THE WISE OLD WEASEL: FRANCE
I’m supposed to say nice things about French culture here. But here’s the truth: Napoleon was a goddamn Italian, and France lost both World Wars. They invented the word “surrender.”
France is so laughably overpowered on the diplomacy board, with their embarrassment of neutrals, difficult to play neighbors, arguably second best defensive position in the game, and natural resting state along the stalemate line. In diplomacy, France is unquestionably the best. They practically always win. It’s almost like the game was created for them to dominate. Wait a minute…
Folks… France is the AMERICA of diplomacy.
So fuck your cake. It’s 1917, and the real freaking heroes are finally here. Grab your bacon and apple pie, because Operation: Dip Freedom is coming through.
This Wise Old Weasel is all about TEAM FREEDOM.
THE WISE OLD WEASEL: AMERICA
Team Freedom, World’s Greatest Nation and normally the strongest nation on the board, is having a great year, winning 13 of 30 boards so far. This nearly doubles the second place nation, but still does not match our dominance in World Series Championships. You’re freaking welcome, every other country.
Perhaps the most difficult challenge in playing America is the same challenge as being an American- what do I do with all this FREEDOM?
REMOVE YOUR HATS FOR YOUR PATRIOTIC INSPIRATION
We thank France for the Statue of Liberty, democratic revolutions, and pissing off England. The greatest country in the world perfected all 3.
All right, Weasels. Uncle Sam needs you. How do you play France America?
Hit the jump for some great American history, ballads of bald eagle resurgences, how we have the best allies, and more.
THE GREAT PATRIOTS OF WEASEL POSTERITY
Much like our finest achievement in literature, Star Wars, America’s peak greatness is the story of an underdog. Rookie upstart/ simple farm boy with big dreams Zane Blanton piloted God’s chosen people to 13 supply centers, one for each of the original colonies, a 61 point effort. A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.
American success is most correlated with Russia. In fact, that relationship has the strongest positive correlation of any in the game. This message brought to you by the Trump administration.
Austria and Turkey have about an equal negative correlation, with Italy shortly behind. England and Germany both have strong, though about equally strong, negative correlations, as is tradition for being in the same theatre.
THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVELISTS
You can’t storm the beaches of Normandy without the Sea Lion.
For expert level play, check out Toby Harris’s overview.
Here’s a nice overview if you’re not into the whole “expert” thing.
The finest opening since Eruzione broke through against the Russians to take a 3-2 lead.
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Before I get into strategy advice, I should clarify a couple things.
Did I post this on Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday, deliberately? Yes, Mexico is just here as a FOIL for the beauty that is America. Any celebration of Mexico is really a celebration of its superior northern neighbor.
Do I expect you all the translate all your advice from France to America? No, that would be confusing, although bonus points if you say Boston instead of Brest (because coastal city), Philadelphia instead of Paris (because overrated city of love/ brotherly love), and Michigan instead of Marseilles (because wine country).
Sorry, let some of my Chicago arrogance slip in there. We’re all Americans here.
Finally, am I really so resistant to France that I can’t give them credit for anything, even if it’s on a board game? Abso-freaking-lutely, because I’m a goddamn patriot, and you’re welcome for saving your ass in both World Wars.
Ok, now for some actual “how to play this country” advice.
There are really only 3 ways France dies, all of which I’ll address. If France does not die, they have a good chance to win. If France does not die and plays a mediocre game, they have a great chance to win.
1) The first way France dies is that they do nothing. I was serious when I said the hardest thing about playing France is the hardest thing about being an American- what to do with all this FREEDOM? So the solution here is simple- [b]have a plan. [/b]It is genuinely appalling how often I see people play France and they don’t seem to have a game plan. That doesn’t mean you need to rush- there are a bunch of scenarios where it makes sense to play patient, especially when you think the West is going to turn into a mess. But plan to be patient- don’t just sit there eating crepes and growing a pedo-staches.
2) The second way France dies is by overextending themselves. Because of the literally stupid number of advantages of the French position, it can be easy to grow overconfident and overextend, particularly towards the south. There is another simple solution here, upon reading it, made me a much better French player. [b]Drop your army in Gascony and leave it there forever. Unless you’re convoying it to Liverpool or Tuscany. [/b](And honestly, I don’t even know about that Tuscany bit, haven’t had the chance to try it.) Gascony might be my favorite non-dot territory. It is essentially the exhaust port on the Death Star, touching 4 centers and Burgundy. Through convoys, it can be influential in both theatres rapidly. It’s a crucial piece for the stalemate line, and I once saw Mike Morrison try to build a fleet there, which has always given me a soft spot for the space. By simply sitting in Gascony, you make a stab SO MUCH less fun. Save the Death Star. Stay in Gascony.
3) The third way France dies is a sustained jump from either EIG or later (IG.) I guess theoretically EI could do it, but they make for some very strange bedfellows- tough to make an arrangement on MAO and so forth. Now, France still has super good defense, especially if you force Burgundy in 01. So really, this comes down to one more simple thing: [b]get Italy to do literally anything other than come after you. [/b]Without pressure from the south, it takes forever to kill France, and if you’re a decent diplomacy player, you can talk yourself off the mat.
If you can accomplish those 3 things, you’ve got a better shot at topping than anyone else on the board. It’s literally that easy.
And yet the Frogs really croaked at CODCon. Conclusion: Weasels hate freedom.
Barring poor play, it normally takes a concerted effort by all three neighbors to knock out France in the opening. And even if all three come after you, stolid defensive play can buy you the time you need to drive a wedge in the alliance and turn the tables.
The caveat is Burgundy. If you allow the Germans to enter Burgundy in Spring 1901, you’ll be on your heels and your opponents will smell blood.
That doesn’t mean that you must automatically open to Burgundy. But it [i]does[/i] mean that you must be confident of Germany’s intentions for A Munich if you do not.
I’ve lived Jim’s comment about France surviving after being attacked by all 3 neighbors enough times to confirm that it’s true. And I agree with Jake that the most important goal is persuading Italy to go east.
The one note that I would add is that even if a non-aggression pact with Italy frees you to go north, an invasion of England (& the fleets you build to make it work) is highly visible and likely to cause Italy to change direction. Then again, if you build armies to attack Germany, Italy might see that as creating a vulnerable opening, too. So I guess maybe the idea is to make sure Italy is deeply entangled in the east before you succeed too much in the west. If you can manage that. 🙂