The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining the field. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) the Commander; (5) Method and Discipline. 

The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their rules, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. 

Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons. 

Earth compromises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow; the chances of life and death. 

The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity. benevolence, courage, and strictness.

By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure. 

These five heads should be familiar to every general; he who knows them will be victorious he who knows them not will fail.

-Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter I: Laying Plans, [3-11].

If you’re new to the hobby, focus on being a good Commander.

Your reputation is at stake. Those in your wargaming circle can forgive you if you if you’ve misunderstood the rules of a given game, you don’t know how to properly organize your figures, or if you ask to bring unpainted miniatures to the tabletop.

They get it: you’re new.

What they will not forgive is a somebody who cheats, a player who rigs scenarios in his or her own favor, or somebody who always gloats when victorious or whines and complains in defeat.

Sun Tzu later talks about deception in war. Certainly there is deception in wargaming, too. But there’s ways of doing it honorably and dishonorably.

You’ll know if you’re being dishonorable.

If you are, stop it. At once.

Not even The Bearded Bastard cheated (though he did, if you weren’t smart enough to let him, bend the rules…)

The short-term gains aren’t worth losing the trust of the players around you.

By being a wise commander you’ll be able to master the other four factors.


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