The Northern Tier Alliance
By Richard Hucknall
Several years ago I used to play FtF Diplomacy with a few friends on a fairly frequent basis - about three times a year. For most of these people it was the only occasion they played the game and none were involved in postal play. The effect was that they did not have a very good grasp of strategy and tactics. In fact the games were really just a good excuse for a nine hour booze-up.
On one particular occasion I was playing England and put forward proposals for a strange triple alliance between England, France & Germany, and to my surprise it was accepted. The alliance did in fact hold throughout the game and I vaguely recall that the result was a multi-player draw. Because of the effect that this alliance had, and the inexperience of the other players, most subsequent games seemed to feature this alliance or a slight variation on it. I do not recommend it as a good alliance but it does have excellent opportunities for certain countries should they wish to break the alliance at a later stage.
The general idea is this. England, France and Germany agree to co-operate to sweep all the others from the board, using Turkey as their unwitting ally.
E: F(Edi)-NWG, F(Lon)-NTH, A(Lpl)-Edi
F: F(Bre)-MAO, A(Par)-Gas, A(Mar)-Pie
G: F(Kie)-Hol, A(Ber)-Kie, A(Mun)-Tyr
E: F(NWG)-Nwy, F(NTH) C A(Edi)-Den
F: (If A(Mar)-Pie succeeded) F(MAO)-Por, A(Gas)-Spa, A(Pie)- Ven or Tus
Otherwise F(MAO) C A( Gas)-Por, A(Mar)-Spa
G: F(Hol)-Bel, A(Kie)-Hol, A(Mun)-Tyr or A(Tyr)-Vie/Tri or assists the French to Ven.
England then moves against Swe and StP and then tries to force armies down through Russia, receiving help from Germany when available. He builds only a minimum of fleets and never raises a fleet in Lon.
France builds mainly fleets and moves against Italy. After 1901 there should be no fleet builds in Bre unless absolutely essential.
Germany builds totally armies and moves against Austria. All three give help to each other as and when possible.
Although there is a high degree of trust needed, one ploy that can be used by Germany to pre-empt an attack by England is to order F(Bel)-NTH for the remainder of the game, England should have a F(NTH) and this will be used just for ferrying armies into Scandinavia for the push against Russia. So any move by the F(NTH) is likely to prelude a stab on Germany. By ordering F(Bel)-NTH Germany will have a little reassurance should England ever decide to stab.
Of course, once the alliance becomes evident (usually after Autumn 1901), then Russia, Austria & Italy are likely to form their own defensive alliance. Consequently, any disunity that can be engendered during 1901 between these southern powers is to the advantage of England , France and Germany. Particular attention should be paid to Turkey as once the Northern Tier alliance becomes evident, Turkey is in a strange position. He can either help the northern powers unwittingly by attacking Italy, Austria or Russia as they are forming against the northern alliance, or he can be passive to them and merely support them.
As I said earlier, I dont recommend this alliance, but merely put it forward as an example of a different alliance possibility. However, should it be suggested to me when playing England I would accept it gratefully and await the right moment to stab! France would be a good target but perhaps Germany would be that little bit more beneficial. As along term strategy I believe it places both France and Germany in a position from which they cannot win and open to a telling stab before the game has reached 1905/6.