Mindape’s Journey to the West

A Pokemon VGC Blog

The Art of (Pokemon) War: Introduction



Many Pokemon VGC blogs are purely about teams, opinions and tournaments. Especially as I do not have a history of good Pokemon tournament performances behind me (due mostly to lack of attendence), I feel like I should make the scope of this blog a bit broader, and delve in to the philosophy behind playing Pokemon competitively, with the hope that it may prove useful to some people to develop their skills as players.

As I'm quite a fan of history, and in particular Asian history, another book that I like (aside from Journey to the West) is Sun Tzu's The Art of War. It was written over 2500 years ago, but is still considered a useful guide on strategy (not just military strategy) even today (Therefore it must be good, right?). Some of you may be familiar with David Sirlin's Play to Win (If not, I highly recommend taking the time to read it)which references this book frequently in applying its ideas to playing games.

However, Sirlin's examples mostly apply to Arcade, or RTS games, as those are ones he is most familiar with. I think this can be improved upon as a resource for Pokemon trainers, and so I plan to at The Art of War in an purely Pokemon context, presenting this as a series taken one chapter at a time. I will select points from each chapter that I think have particular relevance, and make comments as to how I feel they apply to Pokemon battling - both for thinking during battles, and in preparing yourself and your team for battles (whether they be tournaments or just Battle Spot laddering). If I can in the future, I'd like to include top player's thoughts on those points as well, but for now I think I will just include my own, as something of a base to build from.

For reference, the translation of The Art of War that I will be using is the one available digitally in MIT's Archives, which uses the translation by Lionel Giles.*1

Anyway, this post is just introducing the series, I'll try to post each chapter on a reasonably frequent basis just so people aren't left hanging too long, starting with chapter 1 soon. As each gets posted I'll update the bottom of this one with links to each posted chapter.


Chapter List:

Laying Plans

Attack by Strategem

Tactical Dispositions


Weak Points and Strong


Variations in Tactics

Army on the March


The Nine Situations

The Attack by Fire

The Use of Spies

*1:As an interesting bit of history, Lionel Giles' father helped pioneer the the Wade-Giles Romanisation method of transliterating Chinese words to English. This method has now been replaced by Pinyin in mainland China, but it is the reason why Beijing was known as Peking for most of the 20th Century. But that's enough history babbling from me.