In making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them; conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains. 

How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy’s own tactics–that is what the multitude cannot comprehend. 

All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. 

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter VI: Weak Points and Strong, [25-27].

Back in Chapter 4, I wrote about how The Bearded Bastard liked “horde armies” to crush his opponents. Elsewhere I wrote about how The Bearded Bastard could conceal his emotions and never give away his battle plan.

In multiplayer games, he would sometimes point out helpful tactics to his allied players, but he could keep his mouth shut about his strategy.

Its only in retrospect I discovered his overall strategy, and this was after getting beaten time and again, game after game.

And I also learned this strategy watching  other players who’d go against the Bearded Bastard feeling optimistic about their chances, and yet would walk away at the end of the game just seething.

And here it is:

The Bearded Bastard  would let his opponents destroy themselves. 

I wonder, also in retrospect, if he ever got bored watching us (myself and fellow gamers), keep making a crucial mistake that he would exploit.

How many times did he outflank us? Even after we knew that was one of favorite tactics?

How many times did he use cavalry to trample the opposition? But his opponents couldn’t be bothered to learn the rules for cavalry charges?

How many times did players get angry as he quoted rules to us? Even those some of those same players didn’t at least glance at the rule book?

Multiplayer games were the worst. We all had our objective: defeat the Bearded Bastard. But then we wouldn’t coordinate our attacks. We’d argue and bicker.

“Joe! Don’t move your infantry out of that town. He’s going to outflank you!”

“I know what I’m doing!”

“Stelios! Move your cavalry forward to support the infantry advance.”

“But that wasn’t part of the plan.”

And after we lost the arguing and bickering would continue. We’d blame each other for The Bearded Bastard’s victory. We’d whine about our problems, how the The Bearded Bastard was such a mean bastard.

And, dumbfounded, we’d ask each other: “How did the Bearded Bastard win?”

Gee, I wonder.


Next on The Art of Wargaming: The Cycle of Warhammer Fantasy Battles.