Thursday, June 12, 2014


This post only looks at one case of outnumbering, but it is a pretty common scenario. I think I'll do a part two and look at some others.

Your team is winning, the line battle is already won. Just one legged knight to deal with to win the day. You and four of your friends surround him, waiting to strike. You circle like vultures on a corpse, then it happens. One of you strayed too close, and is cut down. The other four push in as the knight spins and strikes, furiously clinging to life like a cornered animal. The moment passes, and the five of you are dead.

Surrounded, but not quite dead yet.
Five to one odds should have given you an advantage, how did you lose? Maybe the knight read last week's post about how to fight outnumbered, not that it would have helped too much in this case. More likely, the five of you, despite moving in together, weren't working together. Each fighter waiting to swing when the knight's back is exposed, only to be blocked by a well timed and practiced back block or spin. Because each of you was fighting with the goal of waiting for an opening, the more experienced fighter going to use that as bait to get you out of position.

Surrounding someone is sort of standard practice. Makes sense, a fighter can only see around half of his surroundings at a time, and can really only block two sides at any given time. The problem becomes that now, each of you is spaced out, and can quickly become vulnerable to attack without having someone in reach to help out. That is assuming all of you stay out of range until there is an opening.

There are a few options for winning a fight like this. The first is simply to all push in and swing. Note that head level swings, cross shots, and high wraps have an extra chance to hit someone in the head, especially someone who is legged, spinning, and being hit from three more directions. Try placing shots from the side, maybe around 45 degrees. Going vertical will probably be a headshot and going horizontal has a good chance to skip off of a shield into the face.

If each person steps in and swings in a safe way, regardless of how open the shot is, one or two are likely to make it through. From the front, slot or cross towards their arm, they are likely to back block with their shield and expose this area. A swing to the shield, therefore may easily turn into a face shot here, as they will be prone to spin into it. The two on the sides should swing for either an arm or the good leg. The one behind him should swing for the legs, because a back block will stop most other options.

The key is to SWING. Too many fights are lost because no one swung a sword, other than the guy who is outnumbered. I have seen fighters take down whole sections of a line without ever being swung at, when all it would take is one shot to have stopped them. I am, of course, not saying you should charge in and flail your sword about, just that you should be sure to take the chance and put a good, solid strike towards your opponent.

Of course, that is a great plan, until your quarry begins to move towards one side of the circle or the other. Feel free to act as the bait and slow up a little, or even back up, if the knight pushes your way. Hopefully your teammates will have a chance to catch up and all swing while he's fighting you.

The other option is to work in pairs, rather than spreading out. This means that the knight will have to fight outnumbered in either direction, rather than picking off one person at a time. In our five person example, the fifth fighter can either group up with one pair or roam free. If he chooses to go his own way, his goal is to stay alive and be a distraction. If he strays too close, he's the easiest and most likely target.

With the paired approach, each group should fight somewhat defensive as they move in, trying to ensure one or the other has a block for incoming swings. The most common advice is to attack from a 90 degree angle from each other. That way, one pair is less likely to be fighting without support. Each pair can position themselves so that one of them is to the outside, for a better angle of attack.

Being a huge fan of glaives, I feel I have to mention the other option, let support weapons do the work. Post up just out of range (accounting for a lunge) and let the spear or glaive fight those you outnumber. If they decide to rush, put yourself between them and the support weapon. Stay safe and guarded and work off of whatever openings are available. Next week, I'll cover a bit more about working with support weapons, but it seemed like it was worth mentioning here.

Regardless of the strategy, stay together, work with your team, and communicate. Swing, swing, swing. Safely. And don't assume that wide open back will stay that way.

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