Diplomacy Guide for Newbies

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This is a Diplomacy guide for new players of the board game playing in a tournament. The idea for this Guide is to give new players a notion of what other more experienced players expect related to the Great Power you have been assigned. Find individual guides to each Great Power at the tag “newbie.”

If your wife or friend is traveling with you to a tournament, this guide will decrease the chance someone can deceive her in negotiations, and increase the odds she don’t do something to inadvertently alienate a Great Power with whom she needs to establish an alliance. This guide provides some links where a new player can learn the basic rules about moving pieces effectively (tactics).

The first part of the Guide is directed to basic understanding of the game. The second part will be broken down into sections on the seven Great Powers in the game. These sections are short and aimed at opening strategy options. When you are assigned a Great Power, review the material for it and you’re off and running.

OBJECT

The first thing a new player should understand about Diplomacy is that it is a political game. The stated object of the game is to gain control of 18/34 supply centers. These are indicated on the map by provinces with dots. That’s just the stated objective. Diplomacy is actually a game about relationships and political influence. If you’ve watched the television show Survivor you get the gist of it. Nobody wins a solo victory by herself. You need allies. Like in the TV show, your success or failure depends on relationships with and influence of others in the game.

At the beginning of the game, most of the important political events take place between you and your immediate neighbors. There is a scramble to make new friends and avoid being the odd woman out of a group of two or three people on your theater of the Board. When a player succeeds in the first couple years of avoiding elimination, gaining influence and power over an area, usually with the help of one or two other players, then the scope of her plans widen. She thinks about all theaters, how to get 18 of the 34 centers. Everything is important. Diplomacy is a well-balanced game. Events on the other side of the Board from you impact the politics and influence in your area. How these events effect your political influence come to light as play enters the mid game.

The diplomacy side of the game—the part about human emotions and relationships with other players—plays out over a simple but elegant movement mechanism (tactics). There are no die rolls. Success or failure, everything really, depend on your choices.

Successful players conceive of a strategy towards victory as early as possible. The best players assess everyone in the game and can see far ahead. The best players rarely vacillate in strategic objectives once set. Don’t switch alliances just because you can grab a dot off your ally. Some players do play that way. They engender disdain from others as “dot grabbers.” Be strategic.

REALISTIC GOALS

Solo victories are hard to achieve. The great majority of Diplomacy games end in a draw. In a tournament setting, there are a variety of scoring methods. These typically reward players for being part of a draw. Depending on the system of scoring, you gain more or less points by the size of your Great Power at the end of a drawn game.

Generally, your primary goal as a new player should be to find a player or players with whom you can form a solid alliance and get both or all of you into the draw. Your secondary goal is to be as big as you can at the end. If something unusual happens in the game where you might solo, great.

Some people are nervous about admitting that they are a new player because they are afraid more experienced players will automatically attack them. However, the most experienced players will likely have an opposite reaction. These people want to facilitate new blood into The Hobby. Therefore, they will often go out of their way to help new players so they have a good experience.

In your opening discussions, talk to everyone and try to figure out who has been playing a while and which players are less experienced. You can ask other players if they know anyone in the game and get their opinions about what those people are like. As a new player, I would tend to favor an alliance with an experienced player. The experienced players are more likely to see you as a beneficial ally. Unless a solo opportunity arises for them, as stated above, they are more likely to want you to have a good experience, enjoy the game, and maybe become part of the Diplomacy community. This kind of meta gaming is often the most important goal of an experienced player. This is especially true early on in a tournament, or at the end when the experienced player recognizes he lacks a chance to win the tournament.

HAVING A GOOD ATTITUDE

As stated above, relationships are the key to Diplomacy. There will often be lying and backstabbing. That’s part of the game sometimes. You shouldn’t lie or backstab unless it gives you a great benefit. If it happens to you, don’t take things personally. When an ally stabs you, laugh it off. At the same time, if someone tries to intimidate you, dish it out right back at them. Use the stab or bullying against the other player with the others in the game. Be a good sport. Don’t let people push you around. People don’t like bullies. Someone who is a bully becomes a target. Someone who is winning early is a target. You can get revenge or die with a smile on your face. It’s just a game.

BOARD MAP

You need to be familiar with the Diplomacy board and abbreviations for the areas on the map. The game starts with seven Great Powers. They are depicted on the map here by different colors. Each Great Power but Russia starts with three centers and three units (fleets and armies). Armies move and project power on land. Fleets move and project power in sea areas and coastal areas.

Three areas on the map bear special scrutiny.

1. Spain

2. Constantinople-Bulgaria

When moving to Spain and Bulgaria it is sometimes possible to choose into which coast you wish to move. You need to specify the coast in your order or it could be declared “ambiguous.” If your order is ambiguous it is invalid and your unit does not move.

So if you’re moving a fleet from Constantinople to Bulgaria, you need to specify the coast on your order like this: F Con – Bul(sc) [South Coast].

Likewise, moving F Mid Atlantic or F Portugal to Spain: F Mid – Spa(sc) or F Por – Spa(nc) [North Coast]

3. Denmark

Unlike most land provinces, fleets may move through Constantinople and Denmark. For example, in two moves, F Baltic Sea may move to Denmark and then into an adjoining sea area like North Sea.

Spring

F Bal – Den

Fall

F Den – Nth

The rest of the map is pretty intuitive. Sometimes you need to look closely at the lines to see where the spaces connect. Look carefully. For example, Baltic Sea adjoins the province of Kiel.

The size of the province is irrelevant. Some of the smallest provinces–even those without power centers–may become very important in the game. For example, North Sea, Black Sea, and Ionian Sea are  important because they border so many supply centers. Tyrolia is little and Gascony is out of the way, but they are often right in the middle of the action at the end of the game.

The map attached shows the initial centers each power controls by color. Note the provinces with dots. Gaining control of these, sharing these with your allies, or taking these from your enemies, determine how many pieces (armies and fleets) are under your control. The more units you have, the more power you have in the game. Use your power wisely to make friends and limit opponents.

GAME MOVE MECHANICS

The game is played in two primary simultaneous moves. Each player secretly writes his orders and places them in a central location. Once the clock on order writing expires, all the moves are revealed simultaneously and the pieces are pushed according to the moves everyone makes.

In addition to these primary moves, there is a phase between for retreats. Retreats occur when a player has a unit dislodged. The location of where you may retreat is limited. You can only retreat into an open and uncontested space. You also are prohibited from retreating into the space where the attack came. Generally, you’re allowed to ask which spaces are available for your unit into which to retreat. Players are not allowed to make recommendations but they can tell you the spaces into which your unit may retreat. If you have to retreat, write your retreat order secretly and reveal the retreat order like with the spring and fall orders.

NOTE: You don’t have to retreat. You always have the option of disbanding the unit. Just write “A Tyo disbands.” Sometimes, that is the best choice when you have equal units and centers. You can then disband and rebuild the unit on one of your open home supply centers.

Players gain control over supply centers only during the fall move. If you have more at the end of the first year, you build more units in your home supply centers. If you have less centers, then you disband units until you have an equal number of pieces and supply centers.

Players secretly write their builds and disbands during the winter. Generally, there is no diplomacy allowed between phases. You cannot ask your allies for help with your builds, disbands, or retreats. You should discuss this with them during the spring and fall diplomacy periods.

NEUTRAL CENTERS

On the map, the centers in orange are neutral centers at the beginning of the game. Nobody controls these at the outset of the game. The first moves are generally aimed at exerting control over these neutral centers and gaining position to control them and others with and without help from allies.

ORDER WRITING AND ABBREVIATIONS

The image here has each province marked by unambiguous abbreviations. Be careful with abbreviations. Your orders can be invalidated if it is ambiguous. Be careful abbreviating places like North Sea and Norway, or Tyrolia and Tyrrennian Sea. If you write “Nor” or “Tyr” your order might be ambiguous. If you use abbreviations, which is fine and saves time, use the ones on this map. Print this out or save it to your phone so you can reference it.

Time management is important in a tournament. You will have limited time to write your orders. One simple way to keep organized is to routinely write down the location of all your pieces at the outside of a diplomacy phase. For example, if England, you might write on your order-writing notepad these locations:

Spring 1901

F Edi
A Lvp
F Lon

When writing your orders, you can use the abbreviation S to indicate a unit is “supporting” a move. For example, F Edi S F Lon-Nth.

You can use – to indicate movement. F Lon – Nth

You can use C to indicate convoy. For example, F Nth C A Yor-Nwy

You can use H to indicate a unit will hold. For example, F Nth H.

Abbreviations are a good way to save time. Time management is important. You have limited time to write orders and conduct diplomacy. But getting your orders written is an important part of tournament play. Even the best players have trouble with time management and make mistakes because they have to hurry in writing orders at the last minute. It’s good to get the order writing done early in the phase so you have time to reflect and check for mistakes. Also, if you figure out your best moves, you know what you might need from allies and can ask for help.

You must write an order for EACH unit.

DIPLOMACY

When you talk, pay attention to players and what they say to you. Figure out which are the ones you can trust. Do they do what they say? Does what they say make sense when you look at their moves. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Note: this does not necessarily mean you should confront the player. You may be better off keeping your concerns to yourself with that person and talking to someone else in the game to get his perspective.

Pay attention to where players move their pieces. The location of the pieces more than words are the best indicator of a player’s true intent. If a player moves a piece into a position that gives them an advantage over your own, you should pay extra care to what they’re telling you. This guide should help you evaluate the stories you’re hearing. It should help you decide who to believe and who to trust.

Remember to talk to the players who are not directly adjacent to you. There are balances in the game. Experienced players understand that sometimes it helps their Great Power when a balancing Great Power succeeds. For example, success of Germany and England is often correlated to the success of Austria. Russia and France success is correlated. England and Turkey. Italy and Germany or England, etc. etc. Later in this guide, I will tell you who across the board from you should be most interested in your success.

TACTICS

The best way to learn how pieces move in Diplomacy is to review Matthew Self’s tactics course. Diplomacy tactics are relatively simple. It probably takes about an hour to work through these tactics problems and become reasonably competent with your tactics. That’s all most people need because most of the game success is determined more directly by the more complicated aspects–strategy, diplomatic skill, and intuition. If you get stressed in the heat of battle, ask allies or the players who want you to succeed for tactical suggestions.

Matthew Self Tactics LINK

Link to Download Map

All Posts Tagged Newbie

DIPLOMACY NEWBIE GUIDE TO AUSTRIA

DIPLOMACY NEWBIE GUIDE TO ENGLAND

DIPLOMACY NEWBIE GUIDE TO FRANCE

DIPLOMACY NEWBIE GUIDE TO GERMANY

DIPLOMACY NEWBIE GUIDE TO ITALY

DIPLOMACY NEWBIE GUIDE TO RUSSIA

DIPLOMACY NEWBIE GUIDE TO TURKEY

 

Get the eBook through this LINK.

 

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Diplomacy Newbie Guide to Austria

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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 brief guide and have a reasonable understanding of how more experienced players generally play the Great Power, in this case Austria.

1901 Moves:

The Arch Duke must be confident. Avoid timidity in your negotiations.

Your best strategy is to make alliances with Russia and Italy to attack Turkey. Most El Presidente’s will perceive The Sultan as an existential threat to Italy. Talk to Italy first if possible. Once Italy agrees, then the two of you sell the idea to Russia as a means to avoid a stalemate in the east. Talk to The Sultan. If you hit it off with him, you two can join up and wreak havoc because most people don’t expect the AT alliance.

You must decide to trust Italy or Russia in Spring 1901. If your gut feels good about Italy the more common order is A Vie – Gal, usually an arranged bounce to keep Galacia empty. The problem with bouncing is that sometimes you have to bounce two or three moves in a row, which is a waste of resources for both Great Powers.

If your gut feels good about Russia, then A Vie – Tri protects you from a Spring 1901 stab by Italy. Bonus: if your DMZ with Russia holds, it establishes trust. This makes an alliance between you and Russia more stable and you can make bolder attacks on your mutual enemies.

Spring 1901

F Tri – Alb;
A Bud – Ser;
A Vie – [Gal or Tri]

Fall 1901

F Alb – Gre
A Ser S Alb – Gre
A Tri H [or – Bud or – Vie, if Russia moved A Warsaw to Galacia]

Winter 1901 Builds

Austria should build one or two armies in 1901.

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. 

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.

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

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.

Juggernaut, Jugg, RT, 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.

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). This move is great for Austria.

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.

As alluded to above, one of Austria’s first concerns is the Russia-Turkey alliance. A smart way to conduct your diplomacy with all powers in the early turns is to be alert for and concerned about The Juggernaut.

ITALY

Tell Italy, “I was warned about the Juggernaut alliance. What are your views on the Jugg?” After listening to Italy talk about its dangers. Say, “If we stick together as allies, we can stop the Juggernaut before it gets rolling.” 

Note: Nobody has to keep their word. Just because the Italian agrees does not mean he will really leave you alone. Listen to him and try to discern clues about whether he is being truthful. What kind of person is he? Discerning who is telling you the truth is part of the game.

What to plan with Italy.

Ask Italy, “Would you consider opening Lepanto and allying with me against Turkey?” (F Nap – Ion; A Rom -Apu.)  Tell Italy, “The Turkish navy has nowhere to go but against Italy. “Telling people about strategic dangers facing their Great Power is a smart diplomatic initiative.

Assure Italy you are not going to fight him no matter what. “If we get into a war, everyone else around us gets the profits.” Also, try to get Italy to commit to not moving into Tyrolia. Say, “Let’s DMZ Tyrolia.”

If Italy wants to attack France, tell him you’re going for an alliance with Russia to attack Turkey. “If you go west, I’ll go east. I’ll have your back and you’ll have mine.” This is what Italy wants to hear. Telling people what they want to hear is a generally a good idea in Diplomacy.

Promise to meet back up later and find out what everyone else is saying before the moves.

Do not tell Italy (or anyone) your moves. Especially, do not tell him if you plan a standoff in Galacia with Russia. That’s an invitation for Italy to grab Trieste. If he asks, say, “I”m getting a  DMZ in Galacia.”

Germany and England

Talk to Germany early if possible. Hobby statistics show that Germany and England benefit with Austria does well in a game. If experienced players are controlling those two Great Powers they won’t have any real reason to deceive you.

Like you, Germany will worried about a potentialJuggernaut. Bring this possibility up. “Are you worried about the RT alliance?”

Russia needs German cooperation to get into Sweden in 1901. Ask Germany if he will help you influence Russia into maintaining a DMZ agreement between you and Russia in Galacia. Say, “Will you tell Russia that the presence of a Russian army in Galacia will factor into whether he gets Sweden?” Remember, Germany is next on Russia’s menu after you’re dead.

If Germany is knowledgeable, let the German player know you are new and depend on his advice. Try to establish a cordial relationship and ask him to provide you advice about moves and strategy and diplomacy.

Same thing with England. These two are your natural allies on the other side of the Board.

RUSSIA

The Russian – Austrian alliance is as good as The Juggernaut. If you can strike up an alliance with Russia–if you are comfortable with the Czar–this is a great strategic objective for the Arch Duke. Generally, attacking Turkey is in your mutual interest. Turkey is because both of your lines. If you can secure the southeastern corner by eliminating Turkey, both of your Great Powers can project power west. Tell Russia, “Let’s ally and attack Turkey.”

If Russia has experience, let him know you’re new and may need help with orders and tactics. This may induce him into an alliance with you. You can always change what he wants you to do if you feel squeamish about his plan.

The primary negotiation point between you and Russia in Spring 1901 is the province of Galacia. It is strategic for both of you. Russia could move from Galacia into two of your home centers (Vienna and Budapest). You could move from Galacia into Warsaw. It is so strategic many people playing Austria recommend that it is better to establish a standoff (bounce) there instead of a DMZ. The arranged standoff insures nobody can stab the other by taking the space on the first move. However, a standoff means you must leave Trieste undefended against Italy. What if Russia tells Italy you and Russia agreed to a standoff in Galacia?

How you order A Trieste is essentially a choice of whether to trust Italy or Russia. You decide which player is most worthy of that trust when writing your order for A Vienna.

Ask Russia to take Rumania with F Sevastapol in the fall. A Russian fleet in Rumania is less of a threat to Austrian home centers and Serbia than a Russian army. The presence of a Russian army in Rumania is a red flag for a Juggernaut.

TURKEY

The Austria-Turkey alliance is unusual. However, it can be done if Turkey builds mostly fleets and Austria builds mostly armies. The first target of such an alliance is Russia. Tell the Sultan, “Let’s ally and attack Russia together.” You can support the Turk into Rumania in 1902 or even Fall 1901. I wouldn’t rule this support out if you are most comfortable with the Turkish player. You do not want to let either Italy or Russia know you and Turkey are hitting it off.

If Turkey agrees to an alliance with you in 1901, ask him to order A Smy – Arm and try for Black Sea. If Turkey has an army in Armenia in Spring 1901, and you’re comfortable with the Turk, then you can probably risk ordering A Ser S A Bul – Rum. That will keep Russia from gaining a supply center in Rumania and make it easier tactically for you and Turkey to defeat him.

Whatever they are saying, watch the Black Sea. If Turkey and Russia are comfortable enough with each other to allow a fleet into Black Sea during Spring or Fall 1901, that’s a clear sign of a developing Juggernaut alliance. Start sounding the alarm in your diplomacy with England and Germany and Italy by telling them, “There’s a Juggernaut!” The normal response to a Jugg is for Germany and England to attack Russia in the north, and Italy to help you against it in the south.

FRANCE

Statistics suggest France does well when Russia succeeds. A powerful Russia is not necessarily great for Austria unless you’re in a good alliance with the Czar. Be cautious listening to France.

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Diplomacy Newbie Guide to England

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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 brief guide and have a reasonable understanding of how more experienced players generally play the Great Power, in this case England.

1901 Moves:

There are two sets of orders for England that ought to be considered by a new tournament player.

The first set is more aggressive and may require misleading France to pull off. However, you’re new so you can always beg for French forgiveness after the fact.

Spring 1901
F Lon – Eng;
A Lvp – Yor;
F Edi – Nth

When confronted in the Fall diplomacy phase by France, claim another player (Russia is most plausible) told you right before the deadline that France was moving F Bre – Eng. You probably should ask Russia and other players during the Spring 1901 negotiation phase if they know if France is moving to the Channel. This will give you a plausible story. Tell France you changed your orders at the end to keep English Channel clear. You have no hostile intent. Promise to move F Eng – Bel in the fall turn. France may even support you into Bel.

Fall orders look like this:

Fall 1901

F Eng – Bel
F Nth C A Yor – Nwy
A Yor – Nwy

The other option depends on trusting France to DMZ the Channel and is more conservative. This set guarantees you get a build (Norway) even if Russia opens to the north.

Spring 1901
F Lon – Nth;
A Lvp – Edi;
F Edi – Nrg

If Russia opens north, you must support your attack on Norway or Russia can bounce you out with A Stp – Nwy. See below.

Fall 1901
F Nth C A Edi-Nwy;
A Edi – Nwy;
F Nrg S A Edi – Nwy

If Russia opens south, nobody can keep you out of Norway. You can use F North Sea to try and take Belgium, or use the fleet to support Germany or France into Bel.

HOBBY TERMINOLOGY

If someone says anything about the Prime Minister they are probably referring to you.

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.

Sea Lion. This is the name of a French – German alliance opening designed to dislodge F North Sea in the fall of 1901. France has to successfully order F Bre – Eng for the Sea Lion to work as planned.

Western Triple. This refers to an alliance between England, France, and Germany. It’s generally disfavored as a boring opening. However, it is great for England in a tournament because Germany moves east against Russia and France south against Italy. The Western Triple plan usually sends England over the top of the northern part of the map to take Scandanavia and St. Petersburg with an army.

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.

France

Establishing a DMZ in English Channel is usually a French goal. The sea area borders home supply centers for both Great Powers so it is usually accepted that a DMZ in English Channel will take place.

It would not be unreasonable to ask France if he will support F North Sea to Belgium in exchange for the DMZ. A DMZ in English Channel should allow France to pick up Portugal and Spain (2 builds). If England gets Belgium, that’s two each.

Ask France not to build fleets, especially not in Brest. You prefer that France build armies. A large French navy is likely an indication France intends to attack England.

Belgium

The main goal in 1901 is for you get get an alliance with France or Germany 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 Germany and France over Belgium, that probably is in your long-term strategic interest. On the other hand, if you can get Belgium in 1901 without too much diplomatic effort, go for it.

Sometimes France or Germany will want you to convoy your army to Belgium. Sometimes they strenuously object. The reason for this is an army in Belgium will make it easier for England to help with an invasion. A Belgium can project inland to Ruhr or Burgundy, but F Belgium cannot. This is a sensitive matter for both of Germany and France. Find out what they think before convoying an army to Belgium.

Germany

Germany is a great ally for England. First, the two of you can cooperate in Scandinavia against Russia. If you convoy an army to Norway, it is reasonable to expect Germany may support A Norway to Sweden in 1902. You can promise to keep Sweden only temporarily. Then, in 1903, you move to A Swe – Fin and support one of your fleets or your army into St. Petersburg. Germany should like this plan because it means you and Russia will be fighting each other and not Germany.

Second, an alliance with Germany tends to keep France honest against you both. France can easily stab England by moving to English Channel and from Mid Atlantic Ocean into Irish Sea. Right into your back door. There is not a lot you can do about it if you’re also fighting Germany.

See the discussion on Belgium. If you can use that dot to influence Germany into an alliance with you, it is worth it. Try to get Germany to attack France by moving to Burgundy.

Russia

Russia is generally concerned about England convoying an army into Norway. It is wise to keep a good relationship with Russia in the early game. If Germany makes an alliance with France, then Russia may help you fight them. It is not much of a concession to take Nwy with a fleet. There are tactical advantages to this as well. You are not giving up much to agree to that proposal.

Russia does not want Germany to get too big. A large Germany is a strategic threat to Russia. Even if Russia has opened south, an alliance with England–or at least cooperation–allows mutual defense of Sweden and Norway against German aggression.

Italy

An alliance with Italy is profitable. The majority of the time, Italy will want to move east. But if you promise to help him attack France, Italy may agree because he can take Marseilles and Spain with a little time investment. If Italy is an experienced player, you may find a great alliance with Italy against France. You want Germany in on that party.

If Italy doesn’t want to attack France, then I would not waste my time attacking France. You’re better off forming an alliance with France against Germany. You should discuss what Italy thinks about a western strategy. If he is open to it, then England should also be interested in this. France is a powerful Great Power and the largest threat to England.

If Italy does ally with you against France, he will expect you to move into the English Channel and maybe try for Brest in the fall. A sincere Italy will move A Ven – Pie and take Tunis with a fleet instead of convoying an army into Tunis.

Austria and Turkey

Hobby statistics suggest that the success of Austria and Turkey correlate to a strong England. If one of the players controlling these Great Powers are experienced, they will understand this correlation. Generally, they have no reason to deceive you. These may be great people from whom to seek tactical and strategic advice.

There is no great downside by establishing a good relationship with either or both of these powers. Be careful in what you disclose! Sometimes a player may want to gain favor from Germany, France, Italy, or Russia by feeding intelligence on your moves. Use your gut.

Winter 1901 Builds

England is an island. You need fleets. The first English build ought to be a fleet. There is a strong argument the second build should be a fleet. However, if you have convoyed an army off the mainland, you should consider building an army. It is a home guard. It will deter a French or German stab. Later, you can convoy the army to Belgium or Norway if it safe to do so.

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Diplomacy Newbie Guide to France

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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 brief guide and have a reasonable understanding of how more experienced players generally play the Great Power, in this case France.

1901 Moves:

A conservative French set of orders looks like this:

Spring 1901

F Bre – Mid;
A Par – Bur;
A Mar – Spa

Fall 1901

F Mid – Spa(SC) [or F Mid – Por or F Mid – Spa(NC) to placate Italy]
A Bur S ENGLISH F Nth – Bel [or A Bur S GERMAN A Ruh – Bel] [or A Bur – Bel standoff with Germany to keep England out of Belgium, etc.]
A Spa – Por [or A Spa H]

If you form an alliance with Germany to attack England you would write orders like this:

Spring 1901

F Bre – Eng;
A Par – Bur;
A Mar – Spa

Fall 1901

F Eng – Nth; [German F Den supports your move]  [or F Eng S A Bur – Bel]
A Bur – Bel;
A Spa – Por

HOBBY TERMINOLOGY

You are the Emperor. Germany is The Kaiser. England is the Prime Minister.

Western Triple. This refers to an alliance between England, France, and Germany. It’s generally disfavored as a boring opening. However, it is a good French opening in a tournament because Germany moves east against Russia and England north. The Western Triple plan usually sends France south to attack Italy. If you do it, moving south leaves France open to a stab by England and Germany. The plan also leaves Germany open to a stab by you and England in circa Fall 1902.

Sea Lion. This is the name of a French – German alliance opening designed to dislodge F North Sea in the fall of 1901. France has to successfully order F Bre – Eng for the Sea Lion to work as planned.

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 Germany 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 Germany and England over Belgium, that probably is in your long-term strategic interest. On the other hand, if you can get Belgium in 1901 without too much diplomatic effort, go for it.

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

England

Start your business discussion by letting England know you’re flexible about who gets Belgium. This will excite and attract any English player. Most of the time England gets just one build in 1901. A two-build 1901 England is a happy England.

English Channel. Ask England if he would be ameliable to a DMZ in the Channel. If he says, “no,” you may have a problem. Most experienced English players will agree. Sometimes they will argue they want to move to the Channel to take Belgium. However, be firm that you prefer a DMZ. If you think England may move into the Channel, you may have to bounce him in Spring 1901. (Not ideal.)

Discuss an alliance against Germany in 1902. There are four options at the beginning:

  1.  The Western Triple (see above).

  2. An alliance with England against Germany.

  3. An alliance with Germany against England.

  4. An alliance between England and Germany against you.

You want to try and make sure that your diplomacy with both Great Powers is sweet enough that option 4 doesn’t happen. By dangling the probability of an alliance with you there is a lower probability you will be the odd woman out. It is normal for France to tell the leaders of both Great Powers that you want an alliance but need to wait until 1902 before launching the attack.

Germany

Most often Germany and France are content to pick up the two neutral supply centers bordering their Great Power in 1901 before launching any attacks. Germany typically gets Holland and Denmark. France Spain and Portugal.  Talk to Germany and see if you can determine if he prefers a patient opening.

Sometimes you will run into a greedy Kaiser. He wants Belgium so he can get three builds in 1901. You should use this greed against him with the other players such as Russia and England. However, you want to keep your views on his greed circumspect when talking to Germany. Keep him friendly toward France so you can form alliances and stab him effectively later.

Sometimes Germany sincerely wants to do a Sea Lion. You need to be very comfortable with the German player before you commit to moving F Bre – Eng. That’s a declaration of war to England especially if the move occurs after a DMZ is agreed upon. Germany may or may not follow through on the deal which could leave you as the odd woman out. However, if you like Germany, it’s a good plan and can establish a strong and stable game-long alliance.

You should be able to partially verify what Germany says by discussing him with Russia. If Germany really wants to do this, he is going to let Russia into Sweden and offer him support to Norway in 1902.

By the way, you generally favor Russia getting Sweden. Therefore, if Germany wants to move F Kie – Hol in Spring 1901, tell him it’s a great idea. Such a move is also perceived to be anti-English so it will help you drive a wedge between the two neighbors and decrease the odds of an alliance between them.

Russia

France and Russia are compatible Great Powers. Statistics show that a successful France is often balanced with a strong Russia. You make great mid-game allies too . . . no matter how your western alliances work out in the beginning. If Russia is played by an experienced player you trust,  you should have someone with whom you can bounce ideas and tactics off.

If you and England attack Germany, you will want Russian help. The same is true vice versa. If it’s a Western Triple and Germany moves to Silesia and Livonia to attack Russia, that’s when you become Russia’s white knight and rescue him by stabbing the Kaiser.

Italy

Early French-Italian wars are not beneficial to either country. In your initial diplomacy with Italy, make friends and say to Italy that you understand fighting each other only serves other Great Powers. Propose an alliance where the two of you stay friendly and neutral. You agree not to move into the Western Mediterranean.

Next confirm that Italy agrees to DMZ Piedmont. You would prefer not to bounce in Piedmont because you want use A Marseille otherwise.

Italy will ask you not to build fleets in Marseilles. You should agree to it. If England demands you not build in Brest you will need to decide which fleet build will cause the least alarm in 1901. You can also notify Italy in the Fall diplomacy phase you have to build there but you will move to F Mar – Spa.

Italy may also request you refrain from landing your fleet on Spain(SC)  or Portugal in Fall 1901. Generally, this is a small price to pay for peace with Italy.

If you and England plan to attack Germany, you might ask Italy to move A Ven –  Tyo. You can support Italy to Munich (A Bur S ITALIAN A Tyo – Mun) in the Fall. An Italian army in Munich will help you dismantle Germany quickly.

Austria and Turkey

Get friendly and see if you can find out what’s happening to the Sultan. Trade information about happenings in the west for intelligence on the east. This is a good and reasonable Diplomacy agreement with the Great Powers on the other side of the Board.

If Russia, Italy, and Austria make quick work of the Sultan, then Italy may gain a strategic advantage with his Mediterranean fleets. Those fleets can head west quickly once Turkey is eliminated. Plan your builds and western alliance moves accordingly.

You generally want Turkey to keep Italy honest. You also do not want Turkey exploding such as can happen if Austria collapses. Turkish fleets are a long-term strategic threat.

Austria is probably the least worrisome between these two Great Powers. But if Austria and Italy are close allies, you may not get much good information from the Arch Duke.

Winter 1901 Builds

France, like England, is a naval power. It is usual for France to build a second fleet early in the game. You need to decide which ally (Italy or England) you will irritate the least with where you build the fleet. All things being equal between those two, I would opt to building F Mar because there isn’t much Italy can do. By the time he can react, you will move F Mar – Spa which diffuses his big worry about French fleets in Gulf of Lyon (Lyo) and Western Med (Wes).

Assuming Germany has not tried to attack you, building as follows is a good choice:

A Par
F Mar (or F Bre)

If Germany did attack you, then two new armies will deter his invasion. If you get a third build, whether you build an army or fleet depends on who you have chosen as an ally and your plan.

It doesn’t hurt to discuss the builds with your alliance partners. Remember those discussions must take place during the Fall diplomacy phase. You don’t get to talk to your allies about builds during the winter build phase.

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Diplomacy Newbie Guide to Germany

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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 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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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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