Munich: The Most Vital Centre On The Board

by Richard Hucknall

It sits there, almost in the geographical centre of the board. It is totally landlocked and borders on two other supply centres, five provinces, and impassable Switzerland. It is in the middle of the most regularly occurring stalemate line that runs diagonally over the board from north-east to south-west. It is Munich, often the key to victory.

Take any of the seven Great Powers and consider the most easily achievable 18 supply centres needed for victory based on virtually any workable strategy. You will find that Munich always comes into consideration and that no other centre attracts similar importance. For example; the possible 18 centres for Austria are the three home centres, four Balkans, three Turkish, three Italian, all the Russian except StP, and Tun. This is only 17 and assumes Austrian naval ability to take Tun against possible French or English opposition. Mar or StP could be the last centre but Mun would surely be far more likely. Similarly, Turkey would eye the same basic 17 centres, and although would be far more likely to take Mar or one of the Iberian centres for the 18th, the fact that armies must have been used to push up to Vie & War would make Mun a very possible target.

France must invariably look to Mun if he wants to win. Unless an unusual French naval policy had been followed, in both the north and south, French armies would need to expand and the Pie bottleneck is hardly conducive to rapid deployment of forces. Although England is basically a naval power, unless he takes the Italian centres in addition to all the coastal centres in the north, he needs some inland centres to achieve victory and Mun is as achievable as Par. Similarly, Italy is usually a naval power, but Mun is so close to home that this is likely to be one of the centres included in the magical 18. Finally, Russia. Russia probably has more options than any other Great Power, but even so Mun is only two spaces from War and the centre nearly always falls in a Russian victory.

I have checked back over all the FOE games that have resulted in outright wins (excluding victory by concession by player vote) and have found that in only two of these games has the winning country not held Mun. I suspect that the complete hobby stats would reveal that 90% or more games see Mun held by the victor.

What conclusions can be drawn? First of all I ‘m not advocating that your policy in every game should be built around a plan to capture Munich. However, with the winner likely to control that centre I suggest a watchful eye be kept on it, and an awareness maintained that you will probably need to control it yourself to win.

First published in Fall of Eagles No.64 (Jan 1982)