The melees were, well, melees. That said though, they were really, really smooth and had not nearly the number of issues that I'm used to. I blame the weather being so awesome and not hot and gross. The fact that it wasn't 95* with humidity to match really seemed to take the tempers off.
There was a meaningful force imbalance in play, though I admit that I'm not sure of the numbers. It was especially noticeable in the woods though, where the East was able to have a pretty much unbroken line across the entire woods and the Middle, well, couldn't. Partway through, the East was told by either HRM or HRH (I got differing reports on that) to stop using DFBsThe bridge battle (Gunning: The War Point) was wacky fun, but pretty unsatisfying as a war point. Again, I didn't notice any really upset fighters though, so I imagine we all had the same attitude going into it.
Another thing that I noticed for something like the second or third year running was the Freelance Academy Press sponsored track of WMA classes. This is excellent, and I want more of this. I realize this means that I need to put up or shut up, and despite my fear of a class full of people who will point and tell me how wrong I am, that I should do this damn thing, huh?
A few things did make me blink over the course of Pennsic, though.
Meat Shields - I come from a kingdom where disabled fencers are obliged to remove themselves from the field, so we tend to just not see them where I'm from. I get that it's not forbidden by Pennsic convention (and likely in other kingdoms as well), but man, I just think it's silly. That said, I saw (and at one point was involved in) what would have been a double kill situation in a tournament with one person dead and the other having lost both arms, but the latter being allowed to continue because hey, they aren't dead. (Which, for the record, I was totally okay with every time I saw it.) So maybe I'm just a hypocrite, or it's a melee thing that irks me because melee.
Spears - Oh, boy. So. A number of folks from a number of kingdoms brought a number of examples of experimental spear designs to show people, play around with, and get feedback on. Universally, I think, the reactions were, "Well, it's neat, but hell if I want to get hit with that." Personally, I have Strong Feelings about them, on both sides. In almost nothing resembling order:
- Rapier is, at heart, a civilian weapon. Our melees are at best random terrible militia and more likely Montague v. Capulet brawls. Why the hell would we have pikes?
- Without putting any force behind a shot I was able to hit Caine hard enough to make him, as he put it, "Throw up in his mouth a little." Granted, I put the point in the right place while he wasn't braced for it, but how often would that happen in a melee? Lots. And that was with no force behind the shot - I can't imagine what that would have done with the force that I'd end up throwing in a melee.
- Any head shot with a spear transferred all the force right to the neck. There's no extra mass in what we wear on our heads to soak up the force.
- The arms race. We're already seeing it to a small degree with twohanders, and a very large degree with shields. (As an aside, I would kill for a maximum shield size of 24". Pretty sure that's the biggest thing I've found in any manual or the like that was used with rapiers or rapierlike weapons. Am I wrong? I'm probably wrong.) I feel that if pikes showed up, then it would very rapidly become All Pikes and All Giant Shields All The Time and then we're basically fighting rattan without armor. I just don't want that in rapier.
- On the other hand, spears were taught in a number of period manuals, and also used in the London Masters of Defense prize fights. It would be pretty awesome if we could see a longsword v. spear match, assuming it could be done safely.
DFB - I'm still a little divided here. It's a tool, and I use it really well. It's realistic, in that if I can get behind someone on a melee field for long enough to plant my feet, they're guaranteed out of the fight. But it's not what I want to play. I want more people facing me when I kill them, and I want more of That Kind Of Honorable Engagement. Then again, I'm also the person who wants to give more people singles when they ask for them despite also rolling over people in melees in which we're supposed to be training for Pennsic. I should really just examine what I want out of my own game and make up my mind, huh? I suspect the answer will make me less popular in the East, and more Donovan "Funkiller" Shinnock, but whatev. I'll go read The Phoenix Guard again and remind myself of one of the big reasons I got into this whole organization, right? Right.
So that was my Pennsic. I fought a whole lot of people, saw some great people get recognized for being great, avoided the EMT cart, and had fun doing what I do. Which is pretty great.