Strategy and tactics are usually being interchanged or considered as the same thing. In a sense, maybe generally, the two are synonymous to each other. For me, however, strategy is mostly about the broader, pre-battle preparation; the process of meticulous plotting and laying down all the necessary steps and details before actual execution. Tactics, on the other hand, are on-battle decision-making – the proper management of resources on hand; analysis of present situations and conditions; and then after quick evaluations, the adapting or tweaking of the set plan to fit the given evaluation. Usually, strategy is more of having a “big-picture/theater” foresight, and tactics are more on the approaches being taken on a specific operation.
There’s a possibility that my perception of the two concepts could be wrong, of course. Whether I’m correct or wrong, this list has my top ten choices on fictional characters that I found fascinatingly impressive in their depictions of the definitions I’ve mentioned above. This list is not necessarily arranged in increasing brilliance or success as a strategist or tactician, nor in overall quality as a fictional character, but in how I found them interesting as a strategist or tactician.
10.) T.J. DETWEILER
T.J. is the ringleader of the Recess gang, the six main protagonists of the awesome Recess animated series. T.J. is lazy (accounting for his average to low grades), but he is sharp and smart, using his energies and talents in ensuring that he and his friends will always have a fun time. Sure, his strategizing opportunities and applications are limited to the playground and committing pranks, but his scheming talents are nonetheless creative and bear precision. Gus could be the army boy of the gang, but T.J. has the real makings of a successful general.
9.) SHIKAMARU NARA
Shikamaru’s father, Shikaku, is definitely a better strategist and tactician than Shikamaru. In fact, he probably is the best strategist/tactician character in Naruto, for in the Fourth Shinobi War, he was appointed as Chief Strategist of the Allied Shinobi Forces. His plans and tactical advices were so brilliant, that it even earned him the praise of the Raikage. However, he is merely a third-tier character, while Shikamaru is an important secondary character, hence, he was more exposed and we get to see more of his character’s depth and development.
Shikamaru is quite lazy, but he possesses genius-level intellect. He is both a brilliant strategist and tactician; when he’s thoroughly focused, he can think ten moves ahead of his opponents as well as quickly formulate a hundred strategies and then picking the best one. He can quickly analyze a situation, but he is more effective when given time to devise a plan beforehand.
8.) HATAKE KAKASHI
The argument can be made that Shikamaru is a better strategist/tactician than Kakashi. Still, I find Kakashi more interesting than Shikamaru.
With his innate genius intellect and his Sharingan allowing him to maximize his observation, Kakashi can quickly analyze his opponents and device an efficient approach in engaging them. He also gives much importance to teamwork, thus, he always incorporate those who are with him in the execution of his line of attack, which actually strengthens the chance of his plans succeeding.
He is widely considered as a master strategist/tactician that he was made next in line as Hokage (and almost became one, if Tsunade didn’t regained consciousness; bummer) and was named one of the five Division Commanders during the Fourth Shinobi War.
7.) CAPTAIN AMERICA
Aside from being a man of great courage and integrity, the reason why smarter or more powerful heroes are very much willing to make Captain America lead them is because he is one of the best tactical minds on the planet (some, like Spider-Man, even consider him as the greatest tactician on Earth). Recently, in Infinity, Cap’s strategy-making was a significant factor why the galaxy’s combined forces were able to turn the tides of the war against the Builders, who were just an inch away from absolute victory.
Batman, possessing a genius-level intellect, has trained himself to be a master detective and to be extensively knowledgeable in several fields. But more than that, Batman’s genius also manifests as a strategist and tactician. In fact, there is an unwritten rule out there: Given enough time to prepare, Batman will be five steps ahead of everybody and can beat anyone. Time and time again – in comics and cartoons – Batman has been portrayed in proving this presumption true.
5.) ANDREW “ENDER” WIGGIN
Ender is a boy genius and the most brilliant among all child prodigies being trained to become future commanders in the war against the alien Formics (or “Buggers”). Ender is so brilliant as a strategist that the Earth military has to mislead him into thinking that he’s merely playing combat simulations when he has been actually given command of the entire human forces. Thinking it was just a training simulation, Ender executed a brilliant but brutal strategy that wiped out the entire Formics race, which would depress Ender later on when he learned the truth.
4.) YOICHI HIRUMA
3.) NATHAN FORD
Nathan Ford, or “Nate” for short, is the mastermind of “Leverage Consulting & Associates” – a five-man team of thieves and con-men that are out to steal back from the rich and powerful any stuff that they have unrightfully taken from the common people. Nate can effortlessly formulate elaborate, twist-filled heist and con jobs; any operation he proceeds to device and oversee will have all important details covered, thus, it usually runs smoothly. If unforeseen developments null aspects of his master plan, he claims to always have a “Plan B to Plan Z” on hand (or is quick to device one, if there was initially none). Danny Ocean, brilliant heist mastermind as he is, has nothing on this guy.
2.) ARTEMIS FOWL
Here’s another boy genius strategist. In a young age, he is already a calculative criminal mastermind that is capable of scheming thoroughly-thought plans. He can mentally simulate hypothetical scenarios and calculate the respective outcomes with phenomenal precision. Hence, whether he’s up against supernatural or human opponents, Artemis usually figures out a way to come out on top in the end. (That’s why if I have to make a new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Artemis Fowl will be my choice for a leader.)
1.) LELOUCH LAMPEROUGE (ZERO)
Lelouch/Zero has a Geass which can mind control people. However, though his Geass is an invaluable asset, his brilliant strategic mind is equally important to his successes. The extent and shrewdness of the plans and operations that Zero can scheme and execute are mindblowingly awesome – this is a major reason why I extremely love the anime Code Geass and Lelouch as a character.
Lelouch is the greatest strategist/tactician character I’ve encountered so far in fiction. In fact, great strategists/tacticians the others in this list might be but they probably aren’t capable of orchestrating World Peace to happen. Lelouch was able to do exactly that!