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Ok, I admit that I've failed somewhere before. But anyway welcome. Just a brief intro on what you should expect here:
1. Football. Not gonna post much of that any soon since season is over. :S
2. Anime, Games, etc. Just abt anything conceivable under the Japanese radar barring anything and everything Rule 34. Now that's illegal. Period. -.-;
3. Music. Everything to do with it is listed under the tab.
5. Unacceptable humour: Anything and everything is fair game here. As long as I don't get rounded up by the ISA. -.-'

6.
The Known World=Fantasy world building in process. I: Used to be glossary, now devoted to random rambling; II: Character Concepts; III: Lore.
7. der Wolf=my Fictionpress account under the moniker Tsumujikaze no Soujutsu. A Ranger's Tale is hosted under this page. :)
8. New section now upped. Maybe I should also gun for upping A Ranger's Tale here since I do have this funny feeling that traffic coming to here is way more than whatever I'll get in FP.

Statement of intent: Everything said here is a figment of personal opinion, be it me or anybody commenting. I try to be responsible, but my parents=/=parents of the world.

@Druid of Luhn: Crap. Should have remembered far earlier to give you the credit for your CSS text box code. :(

A/N: But sadly, it seems that your CSS text box code has now been halved efficiency wise. :(

That most important note I should have added: Any images posted in this blog are NOT my own stuff. I got them from Google image search, I don't earn any shit by being a thief and liar. Those responsible for the pictures, rest assured that you all are great artists in your own regards. Sadly, we all know what limited space means in terms of posting.

Latest Note: Changed alignment for my page widgets due to my worry that I can't centre align the thing.

Note on A Ranger's Tale: In case any complaining fella wants to have a legal case with me, let this be known that A Ranger's Tale is rated M by default. I've upped the swearing and somewhat a bit on the dark/gritty factor. You all have been warned, let no little boy and girl enter the forbidden realm.

Latest on ART: A Ranger's Tale now starting to kick back in gear. But I really hate the insanely fluctuating climate here in S'pore.

P.S: Oh, and one more thing. Vid below is yet another ideal OP for A Ranger's Tale.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Conman Rises ver. Final Scam

[二十二年,正说先主曰:“曹操一举而降张鲁,定汉中,不因此势以图巴、蜀,而留夏侯渊、张郃屯守,身遽北还,此非其智不逮而力不足也,必将内有忧逼故耳。今策渊、郃才略,不胜国之将帅,举众往讨,则必可克。之克〔克之〕之日,广农积谷,观衅伺隙,上可以倾覆寇敌,尊奖王室,中可以蚕食雍、凉,广拓境土,下可以固守要害,为持久之计。此盖天以与我,时不可失也。”

先主善其策,乃率诸将进兵汉中,正亦从行。]
 《法正传》

[先主复领益州牧。。。法正为谋主]
《先主传》

Trans: [During the twenty second year (of Jian An), Zheng advised the First Lord (Liu Bei) saying: "Cao Cao managed to pacify Hanzhong and force Zhang Lu to surrender, yet why is it that he didn't set his sights on the lands of Ba and Shu (i.e. Yi Province itself)? Instead by leaving Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He behind in holding fort while returning back to the north, it's not down to a lack of perception. Rather he lacks the necessary resources to do so due to unrest within his own territories. I dare say that Yuan and He's talents are no match for generals who are truly able. If we raise up our forces, we can win this battle. Upon capturing Hanzhong, we can expand the agriculture and store up sufficient grain. Upon bidding our time, we can overcome the enemy at the most appropriate moment first and foremost while invading the lands of Yong, Liang in order to expand our borders. Lastly but not least, we can use it as a natural fortress. All which are viable plans in the far run. Hence this is a chance gifted by Heaven."

The First Lord was glad at his counsel as he prepared his army to enter Hanzhong. Zheng followed his lord as well.]
《Accounts of Fa Zheng》

[As the First Lord took over as the Provincial Governor of Yi... Fa Zheng became his chief adviser]《Accounts of the First Lord》

Analysis: Firstly, Fa Zheng was right in saying Cao Cao was having problems controlling his backyard. Relevant evidence in his biography has shown just as clear:
[二十一年春二月,公还邺。] >>> As per stated above.

[三月壬寅,公亲耕籍田。] >>> Personally supervising the process of agriculture. Meaning shit had happened, be it civil unrest or some freak locust storm.

[夏五月,天子进公爵为魏王。代郡乌丸行单于普富卢与其侯王来朝。天子命王女为公主,食汤沐邑。秋七月,匈奴南单于呼厨泉将其名王来朝,待以客礼,遂留魏,使右贤王去卑监其国。八月,以大理钟繇为相国。] >>> Above stated SOP was in the third month. This is the fifth month. Constructive political upheaval ftw.

[冬十月,治兵,遂征孙权,十一月至谯。] >>> Everything all okay=I declare war on Sun Quan.

And lastly, Fa Zheng as Liu Bei's chief adviser would mean that any AND every step taken in the forthcoming battle would have his signature stamped all over. But before we go anywhere further, let's talk about Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He:

[初,渊虽数战胜,太祖常戒曰:“为将当有怯弱时,不可但恃勇也。将当以勇为本,行之以智计;但知任勇,一匹夫敌耳。”]
《夏侯渊传》

[与飞相拒五十余日。飞率精卒万余人,从他道邀郃军交战,山道迮狭,前后不得相救,飞遂破郃。]
《张飞传》

Trans: [At the beginning, even though Yuan had won many battles, Taizu (Cao Cao) often warned him: "As a general, its only natural to experience moments of weakness while mere bravery as the response is unwise. For one must utilize bravery as the fundamentals while using his wits at appropriate times; yet know that willful courage is no different from a foolish enemy."]
《Accounts of Xiahou Yuan》

[...stood off against Fei for fifty plus days. Leading an elite force numbering ten thousand plus to engage He's army via a detour, He was unable regroup his forces in time as the mountainous path was narrow. Fei proceeded to route He]
《Accounts of Zhang He》

Analysis: On Xiahou Yuan's end, it's not that he's truly stupid. He's been proven to be a tactical genius as in everything to do with cavalry tactics=he's the boss. Yet the biggest problem lies in the very fact that he couldn't adapt once his forte got rendered useless. In fact, the terrain of Hanzhong is such that cavalry warfare was totally impossible barring a case of guerrilla warfare (which ironically was how Hanzhong was officially won via this).

As for Zhang He, all I can say is that his brain was actually far better than Xiahou Yuan. Yet, the biggest problem is that upon being pinned against the ropes, he can't really do a dime. In a very real sense, its a true blue paradox as in Chen Shou actually praised his capabilities in terrain warfare. Sadly, being baited for fifty plus days isn't the best bet to securing victory.

So what is the common ground between the two then? Very simple: They can't adapt to situations that demand swift decisiveness. i.e. dire situations of adversity (逆境之应对).

For Xiahou Yuan, its far more clear cut. For Zhang He, its down to his inability to command authority.

I'm gonna have fun with this because its tactics all over again
[二十三年,先主率诸将进兵汉中。分遣将军吴兰、雷铜等入武都,皆为曹公军所没。先主次于阳平关,与渊、郃等相拒。]
《先主传》

[刘备遣张飞、马超、吴兰等屯下辩;遣曹洪拒之。。。
曹洪破吴兰,斩其将任夔等。三月,张飞、马超走汉中,阴平氐强端斩吴兰,传其首。]
《武帝纪》

[刘备屯阳平,郃屯广石。备以精卒万馀,分为十部,夜急攻郃。郃率亲兵搏战,备不能克。]
《张郃传》

[备遣陈式等十馀营绝马鸣阁道,晃别征破之,贼自投山谷,多死者。太祖闻,甚喜,假晃节,令曰:“此阁道,汉中之险要咽喉也。刘备欲断绝外内,以取汉中。将军一举,克夺贼计,善之善者也。”]
《徐晃传》

Trans: [During the twenty third year, the First Lord led his troops into Hanzhong. Upon his allocated generals including Wu Lan and Lei Tong being eliminated by the Cao forces in Wudu, he proceeded to engage a stand off with Yuan, He and the rest at the pass of Yangping.]
《Accounts of the First Lord》

[Liu Bei deployed his generals including Zhang Fei, Ma Chao and Wu Lan to Xiabian; (Cao Cao) sent Cao Hong in response...
Cao Hong defeated Wu Lan and killed the likes of Ren Kui and the rest. Upon the third month, Zhang Fei and Ma Chao escaped to Hanzhong while the Di tribal leaders at Yinping executed Wu Lan and offered his severed head.]
《Records of the Wu Emperor》

[Liu Bei encamped at Hanzhong while Zhang He did the same at Guangshi. Utilizing ten thousand plus of elite soldiers and separating them into ten battalions, Liu Bei initiated a night raid on Zhang He. He personally led the defence leading to Bei unable to secure a victory.]
《Accounts of Zhang He》

[Bei sent Chen Shi together with ten plus encampments to block the path to Maming. Huang managed to systematically route the enemy as many survivors died as the result of plunging from the valleys. Taizu was happy upon hearing such news and granted Huang the post of a de-facto envoy, stating: "This very path has been the throat to Hanzhong. Liu Bei's attempt to take Hanzhong via isolating it has been foiled by you, O' General. Indeed best out of the best."]
《Accounts of Xu Huang》

Analysis: Now allow me to say that I don't really have a clear cut idea on when Xu Huang's part took place. While its extremely likely to have taken place before Liu Bei's stand-off with Zhang He, my greatest guess is that it might have taken place in between Cao Hong's victory and Zhang He's success in repelling the enemy. Interesting enough, nothing was mentioned about Xu Huang in Fa Zheng's words. So does that mean something in his abilities as a leader?

To me, its just this: Fa Zheng didn't have to say anything because he KNEW Xu Huang was a capable S.O.B. Period. In fact it could be very likely that his actions were committed under the circumstances where he didn't have the authority to do so. i.e. he's been ordered to hold fort, not to go aggro modal.

Which is why Cao Cao reserved utmost praise for him at that time by granting him the De-facto Commander's title. (假节)

Meaning he could just proceed to execute any of his men via the tenets of military law without making any prior reporting to anyone above. This is NOT play-acting to be fair. De-facto Commanders are rightly feared because you don't mess around with a boss who can kill you fairly enough. While they can never initiate a punitive approach, its very likely that countermeasures upon merit of defence can be seen as legit.

Now onto Ma Chao and Zhang Fei's end. Are they exceptional leaders? Yes. Is Cao Hong a moron? Actually he might be dumber than what we'd like to see him out to be. If I want to be fair, Zhang Fei was actually far more intelligent than how the novels dumb him down to be. If not for the fact that Cao Xiu (曹休) had seen through his distraction ruse, Zhang Fei would have bluffed everyone down the road. Of course it can be argued that this was an auxiliary tactic meant to buy time for Ma Chao to coordinate the ultimate offense, but meh.

[Just a simple matter of note here: Xiabian was part of Wudu, but then again you guys would have seen this coming anyway. Yet what I'm trying to say here is this: Wudu and Maming at that time is NOT part of Hanzhong itself. It's not until Liu Bei redrew the boundaries upon winning the battle did the relevant areas became part of Hanzhong. Hanzhong within this context is all about defending Yangping (which include Guangshi as well). This is indeed why Cao Cao could deploy Cao Hong instead of everything done by Xiahou Yuan.]

So at Zhang He's end, Chen Shou was right after all. He's a master of terrain warfare since you'll have to be really damned clever in deploying you troops. But then again, maybe not:

[隘形者,我先居之,必盈之以待敌。若敌先居之,盈而勿从,不盈而从之。]
《孙子兵法:地形第十》 
[Narrow terrain is one where I can utilize numbers upon gaining it. If the enemy reaches it first, one must not attack with numbers, but using a lesser amount to control the situation.]
《Sun Zi's Art of War: Chapter Ten, Terrain》

[所由入者隘,所从归者迂,彼寡可以击吾之众者,为围地...围地则谋]
《孙子兵法:九地第十一》
 [Narrow for those who enter while winding paths await the returning, such a ground where lesser enemies can defeat us even with the advantage in numbers is deemed as enclosed... To plot is to attack.]
《Sun Zi's Art of War: Chapter Eleven, The Nine Grounds》

APPARENTLY, MT.DINGJUN=GREATEST MILITARY PONZI EVER
V
V
V

[二十四年春,自阳平南渡沔水,缘山稍前,于定军山势作营。渊将兵来争其地。先主命黄忠乘高鼓噪攻之,大破渊军,斩渊及曹公所署益州刺史赵颙等。]
《先主传》

[二十四年,先主自阳平南渡沔水,缘山稍前,于定军、兴势作营。渊将兵来争其地。正曰:“可击矣。”

先主命黄忠乘高鼓噪攻之,大破渊军,渊等授首。]
《法正传》

[二十三年,刘备军阳平关,渊率诸将拒之,相守连年。二十四年正月,备夜烧围鹿角。渊使张郃护东围,自将轻兵护南围。备挑郃战,郃军不利。渊分所将兵半助郃,为备所袭,渊遂战死。]
《夏侯渊传》

[其后备于走马谷烧都围,渊救火,从他道与备相遇,交战,短兵接刃。渊遂没,郃还阳平。]
《张郃传》

[渊众甚精,忠推锋必进,劝率士卒,金鼓振天,欢声动谷,一战斩渊,渊军大败。]
《黄忠传》

Trans: [During the Spring of twenty fourth year, Liu Bei moved his forces away down across the Mian River. Just in front of fertile grounds, he made camp at the mountains of Dingjun. Yuan's army surged forth to take the ground. The First Lord (Liu Bei) commanded Huang Zhong to sound the drums and launched the vital assault. As the result, Yuan's forces were routed with Yuan and Zhao Yu accounting as part of those killed.] 
《Accounts of the First Lord》

[During the twenty fourth year, the First Lord crossed the Mian River to the south and making camp at Mount Dingjun just in front of the fertile hills. Yuan's forces came forth to take the land. Upon which Zheng stated: "We can strike now."

The First Lord commanded Huang Zhong to sound the drums and route Yuan's forces as Yuan was killed as the result.]
《Accounts of Fa Zheng》

[During the twenty third year, Liu Bei faced off against Yuan's army at Yangping's pass for a year. During the first month of the twenty fourth year, Liu Bei assaulted the encampment during the night as stakes were set ablaze. Yuan commanded Zhang He to protect the eastern side, while he personally led the light troops to protect the southern part. Bei challenged He to battle as the results went against He's favour. Yuan allocated half of his men to aid He, yet Bei intercepted them as Yuan died as the result.]
《Accounts of Xiahou Yuan》

[Upon setting fire to the encampment at Zouma Valley, Yuan went to put out the fire. Upon meeting Bei via a detour, weapons were crossed. Yuan died as the result as He retreated back to Yangping]
《Accounts of Zhang He》

[Yuan's army were strong, yet Zhong managed to convince his charges that victory is at hand. Upon drums being sounded and cheers resounding throughout the valley, Yuan was killed within a single battle as his forces were routed.]
《Accounts of Huang Zhong》

Analysis: There's a rule 1 in fighting a war. Namely do not fight a battle you're unsure of winning. Even if you're to do so, make sure its a case of survival. i.e. either you fight to win or you fight to reduce your losses. A lot has been said on this result being a semi-fluke. As in relocating the troops to Mt Dingjun was down to Liu Bei and co finding such a ground at the last moment. Outright bullshit. Firstly, allow me to analyse the deployment phase:

Three areas of deployment. Wudu (Xiabian), Yangping (the pass area) and Maming itself. As said earlier, Yangping was the only area accounted as part of Hanzhong while Xiabian and Maming should be seen as areas of vital support. Simply put, Yangping was the ONLY way to take down Hanzhong. Back when Cao Cao declared war on Zhang Lu, that was truly the case back then. (没有阳平就无汉中)

Xiabian was occupied by Zhang Fei and Ma Chao. Yet given the status of Maming, sending a jiapalang fella called Chen Shi was nothing short of a WTF. Why? Very simple. Guan Yu was at the Jing Province=Nothing to say. Yet what about Huang Zhong? What about Zhao Yun? Why Wei Yan (魏延) and Chen Dao (陈到) were not mobilized?

To me, the reason is very simple. Fa Zheng pulled off his own brand of ponzi scheme. This was a trick deployment right from the bat. By utilizing the vital nature of Xiabian and Maming, Fa Zheng managed to pull off an indirect case of diversionary deployment where via sheer numbers without an able leader, the enemy was lulled into a state of complacency. To me, this is the greatest form of field strategy:


So now comes the biggest question of them all: Why Mount Dingjun? The reason is very simple. The ground occupied is a fertile land. Simply put, this is the reason why Xiahou Yuan wanted to take the land as well with this final step to his gallows truly completed.

By creating the false idea that Liu Bei and co were preparing to play an attrition war via a year long stand-off, Xiahou Yuan actually moved his forces AWAY from Yangping. Yet that doesn't mean that the defence was outright non-existent. It's very likely that Xu Huang was still an ever-present VIP at Maming while Xiabian itself would most likely still be manned by Cao Hong, Cao Xiu and Cao Zhen. (曹真)

In fact, would Xu Huang's status as the De-facto Commander play a vital role by taking temporary command of the remaining troops at Yangping?

Or maybe we can see things this way: if Liu Bei can move his entire army BAR whosoever still at Xiabian and Maming, there's no reason for Xiahou Yuan not to do the same at his own end, yes?

It's a numbers' bluff, guys. Apparently, Zhuge Liang's respect for Fa Zheng's on-the-field acumen has been justified without a doubt here. In a very real sense, Fa Zheng's title as The General who Spread the Might (扬武将军) wasn't a bounced cheque after all. Read: utilizing his own men as means of deployment without restraints.

Finally, let's get to the climax. By burning the stakes at the eastern end, we all know Liu Bei was pulling off a diversionary. Yet via engaging Zhang He, it's quite obviously a case of "I wait first, then burn".

Now another commonly fallible perception is that Xiahou Yuan was engaging in a stand-off throughout. That's not the case. If we can read in-between the words, its pretty much easy to see that Xiahou Yuan not only sent his soldiers to aid his buddy, but above every things else, he actually led the forces personally.

This time round, it's "I burn first, then wait".

On Huang Zhong's end, I think I need to add in a little tidbit here. Now if Fa Zheng can discern the quality deficiencies in Zhang He and Xiahou Yuan, then quite obviously he would be able to know what Huang Zhong is capable of. Period.

A/N: Interestingly enough, Huang Quan was the one who proposed this idea. Yet we must understand that a single concept can be devised by more than one person at the same time. Hence, validity of the term "original proposal".

Cao Cao's Verdict:
[。。。西征,闻法正策,曰:“固知玄德不辨此。”又曰:“吾收奸雄略尽,独不得正邪?”]
《华阳国志:卷六》

[...preparing to advance westbound (i.e. entering Hanzhong via the western route of Xie Valley), he stated as such upon knowing Fa Zheng's counsel: "I should have known someone had put Xuande (Liu Bei) to this, for he's incapable of such."

Again, he lamented: "I've gathered every crafty talent under my banner, yet why is it that I've failed to gain (Fa) Zheng?"]
《Chronicles of Huayang: Chapter Six》

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料局兴衰,唯独翼侯
奇画策算 ,曹公长叹
恩怨分明,实为人性
卧龙同并,公义相取
魏王奉孝,去一膀臂
昭烈孝直,哀哭一世