Diplomacy Newbie Guide to Germany

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This series of posts about Diplomacy is aimed at new players heading to a tournament. The idea is that a new player can quickly scan this brief guide and have a reasonable understanding of how more experienced players generally play the Great Power, in this case Germany.

1901 Moves:

The following are a good solid, conservative set of moves:

Spring 1901

F Kie – Den;
A Mun – Ruh;
A Ber – Kie

Fall 1901

F Den H [ or F Den – Swe to bounce Russia out]
A Ruh S A Kie – Hol;
A Kie – Hol

HOBBY TERMINOLOGY

You are The Kaiser. Austria is the Arch Duke. England is the Prime Minister. France is the Emperor. Russia is The Czar. Turkey is The Sultan.

Western Triple. This refers to an alliance between England, France, and Germany. It’s generally disfavored as a boring opening. It isn’t a good German strategy because Germany is vulnerable to a 1902-03 stab by England and France. The Western Triple plan sends France south to attack Italy. England goes north into Barents Sea to attack Russia’s St. Petersburg.

Sea Lion. This is the name of a French – German alliance opening designed to dislodge F North Sea in the fall of 1901. France must successfully order F Bre – Eng for the Sea Lion to work as planned. Russia is encouraged to join the attack by taking Norway in 1902.

Russia opening north or south. This refers to orders Russia will give to A Moscow. A Mos – Stp is a northern opening. Such an opening is generally considered hostile to England. A variation on this is A War – Lvn which would permit Russia to convoy A Livonia to Sweden in the fall. Most of the time Russia will open south.

Juggernaut, Jugg, or Steamroller. These terms are used to describe an alliance of Russia and Turkey. Generally, this alliance will target Austria as its first victim. Italy and Germany are next on the menu of a Jugg.

Internal Triple or Central Powers Alliance. This refers to an alliance between Austria, Germany, and Italy. It usually is beneficial early as security. In the mid-game, mutual tactical cooperation is possible. Italy is the least favored of the three partners in the end-game.

DMZ. A term used for an agreement between players NOT to move into a particular area.

Bounce. An agreement between players to order self-standoff between their units. See the Matthew Self tactics guide for a discussion on this tactic.

WHAT TO SAY TO OTHER PLAYERS

Your first order of business here is relationships. Be polite and remember making new friends is your goal whenever talking to anyone. You can start the discussions by asking about how long the person has been playing Diplomacy, what’s his favorite tournament, or if he knows anyone else in the game. After you connect with the person, it’s time to get down to business.

Belgium

The main goal in 1901 is for you get get an alliance with England or France or both. Belgium is seen by most players as a bargaining chip. It’s hard to defend and sometimes it is an albatross trying to keep it. You don’t want to be in position where you’re one of the parties squabbling over Belgium. If you can create a conflict between France and England over Belgium, that probably is in your long-term strategic interest. On the other hand, if the other two insist you take Belgium in 1901, go for it.

Be cautious about allowing England to convoy an army to Belgium. He may say it is for attacking France, but it can just as easily attack Ruhr  as Burgundy. Make sure you absolutely believe England is sincere about his alliance with you before supporting a convoy of his army to Belgium.

England

Your discussions with England should begin with you acknowledging you are willing to let England or France have Belgium. Tell England, “I prefer you get Belgium before France.” You are worried about France. “My friends told me that France is the most powerful Great Power in Diplomacy.” If the player controlling France is very good, then use it. “Chris Martin is a world champion player. If France gets big in his hands, he will be very dangerous!” Let England know you would like to ally with him, “because France can easily stab us if he gets big.”

Let England know you would be willing to help him if he and Italy attack France. Say, “If Italy is onboard, do you want to order F Lon – Eng?”

You don’t need to do anything drastic as Germany in the first year. Don’t agree to any elaborate moves. Get your two builds. You will be in good position to start 1902.

If England doesn’t want to attack France right away, suggest the following diplomatic strategy: “Let’s try to talk France into attacking Italy, building a fleet in Marseilles, and moving to the western Mediterranean.”

Discuss Russia. Tell England, “Russia is a long-term strategic threat to both England and Germany.” Ask England, “Should I bounce Russia out of Sweden?” (He will probably say, “yes.”)

If England doesn’t want to attack France right away maybe he wants to attack Russia. Inquire, “Do you want to convoy an army to Norway and then try and capture St. Petersburg in 1902?” Encourage that attack by offering to help. “I’ll attack Sweden while you move to St. Petes.” You probably get Sweden out of it.

France

Belgium is a good way to start your business discussion with France. You should find out if he wants Belgium. “Do you want Belgium?” Try to create an argument between England and France over the center. Even if France does not want to get Belgium, he might want to bounce with you in Belgium in the Fall turn to keep England out. (You don’t need to bring that up in the Spring 1901 discussion.)

Discuss England. “Would you like to ally against England?” If yes, ask, “Do you want me to support you to North Sea this Fall?” Answers to that question will disclose how quickly Frances wants to start the operation. Most of the time, like you, France will want to get his builds before he moves on England. France building F Brest in 1901 is an indication of an impending attack by France on England.  Therefore, you ought to encourage that build. If he wants to wait until 1902, say, “Ok, good. I’ll build a fleet to help against England.

Discourage the notion of a Western Triple alliance. Say, “I’m going to need a lot of armies to attack Russia.” Or you could say, “Maybe a triple alliance with Russia, France, and Germany would be better.” However, if France and England are insistent, go along with it because you might get up to six units. You’ll have a better idea of sincerity when you see their builds.  France will build lots of fleets if he plans to attack Italy. If he builds armies, that’s a bad sign for Germany.

Ask France, “Do you think I should bounce Russia out of Sweden?” If he says yes, be careful about spoiling your relationship with Russia. You may need Russia’s help if France and England ally against you.

Russia

The main discussion point between you and Russia is Sweden. Whether you let Russia take Sweden depends on Russia’s alliance with Turkey and success in the south. See the Juggernaut discussion above. One nifty trick is to tell Russia in spring 1901, “I’m new to Diplomacy but my friends warned me about the RT alliance. It will make it easier for me to give you Sweden if you don’t move into Galacia” Even if Russia tricks Austria and moves to Galacia, never make the mistake of telling Russia (during Fall 1901 diplomacy phase) that your intention is to bounce him from Sweden. If you do, he will probably move to Baltic Sea (F Bot – Bal). Baltic Sea is a very strategic sea area that borders two of your home supply centers and Denmark. Be prepared to lie about Sweden if Russia demands a declaration from you. If he confronts you afterward, just say, “I changed my mind at the last minute.

Generally, it is a good idea to let Russia have Sweden in 1901. You get good will by granting him the build. Usually, the build is used against one of the other Great Powers. You can even encourage Russia to build F Stp(nc), which will likely insure that Russia and England are going to war. As long as they’re fighting each other, they’re less likely to bother Germany.

You also need to have a discussion with Russia about England. “Do you want to open north?” You can encourage this opening by promising. “Next turn, I’ll cut English support for Norway by ordering F Den – Nth.” You might get Sweden out of it.

Word of warning. If Russia is opening north, that means Russia may exert tactical control over Scandinavia. There is a lot of merit to Germany (not Russia) controlling Scandinavia. You don’t want a lot of Russian units in Scandinavia. Tell Russia, “You should convoy your army to Edinburg or Clyde.” Remember that Russia and France are potential allies as well. Be careful.

Italy

Generally, it is considered unwise by most Diplomacy players for Italy to attack Germany. Italy can move A Venice to Tyrolia to Munich in 1901. But if Italy has an aggressive player, or a player with little experience, they may decide to try to “dot grab.” It’s very hard for Italy to get two builds unless he does something aggressive. Be alert for the crazy Italian.

After you make friends with Italy, ask, “Want to DMZ Tyrolia?” Most of the time Italy will agree. He may object because he wants to attack Austria. Don’t let an Italian move to Tyrolia spoil a potentially good relationship.

If Italy agrees to the Tyrolia DMZ, ask, “Do you want to make a Central Powers Alliance (“CPA”) with Austria and me?” There is no reason I can think of that Germany would ever object to a CPA.  Attacking Austria and Italy in the early game are an invitation to France, Russia, and England to stab you.

You can also tell Italy, “I will ally with you and England if you guys decide to go west and attack France.” A war between England, Italy, and France is great for Germany. About 1/3 of the games, Italy will open to Piedmont and England moves to the English Channel.

Austria

Austria and Germany are compatible Great Powers. Diplomacy statistics show that strong Austria’s are often balanced in the game by a strong Germany. Thus, when one Great Power thrives, the odds are good the other will as well. Experienced Austrian players know this data. Experienced Austrian players understand that an alliance with Germany is beneficial to Austria. Therefore, if Austria is led by an experienced leader, you can probably trust what he is telling you is true and helpful. You can probably trust him to help you with moves and strategy in the game.

Tell Austria, “I’m worried about the Juggernaut.” Say, “I asked Russia not to move to Galacia.” An inexperienced player isn’t going to appreciate this favor. An experienced player will very much.

Ask Austria, “Would you join a Central Powers Alliance with Italy and me? What are your thoughts about Italy. About a CPA alliance in this game?

Turkey

Like Austria, hobby statistics suggest that when Germany thrives so also does Turkey. These Great Powers, like the Austrian-German relationship, are correlated. Therefore, if the Sultan is an experienced player, you can probably rely on his advice and counsel. You may want to temper this a bit if there is a Juggernaut. But absent that, The Sultan is your friend. Russia is between you. Cooperation in the long-term is possible.

Winter 1901 Builds

Generally, a Scandinavian or anti-English strategy requires you build a fleet. If you’re committed to attack France, you will need two armies. I would almost always try to build a second fleet with one of your builds.

A Mun;
F Kie

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Diplomacy Newbie Guide to Italy

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Get the eBook through this LINK.

This series of posts about Diplomacy is aimed at new players heading to a tournament. The idea is that a new player can quickly scan this guide and have a reasonable understanding of how more experienced players generally play the Great Power, in this case Italy.

1901 Moves:

Like Russia, which straddles the Board north and south, Italy straddles the Board east and west. It is a fun country to play because you must keep your fingers on the pulse everywhere. It is fun because you feel  the weight of the game as it teeters and totters. Foresee swings back and forth and make adjustments to enhance your success.

You have two basic choices as El Presidente’. Play aggressive or play patient. A lot of successful Italians favor the aggressive game. However, to play an aggressive game, you need to find a trusted ally among England, France, Germany, Russia, or Turkey . You just need one. But you need to find one fast.

A lot of Italian players are afraid to trust their gut in Spring 1901. Therefore, they make the easy choice. They play patient. Nothing wrong with choosing patience. But a patient Italian often finds herself stuck in a rut. She gets four centers in 1901 and is stuck with four until around 1904 when she is overwhelmed by stronger neighbors.

Being in a rut is boring. Playing the swashbuckling Italian pirate is fun. Remember this truth when making your Spring 1901 decision. The move sets below are divided into aggressive and patient sets:

Aggressive Moves:

Anti-German

This move set gives you good flexibility and defense against a 1901 Austrian stab for Venice (F Tri – Ven). It potentially nets Italy two 1901 builds.

About half the time, German players don’t ask you about Tyrolia and then don’t protect Munich in the fall. That’s why I like this set. You just sneak into Munich. If you decide on this set, be prepared to lie to Germany. (See below).

If you take Munich in Fall 1901, you should assume you will not easily hold it without an alliance with France. That’s ok. If you’re dislodged in Spring 1902, write down Bohemia as your retreat destination. Armies in Bohemia and Tyrolia set you up to effectively stab Austria. Look at the anti-German strategy as a means to discretely maneuver Italian armies into Tyrolia and Bohemia so you can stab Austria.

A Munich can be ordered A Mun – Bur. Such an order might surprise France, perhaps with English support from A Belgium. (See anti-French moves below.)

Spring 1901

A Ven – Tyo;
A Rom – Apu;
F Nap – Ion

Fall 1901

F Ion  – Tun.
A Tyo – Mun;
A Apu H.

Builds: A Venice; F Naples

Anti-Austrian

For this to work, you must convince Austria you won’t attack Trieste in Spring 1901. (See below). If you have an experienced player as your ally in Russia or Turkey, an ally who your guts tells you to trust, and you’ve set up Austria to believe you, then this set of moves assures an awesome start for Italy.

Spring 1901
A Ven – Tri;
A Rom – Ven;
F Nap – Ion

Fall 1901
F Ion – Tun
A Tri S TURKISH A Bul – Ser;
       [or A Tri S RUSSIAN A Gal – Bud; or A Tri S A Ven -Tyo]
A Ven – Tyo

If Austria counter-attacks in Fall 1901 to dislodge A Trieste, you retreat to one of his open home supply centers (either Budapest or Vienna). Therefore, you likely get two builds and Austria will be probably limited to one or none.

Builds: A Venice; F Naples

Anti-French

For this to work, you have to have an England who is willing to attack France in 1901. If England is unwilling to move F Lon – Eng, you should not opt for an anti-French strategy below. Usually, there is an English-German alliance. But sometimes Germany is dragged along for the ride. Work both England and Germany diplomatically so you don’t become a third wheel once France is dead.

Spring 1901
A Ven – Pie;
A Rom – Ven;
F Nap – Ion

Fall 1901
A Pie – Mar [or A Pie S FRENCH A Spa – Mar] (unwanted support);
A Ven – Pie [or A Ven H]
F Ion – Tun

Builds (in order of priority): F Naples; A Ven; A Rom

These moves and builds set Italy up for a western naval strategy. Order as follows in 1902:

Spring 1902
F Tun-Wes;
F Nap – Tyn;
A Pie – Mar;
A Ven – Pie

Fall 1902

F Tyn – GoL;
F Wes S Tyn – GoL; [or F Wes – Spa (with English support)]
A Pie – Mar;
A Ven – Tus.

This set of orders allows Italy to make a supported attack on Marseilles or a supported convoy attack on Spain (A Tus – Spa!) in 1903.  Once you get an Italian army into Spain, the French defense against Italy collapses.

In addition, to having a friend in England, an anti-French campaign is only viable when Austria is at peace. If Russia and Turkey are attacking Austria, you might have time to execute a western strategy. You benefit in time if you can obtain German support. Negotiate for Marseilles as early as possible. It is possible for Germany to move to Burgundy in Spring 1901. Germany can then order A Bur S ITALIAN A Pie – Mar.  Supporting Italy to Marseilles is in German strategic interest. It insures a quick collapse of his stab victim, France.

Patient Moves

Spring 1901
A Ven H:
A Rom – Apu;
F Nap – Ion

Fall 1901
A Ven H;
A Apu – Tun;
F Ion C A Apu – Tun

Build: F Nap

HOBBY TERMINOLOGY

Austria is Arch Duke. England is Prime Minister. France is Emperor. Germany isKaiser. Italy is El Presidente’. Russia is Czar. Turkey is Sultan. 

Western Triple. This refers to an alliance between England, France, and Germany. It’s generally disfavored as a boring opening. It isn’t a good German strategy because Germany is vulnerable to a 1902-03 stab by England and France. The Western Triple plan sends France south to attack Italy. England goes north into Barents Sea to attack Russia’s St. Petersburg.

Russia opening north or south. This refers to orders Russia will give to A Moscow. A Mos – Stp is a northern opening. Such an opening is generally considered hostile to England. A variation on this is A War – Lvn which would permit Russia to convoy A Livonia to Sweden in the fall. Most of the time Russia will open south.

Juggernaut, Jugg, or Steamroller. These terms are used to describe an alliance of Russia and Turkey. Generally, this alliance will target Austria as its first victim. Italy and Germany are next on the menu of a Jugg.

Internal Triple or Central Powers Alliance. This refers to an alliance between Austria, Germany, and Italy. It usually is beneficial early as security. In the mid-game, mutual tactical cooperation is possible. Italy is the least favored of the three partners in the end-game.

DMZ. A term used for an agreement between players NOT to move into a particular area.

Bounce. An agreement between players to order self-standoff between their units. See the Matthew Self tactics guide for a discussion on this tactic.

Lepanto. This is a reference to a specific set of moves used by Italy to attack Turkey. If this is executed, Italy will convoy an army to Tunis and move fleets east against Turkey in 1902 (the second year of the game). The final move is a convoy over the Ionian and Eastern Mediterranean Seas from Tunis to Syria. The beginning of the Lepanto looks like an Italian attack on Turkey. The early execution of the plan gives Italy flexibility in Spring 1902. If you decide to stab Austria, you can pivot by moving to Adriatic Sea and convoying A Tunis to Albania.

I’m not a fan of full Lepanto operation as drawn up in the original strategy article because it takes too long to execute and is obvious. Here’s a link to the original Edi Birsan strategy article, The Lepanto Opening.

Going East. Going West. Players often wonder if Italy is going east or going west. This is a reference to your naval strategy of whether to move against France (west) or against Turkey (east).

WHAT TO SAY TO OTHER PLAYERS

Your first order of business here is relationships. Be polite and remember making new friends is your goal whenever talking to anyone. You can start the discussions by asking about how long the person has been playing Diplomacy or if he knows anyone else in the game. After you connect with the person, it’s time to get down to business.

Austria

Your discussions with Austria begin with your alleged fear of the dreaded Juggernaut. Say, “my friends warned me if I am Italy that I need to beware of the Juggernaut alliance. They told me the RT is the most powerful alliance in Diplomacy. Therefore, I understand it’s imperative we ally or they will steamroll us. What do you think?” Ask, “Will you ally with me?” Say during the discussion with Austria, “I understand if one of us attacks the other, it means we both end up dead.

This is a normal, common, and necessary conversation which occurs in between Italian and Austrian players in every game. You need to have the discussion to reassure Austria and convince him to trust you. Most Austrians are paranoid because they are surrounded on all sides.

Because you’re new, Austria is going to be especially nervous about leaving Trieste open and trusting you. New players are prone to dot grabbing. At the same time, the best way for Austria to get Greece is to trust Italy and move F Tri – Alb. Say, “I’m going to do a Lepanto and get Tunis. You get Greece and Serbia.

If you talk later in the Spring 1901 negotiation phase, see if you can find out what Austria is going to do with A Vienna.  Say, “Are you going to be able to keep Russia from getting into Galacia?

You need to be convincing about an alliance with Austria. Whether you opt to make the patient Spring 1901 move set or the aggressive one depends on if you think Austria trusts you. Spring 1901 is one of the best times in Diplomacy to stab a neighbor. Trust your gut.

If you have moved A Ven – Tyo, Austria will be nervous in Fall 1901 diplomacy phase. Reassure Austria by saying, “I thought Germany might move A Munich to Tyrolia and I was trying to bounce him out. I’m not attacking you or I would have moved A Rom – Ven. We’re good.” If you feel squeamish about Austria and he has a unit in Trieste, consider ordering A Apu – Ven instead of the convoy to Tunis.

France

Like your relationship with Austria, Italy benefits by having a friendly France as a neighbor. Say to France, “I think both of our Great Powers benefit if we avoid fighting. Would you like to form a non-aggression pact?” If France agrees, then get down to discussing the terms of the agreement. It would generally include the following issues:

a) A permanent DMZ in Piedmont;

b) France will not build fleets in Marseilles without notifying Italy;

c) France will land fleets only in Spain(NC); and

d) The parties agree to a permanent DMZ in NAF, Wes, and GoL.

Find out if France is interested in an alliance against Germany. “Are you interested working together against Germany?”

Russia

Russia is a good potential ally for Italy. Be cautious about the Russia and Turkey alliance (Juggernaut) because a Turkish navy can make Italy’s life miserable. However, even if Russia and Turkey ally and are attacking Austria, Italy may join the party and then team up with Russia after Austria is dead. If you’re comfortable with the Russian player, say, “Would you ally with me?” If Russia says yes, ask, “Do you want to attack Austria or Turkey first?

During Spring 1901 negotiation period, see if you can find out what Russia and Austria decided to do about Galacia. Ask, “Are you and Austria bouncing in Galacia?” The reason you want to know is because you are trying to figure out the probability that Austria ordered A Vie to standoff Russia out of Galacia. If Austria is bouncing Russia out of Gal, that means Austria will need to order A Vie – Gal, which means you can order A Ven – Tri!

Germany

Bring up concern about the Juggernaut alliance. Say, “I’m worried about the Russian-Turkey alliance. What are your thoughts?

Generally, it is considered unwise by most veteran Diplomacy players for Italy to attack Germany in 1901. This guide departs from the traditional view because taking Munich in 1901 is unexpected and an easy way for Italy to get two builds.

Be prepared to discuss Tyrolia. What will you say if Germany wants a DMZ? If you don’t agree to it, Germany will tell Austria. The fact you won’t agree to DMZ Tyrolia is going to spook an already paranoid Austrian and undo all your previous good diplomacy with Austria. Therefore, if Germany asks, you need to say, “I agree to DMZ Tyrolia.” You can always tell Germany after you move to Tyrolia, “Sorry. I didn’t get to tell you before the deadline. I’m going to Bohemia to help Austria against the Russia-Turkey alliance.” If you like the German player and don’t want to attack him, honor the Tyrolia DMZ. On the other hand, if neither Germany nor Austria ask for a Tyrolian DMZ, then order A Ven –  Tyo.

England

The main thing you need to figure out when talking to England during Spring 1901 is whether he wants to move F London to English Channel and attack France. “Are you interested in allying with me to attack France?” If yes, say, “I”m down with it too! Let’s talk to Germany and circle back later to make our plans.” In this second meeting, say, “Are you going to order F London to English Channel?” If England hems and haws about the order, assume he plans a DMZ in the Channel. You shouldn’t move to Piedmont without solid assurance that England is going to order F Lon – Eng. If he wants to write F Lon – Eng ask, “What are you hearing from Germany?” Compare notes.

Even if you and England decide not to attack France in 1901, it’s still great to establish a good relationship with England. Statistics show that England and Italy are compatible powers. The English player, if experienced and you’re comfortable with him, is likely a great person from whom to ask advice about strategy and tactics.

Turkey

Turkey and Italy are generally considered incompatible allies. However, that is a really a misnomer. Statistically, both powers often end up in draws together.

An alliance with Turkey to attack Austria can work out well. If Turkey is willing, you should ask, “In an alliance with me, would you promise to build mostly armies?” Turkey can use the armies against Austria and then turn his armies north against Russia. Ask, “Are you willing to stab Russia after Austria is a goner?” Say, “Ionian Sea is Italian territory, right?”  Watch out! If Turkey builds a second fleet in the Med, he plans to attack you. Start setting up the defense of Ionian Sea.

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Diplomacy Newbie Guide to Russia

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Get the eBook through this LINK.

This series of posts about Diplomacy is aimed at new players heading to a tournament. The idea is that a new player can quickly scan this guide and have a reasonable understanding of how more experienced players generally play the Great Power, in this case Russia.

1901 Moves:

Like Italy, which straddles the Board east and west, Russia straddles the Board north and south. It’s a fun country to play because you must keep your fingers on everyone’s pulse. It’s fun because you feel the weight of the game as it teeters and totters. A good Czar foresees swings back and forth and make preemptive diplomatic and tactical adjustments to enhance her success.

There are two basic strategies to consider during Spring 1901 negotiation period. Should I open south or north? About four out of every five games the answer is south.

The first criteria in the choice to open south or north is Galacia. If Austria insists on a standoff in Galacia, you must open south. The second criteria is how do you feel about alliances with France and Austria. You must feel comfortable with both The Emperor and The Arch Duke. When all of these criteria are favorable, then you should open north.

Open South:

Spring 1901

F Stp – Bot;
A Mos – Ukr;
A War – Gal;
F Sev – Bla

Fall 1901

F Bot – Swe;
A War – Ukr;
A Ukr – Rum;
F Sev S A Ukr – Rum

Builds:

A War; A Mos

Open North:

Spring 1901

F Stp – Bot;
A Mos – Sev;
A War – Ukr;
F Sev – Bla

Fall 1901

F Bot – Swe;
A Ukr – Rum;
A Stp – Fin; (This opens St. Petersburg so you can build a fleet in the north coast.) 
F Sev S A Ukr – Rum

Builds:

A War; F Stp(NC); A Mos (in order of priority) (Don’t forget to designate the coast if you build a fleet in St. Petersburg or you lose your build!)

 HOBBY TERMINOLOGY

Austria is Arch Duke. England is Prime Minister. France is Emperor. Germany is Kaiser. Italy is El Presidente’. Russia is Czar. Turkey is Sultan. 

Western Triple. This refers to an alliance between England, France, and Germany. It’s generally disfavored as a boring opening. The Western Triple plan sends France south to attack Italy. England goes north into Barents Sea to attack Russia’s St. Petersburg. Germany plows into Warsaw.

Russia opening north or south. This refers to orders Russia will give to A Moscow. A Mos – Stp is a northern opening. Such an opening is generally considered hostile to England. A variation on this is A War – Lvn which would permit Russia to convoy A Livonia to Sweden in the fall. Most of the time Russia will open south.

Juggernaut, Jugg, or Steamroller. These terms are used to describe an alliance of Russia and Turkey. Generally, this alliance will target Austria as its first victim. Italy and Germany are next on the menu of a Jugg.

DMZ. A term used for an agreement between players NOT to move into a particular area.

Bounce. An agreement between players to order self-standoff between their units. See the Matthew Self tactics guide for a discussion on this tactic.

Lepanto. This is a reference to a specific set of moves used by Italy to attack Turkey. If this is executed, Italy will convoy an army to Tunis and move fleets east against Turkey in 1902 (the second year of the game). The beginning of the Lepanto looks like an Italian attack on Turkey.

Italy Going East. Italy Going West. Refers to Italian strategy choice to attack either France or Turkey.

WHAT TO SAY TO OTHER PLAYERS

Your first order of business here is relationships. Be polite and remember making new friends is your goal whenever talking to anyone. You can start the discussions by asking about how long the person has been playing Diplomacy or if he knows anyone else in the game. After you connect with the person, it’s time to get down to business.

Turkey

Your potential partner in the Juggernaut alliance. The Jugg tends to favor Turkey because with any early success the Board unites to stop it. When the Board unites to stop it, they are going to focus most of the effort against you. Don’t tell Turkey you understand this danger. He may decide to attack you. If offered an alliance by the Sultan, you should happily accept the proposal. You probably are not going to stay allied with Turkey for long.

Black Sea. It’s an important space. The player who controls it has a tactical advantage over the other. Once one player gains control of Black Sea, it’s pretty hard to dislodge him. In most games, Russia and Turkey bounce F Ank and F Sev and keep Black Sea empty.  A mutually agreed bounce in Black Sea occurs nine out of ten games. Say, “Do you want to bounce in Black Sea.” Everyone else on the Board realizes a Black Sea bounce does not indicate that Russia and Turkey are fighting.

Sometimes Turkey will propose a DMZ in Black Sea. As Russia, you should accept that proposal. Say, “I think a DMZ is a great idea. You can move Fleet Ankara to Constantinople and get two fleets into the Med against Italy.” You will NOT keep the DMZ promise. If Russia gets Black Sea in Spring 1901, Turkey is in deep trouble. The same is true vice versa. Don’t let Turkey trick you in Spring 1901. Always order F Sev –  Bla even when there is a DMZ agreement.

Warn Turkey about Italy and Austria. Say, “Italy is doing the Lepanto,” and, “Austria and Italy are allied.” Ask Turkey to help you break up the AI alliance. Say, “Let’s try to get Austria and Italy to fight each other.”

Encourage Turkish greed. In Spring and Fall 1901 negotiation periods talk about plans to capture Austria’s centers. Say, “In 1902, I’ll support you to Serbia. You support me to Budapest.”  After the first moves say, “Our plan is coming together.” Talk about the builds you get with Austrian dots: “When we capture Austria’s centers, you build fleets and I’ll build armies.”

If you decide to ally with Italy and attack Austria, as Austria collapses, say to the Sultan, “You build fleets and I’ll help you against Italy when Austria is dead.” Try to get the Turkish fleet out of Black Sea during 1902. Say, “Let’s DMZ the Black Sea.” If Turkey is building two or more armies as the three of you attack Austria, you must assume he is planning to stab you. Be extra cautious, make sure Army Rumania is supported. Don’t over-extend.

Austria

Austrians played by new players start the game afraid everyone will attack them. Experienced players have no fear. Assess the abilities of The Arch Duke and factor it into your strategy.

A fearless Austria is a great ally to Russia. Say to the Arch Duke, “How do you like the Austrian-Russian alliance?”  Tell Austria, “I want to ally with you against Turkey.” The problem of the Board over-reacting to a Russian alliance does not exist in your alliance with Austria.

Galacia. This province is a strategic area. Most of the time, Russia and Austria agree to stand off each other in Galacia. It’s a wasted turn, but sometimes necessary. Say, “What do you think about a DMZ in Galacia?” If Austria can live with a DMZ, that’s actually a much better situation for both players. A DMZ in Galacia gives you the option of a northern opening. If the Arch Duke isn’t comfortable with a DMZ, say, “Let’s bounce in Gal then.”

In the Fall 1901, a cagey Austria will ask you to move F Sev – Rum; A Ukr S F Sev – Rum. These orders do allow you to build F Sev. Building F Sev means Russia has two fleets on Black Sea.  Taking Black Sea is imperative if you are going to attack Turkey with Austria and Italy and get your fair share of the Turkish centers. Say, “If you get Bulgaria off Turkey next spring, will you support F Black – Con in the fall?” Italy is going to want Austrian support for an attack on Smyrna. Try to get Austria to help you.

Italy

Russian-Italian alliances are great. Say to El Presidente’, “Would you ally with me?” If it’s early in the negotiation period when you meet, suggest, “Let’s talk again before the deadline.” After you’ve both talked to Russia and Turkey say, “What do you think about Austria and Turkey?” and, “Who do you think we should we attack first?”

If the Sultan and El Presidente’ invite you to party in Austria then stomping Austria with them is a legitimate strategic option. Italy will be nervous about the Juggernaut. Tell El Presidente’, “After we destroy Austria, we’ll attack Turkey together.

France

France and Russia are natural allies. When an experienced player is the Emperor, you can probably bank on his advice and counsel. Tell The Emperor, “I want to ally with you.” If he’s had a chance to talk to the other players ask him, “What do you think of Germany and England?” If you feel good about the Arch Duke (Austria), say, “Should I open north?” Opening north is anti-English. You want to make sure that France is planning to ally with Germany to attack England before you make a northern opening. Ask, “Are you and Germany going to attack England?

Germany

Long term Germany and Russia are incompatible Great Powers. But in a tournament game where draws are frequent, they can be good partners. You will need German help if England goes after St. Petersburg. Germany may need your help if England and France attack Germany. As Russia, you want to keep the west stalemated until you and your allies in the east resolve things. It’s kind of a race to see who can kill Austria (or Turkey) in the east, and who can kill England, France, or Germany in the west.

Tell Germany you are not going to attack him. Tell him you want to be friends. Say, “Let’s be friends. How ’bout a DMZ in Prussia and Silesia?” Explain that you think you both can help each other. Most Diplomacy players tend toward paranoia. Say, “We can mutually support each other in Sweden and Denmark if England and France attack us.

Sweden. Germany can block you from taking Sweden. Most of the time, Germany does not want to alienate Russia at an early stage of the game because he doesn’t know yet if France and England are allied. If Germany has moved F Kiel to Denmark, say during the 1901 Fall negotiation period, “France and England are allied.” And, “Will you let me take Sweden so we both get builds?

England

There is usually tension between England and Russia because Russia can build fleets in St. Petersburg(NC) and is a competitor for the Scandinavian centers. However, in a Diplomacy game fear motivates many players. England can be ganged up upon by Germany and France. When Russia joins in on this attack, it’s curtains for England. Therefore, reassure England in the Spring 1901 negotiation phase. Say, “If France and Germany attack you, I will help.”

France and Germany will often try to talk England into stretching for St. Petersburg early in the game to open him up for a stab. Say, “England usually gets stabbed by France and Germany when trying for St. Petes.

You prefer England not convoy an army to Norway. “It’s smart to keep your army in England as a home guard to deter stabs.”

It’s also possible, England wants to move south against France. You want to encourage this strategy. He will be more likely to move south if he doesn’t need to worry about Russia taking Norway or building in St. Petersburg. Say, “I’m very happy with just Sweden. I am not building in St. Pete.” Propose a mutual defense pact. “Let’s support each other’s units in Norway and Sweden.”

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Diplomacy Newbie Guide to Turkey

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This series of posts about Diplomacy is aimed at new players heading to a tournament. The idea is that a new player can quickly scan this guide and have a reasonable understanding of how more experienced players generally play the Great Power, in this case Turkey.

1901 Moves:

Turkey has two basic choices in Spring 1901. Attack Russia. Play patient.

The default choice is to attack Russia. The Sultan drives the eastern alliance structure by grabbing the initiative against Russia. The biggest worry Italy and Austria have at the outset of a Diplomacy game is the Juggernaut. By attacking Russia in the Spring 1901 The Sultan opens the door for alliances between The Arch Duke and El Presidente’. An open-minded Czar may even be willing to forgive and forget so you and he might develop a surprise Juggernaut.

If you play a patient game or choose to ally with Russia, there is a good chance you force Italy and Austria into an alliance. This results in a deadlock in the east and gives the advantage to the western Great Powers.

Talk to everyone in the Spring 1901 negotiation phase to figure out who you like or who makes you squeamish. If you don’t have a definitive answer at the end of the Spring 1901 negotiation period, then you should attack Russia.

Attack Russia

Spring 1901

F Ank – Bla;
A Smy – Arm;
A Con – Bul

Fall 1901

Note: You may need to remain flexible with Fall orders. There are many variables. For example, if Austria moves to Rumania in Spring 1901, you may want to order A Bul S AUSTRIAN A Rum.

F Ank – Bla [or F Bla C A Arm – Rum];
A Arm – Sev; [or A Arm – Rum if you’re in Black Sea]
A Bul – Rum [or A Bul S A Arm – Rum if you’re in Black Sea]

Builds: (in order of priority)

The Turkish build is used to throw a bone to your most hoped-for ally. For example, F Smyrna will alarm Italy and probably chase him out of any alliance with you.

Allied with Italy or Austria and in Black Sea: A Con; F Smy
Allied with Italy or Austria and in Ankara: F Con; A Smy
Allied with Russia and/or facing Italian A Tun (Lepanto): F Smy; A Con

HOBBY TERMINOLOGY

Austria is Arch Duke. England is Prime Minister. France is Emperor. Germany is Kaiser. Italy is El Presidente’. Russia is Czar. Turkey is Sultan. 

Western Triple. This refers to an alliance between England, France, and Germany. It’s generally disfavored as a boring opening. The Western Triple plan sends France south to attack Italy. England goes north into Barents Sea to attack Russia’s St. Petersburg. Germany plows into Warsaw.

Russia opening north or south. This refers to orders Russia will give to A Moscow. A Mos – Stp is a northern opening. Such an opening is generally considered hostile to England. A variation on this is A War – Lvn which would permit Russia to convoy A Livonia to Sweden in the fall. Most of the time Russia will open south.

Juggernaut, Jugg, or Steamroller. These terms are used to describe an alliance of Russia and Turkey. Generally, this alliance will target Austria as its first victim. Italy and Germany are next on the menu of a Jugg.

DMZ. A term used for an agreement between players NOT to move into a particular area.

Bounce. An agreement between players to order self-standoff between their units. See the Matthew Self tactics guide for a discussion on this tactic.

Lepanto. This is a reference to a specific set of moves used by Italy to attack Turkey. If this is executed, Italy will convoy an army to Tunis and move fleets east against Turkey in 1902 (the second year of the game). The beginning of the Lepanto looks like an Italian attack on Turkey.

Italy Going East. Italy Going West. Refers to Italian strategy choice to attack either France or Turkey.

WHAT TO SAY TO OTHER PLAYERS

Your first order of business here is relationships. Be polite and remember making new friends is your goal whenever talking to anyone. You can start the discussions by asking about how long the person has been playing Diplomacy or if he knows anyone else in the game. After you connect with the person, it’s time to get down to business.

Russia

Your potential partner in the Juggernaut alliance. The Jugg tends to favor Turkey because with any early success the Board unites to stop it. When the Board unites to stop it, they are going to focus most of the effort against Russia. If offered an alliance by Russia during Spring 1901, you should happily accept the proposal.

Black Sea. It’s an important space. The player who controls it has a tactical advantage over the other. Once one player gains control of Black Sea, it’s pretty hard to dislodge him. In most games, Russia and Turkey bounce F Ank and F Sev and keep Black Sea empty.  A mutually agreed bounce in Black Sea occurs nine out of ten games. Say, “Do you want to DMZ Black Sea.” If Russia agrees, say, “You move Fleet Sevastapol to Rumania and I’ll order Fleet Ankara to Constantinople.”

You will NOT keep the DMZ promise. If Russia gets Black Sea in Spring 1901, Turkey is in deep trouble. The same is true vice versa. Don’t let Russia trick you in Spring 1901. Always order F Ank –  Bla even when there is a DMZ agreement.

Ask Russia to help you break up the AI alliance. Say, “Let’s try to get Austria and Italy to fight each other.”

Encourage Russian greed. In Spring and Fall 1901 negotiation periods talk about plans to capture Austria’s centers. Say, “In 1902, I’ll support you to Budapest if you support me to Serbia.”  After the first moves say, “Our plan is coming together.” Talk about the builds you get with Austrian dots: “When we capture Austria’s centers, you build armies and I’ll build fleets in the Med.”

If Italy is helping you attack Austria, as Austria collapses, say to the Czar, “You build armies. I’ll build fleets. We’ll attack Italy and Germany when Austria is dead.”

If you move to Armenia in Spring 1901, Russia won’t be happy. However, a Russian-Turkish alliance can be resurrected from this set of moves by taking Greece (with Italian help) and convoying your Army Armenia to Bulgaria. You need Fleet Black Sea to make this move. Stay friendly with Russia. Maybe you can ally against Austria. It is very easy to shift your position into an attack on Austria by convoying (F Bla C A Arm – Bul; A Arm – Bul). An experienced Russian player will understand this and be more forgiving. Say, “I understand it looks like we’re in conflict. My goal is to get Italy and Austria fighting.

Austria

Austria is a good ally with whom to attack Russia. Say to the Arch Duke, “Will you ally with me if I attack Russia?” Ask Austria to take Rumania in Spring 1901 negotiation period. “I’ll support your Army Rumania in the Fall if you move to Army Budapest to Rumania.” In the fall 1901 negotiation period, say, “I’ll order A Bulgaria supports Army Rumania. Please order Army Rumania supports Army Armenia to Sevastapol.” Tell Austria, “I’m going to build Med fleets. You build armies.”

Italy

El Presidente’ is paranoid about the Juggernaut. Fear is what leads to a default Italian plan. An alliance with Austria and an anti-Sultan Lepanto operation.

Say to Italy, “What do you think about the two of us attacking Austria?” If Italy is reluctant, say, “I understand being reluctant to ally with me now. Let’s talk again after the moves.” Sum up the Spring 1901 meeting by telling Italy this: “I have no strategic interest in attacking you. I want to build armies not fleets.” 

When you move Army Smyrna to Armenia it becomes clear you are not allied with Russia. Therefore, after the Spring 1901 move, other options become more attractive to Italy than the Lepanto. He can go west. He can stab Austria for Trieste. Fighting Turkey is a waste of resources for Italy. Both Great Powers are better off working together and getting Balkans centers from Austria, or Italy can go west and attack France with England. If you think England may offer this to Italy, say, “Let’s at least let’s stay out of each other’s hair.”

When you meet up again in the Fall 1901 negotiation period say, “I’m still down for an alliance with you against Austria.” Warn Italy about the dangers of the Lepanto. “Italy gets stabbed when stretched out in a Lepanto.” 

Watch the Italian Fall orders. If Italy convoys an army to Tunis and builds F Naples, he may move F Ionian Sea to Eastern Mediterranean or Aegean Sea. You need to build Fleet Smyrna if Italy is hell bent on attacking you.

England

England is Turkey’s best ally in the game. It’s weird because you are opposite corners, but the statistics back it up. Say to England, “We’re on opposite corners, but you’re my best friend.” If The Prime Minister is an experienced player, you can rely on his advice and counsel about tactics and strategy. Say, “Maybe we can meet up later in Moscow.”

If you plan to attack Russia, tell England in Spring 1901 negotiation period, “I’m going to do everything I can to encourage Italy to go west and attack France with you.” After the Spring 1901 moves, if England is in English Channel, there’s a good chance his diplomacy with Italy went well. Say, “Italy has no excuse now not to help you with France.”

France

France and Russia are natural allies. When an experienced player is the Emperor, be careful with what you tell him. You should expect any information you give to France will get back to Russia. Selectively disclosing disinformation to the Emperor may be useful. In Spring 1901, tell France, “Let’s keep each other informed about our sides of the Board.”

Germany

An alliance with Germany and Austria in Spring 1901 to attack Russia is great for Turkey. Ask Germany, “Do you want to attack Russia with me?” This is especially effective if Austria backs up the play. Germany can pressure Warsaw in 1901 and probably capture it in 1902 with any determination. Even if Germany doesn’t want to attack Russia right away, he probably will soon enough. Say, “Please don’t let Russia get Sweden. He wants to build Army Warsaw.”

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Hey @Dave_Matter, Coach @DawnStaley’s Lawsuit Absolutely Alleges Sterk Slandered @GamecocksWBB Fans

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One of the more irritating issues about the idiotic Missouri AD Jim Sterk’s allegations against South Carolina was his allegation South Carolina women’s basketball fans yelled the “n word” at Missouri basketball players in a well-attended January 28 night game. I’ve attended Gamecock sporting events for decades and I’ve never heard any fan yelling racial slurs from the stands. But alleging it happened plays into a national stereotype of southerners. If you make the allegation, many people from other parts of the country are going to assume it is true. Maybe that’s why Sterk, a westerner, figured it was ok to let the allegation fly. Everyone knows South Carolinians are racists, right? This is what  irritates #Gamecock fans to no end and the irritation isn’t going away until justice is done.

Gamecock women’s basketball games are family affairs with lots of kids in attendance. We lead the nation in attendance. Do you seriously believe you can attract this many fans to games full of spitting and racist activity? Not to mention the fact that Staley and all the women basketball players are Africa-American. Sure, Gamecocks fans are passionate. Absolutely, they believe Missouri’s nearly all-white team is full of dirty players. But they didn’t yell racist slurs and spit on Missouri’s players. That’s complete and utter bull-shit.

Not one smart phone captured anything untoward. No journalist heard any racist slurs. Video of the Missouri players leaving the through the tunnel shows they had no reaction as they ran between multiple security guards. Still photographs show no evidence to support Sterk.

Sterk’s comments are slanderous not only against Staley, but also the entire State of South Carolina and City of Columbia. His remarks are terrible. Offensive. False and outrageous. They cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. Enough is enough. That’s why Tanner, Staley, and all Gamecock fans welcome an SEC review. I just wish actual Missouri journalists would try reporting the truth about it.

Missouri beat writer Dave Matter is an example of one of the Missouri journalists who has completely missed the real story here. The story that he should be covering is a story of a sore loser former player and a western AD, maybe out of his depth, who recklessly hurled racial allegations against South Carolina and Staley. Here’s an example tweet by Matter that completely misses the point:

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This tweet is dead wrong. The Staley lawsuit specifically alleges that Sterk slandered South Carolina women’s basketball fans. Dave Matter, please read paragraph 17, which is copied above this blog post. This is not anything new. Here’s what Staley had to say contemporaneously with Sterk’s stupid radio statement.

Our fans are great. They’re loyal, they’re passionate, they understand basketball, they understand how to act in the stands. And if I could uproot them and put them in every women’s basketball arena, every coach that represented that particular fanbase would be tremendously proud of what they bring to the table. And I stand by our fans, I stand by what they represent, I stand by how they cheer, I stand every single thing that they bring to the building, because it’s appropriate and well within the rules of the game.

Dawn Staley Respond’s to Sterk’s Slanderous Lie

Paragraph 17 is the best part of Staley’s lawsuit. Just like the SEC review, digging into the alleged racial slurs and alleged spitting by South Carolina fans toward the Missouri players is going to reveal no evidence those things ever happened. One former Missouri basketball player is a sore loser. Journalists, coaches, and ADs need to be careful in their words before they base the reputation of their institutions on a lol tweet by a loser former player.

You Idiot Jim Sterk. Reap The Whirlwind @GamecockWBB

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A few weeks ago, I blasted the SEC Commissioner for failing to take action after the @MizzouAthletics leader, the clueless and incompetent Jim Sterk, made insane remarks about South Carolina’s @DawnStaley and South Carolina @GamecockWBB fans. There is no doubt the remarks, while also inflammatory and slanderous, violated SEC rules. The Commissioner’s Office took action against Sterk yesterday, fining him $25,000, and issued the following statement:

Both Missouri and South Carolina have cultivated highly successful women’s basketball programs, which enjoy tremendous fan support and have earned the respect of this office,” said Commissioner Sankey. “While we always appreciate a healthy level of competitive intensity on the court, there is no place in this league for discord inside or outside of the arena. I have had multiple conversations over the past few weeks with representatives of both schools about the problems emanating from their January 28 game and it has been my desire for those issues to be mutually resolved between the athletic programs and individuals involved. Unfortunately, a mutual resolution does not appear imminent. Our hope is that we can direct our focus back where it belongs – on our student-athletes and on-court competition.

SECCountry, Report: SEC fines Missouri AD Jim Sterk $25,000 after Dawn Staley files lawsuit

The delay in action against the clueless Sterk by Commissioner Sankey was apparently for the purpose of persuading him to retract his inflammatory comments about Dawn Staley or to apologize. Sterk refused to budge.

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Here’s another quote by your favorite philosopher. Stupid is as stupid does. Reap a lawsuit and read this allegation from the Complaint.

Coach Staley has no choice but to bring this action to clear her good name and excellent reputation, along with the reputation of the South Carolina fan base who were also falsely impugned and maligned by the defendant’s false comments . . . .

I’m guessing when Wally Fassoux, Staley’s Greenville lawyer, gets done with him, Sterk is going to be an even sadder loser. Sterk, here’s another famous philosopher for you to look up. Fred Sanford.

SEC Commissioner @GregSankey Latest Victim of @MizzouAthletics Unprofessional AD

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There might have been some who figured Jim Sterk was in over his head when Missouri hired him to run their athletic department. His experience as the AD at Portland State could not prepare him for his role as an AD at an SEC school. That he is in over his head is now obvious.

A few weeks ago, after 16,000 plus South Carolina womens’ basketball fans booed the dirtiest women’s basketball team in the SEC out of their coliseum with their tails between their legs, a former Mizzou player leveled a sore-loser and false charge that Missouri players were spit upon by fans. Sterk then took to the radio waves in Missouri to allege South Carolina fans called Missouri players “the N word,” and moreover, he asserted Dawn Staley, the acclaimed Gamecocks coach, fomented the racially hostile environment for Missouri’s nearly all white basketball team.  Those remarks were picked up by mainstream sports media and broadcast nationally.

Ray Tanner conducted an investigation into the allegations of alleged racist fan behavior and spitting. He interviewed numerous law enforcement personnel and staff and nobody heard any racist epithets. An NBC affiliate released video showing the Missouri players exiting the arena without incident or unusual reaction protected by the extra law enforcement lining the tunnel. The game was covered by ESPN nationally and by numerous journalists. None in attendance reported hearing racist and redneck insults.

In fact, all of the Missouri allegations are baseless and Sterk’s complaints were completely unsubstantiated (except for a loser tweet by the former Missouri player).

Sterk’s allegation was so scurrilous that a confused Tanner was forced to respond and report to the SEC league office. The SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey received Tanner’s complaint and now sits on it without any further action against the idiotic Sterk.

Action is required because Sterk’s remarks are clearly in violation of SEC league Sportsmanship bylaws.

A fine of Sterk here is absolutely required.

In view of the Commissioner’s recent swift fine of Frank Martin (for complaining about refs), this issue has once again come to a head. There is a double-standard. How can you fine Martin but let the complete idiot Sterk slide for what is obviously a much more serious infraction?

In this day and age, there is no charge against an Institution and its fans that is more inflammatory and hurtful than a charge of racism. It is especially true in a place like South Carolina that has worked hard to overcome history. For fans to be labeled as racist rednecks by some clueless dude from Portland, probably because he is not used to passionate and loud women’s basketball environment, an environment which is good for the SEC and women’s basketball, is unacceptable.

Sankey must act and he must act soon. Otherwise, his administration will suffer as an additional victim of the idiot Sterk’s inopportune, baseless, and stupid allegations against South Carolina and Dawn Staley. Sankey looks increasingly weak as he lets Sterk’s insult linger with no action from his office. Sterk’s Forest Gump press releases are not enough. Act.