The Too Great German Empire
Or how to get three builds in 1901 without getting bumped off in 1902
By Thomas van Dam
Originally Appearing in Diplomacy World #88
One of the very unique things about Germany is that it can get three builds in the first year without foreign support. It's attractive to do. In one blow you'll have as much armies as Russia on the map. As all things in life, it has a 'dark side'. England, France, Russia and probably every other power on the board will be frightened to death, and therefore join with the other powers to get you off the board as soon as possible. Of course there are times it CAN work.
Willy & Nicky
Once upon a time (no, this is true, not a fairy tale) I played a FtF game with some friends. I drew Germany, a friend of mine which I have known for a very long time (we always played dip together) drew Russia. One of the best things that can happen in a diplomacy game is me drawing Germany and he drawing Russia. As I was always assured that he wouldn't attack me, I could fully concentrate on the west. As he was sure that I would never attack him, he could fully concentrate on the south (Turkey). So I opened A (Mun) -> Ruh; F (Kie) -> Hol and A (Ber) -> Kie. Because I was asured of Russia's friendship, I could easily do that. The game went on and finally we got to a two-way draw.
In reality, or even in PBM or PBEM games, people don't know each other. If a German player wishes to use this opening, be sure of Russia's friendship. If he sees your fleet not entering Den he will be friendly, as you have clearly showed him that you are not going to contest his gain of Sweden. The psychological effect should not be underestimated. The Russian player must be very wicked if he chooses to stab you. He never will, because he has to deal with the Sultan and the Archduke first. Another advantage is that you have a fleet in Hol ready to enter the NTH. Even if the English hold the NTH with all their force, you can still play a role in the naval theatre because you can support or bounce from Hol. France will be very alarmed at first. There actually isn't any reason, because France can still get Spa en Por. But it is the psyco-effect that matters. You are very close to him and his country and he won't like it. After all, would you like it when a six-centre France was breathing down your neck in autumn 1901? Of course you won't. You'll probably smash your head against the wall from pure frustration and the idea that you have no chance to even get Hol. In this case, a six-centre France is worse for Germany than vice versa.
When you have six units everyone is scared, and wants to attack you. Face it, six German units are weaker than four English and five French units operating together against you. This opening is a way of making sure you are not attacked in the east, but you'll need all your force in the west.
Your fleet in Hol also has another important role, together with the units in Mun, Kie, Bel, and if you can in S'02 also another unit in Ruh (you can move A (Mun) -> Ruh and A (Ber) -> Mun). If you order all your units to support each other, no Brit or Frenchman will ever come through that line. You should use that time to negotiate, negotiate, and you should also save some time to negotiate. With England, of course. France would never join you, and what's the point of all those armies if you attack England? Right, so you need to get along with England. Give him Iberia, keep France for yourself. You can always make a move for Italy then, although it's time then to put a bearskin in front of your fireplace. As I've already said, negotiate with England. You can use your fleet in Hol to put some pressure up.
Other side of the coin
This looks like a powerful Germany in 1901, and like you'll reach 18 in no time. But don't be fooled. To get Russia as far not to disturb him by the not-to-Denmark move is quite simple. To get your three builds, just make sure England and France are divided. But after you've done that, it will be very, very tough. Don't expect easy talk with England, as he is also shocked by your move. And you can also expect France talking to England, and it doesn't require a lot of imagination to know what they're saying..
First of all, in case you missed the moves, I have them here:
A (Mun) -> Ruh
A (Ber) -> Kie
F (Kie) -> Hol
A (Ruh) -> Bel
A (Kie) -> Den
F (Hol) -> supp. A (Ruh) -> Bel
Build: A Kie, A Mun, A Ber.
(Don't build fleets. It either gets you into trouble with Russia, or you'll have an even harder task to get England on your side.)
This opening is a way of getting rapid growth in 1901. You probably won't get builds in 1902. You need to do some very, very considered negotiating for it to succeed. In case you fail, you'll be standing in the trenches until the Russian comes from behind. Use this opening, but only if you are prepared to face the consequences.