Why does Ender Wiggin win all the time? He is always outmatched, and yet he always wins. His strategy seems to be based on completely destroying the opponent, but that strategy is usually used by those who have the advantage. How does Ender win even when he is at a disadvantage, especially when he fights like someone who has the advantage?

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    Completely destroying the opponent is NOT a strategy of the strongest, it is in fact a strategy of the weak. Totally wiping out the weak is unnecessary because they are weak, and so they can be USED and not destroyed. They aren't a threat. Totally destroying your opponent is a way of bluffing and/or deterring attacks -- i.e. "you might win against me, but you might not, and if you don't, you will be destroyed". The strong don't need to do this, because they (and everyone else) knows they will win. The more certain this is, the less there is any reason to deter an attack.
    – jmoreno
    Sep 17, 2022 at 23:05
  • Destroying the opponent is a strategy to avoid the next fight; it's not a strategy or tactic for winning the current fight, just an available option as the result of winning.
    – chepner
    Mar 22, 2023 at 19:16

2 Answers 2


It's because he's a rare tactical genius who can come up with new schemes that are within the given rules, but are tactically novel, and he's ruthless due to his past abuse situation with Peter, which has rendered him always ready to fight, and desperate to win.

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    Most notably, during Battle School, he introduced mission-type tactics in an environment dominated by top-down command. (Mission-type tactics are far more flexible than top-down command, but require subordinates that are far more skilled -- in Battle School terms, his toon second-in-commands need to be skilled enough to operate as army commanders.)
    – Mark
    Sep 17, 2022 at 5:00
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    And he also willing to destroy his opponent so that he would never have to fight the same fight twice (something that a lot of opponents wouldn't do)
    – Peter M
    Sep 17, 2022 at 15:06
  • He loathes his brother but loves his sister. Don't they use her as a carrot on a stick at some point? This entire family is by-design for like the last 40y. "He's a genetically-engineered genius super-soldier that has been raised to fear failure". He was bred to be the chosen one; surely there's people pulling strings left and right for him, which ever way they need to be pulled.
    – Mazura
    Sep 17, 2022 at 20:14
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    SPOILER!: @Mark: Not to forget that a later book, "Ender's Shadow" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ender%27s_Shadow), reveals that the second-in-commands as well as the soldiers of his toon were handpicked to match his genius. IIRC, several statements by Ender in the first book hint that Ender already guessed that fact. (E.g. once he complains that the battle school leaders first stacked the cards for him, only to stack the cards against him again with unfair game scenarios.)
    – straycat
    Sep 18, 2022 at 11:26

The blurb for the novel basically tells you everything that you need to know about Ender. He's a genetically-engineered genius super-soldier that has been raised to fear failure, to the point where he is willing to 'think the unthinkable' in order to win; Studying his enemy's tactics, bending the rules of combat to their breaking point, and offering his opponents (human and alien) unimagined levels of violence.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training. Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.

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    Perhaps that blurb writer did not read the book very carefully.
    – GEdgar
    Sep 17, 2022 at 10:49
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    @GEdgar - It seems a fairly good description to me
    – Valorum
    Sep 17, 2022 at 11:26
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    "Ender's [training] make him a leader" ... not skills. They continually stack the deck against him until he learns how to beat a stacked deck.
    – Mazura
    Sep 17, 2022 at 20:26
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    @Mazura Reminds me of how Day9 spoke about practicing StarCraft with a partner who always map-hacked. He said what you do is execute a strategy so well that they can't stop it even when they know it's coming. Not rely on surprises or unexpected tactics. And that's in the real world. Ender takes advantage unexpected tricks and blind spots to get his victories.
    – DKNguyen
    Sep 18, 2022 at 1:07
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    @Mazura All the students were being trained. Ender had the skill to best make use of the training. Sep 18, 2022 at 2:35

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