Preparation is key in the Art of War.
This upcoming weekend we’ll be filling the Forest of Dean to the rafters with cunning rogues, light-footed cutthroats and dastardly mercenaries. They’ll all be patrolling, camping and idling around in amongst the trees and rivers, unaware that they’re about to be set upon by two teams of well-trained assassins.
Although I’ve tried my best to prepare both teams of assassins and the various target volunteers for the weekend ahead, I thought I’d collect a few more thoughts just to help everyone make the most of the time we have.
Here are 5 ways any of you can prepare yourselves for the upcoming battle, with a little help from Sun Tzu:
‘Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.’
It’s imperative that you keep your basic skills up to scratch. The rules remain the same whether you are an assassin or a target. At some point you will be forced into a 1-on-1 or possibly 2-on-1 fight scenario, so you’ll need to be ready to deflect, parry and attack as quickly as possible. There’s no point in spending the best part of 6 hours tracking your quarry, only to be bested by them in the battle proper. This leads us onto my next tip…
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
The missions that I’ve set the teams aren’t simply assassination based. Each set of targets, as well as some roving bandits, will be carrying their own supply of resources as well as some intelligence on where and when the other target groups will be. These supply crates will be clearly labelled and boxed up in timber packing cases, kindly lent to us by a friend of Kevan’s. You’ll need to plan your attack and stalk your prey thoroughly before diving into the thick of it though…
‘You have to believe in yourself.’
You’ll find that you’ll become a great deal more immersed in the weekend if you’ve mentally primed yourself first. This can either be achieved by reading a favourite swords-and-sorcery book or simply by kicking back with a classic movie. My personal recommendations would be either Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of The Ring for some quintessential forest based battles or (if you’re looking for something a little cheesier) Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
‘Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.’
A big weekend away is always a good opportunity to treat yourself to some more gear. You wouldn’t want to be caught short in a fight, and not have enough throwing knives to take down that last bandit. Assassins also might want to invest in a cloak, to adapt to the changing colours of the forest, targets will be given outer garb to wear, but are encouraged to style and kit themselves out as much as they deem suitable.
‘When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.’
Although we’ll be supplying all our volunteer targets with plenty of ale, meats and soups – the assassins won’t have the same luxury. Our two teams will be laying low and lighting fires at their own risk. As part of the experience we’ll be getting assassins to cook and prepare all their meals in the forest, but you can still bring seasonal fruits, breads and cheeses – anything period – no cereal bars (I’m looking at you Barbara!).
We’ve got a big weekend ahead of us, so my very last tip would be to get a good night’s sleep tonight and tomorrow. Rest up in your beds well, because the Forest floor is not always the most comfortable of mattresses!
Rachel Leissbecker is an expert Stealth Trainer and Knife Thrower. Her weekly classes teach the uninitiated how to successfully track, stalk and eliminate groups of targets – utilising ancient covert tactics passed down from her Priesthood ancestors. She is a huge fan of the LOTR films and has just the smallest of crushes on a certain Kevin Costner…