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France is considered one of the "better" countries to play in Diplomacy. That's true insofar as it a "corner" and not a "center" country like Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.

In descending order, my favorite strategies are 1) Go for the Mediterranean, 2) Ally with England vs. Germany 3) Ally with Germany Vs. England. But I've found France a tough, frustrating country to play when one can't use a Mediterranean strategy (because of what's going on elsewhere). A couple examples:

In one game, England "allied" with me against Germany, than stabbed me, leading to a Franco-German alliance (my least favorite). Meanwhile, Italy stabbed Austria, A Venice-Trieste, and got two builds in 1901, three in 1902, and had her choice of allies: with Russia vs. Turkey and Germany, with England vs. France.

In another game, I had to ward off an Anglo-German invasion. But the English army that went to Belgium marched into the Ruhr, again leading to a Franco-German alliance. But by the time we reshuffled the alliance, Austria-Hungary had stabbed Italy, overextended in a Lepanto opening, captured Venice and Rome, and dominated the Med. With Turkey, Italy, and the Balkans, Austria and Russia had the 18 centers to declare themselves co-winners.

Have I been misplaying France? Or has my inability to control the Med been due to my northern troubles, and the Austro-Italian imbalances? Can I hope for a more "fortunate" result playing France in future games, against, say, random opponents?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

It sounds to me like both games you've failed to negotiate an alliance with England. That isn't necessarily your fault, but in order to concentrate on the Med you would need to at least be able to negotiate a neutral England, if not an entirely friendly one.

Some ideas you might want to try

  • It sounds like in both games you stumbled into an FG alliance that was not in a strong position. You might do better if you attempted to negotiate the FG alliance from the start. That way you can be directing the flow of the conflict, rather than reacting to it.

  • England is likely worried that in an EF alliance, F usually grows faster and is in a more solid position after taking down Germany, while E ends up overextended. So you'll likely need to give him the better side of the split, and make it clear that you are committing to the South so that E knows he isn't the next target. You can also make things easier by making sure that England has a good path to grow after the initial attack on Germany, which generally means you want a weak Russia. At the same time, don't make yourself too inviting of a target for E. Many alliances are broken due to people who are too trusting and make it too easy for their partner to stab.

The more you play Diplomacy, the more you realize that none of the countries are really better than the others, so don't get frustrated that you didn't get a good result while playing a "strong" country. Focus on where your negotiations failed to bring the results you wanted, and try to improve on that in your next game.

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+1 for "none of the countries are really better than the others"... –  thesunneversets Aug 9 '11 at 16:46
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