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The Wise Old Weasel Presents! The Central Triple

black and white cartoon weasels drinking champagne

In which the wise old weasel discusses the merits and limitations of the Central Triple alliance

Hroom, hm, gather round my friends. Today we discuss that midmost membership, that equidistant entente, that axial accord that is known by most as… the Central Triple! I hope you find the conversation engaging and will join in the tradition of wise old weasels sharing their hard earned knowledge with fellow weasels. 

This is a series of posts designed to provoke discussion about some of the more common alliances seen in Windy City Weasel club games, online games, and at tournaments. To help focus conversation, a single post has been created for each alliance structure. 

The early portion of the game should be dedicated to eliminating two enemies. The middle game should eliminate two enemies and the end game eliminates two former friends.

Overview

The Central Triple (also known as “The Triple Alliance”, the “Central Powers Alliance”, or the “A/G/I”) is an alliance between Austria, Germany, and Italy. It differs from many other alliances in that it is not based on a series of orders during the early phases of the game. During the early game phase, it is more of a “mutual support agreement” between its members to not attack each other, and to support each other if attacked. Direct coordination does not usually take place until the midgame. 

Stephen Agar wrote the classic article regarding this alliance titled “The Triple Alliance“. In this article, Stephen suggests that Austria, Italy, and Germany can gain some of the benefits of an “edge” if there is strong agreement among its members to not attack each other in the early game. It’s a pretty high level article and lacks many specific recommendations beyond “don’t fight each other too early.” Chip Crain adds some much needed practicality in his article “The Triple Alliance Revisited“. Chip suggests that the alliance members initially ally with France in the west and Russia in the east to kill off the “Witches” England and Turkey. Once they have been dealt with, the Central powers combine their forces to attack their former allies. Austria and Germany team up against Russia and Germany and Italy team up against Russia. 

Austria, Italy and Germany all suffer from the same weakness in the early and middle phases of the game, they have no corner position and are vulnerable to attack from behind or the side or above. If I'm playing any of these powers I will always propose such an alliance before the first moves, it makes sense, is easy to sell to the others and can help all three powers to develop more quickly.

Merits

Tom Easton does a very good job summarizing the advantages of the Central Triple alliance in his article “Red, Green, and Black: The Central Triple“. He lists the following advantages:

  1.  It leaves everyone’s back free and enables them to throw everything they have against the corner powers.
  2. It enables all three powers to expand in different directions (Germany can expand into the Low countries, France, England or Scandinavia, Austria can take Russia and or Turkey, Italy can take France and the Iberian peninsula.
  3. It is not an alliance readily apparent to the other players. It is likely that Italy will be fighting alongside either Germany in France or Austria in Turkey, but the other power will be on the other side of the board, seemingly unconnected.
He summarizes the primary strength of the alliance by stating  “The arrangement of the board enables the AIG powers to have influence over strategic development of the board.”

The risk is that many games may end in a three-way, but it is unlikely that all of the corner powers will be completely eliminated by the time the alliance finally breaks up, one of the minnows could be used to stir things up.

Limitations

No alliance structure exists without some downsides. Again, we’ll refer to Tom Easton for the disadvantages of the Central Triple. 

“The risk is that many games may end in a three-way, but it is unlikely that all of the corner powers will be completely eliminated by the time the alliance finally breaks up, one of the minnows could be used to stir things up. Also there is less likelihood of a stalemate forming with England and Turkey not part of the picture. A good diplomat and tactician should be able to turn the three-way into a win.”

According to BrotherBored’s “Solo Win Guides“, Italy and Austria have a lot of overlap in their path to solo, as do Austria and GermanyIn my experience, a well executed and committed Central Triple will usually finish in a 3 way draw. Within Tribute scoring, this could lead to some jockeying for the board top and whoever wins will likely have a very nice score. As Tom points out, it’s more likely that at some point in the mid-game, one of the alliance members will ally with one of the remaining corner powers to make a move and the game will end in a 4 way draw. 

The answer is to use your enemies against themselves. Align with two of the outsiders. I know it sounds simple but it really is. The best powers to ally with are France and Russia. Why? Because the middle countries can squeeze those two countries once the Witches are disposed of. France is caught between Italy and Germany and Russia between Austria, Germany and Italian gains in Turkey.

Summary

In summary, the Central Triple is not an alliance structure that commonly reaches the end of the game. Despite this weakness, it is a fantastic way for the central powers to gain some of the security offered to the “edge” powers at the start of the game. It’s greatest advantage is that the Central Powers can manipulate the rest of the board extremely effectively. I’ve found this alliance to be most effective as the game moves from the early to midgame phase. 

Hrm, Hroom. These are merely the thoughts of one old weasel. What say the rest of you? Can you share advice or regale us with tales of playing the Central Triple alliance? 

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 One Comment

  1. Chris Kelly

    I guess it’s hard to work up much commenting excitement about an “alliance” that by your own admission (1) doesn’t do much together in the beginning, and (2) is unlikely to hold up near the end, but this is a good review of the literature/conventional wisdom on the subject!

    Given my recent interest in the overlooked possibilities of Germany opening A Munich->Bohemia, I wonder if a slightly more assertive opening like that might kickstart a Central Triple more effectively. As I think Sharp points out, Germany doesn’t want Italy to attack France right away, because that just weakens FRA enough for England to reap the most gains (as opposed to GER/ITA gaining from France being entangled with England).

    But Germany also doesn’t want an unaided A/I alliance to stagnate against an R/T (meaning that Italy will never be free to hit France), or for Russia to be the primary beneficiary of an A/I/R ganging up on Turkey. Does anyone have any thoughts on whether GER A Mun->Boh would help with those goals? Would AUS/GER working together so closely early on make ITA nervous about being able to hold on to any centers it took while helping take Turkey down?

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