The Unorthodox Thirty-Six Strategies of Erepublik/Desperate Strategies

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The Unorthodox Thirty-Six Strategies of Erepublik

Opportunistic Strategies · Offensive Strategies · Desperate Strategies · Deception Strategies · Confusion Strategies · Advantageous Strategies

In a desperate situation, one may have to resort to unconventional and unorthodox methods and means. As such, some of these strategies can be quite dramatic and "tragic". However, when used appropriately, such strategies can be very effective.

Beauty Scheme

 At the beginning of the Three Kingdoms period, the prime minister of Han, Cao Cao, was pursuing the warlord Liu Bei who was forced to flee to Jiangxia. As a desperate measure, his strategist Zhuge Liang said to him: "Cao Cao's power is too great for us to cope with. Let us go over the South Land and ask help from Sun Quan. If we can set north and south at grips, we ought to be able to get some advantage from our intermediate position between them."

Liu Bei approved the plan, and some days later Lu Su arrived from the south to investigate the menace of Cao Cao. Zhuge Liang managed to trick Lu Su to believe that the better way to resist the plans of Cao Cao was to join forces. Both crossed the Great River and went to see Sun Quan, but in the South Lands, the political advisers and the generals of the army were divided. The advisers wanted to give up to Cao Cao, because they will be capable to maintain their political positions at the court. At the other side, the generals were capable to see the great danger for their lord and were ready to fight until death.

Sun Quan was undecided: "If I fight, I might fail. But if I offer to surrender, perhaps Cao Cao will not tolerate me". So he chooses to ask counsel to General Zhou Yu.

When the great general and strategist Zhou Yu arrived, he was meet by both sides: political and military advisers, who tried to convince him to join and support their side. Knowing that he hadn't yet all the information, Zhou Yu dismissed both groups assuring his support for the submission or the war against Cao. After reassuring both sides, Zhou Yu called for Zhuge Liang, who came with Lu Su to explain their proposal. When they had taken their proper seats, Lu Su spoke first, saying, "Cao Cao has come against South Land with a huge army. Our master cannot decide whether to submit or give battle and waits for your decision. What is your opinion?"

Zhou Yu replied, "We may not oppose Cao Cao when he acts at the command of the Emperor. Moreover, he is very strong, and to attack him is to take serious risks. In my opinion, the opposition would mean defeat and, since submission means peace, I have decided to advise our lord to write and offer surrender."

The two wrangled for a long time, while Zhuge Liang sat smiling with folded arms. Presently Zhou Yu asked, "Why do you smile thus, Master?"

And Zhuge Liang replied, "I am smiling at no other than your opponent Lu Su, who knows nothing of the affairs of the day. The intention to submit is perfectly reasonable. It is the one proper thing."

"There!" exclaimed Zhou Yu. "Zhuge Liang knows the times perfectly well, and he agrees with me."

"But, both of you, why do you say this?" said Lu Su.

Said Zhuge Liang, "Cao Cao is an excellent commander, so good that no one dares oppose him. Only very few have ever attempted it, and they have been exterminated, the world knows them no more. The only exception is Liu Bei, who did not understand the conditions and vigorously contended against him, with the result that he is now at Jiangxia in a very parlous state. To submit is to secure the safety of wives and children, to be rich and honored. But the dignity of the country would be left to chance and fate; however, that is not worth consideration."

Lu Su interrupted angrily, "Would you make our lord crook the knee to such a rebel as Cao Cao?"

"Well, " replied Zhuge Liang, "there is another way, and a cheaper. There would be no need to 'lead the sheep and shoulder wine pots' for presents, nor any need to yield territory and surrender seals of office. It would not even be necessary to cross the river yourselves. All you would require is a simple messenger and a little boat to ferry a couple of persons across the river. If Cao Cao only got these two under his hand, his hordes and legions would just drop their weapons, furl their banners, and silently vanish away."

"What two persons could cause Cao Cao to go away as you say?" asked Zhou Yu.

"Two persons who could be easily spared from this populous country. They would not be missed any more than a leaf from a tree or a grain of millet from a granary. But if Cao Cao could only get them, would he not go away rejoicing? When I was living in the country, they told me that Cao Cao was building a pavilion on the River Zhang. It was to be named the Bronze Bird Tower. It is an exceedingly handsome building, and he has sought throughout all the world for the most beautiful women to live in it. For Cao Cao really is a sensualist. Now there are two very famous beauties in Wu, born of the Qiao family. So beautiful are they that birds alight and fishes drown, the moon hides her face and the flowers blush for shame at sight of them. Cao Cao has declared with an oath that he only wants two things in this world: The imperial throne in peace and the sight of those two women on the Bronze Bird Terraces. Given these two, he would go down to his grave without regret. This expedition of his, his huge army that threatens this country, has for its real aim these two women. Why do you not buy these two from their father, the State Patriarch Qiao, for any sum however large and send them over the river? The object of the army being attained, it will simply be marched away."

Zhou Yu listened to the end, but then suddenly jumped up in a tremendous rage. Turning to the north and pointing with his finger, he cried, "You old rebel, this insult is too deep!"

Zhuge Liang hastily rose too and soothed him, saying, "But remember the Khan of the Xiongnu People. The Han emperor gave him a princess of the family to wife although he had made many incursions into our territory. That was the price of peace. You surely would not grudge two more women from among the common people."

"You do not know, Sir," replied Zhou Yu. "Of those two women of the Qiao family you mentioned, Elder Qiao is the widow of Sun Ce, our late ruler, and Younger Qiao is my wife!. One of us two has to go: Either the old rebel Cao or I. We shall not both live. I swear that!" cried Zhou Yu. And with this, the kingdom of Wu fought against Cao Cao and his million men in the famous battle of Chi Bi. Zhou Yu was able to achieve victory thanks to the tactics of Zhuge Liang, and at the end Liu Bei conquered the territories at the other side of the Great River, without fighting for them.

Sima Fa said in the Seven Military Classics: "Increase the enemy's excesses, seize what he loves. Then we, acting from without, can cause a response from within". The power of a beautiful woman, as suggested in this tactic, is her ability to arouse intense feelings in those around her. Lust, jealousy, envy, and hatred are powerful emotions that create an atmosphere in which rational thought becomes impossible. This is psychological warfare at it most insidious.

Inside Erepublik is difficult to use the feminine charms because there isn't any distinction between men and women, between masculinity and femininity. But the core of the strategy is to use human emotions to force the enemy to make mistakes. As has been described in the strategy "Borrowing a Corpse to Raise a Spirit", you can use emotions and experiences from real life to confuse the enemy. In this case, you can use a charming character (for his/her personality and charisma) to create internal fights. You can work this strategy at three levels. First, the "spy" can charm the enemy leader to neglect his duties and allow his vigilance to wane. Second, the spy can charm the leader to raise the jealousy and envy of his partners. Third, the spy can gather information while talking with the enemy leader or led him to a "honey trap".

Empty City Scheme

 In 149 B.C. the famous strategist Zhuge Liang of Shu, wishing to attack the state of Wei, sent an advance force to scout for the enemy. Leading the army of Wei was Sima Yi who also sent an advance force of fifty thousand troops. The two vanguards met and engaged in battle but the Wei forces were superior and won the day. The defeated Shu vanguard raced back to the main body of Zhuge Liang's army whose troops, seeing the look of fear in the faces of their comrades, thought that the enemy was upon them and fled in panic.

Zhuge Liang and a few bodyguards fled to the city of Yangping with the Wei army in hot pursuit. Vastly outnumbered and unable to either retreat or sustain a siege, Zhuge Liang played a last resort strategy that made him famous throughout China. He removed all the guards and battle flags from the walls and had all four of the city gates flung open. When Sima Yi approached the city he could see only a few old men nonchalantly sweeping the grounds within the gates. Zhuge Liang was seen sitting in one of the towers smiling and playing his lute.

Sima Yi remarked to his advisors, "That man seems to be too happy for my comfort. Doubtless, he has some deep laid scheme in mind to bring us all to disaster." As they stood to spell bound, the strains of Zhuge Liang's lute reached their ears, and this only heightened their sense of foreboding. Such peculiar behavior was too suspicious. Fearing a clever trap, Sima Yi turned his army back and retreated. After the army left, Zhuge Liang and his remaining troops departed in the opposite direction and made their way safely back to their capital.

When weak, appear strong, when strong appear weak. This is a famous strategy of reverse psychology, universally understood by generals from every age and culture. If you appear weak most commanders will assume you are just using an elementary strategy and that your manoeuvres are but bait for a trap. This can be used in desperate situations when the only recourse is to do something completely unexpected. Unusual behavior in a time of crises arouses suspicions and doubts. Placing doubt in your enemy's mind means he is already half defeated. However, this strategy requires supreme self control; Those nervous about the chances for failure will, by their actions, give away the bluff.

If your enemy is superior in numbers and your situation is such that you expect to be overrun in the next battle, then drop all pretence of military preparedness and act casually. Unless the enemy has an accurate description of your situation, this unusual behavior will arouse suspicions. With luck, he will be dissuaded from attacking, or at least, he won't be prepared for your reaction.

As has been said in past strategies, there are few chances to take advantage of the enemy's errors. But when enemy soldiers get over-confident they lose their spirit to fight, don't come to the battlefield at the proper hour and don't follow the orders of their officers. This can reduce many of the efficiency of their numbers. If you have to use frequently strategies to lure your enemy, he'll be afraid of traps even when you don't have the resources or the time to prepare one. Use this strategy wisely and you can lure your enemy to don't fight at full strength when you are too weak to take the next blow.

Double Agent Ploy

 Towards the end of the Warring States period, as the smaller kingdoms fell prey to the larger, the kingdom of Qin had become the single most powerful state. Qin posed the greatest threat to the other surviving kingdoms which sought to form an alliance to stem Qin's growing power. The various commanders of the empire gathered in the formerly powerful state of Zhou to plan an attack on Qin. King Chao Xiong of Qin was concerned about the gathering of warlords when his minister, Marquis Ying, said, "Allow me to get rid of them. Qin has no quarrel with these 'commanders of the empire'. They gather now to make plans for an attack against Qin simply because each seeks wealth and fame for himself. Look at your own hounds - some are sleeping, some are up, some walk about and others are simply standing where they are. But throw a bone to them and they will all be on their feet in an instant, snapping at each other. Why? You have given them a reason to fight each other."

The king understood and asked the minister to continue. Minister Ying called in another official and said, "We must dispatch Tang Chu complete with musicians and five thousand in gold to set up quarters in Wu An. There he will send out a proclamation addressed to all military commanders saying that whoever wishes to defect to Qin will be given a sumptuous banquet and generous gifts of money. But those who conspire against Qin will receive nothing."

Minister Ying turned to Tang Chu and said, "In order to succeed you must not care where the money goes, but ensure that you distribute all of it. Once the money is gone we will send another five thousand taels!"

A few days after Tang Chu left with the gold, he sent a report saying that he was able to distribute only three thousands pieces of gold before all the commanders of the empire took to fighting amongst themselves to see who would claim the greater reward. Needless to say, they were unable to cooperate and no alliance against Qin was formed. For the next thirty years, Qin continues to sow discord between the remaining states. Their constant bickering and infighting prevented them from ever uniting against their common enemy. Qin conquered them one by one until none remained.

A person's ability to function effectively is dependent on being in harmony with one's environment. By disrupting your enemy's environment, you disrupt his harmony, thus interfering with his ability to attack or defend. You can do this by secretly causing discord between him and his friends, allies, advisors, family, commanders, soldiers and population. While he is preoccupied settling internal disputes, his ability to attack or defend is compromised.

This strategy needs a thorough preparation and a great knowledge of your enemy. You must find the more vulnerable objectives for this tactic. Du Mu said about this: "Among the official class there are worthy men who have been deprived of office; others who have committed errors and have been punished. There are sycophants and minions who are covetous of wealth. There are those who wrongly remain long in lowly office; those who have not obtained responsible positions, and those whose sole desire is to take advantage of times of trouble to extend the scope of their own abilities. There are those who are two-faced, changeable, and deceitful, and who are always sitting on the fence. With these, you can secretly inquire after their welfare, reward them liberally with gold and silk, and so tie them to you. Then you may rely on them to seek out the real facts of the situation in their country, and to ascertain its plans directed between the sovereign and his ministers so that these are not in harmonious accord."

Find the perfect person, and bride him with gold, companies in your own country or a political post.

Self-Injury Scheme

 During the last days of the crumbling Han empire, the renowned general Sun Ce was on campaign against a rival province. He had chased the enemy to the walled city of Moling where they were holed up. Sun knew it would be too costly to attack fortified positions, so he attempted to arouse the enemy's anger by parading up and down the city walls hurling insults at the defenders. But the commander of the city, Xue Li, refused to come out to fight despite the taunts.

One day while Sun was out riding, a soldier on the city wall shot an arrow which hit Sun in the thigh, only slightly penetrating his armor. Sun rode back to camp where he was treated for a flesh wound. However, rumors were spreading that the general had been mortally wounded. The commanders thought he should go out of his tent to reassure the troops, but Sun used the situation to play a stratagem. He let it be known that he was mortally wounded and had his soldiers pretend to prepare for a funeral ceremony.

Hearing that Sun Ce was dead, Xue Li saw this as his chance and rushed his army out to attack the camp. Sun Ce's troops pretended to retreat leading the attackers into an ambush that closed in from four directions with Sun charging out on his horse to the shouts of "Sun Ce lives!". The shocked city garrison threw down their arms and surrendered while Xue Li and a few loyal guards were slain trying to escape.

"To be the first to gain victory, initially display some weakness to the enemy and only afterwards do battle. Then your effort will be half, but the achievement doubled". Pretending to be injured or weak has two possible applications. In the first, the enemy is lulled into relaxing his guard since he no longer considers you to be an immediate threat. The second is a way of ingratiating yourself to your enemy by pretending to injury was caused by a mutual enemy. The principle of this strategy is simple, if you are sick or injured, you are less of a threat, and your enemy guard will be lowered before your real strike.

If you control the press of your country and the internal articles only show disorder and confusion, the guard of your enemy will be relaxed and they will be less effective in attack and defense. If you pretend to have been attacked by a mutual enemy, you won't be recognized as an enemy but as an allied country.

A Series of Interconnected Ploys

 In 284 B.C. the state of Yan attacked and defeated Qi. The remaining Qi forces under the command of Tian Dan fled to the city of Jimo for a final stand. The renowned Yan general Yue Yi had surrounded the city when the news came that the king of Yan had died and prince was still heir apparent, he and general Yue had heard the news he sent secret agents to the new king to spread rumors that Yue Yi was planning to revolt because he feared being executed for past disagreements. When prince Hui heard this rumor he sent another general to replace Yue Yi who fled to another state. The replacement general, Qi Che, was a brash and arrogant up-start who began reissuing orders and procedures which merely succeeded in causing confusion and dissension among the officers.

Next, Tian Dan had the womenfolk line the city walls and beg for a peaceful surrender while he sent gold and treasure collected from the city's wealthiest citizens to general Qi Che with a note asking that the women and children be spared in return for the peaceful surrender of the city. These events convinced Qi Che that the city was truly about to capitulate, and he allowed his troops to relax their guard. After this careful preparation, Tian Dan felt the time was right to launch his counter attack. First, he had the citizens of the city gather with drums and cooking pots and instructed them that on a signal they were to make as much noise as possible. He then had breaches made along the city walls from the inside. Next, a herd of cattle was painted in bizarre patterns and knives and sickles tied to their horns and torches tied to their tails.

Just before daylight three events occurred in rapid succession. The citizens within the city struck up a cacophony of noise which startled the sleeping Yan troops. Then the torches on the tails of the cattle were lit and they were released through the breaches in the wall. The enraged animals ran madly about the Yen camp killing stunned troops with their horns and setting fire to tents with their tails. Then Qi's crack troops rushed out from the gates to attack the now terrified and utterly confused troops. Tian Dan defeated the Yan army and went on to conquer more than seventy cities.

In important matters, one should use several strategies applied simultaneously. Keep different plans operating in an overall scheme. In this manner, if any one strategy fails you would still have several others to fall back on. Combining even weak strategies in unison has greater effectiveness than applying them sequentially.

To ensure victory one must know how to launch simultaneous attacks. Both from left, and from right; from the outside and from within; from above, and from below. Advantage goes to those who can attack several fronts; disadvantages to those who must defend against more than one.

If All Else Fails, Retreat

 In 597 B.C. the states of Chu and Jin fought the battle of Bi. For days before the battle, the two armies faced each other, unsure whether or not a battle would actually take place. Several small skirmishes were fought to release the energies of the officers, but it appeared that a peace treaty would be negotiated instead. On the Jin side the commander of the left wing, Shi Hui, advised caution saying, "It would be well to take precautions. If Chu has no hostile intent, then we can do away with the precautions and conclude an alliance. But if Chu should come charging down on us, the precautions will prevent our defeat. Even when the Lords come together at a meeting, they take care not to dismiss their personal bodyguards." But the commander of the main body, Xian Gu, disagreed, and only Shi Hui took the precaution of stationing troops in ambush near his positions.

The next day, during a small skirmish, the Chu forces misunderstood the commotion for an attack by Jin and launched a full scale assault. The Chu charged forth with such speed and determination that the Jin lines collapsed from the impact. Another Chu division made ready to attack Jin left wing commanded by Shi Hui. An officer rode up to Shi Hui and asked, "Should we wait for their attack?"

Shi Hui replied, "The Chu army is now at the peak of its vigor. If they make a concerted attack on us, ur army is bound to be wiped out! Better to gather up our forces and quit the field. Though we will still share the disgrace with the other divisions, we at least spare the lives of our men. Is that not the best that could be had from this situation?"

Shi Hui had the men stationed in ambush fight a rear guard action, enabling him to retreat with almost his entire division intact. The main Jin troops suffered a resounding defeat with heavy casualties. Commander Xian Gu, who had so thoughtlessly disregarded the advice to take precautions, was found guilty of incompetence and executed."

The ancient Daoist sages invented the principle of "non-action" or "following the course of the times." To not take advantage of an opportunity presented is a violation of this principle. Conversely, to fight a battle that cannot be won is an equal violation of heaven's law. In the art of war an often overlooked but vital talent is knowing when to run.

If it becomes obvious that your current course of action will lead to defeat, then retreat and regroup. When your side is losing, there are only three choices remaining: surrender, compromise, or escape. Surrender is complete defeat, compromise is half defeat, but escape is not defeat. As long as you are not defeated, you still have a chance.

In Erepublik, you can't totally be defeated. You can pact a rendition, but you must never surrender. If you are going to lose a battle, you can escape and prevent the combat to preserve the wellness and weapons of your soldiers for future fights. If your country is conquered by your enemy, you must not surrender and keep alive the fight using guerrilla warfare and sabotages. This will maintain your soldiers ready for the fight and weaken the enemy for future fights (or for a future rebellion).