Protected: Post-Pennsic Melee Thoughts

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J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. I write swashbucklers & historical adventure novels.

Comments (2)

  • Zohane


    Lots of true stuff here, and a few things I slightly diverge from.

    On RBGs, as a non-gun-wielder I get frustrated by them much more when they’re used to take little random potshots at me before I even get to the fighting. If we used them for actual tactics only they could do, I would like them a lot better.

    I think a lot of what we lack as an army is ease of coordination within groups. We don’t know what the fighter next to us is trying to do, so it takes us too long to roll with it. And it would be great if we could all develop the instincts to work with whatever comes up, but I think a more achievable short-term goal is getting our regular groups working smoothly together. The Calivers work together pretty well, but I think we could still strengthen that. If we did more of the kind of basic skills practice you mention, and drilled them so that any three of us who found each other in a battle could break a charge, create a flank, or collapse a kill pocket, we could be scary. (And I think three is really about the right number, small enough to get on the same wavelength during a chaotic battle, large enough to be the lynchpin of any basic maneuver.)

    On commanding, I have to think that lying to your team is a self-limiting plan…

    And you’re right, as an army we often aren’t really tuned in to the command structure. I don’t think it’s as simple as a lack of listening, though. We frequently have several contradictory voices trying to exert their tactical will on a situation, which makes things muddy. What’s more, I had a number of times this war when I ignored my better judgement and did what someone was shouting for… and died doing it with no gain for the army as a whole. Of course, part of that comes back to whether everyone else goes along with the orders they’re hearing. But it becomes a vicious cycle, because it’s less appealing to charge ahead if you doubt anyone else will follow.

    So, I think we could break out of that cycle by a) developing more team cohesion as above; b) making the command structure very clear before the battle; c) making as much of the plan clear beforehand as possible. It’s a lot harder to get people up to speed on what you’re doing in the middle of a fight.


    • J.M. Aucoin


      Thanks, Zohane! I agree on a lot of your points, actually!

      First off, I’d also love to see more tactics-focused RBG use. The pot shots are ok, but I think it’d more fun to use them more as a surgical instrument. I enjoy RBG use, but I also see why they take some of the fun out of it for others.

      And yep, we could use better coordination. And I think that starts with the leadership of each unit. That first field battle we got maybe three or four contradictory battle plans. We got the original one from the XO which I relayed to our group and then a few other people changed/tweaked it before we started and as we began the march. So yea, that definitely made things confusing for me as well as the rest of the army. I wonder if we fared better in the last two field battles because we had just the one plan going in. Simple = good. But yea, a more structure command would definitely make things easier for the rank and file. We need flexibility but also don’t want a too many chefs scenario.

      Also agree on the lying being self-limiting. It’s not Plan A or B, but it worked for me this year when I needed to get us to gain some ground. Better unit cohesion and a better and a less confusing command structure would be preferable. I found it interesting from a psychological standpoint and hope to take some larger takeaways from it for improvement.

      Doing as ordered and dying is fine as long as everyone else joins in on the order and your sacrifice doesn’t go in vain. That happened to me a few times. Totally understand the frustration. Better training and unit cohesion across the army (and allies) will help with that.

      I’m happy with how the Calivers fought this year, but there’s always room for improvement. I look forward to working with everyone and seeing the group grow and get even better.

      Thanks for your thoughts! Appreciate the feedback. 🙂


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