Mao articulated three phases in a protracted war to overthrow government and establish a new order.
The first phase is the true guerrilla phase, where insurgent forces hide among the population and slowly gain strength. They fight only when the odds are favorable, as they have no need to take and hold territory. They bide their time while growing in strength.
According to Mao, the most critical decision comes next. The insurgent leadership must determine when its forces are ready to seize territory, specifically territory where the government is weak.
Eventually, insurgent forces would be strong enough to enter a third phase, where they would overwhelm government forces and fight all the way to the capital.