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Robert Sacks

(from Diplomacy World #20)







I have recently read in DW (Issue 19) how Italy will attack Austria because attacking France is hopeless.  If it is so difficult for Italy to fight France when Italy wants to, how much more difficult is it for Italy to defend against France (or England, or whoever takes France out) when the fleets come barreling down from Gibraltar?  Clearly an Italy engaged in plundering Austria and fighting Russia and Turkey (or perhaps only one of them) is in a poor position to defend itself from the west.


I also read how the veteran Italy would casually negotiate with everyone.  Perhaps this is true, but the most effective Italy I remember from a face-to-face game sat in the corner and cried.  It was a game organized at a summer mini-con:  Italy knew no one, Austria and France were married and immediately went off to negotiate, and the other four were members of the host organization.  So when the orders were all ready Russia suggested that Austria read first, and after Austria, Italy and France had read, made the mysterious (to them) remark that Italy would survive.  It seems that France and Austria had neglected to do any other negotiating, so Russia had agreed with Turkey to take out Austria, and agreed not to attack Germany or England to allow them to take out France.  When the game was called, Italy, England, Russia and Turkey were the surviving players.  (I remember that game fondly � I was Russia.)


Another platitude invoked was how Italy couldn�t help Austria in the east, and so failing an attack on France had to attack Austria.  This of course contradicts the experience of the Italo-Austrian alliance against Turkey, which has proven successful in various games.  It is my personal experience that Italian armies can be quite effective moving through Tyrolia, Bohemia, Silesia and Galacia to fight Germany or Russia or both.  Assuming that France has been neutralized by a short-term truce or treaty, after the obligatory conquest of Tunis or Greece, the use of three or four Italian units as Austrian auxiliaries will introduce an unexpected shift in the traditional balance of power in the east.




((Robert Sacks is a long-time player of face-to-face Diplomacy and other diplomatic games who has served as Diplomacy Tournament Manager at the firs three M.I.T WinterCons and has most recently concentrated his efforts as a gamesmaster in five different magazines.))