"Defending Against the Horde - Updated" by Red Dragon 1997 v2.6/7
Defending Against the Horde - Updated
by: Red Dragon
I would like to give a few pointers, since your situation is not necessarily a hopeless one. (This article has been posted from the Newsgroup, and deals primarily with how to defend one's Empire from a "gang" of smaller entities - barbarians at the gate. - Omonubi)
Reflecting back on what I had wrote in my previous post (and seeing all the terrible grammar and spelling errors;-), I wanted to collect my thoughts and add some more stuff on various points and also explain some other tactics that can be employed (which are taken from Musashi's work as indicated below) for this post (with less spelling and grammar errors ;-)
1. Consider how much of a loss you are willing to accept (i.e border worlds), while consolidating your inner worlds (defenses, factories, research, and ship building)
For this purpose:
Select where you would like to put up a fight to erode their advances if not completely halt it, and try evacuating the unnecessary border worlds (this way they won't gain tech by invading your worlds, which is a nasty advantage to give them so freely away) which are going to be attacked. Make sure the evacuated points do not give them a tactical/strategic advantage (like a neat road to your other planets), unless you can live with such a future threat but you are sure of holding them in their next destination point.
Use the vacuated colonists in your inner colonies where ever you can (either new starters, or medium ones). They will be slowly building up (and if I understand correctly you have a quick start design, so they should be able to do something there). Since they will be secure for a while, they will be your med-long term source of income.
Don't try to establish yourself in their sector when you manage to take over planets from your enemy! I know this is very unconventional, but the following pointers should help you understand:
a. Your time to front vs. their time to front is not equal (see also relevant discussion on Mystery Guild about war strategy, how the fleet deployment times affect the outcome of any war effort). Basically, you will be fighting the war in their territory surrounded by their planets and fleets. Since you are not IT, and cannot move fleets as fast as an IT, establishing yourself inside enemy territory do not work for you as it does for an IT (and even for IT, it might be troublesome). They will be able to come against you with better ships then you can defend, because there will be a deployment lag for you compared to their relative instantaneous deployment. - And similar considerations as elaborated more in various strategy articles located at Mystery Guild.
b. This will give an opportunity to them to fight you in their terms, and I do not mean the repetition of statement "a". Not only will they have superiority (following "a"), but also gives them a chance to gain tech or other benefits by re-invading the planet. (As a side note, if I were them, I would allow you to grow for a while in my territory, while harassing your fleets that will try to support that planet, forcing you to commit resources, energy to that particular campaign, and finally, when the time is ripe - like you reaching a higher tech level - I would invade, collecting the fruits of my recently planted "alien" tree! ;-)
c. Since it is just the start of a major war (or a war in the making), the enemy is probably still euphoric or still cock-sure about what they can do and what they cannot do (especially if they had managed some small victories at certain sectors). Therefore, your initial success at securing a planet in their sector, although will be a blow to their pride and psychology, and a moral boost to you, it can and will wear off quite fast, when they collectively think about it and the ways they can try and get that planet back (which turns the tide against you again with several gains lost, and advantages surrendered to the enemy). So better don't give them the chance and the moral boost which will follow, after their initial loss of pride and security when you have taken over the planet. Let them simmer. Move in and move out!
Since you should not use the planet as a temporary base as discussed above, there are other things you can do. Obtain all the minerals you can (Sun Tzu "obtain your bread and water from the enemy" - In fact he also said obtain your weapons from the enemy, but it's a pity Stars! don't allow you to capture enemy ships to use against the enemy ;-).
Attack any other easy preys around (like small colonies, unarmed ships, etc) Lay minefields. Use diplomacy to show the particular enemy how easy it was for you to attack him and kill his planet (Gunboat diplomacy!). Even if you don't attack (because there are no favorable targets, keep your fleet around (well in a way, this is almost contradictory to what I am saying further below in one of the sections, when I am talking about tying their fleets to a campaign, because now I am advising you to tie your fleet to a sector), but it has the advantage of carrying the war to their doorstep, asking/forcing them to engage you. Even if you know you can't do damage, they don't know that (but they will know definitely any of your ships could be presented with windows of opportunity at any time, or can cause lots of problems with their shipping lanes), so they have to react. (Musashi- injuring the corners, see later sections!)
They have to commit some fleets to hunt and kill you. If you can play hide and seek, you are asking them to tie some of their resources in their territory instead of allowing them to use those resources in your own territory against you. Therefore, less enemy resources being used actively against you where they would have done the most damage against you, the better off you are and more time you gain. Action = Reaction, and that's what initiative is all about in a matter of speaking. You should Act! and NOT React! (Forestalling the enemy, taking the initiative - Musashi, see later sections!)
The only time I can think of when it's best to establish yourself in enemy territory is when all the conditions are favorable:
a. You have clear lines of logistics to support/defend the invaded point.
b. Your deployment time to the planet is not too long or you have means to make it short.
c. The interim period when you will be vulnerable to enemy action is a short period with not too many risks or you have temporarily air superiority or have some means of delaying enemy fleets (like own mine fields), which will allow you to establish yourself for a longer period or get more re-enforcement's to support your command center.
d. The invaded planet is positioned such that it is secure from many sides (that is closed on 2-3 sides) with only one clear line of attack from the enemy which you might be able to use to choke the enemy fleets by ambushes or some similar methods - (Sun Tzu - "uncrossable terrain, slow terrain..")
e. You have clear route for escape/evacuation, when it's time to run away ;-)
In your current situation, however, being forced to defend your own territory, and answers to enemy attacks at several points, the above favorable conditions do not necessarily mean you should establish yourself in enemy territory. Over stretching yourself will be the undoing of your empire. Establish yourself, when you have the opportunity and the resources to do so, without endangering your other campaigns elsewhere, especially home ground defense. If you want to setup a short-term base, even though you will be stretching yourself to the limit, do so knowing that you will have to pull out. (Crossing at a ford- Musashi applies here also, see later sections!)
Plan ahead, to kick some butt before pulling out or use the temporary base as a bargaining point (Gunboat diplomacy) against a weaker opponent to get him out of the picture. Use the base as an intel source. Do kamikaze runs with your known designs against his main production centers to obtain their latest ship designs and base designs. Since they will be deployed somewhere, (and if they are clever they will not use it on their home ground to keep you in the dark, until they are at your border worlds) most of these designs will be used eventually against you. At least the intel will give you enough time to counterdesign and meet them since your deployment time vs. theirs will be shorter when you are defending. You will be making their designs obsolete by the time they come out of the production queue ;-) (This is a slight variation on Moving the Shade - Musashi, to obtain enemy strategy, in this case enemy ship designs and preparing yourself. See later sections!)
One more note; if you know you will pull out don't start building factories, and mines! - Defenses - yes!, but not factories and mines - unless you are going to stay there for quite a long while! (No point giving a planet back Gift Wrapped! ;-) And collect all your bread and weapons (minerals, whatever), before pulling out and do poison the water wells (lay mine fields!)
2. Choose the fight you are going to engage in. Whether it's their attack fleet, defending your planet or some other target. And also the time and where you are going to fight it. What I mean is this:
- are you going to try to gain time until you can get victory at particular point?
- are you trying to consolidate your superiority at a particular point?
- are you trying to harass their fleet, attack force? until you can effectively deal with them when your new ships arrrive!
- are you trying to gain tech from them? (this sometimes is quite efficient, then yourself doing a research. when you need some tech, and you are spending all your resources for ship building, it may be good idea to choose an enemy fleet that may not meet any criteria for strategic planning like securing a point, weakening enemy's overall presence, etc... but where they have few ships with new tech which you can gain if you strike at them and win that particular fight, giving you tech advance!) remember that as much as you are spending resources for fleet build-up to defend/attack they all have to do the same, and sometimes, they have to push forward, because a lengthened war is a severe drain in their economy, and may cause them to fall behind in tech levels to sustain the attacks. While you are gaining tech from several well chosen skirmishes. This is also why you should stay away from fights which you might loose or allow them invade a border planet (if you have the choice of pulling back or evacuating).
An example is from my previous game: I had TGFS engines, bear shield and Jihads with CCs, my enemy had Juggs, wolverine, fuel mizer with CCs. I declined to engage his jugg ships unless I was sure I could win the fight, and finally when he had sent a few ccs to intercept a freighter/mine layer fleet, I intercepted his few CCs with 3 times larger CC fleet. I had better battle speed and better shields, thus managed to kill his ccs and gained the weapons tech, which helped me to match him not only in weapons but also managed to prevent him gaining beter engine and shield techs.
(this point was partly on, Injuring the Corners, and Crossing at a Ford - Musashi, but modified for a particular situation. See later sections!)
3. Keep handy a few old scouts or DDs, that your enemy knows about with your fleets and planets. They will be useful to intercept their scouts or similar ships (the lambs they sent against you to get your starbae or new ship designs by a kamikaze run); decline them intel on your new ships wherver possible. Unless they are willing to gamble I will bet on the fact that they will be hesitant to attack your new ships without knowing what are they made off, unless of course they are sure of their weapons superiority. If you have equal or slightly larger number of ships of unknown design that will put a quick stop to their advance into your territory. This is especially good if you had gained a few tech levels (and is advertised on the score board) which might not be necessarilly a tech gain in shields, armour or weapons, but some other tech branch, use the opportunity to vary your existing design with a better one with your current or old tech (in such a way that you are not filling a ship slot for nothing but to address a specific ship desing need for the interim period). It serves 2 purposes. You will have a new design they have no idea of, that can serve several purposes (to match one of their design, or some other specific purpose), and also make them stop to investigate your new design before attacking blindly not knowing whether you have improved weaponsy or shield or armour or whatever. Using old ship design to attack their scouts decline the intel or attack their fleets to gain time until you can build up the new ships at a specific place. This will not give them the new tech even if you loose (what I found to be true is, even if your oponent is technologically superior, engaging his old tech ship don't give any tech advances to you even if he looses the battle. To gain the tech, you have to attack and win over his new tech ships!)
(This point was partly on Injuring the Corners, and also most important, about the most elemental knowledge - the "Ai Uchi"! See later sections!)
4. If you see his bombers or freighter ships (for bombing/invading your colonies), try kamikaze runs by selecting those ships as main targets with the required battle orders. Make sure a few of your ships can survive the enemy firepower and manage to kill his bombers and freighters. He may be able to advance and shoot down your starbase, whatever, but cannot do more, as he needs to wait for new bombers or freighters. Gaining you valuable time. He may even have to keep his attack fleet in orbit until his bombers/freighters arrive, keeping his fleet tied up preciously, while you are cooking more surprises for him.
As long as they don't bring freighters or bombers (or waiting for them), you don't need to build up another port or SB or whatever (for what purpose, if your SB or port is outnumbered.... so that you loose precious minerals, resources?) Instead you can divert the resources for something useful like defenses, mines, factories or research. Every single penny(resource) counts.
When bombers or freighters are coming or are already arrived with the attacking fleet, then it's a different ball game. Putting up even an unarmed port is good to prevent them from bombing (against dropping colonists this may not work as your port will be shot down). Building your defenses and keeping them built up is a good idea.
If you can fool them by holding 1-2 turns by not building any port or starbase while they have their war ships and bombers/whatever in orbit, and just building an attack port or base on the 3rd turn you may get lucky enough to shoot down their bombers/freighters or part of their warships, if they move their war ships (or part of it) out of orbit, as they might be lead to believe that your resources or mineral too low for you to build anything dangerous for their ships, and they want to press their attack leaving bombers/freighters to do the remaining job. It's a gamble but can work. When your enemy is devoting his economy to war, knowing his economy is declining, his tech levels are levelling off, he will want to act as fast as possible, and hasty moves on his part are your opportunity to strike. An enemy fleet tied down bacause of a bombing campaign is a fleet out of action, one fleet less for you to deal with, while you have opportunity to attack another point. Considering his economy relative to yours, any action from your side that involves him to keep his fleets tied down at any point is a big advantage. You can bear the loss of a planet more than he can, and while you are at it, try to get him devoting more and more resources to gain that planet from you.
Have you ever considered how much it really costs to build bomber fleets to wipe out planets, especially in the mid-game tech levels? It can really put a dent in the economy (not only due to resources but also mineral requirements) which can be used to build more warships or factories or supporting the economy and defenses. Few bomber fleets destroyed mean, you effectively put half of the enemy's war campaign out of commission. - In my latest games I had to tread very carefully to make sure that my bomber fleets were secured before I deployed them because, I could not afford to loose a few bomber ships which would require me to spend part of my economy to build bombers whereas I needed all my resources divided between warship building and research.
If you cannot bomb the enemy, what use is it to attack his planets - ok! Attack his fleets, I understand, there's a tangible gain there and damage done to enemy, but if you cannot kill his planets, you are asking yourself to be sunk slowly in a swamp… Prolonging the war is screwing up your economy, and you are not helping yourself at all. The opponent's economy is also not doing very well, but who is going to win it? The guy with the better resources of course. So even if there are several small scale empires going against you, you should consider the individual empire on an individual basis, and that's when you can realize how fortunate you are, because you have a larger scale economy to deal with them. I know. Sometimes you get lost or overwhelmed in tiny details (seeing all those enemy ships converging from several points), but the important thing is keeping your head cool, being selective, anticipating enemy movements, and never loosing sight of the big picture, the importance of relative scales of economy between you and them. (cutting the enemy, not slashing him, as explained partly in Ai Uchi!)
And that's why a loss of fleet to enemy firepower resulting with the destruction of their bomber fleets in a kamikaze run can have such a tremendous effect on them. Copying a similar idea from Sun Tzu and modifying it; when your troops are attacking and you need heavy artillery, you cannot afford to wait for the heavy artillery, it has to be there, when and where you require it. If enemy destroys your heavy artillery, you better pack your things and go home!
5. If you cannot win a fight, you can divert that fleet for another job, like threatening to attack his planets. Yes, you will probly loose a planet your fleet is defending, but you'll loose it anyway, because his fleet will kill your defending fleet. Why not position that fleet to attack his planets. After all, you have more planets and he has less, so you can afford to loose that planet where as he can't (at least not for very long). He has to make a choice between attacking you or defending his planet. And you don't need really hi-tech ships for that, since your economy is bigger, you should be able to produce more ships of slightly lesser or equal tech to pose a real threat to his planets.
You cannot expect to be everywhere, and anytime, and win it. You have to make choices, selections, and be scientifically objective, systematic and cool about it War is always a mess, but you can sure try make some sense out of it. You have to learn when and what to forfeit/sacrifice. This is what the Japanese Sword Saint Miyamoto Musashi meant in his book Go Rin No Sho (Book of Five Rings) 400 years ago, when he was writing about "Crossing at a ford!" You know you are treading dangerous waters, you have to cross the big water at some point, but how and when and where… If you can manage to make the right choices for how, when and where, then you will be successful. At times, you will have favorable conditions and you start on your journey, but the conditions change, when you are just within reach of your destination (like a ships sailed with good wind, but the wind changes direction), then you have to try your best options to reach the destination (like rowing the last few miles to the shore).
6. Facing several oponents at once is quite de-moralizing, I know as I have been in that position few times. The first thought is "It's hopeless, they are almost 2-3 times of my empire, combined together". But it is a real misconception. Resourcewise they may be, but that only accounts for ship building. If all of them are building ships, they can build 2-3 times your fleet size. Which will force you meet them when situations are favourable (as I was explaining in the above sections). However respectively their economies will be strained, and they cannot keep it up for prolonged periods. Not only they have to consider their economic situation, but their relative game position, because they have to realize that sooner or later, they will fall behind each other or behind other players who are not fighting the war.
They all have to divert their resources for tech research individually to have an edge against you as well as for later phase of the game against each other. Not one of them can afford to loose on tech or economics, so they have to divide their attention to research and economics, which will slow down or stop their ship building phase at intervals. There's also a duplication involved. They can streamline a tech exchange program to alleviate the situation but still it's another thing they have to co-ordinate apart from their war effort, whereas you will be co-ordinating single handed, with less distractions, and possibly less mistakes.
Each oponent is a potential source for choice: their fleets, properly selected and engaged will give you tech gain benefits. It will also give you the choice of making better use of your fleets, like choosing an oponent whose particular fleet you can kill because you are superior in tech (if not in numbers), or you are superior in numbers but not in tech (thus potential gain for a new tech level... maybe...)
They will not have much choice in the conflicts as long as you take the initiative, and make the arrangements on behalf of them ;-)
Having a fleet of some sort (even if it's no match for their fleet) is better then having nothing. You can keep a presence around their bombers, freighters which they have to escort or divert ships for protection, effectively reducing their mobility and movement. - I learnt a nice lesson from one of the best 2 years ago, when he told me that instead of engaging his BBs with my CC fleet (which of course got wiped out), if I had only kept around but not engaged, it would have tied his BB fleets too long for him to continue with his other campaigns. In effect he was bombing my planets 1 at a time until I lost my CC fleet, after that he was bombing my planets 3-4 at a time, while attacking and killing off 2 starbases in the meantime. I was awaiting BB tech at the time. Goes to show you, how important not to concede complete air superiority to the other player. If I had kept my fleet around harassing his bombers, he had to take his time, giving me enough time to get the BB tech and start giving him more resistance.
Due to their economic size, and how they are positioning their fleets, you have choice of whether attacking/engaging their fleets or their planets forcing them to re-think their situation.
There is also the common problems of such a crowded alliance of some sort. There is the necessary issues of maintaining the empire - "Damn, I need to get my planet X up to a certain level...., or need to Build that starbase...., or need to research that tech level....", which forces the alliance member to think "well, members A and B are attacking ther and there, so I can slow down my war effort and divert resources to......". This tendency will slowly creep in and put a nice dampener into their seemingly co-ordinated attack. Especially in case one of their valuable assets is being threatened by you.
The personal situations of each empire forces the player to take a different course of action at one point eventually. Usually the first one to buckle under such stress is the weaker player. You don't need to go for the kill, enough to get him of your back, and deal with the others, unless the opportunity to kill him is presented quite quickly in which case you should kill him. In a way you should fight a gurilla war, which they should have done against you in the first place.
Your responsibility is to remind them of this eventuality either by diplomacy, or by military action of some sort (like engaing his fleets, planets, or declining an opportunity for an engagement!).
Play for the long term. You are going to fight a long war, and will need minerals. Roughly, if their total number of planets are equal to yours, make best use of your minerals, knowing that in the end they as well as you will be facing mineral shortages. However, if you can keep major portion of your empire together, you will be better of compared to your enemies individually. Each of them will be producing less minerals then you would be (everything being more or less equal, and you having more planets then they have individually).
If you can conserve your minerals, by saving your fleets where required and getting them where it counts, you are investing in your future.
You have to concentrate getting your inner worlds and uncolonized worlds up and running. This is your inner territoy, your sanctum snctorum, where everything should be secure, and slowly building up for the final stage, away from prying eyes and enemy attacks. You cannot expand since you are having a war, but you can expand internally where possible. You enemies will be too busy to deal with you then to expand (except towards your territory), but how much of it they will be able to use?
And don't supply them with minerals. Try not only to evacuate the border worlds where possible, and not worth fighting for unless there will be some sort of gain (time, tech, or tying up enemy resources), but also evacuate all the minerals, etc.. and if possible force him to bomb it out of existence all your factories and mines. If you cannot evacuate, use your minerals to build starbase, etc.. to get rid of them so they cannot be used by the enemy when finally they take it over.
What Musashi wrote, some examples:
The following are explanations of some teachings which are mostly from Musashi's Book of Five Rings (I chose that as it seems it is not as well known as the Chinese Sun Tzu's work, and I also happen to be interested in Martial Arts spirit and teachings)
The most important thing to remember and learn is "To become the Enemy" (Musashi). This means thinking yourself into the enemy's position. Usually in your situation, people always have the impression that the enemy is strong, and they tend to be cautious. But if you have good etch, resources, ships, and sound strategies, and you have a good understanding of the strategies and your stronger points and their weaker points, and you know how to beat an enemy, then there is really no point in worrying. It is distracting at worst to worry. My previous notes were to point out what you have and what they have, and allow you understand the situation and look at it from a different perspective. Thus show a way to tell you To Become the Enemy.
The following are also important:
Attitude-No Attitude (Musashi) - This is from Japanese Martial Art "Kendo/Kenjutsu" (sword fighting art). You have several principal sword attitudes from which you can attack, parry, defend and change into another attitude. The ultimate knowledge is an opening attitude called Attitude of No Attitude, which is a technique where your attitude do not show your intentions, where you can switch from one attitude to the other swiftly and fluently, and always with the intent on cutting the enemy. Whatever you do, do not try to slash or strike or touch the enemy but cut the enemy (in a matter of speaking), when you are parrying, locking or moving. Your intent should be killing him, not damaging, wounding him. When you are attacking him you should be able to cut him, or following your move through, you should be able to carry on and cut him.
Referring back to the attacking and killing enemy bombers… If the enemy is attacking you with warships while he's waiting for his bombers, he's not cutting you or killing you, so he's effectively making a big mistake. He's probably expecting to follow through the killing action with his bombers, but what good it will do him if he had been slashing at you and you destroy his bombers? He had only managed to slash you but not cut you.
This teaching is also similar to another teaching called "Ai Uchi", cutting the enemy as he cuts you. This is the first lesson and it is the last, in a way, because it encompasses all the knowledge and the spirit to win. You have to know the timing, the rhythm, and respond with good timing and a concentrated spirit. To learn the timing you have to have a certain lack of fear and anger. In fact Ai Uchi means lack of anger, and abandoning your life, throwing away your fear, not concerning yourself with winning or loosing, because if it comes it will come (like all Japanese phrases, this phrase contains so many meanings, translations, symbolism…).
Concentrate on the job at hand. Learn to respect your enemy and treat him like an honored guest while cutting him. This all sounds a bit mystical… confusing… and looks like it can only apply to real-life situations or only to Kendo/Kenjutsu, but in fact you can apply the principles to anything really. If you know/heard something about Bushido (the code of honor for the Samurai) and Samurai's, the way of warrior is death, and resolute acceptance of death, and these are what Ai Uchi is about.
When there are many enemies (Many Enemies- Musashi):
The method is to chase the enemies from side to side even though they come from different directions. Observe their attacking order and meet the first attacker carefully. Don't wait, keep moving, as a stationary position is always death and movement is life (like empty and full, yin and yang). Get collected after each attack, and focus. Try to drive the enemy together, pile them up so that you can go through and cut them. This also is a reflection on taking the initiative by acting and creating reaction as explained previously, forcing the enemy to meet you whenever possible.
Forestalling the enemy:
When I was talking about attacking the enemy instead of defending a planet, previously, I was also talking about slowing down or forestalling the enemy. According to Musashi there are 3 ways to forestall an enemy:
- Forestall by attacking (which is obvious and explained before)
- Forestall him as he attacks (which was also explained before, and descriptive in itself)
- Forestall him when you and him are attacking each other. This is basically accompanying him and forestalling him.
All the three methods are main means of taking the lead, the initiative. And initiative is what counts to gain victory in most cases.
This is recognizing the point when the enemy is collapsing, and pursuing them without any let-up to gain the victory. If you read the paragraphs about weaker opponent, etc.. you will see that it is when the enemy is collapsing and when you have to pursue the advantage. If you don't take advantage, then you they may recover (however, I had also explained my reservations, when not to pursue your advantage if you are going to stretch yourself to your limits or, if other things require your immediate attention, and the weaker opponent can wait another day to be killed. Otherwise kill him and kill him immediately).
For later stages, you can apply a quite well known technique (called Moving the Shade - Musashi):
If you cannot see or find out enemy strategy, plans, or position, indicate that you are going to attack with a strong force, to discover his resources. This can be done by positioning a large fleet at a particular point (especially in a central position), where the enemy has the chance to funnel his fleets also to defend or counter-attack you. He has shown his hand, and probably with all his reserves accounted for also in that same fleet. Then it's time to choose a strategy to defeat him by re-thinking your options and resources and re-positioning them.
Your ever changing or ever stable actions will also affect the enemy. When the enemy is agitated, rushing, if you are calm, and acting as if you don't mind his action at all, he'll be surprised, and will be taken-in. His attitude will change to a relaxation (thinking he has the time to further build up his forces). This is called "passing on the spirit". You are reflecting an image that is unexpected and unthreatening, that gives a sense of no imminent danger. That's the point when you should attack strongly when your enemy is lulled into a false sense of security and relaxation. This tactic is best achieved when you had crushed quite a bit of enemy forces, and when you are not following up on the attacks while he's desperately trying to gather his remaining forces. He'll be inclined to spend a bit more time on gathering his forces, building up a bit his economy or research more tech levels to get that next new toy, which he'll never have the time to use or build when you attack.
And my last addition to the above notes is a tactic which I had seen previously thrown away or advised against it in some strategy documents - especially in one document, where you are definitely asked to attack the major centers and not the small targets. In general that's a sound tactic/advise, but not always applicable or practical. And considering your economy vs. theirs, you might get away with the following easily. It's a tactic of attrition of some sorts….
Injuring the Corners - Musashi: Sometimes it is difficult to move strong things by pushing directly, (like attacking major centers defended strongly), so you should "injure the corners". In large-scale strategy, it is beneficial to strike at the corners, like in swordplay, if the opponent is strong why not hit his shoulder, and dislocate it, he'll not be able to wield the sword with that arm any more. You have not damaged the body, but injured a corner. Few more corners and the body collapses, ripe for a kill. Same thing with enemy targets. Unarmed ships, bomber fleets, undefended colonies are all corners of the enemy to be injured. (and if you remember my advise to you to pull out of border worlds, where there's no practical gains of any sort, like holding a strategic point, or defending a position to gain time, then you will see that I am trying to prevent you to fall into a position where your corners are being injured!)
And always remember when you are fighting a war, due to the way you are interacting with the enemy, you will at times be lost in detail. You will be pre-occupied with the small details. You must then change into another spirit-larger spirit, interchanging the small details with the larger picture, keep the bigger picture in sight… What's the benefit of concentrating on one particular skirmish and win it while you are loosing ground at another sector where the enemy is slowly building up its presence for a new front to attack against you or opening a gateway/route to your empire?
Any comments are welcome. For your information Musashi's work was translated by several people and been published. It's quite an interesting reading material, although most of it is quite lacking in detail, as the knowledge is based on Kenjutsu and Kendo, and requires practice in the martial art and then discussion of the spiritual teaching based on the learnt/practiced practical techniques. However quite many of them also are practically applicable to almost any given situation.
L. Ozon (RedDragon on StarLink IRC #stars! channel)