In this topic I will be looking at combat, how to do it, it’s differences in larp and real life and the difference between single combat and the big battles. You may want to skip to certain parts. For this reason I have given each bit a title.
I am not a leading expert on combat, I am merely an observant person with some experience of combat. These are just my opinions.
COMBAT: LARP VS REAL LIFE
Size and Weight
First I will look at real life combat vs larp combat. An interesting difference is that I don’t think your strength and weight matters in almost all cases in larp combat. In a real fight, the more strength or weight you have, the more power you can generate and the harder it is to knock you down. In larp combat every hit does the same amount of damage (unless using a call) and you can’t be knocked down (unless again you use a call). I think this means that a smaller person who most likely has a speed advantage, will do better in larp combat then real life combat. The advantage a larger person has is reach which is something that is also an advantage in actual fighting.
In a real fight there is always that fear of being hurt. In larp that fear is reduced a bit and so you may find people are a little bit more aggressive. You can use this to your advantage as it will make them slightly easier to attack as they are being less defensive. You have to be able to understand that fear you have of not wanting to be hit. If you let it control you then you will stay on the defensive and eventually be whittled down. If you ignore it you will over extend and be hit.
Remember that you can use this fear against your foe. War cries and charges can be particularly demoralising for an enemy. The more people you have participating in these acts, the stronger the effect.
You have to choose a fairly light bow if you wish to partake in archery in larp. This means the arrows fly slower than they may do in real life which makes dodging them a viable option. In some ways it is more like firing a musket. You have a high chance of missing and it would probably be best to do a volley. To make up for its difficulty and archer will have basically a one shot down on anyone not in heavy armour. I personally don’t know how this differs from reality. I would image that most bows in real life would be less powerful, especially in the hands of the majority of modern archers though maybe some of the old English archers with their long bows with extremely high draw weights may have a similar effect. (After thought: I have found out that I am wrong about some of my paragraph on archery, maybe even all of it. If you wish to find the corrections, please look below in the comments)
The rules and mechanics
The other thing with larp combat is that you are limited by certain rules. Armour works very differently in larp then it does in real life. In reality you would be an unstoppable killing machine if you wore armour. There was an arms race between weapons and armour with through out mankind’s history. Weapons like the sword were useless against most armour. You would require either a lot of pressure to piercer it or just a lot of blunt force trauma. This is sort of reflected with medium armour stopping cleave and heavy armour stopping impale and cleave but that is where the similarities end. Armour is still useful though not as useful. As it is quite heavy, being able to carry it around easily is the only time being stronger will be an advantage that I can think of.
You also can’t stab. This takes a large portion of your attacks out but it also means your opponent can’t do them so it balances that out. It makes it easier to defend as attacks will be slightly slower and there will be less variation.
Another thing is that you can’t grapple. You can’t grab your opponent or their weapon which means there is absolutely no way to fight someone while you are unarmed. You are also again limits your attacks but fortunately it does the same to your opponent.
The final difference that I can see is that there are certain places you can’t hit, in fact a lot of the places you can’t hit are places you would want to hit in real life combat, this is because you would do more damage to a person but as damage in larp is the same no matter where you hit (except with cleave and impale) this doesn’t matter as much. The only thing it does is reduce the options of where you can attack, making a defenders job easier.
SINGLE COMBAT VS BATTLES
In single combat as there is only one opponent, your full focus is on them. This means your skill is a lot more important. There will be sudden bouts of speed where an unskilled fighter will be absolutely decimated. There will be a lot more personal aggression especially in larp combat.
It is arguably more important to have good team skills than personal combat skills during a battle however you will need a good commander. A less skilled fighter can compensate by using their allies to help them. You will find that people are a little bit more defensive in large battle simply because both sides have a wall of shields and weaponry which are difficult to penetrate.
In the battles at empire, it is more about completing objectives then scoring kills. You have to remember not to try and play the hero if you truly want to succeed. We all want to be the main character but just running in and trying to take everyone down will result in you being slain. The only time you will have an opportunity to act like this is if you have been challenged to single combat or someone has accepted your challenge however he only people you can really do this with is the Jotun as the Grendel and Druj are not above cheating. If you really want to stand out then interact with both friend and foe. You should also be willing to help at all times. People will most likely remember you if you save their life.
PLAYING TO YOUR STRENGTHS
When deciding to go into combat, you should consider what kind of fighting style fits you best. If you are shorter then you might want to go for faster combat. Alternatively you could use a shield because it can cover more of you.
If you are taller then having a pole arm will mean that few can challenge your reach. Of course having a naturally longer reach will mean you can go for shorter weaponry and maybe duel wield to try and keep up with the speed of someone shorter but then you will just have speed against reach in a more pure form and it will be down to skill rather than your advantaged.
If you are going for a lot of ducking and dodging then you need to remember a few things. When ducking, don’t bend at the waist, this will get your head closer to them and an accident will more likely to happen. It will also make it harder to see which will make it harder to defend. You can also use your hips to move your body to the side slightly as you duck. When dodging, remember to use your feet as well as your hips as it allows you to make bigger movements so you are more likely to get out of the way of a weapon.
When blocking, only block when it looks like the weapon will hit you. If you go for an attack that isn’t going to hit you then you may expose yourself to one that will. Remember to protect all of your body. Some people forget to protect their legs and more skilled fighters will take advantage of that. If you have a shield, remember you can also use your weapon as defence as well if you are being overwhelmed. It will be easier to defend your upper body and use your shield to defend the lower half if this is happening. If you are being overwhelmed you don’t want to stay in that combat for too long. Try and move into a more advantageous position or away from the fight completely.
When using a pole arm you want to use it to keep people at bay. You reach advantage becomes a disadvantage if your foe gets into close. If you have to, you can move your grip along the shaft (remember you have to keep an 18" distance between both hands) and thus have a better chance of defending close up however you need to remember that your body will block part of the shaft and you may hit something that is behind you so be careful. You can also change the position of the shaft so it goes across your body. This will allow you to block closer attacks more effectively.
Your foe will try and push you back. You do not want to be pushed back if you can help it. They might go for a particularly aggressive attack. Instead of going backwards, try and go sideways and then forwards so they have to move back. You don’t want to do this if it gets you into the range of someone else’s attacks however so this should only be used for one vs one or if you are at the edges of a line.
If you are an aspiring general then I recommend you look at historical battles, the success and failures of the past. I also think it would be a good idea to read the Art of War by Sun Tzu. Some of the advice is aimed more at campaigns and open warfare but there is still advice that would help in battle. One of these is about knowing both yourself and your enemy. In the larp battle this relates to knowing what kind of enemy you are fighting and so how they will attack you and it also means knowing the capabilities of your own forces so you know what you can do with them.
My final piece of advice is to simply to train. There is about half a year till the next event. In that time you can improve your fitness and your combat capabilities. If you know anyone who you fight with then see if you can meet up and work on fighting together.
It can be hard to train when you are on your own but you can get used to holding and moving your weapon as well as look at your foot work.
I hope you gained something from this topic. I know it was quite long but I thought it would be a good idea to cover as much as possible. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on what I have said and maybe some of your experiences of combat both in larp and in the real world. If there is anything wrong with what I have said, please, feel free to tell me and I will look into changing it. Thank you for your time. Also here are the rules for combat if anyone is unsure: