I’m going to continue my look at YouTube Diplomacy sites. The link provided won’t take you to all of them, I should point out, but it’s a starting point.
I’ve already looked at Chris Martin’s Diplomacy Academy in a post reviewing his video on “Unintended Antagonism”, and at Legendary Tactics‘ video “Beginner’s Guide”. Today, it’s the turn of FloridaMan Diplomacy and I’m going to start with the video “The Entente Cordiale Alliance”.
But, before I do that, I’m going to let you know that I’m going to create a new page for the blog on YouTube Diplomacy sites. As I’m going to look at many of these sites (and maybe all of them) I don’t really want to be dropping links all over each post I’m writing. Frankly, it’s just slowing the process down.
I’m impatient – sure me.
I decided to look at FloridaMan’s take on this alliance as I have written about it myself. So let’s see what FloridaMan’s take on the alliance is.
I’m going to ignore the attempt at a French accent from FloridaMan when he uses the term “the Entente Cordiale” because, frankly, it’s terrible! That’s not his fault, I guess.
He points out that it can form in 1901 but could form at any point in the Early Game. Which is true. Actually, like any other alliance, it could form at any point in the game, although if it hasn’t been a feature of the Early Game, and it is formed later, then it indicates that whichever alliance England chose early on failed. If England isn’t allied with France in some form, then England is attacking France. And if England has attacked France, and France survives to past the Early Game, England is not going to win.
This is an alliance aimed against Germany, the two powers’ only common enemy, FloridaMan states. This is true to an extent; Germany should be the early target but, if the E/F alliance lasts beyond the Early Game, then they’ll view every other power as a common enemy, to varying extents.
FloridaMan states that if Germany doesn’t have support from Italy or Russia then they won’t last very long. He says this Russian or Italian support is unlikely. I’d agree, in the case of Italy: Italy usually can’t afford to support Germany against an Anglo-French alliance. It would actually benefit Italy to jump on board, as this triple alliance of E/F/I – what you might call the Spaghetti Western alliance – is pretty damn effective against Germany.
Russia, however, is a different matter, for me. Russia and Germany can work together in Scandinavia against England, and it probably benefits Russia to support a struggling Germany. If a Russo-German alliance (I call it the Baltic alliance) can form, then the chances are Russia can get their forces to the north of Germany in Scandinavia as well as to the east. If Russia is propping up Germany, then they have a decentish chance of moving against Germany successfully later on.
That been said, Russia could do that more quickly as part of another anti-German triple alliance – the Triple Entente – and then switch it to an Anglo-Russian Anglonaut alliance. Still, I think Russia is possibly more likely to support Germany against a marauding Entente Cordiale than FloridaMan accepts.
FloridaMan says that it is relatively difficult for England to turn on France “with success” after having worked with France. It is… but not impossible. For me it boils down to how England has started the game. If the Anglo-French alliance has been formed with England concentrating mainly on fleets and France on armies – even if France has been more balanced and build fleets in the south – then England’s chances are better as she can work on building armies later and these will be the key to beating France, alongside her dominance of the seas.
FloridaMan looks at a couple of options for this switch from England working with France to attacking France. The first is Germany.
Let’s go back to what I said earlier: if an Anglo-French alliance forms beyond the Early Game, then England’s alliance in the Early Game – which will have been formed, usually, against France – failed. The same is true with an Anglo-German alliance (the Saxon alliance) forms after the Early Game: why is Germany in a position to work with England? Because England failed in their Early Game objective to defeat Germany!
FloridaMan correctly points out that, if England and France worked against Germany in the Early Game, getting Germany on board to attack France is going to be difficult. It’s possible if this switch happens pretty quickly, often only when the Early Game is still being played in the north. England could have worked out that France isn’t a very good ally, perhaps, and that Germany is the better choice after all. But how trusting is Germany going to be? And given that Germany will also have the option of working with France what would make them ally with England instead?
For me, Germany isn’t shouldn’t be an option as an ally against France beyond the Early Game. This smacks of incompetence or indecisiveness… and probably both!
The other option of an ally to attack France beyond the Early Game, FloridaMan states, is Italy. Again, though, he points out that Italy isn’t a great option. If Italy is weak in the Early Game, then they’re unlikely to be very effective as an ally against France after the Early Game; and, if Italy is strong, then France is probably going to look to England for her later expansion.
This is true. An Anglo-Italian (Hadrian), anti-French alliance is better in the Early Game and probably only effective as part of a triple alliance with Germany, the Guillotine alliance, which is very effective against France.
If England is going to attack France, FloridaMan states, this is better as the prelude to the End Game. In other words, England’s interests, having formed the E/F alliance, are better by seeing it through the majority of the Mid-game and building her strength. By this point, France should be stymied in the south, while England is free to attack having taken control of the north.
For France, however, the better option is in the Mid-game. France could work with Germany, although FloridaMan points out – correctly – that this is as problematic for France and it is for England, as described above.
FloridaMan suggest Russia as the other option, and a Mid-game Franco-Russian (Franconaut) alliance can be effective. England becomes the meat in the sandwich, albeit a poorly constructive sandwich that would get you fired from Subway. The question is whether Russia is strong enough in the north to help.
FloridaMan also briefly looks at who else, apart from England and France, can benefit from an Entente Cordiale forming. Austria-Hungary and Turkey are the prime candidates, he says, and I can see why. If the E/F alliance succeeds against Germany, as it should, then France can focus on Italy and England on Russia. This means that Austria and Turkey can prosper, both being in a position to work with England or France against Italy or Russia. This depends on Austria and Turkey working together, I think, and this isn’t a great alliance for Austria (but few are, based on on-the-board strategy).
Russia could benefit, FloridaMan suggests, if the E/F alliance is brief, with it being abandoned in the early Mid-game. If Russia is in a position to push into Scandinavia at this point, then they could well find success pushing further west against England. Again, very true.
FloridaMan asks how long the Entente Cordiale will last. With rational and skilful players, he suggests, it should survive until deep into the Mid-game, until one is able to attack the other without damaging their self-interests elsewhere. Again he points out that France can probably benefit most from breaking the alliance a little earlier than is the optimal choice for England.
The alliance’s weakness, FloridaMan says, is that it is very easy for England or France to stab the other pretty quickly. There are no real stalemate lines between the two, and an effective stab can be launched in a single turn. It becomes, then, a case of making sure both players are anticipating the stab and keeping some reserve against it.
For me it’s more than that. If there are more effective common goals to chase than there are benefits for the stab, the alliance should continue. Again, this relies on rational play, which is definitely not always the case in Webplay Diplomacy! Certainly, expecting the stab to come eventually is important, and preparing for it defensively on the board is key, a good player will be anticipating it as these common goals become less important for one power than the other. So off the board diplomacy is also a huge part of this preparation to foil the stab.
FloridaMan’s video is pretty short and sweet. He manages to have a decent analysis of the Anglo-French alliance in a fairly short period of time, without going into the analysis too deeply. And he avoids the trap of stating that this alliance is always going to work or that it is never going to work. This is important because it recognises that, as with any alliance, no matter at what stage of the game you’re in, can work.
It is, however, a focus on tactics – how does the alliance work on the board – rather than strategy – how to make it work off the board. In this, he’s not alone, however… but Diplomacy is an off-the-board game. How the players can make the alliance work and, ultimately, how they can make it work for them as individuals, is just as important to consider.