The lessons of Sun Tzu and their application in the competitive scene

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    1. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

    2. These are:
      (1) The Moral Law;
      (2) Heaven;
      (3) Earth;
      (4) The Commander;
      (5) Method and discipline.

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

    This value is reflected in the game as the commitment of the players to the team, to the main caller, and their commitment to new strategies asked of them by their main caller.
    If the member is surrounded by friends who offer their best to the team, the player will do the same.

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

    These factors are represented by the different time cycles of how the game works; respawn times, cart times, capping times, reloading, ubers; they all govern a team’s ability to launch an offensive or hold a defensive, and are quite often not in the team’s control.

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

    This factor represents the role of the map in how matches are played or won; knowledge of every facet of the land will grant insight in how best to use it to one’s advantage.

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

    This factor represents the role of the maincaller in how matches are played or won; the players may be skilled, they may take their own effective shortcuts to win their fights and contribute, but at the end of the day, a terrible commander makes for a terrible army.

    1. 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.

    To have a team, you need a discord server to interact. To have an effective team, you need a properly organized server that engages the players and provides a space where the team can bond and craft plans on how to win the match. This factor represents the role that a properly organized team and a functional discord server has on the team’s performance in battle.

    1. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.

    Whenever a team or loses a match, it is because of:

    (a) Lack of player commitment to the team or their teammates
    (b) Engaging in key battles while the game’s mechanics are not on your side
    © Fighting with bad positioning or pushing through terrible ground
    (d) An incompetent maincaller
    (e) Poor server infrastructure or lack of connection to the team and each other

    1. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:—
    2. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law?
      (2) Which of the two generals has most ability?
      (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?
      (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
      (5) Which army is stronger?
      (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?
      (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

    When rating a team, ask these questions in your assessment:
    (1) Which team has players who are more committed to theorycrafting or bonding with each other?
    (2) Which maincaller is more competent?
    (3) Which team can better abuse the opportunities given to them during a match?
    (4) Which team has a greater ability to make plans and act on those plans during a match?
    (5) Which team has players with better DM?
    (6) Which team has players with better gamesense?
    (7) Which team has a more effective leader structure?

    Laying plans and their application to TF2\

    1. While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.
    2. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.

    When making a plan of attack for your match, leave room for your players to take advantage of any opportunities or god plays that you happen upon. If you happen upon a demo pick or a sentry pick, don’t wait for both medics to gain uber! Push! If the combo planned on pushing main and the enemy flank dies, go take full advantage of the flank! However, it shouldn’t be done as an impulsive oh-i-found-this; your plan should be adjustable to take advantage of such luck as well.

    1. All warfare is based on deception.

    If you are able to subvert the enemy’s expectations of what you will do, you will gain a large advantage. If you can flank around and hold a superior position before the enemy does so, you will gain advantage. And because of the huge amount of power that piercing through the fog of war brings to the team, the most deadly power of the spy is not as a pick class, but as a reconnaissance class; you bring much more to the table by sitting and observing the enemy team than you do by going for a pick. However, when the time and opportunity is right, the team can sacrifice your life for the pick they need for a push, trading your team’s best source of vision and intelligence with it.

    1. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
    2. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

    This quote speaks to the power of misinformation; when holding and you seem weak, appear strong and able to safely resist a push. When you are strong, use a wayward death or a big player sacrifice to bait the opponent into pushing, then punish them where they are the weakest with nothing but demo and a cleanup class. Depending on the type of class sacrificed, you might be able to predict where the opponent will push, as well.

    1. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

    Whenever the enemy team has all of their players alive, always assume that they are about to push. When the enemy is in undefeatable superior strength, don’t try not to engage. It’s better to wait for a more fruitful opportunity than to hope for a god play.

    1. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

    When fighting toxic teams, always attempt to annoy and tilt them. In addition, you can appear weak to the enemy team by doing terrible in the pregame, or fake being tilted yourself. Unfortunately, reviewing demos and word-of-mouth from ringers make it difficult to create a fake reputation.

    1. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

    A good team will always be creating stress or outputting pressure on the enemy team, through methods that can include constant damage, the threat of a bomb, a flanker, and/or a spy. In addition, you gain advantage by separating enemy players from the combo, keeping enemy players occupied in the flank, or forcing the engineer to leave the immediate area to get more metal. Spies are good for this task, and can call for a push/bomb by gunning down the combo then baiting a pyro or engineer into chasing him. Any person in the flank can accomplish this task as well, but a spy has the best tools to get there. If you want to fight, push and take ground. In mids for example, if you have all 9 people all point, send a soldier or spy to cause chaos and force them to back up.

    1. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

    The problem with playing the most common strategies is that it becomes easy to predict, and therefore easy to counter. If you are able to sneak the combo into flank or an alternate route, you have the advantage of being unexpected, and that can turn ordinarily bad positioning into a great offense. Although a spy can give an early warning, often the game simply moves too fast for the enemy team to properly mobilize a defense.

    1. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

    Don’t leak your plans out of your discord server. In addition, don’t use your novel strategy in the scrims leading up to a match, as the demos are in the public domain and can be easily viewed.

    1. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.

    A good team ALWAYS plans out and crafts a strategy before the match. And because every week in a season is a battle against a new team, focus on creating a plan for your own team’s actions rather than thinking of responses to actions you believe the opponent will make.

    1. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dulland their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

    Throughout the match, your players’ minds will begin to dull, and they will return to an autopilot. While an experienced player can remain vigilant more often, this is a fact of the game and a fact of life. as a maincaller and player, you should try to do everything you can to keep your players engaged. If you have time after a won round, don’t spend that time nitpicking a strategy that works; it only wastes the emotional energy of your players. And if your team is having attention issues during a scrim, time can be set aside to allow them to breathe, for example waiting to gather your players before a push. As a side note, a blitzkrieg has a natural advantage in preserving the emotional energy of your team.

    1. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.
      a common mistake for teams is waiting too long for the perfect moment to push. But the
      truth is that there is no perfect moment, so the round will pass you by for waiting too long. This is another field where a blitzkrieg play has a natural advantage.

    “Although things may go wrong when you go too fast, thing will definitely go wrong if you go too slow.” - Rogue, invite medic

    1. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.

    The very nature of warfare and the mechanics of TF2 discourage teams from turtling up. Although sentries and ubers can be set up quickly and can swat down many forms of attack, it only takes 40 seconds for an attacking team to ruin everything.

    Attack by stratagem

    1. The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided. The preparation of mantlets,movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take up three whole months; and the piling upof mounds over against the walls will take three months more

    At top invite against people like lenny and fallen lord, there is no such thing as disrespecting snipers, only death. So instead we commit a ton of resources to everything but disrespecting. Everyone on the team constantly calls where the sniper is so we can all instantly go the other way. The spy focuses sniper and calls when the sniper is distracted so we can walk. Our sniper takes a full 185 buff to take a SvS and then tells us when they took the shot so we have a small window. The soldier jumps and harasses sniper, the scout spams and pistols/bleeds them, the pyro spams them with flares and detonator. So there is no stalemate, we’re either having our entire team call or harass the sniper or we’re already pushing somewhere else.” - Rogue

    1. It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two. If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.

    These rules of battle in fact translate perfectly into the competitive scene. If your team absolutely outnumbers the opponent, hold them in a temporary captivity so as to stagger out the spawns. If you hold a definite advantage, you push from flank and main so that their damage is split and they cannot kill one of your own on their way to the spawn room. Equally matched opponents take an uber exchange like normal. with inferior numbers, you don’t attack. And with REALLY inferior numbers, you run because you can’t even hold onto the ground you have.

    1. Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.

    Although teams that are down on numbers can still put up enough of a fight to potentially kill some of your own, they’re only delaying the inevitable, and a blitzkrieg-esque push into them will make for a decisive cleanup. If the enemy team is left in a weak state, waste no time in taking advantage of that.

    although there is far more to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War than what i have shown here, the main points have already been shown, and much of the book deals with matters of statehood and the maintaining of a physical army. thank you for reading this, and i hope it helps rethink the nature of the competitive scene.

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  • Extremely interesting read; personally never read The Art of War but I first read about its applications in the RTS genre; love to see it being applied in a class shooter like TF2.

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  • Why did you write this?

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  • Guys, please keep your comments on topic and do not spam. We allowed it to persist so I wont be flagging any of your posts, however please do not continue from this point on.

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