Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all: amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.

Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength. 

Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposed a fund of latent energy; masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions. 

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter 4: “Energy,” [16-18].

To this day a friend of mine swears that The Bearded Bastard wasn’t that great of a wargamer.

Friend: “He always picked crappy armies. Barbarians. Orks and goblins. And the like. They suck.”

Me: “Oh really? Then why did he win all of the time?”

Friend: “He got lucky. There’s no way he could win with some of his army choices.”

Me: “Then why did he win all of the damn time?

The Bearded Bastard did like the “underdogs” when it came to his army choices. Armies that appeared to be chaotic, undisciplined, without good command structure. Hordes, so to speak.

But he didn’t choose them for their numerical superiority. Often our games had about an equal number of units per side. No, he choose the “chaotic” armies for their mobility and then scatter them all of the tabletop to make them appear weak.

The Bearded Bastard cared little about a show of force; he believed in the projection and the concentration of force.

How many of these little barbarian warbands can pounce on an Roman maniple?

How many goblins can he sacrifice to slow down the enemy, before bringing in the ork reinforcements?

How can those weak-looking archers concentrate their fire from different parts of the battlefield to bring down the most elite opponent?


Next on The Art of Wargaming: “Taoism and The Art of War.”