%% Image removed per Image Pickin' Thread: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1396194444004949000
%% Do not add an image to this page without starting a new IP thread to discuss it.
->''"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."''
-->-- '''Creator/SunTzu''', ''Literature/TheArtOfWar''

Fights aren't always won with guns, swords, and may in fact not require any kind of physical combat whatsoever; outsmarting your opponent can be just as effective. Battling this way also saves resources -- especially if it's a CombatByChampion of the highest-ranking members of each side. Even if not, it's easier to recover from almost being outsmarted and getting your pride wounded than almost getting outfought and getting your leg (or an even more vital body part) wounded. And some play it well enough to never get wounded in the first place.

This is a staple tactic of TheChessmaster, the GuileHero and the ManipulativeBastard alike and one way for the InsufferableGenius to prove himself. The SuperTrope to ThePlan. Someone who loses the Battle Of Wits is OutGambitted. Winners are often {{Badass Pacifist}}s. If both combatants are [[SuperIntelligence particularly brilliant]], can easily descend/ascend into GambitRoulette or XanatosSpeedChess.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The FinalBattle of ''Anime/CodeGeass R2'' takes place on many levels (including large-scale army maneuvers and one-on-one duels) but the most important is the battle of wits between Lelouch and [[spoiler:his brother Schneizel]].
* Any fight in ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure''. Raw power is great and all, but the truly dangerous [[FightingSpirit Stand]] [[PsychicPowers users]] are the ones who use [[WhatKindOfLamePowerIsHeartAnyway weak or peculiar abilities]] to [[HeartIsAnAwesomePower devastating effect.]]
* ''Manga/HunterXHunter'' heavily focuses on this, the characters always go to battle with detailed plans or have to come up with something on the spot. The plans and thoughts that characters have during battle are always carefully explained, and very often they have to deal with things not going the intended way.
* ''Manga/LiarGame'''s whole plot is a battle of wits par excellence.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' had this as its entire focus. Well, that and Light [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope doing cartwheels off the slippery slope...]]
* ''Anime/FinalFantasyVIIAdventChildren'' sets up a battle of wits between Rufus Shinra and Kadaj. Kadaj believes Rufus to have recovered the remains of Jenova and to be hiding them somewhere, whereas he claims them to have been lost. The two keep hanging out exchanging quips and platitudes in a way that definitely suggests there is supposed to be a battle of wits going on, but they don't actually ''do'' much beyond that. Meanwhile, Kadaj's gang's brilliant plan to find Jenova consists of running around causing random trouble like the superpowered juvenile delinquents they are. In the end, [[spoiler: Rufus reveals that he's been sitting with the remains of Jenova hidden on his wheelchair the whole time.]]
* Once every two ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' fights turn out this way.
* There are several cases of this in ''Manga/DragonBall'', especially when there is [[TournamentArc tournament]] because in that case, it's always about who can outsmart their opponent the quickest that usually is the winner.
* The premise of ''Manga/KaguyaSamaLoveIsWar'' is two teenagers trying to force each other into a LoveConfession. Most chapters quickly turn into a game of XanatosSpeedChess.
* The earlier chapters of ''Manga/YuGiOh'' comprised of Yami Yugi outsmarting his [[DickDastardlyStopsToCheat opponents at their own]] [[CheatersNeverProsper (usually rigged) games.]] Yami Yugi's game against an escaped convict even mirrors [[Film/ThePrincessBride The Man in Black's Battle of Wits]]

[[folder:Card Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' has a [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=83133 card]] by this name. Basically "I win because I know so much."

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Subverted with the Trial of Head, Hand and Heart in ''ComicBook/ElfQuest''. Rayek's solution to the Trial of Head is clearly smarter than Cutter's, but Cutter wins by luck. Rayek justifiably complains, but Savah, who's officiating, lets it slide because she knows the upcoming Trial of Heart will be more decisive.
* ComicBook/SpiderMan's favorite tactic for dealing with foes stronger than him.
* ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}'': John Constantine battles his foes by outwitting them rather than fighting them head on.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/BeetleBailey''. Beetle Bailey and Sergeant Snorkel are constantly trying to outwit each other as Beetle tries to avoid work or otherwise get on Sarge's nerves.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Surprisingly enough, most of the battles in the ''Fanfic/TamersForeverSeries'' are quite strategic in nature. The most prominent example would have to be the battle between Piedmon and Gallantmon. Which essentially involved Piedmon using every dirty trick he could think of and Takato [[XanatosSpeedChess adapting to and countering these moves]], all while engaged in an ''awesome'' midair duel.
* ''Fanfic/DeathNoteEquestria'', being (as the name suggests) an adaptation of ''Death Note'' with ponies, naturally has this as the core conflict between [[VillainProtagonist Twilight Sparkle]] and [[HeroAntagonist L]].

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/ThePrincessBride'': Westley's iocane powder game with Vizzini.
* From ''Film/{{Diggstown}}'':
-->''[before the 10th fight]''\\
'''Gillon:''' Never try and hustle a hustler, Mr. Caine! \\
''[after the 10th fight]''\\
'''Caine:''' Actually, I believe it goes: [[IronicEcho Never con a con-man]]. Especially one who's better than you are.
* ''Film/HuntingHumans'' is about a battle of wits between two CrazyPrepared, supposedly ingenious {{serial killer}}s, [[AwesomeMcCoolname Aric and Dark]]. The fact that this information comes form a ''Website/SomethingAwful'' [[http://www.somethingawful.com/d/movie-reviews/hunting-humans.php review]] might suggest something about how well it works.
* In ''Film/SherlockHolmesAGameOfShadows'', the final confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty is [[spoiler:Holmes initiating his SherlockScan to win the battle in his mind before winning it in reality, but Moriarty suddenly undercuts Holmes' strategizing with his own, so it's both of them having a fight in their minds. They both come to the conclusion that Holmes can't win the fight because of his injury, so the actual fight never happens because Holmes decides to TakeAThirdOption and pull himself and Moriarty over the railings and off a cliff.]]

* Sun Tzu's ''Literature/TheArtOfWar'' is practically a ''[[StrategyGuide handbook]]'' for these.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** ''Discworld/GoingPostal''. Moist von Lipwig vs Reacher Gilt
** Lord Vetinari vs... ''Everyone''
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': Harry Dresden has a lot of these. While there is invariably a good deal of action involved, he seldom (especially as the series progresses and he plans more carefully) rushes into a confrontation with absolutely no plan whatsoever. The main plan inevitably ends up going wrong to one extent or another, but even if his backup plan ends up being completely useless as well, the nature of magical combat means there'll always be a XanatosSpeedChess element to the confrontation that prevent it from being a pure slugfest.
* In ''Literature/TheLegendOfDrizzt'' the ThievesGuild Artemis Entreri joined as a teenager had something called The Quarter Challenge. Four glasses of water on a table with a spinning top, one is poisoned, the challenger and the challenged each have a one in four chance of dying, supposedly. Entreri challenged his sadistic "mentor", lightly chipped the poisoned goblet so a small glint would be visible from his seat only, and stopped the table so the poison would be in front of his mentor, who had the foresight to take the antidote beforehand, but the antidote makes one very hungry so Entreri poisoned the cake he kept in his office, but he also had a ''Potion of Neutralize Poison'', but [[spoiler: the poison in the cake was actually crushed glass. Artemis Entreri achieved the rank of lieutenant for his multi-layered deviousness at the age of 14.]]
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' gives us these dressed in many guises. Even as more conventional battles for when you want to curtail whole massive wars of sprawling stupidity. For all Westeros seems to value brawn over brains, when push comes to shove, the series hammers home the lesson that if you don't fight ''intelligently'' with an eye to the long game and using ''every'' possible tool you've got and ''not'' just leaving everything to your army or your physical and numerical strength alone, you can and will wind up losing down the line.
** The Lannisters as a clan specialise in the pragmatic and calculated use of wits... [[SnarkToSnarkCombat and sarcasm]]. [[ManipulativeBastard Tywin]] and [[GuileHero Tyrion]], in particular, are both masters: Tywin mainly through deeds, Tyrion very much through words. [[LadyMacbeth Cersei]] ''thinks'' she's good at this [[RegentForLife kind of thing]]. [[PassiveAggressiveKombat And, she is]]. [[VillainBall Up to a point]]. The problem is, she could [[SmugSnake never be as good as she believes herself to be]]. [[TheConsigliere Kevan]] is also a surprise contender to many all-too used to him living beneath his brother's shadow. [[BrilliantButLazy Jaime]], too, can also be a left-field surprise -- [[HiddenDepths when he gets his headspace right on a good day]], since he's not just the BloodKnight many view him as. He rather likes avoiding ''stupid'' or, worse, plain boring fights if trolling will work, instead. It's just a pity they all turn their skills on each other as much as they do upon anybody else.
** Littlefinger isn't adverse to pitting his wits and words against all comers. [[spoiler: And, by "all comers" we actually mean "[[DivideAndConquer the entire continent]]". Westeros hasn't realised it yet, but he's pretty much hung the Seven Kingdoms out to dry with his schemes. He's not so much avoiding wars as making sure that ''other'' people fight costly wars that'll benefit ''him''.]]
** Lord Varys is a one-man, government-subverting machine. He schemes like others eat. Saying he battles with wits to do this is pretty redundant.
** Historically, this was [[ZeroPercentApprovalRating Brynden]] [[HateSink Rivers']] whole shtick as [[HypercompetentSidekick Hand]] to two Targaryen kings. Every time the Blackfyres tried to start rebellion, he undercut each and every attempt using information, spies, underhanded tactics and chains of shady strategies and, quite frankly, terrorist actions they (and even his own allies) would never stoop to or expect -- including calculated assassinations of relatives at critical points. [[TheExtremistWasRight He got hated and exiled for these extreme actions, but]]... [[GradualGrinder the cunning worked]]: the Blackfyres wound up epically losing every time they took to the field, becoming less and less of a threat as they steadily haemorrhaged claimants, support, gold and other resources over years by refusing to give up.
* Numerous instances in ''Literature/WolfHall'', but there's a notable subversion near the end of ''Bring Up the Bodies''. Thomas Cromwell has prepared himself for a long battle of wits to entrap Mark Smeaton by positioning himself as trying to protect Anne Boleyn from all these enemies she's got. Thirty seconds in and Mark is boasting that Anne is desperately in love with him. Cromwell says after, "Well, there aren't many men alive who can say they took me by surprise."
* In ''Literature/TheMachineriesOfEmpire'', Cheris and Jedao manage to destroy the invariant ice shield by breaking the operator whose mind controlls it.

* In ''Theatre/DerRingDesNibelungen'''s third opera: ''Siegfried'', Wotan (initially disguised as a wanderer) challenges the dwarf Mime to a "Battle of Wits", with the wager being the loser's head, after the dwarf refuses to give him hospitality (all of thing was actually a scheme from Wotan who needed to give Mime an important information, the mere "Battle of Wits" was too with the purpose of Mime getting the information).

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Sherlock}}''. InsufferableGenius? Franchise/SherlockHolmes. Obsession with complex crimes? Sherlock Holmes. Similarly intelligent [[TheRival rival]]/[[ArchEnemy arch-foe]]? [[spoiler:Jim]] [[ArcWelding Moriarty]]. Other people might be in danger, but the fight comes down to who can be cleverer. [[spoiler:Holmes wins by faking his death, having anticipated Moriarty's plan. However, the Season 3 CliffHanger implies that Moriarty may have had an ace up his sleeve after all]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The final confrontation in ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' can be this, depending on your stats.
* The entire focus of the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' courtroom sections.
* One of the side-quests in the Original Campaign which comes with ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'' has you hunting down an InsufferableGenius escaped criminal known as ''The Stirge''. When you find him, he offers to play a game of wits with you for his life. If you follow the example he gives you when you get to play the real game,[[spoiler: you will inevitably lose.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* WesternAnimation/BugsBunny is the patron saint of this trope. Of course, most of his opponents come ill-equipped for a battle of wits, but are generally well-armed otherwise. Perhaps his worthiest opponent is self-proclaimed "super genius" Wile E. Coyote; in this case, Bugs uses Wile E.'s arrogance to his advantage.