Monday, June 16, 2014

Fighting as Entertainment

Fighters just don't get people who would rather watch a battle than participate in it. That's not surprising, really - they all get the itch to grab a weapon when they're stuck on the sidelines. It doesn't compute why someone of perfectly fine health won't just pick up some gear and have fun, especially if they already know the rules.

For that reason, I am often asked: how can you enjoy yourself just sitting there?

Truth be told, I don't always. Sometimes even I get the urge to fight when I sit there all day, because I'm bored out of my skull. To me, fighting is entertainment. If I'm not entertained, I'd rather catch up with old friends and take off early than observe uninteresting battles. As I gain more experience in Belegarth, I find many veterans are the same way, ducking out of practices or events that have lost their interest.

Since I'm solely a spectator, I thought I'd share what makes for good entertainment vs. poor entertainment in my mind. If you're a regular marshal, you should talk to your people directly to figure out what works for them. What's good fun for an onlooker is not always the same as for a fighter.

Things to Avoid

Huge fields

Nothing is worse as a spectator than not being able to see anything. Like any other sport, being closer to the action is more exciting. However, you'll need to be able to trust your marshals to keep the sidelines free of clumsy or oblivious fighters.

Also, huge fields mean a lot more waiting with a lot less combat because fighters need to travel a long distance to reach one another. Watching people walk around isn't very interesting.

Battles that drag out

This often happens because someone is trying to be tactical at the end of a fight and refuses to engage their enemy. Endless circling or retreating is boring for spectators. I'd much rather see the battle end quickly and decisively so we can move onto the next, than someone surviving an extra minute by avoiding combat. Keeping a field small or giving a time limit when people aren't swinging are ways to avoid this.

Regen Battles

There are a few exceptions to this, most notably some scenario battles like Capture the Flag, but regen battles are often when I start talking with other people or picking up a craft instead of watching. This is because there's no feeling of progress or togetherness, and it can be hard to follow what's going on with all the chaos. Color battles are the worst offenders in this category, which means I usually wander off about the time they start.

Things to Try

Something a little different is always fun. Photo © Ellie Apland.

Scenario Battles

There are a ton of these you can try depending on the number of people you have (e.g. good vs. evil, monarch, castle) and many fighters enjoy them as well. By giving some special goals to combat, veterans tend to engage more, and fighters will try new and unusual techniques to get a leg up.

It's also a good way to build friendly rivalries that keep things interesting. Depending on the scenario, people are often forced to work more closely with their team than in a vanilla line battle, which means they are more invested in the outcome. This leads to amusing taunts and stunts that you don't see normally.

Unit and Realm Battles

Having someone to cheer for is fun. These battles are usually the only chance spectators get to watch all their friends fight together on the same side, so they have a clear favorite. As a side benefit, the natural comradery between teammates boosts both the entertainment factor and the quality of fighting on the field, since they more likely know how to work together.

Unusual Tournaments

The usual suspects are fine to watch, but truly unique tournaments are a blast. My personal favorite semi-serious tournament is "Death in a Hat" where fighters must fight with whatever random style they draw. Anything that's fun and a little silly is great, because tempers and cheating are less likely to be an issue. Ultimately, I want to be focused on the fighting, not the drama on the sidelines.

What are your favorite battles or tournaments? Share in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. "Death in a Hat" is super entertaining. Probably the most fun tournament fighting I've had.

    Sword and sandwich tournament sounds hilarious.

    As far as field fighting goes, I've always been a fan of city and castle fights. It really forces hard fighting and occasional silly acts of heroic rushing.


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