Welcome to the exploration into Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Yes, you and I are about to delve into passages of a new chapter each article of the 2500 year old military treatise on how to kick ass and take names with your brain thumbs. I won’t be covering the entire chapter, but I strongly encourage you to go out and read the book for yourself. There is much, much more to be learned from every line.


CHAPTER 5: ENERGY


This week’s chapter revolves around one of my favorite concepts in warfare: fronts and flanks.

 

To ensure that your whole host may withstand the brunt of the enemy’s attack and remain unshaken – this is effected by maneuvers direct and indirect.

The actual words Sun Tzu uses for direct and indirect maneuvers are chéng and ch’i. There aren’t really any good English equivalents that fully encompass the meaning of them, but for our sake, we’ll just call them fronts and flanks.

Both types of maneuvers are necessary to defend against an enemy attack and subsequently secure your own victory. So what exactly are fronts and flanks? A front would be an attack that has the fixed the attention of the enemy. Three Guardians charging C window from outside spawn on Burning Shrine. Bravo team knows you’re coming, they can see you on their radar, and they have their sights fixed on where you are expected to emerge. C window is the front. A flank would be any movement or attack that takes the enemy by surprise or comes from an unexpected location. This time you send two Guardians to C window and one to loop around outer A into A window behind the enemy.

Here’s where it gets a little muddled and where a lot of people misunderstand how frontal and flanking assaults work. If the enemy sees the flank and garners attention onto it, the flank become a front. You no longer have the element of surprise. You see, fronts and flanks are fluid, circular concepts. Fronts can become flanks and flanks can become fronts. Just because you lone wolf’ed your way behind the enemy doesn’t mean you flanked them. What you may have done is shift the location of the primary frontal attack and ensure your quick and painful death. For this simple reason, we can see why it is critical to properly coordinate the timing of pushing an enemy to sow disorder and confusion. It is also critical to be able to adapt to the reactions of the enemy and potentially hide as if you were outnumbered at the front and awaiting reinforcements.

 

In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.

Rushing to the front will serve no other purpose than finding someone to kill or being killed yourself. The front does not help you get kills. This is a subtle but important point. It’s why people are constantly telling you not to rush straight to the most popular sniping lanes and heat zones, but to instead, float around them. And if people aren’t telling you that, I’m telling it to you now. There’s a reason everyone dies in those zones and by hanging back you can develop an educated understanding of why before you venture in yourself. By hanging back you can better formulate a strategy to flank.

My time spent winning Rumble and going to the Lighthouse multiple times a week demonstrated to me the incredible value in adding a vertical element to your gameplay. Jumping over doors to get to the other side and snipe into them where the enemy expects you from the other entrance has netted me more free kills than I’d like to admit. Knowing an aggressive team is going to attempt to slide shotgun around corners and floating above entrances dropping down behind them post-slide to catch them completely unawares. Just because you are at the front does not mean you cannot create a flank. Be creative.

 

In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack – the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers. The direct and indirect lead on to each other in turn. It is like moving in a circle – you never come to an end. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?

Understanding fronts and flanks and how they can be manipulated makes you good. Interchanging one to the other in the moment makes you great. Learning to fluidly dance between the two concepts while performing feints at either spectrum makes you phenomenal. The possibilities are limitless as long as you are not limiting yourself. Never be afraid to experiment. Expect to fail but encourage yourself to learn from such failings.

 

Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all; amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat. Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.

In order to simulate a concept, you must first master its opposite. Want to confuse your enemy with weakness? Master your strengths first. Thus, although you may appear to be ripe for the taking, the exact opposite is true. My recommendation, as it will always be, is to first grasp, understand, and gain mastery over the fundamentals before you move into more advanced tactics and mechanics. I understand that everyone wants to look cool and dunk over their opponents with their tongue lolling out of their mouth like His Airness. I implore you to learn how to jump first. By skipping straight to a concept that assumes you can perform all the prerequisites, you run the risk of developing incredibly poor habits that will be a huge detriment down the road, especially if you start to plateau.

 

He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it. By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him.

So how do we put all this into process? One simple method is luring opponents into traps. The easiest way to do this is to purposely take a grenade or Thorn shot and then proceed to run to an area that other teammates are already covering to crossfire.


TLW:

Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet in height.