3 things you'd tell new players about battles and skirmishes

Battles and Skirmishes can be a big part of your game when you’re playing Empire, so what 3 bits of advice would you give a new player about them? This can be about anything from looking after yourself OOC to good advice for not dying IC.

If you want to go on skirmishes: Make it well known.
This kind of splinters off of some other conversations going on, but tell the generals and people who you see talking about skirmishes that you want to go.

Generally speaking, whoever get’s the job of organising a skirmish, they don;t have a lot of time to dedicate to getting a group together. If they know you want to go, they’ll come to you.

“make it well known” doesn’t have to be shouting about it all the time. Ask a general for a quick chat, or another leader of some kind, and mention it to them.

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Water. While PD provide water for monstering it never hurts to have a bottle with you its quite easy and cheap to get something to carry a half litre bottle in that looks IC

Yes you’re a big damn hero but work as a team. Stick with your group, get healed before you get dropped (its easier to walk to a healer than have to be dragged), look out for your mates

Keep it safe. Being in a big battle is a huge adrenaline rush coupled with the risk your character might die but don’t forget we’re just playing a game remember to keep your attacks safe if you get a bit of a hard blow don’t be tempted to hit hard back just let them know the last blow was a bit too hard you’ll normally get an apology and that’s the end of it

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  • Everything Seren said is big and clever, particularly the bit about working as a team. The one event our previous unit split up and went off to do Heroics separately was also the event where most of us died. Having people who know to look for your battered body makes all the difference.

  • Even if you’re playing a non-combat character (like I currently am) it’s worth getting down to the Gate before the battle starts when the various nations are mustering up to go through; the atmosphere is electric, with different nations marching up, singing and chanting. If you’ve got potions to sell, this is a perfect market for them; if you’re a Priestly sort, annointings are always big and clever.

  • When you return from battle and need healing from the hospital, the more you can tell the healers (i.e. bullshit / make up / improvise) about how you got your wound the better the resultant roleplay will be. If you’ve a traumatic wound some of this will be dictated by the card, but otherwise? Go wild. I appreciate that ‘hanging around the hospital’ isn’t game everyone enjoys - there’s places to go, things to do - but nothing makes my little healer heart sink more than asking what I’m looking at and being told “I’m on zero, patch me up” rather than “I’ve got an arrow here, and it looks like something bit me here”

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This is from an entirely ‘how to win’ perspective so look to other people for OC advice. Though I do want to echo Seren’s thing about water, in a hot battle you’ll need every bit you can get. I always try to have several spares when I’m commanding a unit because at least a few people are muppets and forget.

1: Psychology wins battles. The Imperial Orcs are individually very good fighters, yes, but they mostly win their skirmishes because they are amazing at charging as a unit and not stopping for anything. Other skirmishes have gone poorly when one person looked at the charging orcs, decided they didn’t want to be on the front and took a step back, so the people next to them took a step back to avoid being on their own and so on on and so on until the whole lot are pegging it and no-one’s sure why. Walk towards someone quickly and confidently (especially with your shield down like you don’t even need it) or charge screaming and foaming at the mouth and a lot of people will decide they don’t want to fight you after all. If, however, a whole unit stands its ground there is no way a frontal charge can break it in one go.

2: Stick with your mates. DISCLAIMER: I’m part of the skirmish crew so I can tell you we pretty much only manage to kill people when they’re on their own. The one I felt worst about was a girl who got killed on the Friday night because she got separated in a dark forest and no-one could find her body before her bleed count finished. Don’t be that girl! (though she took it in her stride very well from what I heard, and I hope she’s been back since). Similarly, if you see someone take an arrow to the leg while you’re retreating don’t just abandon them, grab the nearest people and go rescue them, 90% of the time you can scare the barbarians away long enough to pick them up and if they survive they pretty much have to buy you a pint back in Anvil. Seriously, it’s in the rules. No need to look it up.

3: Don’t ever get surrounded. I’ve seen it everywhere from LARP to reenactment, if an inexperienced unit get pressed on the flanks they’ll often end up curling round until they’re in a circle back to back. THIS IS THE WORST POSSIBLE FORMATION (well, worst that’s ever used, at any rate). It allows the enemy to concentrate their forces on one part of your unit at a time, it makes it harder for shields to protect each other, you end up so close you can’t swing your weapons… Basically, it’s bad times all round. If someone is threatening your flanks hard, scream and hopefully a couple of good fighters will rush over to push them back while you stay pretty much where you are. If you ever find yourself in such a circle you have to break out; tap the people to either side of you and charge forward with them, hopefully getting round the back of the enemy and allowing you to reform your line. Sure, it’s dangerous, but it’s far better to die quick in a way that might save everyone than stay where you are and let the unit die by inches.

Should I be telling people this? Probably not, but eh, I like a hard fight. Makes our occasional victories all the sweeter.

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You can do one without doing the other.
If you only have the energy or interest for one sort of fighty thing an event, stick with that.

  • Battles take up a lot of time, but are predictable.
  • Skirmishes are shorter but can turn up suddenly.

It’s okay to play a PC who does a battle but is then off-duty and won’t be called to skirmish. It’s okay to play someone who is “not a soldier” and won’t do battles, but might do skirmishes they have a stake in.

Bringing a spare anything is basically a superpower
When I played a Physick I used to carry an extra sword, extra water, and a couple of mana. There is always a healer or ritualist who turns up to muster and goes “shit I forgot a weapon”. Someone always forgets water. You might need your weapon mended but the magician’s run dry.

Watch your supply lines
Get your group a quartermaster. If you’re not with a group, buy an Elixir Vitae and maybe a Venom removal. These are your backup plan because if you’re dropped anyone can stick them down your throat. They also mean you can in a pinch pick up a bleeding buddy.

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I think, from my experience:

  1. Make sure you eat real food before you go out. once your adrenaline hits you will forget and run out of energy very quickly.

  2. Make sure you drink water, if you are re-spawning make sure you have a drink before you go back out otherwise you will get heat stroke. especially if you are wearing monster kit, Armour, monster masks etc.

  3. No matter how exciting everything is and how awesome you want to be, don’t flail with your weapons. especially in group fighting you injure the person in front of you and the people beside you if you do. If you find you are tired and are flailing… retire form the field. you have not lost face doing this and you are being safe for yourself and others.

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Great advice the only other comment i’d add would be… Walk. Seriously walk for most of the battles as it will both keep you with your mates, not tire you out, and save your energy for combat/sprints etc.

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  1. It’s ok to just monster - If you’re not sure about your combat skills or you’re playing a character who isn’t set up for combat you can monster your nation’s battle and if you want to volunteer for skirmish monsters

  2. You need to do both battles, but if you’re genuinely struggling physically to do both you can ask the refs if there are roles you can do that are less taxing on the monster day, like playing healers, captives, water bearers and sometimes even helping with costume in the monster hut

  3. Battles and skirmishes should be fun, if you’re not having fun it’s ok to say they’re not your cup of tea, plenty of people don’t fight every battle (or any battle)

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Widening your line spacing is hard but it’s a great way to avoid getting flanked/ enveloped
A more spaced out line is obviously easier to break through; but that depends on someone on the other side being courageous/insane enough to step out of the enemy line of battle and into yours. In contrast wrapping around if you have a longer line is very easy to do and requires much less personal risk-taking. Getting surrounded is probably also worse than getting line broken, you can always fall back and reform

Someone charging alone is a fool about to become a corpse, someone charging with 4 mates is a hero about to punch a hole through orc lines
Related to my earlier comment about someone being courageous/insane enough to step up and try to break a line: Be that person! But please, be sure your neighbors are going to follow up on the opportunity created by the person opposite them turning to attack you, otherwise you’ll get cut down pointlessly.

Be certain you are fit enough to fulfill your desired battlefield role in your desired kit before you go through the gate/ arrive at anvil
This goes double for first events in new kit, a battle is approximately the worst possible time to find out you can’t run for more than 20 seconds in your shiny new armour, you’ll probably get killed and in the process wipe yourself out so convincingly that you’ll be a walking corpse for the rest of the weekend and not enjoy the event.

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  1. Be aware of your surroundings - if fighting in the woods watch your step, avoid the branches, don’t snag your weapon in the trees.

  2. In the heat of battle remember the safety of yourself & others, pull your blows, and don’t forget that there is a real squishy person under that barbarian orc mask. Listen to the refs and field marshals.

  3. Rule 7 - roleplay, I know that you don’t want your character to die, but take the hits and deal with the consequences. A traumatic wound can be a great RP opportunity.

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For Battles/Skirmishes

  1. Bring a full bottle of water, and not a small bottle either - esp if you are wearing anything more than a light shirt and trousers/skirt. If you are just wearing a thin layer, bring the water anyway
  2. Chose the weapons and armour that you are most comfortable with
  3. If you get the opportunity to practice - take it, whether it be weapons or drill

For monstering

  1. You can monster and not have your character go the battle
  2. Monster kit - have some generic kit that you can wear to monster - I have kit for each of four main orc tribes, which also covers me for: slave, generic bandit and vallorn thing - it doesn’t need to be fancy, I use the same base layers for all of them - so it doesn’t add too much to my packing. Plus monster kit can be used in case of character death.
  3. If you are not fit/do not like the orc masks/allergic to said masks, let the monster crew know and get a non-combat role. I’ve done human slave healer a few times (more fun that it looks) and water carrier.
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Dont rely on anyone to look after you OOC, if you think you will need water (you probably will) you should take some, yes others will have some but if you dont have any then you cant blame anyone else for not having it either, and no-one like people collapsing cos they didn’t drink :slight_smile:

I’m Tom and I am part of PD’s battle team and the poor chap who writes the scenarios for the battles we offer at Empire.

Hydrate before a battle, bring water with you
Seriously, this holds true even on cloudy days. Drink a bottle of water or an isotonic drink before the battle. Take at least 500ml of water with you. PD aim to provide some water on battles, but cannot provide nearly enough. Think about it, there are 6-700 people on a battlefield, that is 350l or a third of a tonne of water we would have to bring onto the field. Some refs also carry water, but they need to drink it themselves! We aim to have water carriers to help with some water, but we cannot be the sole providers of water!

Find out where you are fighting and why
The battle team put a lot of effort into the scenarios the Military Council have to deliberate over to decide upon the battles. Make sure to ask you generals, their adjutants, or priests about the conjunction they have chosen.

Roleplay
Battlefields are a place to explore many facets of your character, outside the safety of Anvil. Don’t just put aside the character when you go to fight, make them live (or die) the battle.

The same goes for monstering. Work out who your orc barbarian is, what motivates them and why they are preparing to face off against the Heroes of Anvil.

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  • Skirmishes after dark can be very atmospheric, but the lack of lighting makes safe fighting much more difficult and not being able to see what you are stepping on makes moving about in the woods much more awkward. I fight every chance I can get, but I don’t do night fights as a result of those two factors.

  • For male bodied people, a cricket box to protect your groin is discrete and only costs a tenner. It goes fine under soft kit for sparring and hard kit for battle. I have worn mine religiously, as a result when I got an arrow in the spuds while monstering my agonised collapse and shaky-legged rise to my feet was entirely roleplayed.

  • If your Lineage phys rep allows it Wear A Helmet. Head hits are legal at Empire, the tree branches are all very vengeful too. I have never regretted wearing metal and padding on my head, the number of arrows that have wanged off it alone has been worth it. By contrast while monstering in a mask I have received an arrow in the teeth and that was not a good time.

-One more because I am a rebel. The masks that you wear while doing it do a great job of de-humanising you and making you part of a barbarian horde. That means that the PC’s can’t see if you’re scared or sore or nervous or tired out, in the moment they don’t treat you like people they treat you like the enemy. PC’s fight less safely against monsters than monsters do against PC’s, I believe as a result of the masks. As a monster, don’t put yourself in danger of being stepped on if you go down where players are trying to force a position (better to stagger back in death throes and then march back to respawn) and don’t fight anywhere where PC’s can push you back into a mud or brambles or uneven ground or fallen wood.

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Plan you kit for practicality as well as awesome. Its all very well looking the dogs bollocks before you get into battle but just make sure that you can actually, run, flex and move the way you want to and that little things like your helmet shifting a bit doesn’t suddenly obscure your field of vision. (learned this the hard way)

Go big roleplaying wounds: when i first started i really under played my wounds cos i felt foolish, don’t worry about it, your character has just been impailed by an arrow or stabbed or whatever the issue is, you can now directly make someone else’s game more awesome, the healers are there to fix up bleeding broken heroes, so give them something good to fix up.

Sometimes you just get killed! speaking from experience with more than a couple of character deaths behind me I can honestly say its not the end of the world and can provide some of the best role play. My best ever role play was being tortured behind enemy lines when our armies had moved on and i had no chance of surviving (traumatic wounds to the legs), after much torture the barbarians decided to chuck me back through the portal hideously wounded (see above point) and i got to live another day.

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  • Someone else has already said this one, but Roleplay. You are still the same character you are in Anvil with the same mannerisms and attitudes towards the characters around you. Often in the heat of battle people lose track of this and take their meek character rushing into the front lines, or their loud and boisterous preacher becomes mute in the heat of battle. Also wounds hurt! You’ve just taken a hit from a bloody ogre! Act like it! If you’re dying already don’t just give up and walk back to GOD with your hand in the air, writhe and scream and make it a good death! Make your friends GRIEVE for you! If you’re trying to kill someone are you going to meekly tap them on the hand a couple times? Make it look bloody spectacular! It’s an epic fantasy battle for crying out loud!

  • The winner is the one left standing. Essentially, trying to survive will often net you better results than trying to kill everything. The main drive behind your character is almost always going to be their survival instincts. If you have a sword and board and are up against a load of polearms, don’t overextend to get a few hits in, focus on keeping your fighters with longer reach safe. If you have a polearm or a bow, don’t run around in front of that nice friendly shield wall that’s just trying to keep you alive. If you have armour, wear it! If you don’t (and you can actually wear it and still be useful, sorry non-battle-mages) ask around your group or even your nation, someone might have a spare gambeson, mail shirt or leather tunic to give you a few more hit points.

  • It’s OK to have a breather. If you’re tired or getting dehydrated, it’s OK to drop out of the line for a short while and grab a drink or catch your breath. If you don’t there’s a very real risk of doing some OC harm to yourself, especially if you don’t exercise regularly. A lot of people carry water on the field and a lot of them are willing to share. If you have overdone it and really do OC need to drop out, alert a ref and they’ll tell you what to do. Just make sure you don’t get left behind.

And this one doesn’t count because it should be taken for granted, but Don’t take the piss. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of hits when you’re in the middle of the fray but when you think you’re there, go down. Often I know I’ve taken a few hits, but less than my max, and I’m not entirely sure how many, so I just go get patched up by my friendly local healer. It’s their game too and if you’re not taking hits you’re depriving them of theirs. Similarly if you’re certain you’ve hit that orc with your mighty cleave and they haven’t taken it, don’t get pissy at them, maybe they didn’t feel it make contacts, or they’re wearing leather gloves behind their shield, or they didn’t hear you. If you’re certain it was legit, you get your hero point back anyway and can hit them in the side of the knee with it next time.

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Being a newbie to larp myself having only attended 4 events the 3 things I have found to make battles and skirmishes much more fun are.

  1. get stuck in. Don’t hide behind the big guys with the Shields just because you have barely any hit points and no armor. Yeah you may be hit and downed but if you stay near your group someone will generally pick you back up and heal you. Also one of my favourite moments was being disarmed by an orc then chased through the woods by 3 of them unarmed screaming my head off for help.

  2. play it up. My favourite moments from more recent events have been epic deaths as monsters but this can work for players taking injuries as well. Instead of just being hit and thinking “ok -1 hp” I would clutch my arm screaming in pain. When monstering I have had many people thank my corpse because I would interact with them in a fight and actually play blows like they’d actually hit me or slowly stagger forward collapsing to the ground reaching out for a player rather than just dropping to the ground dead. It makes it much more immersive and fun for everyone.

  3. have fun. At the end of the day the point is for everyone to have fun. If you are trying to play the game how you think it should be played but are not having fun then there’s no point in playing. Also if no one has fun fighting you the same is true. If you want to charge down the middle with no regard for your characters safety then do it. This can even provide good game for the healers who can be like good damn it stop dying and trying to keep you alive. I know first hand how boring it is playing a healer when no one is getting injured.

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Engagement - if you approach an enemy (or two) with a weapon raised, then they’ll raise their weapons against you and start waiting for you to attack (so they can counterattack) or probing your defenses (cautiously, in case you are looking to counterattack).
It’s amazing how long you can keep people busy with minimal action… if your mates are winning elsewhere, then time is all you need.
You can do this on 1hit: the enemy doesn’t know… though some panting or aching can help reflect this and make it more dramatic.

Flanks - battles turn on flank attacks. Be aware of who/what is on yours… and look out for when an enemy isn’t aware. If your line is facing off against an enemy line the attack someone facing your neighbor… chances are they’re focused on the person in front of them and you’ll either hit them or pull them out of position to give your mate a hit.

Distance - if you’re ahead of your line, always be aware how far ahead of your line you are. Don’t be afraid to step back if pushed, but take a swing back if they expect you to go further - this will cause them to pull up short and buy you time to either back off or pull back.
The extra distance you are keeping the enemy at lets your line get a bit of rest - skirmishers are totally worth it.

Lines - one orc is a corpse, 5 is a breach. If a nutter sprints to get past you, let him: he won’t be able to slow down to hit you much in passing and your mates behind will shiv him. Your job is not to get distracted so his mates scan flood through after.
If you’re stopping a charge, consider Repel-/strikedown-/cleave-ing the second person in the charge. The charge will still falter, but the poor shmuck out front will die alone like a melon.

Rest when you can - heal, drink water, breath deeply and look the f*ck around at where you can make a difference next.

Hmmm… that’s 5. Sorry.

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If i were to hand out advice…

  1. Try not to let adrenaline rule your actions - remember yes your character is trying to ‘kill’ the enemy… but you the person are not trying to Kill the other player… Be SAFE… combat is not fun when you have had an eye gouged or broken a bone because of “over enthusiasm”

  2. Know where your Mate is! - if you are new and unsure link up with someone who has done it before and stick with them throughout if you can… you can watch each others backs and cross over skills. .

2)learn the execute rule and RP and adhere to it… otherwise you will get a nasty shock as your ‘executed’ enemy gets up and pagga’s you in the back. - also DO NOT run your latex weapon over throats!.. the latex can burn skin, and pick up thorns and other particulate which can cut the skin… - Also Beware of “stabbing” even with stab safe weapons because it incites others to copy with not-stab-safe weapons, which is not safe

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