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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Literal Translation:
To kill with a borrowed knife

Tactical Classification:

Historical Basis (Wikipedia):
Various sources. There are numerous examples of this in Chinese history. Wikipedia does not quote any specific examples.

Stratagem Analysis:
"Outsourcing murder" is one of the most basic yet devious tactics out there. This tactic can be applied in a variety of situations such as:

- The opponent is too strong for you to handle
- Destroying the opponent carries some moral ambiguity or is taboo
- You are just plain f*cking lazy
- Or a combination of all those above... which essentially makes you a whimsy unethical sloth.

The idea is to let someone else carry the blame and consequences for getting rid of your problem. For example, inciting your more outspoken and emotionally charged colleagues to oust your boss, spreading propaganda to the masses and inciting them to rally against particular governments. Yes, this earns you the glorious title of "Puppet Master". Your ancestors would be proud.

Applied to SGS:
I will steer clear of the tool card "Duress 借刀杀人" which has the same name. As i have already explained in the Duress writeup, the meaning of 借刀杀人 has been used literally in the context of the game, which is different from its tactical meaning.

"Outsourcing Murder" is not easy to use in SGS. To remain the puppet master, you need to pull the strings from behind the scenes, which is not easy to do in a table of players where no one gets any alone time. Let me start from the most obvious role... DEFECTOR 内奸!

Scenario A: You are the Defector. There are 2 Rebels 反贼, 1, Loyalist 忠臣 and the Ruler 主公 still in play. The threat of the Rebels is not great as it is clearly 2 VS 3 for now, and the Ruler is in no serious danger. You want to find a way to get rid of the Loyalist first as your character is a "thinker" (such as Lu Su 鲁肃" and not a "fighter". 

Q: How do you get both Rebels to gang up on the Loyalist? 

A: By increasing the threat of the Loyalist towards the Rebels. 

The way i would play it would be as such. If i was using Lu Su, i would make the opportunity to give half my cards to the Loyalist using his ability "Altruism 好施". The key here is to vocally announce that I am giving him particularly dangerous cards, such as Zhu Ge Crossbow 诸葛连弩 and "-1 horse". Of course, I have to manage it so that I don't turn him into superman. The point is to make the Rebels panic, not to let the Loyalist slay the Rebels.

If all goes well, the Rebels would go into panic mode and strike the Loyalist. Of course, there are so many factors in play here that i am over simplifying, but you get the point. My job would then be to throw in the finishing move on either the Rebels or the Loyalist. Both ways, i gain. (This scenario can also be applicable to Loyalist planning to kill the Defector first).

Next "Outsourcing Murder" for the Ruler...

Scenario B: You are the Ruler. You are currently outnumbered by the Rebels (4 Rebels to 3 R+L+D). One of the Rebels is Zhang Jiao 张角 and he has just placed Lightning 闪电 in his turn. You need to get rid of him... fast!

Q: How do you make a Rebel kill another Rebel?

A: Demonize him with the benefits of the kill.

Unleash whatever you can at Zhang Jiao and do your best to bring his health down to 1 unit (easier said than done!). Next you need a bit of bluffing skills and proclaim you have seen so many Peaches used in this round that there aren't many left in the deck. This has to have happened to be believable, but is common. If your Loyalist and Defector can slay Zhang Jiao before his turn, all is fine. But if not, some insidious sweet-talking will need to be done.

(Sidenote: The verbal exchanges and bluffs that occur around the table is far more significant than clean ol' gameplay! Many a round has been lost and won by persuasion and lies, something you will not experience as much in the online version!)

Keep highlighting the importance of gaining those 3 cards from killing a Rebel. Also, slather the Rebels with stories of previous games where a Rebel killing off another dying Rebel was "worth it". Whether your opponents fall for it or not is really based on your persuasion skills, but its worth a shot!!

Requirements for this Stratagem to work:
- A 3rd party you can leverage on
- The 3rd party should not be too powerful such that you become next in line
- Some benefits for the 3rd party to attack your intended target (reducing danger or gaining cards)
- Copious amounts of persuasion skills. Hey it's never too late to learn to sell!


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