Time for England to ask for bounce in the channel again?

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Re: Time for England to ask for bounce in the channel again?

Postby ColonelApricot » 16 Oct 2020, 22:42

Finally a mention of Russia. Some time ago I remember a discussion of how England can use Russia's influence to help him with the channel outcome. I think it was @zosimus that pointed this out. No discussion of the west is complete without including Russia-North.

Italy too can have influence, but rarely. Italy would want to be very confident that E and G were completely onside before committing against F. Many would consider this foolhardy in fact, although I suffered that fate as F in a classicists game a while ago.

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Re: Time for England to ask for bounce in the channel again?

Postby MasterGR » 18 Oct 2020, 05:21

I like the premise of this article, and I agree with the suggested opening in the case where France does not offer support into Belgium. England is relatively well defended, but has real trouble expanding early on, and an opening in the channel that then near guarantees Belgium is strong. It also helps defuse tension with Russia, who is typically against a convoy to Norway. Of course, in the end we can all agree that it also comes down to who your neighbors are, and if Germany is sending negative signals they may opt to avoid this opening in S01. Perhaps I will try it next time I play England if I can find a cooperative Germany.

As for other comments made, based on recent experience I 100% agree that the German opening to Holland is really bad, unless England is on par which is rare. It sets off both E and F against G, wastes a valuable fleet in Denmark (the army there is much less useful) and a valuable army in Holland (fleet cannot move/support Ruhr), and overall puts G in a really bad position... While also screwing England over. It's an opening that only benefits France.

I do think though that the best alliance for England is FG, aka the western jugg. It is confirmed by site stats to be very successful, it's less scary to others than the standard jugg, but even more importantly England typically gets most of the coastal centers when it's successful and is very well positioned to stab France in the mid-game... As long as F can be convinced to turn to the Med once Munich falls.
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Re: Time for England to ask for bounce in the channel again?

Postby David E. Cohen » 18 Oct 2020, 13:10

Phlegmatic wrote:The only viable path to an English solo, and frequently to a decent draw, is to kill France quickly and brutally.


It is *a* viable path to a solo, certainly. It may, statistically speaking, be the most likely path to a solo. But to say it is the *only* viable path to a solo, completely ignoring the players involved and the in-game situation, is ridiculous. There are very, very few absolutes in Diplomacy. This is *not* one of them.
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Re: Time for England to ask for bounce in the channel again?

Postby FloridaMan » 18 Oct 2020, 18:21

David E. Cohen wrote:It is *a* viable path to a solo, certainly. It may, statistically speaking, be the most likely path to a solo. But to say it is the *only* viable path to a solo, completely ignoring the players involved and the in-game situation, is ridiculous. There are very, very few absolutes in Diplomacy. This is *not* one of them.

Strongly agree with this.

Honestly, I don't think this even is the best or most likely path to an English solo.

As England, working with France has served me well in the past, probably about as much as working with Germany.
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Re: Time for England to ask for bounce in the channel again?

Postby DirtyHarry » 24 Oct 2020, 02:17

This is a fascinating topic. I just wish more players understood how powerful E/R can be, and played accordingly.

But of course, I don't want that when I play Germany or France :-)
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Re: Time for England to ask for bounce in the channel again?

Postby Malarky » 28 Oct 2020, 22:53

FloridaMan wrote:
David E. Cohen wrote:It is *a* viable path to a solo, certainly. It may, statistically speaking, be the most likely path to a solo. But to say it is the *only* viable path to a solo, completely ignoring the players involved and the in-game situation, is ridiculous. There are very, very few absolutes in Diplomacy. This is *not* one of them.

Strongly agree with this.

Honestly, I don't think this even is the best or most likely path to an English solo.

As England, working with France has served me well in the past, probably about as much as working with Germany.

There are no absolutes in Diplomacy.

On the board, certainly, it makes sense for England to attack France. France is the only power that can easily sneak in 'behind' England. Should England find herself facing a France with F MAO and F ENG at the end of S02 she's in trouble. And why wouldn't France do that if she can? On the board, France should be looking to eliminate England early, too.

But, as has been said, ignoring who is playing the game is silly. France could well be the player that is best suited to ally with whoever is playing England. This isn't a game of moving pieces about the board; it's a game of relationships and finding a reliable ally to stick with until you can drop that alliance and profit from it... hopefully before that player seizes that chance first.

What should England do with the Channel? Richard Sharp has very definite ideas. He was all in favour of the "attack France" approach (blah) but was also pretty clear that England shouldn't bounce in the Channel (and, just to prove the point, made the same argument against France moving there).

What does it achieve? F Lon and F Bre stay exactly where they are. What use is that? How is England going to get 2 SCs in 1901 with a fleet stuck in London? How is France going to get 2 SCs in 1901 with her fleet stuck in Brest? Yes, she can grab 2 if she moves A Mar-Spa and A Par-Gas... but should France leave Burgundy open to A Mun-Bur (and, less troublesome but still annoying, be allowing A Ven-Pie)?

What about F01? Do they repeat the moves? Personally, I think F Lon-ENG or F Bre-ENG in F01 isn't nearly as a bad a proposition. What has England to fear from this move that a build in London wouldn't put to rest? And, if France hasn't agreed to it, it gives her the excuse to build F Bre if England occupies the Channel. On the other hand, Sharp is right: If you wet yourself at the thought of a French fleet in the Channel in S01, then you're probably going to have at least a damp patch in F01... and the other way around.

There is a good argument to say that England doesn't need 2 SCs in 1901. Whether Belgium or Norway, she can still do OK with just one. France on the other hand, with a damn good chance of taking 2 SCs, looks weak if she only gets one.

Let's focus on England, though, for France probably ought to be looking for F Bre-MAO in S01. If she's not moving F Bre-ENG, then there are two alternatives: MAO or Picardy. A Norman opening (F Bre-Pic) used to be quite popular...but it leaves England's F Lon-ENG followed by F ENG-MAO: the Atlantic Bind. And an English fleet in MAO is almost always disastrous.

Should England move F Lon-ENG? Only if she can get in, IMO. Sharp would say a definite yes because it allows England to attack France or gives England some sort of chance of taking Belgium. It could also be a bluff: what does France's F MAO do? Does it cover Brest or head for Iberia? If France bottles it and orders F MAO-Bre then England would be quite happy to move F ENG elsewhere or even to convoy A Wal-Pic.

Perhaps it makes more sense to say that, if England doesn't want to work with France, and she's confident of an alliance with Germany, F Lon-ENG is a good move. If England has decided France is just that incompetent, then why not? But, if France is a decent player, and if England isn't sure of Germany, then it is simply going to be antagonistic; England has to be prepared to attack France to the exclusion of all else - it may be a long war. For me, long wars don't bode well for either side.

For me, E/G is a better alliance for England. She builds fleets, Germany builds armies - at least, initially. If allied with France, a power with two coasts to Germany's one, it is less likely that France will build just armies. And England needs to maintain maritime superiority in most cases. In theory. It actually transpires that, in practice, my best results as England have been allied with France early on.

If England isn't sure of getting into the Channel, then she shouldn't really move there. That fleet is put to much better use elsewhere... OK, in the North Sea. This may mean foregoing taking Belgium... but, let's face it, can England hold Belgium through 1902/3? Probably not. Belgium swaps hands more than any other coastal SC on the board, it seems.

If England leaves the Channel open, what danger does she face? F Bre-ENG is problematic in that it probably prevents England getting her army into Norway or onto mainland Europe. But if England opens with A Lpl-Yor, she has the option of convoying it away from Britain or covering London. If England isn't sure of France leaving the Channel open, than A Lpl-Yor is by far the best order, I'd suggest.

I'm a little unsure about a couple of other things I've read. How often does France manage 3 SCs? I've not seen that too often. Certainly, France in Belgium is comparatively rare, especially with France taking Spain and Portugal. France may well be better taking Belgium slightly later in the game, anyway.

Also, is it really a modern idea that Germany opens F Kie-Hol rather than F Kie-Den? I've not seen that. I know these things move in cycles, but I still very much have the feeling that the pair of orders most often seen from Germany is F Kie-Den, F Den-Swe. For me, Germany seems to quite lazily seek to prevent Russia gaining Sweden in 1901, just for the sake of it.

Anyway, I would avoid bouncing in the Channel were I France or England if I could. If the other player insists on moving there, I'd most likely allow it. I'd want to insist, as France, that A Lpl-Wal doesn't accompany F Lon-ENG in S01; if England ignores that, then I know I can't trust them. If I had some idea I couldn't trust them, then I'd try to make sure I could bounce with Germany in Burgundy, allowing A Par-Bre in F01.

If I'm England, I don't need to insist on anything: as I said above, A Lpl-Yor covers London. And, if I allow F Bre-ENG, then I can use it as a way of introducing the: "Now, I let you in, what can you do for me?" card.
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Re: Time for England to ask for bounce in the channel again?

Postby David E. Cohen » 29 Oct 2020, 02:34

Malarky wrote:There are no absolutes in Diplomacy.


Absolutely no absolutes? ;) I think there are a few. A Con-Bul is one. But they are few and far between.
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Re: Time for England to ask for bounce in the channel again?

Postby Malarky » 30 Oct 2020, 02:25

Oh I dunno. I've seen Turkey not play to Bulgaria, but I think he tried to move Con-Rum so maybe that doesn't count..?

When I was saying no absolutes I was thinking about the longer term aims early on (if that makes sense), such as England has to attack France. Of course, England probably does have to attack France to solo, but not necessarily straight away.

The most fun I had soloing with England was when allied to France. The fun bit was that I kept building fleets early on. France was desperate that I take a more even build policy; I was adamant that I was building fleets - and I will usually do this anyway as England to make certain of controlling the sea lanes around me. My thinking is that I will build armies eventually but I want to be able to put those armies where I want them to go and you can only do that with fleets at sea. The fun bit was that, by the time I was ready to build armies, I could land them in France, so I did.

I'm a bit contrary when playing England, though. I don't mind putting a fleet in St Petersburg early on. I know, I can hear Chris Martin doing his best Admiral Ackbar impression telling me St Petersburg is a trap but I reckon, if I'm doing OK as England, I have time to swap the fleet for an army later.
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