by Mark Berch

Editor's Note: Continuing our new practice of reprinting articles from the corresponding issues of Diplomacy World, here is another article by Mark Berch from DW #52, itself a reprint of an article that originally appeared in DOLCHSTOSS in 1986. As always, we reproduce it here with the kind permission of DW Editor Douglas Kent (and we hope Mark doesn't mind either!).

Unless the English player plans to open Fleet London to English Channel, he must consider the question of whether to move his army to Edinburgh or Yorkshire. Writers discussing this topic normally analyze the decision in terms of the trade-off between:

  1. Yorkshire's ability to defend a London against a French fleet in the English Channel, thereby freeing the Fleet North Sea for other duties, and

  2. Edinburgh's ability to be convoyed to Norway, thereby again freeing North Fleet North Sea for other duties.

These are of course significant considerations, but in any given game, they might not be a factor in English planning at all. England may have no interest in convoyed to Norway, or any fear of Fleet Brest to English Channel. However there is a third factor, which is the subject of this essay.

Suppose that England wants to launch an attack on France in 1902, or just wants to be well-positioned for it, should the PM decide later to do that. Perhaps he cannot find an ally for a 1901 attack, and does not want to do it alone. Or perhaps he needs time to see what the Russian stance will be.

The traditional anti-French build in 1901 is Fleet Liverpool. This has the drawback that the unit does not threaten any French centers in 1902; but more importantly, it throws away any element of surprise. Persuading France at Fleet Liverpool is not anti-French is such a formidable task that I daresay most English players won't bother. The French player, upon seeing such a blatantly hostile build, is likely to make sure his relations with Germany and Italy are in the best of order. Letters may go to Russia, urging him north. This is not what the English want! Better that France should be busy moving against Italy or Germany, perhaps urging Russia to support the latter venture.

A build of Fleet London permits Fleet London to English Channel, with the Fleet North Sea either supporting the move, or being involved in Belgium. In the long run, it is not as powerful a threat as Fleet Liverpool to Irish Sea; but if it catches France off guard with (for instance) Fleet Spain/sc to West Mediterranean, Fleet to Marseilles to Gulf of Lyons instead of Fleet Spain to the Mid-Atlantic, Fleet to Marseilles to Spain/sc, that can be worth a great deal. The problem is, France is likely to say, "if you're keen on the Fleet, and you don't want me to build a fleet in Brest, then I expect you to build Fleet at Edinburgh, which goes to the North Sea just as well as Fleet London." And that is where Army Liverpool to Edinburgh comes in.

In the fall, England orders Fleet Norwegian to Norway, and with Fleet North Sea attempts to convoy the Army to Belgium, Holland, or Denmark. If the convoy succeeds, the plan is washed out, but England can console himself with two builds. But if the convoy fails, Edinburgh is occupied, and thus England has the perfect excuse to build Fleet London. In a sense, Belgium is the best target, since that is least likely to irritate Germany. But even a standoff in Holland or Denmark may be acceptable to Germany if he is apprised of the plan and is getting Belgium. Such a standoff would be further evidence, to France, of England's pro-French leanings.

Plus, the choice of Yorkshire were Edinburgh has ramifications for Winter 1901 as well as Fall 1901, and English player who wants to plan for France as first victim would be wise to take that into account.

Mark Berch
c/o the Editor

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