The 36 Stratagems: Attack

By Tyler DeWacht


Welcome back from reading break! Now that we’re getting back into the swing of things, how about some more stratagems to help ease into the transition? As a quick refresher, the 36 Stratagems are a collection of Chinese warfare tactics, and my goal within this series is to apply them to a university setting. In the last issue, I covered the second set of stratagems (the Stratagems For Confrontation), which help you fight your opponent on an equal footing. Now it’s time for the third set: the Stratagems For Attack. This set is designed to help you intimidate your opponent and win before the fight even begins. Let’s get right into it, shall we?


When you don’t know the full extent of what you’re facing, try Stratagem 13, Beat the Grass to Startle the Snake. See what the snake does, then use that reaction to better understand how to fight it. Similarly, when you have questions about an exam, ask your instructor about it. They won’t be able to tell you everything about it, but their answer should hopefully give you a better idea of what to study. That way, you’ll be better prepared to fight the snake that is your exam.


To Raise a Corpse From The Dead–this is Stratagem 14. Don’t take this one literally, because the last thing our world needs right now is a zombie outbreak. Instead, take a dead idea, something that hasn’t been used in a while, and revive it for your own use. If one of the books you have lying around at home is relevant to something you’re currently learning, then use it as supplementary material for that course. You can borrow monologues, find dated statistics, gain historical background, and more! Be careful with this, though; make sure the information is reliable before you incorporate it into your studies.


In the library alone, there are many different places to study. There’s the computer lab, where you can find things online. In the basement, groups of people can meet together to share information. Upstairs, there are solitary cubicles where you can silently review. Different places work for different people, and it’s just a matter of finding the right place for your needs. Stratagem 15, Lure The Tiger Out Of The Mountains, works based on the principle of leading your enemy to an area which is favorable for you. Need some quiet time? Give the cubicles upstairs a try. Want quick access to the internet and the printers? The computer lab is the place for you. Prefer studying in groups? The basement can accommodate large groups and small groups alike. When you find that place, you can do what you need to do in the area which benefits you most, whether that’s in the library or elsewhere.


When an enemy gets backed into a corner, they tend to have one final, desperate attack. If they’re a particularly strong opponent, this can be devastating. To avoid such an attack, just don’t back them into a corner. Keep them out of that corner; let them think they stand a chance of winning. This is how Stratagem 16, Snag The Enemy By Letting Him Off The Hook, works. Did you get student loans? If you did, then student debt would like a word with you once you graduate. It gave you money, now it wants that money back. Keep it happy by paying it rather than starve it. If you starve it, it’ll become desperate and start trying to take that money by any means necessary. Don’t back it into a corner, because it will not go down quietly.


Textbooks are expensive, and once they outlive their usefulness, they may as well be worth a bag of bricks to you. So, why not get something of actual value back by selling it? Here is where Stratagem 17, Cast A Brick To Attract Jade, comes in handy. You want the green, the jades, the money, but what you have is a used textbook. Somebody else wants that very same textbook for their class, but they don’t want to buy a brand-new textbook. If you sell that used textbook on the Book Market at a discount, then they get their textbook, you get some money, and everyone wins.


When the leader falls, the actions of his followers may devolve into chaos without a proper leader–especially true if they were ruled through fear or bribed into participating. In the resulting chaos, you take control and seize victory. This is what it means to use Stratagem 18, Capture The Ringleader To Catch The Bandits. Who’s the natural leader in a classroom environment? The professor. The one who teaches the course, determines the grades, and keeps order in the classroom. I’m not saying you should attack your professor–please don’t do that. When it’s time for a presentation, you get the stage and you have to take control. The natural leader has fallen from the spotlight, so now it’s up to you. Your classmates may begin losing focus, make sure that focus stays on you. Don’t let the attention wander. If you did a good job on the presentation, the audience will likely enjoy it, and you should get good marks.
This was the third set of the 36 Stratagems, the Stratagems For Attack. 18 stratagems down, 18 stratagems to go! Next up is the fourth set of stratagems, the Stratagems For Confused Situations. When you’re in a chaotic or constantly-changing situation, that’s the set you should consult. You’ve done good so far, now keep it up!

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