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36 Strategies > Part 5: Proximate Strategies

36 Strategies > Part 5: Proximate Strategies
Tactic, Strategy, Series

Article Rating:::: 12 Ratings :::: Thursday, July 19, 2007

Strategy 25: Replace the beams with rotten timbers.

Disrupt the enemy’s formations, interfere with their methods of operations, change the rules that they are used to following, go contrary to their standard training. In this way you remove the supporting pillar, the common link that makes a group of people an effective fighting force.

In Risk Game:

In Risk this is more applicable to relationships between allied players. Make divisions between them by modifying the rules they are used to. Make their alliance look like a bad thing in the eyes of the other players. Make everyone hostile to them, just because they are allies. Put pressure on their alliance by emphasising that an ally’s action is leading to the destruction of his partner and surely this is not what an ally should do. Divide and conquer. 

Strategy 26: Point at the mulberry and curse the locust. 

To discipline, control, or warn others whose status or position excludes them from direct confrontation; use analogy and suggestion. Without directly naming names, those accused cannot retaliate without revealing their involvement.

In Risk Game:

When you play online repeatedly you start to develop a reputation based on your identity. Other players may expect certain game play or sportsmanship from you. Every now and then, you may come across a player who acts poorly in a game and irritates everyone. You want to accuse the player of such actions in the forum and let all others know. If you report that, so and so has been a bad player, you stand to get retaliated if he happens to be in a future game with you. You have made a permanent enemy for yourself. Instead you can describe his actions in the forum without revealing his identity. Describe it enough for other players to recognize his bad behaviour and subsequently discover him in any game. They will attack him and eliminate him as a result. Your comments are also valued higher if the you don’t sound as if you have something against that player. Instead, if you only describe the qualities of the bad player, others are more likely to accept your claims and agree with you. If he wants to defend himself, he has no choice to reveal his identity which he may not be easily willing to do so. Hence, you have an advantage.

Strategy 27: Pretend to be a pig in order to eat the tiger. (Play dumb.)

Hide behind the mask of a fool, a drunk, or a madman to create confusion about your intentions and motivations. Lure your opponent into underestimating your ability until, overconfident, they drop their guard. Then you may attack.

In Risk Game:

An amateur Risk player is not taken seriously. A player who acts dumb is taken as a player who makes mistakes. Pretend that you are an amateur. Other players may leave some of their borders open and underestimate your true power thinking that you are not the type to use it. Once their guard is dropped, they will be vulnerable to your attacks. Seize the opportunity and strike at the heart of their empire.

Strategy 28: Remove the ladder when the enemy has ascended to the roof. (Cross the river and destroy the bridge.)

With baits and deceptions lure your enemy into treacherous terrain. Then cut off their lines of communication and avenue of escape. To save themselves they must fight both your own forces and the elements of nature.

In Risk Game:

Break the connection of territories between different continents to disrupt the movement of your opponents’ armies. Block a player against yourself and another strong player so he has nowhere to go. If someone conquered South America, attack all of his other territories outside of South America to get him blocked in his own continent.

Strategy 29: Deck the tree with bogus blossoms.

Tying silk blossoms on a dead tree gives the illusion that the tree is healthy. Through the use of artifice and disguise make something of no value appear valuable; of no threat appear dangerous; of no use appear useful.

In Risk Game:

Suppose you are in a vulnerable position and do not have many armies to protect your borders. However, you have a number of cards. Flash your cards around and show everyone that you can have a large number of armies at hand any minute. Even though you are not really powerful now, make them feel that deep down you are quite powerful. Of course, be careful not to make yourself a target just because of your cards.

Approach another player and offer your help even though you don’t have many armies. He will appreciate your help and may become your friend and ally. However, he won’t expect a lot from you because he knows you don’t have many armies. You have gained his alliance with very little to spend.

Strategy 30: Make the host and the guest exchange places.

Defeat the enemy from within by infiltrating the enemy’s camp under the guise of cooperation, surrender, or peace treaties. In this way you can discover their weakness and then, when the enemy’s guard is relaxed, strike directly at the source of their strength.

In Risk Game:

This is a classic strategy where players make alliances with each other, only to break it a few turns later. You understand an ally’s strength and weaknesses better than other players as you make decisions with them and continuously consider their position. Hence, when the time comes you can take advantage of this knowledge. However, beware of the consequences of breaking treaties especially if you plan to play against your opponents repeatedly (see Chapter 8 of Total Diplomacy for a comprehensive analysis on this).


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I am a board game and Risk game enthusiast. I like thinking and talking about strategy in games which has led me to the creation of this website. Although Risk is a classic, I feel one can never get tired of playing this game. Read about what I think of the game and I am always eager to know what you think.

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