The Orient Express

Yarden Livnat

BUDAPEST - War was immanent. The Sultan and the Czar where clearly eyeing the Balkans and each other, as the Black Sea was dotted with White and Yellow war ships, each trying to out maneuver the other. Persistent rumors from Warsaw talked about a blood bath in Galicia. News for the north were grim as well. Intelligence reports suggested France was about to join forces with Germany, which spelled trouble to Italy, our neighbor to the west. It was clear that the French threat to Italy in the west and the Sultan from the south were the largest. But how do you defend on opposite fronts while not letting the Czar build a new palace in Bud? Italy, not surprisingly, was on the same page.

We had to move fast, aggressively and with total confidence in each other. The most important commodity was time. The sultan was clearly out of position with his fleet in Ankara poised to attack Russia rather than threatening Greece or assisting his armies through the narrow Dardannels straits. It became clear that the Italian navy could not go on its traditional vacation in Tunis, yet skipping Tunis meant that Italy will not be able to get reinforcements quickly. A weak Italy is a dead Italy... It was out of the question. Then there was the question of holding off the Czar. We could pretend to work with him but unless we get massive forces the front quickly we will not be able to hold him for long.

I called in the Italian ambassador and suggested to build the Orient Express - a railway from Rome through the Balkans and down into the shores of the Black Sea. The plan was simple, but many sections along the route had to be captured before the railway could be built. There just weren't enough Austrian forces to do the job. Italian forces had to be part of the construction effort. "While the Austrian forces move south, Italian units should move into Trieste'' I told the ambassador. "and while they construct the railway to Serbia" , I added, "they could also recruit local forces to help in the war effort and thus allow the Italian navy to skip Tunis and move strait on to the Aegean Sea.''

There were two more issues that had to be resolved quickly. France was about to sign an alliance with Germany. This meant trouble to England in the short term but unless France will stab Germany its second target will be Italy. We had to put pressure on France in the south and try to lore Germany into an alliance with England and Italy. On the south front, I approached Turkey and suggested to help in capturing Rumania in exchange for Greece. The possibility of two builds and two armies across the Dardannels by the end of 1901 was too good to pass over - the Sultan was delighted. In the mean time I proposed the Czar to open north and promised to help him get Rumania in the fall.

S1901M - The Decoy:
Ven - Pie
Rom - Ven the standard defense against Austria?
Nap - Ion a boring move towards Tunis
Vie - Gal defensive bounce
Bud - Ser construction of the Serbian section of the Orient Express starts immediately
Tri - Alb going after Greece
S1901 map
Con - Bul
Smy - Con
Ank - Bla bounce
Stp - Bot
War - Gal bounce
Mos - Stp
Sev - Bla bounce
Mar - Spa
Bre - Eng
Par - Pic
Kie - Den
Ber - Kie
Mun - Ruh
Lon - Nth
Edi - Nwg
Lvp - Edi

The northern alliance was in disarray. France was knocking on the gates on London while Marseilles was under attack. With England obviously committed against France after the stab and Italian forces moving west, it was not hard to convince Germany to switch sides.

Now that the northern alliances was reshuffled the stage was set.

F1901M - The Stab:
Ven - Tri Italy borrows Trieste
Pie Hold Were we suppose to bounce in Marseilles?
Ion - Aeg No Time to Lose!
Vie Hold
Alb - Gre As Turkey agreed
Ser S Sev - Rum Were we suppose to support Turkey in?
F1901 map
Bul - Rum bounce
Con - Bul bounce
Ank - Bla
Bot - Swe bounce
War - Ukr
Stp - Nwy bounce
Sev - Rum yay!
Spa - Mar oops
Eng - Lon bounce
Pic - Bel
Den - Swe bounce
Kie - Hol
Ruh S Pic - Bel
Nth - Lon bounce
Nwg - Nwy bounce
Edi - Yor

The Orient Express was now ready. Italy got an important build and had a fleet in Aeg by Fall 1901. Russia was delighted but under pressure by the Yellow fleet in the Black Sea. Turkey was upset.

Yet, I was stabbed! I sent for the Russian ambassador and requested help. Turkey had only one build but if that will be a fleet in Ank it spelled trouble to the Russian empire. In the mean time Italy met with the Sultan delegate regarding the new possibilities for cooperation. It was clear that Italy was not going after Turkey but rather after Austria. The message was clear, Turkey should take advantage of the weakness of Russia while Italy will go after Greece. They can then cooperate on getting Serbia.

S1902M - Untying the Knot:
Tri - Ser What luck that Serbia was moving away!
Pie - Mar Just keeping France on his toes
Aeg - Con Cutting the key support
Nap - Ion Keep Pushing South
Vie - Tri Better take back my supply center
Bud S Vie - Tri
Gre S Ser - Bul
Ser - Bul Keep moving east!
S1902 map
Bul S Aeg - Gre destroyed
Con S Bul cut!
Bla S Smy - Arm
Smy - Arm
Bot - Swe
Ukr S Rum
Stp - Nwy
Rum S Ser - Bul
Sev - Arm bounce
Mar Hold
Eng C Bre - Wal bounce
Bel Hold
Bre - Wal
Den - Swe
Hol Hold
Ruh - Mun
Kie - Hel
Ber - Bal
Nth - Lon
Nwg - Nwy
Yor - Wal

F1902 - The Orient Express Arrives:
Ser - Rum
Pie - Mar Just keeping France on his toes
Aeg - Eas
Ion - Tun Time to cash on those neglected reinforcements
Tri - Ser leave it empty (Italian) as we can build only one unit
Bud s Ser - Rum
Bul s Ser - Rum
Gre - Aeg Keep moving east!
F1902 map
A Con - Smy
F Bla S Ser - Bul void
A Arm - Smy
F Bot - Swe
Ukr S Sev
Sev S Rum Not enough!
A Stp - Nwy
Rum S Bul
Mar - Pie
Eng C Bre - Wal
Bel Hold
Bre - Wal bounce
Den S Bal - Swe
Hol Hold
Mun - Sil
Hel - Nth bounce
Bal - Swe
Lon s Nwg - Nth
Nwg - Nth
Yor - Wal bounce

To review our position:

Italy : +Tri, +Rum, +Tun = 6 SC --- builds: F Naples, A Venice
Austria: +Ser, +Bul, +Gre -Tri = 5 SC --- builds: A Vienna

The Orient Express has arrived. I/A now has:
Armies: Boh, Vie, Bud, Rum, Bul, Ven, Pie
Fleets: Aeg, Eas, Tun, Nap

Editor's Note:
The moves for the powers other than Italy and Austria are approximations of what actually occured during this game.


This Orient Express was built and set in motion in round four of the North America Championship, Feb 2001 in Denver. My trustworthy Italy was played by Matt Shields while Dan Mathias played Turkey. The Diplomatic Pouch's own Ry4an Brase had the misfortune of playing England. By 1906 we were both above 10 SCs. Time was running out both for the game and the tournament. With a win in this game I would have won the tournament....

I went for the win and stabbed Italy, but of course Italy knew this was coming. Going into Fall 1908 I had 14 SC - exactly what was needed for a win under the Regatta rules. The question was will I be able to hold on to the 14th center or will Germany take it from me. It was a pure guess and ... I guessed right! Only Matt gave Germany one of his SC making him a 13 SCs power with no time left. The ARMADA rules requires at least a two SC lead to win....

Yarden Livnat

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