Rule Britannia!

by Scott Kauzlarich

In a particular game, I was playing England -- one of my least favorite countries to play. I don't know why, but sometimes I have good success as England despite my mistakes. Call it luck. I'm like a lot of other players -- drawing England gives me a safe feeling, but I'm never confident of winning.

I did the usual talking with France and Russia, and with Germany. Nothing unusual -- they all wanted to be my buddy. I decided to wait it out. One nice thing about England -- you don't have to jump in bed with anyone right away. Just relax and see who lets you into Belgium. Oh, I almost forgot: we played without an Italy in this game -- pretty common for our face-to-face games -- so some of my options were limited.

In the game's opening moves, Germany moved to Denmark and moved into position to grab Holland...hmmm, only one unit on Belgium. Interesting...and he set up to do some bouncing in Sweden. Looking good there. France opened with the "Maginot," supporting himself into Burgunday and taking the Mid-Atlantic. Standard, slightly anti-German. I liked it and I decided right then to make a play for Belgium, arguing with France that it was rightfully English and would help him against the German.

The Russian player opened to Silesia, a strange move which insured his loss of Sweden, I thought. Austria went to Galicia, and Turkey attacked Russia in Armenia, but got bounced in the Black Sea.

In the fall, Austria took Greece unopposed and supported himself into Rumania, bouncing out the Turk and and hamstringing poor Russia, who also tried and failed for Rumania and bounced in the Black again. I tried to tell him to support himself into Rumania, but it mattered little since Turkey hit Sevastopol. Russia anticipated Germany's bounce in Sweden and decided to take the Kaiser down with him, sending Silesia to Berlin and sailing into the Baltic Sea.

Germany did go to Sweden, but showed a timid streak by covering Munich as well as grabbing Holland. The fleet in Sweden was hopelessly cut off. I began to salivate, visions of Scandanavian dominance dancing before my greedy eyes.

France promised me support into Belgium, then bounced me there, the dirty rat! He also took Portugal, and Spain, getting himself on my bad side with his trickery. He would have been better off just letting me have it. As it was, I grabbed Norway and decided not to trust the French player again. He told me he wanted to "control" my actions when I asked him why he screwed me in Belgium. Note: never tell a player this, especially early in the game -- it just makes you seem pompous. Better to lie!

Well Austria went up to six units, and I felt frustrated, building only a fleet in London. While Austria dominated things in the south, benefiting greatly from the lack of an Italian player, I decided that Germany and Russia would beat each other up long enough for me to get some revenge on the French. In Spring 1902, he bounced me again in Belgium, but that was okay. France did not build any fleets, choosing to concentrate on armies, building new ones in Paris and Marseilles. I thought not building a fleet in Brest was a big mistake.

I took the Channel while France repositioned himself by going back to Marseilles and the MAO, and moving Paris to Picardy to try and grab Belgium. Germany, meanwhile, scrambled for my support, offering to help me to Belgium. He didn't count on such a vigorous Russian counterattack. He didn't care what happened to France as long as he could concentrate on Russia. He rushed back to Denmark, leaving Sweden for me. I played it cool, holding in Norway -- not wanting to tip anybody off -- content to let the mayhem continue. Russia was dying in the south, but able to hold in Germany, with Fleet Baltic, Army Berlin, and Army Silesia. Quite a wall. I decided not to push on to St. Pete as long as he was doing the dirty work in Germany.

In Fall 1902, Austria began to crack open Italy's centers, grabbing Tunis and threatening to run away with the game. Fortunately, he got careless and Turkey snuck into Greece. Turmoil ensued, as Austria's confidence was shattered by smart Turkish play. Russia joined in the fun by getting Rumania. What was going on here? One minute Russia was dead and Austria was a step away from eight centers, then suddenly everything had changed as Turkey (wisely) decided to use Russia to take down Austria a peg (good lesson for those players who give up on a "dead" country).

As for me, with German support from Holland I convoyed London to Belgium. I also held in Norway, although Sweden and St. Petersburg were there for the taking. But sometimes, it's better to not take centers. I gained two gamelong allies by letting Germany and Russia hang onto their centers...and I insured that they would have plenty of ammunition to throw at each other. There's another good lesson. Sometimes it pays to be patient. And it paid off for me. Eventually, Germany was able to re-take Berlin, but I took Sweden to ensure that he didn't grow as a result. And to keep Russia weak I eventually had to snag St. Petersburg, sealing off the north from further fleets. And you know what? Neither one of them protested because each one wanted me on their side in the Russo-German war! Germany won the war in part because later, during a key exchange, Russia did not allow room for a retreat and an army was destroyed, enabling Germany to throw him back on the defensive. I guess it would be fairer to say that Germany won the "battle," because I definitely won the "war." France turned out to be an easy mark, and I convinced him to go south and take over Italy while Austria held off Turkey. He eventually built a fleet in Brest, but I kept it pinned in, denying it access to the MAO.

I eventually got enough units to flank France in the Irish Sea. It was a backbreaking move, and I took the Mid-Atlantic, collapsing France and grabbing the Iberian peninsula. Marseilles was my 18th center.

Scott Kauzlarich

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