by Chris Allen
After Italy, I suspect Germany is the least popular choice when players select a power to play. In 1995 I played Germany in five games (twice by choice). One was a total victory. Four were loses (though only one elimination). You have been warned!
Germany is unique in that she borders five other powers. All players except Turkey are within striking distance of Germany in the first year. A poorly played Germany is very quickly eliminated. A well played Germany can win but it takes time.
Like Austria, Germany’s key problem is exposure. Any expansion requires a poorly defended rear, and loving allies can quickly prove to be Germany’s nemesis.
F Kie – Den
A Ber – Kie
A Mun – Ruh
This move sets Germany up for quick expansion. Denmark, Belgium and Holland are all possible in the first year. England and France also have an interest in Belgium. It may be in your interests to let one of them have it in order to cement an alliance.
F Kie – Hol
A Mun – Bur
A Ber – Kie
This puts a lot of pressure on France. Denmark is a sure bet for the army in Kie and Holland already taken and may be used to support or bounce England/France in Belgium. If Germany makes Burgundy, French expansion slows dramatically as Paris and Marseille are defended.
F Kie – Den
A Mun – Sil
A Ber – Pru
Going for Russia in the first year requires foolhardy courage. It’s very bad news for Russia as it is so unexpected. The problem is that even if you can convince England and France to leave your back (and Holland) alone, Germany will be so exposed in 1902 that England and/or France will find Germany an irresistable target.
Germany must deal with every power except Turkey (but what the hell drop them a note anyway).
Russia rarely makes Germany her first target. The Russians will be aiming to get Sweden in the fall of 1901. Germany can prevent this by ordering F Kie – Den in the spring and then F Den – Swe in the fall. Russia is significantly weakened if she doesn’t gain Sweden in the first year. You must be very aware of this when dealing with England, Russia, Austria and Turkey. I nearly always move to Den in the spring just so I have the option of bouncing Russia if necessary. If the English appear to be a threat you will need the support of Russia to hold the North.
England and France will be thinking of Germany as a potential ally or target in the early years. Remember, everyone thinks Germany is a target at some point. If England and France team up against Germany the best you can hope for is a holding position until they get a) bored and attack each other or b) they come under pressure from a power expanding at their flank. Just to hold the line, you will need Russia’s assistance in the North. Your best bet is to ensure that France or England is Germany’s ally.
Austria is Germany’s historical cousin. War between you is of little benefit to either. An alliance offers many benefits, most important is the fact that you can defend each others backs. If you don’t make it obvious, you may find the information exchange between you and (mis-information) between the other powers most valuable.
Italy is a critical element of your relationship with Austria. Italy and Austria are always wary of each other because Trieste and Venice being next door to each other. Italy may need to be pressured to ensure peace between the two. Personally I think this is a last resort. Nobody likes to be threatened, so I don’t say anything nasty to Italy unless it is absolutely necessary to keep Italy from attacking Austria. If England is hostile, Italy is a very useful ally who can pressure France’s Southern front.
Lets assume that the Eastern front is not a concern for Germany. Russia, Turkey and Austria (and probably Italy) at are each others throats.
If thats the case, Germany can focus on eliminating one of the Western powers. I think England is a greater threat to Germany than France. Therefore I’m inclined to attack England in 02-03. The key to England is the North Sea. The English are very aware of this so taking the North Sea will require stealth (possibly a stab) and/or French assistance.
The rewards for France and Germany are significant. Apart from the four centers England probably holds at this stage, the strategic benefit is having a safe back. France and Germany can set up a safe zone between them that allows both powers to focus on the East.
It is also worth remembering that powers that are not at war with you are useful. Basically your enemies enemy is your friend.
In the mid-game this may mean supporting or bypassing a weak power (Austria or Russia) to keep the larger power under control. You can always eliminate the small power later. Of course your opponents and allies may have exactly the same idea 😉
More than most, Germany must be sensitive to the balance of power. Keep talking. You never know when you may need a friend!