In war, practice dissimulation, and you will succeed.
Whether to concentrate or to divide your troops, must be decided by circumstances. Let your rapidity be that of the wind, your compactness that of the forest.
In raiding and plundering be like fire, in immovability like a mountain.
Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter VII: Maneuvering, [15-19].
We all knew that The Bearded Bastard like to outflank his opponents. The question was: “When and where?”
Sometimes we could anticipate his maneuvers, but then, like a cat sensing danger, he’d become skittish and wouldn’t follow through.
What we failed to grasp was that outflanking your opponent is a standard tactic in war. It’s what you’re supposed to do, even in wargaming.
But “when and where” depends on the circumstances.
It’s too easy to become comfortable with tactics which have worked before. Some wargamers are defensive, they play a conservative strategy trying to minimize risk. Some wargamers love armies which can shock and awe their opponents. Others like skirmishers, hit-and-run tactics, guerrilla warfare.
Other wargames like to take the most elite forces available… and then sit and do nothing with them.
I have a tendency to be defensive. You see this with my English Hundred Years’ War army. This behavior, without a doubt, stems from prior defeats when I’d advance my forces and get trounced.
Just as in history, where generals fight the current war with tactics from the last war, we fought The Bearded Bastard in the current battle with tactics from the last battle.
We were like the French in early World War II, building that Maginot Line to re-fight World War I.
And for record: The Bearded Bastard, playing the French, did defeat my English armies in a couple Hundred Years’ War battles–even Agincourt!
He outflanked my archers.
Someday I’d learn my lesson.
Next on The Art of Wargaming: The Turning Point.