Bobby Somebody

When you play a game of Diplomacy, you are making an investment. Your time, your energies, your commitment. What do you hope to gain? The thrill of the chase, the scent of blood (and hopefully the taste of the fresh blood of an erstwhile ally), the sheer animal joy of capturing that 18th SC.

But what do you end up with? NMR. CD. Stuck playing out some dull minor role in a game whose outcome was not dictated by you, through no fault of your own. Maybe thatís just me. But I think it is possible to take more control over your own destiny. By diversifying.

All the advice tells you to be involved with all countries from the start. But how involved can Turkey really be in the early stages of a game with England, France, and Germany? How much pressure can Turkey bring to bear against France? Or Germany? The ability to back diplomatic threats up with military action commands more respect and attention. So what Turkey would like to do is to have units in the Northeast corner of the board early on in a game. Then France and Germany pay attention when the Turk discusses the state of the West with them, because Turkey can affect the ultimate outcome. The result of the game is, potentially, in your own hands.

How can this be achieved? By swapping pieces with a neighbour. Swap a Russian fleet in the Ionian for a Turkish army in Silesia. The Russian fleet moves out through Constantinople, you move through Sevastopol. Bear with me here Ö Weíve all seen the theory, but weíve never played it. Why? Mostly itís obvious.

Letís cover those disadvantages first.

  1. Fear of a stab. "Oops, did I forget to move out of Constantinople?"
  2. If it does work, it looks like the Juggernaut is on. The Rest of the World unites.
  3. One army in Silesia is not going to send Germany cowering. Itís just as likely to be eliminated almost immediately.

Pretty powerful stuff. This is why Turkey follows the regular paradigm.

But Ö

  1. If it does work, you have the potential advantages of mixed units on a front (retreats across stalemate lines are possible). This is a very real advantage, that has been discussed elsewhere.
  2. You get a chance to have unit(s) across the major stalemate line early on.
  3. It does give you some influence over areas you normally would not be able to affect.
  4. It is not usual.

In balance, I think the swapping of units offers real benefits, not least in terms of being different from the norm. It risks everything, but what is the risk, really? If the plan is laid out properly, there is equal risk for both parties. Turkey gains some measure of influence over the Western triangle, but gives up Russian involvement in the Med, knowing that the alliance between Italy and Russia is a quite natural and beneficial one for them both. The possibility of the Russian fleet turning right back around with Italian assistance is a real one. But so is Turkish and Austrian collaboration in Galicia.

What it offers is the ability to exercise one's diplomatic ability to the fullest extent. And I think that, ultimately, all one can ask in a game of Diplomacy is that one had opportunities, and that the game was not lost because of something over which you had no control.

Other similar diversifications would have England moving into the Med while France pursues Scandinavia, Austria heading West while Italy follows the Lepanto, and so on.

Bobby Somebody

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