If you march fifty LI in order to outmaneuver the enemy, you will lose the leader of your first division, and only half your force will reach the goal.
If you march thirty LI with the same objective, two-thirds of your army will arrive.
We may take it then that an army without its baggage-train is lost; without provision it is it lost; without bases of supply it is lost.
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter VII: “Maneuvering” [9-11].
There were games where we’d walk away from the table and say: “He should have lost. That Bearded Bastard should have lost!”
It’s one thing to lose against the Bearded Bastard, it’s quite another to almost win.
It’s in these games you’d see The Bearded Bastard march his forces across the battlefield with a disregard for the tactics of his opponent. His armies would suffer a staggering amount of losses. Regiments would vanish. A whole brigade would retreat.
And The Bearded Bastard would still win.
Because he’d taken his opponent’s base camp or achieved his objectives.
All of this depended on the game or scenario, of course. Some games are slug-fests. Others have different objectives. Taking these objectives offsets any casualties and morale penalties you might receive.
And in certain games, The Bearded Bastard knew how to stack this bonuses in his favor.
I remember one game of Seven Years’ War where The Bearded Bastard’s armies took over 40% losses. Nearly half his army was gone. But he’d won.
“You armies should have lost,” I complained bitterly. Somehow I’d only taken 25% losses.
Then, in that haughty manner only The Bearded Bastard can do, he demonstrated how the modifiers stacked in his favor:
“Well, yes, I’ve taken over 40% casualties, but I took two of your cannon, one of your regiment’s flags, the objective which was the village, you have 2 units routing, and I’m about to take your base camp…”
Next on The Art of Wargaming: Always Have Someone Watch Your Back.