Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it.
By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men, he lies in wait for him.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter 5: “Energy,” [19-20].
I’m a lazy wargamer at heart.
I don’t like stretching across the table to move my miniatures once they get beyond a certain point. I also don’t have having to get up from my seat to push and of my miniatures which my have ended on my opponent’s side of the table.
Instead, I prefer my opponent come to me. Therefore, I need baits, something my opponent prizes. In the last game of English Civil War it was a pair of cannon sitting pretty on a hill. In another game of Seven Years’ War I let my adversary take a key crossroad, so I could concentrate my firepower on that point.
Sometimes I’m the prize. “Let’s see if we can gang up on Stelios and take him down a peg or two.”
Defeating the Bearded Bastard was a prize, something that eluded me for many years.
There’s a concept in Taoism called “wu-wei,” which can translate as “without action” or “action without action” or “effortless doing.” It’s a state of being where one acts in accord with the harmony of the universe.
To act against this harmony wastes energy and brings frustration.
The more actions one takes, the more likely something will go wrong.
The Art of War really is about the conservation of energy, and to expend that energy only when the time is right.
And part of the reason I write The Art of Wargaming is a cautionary tale for wargamers. Some opponents aren’t meant to be beaten until a given time.
Until then, these opponents will just be bait, both the carrot and the stick. Tempting and yet frustrating.
Too many times did I “claw at concrete,” as I put it, when playing against the Bearded Bastard, who would not yield; who remained calm when I had given into my anger.
So maybe I’m not lazy. Maybe one day I learned my lesson and stopped chasing the Bearded Bastard around on the tabletop and let him come to me.
Next on The Art of Wargaming: “How to Use Combine Arms like Gustavus Adolphus.”