by Shaun Derrick
Just as in the standard game, Russia seems to dominate the board, but instead of a huge mass of purple on the eastern side of the board, there is a huge red mass strung out across the northern edge of the board. Again, similar to the standard game, Russia has two distict fronts at the start of the game, but although Odessa is 6 moves away from Vladivostok the disadvantage has been alleviated by the Trans-Siberian Railway railway from Moscow to Vladivostok, allowing a unit to move from one front to the other very quickly. This advantage has been minimal in the games I have witnessed, but I am sure that without it Russia could not operate his units as a single power. The main problem for Russia is the weakness in the east, China can immediately cut the Trans-Siberian(TSR) being just a move away, and a fleet that just has one job to do – stop Japan getting into YS in the first turn. Unless you can get more fleets built in the east it turns out to be fairly useless after that.The western fleet can only attack Turkey unless you have a very solid arrangement for getting the fleet into the Indian Ocean. With so many options, what do you do in your diplomacy with the other powers…
British: The other large, but overstretched power in the south. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be on friendly terms for much of the game. An alliance between you can make short work of Turkey who cannot resist such pressure. It provides an ideal opportunity to clear the west early on so that you can concentrate on your weaker side, building it up against China, in which the British can help again, or Japan, which they can’t do much about.
Coinflict tends to occur in the Afghanistan and surrounding area, this is a sensitive area that requires a defmite division of supply centres; if you achieve that you can ignore everything west of Nepal and leave the British to concentrate on the Dutch or French. In fact the Dutch are the one power you will have no real diplomatic leverage over, so encouraging the British to attack them can only be good for you.
Any incurson into India seems to be foolish unless you are sure that the British will try and attack you. With so many other options both possibilites should be rare.
China: Your long border with China means that you will have a lot of talking to do. In fact you really do need an alliance with China if you are to extinguish the threat of Japan; working in unison to build fleets and exclude Japan from the Korean peninsular should be a priority otherwise Japan will eventually eat up your eastern provinces and China will suffer too. It should be stressed to China that you have to move to YS to stop the Japanese, or get there if you have agreed a DMZ, as once the Japanese are in YS they are very dangerous indeed. You should get both Seo and Fus without China complaining, so long as you are allied with him and you can demilitarize the area once gains have been established China can breathe easily over his two vulnerable centres of Mac and Sha. In order to contain Japan you need at least four fleets between you, so aim for that – preferably 3 of yours to 1 of his!
To consider attacking China you have to be very sure of Japan’s intentions, he is far less vulnerable to the counter attack from China than you are.
Dutch: The relationship with the Dutch will depend on your alliances closer to home, but encouraging them northwards is usually the best option irrespective of what you have planned. If you meet the Dutch in midgame and you are both doing well, there is no reason why you cannot continue the alliance until one gets close to the win. Seeing the Dutch do well will mean someone else isn’t and that will probably be an advantage to you. Beware though, if Britain has been hit hard you may have the Turks on your border very soon.
French: The French will often look to you as a friend who can help to relieve any Chinese pressure that may be forthcoming. Similar to the Dutch, you want to see the French do well initially, and particularly if he has a few fleets, may be useful against Japan. In conjunction with the Japanese you could quickly carve up China with a three way alliance, then ally with one of the other two. The Fench will be loking for gains in China but not necessarily the ones you want, so a long term alliance is certainly a consideration.
Japan: Usually the evil green empire just off the east coast, he has the potential to make your life hell in the east so if there is the opportunity of an alliance then accept the offer; but don’t let him into the YS, that is absolutely vital and you should base any alliance on that condition. Japan can still be an extremely useful ally without a fleet in YS.
Although China is quite strong, the combined forces of Russia and Japan should see the yellow empire topple. Split the spoils in a martageable way and you could be taking the board apart between you. An aggressive Japan is highly dangerous and should be countered by aggressive diplomacy. You may have to give up your eastern centres if China will not help you and block the narrow passageway through Irk and Kra. A China worth its salt will always help as once Russia caves in in the east, he is next!
Turkey: From the very first turn you are either firm allies or deadly enernies. An alliance is very worthwhile as it gives Turkey the opportunity to counter the British threat that will inevitably be there. Your fleet in Ode is some cause for concern, but once you have picked up Rum, see if Turkey will allow you to move out into the MED and onwards into the Indian Ocean. if so it gives you the opportunity for a stab later in the game. Your paths need never cross, once you have co-operated in the west you can build armies and he can build fleets to fight your own battles against other powers.
Saying that, an attack on Turkey is extremely useful too if you have the full support of the British – see above!