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Twelve Kingdoms in Twelve Months
Event Three: Great Eastern 5

[05/29/2003] [Michael]

Event Name: Great Eastern 5
Host Kingdom: Goldenvale
Location: Outside Charleston, WV

This was my first Great Eastern and I was excited to be visiting the east coast groups for a change. Planning for this event was a little bit of a challenge. Air flights into Charleston, WV were all really expensive and in shopping around we found a great rate to Charlotte, NC. This meant we had a road trip and a plane flight all in one. Let me point out that ‘we’ in this case was seven knights of the Iron Mountains, five of which were sword knights. This meant we had a smak-talking, backslapping guys night out sort of road trip.

Friday morning, we pulled into the site about noon. We were well-received and apparently our names were known even if we were strangers. At the gate they were marking weapons with GE tape and checking legality. Nothing was supposed to come in unless it had been checked. This meant that I had to patch up the broken stuff I had brought to fix on site if I needed it right away. Not a real problem.

We met some of the names from the east that we were familiar with like Fiona, Willow, and Leo and then, being IM stick-jocks, we went to the ditch field to preach the gospel of foam. Right away, we discovered that there was a difference in fighting skill from East to West but that it was much less noticeable than rumors might suggest. There were plenty of quality foam swingers out there and we were rolling from the beginning. The other thing we discovered is that the Amtgarders of Goldenvale and the East Coast are awful damn nice. They were all eager to meet us and both teach and learn from us.

More than half the fighters on the ditch at the beginning were from the Duchy of Wolfen Fang in Sudbury, Ontario. They were fighting hard and enjoying themselves and for an IMer, nothing is more natural than making friends with people on the field. Soon, we were getting along great with the Canadians. When the ditch had to be stopped because it was on someone’s campsite, Sirs Guy, Jetara, and Cullum were invited to camp with the Wolfen Fangers. The rest of us were dodging rain and cutting down on luggage by hotelling it. So Sirs Thor, Lief and myself went off to ditch some more somewhere else.

After that, it rained like mad on us for about an hour. We spent the hour packed under a dining getting to know the Canadians better. They were a great bunch and they shared their self-imported Molson gladly. Many others came by at least temporarily and we had good socializing. When the rain finally stopped it was almost dark and we spent some time wandering fire to fire meeting and greeting like any event. I met many fellow E-Sam folks like, jj, Don Death, Rakhir, Ramius, G, Greywind, Corren, Glen, and Salazar. It was great to turn internet faces into real faces.

Saturday, we hurried back from the hotel and still managed to miss the archery tourney. Since we are pretty much stick-jocks without real interest in bows, this was okay. We jumped right into the ditching. Over night, enough folks had arrived to make the ditching good-sized. It was not as big as the best Clans or Spring Wars but there were a lot of folks swinging foam.

Before long, it was time for the company battles. Out of the kindness of their hearts the autocrats allowed us to make a combined company with the IMers and the Rogues. For those of you who are Western Amtgarders, the Easterners really like multi team flag battles where there is a ransom for holding the other team’s flag at the end of an hour. Both the company battle and the militia battle were like this. Moreover, your whole team came back to life as soon as they all were dead. This was new to us but we immediately decided to take deaths anytime we had good fighters dead and could find a few seconds. Apparently this tactic has been tried and the Easterners don’t like it but they did not write it into the rules not to do it. Our team of twelve IMers and Rogues stood against about half the field most of the game. The Saracens did not come after us at all or we would not have held even as long as we did. In the end, the alliance of four or so other teams broke through and we only held two flags and our own at the end of the game. Still, we got a chair and a bracelet in ransom and felt pretty good.

The Militia Battle was much the same. The good people of Wolfen Fang allowed us to team with them and even took the Neverwinterians as well. Most of the team was Canadian, though, and they set the pace and chose the directions. The choosing death rule had been clarified and we had to all die to come back. The team was pretty large and that was a difficult option. All in all, the battle was an hour of chaos and we were lucky to come out of it as good as we did. Within a couple of minutes of the end, we very fortunately captured the Goldenvale flag and at the end the Wolfen Fang team held their own and Goldenvale’s.

Next on the Schedule was a Ring the Bell tourney. We have played Ring the Bell plenty, but making it a tourney was new to us. The game was played with teams of six, with two shields and one pole max, and was played to five rings. We tossed all the IMers (except Sir Guy, who reeved) onto a team and were pretty well dominant. The Neverwinter team pushed us pretty hard but we beat them in the end too. We had a blast. I just hope the other teams in the tourney enjoyed themselves as much as we did.

My beloved Emperor sent me on a vital mission to town, which made me miss court. This is unfortunate because I am one of the few of us who actually likes court. I heard about it and maybe I did not miss too much, but I would have like to have been there. The feast was fun. The facilities were great but the food was late and uninspired. It was at least tasty. Also the companionship was very enjoyable. After that, we got to spend another night drinking and socializing.

We traveled home Sunday and that was probably a mistake. We got our tickets before the final schedules were available and did not realize that Sunday was a full fighting day. Of course, if we had done it that way we would have needed Tuesday off work as a recovery day too but now we know. Next year, we will plan to stay all day Sunday too.

All in all, I would rate Great Eastern as a highly recommended event. Go if you can.

Grades (my choice of 8 broad categories)
Site location and air travel friendliness: C+ (The site was far from major airports and the directions were somewhat challenging.)
Site itself: A- (Bathrooms with showers, a huge pavilion, good camping space and beautiful terrain were great. Lack of lit ditching and cabins kept this from being higher.)
Feast: D (Food was disorganized, was late and was from KFC. At least it was hot and plentiful.)
Court: C (This item was graded by Sir Belgarion because my Emperor sent me on an errand which caused me to miss court. He says it was well lit but that content was sparse and court disorganized. Only a few awards were given out but court took almost an hour. Too many announcements.)
Ditching: C+ (The actual ditching was good fun because the were lots of eager fighters. However, there was not enough space to ditch and there were no lights. Also mud and standing water were everywhere.)
Battle games: Not graded (The only full class activity at GE5 happened Sunday after the IM contingent headed home.)
Other planned activities: B (Archery, Ring the Bell, Militia and Company battles were all good. We had a great time with Ring the Bell, but only a small part of the event participated. The militia and company battles were very much the same and more variety would have been nice.)
People and attitudes: A+ (The people on the East Coast were friendly and fun to play with. Attitudes and general fun were higher than most Western events. Kudos to Goldenvale.)

Best Thing
The People of Wolfen Fang were the absolute consummate hosts. They took us into their camp and treated us like friends from the very first ditching. At an event where everyone was friendly and courteous in the extreme, the Canadians stood out as the most shining example.

Worst thing
The standing water everywhere soaked sock after sock and made a minor but noticeable irritant in everything we did.

Next event: Rakis/Olympiad

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