How to win with the Art of War Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck
User's Guide shown below in PDF
Content: 54 Winning Strategies
- Additional Information
The Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck is both a comprehensive
collection of 54 winning strategies used for real world strategic planning, and a
series of games for those interested in learning how to apply these strategies
in more controlled environs. Each card has a title, a definition, and a
basis all pertaining to a given strategy. Its most powerful use is through
the application of the
StratEffects™ gaming method to real world problems.
The Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck
is intended to both stimulate strategic thought and provide ideas for solving
specific strategic problems. When using the strategies in practice, it is
best to think in terms of applying described strategies in parallel or sequential combinations. One
strategy may provide the means to make another strategy happen, and several
strategies enacted at the appropriate times and places lead to the
Whether used as a strategy planning tool or as a game,
the cards are arranged with a strategic logic intended to enhance their usefulness
beyond the ideas printed on the faces. This logic is found
within the card suites. Each card suite carries a common theme paramount to
successful strategic planning when handling conflict. These common themes follows:
Spades – Spades involve the elimination of something. That something may
be an adversary, an option, an objective, time, etc. You make something go
Diamonds – Diamonds involve the isolation of
something. This something may be an adversary, an option, an objective, time,
etc. You separate something from something else.
Clubs – Clubs involve shaping the field of contest. You create the
conditions, such as confusion on the part of your adversary, that better allow
you to accomplish your goal.
Hearts – Hearts involve shaping yourself. You set your disposition as
best suited to reach your goal and present your adversary with appearances that
favorably influence his actions.
These suite divisions are gray or fuzzy divisions. In some circumstances,
strategies in one suite may take on characteristics of strategies in another.
Your strongest combinations of strategies will tend to have
at least one member strategy from each of the four suites. Case in point,
demonstrating a willingness to bluff – a strategy of hearts, may cause your
adversary to ignore a move that expands the scope of the engagement – a strategy
of clubs, which leaves him isolated by new alliances that expansion brings – a
strategy of diamonds, which forces his elimination from the engagement – a
strategy of spades.
The suites are also roughly arranged by the strength of the strategies
involved. But again, the strength of a strategy very much depends upon the
circumstances of its use. Relative strength is a gray or fuzzy measure. Case
in point, eliminating an adversary, Ace of Spades, is ranked as stronger than
eliminating his options, Ten of Spades, since the elimination of an adversary
usually also eliminates his options; however, circumstances may make
eliminating your adversary’s options and keeping that adversary around your
strongest course of action.
There are three basic types of strategic problems. The
first step toward solving a strategic problem is to know which type of strategic
problem you face. These types are as follows:
- To seek a benefit A you must choose to risk a harm B
example, to eliminate an adversary (benefit) you must expose yourself to the
possibility that your adversary could eliminate you (harm).
- You seek a benefit A because harm B has already manifest
example, you must eliminate your adversary (benefit) because your adversary
has already chosen to try to eliminate you (harm).
- You seek to be one way and also be another way
example, you seek to be on the battlefield so you can strike your adversary
yet you seek to not be on the battlefield where your adversary can
The primary purpose of the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy
Card Deck is to maximize the probability of attaining a benefit A and
minimize the probability of experiencing a harm B
– or any
more of harm B than you already have
faced with strategic problems type 1 and 2, noting that strategic problems type
3 tend to be a part of type 1 and 2 problems. This is why the combined product
offering of the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck and the book
Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War is so powerful, since the former
focuses on solving strategic problems type 1 and 2, and the later focuses on
solving strategic problems type 3. Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War
teaches how to handle type 3 problems such as:
- How to put your force at risk yet succeed with your
- How to lead yet allow your troops to find their own
- How to appear one way yet be another way ( Deception)
- How to maximize the use of force while minimizing effort
- How to turn a strength into a weakness
- How to control a situation despite chaos and uncertainty
The Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck provides
54 strategies to make the above conditions presented in Understanding Sun Tzu
on the Art of War useful toward attaining benefits, avoiding harm, and
ultimately reaching a goal.
When solving strategic problems, note that type 1 and type
2 strategic problems are similar in nature except that in type 1 strategic
problems, you have the choice to act or not act, and in type 2 strategic
problems you must act because you have no choice. You seek to approximate an
ideal strategic solution, an ideal strategic solution being a 100% probability
of attaining benefit A and a 0% probability of experiencing harm B. As you
select strategies from the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck to use
in your plan, you incorporate those strategies that will increase your
probability of attaining benefit A, decrease your probability of experiencing
harm B, or both. You refer back to Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War
and Sun Tzu’s Art of War contained within that book to further explore
conditions that make the intended strategies work. Then you communicate your
plan and put it into action.
site includes the rules of three games specifically designed for the Art of
War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck to
You may also use these cards to play any other card game suitable to a standard
strategy card deck. Often times this is the best way to use the cards to solve
difficult problems. You will see strategy combinations throughout the play
of an ordinary card game that could solve problems your mind continues to work on in the
Conduct Preliminary Planning
To brainstorm using the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck, first
define the goal you seek to address during the brainstorming session and your
parameters of success. A goal should address the desired outcome of the
challenge at hand. Be specific. The following questions will serve
as a guide.
Specify your opportunity or challenge and put it in context with the nature of
What is it you want to have happen? Do you want to eliminate or isolate
your adversary? Are you trying to bring someone into the fold? Are
you trying to extract yourself from a difficult situation? Be specific.
Put an adjective to your intended result if it will help you specify how you
will define success. Do you seek an outcome to occur faster, with greater
efficiency, with less harmful impact? Be specific.
Specify you limitations to include people, time, resources, knowledge, etc.
This is where you lay out your parameters for success.
Build a strategy with the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck as a
Start from the end result you
defined in your preliminary planning and work your way back to the beginning.
For example, if your goal is to eliminate your adversary, as described by the
Ace of Spades, place that card on the table. That is your end result.
Any or all the strategies in
the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck, executed in sequence or in
parallel, may assist you in accomplishing the above goal/end result. Browse
through the cards and set aside those that you wish to enact.
Incorporate those into your plan. For example, you might determine that
expanding the scope of the engagement, a strategy described by the Jack of
Spades, might help you eliminate your adversary because expanding the scope of
the engagement will cause your adversary to surrender, effectively eliminating
him. Specify what, in the example, expanding the scope of the engagement
means to you. Perhaps it brings to the table another nation’s military
power, perhaps it brings to the table another investor, or perhaps it brings into play the legal power of a partner
corporation. Put into your plan the actions necessary to increase the scope
of the engagement as desired.
To continue with the above example in more depth, consider all aspects of
physical, psychological, and moral power in your planning. As you
continue to review the cards in the above example, perhaps you realize that
just threatening to increase the scope of the engagement above will likely
produce the same desired result as the actual expansion, this derived from the
card Create Something from Nothing, Queen of Hearts, which involves bluffing.
This being so, you incorporate the element of bluff into your planning along
with any elements required to make your bluffing credible. Bluffing is a
common way to leave an adversary guessing about the nature and extent of your
actual power, and brings into play competitive psychology.
The combinations of cards as exemplified above are infinite, just like the
combinations of musical notes from a musical instrument. In actual practice,
producing a total strategy is and always will be an art. The Art of War:
Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck serves as your guide so that you have ideas
already proved to work readily available for both deliberate and crisis
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