Pouch Deposits

The Editor and the Readership

Here's the Mail

This time we have some feedback on previous articles!

Mail Received Concerning
Triples and the Russo-Austro-German Alliance

From Chris Dziedzic dipping_chris@yahoo.com:

To the editors,

Just a quick response to the piece by David Hood, entitled "Triples and the Russian, Austrian, German Alliance" that appeared in the W2006A issue of the Diplomatic Pouch.

I must take issue with the authorís points. He writes that he detests triple alliances, but his three premises appear to be overgeneralizations.

  1. I have been in many a game where even with the formation of a triple alliance, the diplomatic situation remained fluid. Just because a triple alliance forms does not mean it cannot be broken up through good diplomacy from outside, or be splintered by active diplomats within looking for better options.

  2. As pointed out by the editor, the coordination concerns within a triple alliance fade away with PBEM play. Iím sure even postal and face to face solutions are available.

  3. Triple alliances are not inherently unstable. Certainly some are less stable, especially if stabbing into one another is more effective then stabbing into the non triple alliance members. Just off the top of my head, the EIR triple from standard would never pose this problem. When would any of the three members of this triple find it easier to stab into one anotherís heartlands than into their opponents heartlands at the center of the board?

His arguments would be much stronger if there were not these overgeneralizations.

Mail Received Concerning
The Honest Truth: Russia

From Charles Roburn kindly_despot@yahoo.com:

Dear Editor,

I read Jasper Dupuis' "The Honest Truth" article in the S2006R issue of the Pouch with great interest. I congratulate him for making the effort to present his views on playing Russia, and I have no wish to discourage him from continuing his series. However, I'm afraid that I disagreed with a large number of his statements, which I found varied from the questionable to the severely misguided.

I've already expounded on my thoughts about his views on fighting England in a separate article, which appeared in the F2006M issue. However, that's only one of the many points I found debatable. Here are others I felt I had to respond to:

  1. A competent Turkey will always open F ANK-BLA, even if he says he won't.

    Tactically F ANK-BLA is a strong move, but F ANK-CON is also possible if the Sultan is eager to put his naval force into the Mediterranean to fight Italy and head for Gibraltar to cross the stalemate line. If Turkey claims that this is his plan, he may well be telling the truth.

    More to the point, a player who agrees to a DMZ and then breaks it in the very first move is immediately marking himself as unreliable — generally not the best way to open relations with a neighbor! A Tsar who moves to BLA after agreeing to a DMZ there is poisoning his relations with Turkey right off the bat; and the reverse is equally true. And it can be very difficult to win back the trust of someone you've stabbed on the first turn.

    I'd suggest that if you don't believe the Sultan is staying out of BLA himself, it's better to insist on a pre-arranged bounce than agree to a DMZ you have no intention of keeping. Why destroy your diplomatic credibility with an important neighbour so early in the game?

  2. Russia should always open A WAR-GAL.

    Again, this move is a reasonable choice — if the Archduke agrees to the bounce beforehand, or if you're sure that Turkey is onboard and you're ready for the consequences that this declaration of war may provoke (and make no mistake about it: entering Galicia without the Archduke's permission IS a declaration of war).

    However, the article doesn't even seem to consider any of the alternatives. Turkey may be hostile; Austria can be a valuable long-term ally; Germany may actually be prepared to come to Austria's rescue. All these scenarios are entirely possible, and in any one of them A WAR-UKR may be the better move.

    But this Tsar just seems to ignore them, or brushes them aside as unimportant. He pins everything on the attack into GAL, and seems inflexibly committed to the destruction of Austria — the Archduke is at best a temporary ally until the Tsar can convince Turkey of Russia's good intentions by disbanding his own southern fleet (!!!). The author doesn't even seem to appreciate how hostile the move to Galicia is to Austria, or realize that the Archduke has every right to be angry at this invasion and will react accordingly, actively seeking allies of his own to help him against Russia.

    Which leads me to the next point...

  3. Russia doesn't have to worry about the AG Anschluss alliance.

    I can think of little advice that could be more disastrously wrong!

    Any alliance between neighbours is to be viewed with caution, not brushed aside as unimportant. The AG alliance in particular is perhaps the most dangerous one that any Tsar could face: it offers the armies needed to gut the Russian homeland, a coordinated central front, naval support in the north, and no other mutual target for the two allies!!!

    Even if other neighbours keep them too busy to launch a full-scale invasion early on — perhaps limiting the immediate damage to a F1901 bounce in SWE — in the long run any AG that lasts spells terrible trouble for Russia. The friction between Germany and Austria is frequently minimal to begin with, which makes breaking them up in the face of a threatening Russia all the more difficult. So a prudent Tsar should be doing whatever he can to keep Austria and Germany from ganging up on him, not making it happen!

    Especially not if he's already picking a fight with England over Norway…

Overall, it seems to me that the aggressive course of action outlined in "The Honest Truth: Russia" isn't a roadmap to victory: it's a plan for alienating as many of Russia's neighbours as possible! I have to wonder whether the author has actually tried it, and if so whether he's enjoyed any success with it at all. Maybe he only plays no-press games, or his diplomatic skills are so great that he can make it work; but I think most players will find it difficult, if not impossible, to pull it off.

I am glad to see a new writer contributing to the Pouch, and I hope he will continue to do so. However, I encourage all readers to look at this article critically, and think twice before adopting it as their own strategy. It may serve well enough in a no-press game; but in any game with actual diplomacy, I don't see how it can lead to anything but disaster.

Well, there you have it. Another Deposits column. Yep, it sure is.