My man, I beseech you — since you're an authority of history knowledge in my eyes — if it's possible, can you help me finding that one legendary story about some chinese ubergeneral (was it Guan Yu?) who fooled his opponent by sitting out in front of the city drinking tea and making his opponent withdraw because the latter thought that ubergeneral was preparing some kind of ambush. Thank you in advance.
You are thinking of Zhuge Liang! See, this one is one of my favorites, because there’s two layers to this.
Let’s start with the first layer: It is indeed as you said! The basic story is that this one Chinese general (Zhuge Liang) had to defend against another Chinese general (Sima Yi), and Zhuge was super duper fucked with cheese on top because he had like a handful of dudes, a lot of expectations placed on him, and nothing else. Basically, it was a doOMED case of “well someone’s gotta cover our retreat ‘cause no way we can escape if these dudes decide to pursue”. With no man power, no fortifications (they had a shit ass little “city” that might as well be a glorified outpost/town), and no chance in hell, Liang decided to take on a bit of a Gambit: He had what little men he had dress up as civilians and ordered them to sweep the front door, which he left COMPLETELY OPEN, spread like the legs of a dame of the night, ready to be filled with cruel invaders, and he sat out there, in his tiny little Zhuge Liang chair, drinking his Zhuge Liang tea, waving “hello!” and greeting the enemy messengers with every courtesy. “Please, tell your commander to come have some tea, if he pleases!”. The enemy messenger relayed this to his commander, and Sima Yi couldn’t help but see “HUGE FUCKING TRAP” and decided to withdraw that day because there was no way he was going to walk into a trap as obvious as that one.
That’s layer one: Chinese general tricks Chinese general.
It is awesome, but it is the less awesome of the two layers.
Here’s layer two:
It was Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi. Zhuge Liang was a genius strategist who worked for Shu, while Sima Yi was an equally genius strategist who worked for Wei. These two were the TOPPEST MINDS in Chinese warfare of their era, there was no match for them except each other (and Pang Tong, but that’s another story), and their numerous showdowns are both legendary on a cultural level and on a military level. Now, think about it: Zhuge Liang made the MOST OBVIOUS AMBUSH BLUFF in history. There’s no way that wasn’t a bluff. If it had been any strategist except Sima Yi, it wouldn’t have worked, because they would’ve said “it’s much too obvious lol” and would’ve attacked. The genius of this strategy is not the strategy itself, it is that it was done against Sima Yi. Sima Yi had had many dances with Zhuge Liang before, and Sima Yi knew he was attacking Liang. The moment Liang heard that it was Yi that was coming, however, he immediately put this hilariously bold gambit into place. Why? Because he knew Yi’s intelligence agents were superb and thus assumed Yi knew it was him, Liang, who was in charge of the defense.
See, Zhuge Liang was famous his strategies and all, but among all of these, he was famous for one particular modus operandi more than any: Ambushes. Zhuge Liang was really, really good at mounting ambushes that killed the ever loving fuck outta everyone caught in them. The dude was RUTHLESS, and he had a terrifying second skill in his portfolio: Meteorology. He had an almost inhuman ability to discern the weather. If Liang said the winds would blow east tomorrow, mother fucker, the winds WOULD blow east tomorrow. If Liang said it was going to rain the next day, you brought an UMBRELLA.
So Sima Yi had VERY GOOD REASONS TO BE AFRAID OF THIS: The battlefield was invariably be the town/outpost they were defending, which means urban warfare (as urban as it got back then), and urban warfare means two things:
- Lots of buildings, which make great hiding places for his terrifying ambushes
- Lots of buildings, which make great BURNING PLACES for his terrifying fire attacks: Knowing the weather means you know where the wind will blow and if it will rain or not, and thus it means you know, with certainty, if you can carry out a fire attack and from where should you carry it. Did I mention Zhuge Liang’s fire-based strategies were feared throughout the land?
Sima Yi took a look at ALL of this, and at one additional thing: It was Zhuge Liang doing this ridiculous gambit. What if he knew I knew? What if he knew I knew he knew? etc… Basically, if it was Zhuge Liang doing this ridiculously dumb and obvious gambit, then there was no way something BEYOND CHEEKY was going on in the backstage, so Sima Yi said “haha no fuck no bye let’s go home” and did not take his chances against this.
If it had been ANYONE but Zhuge Liang doing this to ANYONE but Sima Yi, it would’ve been the story of how an attacking army obliterated a poorly defended outpost and it would’ve been easily forgotten in history. It was because it was Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi that this story went the way it did.
That’s the real beauty behind this. Zhuge Liang legitimately had like a handful of dudes and had no way of winning had Sima Yi attacked.
It’s basically the historical equivalent of this gif. This gif was Sima Yi.