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?

3 Answers 3


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.


It's no wonder you've had so much difficulty playing France! You've been playing it wrong the whole time!

Now, to be fair, there isn't really a "correct" way to play different Powers. But some strategies are better than others.

That being said, you're focusing on the wrong front, which is why you keep getting screwed. Think about it like this . . .

The board is divided into two spheres: the West, and the East. The West encompasses England, Germany, and France. And the East encompasses Russia, Turkey, and Austria-Hungary. (Italy doesn't belong to either sphere, so don't worry about it for now.)

To win the game, your first objective is to control your sphere, unless you're Italy, in which case the story is different. But we're talking about France, so forget about Italy. Anyway . . . That's just it! You're playing as France, so your first objective is to control the West--but you're going after Italy instead. See the problem? You're not paying attention to the real issue at hand, which is resolving your relations with England and Germany. This is why nothing is working for you. You've turned your back on the two Powers that are your biggest immediate threats!

So what do you do, then? Easy. Resolve your sphere first, then go after Italy. Italy can wait, but England and Germany won't. Fight it out in the West first, establish control, then expand towards Italy. That's how it's done.

With all that in mind, you need an alliance with England or Germany--but never both at once! Choose one. After the choice is made, play against the third party in the sphere. If paired with England against Germany, try F(Bre)-Mid, A(Par)-Bur, and A(Mar) S A(Par)-Bur. And if paired with Germany against England, try F(Bre)-Mid, A(Par)-Pic, and A(Mar)-Bur, making sure that Germany bounces your army going to Burgundy.

My advice is not certain, but it's pretty good. But you'll never know how good it might be until you try it, so give it a try. Good luck!


Apparently you have been misplaying France, because your priorities are misplaced.

According to these statistics, France is the winningest country on the board, but mainly when England does not survive. If England is a factor, then France's chances of winning decline to below average. (Every other country has at least one or two "bugaboo" opponents that similarly pulls down their winning chances.) The reason is that France is in a group of three countries, along with England and Germany, and at least one of the other two needs to "disappear" for France to win.

Thus, your first priority should be to eliminate England, not Italy, (unless, of course, you have a firm alliance with England to take out Germany). In either case, you do not want to be the odd country out (and a reason your win chances are so high is that you have as good a chance of surviving the three way confrontation as any). After taking out England, you and Germany can go your separate ways (e.g. southeast to Italy for you, northeast to Russia for them). If you prefer a "stab" strategy, it is easier for you to enlist the help of Russia or Austria (occasionally Turkey or Italy) than for Germany to find allies against you.

The Anglo-French alliance should be your second choice; England gains more than you, but you should pursue this if England is a more reliable player than Germany, which was not the case in the above two scenarios. Italy should be your last concern, you need to eliminate at least one, if not both, of the other countries in the northwest part of the board before heading southeast.

  • Aren't you the OP? You seem to be addressing yourself in second person.
    – Zags
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 16:04
  • 2
    @Zags: I am the OP. But SE policy is that if you answer your own question, you're supposed to pretend that you are not doing so, and instead use the second person.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 16:15

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