Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Art of War - Attack by Stratagem

Chapter 1: Laying Plans
Chapter 2: Waging War

Welcome to the third chapter (below) in my Art of War series. This chapter looks at the strategies of attacking your enemy...

Chapter 3: Attack by Strategem

In the art of war, the best thing to do is take the enemy’s resources whole and intact. To shatter and destroy it is not so good.

Therefore, to fight and conquer in all battles is not supreme excellence. Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without actually fighting.

The highest form of leadership is to prevent the enemy’s plans. The next best is to prevent the gathering of the enemy’s fleets. The next in order is to attack the enemy’s fleet in space, and the worst policy of all is to besiege stations.

The rule is not to besiege stations if it can possibly be avoided. The preparations will cost too much, and the losses will be too great.

The skilful leader subdues the enemy’s fleet without fighting. He captures their stations without laying siege to them. He overthrows their leadership without lengthy operations in the field.

With his fleets intact, he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a single pilot, his victory will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem.

It is the rule in war:
  1. If your fleet is ten to the enemy’s one, surround him.
  2. If five to one, attack him.
  3. If twice as numerous, divide the fleet into two.
  4. If equally matched, we can offer battle.
  5. If slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy.
  6. If unequal in every way, you can flee from them.
Though a stubborn fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.

There are three ways a leader can bring misfortune upon the fleet:
  1. By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact it can’t obey.
  2. By attempting to lead a fleet in the same way as he leads a corporation, being ignorant of the conditions which affect a fleet. This causes restlessness in the pilot’s minds.
  3. By employing the officers of his fleet without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of 'adaptation to circumstances'. This shakes the confidence of the pilots.
There are five essentials for victory:
  1. He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
  2. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior fleets.
  3. He will win whose fleet is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
  4. He will win who, prepared, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
  5. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by civilian leadership.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, you will gain as many defeats as victories. If you know neither yourself nor the enemy, you will always fail.


  1. I really love this series of yours. It's so well done and pretty damned helpful!

  2. Interesting concepts when taken in the context of a fleet battle or prolonged alliance war.

    Great stuff.

  3. Thanks Sarah and PsycheDiver. And Psyche, that's why it's called the art of WAR, instead of the art of TACTICS. Hehehe.

    War is for corporations and alliances in large engagements. I think they'll find value in this, particularly in the strategies of winning without fighting.