June 12, 2011

Hari Ragat: a Fistful of Spears II

The Vijadesan battle-line is formed with the Baganis and their shieldbearers in front, followed by their  spearmen, the rear being brought up by the archers.

Battle usually opens with the Baganis hurling taunts and challenges, then missiles, at their counterparts, after which individual champions may leave the line to duel with a chosen opponent or throw a spear.  Warriors step out to throw or shoot, then dodge behind their shieldbearers when missile fire is thick.

When the signal is given to charge, the shieldbearers and archers fall back and the Baganis surge forward followed by their spearmen. Sometimes the shieldbearers and archers follow – the former dropping their cumbersome rattan pavises – but more often they are under orders to hold ground, providing their masters a place to retreat to if injured or overcome by numbers.

Each side now tries to slay as many of the enemy’s Bagani warriors as possible, each Bagani’s spearmen trying to stay as close to him as they can to prevent his death and support him in attack. Should their Bagani enter into a duel with another Bagani, the spearmen stand back and guard against treachery.  Should a Bagani be stricken, his followers are expected to try to get his body away from the enemy and prevent them from taking his head.

Extended battles may be fought with repeated sorties from and retreats to the shield line, until one side is overwhelmed or breaks.

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