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Twelve Kingdoms in Twelve Months
Event Two: Wetlands Mid-Reign

[04/01/2003] [Michael]

As a brief introduction, I am planning to travel to 12 kingdom or interkingdom events this year hosted by each of the twelve kingdoms in Amtgard. After each visit I will write a brief recap for the Electric Samurai. Going to the events should be fun for me and maybe some consistent reviews will help you figure out which kingdoms really know how to throw a great event.

Event Name: Midreign of King Spynthrift Nath’an
Host Kingdom: Wetlands
Location: Near Lufkin, TX

My primary reason for choosing this mid-reign as a must attend event was that a good friend of mine was getting knighted. That being said all events are good and I knew I would enjoy this one. Since I have been taking entirely too many vacation days already, I decided to make this trip a real quick hitter. I left after work on Friday. After an easy flight, I landed in Houston where one of my friends picked me up. Basically two hours in a car with a couple of friends is way better than the same amount of time in a rental car. The drive flew by.

We arrived at the site pretty late at night but there was still hard-core ditching going on and there were lots of friends to meet and greet. I enjoyed catching up folks for a while but before long my foam addiction caught up with me and I needed to go hit folks. The ditching was very nice. The WL has some great fighters. It took me a couple of hours to optimize my fighting for Atomic Clock since I fight in a Shot in Motion kingdom myself. This meant that my own fighting got better as the weekend progressed.

After the ditching broke up people gathered for Diebold (now Sir Diebold)’s vigil. I have noticed that some places believe in Vigils but allow them to be mostly all night parties. Some places don’t use vigils at all and some places mix and match. I hope that these differences mostly conform to the preferences of those being knighted. The weather was quite cold for East Texas and people were doing whatever they could to combat it. We had 16 of us clustered in one of the onsite trailers that were rented as cabins. This was actually quite warm until we shattered one of the cinderblock supports and left the trailer canted at a slight angle.

Some time around 4 AM I gave up on the vigil and crashed for the night. I was fortunate enough to have a bed in the camper (even at a slight angle). Thank you Sir Morgen. As I said in my Spring War review, this is the only way to go if you fly to an event. Only needing a sleeping bag makes the trip so much easier.

Saturday morning the first scheduled activity was the lady’s favor tournament. I missed this event because we got a late start for breakfast. Still I heard a lot about it so I don’t mind writing a few words. The actual favors were wonderfully made (for the most part) and added to the allure. I heard there was some good fighting but even the winner (Sir Arg Morningwood) admitted that he played with a cheesy weapon combo (huge shield and super-long flail) for fun. From what I can tell everyone took the right spirit in the tourney and no one cared what combos were used.

Next on the schedule were the highland games. These involved throwing heavy objects in three ways. The ‘caber’, actually a 4”X 4”, toss event was fun to watch, although there seemed to be as much interest in who was going to be first to hit the spectators as in anything else. They also had 30 lb weight tossing for distance and height. Then the games finished up with a tug-o-war and a kilt-wearing contest. All of these items seemed to be a lot of fun. Throughout this process ditching continued for those most addicted to foam.

In late afternoon one of the traditions unique to the Wetlands happened. The so-called noble court is an institution were the kingdom PM and the King meet with all the local provincial leaders and go over paperwork and collect records and taxes. They do it with a mix of the serious business of running a kingdom and the role-play of a pretend kingdom. While some people really are bored by this in is not mandatory to attend and many enjoy the flavor.

Feast and court came next. The feast was only sparsely attended since two of the major companies of the Wetlands (including my own hosts) had made their own feasts. I slipped over and got a little of the tortilla soup that was the main course of the feast because I wanted to be able to write this review. It was outstanding but the lack of so many people from the feasting offended some who remained. On the whole I think people need to make an effort to attend the official feast if they are important enough to be missed. My own record on this is not perfect but I think I am going to make it a higher priority.

Court followed. There were a goodly pile of awards to give out culminating in a couple of titles and the knighting. The knighting was very good. According to WL tradition, each of the assembled knights said a few words about the new knight and then took a ‘drink’ from the cup of M&Ms. This was relatively moving but most of it was very hard to hear in the back. Next in keeping with an older Amtgard tradition there was a buffeting. Sir Diebold is a big man and took it well but I continue to be surprised how often Amtgard tries to minimize buffeting and yet sees it crop up again.

Saturday after court was a great mix of the usual fun Amtgard activities. There was a bardic and there was a head shaving as a company initiation ritual. The night was cold and only the fact that one camp had purchased half a cord of firewood kept the party going late into the night. By about 1 AM only that one camp still had any action but it was rocking there well past four. I actually left site for the airport at four so my review has to end here. The only scheduled activity after that was the Allthing though and I suspect that would have little interest for those outside the WL.

Grades (my choice of 8 broad categories)
Site location and Air travel friendliness: C+ (The site was about two hours from Houston and there were limited amenities within easy driving distance.)
Site itself: A (A good site with tree cover and campers for rent. Lots of bathrooms and water and electrical. Plenty big too.)
Feast: B (Feast was tortilla soup. Reading this on the flyer caused several companies to make their own food. This was unfair because the soup was excellent. A more complete sounding meal could be a help.)
Court: C (Court was short and reasonably well organized. Lighting was an issue and people not being able to hear in the back was also a problem.)
Ditching: B (The ditching space was great and well lit at night. Actual ditching was of inconsistent quality. Many of the WL’s best fighters are Rogues and since that company chose to fight together virtually all the time, ditches without lots of fighters resulted in consistent fast wins by the team with the Rogues. Not fun for many newbies.)
Battle games: F (No battlegames or wars were scheduled. This was somewhat galling since the site boasts a castle would have been fun to fight on.)
Other planned activities: A (A ladies favor tournament, an assassin game and the Highland games both were entertaining and popular. While these activities were good, more traditional Amtgard activities were missed.)
People and attitudes: A (The WL has a reputation as shiny and happy other than the Rogues (who cultivate an opposite reputation). This event bore this out, as there were few incidents or issues.)

Best Thing
There were many great things about this event but to me the best part was so definitely the camaraderie with my many friends that it is hard to be un-biased. From a pure event standpoint, I think the best part was the highland games since most people seemed to like that best.

Worst thing
Lack of a battle game, militia battles or other traditional Amtgard fighting. All the cool non-Amtgard stuff was great but on the whole, I felt the lack of Amtgardy activities was a critical lack.

Next event: Great Eastern 5

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