John of Port Oasis in Aethelmearc asks:
<<< I'm going to be going to my Very First War, the War of the Wings, in about two weeks. I've not fought a field battle yet in the SCA and my closest experience to it is a boffer game (Amtgard) in which the field battles acted like skirmishes rather than the line fighting that I hear is the norm here. So, I pretty much need every piece of newbie war advice that can be given, from the obvious to the obscure. >>>
You don't say how long you may have been in the SCA or whether you've attended other events or not.
I've been to a number of SCA "war" events. These can also differ in size from several hundred people (Moustache War, held in Ansteorra about 20 years ago), to 4000 people (Estrella War in various places in Arizona and Gulf Wars near Hadiesburg, Miss., to the biggest SCA war of them all, Pennsic, with 14,000 people (Pennsic XXV) near Pittsburg, PA. Since I've not heard of this War of the Wings, I'm assuming it is a more local war, probably several hundred people.
Some war events last only a weekend. Gulf Wars now lasts for a little over one week. Pennsic lasts for two weeks, although for each of these you can go for less time. The length of time affects how you camp, how much gear and comforts you bring along, perhaps the food you eat and things like the amount of clothes you bring.
I'm assuming this event will be an outside, camping event. Do you have experience camping with the SCA, the Boy Scouts or other groups? Whether you do or don't, take a look at the files in the SCA-CAMPING section of the Florilegium. The address can be found in my signature line below if you've never been to the site.
While this isn't Pennsic, I would still look through the PENNSIC section of the Florilegium as well.
Read this file. This one could save your life!
Fire-Book-art (739K) 12/28/00 Baron Durr's Guide to Safe Fire Use.
Most events will have a flyer and/or a webpage. Find and read all the information you can about the event ahead of time. Particularly those that talk about safety and food issues. Some will allow pets, some will not. Most war events will not have planned feasts, at least for the group as a whole. Individual encampments or groups may have a meal plan or specific group meals arranged.
Who are you camping with? Although you can go as an individual, it is often easier and more convenient if you are going and camping with a group. This could be a local group or household.
Have you qualified already for SCA combat? You can't just show up and start fighting. You need at least a minimum of training and you will have to prove yourself safe to yourself and others before you can join them on the field. Many big events do not allow folks to qualify at the event. You have to previously passed the test for your particular kingdom.
I'm assuming you are talking about doing armored combat. All kingdoms with the exception of Calontir also have a type of fighting using fencing foils or more realistic weapons. Calontir is gradually learning to do this also. :-) You should be able to find some of this fighting to watch. Often there will also be knife, ax and spear throwing (at fixed non-human targets) and archery.
Even if you can't fight at this particular event, I still encourage you to go. There will be a lot of fighting to watch. There also are usually a number of classes on martial subjects as well as other ones. You can have a full schedule of events to do at a war without actually doing any fighting. I fought at my first Pennsic, Pennsic 21 and I have only missed 4 or 5 since then. 10? 12? I've lost count, but for various reasons I haven't fought at Pennsic since then. But there has always been more things I wanted to do than I could get done at the War.
The same goes for Gulf Wars. The 20th GW is coming up and I've only missed the second one.
Oh yes, the SCA field battles often start out being line battles, but at some point they often break up into a bunch of independent skirmishes. Often you can also get your fill of individual, pick-up fights as well.
A good time to get a shower, with hot water, is while the battles are going on. After the battles, well you'll likely have a line and you can usually forget about getting warm water.
Whether you are still putting together your armor and still need to be qualified or whether you do indeed have all your armor and have already qualified, you might still enjoy going through the files in the COMBAT section of the Florilegium which includes files like:
melee-tactics-art (36K) 11/ 6/98 "An Essay on Melee Tactics" by Duke Kein MacEwan.
Fightng-Small-art (24K) 2/19/99 "Fighting for those of Small Stature"
by Centurion Romanius Vesperanius.
armor-chklst-msg (12K) 9/23/98 Armor checklist for SCA events and wars.
I know this is only a brief few comments, but if you have some questions not answered here, please ask and I or others should be able to help you.
THLord Stefan li Rous Barony of Bryn Gwlad Kingdom of Ansteorra
Mark S. Harris Austin, Texas StefanliRous@...
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at: http://www.florilegium.org