by Michael Mills
When you play Austria, the first thing you have to do is pray. The second thing you do is sharpen your knives. Playing Austria just happens to be the most exciting thing you’ll ever do with a Diplomacy board. England is boring. Turkey worse. Italy’s a mess, and the rest…well, they’re neither here nor there. Austria is the elemental Diplomacy power: live or die; strike fast and last. It’s also important to determine if you are the sort of person who would play Austria well. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Fall 1903 – Austria in Venice and Tyrolia slugging Russia with Turkish help. Munich is open. Thus, you: (a) take Munich; (b) leave Tyrolia for Trieste; (c) protect Munich for Germany or support French A Burgundy-Munich.
2. Spring 1901 – In planning a rape of the Balkans, you arrange: (a) a stab of Russia by Turkey; (b) a stab of Turkey by Russia; (c) for Russia and Turkey to stab each other.
3. You have a lone wolf in Sevastapol – Your pals can knock you out at any time. You: (a) wait to retreat to Moscow; (b) move to Moscow; (c) move A Sevastapol-Rumania with support.
4. The German wants to be your friend – What is your price? (a) Germany in Sweden, moving into Prussia, plus an Austrian Warsaw; (b) nice letters; (c) Munich.
5. Do you believe: – It is easier to steal from your friends than from your enemies. Yes or no.
6. Would you try: – Getting Italy into Turkey, then attacking Italy solely with armies. Yes or no.
7. Do you believe: – Austria is the rightful heir to Rumania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece. Yes or no.
Answers: 1-a, 2-c, 3-a, 4-a&c, 5-Y, 6-Y, 7-Y.
If you scored below 7, you cannot play Austria effectively. You must always m regard everything on the board as Austrian, temporarily loaned by Calhamer to the other players. Austria is the lone wolf and the other six the flock of sheep. Austria wants three builds in 1901. It wants Rumania in 1901. It wants traitors among the opposing allies to die by their own swords. Austria wants blood; that’s why the blocks are red to begin with. Playing Austria is walking down an alley in Philly with $56,000 in your pocket, meeting the Diamond Saints, and coming out with $80,000. Either you win or lose. You don’t stick around for requiems.
England and France can afford to write cheesy letters about 1903, 1904 and 1905. Russia and Turkey can afford to dig trenches, and Italy can sit on the fence for a few years. Austria puts treads on its armies, gasses up and rolls. The diplomats write the necessary letters, but the real play is in the outwitting and outfoxing the four bordering powers by taking their centers before they can figure out just who you are really allied with.
Above all, Austria relies on quick movements, timed well, against all comers. There’s the knife into Turkey for Bulgaria, the throat of the Tsar for Rumania, and the Italian’s gut for Venice, not to mention the disemboweling of Germany for Munich. If you can hornswoggle a win with a wimpish style of play, the more power to you. I only ask that you send me the names of the Russian, Turkish and Italian players, because I want to be in a game with them.