By  Chris Martin

Greetings! I have the great honor to be here at the invitation of that estimable periodical “The Diplomatic Pouch”. There is, it would seem, a great project afoot, a special project to honor that right gentleman and somewhat more than merely capable diplomacy player, Manus Hand, and I for one am quite pleased to partake in this project in any small way which I am able. It has fallen unto me to report to you, dear reader, insights which I have regarding that thing which is known in the circles of diplomacy as “London”. Now, I have only one thing to say about London, and I intend to say it as briefly as possible. If you wish to sort through some of the other offerings offered herein, well, trust that I shall not take offense as long as you return at some point to take in these short musings that I commit herein to print. Go ahead and read David Hood’s article on Kiel, he is certainly someone who knows of what he speaks. If you haven’t heard me talk about London before, well, here is my official welcome to you; I am most pleased to make your acquaintance. It is my to reveal to you something that is no real secret, as it has been discussed in numerous forums more times than I care to mention. Its been bandied about, debated, the horse has died and continued to be flogged, and yes, I am aware the contents of this article may in fact be an act akin to “jumping over the shark”, but I cannot in good conscience go ahead without saying what, I believe, is the most important thing to say about London.

Or, rather, the most important thing to say about London as regards “Diplomacy”. There are no doubt other important things to know about London. It is a city in the UK, well, that’s a starting place but hardly complete. London is a cosmopolitan mixture of the Third and First Worlds, of chauffeurs and beggars, of the establishment, the avowedly working class and the avant-garde. Unlike comparable European cities, much of London looks unplanned and grubby, but that is part of its appeal. Visiting London is like being let loose on a giant-sized Monopoly board clogged with traffic. Even though you probably won't know where you are exactly, the names will at least look reassuringly familiar. Except, of course, that Monopoly is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, so if you were expecting to find Park Place and Broadway you’d be a tad confused. Also, no luxury tax per se, and of course if you are looking to collect $200, you will be sadly disappointed, if not sent to jail immediately without being first allowed to pass Go. The main geographical feature of the city is the River Thames, which meanders through central London, dividing it into northern and southern halves. The central area and the most important sights, theatres and restaurants are within the Underground's Circle Line on the north bank of the river. The trendy and tourist-ridden West End lies within the western portion of the loop, and includes Soho, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Regent St. The East End, so beloved of Ealing comedies, lies east of the Circle Line; it used to be the exclusive preserve of the Cockney but is now a cultural melting pot. There are interesting inner-city suburbs in North London, including Islington and Camden Town. South London includes a mess of poor, dirty, graffiti-ridden suburbs, like Brixton, which have vibrant subcultures of their own. By contrast, Canada has no ‘vibrant subcultures’, and in this context, I believe Anacostia could also be described as having ‘vibrant subcultures’, also, parts of south central Los Angeles and most if in fact not all of Mexico – but I digress.

You don’t want to hear about London, the city. No, you are waiting (patiently, and thank you, your patience will soon be rewarded, and then you shall enjoy the fruits of your labors, or in this case the fruits of your diligence, that being continuing with the text here, rather than dashing off to the charming but somewhat touchy-feely article by the esteemed Andy Marshall on Brest – its perky, but remember to wash your hands after), waiting for the insight that I have to bring to London vis-à-vis the game of Diplomacy, that greatest of Games which we all share an interest in. Or, so I shall assume since this article is directed towards a fairly narrow segment of the online readership, were this intended in fact for, say, the New Yorker on-line or something a tad more risqué like Playboy then I might be obliged to include a few snippets of text that would raise the cultural bar, or in the case of the latter example lower that same bar a small fraction, something like “Highgate Cemetery can't be beaten for its Victorian Gothic atmosphere and downright eeriness. Its extensive and overgrown grounds include cypress trees, Egyptian-style catacombs, enough chipped angels to please the most discerning Joy Division fan, Karl the more serious Marx brother and personalized tombs reflecting their eccentric inhabitants.”, or “Most of the female escorts within our directory would be delighted to visit your London hotel or home; many have their own private apartment. The best way to arrange a meeting with one of our female London escorts is to call us on the day, ideally with 2 or 3 hours notice. We’re open between 10 am and midnight every day of the week. All the photos on this site are %100 real, inasmuch as they exist. Photoshop does wonderful things, and really, you’re using an escort service, we really don’t expect you to bitch too much as long as you get your ashes hauled, right?” Again, though, this sort of thing falls far outside the parvenu of this article, which is about London in regards to the game of Diplomacy.

And, as I intimated earlier, I really only have one thing to say about London, and that thing, which I am now about to say, relates to the opening of the game. Spring 1901, when the first set of orders is turned in, THAT is where the insight which I would share with you lies. Not, it should be understood, the REAL spring of 1901, which was really quite a long time ago, just think! Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen won the Nobel Prize in physics "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him". To be clear, he was German, NOT from London, and I apologize forthwith if any confusion should be engendered by the introduction of a personage from the distant past from a different country, city, and nationality. Such was not this authors intent, indeed, we seek to be as clear and concise as possible, within the limits and strictures placed upon us by our task, which is, namely, to bring to light certain facets of the territory marked “London” on the game board of “Diplomacy”, in conjunction with 33 other authors whose fine work includes Jim Burgess’ article on Rome, which I highly recommend, and I think that you should look into it once you have given sufficient pause for thought and reflection, since one should not simply rush ahead in the quest for information, but should take one’s time, enjoy, and savor the experience. As, no doubt, Herr Roentgen savored his Nobel Prize.

Not that we are in any way seeking to imply that there is an opportunity herein to be nominated for an award within the hobby for literature! Perish the thought! Such articles as have won acclaim in the past have had many things to say, great insights and depth of analysis. Here, humbly, we simply wish to offer our own meager insight into the beginning of the game of Diplomacy, should you have the fortune of drawing the Great Power “England”, and be confronted with the conundrum “Where shall I order the Fleet in London?” The idea of seeking a hobby award for such a small piece of literature as this is surely fabulous, and not to be taken seriously. My detractors (and, despite your own enlightened opinion, do not doubt that they exist – surely it is impossible to do quality work, in any field, without attracting those who despise the insights and achievements that are beyond them? Isn’t this as much a sign and signal of success as any other?) may say that I am merely positioning myself for yet another award, and to them I say “Phaa.” Yes, “Phaa.” There is no truth to such rumors, and to spread such baseless lies is the worst kind of back-room deal making and back scratching I can think off. Nothing that the Potomac Tea and Knife Society did in securing World Dip Con in 2005 approaches this level of base character assassination, and I for one will have no truck with it – nor, gentle reader, should you.

Fleet London! Ah, here we have a marvelous chance to get to grips with one of the premier choices that the diplomat faces. What to say to France, what to say to Germany, what to say to Russia, of course not neglecting conversation with the other Great Powers, and then, finally, what to Actually Do? This is something that, we suspect, isn’t given enough thought by the new, and perhaps even the middling-successful player, so let us take a few moments of your time to briefly! ever briefly! examine this subject.

First, let us consider intent, and through intent, we shall directly lead to purpose, from whence we shall arrive at communication, and from communication we shall come to insight, and from insight we shall refine our intent, and after we have refined our intent, well, there is naught to do but to put our intent into Action! And that is what I am here to talk to you about today, Action! Specifically, the action of our fleet in London, if I may take the liberty of becoming somewhat familiar in my manner of speech, of course the fleet in London isn’t strictly speaking “ours”, but it is my earnest hope that you shall allow me this liberty as we have spent some time together now, rather than abandoning your quest for knowledge regarding London, and instead haring off to the fine (if somewhat, shall we say, minimally verbose?) article by Andy Bartalone on Trieste – we doubt if ever before so much has been said to so many with so little.

Intent! And what is our intent, when we find that we have come upon the game with the Great Power of England? Why, the conquest of the half of Europe, and attaining the victory conditions that the game sets out in front of us. To have anything else in our minds as we set off on our journey would surely lead us astray, as would depending on a map of Australia serve us poorly if we wished to find a good bakery in Buffalo. (Gentle reader, I trust at this point that the references to two locations NOT having any direct relation to London shall not unduly confuse you. Yes, I did just refer to Andy Bartalone, and Yes, he is sometimes referred to by the sobriquet ‘Buffalo’. This is sheerest coincidence! It is simply by way of example that I set out these other places, in order to make a small point regarding some styles of play that have come to my attention. I shall refrain from commenting on any further introduction of other locations; indeed I shall henceforth keep such analogies to a minimum, and should you become confused, keep in the front of your senses that this is an article regarding London, not Australia or Germany or a largish Sicilian gentleman or indeed, the fine city of Buffalo, New York, USA. Eighteen supply centers is our goal, and it is with that intent in mind that we shall examine the purpose that our military units serve.

A fleet in London – what a wonderful thing! With this fleet, as well as other forces at your command, we shall begin to amass the resources necessary to fulfill our intent, victory! You know how new Supply Centers are gained, do you not? Occupation of centers at the end of a fall (or autumn, as it is referred to in some quarters) movement phase, plainly speaking, leads to ownership of said centers in perpetuity, until and unless that center is occupied by another Great Power at the end of another fall (autumn) move. With that new supply center in pocket (as it were), we are able to build more resources with which to gain still MORE supply centers, in a chain of events that will happily lead to our victory. And this is really as simple as reading this sentence, if you happened to find yourself playing Diplomacy against the computer game which was so unfortunately released a few years ago. Tragicommically, it cannot play the game with the wit my feline companion Machiavelli brings to the board, which is simply to swat around the pieces and then vomit on Saint Petersburg (usually south coast, though north coast is not completely unheard of). This usually gains him at least one build, and the resultant unwillingness of the Russian player to move his unit in StPete effectively neutralizes the Russian’s northern forces – I cannot recommend this tactic to you, I can only comment on its effectiveness.

However, since in most circumstances you will find yourself around a board (or, in the case of internet or postal play, opposed to through the preferred medium of your correspondence) with others who share your intent (18 supply centers), you will have to find a way to accomplish your goals that doesn’t rely on their complete and utter failure to understand the most fundamental premises of the game. No, you will have to use the military strength you posses and that of your neighbors, to take by force that which you desire. And that brings us to communication. For it is with communication that you learn the desires and specific interests of your neighbors, which you will then exploit to your own ends! Ah, but before communication, we must first examine purpose! And what purposes may the fleet in London serve? An excellent question, and one that we will deal with forthwith.

Should we move the Fleet in London to the North Sea, we will certainly choose to move the fleet in Edinburgh to the Norwegian Sea, as any other move (hold, Yorkshire, Clyde) would be sheerest folly. To the left, if we move to the North Sea from Edinburgh, surely we should send the fleet in London into the English Channel! What are the relative merits and demerits of these choices? An excellent question, and one we are happy to provide some insight into, as it bears directly upon our question, “what to do with the Fleet in London in the Spring of 1901” – not, you can tell, an easy question to answer without talking a complete look at the affects and effects of such a choice.

IF we choose to move “North Sea and Norwegian Sea”, we are sending our fleet power north – we guarantee capture of Norway in the fall if the Russians contest it, and we leave ourselves the option of a devastating assault on St. Petersburg should we chose to land our army (which began the game in Liverpool, which has been discussed by our esteemed colleague Jim Burgess, again, no toes are intended to be stepped upon!) in Norway and advance the fleet to the Barents Sea – certainly placing a lot of pressure on Russia in the opening game! This is a credible line of assault, in that it likely gains some control over the northern edge of our attainable territory, denies the Russians the ability to contest the northern waters with further Fleet development in the North, and probably also gains us Sweden, and then perhaps Denmark, and further, perhaps, access to Berlin and Kiel. Wonderful! This choice is certainly one that has merit, although it fails to completely account for one thing – what exactly are France and Germany doing whilst we are so happily placing Scandinavia under enlightened British Rule?

And that is the first thing we must do with our diplomacy (if I may be so bold as to use the term in a manner which indicates communication between players – I trust that you, dear reader, will not have any difficulty intuiting this from the context), should we choose to order our fleets in the manner just outlined above. We must assure our selves that France and Germany are either locked into a mortal contest with each other, such that they both build only armies and find themselves bogged down along the Belgium/Ruhr/Burgundy line, neither being able to gain the advantage over the other; or we must assure ourselves that they are our bosom companions, willing to take the war to the Italians, Russians, and Austrians in the so-called “Western Triple” alliance. If we can accomplish either of these things with certainty, then our assault on Russia will probably be fruitful, and we can choose an ally of convenience and fall onto France or Germany at our leisure, assuming Italy, Austria, or a combination of the two have not gained such prominence as to force ourselves to call off the dogs of war and instead support France and Germany in their efforts to stop them.

Before we get too excited about the merits of this northern course of conquest, however, we are obligated to take into consideration the idea that France, Germany, or indeed both of them together might prefer to launch an assault upon ourselves than either fight each other or work as part of a triple. Indeed, the canny French or German player might well lead us to believe that they want nothing but our friendship, when instead they have already decided to plant a dagger in our heart! You will have to seek elsewhere for means of how to find out this information, but let us assume for a moment that we are NOT sure of the actions to be taken by the French and German player, a course which (I must confess) I suspect happens much more often than that of complete assurance of their goodwill and benevolent attitudes towards our sovereign nation.

In a situation such that we do not have the feeling of security regarding both our French and German neighbors, it behooves us to strongly consider the action of ordering in Spring of 1901 to the “North Sea and English Channel”. And this, though it has taken me some short time to come to, and it is my fondest hope that you have not been totally unimpressed by the manner in which we have arrived, is the point of which I wish to make to you, dear reader, gentle reader, you who have stayed with me through both the thick (and I confess that there has probably been some thick, despite all my efforts to be concise and directly come to this moment) and through the thin, and it is this. The fleet in London should usually be moved to the English Channel, rather than to the North Sea.

There! It has been laid out for you, as plain as the words on this page. Who could ask for a more clear and unambiguous point as this? Well, no doubt there are those who prefer the writings of Bruce Duewer or are in the habit of such mental exercises as the Vermont Group NoPress Tournament, but we are forced to confess that they are not chief amongst those for whom we write. And of course we support them in their habits, for what a dull and uninteresting world we would occupy were we all similar in our tastes and expressions!

The Fleet in London should usually be moved to the English Channel, rather than the North Sea. I can only sit here and wonder at the effect this simple idea will have. For is it not the simple ideas which have shaped our world? Did Galileo feel this way when he leaned over the side of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and dropped a bowling ball and a feather at the same time, and discovered that Schoolhouse Rock has a lot to answer for in the mis-education of American youth? Perhaps he did. Let us, then, as Galileo did (and again, please, no cat-calls from the peanut gallery regarding our desire to associate ourselves with the famous scholars of history through name dropping and association. Haven’t we all really had enough of that by now?), let us look deeper into this proposition, and in doing so, examine how it helps us to our objective, victory.

The English Channel is a good place to be for a host of reasons, which we will examine now, as well as examining the relative merits of preventing the French player from occupying this territory vs. allowing him access to this space and dealing with the consequences after. What then, are the most obvious of benefits to the English Player in entering the English Channel in 1901 with the Fleet which began in London? That is what I propose to discuss without any further delay.

First, influence over the disposition of Belgium. Belgium (as Doug Massey so accurately points out) is one of the most contested neutral provinces in the fall of 1901, and indeed it often remains contested for many years after, with control switching from one Great Power to another over the course of time, as alliances shift and the balance of power tilts from one side of the board to the other (always being careful not to let the balance of power tip so far as to actually cause the pieces to slide down the map, usually less than 15° is sufficient.). In the English Channel, you, the Great Power England are in position to change the course of events by either supporting one or the other of France or Germany in, or indeed to seek to occupy that space yourself, as indeed it seems likely you must in the long term in order to achieve your overall goal, victory! Which of these choices should you pursue? To support France, or Germany into Belgium, or to immediately seek it out for yourself? Well, dear reader, I am afraid that is far beyond the scope of this article, which would become far too lengthy should we stop to consider the implications and ramifications of events which occur in the Fall of 1901. And, indeed, then we would have strayed from our mandate of exploring “London” – we do not intend to do this, for it is ever our intent to keep this article as brief as possible, while exploring thoroughly those items which do fall within the scope of our interest. Fear not! We shall not go down lengthy halls of digression, for we do understand how important it is to stick on topic in such a limited article as this. So, do not expect us to offer recommendations regarding the fate of Belgium in the fall of 1901 – though perhaps the article on Belgium by Doug Massey will provide you the insight you need. Or, indeed, perhaps not – this is neither here nor there as far as we are concerned, we are only concerned with the actions of Fleet London, in the spring of 1901. And, the fact remains, undisputed, that if you manage to arrive in the English Channel from London with your fleet in the spring of 1901, that you will have a great deal of influence over that territory, Belgium, though we do not propose to discuss the specifics of that influence any further than we have done, except to say that it is something which the serious player of Diplomacy will devote some time and attention to – we leave the rest as an exercise (as we understand they say in scholarly circles) for the student.

What else do you gain, should you find yourself in the English Channel in 1901? The second benefit is that you then have reasonable access to the Mid Atlantic Ocean – or, as it is sometimes referred to, “England’s Gaping Back Door”. It is from the Mid Atlantic Ocean that so many attacks upon the isle are initiated, with the French player perniciously occupying that space, claiming it as his right, and then, when your attention is turned towards Scandinavia and your defenses are suitably lowered, haring off to the Irish Sea or North Atlantic Ocean and nobbling Liverpool from you in the fall. A crime, you say? Well, surely it is that, but it is a crime of opportunity, rather than one of passion in most cases, and who is to blame for that opportunity? IF the French player isn’t IN the Mid Atlantic Ocean, then he cannot then move to the Irish Sea or the North Atlantic Ocean from there, can he? Again, relative merits and faults of such a choice fall beyond the scope of this article, really, and we shan’t repeat that what we have already stated on the subject, except to say that you cannot ignore the fact that the opportunity exists to move to the Mid Atlantic Ocean from the English Channel, and that such a move is worthy of consideration.

In examining the merits of a move to the English Channel from London with the Fleet which began there in the Spring of 1901, we would be quite remiss in our duties if we failed to examine the opportunity to capture the supply center Brest. Either directly by landing the fleet in Brest, or by the expedient of convoying the army which began in Liverpool (and we have already been down this road a number of times, haven’t we? Please remember that we are concerned with the Fleet in London, and any other units which are mentioned are only brought to your attention in order to illuminate certain aspects of the relationship between that unit and the possible actions of Fleet London) into the home center of France, striking a deadly blow into the heart of one of your fellow contestants for power. Surely, denying the French Player the ability to build Fleets in the Atlantic theater is a worthy long term goal, and, should you manage to land an army in Brest, this is almost a knock-out blow that the French player would be hard pressed to recover from.

Lastly in the realm of benefits which accrue to the English Player who moves his fleet to the English Channel, is the opportunity to convoy an army into Picardy. This is generally considered a weak choice, by the leading scholars and theorists of Diplomacy, but it remains an option, and one that we would be remiss in failing to bring to the attention of our less experienced readers. Let us at least provide the caveat that this convoy IS in fact considered the weakest of the possible choices, using as it does two of your precious military units to no material gain in 1901, knowing full well that we step somewhat beyond the bounds of our mandate in so doing. We humbly beg your small indulgence in this matter, and we will say no more on the subject, trusting that this warning will be sufficient for the wise reader to examine the matter on his own, and as to the foolish reader, well! What is wisdom if not experience gained through foolishness?

Are there any weaknesses which are taken on as a result of the move to the English Channel by the Fleet which began in London in the Spring of 1901? It would be disingenuous to say no -- of course there are negatives, and they are not to be ignored! Rather they should be taken into account in your planning, so that you may make the wisest and most prudent of decisions, yes?

Firstly, there exists the possibility that Russia can deny you the build from Norway by moving his army from Moscow to Saint Petersburg in the spring of 1901. This is a very real threat, and a very, very good reason to NOT let the Russian player know that you are considering a move to the English Channel. (We now enter into the realm of communication. Yes, thank you, it was a nicely managed transition, but we cannot take credit! The method of laying out a plan for the path of a composition and then following that plan has been pursued before, and we only make good use of this technique. Still, it is nice to have such a thing noticed, and again you have our thanks for the serious attention which you are clearly paying to this little trifle regarding the London that we have concocted for your pleasure.) It is not the most common opening for the Russian player, but it is made all the more attractive when he finds out that the English player is not going to guarantee his arrival in Norway. If the Russian hears this from your lips, well, you have only yourself to blame if you don’t secure Norway in the fall. If, on the other hand, Russia hears from Italy that England will not be opening to the Norwegian Sea and North Sea, that is information he must take with, as they say, a grain of salt!

Second in the weaknesses generated by the opening move of Fleet London to the English Channel is the somewhat strained tenor it is likely to produce in ones relationship with the French Player. As you no doubt observed, many of the advantages which accrue to the English when occupying the Channel are taken at the expense of the French, so it is only natural that they will be somewhat miffed when the moves are revealed and they find that there is a Fleet off of their northern coast. Take this into account, and weigh this into the balance of your decisions. Is the French player, in your estimation, one who can accept such a fait accompli calmly? Will he be open to further negotiations, or will this mean outright war? And how will the German player react, if this is a surprise move to him as well? Have your aggressive tendencies upset him, or made him eager to participate in the division of France? The answers to these questions – and the others generated by the strain in relations created by the move to the English Channel – are all important, and the wise player, the one who reads and takes to heart the advice offered in certain scholarly journals, will be aware of such potential problems, and be prepared to meet them.

If there is any other weakness generated by the move from London to the English Channel by the fleet in London in the Spring of 1901, it is inevitably, this: In committing the fleet to the south, you lose your flexibility in the North. If Russia decides to come into the Northern Theater in force, you will have some hard defensive choices – make peace with France, or accept losses in Scandinavia in exchange for gains in Iberia. The wily diplomat will take great pains to ensure that the Russians do NOT enter the fray on the side of the French, but as this in not always possible to prevent, one piece of advice would be to avoid burning your bridges with the French player, even as you invest in his demise – you might need him to be less than ultimately hostile if problems develop on other fronts. This is, I believe, sound advice in any case – avoid making any attack personal, so that should the shoe become placed on what is commonly called the other foot, you can negotiate from a position of moral superiority, or lacking that, from a position that is not upon ground that you have scorched and sown with salt.

We would be truly failing in our duties if we did not point out, dear reader, that one of the very best reasons, indeed in some cases the paramount reason for moving to the English Channel with the Fleet in London in the Spring of 1901 is to prevent the French player from moving to the English Channel with the Fleet in BREST in the Spring of 1901. This move, which invariably reveals hostile intentions from the French player towards our sovereign nation of England, is somewhat more than simply troublesome to the English player who has opened with his fleet in London to the North Sea. Now, unpleasant decisions must be made. Should London be defended from the North Sea? Can the army be used to protect this province, or did we optimistically send it to Edinburgh? Should we ignore this threat on our very homeland and move to secure, perhaps, Belgium for ourselves? Do we face the dreaded threat of a “Sea Lion”, and how shall we defend against it (Support F North Sea to Hold from the Norwegian Sea and convoy to Norway through the North Sea)? All these choices are bad ones, and the England who recovers from the loss of the English Channel in 1901 is usually one who has a successful power on the other side of the board distracting his foes from following through on their assault. Of course the Isle can be held for years and years against anything but a full-out assault, but what of your prospects of victory then? It is the Rare England who achieves what Christian Dryer did in the Diplomatic Pouch showcase game “Ruffians”. Still, fight on, for this example proves that anything is possible, though if in such situations a nice letter to Mike McCaffey asking him to take over the Turkish position and get Austria to throw the game to you is probably the single best thing you can do. But I digress.

Well, now that we have examined in some detail the various pros and cons of the possible moves of Fleet London in the Spring of 1901, we now must examine the very words which we will use to gather intelligence from our fellow players. What is France saying to you in his opening negotiations? If he comes right out and asks for a bounce in the Channel, what should you do? Well, the straightforward type will agree without much further ado, and be a tad surprised to discover that the French player’s next communication is with the Russia player ... Remember what we talked about before? The Russian player will not need nearly as much salt to accept “Yes, England just agreed to bounce with me in the channel, go north my good man, and Edinburgh and control of Scandinavia will be your just reward in the campaign to follow!” from France than he would upon receiving the same information from Austria! (Please. No, it is not possible for Austria to bounce with England in the English Channel in the Spring of 1901, and indeed I doubt that such a thing has happened in any game year more than twice in the entire history of the hobby! That someone might be confused by this is really beyond all comprehension. Either pay attention or turn yourself to something more suited to your abilities, like this nice article on tic-tac-toe strategy. Apologies to the rest of you who are keeping up without troubles, but sometimes you just have to say something or you risk losing your focus. I beg your pardon, and will now continue without, one hopes, any further interruptions. Those of you who have noticed that the link above is at and are expecting another connection to the references to buffalo are in for a disappointment. Far be it from us to allow to be heard a discouraging word.) No, the savvy player of England will think for a moment, and say to the French player “Well, I would rather not bounce in the Channel – it is such a waste of both of our resources.”, or words to that effect followed by a nice pause to see what the French player says. Listen carefully, of course, but make no mistake – the order for Fleet London is already written, and it is to move to the English Channel. Though the rest of your diplomacy might be dedicated towards convincing Russia otherwise, you must not allow yourself to become convinced that a move to the Norwegian Sea is the right thing to do. This is not a France who is looking forward to the long term prospects of co-operation with England. Bend your effort towards convincing France to move to the Mid Atlantic Ocean (If your powers of persuasion are such as to convince the French Player that the best move is to order Fleet Brest to Gascony, then you are Toby Harris, in which case Hello, Toby, my wife sends her regards and we hope that we have the pleasure of seeing you in the summer of 2004 at {World Dip Con} in Birmingham) and then sail right into the English Channel. Should the now hapless French player express any indignation you are perfectly within your rights to look slightly puzzled and say “Well, you suggested a bounce there; I just thought that you might move there anyway? I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to upset you, but I just wasn’t sure.” Don’t let your smile show on the outside, as that will tend to upset most French players.

What if, to the left, the French player comes to you and says “Lets DMZ the channel?” This is a tricky situation, and you must be careful how you handle it. First, and foremost, and practice this in front of a mirror if you have to, get a friend to work with you, put in the hours, do whatever it takes: say “Ok, that sounds good” convincingly. This can be harder than it seems, and the consequences of seeming even slightly edgy or nervous at this point can lead to exactly the opposite of your desired result. You don’t want France to get nervous and send his fleet into the channel, do you?

Having gotten over the hurdle of agreeing that the English Channel should be DMZ’d, you then have the conundrum, should you honor this agreement, or violate it right out of the gate? This is a tough call, and to find out you must listen to the rest of France’s communications, and take in the rest of the board as well. Is France planning on supporting himself to Burgundy? Is he expecting a DMZ with Germany in Burgundy? What is the German expecting – will he commit to moving Munich to Burgundy, expecting to arrive? If there is a good chance that a blitz assault of France will succeed, then by all means blitz away! Remember that France is a terribly difficult country to blitz successfully, though, and assess the caliber of both France’s play and the likelihood that Russia will try to intervene on her behalf. For if you have agreed to NOT move to the channel, and you then DO move there, then you are pretty much committed to further belligerence with France, as they would be unwise at best to trust you any further than they could throw you. IF you are 12 years of age and small boned, and Steve Emmert is playing France, then perhaps that trust is moderately extensive; to the left, if Steve Emmert is playing France, by all that is holy you had best open to the channel, because HE certainly is!

In the last instance of France initiating conversation, what if the subject of the channel’s occupancy never comes up? Well, you, being the general on the spot, will have to make the call. Keep in mind that they are thinking the same thing you are thinking, namely “I didn’t say I wouldn’t move there”. I think you, shrewd reader, see where this is going. More often than not, under these circumstances, you should move to the English Channel.

Now, when you have control of the tempo of conversation, please feel free to guide France to the conclusion that you will not be moving to the Channel; the phrase “well, I was thinking Churchill” should be of good use to you here. Allow that you wish him best of luck with his capture of Spain (sc). In fact, this is a particularly nice line to take, to see how he responds: “I was talking to Italy (obviously this works best in such cases where he can’t be certain that you haven’t yet spoken to Italy, so be forewarned, and thereby forearmed) and he was concerned that you would be landing the fleet on the South Coast of Spain.” Just this, nothing more, with an expectant pause at the end of the sentence. How does he respond? Remembering that anything less than “Well, that’s what I was planning on doing. That’s not a problem with you is it?” (the best possible response) is a sign that he is at least considering opening to the channel, or if not opening to the channel then taking Portugal with the fleet, allowing him to re-occupy the MAO in the spring of 1902, which we discussed earlier. If you don’t want to let this happen, perhaps it would be best to simply seize the initiative and move to the Channel yourself?

Regarding Germany – a few thoughts. Germany has a vested interest in seeing conflict between England and France, and so it is worthwhile feeling him out, seeing if he would be interested in blitzing into Burgundy, with the understanding that you would be willing to open to the channel in such an event. Should he prove unwilling to show such resolve right away, then by all means continue to sound him out – observe that the player controlling France has a known history of opening to the channel, and that you’re tempted to move there on the off chance that he would do so without warning you. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to leave the matter ambiguous. The strongest enticement to a F/G alliance is the prospect of France in the channel in the spring of 1901, and many a Germany will wait and see which way the wind blows before making the commitment one way or t’other. Regarding London, that is all we have to say about Germany.

As to the Italian, well, again, we shall be brief (as we have striven to maintain our brevity throughout, and trust that you shall continue with us to the nearing end of our thoughts on London, as you have maintained your focus admirably so far. Again, we must apologize for the tic-tac-toe reference. Surely you understand how hard it is for a scholar to maintain their disciplined approach to a subject when those for whom he labor are so far from achieving enlightenment? You are far to gracious, gentle reader, and we laud your generosity in bearing with us through the darker moments of our performance), ever brief. There is really only one thing the Italian can do that is useful to you as regards London, and that is to draw French focus south – an opening of Army Venice to Piedmont, or even better still F Naples to the Tyrrhenian Sea (and thank you once again gentle reader for following the reference to the Italian opening position so adroitly), is the most that you can hope for, and really of no matter. If you can, through sly words and blandishments gain Italian trust sufficiently to join with him in an attack upon France, why, is this not a good thing for both of you? And almost certainly a better thing for you, though the fortunes of war, they do not always follow the odds. Still, if Italy presents France with even a small amount of Diplomatic pressure, why, so much more likely that he will fail to open to the Channel, thinking his fleet might be needed in the Mediterranean.

Austria and Turkey are right out of it, as far as London is concerned. To demonstrate that we can, indeed, say no more about a subject than needs to be said, we shall say no more on the subject!

Having in the fullness of the time allotted to you for your opening negotiations, you have communicated with the other Great Powers on the board, and revealed as little to them as possible whilst opening their motives, desires, and plans to the fullest extent possible. Now, from the grain of communication, we must separate out the chaff, and examine the kernels of truly valuable information which will serve our purposes. Look into your heart and decide how your opponents are going to order their units, and make your best guess about the initial alliance structures – who is planning on working with whom, and who is waiting to see which way the wind blows. Know thyself as well! For someone who is unusually wary in starting a fight, the choice to move to the English Channel may seem as though it goes against the very fiber of ones being! Do you feel secure that not only will France NOT open to the channel, but that they have no grand designs on naval superiority? Do the Germans harbor schemes for Scandinavia, or are they committed to taking three builds and fighting all comers? Do the Russians plan on going over the top of Saint Petersburg, or are they blitzing to the south?

The opening game can go many ways, and indeed sorting out what is going to happen is a very difficult task. Nonetheless! It remains your duty as commander of the English to do this very thing, and to draw what conclusions you can to support your goals of securing an opening beachhead in either Scandinavia or mainland Europe, in securing an ally or failing that an absence of enemies, in helping to shape policy in the hearts and minds of the other six players so that you will be the one left on top when the dust has finally soaked up all the blood!

Let us examine 3 simple examples, from which you can, and of course, will extrapolate to fit your own situational needs and experience.

  1. Italy “I was thinking of opening to Piedmont, just to screw with the French. Would that be a problem?”
  2. Well, NO, strictly speaking that wouldn’t be a problem, would it? Even if you were already planning on working with France against Germany, an ally with two fronts is an ally who isn’t collecting all of the rewards, isn’t he? As an added plus, it would be almost risk free for you to leak this information to the French, virtually ensuring that the French open to the MAO, and quite possibly follow it up by moving the fleet to Spain (sc). If you think this is likely, then by all means delay occupying the channel until 1902 or 1903. Otherwise, its still a good idea. You really don’t want to split France 3 ways, but if you do odds are you‘ll be getting the lions share of the deal, and the position to adjust the terms of the division at a later date. This one is probably a push – it helps you almost no matter how you look at it, but not enough to tip the balance of your decision of what to do with Fleet London.

  3. France “I’m supporting myself into Burgundy”
  4. Ah, good news for England! Or is it? One assumes that the support will come from Marseilles, and that the moving unit will be Army Paris, leaving France the nice ability to take Spain with the army in Marseilles in the fall. Wait! If the Army is going to take Spain, then that means that the fleet must NOT be taking Spain, yes? French Fleet Portugal is a pretty good thing if the player in France is a slow-starter, or simply slow – you can be pretty sure that the fleet is going to be headed back into the MAO soon or late, though, and in the absence of some overarching E/F/G alliance, I would be hard pressed to fail to see an opening to the English Channel as a bad thing under this circumstance.

  5. Austria “No, I wasn’t planning on bouncing in Galicia – Russia asked for a DMZ”
  6. Well, now, this is obviously of no use to England, in Spring of 1901 is it? How could the resolution of a potential conflict on the borders of Austria and Russia effect your decisions? Well, if you are thinking this, then perhaps it would do you well to consider what Russia usually does to ensure that he captures Rumania in the Fall of 1901, and what that army in Moscow might be doing instead of moving to the Ukraine. This is not an out-and-out indication that the army is going north, but the wise (and gentle reader, we assume at this point that you posses sufficient wisdom to surmount the slight challenge presented herein) ruler will start to think long and hard before dispatching Fleet London to the English Channel in these circumstances. Russia COULD be planning on violating the DMZ immediately ....

Now, as we near the end of our piece, a short treatise on the options available to the Fleet in London at the Beginning of 1901, we return to Action! For it is only through action that we shall achieve our goals. It is the opinion of this scholar that there are far to few players of England who understand the truly tremendous potential they discard when they fail to seriously consider an opening to the English Channel with the Fleet in London in the Spring of 1901. (For that, of course, is what this article is about. You knew that, though. We shall not belabor the obvious at this point!) You must choose to send that Fleet London either to the English Channel or the North Sea, and it is our opinion, once again, that more often than not, the Fleet in London should be sent to the English Channel. We have no doubt in our minds that, given the insight which we have so humbly been proud to provide herein, that you will make a wise decision, and wish you the very best of luck in all your efforts.

So we come to the conclusion. We wish to thank our Editor, the estimable Mr. Hawthorne, for his invaluable encouragement and shrewd eye at what should and should not be included in this piece! Rest assured that the slim volume that appears before you would have been much weightier if he had not kept the author keenly on track and snipped many a diverse trail in the bud, much as a master of the horticultural arts might trim and shape a bonsai tree to his needs. Also, we wish to offer our humble thanks to the estimable Mr. Hand, without whom none of this would be possible. We cannot say enough, and if we know the man in question (and we don’t mean to presume when we say that we do, indeed know himself) we have perhaps already said too much. Best wishes also to you, dear reader, gentle reader, faithful companion on this short journey – I hardly feel that we have had a chance to get to know one another! Rest assured that we shall have other opportunities, for I am ever available for correspondence at the address below, and look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences with that Great Power, London, and the results of your decisions of what to do with Fleet London!

  Chris Martin

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