The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

by Denis Jones

Deluge is a popular Diplomacy variant, probably because it is played on the normal Diplomacy board, finishes in Autumn 1908 and is different.  For those who do not know, in Deluge Europe slowly sinks and the winner is the player who occupies Switzerland at the end of the game (when everywhere else is under water). A few new supply centres appear during the game as regular supply centres sink, but they do not last long. 

The Abstraction Army/Fleet rules are used and that gives more fluid movement for the game. in most games of Deluge they are not used much. Given the ability of an army to board a fleet, the army/fleet moves and the army drops off, they have real potential for a good stab. 

Anyway, I’ll look at the countries and my thoughts on how to play them. 

AUSTRIA:  Well mate, you are going to have to get the pen and paper out straight away. With Russia and Turkey on one side of you and Switzerland on the other you have got to keep them out. It is best noting the strengths in Turkey’s position and the speed at which Russia sinks. Early on, play it like normal Diplomacy with peace with Italy and a carve up of the Balkans. Galicia is a vital area for you, mainly to keep your defences up.  Logical builds are A(Vie) and A(Tri) so you can get the Tyrolian supply centre that appears in 1902. If you can keep your home country until 1905 then you will have a say in the winner. 

ENGLAND:  Being one of the three powers nowhere near Switzerland you have to go into Europe very quickly, something English players do not generally do.  A long drawn out battle over Scandinavia won’t benefit you, it’ll be too late to do much.  One interesting option open in 1901 is F(Edi)-NWG, F(Lon)-NTH, A(Lpl)-Edi in Spring 1901 followed by A(Edi) E F(NWG), A/F(NWG)-BAR, A(BAR) D StP, F(NTH)-Nwy. Builds F(Lon) and F(Edi) and then try and go down. This logically leads to an invasion of Germany. It also gives you some supply centres that last, unlike England which sinks fast along with the Low Countries. This leads to a deal with France. 

The other option from this opening is F(NWG)-Nwy, A(Edi) E F(NTH), A/F(NTH)-ENG, A(ENG) D Bre or Bel. the later leads to the invasion of France to get to Switzerland. The last thing you want in that instance is a stand-off in Burgundy in S01. Belgium in my mind is a daft move, with that and London gone in 1902 you won’t build enough in the Autumn and your chances are reduced. The main problem is you have no obvious allies, you have to convince either France or Germany to help you invade the other. 

FRANCE:  One of the more powerful countries in Deluge. Thanks to the two borders to Switzerland in your home country you have more leverage on Switzerland than anyone else to start with. A deal with Germany should keep Burgundy safe, while Marseilles can be handled by persuading Italy to go east to start with. Your main bugbear is England. What you need is to get him out of the way fast. That either requires a deal with him against Germany or to attack him directly. 

First off, forget Belgium, it won’t be much use to you, it sinks too fast and you’ll have F(BEL) in Spring 1902. The best opening is F(Bre)-MAO, A(Par)-Gas, A(Mar)-Spa or Std. That sets you up for either Iberia or the more interesting A(Gas) E F(MAO), A/F(MAO)-IRI, A(IRI) D Lpl. This may sound a bit violent to start with, but in Deluge you have to knock a country out early due to the fact that supply centres vanish. This opening gives you Wales in 1902 so it is not that bad. 

ITALY:  Not so weak in Deluge as normal Diplomacy, with potential to go all over the Med in 1901 now the A/F rules are about. Really handy.  The most interesting option in Autumn 1901 is A(Apu) E F(ION), A/F(ION)-EMS, A(EMS) D Smy. Why this? Well, Turkey does not lose any home supply centres until 1906 so he has three units at least until then. And you want to hamper any juggernaut early on. Propping Austria up for a few seasons is handy for you. You want to be built up enough to be a force to be reckoned with in 1903 and 1904. Venice goes in 1901, and really you want to keep an army near Switzerland. So where does that army go? Tyrolia is a good bet, a supply centre turns up there in 1902. Piedmont is another, but you want to keep France out of the Med to start with, mainly because you can use the A/F rules to shoot across to Spain in 1903 or so. One potential ally is Russia. not an adjacent power, but together you can deal with Turkey in the first few years then turn on the Austrians or him. I feel Italy is still going to be around at the end of the game. 

RUSSIA:  Nowhere near Switzerland, which is probably a good thing. No body is going to eliminate you. If England fights you up in Scandinavia he has had it. he won’t believe you, but he will. Everywhere else he owns will sink around him, and all that will remain will be an English unit in Norway. Take my word for it. 

Tactics, the juggernaut with Turkey looks good, but things do seem to be to his advantage as in 1905 only Warsaw will remain in Russia while Turkey will have all his home centres.  That’ll probably work out at around 4-6 units for you and 6-8 for him.  If you can knock him out early, do it.  But then you do not want too many Austrian units in the way, which points to Italy as an ally.  The A(War) should really wander into the centre of Europe, A(War)-Sil being a good opening, as long as you can convince Germany that nothing is up.  Germany himself is another problem. It may not look like it, but it is in his interests to stop you going into central Europe. Watch out for the 1902 march on you. 

TURKEY:  Safe from losing home centres to the early floods, that is your main problem. Unless you have a bunch of idiots as neighbours they are going to notice this. then your problems begin. Two tactics spring to mind. One is a juggernaut with Russia, which will get you into central Europe. The second is to build up a safe defence in the Balkans and slowly move in, in 1905 or so.  Just as everyone else is gathering around Switzerland. 

Other things to note are: Do not stab everyone near you. You need some allies if you want to win. If you take Switzerland you are going to need support from someone. A one unit power is much more likely to support someone who has been faithful to them.  Also be aware that you are going to have to eliminate some powers from the game fast or there will not be enough supply centres to support your units. One from the E/F/G set and one from the A/I/R/T set are going to be out of the running by 1905.  the end game will be a run of alliances. To win you need to keep your allies going.  The last move may end up being a bit of a guessing game, on whether the right support has been cut. 

Reprinted from Surfa Rosa No.4 (June 1989)