The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu. It has had an influence on Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy, and beyond. So what about wargaming? Is there anything to learn from this military classic? The Art of Wargaming?
According to Sun Tzu the art of war is governed by five constant factors:
- 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.
- Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
- Earth comprises distances, great and small, danger and security, open ground and narrow passes, the chances of life and death.
- The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, strictness.
- By Method and Discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.
Sounds familiar? While Moral Law, Heaven, and the Commander aren’t relevant on the tabletop, they are pretty relevant behind it: Dealing with your opponent and yourself defines the excitement of wargaming, doesn’t it? – Earth, Method and Discipline are constitutional for any wargamer: dealing with terrain and lists is crucial. Or with Sun Tzu: These five heads should be familiar to every general. He who knows them will be victorious. He who knows them not will fail.
So, time to start a Sun Tzu series, following and examining the 13 chapters of The Art of War: Let’s start talking about the art of wargaming!