Ravaging Times

chapter 323

WARNING: I don’t really understand a lot of the military quotations in this chapter and the research was not quick or clear even in most of the Chinese sources I found online. So as readers of this blog you guys might see tweaks here that the scanlation could miss. In fact, I have already changed wording in a few chapters, including the previous one.

In a battle of formation between two Geniuses, who has victory within his grasp?


[?]: Try to capture advantageous grounds.

[?]: Go!

chapter 323 Adapting To the Straightforward And the Surprise
(“the change of orthodox and unorthodox”; “orthodox” and “unorthodox” are possible word choice conventions established by some existing Sun Wu’s Art of War translations I’m seeing online; here is a less fancy version I found on page 58 of a book about Sun Bin’s method of war; in context it may be called different things because it’s talking about specific aspects of the Eight-Unit Formation as devised by one of Yellow Emperor‘s ministers, Feng Hou)

[Xiahou Yuan]: Men, take them head-on!
(“my army, frontal confrontation”)


[XHY]: Left team, hold our position.
(“left team tightly guard formation spot”)
[XHY]: Right team, follow me!
(“…enter formation”)


[?]: Yue Jin‘s army has engaged!

[?]: Target the enemy’s right side.

[Guo Jia]: Next troop, get ready!

[GJ]: Send order! We outnumber the enemy – favor entrapment tactics!
(“propagate/send order…”)

[?]: Xiahou Dun‘s troop accepts!
(“…receives order”)

[?]: Sir, the Cao army seems to want to surround us!

[?]: Fourth battalion, take control of that small terrain on the left!

[?]: Solidify and protect the archery team!

[?]: Kneel, fire!

[?]: Sir, the vanguards cannot move forward!

[GJ]: Deploy to the side and set up a deceptive formation!

[Xiahou Dun]: The Advisor calls for formation change. Men, divide into two teams!

[?]: Xiahou Dun’s troop is dividing. Let’s seize advantageous ground first!

[?]: General Chen, General Han’s second battalion is moving!

[Chen Feng]: Keep yourselves alive so we can maintain the formation.

[?]: Third battalion, we’re leaving this spot to you!
[?]: All right, the third battalion will make it rock solid!
(he didn’t say “rock”; I’m not sure how to translate it)

[?]: Seal up! Don’t let them pass!
(“seal formation…”)

[?]: Send order!

[GJ]: Secondary troop, engage!
[?]: Yessir!

Military Records, The Old Master! Who knew these two formations could hold their own against our forces…

First shixiong, you have really put Master Sun’s Art of War to shame!
(“…caused Sun-zi’s methods of war to lose its brightness/brilliance”; is the above translation too harsh? let me know if it should be dialed back; shixiong = “male upperclassman”)

[?]: That which shrinks must first expand!
(in case you are dubious of this source, try other references)

[Yue Jin]: Goodness, they’re charging instead of retreating!

[YJ]: General, their first battalion has circled around to our backside!

[YJ]: Order a pull back to defensive stance!

Amazing. The enemy commander has predicted our every move!
(“…each move within the enemy commander’s prediction”)

They can adapt on the fly, as if the decision-maker is within earshot?

[?]: General Xu, the enemy is so fast!
[?]: We can’t get through from here!

[?]: Military Records, formation within formation!
(not sure, I’m looking at a Chinese reference, which says this is referring to the basic square formation with at least two layers/tiers)

[?]: The Old Master, be careful of your right side!
(abbreviation of “those trained under Lao-zi’s methods”)

Is that young warrior in command?!

[Yuan Fang]: Those of Military Records, expand!
(abbreviation of “those trained under Military Records”)

(“saw ghost”)

Is this the Yuan army from yesterday?

[?]: Expand now while Xu Huang’s army is in disarray!

[?]: Strike first to shake their morale!
(at the moment I can’t find the translation of the full sentence, only the modern idiom that’s derived from it)
[?]: Inner formation, allow the second team to move up!
(not sure, I’m looking at a Chinese reference for ideas; the second part is also unclear as to where they are moving to!)

[?]: Advisor, our army has been scattered!

Fast, that’s really fast!

Half a day of fighting without any minor victory…
(“…no sweet taste”)

The enemy’s main forces will be here soon. We can’t let them keep stalling us!
(“…keep delaying is not a solution”)

[GJ]: Driver,
[?]: Sir.

[GJ]: take us in.
(“enter formation”)

[?]: Advisor, but, but…
(“…this, this…”)

[Zhang Liao]: That’s too dangerous, Advisor!

[GJ]: There’s no other way. Inside the formation first shixiong can issue orders faster than I can out here.
(shixiong ~ “male upperclassman”)

[GJ]: Besides, I already have the counter-formation in mind!
(“…I already have method to break Military Records and Lao-zi’s formation”)

[ZL]: Yessir!

[?]: Zhang Liao’s army as escort!

You learned quick, shidi.
(“…you are enlightened very quickly”; shidi = “male lowerclassman”)

[?]: Sir, the enemy is merging at midway!

Having endured my torment through the morning,

your patience has finally ran out!
(“you finally cannot control yourself anymore”)

[YF]: My team, regroup! Spread the wings!

[?]: Break!

[?]: Break!


[?]: Sir! The Yuan army has bypassed us!

[?]: And gone again… Their movement is unpredictable!
(“come go no trace, completely cannot capture their steps”)
[XHD]: Shit!

[?]: Our armies have been split too far apart!
(“…separated too far apart”)

[?]: General! We’ve lost contact with several troops!

[ZL]: Hold your ground so Advisor Guo can set up formation!

[?]: Zhang Liao!


[Zhang He]: Go on, men!
(not sure)

[ZH]: This guy

[ZH]: is now my target!
(“is being nailed by me”; probably a typo)

[GJ]: Xiahou, Xu Huang, Yue Jin, regroup!
(“…join center”, this could mean something more specific but I don’t know)

Come! You’re already within my grasp.
(sort of like “in control”)

First shixiong,
(shixiong ~ “male upperclassman”)

this will be your grave!

[YF]: Shidi.
(shidi ~ “male lowerclassman”)

Abandoning high ground to barge into a dense battlefield…

Your setup is now out in the open, you pedantic fool!
(“formation terrain appears, you book-worm”)

Don’t forget, the only warrior-types among the Eight Geniuses are me and Gong Jin.
(“…born of martial officers/generals…”)

In warfare the two of us dominate over land and sea!

Fourth Genius, you’re no match for me in strategy or combat!

And not only that,

my troops have arrived without being noticed!

[?]: Four battalions, change formation.

[?]: Follow the main army for engagement!

Their formation has changed!

Those four battalions are joining their main army on their way to devour us,

with first shixiong’s mobile unit in control.
(shixiong ~ “male upperclassman”)

This isn’t Military Records nor The Old Master!

Four primary, and four secondary…

Four are straightforward, and four act as the surprise, this… this is…


This is the long lost “The Classic of Grasping Marvels”…
(this is one English translation of the same title seen on page 250 of this book, and another seen here thanks to reader HerrK; I can’t find any clear English reference on the first 握奇经 (authored by 风后/Feng Hou), which in this context becomes another one of those forehead-smacking wordplay on 奇/Genius/Surprise/Miracle; I DESPERATELY want to translate this as “The Grasping of Genius”, because it’s a pun on both the Genius(es) doing the grasping and the Genius who’s being closed-in on! …I guess you can’t appreciate this in translation… :( Chinese reference)

Feng Hou’s

Eight-Unit Formation!
(“eight formation picture/schematic”; just by a cursory glance this formation has its roots prior even to the Warring States period, so it pre-dates Zhuge Liang’s time, not entirely an anachronism)

Only two Geniuses out of the Eight cherished this formation.


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