Written by Sir Duncan Bruce of Logan. Originally published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 6, 4th Quarter, 2002.
You may ask, “How does this tie in with the ‘Fyrd theme’ we got going?”
the answer is simple, Syr Logan wrote this waaaaaaaay back when he was a Fyrdman, you know back before dirt;)
I have noticed a trend among the ranks of newer fighter that I consider a bit disturbing. Many of them are taking up polearms as soon as they return from their first war. The stated reason is to “get out from under a scutum”” This disturbs me for two reasons, first, the scuta are what Calontir is known for and what makes or breaks our ability to use our tactics, secondly, wars should be fun, no matter what weapon system you use.
To address the first point, the whole “No Heroes” philosophy of the army depends on working as a unit, and the scuta are the base that our units are built on. There has even been discussion in there pages that scuta should be included in cavalry units. If we continue to act as if carrying a scutum is a job only for the new and/or unskilled fighters everyone will want to continue to want to get out from under it as soon as possible.
Many people with more knowledge than I have said that we need to practice with scutum toting units more, and I have to agree. Not just to get used to fighting around them, but also to learn how to fight with one strapped to your arm. This would not only increase our melee skills, but would get everyone more familiar with just how a scutum works best for them.
If you are good with a weapon system you get more respect from your compatriots when you use it, which addresses the first point above, and it is more fun to use, which addresses the second point. Other things that would make a scutum more fun is better communication between the primaries and the artillery. Since it is Pavel’s job to harp on that, I won’t. Another thing is to adopt some of our tactics so that a scutum’s job is not always to “play anvil”” While we experimented with that a bit at Winter War Maneuvers, I think we stopped too soon.
Granted the two battles we fought with the scuta purposefully worming their way through the enemy ended up with the attackers getting smeared, I don’t think the problem was with what the scuta were doing. Both times I was in the front rank, and when I was finally killed I was in the last rank of defenders. The same was true of the rank immediately behind me. The problem seemed to be that the secondaries and artillery stopped when they came in range and started dueling with the defenders, rather than following the scuta in. I think we should give this tactic more thought (and practice).
Another experiment that worked fairly well was conducted at Estrella this year. As you no doubt have heard by now, Calontir really shone in the last battle (broken field resurrection). While our basic job was the same as usual (take the banner and hold it against all comers), we were not alone in that task.
As we died off and returned we were no longer a cohesive unit. Instead, we were spread out throughout the guardian unit, basically anchoring the fighters around us, and passing on an enforcing commands that came down the line. We didn’t have a static wall, but scuta ranged throughout the line providing the needed cover for artillery and dropping to hold a line when required. However, they were also involved in charges and flanking maneuvers that seemed to throw the attackers completely off guard. After all, a scutum never runs out of the line and attacks a spear, does it? I for one had a grand time at Estrella and carried a scutum the entire time.
So what do I think we should do? All I can suggest has been suggested before, communicate with the primaries and adapt new tactics to use them differently.
I don’t’ want people to think that I find scutum to be the greatest weapon system ever invented, and that anyone who abandons it is stupid. Nor do I think that knowing how to fight polearm is a bad thing. The more you know about the more weapons systems, the better.
I guess what I want to say is, if you haven’t ever fought with a scutum, or it has been a year or so, pick up one and use it for a while. Not only will you (re)gain respect for those people that have been providing all that cover, but you might, just enjoy yourself.
Having lots of people that can pick up a scutum and do more than just kneel behind it can do nothing but enhance our collective performance, and therefore our reputation.
Greetings to the Warriors of present-day Calontir. Many of my concerns addressed in the above article no longer apply, but I believe the basic premise still holds: humping a scutum is a vital, rewarding, and most of all FUN job in the Calontir army.
Scuta are even more important today than they were then. With the addition of a center-grip, they become a more flexible component of our overall arsenal.
If your local group has some, practice with them. If they don’t, why not investigate getting some?
Scuta, they aren’t just for bridges anymore.
–Sir Logan, Baron Bus-a-doon