Blood On the Sand: Sun Tzu vs. Vlad the Impaler

June 29, 2010

Tonight at 10 PM, Sun Tzu takes on Vlad the Impaler. Join Max Geiger in this week's Blood on the Sand for more on how tonight's battle may be Deadliest Warrior's most gruesome to date.

Sun Tzu. The legendary author of The Art of War, perhaps the single most influential treatise on strategy, warfare, and tactics in all of human history. There's no doubt that among those who apply their minds to studying and mastering the craft of war, Sun Tzu is the standard by which others are judged.

Vlad the Impaler. The historical face and inspiration behind none other than Dracula. Feared for the atrocities, tortures, and general ruthlessness he displayed during his rule of Wallachia. Also, he's arguably the source of our modern media's vampiric malaise - not only as the man behind the myth, but quite possible as relative of Robert Pattinson. It's like the atrocities committed in his time weren't enough, and now, Twilight. Ugh. But that's neither here nor there when it comes to evaluating how Vlad would have held up in single combat with one of warfare's greatest minds.

There's no mincing around this issue either: this is a battle among legends more so than any other we've done. Sun Tzu is a difficult figure to pin down historically, and The Art of War is one of those texts where the influence of a multiple authors is clearly present - likely working to update the original manual to be relevant to their place and time. As for Vlad, well, his fearsome reputation precedes him, but he's better known for his tyrannical rule (and the atrocities he had others commit on his behalf) than he is for battlefield prowess.

Historical quibbles aside, this is a battle that does one of the things I love best about Deadliest Warrior - it reaches across time and space to compare two of the most unlikely candidates for a fight. We're looking at a gap of roughly 2,000 years between our combatants, and that raises a big question: will Sun Tzu's ancient Chinese technology be enough to overcome Vlad's medieval European armaments? Can brain overcome brawn, especially in a one-to-one fight between men who are better known for standing with their armies?

Despite the relatively primitive armaments we'll see in each warrior's hands tonight (more on those here), we'll be seeing ancient incendiary weapons put to the test. While the effectiveness of flame as a weapon isn't in question, its ability to shape and control the battlefield, especially between two opponents is something I wish we'd had the opportunity to spend more time on.

Additionally, this episode features one of the more gruesome execution demonstrations we've seen to date on the show. You can probably guess what it is, but it's just as horrific as you can imagine.

That's it for this week. Be sure to check out tonight's episode, and as usual Geoff (@GeoffDesmoulin), the Doc (@DrDorian) and I (@MaxGeiger) are around on twitter.

Until next time, morituri te salutant,

Max


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