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Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Theory: The Tao of the Empire
« on: July 21, 2012, 12:57:28 PM »
The Tao of the Empire


The genesis of The Tao of the Empire was a new poster’s idea (FriscoEmpire) on starting a Tactica for the Warhammer Empire.  The Tactica would be a collection of our best tactics, maneuvers, and formations- basically the tricks of our trade.

So it got me to thinking about the things I do and the way I play and how I could describe that to other people.  Unfortunately, being a good General is less about taking certain forces and playing a certain way, it is more about understanding what is happening “above” the game, the mechanics, the flow, and the application of power.  This is usually gained by experience-  and honestly by playing people better than you.

However, there are a few things I have learned in my studies that can be directly applied to strategies and tactics in Warhammer.  And if someone took the time to think about them, it may open up their mind to look at the game in an entirely new light.  I fully understand that some people reading this will have no idea what I am taking about.  I also understand that only a subset of the Warhammer population really cares about strategy and tactics and are more interested in painting models and enhancing the fluff. 

But for those of you that care, and want to potentially raise your game, read on. 


Outline

     --Getting Started-  Making the link between Tao and Warhammer (below)
     --Shih- The Art of War and Relationships
     --Space and Movement
     --Node
     --Formlessness and Wu Wei
     --The Way Forward


Other Related Resources

     --The Principle of Balance & Infantry Based Armies
     --The Griffon Formations



==================================================================

Let me make this statement right off the bat-  I am not claiming (and never will) that these thoughts and theories are anything more than thoughts and theories.  It is not the “end all and be all” of Warhammer.  My goal is to generate DISCUSSION so that your thoughts and ideas can be added to mine to enhance the larger body of knowledge. 

If you read many Warhammer army forums, I think you will notice that most of the skilled Generals out there do not give up their “tricks of the trade.”  Calisson, Seredain, and a few others are the exceptions to the rule on other sites.  It is unfortunate.  I think most of the good Generals are so competitive that they want to keep their edge in tournaments and against newbs.  And a few that do post, do so out of arrogance.   

The net result-  instead of thought-provoking discussions filling up our tactics forums…what you normally see are posts from new people on “spears or swords?” or “what kit should my Saurus Oldblood take?” etc and then everyone and their brother chimes in.  These conversations are on the surface.  Most are not asking the right questions and we are not providing the right answers.  I would like to see our site go deeper.  FriscoEmpire has received very little input on his Tactica.  Hopefully we can change that.   

A couple more disclaimers before we begin. 

--This is not going to be a religious discussion.  Much of Sun Tzu’s Art of War was based upon the philosophy of Tao (usually pronounced DAO)-  so the references to it are from a military mindset, not a religious one. 

--Also, I am far from an expert in Eastern thought.  My interest lies primarily in the military and sociological truths that it exposes.  I think it is especially pertinent to linear thinkers born in the West (insert most of us) who can’t see the world above and beyond logic and reason.  West and East both have something to offer.

--I borrow heavily from books and internet sources, especially from the Denma translation of The Art of War, and the intro to one of the chapters titled Taking Whole (starts on page 65 for those that want to buy the book-  it is about $11 bucks on Amazon).  I will annotate text when I directly quote something.  The only thing that I can claim as my own is the connection of these principles to Warhammer and how I think they apply.  Color coding is all me.


Getting Started-  making the link between Tao and Warhammer


To start off, let me quote Lao-Tzu’s first two lines in Tao Te Ching, which is regarded as the founding text of Taoism:

          “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”

Therefore, everything I am going to attempt to explain is going to fall short of the mark.  Actually, words cannot express it.  My examples will be weak comparisons to the actual concepts.  Why try this impossible task then?  Because if we can even catch a glimpse of it, or gain a small amount of understanding, then our game will be raised.  While it cannot be fully defined or expressed, it can be known or experienced and its principles can be practiced.

Tao, in the most basic terms, it known as “the way,” “the channel,” or “the path.”  Everyone probably has seen the Yin and Yang symbol that symbolizes two sides, intertwined, action and counter-action.  In ancient China, most philosophers and religious schools shared a set of assumptions about how the world worked.  Different schools of thought emphasized different aspects but the foundation was the same.  For instance, Confucians sought to seek order through ritual and virtue while Taoists attempted to go with its flow.  For the purposes of our discussion, “using Tao” means entering into the moment and accepting or conforming to these realities and working within them, not against them. 

What does this have to do with Warhammer?  While not real, miniature games are based upon military strategy and tactics.  Soldiers fighting side by side as a unit, mobile cavalry, archers, war machines, terrain, morale, leadership, etc all combine together to give a General options on the battlefield.  Because strategy games are an abstract of real war does not take away their direct connection to it.  In fact, because most of the principles I am going to talk about are also abstract, it even enhances the connection.  These principles probably help non-military game strategists as well, especially popular games like Chess and Go (a game I will reference below).   

Seeing things as a whole, as Tao, with many shifting, interrelated aspects we can start to sense their form.  If we can dive into the details and our actions become united with the Tao in any given situation, we can enhance our understanding and our control.  “Being connected to the details, moving with their shapes and conformation, we can find victory.”

As Taking Whole points out: 

Each one (detail or element) is relevant, everything that is part of that world all have weight in situations of combat…  Everyone one of them also effects all the others.  Altering a single piece, the movement of the whole also shifts.  Everything is in touch with everything else, always in movement.  Because all things are interconnected, you must know each one, and how each one affects and effects every other…  Only then can you plan effectively.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2013, 01:24:15 PM by Holy Hand Grenade »
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Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tau of the Empire
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2012, 12:58:15 PM »
Shih-  The Art of War and Relationships


How do we enter into the Tao? 

As Taking Whole points out, we must measure it first from where we ourselves are standing.  We are not separate from the Tao- i.e. from the game Warhammer or our army while we are playing it, but we are part of it.  When playing the game, we can embrace Tao

From Taking Whole: 

“if we take advantage of certain qualities of the environment, our power greatly increases.  To do so, we must appraise not just the object, but how it will interact with other objects and situations.  (Basically) its relationships.  Qualities and characteristics are relative.  (For instance, “short” is a relative term, depending on what the object deemed “short” is being compared to and the viewpoint from which it is viewed).

The text gives a quote from Hsun Tzu of how qualities or characteristics are situation and environment dependant:
 
          There is a plant in the western regions called the blackberry lily. 
          It is stem is 4 inches long, but because it grows atop tall mountains,
          It looks down into a thousand-foot abyss.



A Greatsword horde has its own set of characteristics.  Put it on the tabletop, surrounded by friendly and enemy forces and terrain, and what it can or cannot do and what it can affect or not affect changes.  And from moment to moment, this will also change.

Again, from Taking Whole: 

“So what our army is, what it can or cannot do, is not fixed, is not its unchanging essence. Rather it is dependent on the conditions in which our troops will be put.  We are not "objects"; we're in a process of trajectory through space and time, always reacting with others.

…As we seek to discern such patterns or clusters of events, it's crucial to note the tendency things have, their natural propensities.  The ever-changing nature of things doesn't undercut its sense of reality or its logic, nor is it a threat to its worldview. On the contrary, these things are central to it.”



If you use a Greatsword horde time and time again, you will find the natural tendencies of it.  It stats and the “math-hammer” that go with it play a part, but you will gain an understanding of how the Greatswords fit into the greater whole of your army and how they can be used in any given terrain to dance with an opponent on the field.

Sun Tzu in the Art of War uses the concept of shih (pronounced SHIR, almost without a vowel) to describe this web of relationships.

To make another analogy that you will probably recognize and grasp from Taking Whole:

Shih, then, is like looking at a chessboard: the effectiveness of a position is read in terms of the relative power of certain pieces, the strength of their formation, their relationship to the opponent and also their potential to turn into something else.  To these we might add the particular psychological disposition of our opponent, all are aspects of shih. They are analytically distinguishable, but a chess player sees all of them at once.


For Warhammer, it is looking at the tabletop, with its terrain and armies on it, and sizing up our opponent to find the shih.  Chess has lots of neat little movement squares, while we have a board with terrain that can serve as obstacles or resources.   Chess pieces gain their power from their ability to move, and while our units have movement rules and movement characteristics, Warhammer models also have their own stats that relate directly to combat power and defense. 


Fixation

One of the problems in utilizing these concepts is fixation.  If you focus on only the objects, you miss the importance of the relationships between these objects.  Touching briefly on fixation (from Taking Whole):

“The chief impediment to knowing Tao is fixation. Instead of being the water cascading through the ravine, we are our own enemy, impeding its flow. We hold to a diminished view, a small part within the larger movement, rather than moving fluidly through it. We can become fixated in many ways.  One is a matter of habit, ancient patterns of thought, like rivulets in the sand through which our thoughts always run. Good habits can be as limiting as bad.”


I believe this is how many people play Warhammer.  They are fixated.  Fixated on using units like other people, fixated on setting up a certain way, fixated on their own army and not their opponents, fixated on the units on the battlefield on not the interaction and synergy between them. 

How can two people use the same army list and come out with two completely different results (besides luck)?  A tournament player, using a list he built and understands, can perform at a completely different level than someone else pulling his list off the internet and trying to duplicate its success.  One understands the shih, the other is moving plastic and metal pieces across a board.

One of the purposes of this thread is to get you to take a fresh look at Warhammer, Empire, and your units in order to break your fixations.


Shih & Warhammer

Understanding the relationship concept here cannot be underscored enough, especially when talking about the fixation on objects.  In our case for Warhammer:  this is our units.  They are a collection of solid objects, so our eyes and brains naturally move to them.

Take my Griffon Formation.  It is several units and detachments that sit near each other on the table.  Looking at them as “objects,” only a certain amount of value and understanding can be gained.




However, if you look at each unit, not just as a single object, but as an object involved in a “web of relationships…”  now you are getting closer at seeing the shih.  Their web of relationships has many lines connecting them to each other.  These relationships expand to other friendly units around them too, as well as the terrain, and of course, the enemy.




With the danger of belaboring the point, let me try to drive the point home.  A Greatsword horde is a Greatsword horde.  Put it on the table in some terrain and it now its possibilities are different.  Same horde; different relationships.  Add some friendly units and you have more change.  Add the enemy army-  more relationships.  Add in your opponent-  more change.  Add in you-  your current mood, aggressiveness, experience, etc and a new web of relationships emerge.  Now the game starts-  every movement, position and change effects the web of relationships surrounding the Greatswords.  Toss in a spell or two, lose some models in the horde, your mood changes because your girlfriend/wife just called to tell you to hurry up…  I can’t even count all the variables.  The better you feel the shih of your Greatswords and how they fit into the Tao or whole, however, the better “tuned-in” you are to their status, position, and power.


What I am trying to emphasize this section:  learn the shih of your various forces.  Learn the relationships you can build between the forces.  Play with different formations.  Find what works for your playstyle, since you are part of the Tao of your army.  Break your fixations.  Build synergy.  The over-quoted Sun Tzu edict of “know yourself and know your enemy” plays a part here.  If you know your army well enough, you can adapt to any terrain and any opponent to give yourself greater odds of victory.
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Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tau of the Empire
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2012, 12:59:18 PM »
Space & Movement


Now I am going to break the spirit of Tao “wholeness” in order to attempt to explain a few concepts and Warhammer applications, one by one.  They are all part of the whole and are interrelated, but it would be confusing to not separate them and analyze them. 


Space

Starting with “space.”  An important aspect of Warhammer is the size and shape of your army.  It is rarely talked about.  Horde armies fill up space with models, MSU armies do not (in the reverse-  MSU armies leave more empty space, horde armies do not).  Horde formations are wide, busses are deep.  One factor when creating your army is to think about what kind of space you are filling up-  both WITH your models and IN BETWEEN your models.

How are these shapes going to work in harmony together (their shih)?   What are the strengths of your shapes?  What are the weaknesses?  How can they be combined to increase the strength and hide the weaknesses?  (these concepts are one of the reasons I started using the Griffon Formations).

Before deploying, look at the terrain.  Visualize your forces, your shapes, flowing over it.  Where is there harmony and a good use of shih?  Where is there disharmony?  What are the obstacles?  How are your opponent’s forces (shapes) going to flow over the battlefield?  Where is his harmony and proper use of shih?  Where will he find disharmony?  What would you do in his shoes?

Where are the obstacles?  Where do you see the engagement points?  How do you envision your forces dancing against each other on the field?  Where might you press?  Where might you fade?

Your shapes will change too.  Models are lost and units can reform.  Always keep in the back of your mind-  how can I use the space I am filling up (and the gaps and space between both friendly and enemy forces) to my advantage?   What has changed and how can I adapt to it?  In other words, what are the current paths available to me and how can I work within them instead of against them?  The terrain and movement values of your troops play a big part in this.

Understanding shih at a given place and time could be termed as situational awareness.  If you maintain situational awareness you are present in the moment and are aware of everything happening around you.  When danger develops you can recognize the signs (called indications and warning in the intel community) and respond accordingly.


Movement

The game Go is an excellent example of occupying territory and filling up space to gain an advantage instead of attacking an opponent directly.  Unlike chess, Go pieces all have the same power.  Their only purpose is to take space up on the board-  and if they create a line (“circuit” or a full connection together), they remove pieces they surround off the board.  Most novice Go players immediately try to surround enemy pieces to remove them.  This is a strategy for failure-  usually the best placement is several squares away from an enemy, not right next to them.  Experts will occupy terrain in the right places instead of trying for quick connections to remove pieces.  In the end, they create complicated connections (and webs of relationships) that dominate terrain and control the board and win. 

Warhammer units occupy space.  They hold ground and protect territory, flanks, and rear areas.  Like Go novices, Warhammer newbs push their units directly toward enemy units, clash them, and hope their dice rolls are better than their opponents.  This is a strategy for failure.  Expert Generals occupy space with their units and use them in conjunction and in harmony with the terrain to remove enemy units at the time and place of their choosing.  Sometimes the best move for a unit is to NOT attack and occupy the right space. 

The deployment phase is one of the most critical phases in the game.  This is where all the combats to follow are born.  Use the terrain as your ally, line up the forces of yours against the forces you want them to fight of your opponent, and visualize how your forces are going to flow and move to do it.  Identify the avenues of approach and movement lanes.

The space between your forces is just as important as the space they take up.  Unit relationships are important to think about (remember the web).  After you place your army, how is it, as a whole, going to do the man-dance?

Units only have a limited movement span in a 6 turn game.  Even if they face no opposition, they can only travel so far, so fast.  In the graph below, I outline the possibilities of my Greatsword horde at the beginning of a battle (I don’t take into account all the possibilities, like moving backwards or directly sideways).  You get a sense of the terrain the Greatswords can affect, and after how many turns.  This can be visualized for all your key units.




Once the game begins, take the time to look at the battlefield every time before you start your movement phase.  Find the shih.  Look at the shapes, look at the flows, look at the possibilities.  What has changed?  What can you exploit?  What needs to be protected?

These questions and ideas only scratch the surface.  A whole Tactica could be flushed out with great tips on shapes, formations, relationships, and movement.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 08:53:16 AM by Holy Hand Grenade »
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Re: The Tau of the Empire
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2012, 12:59:58 PM »
Node

Sun Tzu has a few more gems for us.  One is the concept of node.  It is not enough to understand your forces well and move them into quality positions, if you don’t identify and pick the right moment to strike.  Warhammer newbs are a charge-happy bunch.  It is not only about the charge, it is about the kill…at the right time, place, and target.

Sun Tzu explains it for us:

        The strike of a hawk, at the killing snap.
        This is the node.



Taking Whole describes another example:

“The crossbow is a device for storing one's strength in the form of potential energy.  Pulling the trigger sends off the bolt, releasing it all at once.  This is shih in action.  Power is accumulated, then focused perfectly.  It's not that the bolt possesses power nor that it “borrows” the power of the bow.  Power happens only when all the elements are present… at the right moment, i.e. node, the bolt is released, striking a distant enemy.

Achieving the node is showing mastery of shih.


It is not enough to have a Greatsword horde.  Its combat power needs to be applied at the right place and time to cause destruction.  Your opponent can disturb your shih by throwing diverters in its path, tarpits to lock it up, maneuver to get its flank or rear, or create mis-matches against his units with superior combat power.  To get the most out of your Greatswords, they rely on you to put their shih in action and achieve node


Remember, it is not just about your Greatswords.  Looking at it from the whole- your army needs you to achieve node.  Sometimes there are multiple moments when this can be achieved.  In my experience, there usually is one turn where a superior node is achieved.  When it happens (to you or your opponent) the throat is ripped out and all that is left is the bleeding.

I looked through my Battle Reports and tried to find node.  In the following graph, I achieved node by getting my Greatsword horde 1v1 against a Ghoul horde.  My detachments Stubbornly held off a Terrorgheist and a Zombie unit on the flanks.  The Ghouls were decimated and the heart was ripped out of my opponent.  Only the bleeding and death throes remained.




In the next example, one node was created when I was able to team up on a Swordmaster unit with Inner Circle Knights and a Steam Tank because my opponent failed his charge on a previous turn.




In this case, all it did was start the bleeding.  The coup de grace came a few turns later when his Spearmen and Silver Helms charged my Greatswords without their nasty Prince General.  Notice-  a node doesn’t always happen when you charge…it can also be achieved when your opponent charges you.  More on this later when we discuss the concept of Wu Wei.


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Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tau of the Empire
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2012, 01:00:46 PM »
Formlessness and Wu Wei


Water and Formlessness

Sun Tzu and others used the analogy of flowing water to help describe how shih and node can be achieved with otherwise harmless elements.

The full quote about the hawk I mentioned earlier is:

          The rush of water, to the point of tossing rocks about.
          This is shih.

          The strike of a hawk, at the killing snap.
          This is the node.



From Taking Whole’s description of it- 

Water is soft but in great volume and motion it can toss rocks about.  The power comes from the intense movement of an otherwise harmless element.  It is not evoked by changing the basic nature of water, only by amassing it and setting it in motion. The striking hawk, used here to characterize the node, also recalls the power of shih, suggesting how closely intertwined the two ideas are.


The water analogy also helps us to imagine the flow of energy and forces against each other.  To paraphrase an internet resource-  our opponents are positioned as obstacles against us.  They must expend resources and energy fighting our shih.  The world consists not of solid things but of flows of forces and movements of energy-  shifting configurations of shihAll of this are Tao.

From Taking Whole:

Water's Tao is to flow downward.  That's both what it is and what it does. The military is similar.  Neither has a necessary shape, form, essence, self nor state of mind.  They simply respond to the conditions around them.

To be able to transform with the enemy is what is meant by “spirtlike” (or formlessness).  Spirits are without substance, unfathomable. 

From Sun Tzu: 

          Subtle! Subtle!  To the point of formlessness.
          Spiritlike! Spiritlike!  To the point of soundlessness.
          Thus one can be the enemy’s fate star.


This is not a matter of belief in strange forces. Rather, it is about how things work. It is also about our human capacity to work with the world-to see, hear and know it and to find appropriate action there.



More from Sun Tzu:

          Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course
          runs away from high places and hastens downward so in war,
          the way to win is to avoid what is strong and to attack what is weak.



From an internet pdf on Tao Te Ching:

Bruce Lee often discussed the metaphor of water (“Be water, my friend”) when discussing the martial arts.

“One of the best examples of gung fu is a glass of water.  Why?  Because it is capable of adapting itself to any situation.  If you pour it into a cup, it becomes the cup; if you pour it into a bottle, it becomes the bottle; if you pour it into a glass, it becomes the glass.  Water is the softest substance in the world, yet it can penetrate the hardest rock. Water is also unsubstantial; by that I mean, you cannot grasp hold of it, you cannot punch it and hurt it. So every gung fu man is trying to do that; to be soft like water, to be flexible and able to adapt to the opponent.”



Trying to describe how to apply these concepts to Warhammer is difficult.  The best thing I can think of is to see your army as a whole.  Use it not as separate units, but as a whole.  Like Sun Tzu states: “therefore good warriors seek effectiveness in battle from the force of momentum, not from individual persons.”   Flow like water into your opponent, pushing where you need to push and bending where you need to bend.  Like water, adapt to your opponent and what he is presenting you.  Like a martial arts battle, hide your weaknesses from your opponent and push your strong points.   


From the same source as above: 

Understand trust and utilize the strategy of Yin and Yang.  Avoid your opponent’s strengths and capitalize on his weakness.  Entice him to overextend and take advantage of his imbalance.  Don’t let the opponent choose the time and place of confrontation.  Pick the time and place most advantageous to yourself and your situation. 

As the Tai Chi classics advise, “if the opponent does not move, you do not move, when the opponent makes the slightest move, you move first”.



Wu Wei

If you thought the last part was mind-blowing, I saved the hardest concept to describe for last.  Wu Wei is closely related to the formlessness. 

Wu Wei is the art of fighting without fighting.  Sun Tzu devotes a lot of time in The Art of War outlining how to achieve victory without fighting-  through diplomacy, manipulation and maneuvering. 

With Warhammer, conflict is nigh unavoidable because you have already painted your models, put together an army list, and brought them to a war table… with the expressed intent of opening a can o whoopass on your opponent…but Wu Wei also applies when the arrows and spells start flying.  The concept is sometimes emphasized by using the paradox "wei wu wei" or action without action.


From the article on Tao Te Ching:

Some of the key concepts found in the Tao Te Ching include the following: "The importance of yielding. It is said that a reed that is not rigid and bends will not break and in so doing endure…"  What the TTC advocates is less forceful or precipitous action or overreaction which his may to backfire on itself and bring about the opposite consequence of what was intended.


In Warhammer, this means being patient.  Don’t overextend your forces or try to attempt something which goes against their shih.  It means that not moving is a form of action.   

An example I can give is a recent battle I had with High Elves.  I was up on the opponent and could have easily pushed forward to “seal the deal.”  I decided to hold back (for reasons I discuss later in my battle thread).  I liked the shih my forces had at the moment and didn’t see a need to press.




Pushing forward with my Greatswords and detachments could have been a solid tactical move.  I just didn’t “feel it” and went with my gut.  Boxers can go an entire fight dancing around an opponent, be ahead on points, and decide in the final round to go toe-to-toe and fight the opponent’s way.  They open themselves up to eating the mat.  Who knows what would have happened in my case (we will never know!). 

I think the best advice is to go with your gut in any situation, learn your forces shih, even if an experienced General is watching the battle and advising you to do otherwise (especially if the enemy General is trying to goad you into something!) 

Think about the principles of Wu Wei during your games and show some tactical patience.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 01:52:35 AM by Holy Hand Grenade »
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Re: The Tau of the Empire
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2012, 01:01:24 PM »
The Way Forward


Whew.  If you made it this far, you are truly a tactical nerd like me.  A couple of closing comments:

 :icon_arrow: I would really like to generate some discussion and hopefully this is a catalyst.  I purposely did not go into too much detail on exactly how these concepts apply to every phase and facet of Empire.  I have hopes this can be a collaborative effort (and the OP was already long).

WarhammerLord_Soth posted that he was willing to assist FriscoEmpire get the Tactica formed.

I think it would help if we had a sub-forum broken down into different categories so people could post different thoughts and strategies.

My initial thoughts are something along the lines of:

--Building Balanced Lists, War Preparation

--Deployment, Space, Terrain and Maneuver

--Formations and Unit Synergy

--Combined Arms and Support
(strategies and tactics on magic, shooting, and support units)


Other ideas/suggestions?


This thread is obviously not for everyone-  some will think it is all BS and others will not care.  I took the time to create it and share it because they are concepts that really intrigue and fascinate me and I am a merely a pupil trying to learn as I go.  (I make mistakes and violate the principles all the time!

I hope a few people find it useful and even if doesn’t make them better Generals, at least it exposed them to new concepts that might get them to look at the game, and the world, a little bit different.   

I want to finish with a couple of quotes from the ancient masters that kind of summarize these parting thoughts: 


          How victory may be produced for them
          out of the enemy’s own tactics –
          that is what the multitude cannot comprehend.
          All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer,
          but what none can see is the strategy
          out of which victory is evolved.


          Rely on form to bring about victory over the multitude,
          And the multitude cannot understand
          The elite all know the form by which I am victorious,
          But no one knows how I determine the form of victory.
          Do not repeat the means of victory,
          But respond to form from the inexhaustible.

          Ordinary people see the victory, but they cannot discern the
          form of it. They only know things that are subject to ready calculations-
          the physical elements of warfare, logistics, that which
          can be counted.

          In the second kind of knowing, people are able to discern
          the form we used. They already know all the elements of strategy-
          reversals, abstract kinds of calculation, how to set the few against
          the many. But it is only in retrospect that they recognize the particular
          way we have put all these together to come to victory.

          The third kind of knowing is inaccessible even to the elite.
          It is profoundly generative-
          from within it one is able to create new form.
          This is responding to form from the inexhaustible,
                    from something truly huge,
                             from Tao.




May you understand all three "knowings" of the forms and catch a glimpse of the Tao!   :::cheers:::
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 07:58:50 AM by Holy Hand Grenade »
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Offline Orcslayer

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Re: The Tau of the Empire
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2012, 11:30:41 PM »
Holy Hand Grenade, I love you~
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Offline Calisson

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Re: The Tau of the Empire
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2012, 11:44:57 PM »
 :icon_redface:
Thanks for mentioning me about my participation to Druchii.net.
In fact, I just tried to give back what I received from more gifted druchii generals.

No time to read now, I'll come back later.
Thanks already.

Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tau of the Empire
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2012, 01:49:09 AM »
:icon_redface:
Thanks for mentioning me about my participation to Druchii.net.
In fact, I just tried to give back what I received from more gifted druchii generals.

No problem on the kudos...   :::cheers:::

My adult son plays Dark Elves and has mentioned you repeatedly over time as one more than willing to provide good advice.  He frequents the Druchii.net forum and, as you know, recently joined the site as the Unholy Hand Grenade (we are arch enemies on the field of battle...)

As a matter of fact, he is just as much a contributor to these concepts I post and deserves his own props-  countless hours squaring off against me have produced many memorable moments and more epic battles than I can count.  We have truly formed each other.
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Offline Calisson

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2012, 07:07:05 AM »
Overall, the idea of using Tao to improve one grasp on Warhammer is interesting.
The realization appears as a little bit theoretical at the moment, but hopefully this will improve with "The Way Forward".


Space: Horde armies fill up space, MSU armies do not.
There are two ways to understand this sentence.

One way is that an army can deploy as a horde or in many small units.
With this understanding, your sentence is true from a local perspective, viewed from a single unit.
It's different from the Shih's perspective, I mean the whole army's perspective.
The more units, the more spacing between units, and the more LOS.
Horde armies are dense and compact. They use and control little space.
MSU are spread out. They use much mor.e space (especially due to 1" spacings) but they control even more (especially if you take LOS in account).

The other way to understand that sentence is that cheap armies are able to field hordes fill up space, while elite armies which fight better in MSU do not.


Node: Warhammer newbs are a charge-happy bunch.
Many newbies have the opposite default, i.e. they fear to go in contact. This drives to gunlines.
They fear to sacrifice even a small unit. This drives to losing battles.


Wu Wei: the art of fighting without fighting
The extreme application of this principle is well understood in a game of go: in order to win the war, you don't need to defeat the opponent's army in a battle. Often, you just need to get a tiny advantage.
In Warhammer, killing the opposing army is one way to win. Taking objectives provides many more ways to win, which may not even require to fight at all.


The Way Forward
--Deployment, Space, Terrain and Maneuver
--Formations and Unit Synergy
--Combined Arms and Support

May I suggest to include the creation of the army as the first step?
Easy training, tough war. Tough training, easy war.
I.e. the preparation is as important as the realization.

In that chapter, my contribution has been posted already here: Tactica: how to balance an army of the Empire.
In that thread, §2 and §3 will belong to your "-Deployment & Space" chapter.
Please copy/paste anythning that you deem useful.

Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2012, 07:55:39 AM »
Overall, the idea of using Tao to improve one grasp on Warhammer is interesting.
The realization appears as a little bit theoretical at the moment, but hopefully this will improve with "The Way Forward".

Thanks for the reply!  I knew I could count on your input.   :-)

I have some ideas (and have playtested them) on how to apply the concepts in list building, deployment, formations, movement, combat, etc.  I will post them over time if a Tactica gains some steam.

Space: Horde armies fill up space, MSU armies do not.
There are two ways to understand this sentence.

One way is that an army can deploy as a horde or in many small units.
With this understanding, your sentence is true from a local perspective, viewed from a single unit.
It's different from the Shih's perspective, I mean the whole army's perspective.
The more units, the more spacing between units, and the more LOS.
Horde armies are dense and compact. They use and control little space.
MSU are spread out. They use much mor.e space (especially due to 1" spacings) but they control even more (especially if you take LOS in account).

The other way to understand that sentence is that cheap armies are able to field hordes fill up space, while elite armies which fight better in MSU do not.

I should have been more clear there and added another sentence that speaks to your point.

I agree completely-  MSU armies do not fill up space by their models, but they definitely use empty space to their advantage and use their shih to win against greater numbers.

Horde armies use bulk and frontage like a heavy club-  but they have to be very careful of the swing-  it has to be pointed in the right direction and not get overextended-  otherwise it gets the knife in the ribs.

MSU armies use speed, maneuver, and multiple units to throw many sharp, well-aimed daggers.

Thanks for pointing it out.  The key thing-  Generals have to adapt to their armies shih to get the most out of them.

Node: Warhammer newbs are a charge-happy bunch.
Many newbies have the opposite default, i.e. they fear to go in contact. This drives to gunlines.
They fear to sacrifice even a small unit. This drives to losing battles.

Now that I think about, I think you are right again.  In their first few battles, they attack everything.  After getting punched in the nose a few times, they start getting a little gun shy until they figure out what matches up with what well (or gun-happy as you put it!).

May I suggest to include the creation of the army as the first step?
Easy training, tough war. Tough training, easy war.
I.e. the preparation is as important as the realization.

Again, I agree with you-  building a balanced list, full of potential and options is one of the most important aspects of the game.  I spoke to it indirectly in the post.

I remember reading your Tactica-  awesome stuff.  Posts like that need to be stickied somewhere. 

I thought about adding it as a category...and wasn't sure if the mods would want to create another spot of list building separate from The Parade Ground.  I suppose if it focused on building balanced lists and "tricks of the trade," (like your Tactica) instead of just posting lists and asking for critiques then it would definitely be beneficial.  I will go back and add it in.

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Offline strollinthewoods

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2012, 08:20:52 AM »
Just my cup of tea, and I drink my tea like I do my coffee.. fast and with constant need of refilling. 

I liked it. Good work. :::cheers:::

Offline Swan-of-War

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2012, 01:11:02 PM »
Fantastic work HHG, you always do a good job articulating the strategy and methods that most of us use and introduce new approaches at the same time.  This is a goldmine for newcomers and veterans alike.  Keep it up!
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Offline Talben21

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2012, 05:15:58 PM »
I guess my point is I have just never, ever seen the use for Greatswords. They cost too damn much!

In my opinion Steam Tanks, Reiksguard and Spearmen bus lead by a Captain make far better units to pin my enemy with. Heck I even use my Captain on a Pegasus to hold up big units (Hold the Line!).

Offline Biggley

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2012, 08:38:20 PM »
Kudos sir - this is about to enter my top list of Warhammer links :) Great work this shall help my novice game immensely !
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Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2012, 10:13:02 PM »
I guess my point is I have just never, ever seen the use for Greatswords. They cost too damn much!

In my opinion Steam Tanks, Reiksguard and Spearmen bus lead by a Captain make far better units to pin my enemy with. Heck I even use my Captain on a Pegasus to hold up big units (Hold the Line!).

Go with me on a journey Talben and step out of the Western, linear thinking you probably grew up with.

Replace the word "Greatswords" with any unit of your choice...and feel their shih.

All the units you mentioned are units that you have become comfortable with, and as a whole, are your Empire Tao.
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Offline strollinthewoods

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2012, 07:09:37 AM »
The rulebook teaches you the rule, but not how to play.  Good well written posts like this one, and others is what we need to fill the knowledge gap.

Most posts takes longer to read than it seems the poster put in when typing it- its a joy when you find posts like this that has some substance to it.
I can feel the effort behind your post, the passion- the urge to contribute. I salute you, as you most certainly deserve.

What the rulebook don`t teach you is twofold.  In the other post, im trying to contribute with means to an end.  Concrete stuff that everyone, ought to know- even though its not in the rulebook. Stuff thats in fact easy to grasp, once you see it for yourself, either in a game having it done to you, or explained on the net, or amongst friends.  Not the cheese stuff, im wholeheartedly against bending the rules, but the solid basics of tactical maneuvers of warhammer.

The first thing new players is looking for is what counters what. Its a "what to take post" spears or halberds? While its not entirely irrelevant in warhammer, its  a very very long way from feeling your army.-- and this is where I liked your post the most Holy, you put this on the agenda.  A topic it seems I cannot speak about without getting slightly convoluted  :-P

I shall most certainly read your post again.


Offline csjarrat

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2012, 09:21:37 AM »
thanks very much mate. sat down and tried to read a freebooks version of sun tzu's but found it impenetrable.
this was much clearer and more concise!
the biggest things i got from reading sun tzu were the patience and fluidity you highlighted here. i have to say, it made me a better player, so thank you very much for making this more accessible tactica.
hopefully the message will spread!!
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Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2012, 09:48:20 AM »
Most posts takes longer to read than it seems the poster put in when typing it- its a joy when you find posts like this that has some substance to it.  I can feel the effort behind your post, the passion- the urge to contribute. I salute you, as you most certainly deserve.

Thanks for the kudos!  I am very passionate about the subject and have a strong desire to help my Empire brothers.  Hopefully we can get a Tactica rolling...

thanks very much mate. sat down and tried to read a freebooks version of sun tzu's but found it impenetrable.

If you can spare the money, I highly recommend the Denma translation of The Art of War.  Sun Tzu's concepts are very abstract and without the background and context of Chinese thought, a lot of meaning is missed.  The best parts of the Denma translation are the forwards to each of the chapters they translate (especially the Taking Whole essay which changed my paradigm on how I view the world).  They use several different experts to explain what they think Sun Tzu was trying to say and how it applies in a modern context.

Priceless, IMHO.
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Offline Lord Solar Plexus

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2012, 10:04:46 AM »
That was an interesting read. I do disagree with one premise, namely the relatively sharp distinction between Western and Eastern thinking or philosophy. While it is true that the former will often be more direct than the latter, this usually applies to manners, and as such is often a superficial difference. When it comes to military thinking, examples of Western military leaders using the very same concepts under different names abound even in antiquity: Hannibal, Fabius Maximus or Scipio to name but a few all were acutely aware of the many facets that come together, aspects like terrain, disposition, morale or flanks. They did not rush in blindly, they tried to preserve their strength and use all their forces wisely and together or rather, in their intended role, cue Scipio not accepting battle against Mago in Spain, or Fabius earning the nickname of Cunctator, the use of scouts, spies, locals, night marches, diplomacy, deception, discipline and so on. Even an aggressive, impulsive destroyer like Alexander, with the much blunter tool of a Greek Phalanx at his disposal compared to a more flexible manipular legion can be seen using very clever means to achieve his Tao.

Speaking of which, this legion template in itself is a physical expression of water flowing around and inbetween objects, not compared to the Special Forces of the 21st ct. but in its time and against the enemies it faced like Philip V and his descendants or Antiochus. On the other hand, the flow alone, ie skirmishers or light elements, has rarely been successful unless circumstances were very favourable such as a mountain pass, or Wood Elves in 7th, so a need for brute force - the Hawk or node - must complement the flow, or be its end and final goal.

So, in many ways I believe that Eastern and Western thinking and actions are more alike than they may appear at first glance. It might be interesting to notice that Thales of Milet thought water to be the first and founding element. Of course he was not as influential as Confucius or Lao-Tzu, and others have later disagreed but the thought of flows and currents and change seems to reflect the same thought processes.

Quote
To start off, let me quote Lao-Tzu’s first two lines in Tao Te Ching, which is regarded as the founding text of Taoism:

          “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”

Socrates:  "I know that I do not know." Different, yes, but yet the same when it comes to awareness of the limits of knowledge.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 10:40:57 AM by Lord Solar Plexus »
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Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2012, 10:45:21 AM »
Thanks for the reply, LSP.

I completely agree with you.  Many times the same concepts are applied but just given different names.  Another parallel that comes to mind in addition to your examples is Machiavelli as a counterpart to Sun Tzu when it comes to politics, diplomacy and engaging in war. 

Wars have been fought thousands of times over the years by different people on different continents and nobody has the "corner on the market" when it comes to using strategy and tactics.  My point in highlighting Western and Eastern thought is to open us up (primarily Western thinkers) to the way the East approaches the problem. 

I currently serve in the military and have experienced first hand how logic and reason-dominated (Western) thought has created some of the most potent fighting forces the world has ever seen.  I have also experienced, in combat, how it can sometimes restrict and hamper commanders who can't escape their linear-focused approach-  especially in a counter-insurgency environment.

Commanders who have full appreciation of both schools of thought are the best ones I have served under.   
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Offline Lord Solar Plexus

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2012, 12:11:06 PM »
I imagine. I don't remember who it was who said that there is no social problem a hundred thousand bayonets cannot solve but I think the guy lost more than his Tao, and all similarities aside I'm pretty sure such bravado hints at it being a Westerner.

As long as it does not lead to indecision and confusion, the knowledge of different schools or approaches to any problem is always preferrable. I have not yet reached the stage of understanding to agree with Sun Tzu that the best warrior is the one who does not fight; this seems to me to be somewhat sophistic, but the core idea that we have a choice and that units or brigades or conglomerates (flanks) can move in more than one direction still holds true. The same goes for inaction (as opposed to indecision): Last game, a unit of White Lions was able to pin down half of our force, all of its constituents being weaker and prone to defeat 1:1 had they advanced, without moving until late game.

I have noticed that multi-player games suffer badly from a lack not necessarily of coordination but of the one mind that understands the form and flow of the game. These are much more likely to break up into a series of seemingly separate combats and stand-offs.
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Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2012, 12:43:38 PM »
I have noticed that multi-player games suffer badly from a lack not necessarily of coordination but of the one mind that understands the form and flow of the game. These are much more likely to break up into a series of seemingly separate combats and stand-offs.

Very interesting-  I had never thought about that with Warhammer.  I suppose to become "of one mind" you would have to play many battles to synchronize and work together.

I bet this holds true with other strategy games.  For instance, I have played Axis and Allies many times with a full five players and nothing is more frustrating than trying to get your team to work together (especially for the Allies, who are doomed if they don't gain the initiative away from Germany and Japan...)  On one of my deployments I think we played almost every night-  teamwork and experience definitely came into play then because everyone grasped how their particular country "fit" into their team and how it could be played to best effect.

It would be kind of fun to run a "doubles" league in Warhammer.  I bet some people could come up with some pretty wicked army-combos.   :evil:
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Offline FriscoEmpire

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2012, 11:01:28 PM »
It's threads like this that make me love Warhammer.  I wish I knew where HHG lived so I could invite him out for a beer.  What would be really cool (and I mean REALLY cool) would be to get two or three superior, experienced generals together ... and stage a weekend Empire workshop.  I'd pay money for that.

I'm blown away by what HHG put into his series of posts here.  If we could organize a set of content around the categories he laid out, we would have the makings of something truly extraordinary. 

Offline Holy Hand Grenade

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Re: The Tao of the Empire
« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2012, 09:05:23 AM »
Okay-  so official word is no more subforums.

I posted several different threads in the child Tactica Forum to break our thoughts into categories.  Hopefully we can get something going.  They are:

--Building Balanced Lists & War Preparation

--Deployment, Space, Terrain and Maneuver

--Formations and Unit Synergy

--Combined Arms and Support Units

--Strategies, Theory and Math-Hammer

I highly encourage people that have created quality posts on these subjects in past to either provide a link to it or cut and paste it in there new. 
Of course, I also encourage new posts and ideas!

This will give us one spot to go to share our gems and trade ideas.   :::cheers:::


« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 12:54:43 PM by Holy Hand Grenade »
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