The Fourth Reich

Germany in the Modern Variant

Vincent Mous-Harboesgaard

Brief Introduction

Welcome to the fifth article in my continuing series about the Modern variant. In the first article you got an introduction to the modern variant, as well as information on how to get started playing it. In the other three articles I discussed the opening strategies for Britain, Egypt, and France.

This time we are looking at the new powerhouse in western Europe, reunified Germany. With the capital moving from Bonn to Berlin, Time Magazine has called the new Germany the Berlin Republic and the old one the Bonn Republic. Who knows what the Berlin Republic will bring to Europe -- will it pursue European unity, or fall the way of the Weimar Republic and give way to a Fourth Reich? Well, one way or another, you may soon find yourself as the leader of this new country as Europe disintegrates around you in a game of modern diplomacy?

First things first, though. Since last issue, a few more modern games have ended. Turkey, led by Christopher Hack, swept to another solo victory in lie2me (partial press, no-NMR), making it two in a row after Robert Shepard's victory in liarliar. Russia, under the brilliant command of Anthony Nichols, then conquered Europe in an impressive blitzkrieg, doubling from 14 to 29 centers in four years, before coasting to victory in day2day (no press, no-NMR). An honorable mention goes to Rick Desper who played France and ended up in second place with the best showing until then for that country.

Russia then participated in two three-way draws. In euro95 (no press, no-NMR), the longest lasting modern game --- it finished in 2023, the spoils were shared between Egypt, Turkey and Russia, led by Eric Moore, Joseph W. Carl, Jr., and Dean Gordon/Dave Kleiman respectively. The final position in that game is interesting, with Egypt holding North Africa, Spain, France and Italy, but not Egypt. Russia's other three-way draw was in despair (no press, NMR), along with France and Italy. Congratulations to Michael Walsh, Kent Liljegren, and Ian York for leading these countries to victory in this fast-paced game.

Just as I finished writing this article, the game cairo finished in a four-way draw between Spain, Poland, Italy, and Turkey. These are the first draw participations for both Spain and Poland. You'll have to wait until the next article to see the end game map, summary and end-of-game statements for this one.

For those of you who want a challenge, try winning or drawing with a power that has not been able to do so yet. The rankings until now are:

RankCountrySolo WinsThree-Way DrawsFour-Way Draws
3Egypt and Russia120
7Britain and France010
10Germany and Ukraine000

And now, having updated you on the state of the current Modern games, let's move on to take an in-depth look at Germany.

"Marks out of 10 for potential (no-press)
Britain - 9
Egypt - 8
Germany - 3
France - 2"
     -- Toby Tyrell
By the way, I am still looking for comments about strategy and opening names for the remaining countries (everything except Britain, Egypt, France and Germany), so feel free to send your thoughts and suggestions to me at [email protected]. The next article will be on Italy, so I am especially interested in your thoughts on it.

List of Openings for Germany

What follows is a list of the different openings used for Germany in the Modern games that have been played until now, as well as a few more that may be of interest. As I am the GM of many Modern games, and an observer in many more, I asked players for their opinions on strategies for the various powers in the modern variant, but also to propose some openings and to suggest a name for them -- the winning name and the name of the person suggesting it appears along with every opening.

Neutral Openings

Pax Germanica
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea. (Baltic Variant)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Hamburg. (Coastal Variant)
Germany: Army Munich HOLD.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Holland.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
This is probably the most neutral opening for Germany -- especially the Coastal Variant. Germany tries to pick up Belgium, Holland, and Denmark. The move to Bornholm Sea may alarm Russia a bit, but since Germany didn't move to Denmark, Russia will easily be convinced that Denmark is the destination.

Germany: Fleet Berlin, No Order Processed.
Germany: Army Munich, No Order Processed.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg, No Order Processed.
Germany: Army Frankfurt, No Order Processed.
Okay, I was wrong -- this is the most neutral opening!

Lebensraum (Nate Johnston)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea. (Baltic Variant)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Hamburg. (Coastal Variant)
Germany: Army Munich -> Austria.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Holland.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
Here, Germany pushes towards all neutral SCs, trying to get some breathing space. This is neutral, because Germany doesn't concentrate on anyone. If Italy has claimed Austria, the move may be seen as hostile. Gives a chance at Austria in addition to the Lowlands and Denmark.

Alliance Building Openings

Axis (Ian York)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Hamburg.
Germany: Army Munich SUPPORT Italian Army Milan -> Austria.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Holland.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Saxony. (Bavarian Variant)
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr. (Rhine Variant)
Ian York points out that "the aim is to gain a strong alliance with Italy without offending potential allies in Britain, France, and Russia."

Franco-German Accord
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea.
Germany: Army Munich SUPPORT French Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Holland.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
Rick Desper notes this as "a possible opening for allying with France."

General Offensive Openings

Anschluss (Ian York)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea.
Germany: Army Munich -> Austria.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Holland. (Lowlands Variant)
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Denmark. (Baltic Variant)
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Saxony.
Ian York says, "A strong push east might be interesting, but doesn't seem to offer many rewards. It might start with an Anschluss of Austria? This might alienate Italy, Poland, and Russia, so France and Britain would be good allies."

Nate Johnson, though, notes that he "can't think of a good application, unless Balkan dominance is your goal. Probably good if in concert with Italy and Ukraine, and if England and France are friendly."

Atlantic Wall
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea.
Germany: Army Munich -> Ruhr.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Holland.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Hamburg.
This opening sends all your forces towards your Atlantic coast. The openings allows Germany to try sending Holland into the North Sea in case Britain moves out, but still take the center by moving the army in Hamburg in behind the fleet.

Says Stephen Breininger, "This aggressive opening leaves your southern flank open! but it might work to gain the upper hand on Britain. You lose the chance to support your allies into Switzerland and Austria, but if Italy and France bounce in Switzerland, you're all set."

The Keg (Simon Withers)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea.
Germany: Army Munich -> Austria.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Denmark.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Saxony.
This opening seeks to take control of both Scandinavia and Austria. As such, it is likely to offend Russia, Britain, and Italy. Only one center, Denmark, is guaranteed.

Simon Withers call this a "good second choice for an opening, sending both fleets towards Sweden, but instead of moving on Holland bringing two armies to bear against Austria. This opening would be used when you fear a hostile Italy, and also can be turned into an assault on Poland (which, in my opinion, is not a good thing to do)."

Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea.
Germany: Army Munich -> Austria. (Austrian Variant)
Germany: Army Munich -> Switzerland. (Swiss Variant)
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Denmark.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
Another opening in which Germany goes for Sweden. Germany's power is diffused, though, as he also goes for German-speaking Austria or Switzerland -- probably against the wishes of Italy or France.

Anti-French Openings

Western Offensive (Michael Walsh)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm (Baltic Variant)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Hamburg. (Dutch and Danish Variants)
Germany: Army Munich -> Switzerland.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Denmark. (Danish Variant)
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Holland. (Dutch and Baltic Variants)
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
This is anti-French unless France has offered to give up Switzerland, which would be unusual. In such a case, the move to Ruhr is both defensive and allows a supported move into Alsace in the fall or an attack on Belgium. The two fleets go after neutrals to get some builds. The Dutch Variant gives a better chance at Belgium, in exchange for a lesser chance at Denmark.

Ian York notes that "The Frankfurt to Ruhr move is good if you are unsure of France, or if you want to stake a claim on Belgium."

"If I'm going after France," Michael Walsh writes, "this would be my opening. Concede the possibility of losing Denmark to a bounce in favor of securing Belgium with the support from Holland. Bounce the French (or Italians) in Switzerland as many times as necessary to deny them the extra build early."

Schleiffen Plan (Nate Johnston)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea. (Naval Variant)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Hamburg. (Coastal Variant)
Germany: Army Munich -> Alsace.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Holland.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
Nate Johnston comments that "this would be fairly effective in securing the Lowlands, and in an optimal scenario you might even secure the Lowlands, Denmark, and a French center before anyone knew it. You must rely on the good faith of Poland, however, who will probably be occupied with either Russia or Ukraine at this point."

Rhine Charge
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea.
Germany: Army Munich -> Alsace.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Denmark.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
Germany launches an offensive against both Russia and France. If Munich makes it to Alsace, Ruhr will have to defend Munich from Switzerland. Otherwise, Ruhr can take Belgium or be supported into Alsace.

Anti-Italian Opening

Alpine Gambit (Dean Gordon)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Hamburg.
Germany: Army Munich -> Austria.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Holland.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Munich
A strong move on Austria, including the backup to hold it or attack Switzerland. The fleets probably pick up two centers. Italy might be offended, but other powers will not.

Dean Gordon calls this opening "Pro-Poland and possibly Anti-British."

Anti-Russian Openings

Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea.
Germany: Army Munich -> Ruhr. (Rhine Variant)
Germany: Army Munich -> Austria. (Austrian Variant)
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Denmark.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Hamburg.
This opening, while not pro-British, is anti-Russian as it attempts to take Sweden. This is a strong opening as Germany could possibly hold Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Sweden at the end of 1995. The Austrian Variant might be seen as aggressive by Italy.

Writes Mark Friedman, "a pretty unconventional move for Germany!? The idea is simple: don't antagonize the French. Antagonize the British. I don't have much faith in this opening, but if the French don't take a piece out of your hide, you could have the core of a nice alliance."

Simon Withers believes that "the strongest opening for Germany would be one that pushes with as much might as possible into Scandinavia. My preference is to go for Holland (with the Hamburg army) and leave the defense of the nation to the last army and diplomacy."

Scandinavian Squeeze (Robert Shepard)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Bornholm Sea.
Germany: Army Munich SUPPORT Italian Army Milan -> Switzerland.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Denmark.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
With this opening, writes Robert Shepard, "you are in solid shape to get three builds the opening year, letting Britain and France fight it our for Belgium, and making the Italian a friend in the south by giving him Switzerland. With allies like these, not to mention Spain, does France even have a chance?"

Anti-Polish Openings

Prussian Gambit
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Prussia.
Germany: Army Munich -> Austria.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Denmark.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
Here, Germany sends a unit in each direction. Berlin, east, Munich, south, Hamburg, north and Frankfurt west. While it's not clear what Germany aims to achieve, an attack on Poland seems the most likely. The fleet in Prussia might force Poland to bring the fleet in Lithuania back to protect Gdansk, while Prussia actually moves on to the Baltic Sea, a good position to hold when attacking Poland. The army in Austria, together with new ones in Frankfurt and Berlin could indeed launch a strong eastwards attack in 1996. Still, going east is always a risk, and this gives up a possible unit for positioning.

Rick Desper calls moving the Berlin fleet to Prussia "a very strange idea. If it were an army, an opening to Prussia would be very strong."

Czech Gambit (Michael Walsh)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Prussia.
Germany: Army Munich -> Saxony.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Denmark.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Ruhr.
Again, the fleet in Prussia might take Gdansk or position itself in the Baltic Sea. With Italian help, the Czech Republic might indeed be taken.

"If I'm going after Poland, I'd choose this opening," says Michael Walsh. "One of Holland or Belgium should still be available in Fall 1995. The Polish player may have taken the Czech Republic for granted, and you can take it from him next turn (with Italian help), even threatening his home SC's by Spring 1996."

Barbarossa (Nate Johnston)
Germany: Fleet Berlin -> Prussia.
Germany: Army Munich -> Saxony.
Germany: Fleet Hamburg -> Bornholm Sea.
Germany: Army Frankfurt -> Berlin.
This is an all-out attack on Poland, though Rick Desper calls it "silly to open with Hamburg to Bornholm."

Statistics on the Use of Openings for Germany

GameOpening UsedYearSC CountStanding
DickensAlpine Gambit2007231st
RostovSchleiffen Plan, Naval Variant2006151st
MinskVaterland, Austrian Variant2002131st
GdanskPax Germanica, Baltic Variant2001131st
ThisthatWestern Offensive, Dutch Variant1998121st
SpartikuAlpine Gambit2003122nd
SardAnschluss199772nd (tied)
Gun1994Axis, Bavarian Variant199542nd (tied)
ModernLebensraum, Naval Variant199542nd (tied)
Academy4Western Offensive, Danish Variant199663rd (tied)
NatoWestern Offensive, Baltic Variant200094th (tied)
OdessaVaterland, Swiss Variant200775th
BuchananWestern Offensive, Danish Variant201055th (tied)
liarliarLebensraum, Naval Variant200725th
DetailsVaterland, Swiss Variant199766th (tied)
day2dayWestern Offensive, Dutch Variant200726th
LyonScandinavian Squeeze200528th
MilanBismarck, Rhine Variant200229th
KatrasSchleiffen Plan, Naval Variant20070elim.
IzmirWestern Offensive, Dutch Variant20030elim.
blitzzRhine Charge20170elim.
cairoLebensraum, Coastal Variant20100elim.
deleriumBismarck, Rhine Variant20080elim.
despairSchleiffen Plan, Naval Variant20120elim.
euro95Prussian Gambit20230elim.
Lie2meBismarck, Austrian Variant20070elim.
SevilleSchleiffen Plan, Naval Variant20140elim.

Strategy for Germany in Modern Games

As a centrally located country in Modern, Germany faces either great opportunity or great danger. There are four neutral SCs within a single move of German home centers, and another three within two. That's seven neutral SC's reachable in 1995! This means that Germany has ample room to grow in the first year, and should easily gain three centers, perhaps even four.

That is a great opportunity, but because of these strong initial prospects, Germany might attract the early attention of its neighbours. In 1996, Germany often has five direct neighbours, Italy, France, Britain and Poland, as well as Russia in Sweden. If many of these decide to cooperate against Germany, Germany cannot last very long. However, unlike France, whose neighbours don't have natural enemies, there should be no problem for Germany to find allies, because hers do.

All five neighbours bordering Germany will indeed have more pressing matters. Poland and Russia will be fighting each other and Ukraine over Bielorussia, Britain will be distracted by the loss of Gibraltar, France wants to keep Spain from becoming a major threat in her back, and Italy will be lured by the many centers in the Balkans. If one of these turns against Germany in the early game, they can be easily held back while Germany searches for an ally. Spain will almost always be a willing ally against France, Egypt or Turkey against Italy and Ukraine against Poland or Russia. The only threat without a major counterbalance is Britain, and Germany should either strive to keep her happy or build up a major naval force and take her out.

I therefore think the decision on whether to build a strong navy or not qualifies as a crucial decision for Germany has to make. This will influence both your choice of targets and allies, as well as the direction you will head towards until the mid-game. A large German navy will probably be seen as hostile by Britain and Russia, but should reassure France and Italy of your peaceful intentions towards them. Poland will probably be neutral towards this unless you are also sending armies towards it. Likewise, a large inland force will put you in the good graces of both Moscow and London, while raising worries in Paris, as well as Rome and Warsaw to a lesser degree. Either way, the way you position your units can still influence the perception of other powers, as a large land army heading towards Poland is not much of a threat to France!

What is a large navy useful for? The first use of building up your navy is to lay claim to Scandinavia. Denmark should hopefully be yours already as it borders Hamburg and is vital for controlling the Heligoland Bight and the Bornholm Sea, which are both essential to your defense. Sweden and Norway are another matter. As in Standard dip, Russia will most likely have Sweden and Britain Norway. Unlike Standard however, Russia has more units to send to Scandinavia, and she also has an extra port in Murmansk. This makes it more likely for there to be a war in the north between Russia and Britain. This is good, but your objective should be to ensure that neither of them wins!

Imagine a north totally controlled by Britain, from Murmansk through Sweden and Norway and then west to the Atlantic. Worse, imagine one controlled by Russia, with fleets in the Baltic Sea, Scandinavia and the Atlantic, and probably soon armies on your eastern front as well. With so much force to your north, the only way you can defend yourself is by leaving your back open to whatever power is dominant in the south - not an endearing idea! This could very well happen if either of them controls Scandinavia.

You should therefore make sure that neither of them gains it, either by supporting one to hold against the other, or by making sure that you get the extra centers. To get Sweden and Norway, you will probably require from three to four fleets, though you'll have an easier time if you can convince Britain and/or Russia to help you in. Perhaps they'll appreciate you being a buffer between them? Either way, control of all of Scandinavia improves your defensive position tremendously, but also gives you new offensive capabilities, both in the west against Britain, and in the east against Russia or Poland. With three or four fleets already built and a surprise build of two more in Berlin and Hamburg, you stand a good chance of grabbing control of the northern seas and becoming the dominant northern power.

Still, controlling Scandinavia yourself is not essential, and keeping the balance between Russia and Britain while holding on to Denmark should be sufficient for a start. Instead of building a navy, you could concentrate on building a massive land army. Either way, a minimal army force is needed to deter France and Italy from attacking you early in the game. The Lowlands, Holland and Belgium, play a major factor in this. Controlling the Lowlands gives you two extra units to defend yourself with, and gives you a nice western defense. It is also a prime position to attack France from, whenever you may decide to do so.

The greatest concentration of centers in the game is in the Balkans. While the Balkans are far away, and Germany cannot get any fleets there, it is still possible to gain control of a good part of it. The gate to the Balkans and to the east, for Germany, is Austria. From Austria, you can move south into Milan and Venice and then east towards Croatia and Hungary. It may even be possible to reach and hold Serbia and Rumania. You could also move east towards Poland and then south. Either way, with a large land army, you can strive to control everything from Hungary to Poland to Milan and Switzerland.

There's quite a nice concentration of centers in France as well. The key to holding southern France if you don't have any fleets in the Med though, is to hold Monaco, Marseilles and Piedmont. However, these are hard to capture in the first place. How should you invade France. Control of Belgium and Switzerland are important for an invasion of France. However, it's much easier to attack France when he is concentrating elsewhere, on Spain for example, than attacking him straight off the bat. France can put up quite a defense in the early years and by the time you win the battle, if indeed you do, other powers will have grown much stronger compared to yourself.

What about Spain? You probably shouldn't think about Spain unless you've taken out Britain and France already. Spain will be a hard nut to crack unless she is facing pressure from the Med as well. If she has time to position herself, you can be blocked out of Spain and the Mediterranean with only four units: an army in Madrid supporting one in Barcelona, and a fleet in the South Atlantic supporting one in Portugal. Therefore, timing is essential if you are to break through Spain and into the Mediterranean, but it is a worthy prize to capture. It takes a lot of skill and luck as Germany to capture Spain and break through to the Med, but if you do, you have a very good chance of winning.

Initial Tactics for Germany in Modern

Now we'll move on to some initial considerations for Germany. What should you do in the first year? This comes down to a philosophical choice between the cautious and blitzkrieg approaches, and a decision about what to do about Switzerland and Austria.

Since Germany has many neutral centers to go for in 1995, it is possible to concentrate on building alliances in the first year. Why go after someone's home centers when you can get neutral centers instead. It is usually a good policy to let others start fighting first and then pick a side to ensure that you are on the winning side. Taking three of Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria should be no problem at all. The last three can also be used as bargaining chips to be given away to Britain, France and/or Italy. Support one in, or come to an agreement about "letting one of them have one of them." This will build up goodwill and be useful to you. Ideally, France will start fighting Italy or Spain and Britain will fight Spain or Russia. You can then enter one of these fights on whatever side you choose and gain a few centers.

A blitzkrieg is not a bad idea either. After all, your neighbours probably think you will be too busy collecting neutral centers in 1995 to worry much about you. If you strike quickly and successfully at a neighbour, you could cripple him sufficiently to allow you to eliminate him in a few years while gathering the neutral SC's you missed in 1996 or 1997. Still, a blitzkrieg holds a risk, because if it is defended against, you will not gain as many SC's as you could have, and will end up weaker for it.

Your possible targets are all of your neighbours. Striking at Russia or Britain is essentially a lightning strike for control of Scandinavia. If Russia only sends one unit west in 1995, you can grab Sweden instead of him and put an end to his Scandinavian ambitions. You could stop there or pursue your blitzkrieg by moving a fleet into Skagerrak and trying to get hold of the North Sea and Norway. If you go for Poland, the initial strike will lead you through Austria and Silesia to the Czech Republic, usually held with but one army in 1995. An army build in Berlin and a fleet heading for the Baltic Sea could then be the start of a successful campaign against Poland. However, beware that by taking his place, you will then have to deal with Ukraine and Russia!

A lightning strike on Italy actually involves sneaking into Milan via Austria. That's because in this case you will probably want to ally with France and let him have Switzerland. By holding Milan and Austria, you can then strike at Venice and Croatia. Your drive south will probably stop there, with someone else picking up the pieces in the south, but you will have secured your southern border from the Italian threat. As for France, a blitzkrieg is quite difficult. Still, you can move into Alsace in the spring, forcing France to move units back to Paris and Lyon and hopefully robbing him of neutral SC's. Meanwhile, you can support yourself into Switzerland. France could be limited to one neutral SC, while you take 3 yourself and gain the upper hand.

As stated before, Switzerland and Austria are useful bargaining chips for you to gain allies with. You can trade one or both to France and Italy in exchange for help into the other. Both of them border Munich, a home SC of yours, so they are nice to hold, but they also border two French or Italian home SC's. If you can manage it, take Austria and help Italy into Switzerland. This will surely get France and Italy fighting, and Austria is a superior position to hold, as it allows you to help yourself into the Czech Republic, it defends Saxony, and it borders Milan, Venice and Croatia. If you let Italy into Austria, you should consider defending your border with armies in Munich and Saxony, or you might face a lighting strike of your own later in the game. Switzerland is a difficult matter. If France moves to Switzerland and Alsace, Munich is threatened, so caution must be exerted. If you hold it, you will have to defend it constantly against France, but it is a good staging ground for launching attacks into France. If you don't want war with France, it is again good to have Italy hold it, at least initially, because Munich will be safer, and you will turn France against Italy instead of you. Still, if France looks like he is going to get Switzerland anyhow, help him into it! That's a cheap way of getting an ally!

Allies for Germany in Modern

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the various alliances for Germany. First is Britain. Britain is more dangerous to you in Modern than in Standard. That's because it is very difficult for Britain to go after France. She therefore has to choose between attacking you and Spain, and most of her home centers are closer to you. Still, an alliance or non-aggression pact with Britain, especially one allowing you to take control of Scandinavia, is a very useful one, as it should allow you to grow quickly, since it is unlikely you will face another direct attack. Finally, an alliance with Britain gives you one more important advantage: the possibility of stabbing Britain and quickly taking a few centers on the British Isles! Only by moving quickly to take some British home centers will you avoid a long and protracted war against Britain if and when you decide to attack it. If you plan on taking Britain, better to send her down to Spain before sailing across the North Sea.

How about an alliance with France? I believe that France can make a strong ally for Germany. In Modern, France is more of a Mediterranean power than an Atlantic one. She no longer has a port in Brest, and has one in Bordeaux instead. This makes it harder for her to attack Britain. She also has to concentrate on Spain early on. For an alliance with France to succeed, you need to resolve the issue of security on the Switzerland to Belgium line. You can either demilitarize either side of this, or keep armies in Munich, Ruhr and Belgium to defend yourself. Either way, you should get French support into Austria as you will be heading eastwards over land if you are allied.

A very good alliance to consider is an alliance with Italy. Italy, like you, is a central power, and can head both east and west. This means you can cooperate in the Balkans, or against Poland, France or even Spain. You wont get help from Italy against Britain, but you probably wont from France either, however Italy is so far away by sea that it wont challenge you for control of the Med, allowing you to block off the Atlantic around Spain. Italy is still an overland threat to you, via Switzerland and Austria, just as you are a threat to him, and whoever holds Austria has the upper hand as it border 8 other SCs. Therefore, you should either hold Austria, insist that it is demilitarized, or keep armies in Munich and Saxony, as well as the Czech Republic, once you get that.

An alliance with Poland is usually a given at the start of a game. There is an easy DMZ for you to establish in Prussia and Silesia, perhaps Saxony as well. While the areas of cooperation are reduced, they are also important. If Poland is fighting Russia, he may be willing to help you take Sweden to rob him of center. This would establish your domination of Scandinavia. Likewise, for more help, or just to keep you pointed away from him, you may get help into Austria, from which you can move into Switzerland and Northern Italy. This is more useful in the middle game, but Italy may well be taken by surprise. As for security vis-a-vis a Polish ally, the DMZ mentioned above is probably the best solution, though you may want to add Berlin in exchange for being allowed an army in Saxony.

Another very strong ally for Germany in Modern is Spain. Spain gives almost all the advantages of an alliance with France. She can help you against Italy and take care of any naval threat. Like France, she can also send a bit of help against Britain. In an alliance with Spain however, your border with Spain will not be so close to home - it will be in the middle of France. This provides you more security, and more centers as well. This advantage is balanced by the fact that Spain will probably have a larger navy than France, and may decide to contest the dominance of the Atlantic, and thus fight you over Britain later in the game. A strong eastern Med power may deter Spain from moving north though.

Finally, all other countries on the board make good allies later in the game. Russia and Ukraine make good allies when attacking Poland, though Russia's Atlantic navy may pose a problem. Turkey and Egypt make good allies in the Balkans or against Spain, Italy or the Ukraine.

Germany is a difficult power to play, but can be rewarding as well. Define a clear objective for yourself and pursue it, only changing course if you have to. One thing is for certain, you will never be bored while playing Germany!

Player Comments on Germany in General

Toby Tyrell feels "that Germany is weak in no-press because he or she almost invariably gets picked upon by Britain after a few goes. Poland usually follows soon after."

Nate Johnston thinks "Germany is stronger vis-a-vis Britain and France in my opinion than in Standard."

Says James Gemmill: "Being in the middle, Germany must be active diplomatically. It is not for the player of few words."

Rick Desper concludes that "a German victory would not appear to be easily won."

Player Comments on German Strategy

James Gemmill believes "there's no point in opening east. The gains are little, it leaves you extremely vulnerable in the west, and basically indicates you are planning an early exit from the game."

Craig Thomson agrees. "Go west: more potential gain and less risk at your back...also the richest area of supply centers....the fleets would head to Holland and assurance to Russia of no threat to the north, and to Britain the same message."

Ian York advocates "moving the Hamburg fleet into Holland or Denmark (depending on your deal with Britain), with the Berlin fleet moving into Hamburg in its wake. Britain is most likely to want to stay in the west in order to keep his fleets in proximity with each other, and he'll want you to have a constructive role for German fleets in the Baltic. Therefore giving Belgium to Britain in exchange for German domination of Scandinavia could eliminate any conflicts of interest."

Toby Tyrell thinks that "all tactics with Germany must revolve around how to deal with Britain. Either come to an agreement or else try and make an alliance to take out Britain."

Rick Desper advises that "the Berlin fleet should almost always go to Bornholm. The only other reasonable option is moving to Hamburg. Fleet Hamburg can move to Denmark or Holland in first move. I would suggest Holland unless you to try to grab Sweden the first year. Army Frankfurt is the interesting force. It could move to Saxony to try to grab the Czech Republic or maybe Austria. It could move to Ruhr to influence Low Countries. It probably should move to Ruhr. The Munich army could try for Austria or Switzerland in first move. Alternatively, it could move to Alsace if frightened by France, or it could move to Ruhr. It seems to be a matter of personal taste, but is also useful for communication in a no-press game."

Alexander Woo says, "the middlegame key for Germany is that it has to be big enough (at least ten SC's) to handle the time when some power starts coming over Prussia/Silesia/Saxony. Either that, or it has to have no Western enemies at that time. This power could be Poland, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, or even Turkey (in order of decreasing likelihood)."

Stephen Breininger cautions: "Avoid the 'eastern migration.' It is natural for Poland to head east toward Russia. Likewise, if Spain starts to push into France, then France will retreat eastward into your homeland. I would advise that Germany would restrain from falling eastward into Poland. When this happens, France, Germany, and Poland will all fall, and either Spain or Britain will pick up the lion's share of centers."

Simon Withers believes that "the power that manages to dominate the Atlantic sets themselves up very nicely to control the flow of the game. Germany can and should do this, by taking on Britain as a primary target. Depending on how alliances work out, Germany may end up killing France before Britain, but Britain should almost always be the target."

Player Comments on Winning with Germany

Ian York notes that "33 SC's is a lot to ask. So is getting fleets into the Mediterranean. So if Germany holds the west, he requires everything from Seville through Spain, France, the Alps, Poland, and Russia (and all that's west of it). By going east Germany needs everything from Belgium to Venice to Serbia, through the Ukraine and Russia, plus either Britain, France or something further south (Italy, Iran?). So: grab the north and Poland, stab Russia or Britain, and work from there. Simple, eh?"

Nate Johnston advises: "Knock out France first, then either attack a weak Britain or turn east and go for Poland...either way, attempt to secure the north if it's owned by the designated 'victim,' then head south for the kill!"

Here is Joseph Carl, Jr.'s four step plan: "First, eliminate France. Second, attack Britain, and eliminate him. Third, go for Spain with fleets, and round the corner. Then march on to victory!"

James Gemmill's advice is to "open West, taking out France. Once done, check your chances against Britain [usually slim] and then decide to take him out or worm your way into Central Europe. There is much flexibility in the mid-game -- if you've survived that long -- but the south and the east are where the dots are. Britain is a threat, but not as much as in Standard, so you can afford to let him live."

Simon Withers notes that "Germany should have these 24 SC's when looking to the end game, and is probably allied with Spain or France: Germany [4], Lowlands [2], Scandinavia [3], Britan [3], Ireland, Milan, Venice, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland [3], Lithuania, St. Petersburg, and Murmansk. The last nine would look something like Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Gorky, Moscow, Croatia, Hungary, Bielorussia, and one of Kiev or Bordeaux. In an alliance with Italy, Switzerland, Milan, and Venice are going to be replaced with three centers from France, and a stab may include some Spanish bases as well."

Rick Desper offers this: "Start by convincing Britain and France to attack Spain. Attack Poland with Russian help, taking Sweden, Czech Republic, and a couple more. Make sure Ukraine is still strong enough to hit Russia from the South so you can grab all of Scandinavia. At this point turn West. Invade British isles. Make deal with France splitting world. Move East taking Russian lands while France attacks Italy. Since you move faster you can push South to Kiev/Kharkov. Encourage Egyptian and Turkish growth to make sure Balkans are weakly held. Move into the Balkans and grab 33. Or: start with an alliance with Spain. Hit the always-vulnerable France, perhaps with Italian help. Then invade Britain, letting Spain have Ireland. Foment discord between Italy and Spain, and try to make sure Eastern situation is chaotic. Help Russia get slight upper hand against Poland. Hit Spain hard, while making sure Italy does not get too strong. Reach Gibraltar and seal off France and points North. Hit Russia/Poland hard for victory. Germany has to either invade the Balkans in force or reach Gibraltar. Neither would appear to be an easy task. I would concentrate upon trying to be the land power of Central Europe. To this end your natural rivals are Poland and Italy. Germany is naturally a touch stronger than Poland, so you should be okay there. Don't let Britain into the Bight!"

Player Comments on Early German Targets

James Gemmill thinks "Germany's #1 target should always be France. Cooperation between them is possible I guess, but for Germany, turning to another front brings little benefit, and would make it extremely vunerable in the long run in the West."

Rick Desper thinks otherwise. "Germany should go after Britain or Poland first. Whichever is an easier mark. The general idea would be to build a fleet or two and try to dominate Scandinavia. I would usually say go after Britain, since Poland is a bit less of an initial threat. Do not let Poland into the Bornholm Sea."

Nate Johnston likes both ideas. "If I was Germany I would always go for Britain or France."

Michael Walsh likes Poland. "Since France and Poland are immediate neighbors, they are the obvious first targets. If Poland ignores you and concerns itself with Russia and Ukraine, you can sweep in behind it quite nicely and position yourself to vie with Italy for Cze, Aus, and Hun. If France concerns itself with Britain or Spain, you could do the same, but there are fewer SC's to scoop up. Poland would be my first choice."

Joseph Carl, Jr. doesn't even consider it a question. "Germany should take out France as fast as possible!!!! Not even something to debate in my opinion."

Ian York prefers to let the chips fall around him. "To be facetious, it all depends on who is most responsive to your diplomacy. I guess I'd rather not fight France, but let someone else do the dirty work for me while I use neutrals to expand -- only then would I choose a target."

Craig Thomson says, "take out France, preferably with support from Spain and/or Britain. Poland is further away and despite having it's own concerns in the east requires that Germany expose itself to France and Britain in the rear. Italy is too hard to attack from the north initially."

Player Comments on Switzerland and Austria

Ian York says, "Hand 'em over! And try and look like you're being generous! I don't think they are worth fighting over when you need at least one of Italy and France as an ally."

James Gemmill calls them "a gamble at best, thus early diplomatic negotiations with especially Italy are necessary to divide up these two. The goal should be to deny Switzerland to France at any rate."

Says Robert Shepard, "I always think Germany is better off supporting Italy into Switzerland. He can't take it himself against France, and even if you are allied with France, France taking it points him towards your rear front in your joint assault of Britain."

Stephen Breininger advises to "use your army in Munich to build alliances. In the opening Spring, support France into Switzerland. In the fall support Poland from the Czech Rebpublic into Austria! Your allies in Switzerland and Austria will hopefully provide a safe buffer for you."

Craig Thomson comments, "You need both, but you can't get them -- it's a tough question...I really don't know. I definitely would prefer Italy to get the one Germany doesn't rather than France -- this allows Germany to buffer itself somewhat...although its home provinces are still dangerously exposed."

Simon Withers calls both centers "very important to Germany's defense. Far more important than owning them in the early game is ensuring that they are owned by powers friendly to you."

Rick Desper says, "Switzerland will almost surely be French. Austria can be contested, but I'm not sure it's worth the fight. Italy is unlikely to move on Munich, at least not early. And if you support Italy into Austria you might get help in case France is menacing."

Nate Johnston writes, "I don't think Germany should try for Switzerland, for one reason. Unless you are attacking Britain, the army in Munich will be necessary as a for ward unit to be used against whoever your first victim is. France or Italy shall get it. Italy will probably also want Austria as well, and you might be able to bargain for it in return for support into Swi."

Ian York thinks that "in the south, supporting Italy into Austria is perhaps the most constructive use for the Munich army -- anything else could provoke tension or weaken your defensive position. Once in Austria, Italy may want to go after France -- let him, he can afford to because he has easy builds to pick elsewhere."

Joseph Carl, Jr.'s advice is that "Germany should take Austria immediately and set up for a bounce in Munich to keep France at bay!"

Player Comments on Saxony

Ian York's "advice is to move to Saxony in consultation with Poland and Italy: you have a strong defensive position around Munich and you are sure to receive offers of support from both France and Italy."

Player Comments on the Lowlands

Nate Johnston says, "attack the Lowlands in force on the first turn."

Joseph Carl, Jr. agrees. "Take them, moving a fleet across the top to help out against France. Try not to threaten Britain."

Ian York advises: "Don't back down to France, but you might let Britain into the Lowlands to secure a DMZ in NTH or an British campaign against France."

Craig Thomson takes a similar stance. "Gobble them up entirely -- give one to Britain if required to keep France weak and place a buffer unit in the way."

James Gemmill thinks along the same lines. "Totally go for it if the anti-French stance is adopted. Britain is your friend in this matter."

Rick Desper joins the crowd. "Germany should definitely take the Lowlands. I would make it a first-year priority. Try to convince France that it's better if you have Belgium since he'll get Switzerland. That leaves Britain, who will probably not open to the Channel."

Simon Withers thinks "Holland should always be held as a German SC, but Belgium can be good bait to offer the French in an effort to have them help Britain's collapse."

Player Comments on Scandinavia

Robert Shepard says that, if allied with Britain, you should "insist that you keep all the Scandinavian provinces, including Norway. This gives you a small naval presence to defend against a stab, and sets Britain off in the direction you want him, namely the Mediterranean."

Simon Withers says, "Germany must move strongly into Scandinavia, if Germany is to have any hope against Britain. With the help of either Russia or Poland, Germany should be able to use Scandinavia as a launching ground for her invasion of the Isles."

In James Gemmill's opinion, "hard bargaining and a few naval units should allow you to participate in the Scandinavian carve-up. At the very least, you should attempt to curry diplomatic favor by playing Russia off of Britain."

Rick Desper says, "conquering it would be nice. I suggest trying to figure out what Russia is up to, and going along with it."

Alexander Woo likes the pro-Russian position as well. "What you really want is a balance of power in the East, and Russian control of Scandinavia."

Michael Walsh says that "to get control of the North Sea, you must first control Sweden and Norway!"

Ian York advises to "only back out if you are encouraging a B/R war (if this is the case, go for the Lowlands instead)."

Craig Thomson also likes setting Britain and Russia at odds. "Capture Denmark and then let Russia and Britain fight it out -- giving help as required to maintain the balance."

Nate Johnston's advice is to "attack Scandinavia if Britain is the target."

Joseph Carl, Jr. advises to stay out. "Germany should seek an alliance with Britain or Russia and just give it away, except for Denmark. Then have Britain wrap around the north or help out against France. Then guard himself against the stab that is likely from Britain. If allying with Russia, which I think is a weak alliance at best, then help Russia take Scandinavia so that Russia can keep Britain from helping France against you. Russia will have enough problems as it is against Poland, and Austria. So I'd prefer an alliance with Britain in Scandinavia."

Player Comments on the Baltic Seas

Ian York says that "the Baltic Sea areas should be part of your DMZ with Poland, and furthermore opening to BOR may upset Russia (who, as in Standard, will be after Sweden)."

Player Comments on the German Navy

On the idea of a large navy, Rick Desper offers an emphatic "Yes!!! More of the 'natural' German SC's (Hamburg, Berlin, Denmark, Holland, Belgium) are coastal than inland."

Craig Thomson, though, says that it "depends on the game -- I'd be inclined to forget it, provided that Britain is moving elsewhere."

Michael Walsh likes the naval approach. "If the opportunity comes to expand north, by all means build fleets! A fleet in Bornholm could both anchor a drive into Poland or an attack into Sweden and Norway." -

Simon Withers says flat-out that "Germany needs to have the strongest navy in the Atlantic."

Alexander Woo says, "Build a navy? If you're friends with Britain, no. If you're not, yes, and as fast as you can. Personally, i'm a fan of naval power, so this is for me a good reason to choose to attack Britain over France. That and that Britain is more likely to fight you in the Lowlands and Denmark than is France."

James Gemmill is moderate on the issue, advising "Build only so much as to create a deterrent to the naval powers that surround you and to gain a seat at the Scandinavian table. At least early on. Later, you may decide to build up your naval strength, especially if Britain is doing well [or, better, not so well]."

Joseph Carl, Jr., likes the overland approach. "Germany should forget a bout a navy initially and get as many armies as he can moving south."

Ian York also advocates a smaller navy. "Unless you want to go to war with Britain, two to three fleets should be enough to rule the Baltic: Scandinavia and Poland are good targets if you are friendly with Britain."

Nate Johnston thinks the navy can wait as well. "A Navy is useful, but probably not in the first few turns. In the middle game, taking on Britain usually gets to be a priority and it is very useful there."

Robert Shepard thinks sticking to dry land can help diplomatically. "While Britain is a natural enemy, he can make a powerful ally if you are willing not to build any more fleets."

Player Comments on German Allies

General Comments

James Gemmill is adamant: "POLAND, POLAND, POLAND!!!"

Michael Walsh says, "Against Poland, I'd want Russia as an ally, Against France, I'd want Britain or Spain."

Craig Thomson's "first choices would be Britain, Spain, and Italy."

Nate Johnson thinks "Germany's best allies are Poland and Italy."

Rick Desper says Germany's best allies are "Everybody! Seriously, Britain, France, Italy, Russia, Poland all make good early allies in different ways. I think it's important to achieve at least three peaceful fronts."

Simon Withers says, "the three best allies in the game for Germany are Poland, Italy, and Spain, with France coming in fourth. All in all, if you're playing for a good draw ahead of a win, Spain is your best choice, you'll have a hard time stabbing each other, and can very easily dominate the west. If you're looking for a win first Italy or France are better choices. Both should be easy to stab for the final few centers, and allying with one should always leave you the option of turning to the Spanish later."


Toby Tyrelll notes that "Britain occupies the nearest corner and so Germany might have a good chance once (if) Britain can be removed."

Joseph Carl, Jr. says, "Britain is a threat (but also) the most desirable ally!"

Stephen Breininger thinks otherwise: "Your main opponent is Britain. Your main goal will be to control the north sea and then push into Britain's homeland."

Ian York says, "In the north, Britain presents the greatest threat. Britain has three northern fleets to your two. Fortunately, the Liverpool fleet is likely to head south via Ireland. Britain is likely to be a thorn in your side if you want to hold any SC's bordering the North Sea. As in the Standard game, lend him an SC normally in the German sphere of influence in order to win friendship and direct him elsewhere (Belgium vs. France or Denmark vs. Russia)."

Robert Shepard says, "In most games Germany needs to eliminate Britain in order to have any naval significance, but this alliance can work as long as you can establish clear rules for Britain. Give Britain all of Spain and Bordeaux, and insist that you keep the rest of France and Scandinavia. If successful, Britain will do most of his builds in Gibraltar, so all the better for you. With your massive armies by that point, a coordinated assault on Italy should prove to be no problem."


Joseph Carl, Jr. thinks "France will almost certainly be an enemy. I believe France is the superior land force initially, and if anyone allies with France, Germany will crumble."

Ian York says, "France has three armies that could held your way, but are more likely to take Switzerland and Monaco, and defend borders with Italy and Spain. France's naval capability isn't worth worrying about in the early game. Don't think about fighting with France over Switzerland: France is likely to defend it at all costs, and the person most likely to benefit will be Italy."

Simon Withers thinks "France is nowhere near as good an ally as Spain is. France will surely want to keep any gains France makes against Britain, and won't really be willing to share any of her gains in Spain, not that you'd want to go that far out of your way to pick them up. At the same time France is going to want to keep a decent navy hanging around waters you don't want her sailing in..."

Stephen Breininger advises to "convince France to go after Spain. If not, Spain will go after France. If Spain has the upper hand, make sure France does not fall into your homeland. At this point, consider joining forces with Spain. Remind him that England is an enemy to both of you. Try to strike the best possible deal with Spain."


Michael Walsh says that "a neutral Italy is very important; as long as Italy isn't heading north, Germany has a decent chance to expand early on."

Nate Johnston points out that "Italy has great opportunities to expand, all at the expense of German enemies."

To Simon Withers, "Italy is almost as good an ally as Spain. The only drawback is the inability to assist you against Britain, but otherwise Italy is in a better position to dominate the Med than Spain is, when you are ready to turn East. Unfortunately Italy will probably not survive very long as a German ally as Italy usually needs Swi/Aus/Mun in order to have enough centers to win a 2 sided war against Spain or France in the west and Turkey or Egypt in the east."

Alexander Woo calls Italy "a key power. Italy cannot make more than a nuisance attack on Germany, but it is very helpful if Italy attacks France. This both takes care of one of your neighbors and frees Spain to take out the southern British position and then, hopefully, attack either France or Britain. It means that you can hopefully achieve rapid growth in your choice of Britain (with Russian help) or France (with Italian help). An attack on Italy is out of the question; Germany can hold neither Italy against naval attack nor the Balkans against land attacks from all sides."

Ian York says, "Italy has two armies that are likely to head in your direction, while two Mediterranean fleets grab easy SC's (so watch out for more Italian armies!). Only fight over Austria if you are sure of French support. Otherwise, strike a deal with Italy, and make sure you occupy Saxony quickly -- this is vital as a defensive move, but could also see Italy supporting you into the Czech Republic as the start of a I/G juggernaut eastwards."


Nate Johnston says, "Poland (is a good ally) because it has many targets elsewhere to occupy it, and it's neutrality is useful."

Joseph Carl, Jr. thinks that "Poland will almost certainly be an ally, but won't help you much."

Ian York likes the Polish alliance. "The Czech Republic is as far west as Poland will even think about in the early game. Big tension in the east around Bielorussia make a Polish-German neutrality pact almost automatic."

So does Robert Shepard. "Poland usually heads east and you are best to let him, you have problems in the west that must be resolved first."

Stephen Breininger agrees. "Build a strong alliance with Poland. There is a natural buffer zone of Prussia/Silesia/Saxony. He should head east and you should head west."

Simon Withers says, "Poland (is a good ally) simply because if Poland falls before the Germany is ready, Germany is in big trouble. Poland is an excelent buffer against Russian forces, and can also help keep the Ukraine and Italy from getting greedy in Austria. Just keep in mind that to win the game you need those Polish home centers."


Ian York advises: "Keep friendly with Russia -- he's more useful to you than the Ukraine or Poland. He can share Scandinavia, Poland and Britain with you, as well as giving you a good share of the Balkans (normally under Ukrainian, Turkish, or Italian control)."

Alexander K. Woo thinks that "most important for Germany is a strong Russia, and especially for Ukraine and Russia to be allied. A strong Russia keeps both Poland and Britain in check. Unless you can arrange an Egypt-Turkey stalemate (so that Ukraine is free to attack Russia), however, Russia cannot get too strong."

Other Powers

Ian York says, "A southern power with a strong navy can be valuable ally: one of Spain, Italy, Egypt, or Turkey can dominate the Mediterranean and its coastal territories while Germany cleans up inland. An aggressive Spain is particularly useful to Germany because he can tie up forces from any of France, Britain, and Italy."

Nate Johnston poins out that "the distant countries such as Ukraine or Spain or Turkey, whose enemies are your enemies, are useful as well."

In James Gemmill's opinion, "Spain, too, can be valuable against France, and is often favourable to your overtures."

Simon Withers likes courting Spain as well. "Spain is perfectly situated to build a navy to help kill Britain, and then send it elsewhere to keep you happy. A Spanish/German alliance should, with a good start dominate the western half of the board, and have strong influence in the eastern half. While you and Spain are working on Britain, you can also team up on France for some extra centers, and then trade Spanish bases in Britain for German ones in France to create a very clear line between the two of you."

Vincent Mous-Harboesgaard
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