, , ,

This report was written by Lord Magnus de Lyons, Lady Miriel du Lac, Duke Timothy of Arindale.

From Lord Magnus:

On a chilly fall morning a small group of intrepid members from the Rhydderich Hael headed south to experience the A&E War (aka the Corn Maze) hosted by Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais. The event boasted “More fighting and fencing than anyone should ever do in a week, all in one weekend,” and let me tell you it did not disappoint. Sadly, due to time constraints I was only able to attend Saturday’s portion of the festivities but I certainly came away fulfilled.

The setting for the event was Ard’s Farm in Lewisburg Pennsylvania. Ard’s farm is a large farm market with a country store, gift shop, and full restaurant, but the key feature of the farm was the massive ten-acre corn maze that would provide the stage for the day’s martial activities (honestly the place would be a wonderful day trip just on its own). The corn maze was divided into two sections; a large section that was set aside for heavy combat and a small section reserved for fencing (don’t let the word small mislead you; it was just as confusing as the large section). Surrounding the corn maze was a small collection of tents and pavilions for the combatants and staff including a rather welcoming fire pit. This was a three day event, so for people looking to stay the duration the site offered primitive onsite camping.

Photo by Baroness Ellesbeth.

Photo by Baroness Ellesbeth Donofrey.

My choice of activity for the day was heavy combat in the larger maze. I have not had the chance to get into armor since Pennsic so I was excited to suit up and get into the action. Once I was in armor and inspected I was lucky enough to run into some friendly faces. Joining my friends on the red team we headed into the maze. Having no prior knowledge of the maze it was pretty easy to get turned around even when using visible landmarks on the outside of the maze. The “tunnels” of the maze offered a challenging but not overly restrictive area to fight and was ripe with choke points, pockets, and three or four way battle points. Spears seemed very useful and popular but I was able to wield my pole arm without difficulty. Combat archery was allowed in every battle and added a nice “stay vigilant or die” element to the scenarios. Hats off to the combat archers who participated and I hope they found all their ammo at the end of the day

Heavy Combat Report by Duke Timothy:

Are you tired of the typical melee event? Do you find yourself shortly before lay on is called saying: Field battle, bridge battle, field battle, bridge battle, boring, boring, boring, boring!  If you did not make it out to this years’ A/E War, you missed an opportunity to do something completely out of the ordinary. His Majesty Tindal and Their Highnesses Byron and Ariella joined nearly one hundred combatants gathered from five separate kingdoms at a small farm in Abhainn Ciach Ghlais.  There, these warriors fought and fenced battles that were anything but the ordinary.

A ten-acre maze carved out of a corn field featuring thousands of feet of corridors, each 6 to 8 feet wide, provided a battlefield that allowed for combat far outside everyone’s usual comfort zone. It wasn’t what anyone would describe as high medievalism, but everyone present seemed to have had a great time and they all left with a smile on their faces.

Photo by Ursus.

Photo by Ursus.

The initial heavy battle consisted of roughly thirty fighters per side playing a game we named “polearm polo.” Sir Timothy, Viceroy Gui, and His Lordship Brada dropped a “puck,” (a 3’ diameter rubber ball,) and both teams had to move it using just polearms and greatswords. A point was determined if the puck was moved outside of one of the four maze entrances.  Both sides had to take just the right mix of weapons to help score. To add an additional threat, both sides had combat archers. Archers Baron Friderich, Baron Fergus or any of the other combat archers spent the afternoon making the undefended or unprepared fighters’ day miserable. Polearm Polo raged for about an hour, creating numerous amusing situations. In one round, the last person left in a battle at the puck was a sword and shield fighter, and it took about 10 minutes before anyone from either side was able to locate him.

We next ran a five-man melee team free for all. Each team was given three flags, similar to what would have been used in flag football, and then instructed to disperse in the maze. No two teams could work together. After each engagement, all fighters were allowed to heal wounds or revive, and the winning team took one of the losing teams’ flags. This battle lasted for about an hour. A tie was the result, with two teams ending up with six flags each.

We next decided to play Capture the Flag. While every fighter knows how to organize and marshal a bridge or field battle, the marshals were pretty much flying blind. There was some confusion as we tweaked the scenario so that it would be the most fun. We decided to use both ends of a massive wooden bridge in the center of the maze as each team’s resurrection point. Just before lay on was called, a five-man banner unit from each side had thirty seconds to choose a spot to place their banner.  The first team to capture the other side’s banner and return it to the bridge received a point. After about an hour or so, we called it at a two to two tie. Of all the day’s events, this scenario seemed to be the highlight of everyone’s fighting.

Photo by Ursus.

Photo by Ursus.

At this point we had been fighting for four solid hours, and we allowed folks to take a dinner break. Considering how many people gorged themselves on ribs/brisket/steak, I was quite pleased to see how few folks had disappeared when we started to fight again a couple of hours later, under the massive banks of lights that the site provided. As is now traditional, we needed to select a corn maze winner to receive the lovely scroll produced by Nemenia filia Hweli, known as Nyfain merch Coel. Each fighter was given 3 resurrections, and we had a free for all in the so-called children’s section of the maze (kind of fitting, considering that many of the fighters were giggling like idiots). When the smoke cleared, Sir Havouc was the sole survivor. What is a maze without a Minotaur? Or in our case, several? We decided to take a few of the more senior fighters and give them special abilities and see how long they could last against the bulk of the fighters, who were given unlimited resurrection. Well, when you are allowed to literally walk through the maze walls and kill from behind, it can take quite a while. Our initial crew of 5 Minotaurs, HRM Magnus Tindal, Duke Gregor, Sir Tash, Master Wulfstan the Unshod, Sir Murdoc and Sir Havouc weren’t enough of a challenge, so we added a few more. This made for a laugh riot. The Minotaurs succumbed, but it took quite a while for 30 some heavies to kill 8 or 9 Minotaurs. We did a couple side A vs. side B meat grinders, but everyone was anxious for the grand finale, our now famous (or infamous) zombie scenario. Each fighter was given an unbroken glow stick, and instructed to wander into the maze and find a spot where that they were comfortable. Then once each person was given sufficient time to wander, they were allowed to break their glow sticks; red sticks/red team, blue sticks/blue team. As a marshal, from my vantage point safe on top of the bridge in the maze’s center, it was amusing to see the occasional red in a sea of blue and vice/versa. We used the bridge as a resurrection point, and just had the fighters fight for the sake of fighting. One fighter was coached that he was patient zero; when he died, he came back as a zombie, and all his kills joined his side. Once a sufficient number of zombies had been spawned, we declared humanity’s last stand, and everyone laughed as heavies with glow sticks were slowly swamped by fighters screaming “brains”. Around 10pm, the fighters declared that they had finally had enough, about 10 hours after the initial lay on. As I said before, not what I would call high medievalism, but everyone left with a smile.

Prince Byron. Photo by Ursus.

Prince Byron. Photo by Ursus.

Fencing Report by Lady Miriel:

I have been excited about this event since I read people’s war stories from last year: the night-time zombie battles, BBQ, stories by the camp fire, and just being able to run around in a corn maze sounded like a spectacular time. So when I read that there would be fencing scenarios in the maze as well this year, I was sold!

The day of the event, we arrive and I get geared up and hustle over to the “field,” hoping that I haven’t missed anything. Thankfully I arrived just in time and Lord Andreas Jager von Holstein the fencing marshal for the day, was giving the low down for the first scenario.

Scenario One: The Buckler of Destiny and the Minotaurs.
Teams of three ventured into the maze in search of the mythical Buckler of Destiny. However, in their path stood two fearsome Minotaurs (Don Po Silvertop and His Majesty Magnus Tindel), hell bent on keeping the intrepid teams from ever finding the Buckler.
Many teams entered and fell to the foul beast, but finally the creatures were slain and the victorious team exited the maze with Buckler in hand. The scenario was run once again but with a Holy Mackerel and that item was retrieved by the very first team of three.

Photo by Baroness Ellesbeth.

Photo by Baroness Ellesbeth.

Scenario Two: Attack and Defend
Two teams of six, with two resurrection points in the maze. One team entered the maze first and placed the Buckler of Destiny in the maze, then set themselves up to defend the Buckler from the attacking team. The defending team had two resurrections while the attacking team had infinite resurrections. Both teams took a turn at being defenders and attackers. The team that could retrieve the Buckler and get it out of the maze the fastest was the victor.

The first defending team decided to set up a kill pocket in an alcove within the maze, the Buckler and res point both directly behind them in the alcove. The attackers went to it, trying to break the defenders’ line and fend off attackers from behind who had lain in wait. Finally, when the defenders’ resurrections were spent, the attackers grabbed the Buckler and removed it from the maze.

When the teams reversed roles, the new defending team placed their buckler and resurrection point at the farthest end of the maze and decided to go with a retreating res. They created a cup of death at the near beginning of the maze and doing their best to just hold off the attackers as long as possible. When a defender fell, they ran to the res point and placed them selves not at the first line of defense but at a new one closer to the location of the Buckler. They did this for both of their resurrections, the last line of defense right at the opening to the alcove bearing the Buckler. It came down to one lone defender, the fierce HL Alianora Bronhulle, holding off the attackers for a good half a minute, giving her team the overall win.

Photo by Baroness Ellesbeth.

Photo by Baroness Ellesbeth.

Scenario Three: The Adventures and the Zombies
Three noble adventurers entered the maze, going to the farthest point with whatever weapon combos they chose. Then, the zombies entered the maze one at a time every 20 (or so) seconds. Zombies were only able to use one weapon, but could be killed only with a poke to the head. The adventurers had to survive the advancing zombie and make it out of the maze.

Almost all of the three-man teams survived, fending off the brains-hungry zombies. Cries of “Brains’, “Urrr Argh” and “Ready Whip” filled the maze as each zombie was slain on the adventurers’ path out to safety.

The Zombie Scenario was run multiple times until the fighters grew hungry for more than just brains and went to lunch at the outstanding BBQ restaurant on site.

My time doing all of these scenarios was so much fun, I couldn’t have had a more outstanding day. I loved meeting and fighting beside fencers I’ve never had a chance to meet before. I enjoyed working with the teams and working out how to best help my fellow fencers achieve victory. I was able to have some one-on-one bouts with His Majesty, Don Po, Lord Andreas, and more. Each helped me to grow in my skills and just have a damn good fight! I highly enjoyed this event and cannot wait until next year to see what’s in store for the fencers of Æthelmearc and the East.