by Tom Easton

I'd like to set out my thoughts on a triple-alliance that, in my experience, is rarely used (at least by others) but is extremely effective — the AIG or Central Triple alliance.

Austria, Italy and Germany all suffer from the same weakness in the early and middle phases of the game, they have no corner position and are vulnerable to attack from behind or the side or above. If I'm playing any of these powers I will always propose such an alliance before the first moves, it makes sense, is easy to sell to the others and can help all three powers to develop more quickly.

If I'm playing Italy, arguing for the AIG is worth doing even if I'm intending to stab Austria immediately. Going to the effort of convincing both AG that you are in love with the idea is likely to get the Austrian to trust you and therefore leave Tri open in s1901. If AG are furious at your immediate stab, what of it? The German can't do much about it so you haven't lost anything, but you have gained trieste.

Playing Germany I always suggest that if one of AI do stab each other my Munich army will move south and assist the stabbed party. I wouldn't actually do it, more likely than not, but the idea may help to keep them from blows to begin with.

As Austria I'm always desperate for news that Italy wants to move West, or open with a Lepanto. And the AG alliance is a given regardless. So again, I would enthusiastically back the idea of the AIG.

There is no good reason why any of the three powers should be against the idea to begin with (barring a duplicitous Italian with a cunning plan as mentioned above, but he's going to attack Austria regardless).

The advantages of the alliance are as follows:

  1. It leaves everyone's back free and enables them to throw everything they have against the corner powers. Italy and Germany would generally go for France, maybe with English assistance. Austria goes for Turkey, or Russia, or both if he's been unable to turn them away from the juggernaut.

  2. It enables all three powers to expand in different directions (Germany can expand into the Low countries, France, England or Scandanavia, Austria can take Russia and or Turkey, Italy can take France and the Iberian penninsula. With a little bit of negotiation and SC-swapping, the three can keep pace with one another's expansion with a split as follows:

    AustriaHome, Turkey, Balkans, Sev, War = 12
    GermanyHome, Scandanavia, St P, Mos, Hol, Bel, Edi = 12
    ItalyHome, France, Por, Spa, Bel, Liv, Lon = 11

  3. It is not an alliance readily apparent to the other players. It is likely that Italy will be fighting alongside either Germany in France or Austria in Turkey, but the other power will be on the other side of the board, seemingly unconnected. Meanwhile strategic discussions can be going on within the AIG alliance on who to strike next. There is nothing to stop each power from forming other, minor alliances with corner powers. Austria will want to side with either T or R to begin with. Germany with E or F, Italy with R or E. It is essential to keep the core AIG alliance secret from the corner powers.

The arrangement of the board enables the AIG powers to have influence over strategic development of the board. Say Germany and Italy have got the Frenchman struggling, but England and Russia are giving Germany some trouble, Austria could perhaps move an army into Galicia to give the Tsar the wobbles, or Italy could sneak a fleet into the MAO to give England a nightmare and force him to build in Liverpool.

If Italy and Austria are struggling against a burgeoning Juggernaut, Germany could pinch Sweden from the Tsar, or move a fleet into the Baltic sea or an army into Silesia.

If an EF is rolling back the Black units, an Italian move to GoL could cause panic in Paris.

The risk is that many games may end in a three-way, but it is unlikely that all of the corner powers will be completely eliminated by the time the alliance finally breaks up, one of the minnows could be used to stir things up. Also there is less likelihood of a stalemate forming with England and Turkey not part of the picture. A good diplomat and tactician should be able to turn the three-way into a win.

All three powers are traditionally weak and solo less often than the corner powers, could better co-operation in the centre even up the balance a little?

I'm currently in a game, playing Germany in which such an alliance existed to begin with. Unfortunately, having got to 6-8 SCs each, The Austrian stabbed Italy. I moved Munich - Tyrolia and the little rat abandoned. The new Austrian tried to make nice but unfortunately the AIG could not be rebuilt and my 9 SC Germany is currently fighting an 11-SC Austria assisted by a 5-SC Turkey. I do have assistance from the reduced Italy plus a lone Russian fleet but I also have to contend with a couple of rogue English fleets determined to throw the game to Austria.

Maybe it's not the perfect advertisement for the AIG alliance, though how many games do you see where the three strongest powers in 1908 are AGI?

The only other time I tried the alliance (as Austria) I won the game. Germany was crushed by an EF alliance that Italy wasn't able to help him with, nonetheless all three Central powers lasted well into the end stages and until I stabbed Italy, he had a reasonable chance. If IG had won a few gambles earlier on, either of them could have won instead of me.

So next time you are assigned red, black or green, my advice is to go for the Central Triple!

Tom Easton

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