The 36 Strategies

Wait For Exhausting, Prepare For Attacking


Watch The Fire On The Opposite Shore

Means that you first have to wait for all the players have become exhausted by fighting amongst themselves. Meanwhile build up your own strength. After the players are all exhausted, you will attack with full strength that leads to victory.

Delay entering the field of battle until all the other players have become exhausted fighting amongst themselves. Then go in full strength and pick up the pieces.

When a serious conflict breaks out within the enemy alliance, wait quietly for the chaos to build up. Because once its internal conflict intensifies, the alliance will bring destruction upon itself. As for you, observe closely and make preparations for any advantage that may come from it.


Hojo Regency Japan

In 1583 the great general Toyotomi Hideyoshi was positioning his forces against Akechi Mitsuhide in what would be the battle of Yamazaki.

Shortly after the battle had engaged, Tsetsui Junkeian, an ally of Mitsuhide arrived on the scene. Impressed by the superior forces of Hideyoshi, he refused to attack but instead ordered his men to line up in battle formation on a hill above the Hora-ga-toge pass where he could watch the battle before deciding which general to side with.

Seeing Hideyoshi gaining the advantage he betrayed his ally and sent his troops over to Hideyoshi's side. This incident was never forgotten and henceforth the Japanese equivalent of 'Watching the fire...' is known as 'To wait at Hora-ga-toge.'


Towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, Cao Cao defeated Yuan Shao's forces in the Battle of Guandu. After Yuan Shao's death, his three sons fought among themselves in a battle of succession.

Cao Cao took advantage of the chaos and attacked, but the brothers united against their common enemy.

Cao Cao's strategist, Guo Jia suggested, "The Yuan brothers were fighting among themselves and our attack only caused them to unite against us. If we retreat, they'll fight among themselves again. Once they are weakened, it'll be easy to win."

After Cao Cao's troops withdrew, the Yuan brothers fought among themselves for control of Fen province. The eldest brother Yuan Tan was angry because their father had made the second son Yuan Shang his heir. The youngest son Yuan Xi supported Yuan Shang.

In the meantime, Cao Cao conquered Qing, Fen, Bing and You provinces. Yuan Tan was killed. Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi fled to Liaodong in the north-east to seek the help of nomadic chieftain Gongsun Kang. Instead of pursuing the Yuan brothers, Cao Cao summoned his forces back saying that Gongsun Kang would send the heads of the Yuan brothers to him.

After some time, Gongsun Kang indeed sent the heads of the two Yuan brothers to Cao Cao. Cao Cao later explained, "Gongsun Kang was afraid he'd be my next target; he was also afraid that the Yuan brothers would annex his territory. If I attacked him, he would need the help of the brothers. But if I withdrew... Tough luck for the brothers.


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