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Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Art Of War

The other day I was listening to a Radio Talk Show and the voice on the radio was talking about a book called, "The Art Of Way". This book was written over two and half thousand years ago by Sun Tzu. I was thinking how the concepts in the book could be adapted to table top war games. That evening when I got home I pulled out my copy and started to scan through it. The first chapter I feel fits perfectly for table top war gaming. It is titled, "Laying Plans" and has five factors one should know and understand to be successful in battle.

The art of war is governed by five factors, all of which need to be taken into account. They are: the Moral Law; Haven; Earth; the Commander; Methods and Discipline.

The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

With table top war gaming we have Moral Law over our troops.

Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.

In the book the Heavens are discussed as how the conditions effect a mans ability in battle. The conditions can fatigue a man making victory impossible. The Heavens in table top war gaming are represented by the dice Gods. We are playing a game in which luck can make or break a game. Having a bad dice roll can start taking it toll on a player. The fatigue of bad dice rolls can cause you to get frustrated and make costly mistakes. You need to be able to recover from bad dice rolls or mistakes made during your game.

Earth comprises distance, great and small, danger and security, open ground and narrow passes, the chances of life and death.

This is important to all table top war gamers. Knowing how terrain effects movement and using terrain to your advantage. If you are playing a game in which you set up some of the terrain then set it up for your advantage. Create a narrow passage causing your opponent to go around or funnel his troops through he passage.


The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.

You are the Commander and it is your responsibility to know the rules of the game. Having a clear understanding of the rules and being able to execute them flawlessly is critical to your success.

By Method and Discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduation of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies my reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.

Its important to understand moral testing in table top gaming. In many games a failed moral test can cause the majority of your army to run off the table. Understand how to strength your units moral and force your opponent to take moral tests. The position of your General is important for that additional moral support.

These five factors should be familiar to every general; he who knows them will be victorious, he who knows them not will fail.

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