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An Essay on

PvP Fighting
for the Facebook game

based on the book

“Art of War” by Sun Tzu

by NickBadge (BeA)

version 1.0
Tuesday, 2 Feb 2010
Author history

My IGN is NickBadge, and in real life I am an Air Force major. I have recently graduated
from a War College, and one of the lessons we were taught was based on the book ‘Art of
War’ by Sun Tzu. That masterpiece was written over 2500 years ago, and it still applies to
modern combat and violent conflict.

I joined the Facebook game ‘Battle Stations’ on the 10th of October 2009, and it was love
at first sight for me. After less than 4 full months of playtime I am at level 77 and I have
1072 wins, 30 losses, 20 war medals and 2 fort sinks. I have just purchased my Gunship
and I am working on its builds. Still, I miss my trustworthy Trident Ironcland and my bulky
Heavy Freighter that have both served me very well.

I decided to write this over a boring morning at home. I did not do this to boast about my
PvP skills, and I can’t say that I am a great captain either. All I wanted to do is to honor the
work of Sun Tzu, and prove that his theories play a very important part in this game.

Most of the information contained here are a result of personal experience, lots of trial and
error, and endless discussions with my buddies at the Brethren Academy (BeA) chat.

The creation of this guide would not have been possible without the valuable help from the
following people, who did the debugging and added lots more information than the ones I
started with. These are:
Mechanic Monkey D Luffy XD (Legacy)
Pirate KingofD (BeA)
Pirate Rune_Captain (BeA)
Mechanic Rael (BeA)
Pirate giphin (BeA)
Thanks guys, it is always an honor and a privilege to fight right next to you.

Sun Tzu said: “The art of war is of vital importance to the State.”

The element of PvP plays a very important role in Battle Stations. And while there is lots of
enjoyment in running around fulfilling quests and mining, a player who is not ready to fight
is destined to sink and remain sunk if not adequately prepared and ready to battle against
other players. This guide is meant as an aid to these conflicts.

Sun Tzu said: “Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his
temple where the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few
calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few
calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this
point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.”

Learn to use the Battle Stations Simulator (see the Useful Links section). It is a Java
application, very easy, and it can give you lots of information about your strong and weak
points. Find out how the changing of your stat points affects the maximum damage you
can do per volley, your speed, your weapons range and the HP of your craft. Master this
wonderful tool, and you will not regret it.

Sun Tzu said: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the
result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every
victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor
yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Don’t use the simulator just for your own build. If you encounter an opponent, you will have
a complete list of all the weapons he is using, his approximate per volley damage on his
attack setup, and the parts he has on his ship. Try and calculate his approximate numbers,
and use it to your advantage.

Sun Tzu said: “The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility
of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.”

When checking your different builds, make sure that the one with which you will be
defending is in top shape. You should have enough HP/craft to withstand at least two or all
three good volleys, and at the same time deliver huge damage to the enemy, enough to
blow him out of the sky.

Your attack build comes second. You will probably have lots of stuff in there to aid with
your speed and HP, so less room is left for weapons. Not to worry, defending comes first.

Sun Tzu said: “According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's

Be open-minded, and don’t stick to only one build or one way of attacking or defending.
The game offers all opportunities to change your class, your ship, and your weaponry. The
writer of this essay has switched from standard cannoner to rammer at around level 45,
yet sometimes he wishes he didn’t, and at some point he may switch back again.

The correct combination of stats with the weapons you will be using will determine the
outcome of many battles. Cannoners should have very little or no Navigation points, and
rammers should have zero points in Gunnery. Spreading stat points around will never get
you the maximum to the attribute where you most need it.

As far as the use of weapons is concerned, gunners should only use cannons/sub-
cannons/missiles, and rammers should only use rams/missiles. If you are a balanced or fat
gunner (high craft), use the best hull and figurehead that give you the most HP, and load
as many heavy cannons as possible. If you are a glassy gunner (high Gun and low Craft),
you should get a set of the best speed parts and a set of missiles to out-range the enemy
but keep hitting your target with missiles.

Sun Tzu said: “When your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength
exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage
of your extremity.”

This is exactly why you need to find, buy, craft and use top notch equipment. Make sure
you study the weapons and parts pages of the wiki (see the Useful Links section). Don’t
just settle for mediocre stuff, try to obtain the best ones for your level.

A cannoner should use Fireball Cannons at level 20, switch immediately to Imperial
Cannons at level 30 and move on to Impact Cannons at 40. A rammer should obtain Giga
Drill at level 40, switch to Chainsaw Blades at 60, and craft those into Demon Edges at
level 70. The missiles marksman should get Hands of Justice at level 45, substitute them
for Big Bangs at level 60, and go for the Valkyrie Lances at level 75. The Swashbuckler
Sail and Demon Sail are also an absolute must for the earlier levels. Same goes for the
War Ram Figurehead and El Toro Crest. It is the use of those items that separate the
hardcore fighters from the rest, and play a key part in winning battles.

Sun Tzu said: “Oh divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be
invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our

The custom ship bodies sold at the ocho shop are very useful for hiding the true identity of
your ship and gear. Make sure you grab one, and hide all the equipment that you are
using, giving the opponent as less information about your build as possible. My personal
favourite is the Beer Merchant.
Sun Tzu said: “Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible

Learn how to use the Hangar screen; it is the one where you will be spending lots of time if
you wish to excel in PvP fighting. The most important item here is the “Saved Presets”.
Don’t just use one for everything, it will get you nowhere. Create 4 or 5 of them, and use
them according to the different situations. Attack, Defence, HeavyDefence, FastSniper,
FortWars, Questing are mine, you get the idea. Learn and be able to switch between
them within seconds. Don’t get confused, or you will be losing the battle.

Sun Tzu said: “All warfare is based on deception.”

If you want to attract attention and get attacked, you need to appear weak while being
strong. You need to show up as DAMAGED on the battle screen, but still be able to hold
the correct distance and sink the attacker, while of course sustaining the damage from his

If you are at full HP and wish to lower it just a bit without attacking anyone, here is a good
idea. Use the Quests – Explore Freely, and use 5-10 APs. You will probably run into an
NPC which is easy to sink and will cause little damage. Just make sure that your weapons
are not strong enough to sink it before he damages you (create a preset called ‘Questing’
for that). Or even better, the event where your ship kitchen catches fire will happen.

The second option is to win an easy fight against a not-so-tough opponent and withstand
some damage. Whichever approach of the two you choose, the next step is repairing to
your full HP but still pretend to be damaged.

The obvious advice here is “Don’t be afraid or bored to use the keyboard”. Almost never
click on the repair buttons of the Hangar screen. If you are at lower levels and need the
cash badly, click on the upper box and punch in 1 AP less than the displayed. On higher
levels and good funds, click on the lower box and punch in “98” or “97” and hit Enter.
(This technique has been marvellously portrayed in Michael Lee’s Comprehensive Battle Stations
strategy guide and it is called “fishing”. It is on the BS wiki, see Useful Links)

Once you are in the Hangar screen and your HP shows up as 98%, leave it there and
choose your best defensive preset. Keep browsing the Internet or doing whatever, just
remember to click on the Hangar word every now and then (1 or 2 minutes is OK).
Eventually you will be attacked, and that is when your energy bar will be lowered.

Sure, you will want to know who attacked you. Yeah yeah, what weapons he used and
what is his ship and gear. It is really tempting to hit the Bridge button, but DON’T do it,
leave that for later. Just quickly repair to a good (AP-1) or (98) and hit Enter. After you do
the repair, do a battle check by watching the replay, see what happened and decide about
your following actions.

Now the enemy knows he didn’t sink you, you are still seen as DAMAGED and he will
probably try a second attack, thinking that your ship has very little HP left. Well, if your
timing was right, he is in for a big surprise. You have already won one battle, now get
ready to win a second one. Keep clicking on Hangar and stay alert to repair to 98% a
second time, in case of successive attacks.
Sun Tzu said: “The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not
allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.”

If an attack is imminent, and you know where it will come from, be prepared according to
the situation. When chased, go to a 50 speed full stop with max HP and close range
weapons and deliver your mightiest blows. When hit from afar, run to safety and prepare to
counterattack. If you are defending against a rammer, you have to use weapons with
slowdown effect and your top speed, in order to keep him away. If attacking with missiles,
you have to moderate your speed so that you don’t go inside the enemy’s cannons range.

Sun Tzu said: “Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”

Try to lure the opponent into changing his attack speed. If he is doing a speed 50 attack
with missiles, go full speed and evade his fire. Once he sees that, he will probably put on
his fast gear/long range weapons and try to chase you. That is the time for you to repair to
98%, take your speed 50 defence position, and give him hell. If, on the other hand, you
see him standing still a second time, attack him while he is immobile and sink him,
preferably with short range weapons.

Sun Tzu said: “Other conditions being equal, if one force is hurled against another
ten times its size, the result will be the flight of the former.”

There are times when I have had many attacks from numerous enemies within a short
period of time, and I kept hitting repair and changing presets like a madman. And I won’t
stand proud when I say it, but yes, when that happened I sunk and I remained sunk for
many hours. This is nothing to be ashamed of; it is a way to leave the field of battle. Do not
salvage your ship, do not stay protected, just stay sunk, go back in real life and start
planning your revenge. Of course you can always go to the Flying City of Aeros, where no
one can attack you, and stay there for some time to let things cool off, but that needs
precious APs.
Sun Tzu said: “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

A common mistake that newbies make is that they open the Battle screen and try to attack
blindly. Make sure that you know what you are up against before attacking someone. Click
on his name first, and check how many wins and losses he has. Also at levels above 70,
the number of war medals indicates if he owns a Gunship or not.

Make sure you take into consideration the various aspects that will affect your attack. For
example, glass rammers should not attack Soldiers, because of the Preemptive Strike skill
that is difficult to survive from. The Scout’s Smoke Machine is also something to be afraid
of happening, since it can turn the battle around. So you should probably pick a class that
will become fodder for you, and avoid another at all costs.

Finally, try and learn the habits and character of your opponents. What time is he on?
When does he usually attack, and when does he stay sunk? What is included in his
defensive setup? Is he glassy or a cow? Vengeance freak, mild tempered, or complete
coward? Keep notes if necessary.

The mass murderers usually keep a list of the names of captains in Microsoft Word or
Excel form, and consult it whenever they attack. I personally don’t do that, since there is
no need for me, but to someone who attacks a lot this might come in handy.

Sun Tzu said: “Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not

Here is a trick that will take down superior opponents, and get them mad as well. First
repair your ship to full HP. Go to the Battle screen, punch in the opponent’s name and
click Find. The name will stay there, and also his status will be Full HP. Check every now
and then by clicking on Battle, in order to catch him while he is attacking other players.
Once you see that full HP has changed into DAMAGED immediately click on Attack.
Chances are that you will catch him with low enough HP to sink him.

This trick works wonders with guys who think that waiting to gather 500 APs and then
spend it all during one or two hours attacking other players makes them look elite. So, if
you see him doing that, choose your favourite attack preset, write his name on the Battle
screen, click on Find, and keep clicking on Battle until you see the DAMAGED sign.
Immediately click on Attack and hopefully you will get him while he is returning with low
HP from his last attack. If you do win the battle, immediately choose your best defensive
preset and stay on guard, because he will probably go after you. If he doesn’t retaliate and
keeps killing other players, my advice to you is repeat, rinse and dry.

There is also a style of PvP called “sniping”. The whole idea behind it is to attack someone
while he is in the midst of Fort Wars, and sink him easily. During that period of time,
protection will be taken off, and HP will be low because of the attacks on the fort. Sniping
the warring players will earn you some really easy wins.
Sun Tzu said: “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend
to be weak, so that he may grow arrogant.”

Try to provoke the enemy into attacking you. Initiate a speed 50 or slow attack against him
with long range missiles, that won’t do him much damage and keep you on the safe side.
After the attack, switch to your standard defence preset and wait for him to come. If he
doesn’t, put on your strong attack set and hit him with all you’ve got.

Sun Tzu said: “He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy

If your attack does not succeed, and the enemy escapes or sinks you, watch the video in a
popup and pay close attention. If your ship managed to damage your foe to over half of his
HP, you can try a second time and sink him.

This should be done in a time margin not exceeding 10 seconds. Watch video, salvage
your ship if you are sunk, change your strategy if needed, attack and hope for the best, in
less than 10 seconds. Of course, do not attack if your see your opponent is back on Full
HP, and do NOT do this if more than 10 seconds have passed, or disaster will strike again.
The reason is because after the 10 sec time margin you have given the enemy enough
time to change his setup, repair to 98%, and force you to a two-in-a-row loss. This is the
worst case scenario, but it can happen, so make sure you take that into account.

Sun Tzu said: “In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack, the direct
and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of

In order to bring down a strong opponent, you can try to soften your target. Waste the first
5 APs by hitting him from far away with long range weapons, then on your next attack risk
to accept a few direct blows in order to come close and finish him off. This is the “snipe
‘em then bite ‘em” technique. The key element here, as with almost all battles, is speed.
Use too much and you will run into the enemy cannons or rams. Start with 50, and use
equipment that grants good HP to survive the opponent’s missiles (if any). It is better to
waste 5 more APs than to suffer a humiliating defeat. Again, both attacks should be
executed in less than 10 seconds.

NickBadge said: “Where there in no honour, there is no glory”

This is my personal theory, not Sun Tzu’s, and it has to do with honour, chivalry, and fair
play. I have seen lots of guys around who boast 3000 or more wins, because they usually
open the Battle screen, click on the right arrow/last page and start attacking captains who
are 5 levels below their own. This is commonly called ‘bottom feeding’, and is frowned
upon. My personal happy hour in the game is giving those guys a really hard time.

Another thing that I would like to comment here are the win/loss messages set on the
player Profile page. Nobody likes a bad loser or, even worse, a bragging winner. Try and
be polite, kind and show your better self there. It adds to the experience of the game,
doesn’t cost anything, and most of all it earns you the respect of other players, something
that I personally value a lot.

Everyone has his own style of play in PvP, and makes decisions based on that. I would
like to share mine with you, although I am not sure it is good enough to follow. Here it is:
If someone attacks me once and sinks me, I probably do nothing.
If someone attacks me and we tie, I do nothing.
If someone attacks me once and gets sunk, I usually do nothing.
If someone is of a much lower level than me and attacks me, whatever the outcome
may be, I rarely do anything about it, and the guy earns my respect.
If someone who is 5 levels over mine attacks me, regardless of the outcome, I
consider him a bottom feeder. I usually attack him twice, once within the next hour and
once again after 2-3 days. If he is a clan member I sometimes run a quick sweep on his
clan mates of his level, too. (I know it is unfair and not reasonable, but I like it).
If someone attacks me once, gets sunk, then attacks me a second time quickly and
sinks me, I retaliate, PERIOD.
If someone attacks me three or more times, and manages to sink me, or does that
on a regular basis, I take it personal. I blacklist his name and from time to time I try to
make his in-game life miserable, PERIOD.
The only time when I attack blindly is during Fort Wars. I go full speed and try to
sink as many defenders as possible. This is NOT a way for me to increase my number of
wins, it is merely executed in order to clear the path for my BeA buddies to attack the
enemy fort. I have had lots of guys seeking revenge over me after every fort war, all from
the clan that BeA was fighting minutes ago. I am terribly sorry about that, but this is how
things work in the event.
If the above circumstances impose that I must attack, and I happen to be short of
APs, I usually buy some with ocho to get the job done.

This set of rules is not being strictly followed (depends on my day, mood, sleep
deprivation, health status, appetite, coffee consumption, local weather, Dow Jones
deviation, and many other factors), but it has been firmly defined during the early stages of
the game, and it will probably not change in the near future.

Decision making about attacking or not, if in doubt, is based solely on the win/loss
messages of the player in question. Modest and funny messages are always welcomed
with a smile, and I get to keep the 5 or more APs I was about to waste. Arrogant or
insulting messages make my index finger itchy and my left mouse button sensitive.
Out of my 30 losses, some are really ridiculous, yet serve as an example, so I might as
well add them here as a lesson.

Remember that ‘Questing’ setup I talked about when explaining the concept of lowering
your HP for fishing? Well, my setup used to include my top speed gear to catch up with the
NPC, and very light missiles in order to sink him on the second or third volley, but still
allow the NPC to make me suffer some damage.

So one day I return from the local bar, half drunk, and decided it would be cool to play the
game at 4 am. Neglecting to see that I had the ‘Questing’ preset on, I opened the Battle
screen and attacked a slow cannoner. You can imagine the rest. My ship got stuck right
next to his at 50 yards, did little to no damage, and I sunk quite gracefully. After that, I got
into the habit of checking my preset twice or even three times before attacking or fort

There was also another time, when I was attacked by a bottom feeding Soldier (sorry I
don’t have the names, this was a long time ago). He sank me, I got upset, decided to
retaliate, my attack failed, and I got sunk. Furious with anger and disappointment, I tried a
follow-up attack. That was another mistake, because on that attempt the Preemptive Strike
happened, and that was two defeats in a row for this useless loser.

What I am trying to say here is that mistakes happen. The more you play PvP, the better
you get, and the fewer mistakes you make. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, just as long
as you learn from them. Pretty soon you will have developed many strategies of your own,
enough for you to throw this crappy guide out of the window and forget all about it. Combat
will be difficult at first, and you might end up sunk or battered or chased or hated. But don’t
miss the whole experience because of all that.


(Or at least I consider them graceful) - Let me be your sports caster for some brief battles I
had with Edward Lam. Edward is the No. 2 killer in Sios, his IGN is IronFang, and he
roams the skies with his dreadful ship, the KD IronMaiden.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I admire Edward a lot. Mainly because, for each and every
one of my wins, he has achieved 12 (he currently has over 12500 kills). But above all, he
is a non-ocho player, which makes his achievement even greater.

So one day I am fishing, and I have stupidly enough forgotten to change my preset into
HeavyDefense. I am with, yeap, you guessed it, Questing again. So, IronFang attacks,
he fails to catch up to my speed, and I baaaarely manage to sink him with my long range
weapons (a ram came into play during the third volley). (SINK 1)

10 seconds later, I click on Hangar, discover the damage, repair to 98%, get down on my
knees, cry out “Thank you Lord Almighty! What have I done to deserve your mercy? I am
going to play lotto and sweepstakes right after this!”, stand up, and change to the
HeavyDefense preset. All the actions I have mentioned took me less than 8 seconds. So
IronFang attacks a second time, and loses once again. (SINK 2)
Two weeks later, I am at the office, fishing once again. After two hours or so of pointlessly
clicking on Hangar every 1 or 2 minutes, HP drops. I hastily repair to 98%, click on Battle,
and discover that I was attacked by IronFang, and he got sunk again (SINK 3).

I wait for three minutes, nothing happens. It seems that he decided not to take the chance.
So I load my FastSniper preset (top speed items and the best missiles I own), and start
clicking on Battle with his name selected. Suddenly I see him DAMAGED, immediately
click on Attack, his HP was really low from the battle he was returning from, I huff and puff
to catch up to his speed, my Valkyrie Lances do their trick, I win the duel. (SINK 4)

Now, I was really lucky that he was busy attacking other players. If he had his defence
preset on, I would have hit the bottom of Sios head first. I took the risk and lived through it.
Anyway, I immediately switched to my HeavyDefense preset, and kept clicking on Hangar
every 5 seconds. After 2 minutes, HP drops to 35%. (SINK 5). Yes, the KD Iron Maiden is
sunk once again. I repair to 98%, and keep clicking on Hangar.

So, IronFang decides that I am too slow, and that he can use his other preset with
more/stronger weapons at a much slower speed. He chooses that, and attacks a second
time. My HP dropped to about 8%, but I won once again (SINK 6). After that, he stayed
sunk for some hours.

To sum everything up, I am proud to announce the current score (which, who knows,
might change drastically in the future) as:
NickBadge (BeA) 6 – IronFang (MALAYA) 0
A lot of things could have happened during all these battles. A skill could have kicked in,
that might heavily alter the results and the final outcome, and probably my strategy would
be totally different. Bah, coulda shoulda woulda. I did my best, and I was lucky enough to
win. End of story.

Still, IronFang is a great guy. I hate repeating myself, but I would like to note again that I
respect him. He is an exceptional fighter, terrific strategist, very heroic, his presets
outstandingly clever, and all the players who passed levels 70-80 have probably suffered
his blows every now and then. He can of course deny the above incidents, in which case I
will remove them from the guide (even though I have the actual replays of those combats,
but I would definitely not want to place them in public).

According to IronFang’s bio “Remember work hard and work smart, you can too become
top 10 killa in SIOS!”. Well, that is a point where I disagree with him. Why would I ever
want to go there? Personally, all I care about is to be able to PvP effectively, and to stand
proud by proving to my opponents that I am a worthy adversary.
 You refer to dollars or euros or ringgit or pesos, as ‘ochos’.
 When stuck in a traffic jam, you are thinking of ramming the car in front of you.
 You have a bull’s head hanging on your wall, and you call it ‘El Toro’.
 When asked about your holidays, you reply something about Aeros.
 You always complain about the “low capacity” of your closet or cupboard.
 You have named your car ‘Caramusal’ or ‘Brigantine’, and your dog ‘Damocles’.
 Whenever you hear a five digit number, you immediately ask “per volley or total?”
 In the summer, you keep cursing the mosquitoes that “snipe you”.
 Your favourite food is pie, and you only eat ‘Craft’ mayonnaise.
 You ask the taxi driver “How many APs to get there?”
 From time to time your home kitchen catches fire, and you end up slightly injured.
 Your curriculum vitae have an ‘Edit Bio’ box at the bottom.
 You keep changing lanes while driving on the highway to avoid “the superweapon”.
 You wake up from bad dreams at night, yelling “Repair! Repair! Oh no! Salvage!”
 You have a huge wooden ‘Hangar’ sign over your garage door.
 Your jewellery box opens with a combination involving three locks.
 The first number on the speedometer of your car is 50 instead of zero.
 You have an alarm clock that rings frantically 5 minutes before every war.

Battle Stations is a really fun and very addictive game, which has a lot of thrills to offer.
The Player vs Player part is very complicated, and I hope that with this essay I have barely
scratched the surface of it, or at least given you one or two fresh ideas about it.

Commercials time. If you are interested in joining a clan who helps members, wars very
often, and enjoys every aspect of the game, make sure you consider a place in the
Brethren Academy (BeA) or Legacy (Legacy).

End of presentation, thank you for not throwing things.

The wiki guide for Battle Stations, a MUST visit

Battle Stations played outside Facebook (has problems lately)

A news website about Battle Stations

The Battle Stations Simulator, by Lee Yeow Leong

FortTimer, a Facebook application useful in Fort Wars

The Art of War by Sun Tzu, complete English hypertext


Since I am Greek, and besides Sun Tzu my other favourite strategist is Thucydides, I
decided to add some cool strategy/war aphorisms in my language, or at least its ancient
form. Here we go:

Σοφόν εν βούλευμα πολλάς χέρας νίκα

A wise decision can bring victory over many great armies – Thucydides

Δύο τα εναντιώτατα ευβουλία είναι, τάχος τε και οργήν

Two things lead to bad decision calls, haste and anger – Thucydides

Τις επιτιθέμενοις πρώτοις η τύχη ξύμφορος

Luck is an ally to those who attack first – Thucydides

Παρά δύναμιν τολμήται

Dare to do things beyond your strength – Thucydides

Mη πω τι μεθίετε θουρίδος άλκης

Keep the flame of bravery alive – Homer

Aρχή του νικάν είναι τo θάρρος

The key to victory is heart and courage – Plutarch

Έπαισθε τε και άνδρες αγαθοί γίγνεσθαι

Follow me and you will become great men – Alexander the Great