*Me blinks.* *Puts on glasses* *Blinks* What the actual fuck. So, this is easily one of the strangest 1901 positions I've seen in the 6 years I've been playing Diplomacy. Well, I'll be posting my Analysis first. Articles on the following topics will be posted in the following days in no particular order: 1) FLEXIBILITY - WHY OPTIONS ARE ALWAYS BETTER 2) CHESS AND DIPLOMACY - GAMES OF SPACE, TIME, AND FORCE 3) BOARD DYNAMICS - HOW TACTICS SHAPE STRATEGY TO SHAPE DIPLOMACY 4) THE TRIBUTARY STATE STRATEGY - FIXING THE TRUST PROBLEM WITH FORCE 5) STEEL REFORGED - HOW TO REESTABLISH TRUST WHEN ITS BEEN BROKEN 6) WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM NAPOLEON - FORCE CONCENTRATION AND MULTIPLICATION 7) TACTICAL OPTIONS - A DISCUSSION ON THE VARIOUS COMBINATIONS OF MOVES AND THEIR MERITS If any of you want to see a certain topic first, feel free to say so. Analysis ENGLAND: You get an A- from me bud. I'm not quite sure what you did, but you've convinced all 3 of your neighbors to leave you alone. Russia has left Sweden (SWE) uncontested and St. Petersberg (STP) empty. Germany didn't move to Holland (HOL) or try to contest Belgium (BEL). France did not bounce you in the Channel. The only thing you should have done is move your army in Liverpool to Yorkshire. It's an objectively better move and a staple of any sensible English opening in Spring 1901. Generally, there are two ways you can open: F(Edi)-Nth, F(Lon)-F(Eng), A(Lvp)-Yor F(Edi)-Nwg, F(Lon)-F(Nth), A(Lvp)-Yor In the first variation, the one you did here, this is usually considered the Anti-French opening. While it's certainly possible that France allowed you in, it does mean you could attack Brest which is a huge leap of faith from him if this were agreed on. In this case, the army in Yorkshire could be used in the next turn to convoy an army into Norway or Holland or Belgium. You could also do crazy things like convoying an army into Picardy or Brest if you decided to attack France. Lots of possibilities there, but alas. Furthermore, in order to get 2 centers, you will need to abandon the North Sea position which is VITALLY important to English defense. A crafty Germany might slip his Danish fleet in, but considering he'd get no builds this turn, it's unlikely. Still, either through luck of good communication, it's working out for you. In the second variation I mentioned above, which is considered "standard England opening", the Army could be convoyed into Norway with support (in the event that Russia moves an Army to StP and contests Norway, which is almost always a British center in 1901 short of three of your neighbors attacking you right away). It could also be used to defend London if France moves into the English Channel. Units should very rarely hold as this is a waste of momentum. WHERE TO GO FROM HERE: You have a lot of options and how you take centers will matter quite a bit. Belgium-Holland or Belgium-Denmark (assuming Germany tries for Sweden) might suggest an anti-Germany stance. Norway-Belgium would be safer, less committal, and ultimately less vulnerable if France/Germany decides to gang up on you. Taking Brest would be ill-advised - France is likely to cover it with Paris and will be getting 2 centers as well this year. England rarely succeeds in getting 2 builds in the first year (which is by leaps and bounds more dangerous than a 5 center France or a 5 center Germany due to the nature of your defensive homeland), the fact that you've succeeded so spectacularly here puts you in a dominant position, despite the army going unused being a setback. Your goal from here is to ensure Germany or France can be made to ally with you against the other. FRANCE: A You've played pretty standard moves here. It's pretty clear you've got your eyes on securing Iberia and have no intentions of fighting over the Lowlands. The bounce with Germany in Burgundy appears to be pre-arranged. I doubt Germany would have tried to attack you by moving so aggressively into Burgundy with a fleet going north and an army going east. It would leave him in quite the awkward situation if he was trying to attack you and failed. The move with England I can only speculate on. It could be a betrayal, but given how openly Germany has surrendered Belgium and Holland - the former which is hotly contested but usually see Germany or France as the owner, and the latter which is a German center in 99% of all games - it's unlikely England will press his luck against you in favor of easier fish. Still, better safe than sorry, and leaving Paris free to cover Brest is a smart choice. I can't quite give you an A+, it would have been quite a bit better if through Diplomacy you prevented the English Channel move, but c'est la vie. The next turn's moves are pretty clear for you and there's not a lot of options to be had. Take Iberia, defend Brest possibly, consolidate. At 5 centers, France is one of the harder nations in the game to crack open and you'll be entering 1902 in a fairly competitive position. The only consideration to be given is whether the Fleet or Army is used to capture Spain or Portugal - and there is a strictly better moveset in this regard. I'm rooting for you bud. In order for Fleur to be born, you need to make sure the baguettes remain independent. GERMANY: D You are severely overreaching here, Kaiser. The bounce with France was good if it was prearranged. Disastrous if not. Fleet to Denmark also good - allows you to have a bargaining chip against Russia over whether you would bounce him out of Sweden if he moved his fleet to BOT this turn. What I dislike immensely is the move to Silesia. This appears to be a precoordinated thing with Austria, but I just cannot fathom why you thought this was a good idea. There's simply no way 2 units could feasible take Warsaw in the next turn. If you really wanted to attack Russia, you needed to commit Munich to Silesia, and Berlin to Prussia. Combined with Austria's moves, by Autumn 1901 the option existed for Austria to cut Ukraine with Galicia, and for you to support Prussia into Warsaw. The fleet in Livonia, if Russia was smart, might have been able to defend indirectly - by supporting Warsaw to Prussia or hitting Prussia if you used Prussia to support Silesia to Warsaw. Now though, you have 0 chance of taking that center, have declared war for the whole board to see on Russia, when you should be worrying about whether France or England are about to kill you next turn. This is a classic case of refusing to commit in any one direction, and such hesitation will get you killed in Diplomacy. When you commit to an attack, you must commit hard. Not all hope is lost for you. Russia may be appeased yet - no centers have changed hands although you have damaged your own position severely by wasting a turn. Further commitment against Russia seems foolhardy given England is on the Rise, France will be looking towards somewhere in 1902 to fuel his growth and you, my friend, are the runt of the litter. I'd suggest reaching out to France now. He will likely be easier to convince to help you than hurt you. After all, if France and England attack you - how many centers does France really stand to gain quickly? Munich? Meanwhile England might take Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Kiel in good order. Such a power imbalance would mean France would be the next guy on the chopping block after you're gone. If England is smart, he may offer a center split to assuage France's fears though. Again just because you can take centers, doesn't mean you should. ITALY: A+ As Italy, you really only have the two openings usually. 1) Attack Austria, 2) Wait. There can be multiple variations of these two themes, but I won't be getting into those here as it can quickly become complicated. Instead, I will be discussing the merits of waiting with a moveset such as A(Rom)-Apu A(Ven)-Hold F(Nap)-Ion The main problem with Italy is that this is a nation which wants 2 fleets like England, but gets 2 Armies instead. What then to do with the second army? Attack France? Could work with Germany and England, but fails more often than not. Attack Austria? Perfectly acceptable. Move to Apulia? This is so you can convoy the army to Tunis while keeping your fleet strategically on Ionian Sea. Much like my arguments for the army in liverpool moving so it can be convoyed, Ionian is a vitally important space for Italy to occupy. Lose it, and invite disaster. I give you full marks here. Perhaps you misled Austria into trusting you, perhaps you organized an attack with Russia and Turkey - whatever the case, you can be quite secure in picking up 2 centers this turn (as rare an occurrence as a 5 center England in 1902). Trieste cannot be forced away - and even if Austria did, you could easily retreat into Vienna or Serbia no matter what Austria does. It might even be worth it to let him retake Trieste and move the Army in Venice somewhere else - such as Tyrolia, to springboard for an Austrian attack. Of course, if I were you, I'd be heavily reconsidering whether or not you should continue attacking Austria. Russia and Turkey look to be awfully comfortable with each other, and, if you are unsure either can be turned against the other when Austria is gone, you'll soon realize you cannot win a 2 v 1 fight over the Balkans and lose any gains you may have made in quick order. Tread lightly. AUSTRIA: F Partly because of bad luck, partly because you left Trieste undefended, and mostly because you supported your army into Galicia. I just do not understand how that move was good for you at all. You needed Budapest in Serbia. You needed to bounce Russia in Gal, not actually occupy it. As a result, you might not even gain any centers this turn if Turkey and Italy coordinate properly and could quickly be eliminated by 1902-1903. Diplomacy will be utterly vital for you now. Perhaps convincing Italy that Russia and Turkey seem a bit too cozy with each other with Black Sea unoccupied. Turkey is a naval power, after all, and so is Italy. There's potential future tension there, especially if Turkey and France are on good terms. Or selling your services out to Russia / Italy as a tributary state, if things get desperate (more on this next time). TURKEY: B Much like Italy, most of your success is due to Austria's mishap. Your opening is fairly standard and I have nothing much to comment except that this may be the beginning of a Juggernaut Alliance. Russ and Turkey is a potent alliance given you are both on the edge of the board, thus allowing you to sweep West, going purely in one direction which allows you to concentrate your forces where your enemies might have to split their attention. RUSSIA: C Some of your moves are good, some are highly questionable. Moscow-Ukraine and Sev-Rumania are standard moves and quite sensible. Warsaw holding, less so. A bounce with Austria over Gal should have been arranged, though I suspect you were betrayed in this regard so this can be forgiven to a degree. Again, refer to my initial post about trust and how bounces can fix that. What I really despise is your move to Livonia with your northern fleet. This is a strictly worse move compared to moving to BOT. Any germany attack on you in 1901 is bound to fail and you've also signaled to England you refuse to contest Scandinavia, Sweden in particular. These are centers you desperately need to remain relevant in the game as Russia is not a very defensible nation (in an ironic contrast to real life). But the biggest failing is your Diplomacy. Both Germany and Austria are (quite suicidably in my opinion), focusing on you. While they won't get far and likely won't lead to your elimination right away, it does mean England, France, Italy and Turkey will all be growing much faster than you as a result of Germany and Austria's dismal positions. This is where Diplomacy gets a bit tricky. It's not just about the next move, but the one after that and being able to simulate how the game will progress two, three, five moves down the road. It's quite key that you convince Germany to back off now. His involvement will stymie your growth and he has much bigger problems in the West than his half-hearted attack at Warsaw. Even Hitler conquered France before heading East. Austria is probably a dead nation and in your accounting can be written off. The issue now is whether you can carve you a few centers for yourself in the process. It'll be tricky Diplomacy as Italy and Turkey are far better suited to gaining those centers, but being a kingmaker of sorts in their eventual conflict wins you some points... Of course, push too far and they may decide to eliminate you first.