REFINING THE JUGGERNAUT
Editor's Note: This is the second part of a two-part article Baron wrote some time ago for the "Club Bulletin", a forum within the AOL Diplomacy Club discussion group. We published the first part in the Spring 2008 Movement issue.
In the last issue of the Pouch, I discussed why a Russo-Turkish alliance (hereafter R/T or the Juggernaut) often fails. In this issue, I’ll address some things that Tsars and Sultans can do to make the Juggernaut more successful (assuming player personalities make an R/T feasible in the first place). Let's look at these things now.
Distract Italy. Except for the Juggernaut participants themselves, I feel Italy, more than any other Power, sets the stage for the success or failure of the Juggernaut. If the Pope joins forces with the Archduke right away, R/T (especially Turkey) is in for a rough time. Given this, one of the paramount objectives of R/T diplomacy should be to prevent an Austro-Italian alliance from forming or, failing that, from working together effectively. The best way to do this is to get Italy actively involved in a war with one of its neighbors. Making this happen, particularly given that Popes generally have an unsavory opinion of Turkey, requires the Tsar and Sultan to ply all of their diplomatic skills.
It's probably pointless for them to try to get the Archduke to attack Italy. For the Dual Monarchy, the risks associated with pursuit of a western strategy at game-start are simply too high for it to be considered seriously. In fact, such a proposal may do little more than insult the Archduke's intelligence and give away the fact that a Juggernaut is forming. Instead, R/T should strive to create suspicion in the Archduke's mind about Italian intentions. If, in Spring '01, Fleet Trieste is defending in place against a possible Italian attack rather than sailing towards Greece, the Juggernaut has probably scored its first victory. If Austria-Hungary does invade Italy, so much the better, but don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
By the way, it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that Russia and Turkey should hide the Juggernaut from the Dual Monarchy as long as possible. Once the cat is out of the bag, the Archduke is sure to raise the alarm with everyone else.
Getting France to attack Italy is unlikely to be any easier, at least initially. If France is the odd Power out in the western triangle, the President will almost surely have too much on his hands in the early going to open another front in Italy. If France begins the game as an ally of England or Germany, the President probably won't send any units toward Italy until the initial opponent in the west is broken.
Of course, this doesn't mean that Russia and Turkey should ignore France. Far from it! A well-timed French attack into Italy, perhaps as part of a Franco-Russian alliance aimed primarily at the other western survivor or as part of a Franco-Turkish agreement to divide up the Mediterranean at Italy's expense, might be just what is needed to break a dead-lock in the south. What the Juggernaut partners don't want to see (certainly the Turkish half of the alliance doesn't want to see) is French (or English) reinforcement of Italy's position. Should this happen, Turkey's forces are likely to be at a standstill for an even longer period of time.
The best course of action seems to be to get Italy to initiate the fighting with either Austria-Hungary or France. Fortunately, the Tsar has a great big carrot he can use to encourage such an attack: the promise of a mid-game alliance against Turkey, presumably to take effect after Austria-Hungary is dispatched. Such an offer is something the Pope may covet. For his part, the Sultan should always be comforting and pleasant in his dealings with Rome. Having obtained the promise of Russian help and Turkish assurances to honor spheres of influence, the Pope might be emboldened enough to initiate all kinds of early game crusades. Once engaged, though, the Pope may find it difficult or impossible to extricate Italian units from the fighting and form a solid defensive line against the advancing Turks.
Ease German Concerns. The nightmare of every Kaiser is a big hungry Bear on the Reich's back porch. Since most Kaisers really don't want to get into a two-front war early in the game, particularly if Germany is the odd Power out in the western triangle, they will generally try to maintain at least a benevolent truce with Russia. At the same time, they might not like the long-term implications of letting Russia have Sweden. Since R/T wants to see Sweden in Russian hands, some intense diplomacy must be conducted.
The Tsar has to quickly figure out how the west is shaping up. If Germany stands alone, it should be easy to talk the Kaiser into not ordering F Den-Swe in the Fall. If Germany is teamed with England or France, the Tsar's task becomes more difficult. The best approach may be to state that Russian objectives in the north are limited to Norway and Sweden and to offer Russian support or neutrality should Germany choose to turn on its ally.
Turkey is likely to have an easier time cultivating German friendship. After all, the Ottomans are Germany's best insurance against an aggressive Russia. If the Sultan tells the Kaiser not to worry because Turkey will be there when the time comes for Germany to expand eastward, the Kaiser is likely to feel much better about his future.
If, despite all efforts, a bounce in Sweden appears inevitable, it may be best to order F Bot-Bal in the Fall. This is unlikely to harm German/Russian relations too much since Germany has already given indications that it is hostile (or else Russia would have moved to Sweden!). Having a Russian fleet parked off the coast of three supply centers, one of which is Berlin, gives the Tsar options and a potentially powerful bargaining chip to use with England or France, and perhaps Germany too.
Use Every Unit Smartly. One reason Turkey (and, by extension, the Juggernaut) tends to bog down is that it frequently fails to quickly get all of its units into position to do something useful. Consider this "typical" opening for R/T as suggested by Mark Fassio in the 1993 version of The Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy (also shown are the expected Austro-Hungarian responses):
So what has the "typical" Juggernaut accomplished? In my opinion, far less than it should have. First, Ukraine is left empty. This lessens the pressure on Galicia and slows down the attack, certainly not a desirable state of affairs when speed is of the essence. Second, A Con is completely bottled-up and totally useless. In fact, it may be a long time before it ever gets a sniff of the battlefield. With Austria-Hungary sitting at a compact, mutually supporting five units, and Italy possessing a fleet in the Ionian Sea and, most likely, a second fleet in Naples, the Sultan is going into battle with one unit basically unavailable. This is not a formula for success. In fact, it will probably lead to the very problem discussed in the last issue of the Bulletin: Russia will get big and Turkey will sit still. This is NOT a promising beginning.
So what can be done to get all of R/T's units involved right away so that maximum pressure is put on the Dual Monarchy? In 1995HL, my aforementioned PBM game where I played Turkey and Warren Ball played Russia, Warren suggested a very aggressive approach. Basically, Russia would make a sacrifice so that Turkey could get all of its units engaged. With one minor modification, we executed his plan. It went like this:
What do these moves accomplish? All in all, they leave R/T in a far better position to carry the battle into Austria-Hungary's core territories. Consider:
So, what's not to like about this opening?
I suspect there may be some Russo-philes out there who object to the fact that Russia might not get a build. This, in my mind, is not an issue. We solve this "problem" AND the age-old dilemma of what to do with the Russian Black Sea fleet by arranging a swap. The Sultan lets the Tsar command Turkey's A Rum and the Tsar lets the Sultan control Russia's F Bla. This is a great trade for both parties and all it takes is a little cooperation to make the arrangement work.
As I see it, the real problem with this opening is that it announces to the world with blaring trumpets that a Juggernaut is in place and that its participants are working together closely. This is going to make diplomatic maneuvering much more problematic.
Maintain Even Growth. This may be the Juggernaut's single greatest challenge. As Turkey is slogging its way through the south and Russia is plunging into central Europe, the natural order of things is for Russia to build armies and Turkey to build fleets. It will soon become apparent, however, that the slow going in the south requires less forces than the center or the north. With Warsaw conveniently close to the front and the nearest Turkish home center seemingly far away, the Tsar, with some justification, is going to argue that Russia needs the builds more than Turkey. This is a slippery slope that generally must be avoided if the alliance is to truly thrive. It's one area where Warren and I did not do a good job and it nearly cost us.
To maintain even growth requires patience, planning, and cooperation. It starts with the Tsar truly using the Turkish army on loan to him as if it were one of his own. Instead of simply providing support or pulling garrison duty, the Turkish army should advance side-by-side with the rest of Russia's armies and be allowed to occupy conquered supply centers, particularly Austro-Hungarian supply centers. For his part, the Sultan should only build essential fleets. If a fleet is not necessary right away, build an army and start marching it to the central front or, even better, save a turn by convoying it from Ankara to Rumania via the Russian Black Sea fleet.
Getting Turkish armies involved in the fighting in the center of the board yields another advantage beyond keeping the Sultan happy. Each Turkish army that can be effectively brought into the trenches alleviates the need for a Russian army. This, in turn, allows the Tsar to build fleets at St. Petersburg. These fleets are absolutely critical, as the naval campaign in the north will prove every bit as vital to ultimate victory as the land campaign in the center.
So there you have it, the keys to Juggernaut success: distract Italy, ease German concerns, use every unit smartly, and maintain even growth. Simple, yes? Well, perhaps not. As we all know, in Diplomacy, there are no sure things (which is one of the charms of the game). While I believe the course of action I describe takes advantage of the Juggernaut's many strengths while ameliorating its weaknesses, the tactical and diplomatic skills of the Tsar and the Sultan, as well as their opponents, will determine the Juggernaut's fate in the end.
Good gaming, everyone!
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