The Sphinx!

Egypt: The Beast of the Modern Variant

Rick Desper

OK, so you're Egypt. Congratulations. You only have two neighbors, Italy and Turkey. All you have to do to survive until the midgame is avoid a concerted, undistracted effort upon their part to rend you to pieces. It's easy! Why?

Egypt has a tremendous defensive advantage in Modern. He has an excellent corner position which can easily defend against any but the most persistent and drawn-out attack. The disadvantage of this position, though, it its lack of access to a large number of SC's, and the implied slow rate of growth.

Let's look at likely positions for Egypt after the first year. You start with Army Aswan, Fleet Cairo, and Fleet Alexandria. You can do any combination of the following:

Army Aswan -> Eastern Sahara
Army Aswan -> Cairo

Fleet Cairo -> Eastern Mediterranean
Fleet Cairo SUPPORTS Fleet Alexandria -> Eastern Mediterranean
Fleet Cairo -> Red Sea

Fleet Alexandria -> Eastern Mediterranean
Fleet Alexandria SUPPORTS Fleet Cairo -> Eastern Mediterranean
Fleet Alexandria -> Libyan Sea

Your targets are the neutral SC's of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Libya. Also, if you achieve the Eastern Med, you could take a shot at Izmir or Adana.

You must judge for yourself the risk of losing the Eastern Med in the first year. A rule of thumb for nopress games would be to send at least one fleet there. After all, the Eastern Med borders three "natural" Egyptian SC's (Israel, Cairo, and Alexandria). And the last thing you want to do at the start of the second year is face a Turkish fleet in Cairo. Even if you dislodge in the Spring, it could conceivably retreat to the Red Sea!

The problem with taking Saudi Arabia is that you are almost forced to do it with a fleet. Actually, you could convoy across in the first year, but that seems to be a waste of a force. A natural set of orders is F Cai - Red, F Ale - EME, A Asw - ESah, but this leaves the army in Africa, and orients the fleets towards the Middle East.

This is exactly how you don't want things to be. You want the army to be in the Middle East, and the fleets to be in the Med (except maybe one fleet to help attack Iran).

Now, let's talk about your neighbors, Italy and Turkey. Italy has access to a hoard of SC's in the Balkans. Also, France is not a terribly strong country, and often ends up tangled with Spain and Britain in the early game. So, Italy often turns into an early monster. This is a problem.

On the other hand, Turkey has an awful position. Trapped between a Ukraine which has to reach the Med if he wants to win and an Egypt which has to go North if he wants to be important, Turkey is a tempting target for an early sandwich. Russia is a wildcard.

Expect to have two builds and control of the Eastern Med by the end of the first year, and a sixth force by the end of the second year. What next?

If things are going well, Iran and Adana are vulnerable. Tunisia is also vulnerable to a sneaky land attack. (Note that Libya borders Algeria, so outflanking Italy is easy.) The key is "getting the fleets out."

Suppose the worst happens -- Italy and Turkey ally, and are undistracted. Well, you can sit on your haunches and wait. A force in the Eastern Sahara will strengthen Libya, and a few fleets will make the Eastern Med at worse a continually contested space. Invading the Arabian peninsula from the North with only armies would appear to be a formidable task. An Eastern fleet would stop such an attack cold.

Of course, should they have complete resources and time, you will eventually be cracked. But, as nuts go, the Egyptian one seems the hardest to crack, in any variant I've seen. Even if Libya is lost, Italy can be stopped cold at Eastern Sahara/Eastern Med.

Furthermore, should you ever manage to escape the box and grab Asia Minor, there is an easily held minority stalemate line once you reach the other side of the Black Sea. Do you see it? Once you grow this large, you can coast to a draw.

As for winning...well, the variant is still young, and to my knowledge has yet to be won by anybody, so we don't know much about the endgame. One possible algorithm might be:

  1. Take out Turkey (with Ukraine's help?) while Italy is distracted. Seize Asia Minor and push into Greece.
  2. Send five fleets at Italy. Seize the boot.
  3. With two flanks on the Balkans, push into Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia. Take over the Black Sea basin
  4. Blast through the Ukraine, march through Russia. Take Morocco and seal the Med.
  5. Take Iberia if possible (but highly unlikely).
  6. Storm Russia and Poland for a victory.
All of the above is predicated upon war with Turkey. War with Turkey is likely to be long and drawn-out. Though it would appear to be a necessary precondition for victory (by definition!) you may choose to at least delay the inevitable. Feel free to pursue the ET alliance. The two of you will quickly cruise through the Balkans and Italy. The long-term prognosis, though, is uncertain.

Rick Desper

Egypt in ????????

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