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Total War

            Today we’ll be talking about war, with a focus on large scale feudal combat.

            I recently purchased a game called “Total War Shogun II” which takes you through a simulation of the Sengoku Jidai, or the “Warring States Period” that lasted between 15th and 17th century Japan. You get to play as a number of different clans of your choice, all vying for the power of the Shogunate, which was basically the seat of a dictator. Although in our timeline it was the Tokugawa clan who took the seat of power in Japan, in this game, if you’re good enough, you can make anyone win.

            But that’s enough of a history lesson today. You wanted to learn about writing after all, right? Well take note, because Total War Shogun was the most realistic large-scale war game I’ve played yet, and after comparing notes and strategies with the infamous “Book of Five Rings” by Japanese legend Myamoto Musashi and “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, this game made sure to make everything as real as possible.

            So, without further ado, here’s a few tips on large-scale feudal combat I learned from both the game and the books.

            1. Moral is one of the most important things a commander needs to maintain in order to be victorious. When Frank Herbert stressed that “fear was the mind-killer,” he wasn’t joking. Men who rout are men who fear for their own lives. They abandon not only their posts, but their comrades as well. They are cowardly men, and it’s a commander’s job to place his men accordingly so that the fear of loss is never within a man’s eyesight.

            2. Terrain is your best friend. Sun Tzu described nine types of ground, dispersive, frontier, key, open, focal, serious, difficult, encircled, and desperate. Dispersive ground is fighting within one’s own territory, while frontier is edging into the enemy’s. Ground that is equally advantageous to both parties is key ground, while ground that is equally accessible is considered open. When a state is surrounded by three other states, the territory is called focal, which is key to capturing in order to attack neighboring states. Any enemy territory that is delved deep into away from all allies and support is called serious ground. Marching through swamps, marshes, or any land where the going is hard, it is considered difficult ground, and where the paths are narrow and the ways out are torturous, it is encircled ground, for it is a place where a small force can take a larger one with ease. Any ground where an army may survive only with courage is desperate ground. Knowing which type of ground your on is key to strategizing your next move. You don’t want to be caught in a fight when your troop’s feet are caught in a boggy marsh, nor do you want to put your back to a wall without a place to run.

            3. Lastly, take advantage of hills and high places. They are places easily defended, and if one needs to charge, charging downhill is much easier than charging up.

            There are dozens more lessons, but I don’t have enough space here, but keep in mind that any commander must consider all the aspects of war, not just the one or two I’ve seen some writers mention when they wrote about generals.

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