When you plunder a countryside, let the spoil be divided amongst your men; when you capture new territory, cut it up into allotments for the benefit of the soldiery.

Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.

He will conquer who has learnt the artifice of deviation. Such is the art of maneuvering.

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter VII: Maneuvering, [20-22].

As I recall, it was after a lengthy Seven Years’ War game where I’d made a personal vow to Defeat The Bearded Bastard, deliberately, without remorse, or concern for our friendship.

On that day, I played the Prussians; he, the Austrians.

Nobody else has showed up for the game. It was just me versus The Bearded Bastard.

He tried use his oversized Austrian infantry regiments to take down my Prussians. But I came up with rudimentary plan to delay contact with his Austrians as long as possible.

In retrospect, I had imitated Hannibal at Cannae: I sent my forces forward, then I fell back. This gave me an extra turn to fire my cannon into those big regiments and lure them forward. Then I sent in my infantry while my cavalry enveloped his flanks.

And guess what? I won.

I’d gone into the game with the usual attitude of knowing I’d lose but trying to put up a decent fight. But I’d won. I always envisioned beating The Bearded Bastard as moment where I’d grin and say, “Finally! I did it!” Followed by a jig.

Standing there, slack-jawed, I didn’t know what to do.

And I think, for a moment, The Bearded Bastard was surprised, too.

Did he congratulate me? No.

Did he compliment me on my tactics? No.

He snorted, and, without a word, started picking up his miniatures…


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