An Introduction to German Opening Strategy
Germany is the third member of the Northern Trio (together with France and England) and as mentioned earlier Germany usually tries for an alliance with one of these against the other, always hoping that they do not ally together and attack him. Three neutral centres are available in 1901 - Bel, Hol and Den - and occasionally Germany occupies all three of them. Depending on the quality of the Opposition this can either be a good or a bad thing! A six unit Germany in 1901 can often scare the other two countries into an alliance of necessity against the Hun.
The Belgian situation has already been discussed in articles on England and France - Bel being the key to a lot of diplomacy at the gamestart. Den and Hol are normally regarded as German centres and only England is in a position to prevent Germany from taking them by direct action in Autuma 1901. One of Germany’s prime decisions in the time leading up to Spring 1901 is to decide the destination of his fleet. The obvious moves are to Den or Hol, any others being rather misguided. Both will of course succeed but the main factor is the importance of the unit in the autumn moves. A F(Den) can be a powerful bargaining piece and can be used to influence the Russian moves. Russia can be stood out of Sweden if Germany wishes and so he can arrange matters to suit himself. In my opinion a move to Hol is not so beneficial unless Germany desperately wants Bel and is prepared not to gain Denmark. Then F(Hol) can support an attack on Bel from Ruh/Bur although there is the risk that the English will stand him out of Den from NTH.
Once again Scandinavia is of major importance. It is not so vital that it is German, but it is necessary to be occupied by a friend of Germany. In 1902 Germany often finds himself in an E/R/G triangle in the area, giving plenty of scope for diplomacy.
Although Russia is not a threat in 1901, if he is successful in the south (where he normally concentrates in the early years) he will sooner or later get involved in the North. Germany tied up with a war against England and France is an easy target for a knife in the back and this happens all too often. It is easy to pacify Russia in 1901, but once bolstered by gains in Turkey and the Balkans, German must be wary of him. If Germany is attacked by Russia at this stage he must get some help from a friendly England, France or Italy, otherwise he will soon be dead. In this position he is likely to be the last bastion against a Russian win unless there has been a counter-attack in the south, but all too often the northern survivors fail to realise the danger and are unable to forget their quarrels and unite against a common enemy.
Because of this very real danger from Russia, a good policy at the gamestart is to ally with Austria. Should Austria be attacked in Spring 1901 by Russia then Germany stands him out of Sweden and sends at least one unit east in 1902. If Austria and Russia ally to take out Turkey in 1901/02 then it is important that Austria is encouraged to join Germany in attacking Russia when Turkey is dead. Otherwise Germany needs a very strong alliance with Italy and help from England. In previous articles I have mentioned that I thought the best northern alliance for both England and France was Germany. Consequently he can expect to be wooed by both of them - an enviable position! There is a lot to be said for an alliance with either country, but on balance I favour the French alliance.
Germany is an interesting country to play and has a good record of wins. Played properly it can be guided to win, but if the Russian ogre is allowed to grow too rapidly then Germany is an early casualty.