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A Hun Having Fun in the Sun

by Stan Johnson

from Diplomacy World #68


Germany may easily be the most fun Power to play on the board. It surely can be the most challenging and reward­ing to the enterprising Dip player. Being a successful Hun requires not only good tactics and diplomacy, but careful management of your own psyche.


By this, I mean that you must keep your emotions in check. Things may go so well for the Hun initially. However, he is also liable to start a war prematurely, or get big eyes and go for too much too soon, bringing the wrath of a vengeful world down on his head.


In the beginning, in a game with good writers, you seem to be friends with everyone. Perhaps it would be better said that you are hearing from everyone (or most everyone). How close chums (not chumps) you become depends on your ability to be pleasant and charming. You must point out the many benefits of being your ally.


One way of doing this is to promise things you do not have. Belgium is the best to start with. England is always hot for it, to get his second center, while France often covets it as well. Belgium can be the catalyst to get a real catfight going between England and France, which is the key to any success­ful German adventure. Your opening letters to both Powers should contain the offer of Belgium with a hint of possible support. If, on the other hand, you grab Belgium for yourself and get three builds it often unites England and France against you.


You also decide whether Russia can have Sweden in 1901, which gives you lots of leverage in the east if you tie this in with the promise of Norway you can often receive a lot in return.


A problem may arise, however, if you wind up as friends with everyone. You have agreed to help France to attack Eng­land, England to attack France, and Russia to attack England. There comes a time when you must say yes to one and no to another. If you sit on the fence too long, you may feel like you are stuck on a post when everyone attacks you.


When you do decide which neighbor to attack, remem­ber to be pleasant. Imply you were forced into the attack by circumstances beyond your control (read: you would be willing to move later against the co-conspirators if you can.) You can never know when you might need a friend. This type of fluidity is crucial to German success. You must be in close relations with three nations, and secondary relations with the other three -through alliance, one hopes.


There is no best strategy for Germany. Your relationship with each Power should be based partly on the personalities of the players and partly on your best guess of their ability.


The following are some general tips to guide this process, al­though it should be remembered that Germany should not deal with absolutes.


France should be written ASAP. Attempt to get a demili­tarized zone for Burgundy. If he's reluctant to agree, offer him Belgium. Also, suggest an alliance against England without saying so directly. You must watch what you say because letter-passers are particularly dangerous to the Hun, who deals with so many potential enemies. Learn to imply rather than to say. Your diplomacy should have its finest hour.


While it's important to have France attacking someone else, it is often even better to have someone else attacking France since you will often want to do the same thing. You can ally with either England or Italy, but the EG has the benefit of also protecting you from the awesome British navy. You must get someone on your side, though, since otherwise Germany and France can knock heads for years with no headway, barring major screw-ups.


Unless you like pre-arranged draws, there is no real long-term advantage to the German for an FG alliance. You must constantly worry about a knife in the back no matter what he tells you.


In review, be nice to France first, then get some help or turn his back towards you, then stab him to death, completely. A small France left alive can come back to haunt you with a vengeance later.


Next there is England. You and he can often reach an amicable agreement wherein you build only armies and he builds only fleets. This arrangement can work well, and, if you want to settle for a draw, can go the whole way. If you want a win, you must position yourself so as to be able to get the jump on the isolated English coastal centers and increase your fleet strength at his expense.


A hostile England can cause you even more problems than France. If he attacks France, you ought to join in and finish France ASAP. Then, if you have been living right and playing right, Russia should be causing trouble for Mr. E. This gives your alliance a target and eliminates another potential enemy.


If England hits Russia first, you should hang back (except to grab Sweden). This is because the sight of an exposed German rear drives Frenchmen wild. You'll look pretty foolish in the siege lines around Warsaw or Moscow when the frog leaps into Munich, and is marching on Kiel. Wait until France moves against England or into the Med before you ever head east


The way to an Englishman's heart is Belgium. It is the quickest and easiest way to get France and England fighting. Historically, the German invasion of Belgium brought Eng­land into the war on France's side. So you shouldn't try to grab it, as that will unite them against you. If you can get Mr. E and Mr. F fighting, you can get Belgium in the end, anyway.


If you and England are allied from the start, the question is whether to land his army in Belgium or Norway. The wise German will push for Norway. This is because it will focus Russian attention on England rather than you and put a lot of water between that army and you.  If the army lands in Belgium, you must be prepared to deal with a possible EF attack. Since England needs your support to Belgium, you should dictate which unit goes in. Of course, if England gets into the Channel, that English army could go to Brest or Picardy instead.


When it comes to the Russian Bear, you have one great advantage: Sweden. You can use this stick to tame the bear and make him dance to your tune. Russia may be looking to Sweden for his only build, if there is trouble in the south. Of course, you should try to make sure there is by passing on information to Austria and Turkey.


As to the price for Sweden, you should begin with DMZing your border areas. Once that is settled, you could make A Moscow -St Pete the key to Sweden. That should raise an eyebrow in London! A German who does not move to Denmark is depriving himself of a great bargaining chip, even if he intends on Russia as a friend.


The GR alliance is very powerful, and usually means the kiss of death for England. The trick is surviving after the fall of England. You need to keep Russia going west towards France, which should put you in position to call the shots. Then you and the winner of the Eastern Division Playoffs may agree to eat some bear meat


This brings us to the eastern bloc. Many first-time Germans tend to ignore happenings in the east, often to their lasting regret. It is a fatal mistake to ignore the east if you have any intentions of going past the Midgame to the nitty-gritty.


It has always seemed to me that Austria and Germany should be the best of friends. If they used the spirit of Germanic brotherhood to its best advantage, they should be close to unstoppable despite their many enemies. Germany should stress common enemies when talking to Austria, and try to be Austria's Rich Uncle. In other words, use negotiation and moves to keep Russia out of Galicia and Italy out of Tyrolia, as well as put in a good word with the Turk.


However, I have seen few of these alliances bear the fruit of which they are capable. It seems each forgets the other and concentrates on their own affairs. Together Austria and Germany can cooperate and split the world between them. It is also wise to add Turkey to this alliance, at least until Russia and Italy are gone. Then, you can either split Austria between you and the Turk, or leave those two to battle it out while you gather winning dots in the west


About that Turk, I think you are a jerk if you don't write the Turk. Sure, he's far away, but he is also the only player who can’t attack you in 1901. You and he can exchange much useful information about goings-on across the board. Also, it’s easier to start a relationship in the beginning rather than when your units meet in the Midgame. In the short-term, you can have him tell England about the French attack he has heard about, or whatever. To the creative Hun, a friendly Turk is a real ace in the hole.


Last but not least, there is Italy. The Italian offers much potential to the Hun who knows how to tap it. It's little known, but Mussolini was the only one to ever get Hitler to back down in pre-WW2 Europe.  Il Duce threatened to mobilize 40,000 troops if Germany annexed Austria.  However, by clever diplomatic wooing and Allied lethargy, Hitler was eventually able to win Mussolini to his side, and later took Austria with Italian blessing.


The clear lesson here should be to make Italy your friend at all costs. A war against Italy can bring little profit, but can lead to many problems. You would be left with a wide open position that is easily flanked. Instead, concentrate on foster­ing Austrian/Italian peace, since it could lead to Italy attack­ing France and Austria attacking Russia. A wise Hun will attempt to orchestrate the entire scenario of events in the east to a boil under Russia's butt, while Italy heads west


Even if the AI you fostered goes against Turkey, Italy can still often spare a unit or two to help you versus the French. You may also plan ahead for future fun by promising both England and Italy Iberia. Of course, you will usually have the jump on Italy in the endgame as well, as you will be in a better position to grab 18 dots quickly.


While these tips focus on one country at a time, in a real game nothing happens in a vacuum. Events in the east must be balanced against those in the west, and vice versa. Due to his central position, Germany has a foot in each bloc, and must often be the fulcrum on which the whole game balances.


In conclusion, to be a successful German you must be a constant sower of discontent and confusion among your enemies.  Write as if your life depended upon it, because it often does.  In "Free for All", a game recently started in Maniac's Paradise, the German was a non-writer.  In Spring 1901 he was attacked by England, France, Italy, Austria and Russia. Don't let this happen to you!


>Stan Johnson is a prolific postal player, often as the fun-in-the-sun Hun.