Technologies of warfare


This page showcases some of the vehicles and contraptions depicted in The Ravages of Time. More conventional melee infantry weapons (swords and shields, spears, pikes, staves, axes) will no longer be included.

Ranged weapons

Ground traps

Shoreline defenses

Communication devices

‘Simple’ entry weapons

‘Elaborate’ siege weapons

Fire attacks

Other land vehicles

Naval vehicles

Assassination props

Occult tricks


Given that Ravages heavily features plotting and scheming (and given that ‘technology’ in a broad sense also includes such matters as policies and ruses), this supplementary section shall consist of instances in the series that either cite, depict, or rehash principles and heuristics found or implied in some famous ancient texts of the ‘middle kingdom’.

The 36 stratagems (三十六計)

  • 勝戰計
  1. 瞞天過海 – Zhou Yu attacks Jiangling and Yiling not to conquer Jingzhou, but to gain access to Yizhou (seen through by Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi)
  2. 圍魏救趙 – Xun Yu plans to attack Chenliu to relieve Cao Cao’s forces in Puyang (seen through by Chen Gong)
  3. 借刀殺人 – Yuan Fang induces several parties to go against Cao Cao, preserving his own forces (seen through by Zhang Fei)
  4. 以逸待勞 – Yuan Fang tricks Hua Xiong into needlessly wasting horsepower (accounted for by Dong Zhuo)
  5. 趁火打劫 – Zhang Wu and Chen Sun attack Jiangxia while a weakened Huang Zu is preoccupied with Sun Quan (countered by Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun)
  6. 聲東擊西Liu Bei’s forces lure away the defenders, allowing Jiang Qin to infiltrate Wulin (seen through by Zhuge Liang)
  • 敵戰計
  1. 無中生有 – Sima Yi threatens Lü Bu with a secret edict that is actually in Wang Yun’s hands
  2. 暗渡陳倉 – Cao Cao uses the naval fleet at Chibi as a diversion while actually sending land troops
  3. 隔岸觀火 – The southern Jingzhou commanderies waited until the end of the Chibi campaign before making a move
  4. 笑裏藏刀 – Xu Ding works for his enemies, waiting for an opportunity to have his vengeance
  5. 李代桃僵 – Zhao Yun sacrifices Mi Shi in order to rescue Liu Shan from Liu Da
  6. 順手牽羊 – Jia Kui plans to seize Hongnong on the way to Chang’an, which he also intends to control
  • 攻戰計
  1. 打草驚蛇 – Zhang Fei stands alone and loudly challenges Cao Cao’s forces, keeping their attention long enough for the fire attack to commence
  2. 借屍還魂 – Sima Yi dresses up as Chisongzi to dampen enemy troop morale (countered by Guo Jia)
  3. 調虎離山Li Ru’s collaborators ambush Lü Bu while he is walking alone at night (taken into account by Lü Bu and his sympathizers)
  4. 欲擒故縱 – Sun Ce sets Taishi Ci free and gives him a chance for a final showdown, setting Taishi Ci up for a more humiliating defeat
  5. 拋磚引玉 – Sun Ce baits Liu Yao into surrounding the mountain, leaving the base camp undefended for Zhou Yu to plunder
  6. 擒賊擒王 – Liaoyuan Huo assassinates Huang Shan, inducing the rest of the rebels to surrender to Yuan Shu
  • 混戰計
  1. 釜底抽薪 – Yuan Fang’s assassins target key decision-makers in Cao Cao’s army (seen through by Lu Xun)
  2. 渾水摸魚 – Cao Cao ordered the circulation of false rumors of his assassination (seen through by Chen Gong, but with a twist)
  3. 金蟬脱殼 – Sima Yi pretends to be a lowly servant of the Sima clan (seen through by Yuan Shu’s ‘nameless adviser’)
  4. 關門捉賊 – Yuan Fang completely isolates Yijing, where Gongsun Zan is holding out
  5. 遠交近攻 – Guo Jia sends a gift to the distant territory of Gongsun Kang during the campaign against the remaining Yuan brothers
  6. 假道伐虢 – Yuan Shao betrays Gongsun Zan after asking for the latter’s cooperation in conquering Han Fu’s territory
  • 並戰計
  1. 偷梁換柱 – Guo Jia uses jewels and gold to undermine the discipline of Wen Chou’s troops
  2. 指桑罵槐 – Dong Huang praises Lü Bu’s loyalty, subtly reminding troops of Lü Bu’s treachery (seen through by Hua Xiong)
  3. 假痴不癲 – Shan Wuling feigns madness to prevent others from suspecting that she is hiding Sima Yi
  4. 上屋抽梯 – Jia Xu lures Lü Bu into dangerous terrain using poorly defended and demoralized camps as bait
  5. 樹上開花 – Cheng Yu uses torches to make it seem like he has more troops than the few he sent to suppress the Sima clan mutiny
  6. 反客為主 – Sima Yi assumes command and gains the trust of Cao Cao’s remaining forces in Huarong after rescuing Cao Cao from Zuo Ci
  • 敗戰計
  1. 美人計Yuan Fang uses Zhen Furen to sow discord among Yuan Shao’s three legitimate sons
  2. 空城計
  3. 反間計 – Yuan Fang uses Xu You to outwit Sima Yi and give Cao Cao false information (seen through by Sima Yi, but with a twist)
  4. 苦肉計 – Huang Gai accepts severe beatings in an attempt to fool Cao Cao into believing his fake defection (taken into account by Xun You)
  5. 連環計Pang Tong unleashes a string of minor schemes to weaken Cao Cao and empower Liu Chong
  6. 走為上計Zhuge Liang avoids the battle of Chibi altogether, preserving troops for the next step

100 unorthodox strategies (百戰奇略)

  • 第一卷
  1. 計戰 (estimates) – Chen Gong instructs other advisers to calculate carefully
  2. 謀戰 (plans) – Lü Bu launches a pre-emptive strike, disrupting Liu Bei’s departure plan
  3. 間戰 (spies) – Zhou Yu’s spies attempt to gather information about Liu Bei’s force
  4. 選戰 (elite forces) – Cao Cao lends elite troops for Liu Bei and his capable officers to command
  5. 步戰 (infantry) – Cao Cao’s infantry soldiers use a circular formation to defend against Yuan Fang’s cavalry
  6. 騎戰 (cavalry) – Wen Chou first confuses Guo Jia’s forces to clear the ground for the main cavalry attack
  7. 舟戰 (amphibious warfare) – Cao Cao takes advantage of the heavy rain to send a special naval force to Jingzhou
  8. 車戰 (chariots) – Sun Ce uses covered horse-drawn carts with hidden troops as improvised chariots, taking Cao Cao’s infantry by surprise
  9. 信戰 (trust) – Sun Ce and Taishi Ci dare to act boldly because of their trust in Sun Quan’s capability to govern when his time comes
  10. 教戰 (instructions) – Cao Cao’s veteran troops comply with Yu Jin’s orders, unfazed by Lü Bu’s presence
  • 第二卷
  1. 眾戰 (large numbers) – Cao Cao’s invasion force proceeds methodically without being lured into deadly terrain
  2. 寡戰 (small numbers) – Zhang Liao helps cover the retreat of his men by using constricted terrain to block Yue Jin’s troops
  3. 愛戰 (love) – Guan Yu’s kindness inspires the commoners to want to fight to the death
  4. 威戰 (awesomeness) – Zhang Liao’s charisma inspires the soldiers to swim into the freezing waters
  5. 賞戰 (rewards) – Jia Xu’s troops fearlessly attack Lü Bu for the chance to become a marquis
  6. 罰戰 (punishment) – Yuan Shu’s loyal officer kills a deserter
  7. 主戰 (host) – Cao Cao plays the host by luring Guo Yuan’s force deep enough before cutting off the retreat route
  8. 客戰 (guest) – Guo Yuan plays the guest by advancing deeply and capturing several cities in the heartland of Cao Cao’s territory
  9. 強戰 (strong) – Yu Jin’s troops are misled into facing well-hidden archers as well as Gao Shun’s chargers
  10. 弱戰 (weak) – Liu Bei’s small rescue force lights up several signals, deceiving Xiahou Dun as to the true number of reinforcements
  • 第三卷
  1. 驕戰 (arrogance) – Liu Bei feigns weakness to lure Cai Mao into launching an ambush, only to be exposed in front of notable passersby gathered by Xu Shu
  2. 交戰 (alliances) – Lü Bu joins forces with Ma Chao, persuading the latter to attack Chang’an
  3. 形戰 (disposition) – Zhuge Liang and Pang Tong note that Cao Cao’s two-pronged approach ends up splitting the invasion force, giving Zhou Yu an opening
  4. 勢戰 (strategic power) – After defeating Li Su and Lü Bu in separate battles using only a portion of the troops, Jia Xu captures Chang’an unopposed
  5. 晝戰 (daylight) – Wei Yan attempts to confuse Zhang Fei by lighting decoy beacons in the hills
  6. 夜戰 (night) – Zhang Liao confuses the defenders of Cao Cao’s camp by launching a series of decoy night raids
  7. 備戰 (preparation) – Cao Cao’s fleet prepares for Zhou Yu’s fire attack by using ship walls with long masts and fire-proof coating
  8. 糧戰 (provisions) – Cao Cao protects the rations transport by using a decoy unit meant to ambush Zhang Liao
  9. 導戰 (local guides) – Lü Bu attacks Puyang with the help of local information from Cao Cao’s close friend Zhang Miao
  10. 知戰 (knowledge) – Zhang Fei anticipates and prepares for the day when Lü Bu would begin his move to take Xuzhou under the guise of fighting off bandits
  • 第四卷
  1. 斥戰 (observers) – Zhang Liao and Zhang Fei act as scouts, looking for escape routes and entrapment zones
  2. 澤戰 (marshes) – Cheng Yu insists that Cao Cao’s retreating troops quicken their pace as they pass through the wetlands of Huarong
  3. 爭戰 (contentious terrain) – Zhao Yun and Guo Jia compete to secure a mountain as a stationing point
  4. 地戰 (advantageous terrain) – Wei Yan’s troops seize various advantageous rallying points to box in Zhang Fei’s forces
  5. 山戰 (mountains) – Zhang Fei uses falling rocks to block Li Dian’s advance in the mountains
  6. 谷戰 (valleys) – Shan Wuling tells her subordinates to take note of a valley as a good ambush area
  7. 攻戰 (offense) – Ling Cao uses an advantageous water route and swiftly defeats Lu Kang
  8. 守戰 (defense) – Yu Jin focuses on defense and takes out the infiltrators before sending reinforcements to aid Cao Cao
  9. 先戰 (initiative) – Sun Ce infiltrates some ships and allows Huang Zu to retreat and show the way to the main Jiangxia encampment
  10. 後戰 (response) – Zhou Yu lets Yan Baihu’s force advance further across muddy terrain in order to deplete enemy energy and morale
  • 第五卷
  1. 奇戰 (unorthodox) – Chen Gong does not put the two troop units together, intending to deceive Cao Cao with one while using the other for a surprise attack
  2. 正戰 (orthodox) – Zhong Yao reminds the troops of the importance of correctly carrying out orders despite the obstacles and narrow paths
  3. 虛戰 (vacuous) – Zhou Yu carefully conceals news of Sun Ce’s death, forcing Cao Cao to needlessly deploy troops to guard the south
  4. 實戰 (substantial) – Xu Shu carefully deploys troops to delay Cao Cao’s larger force, allowing Liu Bei to escape
  5. 輕戰 (recklessness) – Li Dian rushes to rescue Cao Cao and falls into an ambush, leaving Yu Jin to defend the base on his own
  6. 重戰 (weightiness) – Wen Chou orders his troops to rest without settling in order to maintain cohesion and mobility
  7. 利戰 (profit) – Dong Zhuo uses Liu Bian to lure Yuan Shao into the imperial palace at Luoyang
  8. 害戰 (harm) – The Guandong army stays put in the camps, while Hua Xiong does not attack in haste and ensures that the passes are well-defended
  9. 安戰 (security) – The defenders in Cao Cao’s base defend against Yuan Shao’s tunnel diggers by digging trenches
  10. 危戰 (danger) – Sun Ce desecrates Ling Cao’s grave and pins the blame on Liu Yao, motivating his surrounded soldiers to fight to the death
  • 第六卷
  1. 生戰 (seeking life) – Yuan Tan’s desire to preserve his own life messed up the formation of his troops fighting against a lone skilled warrior
  2. 死戰 (fighting to the death) – Gongsun Zan realizes too late the price of not pushing through with the plan to fight to the death
  3. 飢戰 (hungry) – Xu Huang and Shi Huan raid the rations transport of the Yuan army, sustaining Cao Cao’s campaign for a bit longer
  4. 飽戰 (sated) – Jia Xu prepares to attack the retreating troops of Guo Yuan, who heard the news of the burning of the main rations depot
  5. 勞戰 (fatigue) – Gongsun Zan realizes too late the price of wasting one’s energy in a battlefield that one has not carefully selected
  6. 佚戰 (ease) – Cao Cao tells his subordinates about the dangers of lowering one’s guard when one has the upper hand
  7. 勝戰 (victory) – Hua Xiong realizes too late the price of his overconfidence after winning thirteen duels in a row
  8. 敗戰 (defeat) – Guo Jia sees Cao Cao’s apparent defeat against Lü Bu as a chance to train and prepare for a much bigger enemy
  9. 進戰 (advancing) – Zhuge Liang orders Guan Yu to attack once Cao Cao’s entourage is trapped and weakened in Huarong due to the bad weather
  10. 退戰 (retreating) – Xun You orders the Cao forces to retreat upon the arrival of Wen Chou’s superior army
  • 第七卷
  1. 挑戰 (provocation) – Gao Shun leads the chargers and provokes Xiahou Dun, leading to an ambush by backup horse archers
  2. 致戰 (compulsion) – Lü Meng’s simple act of blocking the river flow with rocks compels Liu Xun to make a hasty move
  3. 遠戰 (distant)
  4. 近戰 (nearby)
  5. 水戰 (rivers) – Jia Xu allows Lu Xun’s fleet to arrive near the shore before launching a long-range catapult ambush
  6. 火戰 (incendiary warfare) – Lü Meng starts a fire in the forest, taking advantage of the wind and aiming to burn Cao Cao’s retreating forces
  7. 緩戰 (slowness) – Cao Cao captures Pengcheng after methodically besieging it for three months without direct fighting
  8. 速戰 (quickness) – Cao Chun is instructed to take down the city held by Liu Bei within two days, before the arrival of reinforcements from the Yuan army
  9. 整戰 (order) – Yuan Fang tells Gao Lan not to attack Yue Jin’s orderly formation in the forest
  10. 亂戰 (disorder) – Guan Yu launches an all-out attack once Ji Ling’s troops are demoralized after the preliminary duel
  • 第八卷
  1. 分戰 (segmenting) – Cao Ren’s troops march methodically into Jingzhou, assisted by a special force that has already penetrated in advance
  2. 合戰 (uniting) – Chen Deng recalls his troops in the stationing points and reassigns them to Xiapi for the decisive defense
  3. 怒戰 (anger) – A nasty allegation incites Zhang Xiu and his retainers into attacking Cao Cao
  4. 氣戰 (spirit) – The Mount Tai bandits utilize war drums to enhance troop morale and dampen the spirit of Cao Cao’s forces
  5. 逐戰 (pursuits) – Cao Cao’s troops vigorously pursue the demoralized and disorganized forces of Yuan Shao
  6. 歸戰 (retreats) – Cao Cao sends the elite Tiger and Leopard Cavalry to closely pursue Liu Bei’s migration caravan
  7. 不戰 (refusing battle) – Zhang Liao sticks to defense and avoids direct combat while Gao Shun sets up an ambush, with the goal of wearing down Yuan Shu’s force
  8. 必戰 (inevitable combat)
  9. 避戰 (avoidance) – Xiahou Yuan’s ambush teams avoid confronting Wen Chou’s well-organized army
  10. 圍戰 (sieges)
  • 第九卷
  1. 聲戰 (utterances) – Jia Xu lies about his oath to prevent Liu Bei from mobilizing, while the real written oath proposes a different target
  2. 和戰 (peace negotiations) – Ma Chao conducts an ambush during a ceasefire
  3. 受戰 (enduring attacks) – Yuan Fang orders his battered troops to advance and close in to prevent Guo Jia from attempting an encirclement
  4. 降戰 (surrenders) – Cao Ang oversees the defensive preparation of Cao Cao’s troops after Zhang Xiu’s dubious capitulation
  5. 天戰 (heavens) – Cao Cao easily conducts a campaign to ‘rescue’ the emperor, pacify the chaos in Chang’an, and ‘punish’ the cruel tyrants Li Jue and Guo Si
  6. 人戰 (people) – Yue Jin warns Lu Feng to ensure that the troops are not intimidated by supposed omens
  7. 難戰 (difficult) – Cao Cao manages the front lines and sets up schemes of his own, at a time when his top advisers were either preoccupied or incapacitated
  8. 易戰 (easy) – On the way to Xuzhou, Yuan Tan’s elite cavalry force conquers the domains of Tian Kai and Kong Rong
  9. 餌戰 (bait) – Liu Bei uses the carriage of his family to lure out Lü Bu’s ambush teams
  10. 離戰 (estrangement) – Yang Xiu exacerbates the worsening relationship between Yuan Shang and Yuan Tan, crippling the Yuan clan further
  • 第十卷
  1. 疑戰 (doubt) – Lü Bu uses impersonators to cast doubt on the Guandong alliance troops, allowing Luoyang citizens and Dong Zhuo’s troops to travel safely
  2. 窮戰 (impoverished) – Cao Cao’s forces pull back for a bit instead of advancing nonstop, allowing Yuan Shang and Yuan Tan to continue the infighting
  3. 風戰 (wind) – The Sun army attacks Miankou at a time when the wind is in its favor, preventing the defenders from using a fire attack
  4. 雪戰 (snow) – Zhuge Liang’s troops hide in snowy terrain, waiting to ambush Cao Cao’s soldiers weakened by the bad weather
  5. 養戰 (nurturing spirit) – Cao Cao reassures his badly beaten and demoralized subordinates by reminding them of the genius advisers on their side
  6. 畏戰 (fear) – Zhang He rallies some remnant troops, reminding them that there is still a chance of victory depending on the skill of the commander
  7. 書戰 (letters)
  8. 變戰 (change) – Guo Jia reminds the troops about the ever-changing situation in warfare, just as Dian Wei is about to make a surprising move
  9. 好戰 (enthralled with warfare) – Cao Cao accuses other hegemons of forgetting that warfare is ultimately subordinated to governance
  10. 忘戰 (forgetting) – Liu Bei realizes the necessity of securing power and maintaining a good army in order to accomplish the tasks of governance

Miscellaneous maxims from assorted sources

Techniques from the School of Water Mirror (in-universe quotations)

  • On morale
  1. Morale as decisive factor in warfare
  2. Step 1 in morale recovery and undermining enemy morale
  3. Step 2 in morale recovery and undermining enemy morale
  4. Step 3 in morale recovery and undermining enemy morale
  5. Soldiers as the backbone and wellspring of morale
  • On the mindset of the Eight Geniuses
  1. Not underestimating enemy officers, hyping up one’s officers (Chen Gong’s advice)
  2. Looking at the bigger picture and long-term plans (Zhou Yu’s advice)
  • On the essence of strategy
  1. One logic
  2. Many layers
  • On the perfect formation
  1. Misdirection
  2. Distinguishing between superficial and critical advantages

The debate between Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang

  • Sima Yi’s thesis on governance
  1. Not fighting evil trends head-on to avoid futile bloodshed
  2. Disempowering a ruthless powerful conqueror and usurping the tasks of governance after victory
  3. Playing dumb and making oneself indispensable
  • Zhuge Liang’s rejoinders
  1. Leaders as role models
  2. Upholding loyalty to reduce excuses for bloodshed and strife
  3. Ironic realizations

Lessons in assassination

  • Liu Da’s art of killing
  1. First tip
  2. Second tip
  3. Third tip
  4. Final tip
  • Liaoyuan Huo’s refinements
  1. Constant replenishment
  2. Hostage-taking



One response to “Technologies of warfare

  1. Pingback: Schemata, revisited | 玖琦陣謀 _ Time for Ravages (of Time)·

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