If we do not wish to fight, we can prevent the enemy from engaging us even though the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the ground. All we need do is to throw something odd and unaccountable in his way.

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter 6: “Weak Points and Strong,” [12]

During the War of Three Kingdoms period in ancient China, Chuko Liang became known as “The Sleeping Dragon” for his military exploits.

In one such deed, Chuko Liang’s forces had occupied a city, but were outnumbered by an approaching army. So Liang ordered the city’s gates opened and his men to hide, posing at civilians. When the enemy army approached, its general saw Chuko Liang dressed in Taoist robes, praying, and burning incense.

Intimidated, the enemy army retreated.

On the tabletop, you don’t have to do something this extreme. Yet one of the biggest mistakes a commander can make is to hide behind fortifications and take cover. A beginning wargamer will put his elite shock troops in the redoubt, making it almost impossible for the attacker to conquer.

This is a mistake.

Your shock troops aren’t shocking anybody if they’re defending.

Instead, put your levy troops in the redoubt. They need the cover. Put your elite troops elsewhere on the battlefield. That way, you’ve got two (or more) strong points instead of one, which will help counter somebody who attacks your redoubt.

Let the redoubt become bait, if you can, drawing the enemy forward. And then when the time is right, send your elite troops to charge your opponent’s flank.