by Melinda Ann Holley

Editor's Note: This article is also a reprint from Diplomacy World #52, from another well-known hobby figure. As always, we reproduce it here with the kind permission of DW Editor Douglas Kent (and we hope Melinda doesn't mind). Regular readers may wish to compare Melinda's analysis of Germany with Edi Birsan's in the Fall 2008 Movement and Fall 2008 Retreat issues.

Germany is located in the middle of the board. To me, this is reminiscent of a wheel spoke. Germany can spread out in many directions and can influence just about any country on the board.

Conceivably Germany can pick up Holland and Denmark for two builds in 1901. If France is not in Burgundy, and there are no armies in Tyrolia or Silesia, Germany may also pick up Belgium in 1901. This action, however, could possibly upset in both France and England, even if they are at war. Someone is bound to point out to them (and the idea probably would occur to each of them independently) that a six center Germany in 1902 could be a powerful threat to each of them.

The smart move here, unless you are very sure you will be able to deal with the possible alliance, is to allow your ally (either France or England) to take Belgium, and you be satisfied with two builds. However, if France is menaced by an English fleet in the English Channel or an Italian army in Piedmont (or if Russia has opened to St. Petersburg, thereby threatening England's ability to take Norway in Fall 1901) you may be able to convince your ally to allow you to take Belgium, thus denying it to the enemy.

There is always the question of whether or not to open to Denmark. By opening to Denmark, the German has a valuable diplomatic card to play in the East. You can help another country (England, Austria, or Turkey… whomever Russia is attacking) by denying Russia a build by bouncing him in Sweden in fall 1901. Conversely, he can do Russia a favor by not bouncing him (and possibly angering another power). Unless Germany feels ready to deal with an irrate Russia in 1902 or is more than reasonably confident that Russia will not be able to retaliate for the bounce, there is little reason to bounce Russia in Sweden, unless Russia's Spring 1901 moves are hostile to Germany or Germany wishes to curry favor with a third power.

Generally speaking, Germany will ally with either France or England against the other. If Germany has allied with England against France then German support of England to Belgium in Fall 1901 is to be seriously considered. If Germany has convinced France to take Iberia in 1901, then Belgium is assured for the Anglo-German forces. (The same suggestion coming from England would probably not work as France would not particularly want to see English armies on the continent). The Anglo-German forces are then in a position to force Burgundy in 1902, especially if England is able to support himself to the English Channel and threaten Brest and the Mid-Atlantic.

After France is eliminated (or significantly reduced so that attention can be turned elsewhere), Germany must decide whether to remain with his English ally or stab him. If he has not built fleets and he's better off to march his armies elsewhere. Without naval support, England cannot be conquered. Germany could stab his English ally and take continental supply centers and then built fleets. However, this could be very risky unless Russia is in a position to attack England in the North or Italy's fleets are moving northward to aid Germany.

If Germany decides to remain with the German-English alliance, attention must be focused on Russia if that country is still a viable power. A combined German-English attack on Russia could prove effective, but they would have to move quickly and decisively, because they are going from the western edge of the board to the eastern theater. Conceivably, if Russia is somewhat on the ropes, England and Germany could help him out by sending England's forces into the Mediterranean and the German's forces move either against Italy or Austria.

Another option is for Germany and England to attack Russia first. Either they have formed what is called a Western Triple (Germany, England, and France) with the idea of stabbing France as soon as Russia is crippled, or they have included Italy in the agreement to ensure France is too busy defending himself against a combined German, English, and Italian alliance to threaten them.

The German-Russian alliance is usually formed in response to a strong English-French alliance. Russia's interests are not well served to stand by and watch Germany fall to the English-French duo as he is likely to be England's next target. If possible that Germany would need to convince Italy to send at least one (if not more) units against France. This would force both England and France to fight on two fronts.

The German-French alliance usually targets England first. If conditions are right, the German-French alliance can take possession of the North Sea and prevent England from getting a build:

 Spring 1901Fall 1901
Germany: Army Berlin to Kiel
Army Munich to Ruhr
Fleet Kiel to Denmark
Army Kiel to Denmark
Army Ruhr to Holland
Fleet Denmark to North Sea
France: Army Marseilles to Spain
Army Paris to Picardy
Fleet Brest to English Channel
Army Spain to Portugal
Army Picardy to Belgium
Fleet English Channel supports German Fleet Denmark to North Sea

If this succeeds, both Germany and France gain two builds (Belgium and Portugal for France; Denmark and Holland for Germany). In addition (and perhaps more importantly) England has lost control of the North Sea, and been kept to one build at the most (if he went for Norway). The German-French alliance has gained a strong position against England, and can threaten England's home centers in 1902.

Of course, any German-French alliance has to deal with Burgundy. If time can be spent in doing so, a Spring 1901 stand-off in Burgundy gives the illusion of an upcoming war between Germany and France. This allows both Germany and France to tell England how much they want an alliance with him. You're likely to get some good advance information this way. However, such a standoff could allow England to take Belgium if Germany isn't in Holland in Spring 1901, or if France has not opened fleet Brest to Picardy.

Another standoff which can buy Germany some security is to order Army Munich to Tyrolia in Spring 1901. Even if France has opened to Burgundy, Munich can still be covered. If Germany suspects a probable French-Italian alliance, he has protected Munich in the Fall of 1901. As a bonus, he has probably gained Austria's goodwill, since Italy's opening to Tyrolia threatens Austria as well.

Naturally, the first Triple which comes to mind concerning Germany is the Western Triple. While this gives Germany freedom to move against the East with allies on either side of him, it also puts Germany in the middle between England and France. Not only is Germany caught in the middle, both his allies are to his rear. A watchful eye must be turned in that direction at all times.

In the Western Triple, Germany allies with England against Russia, and with France against Italy. He Western Triple is usually formed in response to a strong Russian-Turkish alliance. Therefore, opening moves could look something like this:

 Spring 1901Fall 1901
Germany: Army Berlin to Kiel
Army Munich to Tyrolia
Fleet Kiel to Denmark
Army Kiel to Holland
Army Tyrolia support French Army Piedmont to Venice
Fleet Denmark to Sweden
England: Army Liverpool to Edinburgh
Fleet London to North Sea
Fleet Edinburgh to Norwegian Sea
Army Edinburgh to Norway
Fleet North Sea convoy Army Edinburgh to Norway
Fleet Norwegian Sea to Barents Sea

And pay particular note to the French orders in both seasons:

 Spring 1901Fall 1901
France: Army Marseilles to Piedmont
Army Paris to Gascony
Fleet Brest to Mid-Atlantic Ocean
Army Piedmont to Venice
Army Gascony to Spain
Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean to Portugal

In this scenario, all members gain builds (if Russia has opened Army Moscow to St. Petersburg, England may have to forego moving to the Barents Sea and support his convoy to Norway with Fleet Norwegian Sea). England can then pick up Belgium in 1902 for his next build (or be allowed by Germany to take Sweden in 1902 and allow Belgium to go to one of his partners for 1902 build).

In the south, France and Germany are in good position to attack Italy by Fall 1901. In 1902 Germany can then support himself to Bohemia and pressure Vienna while France moves on Italy.

The Northern Triple consists of Germany, England, and Russia. Mutual control of Scandinavia is essential here. Once that is determined (either by totally evacuating the area or retaining units in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden respectively), a united northern front can sweep south. England and Germany can move against France, while Russia and Germany march against Austria. Germany's presence in the Austrian-Italian theater can be quite detrimental to the southern powers.

As stated above, the question of Scandinavia will wreck this alliance quicker than anything else. Russia sees that St. Petersburg is vulnerable to an English stab. Germany sees that Denmark is threatened by a combined English-Russian attack. England sees that he could quickly be outmaneuvered and lose not only Norway but control of the North Sea as well. An early agreement must be reached (preferably before Fall 1901). The best way to avoid a stab by any of the three powers is to evacuate Scandinavia in Spring 1902.

The Central Triple consists of Germany, Austria, and Italy. This allows the Central Powers to form a solid core and protect each other. It also allows Germany the option of operating in alliance with either England or France in 1901. My opinion is that it would be better to ally with France against England. French forces would be deployed north against England, and a possible German-Italian attack in Fall 1904 or sometime in 1905 could prove quite a surprise to France.

One bonus to this triple is that it is a surprise triple. An Austrian-Italian alliance is not unusual. But Germany's participation in this triple would come as a surprise since Germany would have been involved in the West until the time came for him to actively supports the Austrian-Italian alliance.

The one triple that Germany should beware of is the English-French-Russian triple. This triple can eliminate Germany very quickly. Russia opens to Silesia while France opens to Burgundy. In one game I participated in, Germany Community by supporting himself back in, but lost Berlin to a Russian move of Army Silesia to Berlin. That Russian unit then supported France to Munich in 1902 and proceeded to help the West eliminate Germany.

Germany's best strength is bad, located in the middle, you can affect the play of other countries to a great degree. Germany's worst weakness is that, located in the middle, is a tempting target for everybody in 1901 except Turkey.

Comments by Mark Berch:

The Western Triple has had more reading about it in any other triple, in part because there are so many different ways it can start. See Diplomacy World #25 for the "McKenjo Opening" with a very different approach. Melinda's approach is a little unusual, in that:
  1. England takes an immediate anti-Russian stance of Fleet Norwegian to Barents without any help from Germany's army
  2. Nobody takes Belgium
  3. The assault on Italy starts with Venice, rather than cuteness.

Note that taking Portugal with the Fleet means that this unit will see no NT and tell an action in 1902 either. Taken as a whole. High risk opening for Germany, since he is antagonizing Russia (in Sweden) and Italy, and there's a good chance Austria isn't going to like this opening either, unless Italy attacked Austria in Spring 1901. Still, it's playable, since Germany has allies in both Kerry's.

Germany, however, may want to ask France to settle for just one build, Fleet Marseilles. After all, if France is to attack Italy, a build of Army Paris will be useless, since the best it can do is move from Paris to Gascony to Marseilles in 1902, and in Marseilles, it would just block another French build in Winter 1902. The alternative second Winter 1901 build would be Fleet Brest, but England may be able to veto that.

If France agrees to building just one (and even that assumes Venice isn't taken), then Germany should suggest the Fleet Mid-Atlantic convoy Army Gascony to Portugal for Fall 1901. That army will be used to take Spain in 1902, but he didn't have much use for the Army under Melinda's opening anyhow. This frees the fleet for Fleet Mid-Atlantic to Western Mediterranean in Spring 1902.

Keep in mind that if the German move of Army Munich to Tyrolia actually succeeded, it was probably because Italy opened Army Venice hold, Army Rome to Apulia, and Fleet Naples to Ionian. In that case, the necessity of Army Apulia support Army Venice will walk Italy into Fleet Ionian to Tunis. Italy can then be expected to move Fleet Tunis to West Mediterranean in Spring 1902. Fleet Mid-Atlantic to West Mediterranean can block that in Spring 1902. But if France has Fleet Portugal, as Melinda suggests, he will be unable to block Fleet Tunis to West Mediterranean. If France wants to be even more aggressive, he can pass up the Fall 1901 convoy, and move Fleet Mid-Atlantic to West Mediterranean, Army Gascony to Spain.

Melinda Holley
c/o the Editor
([email protected])

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