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Twelve Kingdoms in Twelve Months
Event Five: Harvest War

[09/04/2003] [Michael]

Event Name: Harvest War
Host Kingdom: Duchy of Pegasus Valley, Kingdom of Dragonspine
Location: Near Espanola, NM

Lo, how the mighty have fallen. It’s not so long ago that Harvest War was not only a big event but also a truly spectacular one. For a few years it drew people from across the game and was famous for things like the great Tavern and the Tinker performances. What has happened in the last few years? Pegasus Valley shrank and then grew again with mostly kids. The Iron Mountains no longer felt like it was a matter of pride to beat up a duchy. For whatever reason the event continued to be supported by a smaller duchy when kingdom resources would clearly have helped it. All in all a bad event is better than a good day at work, but Harvest War 2003 was not a very good event.

My car mate and I could only get Friday afternoon off so we got on the road about one PM. We had a nice easy drive with no muss and no fuss. We got to the site a little after 10 PM and were welcomed enthusiastically. The event fee seemed high but it went mostly to the park, which was hard to evaluate in the dark. We got set up (I actually car camped on purpose). The reserved site was too small and there was a slight upcharge to the park to camp outside the reserved area or off the provided camping pads. The event organizers were doing the best they could to fix this problem by refunding the Amtgard to Park fee and having people pay the park directly. This meant that the extra charge was only $10 instead of $20. Not too bad anyway. It also appears that several folks avoided paying the extra altogether. This seems to be more a matter of enforcement by the Park Rangers.

After getting the tent up we hung out around the light for a while. I was a little worried because the park had declared quiet hours of 10 PM. Fortunately the part of the site that Amtgard had reserved was far enough from other campers that a normal Amtgard ‘Dull Roar’ did not disturb others. It was pretty much OK. I enjoyed seeing the folks I liked best from Dragonspine and Pegasus Valley and of course running smak at my IM brethren. It was nice but I had a hard week at work and I knocked off early. The next morning was beautiful and after an hour or so of sitting on our butts we decided to get some ditching in. The ditching area was a mix of deep sand and sharp rocks and so was not ideal for fighting. It was large enough, at least. There was only limited participation, since it was morning and many of the hard fighters (Esydra, for example) had partied hard and were sleeping it off. For the morning ditches, half the fighters were from my home park.

When the assassin game started up, those of us less adventurous than the assassins took a little time off for lunch. PV provided a Tavern. It might be a tad less spectacular than it was in days of yore (read about five years ago) but the PV tavern is still a major positive feature of Harvest War. Unfortunately, I had missed the cash machine so I missed Tavern food myself but everyone agreed that a burger is good after a hard day on the field. After lunch we barely had time to take the field before the battlegame was called. The original focus of the war was to have been New Mexico kingdoms and Colorado Kingdoms against Texas. Since there were only 12 Texan fighters there that was totally not going to work. The War-o-crat was ready to just play it out but that seemed like no fun at all. I tried to make proposals to make it better but I did not feel like as emperor of the IM I should try to balance teams. After all, that job was really for the reeves and the War-o-crat. In the end we split the New Mexico folks between a Texas team and a Colorado team. I could tell we had better fighters but not by much to my mind. I didn’t realize that none of the Texans would play spell casters. The ten IMers there provided the usual compliment of one of each spell casting class at 6th level and that totally overbalanced the game.

The game itself was pretty cool. There were five flags with one close to each base and three in the middle. By holding a flag you got a certain number of points per second. There were more points for the far flag and less for the close one. There were double lives and a fifteen-minute timetable so it was nearly unlimited lives. You could repop at your base as fast as you could walk there. The game was pretty fun actually. If the teams had been more even it would likely have been amazing. The props for the game were flags with nice little doughnut markers in each team’s color tied to them. To hold the flag you just had to put your doughnut on. Good props and a good game idea really helped this game get off the ground. If only the teams were even. The second game was a pretty simple concept but it took a long time to explain. Everyone was getting tired of sitting around by the time it started. The fact that the same teams were used also was a negative as it meant that the game continued to be uneven. This combined with the unclear rules really left the team with less magic disheartened. It was bad enough that the third battle game got canceled. The Texas team preferred to ditch for the last game.

That was the best fun of the event for me. We ditched hard against the Esydra folks and we had a good time. Unfortunately there was a little temper but over all it was a great time for all. It was hot and fighting in that sand was exhausting so after a little more than an hour everyone was ready to hang it up. That was OK because it was about the time for the feast; at least the scheduled time for the feast. Now I can’t get too uppity since there have been a lot of late feasts in Amtgard (including in my own Iron Mountains) but this was bad. The feast-o-crats had left site to cook and had not taken a phone nor told anyone where they would be or what they were doing. Couple this with the fact that they were also the outgoing monarchy and had to do monarchial organization and you have a disastrous recipe. The feast was more than three hours late and there was nothing to do while waiting. The Autocrat was visibly frustrated because he knew no more than the rest of us. This had a cascading effect on court and overall this was the sloppiest part of the event. Also the feast was cold by the time it got there.

All in all Harvest War was fun but then all events are fun.

Grades (my choice of 8 broad categories)
Site location and air travel friendliness: C- (This could be a copy of Clan. Nothing in New Mexico is close to an airport but this was closer than many. Add to that the fact that web directions were very skimpy and there was no Amtgard signage.)
Site itself: C+ (Breathtaking scenery was the number one feature but showers on site and reasonable ditching area were also pluses. The battlefield was interesting if somewhat hazardous and the reserved site was too small for the attendance.)
Feast: D- (Feast was very late and very cold. No information could be had and no recovery plan was provided. It was at least reasonably tasty but that did not make up for how late it was.)
Court: D- (A smaller event like Harvest War can sometimes have great courts. It is a lot of fun to see real newbies get awards and enjoy them. It wasn’t like that. The feast delay also affected court and rushing through it was the only way to keep the restless natives, including me, down.)
Ditching: B- (Ditching was limited in time but reasonably good. Battling the Esydra boyz was a highlight. Some attitudes but no more than usual. Not too many PV or DS folks played.)
Battle games: B (First battlegame was a spectacular idea but the teams were pretty well uneven. Second battlegame was OK but the teams were the same and the rules unclear. Third battlegame was canceled. Really good first game merits the grade.)
Other planned activities: C (I did not do the Assassin’s run but I heard some good things about it. Unfortunately it was the only one of a list of other planned activities that actually happened.)
People and attitudes: B (Not perhaps as open and friendly as some places, the people of PV really welcomed the interkingdom community and attitudes were mostly imported.)

Best Thing
Seeing the newbies and their enthusiasm for an event and for all the little joys of Amtgard that the rest of us sometimes forget.

Worst thing
Feast at 9 PM and Cold.

Next event: World Banner Wars

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