The Savoy Alliance

Powers: France / Italy

Stage: Early game (and beyond)

Primary target(s): Germany

Also known as… The Ultimate; The Napoleon

Associated 3-way alliances: The Spaghetti Western; The Swiss Star: The Oktoberfest; The Trident

This isn’t a common Early Game alliance, to be fair, simply because there isn’t very much the two powers can do together, even though they are neighbours. France tends to be invested in the Northern Triangle, whereas Italy is usually kept busy in the Southern Quadrangle. (Yes, I called it a Quadrangle; sue me.)

Given their diverse areas of interest, it is much more common for Italy and France to arrange a NAP (Non-Aggression Pact) and a DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) in Piedmont. Even then, it’s fairly common for neither player to worry overly much about either. Italy moves west so seldom that France isn’t worried about A Ven-Pie, and France is almost always more concerned with Burgundy or taking all of Iberia to be interested in A Mar-Pie.

Every once in a while, though, the Franco-Italian alliance may form with the aim of attacking Germany. It can be a pretty well-hidden alliance, if only because nobody expects the Savoy. Italy moves A Ven-Tyl (often with A Rom-Ven) and France orders A Mar S Par-Bur. Germany finds that Munich is neighboured by Italian and French units but shrugs: Whatchu gonna do?

At this point, Germany may try inviting A Tyl-Mun, and either hope for A Bur-Mun, or try to instigate the order. Result: Italy and France bounce in Munich. Job solved; Germany builds A(Mun) in W01 and the threat’s gone.

If Germany is less cocky than this, as they should be, they’ll probably order an army to Munich, just to be on the safe side. This could mean missing a second build in W01 but, well, Munich’s safe.

If Germany is facing a Savoy alliance, though, Munich is far from safe! France or Italy will support the other into Munich and, even with an army build in Kiel/Berlin, Munich stays occupied.

Who gets Munich? Both France and Italy have good arguments to say that Munich goes to them. For France, Munich is the stepping stone to controlling northern Germany and the Low Countries. For Italy, it’s an important fifth unit (along with Tunis).

For me, Italy should be the player to get Munich. Italy’s gambled on non-aggression with Austria-Hungary to push north, which is a risk in itself. If Austria decides that this presents an opportunity, Italy is likely to need the extra build. Even if Austria doesn’t attack Italy, the next step for Italy is to concentrate their units east, either in Austria-Hungary or the Balkans.

On the other hand, France has Spain and Portugal in the bag. If the Savoy is to prosper, France will concentrate on a northern campaign; with an army in Burgundy and a friendly Italian army in Munich, Germany is going to find it hard to defend against a French attack unless they’ve got England onside.

Added to this is that, as Italy prospers in the light of the Savoy, France can build a decent argument for taking Munich later in the game. Whether Italy should allow this is questionable: it is their defence against a French stab; whether Italy can stop this is another thing altogether.

Here, then, is another weakness of the Savoy alliance: Italy’s comparative poor tactical position against a strong France, regardless of whether Italy takes Munich or not. Italy must prosper quickly elsewhere, using Munich as the springboard to attack Austria-Hungary usually. And they have to ensure that Turkey doesn’t grow as a result of Austrian weakness, as they’ll be pushing through the eastern Med waters.

The fact is that, once Italy has Munich, their attention has to move to the east. That army in Munich is often left to work with French forces moving aggressively towards Germany, and Italy rarely benefits much from French success. France may see fit to support A Mun-Ber once they have Belgium, Holland and Kiel, but this simply makes the two Italian armies in Germany reliant on French support and tolerance. This isn’t a great situation once France is free to stab… unless Italy has succeeded in securing all three Austrian SCs and can defend against France from the south-east.

On the other side of the coin, if France does support Italy into Kiel, they’re given Italy control of two German SCs that prevent further French expansion eastwards. This means France has to rely on fleet builds to overcome England, otherwise they’re boxed in. The only other solution is to push fleets into the western Med seas – which is, in itself, a challenge to Italy.

The only triple alliance that is clearly associated with this is the Spaghetti Western of France/Italy/England. This is incredibly bad news for Germany. England’s inclusion generally means Germany is doomed from the start. But it isn’t a great alliance for France, honestly. I mentioned above that France has to head north against England if they support Italy into Berlin (and make no mistake, Berlin should be an Italian target in a Savoy alliance eventually). With a Spaghetti Western, France is immediately boxed in and must be the player that snaps the pasta, moving against England or Italy, while trying to carry the alliance with the other power along with them. The problem is that the other power really shouldn’t go along with this because – guess what? – they’re next.

An alternative 3-way alliance to bolster the Savoy is the Fig alliance between France, Italy and Germany. In this case, Germany heads east in conjunction with Italy, and supports France against England. The problem the Fig has is that all three powers are more-or-less working independently in the Early Game and simply agreeing to cooperate passively.

Finally, a note on naming this alliance the Savoy.

The House of Savoy was the ruling house of following the unification of Italy. Its connection with France is that it originated in what became the French province of Savoie. Honestly, I could have stuck with the name I originally gave this alliance – the Napoleon – simply because, during the Napoleonic Wars, northern Italy was united as the Kingdom of Italy under the rule of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother. It was this, Napoleonic France’s intercession in Italy, that sparked nascent Italian nationalism and led to the ultimately failed rebellion by Italian nationalists against the Austrian Empire in 1848 but also to the successive War of Unification that lead to Italian unity in 1861. And another Napoleon – Louis Napoleon (or Napoleon III), Emperor of the French – was instrumental in giving Italian nationalists the opportunity to defeat the ailing Austrian Empire.

The only other name I’ve found for the I/F alliance, the Ultimate, is certainly an over-exaggeration!


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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