Manche Openings

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Manche Openings

Any French opening that sends the fleet into the English Channel is known as a Menache Opening or English Attack. These openings account for about one quarter of all French openings. There are a number of named variants:

It is commonly acknowledged that England is the trickiest power to eliminate, courtesy of its island position and inevitable emphasis on building fleets. Consequently, some players believe that France must contain its northern neighbour early in the game, and at all costs prevent England putting a fleet into the Channel. F Bre-ENG may therefore be intended to stand off F Lon-ENG rather than to actually threaten the English home centers. Alternatively, this can be a bid by France to take Belgium, perhaps coupled with the move A Par-Bur or A Par-Pic, in which case the name may be a misnomer. This is not the most popular opening for the French fleet: it is unlikely to result in a centre gain for France (unlike the Atlantic Opening's F Bre-MAO), and compromises an assault on England by most likely pinning down the Fleet in Brest, where the French player would rather be building a second fleet.

English Defense

Richard Sharp's name for the Manche opening F Bre-ENG, A Mar-Spa and A Par-Gas. This opening assures two builds, and is considered a a very pro-German and pro-Italian opening. Typically, it indicates that France expects F Lon-ENG. The Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy calls this "the best that can be done in the event of dark suspicions about England. Hopefully, France has an alliance with Germany. It is not advisable to attack England this early, but if England is going to try for the channel, she must be stopped. France can still get Spain and Portugal this way, and those gains are almost indispensable to French survival."

English Maginot

This is a legitimate alternative approach for taking Belgium, or the opening can be used when an Anglo-German attack is believed to be imminent.

Northern Dash

This extremely pro-Italy opening is the ultimate in ignoring Iberia. It discourages other powers from going for Belgium, while preserving anti-German (if A Mar-Bur succeeds) or anti-English (if F Bre-ENG succeeds) options for Fall 1901 and beyond. The Northern Dash contrasts markedly with the Maginot Opening. It is believed that the name was originally coined by Nicky Palmer. It is debatable whether the opening is aggressively defensive or defensively aggressive: it could be seen as a French version of the Austrian Hedgehog openings, standing off attacks from England (F Lon-ENG) and Germany (A Mun-Bur); alternatively, it could be regarded as an all-out bid for Belgium or attack on England. As a defensive posture, it can only be regarded as a sign of failed diplomacy, since if France can trust neither of his neighbours in 1901, he is surely doomed. Moreover, it doesn't even offer complete protection, as an Italian opening to Piedmont would expose Marseilles; as an offensive, it may be applauded for making such a distinct commitment against England (a power that many Diplomacy players regard as France's greatest threat in the early years, and which needs to be eliminated early if it is to be eliminated at all). However, the opening will deprive France of two certain builds in 1901 (Spain and Portugal) unless Marseilles is stood off by Germany, and this will weaken France in 1902. Less severe is the Atlantic Opening equivalent, the Belgian Gambit.

Northern Limp

Richard Sharp's name for the Manche opening that uses A Par-Pic and A Mar H. While the Northern Dash with an arranged standoff in Burgundy is the more common move, the limp is useful if Germany does not agree to the standoff, but cannot be completely trusted not to enter Burgundy. If he refrains, Marseilles is in position to take Spain in Fall; if he does enter Burgundy, the French home centers can be safeguarded while France tries to engineer a build elsewhere.

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