In which the wise old weasel discusses the merits and limitations of the Juggernaut alliance
Hroom, hm, gather round my friends. Today we discuss that cavalcade communion, that steamroller support, that bulldozer bond that is known by most as… the Juggernaut! 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 encourage conversation among Weasels and lovers of the game Diplomacy alike. It is designed to discuss 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 Juggernaut (also known as the “Steamroller” or the “R/T”) is an alliance between Russia and Turkey. Diplomacy elder statesman Richard Sharp describes the advantages of this alliance saying “Freed of the threat of attack from Turkey, Russia at once becomes as powerful as any two other countries; freed of the need to attack the mighty northern neighbour, Turkey has only one direction to go in, and can throw everything into the westward drive with single-minded violence“. Wikibooks describes the Juggernaut as one of Diplomacy’s “Cadillac Alliances.” The blog Chestnut Diplomacy points out that “The Russian-Turkish alliance, operating at full steam, has incredibly important ramifications for the future of the entire board.” Clearly the Juggernaut is one of the most natural, most well known, and most feared alliances in the game of Diplomacy.
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:
- It leaves everyone’s back free and enables them to throw everything they have against the corner powers.
- 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.
- 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.
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.”
In 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.
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?