The Wise Old Weasel — Germany


Weasels near and far, let us gather and share our collective wisdom on the play of individual powers in this great game. All are encouraged to comment with their perspective on playing each power effectively. For newer weasels, this should be a tremendous resource to quickly learn the game. For older weasels, this blog will provide areas to search for improvement and share discoveries. And for the oldest of Weasels, this blog is an outlet for the fruit of their many years in the hobby. This, Weasels, is where we share our wisdom.

Topics of conversation may include openings, negotiation, alliances, how to solo, how to play from behind, anything and everything that feeds into the proper play of the nation. Reminder: this is specific to club German play under the one true scoring system, Sum of Squares.

First up, we have GERMANY, because of Octoberfest and, more importantly, because it is your writer’s favorite country.


In spring 01, Germany borders more powers than any other nation. This can lead to explosive early growth, but can also lead to… well, I’ll let Hitler tell you.

Hitler plays diplomacy


Since we switched to sum of squares, no Kaiser has soloed. The best Anchluss in club history was a 75.3, 15 center result in game 274 by club veteran and game theory aficionado Matt Sundstrom. Germany is the third most likely country to board top, earning just under 18% of tops.

Brandon Fogel’s correlation analysis of alliances found that the German success is most correlated with the success of Austria, Italy, or Turkey (respectively). German downfall comes as the result of E, F, and R (respectively).

Germany poses many questions: How to sustain early growth? Should you bounce Russia out of Sweden, or turn towards him early (Jim may have something on that)? Who is your best ally and why is it Italy? What about western triples? What to do about Belgium? Can you cross the line with an ally?

What say you, Weasels?


This section will be for past Dip pouch articles/ dipcast episodes that may be useful in learning the nation.

Diplomacy Cast-Germany

Germany for Experts

The Sea Lion Opening-Edi Birsan

The Central Triple

The Central Alliance for Germany

Germany (good overview and alliance structure explanation)

Join the discussion!

Find out more about an upcoming event or article, talk smack before a game, brag about your board top, or most likely, ask what on earth your fellow Weasels were thinking!

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Jim O'Kelley

    I’ll offer a few do’s and don’t’s to get things started.

    [list][*]Don’t forget that you’re a land power first, but if you secure two builds in 1901, make one of them a fleet. Preferably in Kiel.
    [*]Do keep an open mind as to alliance partners, except when it comes to the Western Triple. That usually only makes sense for Germany if it’s your only option. [i]Any[/i] alliance is preferable to the alliance against you.
    [*]Don’t bounce Russia in Sweden unless it’s in your interest to do so.
    [*]Do cheer for a bounce in the Channel.
    [*]Don’t throw valuable units against Russia in the early game. See my argument in the comments here: [url][/url]
    [*]Do remember that a three-build German in 1901 is usually a 1902 target.
    [*]Don’t just concede Belgium to the French or British for that reason.
    [*]Do avoid being the unilateral Belgium bouncer if you can. A turn where players agree that no one should have Belgium is not a bad turn for you.
    [*]Don’t be afraid to support one of them in if you’re certain that doing so will secure their allegiance. Then again, how certain can you be of anything in 1901?
    [*]Do play with confidence. You’re [b][i]Germany[/i][/b]. The black pieces should be respected.
    [*]Don’t be afraid to try a Sea Lion.
    [*]Do recognize that if you’re obvious about it, the British will bounce you in Holland. And if that happens, think long and hard about building that second fleet.

  2. Matt Sundstrom

    This is fantastic. Would love to see more on the correlation between which powers win/lose together.

    Jim has written some really good stuff on Germany. I like his perspective on the bounce in Sweden-it depends. Automatically deciding to do it is not always the best policy. There is a more general article that quotes stats as being very in favor of bouncing. Germany tends to win when he bounces, Russia tends to win when he does not. But it depends on the situation.

    I also like thecae that Germany can’t have Austria collapse quickly. That usually means Russia is doing well and bad for the German mid-game. A Russian in Galicia after spring ’01 should almost always get Sweden bounced. It should even be threatened in the early negotiations with Russia.

    there’s a lot more that could be said. I’ll add one item about the German solo. The 18th dot is almost sure to be southern. Cleaning up the north and west only gets you 16. eventually some combination of Mar, Spa, Ven, Vie, Bud, Sev is going to be needed. Germany has to get that set up well before getting the basic 16 dots that are parallel or north of Munich.

  3. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]The 18th dot is almost sure to be southern. Cleaning up the north and west only gets you 16. [/quote]
    Great point. Because of the 17-center stalemate lines, a huge player whose grown fat on the spoils from his heartland alone is pretty easy to stop as long as his opponents are competent and motivated.

    Most solos are the result of spite, I’d wager. But they can also happen whenever a successful alliance plows deep into the other heartland. Once the 17-center stalemate line is behind you and the board is fluid, the game can be won and, of course, lost.

  4. Chris Kelly

    [quote]Do cheer for a bounce in the Channel.[/quote]
    Is a bounce really that desirable? Obviously, it show mistrust between ENG & FRA, and keeps them from using those units to gain centers… but it also gives them space to patch things up afterward, since the element of surprise is gone.

    This happened in a recent game where I was France, and Germany (Christian Kline) talked both England & I into moving to the Channel. If one of us had gotten in successfully, we would have been committed to continuing to fight. But since neither of us had gained an advantage, we decided further conflict was pointless — so we teamed up and took Germany out.

  5. Jake Trotta

    [u][b]The Italian-German Love Fest
    [/b][/u]Germany is arguably the most explosive country in the early game, and arguably the only country where you can easily get away with 3 01 builds. As a Weasel German, I see three main objectives to reaching a solid board top. Get out of the gate early (as in win your theatre by creating a 2 on 1), being bigger than your ally, and making sure the east doesn’t cross the line and ruin your game.
    Italy is your best buddy to help towards those objectives. I love the Italian-German alliance. It’s my favorite alliance on the board, especially from the German perspective. France, England, and Russia both need German dots to win (even in most bar games). Austria doesn’t, but tends to hit Germany second in this club often for somewhat dubious reasons. The East often tries to take German centers too early-it is a really challenge that Weasel Germany’s have.
    Italy in Piedmont is really the only thing I’ve seen that can kill France quickly. GE on its own can go pretty slow, but with Italian help it is much more rapid. If Italy is willing to go to Piedmont and you can sneak into burgundy, give Italy Marseilles, even if he gives you nothing back other than smiles. You can later serve as the kingmaker of Iberia, with both England and Italy needing your help to take those centers. That’s great diplomatic leverage.
    But in those scenarios where France bounces you or Italy decides not to go to Piedmont (or even if you’re working with France), a good Italy can slow down your western ally and ensure they don’t outpace you. Meanwhile, in the east, a successful Italy usually means a nervous Austria-and a nervous Austria isn’t going to take a swing at Munich for giggles. Even if you’re being bold and playing the western triple, a good Italy can slow down France enough to create an opportunity for EG to turn on him, much better than the usual FE triples turn into.
    Let me put it this way-Italian success isn’t going to threaten you unless they’re very near a solo. In fact, Italian western success in the early game creates a void in France for you to fill, while Italian eastern success in the late game can provide the window you need to take Moscow, STP, and Warsaw.
    So next time you play Germany, root for Italy, help him when you can, and make sure you coordinate with him.

  6. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]Is a bounce really that desirable? Obviously, it show mistrust between ENG & FRA … but it also gives them space to patch things up afterward[/quote]

    Good players can and will turn anything around when warranted, even a successful move to the Channel. If E and F bounce in the Channel, G gains tempo on them. Of course, tempo only matters if you use it well.

  7. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]Italy is your best buddy to help towards those objectives[/quote]

    Italy can also help when, despite your best diplomatic efforts, you wind up on the short side of the 2 v. 1 in the West.

  8. Chris Martin

    I’ll pitch in to add something that I’ve heard and struggled to make work for me: “Scandinavia First.” The key to long-term German viability is owning all of Scandinavia. From there, you can strike at Russia or England. With those centers in hand, you can defend against southern aggression.

    This is of course a really hard ask, because both R/E want at least a piece if not more, and so you can’t let them know that’s your goal – even hinting at wanting a second dot in Scandinavia can be enough to chill early relations – but if you can make it happen, good things should follow.

  9. David Maletsky

    Germany is best served I find by one of two early game strategies. One, go after England hard and eliminate them ASAP. Or, two, poach dots on all sides as the game goes forward.

    Everyone knows how to attack England, so I will focus on option two, which must sound insane on the surface; but yes, I strongly advocate an all-front, yet limited, war for German success. Obviously you need to be a good negotiator, but this strategy plays to Germany’s two positional strengths: the proximity of so many supply centers, and the ability to keep the bulk of your forces within a turn or two of one another while fighting on three or even four fronts.

    The important part is to aggressively negotiate for dots; don’t just stab or frontal assault players. Sweden is only supporting the Russian fleet sitting in it, they don’t need that. You deserve Belgium working with Western allies, you are central and most exposed. Austria can loan you Vienna if you’re helping them survive a coalition against them. And so on.

    A great virtue of this strategy is that you don’t have to appear too threatening to any one power, never having more than two pieces next to them; at the same time, it is clear to all that if any of them screws with you, you can have all of your pieces up their ass immediately.

    Let me conclude with the advice that attacking France is folly in most circumstances. Obviously there are exceptions, but best to motivate France to become a naval power and establish a detente at worst.

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