top of page


[05/20/2014] [Jester]


Sluff, verb

To not take a shot received in a boffer sport. Sluffer – one who sluffs. “I totally hit Frank in the leg with that shot, but he sluffed it and kept running!”

If you’ve been playing Amtgard for any real amount of time, you’ve encountered this. You throw a shot, a few shots and just absolutely nail the other fighter. And he keeps going. And then you lose, because you got hit once. You swear you hit the other guy 3 or 4 times, yet he kept coming and this isn’t even a game with armor of any kind. So you’ve been sluffed. Or you watched your friend suffer the same thing.

Now, I want to examine this, how it happens, why it happens and what you can do about it at your park, and how to better handle it when you travel to other parks and experience this.

The reasons for why you have been sluffed can vary from positive, to simple confusion, to negative, to really negative, to I cannot believe how negative this will get. I am not calling any single one person out, I haven’t been able to fight in over two years, but I have seen all of these and been a ‘victim’ of all of these throughout my time in the game.

The first one is just cluelessness. You might be fighting someone who is on their early weeks out. They don’t know the rules of where shoulder begins versus what we count as arm, what is hip and what is leg, where we count the wrist hits. Perhaps you hit this rather new player a dozen times and all he did was take a leg.

Being that we are 13% into the 21st Century, I am going to assume you have used a touch screen device. Early devices could only accept one input at a time, often not even very well. Over a few generations of devices, the multi-touch ‘pinch to zoom’ devices became the norm.

That single touch device is what you just fought. Their brain has not yet made the connections to track out “hit block block block hit hit block block miss” in that order yet. They are getting hit and just processing out the rules at this point. Once this fighter has taken a knee, their brain has reset and is able to begin the process again. This goes away within two months of active participation. Single Touch vs Multi Touch Screen Newbies is how I’ve been describing them.

Staying in the positive for just a few more minutes, there is nerve damage or other physical limiter the fighter may be suffering. I know most people know of at least one (if not the one) fighter that sometimes will get pushed back from a valid shot and not have felt it, but ask you to let him know if you got it. There was never malice, he just had some issues that I am not in full understanding of.

Even locally, we have had two of our younger members show up a few months after completed shoulder surgery. One of them, many years later, can feel normal contact on that shoulder, but hard, quick impacts on it don’t register. He has to take it from the sound in his ear that he got tagged. Again, no malice, just a body not at 100% of what it could be.

Then we have what can be an ignorance issue. If you travel, or meet others at events, you will often run into different shot in motion timing. You may even run into atomic clock timing for trading hits. It doesn’t hurt to communicate or ask your new host land what rules you are using on this. Once you know the rules, it should only take you a few fights to calibrate.

Speaking of calibration – some individuals prefer the rougher, tougher treatment in a fight. I come from a land with a lot of kids, so a lot of our members don’t put a whole lot of mustard on their shots. We don’t want to chase away our still growing kids. With most fighters in the same tier, I see this one the most often, but I also see this as the most communicated and resolved.

“You kind of nicked, I don’t really think it was anything.” “Oh god don’t take that, I barely hit you.”

Take a few fights, figure your host land and fighter out before you actually make any judgments against participants. If your shots are too light, work on that. If you are pasting people across the field in a place not built to handle it, re-calibrate yourself. If you’ve got the muscle control to fight well, you have the muscle control to fight controlled.

Now that we have discussed the simple (positive), the slightly more complex (pretty neutral really) we have to go to the negative. The fight happens. You throw the body shot, it connects brilliantly. Cleanly. Solidly. By all the rules, this guy is dead. But he manages to hit you in the shoulder and hip on his way down for taking his front leg. You have been sluffed. Seriously. He just took the wrong thing. It’s not even a question, we have video to prove it from enough angles that make the Bullet Time Camera from the Matrix jealous.

  • You can hit him harder next time, but if he’s not taking it to begin with, all you are doing now is being dangerous and angry while bludgeoning someone.

  • You could gripe about it to your friends forever. Because if it’s one thing your friends need to hear, it’s you bitching some more about pajama nerf bat game.

  • You could punch the other player. That always works well for everyone involved and shows how amazingly mature you are to not cheat in the game unlike that guy.

  • You could retaliate and blow off as many shots as he did. And then he can do the same and no one knows where it really started and we have created a utopia for dick heads.

  • You could whine about it on the internet. If it’s one thing the internet needs, it’s more whining about things that do not matter.

  • You could also talk about it with the player or get a reeve. Like the rules of the game request you do.

If you’re talking to the player, you don’t even have to be insulting with this. Perhaps there is rationale in their mind about how this happened. They might be one of the many mentioned reasons earlier. The player may have had a canteen on earlier.

Maybe they just can’t believe you hit them, it had to be a fluke. This could be from an ego imbalance. I’ve seen this one and almost fallen to it on the other side. Thinking there is no way that player could have killed me, he is the worst person to use a stick this side of Captain Caveman. But then I remember being that terrible player and finally landing something good on someone and them blowing it off, so I have to just suck it up, laugh at myself or give praise where it is due.

But there is the absolute worst reason you may have been sluffed in that fight. It ruins many parks, it destroy many attitudes and I have seen it ruin many friendships in this game. I hate seeing it, I hate being on either side of it and I hate hearing it myself, so I think it must be said.

Ready? The ugly awful truth as to why that guy didn’t take your shot?

You didn’t hit him. Seriously. You aren’t as good as you thought. He blocked it, you cored him instead, you hit his handle, his wrist, right below the butt cheek that makes it a leg shot, you were swinging more horizontally on the shoulder plane than vertical or you just can’t hit the broad side of a barn. And you know what? I think this makes up 90% of the sluffing complaints I have ever heard against any group of players out there.

You want to prevent bad attitudes regarding sluffing at your park? Find out if your players are any part of the first group. You have to communicate and calibrate with them.

If not that, the next step is STILL communication and calibration. Learn what kind of timing and power are required from this person. Communicate what you use, perhaps the group will find a compromise that actually works.

If it’s actually a sluffing problem, find out the root cause with communication again. We don’t live in a bubble. If you want your group to succeed and grow, you have to be willing to talk to people in it. If you want to succeed as a person, you still have to communicate. So drop the bitterness and communicate.

If it’s none of the above, you have to come right back to you aren’t that good. It’s ok to lose. It’s how you learn to get better.

bottom of page