5 Powerful Game Lessons from Robert Greene’s 33 Strategies Of War

Robert Greene is famous for his books on seduction. The Art of Seduction is a self-descriptive title and The 48 Laws of Power often deals with the subject as well, since power and seduction go hand-in-hand, but it’s another book of his, The 33 Strategies Of War, that arguably provides the best game advice of all his works.

This isn’t only because of the classical application of strategy which is detailed in the book, but because an entire section of it deals with something he calls “self-directed warfare.” This is an application of strategy to conquering yourself—your insecurities, weaknesses, desires that could lead you astray, and turning your thoughts into focus and action, all of which are crucial in any game setting. In the arts of seduction and warfare, the first thing you must do is conquer your own weaknesses, and The 33 Strategies of War will help with that.

The book is a long one, but well worth the read, and the following strategies will help to improve your game.

1. Abide by the 6 fundamental ideals of strategy

1. Look at things as they are, not as your emotions color them.

2. Judge people by their actions.

3. Depend on your own arms (in other words, depend on the faculties of your own mind and ingenuity—external resources can be taken from you, but never your cleverness, courage, or energy).

4. Worship Athena, not Ares (your interest is in results and pragmatism, not fits of passion).

5. Elevate yourself above the battlefield (think strategically, not tactically—everything you do should be purposed with achieving your long-term objectives).

6. Spiritualize your warfare (you go to war with your own weaknesses constantly, welcoming the opportunity to improve as a warrior).

All of these concepts are things you’ll encounter at sites like Return of Kings, and for good reason. Robert Greene goes over them in more detail, with clearer examples than I’ve seen anywhere else.

2. Don’t fight the last war

What weighs us down is usually the mistakes or ill-experiences of the past. These cause us to lose confidence. For instance, when I was starting, it was terrifying for me to approach women, simply because I didn’t have much experience doing it, and this lack of experience in turn dictated my future actions. I didn’t approach because I didn’t believe I could because I had little experience.

But in this, I was fighting the last war. I was letting the past set the future in stone. With a few tries and successes, I was on my way, and this fear regressed quickly. Once I turned my attention to the present, things looked brighter.

The mistake of fighting the last war applies to your successes just as much as your failures. The same routine won’t work every time. Get too caught up in what’s worked for you in the past and you’ll lose sight of what’s required in the present. Robert Greene says:

Never take it for granted that your past successes will continue into the future. Actually, your past successes are your biggest obstacle: every battle, every war, is different, and you cannot assume that what worked before will work today. You must cut yourself loose from the past and open your eyes to the present. Your tendency to fight the last war may lead to your final war.

Each interaction must be treated differently. Men like to organize things into systems, but this can set us back in the game. Seduction isn’t a logical process. Greene goes further:

What makes us go astray in the first place is that we are unattuned to the present moment, insensitive to the circumstances. We are listening to our own thoughts, reacting to things that happened in the past, applying theories and ideas that we digested long ago but that have nothing to do with our predicament in the present.

Understand: the greatest generals, the most creative strategists, stand out not because they have more knowledge but because they are able, when necessary, to drop their preconceived notions and focus intensely on the present moment.

3. Don’t lose your presence of mind

Understand: presence of mind is the ability to detach yourself, to see the whole battlefield, the whole picture, with clarity.

The game is an emotional experience and your thoughts will be clouded. Fear is the most prominent emotion—fear of the approach, fear to escalate, etc. In these stressful situations, most people see problems everywhere and defeat in the smallest setback, Greene explains.

The answer to this fear is to be more aggressive. Fear (particularly in this situation) is mostly an illusion based on the unknown. Because of this dreadful feeling, you’ll conjure up scenarios that are unrealistic, but will feel more important because you’re paying attention to them. People falsely believe that whatever they’re paying attention to is automatically the most important thing and failure to control this cognitive bias will lead you down a dark road. The best way to compensate for this is to divert your attention elsewhere.

The 33 Strategies Of War cites the example of the famous Admiral Nelson:

The moment he entered battle, he ratcheted up his aggressive impulses. Where other sea lords worried about casualties, the wind, changes in the enemy’s formation, he concentrated on his plan. Before battle no one strategized or studied his opponent more thoroughly. (That knowledge helped Nelson to sense when the enemy was ready to crumble.) But once the engagement began, hesitation and carefulness were dropped.

4. The intelligence strategy

The target of your strategies should be less the army you face than the mind of the man or woman who runs it.

Of all the strategies provided in the book, this one was the most insightful, and has an important application in your game. If there’s one thing that stands out about myself it’s that my ramble game is very good, but I often overpower the conversation, which doesn’t let her invest enough in it. Not long before reading this, I read a modern classic on rhetoric, Verbal Judo, the central message of which was that the most important tool of verbal persuasion is the ability to empathize—to see through the eye of another, and to commune with that perspective. The two books gave me a new viewpoint on how to improve my day game.

The most important objective in the campaign, Greene says, is the opponent’s mind. In warfare, if you can degrade and destroy the mind of your enemy, physical concerns become secondary. In seduction, the goal is the opposite: to commune with the mind of the object of your affections and get closer to a single-mindedness that an ideal relationship would have.

5. Always have an exit strategy

When beginning any relationship, it’s imperative to have an endgame in sight. Is this a short term relationship, a long term one, or are there red flags flying all over the place telling you there should be none at all?

The warning of proceeding without an exit strategy is made clear:

The worst way to end anything–a war, a conflict, a relationship–is slowly and painfully. The costs of such an ending run deep: loss of self-confidence, unconscious avoidance of conflict the next time around, the bitterness and animosity left breeding—it is all an absurd waste of time. Before entering any action, you must calculate in precise terms your exit strategy. How exactly will the engagement end, and where it will leave you? If the answers to those questions seem vague and full of speculation, if success seems all too alluring and failure somewhat dangerous, you are more than likely taking a gamble. Your emotions are leading you into a situation that could end up a quagmire.

There have been too many articles to count on this site on the dangers of choosing the wrong women to get involved with. In this age of mass hysteria where asking a woman out on a date can now be construed as “sexual misconduct,” this strategy is especially important. The game is often about what you don’t do. Always have an exit strategy with any interaction.

Read Next: How Robert Cialdini’s Book “Pre-Suasion” Improved My Game

28 thoughts on “5 Powerful Game Lessons from Robert Greene’s 33 Strategies Of War”

  1. So if seduction means minds in communion, that means that you are a woman… Man you are a fag. Union with who? Total difference is what I like.

    1. Man, you is dumb. Think of it in sales terms. How am I going to sell someone a #### if I can’t empathise with them? Say they’re after a flashy car and are in their mid 40’s, if you don’t understand they’re going through a mid-life crisis then you’ll probably talk about how the car has good mileage and is safe and has a good resale value, rather than how this car will pull pussy left and right and has a thumping sound system and a roaring exhaust so your neighbours can hear you coming from a block away.
      And that empathy to sell better works with women. I told this on this site before but, hell, why not repeat myself: I saw a girl sitting by herself in a bar so I approached and pretty much straight away asked if she wanted to come back to mine. She said no, so I said, ‘Look, right now you’re young, and in 10 years time you’re going to be old, and you’re going to look back and go, ‘FUCK.”‘ She thought this over for two seconds and left with me right there and then. The lesson, or takeaway, is that I understood she was concerned that she didn’t have anyone, any romantic experience in her life, hence why she was sitting alone in a bar sipping a drink slowly. That’s a desperate act, so I put the fear of loss into her mind and, bam.

        1. thats not a threat you idiot, i said i would, not i will. i would if i met you. i will not hunt you down. your turn will end soon enough.

      1. The Instagram you linked to is a FAKE CZECH FANPAGE- ONE OF HUNDREDS and includes OTHER Trns like Emma Watson, Bridget Saterlee and many similar looking “models”. You need to check yourself, you fucking child.

        1. Why are you so angry? I don’t think swearing and throwing a name of a random tranny is going to convince any sane person.

        2. Ya Know Piotr, -Taken and Clueless might be right… All of those model- actresses listed might actually be trannies… and they do look rather indistinguishable from each other.
          — Somebody mentioned to me the other day the Women in Hollywood MeToo Actresses are .. and I mean ALL of them.. trannies.
          — At first I didn’t see it… but when you really look at those rather gross “females” you have to say “it could be possible!”
          — The reason to dis-include REAL women outright is to avoid side-by-side comparisons in the media.. which is the point of that fraudulent Instagram page.
          — And the reason for MeToo accusations is to keep everyone at guard and at a distance so that no one can -challenge- the sudden appearance of all these rather “mannish” looking actresses.. (actors)?.
          You do not have to like it Piotr, and there is some censorship on this site when people write about, but there seems to be a real socio-political agenda going on here.
          Try to be careful to not so quickly defend Hollywood/Washington.. it might not be so simple.

  2. For men like me who hate women to the core, empathizing is hard. It fills me with blistering rage to even imagine showing sympathy to a stuck up, degenerate slut whom all chads in the town have used as a wasteland for their jizz, while expecting nothing in return from that whore. Women have everything super easy these days. Easy entry to college, high-paying jobs, fountain of dicks and now empathy from slayers.

    1. I think one of the things that helps is realizing you need those dark triad traits of narcissism, sociopathy, and manipulation. I am natively too honest, moral, and humble of a person to do well. It is only when I get shit on that the cold rage descends and lends me the drive to beat all. I, too, hate how women have it easy, but that does not prevent me from being nice to them, as long as it furthers my ends. The classic example is a short term sex relationship. You can promise all she wants so you get the pussy, and then, when she starts being crazy or demanding commitment, cite her failings and bail. You know, and she even knows, that you were going to bail from day one, but she dared to dream. This gets worse for her, and easier for you, as she gets older and/or loses SMV.
      This is the new society. Women thought they could have sexual freedom before marriage AND a 50 year marriage to a great man. They didn’t understand that the world is fair, no one has all the advantages, and, when you try to get them all, nature will correct the imbalance. Women want to fuck around before marriage? Fine, fuck them, but don’t marry them. In other words, my friend, fake that empathy to benefit your dick, then move on.

      1. You spoke my mind. The ones getting older with diminishing SMV are my kills. It never stops to amaze me how quickly they drop their standard as they near the wall. But as much happy I am knowing these bitches make up my future notch count, as I am sad to admit that my chances with the 20-year age bracket have always been grim.
        Now you sound like youve mastered the art of faking empathy. So tell me in all honesty, does faking it help a guy like me in his mid-30s in getting laid with a twenty something HB6 or 7?

        1. I’m not sure. For me, it’s burned out. You have to reach such a point of disgust with society that everything you do needs to be for you, the precious few people you love, if you have any, and your God, if you have one. Expect relations with women to fail and to have a shelf life. “A man that has options cannot be hurt” it is said. So, stack cash, get ripped, and expect relationships to not work. One commenter on here said “She fucks on the second date. There is no third date.” The other solution is to simply buy pussy. I would wager the cost of an escort weekly would be less than maintaining a stay at home wife. I can fake empathy. I can’t fake confidence, I have to actually not care about the situation to look like I don’t care. I find that through cynicism.

        2. The key to mid-30s pulling early 20s is what I call “Indiana Jones” Game. Most of these girls biggest event in life was an orchard party where they got felt up by the varsity QB. You parlay your life experiences, travels, exotic conquests of women their hamster tells them were hotter than they are, etc. This game draws a higher percentage of chicks with daddy issues, but dudes using STR game should be able to handle that through sheer experience.

    2. It’s even worse than that: they use sugar daddy sites to pay for their education, a key reason why women outnumber men as college grads; they don’t have to pay for it! That said, i’m not a fan of complaining so I recommend adaptation. Date women who live in harsh climates and rural areas (35+ miles out of city centers). You will find great women who are not like this at all. Women ARE different than men (which is why you want to have sex with them). A firefly study showed that the most successful mating males had the brightest lights and flew the most elaborate patterns. So this is life, even in the insect world. You’re gonna pay in time, money, headache or effort: it’s part of being a guy so choose your preferred form of “currency” and go find you a great country girl. Complainers never win, and my success with women turned on a time as soon as I changed my attitude about this!

  3. Highly recommend Libertas’ site, many of his articles go into greater detail at http://www.masculineepic.com/
    RoK gets a reputation for ‘reusing’ or ‘rehashing’ the same content by game veterans because it also caters to the men just learning about the various colours of pills. Not so with Libertas site. Well written and thought out articles for the red pilled.
    http://www.masculineepic.com/ has Mick Dundee’s seal of approval!

  4. America is heaven for a Swedish guy like me. This is because 1) American women are more into daygame than the cold Swedish women, 2) American men are fat and don’t know how to dress.

  5. This is an excellent article; wish ROK did more on this level. Robert Greene is one of the best writers of our generation and I have all his books. One of the criticisms of the uninitiated is that his prose often appears contradictory. However, this is easily explained: not every strategy works with everyone. Put another way, there is no substitute for field experence, street smarts, trial and error, etc. to gain an instinct for what works in any given situation. Without this latter component, his books can get the novice in a great deal of trouble lol. Know your “types” as no amount of “game” or “strategy” will work if someone is simply not attracted to someone like you (race, age, height, occupation, physique, etc.). For example, i recently tried the feminist indoctrinated bumble for a week and didn’t get a single right swipe whereas, on Tinder and other racier sites, I get 200ms/wk from 7-9s. While there are exceptions to anything, the hottest women are looking for one of three archetypes 1) The beta loser weakling who is essentially a stoner, has no leverage, and is essentially a boytoy with a drug connection and whom she enjoys protecting 2) The faux alpha “fixable” trainwreck disaster who resembles her loser father and is aloof, selfish, and distant, particularly when a chiseled torso is present. 3) the bulletproof alpha James Bond archetype who is rich , successful and always in charge, her histrionic tirades and child like manipulations rolling right off of him as with teflon, with nary a word said and who never loses his cool. A bedrock foundation for her swirling insecurities with whom she feels safe at all times. You generally must mirror one of these archetypes to get the hottest women… otherwise get used to paying. There’s a reason the hottest male celebrities hire straight up escorts; done correctly it can be quite liberating —

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