|The Year in Review II
There are no Saurons in Dragonspine, but the great eye of the Electric Samurai is ever watchful. This last year was no different and we’ve got a lot of stories to bring you as we do our second annual yearly update. It wasn’t as glamorous or momentous a year as 2002, but the passing of 2003 leaves this e-Samurai with a sense of loss. What was not an interesting year for news was a great year for Amtgard. May 2004 bring more of the same!
Here are the things we remember as we look back on 2003. . .
2003: The Year of the Event
The big camping events this year were the best Amtgard has ever seen. A quick look at the unscientific e-Samurai polls bears this out when we see the number of people who enjoyed themselves at events: Spring War X: 95%; Rakis XIII, 95%; WBW IV, 94%. Banner Wars even came in with 45% of respondents calling it the best event ever. Events this year gave us dragon dancers, fire dancers, catered feasts, and fireworks at a knighting ceremony. The bar has been raised, people. If your event doesn’t have lit ditch fields, entertainment, a good feast and lots of friendly faces, it isn’t going to make it.
By now, everyone knows the story – tempers that flared on the jugging field never calmed down by the time the coronation feast came around, and the end result was three dropped knighthoods, a burned video tape, and the banning of Zumat. The repercussions of the hostility in the Iron Mountains undoubtedly led to a truly embarrassing Corpora proposal and the first contested imperial election in years. It is possible that the ghosts of Rakis XIII won’t be put to rest until long after Emperor-elect Grendel leaves the throne. At least Rakis has the truly awesome tournament to brag about.
In the eyes of this e-Samurai, the knighting of Michael at Rakis elevated to the ranks of four-belted knights their newest and finest member. The ceremony was conducted by Emperor Lief, but in the end it was not one but four people who knighted Michael. With King Arion of the Celestial Kingdom watching on, Sir Belgarion, Sir Cullum and Sir Thor reknighted Michael in the name of the Iron Mountains in all three orders he already held. Michael has also become the most traveled Amtgard of the year, with Twelve Kingdoms in Twelve Months being a popular regular feature on e-Samurai.
The Goldenvale Coup
This story is near and dear to my heart because it flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that nothing can be solved on the Internet. When Willow was denied her rightful place as champion of Goldenvale, the e-Samurai ran a series of reports on it. In the end, King Goliath relented and Willow became champion.
2003: The Year of the Stick Jock
Maybe it was the good events or maybe it was coincidence, but nobody can deny that the Year of the Stick Jock was born in the Iron Mountains at Sword Knight Boot Camp. SKBC was a brilliant success and brought together some of the best fighters in the game. That might have been the end of it, but a funny thing happened at the events that followed . . . the great fighters kept showing up. It was like a traveling sword knight circus marching from kingdom to kingdom demanding lit ditch fields and short battlegames. Amtgard fighting went international in a big way this year and, with SKBC being held again in 2004, it’s here to stay.
And, of course, 2003 was also the year of the GCA: Amtgard's premier battlefield presence.
Mystic Seas, again
They didn’t fall apart and the rebellion of their vassal lands never gained momentum, but the Mystic Seas is still intent on embarrassing itself into oblivion. After being unable to actually elect a king, the Althing took charge in a good way and installed a pro-tem monarch who promptly missed enough weeks to miss office. The Mystic Seas is experiencing problems normally reserved for the most unstable of lesser lands, but with pro-tem pro-tem monarch Shortround on thr throne, perhaps 2004 will see things looking up for the troubled kingdom.
It was a good year for confederacies. The southern lands conglomerated into the Central Eastern Alliance and elected their first prince; the lands of the Midwest grouped together into Tal Dagore, a strong duchy under the Rising Winds. Between the two of them, they filled a wide gap in the Amtgard map and increased the possibility of new kingdoms forming between Texas and the Rising Winds, unless the Burning Lands has a say – and they do. Aramithris came out against confederacies a mere year after voting in favor of creating the Rising Winds, a confederacy. Can we have some consistency, please?
The Tri-Kingdom War
Kingdoms working together for the betterment of Amtgard? Say it ain’t so! Indeed, the Celestial Kingdom, the Emerald Hills and the Wetlands ran the tri-kingdom war, a three-way invasion of each of their kingdoms. The improvement of communication boosted all three kingdoms, pushing attendance at regular events higher than ever before.
We all had loved ones shipped off to fight in Iraq. . . it’s important for us to remember the things that matter, the things that we might otherwise lose track of amidst the arguments over rules or knighthoods or petty rivalries. The soldiers from Amtgard matter. The Electric Samurai salutes these heroes and prays for their safe return.
No news is good news.
Guns at Clan. Headbutting the King of the Wetlands. Stealing stuff from tents. The specter of searching cars as they leave events. Amtgard has always had a problem with crime. Whether it was just the power of the Internet or an increased wave of criminal activity, there sure seemed to be a lot of it in 2003. When will we call the cops? Amtgard might be growing up, but it’s still sad that the biggest banning of the year was Zumat being tossed for being a clown.
Evil Ryss was proclaimed the Grand Olympian at a wonderful ceremony at Rakis, but it turned out he wasn’t the real winner after the results were properly tallied. Zach walked away the champion, but fell victim to another recount in the Wetlands. After winning the election for king – after several failed runs at the monarchy before – the votes from a shire that had not been approved were challenged and removed, thus landing Jearden in office instead. So . . . that means Jearden is Bush, Zach is Gore, and Evil Ryss is Marla Singer.
For some reason, there were only twenty-eight knightings this year. That’s the lowest number of new belts given out since 1997, and almost a 40% drop since last year. There have been about forty-five new belts give out every year for the past five years, a pretty significant trend. Hopefully 2003 is the beginning of a new trend in Amtgard, and if the past is any indication of what may come, we should have at least one more good year of few knighthoods being given out before things surge back up.
The Lord of the Rings
It was one of the biggest events of last year, and it’s one of the biggest of this year too. From the Two Towers through the extended DVDs to the Return of the King, it’s been a great year for fantasy. The biggest story isn’t the movies and the good they’ve done for the game though – it’s the fact that they’re over. No fantasy movie can top them and there’s nothing on their scale scheduled for next year. Amtgard will have to hope something else comes along to keep the public excited about the things that make our game great. At least we’ll have the extended Return of the King DVD to look forward to.
The Electric Samurai – still here
It felt to me that we didn’t do as many articles on e-Samurai this year, but really it was just the last couple of months that been fairly dry. There were one hundred and twenty three articles last year, and a hundred and one this year. That’s pretty steady. More importantly, the Electric Samurai is growing beyond its creator. We have horoscopes, regular contributors, people doing interviews, lots of discussion in the forums and over six hundred registered users. Quite by accident, e-Samurai has become the main location for communication among Amtgarders. In two years, we have 27,000 posts. That’s almost half as much as all the kingdom-level lists put together. Not bad for ten thousand socially awkward lists you obey, lacking focus and integrity, with obscure and cowardly people without a clue that truly sicken you -- the rats that wrote that in a breeding ground for bullshit. All opinions, all the time? It must be true!
That’s it from this Amtgarder. The game grew this year and I think it's better for it. But what do you most remember from 2003? Head over to the forums and let us know.
I hope you all have a Happy New Year.
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