definition 1. (usually used with a singular verb) the science of maneuvering military forces against an enemy.
example: The cadet might become a corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or captain in the corps if he showed aptitude for drill and tactics. (Jacob Dolson Cox, Military Reminiscences of the Civil War, Volume 1: April 1861-November 1863)
definition 2: (used with a plural verb) the maneuvers so used.
example: “Cnut with his archers formed part of the line outside the array of English knights, and the arrows of the English bowmen fell fast as bands of the Bedouin horse circled round them in the endeavor to draw the Christians on to the attack. For some time Saladin persisted in these tactics.” (G.A. Henty, The Boy Knight)
definition 3: (used with a plural verb) skillful maneuvers for any kind of advantage.
example: My tactics for getting a raise were successful.
The difference between tactics and strategy?
“Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do. Strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.” (Savielly Tartakower, Chess Grandmaster, b. 1887- d. 1956)
Gee, thanks, Savielly. In fact, this is a brilliant, if gnomic, encapsulation of the difference between tactics and strategy. But it helps to have first read one or two more prosaic explanations first.