Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states, so that he who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command, is a ground of intersecting highways.

When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear, it is serious ground.

Mountain forests, rugged steppes, marshes and fen—all country that is hard to traverse: this is difficult ground.

Ground which is reached through narrow gorges, and from which we can only retire by tortuous paths, so that a small number of the enemy would suffice to crush a large body of our men: this is hemmed in ground.

Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by fighting without delay, is desperate ground.

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter XI: The Nine Situations, [6-10].

The Defeat of the Bearded Bastard took place at the local college gaming club in the student union. It was semi-public space. . Any student could have taken the table space.

Specifically, other wargamers, roleplayers, and LARPers part of the club could have had the space. First come, first served. Hence, the game was played on the Ground of Intersecting Highways.

Gamers at the club hardly ever played games at the local gaming store. We did not trust the clientage there. Had the game taken place there, it would have been on serious ground.

We never played in marshes, fens, or forests. But there was a conference room located on a top floor conference room accessible via a parking deck by narrow flight of stairs. It’s amazing no miniatures every got dropped down those concrete steps, nobody slipped and fell during the winter, as the staircase was exposed to the elements.

I’ve played in desperate ground; It’s when you just want to get the game finished and leave ASAP for whatever reason. You’ll know when your on desperate ground when it happens…

Next on The Art of Wargaming:

The Nine Situations, Part 3.