Friday, September 2, 2016

Friendly Neighborhood Fight Practices and You!

It’s that time of year again! It’s time for your local college fight practice to start up and welcome new potential Realms players in the form of frosh. I know what you’re thinking! “But, Diana—what can I do to help the new players at practice?” I’m so glad you thought about asking that question, because I would love to answer that in my six simple answers!

#1 Attend a Practice

            This seems like a no brainer but I feel that it needs stating. Local fight practices are not only a place to get better, but also a way to give back to the community. When you attend fight practice, you offer a chance to new players to see the diversity in our player base.  I understand that people have time constraints, but try and make a commitment to attend once or twice a month. Not only does that help the community, but it helps you as well!

#2 Offer Help

The chances are very good that there will be more first timers than experienced players at first.  Talk to the individual who is running practice and offer your assistance to take a new player one-on-one.  Also, see if you can take two newbies aside and have them fight each other while you offer helpful suggestions. You’re thinking, “But, Diana. I’m not a good fighter.” Well, Jimmy, you see, it doesn’t take a great fighter to be a trainer.  All you need is patience and consideration.  They will need help with the most basic of concepts, at first. If you do think that someone is beyond your training ability, offer to bring them to someone more experienced.  They will be happy with any direction given to them.

#3 Don’t Be a Show-off

            Don’t be that guy. Obviously, you can beat them.  They have been playing for less than four hours. It’s like teaching a 3-year-old the rules to candy land then stacking the deck.  Yeah, you’ll look super cool, but what’s that worth? Instead of just trouncing them, talk them through what you are doing and why.  Explain how long you have been playing and that you once started off flinching while swinging wildly, too! Don’t let them win, but don’t make them feel belittled. We all started somewhere.

#4 Talk About Cheating

            There’s that elephant in the room. It’s something that people don’t like to face, but it’s a normal part of any game, and it’s not the end of the world. Explain to them that calling shots is hard! Even the best of us misses shots at times. Being a newbie and missing shots go hand in hand. It is usually not done on purpose, but it should be pointed out and corrected, though not in a negative tone. Just remind them that it takes a time and effort to get good at fighting, but even longer to lose the stigma of blatant cheating, especially when you’re new and this is the first impression you are going to make on people.

Let’s not forget to make sure we are fighting cleanly as well, since it would leave a bad impression that cheating is okay.  It could also make someone not want to come back a second time to practice. Be mindful of yourself and hold yourself to a higher standard, especially when training new players.

#5 Workshops

            Most college campus practices have workshops for weapons making and clothing. Try and attend them and offer as much help as you can, even if it’s just offering to cut things out.  Anything is helpful and it can make a huge impact on newbies continuing to play if they have their own weapons and garb.

#6 Make Newbies Feel Welcome

            Remember, this is the Realms Community. It is built on the foundation of fun and goodwill. Without that, the game becomes bitter and curmudgeon-y(Wordsmithing!). Remember:

·         Be kind

·         Welcome people with a smile

·         Treat others as you would like to be treated

·         Participate while at practice—lead by example

You are the Realms first line of defense against stagnation and dwindling newbie populations! Remember the things that I said, and you’ll be a great teacher.

I would like to leave you folks with some insight from players who recently started Realms and began at UConn, WPI, and UMass Lowell, respectively:

Nataliya Kostenko: One of the things I always found was that a lot of veterans always do really good one-on-one training really well but then when it comes to line or team battles, newbies are left to fend for themselves. So, one of the things I always found most helpful was when at UConn practice we'd do a buddy system and someone more experienced would stay near me in a line and teach battle field awareness or take me on the flank with them or something like that. I also think it's helpful when, after the battle they explain why they told you to do things.

Rae Nistler: Neil [Kusleika] almost always warms up with me with short sword. I know he holds back and he'll do the same thing over and over until I learn to correctly counter it.
I saw how you[Diana!] were training your squire, Chalan. By watching her in line battles or being near her. It looked super helpful, then taking her aside and correcting, reminding, explaining, etc.
I like when more experienced players even at events give/yell instructions to/at me. Like, stay in line, slow down, shield up, or if I'm off by myself... get over here. Our just tell me what my job is in a group. The more simple the instructions the easier.

David Benoit: The veteran players who attend the Blackwood and UMass practices do a really good job at coaching new players through line battles. They often spend time between battles to discuss and demonstrate team fighting techniques.
When I first joined, they would have us practice "dotting the i" as an individual and "crossing the T" as a group. We would even do the exercises without weapons/combat, just to hammer in the concepts.
Another thing I find helpful is that they always encourage us to fight outside of our comfort zone. Sometimes it's fighting with weapon combos we aren't comfortable with. Other times it's fighting at a disadvantage such as a shorter weapon combo than our opponent, a two-on-one match, or starting in the center of a grand melee circle.
One of the most valuable things for me is definitely all of the one-on-one time that many of the veteran players spend with us. They are always excited to teach us and help us improve. This community is so warm and welcoming, which is really powerful to a new player. I think the environment that the veteran players create for us is as helpful and important as any of the individual fighting tips they provide. It's what motivates us, and keeps us eager to come back for more.

          In closing, let me say that everyone has to start somewhere. One day, this first practice newbie you are helping may be a future paragon of the game, and he or she will look fondly at their days when that player really helped them feel welcome.


  1. Also many of us have spare weapons we bring to fight practice specificly for people to use. So even if you don't have weapons there are always plenty to go around.

  2. Also many of us have spare weapons we bring to fight practice specificly for people to use. So even if you don't have weapons there are always plenty to go around.