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Subject: A Strategic Look at Germany rss

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Aaron Steward
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Reconnaissance

Germany is located in central Europe and has easy access to two clusters of neutral SCs located in the Lowlands and Scandinavia. Germany has the potential to grow quickly because of this but shouldn't grow over-confident; Germany's central location makes it vulnerable to attacks from all sides, so it's wise to always remain in contact with all neighbors to protect against an enemy attack while German armies are away at the front.

To the northwest is England, who can quite easily maintain naval superiority over Germany. Any attack launched against England will require the help of either or both of France and Russia, and will allow Germany the security of reaching an edge of the board. Conversely, England and Germany can coordinate their efforts against both France and Russia, which could solidify their relations throughout a significant portion of the game.

France is located to the southwest, and is Germany's main rival on the continent in the west. France can block a German attack for years just by placing armies in Pic/Bur, bogging down any fight along that front unless help comes from Italy or England. If allied, however, France and Germany can cooperate in removing England, giving both nations a heightened sense of security, allowing them to then turn east and push past the stalemate line in strength.

To the east lies Russia, who is the only neighbor capable of immediately crippling Germany from the start. Fortunately, Russia's attention is usually focused on the south, leaving Scandinavia as the only real point of contention between itself and Germany. A wary eye must always watch Russia, for a quick strike into Sil can cause major disruptions in Germany's plans and defenses.

In the south are Italy and Austria, the other two central powers of Diplomacy. Most commonly, Germany asserts a position of benign neglect among the central powers, since they do not have the luxury of an edge position and must use each other to provide a rear defense. It's not uncommon for Germany or Italy to send an army into Tyr to assert dominance over the negotiations of these three nations, either in a peacekeeping role or to attack anyone who steps out of line of the best interests of the central triangle.

Marshaling for Victory

Germany can grow very quickly, and its central position makes crossing the stalemate line much easier than it is for a corner power. Victory for Germany can take many different forms, but will usually include at least its home SCs, Scandinavia (Swe, Nor, Den), the Lowlands (Bel, Hol), and at least two from any of England, France, Russia, or Austria. Even Iberia and Italy aren't out of the question either, and would then require fewer SCs be taken from the east or probably England.

Though Germany's options are open, and it has the ability to achieve victory quickly, until it obtains a secure edge position it must always divide its attention to security and defense. Usually this will take the form of a strong alliance with Austria and sometimes Italy as well. Germany must be engaged in negotiations with its partner(s) to keep aggressive neighbors pinned down in battles so there are no wandering armies available to sneak into the German hinterlands.

First Strike

Germany's attention through the first few years will primarily be taken up by the developments of the Western Triangle, comprising of itself, France, and England, and by the Northern Triangle of itself, England, and Russia. Germany can very easily take two builds for itself (Den and Hol), though it's also the only country who can support itself into Bel during the first year. Not only that, but from Den, it plays a deciding role in whether or not Russia captures Swe. Germany's actions can have wide-reaching effects from the very start, and it would be wise for Germany to leverage these situations together in its favor.

The biggest questions to settle during the first year are the occupation of Bel, and if Russia should be allowed to capture Swe. Obviously, Germany should gauge the diplomatic stance of the Western Triangle before claiming Bel for itself, for even a Germany with six units will not last long against the combined forces of France and England.

Swe, on the other hand, can be bartered off in exchange for Austria's security, or for help in defense against England should Germany find his negotiations to have failed within the Western Triangle. Denying Swe to Russia without reason, however, will only provoke another of Germany's neighbors into attacking and should not be done lightly.

Option 1: Allying England and Attacking France

In situations which Germany and England wish to eliminate France, it will usually entail a side-campaign against Russia simultaneously. Germany should press for three French SCs (two if Bel is German), as well as Den and Swe in the north, bringing Germany to 9 SCs. However, Germany shouldn't press his claim on Bel immediately, though if England had offered it as the price of an alliance, there is no reason to turn it down. Germany might also consider breaking through the French lines before France can arrange his defenses. Giving up a chance at a third build in the first year for an advanced position is a trade-off well worth the investment.

In the east, Germany should push Italy and Austria to work together against Turkey and eventually against Russia. This will not only work to protect Germany's southeast from attack, but will also work to keep Russia and Turkey from moving west in strength.

Tactically, Germany should bounce Russia out of Swe, and may consider a direct strike into Bur. If it succeeds, the army will be extremely difficult to pin down, and if forced to retreat, Gas is a prime location. Common openings are:

Kie-Den
Ber-Kie
Mun-Bur/Ruh

These openings preserve Germany's influence over Swe and can still easily get two builds in the first year. One of which should be A Mun, and the other may be another army, or possibly F Ber to send against Russia in the north.

Option 2: Allying France and Attacking England

Should Germany and France wish to eliminate England, Germany should claim two of England's SCs, and this situation is also the easiest for Germany to justify taking Bel in the first year. After England is eliminated, Germany has a strong northern position capable of kicking Russia out of Swe. Naval power is incredibly important in this scenario, not only to break the English blockade, but also as a defensive force against France once the spoils have been divided. It'd be wise for Germany to build a fleet in each year as available until a decent navy has been constructed. Also, since Germany will have control of at least 4 SCs bordering on NTH, he should work to justify leaving a fleet there and in NWG to solidify the defensive strength found on the north edge of the board.

To his neighbors, Germany should again defend Austria in his negotiations and use this leverage to tie up a slow, indecisive war in the southeast. Russia should be appeased with the gift of Swe, potentially in exchange for assistance in removing the English from Nor.

Tactically, Germany should push hard to keep the English from landing in Bel and coordinate with Russia to make sure any English foothold in Nor is constantly under threat. Some common openings are:

Kie-Hol/Den
Ber-Kie
Mun-Ruh

Sending the fleet to Hol not only opens the possibility of supporting a German army into Bel in the fall, but also is incapable of keeping Russia from capturing Swe. Should Germany manage three builds in the first year, two armies and F Kie should both defend against any attacks and provide enough fleets to break through into English waters.

Maintaining the Offensive

Once in the mid-game, Germany is hopefully at about 9 SCs with one of his neighbors eliminated from play. Moving south at this time isn't usually feasible, since Germany can still be attacked from two sides. Depending on which of Germany's western neighbors remains, he may have one or two realistic options.

Option 1: Attacking Russia

This option is open regardless of who Germany's early game ally was, though it's notably easier if England is still around to lend a hand in the far north. It's also important to note whether or not Russia has had success in the early game, for if one of the eastern powers is already eliminated, Russia will soon start its westward march and Germany will need to face this threat head on.

Hopefully, Austria will be sitting on about 5 SCs, drawing Russia into a slow fruitless battle in the east. Germany's first gains against Russia will probably come from Scandinavia, and must work to push past Swe to threaten StP while at the same time defending the sensitive BAL from Russian fleets. Farther south, sending an army into Sil to assault War will not only hit a sensitive end of Russia's likely front line, but also prevent a Russian army from getting there first and threatening both Mun and Ber.

Germany should work hard to negotiate a DMZ of NTH or take it for himself, depending on which western power is left on the board, since this will free up many units from needing to defend the many coastal SCs that will likely be under German control. On the Russian front, Germany should be vigilant for any opportunity to outmaneuver the defending forces. Getting an army to slip into Liv, Gal, or Ukr can cause major headaches for Russia and quickly crumble any defensive position that may have been built.

Option 2: Continuing West

Germany may wish, instead, to consolidate the entire map west of the stalemate line. This approach is notably more difficult if England was Germany's original ally, as the naval blockade will be nigh-impenetrable for Germany alone. Should this approach be taken, regardless of original allegiances, Germany should hopefully have a navy of three or four fleets.

Italy's help will be crucial in any attempt to bring the entire west under German control. Italy can send fleets to attack the Iberian peninsula and divide the attentions of its owner. Likewise, Russia may be useful in further distracting a grown England, but if Germany had earlier teamed up with France, encouraging any more Russian advances in the north will only further separate Germany from a secure edge position, and a strong Russian presence in Scandinavia will only be a trade of one close neighbor for another.

Since Italy's help will be required in the west, Austria will likely be left to defend against the east on his own. If Turkey was significantly weakened by this point this will be much easier, but if not, Germany should work his negotiations around the focal point of the Russia-Turkey relationship. Animosity must be bred here to keep the east and west separate until Germany has the strength to make the first move across the stalemate line.

Making the Final Push

When preparing to make the run to 18 SCs, Germany should by now have a strong northern position and may already have a couple SCs on the far side of the stalemate line. Should England still be on the board, victory may prove impossibly difficult to achieve since Germany cannot effectively strike in one direction while sufficiently defending the other. Austria, Germany's likely long-term friend until this point will be the easiest source of SCs needed for victory. Similarly, northern Italy may yield Germany's last couple SCs.

Turkey is the ideal ally for Germany's late-game plans, as they can coordinate against both Russia and Austria. Should France have survived as well, French fleets in the Mediterranean can divert defenses from the center of the board and provide opportunities for Germany to exploit. Germany must rely on surprise and superior maneuvering to maximize the efficiency of any units that can be spared from defending his home SCs. Confusion and distrust are crucial tools in negotiation, for if a coalition forms against Germany, he'll have little hope of defending himself.

Parting Shots

Germany is a vulnerable nation but capable of explosive growth and is able to influence the whole board like few other nations can. A fine line between steady expansion and outright aggression must be walked, and stagnation will more often than not see Germany's fortunes turn sour. Quickly push to the north edge of the board and successfully navigate the turbulent situation in the center of the map, and Germany may very well walk away from the game with a win.

Germany's central position is a mixed blessing, as it can very easily send newly-built units across the stalemate line, but until a defensible position can be reached in Scandinavia, Germany must always watch it's back.

Happy stabbing, and may the best man win.
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