Had a good time at practice today. Got to shoot some combat equipment and share the fun. Met new people too!
Movie: IKCAC target 2
We all want to have fun on the field. It is vitally important that we listen to ourselves, and gauge properly. This can dictate our level of involvement. Taking this as a given, there are things we can do to be as effective as we can be, regardless of perceived (or real) level of engagement.
A few topics of note…
After considering what your comfort level is, it is important to gauge the scenario and your place in it. By way of example, bridge battles and open fields are very different beasts, and how you engage can vary. In an open field you are a sitting duck. Pair up with another archer, or find someone with a shield.
Fighting alone can work, but you need to keep your eyes open and be open to change your tactics as the battle progresses. Generally your job is not a front line job, but second or third in line is perfectly acceptable.
As combat archers and siege engineers, were are limited by the number of events we can attend and practice at. Go to events where Siege and CA are not happening, and be a spectator or water bear. This affords a great chance to see how the armies communicate, eaves drop or participate in conversations about tactics. watch how squads break up and form.
Looks for groups who practice together and watch their tactics. How do they file up? Who’s in front or back? Which weapons are most effective for the chosen positions? What can you do to fill gaps in a squad that has formed? Why has a squad formed?
A Tuchux squad may have formed to spearhead a rush, that may not be the best use of a CA’s energy.
Commanders and Warlords
Know who your Commanders and Warlords are. Listen to their commands. In war scenarios they are constantly surveying the situation and plans can change. There should always be purpose in commands. In the example of timed scenarios, the timing of these commands are usually crucial. And if the commanders are doing their job, it should make your job easier and more fun.
Show up before the battles start, sit in on the pre-battle huddles so you know what the plans are, and if unclear, ask what your role is!
Effective CAs and Engineers almost always play a vital role in victory. If a commander calls for an archer, take note and be available. If they call for siege at a location, rain devastation on that location.
Go to events that are set up for commander and unit training. In Atlantia we have War Practices that are just for this. Talk to your heavy community and find out when and where.
Some of the aforementioned depends on communication. In the scenario of a bridge battle, width is a premium. Its legit to say, “archer advancing”, and move up to the second or third line. When approaching a teammate, let them know you are there with an, “Archer on your left shoulder <YOUR NAME HERE> (or person in the blue tunic). If they have shields they can help defend you from incoming pole-arms and arrows. But they can’t if they don’t know you’re there.
The act of being vocal about this can also strike fear in the defenders line. You will see the ‘pucker up’ effect when shields start to crowd and pole-arms step back or aside. Necessarily making them less effective.
Know your commanders and sub-commanders voices, keep an ear open for commands being passed along. Listen to the lines when they say, “Take out the person in red”. Generally this means that opponent is being particularly effective and their removal helps lead our team to success.
This topic of communication deserves a whole article of its own, but is a lesson learned with time, and awareness.
Cross authorizing in weapons forms can be a very handy thing. For instance if you are authorized in Siege and CA, If you see an engine is down to one engineer, and your team can be effective with siege in the scenario, fall back and assist on the engine. Or vice versa!
Do you have plenty of archers and no cover? Grab a shield and a handful of thrown weapons. You can act as a moving wall for another archer, as well as deflect from the random heavy charging in to club a ‘baby seal’. Authorize in spear or pole-arm. Perhaps a scenario doesn’t allow for CA or siege, that doesn’t mean you need to sit it out, grab a spear and get to work!
In the end the more you put into the job, the more satisfying it will be. Knowing you are effective, needed, and respected goes a long way.
Being a combat archer can be a thankless job, but someone has to do it.
Regardless of your calling on the field, be good at what you do. As a combat archer that means effective. Taking out prime targets. Listening to unit commands. Paying attention to the field.
There are various measure of effectiveness. For instance upon “lay on!” being called, lob a volley. It can slow the advance and perhaps break ranks of an untrained unit. I like to fight 2nd or third from the front line depending on the scenario. This allows shields and polearms to do what they have trained to do: work together. If you hang too far back it can be harder to spot and eliminate prime targets.
Your job is to pick off fleshy exposed targets like polearms and spears. However you can take a pot shot at a shieldmans face and make them take their eyes off combat. Through communication or luck when they drop their shield to peek, a poleman can poke them or another archer can shoot their face. Siege engines are great sitting ducks as well. Know your engine types, how many minimum it takes to operate, and battle scenarios (resurrection).
Listen to your team mates. Let them know you are behind them. They can block incoming shots with shields and otherwise protect you from poles, and spears. In some cases you will hear a command like, “Take out the King!”, do your friends a favor, take the King out! Your team is surveying the opponents strengths, and your job is to help them eliminate the opponents defenses so progress can be made. Participate in pre-battle scrums and know what the overall strategy is. Good commanders use all the tools available of which combat archery is an effective one.
Surveying the Situation:
Sometimes it helps to look at the bigger picture. Survey the area. There may be a spearman in front of you but do you have a lack of shields on the front line right now? Can an opponent archer wipe your side out? Then take out their archer. Is there about to be a breach in the opponents defense somewhere you are not? Lobe a shot or two in support and help clear their path. The defense may not be expecting it and exposing opportunities.
In the end, making the opponent frustrated or angry isnt the goal. But if they do get frustrated they will do things like suicide, or break ranks. This is when you know you are doing your job, I give you exhibit A:
Usually when Im sitting around and a thought strikes me its something like, “Man, I gotta pee…” The other day though, I had a fun idea.
For some time Ive been trying to promote thrown weapons of the field of combat (Missile Weapon Tourneys). In reading of the Marshals Handbook something stood out…
“A combat archer may carry and use shield or pavise; however, as long as they are carrying it, they cannot span nor fire their weapon.”*
Of course when I remembered the passage in my head it was verbatim. Of course it was!
What is to prevent a combat archer from carrying a shield with a bag of throwing daggers or axes? So in this way if there are two combat archers working together, the one carrying the shield can act as a wall to protect the bowman. There are many ways it can play out and all affected by the specific scenario and terrain.
But this sounds like a fun idea. Not only does it afford a CA to play with a shield, but hucking pointy sticks at a rapid pace sounds amazing to me!
Im gonna have to try this at Spring Fling I think, what are your thoughts on the idea? Viability? Fun Factor?