Spear and Shield

From: Mike Dawson <mdawson_at_mac.com>
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2001 16:49:14 -0500

On Saturday, January 20, 2001, at 10:14 AM, Jane Williams wrote:

> All defence is done with the shield. Or your neighbours shield. Forming
> a shield wall is a Good Thing.

Very strongly agree. Skirmishing, open-line spear & shield will get picked apart by long-weapon users, or charged by sword and shield wielders.  

> The spear is used purely for stabbing. Used 1H, there's no way you can
> get the leverage and power to parry with it. (Well unless you're
> Heroically strong and skillful, but I assume you wanted to know the
> norm, not the exceptions).

Well, just yesterday, I took a Wound that kept me from using my poleax two handed. So, I augmented my One Handed Spear with my Deadly Aim and my Aura of Knighthood to kill all 3 of the opponents in a 3 man melee. But I did lose both my followers and this was a notably unusual result. And no, I wasn't playing Hero Wars.
> But, my experience is limited and a long time ago. Anyone know more?

At the risk of opening up a huge can of worms about what constitutes "knowing more" I'll mention that I've got almost 15 years of SCA combat experience, including leading units. I'm the first to admit that SCA fighting has its share of inaccuracies, but if you keep those in mind while trying to think about "how things might have worked back then" you can form some worthwhile ideas. SCA combat has had 33 years of evolution to discover what does and doesn't work in a competitive environment--"Hmm. I'm gonna try using a 2 handed war hammer in a tourney. Ouch! That didn't work. Let's try something else....." Things that work are adopted and refined, things that don't are discarded by the wise.

Here's one thing I know. In SCA combat, where cost of weapons means nothing, there are in my experience exactly ZERO effective spear and shield units. When everyone can choose to have a sword, axe or mace instead of a spear to use with their shield, EVERYONE choses to get a short chopping weapon. Spear and shield is REALLY BAD for charging, because you end up in really close quarters in a charge, like a rugby scrum.

One thing we don't do in the SCA is hit each other's bodies with our shields. Why not? Because it is really easy to really hurt someone! I wouldn't be surprised to find lots of damage being done by an orlanthi's shield boss or rim.

The ONLY dedicated spear and shield unit I've ever even HEARD of is noted for the following in descending order: 1 unit discipline
2 cool greek hoplite gear that makes them all look the same 3 decent ability at "Shield Push"
4 aerobic training
5 inability to kill anyone but themselves (on their opponent's weapons) (yes, I realize that all but #4 are very un-Orlanthi)

Then, Dom Twist wrote:
> Swords are superior (personally I prefer the
>Axe, but it's heavier & harder to control), but the spear is cheap &
>effective - a stabbing wound is generally more effective than a
>cutting wound anyway

Based on my experience, I believe that the reason we see Heortling and ancient real world world troops mustered with Spear and Sheild is because of the expense of doing something else.

Now, this is NOT addressing the question of phalanxi. When you arrange your troops with multiple lines of spears of different depths, you get a different effect--but that model is not Orlanthi in style or training. It's very static and regimented.

On a vaguely related note, I'd be interested in hearing from other SCA heavy fighters on the list who might be interested in trying a full-contact version of Trollball at Pennsic or some such. We could film it to share with our non-contact buddies. (I even know a guy with 6 foot stilts who could be a Giant Ref.)

Mike Dawson Macintosh Tech Director on severance mdawson_at_mac.com http://homepage.mac.com/mdawson Sent to you using Mac OS X - the future of Macs!

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