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England, being an island, has an enviable defensive position. This same fact makes it hard for it to get a foothold on the European Continent, where most of the remaining 31 supply centers lie.

There are three countries that immediately block England's expansion: Russia, Germany, and France. England will inevitably end up fighting at least one of those countries, possibly with the help of one or both of the other two.

Russia blocks the way to Scandinavia, Germany opposes England in the Low Countries and the center of the Continental Europe, France stands in the way of expansion via the Mid-Atlantic, the Iberian Peninsula, and ultimately the Mediterranean.

England is one country I've never played. How does England decide on target supply centers, and by implication, whom to fight? Does it depend on what is going on elsewhere on the board (e.g. the Mediterranean)? Does it depend on the caliber and personalities of the people playing the other three countries? Will other countries flock to seek alliances with England to create a balance of power? Or will it be mostly ignored, since it is an island, and have to "go it" alone?

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My Diplomacy openings for any country are usually of one of two types

  • Try to be a leader. This usually means coming up with a bold joint opening and try to negotiate the other player to follow along. For England, this might be trying to take Brest in 1901, or trying to bounce Germany out of Denmark. Some players are more likely to work with you when you have a concrete plan, especially one that offers the potential for big early gains, and you might be able to make a good long-term ally.

  • Wait and see. This means make a safe opening (like bouncing in the Channel), go for your natural neutrals (Norway), try to negotiate fairly neutrally with everyone, and see how 1901 goes. Maybe you find someone that you get along with really well, and you want to ally with them going forward. Maybe some other player makes a bold move, or a big mistake, and you want to adjust to capitalize on it. This is typically safer, but can backfire if your opponents are both looking for early action, and interpret your neutrality as an invitation to get action at your expense.

Either way can work. The one thing you should NOT do as England (or anyone else) is ignore people (or let them ignore you). Corner countries don't stay that way for long, and if you aren't talking with people, you have no chance of making a deal with them. England can get boxed in if you try to rely too much on your corner position, and you can't defend the island against a concerted attack for very long.

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As England, I would determine my first target the same way as I do for any other country I'm playing. I would talk to the other six (yes all six are important) players, to try to get a feel of what is happening on the board, who is and who isn't likely to want to work with me and use this information to develop a strategy. It is possible to do well as England with any of France, Germany or Scandanavia as a first target. There is no royal road to success in Diplomacy (and the game would be boring if there was).

Now for something more useful: I'll give two internet resources that can guide you in your play.

At Diplomacy Archive there is a collection of strategy articles on each country (eg England's is here). This is a collection of articles by various authors that you may find useful reading. They are of varying quality so it can pay to read some of them over with a critical eye to see what ideas hold up to scrutiny. At the very least they'll give you an idea of the various points of view other players are likely to have.

Another resource is Diplomacycast. This is a podcast about the boardgame diplomacy. In their first episode, they specifically discuss the play of England. Note two things. First this is long (at least 90 min), and secondly don't be put off by the audio quality, its their first attempt and the quality improves after the first two episodes.

Don't forget as England Norway is your natural neutral, and you have about an equal share together with France and Germany in Belgium. You will not be 'ignored' (cf last sentence of question).

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So Belgium "the cockpit of Europe," is the flashpoint, and either France or Germany (or both) will seek your alliance to capture it, or at least keep it out of the hands of the other. You also made an important point about talking to all six, if the Med is in England's (near) future. –  Tom Au Jul 12 '11 at 12:58
    
Are there any of the articles that you would recommend? –  Pat Ludwig Jul 15 '11 at 3:11
    
@pat: There are individual articles about how to play EACH of the three strategies. But my question was how do you CHOOSE among them, given articles on all three. –  Tom Au Jul 15 '11 at 19:23
    
@Tom - I find a link to an archive of articles of "varying quality" of questionable usefulness. A better answer would say, "You should do XXX, YYY, ZZ based on article 1 and 2 because ...." and make a good case for it. That would demonstrate to me that the answerer likely has expertise in the question and has done more than just googled the answer. –  Pat Ludwig Jul 15 '11 at 19:44
    
@Pat: I didn't ANSNWER the question that way. I asked it. As an answerer, I might consult the articles, might even cite my favorite one, but would summarize it, along with my own interpretation. –  Tom Au Jul 15 '11 at 20:37

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