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American Amtgard vs Canadian Amtgard
[06/26/2009] [Magnus]

Amtgard was originally conceived in El Paso, Texas in 1983. Twenty six years later, the game has evolved in a variety of ways ranging from rules, to location and lastly in mindset. Amtgard has undergone 7.5 editions of the core rule book, seen groups ranging from the birth place of El Paso to as far as Croatia, Japan, Finland, Germany, Korea, and Russia. And lastly, Amtgard has seen a variation on how the game is played and why. With regards to this article, I’ll be focusing on national variations, specifically American Amtgard and Canadian Amtgard.

As stated earlier, American Amtgard began in 1983 in the southern state of Texas. Nearly 15 years after the foundation of Amtgard, in the winter of 1996, Canada founded its first shire, Wintermoon, in Sudbury Ontario under the Kingdom of Goldenvale. While many more southern US groups were developing new technologies and construction advancements for lighter and faster graphite weapons, the newly founded Canadian group was still adapting to PVC and rug foam fighting. During the winter term of 1998-1999 when the Canadian shire of Wolvenfang achieved barony status, there were already ten kingdoms thriving within the world of Amtgard. Also noted, when Balthor of Wolvenfang became the first Canadian to wear a white belt in November 2004, according to the Amtwiki, there were already 523 white belts that had been awarded across Amtgard. Currently, nearly 13 years after the foundation of the first Canadian group, there are four active groups within the Canadian border, and three Canadians who have proudly donned the ‘white belt’.

The history lesson above demonstrates that there are large gaps between not only the amount of larger groups between both countries, but also between knightly belts and even fighting advancement. The question must be asked: why? When first conceived, Canadian Amtgard was primarily a role-playing game mingled with battle-game scenarios. For many Canadians, the idea of a live-version of Dungeons & Dragons was too good to pass up. At that time, class garb was worn with pride and role-playing a persona was the pinnacle reason for coming to the Amtgard field. Even forum usage was primarily used for role-playing purposes to springboard the next on-field fight between characters.

Many veteran Canadian players recall Goldenvale’s ‘Great Eastern 4’ as the turning point where Canadian Amtgard changed. For many, this was the first time they had travelled to their sponsoring kingdom and experienced ‘American’ Amtgard: faster fighting, multi-kingdom companies, and a multitude of many coloured belts. Canadian players were welcomed with open arms and given new insights into the Amtgard world. When these Canadian players returned home, suddenly the division of players began as now our players were categorizing themselves as either ‘stick-jocks’ or ‘flurbs’.

After ‘Great Eastern 4’, there have been countless trips to various American events, though mostly only northern states. After each trip, Canadian players are often hyped about what they’ve learned and comment on how the American game differs. More political, say some. Others said more intensive fighting. Some Canadian players even claim it’s better. Presently when looking at Canada’s oldest group, Wolvenfang, we see how the game has changed as players are trying to emulate American fighting, political manoeuvring and even award presentation. It would seem as though the Canadian ‘flavour’ that began the game for many has died away when the Canadian-played game became ‘Americanized’ and slowly turned into the sport of Amtgard. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Canadian Amtgard as it advances towards Kingdom level in the near future.

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