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Archive for August, 2009

Musings on the Stab

Diplomacy is a game of negotiation and tactics leading to some grand strategy. Periodically this will lead to one player reneging on an agreement with another, in favor of greater tactical advantage. A direct assault on a former ally that leaves his rear open, or the total reversal of an alliance, is referred to as the stab.

Here’s something I’ve observed enough to think it’s a trend: at least among the players in my server’s pool, there is a lot of weak stabbing, almost seemingly for the sake of stabbing, as if pulling off the most obnoxious betrayal were the method of winning the game. Shae and I both agree on this, and I’m paraphrasing the single best advice he’s given me as a player:

Under no circumstances should you stab another player unless it will lead to the solo, or it will remove that player from the game in short order.

I have italicized and boldfaced the above quote because it should be the mantra of any player about to attempt a stab. After a protracted, careful consideration of the dynamics of the board, if you decide to stab a player, one of those two outcomes should be the result. Much, much more will be written about the art of the stab later on, but this one rule should be taken as absolute gospel by every single player who is serious about being good at Diplomacy.

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Shuhari and Diplomacy

In Japanese martial arts, and other disciplines, there is a concept called Shuhari, which translates roughly as “obey, digress, separate” or, more loosely and in context, “learn the rules, question the rules, transcend the rules”. It is a continuous cycle that is the basis for expanding from the fundamentals to a higher level of ability, and usually returning to fundamentals again.

As applied to Diplomacy, I believe it applies just as well to players of varying skill levels. The serious player, the one who really wants to do well, will spend hours reading strategy and tactics articles, telling you specific details and rules of thumb, proverbs of a sort, that the diligent student will apply religiously. These are, of course, learned in a rather academic context, and while they prove effective, after some experience, the astute player will begin to wonder why certain openings work, and why others won’t. They try other openings themselves, they try radical tactics and diplomatic strategies, they create alliances that shouldn’t really work.

In doing so, the budding expert begins to see why certain rules are, and what they are good for, and when they are really applicable. Eventually, the player begins to flow freely, playing a game that is independent of any discernible tactics or strategy that were taken from a book or internet article. Perhaps they develop a few moves of their own that nobody else had really employed, or they begin startling other players with their adept play.

The curious thing about this last stage, Ri, is that it eventually cycles back to studying Shu again, but with new eyes. There are deeper and deeper meanings to the rules. Germany and Austria don’t go to war, and not just because it causes problems for them in 1902. English fleets in the English Channel aren’t just a problem because of France’s need to cover Bre. There are layers that are very situational, and which can only be appreciated with a high level of analyzed experience.

I think that’s the key point here, is that the experiences of each player must be analyzed. Many players pick up the game, play through, do poorly, pick up another game, play through, do poorly again, and never ask why they aren’t progressing. Some are too arrogant to even admit failure, blaming the poor play of the opposition when it is that player’s own poor positioning that led to their early demise. Once the individual tactics and strategies of the game are memorized, the real learning requires that the question “Why?” be asked ad nauseam, either from more experienced players, or by self-reflection and studying why the game went a certain way, where the turning point was, and how to sway it the next time. Only by assimilating this and then making such judgement calls in the live game rather than after the fact, by seeing the game for what it is, can real mastery be attained.

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In my last post I discussed how important control of Gal is for Austria, with some discussion of what happens if Russia occupies or doesn’t occupy Gal in Spring 1901. The flip side of this coin, obviously, is what it all means for Russia. So let’s look at a few of the same scenarios as discussed in that previous post.

Russian occupation of Gal is a clear diplomatic signal to all powers that Russia is moving south and he is moving against Austria. The other possibility is that Russia greatly fears Austrian aggression, and in an effort to keep Austria out, the Russian attempts to bounce Austria. We’ll break these scenarios down, and what they mean for the Russian position against Austria.

Let’s look at the Russian aggression scenario first. As Russia, you have decided that you and one of either Italy or Turkey (or both!) are going to dismantle the Austrian. The only Russian army readily available to attack Austria is the army in War, as the army in Mos has to travel to Ukr first, and the fleet in Sev is useless for anything but occupying Rum in the case of a war with Austria. You have no choice in the matter, you have to get into Gal.

Assuming Austria sees this coming, which is entirely likely, the map for Fall 1901 might look something like this:

A first turn A Vie-Gal A War-Gal bounce

A first turn A Vie-Gal A War-Gal bounce

The fleet in Tri may or may not have moved to Alb, but this is relatively inconsequential. You may think you are in a very strong position, but the interesting thing about Gal is its asymmetric tactical importance: for Austria, an empty Gal is the same as one occupied by Austria; for Russia, an empty Gal is a giant wall that requires a great deal to get past. Austria will pull out one build this year, possibly two if he had moved Tri-Alb and he and Italy aren’t fighting. Vie can happily move Vie-Gal, which means that if Germany has made an anti-Russian move in the first turn, the army in War is tied down and can’t do anything useful about it if your primary goal is to occupy Gal. A first turn bounce in Gal, or any unoccupied Gal at the end of Spring 1901, sets Austria up for a very pleasant Fall 1901, filled with relatively straightforward choices.

The alternative scenario is as follows. Let’s suppose Austria opens Vie-Bud Bud-Ser and Russia opens War-Gal. The strategic situation here is totally different. Austria has to choose between a sacrifice a home supply center or clearing out of Ser. This also leads to an interesting decision by Russia, and it could lead to multiple interesting outcomes. Russia must gamble between Austria deciding to cover Bud and Vie, or holding Ser. If the Russian thinks Austria will cover his home SCs, then he should do nothing, hold Gal, and let Austria lose control of Ser in an attempt to cover both his home SCs. If he thinks Austria will continue to stab south against Turkey, he should move for either Bud or Vie, which gives him a 50% chance of picking up an Austrian SC. This is clearly a truly terrible Austrian opening in the face of anything but assured Russian friendship.

A more likely scenario is as follows: Austria moves Bud-Ser, and leaves Gal unbounced. This is a slightly easier defensive position for Austria, but it is still a poor position to be in.

Austria has not bounced.

Austria has not bounced.

Austria can self-bounce, and assuming he has moved his fleet to Alb, can still expect to bounce any Turkish advance on Greece, or pick up a second build. However, the occupation of Greece is no longer a guaranteed thing, as Austria must self-bounce in Bud to prevent Russian occupation. This is an aggressive first position, and leaves Austria in an awkward position, but it does not spell his demise, particularly if he has gotten into Gre.

The early Austrian position is surprisingly difficult to crack, even if Russia occupies Gal and has Turkish support. Austria gaining one build and filling in Bud with an army is all it takes to create a very hard nut to crack, one that will require Turkey to gain a build in Greece (assuming Turkey is your only ally in this). However, Russian occupation of Gal changes the dynamic of the war. As we have seen, if the Russian army does not occupy Gal in the Spring of 1901, Austria has a much freer hand to pick up two builds, assuming Italian neutrality. Paradoxically, despite seizing the early initiative with the occupation of Gal, Russia’s hands are still tied in attacking Austria until either Turkey gets an army in Greece (which then causes big trouble for Serbia) or Russia gets an army in Rum.

Because of the diplomatic troubles inherent in inflating Turkey quickly while Italy is left with only Tun, there is a good chance the Austrian player could have a very firm rear flank, trading aid in keeping Greece out of Turkish hands for future builds. There are alternative openings, such as bouncing in Gal, moving into Ukr, and having the fleet hold in Sev, so that you can get an army into Rum in the Fall, but even this only goes so far, particularly if Austria manages two builds.

As Russia, the door to Austria is Gal, but unfortunately the occupation of Gal is only the first step. It affords no overwhelming tactical advantage like a German occupation of Nth or a French occupation of Bel offers. The Eastern side of the board tends to develop slower because of the absence of these tactically critical supply centers. Whoever occupies Gal, be it Russia or Austria, gets to dictate who has to play defensive, but it by no means knocks the door open to the other side’s SCs.

For my final installment on the importance of Gal, I will look at the impact the Galician Question has on Turkish strategy and tactics.

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Turkey: 1901 Strategies

Turkey is another nation that faces limited, but extremely momentous, decisions- like England, it sits in a corner. While this makes it inherently difficult to conquer, it also makes it difficult to push out past a fairly small perimeter- this is something important to keep in mind as you look at the map and read about various tactics.

Dip_Opening_T
Turkey has only 3 neutral supply centers and 1 enemy home center within its possible reach in 1901, the most limited selection of any power on the board. What’s worse, two of those neutral centers can be only reached by Turkey in the fall, but can be reached by other powers in the Spring. Further narrowing the field of possible orders, Turkey has the one unit on the board (A Con) whose first round move is almost mandatory- Bulgaria, the only neutral SC on the board that is indisputably Turkey’s in 1901. If you manage not to hold that in the first year, something has gone horribly wrong. The other two units, then, are where the interest picks up.  Even more than other nations, Turkish moves in 1901 are dominated by the elephant in the early game of any Diplomacy match- Is there or is there not a Russian-Turkish alliance (the “Juggernaught”) and how much do you want to try to fake people out if so?

Before discussing specific moves, the overall strategy needs discussion. In general, if you can, a R/T alliance is one of the strongest possible on the board- even if it favors Russia slightly more than Turkey because it’s easier for Turkey to get bogged down in the Balkans. The problem is that everyone else competent on the board is well aware of this, and if it’s blatant that an R/T alliance has formed you can be fairly sure Germany, Austria, and Italy are going to start working together- and that’s doubly bad news for Turkey. So your goal is to camouflage a juggernaught for as long as you reasonably can, while still ensuring a build.

  1. Russian Attack Openings
    These openings have the common feature that they involve F Ankara-Black Sea. They can be a smokescreen, especially with a prearranged bounce in the Black Sea; or Russia can move to Rumania by arrangement and then in the fall allow Turkey to take Rumania and disband Russia’s fleet. Understandably this is rare, since Russia gives up hope of a southern build.

    1. Balkan Attack
      This is the order where A Smyrna moves to Constantinople. It is a fairly balanced set of orders, combining apparent threat to Russia and Austria alike, and lets you apply force to Serbia, Greece, and Rumania even with a Black Sea bounce in the Fall.
    2. Crimean Attack
      In this order, A Smyrna moves instead to Armenia. This is the most ostensibly anti-Russian opening possible, giving if Black Sea succeeds two units on Sevastopol in the Fall; but even this can be a stealth R/T with F BLA C A ARM-BLA-BUL or RUM!
  2. Mediterranean Attack Opening
    In these, F Ankara moves into Constantinople instead of the Black Sea. There’s really only one companion to this; A Smyrna H  provides cover on Turkey’s north shore in case Russia attacks the Black Sea anyway because you can self-bounce in Ankara while holding Bulgaria, and then building your build as a new F Ank. Typically the companion to this is trying to bounce in Greece, and being satisfied with one build as you move F Con-Aeg and build another fleet in Smyrna. Two fleets in the Mediterranean in 1902 is a disaster scenario for Italy, who is in very real danger of getting swamped early; however, if Russia cooperates, this is the clearest possible indicator of an R/T alliance.
  3. Turkish Hedgehog
    Properly speaking this is a variant of the Mediterranean push, but is a notable enough opening on its own to merit a separate entry. It goes like this: A Con-Bul, F Ank-Con, A Smy-Arm. You’re attacking in all directions at once; the optimal compliment to this is to persuade Russia to let you have the Black Sea, and then just don’t take it. If he does, you can self bounce in Ankara and hold Bulgaria; if he doesn’t, you can play merry hell with Sevastopol with that army in Armenia while holding Bulgaria or bouncing in Greece and moving into the Mediterranean early. This is a high risk high reward strategy, and signals an A/T more than anything else (an alliance not typically long for this world) as it is hard to ‘pull back’ into an R/T alliance. If you want to convince a wary Austria and Italy you have no desire to steamroll them, though, this is a good move.

Overall, as a matter of personal taste I tend to default towards a Mediterranean push; I almost always try to rope Russia into an alliance and am dubious about any competent player being taken in by a ruse for long enouch to make up for the loss of tempo by moving ‘backwards’ with respect to Italy and Austria, both certain midgame bitter enemies of you.

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England: 1901 Strategies

For the first of the 1901 Opening Strategy posts, I will start off with a nation that has only one or two real decisions to make on the first move, but they are colossal ones- England. First, to visualize the ‘reach’ of England in the first year, I find the following types of maps helpful; colored in blue shading are all sea and land spaces which an English unit can possibly occupy (no matter how outlandish) after Fall 1901.

Dip_Opening_E
What does this map tell us? In this case, that there are 5 supply centers that are potential targets for England in the first year. You need to get at least one of them, or you’re going to get swamped when France, Germany, or both see you as easy meat after a failed first year and build fleets. Belgium, Holland, and Denmark are 3 neutral SCs you can go after on mainland Europe. Holland and Denmark are generally considered in Germany’s sphere of influence, and more importantly start out next to Germany’s home centers. You’ll have to pull off some major trickery to get in either of those in 1901, and you’ll be strongly committing yourself to a E-G war off the bat, which can be suboptimal. Belgium and Norway, then, are the traditional English targets in 1901 and are the 2 neutral SCs most often considered to be in England’s “sphere of influence”- although Russia CAN move to Norway in Fall 1901, it has to completely commit to a northern strategy to do so, and this is rarer than you think.
Aside from the neturals, however, you can also attack Brest in 1901 if France is daft enough to let you into the English Channel and you’re snaketongued enough to make him keep it uncovered in the Fall for you to waltz in. While rare, this is often almost a knockout blow for France in 1901, especially if you also get Norway. Typically this is off the table, however, and Belgium/Norway are the two targets with Norway being the prime candidate for your first build.
So how does this translate to opening moves?

The first thing you need to know is this golden rule for England: Do not under any circumstances lose control of the North Sea sea zone. It borders 6 supply centers- more than any other non-SC space on the board, including two English home centers. For that reason it is absolutely and non-negotiably vital to England’s position. That leaves the question of what to do with your other fleet, and the answer you come up with to this determines your opening. There are two typical answers, and each of those has two generally seen choices for where the army in Liverpool moves, which makes for a total of 4 notable English openings.

  1. Southern Opening
    This is the name given to the openings where you move F London-English Channel and F Edinburgh-North Sea. Imaginatively named, it moves you south, and indicates a focus on making absolutely sure you get Belgium in 1901 more commonly than Norway.

    1. Southern Opening, Welsh Variant
      In this, A Liverpool moves south to Wales. This is what you pick if you’re SURE you will be taking the Channel- if you don’t, you are in trouble, because you have two units unable to attack any SCs in the Fall and everyone on the board knows you’ll be moving F North Sea-Norway, leaving that key space open for Germany to move in if it wants to put the screws to England quickly. But if it works, and you start Fall 1901 with F ENG, NTH and A WAL, you can keep everyone guessing with Fall. You could take Norway and land an army in Picardy, completely discomposing France’s defensive position; you can land in Brest, and make the attempt to take France’s home SC ASAP. Nice job if you can manage it. Or, most commonly, you can launch a supported convoy into Belgium and be sure of a build and a foothold on the Continent.
    2. Southern Opening, Yorkshire Variant
      In this, the army moves to Yorkshire. It’s a bet-hedging opening, and the one typically done if France agrees to a bounce in the English Channel. With it, you can convoy into Norway instead of moving a fleet there, or try your luck in Belgium anyway, without leaving the North Sea open. Another note for both Southern openings if the move to the English Channel succeeds- if France has moved so that it cannot self-bounce in Brest, i.e. neither army moves to Picardy or Gascony, it can often be a better idea to move from the Channel to the Mid Atlantic instead of Brest; MAO is often a key sea zone throughout the game, and occupying it, forcing France to reoccupy Brest (and not incidentally be unable to build a 2nd northern fleet after 1901) can often put the French entirely on the wrong foot in an early E/F war.
  1. Northern Opening
    In these openings, F London moves to the North Sea, and F Edinburgh into the Norwegian Sea. These are the most common English moves, since usually France is quite willing to move to the Mid-Atlantic rather than the Channel and it can absolutely guarantee a build- which is something that can’t be said of the Southern openings.Typically these are seen as anti-Russian openings, and indicating a detente or even a nascent E/F/G Triple Alliance (or at least discussions to that end that England doesn’t wish to ruin!)

    1. Churchill Variant
      Named after everyone’s favorite Prime Minister for his scheme to invade Norway in WW2, this variant includes A Liverpool-Edinburgh. This is the single most popular English opening in my experience, because you have the flexibility to launch a supported attack on Norway if Russia commits north, or to convoy your army with NWG instead of NTH and retain freedom to use your North Sea fleet to interfere in Belgium/Holland/Denmark. Sounds great- but the drawback is if France actually does open to the English Channel, you’re in trouble because you have to try to cover London and can’t set up a mutual bounce, leaving you open to accidentally abandoning the key North Sea sea zone.
    2. Yorkshire Variant
      This variant trades off the flexibility of the Churchill opening for security. Even if France ends up opening to the Channel, you can cover it with your army and still be able to hit Norway with a supported attack- hence, this is the only opening for England where there is no possible combination of enemy moves in 1901 which prevent England from gaining a build in 1901. Every single other possible opening has a foil with sufficient cooperation from other nations. Should the French not open to the Channel, then again you have the choice of a supported convoy into Norway or unsupported attacks into Norway and Belgium both, or some more exotic Fall move into Holland or Denmark as Russian and German moves allow.

One of those four is liable to be the English opening almost every game; all others either leave the North Sea exposed, something which is playing with fire at best, or clearly less flexible than one of the openings presented. In general, think of the Southern openings as anti-French, and the Northern openings as anti-Russian; the opening which commits the least to antagonizing either of those two is probably the Yorkshire variant of the northern opening. Regardless, the overall message is clear; in Spring 1901, England’s job is to pick a center, be it Belgium, Norway, or something less likely to be taken, and move to maximize its chances of taking it and getting that vital build in 1901. The final choice of which opening to pick comes down to the small-d diplomacy England does with France, Germany, and Russia.

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Spring 1901

Contrary to the reactions most people have after they see the results of the very first move of the game, you can’t win the game in the first move. You can lose it there, though, but not through a poor move selection- just by poor small-d diplomacy. The important thing to consider when you’re making your first moves, even moreso than any other, is how everyone else will see what you’ve done.  Always ask yourself: What am I doing, and why? That’s the key question. You have to know what you want- a solo, a 3 way draw, not to be eliminated- and be able to draw a mental pathway from where you are through what you want to do finishing up at that outcome. Spring 1901 is not too early to keep endgames in mind- if you’re Austria, for example, you had better be fully aware that there is virtually no way both you and Turkey are going to be thriving in the endgame, so if you choose to befriend Turkey- be aware of that limitation.

A sequence of smaller articles over the coming days will go into specific openings and strategies that are fairly widely recognized in the Diplomacy community, and what they mean for you and how you may interpret them if you see them being used by others. There are some general rules, however, a few of which overlap on the earlier advice for new players.

  • There are no prizes for occupying Supply Centers in the Spring. Only Fall. If you’re France, and you get the funny feeling that maybe Italy is about to try some funny stuff- keep Marseille in place! You can always move to Spain in the fall. The same goes for France if you want to self-bounce in Burgundy to make sure Germany doesn’t attack you from Munich so soon; if you have an understanding with England, you can still move F Brest-Midatlantic Ocean and then F Midatlantic Ocean-Portugal in the fall, along with A Marseille-Spain, and still get two builds.
  • Don’t get 3 builds. Don’t even try. There is absolutely nothing that will unite potential enemies faster than seeing one nation with 3 builds and maybe one other with 2 and the rest 1. That extra build is almost never worth it, even in no-press games; you’d be shocked how well players can still coordinate their efforts without press.
  • Don’t get zero builds. You need the flexibility a build in Winter ’01 offers you, or you’re again probably out of luck. Keep this in mind while you’re making your Spring moves- put yourself in a position to guarantee (or almost guarantee- few things are certain in Diplomacy) at least one build.
  • Don’t leave your own home centers open to invasion. If you lose a home center in Fall 1901, your game is likely to be over before it properly begins. If you have doubts that your neighbor may be planning an attack on you, be it France to the English Channel, Germany to Burgundy, Venice to Trieste or vice versa, defend your home turf.
  • Talk, talk, talk to everyone, no matter how far away they are. I know this was said verbatim already. It’s that important, and it’s even more important for the first move than any other. Very often the other players will get impressions of you from the first press that will stay unchanged for the entire game. Present a front of competence (no matter if this is your first game, don’t tell anyone that!) and civility, and it will pay off in spades.
  • Know what effect your moves will have on the entire board. If you’re Russia and your first move is A Moscow-St Petersburg, you are either going to suck England into Scandinavia and leave France completely open to dominate western Europe or you are going to completely scare England away and force him to go through France. There is no middle ground. Other nations have similar dilemmas, where their moves may have unexpected consequences around the entire board.
  • Be familiar with opportunity costs. No move in Diplomacy is free, there is always something else a unit could be doing that may be more valuable. In the Russian example above, if you go north, you only have two units to contend against all of Austria and Turkey in Fall. If you’re not confident that you have a solid alliance with at least one of those two, you need that third Moscow army in the south to hold the line. And so on. There’s only one unit on the board where there is only one correct move in Spring 1901, and that’s the Turkish army in Constantinople. Every single other unit has multiple valid options.

One final word of general advice for the Spring 1901 moves: DON’T PANIC. Even if you think you’ve botched it, there are no unrecoverable situations this early in a game, especially if you have kept the lines of communication open like you should be and can keep talking. Remember, there’s always somebody who doesn’t want to see you eliminated early and bloat your neighbor’s supply centers that will be willing to help, be it with a second front or helpful tactical information.

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There are a few very pivotal non-SC spaces on the Diplomacy map. Bel is the lynchpin for any war between France and Germany. Eng is always a point of serious contention between England and France, even when they are on good terms. Ion is frequently a source of friction for Italy and Turkey, and usually determines who gets to control the Mediterranean.

For this article, we look at the importance of controlling Gal. This little province borders four supply centers, three of them home supply centers (Bud and Vie for Austria, and War for Russia). Any war between Russia and Austria is determined by who gains early control of Gal, and for Austria in particular. This article will focus on the Austrian perspective, particularly the early game.

Gal is the big opening that leads to any invasion of Austria, and has the effect of freezing Austria’s progress to protect his home supply centers. A Russian army in Gal is a serious problem for any Archduke, as it borders two home supply centers, and is readily accessible by Russia. For starters, it is relatively easy to hold Gal once taken. Russia in Rum and War, two centers he is likely to occupy anyway, and by supporting Gal from War, and keeping an Austrian army out of Rum, can hold on to it indefinitely. Any Austrian invasion invariably must go through Gal, as it is the only direct land access to any of the Russian home SCs.

Let’s first look at what happens if Russia occupies Gal in Spring 1901, along with some otherwise fairly standard opening moves. Here, Russia has A Gal F Rum, and Austria has A Vie A Ser F Alb. Turkey has A Bul, and it doesn’t really matter what’s coming up behind it.

Russia occupies Gal in the opening move, unopposed.

Russia occupies Gal in the opening move, unopposed.

In this situation, say Austria is in precariously good relations with Turkey and Russia, and being the end of Spring 1901, no hostilities are likely to have flared. Russia in Gal causes serious troubles, though. If Austria were interested in occupying Gre, he could have unquestioning leverage over Turkey with his support from Ser. With a Russian army in Gal, however, the safe early move absolutely requires that Austria order A Vie-Bud A Ser-Bud for a self-bounce to protect, and the realistic scenario here is for one Austrian build. If Turkey and Russia are allied against Austria, this is a bad turn of events, as a Turkish move of F Con-Aeg in the Fall will lead to almost certain loss of Gre in the long run, particularly with Austria facing Russian aggression.

Furthermore, Austria has lost some serious negotiating leverage. Russia is in Gal, which means he gets to dictate the flow of action for Austria until he is removed. The consideration of Vie and Bud being constantly under threat pins two armies down with only one, and at best wastes a turn just removing Russia from Gal. Russia’s presence in Gal also causes trouble even if Turkey and Austria are allies. If the Turkish fleet is in Con rather than Bla, there is no way to leverage Russia out of Rum, the first step of an Austro-Turkish alliance against Russia. Overall, this leads to a protracted conflict that leaves Austria exposed to Italian intervention.

Now let’s look at the case of Austria bouncing Russia in Gal by moving A Vie-Gal to counter Russia’s A War-Gal. This is a much more tenable position for Austria. In the case of non-cooperation with Turkey, Austria is now free to occupy Gre unopposed with his army in Alb.

Austria and Russia bounce in Gal.

Austria and Russia bounce in Gal.

The army in Vie is free to move Vie-Gal again, which will bounce Russia again, but with two builds leading to two armies, by Spring 1902 Austria will have overwhelming forces to walk into Gal unopposed. This swing is huge, as it affords Austria free hand in containing Turkish aggression, if it happens, as well as keeping Russia out of Austrian territory.

If Austria and Turkey are allied, all’s the better. Rum is sitting alone, with zero support, and Turkey can move A Bul-Rum while Austria moves F Alb-Gre. This puts Russia on his back heels, and leaves him in serious trouble for Spring 1902.

To count the tally, Austria keeping Russia out of Gal affords him one extra build if Turkey is a non-combatant or a hostile, for a net gain of +1. If there is an AT alliance, this nets Austria one extra build, one extra build for Turkey, and a lost build for Russia, for a net gain of +3 for an AT alliance. These overwhelming numbers spell the end for Russia, and a quick victory for the AT alliance.

So clearly, Gal can be the difference between an extra build for Austria, with all the leverage that four Austrian armies affords. For the next part, we will look at the same situation with Russia, and for the final part, a look at how who controls Gal changes prospects for Turkey.

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