Now the general is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak.
There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:
- By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army.
- By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the solder’s minds.
- By employing the officers of this army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.
When the army is restless and distrustful, trouble is sure to come from the other feudal princes. This is simply bringing anarchy into the army, and flinging victory away.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter 3: “Attack by Stratagem,” [11-16]
“Your tanks have fired,” said the Bearded Bastard.
“Huh?” I’d been distracted by events on the other side of the tabletop.
He pointed to a half-dozen M4 Shermans on a ridge, supposedly under my command.
We were playing a game of World War II microarmor, Command Decision if I recall correctly. Below the tanks was a valley, beyond the valley some German Panzer IVs lay in wait.
It was one of my early encounters with the Bearded Bastard, and we were on the same side.
The those Panzer IVs were in extreme range. “But I already decided those Shermans wouldn’t shoot, the chances of actually hitting and doing damage were pretty low.”
It was, perhaps, my second time playing Command Decision. We were even keeping track of ammunition.
The Bearded Bastard looked me in the eye. “You always take the shot. Always.”
What a bastard! How dare he shoot those troops under my command?
Later (again, when I wasn’t looking) he even moved them to outflank those German tanks. I got mad at that, too.
In retrospect, there’s something to be said about putting the experts and veterans in charge. They were his miniatures anyway; I was a guest in the game. He was the sovereign.
Until I had painted up my own army, read the rules, and proven myself at least somewhat competent, my judgement would have little influence on the wargaming veterans.
Next on The Art of Wargaming: Know Thyself.