by David Crumb
Diplomacy is a game of intrigue and suspense, much as a good mystery or spy novel is. The only difference is that you are an active participant in this “novel”, rather than a passive observer. You can try to go where you want to go, rather than having to follow the lead of the author.
As in any situation, in order to achieve your goals over those of an opponent, you must have some edge so that your plans receive a higher priority. In Diplomacy, this is usually done from a position of strength, however, there are certain location on the playing map that can give this advantage to the player without that overwhelming power.
Greece is one of these important locations, being the most important province in the eastern half of the board. Only Belgium can begin to rival it for importance on the whole board. While Greece is a supply center, it is important not only for its own sake, but also because of the tactical advantages that it gives to its occupier. This advantage is in the form of supports. Greece is located in such a central location that it controls both the land and sea routes between east and west. In order to advance on way or the other, either you, or an ally6who is willing to give support, must control Greece.
Greece is very important to each of the three countries that surround it, but holds the greatest importance for Turkey. With its corner position, Turkey has an excellent defensive position, but along with this advantage comes the difficulty of trying to break out and make its own attack. There is only a limited potential for advancement in the north, therefore if Turkey is going to have a chance at winning, it must make an attack to the west. If an army can be maneuvered into Greece, Turkey will have a unit in position which will be able to give support into the heart of the Balkans. If a fleet can be positioned into Greece, Turkey then has the option of attacking Italy by sea, rather than having to go through Austria and attacking by land, a difficult achievement regardless. The major disadvantage is that they are basically mutually exclusive. Without cooperation from, or at least neutrality by the other, Turkey can not force both the Balkans and the Ionian Sea since a fleet is required for one action, and a fleet for the other.
Any attack that Austria intends to make against Turkey must include Greece. Greece is the pivot point upon which any type of invasion must hinge. One special advantage that Austria holds over Turkey is that a fleet in Greece is infinitely more useful than an army. Whereas Turkey must use a fleet for a seaborne attack and an army for a land attack, an Austrian fleet can support both a land attack into Bulgaria and a sea attack into the Aegean Sea. With such an advantage, it is surprising that Turkey so often does not contest Greece, rather allowing Austria to move its first fleet in unopposed. However, if Austria is forced onto the defensive, then the fleet may become a burden. All supply centers are land based, and the fleet can not support any armies which are trying to hold in Serbia. Denying Greece to Turkey, though, still slows down any advance it might make.
Greece holds the least importance for Italy among these three powers, but it also holds the most potential. While both Austria and Turkey have special needs and gain certain advantages by controlling Greece, ItalyUs control of Greece can only lead to positive results. A fleet is able to support a second fleet into the Aegean Sea as well as an Austrian army into Bulgaria. An army can also support an Austrian army into Bulgaria as well as a Turkish army into Serbia. Not only does Italy have every advantage that both Austria and Turkey do, but it also gains the advantage of outflanking Austria by convoying an army into Greece. Italy can attack Austria from both sides at once beginning in 1902. A second additional advantage Italy holds is that once the first enemy is disposed of, the unit in Greece is still in a great position to give supports against the former ally. A third advantage is that if everything fails, Italy is usually able to back out and try another tact without much risk.
Even when Russia is taken into consideration, Greece still does not lose its importance. If a united front is being thrown at Russia, Greece can serve to support front line units against the onslaught. If one power is allied with Russia vs. the others, the importance of Greece intensifies as gains must be made to prevent Russia from overrunning the enemy and gaining all of his supply centers, or else to prevent yourself from being overrun quickly.
Frequently, the fight over Greece determines who will be the dominant power in the eastern portions of the board. It can serve as both a hinge in any attack by any power in any direction, or as the lynch pin in a static defense against overwhelming odds. With its central location in the eastern Med., it can not be ignored. The major goal of any players should be to quickly establish ownership, and if that is not possible to either deny it to anybody else, or make them defend Greece with everything they have.