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Strategy Article


The Triple Alliance Revisited, or, How to Make It a Three-Horse Race


Chip Crain


Diplomatic Pouch W1999A


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Or, How to Make it a Three-Horse Race

In Stephen Agar’s article about the Triple Alliance, Mr. Agar touched on a strategy but may have failed to see it through to its logical conclusion. When Mr. Agar suggested an alliance between Germany, Italy and Austria, he saw the power for the alliance. However, the wrong assistance from others is suggested in the early game. The alliance suggested fails to take the advantage further into the late stages of the game. Here is a possible solution to continue the powerful beginning that has been established.

The early portion of the game should be dedicated to eliminating two enemies. The middle game should eliminate two enemies and the end game eliminates two former friends. Therefore you need to start the game by choosing those two countries that need to be eliminated first. Allying with your fellow players in the middle offsets the horror of being stuck in the middle of the board so that leaves them out (besides it wouldn't be a great article about the Triple Alliance if you attacked each other to begin the game!). However, any obvious allied strategy will be seen through. How do you support each other and attack the two outsiders while maintaining somewhat of a secrecy about your co-operation between the other two powers?

The answer is to use your enemies against themselves. Align with two of the outsiders. I know it sounds simple but it really is. The best powers to ally with are France and Russia. Why? Because the middle countries can squeeze those two countries once the Witches are disposed of. France is caught between Italy and Germany and Russia between Austria, Germany and Italian gains in Turkey.

The biggest threat in the early game for Russia is Turkey and somewhat England. The biggest threat to Turkey is Russia. They both have a back door to the others homeland. It doesn't take a lot of diplomacy as Austria to convince Russia he needs to assist Italy and Austria in ousting Turkey. Italy tells Russia he is going along until Turkey is gone then ally with Russia to get Austria. It makes it even easier when Germany drops the hint that if Russia goes after Turkey then Germany wont make trouble in SWE and will aggressively attack England.

The same is true of France and England. The channel between Breast and London is the most tempting of stabs. Simply encourage that mistrust. This is usually trickier than Russia against Turkey. Germany must ally with France against England. Don't cover it up at all. Be blatant and honest with France. Give him Belgium if he insists but insure his attack on England. It is very helpful if Italy tells France that he will move east if he sees France going after England. Have Italy tell France that a German attack would be seen as threatening to Italy since France will be loaded up against Italian borders and that threat is too big so Italy would defend by moving to Piedmont. If you can encourage England to attack France as well so much the better, but it is the F/G alliance that must be maintained not the E/G alliance.

Why? Once that is done and England is under attack and dying, simply have Italy slip the knife in France's back. Germany can throw their hands up and scream about the rotten Italians. France wont view Germany as the enemy yet. This makes Germany's stab much more effective when it comes in the next turn. Once you have isolated France from any aid (i.e. England) then you squeeze him from Italy and Germany. Usually France has gotten greedy and moved his forces too far north in his battle against England anyway. French armies on the isles are a beautiful sight when the stab hits him.

The same is true of Russia. If the diplomacy worked properly, then Russia probably has his forces concentrated in the south. This leaves the north open to invasion. Austria's build always provide him defence against a Russian attack so make sure Austria builds before the stab from Germany.

A possible series of first moves to open:

Italy A VEN-PIE, A ROM-APU, F NAP-ION Lepanto opening
Austria F TRI-ALB, A BUD-SER, A VIE-BUD Balkan Gambit (Budapest variation), while negotiating a DMZ with Russia over GAL with German assistance
Germany F KIE-DEN, A BER-KIE, A MUN-RUH Blitzkrieg opening, Danish Variant

These openings are basically non threatening to your supposed allies Russia and France. Instead it shows support for the alliances discussed. Italy's move can be offensive to France but you simply convince France you will move back to Venice and do so. Then move back to Piedmont in the fall. Continue to move this way as long as possible. These series of moves often can keep France from ever abandoning Marseilles and that will force his naval wars and subsequent builds north as well.

Italy starts off slow but what's new about that. He always must convince France that he doesn't trust Austria (which explains the army in PIE-VEN). However, admit you are working with him to get Turkey. Ideally, the word will get back to Russia and he will want to join in on the feeding even more if Italy is committed to attack Turkey, but is holding something back for the inevitable war with Austria. Russia sees the elimination of his two closest enemies by co-operating on the Turkish battle. By the way, this is a valid concern if Italy does stab Austria before France. Hence it is usually easier to convince Russia to attack Turkey. You have less leverage against France if France is overly concerned about VEN-PIE. Italy must put France at ease so Italy can stab him at some point.

The bottom line is that you can eliminate the four outside powers relatively easily. Does this lead to a three-way draw. Obviously that can happen. However the chances for a solo are greater if there are only two strong powers to contend against rather than five or six. Too many cooks spoil the broth. This article isn't about the end game anyway. Austria and Germany usually leave the game early and Italy rarely gets to be a force according to statistics. This is a way to insure a longer and more powerful position once the real game gets going.