Any opening sending the Brest fleet to the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. There are a many named variants:
- Belgian Gambit
- Burgundy Variant
- Maginot Opening
- Gascony Opening
- Gaspic Opening
- Picardy Opening
- Vineyard Opening
- Piedmont System
- The Barbary Coast Opening
The Atlantic Opening variant that brings two units to bear on Belgium. Unless there is a standoff in Burgundy, France is able to mount a supported attack on Belgium without worrying England with a fleet move in or near northern waters. For the better chance on Belgium (and pressure on Munich), France passes up one of the two Iberia centers.
In this very common Atlantic opening (better known as the Burgundy Opening), there may be an arranged standoff in Burgundy, which guards Burgundy, permits both Iberian centres to be taken, and still gives France some say in Belgium. However, if A Par-Bur succeeds, Brest is less protected. If Par-Bur fails and Italy enters Piedmont, France has a guessing game to play in deciding whether to protect Marseilles or guarantee himself Spain.
The Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy calls this opening essentially defensive. If A Par-Bur succeeds, France can try for Belgium, threaten Munich, or protect Marseilles.
This opening, known simply as the Maginot Opening, is the most popular French opening. It assures that France can have a say in all three of her bordering neutrals, and, if Italy enters Piedmont, Marseilles can be guarded without risk to Spain. The mere threat to Munich usually pins down the German army, making Belgium and Ruhr more accessible in Fall of 1901.
This strong opening assumes an understanding with England over the English Channel, and though it must be regarded as anti-German, the opening still allows France the opportunity to take three neutral centres in Autumn (with A Bur-Bel, A Mar-Spa and F MAO-Por). Naming it after the Maginot Line has emphasized its defensive qualities, but there can be no doubt that the opening poses a direct threat to Munich, and may signal a frontal assault on Germany by an Anglo-French alliance. This is both a strength and a failing, as it exposes France to a stab from England and is likely to cause maximum offense to a neighbour who is not usually an initial threat to France. However, it does assure the French player of a say in Belgium's future (a useful bargaining chip even if France cannot take the centre himself) without leaving Burgundy unguarded -- and still allows him to take both the Iberian centres in 1901.
The Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy calls this opening "a more powerful defense against Germany [than The Burgundy Opening] because A Par-Bur always succeeds. France can thus be assured of Spain and Portugal no matter what Italy does. However, her fleet is relegated to a weaker position in Portugal."
The pro-German Atlantic Opening (better known as the Gascony Opening) that sends the armies into Spain and Gascony. This denies France any say in Belgium, but provides him with a self-standoff in either Marseilles or in Brest if there are units in Piedmont or the Channel. It also gives France the ability to take both Iberian builds and still have the fleet free to enter English or Italian waters in Fall 1901 or Spring 1902. The drawback is that the armies will be holed up in Iberia by year's end, and will take a while to return to action. This can be tried when there is a strong chance of an Italian attack. If Italy orders A Ven-Pie, France can order (in Fall 1901) A Gas-Mar, A Spa-Mar, F MAO-Por. Hopefully (barring an unwanted support from Italy), Marseilles will be vacant for the build of a fleet, which can be used to pull armies out of Iberia and into action.
The Gaspic Opening is Richard Sharp's name for the Norman opening that sends the Paris army to Gascony in an attempt to take both Iberian centers.
This variant of the Atlantic Opening, known simply as the Picardy Opening, preserves France's options in Belgium without antagonizing any of his neighbours by entering the Channel or Burgundy, and provides some flexibility in defending Brest, either by tempting the English fleet with support into Belgium, defending Brest with the Picardy army, or doing a self-standoff in Brest.
This is more offensive than the Burgundy Opening but more limited. The order always succeeds. From Picardy, France can try for Belgium, defend Paris if Germany gets into Burgundy, or defend Brest if England slips into the Channel. This should only be tried when France is certain of German friendship.
In the Vineyard Opening, France conducts himself with pro-English intentions, but moves to enable an army to protect Brest against a Channel invasion. If England proves trustworthy, the Iberian centers can both be taken by armies in Fall.
The idea is to arrange a stand-off with Germany in Bur and then capture Spain from Marseilles and Portugal via convoy, leaving France with F MAO and more options for 1902. This opening gained popularity in the 1980's in British postal circles.
This opening is used in case the Germans try a stab. Perhaps Belgium can be picked up, too. In either case, Marseilles is covered. This opening can be used in alliance with England, where a strong push into the Mediterranean is desired, and Germany is neutral.
Any Atlantic Opening sending Marseilles to Piedmont. A standoff in Piedmont may be arranged, which can be of great value to France, as it permits him to take Spain without having to guess the intentions of any Italian army. The standoff also provides Italy with good camouflage if he intends to make a grab for Trieste in Fall of 1901. Otherwise, entry into Piedmont by France is more likely to be a back door attack on Germany than an attack on Italy. (See the German Northern Tier Alliance Opening.)
About the standard Piedmont System opening (A Par-Gas), the Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy says, this attack on Italy can sometimes yield stunning results. The fall orders can include A Pie-Ven or Tus. The latter is actually a little better because in 1902 the army threatens two Italian centers. This sequence presumes a three-way Western alliance and England/Germany are attacking Russia.
The Barbary Coast Opening
The Barbary Coast Opening is designed as a quick way to take a Western Triple Alliance, or at least an Anglo-French alliance into the Mediterranean. It is anti-Italian in intent, but hides its intent by opening like a standard Atlantic Opening.
F Bre - MAO, A Par - Bur, A Mar - Spa,
F Lon - ENG, A Lvp - Wal
These openings can easily appear to herald war between England and France, but Fall 1901 brings:
F MAO - Spa (SC), A Bur hold or support, A Spa - Por,
F ENG - MAO,
France then builds a fleet in Marseilles and Brest and England a Fleet in Liverpool.
F Spa (SC) - WES, A Por - Spa, F Mars - GOL, A Bur - Mars,
F Lvp - IRI, F MAO hold
This sets up the convoy A Wal to North Africa (Barbary Coast) in Fall 1902 and an assault on Tunis together with rapid French deployment in the Mediterranean.
The benefits of this opening are a project to deploy a Western Triple relatively quickly, while the demerits are that the French are all-too open to an English stab, and that deployment against Italy is cumbersome and the French find it difficult to make quick gains before Turkey or Austria arrive on the scene to grab the dots! If the alliance holds it works for the French, but it needs strong diplomatic play and patience.