(For all 36 stratagems, click here: https://jineralknowledge.com/tag/thirtysix/?order=asc)
Desperate Stratagems are last resort tactics that can be used when you are placed in a disadvantageous state or risk losing the war.
Stratagem 31: No weapon could beat seduction
This is the strategy where you use a beautiful woman to tempt the enemy to extract information or undermine their will to fight. It is a deadly strategy that never fails.
Stratagem 32: Empty fort strategy
Purposefully empty your fort to show the enemy that you are defenceless, causing them to think that it is a trap and retreat. It was effectively used by Zhuge Liang in The Three Kingdoms.
Stratagem 33: Countermine the enemy’s spy
Use the enemy’s spy to spread false information or use them as a double agent that can extract the enemy’s intelligence. The “double spies” and “dead spies” from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War fit under this stratagem.
Stratagem 34: Sacrifice yourself to comfort the enemy
Inflict injury on yourself to win the enemy’s trust. For victory, you may have to sacrifice even the dearest things such as your wife or most loyal servant.
Stratagem 35: Chain stratagems
This is an elaborate strategy where you first restrict the enemy’s movement then make use of a series of tactics one by one to decimate the enemy. The most famous example is from The Three Kingdoms in the Battle of Red Cliffs. All of the ships of Wei were linked by chains and could not move freely, making them vulnerable to a fire and causing Cao Cao to lose the battle in an instant.
Stratagem 36: If all else fails, retreat
It is often misquoted as “retreat is the best option”. The Thirty-Six Stratagems explain that retreating is not the most ideal option, but if there is no chance of winning and the cost will be too much, it is wiser to retreat then fight again after reinforcing your forces. Knowing to retreat when you are disadvantaged and the cost is too high is true wisdom.
By utilising these thirty-six stratagems wisely, you will be able to win no matter what situation strikes. Remember: life is a fierce battlefield and without effective strategies and tactics you cannot seize victory.