Affordance was at the Duchy of Bicolline for the weekend of the Great Battle which took place last weekend (August 19-21). Pascal, Kim and Ludovic were the ambassadors of the Cloud Castle Guild (a fictional guild still but why not make it official next year?!). Anyways, friday afternoon, they put on their clothes and their gear and left the comfort of their cottage at Grande-Piles for the legendary lands of Bicolline. Here’s their epic journey.
When we got off the trolley (i.e. car) we saw legions of warriors and monsters: werewolves, pirates, gypsies, vikings, templars, elves, orcs and more! We quickly selected Ludovic to be the bodyguard with his steel (i.e. foam) sword in case we had to defend ourselves from an impromptu attack. While walking through the crowded streets, forest trails and dark mazes of the Duchy, we saw beautiful constructions as well as and fascinating specimens. The mountains, trees and sky were a perfect scenery for this special day preceding the Great Battle, also known as Zoo Day by the Bicolline faithful.
In total, two thousand people came to Bicolline to hash it out on the battlefield (not counting the ones that don’t fight) with some people only staying the weekend and others for the entire week. Everyone looked amazing! Some wore wolf, fox or other animals pelts. The pieces of armor were impressive including breastplates, leather armor, chainmail, shields, and bracers. The assortment of hats made your head spin with helmets, headbands, pirate hats and peasant hats. For footwear, people were wearing leather boots, suede shoes and some even went barefoot like Ludovic, our trusty bodyguard. Folks also decorated themselves with accessories like necklaces and chains, horns to sound the alarm, mugs for beer drinking, bones, claws and more. We even saw a guild of hillbillies who had black crooked teeth! To recognize teammates, guild members paraded around with their guild flag or symbols for everyone to see.
To ensure the safety of all participants, the Bicolline administration had to approve all weapons that would enter the battlefield including short, long, and two-handed swords, axes, halberds, spears, warhammers, flails or bows. It goes without saying that these people put a lot of time and money into their outfit and gear. The dedication to the narrative was second-to-none as the temperatures soared to above 30 °C. I think I saw some people cooking eggs for breakfast on their breastplates!?!?
And it’s not just the people who come to Bicolline that are so cool. The business model is also inclusive and socially progressive. It’s a co-op so you can buy a plot of land for a relatively small fee and then build you guild’s headquarters with your own sweat equity. There are however rules to follow in terms of aesthetics in order to maintain the medieval feel of the site. People build roman tents, forts, towers, huts on stilts as well as inns where you can buy food and ale at good prices. There is even a newly constructed mosque in front of the church in the Templar neighborhood! But it’s when night fell that we really found all the beauty and the charm of this place. Under the dim glow of the full moon, with the flickering of torches and candles, the village came alive in a new enchanting way.
There is never a dull moment at Bicolline notwithstanding the abundant opportunities to fight other guilds. Games are organized for the many children in attendance. And there are evening spectacles for all ages. We attended the battle between a giant tree – probably the cousin of the Ent Silverbeard – and a giant werewolf. We also saw jugglers and fire-breathers. Unfortunately, we just missed the finals of the Trollball tournament where two opposing teams of 5 players fight it out to slam a troll’s head into the other team’s well. You don’t see that everyday!
Behind the hectic life of the Duchy, there is a geopolitical game with cards that adds a whole new strategic dimension to the experience of Bicolline. Some lend themselves to it eagerly while others are less involved. Sitting on the terrace of the tavern a mug of beer in our hands (which we paid in solars, the official currency of the Duchy), we saw every minute people exchanging cards at the “Greffier” located in the basement of the tavern. How guilds will play their different cards (peasant, assassin, grain, iron, fighters, etc.) will determine their strategic position on the Bicolline chessboard. The game lasts all year so there is no shortage of fun!
Who knows, maybe Affordance’s Cloud City Guild will make its mark in Bicolline’s history next year by taking home the guild championship. Ludovic is already in training. Without shoes.
*The photos have been taken by Éric Dubé, armorer and photograph