Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Necessary qualities of the heart.

The conclusion that we draw, is that a correct and penetrating eye is a more necessary and more useful quality for a general than craftiness, although that also does no harm if it does not exist at the expense of necessary qualities of the heart, which is only too often the case.

But the weaker the forces which are under the command of strategy, so much more they become adapted for stratagem, so that to the quite feeble and little, for whom no prudence, no sagacity is any longer sufficient at the point where all art seems to forsake him, stratagem offers itself as a last resource. The more helpless his situation, the more everything presses towards one single, desperate blow, the more readily stratagem comes to the aid of his boldness. Let loose from all further calculations, freed from all concern from the future, boldness and stratagem intensity each other, and thus collect at one point an infinitesimal glimmering of hope into a single ray, which may likewise serve to kindle a flame.”

Carl there is talking (I believe) about concealed intentions in warfare, and about trickiness and scheming in general.

People have accused Carl of not respecting trickery and movement, and of regarding war as purely attritional. But he does understand it, he just thinks its not very useful at the largest scale of warfare. But very very useful when using a weaker force against a stronger one, especially when there is a high level of randomness involved.

We can map this understanding onto nerdgames. In particular, almost literally in 40k the conflict between games at 1500 points and 2000 points. Low point games requiring more stratagem, and being less enthralled to list building.

It can also be pushed to D&D. PC's don't bring more guys to the game the same way Wargamers bring more troops (usually). But they have hit points inside them, which are sort of analogous to combat power. The higher the hit points then the more important the long reaches of planning before the game starts, the careful optimisation, the accounting for any conceivable situation.

But at lower HP levels, where one swing of a sword can end you right now, then we are 'let loose from all further calculations' and 'boldness and stratagem intensify each other'. Which is my favourite part of the game.

I left in the first paragraph because I like it when Carl breaks into mild poetics, and because he is managing another bunch of polarities there. The cold penetrating vision, craftiness, and the necessary qualities of the heart.

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