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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    The Thirty-Six Stratagems are a set of ancient Chinese axioms for use in politics, war, and civil interaction. They aren't hard and fast rules as much as templates that can be adapted for many different circumstances, and between them they cover a huge assortment of dirty tricks.

    And when it comes to dirty tricks, there's no better teacher than Haley. Just for fun I'm searching for examples of Haley demonstrating each of the stratagems, and I'm going to collect them all here in this post. I'd love all the help I can get, but translation may be difficult, so I'll describe what I'd like to see for each, and people can discuss. Alternately, you can just offer an example of a dirty trick, and we'll see if it's a good example of any of them. I know she isn't the only one who has brilliant tactics in this strip, so I'll accept examples of others, but I'd really prefer to see Haley's demonstrations if possible.

    Here we go!

    Chapter 1: Winning Stratagems

    1) Deceive the heavens to cross the ocean
    The name is confusing, but in strip 1243, Haley gives a brilliant display of Stratagem #1: an open feint tactic, where you make a very obvious move but hide your real motives. She's obviously going for the bow, but allows her opponents to think she's going to use it as a weapon, so Sunny holds it really tight...which allows Haley to swing from it and knock Sereni off with her feet.

    2) Besiege Wči to rescue Zhąo
    Solve a problem by threatening something the enemy cares about, like Haley did in 979 with Crystal's kukri.

    3) Kill with a borrowed knife
    Also in 979, Haley manipulates one enemy into killing another. This one was especially clever because she used Crystal to find Bozzok as well as kill him.

    4) Be prepared and wait for the exhausted enemy
    Pretty self explanatory, and she convinces the group of it in 1218.

    5) Loot a burning house
    Catching Crystal unarmed in the shower is possibly the best example of this.

    6) Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west
    She usually lets a party member get someone's attention, and then sneak attacks with a flanking bonus. See also the "Tetherball Special."

    Chapter 2: Enemy Dealing Stratagems

    7) Create something from nothing
    In 608, Crystal fell for this one, with the dummy made of flour sacks.

    8) Cut a mountain path, but take the secret passage
    Did she ever make it look like she was doing something the hard way, so the enemy would let their guard down?

    9) Watch fires burning across the river
    Did she ever conserve her strength by withholding help to someone? Watch two parties fight while helping neither?

    10) Hide a dagger behind a smile

    11) Sacrifice the plum tree to preserve the peach tree
    This is the scapegoat strategy where someone suffers the consequences so that the rest do not.
    904 - Grabs Roy's sword so the elemental will go after her.

    12) Take the opportunity to pilfer a goat
    Seize every opportunity to make the enemy's property yours, even the smallest piece. She did this when looting Grubwriggler's place while saving Celia, and even nabbed 12 silvers and some pieces of string just because she could.

    Chapter 3: Attacking Stratagems

    13) Stomp the grass to scare the snake
    Do something unusual, strange, and unexpected to arouse the enemy's suspicion and disrupt their thinking.

    14) Borrow a corpse to resurrect the soul
    Take an institution, a technology, a method, or even an ideology that has been forgotten or discarded and appropriate it for one's own purposes.
    649 has perhaps the best version of this ever!

    15) Lure the tiger down the mountain
    Lure an enemy out of their physically advantageous position, such as leading the bandit archer to the Order's melee warriors in 151.

    16) In order to capture, one must let loose
    To prevent the enemy from making a final desperate attack, let them believe they still have a chance for freedom, and their will to fight is hampered by their desire to escape.

    17) Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem
    This is where you bait someone by making them believe they gain something valuable ("toss out a brick") to obtain something valuable from them in return ("get a jade gem").

    18) Defeat the enemy by capturing their chief
    When the enemy are allied to the commander only by money, superstition, or threats, target the leader.

    Chapter 4: Chaos Stratagems

    19) Remove the firewood from under the pot
    Take out the leading argument or asset of someone; "steal someone's thunder". This is the essence of the indirect approach: instead of attacking enemy's fighting forces, direct attacks against their ability to wage war. Literally, take the fuel out of the fire.

    20) Disturb the water and catch a fish
    Create confusion and exploit it to further one's own goals.
    858 - Her smokestick throws the Linear Guild completely off balance

    21) Give up the golden shell
    Avoid drawing unnecessary attention of a powerful force. Haley does this when leading the Resistance, dressed in a ragged cloak with a hood.

    22) Shut the door to catch the thief
    Cut off your enemy's routes of escape or reinforcement.

    23) Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbor
    Nations separated by distance and obstacles make good allies.

    24) Obtain safe passage
    Use borrowed resources against the one that lent you them.

    Chapter 5: Proximate Stratagems


    25) Replace the beams with rotten timbers
    Disrupt the enemy's methods of operations. Haley used this against Sereni when she knocked her off Sunny; the halfling's entire strategy was based on being able to attack from above with impunity.

    26) Point at the mulberry tree while cursing the locust tree
    To control others whose status excludes them from direct confrontation, use analogy.

    27) Feign madness but keep your balance
    Hide behind a mask of foolishness to create confusion.

    28) Remove the ladder when the enemy is on the roof
    Lure your enemy into treacherous terrain, then cut off his communication and escape. Her final destruction of Golem Crystal in 981 uses this approach as she walks her to her doom (also a minor example of #1).

    29) Deck the tree with false blossoms
    Through the use of artifice and disguise, make something of no value appear valuable.
    In 0129: They're just plain ordinary rocks, I'm telling you.

    30) Make the host and the guest exchange roles
    Take the lower status in a situation when high status is riskiest.

    Chapter 6: Defeat Stratagems

    31) The honey trap
    Send your enemy beautiful gifts to cause discord within his camp.

    32) The empty fort
    Drop all pretense and act calmly so that the enemy will over-think his reaction.

    33) Sow discord in the enemy camp
    Use humiliation and other social losses to provoke a powerful enemy to act rashly.

    34) Inflict injury on yourself
    Pretend to be injured so the enemy no longer considers you a threat.
    455 - Elan's execution but it was her idea to use an illusion to make the hobgoblins think they'd been killed

    35) Chain stratagems
    Keep different plans operating in an overall scheme. Note that when she uses Stratagem #1 against Sereni, she concludes not with a standard physical attack, but by pushing Sereni off Sunni, which is #25.

    36) If all else fails, retreat
    Escape is not defeat, as Haley explains in 467.


    Questions, feedback, and support are all welcome.
    Last edited by bt109; 2021-09-17 at 10:13 PM.

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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    I'd have to look at the full list later. But off the top of my head 3 sounds like when she sent Crystal after Bozzok. Neat idea!

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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    #36: "know when to walk away, know when to run." https://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0477.html

    Belkar reminds her of it, but it's something she's said before. There are probably many more instances of her running away
    Last edited by Gluteus_Maximus; 2021-09-08 at 01:03 AM.
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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Does leading the bandit archer to the Order's melee warriors in 151 qualify as 28?

    I don't recall her doing it herself, but 27 was Shojo's shtick, and Haley pointed out that he was doing it in 288.

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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    I think that her looting his castle while Grubwiggler was otherwise preoccupied could fit (5).

    Edit: Attacking Crystal in the bathroom might be a better example.

    Also, she's not actually doing it, but Ian expects her to be pulling 27 or 30 here.
    Last edited by Fyraltari; 2021-09-08 at 05:40 AM.

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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Fun idea! I thought of a few. (Account is too new to post hyperlinks to the relevant comics, sorry about that)

    11) 904 - Grabs Roy's sword so the elemental will go after her.

    19) 618 - I might be misinterpreting this one but I think picking off Bozzock's flankers before confronting him fits

    20) 858 - Her smokestick throws the Linear Guild completely off balance

    34) 455 - Elan's execution but it was her idea to use an illusion to make the hobgoblins think they'd been killed

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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowSandbag View Post
    I'd have to look at the full list later. But off the top of my head 3 sounds like when she sent Crystal after Bozzok. Neat idea!
    Dangit, I got to "kill with a borrowed knife" and went straight off to find this one only to find I was far, far too late already!
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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    This is fun, and many fit Haley like a glove.

    Her little stone gambit definitely qualifies as #29.

    Her "drunken Thor worshipper" is close to #27

    And this is a glorious example of #14
    Last edited by Mike Havran; 2021-09-08 at 01:17 PM.
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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Her decision here could fit #9, although I could be influenced by the facts that the city is literally on fire and the plan is to get on a boat.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    I think leaving O-Chul behind is a good example of either #9 (conserve strength by not helping) or #11 (scapegoat).

    Also in addition to being #36 (know when to run), as already mentioned in the main post, strip 467 is good for #21 (give up the golden shell), see panel 8 where she doesn't want a sorcerer lich all up in her business.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Funny, I found an old notebook with the Strategems written down in my own words to help with writing stories. I have #27 written down as 'Shojo's Gambit'.
    #11 may be the Sand Elemental fight where Haley tricked it into attacking her instead of Roy? While the Strategem probably meant 'someone who isn't me', making a scapegoat of yourself to protect a valuable ally sounds like a cunning trick.
    Last edited by Riftwolf; 2021-09-09 at 06:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Brilliant idea for a thread.
    Sun Tzu would approve.

    27) Feign madness but keep your balance hide behind a mask of foolishness to create confusion.
    I am going to try and find an example of this, there must be at least one
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-09-09 at 07:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Brilliant idea for a thread.
    Sun Tzu would approve.


    I am going to try and find an example of this, there must be at least one
    She pretended to be a Thor worshipper when they were dealing with Tarkin. I also feel like there absolutely has to be a point in the comic where she pretended to be a ditzy girl to get the upper hand on somebody who didn't know her better, but nothing is coming immediately to mind.

    EDIT: And while it might not have been on purpose initially, I'm sure she took advantage of her period of "talking in alphabet scramble" at some point to make somebody underestimate her. Surely that happened.
    Last edited by AvatarVecna; 2021-09-09 at 08:14 PM.


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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    I also feel like there absolutely has to be a point in the comic where she pretended to be a ditzy girl to get the upper hand on somebody who didn't know her better, but nothing is coming immediately to mind.
    Does this count?
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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Emanick View Post
    Does this count?
    On the one hand, yes, but on the other hand, "successfully used feminine wiles on a teenage boy" probably isn't the best showcase. Not exactly having to put all her effort in, even if it definitely counts.


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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    On the one hand, yes, but on the other hand, "successfully used feminine wiles on a teenage boy" probably isn't the best showcase. Not exactly having to put all her effort in, even if it definitely counts.
    It's an example but I think that there may be a better one.
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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowSandbag View Post
    I'd have to look at the full list later. But off the top of my head 3 sounds like when she sent Crystal after Bozzok. Neat idea!
    Perfect! Added to the list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gluteus_Maximus View Post
    #36: "know when to walk away, know when to run."

    Belkar reminds her of it, but it's something she's said before. There are probably many more instances of her running away
    Good point. He was quoting her from ten strips earlier, so I put that one in instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by ORione View Post
    I don't recall her doing it herself, but 27 was Shojo's shtick, and Haley pointed out that he was doing it in 288.
    Yeah, I think that her explaining that someone else is doing it should also qualify. The idea is that she's the teacher, so lecture is as good as a demonstration, and she gives great lectures.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    I think that her looting his castle while Grubwiggler was otherwise preoccupied could fit (5).

    Edit: Attacking Crystal in the bathroom might be a better example.

    Also, she's not actually doing it, but Ian expects her to be pulling 27 or 30 here.
    I'll hold off for better examples of 27 and 30, but attacking Crystal in the bathroom is perfect.

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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by ORione View Post
    Does leading the bandit archer to the Order's melee warriors in 151 qualify as 28?
    No, but it counts as #15!

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    Default Re: Haley Explains the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Giegas View Post
    Fun idea! I thought of a few. (Account is too new to post hyperlinks to the relevant comics, sorry about that)

    11) 904 - Grabs Roy's sword so the elemental will go after her.

    19) 618 - I might be misinterpreting this one but I think picking off Bozzock's flankers before confronting him fits

    20) 858 - Her smokestick throws the Linear Guild completely off balance

    34) 455 - Elan's execution but it was her idea to use an illusion to make the hobgoblins think they'd been killed
    I agree with all but #19. Really, you could argue that Celia used #19 against Bozzok when she removed the reason to hunt down Haley.

    That being said, I don't intend to be the sole arbiter of these, so I look forward to getting some links up to various translations so we can discuss.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Brilliant idea for a thread.
    Sun Tzu would approve.


    I am going to try and find an example of this, there must be at least one
    The teenaged goblin who captured her in Dorukon's dungeon.

    Edit: ninja'd before I even posted. Lesson: read entire thread before responding.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2021-09-10 at 08:16 AM.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Brilliant idea for a thread.
    Sun Tzu would approve.
    27) Feign madness but keep your balance hide behind a mask of foolishness to create confusion.
    I am going to try and find an example of this, there must be at least one
    When she divided the treasure equally between everyone else and planned to only giving herself five pebbles, resulting in everyone else getting a worthless pebble and her getting a larger cut of the treasure?
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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    12) Take the opportunity to pilfer a goat
    Pine scented goat

    6) Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west
    Her three favorite words

    21) Give up the golden shell
    Or, the now shattered blue shell

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    When she divided the treasure equally between everyone else and planned to only giving herself five pebbles, resulting in everyone else getting a worthless pebble and her getting a larger cut of the treasure?
    I think this scene is better suited to 17) Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem
    Last edited by Neponde; 2021-09-11 at 12:38 AM. Reason: Adding more

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Neponde View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    When she divided the treasure equally between everyone else and planned to only giving herself five pebbles, resulting in everyone else getting a worthless pebble and her getting a larger cut of the treasure?

    I think this scene is better suited to 17) Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem
    It could also be considered an example of 13. Taking none of the gold for herself was certainly unexpected, and it did arouse Roy and Durkon's suspicions.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Neponde View Post
    12) Pine scented goat

    6) Her three favorite words

    21) Give up the golden shell, Or the now shattered blue shell
    I agree with the sneak attack, but the others need improvement. The "goat" represents a theft based wholly on opportunity, not something she strongly desires. It's more low-effort, like, "while I'm passing through enemy territory, let me just grab this little trinket while I can."
    EDIT: Just realized that my previous summary of this one may have put higher emphasis on the trifling nature of the prize than the opportunism. The point is, when the opportunity strikes, take what you can EVEN IF it's something close to worthless. Every time you steal from the enemy, you make them weaker and yourself stronger, so steal whenever you can.

    And the "golden shell" refers to disguising herself as someone unimportant, whether by removing obvious ornaments or putting on more common clothes.

    I think this scene is better suited to 17) Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem
    That's where I had it originally; I think I may put it up for a vote.
    Last edited by bt109; 2021-09-14 at 06:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Would looting Grubwiggler when she was saving Celia count as goat pilfering?

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    I'm pretty sure 25 literally just happenned. Serini's operations were reliant on the ability to float, which has been denied her.

    As for 31, might I be so bold as to suggest a time it was done for her, not by her, while she was stone? Because I think 794 is about as blatant as you can get.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruck View Post
    Her decision here could fit #9, although I could be influenced by the facts that the city is literally on fire and the plan is to get on a boat.
    I'm confused; Haley isn't even in that strip.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Michaeler View Post
    I'm pretty sure 25 literally just happenned. Serini's operations were reliant on the ability to float, which has been denied her.
    Great point! She didn't just attack Sereni, she pushed her off Sunny, which was a huge tactical advantage. Given that, this may be our best use of a Chain Stratagem (35)

    As for 31, might I be so bold as to suggest a time it was done for her, not by her, while she was stone? Because I think 794 is about as blatant as you can get.
    I'll allow it, at least until we can get a better example from her directly.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Riftwolf View Post
    Would looting Grubwiggler when she was saving Celia count as goat pilfering?
    I think it would--low effort on her part, and it was incidental to the rest of the mission saving Celia. My description focused too much on the low value, it should have said EVEN if it's something small and meaningless.

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    Default Re: Haley Teaches the 36 Stratagems (Ongoing Project)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    We should try to make that a thing; I think it might help civility. Hey, GitP, let's try to make this a thing: when you're arguing optimization strategies, RAW-logic, and similar such things that you'd never actually use in a game, tag your post [THEORETICAL] and/or use green text
    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    So a ranger is like a Bachelor of Applied Druidology.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kid Jake View Post
    What's the word for 'fear of being eaten by a mounted bear in half-plate' again? Because that's the one I have.

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