Sun Tzu or..... Carl von Clausewitz?
How can you even compare Carl and Sun? One won't use ten words if a hundred will do, the other gives his battle plan in the form of a five bar poem.
When I was reading Carl I had to go over each page three times to make sense of it. With Sun it was like dripping honey from a jar. It happens so quickly you look down and touch your chin, assuming you spilled something.
Carl is so complex, and said so much, that anything I say about him here will be so abstracted that it may as well be a lie.
And Sun has walked two and a half thousand years to see us. Even his first western translation is 200 years old. How much do we really think we can understand from this man?
The biggest difference everyone mentions is these two parts.
'.. For this reason attaining one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the true pinnacle of excellence. Subjugating the enemy's army without fighting is the true pinnacle of excellence'
'…. the destruction of the enemy's armed force appears therefore, always as the superior and more effectual means to which all others must give way'
At first glance, Carl sounds stupid. Winning without risk is always smarter in Old School play. You do not fight to be fighting (4th Ed), you fight for the prize. If the fight destroys the prize the fight is meaningless. But then..
'…. It follows therefore that the destruction of the enemy's military force is the foundation-stone of all action in war, the great support of all combinations, which rest upon it like the arch upon its abutments. All action, therefore, takes place on the supposition that if the solution by force of arms which lies at its foundation should be realised, it will be a favourable one. The decision by arms, is, for all operations in war, great or small, what cash payment is to bill transactions.'
Carl talks for a long, long time about the numerous other ways you can get what you want in war. Manoeuvrings, passive resistance, trickery, attacking the enemy's alliances, political action. But in his view, if you take those paths, and the enemy does not but attacks to destroy your forces, and if you are equal, they win.
Scheming can always be short-circuited by violence.
A game of old school D&D is not about combat , but combat is the core from which all other actions spring. The potential for violence shapes everything. The old-school player plans to avoid it, but, deep in their hearts, they don't truly believe they will.
Carl wins this round. He is the most old-school. So far.