Early Game Alliances: England/Germany

The “Anglo-Saxon” alliance is the name given to the alliance between England and Germany. Honestly, though, I prefer the simpler name of Saxon alliance, in the same way I prefer the Entente alliance to “Entente Cordiale” for the Anglo-French alliance.

England’s POV

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, England’s best chance of winning the game is to attack France… or so it is commonly believed. Again, as I said there, these kinds of sweeping generalisations are not very useful but, if you find that France isn’t someone you can easily ally with, then Germany will be one option.

However, England isn’t necessarily allying with Germany to attack France. A good use for the Anglo-German alliance is to limit France’s growth while England looks to Scandinavia and St Petersburg for early gains.

This is possible because it frees Germany to attack France. The ideal outcome for England, following this strategy, is for England to get into Norway and St Petersburg, while Germany and France clash on their common border. It could even see England slip into Belgium, with German support.

The Problem of France

The English Channel remains as England’s main problem. Whether England is allied with France or not, ideally England should do what they can to keep France out of the Channel.

One way is to order F Lon-ENG in S01. The problem is that, if France feels England is allied to Germany, France will want to prevent this happening. Almost the worst thing that could happen, for France, is that England allies with Germany and occupies the Channel.

Establishing a Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) in the Channel will hopefully keep France out, but doesn’t help the E/G alliance. If England does this, then they’ll be ordering some form of northern opening, and that means F Lon-NTH and F Edi-NWG. While this isn’t specifically anti-German, it’s much more favourable to France than Germany.

The Saxon alliance is best worked when England is able to take the Channel. And, frankly, lying to France isn’t terrible if England is sure of the German alliance. England can go down the DMZ route, working hard to make France believe they’re allied, and then simply order F Lon-ENG and A Lpl-Wal.

There’s no doubt left in the mind of France, however, if England opens this way. If England is hoping to get into Brest, as they probably should be given the E/G alliance, then France is going to do what they can to prevent this.

Taking Belgium

The best thing for England to do, then, is to get into Belgium. This could be with an army of a fleet. So which is best?

Well, Germany should want England there with an army. The army can support Germany into Burgundy, assuming France hasn’t allowed A Mun-Bur by S02. And, if an army is possible, then why not, as far as England’s concerned?

Well, that really depends on what England wants to do in Scandinavia and – potentially – St Petersburg. If England is also prioritising St Petersburg, then it will depend whether she wants to get two units bordering the Russian SC as soon as possible. In this case, the wrong move is to take the Channel in the first place! I’ll get to this below.

The problem with an army in Belgium is that it probably has nowhere to go if it is dislodged. Should Germany switch allies early on, then a combined F/G attack on Belgium will dislodge it. Can England afford to lose that army?

One of the main reasons why the Anglo-German alliance works is that England can concentrate on building fleets – which is something that England should be doing, in my opinion, in the Early game at least. Germany provides the armies, England the fleets.

Given this, for England, a fleet is better than an army in Belgium. It allows England to build a fleet in London and this will probably allow them to capture the in S02. Brest isn’t going to fall quickly, but it should fall within a couple of years. Not ideal, however.

For me, if you want to make the Saxon alliance work, then England should be looking to get an army into Belgium. But this will probably require Germany to occupy Holland in S01 (F Kie-Hol) and this means Germany won’t be able to prevent Russia getting Sweden.

Scandinavia and St Petersburg?

The other option for the Anglo-German alliance is to attack Russia. This is done by England focusing in Norway in 1901 and, probably, using a northern opening. The downside, of course, is that the attack on France has to be delayed.

If this is the way to go, though, a northern opening can work well for England. Fleets in the Norwegian and North Seas in F01, as well as an army in either Yorkshire or Edinburgh, means that Norway will be English. However, if Russia opens with A Mos-StP, it will take both fleets to guarantee England takes Norway… without a strong bit of diplomacy on England’s part with Russia.

Ideally, England will want to order F NWG-BAR in F01 if they’re going to push on into St Petersburg. This means moving a fleet or army into Norway (and Russia not opposing the move with A StP-Nwy). If England can get her army into Norway, then there is the chance to move A Nwy-StP with support from the Barents Sea fleet.

However, it really doesn’t matter if it’s a fleet or an army in St Petersburg. While an army could move south from there to Moscow, at this point in the game this isn’t likely to be possible, frankly. So a fleet there, while it’s going nowhere else, is no worse, effectively, than an army.

Remember, this is a long game. If England is going to have a chance of winning, there will be time later in the game to get an army into St Petersburg.

Germany’s POV

England is probably the better partner than France. There is much less stress on a common border – Germany and England don’t sit right next door to each other, after all. The Saxon alliance allows Germany to concentrate on armies (while England builds fleets) and those armies are going to be needed – Germany is a central and is much more vulnerable to invasion by armies.

England is a safe ally for Germany, early on at least. This means that there isn’t the same degree pressure on trust levels as there are in the Entente alliance (E/F) or the Frankish alliance (F/G). For England to threaten Germany they have to order F Lon-NTH in S01 and even then it means England is going to gamble on F NTH-Hol/Den, which is a low level threat.

Getting at France

Germany’s main issue, then, remains the same in any opening scenario: France. While Germany also shares immediate borders with Austria-Hungary and Russia, Austria is unlikely to move north (it’s better for both powers to leave each other alone) and Russia should be fairly easily kept away by agreeing DMZs in Prussia, Silesia and Baltic Sea: Russia has other more pressing areas to worry about.

The Franco-German relationship is a stressful one for both powers. France has armies in Paris and Marseilles, both of which can move to Burgundy, a space bordering Munich. And, of course, Germany has an army in Munich which could move to Burgundy and threaten either of these French SCs.

Germany, in alliance with England, should want to get at France, then. It doesn’t make much sense to do anything else, frankly. The problem is: How?

One of the best things to do is to get England into Brest or Belgium. Somewhat counter-intuitively, Brest is probably best.

An English army in Belgium is definitely good for Germany. What it probably means, though, as discussed above, is that Germany has to move F Kie-Hol in S01. This means that Germany isn’t going to have the chance of F Kie-Den and, from Denmark, preventing Russia from getting Sweden. While this isn’t a terrible outcome, as it helps keep Russia onside, it means that Russia will get an potentially elusive build.

From this position, England and France potentially have four bordering around France in 1902. This assumes England occupies the Channel and Belgium, while Germany occupies Ruhr and Munich. England should also have an additional fleet in London (possibly Liverpool) and Germany has built an army in Munich.

If England takes Brest, however, she has a fleet or army on (previously) French soil and she threatens Paris – if it’s an army, at least and, frankly, it should be an army. This could be imperative when Germany pushes into France.

Frankly, though, Germany ought to try to get into Burgundy from the start. If she succeeds in this, and if England succeeds in getting into the Channel, France has too many problems to handle.

The Problem of Russia

For the Anglo-German alliance to work, Russia needs to be placated. For Germany, this shouldn’t be a problem… early on. The problems come later, potentially.

I’ve mentioned above that a DMZ in Prussia/Silesia/Baltic Sea should be obtainable for Germany. Russia needs to worry about England in the north, and a potential A/T (or even A/T/I triple) alliance in the south. Letting Russia have Sweden will cement Russia’s neutrality (actually, it should cement a Russo-German alliance, false or not, given Russia’s need for two builds in 1901).

But the problems come later. If Germany is a no-go, where does Russia go? She has two options in the south: Turkey or Austria. It isn’t impossible for her to target either of them… but she’ll go after Austria eventually.

This, in itself, is a problem for Germany. Austria-Hungary guards Germany’s back door, yet it’s in a precarious position, anyway, with three hungry neighbours surrounding it. Now, let’s say Russia targets Austria first… those neutral or friendly Austrian units will be replaced by more Russian units quite quickly if a Juggernaut (R/T) alliance forms. Just where are those units heading?

Can Germany deal with Russia before France? Possibly – but there is a much greater dependence on an effective England in this case. Germany either can’t afford to leave the common border with France undefended or has to join a Western Triple alliance with England and France. And the WT isn’t good for Germany, either, as England and France are both to the west, right behind Germany when German units push east.

So Germany has to truly Bismarckian in establishing their diplomacy. They have to give Russia enough to keep them happy in the immediate Early game, while managing the south to turn at least one from Austria-Hungary or Turkey – possibly both – against Russia, which will keep Russia busy elsewhere.

Making it work

For the reasons I’ve suggested above, the Saxon alliance is a safer alliance for both Germany and England when compared to the E/F alliance or the F/G alliance. It takes a bit to get at Germany for England, and vice versa.

The two must agree on how to manage France. If they’re going after France, England will need to shoot for the Channel from the off, and should expect Germany to shoot for Burgundy at the same time. France must be targeted ruthlessly.

The most effective way to do this is to drag Italy along for the ride by forming a Guillotine alliance, my name for the E/G/I triple alliance. Italy simply has to move A Ven-Pie in S01 and France faces an English fleet in the Channel, a German army in Burgundy and an Italian army in Piedmont… assuming all succeed. France could face losing all three home SCs! Of course, they’d have to be an idiot to lose them all, but still… the threat’s there.

The problem here is getting Italy to find a solution to the Venice/Trieste border issue. Italy will need to cover Venice with A Rom-Ven and therefore is relying on taking Tunis for their only build in 1901. If Germany can get into Burgundy, though, it would mean Germany could promise A Bur S Pie-Mar. There’s no guarantee that would work, but there’s a decent chance.

This would be good for Italy, though. Going after France, as part of a Guillotine alliance, is a good way to keep Italy moving early on… if they can secure their eastern frontier.

If England and Germany decide to go after Scandinavia and Russia, first, then maintaining security against France is important for both of them. This isn’t a huge problem, assuming the Saxon alliance remains established. But it does increase the levels of stress on that alliance. France will be looking to get one or the other to support an attack on the third in this triangle.

And cracking Russia will mean that a third power, from the south, is involved: either Austria-Hungary or Turkey. Russia’s weakness is in the south. If Russia can build an alliance with either of these two powers, or with Italy, then it means England and Germany are going to have to work hard to break through.

Potentially, a Cauldron alliance (E/G/T) triple is more effective. If Turkey can throw units north, while England is pushing at St Petersburg and Germany nudging east, Russia has a lot of area to cover. And Germany and Turkey can then work together against Austria.

On the other hand, a Germanic Triple alliance (E/G/A) is perhaps more effective initially. German and Austrian units can work together more effectively than German and Turkish units. The question is then whether Austria can hold off Turkey.

Ultimately, for both powers, the aim is a solo, so how can either make the Anglo-German alliance work towards this goal? At some point, the chances are that one will have to attack the other.

England is possibly in the best position. Given that they’ve likely concentrated on fleets early on, they should have the maritime strength to ensure they can move armies into northern France and the Low Countries (Belgium and Holland) when ready to stab. This is where England can turn on Germany – through France and Iberia (Spain and Portugal). Germany should be tied down in the east or south-east at this point and may struggle to move units against England.

For Germany, it will mean almost the same strategy but in reverse. Germany won’t be able to challenge England at sea immediately, unless England has been lax. England can afford Germany to have two fleets, but any more than that is to big a threat. And the second fleet should be in the Baltic region.

However, Germany can’t really afford to not have more fleets if they want to win. At some point, they will need to forcefully capture the North Sea, making England concentrate of defending London and Edinburgh.

To get to this position Germany will need to remove English units from France. This means that Brest will need to fall, and this is no easy task with a competent England. The chances are that Germany will need either Italy or Turkey to be in a position to strike into the Mid-Atlantic Ocean… and that means another stable and expanding power that will be in a position to stop Germany winning.


OTHER POST IN THIS SERIES:

Published by Mal Arky

I'm a Diplomacy nut... if you haven't guessed. I write about the game Diplomacy, mainly as played online on websites, such as Playdiplomacy, webDiplomacy and Backstabbr. I write books on Diplomacy, too. First one to be published soon!

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