The Livonian Lunacy: F StP(sc)-Lvn
By Mark Berch
(originally appearing in Diplomacy World #27)
That’s right, I said F Stpsc-Lvn. Madness you say? Perhaps, perhaps not.
The situation here is that you are virtually certain that Germany will stand you out of Sweden. Ideally, you also think that Germany will not do A Ber-Kie (perhaps A Ber-Sil), though this is not essential.
In the usual situation, F Bot and F Den eye each other nervously after Spring 1901. You can do one of two things. You can go for Sweden anyway, hoping for the best. But if he does F Den-Swe, you’ve allowed Germany double use of his fleet – for taking Denmark and standing you out of Sweden. Or you could do F Bot-Bal. That’s terrible for Germany, but unless Germany has serious problems elsewhere (unlikely if Germany is both a good player and, as above, virtually certain to go to Sweden) it probably won’t get you a supply center. The usual course is to threaten to go to Bal, either in Fall 1901 if firm promises are not tendered, or Spring 1902 if the standoff does occur. The problem is that the Spring 1902 move is easily blocked if a new fleet is raised, and credible. The move is rarely done. From Germany’s point of view it’s not realistic to do F Den-Baltic. F Bot-Swe is too tempting a choice for most Russians to pass up, he says to himself. And if F Den-Bal succeeds, I lose Den and Russia gets Sweden. So the odds are high that Germany will ignore the Fall 1901 Baltic threat, and will be prepared for it in Spring 1902.
But Livonia changes all of that. If you tell Germany that you will move F Lvn-Bal, he will pretty much have to believe you. What else could you have had in mind? Unlike F Bot, there is no other tempting choice. If your move is blocked, then again Sweden is open. If it isn’t blocked, then you are in Bal, much the same as the F Bot-Bal situation. The fun begins if he moves to the Baltic and you don’t. Then he’s not gained Denmark and if you went back to Bot, German F Bal may be out of the picture Sweden-wise, as he still needs to take Denmark. This move is particularly effective if you can couple it with A Mos-Stp-Fin in 1901. Anyway, the point is that if you want to use the Fall 1901 Baltic threat to keep Germany out of Sweden, then F Lvn-Bal is much more believable than F Bot-Bal.
Alternatively, you can do it to be the first to do it (or at least say you are the first to do it). You’ll certainly make the GM’s headline a lot easier to write!