By Derek Caws
sea spaces of the Mediterranean are of importance to most countries in a
Diplomacy game, and vital to many. Hence, control of this area should be of high
priority to most players. There are three main features to the Med as set out on
the Diplomacy board: the Straits of Gibraltar, the Stalemate Line, and the
Ionian Sea. I plan to discuss each of these in the context of controlling the
Straits of Gibraltar can be a major hurdle to the naval ambitions of many
countries due to the ease with which they can be blocked. The countries most
severely affected by this are England, Italy, and Turkey. Of the remaining
countries, Austria and Germany usually have little or no naval presence, and
Russia has the ability to avoid the problem by building fleets on both sides of
the Straits. The remaining country, France, can gain great advantage from
Gibraltar as it controls the Straits from the start and, like Russia, has the
ability to build on both sides of them.
Straits are very easy to block. From the west, only three fleets are necessary,
in Portugal, the Mid-Atlantic, and the North Atlantic; the orders being F Por
& F Nat S F Mao, F Mao holds. This is unbreakable, and the prevention of
exit from the Med can make the eventual occupation of France much more
difficult, or even impossible. Even from the east, only four fleets are
required, in Portugal, Spain, the Western Med, and North Africa, with orders F
Por & F Wme S F SPA(sc), F Spa(sc) & F Naf hold. This combination can
effectively block any futher English progress.
east, the next critical point is the stalemate line which passes down the west
coast of Italy. There are numerous variations on it, but typically the line
passes between Marseilles and Piedmont, through Sardinia and Corsica, and
between North Africa and Tunis.
line can be held indefinitely from both sides and, when set up, is unbreakable.
Obviously the stalemate line can be a major hurdle to a country's expansion
through the Med and thus, great importance should be attached to passing beyond
it or, if this proves impossible, to establish a position from which the line
can be held.
remaining major feature of the Med area is the central and controlling position
of the Ionian Sea. This is, in my opinion, the most important space in the Med.
A fleet here can control access to Austrian waters, is crucial to the expansion
or restriction of Turkey, opens access to the Italian centers, and is an
important component of the stalemate line. The country which places a fleet here
can usually dominate proceedings in the Med, a critical ability for Italy and to
a lesser extent, Austria and Turkey.
three countries cannot realistically hope to win without control of the Ionian,
and their defensive prospects are greatly increased with possession of the
space. For these countries the Ionian is of paramount importance, but it can
also be a major asset to England, France, or Russia in breaking, or maintaining,
the stalemate line.
conclude, them, the Med is a vitally important area on the Diplomacy board,
especially for the four southernmost countries. Control of the Sea depends on
the advantageous use of its three main features. With competing interests,
absolute control is difficult and made more so by the fact that its features
make it easier to defend than to attack. So control of the Med is a major goal,
but once it is attained, a country should be well on its way to victory.