Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:32 pm

But as Dong Zhou said he made progress which to me suggests that there was a point to his campaigns. I don't see why you brought up his southern campaigns as he won nearly every battle their convincingly.
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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:05 pm

Mikhail, I was pointing out there was a considerable difference between the two. Shu has to attack Wei to win, go too defensive and you just end up waiting for the western defenders to be turned into an offensive effort or Wei, freed up by ability to weaken defences, fling everything at Wu. Or Wu wins and Shu is just Yi and Hanzhong. While Wei is strong and with the supply problems Shu had, winning outright is going to require a military genius and luck. Jiang Wan and Fei Yi went too far into defensive, Jiang Wei went too far on the army over any civil work at all, Zhuge Liang seems to have found a good middle ground. Problem was, without a brilliant tactical guy within the camp (if Peng Yang hadn't died or Huang Quan defected, might have stood a better chance) and Kongming pretty much learning on the job. I think Kongming did a decent job overall, got land, two out two Wei generals and Shu was strong internally.

Slightly different tack, Sima Yi seems to have been a competent commander (no bio so can't give a fair judgement) and an intelligent man so why did he struggled in the 4th and 5th NC's?
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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby Mikhail » Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:34 pm

Sun Fin wrote:But as Dong Zhou said he made progress which to me suggests that there was a point to his campaigns. I don't see why you brought up his southern campaigns as he won nearly every battle their convincingly.


Whoa, whoa, whoa... Hold the pitchforks... I wasn't attacking the Southern Campaign at all. As you can see by the sentence: "Zhuge Liang had 5 campaigns in 6 [years], not counting the Southern campaign.", it just means that I did not factor in the Southern Campaign in my calculations, because he was as you said, successful.

So he had progress. He was still far way from his goal, which was the conquering of the Liang province. As the old saying goes, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Dong Zhou showed know, as a viewer of the Euros, all someone needs is 15 minutes to make "close" into elimination.

As for Dong Zhou's comments: It was hard to discern what you really meant with a one liner such as the one you gave.

Wu was never going to win. If a pincer attack from two areas (Shu and Wu) with the best and brightest of each force fails, how would you expect them to win by themselves - especially if Wei could afford to send all of their officers to the Wu front? The problem with Zhuge Liang's middle ground is that there was only one person who could run that sort of system and I could imply that it was that system was one of the reasons that made Kongming expire so early.

And for your question about Sima Yi is hard for me to answer because of the lack of bio. But, Cao Cao was a competent commander as well and did he not struggle and lose? The same could be said for many other commanders of the time...
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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby kong_lubu » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:20 pm

Zhuge Liang is Smarter
The poster Sam gave a biography link http://kongming.net/novel/bios
and if you read historical bios of Zhuge Liang at that website you know Zhuge Liang is Smarter

Here is a quote from Zhuge Liang Bios
"He occupied the Wuzhang Plain of Wugong and faced Sima the King Xuan [Sima Yi] at Weinan. Zhuge Liang was perennially concerned that supply of provisions would be severed and thus render his objectives to be unfulfilled. Hence he portioned troops to undertake military agricultural colonies [tuntian] as the basis for a long-term garrison. Those assigned to farming were scattered among the residents of the Wei riverbank. The commoners were safe within their walls and the troops did not engage in private ownership. The armies opposed each other for more than a hundred days. In the eighth month of that year, Zhuge Liang became seriously ill, and died in camp at the age of fifty four. After the army had retreated, King Xuan surveyed the barracks of Zhuge Liang’s encampment and said: “Indeed he was a genius of the Empire!” "

ok If King Xuan[Sima Yi] said that Zhuge Liang was a genious of the Empire. There is no argument who is smarter
Sima Yi is a genious but admits Zhuge Liang is a genious of the Empire.

On the game Romance of 3 Kingdoms Sima Yi only has "Intensify" while Zhuge Liang has "Divine potency"
Divine Potency is much better than "intensify. I think Koei thinks that Zhuge Liang is smater than SIma Yi

Zhuge Liang sent Sima Yi women's underwear and Sima Yi has to try it on to see if he looks sexy or not. just kidding,
dont take too seriously. just a joke :mrgreen:
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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby James » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:43 pm

Mikhail, I consider Zhuge Liang's campaigns to be quite successful. Sure, he didn't conquer Wei, but as I've said before I would suggest that was not his goal (though I'm sure he'd have snapped at it if the chance came). By staying on the offensive he kept Wei on the defensive, and also kept Wei out of Shu altogether. Zhuge Liang was also very conservative in terms of resources used during his campaigns (especially by way of comparison to Jiang Wei). In terms of overall resources, he was an ant going up against a giant, but he still came out okay and accomplished good things for Shu.
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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:17 pm

sorry for the typo's in the last post

So he had progress. He was still far way from his goal, which was the conquering of the Liang province. As the old saying goes, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Dong Zhou showed know, as a viewer of the Euros, all someone needs is 15 minutes to make "close" into elimination.


You should also know from watching football that sometimes a player, no matter how brilliant, can be hampered by inept team mates or simply the situation. Here Kongming is hampered by having no amazing tactical thinker, no Jia Xu, no Lu Meng, to come up with a flash of inspiration and the task facing Zhuge Liang is daunting to say the least. He is facing a prepared, strong force (apparently with better cavalry), filled to the brim with skilled officers, lots of land, reinforcements and supplies in case Shu actually does well. I don't think anyone could have made huge strides there, the results could have been better yes but as a single commander, not sure there was anyone who could have done much better in the entire history of Shu. Liu Bei was cautious, might have a taken few more towns but don't think he can overturn the tide. What he can do is nibble, nibble, nibble, wait for any opportunity and slowly expand Shu

As for Dong Zhou's comments: It was hard to discern what you really meant with a one liner such as the one you gave.


sorry. As for the Wu thing, it was more a throw away comment given Wu had little chance of winning either. Unless Wei managed a spectacular Jin like collapse but they stand a better of winning then Shu, if they decide to just remain in Shu.

he problem with Zhuge Liang's middle ground is that there was only one person who could run that sort of system and I could imply that it was that system was one of the reasons that made Kongming expire so early.


Zhuge Liang seems to have been a control freak and a workaholic. However the system can work with one Civil officer and one army commander, the two working with each other to ensure there are no problems. Think Fei Yi/Jiang Wei or less successfully Chen Zhi/Jiang Wei

And for your question about Sima Yi is hard for me to answer because of the lack of bio. But, Cao Cao was a competent commander as well and did he not struggle and lose? The same could be said for many other commanders of the time...


I was going to say "but Cao Cao always managed to overcome" but then remembered his poor record against Zhang Xiu, only winning when forced onto the defence. Fair point

ok If King Xuan[Sima Yi] said that Zhuge Liang was a genious of the Empire. There is no argument who is smarter
Sima Yi is a genious but admits Zhuge Liang is a genious of the Empire.


where did Sima Yi says he himself wasn't a genius? Zhuge Liang's encampments being brilliant isn't surprising but were his tactics worthy of being a genius? It is far from unknown for the victory to praise the loser to make himself look good

On the game Romance of 3 Kingdoms Sima Yi only has "Intensify" while Zhuge Liang has "Divine potency"
Divine Potency is much better than "intensify. I think Koei thinks that Zhuge Liang is smater than SIma Y


do koei still make Dong an idiot? Koei is a Shu fanboy dressed up as a game company :P
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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby Mikhail » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:03 am

James wrote:Mikhail, I consider Zhuge Liang's campaigns to be quite successful. Sure, he didn't conquer Wei, but as I've said before I would suggest that was not his goal (though I'm sure he'd have snapped at it if the chance came). By staying on the offensive he kept Wei on the defensive, and also kept Wei out of Shu altogether. Zhuge Liang was also very conservative in terms of resources used during his campaigns (especially by way of comparison to Jiang Wei). In terms of overall resources, he was an ant going up against a giant, but he still came out okay and accomplished good things for Shu.


It's very dependent on how you look at things. In one way of looking at it, yes, Zhuge Liang was incredibly successful. Sort of the whole glass is half full, optimism style. However, as I mentioned before (in another topic), I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like being unrewarded, and sort of materialistic. So without any actual "winnings" (save the towns Dong Zhou already mentioned), I actually think that the offensive campaigns were a failure, regardless of the other effects that the campaigns had.

Dong Zhou wrote:You should also know from watching football that sometimes a player, no matter how brilliant, can be hampered by inept team mates or simply the situation. Here Kongming is hampered by having no amazing tactical thinker, no Jia Xu, no Lu Meng, to come up with a flash of inspiration and the task facing Zhuge Liang is daunting to say the least. He is facing a prepared, strong force (apparently with better cavalry), filled to the brim with skilled officers, lots of land, reinforcements and supplies in case Shu actually does well. I don't think anyone could have made huge strides there, the results could have been better yes but as a single commander, not sure there was anyone who could have done much better in the entire history of Shu. Liu Bei was cautious, might have a taken few more towns but don't think he can overturn the tide. What he can do is nibble, nibble, nibble, wait for any opportunity and slowly expand Shu


I'm not doubting that there was no one better tasked for the job. However, seeing Kongming's practices and overall goal, can you actually say that his point was to nibble at Wei's territories? His goal was to gain the Liang province and with the frequency of his northern campaigns, and the massive armies and resources he commanded in doing so, it's hard to buy that he just wanted a piece of the pie. Just looking at his Longzhong plan, he's never had a slow "nibbling" plan in his arsenal.

Dong Zhou wrote:Zhuge Liang seems to have been a control freak and a workaholic. However the system can work with one Civil officer and one army commander, the two working with each other to ensure there are no problems. Think Fei Yi/Jiang Wei or less successfully Chen Zhi/Jiang Wei


While it sounds well and good in theory, it was horrible in practice. So I can't see it working for anyone outside of Kongming himself. There was no one else in Shu that could have constituted such a partnership that would lead even the slightest success that Kongming had versus Wei.
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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Jun 20, 2008 7:10 am

I'm not doubting that there was no one better tasked for the job. However, seeing Kongming's practices and overall goal, can you actually say that his point was to nibble at Wei's territories? His goal was to gain the Liang province and with the frequency of his northern campaigns, and the massive armies and resources he commanded in doing so, it's hard to buy that he just wanted a piece of the pie. Just looking at his Longzhong plan, he's never had a slow "nibbling" plan in his arsenal.


He is never going to say "I'm just doing this to keep Wei on the backfoot and take a couple of towns" though. The 1st campaign it might have been possible to conquer Liang, Wei was unprepared but Zhao Yun, Ma Su and Zhuge Liang blew it. After then, not much of a chance, Zhuge Liang seems to recognise that by not taking a full army (might be wrong here about the army?). The ting with the Longzhang plan is they can hit Wei on two fronts, three if Wu helps out and somewhere there may just be a gap to exploit. Stuck on one front, taking Liang is going to be very very hard.

While it sounds well and good in theory, it was horrible in practice. So I can't see it working for anyone outside of Kongming himself. There was no one else in Shu that could have constituted such a partnership that would lead even the slightest success that Kongming had versus Wei.


Thought the Fei Yi, Jiang Wei thing was working quite well till Fei Yi got himself killed
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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby Zhilong » Sat Jun 21, 2008 9:26 am

Mikhail wrote:But since I don't want to turn this into a Jiang Wei topic, I'll just stop with one more point: Jiang Wei had 9 expeditions in a total of 15 years. Zhuge Liang had 5 campaigns in 6, not counting the Southern campaign. Tell me, who had the higher frequency in amount of battles? That stat right there shows desperation in Zhuge Liang, not caution.


There is a huge problem with this use of figures. If frequency worries you then Jiang Wei actually comes off worse here: his 4th to 8th campaigns took place between 253-257 - that is 5 campaigns in around 4 years. The problem was that one of his few successes was his 5th campaign but his own wounded and casualties amoounted to over half his own men in a battle which was inconsequential... that is an extremely poor deployment of personnel.

By his 6th campaign, veterans like Zhang Yi argued that the ppl were worn out but he did not listen. Initially he has success in battle against Wang Jing but his own casualties already amounted to 10 thousand. This did give him an opportunity before reinforcements arrived but his poor abilities are exposed here. Instead of seizing the supplies at the local grain depots, inciting the Qiang in the area (let us not forget his own supposed expertise in utilising the non-Han ppls due to his own ethnic origin), and contending for strategic areas he wasted his troops in a seige. Reinforcements arrived and badly defeated his troops and it all amounted to nothing.

One thing to note here is the advantage of securing Qishan like ZL often did to prevent reinforcements from Liangzhou unlike Jiang Wei who is surrounded by reinforcements from multiple directions.

In his 7th campaign he relied too heavily on non-Hans for back up and partly as a result was utterly routed by Deng Ai. Unprecedentedly the commoners and gentry joined forces to stop his campaigns. However, the following year he attacked again with a sizeable force. This time i would say it was worth a shot as he correctly surmised that wei was not prepared. Wei just relied on the old tactic of not giving battle and in the end he had to retreat anyway. After that he did wait 5 years before his final campaign.

By contrast, ZL only ever suffered one significant defeat which was at Jieting. After the first campaign he made sure to decomission and rest some troops. Even though he quickly attacked again to take advantage of an opportunity he only used very few troops and it lasted only 3 weeks. Jiang Wei by contrast frequently suffered huge casualties - even the 2 or 3 times where he won something. During JW's lifetime the ppl complained. Immediately after ZL's time he was fondly remembered by the ppl.

You said it yourself, Shu would fall eventually if they did not procure more land, so Jiang Wei HAD to try to win more land.


Examining ZL's campaigns you can clearly see his objectives in achieving permanent gains eg. his permanent gain of 2 prefectures, his desire to take Chencang which alone would have been defensible, the routes which he takes ensuring the pacification of intermediate areas. With Jiang Wan, he had a clear onjective in trying to conquer Liang, a more modest goal than ZL. With Jiang Wei only see him desiring battle with no clear objective on how to gain new territory, even his opponents remarked on this. Ultimately, when your state is in internal turmoil, what is the point of plunging more lands into your crap administration which you have zero interest in improving?

While, I have no doubt that the majority would select Zhuge Liang over Sima Yi when creating an army, I would still favour Sima Yi just because I know I could count on him. He wouldn't have to go on unnecessary campaigns nor would he go to battle unless it was on his terms.


One reason for this is because he was freaking busy just fighting the defensive campaigns, not just from Wu & Shu but from rebellions and non-Han people. In certain periods of his career it was actually impossible since he was going from the Wu front to the Shu front. Despite this he did take part in unnecessary campaigns which you could easily tell would fail, eg the attack on Shu he took part in, Cao Pi's punitive attack on Wu. However, I do recognise he had little choice but to take part.

One area that Sima Yi & ZL have in common is that both their lords entrusted them with their heirs and state. Liu Bei let ZL know how much he trusted him when he told him to take the throne if his heir was in capable (even if it was not sincere) and ordered his sons to treat ZL like their father. On Cao Rui's deathbed, he said to the recalled Sima Yi that he had delayed his death till this moment so he could entrust his affairs to him. He then ordered his child heir to hug Sima Yi and told him not to forget this moment. Later on, Sima Yi would compromise the safety of his ruler and potentially plunged the state into civil war in his power struggle with Cao Shuang.
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Re: Zhuge Liang vs. Sima Yi

Unread postby Zhilong » Sat Jun 21, 2008 9:45 am

kong_lubu wrote:Zhuge Liang is Smarter
The poster Sam gave a biography link http://kongming.net/novel/bios
and if you read historical bios of Zhuge Liang at that website you know Zhuge Liang is Smarter

Here is a quote from Zhuge Liang Bios
"He occupied the Wuzhang Plain of Wugong and faced Sima the King Xuan [Sima Yi] at Weinan. Zhuge Liang was perennially concerned that supply of provisions would be severed and thus render his objectives to be unfulfilled. Hence he portioned troops to undertake military agricultural colonies [tuntian] as the basis for a long-term garrison. Those assigned to farming were scattered among the residents of the Wei riverbank. The commoners were safe within their walls and the troops did not engage in private ownership. The armies opposed each other for more than a hundred days. In the eighth month of that year, Zhuge Liang became seriously ill, and died in camp at the age of fifty four. After the army had retreated, King Xuan surveyed the barracks of Zhuge Liang’s encampment and said: “Indeed he was a genius of the Empire!” "

ok If King Xuan[Sima Yi] said that Zhuge Liang was a genious of the Empire. There is no argument who is smarter
Sima Yi is a genious but admits Zhuge Liang is a genious of the Empire.


For a better evaluation on an individual you also need to read other bios as a bio of someone often includes only their good points. Guo Huai & Sima Yi's bio shows that in ZL's final campaign he definitely missed opportunities when contending for strategic ground. He was not bold enough to contend for one area and was far too slow to contend for another, Guo Huai easily predicted his intentions. This really illustrates that ZL's expertise in tactics did not match his expertise in the organizing of an army - this was the reason why Liu Bei valued Fa Zheng so much.

I have mixed feelings about what ZL did. The supply problem existed before ZL and long after, no one was able to solve it, the use of agricultural colonies does solve it but upon the commencement of the stalemate one has to question his motives. This allowed him to remain on the offensive without draining domestic food supplies but this campaign was a major mobilisation of men and the monetary drain would be undeniable.

There would be some advantage in tying Sima Yi down initially since his troops came straight from the Wu front and were said to be unprepared and worn out and it also allowed Shu to wait for the Wu offensive to make some gains. However, Cao Rui was able to easily handle the second front and confident enough to not reinforce Sima Yi but ordered him to remain defensive. At this point the only remaining advantage for Shu is that the Wei troops would be worn out but morale of the Shu troops in an extended campaign would also fall. Eventually the Wei troops could be replaced.
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