Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy: this is the art of retaining self-possession.
To be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it, to wait at ease while the enemy is toiling and struggling, to be well-fed while the enemy is famished: this is the art of husbanding one’s strength.
To refrain from intercepting an enemy whose banners are in perfect order, to refrain from attacking an army drawn up in calm and confident array: this is the art of studying circumstances.
It is a military axiom not to advance uphill against the enemy, nor to oppose him when he comes downhill.
Do not pursue an enemy who simulates flight; do not attack soldiers whose temper is keen.
Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy. Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.
When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.
Such is the art of warfare.
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter VII: Maneuvering, [30-37].
Sun Tzu just summarized the basics of tactics and strategy.
When I first started wargaming, I knew little of this. I wanted to charge in and mix it up. That’s point right? Defeat your opponent. And how do you do that without sending in your miniatures?
The answer to that is in the passage above. You let the opponent defeat himself. You wait until the enemy makes a mistake maneuvering around the tabletop to reach you.
You don’t attack his strong points.
And then, after game starts turning heavily in your favor, knowing when to halt your attack. Where to draw the line isn’t usually clear. But its courteous, when your opponent is nearly defeated, to ask if they would like to call the game.
Some wargamers don’t mind playing to the last stand. Others do.
Proceed with caution, because the longer the game gets drawn out, the greater the chance something adverse might happen to your forces.
And some player might draw out the game to spite you and waste your time.
Next on The Art of Wargaming:
When to Make Other Plans.