The Art of War in MMORPGs
Sun Tzu, probably the greatest military strategist of all time, wrote a compilation of war knowledge sometime between 500 to 300 B.C. Although most of its content may seem common knowledge to war veterans nowadays, it no surprise that his work, The Art of War, became one of the oldest and most sought after books until now. Many people swear by the infallibility of the warfare wisdom it imparts. Heck, even Paris Hilton is a fan. Numerous translations and interpretations have been published over time to tailor fit the needs of a genre, like business, politics and even gaming. The Art of War, divided into 13 elaborate chapters, deals with different areas of warfare that must be taken into close consideration and scrutiny if one must go to war. Even the digital battlefield can learn a thing or two from this tome of ancient knowledge.
From here on, let me quote summaries and excerpts from the art of War. Let begin with laying out your plans. “There are five fundamental factors that govern the Art of War. One, the Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. Two, heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons. Three, Earth comprises distances great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; and the chances of life and death. Four, the Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness. And five, Method and discipline are to be udnerstoodd in the marshalling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among officers, the maintenance of raods by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.
On your next guild battle, there are a few points to ponder on. First things first, why are are you the guild leader? Are you heralded as the best and brightest leader in the guild because you founded the guild? Or is it because your guildmates trust your tactical prowess? Do you have a plan, or are you procrastinating prior to your big battle? Have you considered the availability of your guild members? Or just simply picking out the schedule most convenient for you? Have you chosen the right officers to take the helm when you’re away? Have you given enough opportunities for your guild members to train efficiently?
Always remember that all warfare is based on deception. The more calculations you make on the permutations of battle, the better. That what the Art of War delivers. Measure yourself as a guild leader or as a guild member. Remember that to be a good leader, you have to be a good follower first. In battles, it takes everyone cooperation and compromise to get plans going. A well-prepared guild has bigger chances of winning. Come to think of it, look at the large and famous guilds in your favorite MMORPG. They’ve got forums, meetings, a very open communication, and a well-established hierarchy.
So anything between “OHAI GUYZ, LET’S RAID NAXXRAMAS AFTER MY HANNAH MONTANA MARATHON” means it time to look for a new guild leader.
Another chapter in the Art of War is, of course, waging war. War is expensive. Do you have the necessary resources (money, items, manpower) to wage war against a dungeon horde or against another guild? Do you even have enough resources to maintain the guild for the long haul? As a guild leader, or even just a simple member, it prudent to help fellow members become better equipped both level and item-wise by assisting them in quests and hunts. Or are you leading a guild filled with nothing but tutorial-rewarded equips to war?
According to the Art of War, “Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy resistance without fighting.” Is there any means of conquering a territory without even raising a single sword? Is your reputation so great that other guilds lower their weapons to willfully be under your command? Hence the saying “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the ennemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
In tactical planning, the Art of War states “The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. Hence the saying: One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.” Any plan requires resources and discipline. Veterans of guild wars know that a good command is only as effective as its execution. Being capable of adjusting to your available resources and the possible resources of your enemy, and succeed, is the mark of a capable leader and a well-disciplined team.
Discipline also includes energy and good communication. “Fighting with a large army under your command is no different from fighting with a small one. It is merely a question of instituting signs and signals.” Once the energy of an assault, raid or guild battle has begun, it will be hard to revert to a different target, much more stop it. But you as a leader must be able to direct this energy and commandeer its movement. Even if it takes going up to the front and sacrificing yourself, show your genitalia to everyone, or something to that extent, I’m sure you’ll have the chance to be in command at the peak of the team high energy.
Perhaps the most interesting in Sun Tzu book is about the “Six Ways of Courting Defeat,” which may be carefully noted by any officer who has attained a responsible post. One, flight or fight; “Other conditions being equal, if one force is hurled against another tem times its size, the result will be the flight of the former.” Pretty obvious isn’t it? Retreating is not a sign of cowardice. It meanse one is wise not to waste effort, manpower and resources towards something so futile. Two, Insubordination; “When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers are too weak, the result is insubordination.” One word here: INFLUENCE. Three, Collapse; “When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers are too weak, the result is collapse.” The second and third are the reasons why level gaps must be kept to a minimum. You’d frequently see the lowbies leaving early on, prolly because of demotivation from the huge level gap. Four, Ruin; “When the higher officers are angry and insubordinate, and on meeting the enemy, give battle on their own account from a feeling of resentment before the commander-in-chief can tell whether or not he is in a position to fight, the result is ruin.” This is how unwanted battles between guild members begin. A clash of ideas in the wrong forum stems ruin. It signifies the breakdown of the chain of command and thus the breakdown of everything you’ve worked on. Five, Disorganization; “When the general is weak and without authority, when his orders are not clear and distinct, when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization.” Sounds like a run-down government to me. Think about that. Lastly, Rout; “When a general, unable to estimate the enemy strength, allows an inferior force to engage a larger one, or hurls a weak detachment against a powerful one, and neglects to place picked soldiers in the front rank, the result must be rout.” This is a result of hasty planning and weak organization. Why the heck are you sending n00bs and lowbies to the frontlines in the first place?
There are two other chapters in Sun Tzu that requires pondering upon. The first is on the chapter, Attack by Fire. “Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise; for the result is waste of time and general stagnation.” Running a guild is not all wars and politics. It also an enterprise, a business you must maintain. If you think waging war against an opposing guild won’t reap profits after success, then steer clear. You should be able to regain your lost resources too, after every battle. The second is the use of spies. “Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying and thereby they achieve great results. Spies are a most important element in war, because on them depends an army ability to move.” Sending your most trusted person, perhaps your brother or sister or best friend, to your most heated guild rival may not be the best idea. But sending an unknown person, with no history of attachment to your clan, but is one of your most trusted minions, would be perfect for your spy inside the ranks of the opposition. It even easier to send spies in the online world since anonymity is very much easy to attain. Why not try it out? It even well worth the investment to have a spy as high ranking officer in the rival guild.
I haven’t tackled the whole of Sun Tzu book. But these are some parts that could get you started on being an efficient leader and follower for your guild. If Sun Tzu is a tad too deep for your interpretation, try Murphy law. What can go wrong is bound to go wrong. The lesson is just to pre-plan things out, cover all bases and make sure that execution is also well done. And that, my friend, is guild success.