This paper revisits the rationalist conceptions of warlordism in civil wars, which has amounted to the greed hypothesis as opposed to grievance. This argument states that rebels are not motivated to generate public goods-the betterment of society-but seek private gain. While initial studies focused on explaining why civil war breaks out in the first instance, there is now increasing interest in modelling violence and warlordism in an ongoing civil war. In this paper, a contextual model is suggested to explain the dynamics of violence in the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. We conceptualize a game theoretical model, which distinguishes extrinsic C greed') and intrinsic motivations ('pride'). We utilize narratives from the civil war of Sri Lanka and model a game that involves two layers of actors: combatants (rebels and army) and civilians (farmers of different ethnicities). In order to understand the causal linkages between greed, pride and grievance, we analyze local conflicts over resources situated in the civil war zones and ask how these localized conflicts are intertwined with the broader political struggles.