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Safe Openings

by Dick Schultz

with an introduction by Larry Peery

This letter/article first appeared in Graustark in March, 1964. It suggests 1901 moves for the Great Powers and discusses alternatives. Unfortunately, most of his ideas are now old-fashioned and inflexible. Still, better safe than sorry!

I've been doing a lot of thought about Diplomacy lately. And I've come up with a series of moves for each country which are the best possible. At least they are, as far as I can tell.

England: F Lon-Nth; F Edi-Nwg; A Lvp-Edi. Next: A Edi-Nwy; F Nwg C A Edi-Nwy; F Nth-Bel. (This presupposes an arrangement with France allowing Belgium to England for this year at least).

France: F Bre-Mid; A Mar-Spa; A Par-Bur. Next: F Mid-Por; A Spa H; A Bur-Mun. It would take more than two moves for an English army to reach Paris. Brest is in danger if the London fleet moves to the Channel. (A calculated risk, if England is presumably an ally.) France should hold out Belgium as a bribe to keep England in line for the first few moves.

Reasoning: Norway is out of reach for both Russia (F StP) and Germany (F Kie) since they cannot reach it in less than three moves. F Nth might be attacked, therefore convoy the army using the F Nwg to insure the suppy center. Germany should try to gain Denmark and Holland, therefore England should try for a supply center that is probably Germany will not try for. Spain and Portugal are unprotected (so they are easy targets for France). By moving A Par-Bur, Munich is threatened. If Italy threatens Marseilles, the army may be moved to cover Marseilles or at least to contend with an Italian army in Piedmont for it, therefore leaving it unoccupied. If the army in Munich attempts to move to Burgundy on the first move, A Par-Bur keeps this army at bay. In Fall 1901, attempt A Par-Bur once more. If this is unsuccessful, the army is in a position to attack Ruhr and Munich and defend Marseilles, not to mention covering Paris. If unsuccessful, A Mun is also stopped once more, meaning stalemate while France gathers forces.

Germany: F Kie-Hol; A Mun-Bur (alternately, A Mun-Ruh); A Ber-Kie (alternately, A Ber-Sil). Next: F Hol holds (alternately, F Hol S A Ruh-Bel); A Bur-Par or Mar (Germany should attack Paris if Italy threatens Marseilles); A Kie-Den (alternately, A Sil-War).

F Kie might also move to Denmark, leaving A Ber-Kie, thence to Holland. Then, according to whether the French have moved into Picardy or Burgundy, the Ruhr army may support A Kie-Hol or return to Munich. A return to Munich might be dictated as inadvisable if Italy menaces MArseilles with an army in Piedmont. The fleet in Denmark would then hold. A Ber-Sil should be played only if Germany and Russia are definately at war. If A Ber-Kie and Russia moves A War-Sil, Germany can still move A Kie- Ber.

Germany has more enemies on both sides of her, and the other frontiers are not decure. At all costs make Russia friendly, therefore. But in any case take and hold Denmark as early as possible, and engage in a contest for the Low Countries, both to deny them to the enemy and to gain supply centers. I do not think that under any circumstances can Germany be holding more than four supply centers by Fall, under pressure of a concerted Franco-Russian attack. Therefore, gambling is in order.

Italy: Under all circumstances attack Trieste immediately witn A Ven-Tri; F Nap-Ion; A Rom-Tus. Next: A Ven-Tri or A Tri H; F Ion-Tun; A Tus-Ven if Ven is free and otherwise A Tus-Pie. There can only be war between Austria and Italy. Therefore Trieste is to be gained at the earliest. Seek alliance with France, for with armies moving into northern Italy a French drive from Marseilles is impractical. If the Austrian fleet is not in a position to take Greece, F Ion-Gre instead of to Tunis might be considered.

Austria is forced to defend Trieste. Make a secret alliance with Austria to facilitate the seizure of Trieste. If Trieste is taken, Austria cannot obtain and hold more than four supply centers. Italy will have five. If Trieste is defended, Austria's Russian and Turkish frontiers are in danger, and Austria will probably not have more than five centers all told in any case.

Austria: F Tri-Alb; A Vie-Tri; A Bud-Ser. Next: F Alb-Gre; A Ser H; A Tri-Ven. The fleet moves to contend for Greece. The army of Vienna contends for Trieste. The army in Serbia can support A Vie-Tri. If a Turkish army in Bulgaria attacks Serbia, the army in Vienna still contends for Trieste. Better yet is A Ser-Bul. That way a Turkish attack on Rumania would be spoilt, or at least leave Bulgaria neutral and Serbia in Austrian hands.

Austria must move south to the Balkans and defend Trieste. Do not trust an Italian treaty. If Russia moves A War-Gal and the army in Vienna still contends for Trieste, move A Ser-Bud. At worst, the move will be legal. At best, A Ser-Bud cancels A Gal-Bud; Trieste and Budapest are free of units, and Serbia is still held. It might be wise to have A Bud hold on the first move and go to Serbia on the second. But the Turkish threat to Serbia must be considered. Austria, like Germany, has no safe flank and must try to contend with all comers.

Russia: F StP-Bot; A War-Sil (or A War-Gal); A Mos-Sev (or A Mos-Ukr); F Sev-Rum. Next: F Bot-Swe; A Sil-Ber or Mun; A Sev-Arm or A Sev S F Rum H. Alternatives: A Gal-Vie or Bud, depending on which is undefended; A Ukr S F Sev-Rum.

Move A Mos-Ukr only if an immediate contention with Austria over Rumania is believed possible. Let the move by the army in Warsaw be governed by political considerations. If a working alliance with France exists, A Bur can support A Sil-Mun.

Russia and Austria must fight sooner or later; it's best to weaken or frighten Austria into ill-considered moves if possible.

If F Sev-Rum works in the first move, try F Rum-Bul(ec). Since Turkey will most undoubtedly defend Bulgaria, the move will have the effect of a hold order. If A Con-Bul, then A Bul-Gre, the Russian move F Rum-Bul(ec) will make Bulgaria a neutral and thereby out of Turkish control. Result? Scratch one supply center for Turkey.

Turkey: A Con-Bul; F Ank-Bla; A Smy-Arm. Next: A Bul-Rum; A Arm-Sev; F Bla supports one of these moves. It is impractical to try for Greece, sure to be contested by one of the other powers. But A Bul- Rum pins down the Russian fleet in Rumania, which will probably be supported by an army in Ukraine, Sevastopol, of Galicia. If Russia is engaged in Austria in 1901, F Bla S A Arm-Sev just might succeed. Otherwise, it's a forced draw with Bulgaria firmly in Turkish hands.

If an Austro-Russian alliance is apparently in effect, it to order F Bla S A Bul H. In any case, order A Arm-Sev, if only to cut Russian support of Balkan moves.

General notes: It pays Germany to attack the Low Countries if it's at all possible, with A Mun-Bur. France therefore must move into Burgundy herself, ally herself with Italy, and let England contend for the Low Countries at first.

Therefore, it behooves Russia to make alliance with Austria and Germany, and immediately break it. Simple, yes? In any event, avoid conflict with England until forces are built up heavily. England should contend for the Low Countries and take Norway and, if allied with France (watch out for those fleets in Brest) attack Germany's northern flank, avoiding overextending herself into Russia until built up. At any event, England should be well established in the Baltic and Scandinavia before attacking Russia.

To avoid being trapped, Turkey should seek alliance with Austria or Russia. Turkey might agree to split the Balkans, with Russia at least, and promote a Russian trend into central Europe.

Austria and Italy should be at each other's throats immediately. If they are not, it is a diplomatic masterpiece by someone. Naturally Italy will attack Trieste whatever treaties she may have signed.

France, England, and Russia should at all costs avoid fratricidal warfare until forces are built up at expense of neighbors. Russia, England, and France could in fact sweep the board. Take advantage of the fact that in real life these alliances did exist, just as German and Austrian players take advantage of historical alliances to promote one frm flank anyway.