Move Along Lil’ Doggie – Switching Teams and Siege Tactics

Friends recently I participated in a siege battle at Pennsic 47 and thought Id share a few observations

Anyone Home?: We were a few people short of fielding up to three engines. Luckily we were able to shuffle some people around, myself included, to get them fielded. The scenario dictated: once an engine was destroyed, or couldn’t be operated (too few engineers) that the engineers cannot move. Well then, OK! But if we are to keep and engine running, a ballista for instance would best be served by having 4 engineers so if one died, there is a replacement. Some people only want to fight with their unit. That’s OK as well, but if you’re open to moving, and you have more than enough people, consider moving to a new home for a bit. The greater glory and honor will be served in keeping your team alive as opposed to just your squad.

fig. 3,4Targets of Choice: In some cases, being smart about targeting helps. A larger hit zone, proximity, obstructions. But I want to talk specifically about unceremoniously ganging up on people. Referring to fig. 3,4 we can see the concept of ganging up on one or two targets. Thereby increasing the hit chance. This can take targets out more quickly and reduce the return fire. This combined with position, can be brutally effective.

fig.1,2Field Position: “Nobody move! Maybe they wont see us!”… and so it was. Not one engine moved. It seems to me that if there is one line facing another line, moving engines to increase the distance from opponents, while maintaining good distance to others whom your teammates are targeting is a good thing. Moving out of their range? Even better! Referring to fig. 3,4 we can see the concept. Move your engines if possible. During set up, engines that can’t move put them in a safer position. In this case we had an elevation advantage. If we had moved engines to the top of the hill, they’d have to shoot uphill effectively reducing their range. Then combine this with fire concentration… again, brutal.

Rules: There are rules, then there are scenario restrictions. This can be in the form of increased safety zones, etc. Now scenario or Kingdom rules can augment, but not replace, or reduce Society law (eg: reduce safety ranges). But important things to note are thing like, if a ballista bolt is moving, am I dead? According to Society rules, once a bolt touches the ground then hits you, you are not dead (section VI). This happened to my team.

Swords to Plowshares: It has happened before where as a combat archer, I have put my bow aside and stepped on to a siege team to keep the engine running. And vice versa. Being aware of your surroundings and communicating need can sway a battle BIG time.

Wrapping up: Not trying to write a novel, just a few observations from the field, and I hope it helps!



Heed the call of your Warlords!

throwing maces and daggers
throw-y thingies

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…

Your Tactics
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.

Armies Tactics
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.

Spring Fling II – Darken the sky with missiles!

Friends, Spring Fling is coming very soon! this an event dedicated to Combat Missile weapons!

I am very excited to share this combat archery, and siege event! Come join the missile flinging fun!

Friday night, for those on site, we will be hosting a ‘laid back’ bardic featuring stories, tall or true, about yours, or others exploits with missile weapons!

The morning will bring classes, inspections and authorizations. So make sure you brush up on the rules, you have loads of time!

There will also be a Missile Weapon Tourney! We will be hosting at least the ‘Speed Round’ variant with multiple weapon types.

From around noon ’til 4 at least. It will be a mix of War Practice with some strategy and exercises as well as scenarios like capture the flag, woods battle and open field teams.

After field exercises we will host a short Q&A session about the Valiance Proposal. Look for the Valiance banner.


Now this is primarily Combat Missile event, but we do ask that at least few of our rattan friends show up. We can use your help in authorizing, inspections and participation in exercises! Treat this event as a ‘War Practice’ to focus on teamwork as well as coordinate with our rattan friends so we work more efficiently with our army!
(Please note the official War Practice is coming up as well and combat archers are welcome!)

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding the activities!

Click Here for more info about event

Need info about martial activities? Here you go!

There may be some loaner gear, but very limited. if you have some to spare, bring it along!

Siege hosted by the graceful and awesome Baronö Bessenyei Rozsa

YIS respectfully,
Lord Cameron de Grey
Or, on a bend purpure between a wheel of cheese and a squirrel sable, three pheons palewise Or

Failsafe for Combat Archers

Greetings friends!

image hosted via

If you are like me and enjoy shooting people in armored scenarios, then listen up! I have a proposal for you.

One of the time honored traditions when going against an archer is: wait until they shoot then run them down!

Its a good tactic which forces some considerations on our part. Staggering our shots, making sure we are accompanied by a shield, etc. But what if we are left all alone to our devices? What if two polemen spy you, and decide one of them WILL kill you?!

We have options!

Here, CATCH!
Carry some throwing weapons*! take two throwing axes with you on the field! After you shoot, another combatant may advance with impunity, but when you reach behind and produce a throwing axe, watch in glee as their eyes widen. have a care to not engage in melee, it is a throwing weapon only! Remember you cannot engage in melee unless you discard your bow in a safe manner. Which brings me to the next option…

Come out swinging!

When I initially thought about doing CA, my dream was to have two swords on me as well. I love to shoot, but if necessary I could grab the swords and swing my way to happy town. But then I discovered that you must safely dispose of your bow*. The specifics of this rule may vary slightly from Kingdom to Kingdom, but for me and my crossbow, it means getting it off the field into a safe zone. There is additionally the issue of demi vs full gauntlets. This needn’t be an issue if you can get your hands on (pun intended) fully articulated or otherwise dextrous gauntlets. Just wear full all the time!

Missile combatants should be the Scouts of the field. Be ready at all times and be willing to help an enemy cross the street to Valhalla whenever the opportunity presents itself!

I have yet to find resellers of thrown weapons, or sources for construction. If you find any, please post in the comments below!


Back to the Combat Archery Community

* (see section(s): III.D.2,III.D.3)