Some people “win” by overpowering the competition. Others do it by not competing at all.
Clever Bastards are the methodological opposites of the Optimizers. While Optimizers assume that they will win via mechanical dominance, the Clever Bastard takes the opposite approach, using manipulation and clever in-game planning to get around an encounter. To a Clever Bastard, a game is now about traipsing into the next room to see what it holds, as much as luring the enemy out of their comfort zone into his, or bypassing the enemy completely.
After all, (unless you’re playing specific games that reward experience via kills as opposed to successful encounters) a battle avoided while achieving your objective, is still a victory.
As with the Optimizer, there are GMs who feel compelled that somehow “punish” the Clever Bastards for doing what they do best. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Clever Bastards can sink an entire week’s worth of planning by getting around them with a clever plan or calling on allies that the GM never considered they’d actually use.
As a GM, I understand the situation as I’ve been forced to flush my plans down the toilet as soon as these players hit the table. That said, I don’t really see this as something negative. If the players find a way to get around what the villains have planned, then they should be rewarded for it, right?
There’s no need for a GM to react by putting them in situations forcibly, railroading them so that none of their ploys work just because. I prefer a Simulationist approach, where the villains react as people, and plans can go terribly wrong because of an oversight as opposed to GM fiat.
Both the Clever Bastard and the Optimizer are types of players that can be massive assets to a gaming group. When put together, they complement each others strengths and cover up the other’s weaknesses, resulting in a team that is admittedly quite like the ones we see in most genre fiction.