian War Practice and later became known as Ealdormere War Practice. Six years ago it gained the rather impressive moniker of War of the Trilliums. For those of you who don't know, one of the heraldic charges of the Kingdom of Ealdormere is the trillium, which works as the Kingdom covers a large part of the Province of Ontario which also uses the trillium as one of its symbols. The event is also referred to as Trilliums or often “Trillies” (not a name I am a fan of).

Trilliums is traditionally held over the July 1st long weekend. July 1st this year fell on a Thursday. My wife, like many others, arranged to have the Friday off work so we could enjoy the whole event. Over the week before the event we had steadily gotten our stuff for the weekend together. Eve pulled our camping gear out of the storage closet under the stairs in our apartment. I did a pile of laundry, including all the bedding we would need, and then I packed most of the clothes and other items we would need. Eve put together a great list for me to follow to make sure we had everything for the trip. It’s amazing how much stuff you need to take, especially when bringing both kids. We actually pack less stuff for Pennsic, a week long camping event in the states, than for Trilliums. That’s because the kids are home with grandma and we don’t do any cooking at Pennsic. For Trilliums we have to bring all the extra stuff for them plus the stove, camp kitchen, food, utensils, pots and pans etc. We also decided to make a change in our bedding. In previous years we had used air mattresses which always seemed to spring leaks leaving us with many an uncomfortable night. We’d also tried multiple camping pads but they also turned out to be less than comfortable. Eve was really sick and tired of being uncomfortable so she went out and bought an eight inch double futon. It was bulky but it was the closest thing we’ve had to a real bed. I was really beginning to wonder how we were going to get all of this stuff in the minivan. The new van, a Montana SV6 was very nice, but it seemed to have less room inside than the Transport. My wife however, was up to the challenge. Eve is a master packer, a true Tetris master, and she managed to get everything in, though I suspect extra-dimensional physics was involved at some point. She did most of the packing the night before which really helped the next morning.

The event takes place about 15 minutes outside the City of Ajax at the Heber Downs Conservation Area. It’s been held there, with a few exceptions, since it started. The site has seen better days. It is the conservation areas group camping site, but apparently the local Conservation Authority is essentially letting it go back to the wild. It once had its own potable water and electricity but neither now works. The outhouses on site have also not been emptied out in several years so are quite full. The powers that be also put restrictions on overflow parking, banning the use of the usual lot we’ve used in the past. In spite of all this, it is a very nice site but I don’t know how much longer the SCA will use it. The event is mostly run by people from the local SCA group, Ard Creag and they do a pretty good job. We headed out around 11 am as Eve had to be at a meeting at 2 pm. We stopped in Ajax for lunch and got to the site just after 1 pm. We set up our new shade fly and unpacked the van before Eve had to dash off to her meeting. I did what I could until she got back, including partly setting up the tent. The weather for the weekend was supposed to be great and it was. Thursday was in the mid twenties and a mix of sun and cloud, which was excellent. After Eve’s meeting we got the rest of the camp set up and changed into our SCA clothes. We were camped next to the Art & Sciences area beside Merchant’s Row. It was a good spot because a lot of the meetings and classes we were involved in were going to be at A&S.

There were a lot of different things happening at the event. This year was an Olympic theme and people could win medals for various events, including martial activities and the Arts and Sciences. There were a number of fencing tourneys, including the Galbraith Cup, a torchlight tourney, a populace tourney and part of the Triathlon. The decision had been made early on for me to skip most of the tourneys. The reasons for this were twofold. At the previous outdoor event Murder Melee Eve didn’t get a lot of opportunities to do her stuff as I was off fencing a bunch. This was completely unfair of me. I would be doing a lot of the kid watching during Trilliums so Eve could teach a class and participate in the A&S judging and things like this. I would also be taking Matthew to shoot archery and Eve was hoping to try thrown weapons. I was going to be doing one bit of fencing, which is the other reason I wasn’t playing in the other stuff. I was fighting my Prize for Provost in the Ealdormere Academy of Defence. I had tried once before and not made it so I really wanted to succeed this time. The Prize would be fought Saturday morning at 11. But more on that later.

Thursday was fairly laid back after set up. Eve made some delicious burgers that evening from scratch. They were really good, cooked using an iron frying pan over the camp stove. We have a camp kitchen set up from Woods which makes cooking a lot easier. The bed worked out wonderfully and we had a comfortable night, despite the cool temperature. Matthew had an air mattress and Elizabeth slept in her play yard. It took her awhile to get to bed but she eventually fell asleep on the foot of our bed.

Eve made some lovely chocolate pancakes for breakfast Friday morning using cake mix along with breakfast sausage. The pancakes turned out very well but would have been better if I hadn’t forgotten the maple syrup. She had two scrolls to deliver for Court on Saturday and she spent a lot of Friday working on them under the A&S shelter. There was also a meeting concerning how A&S contests are judged which she was able to attend. She also taught her class on how to cut and drape a Gothic era dress which went off very well. She now has another dress cut out of the nice fabric we picked up at Fabricland a couple of weeks ago. Educational and practical! The scrolls turned out wonderfully and I’ve included pictures of them at the top of this blog.

I spent a lot of the time following Elizabeth around as she really likes to wander around the camp. Matthew played with a bunch of his friends. I remember when there were few kids at SCA events but there now seem to be flocks of them. He did get into one spot of trouble when he tried to go into a camp were kids had to be accompanied by an adult and was rather rude when told to leave, to a Duchess no less. He spent some time sitting in camp because of that. I did manage to take him to the archery range with Elizabeth in tow. In the SCA a parent has to accompany anyone under 12 on the range line. I held Elizabeth while Matthew shot and let her run around between rounds. He has his own bow and arrows. I think he’ll be a great archer. He just needs to slow things down a bit. He likes to get the arrows down range as quickly as possible. Well, fire enough arrows, eventually you’ll take down a French knight. I also took the opportunity to wander by the fencing list a couple of times.

Friday evening I held a Fencer’s Moot in our camp and about 25 people showed up for it. There were some very helpful discussions and not much in the way of acrimony. It went a long way in helping me decide about some issues that have cropped up. We talked about changed to the gorget rules, how being legged worked, the recent ruling on incidental contact, and changes to the rule on the RMIT course.

After the Moot I cooked up a bunch of Piller’s Sausages for supper which were served on buns. They tasted great and there were lots of them. We were even able to give some to our friend Catlin and her daughter who had arrived late in the afternoon.

We planned on a simple cereal breakfast for Saturday. I didn’t want to eat anything too heavy before I played my Prize. Matthew woke up and the left side of his face was swollen and it looked like he had numerous bites on it. He may have had a close encounter with a spider. We gave him Tylenol and put a cold compress on his face. The swelling went down over the day but he’s still a bit puffy around his eye. We’ve been giving him anti-reaction meds and they seem to be helping. At the A&S shelter a group of heralds and scribes were gathering for a meeting, which as a herald, I listened in on and claimed at duchy donut from. Donuts, breakfast of champions! My friend Gareth, who is also one of the Provosts I would be fighting in my Prize fight, came by and dropped off a bottle of Coke and a sprinkled donut he had promised he would bring. Yay for more donuts!

So, full of sugar and a bit of caffeine, I headed out to the rapier list. As mentioned, I was fighting my Prize for the rank of Provost in the EAOD. The Prize involves fighting 40 bouts against members of the Academy of the same or higher rank than you. We only have two Provosts so some other excellent fencers were brought in to help play the Prize, Baron Hoskuld and his Lady Wife Baroness Eyrny. The Prizor has to win 1/3 of their 40 bouts. After the first 40 bouts, each Prizor holds the field against all comers for 15 minutes. Also fighting their Prize was THL Wilhelm von Potruff, an excellent fencer and scholar of fencing from Caldrithig (Ottawa). We would fight 10 bouts and then have a break while the other fought 10 bouts. The two Provosts were THL Gareth Cambell, and His Excellency Baron Giovanni d’Enzinas of Skraeling Althing. The number to beat was 13 and I did not try to keep track while I was fencing as I had to focus on the fencing itself.

The day was very warm, in the upper twenties plus some humidity and the sky was clear and brilliantly blue. I hadn’t had nearly as much time to practice as I would have liked to, but I was determined to go through with the Prize. Before the Prizes there is traditionally a procession around the camp with heralds signing the praises of the Prizors. I asked my good friend Lord Gunthar if he would be my Herald and he agreed. Baron Brand was THL Wilhelm’s Herald. As we walked around the camp the two heralds began a duel, each raising the stakes in their praise of us. At one point Gunthar made the claim that I had killed more people with my sword than the Black Death and syphilis combined. That actually left Brand speechless, a state I have never seen him in before.

We arrived back at the list and the Prizes began. Lord DJ was of great help to me, handing me the weapons I needed during the bouts. I got off to a good start but grew concerned after a stretch without many wins. After a break during Wilhelm’s fight I managed to settle down and get back on track. Several of my opponents complimented me noting that I had my “A” game on that day. At some point someone whispered in my ear that I had passed the 13 win mark and I felt incredibly relieved. After that is was all fun, gruelling, exhausting fun.

In the end I managed to win 18 of my 40 bouts, a lot better then the 11 I managed last time. Gareth told me I seemed like I was having a lot more fun this time around. After a short rest was the 15 minute endurance round. For that part of the prize you face a constant stream of opponents. You don’t actually have to win any bouts, but you have to be standing at the end of 15 minutes and it can seem like an eternity. Lady Dubessa took over looking after my weapons and took some great pictures, for which I am very thankful. Lady Jocelyn, who was running the Prizes, announced five minutes at one point and I was disappointed to find out that it was only five minutes in not five minutes remaining. I’m not sure how many bouts I fought during the 15 minutes but it was a lot and I won a fair number of them. I fought the last 20 or so using my longsword which was a great fun. My last bout was a glorious double kill with Lord Yoshi after we had charged screaming at each other.

Eve had been watching after Matthew ran back to camp to get her and she gave me a big mug of water and a kiss. I slumped in my chair and stripped off bits and pieces of gear. I’m pretty certain steam rose out of my collar at one point. Wilhelm also succeeded in his Prize attempt and there was much general rejoicing. After being congratulated profusely by my fellow fencers, I staggered back to my tent.

I actually didn’t feel as terrible as I thought I would. I went into the tent and stripped off my fencing gear, and lay spread eagle on the bed enjoying the air on my skin. Eve offered to give me a foot bath. I slipped on my linen shirt and sat in one of the camp chairs while Eve filled our basin with cold water. I nearly went into shock when my feet went in but it was worth it after that. It felt awesome and did a lot to restore my energy. The A&S competition was being judged next store and I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my hairy legs. I actually felt good enough that Eve was able to go over and help out with the A&S judging while I watched the kids. I later took Matthew to the range for another round of archery and managed to do some shooting myself, including shooting a 9 in the Populace shoot (one red, one blue, two black). I also found out that I was the first to shoot for my Barony that day. After we got back from archery Eve made supper. She cooked up some very nice sirloin steaks over the camp stove along with some boiled potatoes. The steaks were absolutely delicious, lightly crusted with special salt and ground pepper. Each piece melted in my mouth. I had been looking forward to that meal all weekend and was in no way disappointed.

We finished just in time to head over to the Picnic Shelter for court. Eve wore her red brocade Gothic dress and looked great. She sat at court and I let the kids run around in the field behind the shelter. It was a bit of a struggle at times as I had to keep Elizabeth from running into court or playing on a siege weapon, a torsion powered mangonel, that had been set up near the battle field. Eve took over a couple of times, once when I got called into court to receive my Provost’s Scarf and another time when a new member was inducted into the Order of Thorbjorn’s Hammer. Eve’s two scrolls were given out and there were some good ooohs and ahhhs when they were displayed. One of the scrolls was for the new Hammer member. Eve’s scrolls are unique, being based on period items of jewellery. As can be seen from the examples above, they are quite stunning. At one point Matthew asked to go back to camp and I foolishly said yes. He wasn’t in camp when we got back and the next thing I knew a Lady came running into our camp saying Matthew had been hurt. I ran over to where Matthew was and found him being treated by a nurse for a bloody nose. Apparently another child was flinging about a heavy stick and it caught Matthew in the face. I thanked the people who helped out and took Matthew back to camp where he had a time out for some time. We did let him roast some marshmallows in a nearby camp later on. There was a kid’s party and an adult toga party that night but we decided to take it easy and get some rest. Sunday morning was going to be tear down of the camp in some pretty horrendous heat.

Next morning we cooked up a big mess of bacon and eggs which we shared with Caitlin and her daughter and then began cleaning up and tearing down our camp. We also chatted with friends who wandered by which slowed the process a bit but made it more pleasant. Eventually everything got packed up and through Eve’s magical skills, into the mini van. Fortunately most of the food and water had been used up so there was a bit more space. We waved our goodbyes from the car, dumped our garbage in the handy bin and headed into Ajax for a bit of lunch and then home. The drive was pretty easy and the traffic surprisingly light for a holiday weekend. I spent the evening unloading the car and then Eve went out for a load of groceries. All in all, it was a very good weekend. With all the fencing, kid chasing, packing and unpacking, my back and legs are pretty sore. I didn’t end up with too many bruises, despite the number of bouts I fought. I saw lots of good friends at Trilliums and despite some bug bites we did pretty well in the health department. We even managed to avoid sun burn, thanks to good hats and a new coif that we got for Elizabeth. Next weekend I’m going to a non-SCA Western Martial Arts event called Chivalric weekend with my friend Hoskuld. I’m hoping it will be fun and educational.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Drazi are Fight! Redux: It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times

Today was another fun game with Mark. We played with the same forces as last time, the additional twist being that 30% of my force could enter on turn 3 from a long board edge. So, to recap, I had 1 Primus Battlecruiser, 2 Demos Heavy Warships, and 4 Vorchans plus 7 flights of Sentri fighters. Mark had a mix of Drazi ships including cruisers, carriers and 3 missile ships. He also had the potential for Earth Force reinforcements, which he rolled for each turn to see if they arrived, consisting of two Hyperion-Alphas. I kept the two Demos warships off board and set up my forces, shading slightly to the right. Mark set up his forces in the centre of the far edge, with his missile ships well back. Again, this will be more of a synopsis of what happened, not a blow by blow account. As mentioned in the previous blog, ships are activated when their cards are drawn from a deck which can make for some tense situations. A ship can get destroyed before it gets a chance to shoot, but Mark does allow ships a last shot but the damage it can do is limited.

I needed to get the Primus off the far board edge and my plan was to try and keep it off to one side and screen it with the Vorchans and fighters. I sent the Vorchans ahead at their maximum speed without overthrusting and the Primus lumbered along behind them. My Vorchans closed quickly on the centre group of Drazi ships, destroying one of his escorts in the second turn and the Primus did some long range damage to a cruiser with two lasers, something like 17 points which was not bad. The retributive strike of the escort hurt one of the Vorchans, which was subsequently destroyed by the mass fire of the other Drazi ships. Mark's missile ships let loose a barrage of 18 missiles but they wouldn't hit until the next turn and hopefully my fighters and point defence would knock some of them out.

Turn Three went well for the Centauri, at least to start. Their cards came up early and often, including the two Demos heavy warships which were able to enter the fray. As a result, several Drazi ships were either destroyed or heavily damaged. The heavy warships moved in from from each flank, using there torpedo's and medium arrays to good effect with the Vorchans and the other Lasers from the Primus adding to the carnage. To get the lasers to bear I had to turn the Primus into the main area of combat, but the Drazi centre seemed to be crumbling quickly so I wasn't worried at that time. Mark was also maneuvering his remaining escort for a possible ramming run at the Primus. I damaged it with my medium arrays on the Primus and it was taken out by a Vorchan on the next turn. One of the Demos took heavy damage from Drazi fire and decided it was time to bug out.My fighters had moved up to screen against incoming missile attacks from the missile ships in Mark's backfield. He lost 5 missiles from one group as they failed to make their endurance test and dropped out. His fighters tied some of my squadrons but I was able to assign some to each missile strike. Unfortunately they were not at their best that day and failed to shoot down a single missile. I also failed to shoot any down with my point defence. 5 missiles got through on one of the Vorchans, hitting on a 5+ on a D6, all of which hit! That reduced the Vorchan to an expanding mass of gas and shrapnel. Another Vorchan had been damaged previously was also destroyed by missiles.

I managed to mop up his centre, but then made a major mistake. I was in range of his missile ships, but the Primus used it's point defence to take out a squadron of fighters, leaving it open to a full strike of 18 missiles, which did something like 22 points of damage. Earth Force, in the form of two Hyperion cruisers entered. Though they weren't able to do anything right away, they managed to get their lasers to bear on the next turn, destroying the Primus, and thus I could not win the game. I had a Demos and a Vorchan remaining and decided to fight on, with my goal being to destroy the last of the Drazi ships. I managed to get one of the missile ships, but then the Earthers had a remarkable string of luck. They both managed to get their rear facing medium lasers to bear, one on the Vorchan and one on the Demos. The Vorchan was heavily damaged, taking two critical hits. Mark rolled 15 on a d20 twice, which was +4 damage twice. This destroyed the Vorchan. The Demos was hit by a laser, and Mark rolled max damage (8 points), which also meant he got to roll again for damage as the laser was sustained. This second set of damaged blew the Demos out of the sky.

The game had looked so good around the mid point of turn 3, but it rapidly went downhill. Failing to deal with the big missile strike on the Primus was a critical error on my part. It must be said that it was a bit of a Phyrric victory for the Drazi, who had only two ships out of 9 remaining at the end of the battle. Mark also had some amazingly good die rolls. At least things went better than in the first game.

Next time we will be playing War of the Ring and I will be facing Elves, possibly with an Isengard force.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Pikeman's Pleasure

Last weekend there was an SCA event known as Pikeman's Pleasure which took place in the Canton of Petrea Thule, near Peterborough, Ontario. PP was one of the first events I remember attending in the SCA and it's still held at the same site, a community centre in Millbrook, Ontario. It's an event we hadn't been to in awhile, especially since we moved from Toronto to Guelph, which made it a 2 1/2 hour drive to get there. This year we decided to make the trek as there sounded like there would be some fun fencing and Matthew would get a chance to shoot his new bow. Eve had also promised a scroll and I could deliver my latest miniatures painting commission to my friend Dave and pick up the check.

The forecast for the Peterborough area for Saturday called for rain and possibly thunderstorms for the day, but we weren't worried as the site had access to a hockey arena so there was plenty of indoor space. We packed accordingly, which was sort of unfortunate as it turned out to be a beautiful summer day. We hadn't brought things like blankets and chairs or adequate hats. We were able to make do though as I did remember to pack the sun block and Eve bought a lovely red linen cap for herself. Elizabeth had an oatmeal coloured linen cap so she was covered as well. I had my flat cap which doesn't cover as well as my felt hat, but it was ok. We did have one blanket, a large Strawberry Shortcake throw in red and pink. Not exactly period looking but it would do.

The drive to the event was uneventful. We didn't get out of the house until 9:30 so we arrived at the site just after noon. The fencing was well underway by that point and it took us awhile to get set up in the shade of some trees. The first two tournaments were over by the time I got there, but I got to play lots of pick up bouts with folks, especially THL Gareth Cambell. He was a student of mine who has become one of the best fencers in our Kingdom, though I'm not sure how much my teaching had to do with it. He's one of the people who advanced to Provost at the same time I made my attempt. I'm planning on trying again at War of the Trilliums but fencing with him did not leave me brimming with confidence. He did have some very good suggestions though and I'm going to have to relax and think a bit more when I fence. I tend to be aggressive and it can get me into trouble. Baron Alyce was also there and she was about to armour down when I whined that I hadn't got a chance to play with her, so she very kindly offered to fence with me for a few passes. I was also able to beg Her Majesty to play with me and it was a fun series of bouts. I did manage to commit regicide a few times. The last tourney ended up not happening as there was a lack of fencers, but Eve did make me a wonderful baloney sandwich on crusty French bread which made up for a lot.

A fencer from Ottawa named Lars, an old friend who has returned to playing fairly recently, showed up even later than we did. He had brought all his stuff but most of the fencers had armoured down or were doing other things. I still had my stuff on so I offered to fence him which he thought was great. For somebody who was out of things for awhile he certainly is good, It was a tonne of fun crossing blades with him and he even let me play around with my two handed sword.

While I was off fencing Eve was looking after the kids. She was able to take Matthew out to the archery range so he could use his new bow, and he had a lot of fun. Someone offered to watch Elizabeth so Eve got shoot as well, something she hadn't done before. Apparently she did quite well and the archery marshal said she had excellent natural talent. We've always wanted to get an adult bow for the household so we may want to look into this a bit more now.

I watched Elizabeth while Eve attended Court to see the scroll she did get given out. It was an Award of the Maiden's Heart for another old friend of ours named Thorolfr inn smithr. On the scroll was the image of a Viking ship and the text of scroll was written in tiny runes on the planks that made up the sides of the ship. The badge of the Maiden's Heart was on the sail, along with a place for the Kingdom seal. The whole thing was highlighted in silver. I thought it looked awesome and was very appropriate for Thorolf as I know he would love to build a Norse ship some day. I saw him shortly afterwards and he seemed to really like the scroll, especially the runes.

We weren't staying for feast so we started packing up to go. One plan had been to try to visit some friends in Orono but we weren't able to get in touch with them. I asked Dave and Susan if they'd like to meet up for supper and they said sure. We would meet them at their new place in Ajax and go from there. We finished our packing and loaded up the car.

We pulled out of the site but quickly noticed an odd noise from the right rear quarter of our van. We stopped and the tire back there was quite flat! We could see an Esso station and garage just down the road from us so we pulled in there. Unfortunately the garage part was closed. We saw that there was a giant staple embeded in the tire. A couple of people there tried to help us out, but the spare tire, which is stored under the car, was badly rusted in place and would not drop down. The pump in our car wasn't able to re inflate the tire but there was an air pump at the station. We filled up the tire and drove back to the site of the event. We hoped we could find someone to help us out and as luck would have it, we did. The first person Eve encountered at the site was a Lady whose husband, Lord Varenko happened to be rather good with cars and after an epic struggle was able to get the spare down and installed. We haven't had the car for long and were kind of clueless about how to change the tire. Varenko and his Lady, Gypsy were of immense help to us and we are very grateful to them for there help. Varenk suggested that we get the tire patched at some place like Canadian Tire and it would be as good as new. The nearest Canadian Tire was in Peterborough and was probably closed by then.

We called Dave and Susan and asked them if we could stay over at their place and get the tire fixed on Sunday. They graciously agreed. The spare is a "doughnut" type, not a full sized tire. We did not want to try to get all the way back to Guelph on it, especially as we would have to travel on the 401. We took Hwy 115 to Hwy 2 and then across to Ajax, doing about 70 km per hour, which was all we dared to do with the emergency spare. Slow and steady wins the race.

We made it safely to Dave and Susan's new house and got the tour. It is a very nice house and they've added some lovely personal touches, especially some cool lighting based on designs by Frank Loyd Wright. The wall o' crossbows is also very nice, and they'll be quite well prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse. We ordered in pizza and watched the new Sherlock Holmes movie which was really quite good. We had the play yard so Elizabeth slept in that and the rest of slept on couches or air matresses. After the tire stress it was really nice to reach a safe haven. Thank God for good friends and friendly strangers.

Eve headed out the next morning to Canadian Tire and got the tire repaired. It didn't take much time and wasn't expensive. Eve showed me the staple, which was one of the huge ones used to hold down electrical cable. We hope someone didn't drive it into the tire on purpose as we were parked near the main drag and there were some bored looking kids around. After thanking our hosts again, to whom we are also immensely grateful, we made our way back to Guelph.

Despite the car troubles things turned out well, and we got to spend a pleasant evening with our very good friends. We got home safely and that is the most important thing of all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Drazi are Fight!

Mark came over today for our monthly gaming session. As a break from War of the Ring he wanted to try out his set of starship combat rules that were set in the Babylon 5 universe. Actually, they're usable in multiple universes but today it was B5. Anyone unfamiliar with Babylon 5, the tv series, should check it out. There is some great storytelling there, especially the 2nd and 3rd seasons.

The matchup was Drazi vs. Centauri, with some Earthforce ships coming in as reinforcements for the Drazi. I was playing the Centauri, who were trying to break through a Drazi squadron to land troops on a planet. Their force was built around the impressive Primus Battlecruiser supported by two Demos Heavy Warships and four Vorchans. This also gave me 7 flights of Sentri fighters. The Primus was the main troop ship and the one that had to make it through. The Drazi had a mixed force of carriers and missile ships plus some small escorts/super heavy fighters. They have names like Sunhawk, Stirkehawk, Warbird, Sky Serpent etc. There were at least 4-5 missile ships, a couple of carriers and the super heavy fighters. At some point two Earth Hyperion Beta class cruisers with some fighters would enter from a random point along the board edge.

We set up our respective fleets within a few inches of the opposite ends of the board. I was coming in through two jump points, the Primus, two Demos and some fighters through one and the Vorchans and remaining fighters through the other. I decided to close as quickly as I could and try and take out as many Drazi ships before the Earthers arr rived. The game works on a card activation system, a ship being able to move and fire when it's card was drawn from a deck. I like this better than a lot of the IGUGO systems out there. During movement you are allowed to overthrust your ships but you risk loosing thrusters in the process. My Demos and Vorchans could move 10 without overthrusting and the Primus could move 6. One of the Vorchans moved ahead 15" but the second one to move lost two thrusters and was reduced to a total move of 9". Not good. I was a bit more cautious with the overthrusting after that. The Dranzi moved forward very aggressively and Earthforce didn't put in an appearance.

The second turn brought the Primus within range of several Drazi ships. I split my laser fire between two ships, which was probably a mistake. Concentrated fire would have destroyed a Drazi ship before it could get off a shot and it took three turns for my lasers to recycle. The Drazi ships fired off a barrage of 18 missiles, which would arrive on the next turn. I swept all my fighters forward to engage the missiles that were streaking towards me, and they knocked down a few of them.

On the third turn the two Demos got to fire their torpedoes, badly damaging a Drazi ship, but the Drazi got a retributive shot back, severely damaging the Vorchan tasked with finishing it off as it was destroyed. The Demos would also have their heavier weapons back on turn 5. I lost a Demos and a Vorchan to concentrated fire from the Drazi cruisers. My Sentris were tied up in dog fights with Drazi fighters. Only a couple of missiles struck home and a small amount of damage was done to a Vorchan. I was damaging ships with my medium arrays but not killing them. Turn four was disastrous for the proud Centauri fleet when the two Hyperions rolled in, in the possibly the worst place they could have. They arrived in the 7 o'clock of my fleet with their lasers being able to hit several of my ships. One Vorchan died almost instantly from laser fire from the 1st Hyperion and its pulse cannons killed the second one. Fire from the second Hyperion damaged the Primus and did some critical hits. The last Vorchan charged 3 Drazi cruisers, scoring a lucky critical which took out most of one ship's weapons. It was promptly blown out of the sky. The Primus was down to two thrust from a critical and this would go down to one on the next turn when one of its thrusters failed, giving it a total speed of 2.

Turn 5 saw weapons coming back on line, but I was down to two ships, both damaged, and about three flights of fighters. The initiative cards where against me and the Primus was finished off by a combination of missiles which it utterly failed to shoot down, a ramming attack, and fire from Drazi ships, meaning I had no way of winning. The fact that ir got to only fire it's lasers once was quite disapointing. The Demos also went down, from a rear laser shot from one of the Hyperions which Mark skillfully maneuvered into firing position. It managed to take a carrier with it with its dying shot.

All in all, not a good day for the Centauri. I did have some very bad luck, especially with the entry of the Earthers, and the last turn was bad as my ships could not be activated before they were destroyed. I think I know some of the things I'll do differently when we have a rematch, but I can't really discuss them here as I know Mark reads this blog. Hi Mark! Mark also lent me the new Battlehost book for WOTR, which looks really neat.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fruits of Our Labour and May 24 Weekend

This past weekend was held a really neat SCA event called Fruits of Our Labour, or FOOL, though there was nothing foolish at all about it.

The emphasis of the event was on classes that teach actual skills in one of the arts and sciences practiced in the SCA. This included a wide range of topics, everything from mead making to glass bead manufacture. A full list of class descriptions can be found here:

This is a great idea as it gives people a chance to try all sorts of neat things in a pretty relaxed environment.

Our plan was to go for the Saturday of the event and spend the rest of the long weekend doing errands and stuff around the house. The site was about an hour away from our place, a scout camp called Camp Impessa. My wife had volunteered to do a class on how to construct award scrolls in the SCA and I had offered to run fencing for the day. When I first started checking the weather for the event at the beginning of the week Environment Canada was saying a mix of sun and cloud, but by the afternoon it was saying rain for Saturday and Sunday. This did not bode well for fencing, which would be taking place outside. Over the week this forecast remained pretty static though by Friday the rain was limited to Saturday. That's the day I planned on having my tourney, so still not good.

When we got up Saturday morning things seemed reasonably nice, but a quick check of the EC radar showed a large system moving up from the south. Dang! We loaded up the car with our stuff and the kids and headed out. My navigation was actually pretty decent for a change and we got to the site without a hitch. We did drive through multiple bands of rain. During the course of the drive, my dear wife, noticing my apprehension concerning the weather, said something extremely nice to me. She said that if the rain keeps up, we can always come back tomorrow. Thank you Eve!

The site was very nice, with a large central lodge, several outlying cabins and a lot of open space. There was also areas with fire pits, a large picnic shelter, an amphitheater and a network of trails. Several people had brought tents so they could stay the whole weekend and others had taken space in the cabins. It was spitting when we got there so we quickly moved into the lodge which was set up as a tavern and common area. There were lots of tables and chairs inside and some very comfy couches. The earlier spitting turned into full blown rain and my spirits sank. The event steward, Mistress Odette, was hopeful that the rain would end I would be able to have fencing that day, but my hopes were not high. In the mean time we set up comfortably in a corner of the lodge, including, thank goodness, the play yard for Elizabeth. It was very pleasant and there was even a merchant near us selling a range of excellent medieval books, a fact for which our wallets would pay dear.

During the day I wandered the site in between rain showers, usually tailing Elizabeth. I visited friends who were camping there and saw the production of leather water bottles based on period patterns and techniques. The rained and wet grass combined to soak through my shoes and two layers of stockings. I also spent time up in the lodge chatting with folks. They had some evilly comfortable couches there and I think I nodded off at one point. All in all a relaxing day, but not what I was hoping for. About mid day I went around and let fencers know that I would be running the tourney on Sunday, when the weather promised to be much nicer. I also managed to pick up a book on calligraphy for Eve and a castle book for Matthew from Evan Quicktounge, bookseller extraordinaire. Matthew spent his time drawing, playing with Lego and occasionally running around in the rain. Thankfully I packed extra tunics for him. We were hoping he could do some archery with his new bow but the weather was too bad and the person running archery was only going to be at the event for Saturday.

Eve's class went off wonderfully and she had a least 10 people in attendance. They decided to hold it upstairs in the lodge rather than in the rather poorly lit downstairs rooms. She had brought all sorts of suppl es for people to use including paper, inks, pens, markers, brushes, paints, pallets, water cups and basically everything you needed to do calligraphy and illumination. She also brought a bunch of books and examples of scrolls that she had done over the years. I think the class was a great success and I saw a number of wonderful scrolls produced. Hopefully it will encourage people to produce award scrolls, as there is a steady demand and not a huge number of active scribes to fill that demand.

We headed back home after Eve finished her class and feasted on pizza. We generally took it easy, knowing that Sunday was going to be another long day.

I had let people know I would be back on Sunday at around 11ish in order to give the family a chance to sleep in. The weather Sunday morning was much nicer than the day before, but I could feel the humidity as I repacked the car. We made our way back to the site, again without a hitch.

I decided to set up the list for the tourney near the picnic shelter, as two of the fencers, Baroness Eyrny and Lady Jocelyn were also running the leather bottle production class which was taking place in the shelter. This meant they could work and play at the same time. Jocelyn had kindly brought list posts as had Lord Matteo, so I was able to cordon off a pretty big space.

Now about the tourney. One thing that I have noticed about SCA fencing tourneys is that there is a limited number of parallels to what we do in period. There were Prize Fights, duels, and brawls but nothing that really matched up with the idea of a tournament involving rapiers. The rapier was more of a personal defence weapon, not one that people used in a formal setting unless it was something like a duel or a Prize. I had found one exception to this, and that was a form of German tournament called a Fechtschule. In Germany there were two main fencing groups, the Brotherhood of St. Mark known as the Marxbrudder, and the free fencers or Federfechters which loosely translates as the fencers of the feather. They met in competitions that were usually sponsored by a local Lord or fencing master. They occur ed on Sundays and took place at a tavern with the bouts being fought in the courtyard and the interior used as a first aid post for those involved in the Fechtschule. It was a festive occasion and a popular spectator sport. Fencers would issue challenges and bouts would be fought for a silver coin. To win a bout a fencer needed to inflict a bloody head wound on their opponent, as there was no question of who won.

My version would be similar but some changes were made. Originally I was going to have each side elect a captain who would decide who would fight which bout, but I ended up not doing this as I had a fairly small group of fencers. I also removed the head wounds only rule, though I may experiment with that in future. I had six fencers for the Fechtschule: Baroness Eyrny, Lady Jocelyn, Lady Findabhair, Lord Matteo, THL Gerrard and Lord Simone. Sides were created by picking tokens from a bag and the Marxbrudder fencers received a purple favour and the Federfechters a green one. I didn't realize it at the time but this was sort of a Babylon 5 reference. Check out the episode "Geometry of Shadows".

For the purse, I had a carved wooden box with 100 tokens in it and two mugs one marked with a green cloth and the other with a purple one. When one side or another won a bout a token went into the appropriate mug. The tournament format did not decide an individual winner, though this could probably be done by a separate tracking sheet. I did have two prizes for those I thought fought with the greatest courtesy and honour in the form of a couple of ornate rings from my collection.

Before the Fechtscule started I got to read a speech I had prepared, based on an extant one from a period Fechtschule. here is the text of the speech:

In honour of Their Most Gracious and Noble Majesties, I, the Honourable Lord Albrecht Stampfer, Free Scholar and Proctor of the Ealdormere Academy of Defence and Fencing Champion of the Barony of Ramshaven on whose lands we intend to play at fence, with the permission of the Steward of this event, have set up a free public Fechtschule, with all honourable weapons here in this place.

So then, let all good gentles who are here present and have learned the noble art of fence and are experienced in it, and who intend to bring joy and entertainment with due submission to the high born gentlemen and all the Ladies with their skill, come forward unhindered to fight for the established prize, to keep the fitting passage of arms according to the honourable ancient custom of fencing.

And I am minded and determined to keep myself unprejudiced towards all such good gentles, as befits an honour loving gentleman and Fee Scholar, and to guard and protect them against and in opposition to arrogance and impropriety.

Guard and protection is to be extended to each, as well as all the rest, and likewise I wish to request that if two of you bear hatred and envy towards one another you will not fight it out in the school.

The original speech can be found in The Secret History of the Sword by J. Christoph Amberger, which was also my main source of information on the Fechtschule.

One hundred bouts is a lot of fencing, especially for six people on a warm day, but the fencers present were real troopers, going through with all one hundred. I had made up a purple flag and a green flag so I could indicate which side won each bout. I can't recall the name of the Lady who helped out with the score keeping, but she was a Scots persona with plaid trews and a claymore over her back. Her help was greatly appreciated.

The bouts went through the afternoon and it was a close fought thing. There were frequent rest, water and bottle making breaks. At the end victory went to the Federfechters, consisting of Lord Simone, THL Gerrard, Lady Findabhair. I presented the rings to Lady Findabhair and Lord Simone. Simone had recently re-authorized and was his usually energetic and very skilled self, even fencing with me for awhile after the tourney was over. I'm hoping to run this type of tourney again some day hopefully with more fencers. I think everyone involved had fun and no one could complain about not getting to play enough :).

Just after the Fechtschule there was a Baronial Moot for Ramshaven. I managed to make it there,but only for the last bit as I had trouble finding where it was. I reminded people that the other Canton of Ramshaven, namely Der Welfengau, was still alive and there was a cheer. Eve, Devin, Isaac and I had worked quite hard to get things going again. I invited people to come visit us at our meetings on Tuesday nights.

While I was running the tourney Eve was looking after Elizabeth and she got in a couple of good runs around the site. Eventually she ran out of steam and took an extended nap in her play yard. Eve got to relax and do some sewing on her Tudor Cabriolet Dress as she calls it (it's convertible). Matthew got to play with a bunch of kids, fight in a woods boffer battle, throw sticks into a ravine, work a pole lathe to help make a wooden bowl, battled with Lego, played a game based on The Hobbit and generally expended a lot of energy. After Elizabeth woke from her nap we decided it would be a good time to go. I took Elizabeth for one more run while Eve packed up our stuff. I also got a chance to buy an interesting book I had been eyeing throughout the event on Special Operation During the Age of Chivalry. Before we could leave, Kol, the Baron of Ramshaven asked if I could stand with him in court as I was his fencing champion. He also mentioned that one of the pieces of business in court involved Eve.

I escorted the family over to the court site, lugging the play yard along in case we needed it and then I went back to the lodge to meet up with Their Excellencies. We processed over to the court behind Their Majesties, who had been at an event in the States the day before and had travelled all the way back to attend FOOL (yes, they rock!). The court was short but sweet. Eve was called up and received an Award from Their Excellencies, the Guidon de Sang, in recognition of her efforts in reviving Der Welfengau. Very cool!

The organizers of FOOL, Mistress Odette and Countess Rylan deserve major kudos. It is a great event and a great site. I'm looking forward to next year and have already volunteered to run fencing there next time around. Maybe I could also teach a class.

Finally we could head back home, stopping in Guelph for some last minute groceries. When we got back Eve and I whipped up some home made hamburgers which were great. I left the car unpacking for the next day. Unfortunately Matthew left his soccer ball at the site but hopefully we'll be able to recover it.

The next day was Victoria Day and we took it easy at home. I did some laundry and made Eve a Pinacolada and some of her favourite chip dip. We watched the first two Addams Family movies which I had got Eve for her birthday. They really are brilliantly funny in parts and Raul Julia is sorely missed. Eve then made some really wonderful steaks. We don't have a barbeque but she pan fried them to perfection and served them with corn on the cob and sauteed mushrooms. We followed up supper with some Black Forest cake. It was fantastic.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend, despite the gloomy beginning. Mark will be over on Thursday to play a game based on Babylon 5 (there's that show again) and I will blog again after that. Also, Eve's brother Joe is coming over for the weekend and Matthew and I are going to a Jays game.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lady Mary Memorial Tourney

On this weekend was held the 23rd annual Lady Memorial Tourney in the Barony of Rising Waters in the Kingdom of Ealdormere. I've attended several Lady Mary Tourney's while I have been in the SCA, and they have all been great events.

Asa had done a scroll for the event, but didn't want to drag the kids out on what turned out to be a cold, windy and rainy day to a small site where they would be cooped up inside. I made arrangements with Baron Hoskuld and Baroness Eyrny to get a ride with them to the event. The family got up bright and early on Saturday morning and Asa drove the scroll and I to Their Excellencies place in Kitchener. It turns out they didn't want to drag their kids out on a cold, windy and rainy day to a small site where they would be cooped up inside either. Hoskuld decided to stay home with the kids while Eyrny and I went to the event.

The site itself was near the town of Welland, about half way between St. Catherines and Fort Erie in the far south of Ontario. The drive was about an hour and a half and we made it safely despite the high winds and the occasional downpour. The event was held at a place called Club Rheingold, a place with a definite German flavour to it, but not exactly Wagnerian. There was a large room for the days activities with a stage for the thrones. There were some smaller rooms that were used for changing and a bar and kitchen. If the weather had of been better some of the activities would have been held outside on the rather nice grounds of the club, but there were gale force winds combined with the occasional heavy shower and temperatures hovering around 10 degrees C, which did not make in conducive for armoured combat of fencing. Some brave archers and thrown weapons enthusisasts did venture outside so they could compete in their portion on the tourney. The wind must have made things interesting, especially for the archers. The first thing I did when I got to the site was deliver the scroll Asa had done to one of the signets.

Since the great outdoors were not really available to us, we had to play inside. This meant we had a rather small list area to play in. I estimate it was about 12 feet wide and maybe 30 feet long, rather like a modern fencing piest. Still, I glad we were able to get the space. There were about 12 fencers who had braved the journey to Lady Mary, including a couple of gentles from the Kingdom of Athelmarc to the south.

One of the really nice aspects of the Lady Mary Tourney is that, before the fighting, fencing, archery, thrown weapons or youth combat can begin there is a procession held before Their Majesties and Their Excellencies Rising Waters. The procession is held in order of SCA precedence, or in this case, reverse precedence. In the SCA you have a rank based on the awards and honours you have recieved in the Society. Your place in the Order of Precedence is determined by your rank. So, in this case, Royal Peers would be at the end of the line, and those who held an Award of Arms or no honours would be at the front. Often there would be couples, where one person was honouring the other, and the higher rank would determine where they were in line. I was in about the middle of the line holding a Grant of Arms equivalent award, The Order of Thorbjorn's Hammer. A herald would announce the name of each participant and who's honour they were fighting etc., for that day. They would then process up to Their Majesties and Excellencies and receive a carnation. After the procession was completed Their Majesties thanked those who were participating and the tourneys could then proceed.

Lord Tadc was Rapier Marshal in Charge for the event, and he ran a simple round robin style tourney with double kills being a loss for both people and no refights. I must say I was having an off day, only managing to win one or two bouts and double killing twice, once against the person who eventually won the tourney. I got hit hard a couple of times, once by one of the Athelmarc fencers, and once by Tadc, who managed to slide into me with two daggers extended. Ouch! I also got to play around with my longsword, but the small list made it difficult and I managed to pull down the list ropes a couple of times by hooking them with my sword's tip.

There was a three way tie at the end between Tadc and the two Athelmarcians, Baron Caleb and Lord Alexander. Final victory went to Baron Caleb. I spent the rest of the afternoon playing pick up bouts and teaching Alexander about Bolognese tradition of cut & thrust fencing. He appreciated the lessons and I'm hoping to send some more info to him.

Eyrny had to go to a work related conference and so arranged a ride back to their place in Kitchener for me with THL Catriona and her husband THL Daniel of Whitby. This worked out ok for me.

Several Ladies of the Court gave out favours to those they felt had fought particularly well or honrouably on the day or had provided great service to the event. Lord Raith and Lord Tadc both received favours.

After the fencing wrapped up the hall was cleared for Court. It was a fairly quick court as such things go. Their Excellencies Rising Waters gave out several awards to citizens of their Barony and then Their Majesties did the same. The AOA scroll Asa had done, which is based on The Book Of Durrow, and illuminated Irish manuscript, was given out to a Lady with an Irish persona. It included a gripping beast motif in red, black, gold and white. Here are some images of the scroll that was handed out:

A couple of fencers were given awards that day, including Lord Tadc, who received the Award of the Scarlet Banner and Lord Ronan who recieved his Award of Arms. One interesting part of the court was the announcement by the event Autocrat, that the power would be shut down in 10 minutes. A hydro pole had been partly knocked down just down the street from the site and the hydro people needed time to repair it. I'm sure this gave the person who was preparing the feast kittens. I'm not sure how things turned out as I left before feast. Their Majesties also declared a 10 minute break so folks could use the facilities before the power went out.

After court ended I got packed up and changed and said some goodbyes. As I mentioned earlier, my ride back had been arranged with Catriona and Daniel who are really nice people. They had a crew cab pickup truck and were nice enough to let me ride in the front. My only concern was the truck had no cap over the bed and I was worried about my stuff getting we. We had a couple of very brief periods of light rain on the way back but nothing got wet, thank goodness. It was nice chatting with them on the way back and Daniel is a very easy going guy, and not even wonky directions from their Tom Tom seemed to phase him. We stopped at a Tim Hortons on the way back which also had a Wendy's, KFC and Dairy Queen. A few minutes THL Bjarn stopped in followed by three of the fencers: Murighen, Ronan and Raith. We all ate together an chatted. Bjarn promised me that if he won crown tourney, one of the first things he would do would to learn fencing and authorize and he wanted me as his teacher. He mentioned that some of the things I had taught him in the past where still useful to him in armoured combat. I was quite honoured.

It turned out to be easier to for Daniel to drop me off at my place than take me to Kitchener and have Hoskuld drive me back. It was a bit of an adventure in Guelph because of all the construction but they got me home, for which I am greatly appreciative.

I'm not sure when I next be blogging. We are having an A&S Day at our place next Sunday and the following weekend is Fruits of Our Labour where I'll be running a tourney based on a 16th c. German Fechtschule.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Up Elve's Creek

Two posts in two days. Wow!

Mark came over today for another game of War of the Ring. It was essentially a re fight of the last battle we had with a few minor differences. Instead of taking the wood elf King, Mark went with Haldir, who, as we shall see, is pretty hot with a bow. This also gave him the points to buy another company of Elves, giving them two formations with two companies each. The terrain was also slightly different with a branch to the creek, one larger patch of forest and a few extra spots of difficult terrain. My forces were unchanged from the last game.

My account of the game will essentially be a description of the high (and low) points that occur ed, rather than a turn by turn account. A lot happened in the game and it would be difficult to relate it all.

My set up was different than last game, with Vrashku's Talons on the far left flank, followed by Saruman in a formation of two companies of Uruk-hai Phalanx, next to whom were a three company formation of Uruk-hai Warband. Within the forks of the creek was a four company formation of Orcs and a two company formation of Uruk-hai scouts with bows.

The big patch of forest was right in front of the Talon's and, I having won Priority for the first turn, moved them in at the double. The forest had a capacity of three, so they would be able to shoot at full strength. All of my other forces advanced as best they could. The amount of terrain made things interesting for manoeuvring. My first turns shooting went well, taking out almost a whole company of Rohan bowmen who were hiding in a nearby patch of woods. A lot of his cav was on my far right flank, but they did not move into an offensive position as they were worried about Vrashku and his crossbows. Mark's return fire killed some of the Uruk-hai scouts on my left flank who had moved to far to shoot. They were subsequently charged and wiped out by a unit of Rohan Royal Knights. I had advanced too far forward and they paid the price. That hurt and left a group of cav menacing my large Orc formation.

I decided to turn the orcs around to face the knights so they wouldn't be charged in the rear. This turned out to be a huge mistake as every bow in range shot them in their poorly protected rear, also wiping them out. The cav didn't even have to charge them. My right flank had effectively ceased to exist.

Back on the right things were a bit of a see saw. The Berserkers were acting as a meat shield for Saruman's Phalanx while he moved into spell casting postion. Despite this, some of the Elven archers were able to draw a bead on him and took down some pike Uruks, despite Saruman casting Aura of Blinding Light. The Rohan bowmen had wisely retreated behind the forest leaving me with no targets. The Elves had a special cloak rule which meant I could only shoot them at a range of 12" or less.

Mark's cavalry on the left were moving into position for their inevitable charges, but he found the crowded terrain somewhat limiting. Saruman had found a position with had both of his flanks covered by forest, which meant pretty much any charges would come from the front, and the pikes would negate any charge bonus. He tried to hammer one formation of Riders of Rohan, lead by Erkenbrand, first with Exsiccate boosted by Epic Ruination. I rolled quite well on the number of hits, but, as it was a friendly game, I reminded Mark that he could use Will of Iron to resist the spell effect, which he did. I then hit him with a Bolt of Fire, for which I rolled a 6 for spell effect which would have meant D6+3 strength 9 hits (!), but he spent another point of might and resisted the spell (Damn!). Finally, I tried to Immobilise the formation, but on the subsequent charge he managed to roll under his strength value and was able to make the charge. If Mark had not have used Will of Iron that formation would have been wiped out for sure. I think it was one of the deciding points of the game because that unit would cause me a lot of grief later on. At least I got him to burn off most of his might.

On the left, Vrasku's Talons, after much waffling on my part, had left cover to try for a shot at the elves, but could only bring one company to bear. The Troll Captain lumbered forward out of some woods suddenly menacing a lot of Mark's units. I had lost priority so called heroic shoots with both the Talon's and the Troll. Mark called an Epic Shot with Haldir, and won the roll to see who went first. He did three Epic Shots with Haldir which wiped out the Talons. We felt something was wrong with this and on reading over the rules we realized only one point of might could be expended per phase. So, the Talon's miraculously returned to the board. Instead, he used his single Epic Shot on the troll, which almost survived the onslaught of arrows, but Mark used Haldir's last point of might to bump a die roll, finishing the troll off. My return fire, despite expending a point of might to use Take Aim, only killed four elves, much to my chagrin. The Bersekers managed to charge the archers who had moved back into the woods and wiped them out to a man.

On the next turn the berserkers moved right right in front of a unit of Riders lead by Eomer. At first they were going to be a nasty speed bump, but I used Saruman's Overlord ability to allow them to do a heroic charge. Eomer also declared a heroic charge, but I won the die roll. Eomer's unit also failed it's courage check for being charged by a unit that caused terror, reducing their fight to zero. Eomer expended his last point of might for a heroic strike, but only managed to kill one berserker. The remaining four (some had been killed by archery fire in previous turns) must have been really pissed off. The rolled a "Carnage Unbound" on their special table which increased their strength to 10 and the rolled a five for their charge bonus. I also had a plus one on my attacks because of two handed weapons. This meant I had something like 12 dice, hitting on 2's. The attack took out six riders, and Eomer came very close to being taken out. On the next turn he would move to a larger unit of Riders.

Mark charged Saruman's Phalanx with the cav that had weathered the magic storm. Originally he wasn't going to because the pike negated the riders charge bonus but he realized he could call out Saruman in a heroic duel. Saruman only managed to roll a two for the duel and Mark rolled a six, giving him 4 rolls on the chart. This wiped out Saruman and all but five of the Phalanx who were then killed by the remaining Riders.

Over on the right, my large unit of Uruk warband had manoeuvred so their backs were to some forest. IIRC, every archer that Mark had in range of them shot at them, but because of their toughness and armour, no casulaties were sustained. A unit of Royal Knights charged them in their right flank but I called out their leader, Deowine in a Heroic Duel, which I managed to win, slaying him. The fight only killed one Uruk and the Knights were down to two companies and disordered. The large formation of Riders that Eomer had joined wheeled around and positioned themselves for a charge on the front of the Uruk warband. I called a heroic charge and managed to win the roll and charge them first, negating their charge bonus. The Knights charged me in the flank. After all was said and done, a few Uruks went down as well as some riders, but I still had two and a half companies remaining.

Back on the left, the Talon's had retreated back into the woods and were peppering elves with crossbow bolts. At that point we had to call it. Mark had the by far superior force remaining. His Royal Guard and and Militia hadn't even engaged anyone yet. I was certainly in better shape than the last game, but not by much.

I'm not sure what I would have done differently. I think the loss of the right flank was critical. I decided to turn the orcs around at the last minute, and I should have just advanced them at the double and kept their shields to the front. Also, I advanced the scouts two far forward and they got caught in the open. They died within sight of the forest they were trying to get to for cover. It may have also been wise to have Saruman move up faster as he only got in one good turn of spell casting.

The first few pictures above were taken with my new camera, but I used up the limited memory I had available by the middle of the game. I plan on fixing the memory issue with an 8 gig memory card as soon as possible. Mark sent me the last couple which were from later in the game.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kingdom of Ealdormere Coronation

Last Saturday was Coronation in Ealdormere, the event where we crown our new King and Queen. It's handy to have a new set of Royalty every six months. If you don't like the current set, you just have to bide your time and they'll go away without all that messy Civil War stuff and lopping off heads.

Stepping up to the thrones were Princess Dagmar and Prince Quilliam. I've know Dagmar for some time and she is a very nice and talented person. I know less about Quilliam other than he seems to have a good head on his shoulders and is an amazing fighter. I'm looking forward to this reign.

The event itself took place at a campground near the city of Kingston (Greyfells in the SCA). The site has a large main building with three floors of space so there was plenty of room, even if the weather had not been absolutely gorgeous, which it was. There was also a duck pond near the building which had all sorts of interesting water fowl, including several different types of ducks and geese.

We headed out from Guelph on Friday morning for the drive to Gananoque which is where Eve's mom lives. The site is about a 30 minute drive from the site, which was very handy. We got to Gan and Eve's mom made us a nice roast chicken dinner with potatoes and mixed vegetables. It was very yummy.

Both Eve and I had projects to finish for the event. Eve had two awards scrolls to complete plus finishing work on her new gown and I had 50+ miniatures which needed to be based (have sand and static grass applied to them). I spent until about 1 am working on my stuff and Eve was up to 3. This seems to be par for the course for most events but at least it wasn't a two hour drive away.

We headed out with Elizabeth at around 9:30 am and got to the site just after it opened at 10 am. Being there early helped get us a great parking spot. Eve changed into her new dress, a Gothic era gown in a warm red-brown brocade with fur trim, and it looked fantastic. She would get several compliments on it during the course of the day. Eve made sure she got her scrolls delivered and I was on Elizabeth duty until the end of First Court. Elizabeth looked very sweet in her purple dress and we went outside almost immediately as the hall was rapidly filling up and was getting quite noisy. Elizabeth has a tonne of energy and it's fun trying to keep up with her. She liked to be near the duck pond and it was an interesting time keeping her dress clean. The geese could be a bit aggressive so I had to keep an eye on them. Sometimes I followed her, sometimes I lead her, and we went all over the site including the upper and lower parts of the hall. It was quite tiring but fun in its own sort of way. Court was quite long and I only caught bits of it as Elizabeth made her way through the Hall. I did get to see one of Eve's scrolls get given out and it looked really good, even at a distance, with the main motif in gold based on a piece of Norse era metal work and lettering in Runic.

Court ended at 1:30 and I switched off with Eve and headed over to the fencing list where things were starting to get going. There were about 15 fencers at the event, about twice as many as the RMIC probably expected. I got to see people I haven't seen in years like Gavin and his Lady, Estienne. We ran some authorizations, including a reauthorization for Lady Estienne who was back to fencing after about 10 years. I also reactivated Gavin as a Rapier Marshal and got Lord Daffyd started on the Rapier Marshal in Training process.

The tourney was a fun format, a round robin with a twist which the RMIC referred to as Fermat's Lst Tourney, as it employed three geometric shapes, a circle, a rectangle and a triangle. These shapes were marked out on the ground in rope and the idea was to keep at lest one foot in the shape. If you incapacitated your opponent you scored two points, and if you forced them out of the shape you scored one. The top winners for each shape would face off in the final. I did pretty well, but not well enough to be one of the final three, which were Lady Cristabell, THL Wilhelm, and Lord Daffyd. IIRC Wilhelm won first place and Cristabell and Daffyd tied for second. Lord Archibald was at the event and wanted to play Cut & Thrust with me and we had a lot of fun. I gave as good as I got, which pleased me as Archibald is a very good fencer and a lover of period fencing manuals and techniques. Wilhelm invited me to play at longsword, but we couldn't use C&T as he wasn't armoured for it. We, mostly, avoided doing any percussive cuts. All in all, it was a very pleasant afternoons fencing and I came out of it relatively unbruised. Thank heavens I remembered to put on my knee pads as Archibald did a beautiful stroke right across the side of my leg at knee level. It would have been right on bone but the knee pad absorbed most of it.

After the tourney was over I sought out Eve who was tired and needed to go back to Gan to rest. The only rest she'd had was taking Elizabeth on a trip into Kingston for some lunch and Elizabeth got to watch part of Wall-E on DVD. We said our goodbyes to some friends and headed out. Eve had wanted to stay for Second Court and see her other scroll given out, but was way to tired and we had run out of drinks of Elizabeth.

We drove back to Eve's mother's place and I volunteered to walk downtown and pick up a couple of orders of fries. The place we like to get them was closed but I found some really nice fries at a local pizza place. We had them along with hot chicken sandwiches and gravy. It was delicious, and I was ravenous by then as I hadn't had much for lunch. I spent the evening chatting with Bernita, Eve's mom, as Eve and Elizabeth crashed out. It was really fun to talk to her, and it was one of those neat meandering conversations touching on everything from Elizabethan naval tactics, to favourite SF writers, to silly TV shows. She enjoyed it because she doesn't get many opportunities to have an intellectual discussion except online and face to face is much more personal.

We all slept in the next day and after breakfast I tried to take Matthew to the local toy store, whose Sunday hours are apparently "By Chance", and we were out of luck. We did manage to get some neat Lego cars and a Hot Wheels car at a local department store. After we got back, I cut Bernita's front lawn, which had gotten a bit shaggy. It's the first time I'd pushed a mower in about 20 years as I've spent most of that time living in apartments. Next we packed up our stuff and headed back to Guelph. It was a good drive home, even when crossing the top of Toronto. We were glad to get home and the cats were happy to see us. I had a fun time at the event and in Gan. I think the next event I'll be at is called Fruits of Our Labour (FOOL) where I'll be running fencing for the day and Eve will be teaching. I'm also expecting Mark over tomorrow for a game of War of the Ring which I will hopefully write an entry on.

That's all for now.