The Strategist

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"It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Things are in dire straits for the Rebellion. Their campaign against the Evil Empire is foundering, their numbers are dwindling, morale is eroding away. Even the Boisterous Bruiser sits around headquarters, looking dejected, unable to crack a joke or even smile. If things don't take a drastic turn for the better soon, our heroes are surely doomed.

Suddenly, one member of the heroes' band lifts his head, his eyes flashing with inspiration. "Hey! Remember that really brilliant and famous adviser that King So-and-So had working in his palace before the Big Bad invaded the country and took over the throne? Maybe -he- could help us!"

Of course, the rest of the heroes might wonder (and rightly so) why such a brilliant adviser was unable to keep King So-and-So from losing his throne and being consequently beaten by the Big Bad. Most often this will be explained by King So-and-So refusing to listen to the adviser's advice before the takeover; perhaps the king even went so far as to banish or imprison the adviser for his or her impudence. Whatever the case, you can expect the next arc of the series (or the next part of the video game) to center around a road trip to find and/or rescue the famously brilliant advisor and convince them to work on the side of the heroes.

Sometimes, the adviser, upon being found by the heroes, will join up with them right away (he or she may have even been expecting the heroes to seek them out, and as such, may have already worked out a number of strategies for dealing with the Big Bad). Sometimes the adviser won't join up right away, and will instead subject the heroes to some sort of test, to see if their political movement is worthy of his/her assistance. Whatever the case, as soon as the adviser joins the heroes, she becomes The Strategist, a character whose primary job is to think up intricate and ingenious ways to defeat the enemy. The Strategist is basically The Smart Guy on Turbodrive, although he or she will—as a rule—be less likely to physically partake in any of the plans they think up. The heroes may come to rely on The Strategist for their ultimate success, and as such, will have to protect and keep The Strategist as far away from the front lines as possible. The loss of The Strategist might come across as an unmitigated disaster should the heroes come to rely on his or her advice too much. Also, there's no guarantee that The Strategist won't turn out to be also The Chessmaster, manipulating both the heroes and the villains towards some mysterious and personal goal. This will not often be the case however, as The Strategist very rarely wants power for him- or herself; the sheer joy of being given a venue where they can stretch their intellectual muscles and try out their plans is often reward enough for their loyalty and service.

The Strategist may have TV Genius tendencies, but they will just as often be charismatic, knowing that, by acting so, they'll have an easier time convincing others to follow their plans.

In several sport series, The Strategist will be a highly talented player who also devises strategies or helps the coach do so. Often said characters have weak healths, so they're only allowed to play for a limited time, or aren't called into the games unless the team is in a tight pinch. They're also likely to hold quite the degree of power inside of the team, possibly as captains or assistants... if not coaches.

The Svengali is usually this in his dealings with the general public on behalf of his protege(s).

Compare with Mary Tzu, when the character is unrealistically good at strategy.

Examples of The Strategist include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Sanji in One Piece tends to display this trait quite often.
  • The Daikenja aka Murata in Kyou Kara Maou! was the Shinou's strategist during his first life who helped him win the war against Shoushu.
  • Naturally, Ikki Tousen has:
  • Koutetsu Sangokushi, albeit with just Zhuge Liang (Shoukatsuryou Koumei)
    • Lu Xun (Rikuson Hakugen)
    • Zhou Yu (Shuuyu Koukin).
  • Although her job isn't advisory, Tsunade of Naruto was sought by Jiraiya and Naruto for similar reasons and in the same manner. Not surprisingly, Shikamaru seems to have taken this role and has become Tsunade's strategist.
    • Naruto himself has become quite the strategist during Part 2. Due to his increased intelligence, he can figure out strategies to beat even the toughest opponents. This was first showcased during his battle with Kakuzu-which he showcased her new move Futon: Rasenshuriken. First he feinted Kakuzu by making the Rasenshuriken dissipate prematurely, thus making it seem less dangerous despite its power. Then he mixed himself in with his clones, created two more Rasenshurikens (one for himself and one for a clone), Kakuzu hit the clone and Naruto attacked from his blindspot, scoring Naruto's first Akatsuki defeat of the series. The second time he did this is against Pain, using many strategies and counter-strategies to systematically destroying each body.
    • More recently, we found out who Shikamaru gets it from; Shikaku, his dad, is Jounin Commander of Konoha, and is acting as Tsunade's right-hand man, helping to co-ordinate the movements of various divisions. Even the current Raikage, who's the commander of the entire shinobi army, is impressed. It's worth noting that Shikaku's the only person who can beat Shikamaru at shogi.
  • Zero in Code Geass: In an inversion of the common scenario, he seeks out La Résistance rather than the other way around, and he's a Magnificent Bastard on top of that. Played straight with Zero getting Todoh to join the Black Knights
    • There's also a bit more screwing around in that quite often, he's involved in fights as well. On one occasion, he started a chess game by moving his King; when question about it later, he responded "If the King doesn't lead, his subjects won't follow."
      • It's also good to note that Zero's ulterior ambitions aren't all that different from the resistance, they want to liberate Japan, he wants to overthrow the Empire occupying it, it's largely a matter of scale.
  • Rain Mikamura mixes this, Wrench Wench and Hot Scientist in G Gundam. Other strategists are Ulube Ishikawa and Natasha Zabicov.
  • The Prince of Tennis has several strategists of the sports variety: Sadaharu Inui (Seigaku), Hajime Mizuki (Saint Rudolph), Renji Yanagi (Rikaidai), Koharu Konjiki (Shitenhouji), Taichi Dan (Yamabuki).
  • Slam Dunk has Kenji Fujima, captain and strategist for Shoyo.
  • Captain Tsubasa predates them all with Jun Misugi from the Musashi team, who later plays this role for the Japanese team as well.
  • Nijima of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. He's the only member of the Shinpaku Alliance (other than the flag-bearer) with no fighting ability. Despite this, his ability to come up with (usually ridiculous) plans to save everyone else from even the most dire situations is admirable, (even though he's usually the one responsible for the crisis at hand), to the point that even Kenichi's masters are impressed with his strategic ability.
  • Kiku Takane from Masami Kurumada's Ring Ni Kakero, who is this and the Cool Big Sis for her little brother Ryuuji.
  • Out of all the trainers in Hajime no Ippo, Miguel Zail makes the best use of tactical decisions, always observing the enemy boxer in order to give the right commands. Two other examples for boxers are Kenta Kobashi, who makes up for his lack of boxing talent by studying his opponent beforehand and developing strategies against him and world champion David Eagle, who also uses strategy in his fight, but more on a psychological level.
  • Narsus in The Heroic Legend of Arislan plays the trope to a T. He used to be an advisor to King Andragoras III but was expelled from the court because he kept asking the king to abolish slavery. For three years he'd been living in his remote countryside home painting and drinking. When Andragoras is defeated and the kingdom faces occupation, his old friend Daryoon appears at his place with the crown prince and demands that Narsus help them. At first Narsus wants nothing to do with it, but then he realizes prince Arslan's potential and willingly becomes his advisor and strategist. (Arslan promising him the title of royal painter if he gets back the throne didn't hurt.)
    • Just to clarify: Narsus had a very fine control of understanding and manipulating circumstances, sometimes to ludicrous degrees. His debut strategy was to pinpoint the most likely thrust of The Mole's plan to smoke Prince Arslan out of hiding, then counter that by having the prince lure Lusitanian soldiers to his position, which was on a hilltop... nearby a massive floodgate, which is promptly thrown open to have the Lusitanians' massive numerical advantage literally washed away.
    • The worst stratagem appears in the second OVA, where he seems to be padding his conversation with the bandit Arfurido and Silvermask just to stall for time so that a massive tornado can swoop in and distract the Lusitanian soldiers, allowing him to rescue Arfurido (who proves to be a source of some juicy information regarding Silvermask) and humiliate both Silvermask and the Lusitanian soldiers under him. Whether or not he is an uncannily good meteorologist, has weather-affecting magic, or just happens to be bribing Lady Luck remains to be seen. Oh, and he took advantage of the tornado by using his sword and a rope as a makeshift grappling hook, set to come loose at exactly the same time he would be able to run to it and grab it out of the air, and do all of this while apparently calculating where he would need to stand to not be unduly affected by the tornado while leaving the Lusitanians who were a few steps behind him struggling to maintain their grips on the ground. Seriously.
  • Kakuri in Bokko. When the small border city of Ryo is threatened by a large invading army, they send a request for help to their ancient allies, the clan of Bokk. They send a single man to save the city. Which he proceeds to do, in spite of seemingly insurmountable problems.
    • Not really Ryo's ancient allies. The Men of Bokk, of which Kakuri is just one, exist to defend others. Usually by going to besieged cities and organizing the defenses perfectly to defend against the enemy, but only when it's requested of them.
  • Tenpou in Saiyuki Gaiden.
  • In Corsair, Canale is the chief strategist for Preveza, a pirate clan. It's probably the only thing that offers him any protection, as his refusal to actually fight (despite the fact that he's blind) is highly contentious for the other pirates.
  • Togame in Katanagatari is this, however she gives herself the title of "strategian".
  • This is technically the role that Heymans Breda occupies on Roy Mustang's team in Fullmetal Alchemist. Mustang himelf is a Badass Strategist, but recognized that Breda's abilities in this field were well above average, and recruited him for the group.
    • Ling Yao is also an excellent strategist and quickly figures out the best way to fight his enemy. His strategy allowed him to keep up with even Fuhrer Bradley and that's the saying something.
  • Daisuke Aramaki. Give him two street punks and he can make a SWAT team look like such fools that the "Special" in "Special Weapons And Tactics" seems to mean they ride to the crime scene in a short bus. Give him his handpicked team of specialists and it won't matter if you're the world's last super power - You Are Already Dead.
  • Matsu in Sekirei who is extremely intelligent but not a fighter like most other Sekireis.
  • Gundam Seed has a villainous example in Captain William Sutherland, who devises most of the Earth Forces' battle plans and serves as Muruta Azrael's right-hand man.
  • The original Mobile Suit Gundam has another evil Strategist in the form of M'quve who created most of Kycillia Zabi's plans, and led the White Base crew around by the nose during most of their encounters.
  • Most teams in Eyeshield 21 has a player who serves in this role. Usually they're the quarterback and the captain, but not always. Notable examples include Hiruma of the Deimon Devil-Bats, Takami of the Ojou White Knights, Marco of the Hakushuu Dinosaurs, and Clifford of the Pentagram.
  • Kidou Yuuto from Inazuma Eleven. He's the soccer team's strategist and nearly every time opponent has an impossible to break strategy Kidou figures it out in couple minutes.
    • To lesser extent Fudou Akio and Fidio Aldena.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has two: Sumeragi Lee Noriega is Celestial Being's tactical forecaster, and her ability to predict the enemy's moves serves the Gundam Meisters very well during the first season. In the second season the A-LAWS recruit Colonel Kati Mannequin, a former classmate of Sumeragi's, to serve as their own forecaster; Kati recognizes Celestial Being's tactics almost immediately.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In one issue of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, the antagonists want to permanently get Swampy out of their hair. So what do they do? They pay Evil Genius extraordinaire Lex Luthor an obscene amount of cash to merely describe a machine that will sever the elemental's connection to Earth—and it works like a charm.
  • Batman often serves this role in the Justice League of America, being the only one without superpowers and usually the only one with common sense.
  • In Knightfall Bane allowed Batman's Rogues Gallery to wear the hero down, before attacking. Unfortunately, adaptations usually reduce him to Dumb Muscle.
  • Nains got protagonists Oösram of the Wanderers (formerly a warlord of the Shield), and Abokar of the Shield.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • Ron Weasley is frequently (and to some readers, inexplicably) assigned this role in Harry Potter fanfiction based on his canonical skill at chess. In these stories he is often the architect of the final battle with Voldemort, deploying and guiding the assembled forces of the Light in place of (or even in spite of) Dumbledore, while Harry plays the Battle King in the front lines. Naturally, some later writers subvert this, pointing out that being good at chess does not make one a general.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The title character in Lawrence of Arabia follows the sample plot given above very closely, except that he actively seeks out the dejected Arab rebels rather than the other way around.
  • Mickey Marcus in Cast A Giant Shadow follows the sample plot given almost exactly.
  • Elaine, the policewoman, in Angels Revenge, who irons out the details of the raid on the compound as soon as she arrives.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • One of the oldest examples is Zhuge Liang, the ancient Chinese advisor from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He was known as a brilliant statesman and advisor both strategically/tactically and politically, and had a habit of carrying around an elaborate white feather fan—an accessory which has become a popular symbol of The Strategist in many other media. He also exemplifies multiple CMOAs.
    • By extension, every character based on him is required to be The Strategist by association.
  • Preceding Zhuge Liang is Jiang Ziya from the Chinese epic Fengshen Yanyi where he helps the King of Wu found the Shang Dynasty.
  • The Heroic Legend of Arislan has Narsus, once a chief adviser and tactician under Andragoras, who was removed from office because he was opposed to the kingdom's practice of slavery.
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn's Star Wars Expanded Universe books. He later evolves into a Magnificent Bastard when the Empire crumbles after Endor, when he returns from the Unknown Regions and nearly crushes the New Republic singlehandedly.
    • The same trilogy also has the very good strategist Garm Bel Iblis, who left the official Rebellion to fight the Empire with his own group after Bail Organa died and Mon Mothma seemed like she was gathering too much power. Eventually, thanks to Han and Leia's efforts, he joined the New Republic.
  • Literary example: This is deconstructed in Pfuel from War and Peace, who believes there is a mathematics to war, a theory that guarantees success if only its postulates are followed. He has no tolerance for any deviations from this mathematics he's envisioned, despite the fact that plenty of other characters with actual war experience know that war isn't that clean. The Austrian general Weyrother thinks he's this, but comically isn't.
    • Tolstoy had a bit of an axe to grind against officers of German extraction, which also becomes evident in his treatment of Barclay de Tolly (the general and minister of war who had basically created the Russian army that fought in 1812; he came from the German community of the Baltic provinces of Russia, although, as the name shows, he also had Scottish forbears) and Clausewitz. Also, it is not as if Pfuel (aka Phull) did not have actual war experience, he had served with the Prussian army in wars since the late 1770s.
  • The Zombie Apocalypse novel World War Z features a South African character named Paul Redeker, whose cold-blooded logic got him kicked out the government. When the zombie threat begins to rise, he is (literally) dragged back in, and comes up with an effective but brutal method for preserving a nucleus of government.
  • The first Warworld book has a story called The Deserter, about a legendary strategist who is being sought by the protagonist because The Empire is losing their desperate war with the Sauron Super Soldiers. But the titular deserter would rather stay and keep his home planet (where his family lives) from fragmenting and balkanizing in the wake of the Empire withdrawing all their troops, so he fakes his own death, with the protagonist's reluctant complicity.
  • Tsubodai in the Conqueror books; he initially draws attention by helping Khasar and Temuge in a brawl. This draws the attention of Genghis Khan, who decides to reward Tsubodai helping his brothers by putting him in command of an arban. He comes up with several clever plans during the Mongol attacks on Xi Xia and Chin, and by the time Khwarezm has been taken, he is the second most respected man in the nation.
    • Apparently Subutai was this in real life, too. By the time the Mongols invaded Europe he was 65 years old and so fat he could no longer ride a horse—so the Mongols loaded him into a cart and carried him to the battlefield, because they knew he was worth more than any number of horsemen.
  • Gandalf tends to act like this in Lord of the Rings.
  • Admiral Speer is this in The Hunt for Red October.
  • The Art of War is basically a manual of how to be this trope.
  • Eddard Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire is perhaps the best strategist in the Seven Kingdoms, and won King Robert Baratheon his throne. However, he doesn't have much opportunity to demonstrate this in-story, as his new role as Hand of the King is one of politics, which he's somewhat less adept at. By the time war breaks out again, he's already dead.
    • His son Robb is also pretty good at strategy, but not quite so good at basic common sense.
    • Tywin Lannister is no slouch at this either; once he learns not to underestimate Robb Stark, his planning turns out very well, and he does a pretty good job of clearing up a lot of the mess left behind by the war. If only he could bring himself to see Tyrion's potential, he may well have ended out on top.
    • It might be fair to say that Robb and Eddard are more tacticians than strategists - they are better battle commanders than Tywin, and would likely come out on top in a simple military campaign. But Tywin dances rings around them when it comes to grand, continent-wide "foreign" policy and macro-strategy. Which is why he beats them both in the end.
  • Rincewind of the Discworld books. It is attributed to cowardice, but he often shows more tactical, sensible thinking than people who actually want to be in a fight and approach it without delicacy.
    • General Tacticus is described as a great military tactician (infact, on the disc, the word 'tactic' comes from his name). Later military thinkers from the same region consider this cheating.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Firefly Simon is this in "Ariel" and River in "Objects in Space". In both cases they take a personal part as well because they are also Badass Bookworms.
  • In one episode of Magnum, P.I., Magnum plots an ingenious scheme to help a Russian track star defect and reunite with her lover.
  • Charlie Eppe's mathmatical anticipations of the deeds of evildoers in Numb3rs might count.
  • Zack Taylor from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is typically the team's tactician, and splits secondary Smart Guy duties with Trini Kwan.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation features an entire race of these, who have such a reputation for strategic skill that they have never actually fought a war. Worf instantly points out the Fridge Logic in this.
  • In a deleted scene in the second season of Heroes, Kaito Nakamura is revealed to be capable of instantly seeing all the variables in a given situation and predicting the outcome.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Dynasty Warriors series of games (based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms), has a number of strategist characters. Besides, Zhuge Liang, there's Zhou Yu, Lu Xun, Lu Meng (sort of), Pang Tong, and Zhuge Liang's main rival Sima Yi.
  • The Suikoden series of games has at least one strategist per game, whose help the Kid Hero must seek out. The Silverbergs are a notable family of strategists who have helped shape the history of the games. Lucretia Merces, the advisor for Suikoden V, dresses in robes and often carries a feather fan (perhaps as a Shout-Out to her spiritual predecessor, Zhuge Liang).
  • Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword has the player him/herself taking on this role, with the characters directly talking to him and asking him for advice. Of course, the player refrains from battle and only directs others. August in the 5th and Soren in the 9th/10th also have this role.
  • Advance Wars 1 (but none of the others) does something similar (the player is a "special advisor"), only the execution is much better.
  • This was Oifaye's in-story role, aside of being a Tagalong Kid, in the first half of Seisen No Keifu. In the second part, however, he has taken a Level in Badass as well.
  • Labyrinthia from Wild ARMs XF. She even carries around a battle fan, just like Zhuge Liang.
  • Myth 2: Soulblighter has you find The Deciever, an enemy from the first game. He is responsible for a number of seemingly insane plans which both radically improve your side's power and cripple the enemy.
  • In Yggdra Union, Bly is a textbook example. He refuses to go with the Royal Army because he's too old for war and travel, but his granddaughter Mistel goes with you in his place. The Imperial Army has Nessiah, who also serves this role in Blaze Union; Mistel and Nessiah are both more than willing to take to the battlefield and participate in achieving victory.
  • In Mitsumete Knight, Meehilbis of the Ghosts is the strategist of the enemy mercenary brigade, Valpha-Valaharian ; he's so skilled, even when he loses the battle he personnally fights in (even eventually losing his life by your character's hands), he manages to pull off a master Batman Gambit that decimates one third of Dolphan's army, making this battle a Pyrrhic Victory for Dolphan.
  • In Sengoku Basara, we have Hanbe and Kanbe, the strategists for the Toyotomi (since their boss is better at punching than thinking). Kojuro comes up with most of the Date army's strategies, and Motonari is more known for his genius than for his fighting skills. Kanbe also has the dubious honor of being titled "The Inadequate Tactician".
  • In Koihime Musou the core strategists of the three kingdoms, Koumei (Shoku), Shuuyu (Go) and Jun'iku (Gi), are key to their nation's success. This is far more apparent in the games than in the light-hearted anime adaptation.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • The webcomic Erfworld centres around Parson Gotti, who was teleported to a world based on turn-based strategy games to serve as "the perfect warlord" to a Evil Overlord who is badly losing a war. This was most greatly illustrated in a strip where Parson essentially paraphrases Sun Tzu's The Art Of War.
  • The Order of the Stick: Redcloak serves this purpose for Team Evil; Xykon isn't as stupid as he appears at first glance, but is too lazy and impulsive to actually plan things out, so he leaves that to Red. The best example is probably the Battle of Azure City, where Redcloak not only averts Hollywood Tactics, but actually gains the villains a victory.
  • In Girl Genius Klaus Wulfenbach, of course (he won his period of The Long War, after all). Tarvek Sturmvoraus was placed in command of the Wulfenbach forces while the Baron was in hospital after identifying a secretly treacherous unit just by looking at the military map while on the way to the cells. Because they aren't complete fools, his decisions are assessed by other strategists and 23 weapons are trained on him at all times. Later after a little talk and mutual showing off with Jäger generals he joined what Mechanicsburg defenders had for General Staff.
  • Schlock Mercenary has its share, starting with Kaff Tagon himself. He may act as a gung-ho mercenary ever ready to get his foot into his mouth, but he's also trained from very young age, participated in the Terraforming War back on Celeshul, and his father general Karl Tagon, despite being almost never satisfied with his choices, concedes that he's an expert in ship-to-ship battles.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Pretty much the role of generals in The Salvation War, with General of the Armies David Petraeus being the KING of them all. It is notable though that his strategic maneuvers are straight out of the U.S. Army playbook; unlike his real-life role in counter-insurgency, in TSW Petraeus is simply applying established doctrine in unfamiliar circumstances rather than creating any radically new concepts.. Notably though, unlike some other examples he's clearly a strategist, not a tactician; Author's Word has it that he's very good at that, but that's not his role and primary concern. In fact, in TSW, Petraeus is never seen to be carrying a weapon or on the front lines.
  • Toward the tail end of Kickassia, after the idea of summoning Dr. Insano goes about as well as one could expect, Linkara is called upon to determine an actual strategy to defeat the Nostalgia Critic.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Bad guy example: Thrust from Transformers Armada was summoned to Earth about midway through the series to lend his tactical skills to the Decepticons. Unfortunately, it didn't help much. Although a few of his plans would have worked, if not for a bit of Deus Ex Machina in the Autobots' favor.
    • Before him, there were Obsidian and Strika in Beast Machines, described by Rattrap as the two greatest generals in Cybertronian history.
  • Gorilla Grodd "watches lots and lots of TV" in order to enact his Divide and Conquer plot on Justice League. It nearly works but his strategy doesn't include immediately finishing them off.
    • This is actually pointed out by Clayface Martian Manhunter that this would always happen in some of the movies he would do. Grodd of course waves him away saying how there's no way it could happen...


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Real Life: There are of course lots of real-life examples. But the Talpiot Project is one of the more interesting. It is almost a Real Life version of Battleschool.
  • Contrary to popular belief (which does not mean educated), Stonewall Jackson was a strategist bordering on Guile Hero. He believed that "If [his own men] don't understand what [he's] planning, the enemy will never figure it out." And they never did. This is the man who inspired the phrase "Crazy like a fox".
    • This is a quote from the commander of the Union Army:

General Hooker: "Jackson's movement, if not an accident, was eccentric and reprehensible, as no-one would be justified in anticipating its success. The movement was an unheard-of one, and under the circumstances, admitted not a ray of probability of successful execution. 99 chances out of a hundred, General Jackson's Corps would have been destroyed. It is for such movements that Jackson will ever be considered an unsafe person to place in command of armies."

    • Note, Hooker is the general that lost. Jackson's strategy in this battle resulted in General Lee defeating 135,000 men with a force of only 65,000 (about 2-to-1 against).
      • That is because Lee and Jackson had Nerves of Steel, and were able to press forward with their strategy effectively. While Hooker had(to make an unfairly hyperbolic but revealing comparison) nerves of pasta.
  • While many have dismissed another American Civil War general, Ulysses Grant, as being limited to only We Have Reserves, he was in reality a handy strategist. His battles in the Eastern Theater of the war and during the Vicksburg Campaign would not have been won just by using raw numbers of troops, no matter what his critics like to say.
    • Much of that comes from being shifted to the Virginia theater. There was less room for his true strength which was using the labyrinthine geography of the Missisippi basin and the enemy while their tactical genius was not above criticism was pretty good and capable of spectacular feats. The grungy look to the final campaign was like Apollo Creed suddenly finding a Rocky Balboa(following this analogy you can deside for yourself whether Lee or Grant was Creed or Balboa).
  • As listed above in the Dynasty Warriors entry, however, both Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi were real life tactical geniuses. Some may argue that Zhuge Liang was one of the best ever lived, rivalling Sun Tzu himself, but was sadly outlived by Sima Yi, Too Cool to Live indeed.
    • Zhuge Liang often gets reduced to seem less effective than he truly was because people read the novel, see all his clever tricks, then check history, and find out that it was usually either Zhang Fei or Liu Bei himself. Zhuge was primarily recruited for administration and politics. However, what these people fail to realize is that the Northern campaigns he made almost always went well- as in not losing that many men while doing notable damage, though he did get forced back each time by Cao Zhen(an incredibly skilled strategist) and the by now famous Sima Yi. This despite the fact that Hanzhong, while a great defensive spot, was a horrid place to move your army through to advance(narrow mountain ways), even if you held the spot. Comparatively, his successor Jiang Wei's campaigns were expensive, unsuccessful, and cost major casualties.
      • Pang Tong was skilled too, but died before the Three Kingdoms were ever established. Little record of his battlefield plans remain, but the stories of his interpersonal reactions show he had a very firm grasp of psychology and manipulation.
  • The Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus, The Lion of the North, revolutionized warfare in the 17th century with both strategy and organization. He instituted permanent units, assigned a fixed chain of command, and established a philosophy of cooperation among all combatants. Instead of independent action by many different parts, the entire Swedish army now united to fight as a single team. Gustavus's use of supply lines and bases and his integration of infantry, cavalry, and artillery enabled him to form the first truly professional army in military history. Among the many people who studied him as a role model to follow militarily were Napoleon, who quite obviously is another example of this trope.
  • Subutai, one of Genghis Khan's "dogs of war", used his strategies and skill as a commander to conquer more territory than any other commander in history, even coordinating attacks on Poland and Hungary, within two days of each other, from five hundred miles away. This was centuries before the telegraph.
  • The Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley. Fought all but one of his battles (Vitoria) outnumbered, sometimes drastically, yet never lost a battle, defeated Napoleon, retook the entirety of the Peninsula, commanded the Allied armies and even deprived of almost all of his veterans (they had been sent to colonial outposts worldwide or fell into the category of Retired Badass) stalemate Napoleon who had many more soldiers, mostly veterans and more artillery. Also, a large portion of the army, the Dutch-Belgian contingent, weren't too keen on fighting the French and left, as well as the Heavy cavalry being stupid (as per usual: they were largely composed of variants on the Blood Knight and Upper Class Twit) and mostly getting slaughtered after refusing to retreat after a successful charge. And he still held on for an entire day until Blucher arrived with the Prussian Army. And he often had to deal with his political opponents in both Spain and London. A complete Four-Star Badass.