In the words of our mighty Programme Co-Ordinator, I have been instructed to “pick something fun – and interesting- and riff on it”.
So, here we go;
Scots and English. This is possibly one of the greatest things I have ever come across in my entire life. It is one of many extremely enjoyable and pretty fantastic games that Monitors are able to pull out of the bag.
Warning: It can result in temporary (sometimes misplaced) national pride and a really fun hour or two.
I will give a quick run-down of the rules, for our readers who aren’t familiar with the Scots and English. Following that I will give a commentary on some of the strategies that are employed (some common, others more unusual).
Scots and English is a team game, best played in the middle of quite a large field.
Split the pitch in two along the middle with cones (a lot like a football pitch); either side of the central line are the countries. At either end there are 10 pieces of distinguishable “treasure” (spoons are my personal favourite).
The aim of the game is to capture the treasure from the other country, and to do so you must run through their territory without getting tagged by the opposing countrymen.
If you are tagged, you are to be escorted to “prison”, which is behind the treasure.
Should you make it across untagged, you can choose to retrieve treasure, or free one of your fellow countrymen who have been chilling in prison.
Offensive strategy: The Sneaker
This is one for the more subtle of your countrymen. He or she will ‘blend’ into the confusing background of the fray and fracas of the battle and, akin to a ninja, will cease to be noticed by the other team. At a leisurely and nonchalant pace, they continue to amble into the opposition’s territory and plunder the enemy’s treasure. Normally a trick that only works once, however some are so ninja-like that this tactic has the potential to be game-changing.
Offensive strategy: The Decoy
A personal favourite of mine. It involves a level of self-sacrifice that most people couldn’t even begin to imagine, but on occasion, when victory, pride and bragging rights are at stake, it has been known to happen. The valiant and fearless runner, a decoy no less, makes an obvious and frightful run at the opposition’s hoard of treasure, making as much noise and drawing in as many defenders as possible. Meanwhile, as the enemies’ backs are turned, the sneakers are running up the other side of the pitch and stealing all the treasure! With careful planning and precision timing, this tactic can work a treat. However, this isn’t one for the faint-hearted; if you are spotted by an eagle-eyed defender who alerts their team, the move fails and the decoy runner risks capture unnecessarily.
Defensive strategy: The Blockade
Requiring slightly less imagination, and certainly less subtlety than the sneaker tactic, ‘the blockade’ is to Scots V English what the sledgehammer is to your kitchen sink. With your entire team in an unbroken defensive line between the enemy and your treasure, this is a sure fire way to cut your losses, provided your team show an unprecedented level of self-discipline not to break the line. However the down side is that it is nearly unbearably dull and it can lead to a stalemate if the other team are thinking along the same lines.
Defensive strategy: Staggering
As well as a common symptom of sore legs due to running too much, this can actually be an effective defensive strategy to keep those pesky thieves away from your precious treasure. Get a few determined team mates (you’ll have plenty to pick from) and set yourself in a sort-of chessboard fashion (see diagram) in front of your treasure. Like a poised net, you’ll wait for the opposition to run into your trap; the chessboard pattern makes it very difficult for runners (even fast ones) to get very far. I’ve even heard people defining “proximity defence zone” and calculating the optimum number of defenders in order to have the maximum number of team mates plundering treasure.
Offensive strategy: The Charge
One of the only effective offensive strategies to compete against the blockade. It involves a mustering of forces akin to a herd of stampeding elephants, with your whole team charging into the oppositions half. It’s risky as it leaves you vulnerable for a counter-attack, however it can be a game clincher. Usually a tactic that is resorted to (a) to combat the blockade, or (b) when the person in charge decides it’s time to go inside for a drink and a biscuit/move onto a different game/go and find out why the director has been kidnapped by a mischievous fairy-tale character.
Offensive strategy: Toeing the line
A tactic for those plucking up the courage to make a quick dash for glory. Pacing up and down the territorial divide is a great way to distract the opposition. Making excellent (and confusing) conversation with your opposing counterparts can cause defenders to focus on you, allowing your team mates to make cheeky acquisitions at their expense (pulling funny faces has also been known to work). Short ‘dummy’ runs into the opposing half can work in the same way as “The Decoy” strategy, forcing defenders to move in on you and therefore freeing up space deeper in their territory. You also work in a defensive capacity, pouncing on anyone foolish enough to creep across the line on your watch.
Well, Ladles and Jellyspoons, that’s on Scots and English from me.
Remember, these tactics are just the beginning, if you think you have some better ideas, try them out and let me know how they went!