Sun Tzu said: The art of war recognizes nine varieties of ground: (1) dispersive ground; (2) facile ground; (3) contentious ground; (4) open ground; (5) ground of intersecting highways; (6) serious ground; (7) difficult ground; (8) hemmed in ground; (9) desperate ground.

When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory, it is dispersive ground.

When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but to no great distance, it is facile ground.

Ground in possession of which imports great advantage to either side, it contentious ground.

Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is open ground.

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter XI: The Nine Situations, [1-5].

The Defeat of the Bearded Bastard happened at a college gaming club in a student union.

The Bearded Bastard’s side of the table was contentious ground.

It was in the shade for when the afternoon sun crept around the building and shine through the curtainless windows. I would have liked to have been on that side of the table. The dice for deployment determined otherwise.

The ground was also open.

Both of us had the liberty of movement around the table. We could reach our miniatures easily. Nothing hindered us. All other chairs and tables were a good distance away.

The student union itself was facile ground.

We were familiar with the rooms, the spaces where we could run wargames. It’s why the club meet there each week.

Had the game been fought the privacy of my own apartment at the time, it would have been dispersive ground.

Had it been fought in the privacy of The Bearded Bastard’s home, the outcome may have been different: I had never been there before.

Never underestimate the influence of the surrounding environment.

This is something we’ve touched on previously in The Art of Wargaming. Now, in this final chapter, we’ll discuss it further.

Next on The Art of Wargaming:

The Nine Situations, Part 2.