The Book of Army Management says: On the field of battle, the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags.

Gongs and drum, banners and flags, are means whereby the ears and eyes of the hosts may be focused on one particular point.

The host thus forming a single united body, it is impossible either for the brave to advance alone, or for the cowardly to retreat alone. This is the art of handling large masses of men.

In night-fighting, then, make much use of signal-fires and drums, and in fighting by day, of flags and banners, as a means of influecning the ears of your army.

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter VII: Maneuvering, [23-26].

Though the tabletop is not like a battlefield, where you need gongs, drums, and banners, the spoken word, indeed, does not carry far nor does it mean much.

The Bearded Bastard understood this. Away from the game, he could converse with you on nearly any topic. But when the miniatures were deployed and the dice were thrown, he became tight-lipped unless you asked him a direct question.

If you were an allied player in multiplayer game, about to do something awry, he wouldn’t blatantly point out your mistake. Instead, he’d say: “Are you sure you want to do that?”

He would also occasionally say that to his opponents to throw them into confusion, especially rules lawyers.

At the other end of the spectrum was Blowhard Von Blowhard (not his really name, of course), who had an opinion on everything (especially politics), and would not shut up.  He wanted to be the focal point of the group, but because he talked too much, he was reviled. Occasionally, Von Blowhard would point out a flaw in somebody’s tactic, but nobody listened. He had diluted his words.

The more you speak the less people will listen.

Next on The Art of Wargaming:

And Now for Something Completely Different: Blood Sugar.