Sunday, August 24, 2014

Welcome New Fighters

So you've had your first taste of fighting and enjoyed it. Of course, it is a lot to take in, techniques to learn, rules to get used to, people to get to know. This post will help you find your way into the sport of Belegarth.

Where to start? If you've made it here, then you are probably already on the local group's Facebook page (Realm of Numenor!). I'll toss some more useful links down at the bottom of the page.

This is the small event we were at yesterday.  The cones are the edge of a 'bridge' in front of the enemy castle. 

I had several questions from new fighters, so I thought I would put together a small FAQ to help you all out.

Q: How do I join the club?
A: If you've joined the Facebook group, that's about it.  Show up and hit people at the scheduled practice times.  We'll have extra gear to loan out.  We do have a mailing list you can sign up for later this week, but most of the info you'll want will be posted on the Facebook page.

Q: Do I need to bring anything?
A: We have plenty of gear for you to use, but a few essentials like kneepads or padded gloves are a great investments.  Most sporting good stores sell both items.  Many of us use volleyball kneepads and padded lifting or MMA gloves.  As always, bringing water and wearing clothes you don't mind dirtying up is probably a good idea.

Q: I have a question or problem, who should I talk to?
A: The local realm has a great group of veteran fighters that can help you out.  Knights (the ones with the fancy garb and heater shield, like home base) take charge of the local group and have lots of experience with fighting.  Don't be intimidated by all the armor or angry face on the field, we're here to help.  Our squires (knights in training) all are seasoned fighters and usually wear a white tabard.  Any of them should be able to help you out, or direct you to one of us knights if they aren't sure.

The Knights of Numenor. These are the people you should go to if you need help.

Q: The rules seemed a little too simple, is there anything else I should know?
A: We use the simplest, abbreviated version of the rules for events like Quad Day, so you can come out and get into the fighting quickly.  The full version of the rules can be found on the Belegarth Wiki page,  It isn't an easy read, I'll put together a more comprehensive list of common rules questions this week.

Q: What is a realm, unit?
A: Realms are geographic locations within the sport.  UIUC is the Realm of Numenor.  ISU has one called Wolfpack just 45 minutes from town.  There are realms spread out all across the country (and internationally), but not all are connected to universities or colleges.  Units are groups of fighters that train, fight, and hang out together. Local units include the Dunedain and Dark Guard.  Some units, like Brotherhood of the Falcon (BOF) and the Urak-hai span the nation, grouping up at major events. If you are interested in joining a unit, ask around and get a feel for each one.  If you can make it to Oktoberfest, it is a great place to get to know units and spend some time hanging out with them around a campfire.

Q: I keep losing, how do I get better?
A: For one, don't get discouraged.  Between learning the rules and getting your body used to swinging a sword, the game can be quite hard.  Remember, some of our veterans have a decade or more of fighting under their belts--they aren't going to be easy to kill.  We'll do more structured training this fall to get people ready for the first major event of the season.  More on that later.

Q: Do you have tournaments, rankings, levels, events?
A: There is a large number of events, some of which are major, weeklong camping events.  Sometimes they have individual and team tournaments at these events.  While there are definitely different levels of skill, there is no official ranking system or levels of combat.  This coming Saturday is our local group's first mini-event of the season.  We'll have food, games, and lots of company.  In October, our group hosts one of the largest events in the Midwest, Oktoberfest, a weeklong event with camping, feasts, tournaments and plenty of nightlife.  Imagine 500+ fighters on a field, pretty epic.

Q: Why do you guys wear that clothing/do I have to dress that way?
A: Garb isn't specifically required for fighting at practice.  The local group usually just asks that you get garb before moving on to using weapons beyond basic swords and shields.  Nationally, garb is required for events.  The minimum garb is outlined in the rules, and we will definitely work with you to get geared up for the first major event.

Here are a few other links you might want to know:

From last year's Oktoberfest Realm Battles (each realm for themselves):

From a nearby event, Wolfpack Opener, a couple years ago: This is the home of the national organization.  The forums have a large amount of information, and links to training videos and guides. The Belegarth wiki. Lots of info on units, realms, and people. It is in the process of being made a little more user friendly, but there is basic information buried on there. This is the most readable version of the rulebook we use. There are a few rules that aren't clearly spelled out, but definitely a must read.  I'll post up some common rules that aren't really defined in the book later this week. Locally operated foamsmith. They made a large portion of our loaner gear and personal equipment.  The guys will be around selling gear at future practices.  Lady Armstrong is a local seamstress that has made some of the fine looking garb you'll see around.  We don't expect new fighters to look that amazing, but it should give you an idea of how cool garb can be.

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