Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 025

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 025

In his new, more lushly appointed reception, Lord Firebaugh called his Chiefs to war council.

Seventeen turns had passed since the air battle. Nine since they'd pulled out of Coolminton and razed it for Shmuckers, leaving their side only the city of Goodminton itself. Scouts reported that Haffaton had claimed the city site and rebuilt it as a Level 1 outpost, and that they were massing there for a final strike.

They were being eerily patient about it, though. Scouts by air and ground had been spotted, but no enemy forces had taken to the road or flown through the capital's airspace. Frenemy and Quisling, perhaps by agreement, had left the area completely and would not respond to Father's diplomatic communiques.

"It's the Florist's doing," said Fritz, seated stiffly in a slate-blue velvet chair. "Again, she's winning by not fighting. She's left us to rot upon the vine."

"Rotting is precisely right," said Firebaugh, seated in his high-backed suede chair before a new pearl-inlaid teak desk. Some part of Wanda's mind must have been giving a great deal of thought to Father when she boosted the tower, for this was now the nicest and coziest room in the city. He leaned forward and tilted his head toward her. "You lost another six this turn?"

Wanda nodded at the question, though it was rhetorical. As a ruler, Father knew his exact complement of units. Six uncroaked infantry had decayed to dust at the start of their turn. "I had expected that number to be greater, actually," she admitted. "The knights and warlords will last for a while yet, but most of the infantry can't be expected to make it three more turns."

Fritz grunted. "Which is surely what they're counting on. Let the Fellows all dry up and blow away, and then they can sweep us up at their leisure."

Father grimly examined a sketched-out map on the blotter before him, but there couldn't be any new ray of brightness in it. Wanda could see the strain pinching his eyes and his brow. Turn upon turn of helpless inaction was taking its toll.

She worried about him. The Overlord was powerful in his way, but that way was diplomacy: solving crises by means of the bargain, the alliance, the veiled promises and threats of formal diplomatic language. And nobody was listening any more. Deprived of those pursuits, he had been growing frantic, reviewing his troops every single turn and calling fruitless meetings like this one.

Wanda had mostly spent that recent time studying magic, looking for a loophole, an item or a scroll they could buy, a tactic of some sort to break them out of the situation. But it was almost hopeless. There was too much. She was finding that the vastness and strangeness of the other disciplines left her with ten more questions for every answer she extracted. Half of her inquiries brought her back to Predictamancy or Luckamancy, and she was trying to avoid both Clay and Delphie as much as she could.

So for now, she had come full circle to her own discipline. Croakamancy was the only one she actually loved and trusted herself to manage. She folded her hands on her lap, straightening in her chair. "We will lose them, so they're expendable. I'd prefer that they serve some use before they vanish."

Firebaugh squinted at her. "You want to send them out afield? See if they can find something to fight?"

Fritz shook his head. "We've talked about that. There's no targets out there worth spitting on. And the Fellows...they're really quite weak without leadership. May as well keep 'em here where we've got leadership bonuses and the Lady's."

Wanda shook her head. "No, that isn't what I'm suggesting. I want to lead them out myself."

She had Father's interest immediately. She was at least giving him a new idea to chew on. "You want to lead a strike?" he said. "Where? At Coolminton?"

Fritz was silently shaking his head already, but Wanda intended to press the case. As a Croakamancer, the move seemed obvious.

"Yes. With uncroaked only. Including...uh, warlords," she said, mindful that Father did not like it when un-Tommy was called by name. "It's not certain we could take the outpost, but if we can at least march in and expend the infantry units in battle, it might allow us to retreat with new ones made from our fallen enemies."

"We're risking you, then," said Fritz. "Would that be worth it?" But the objection seemed halfhearted. When they had discussed attacking Coolminton before now, the idea of a raid to create fresh uncroaked had not come up. Fritz would see that it had merit.

"I'm not at all concerned about that," said Wanda, and suddenly her father's eyes locked upon her with new interest.

Fritz sat forward, "Well, we need to be concerned, Chief Croakamancer. If we're attacked here while you're raiding, or if you and the rest of the uncroaked units don't return–"

"Chief Warlord," said Firebaugh, "you're dismissed, for now." Fritz looked affronted, but the Overlord held off his objections with a raised hand. "I won't approve an action without your counsel. But, go now."

---

The cracking and popping of the hearth continued for a long minute or two after Fritz had shut the door behind him. Father looked to be gathering his thoughts, tenting his fingers over his lips and nose. Wanda couldn't imagine what he was thinking, but she was content to wait for as long as he required. She enjoyed his company, whether or not he spoke.

Finally, he straightened in his chair and shuffled some of the documents and maps on his desk. "I've been speaking with the Lady Temple," he said. "I still don't trust her, that's true. But I asked her to be candid with me, and I believe she has been. She tells me you were cruel to her."

Wanda started to say something in protest, but Father was smiling. "Which only means you disagreed with her on some matter of value to her. I know. It's how she is. I'll accept that my daughter is cruel when Delphie's called you that more times than she's said it of me. In other words, likely never."

He chuckled, and Wanda tried to. His smile slackened. "Chocolate?"

It was another new amenity of the tower, and he'd taken an instant liking to the drink. For Wanda, its sweetness was cut by its bitter associations with the enemy Florist, but she had to admit she kept drinking it. It was habit-forming. She rose from her chair. "Yes. I'll put the kettle on."

A few minutes later, they had moved to a pair of tall armchairs with embroidered crests, facing the warm hearth. Wanda poured the chocolate into china cups and served her Overlord first, then sat down. The backs of her leather boots scrunched pleasantly on the velvet seatcushion.

"Thank you, daughter," he said, and sipped carefully at the scalding liquid. He stared into the fire with tired eyes. Wanda watched the lines of his face defined in firelight and shadow. Father was so complex; the things he knew about the politics of the world could and did fill books. But that was useless to him now, and he knew it. He looked lost.

She loved him, but perhaps she had reduced him to this state of impotence by being so stubborn about that. Perhaps she had destroyed Tommy simply by wanting to stay by him, to fight by her big brother's side. Delphie said it was so. (And who was being cruel, exactly?) Now Father wanted to discuss what Delphie had told him, while being "candid."

"So," began Firebaugh, "the Lady Temple says you two have barely spoken, ever since you had a falling out about that Fate business. And I asked her to elaborate. She wouldn't. So, I ordered her to."

The words gave Wanda a chill inside. She poured hot chocolate upon it like a siege defender, and waited for him to go on.

"Inevitability," said Firebaugh, "is maddening, you know it? When I ordered our withdrawal from Coolminton it had the stench of doom on it. So I asked her to confirm it, that Goodminton is truly meant to fall.

"She told me that it seemed likely, but it is not strictly inevitable. She said that the only thing about all of this which is Fated...or Predicted, or what have you...is that you will eventually serve under the enemy Florist who took Tom– who took your brother's life." His voice catching on Tommy's name betrayed his conversational tone. He took another sip of chocolate, then put the cup and saucer down beside him.

"She said as much to me," confirmed Wanda.

"Just so," said Father. "And now you want to go out in the field and fight Haffaton."

"Just so," she said, echoing him.

"Wanda..." he said, squinting as if looking into the distance for his words, "are you planning to go out there to turn?"

He looked her in the eye for her answer. Some part of her wanted to be angry, but wasn't. It was a reasonable question, and she looked right back at him. "No, Father."

He grunted. "It struck me that you might have it in your mind to meet the enemy and cut a last minute bargain with them. Offer yourself up on your own initiative, since they're so keen on having you. No? Save the side? Go and fulfill your destiny?"

She smiled and took a long sip of chocolate. "Inevitability is maddening, Father. So I don't intend to have any part in it. I want to go out," she said, placing the saucer in her lap and turning to face him more fully, "because I want to wound the beast that stalks us. I want more of their units in my silent service. I want to be of some use to you. Fate be disbanded."

He looked in each of her eyes in rapid succession, then took up his cup and faced the fire, sipping silently.

"Unless..." said Wanda, "that's what you require of me?"

Her father shook his head immediately, and swallowed. "No, no. Not my thought at all." He fell back into silence.

Wanda looked into the flames as well, seeing the warmth of home there. This was very like that night she'd fallen asleep in the chair beside her brother.

But perhaps Father was seeing something else there. Incineration, annihilation. Wanda could feel the consumption of Matter there in the fireplace, too, if she chose to. Everyone was Matter. Everyone was Stuff. Everyone was consumed in the fires of Life.

"No," said Firebaugh again. "And a deal mightn't save us at this point, anyway. Delphie may not feel our fall is inevitable, but she hasn't watched other sides fall in our predicament. I know the end is coming."

A log popped loudly, shooting sparks nearly to the thick rug.

"Father? What would you have me do?" asked Wanda softly.

The Overlord put his chin to his chest, looking down at the rug for a moment. Then he raised his head without looking to her, and said to the air, "Hurt them. Wound the beast, just as you say."

He turned his head and looked at her, the firelight glinting in his eyes. "You are my daughter. While I live, avenge Tommy. Should I fall, avenge me. Avenge Goodminton. I want you to make them pay. If they swallow you, be a poison pill. Let that be my legacy. It is terribly important, I feel."

The request, impractical and tinged with hatred, was surprising to hear from Father. But it was what Wanda felt in her heart as well. "I swear it, Father! I do!" she said eagerly, holding out her hand. He took it, and she felt more a part of the world than any time since Tommy fell in the snow. Still, something nagged... "But why is it important?"

He let her fingers slip through his. "Because I know the ways of war. Haffaton is more than powerful. They are that most dangerous of sides: a patient one. They want you for a reason. The Lady Temple says she cannot see your Fate much beyond your serving that other caster. But she thinks they believe you can make their side unstoppable. That with your help, Haffaton could conquer the world."

Wanda nodded, then a smile crept across her face. "...Really?"

Father pulled back from her and frowned. "Please don't be seduced by the idea, Wanda. Haffaton is–"

"No! I mean, if that is so, then taking their offer would have doomed Goodminton as well, would it not? I mean, eventually. We didn't make such a terrible mistake, did we?" said Wanda, with a gleeful warmth rising within her. "Fighting the future conqueror of Erfworld is everyone's business."

Father blinked at her. "Yes. Let's think of it that way," he said slowly, a wry smile forming on his lips. He picked up his cup and sipped. "That's a much nobler legacy than vengeance, isn't it?"

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
The dragon relay isn't a speed multiplier. It's a speed adder. Several turns just means that there are gaps in the relay that total to several turns.
Housellama wrote:
Whoever is calling the shots in Haffaton is brilliant. Not quite Parson level brilliant, but so far they haven't missed a trick.


We can't draw that conclusion at this point! "Briliant" requires knowing everything the person making the plan knows, and deciding that one could not come up with the same strategy. INside this fairly simplistic scenario, the choices are 1) Attack (with various subsets of exactly how) and 2) Don't attack. It doesn't take brilliance to do choose one of two options.

Quote:
Speaking of, Wanda's idea of attacking is brilliant.


No way. Deciding to attack is not a brilliant choice. Again, it's one of two options. Brilliance is demonstrated by finding an attack plan that others could not envision with access to the same info. Rob rarely gives us what we need to know to decide if he came up with a brilliant solution. He feigns brilliance by keeping us from information and then pulling a rabbit that he designed into the game rules out of a hat. For instance, the Bogroll ploy to kill Ansom was predicted by many readers, so it is not an example of brilliance. Stacking Bonuses may appear to be a brilliant discovery, but we do not know the mathematics of the Attack vs. Defense -- if the bonus was logarithmically effective instead of linearly, it would be smarter to spread the bonuses out instead of stacking them like Parson prefers. We can't make that decision before Parson because we don't know the math, and Parson does (math bracer).

Remember, the game rule designer can intentionally implement loopholes, and he will appear to be brilliant by "finding" them first. It is much harder to find loopholes in someone else's system than it is to design the loopholes into the system in the first place.
To whom it may concern, I actually tried (twice, going on three times) to design rulesets for Erf-like games. While it may be trivial to encode loopholes, it turns out to be hard to ensure that certain other loopholes/behaviours do not exist, while keeping an albatross like "full auto-heal at dawn" in place.

Kreistor wrote:
We can't draw that conclusion {that move X was brilliant} at this point!


Alas, this is so.

Kreistor wrote:
"Briliant" requires knowing everything the person making the plan knows, and deciding that one could not come up with the same strategy.


Disagreement here; in a game of complete information, like chess, one is at least in principle capable to brute-force enumerate all possible plans (practical considerations like time required to do so be damned). It is better to judge brilliance not by "ability to be found {eventually}", but rather, rarity of the outcome it produces. If 100 moves are possible at some juncture, but 99 of them give the opponent a winning strategy, whereas the 100th gives the mover a winning strategy, finding this 100th in the heat of battle is enough to declare the act brilliant.

Kreistor wrote:
Rob rarely gives us what we need to know to decide if he came up with a brilliant solution. He feigns brilliance by keeping us from information and then pulling a rabbit that he designed into the game rules out of a hat.


*sigh* This is indeed so.

Kreistor wrote:
For instance, the Bogroll ploy to kill Ansom was predicted by many readers, so it is not an example of brilliance.


I'm agnostic of whether the Bogroll plan was brilliant or not (indeed, not enough info to know how many alternatives there were, and how tempting they appeared by some short term consequences). I don't think, because of reasons explained above, that us predicting the Bogroll plan is in itself evidence that it was not brilliant. (Lots more spec-power on the forums to try and think more things through over the course of one week than Parson can in the span of five minutes, I presume; indeed, one might stumble into suggesting a brilliant move without knowing why it is so).

And I'd further argue, that thinking "the forumites might predict this, so it's not brilliant enough" is one of the (minor) reasons why rabbits keep being pulled out of rule-hats. I expect that with possibly just one exception (me), everyone including Rob thinks as you do- if we could predict Parson, he did not act brilliantly enough.
Kreistor wrote:
"Briliant" requires knowing everything the person making the plan knows, and deciding that one could not come up with the same strategy.


BLANDCorporatio wrote:
Disagreement here; in a game of complete information, like chess, one is at least in principle capable to brute-force enumerate all possible plans (practical considerations like time required to do so be damned). It is better to judge brilliance not by "ability to be found {eventually}", but rather, rarity of the outcome it produces. If 100 moves are possible at some juncture, but 99 of them give the opponent a winning strategy, whereas the 100th gives the mover a winning strategy, finding this 100th in the heat of battle is enough to declare the act brilliant.


I'm not certain how you think my statement excludes this. It is meant to read, "If I know everything the other person does, and he comes up with a plan that achieves victory where I could not, then I view that as brilliant."

Except in chess. I really am terrible at chess, so can't judge brilliance in that game. I'm just very good at everything else. It's weird.
Kreistor wrote:
I really am terrible at chess, so can't judge brilliance in that game. I'm just very good at everything else.


Including modesty!
raphfrk wrote:
She may have made more than one predictions. Wanda will be Olive's subordinate for a long time and be part of a side that can take over the world.

Olive could have misunderstood and Delphie would have had no reason to correct her.
raphfrk wrote:
Predictions don't have to be visions. In the example, she would just know that a) Wanda will have Olive for a Chief Caster and b) that Wanda will be part of a side that could take over the world.

The visions in question show little of Wanda's Fate beyond she and Olive entwining. So if Wanda is seen to conquer the World in those visions, it must be with Olvie at her Side. Of course, it could be that Wanda will have more than one shot at global conquest. Or that such dreams of conquest are purely the inspired by Haffaton's existing long term plans with Wanda stirred in for flavour.

Kreistor wrote:
I'm not certain how you think my statement excludes this. It is meant to read, "If I know everything the other person does, and he comes up with a plan that achieves victory where I could not, then I view that as brilliant."

Except in chess. I really am terrible at chess, so can't judge brilliance in that game. I'm just very good at everything else. It's weird.

There's a difference between sitting in a comfy chair having all the time in the World to make a prediction and doing so at a rush while in mortal peril. Furthermore, by that line of reasoning reenacting the Battle of Cannae (albeit on a smaller scale) would fail the brilliance test likely as not, regardless of the difficulty involved in doing so.

That said, I wouldn't call Haffaton's plans brilliant as they not only failed to ensnare Wanda (their primary objective) at Kiloton, they actually made the job of capturing her harder, she grew in personal prowess and increased the potency of her Uncroaked Warband as a direct result of their actions. They granted her the strength she is about to use against them. And that's without taking the increased power of the Capital into account, even without the Fellows, Goodminton is far better defended now than it would have been had Wanda been taken.
Whispri wrote:
There's a difference between sitting in a comfy chair having all the time in the World to make a prediction and doing so at a rush while in mortal peril. Furthermore, by that line of reasoning reenacting the Battle of Cannae (albeit on a smaller scale) would fail the brilliance test likely as not, regardless of the difficulty involved in doing so.

That said, I wouldn't call Haffaton's plans brilliant as they not only failed to ensnare Wanda (their primary objective) at Kiloton, they actually made the job of capturing her harder, she grew in personal prowess and increased the potency of her Uncroaked Warband as a direct result of their actions. They granted her the strength she is about to use against them. And that's without taking the increased power of the Capital into account, even without the Fellows, Goodminton is far better defended now than it would have been had Wanda been taken.


Sigh. You guys know that no plan survives contact with the enemy, right? To me, what makes an opponent brilliant is more than just a good plan. That's just a brilliant plan. What makes the opponent itself brilliant is what they do when their plans fail. War is a process and there's more to it than running plays like an (American) football team. Things don't work. Things break down. Weather kicks up or a plan just doesn't go the way it should. What separates the good generals from the bad is how they handle those moments.

From the very beginning, Haffaton reacted well. When they discovered that they Goodminton was going on the attack, they set up an ambush (apparently a very GOOD ambush since Goodminton didn't detect it) to remove their siege. They didn't anticipate the use of Croakamancy to Uncroak the siege. When they saw what happened there, they created ambushes on the way home. Clay speculates later on that the ambushes might have been directly aimed at her, either to capture or kill. When they realized the Croakamancer was in play, they acted quickly to remove it. When Wanda was taken out of the field, they attempted diplomacy.

When that didn't work, they lured Goodminton into a trap at Kiloton. Using Olive, they forced Goodminton into a position where they were forced to negotiate again. They even let Goodminton set their own terms. When that didn't work either, Olive saw that Wanda had a big attachment to her brother. Since they had learned that they weren't going to get her through diplomacy, they start to work on weakening Goodminton.

That started even before they left Kiloton with Olive's poison kiss, which removed a powerful warlord and gave Wanda one less reason to stay. Then they crippled Goodminton's main ability to hurt them and recover by ambushing and destroying the siege even before the column reached reached home. After that, they didn't need to do anything else. Without siege, Goodminton would have a very hard time taking another city, and if they didn't get another city it would be just a matter of time. They decided to just wait them out. No need to risk units when an enemy will simply starve. They recognized that and simply contained Goodminton instead of feeling compelled to push the attack.

In my opinion Kiloton acted and reacted very well to new situations and new information received. When each action failed for whatever reason, they adjusted and reacted very intelligently to the new situation. Any individual plan might have only been decent, but its the entire picture that makes their strategist brilliant. Yes, Goodminton and Wanda are in a relatively stronger position now, but Haffaton couldn't know that's how the battles were going to play out. If any one of their plans had succeeded, Goodminton would have been toast. And even now, Goodminton is on a timer. Wanda may be stronger and potentially further out of their reach, but that doesn't matter much if Goodminton starves.

A plan can be brilliant and still fail. Parson's Dance fight is the perfect example of that. His idea was fantastic, and would have worked if Charlie's Archons hadn't been able to provide that special. Parson had no way of knowing that was even an option. Does that make his plan stupid? No, it just makes him unlucky. War is more than an individual battle.
Housellama wrote:
Sigh. You guys know that no plan survives contact with the enemy, right? To me, what makes an opponent brilliant is more than just a good plan. That's just a brilliant plan. What makes the opponent itself brilliant is what they do when their plans fail.


You ninjaed me. I was expecting someone to come along and ask, but if the forums could predict Parson, wouldn't that make the story boring? And I was gearing up to rant that in a hypothetical scenario of the forums having enogh information to decide what Parson's best move would be, Parson doing exactly that isn't the end of it. Jillian's love for Ansom may have her break a suggestion spell at a critical moment for example. Or the not-tactically-incompetent Ansom would leverage his massive advantage in logistics to cause problems elsewhere. Or the plan needed a roll to come out good and it didn't. And so on and so on.

A brilliant move is not necessarily fool-proof. It's just a high-chance-of-high-reward choice hidden among many diverting, poorer options, and narrowing down on such better choices reliably in the heat of the moment, despite their rarity in the space of possibilities, is brilliance.
BLANDCorporatio wrote:
A brilliant move is not necessarily fool-proof. It's just a high-chance-of-high-reward choice hidden among many diverting, poorer options, and narrowing down on such better choices reliably in the heat of the moment, despite their rarity in the space of possibilities, is brilliance.


This. Thank you for finding the words that I was reaching for but couldn't find. The only thing I would add to this is consistency. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Getting something right once could be a fluke. Getting it right again and again is brilliance.
Kreistor wrote:
I'm not certain how you think my statement excludes this. It is meant to read, "If I know everything the other person does, and he comes up with a plan that achieves victory where I could not, then I view that as brilliant."


Whispri wrote:
There's a difference between sitting in a comfy chair having all the time in the World to make a prediction and doing so at a rush while in mortal peril. Furthermore, by that line of reasoning reenacting the Battle of Cannae (albeit on a smaller scale) would fail the brilliance test likely as not, regardless of the difficulty involved in doing so.


In general, I break down the mind into four parts -- Memory, Charisma, Intelligence, and Wit. The first two should be obvious. INtelligence and Wit won't be. Intelligence is the capacity to solve problems when not under time pressure. (Scientists use Intelligence.) Wit is the ability to solve problems when under time pressure. (Cops on the beat use Wit.) Understanding the difference in someone's capacity to deal with problems with and without time restrictions is often overlooked: people that are too focused on the perfect solution tend to have high Intelligence and lack understanding of the need for Wit. And those good at Wit have an inherent understanding that they will sometimes make the wrong decision, so often don't have the patience for the requirement for as near perfect a solution as possible required by Intelligence problems.

I know that I'm more than fair at Wit because of Paintball. I'm very good at identifying important terrain features, and how to use them, as well as developing the tactical plans to deal with a situation as it arises. I also know how to use Housellama's "deception" comment. For instance, we played at a field called "Hamburger Hill" First game we were on top of a fairly steep hill. As I looked around, I noticed something to the left. I grabbed my small group of friends (we were working together with other groups) and quietly said, "Carefully look at the tree on the left. Did you notice that it is in bounds and at higher elevation than our base?" There was a bit of an optical illusion to it since there was a depression between base and tree, but once pointed out, they all said, "Wow, no!" So, I announced that our group would hold the left, and the other people cover middle and right. And told my guys, "Stay off that hill. Defend from below, so we don't let the enemy know about it." And that's what we did. We barely held, and our right flank won to grab the flag, but our enemy didn't see us use that tree.

Switch to the bottom. I announced, "We know this side, so we'll take it again. You guys hold the left." And said to my guys, "Okay, the goal is to get someone to that tree. Put someone up there and we can suppress that base camp. If they haven't noticed it, we need to take it hard and fast. But I run like a cow. Who has the strength to make it?" My friend Jason offered. And wow, he made it. We were able to suppress anyone from getting to the positions that we had defended from because we only went up a short way and flooded the area with paint to keep the enemy from shooting at Jason, and Jason just raced to that tree (which I didn't exactly foresee, but hey, he called that one right), and poured balls down on the base, which was at that point defended by only two guys behind one extremely well placed barricade. We turned that into a win, which involved me running out of paint and gas, and suicide charging the bunker for two surrenders. I later went to that tree and checked out Jason's position, and man, it was even better than I thought. He couldn't hit behind that bunker, but he knew there was no one else up there that could help them, since there wasn't any more cover at all. Solid 24" trunk for a ton of protection.

The important part there is that only one person identified that tree for what it was, and not only used it to win, but prevented the enemy from using it to win. I don't fear time pressure. I know I respond well to it.

Housellama wrote:
Sigh. You guys know that no plan survives contact with the enemy, right?


Holy triteness, Batman!

Sorry, can't agree. I've laid out plenty of plans that have worked perfectly. In a suitably complex situation, the accuracy of the plan decreases, but even though the enemy may not react precisely as predicted, your plan may still work against theirs. Remember that their plan probably didn't survive contact, either, so they're just as bad off as you are: your plan has failed, their plan has failed, but you don't assume your plan failed worse just because yours failed. Choosing a plan that can handle as many possible enemy deployments as possible increases the chance of success without modification. A general that micromanages the troops based on post-contact info, which can be unreliable, is just begging for friendly fire losses. Once engaged, the general should be sitting back and listening to his local commanders tactical reports of how they deal with their issues, and worry about getting them the support they need.

An excellent case in point is the Canadian attack on Vimy Ridge in WW1. It was one of the few assaults that actually achieved its objectives, and the terrain held against counterattack. The Canadians made certain the artie had taken out the barbed wire by sending out scouts, had used a small scale reproduction of the region to ensure everyone knew how to recognize where they were and how to get to their objectives, and demonstrated that a rolling barrage was a viable tactic. Losses were even within 5% of predictions.

The Roman attack on Carthage was another prime example of successful planning. The Carthaginians did as they always had done in the past, and the Romans made them pay for their lack of creativity by having plans for everything they did. They closed the box and slaughtered the Carthaginian army totally. This worked mostly because the Carthaginians relied too heavily on their elephants which had disrupted every major army it faced. The Romans defeated the elephants by opening ranks to let them race through, closed ranks afterwards, and the Carthaginians had no real plan after that. Romans still had to close the box, but that went according to plan.

And an example of my own? Let's talk WoW. There was a place called Ogre Maul (way back before the first expansion... weren't even Battlegrounds at the time). Just outside this three-part dungeon, there was a Player vs Player arena, where everyone could fight everyone else. A few times per day, a monster would spawn in this arena. The loot wasn't powerful, but it was interesting. So 3/5 of us arrive and we see another group has already started fighting the monster, and it's down to 60% health remaining. Our 4th was 1 minute behind. We waited for him since I didn't think they could kill the monster in that time frame. I told them we'd attack within seconds of his arrival, so get prepped for PvP. I started buffing them (I was a Shadow Priest) and in between casting, I instructed our party to fight, in order: Mage, Priest, Rogue, Ranger, and Warrior last. Mage first because he could kill me fast, but could be killed before their Priest could react with a powerful heal if we ganged up on him. Priest second because the others had enough HP they wouldn't die fast, and the Priest could heal them: we wanted this done fast and dirty, not slow and drawn out. Rogue third because he might gank our Caster. (Most would think that I might worry about the Rogue killing me, but no... no Rogue had ever killed me from the front. I would wreck him one on one: I fought the best PvP'ers in the Horde and had no worries about some inexperienced rookie.) At this point, our Warrior would start hitting the monster. This would ensure the monster fought him when the enemy Warrior died, instead of turning on me (if I had to heal),or one of the others at random. The Ranger was next for our three remaining combatants, because I wanted their Warrior to keep taking the damage from the monster. And last, we waited for the monster to hurt their warrior a little longer. He couldn't disengage the monster to defend his allies and couldn't give it his back, so he was not going to be fighting in PvP. And since we'd be fighting a mostly dead monster once we took over, we could go full nuclear and drop it fast, even if the Warrior lost control of it. It took me longer to type the orders than it took to settle on that order: I didn't have to explain why. I just took charge and they obeyed the Voice of Command. I would drop in three seconds after everyone else, in case they had a counter-plan that had me as their first target (which would be a more common choice... my choice of "Mage first" would be considered counter to popular opinion that killed "healers first", but my group knew me well enough to know I had reasons, and there was no time to argue). Our 4th arrived, we got to the closest drop down point, and I changed one order. The Warrior wouldn't try to get to the Mage on the far side: engage the Priest who was much closer.

Perfect execution. We dropped down, and the Mage got alpha striked so hard and fast that he died almost instantly. Now we were 4 on 4, but their Warrior was engaged, so 4 on 3. The Priest lasted 12 seconds. Warrior engaged monster, so 3 on 2. Their Ranger got a couple arrows into my shielding, but he couldn't drop me in the best of times alone. I didn't even wind up fighting the Rogue at all... I was watching their Warrior for signs he was trying to lose the monster or fight our Warrior, and watching our HP because I was expecting damage on someone at that point. They told me after that the Rogue never stopped fighting the monster, which meant I was looking for him in the wrong place. 3 on 1. Their Ranger had trouble getting his pet off the monster and onto me, but I had Fear ready if that had been necessary, but I didn't want the monster hit with it, so I was glad that wasn't necessary. Their Warrior died alone and still on the monster. Elapsed time couldn't have been 30 seconds. The monster had 40% left, and we had only 4, but that was fine with that group. Loot was useless, though. I forget exactly what our own group was made of.

According to a very pissed off Ranger that had unkind words for me, they saw us when we arrived, but they didn't realize we were considering stealing the fight. They thought we'd wait politely until they won or lost since we were on the same Side, and didn't make a plan against us. The rogue didn't fight because his back was to us and he didn't see us drop in, and the others couldn't alert him before they died, so he thought the Mage fought too hard and was killed by the monster, who then turned on the Priest (he could see the monster hadn't moved an inch.. it would be closer to the truth to say he had tunnel vision or wasn't paying attention). I had already defended this monster once before, so I always had a plan in place for any interference before we engaged. Casters were told to never drop below 50% mana, and Rangers and Warlocks told to let their pets stick to the monster, and worry about themselves first. Oh, and watch the edge, not the fight: scout for enemies, since most didn't need to watch the actual combat. I always enjoyed the challenge of that Arena monster fight, but it was a rare spawn. Only faced it a few times. The two times I defended it, the enemy had no coordination and were just trying to slow us down until a larger group could arrive.

Point is: plans can and do survive contact with the enemy. Usually, there's some surprise involved so the enemy doesn't have a specific plan.

In general, you're right: you need to expect some aspects of your plan to fail, and be prepared to adapt to that. But adapt doesn't mean abandoning the plan and issuing a ton of new orders. You won't necessarily lose because of a failure in the plan, but you can lose by confusing your own men with inconsistent instructions. You'll save lives by carefully changing only critical failures, and letting the troops handle the minor failures as best they can.