The Fifth Republic

France in the Modern Variant

Vincent Mous-Harboesgaard

Brief Introduction

This is the fourth article in my continuing series about the Modern variant. In the first article you got an introduction to the modern variant, as well as info on how to get started playing it. In the other two articles I discussed the opening strategies for Britain and Egypt.

Since that issue, a few more Modern games have ended. First came delerium (no-press NMR) with a solo-win by Erik Stensland as Egypt. Erik was also Egypt in the 3-way draw in blitzz, the first modern game to finish. While Erik seems to be an expert at playing Egypt, yours truly didn't fare nearly so well in liarliar (partial press, no-NMR) which finished with a solo victory for Robert Shepard, playing Turkey. Finally, the oldest running modern game not on the defunct USCA, seville (no-press, no-NMR) ended with Toby Tyrell taking it all as Italy.

Also, we have a brand new rendition of the Modern map, drawn by Andrew E. Baumann. It is of much higher quality than the map I drew up originally. Take a look at it and maybe download it, it's worth it!

So congratulations once again to Erik, Robert and Toby, our first NMR, press, and no-press solo-winners. Now, back to the article... This time we will be looking at France, and you'll be able to read a few comments by each of our winners, as well as others, on what they think of France in Modern.

"Marks out of 10 for potential (no-press)
Britain - 9
Egypt - 8
France - 2"
     -- Toby Tyrell
By the way, I am still looking for comments about strategy and opening names for the remaining countries (everything except Britain, Egypt and France), so feel free to send your thoughts and suggestions to me at vim2@rocketmail.com. The next article will be on Germany, so I am especially interested in your thoughts on it.

List of Openings for France

What follows is a list of the different openings used for France in the Modern games that have been played until now, as well as a few more that may be of interest. As I am the GM of many Modern games, and an observer in many more, I asked players for their opinions on strategies for the various powers in the Modern variant, but also to propose some openings and to suggest a name for them -- the winning name and the name of the person suggesting appear along with every opening.

Neutral Openings

Alpine Fist (Rick Desper)
France: Army Marseilles SUPPORT Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
France: Army Paris HOLD. (Paris Variant)
France: Army Paris -> Picardy. (Belgian Variant)
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
Rick Desper, who named the Alpine Fist, comments that "it guarantees control of Switzerland."

Eiffel Tower
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco.
France: Army Paris SUPPORT Army Lyon.
France: Fleet Bordeaux HOLD.
France: Army Lyon SUPPORT Army Paris.

Camembert
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco.
France: Army Paris -> Picardy.
France: Fleet Bordeaux HOLD.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
About the Camembert, Greg Nelson remarks, "I'm not so sure that this is a neutral opening, as your blatant greed will probably make enemies of everyone. Tactically, though, it's not a bad play."

Defensive Openings

Garde-Frontiere
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco.
France: Army Paris -> Alsace.
France: Fleet Bordeaux HOLD. (Bordeaux Variant)
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay. (Atlantic Variant)
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
Greg Nelson comments that "by trading the support (of Marseilles for the attack on Alsace or Switzerland) for A Mar-Mon, you can guarantee Monaco."

Tour de France
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco.
France: Army Paris -> Alsace.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay.
France: Army Lyon -> Auvergne.
Greg Nelson maintains that "this opening defends your borders and takes Monaco. This is good if you are still sounding out the diplomatic situation."

Anti-Spanish Openings

Spanish Attack (Rick Desper)
France: Army Marseilles SUPPORT Army Lyon -> Switzerland. (Swiss Variant)
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco. (Monaco Variant)
France: Army Paris -> Auvergne.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Navarra.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
Stephen Breininger feels that "this will cause Spain all sorts of problems. The Spanish fleet which probably left Barcelona in the spring will have to return, in order to protect its home base. If Spain moved an army into Portugal, it will be pinned down for a while. In the Fall, you could possible move either F NAV-POR and A AUV-BAR or go for positioning with F NAV-MID and A AUV-NAV. During the winter, use your two builds for a fleet in Marseilles and an army in Bordeaux. By causing Spain such grief, the English fleet from Gibraltar will probably survive and should be able to help you out."

Greg Nelson thinks that "this move is probably the best anti-Spanish deployment. Remember, you don't get much benefit out of an anti-Spain campaign. You get Monaco, either get Switzerland or at least keep Germany out of your hair, and either keep Spain out or put pressure on Spain."

Alpine Fist, Southern Variant (Rick Desper)
France: Army Marseilles SUPPORT Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
France: Army Paris -> Auvergne.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.

Swiss, Basque Variant (Simon Withers)
France: Army Marseilles SUPPORT Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
France: Army Paris -> Alsace.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Navarra.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.

Cheese & Olives (Michael Artz)
France: Army Marseilles -> Auvergne.
France: Army Paris -> Bordeaux.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
Michael Artz says, "My favored opening from my vast experience has been what I call 'Cheese & Olives' Swiss Cheese & Spanish Olives."

Greg Nelson remarks that "this move is a bit more defensive against Germany. I don't think this one is very good, as you give up Monaco."

Basque Offensive
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco.
France: Army Paris -> Bordeaux.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay.
France: Army Lyon -> Auvergne.
Greg Nelson notes that "this puts all your guns against Spain and should give you Navarra in the fall. It's possible to cut a deal with the British player that might get you Portugal, but don't count on it. France doesn't gain much by going anti-Spain, but Britain will want you to, and an alliance with Britain is great news for France in this game."

Anti-German Openings

Helvetic Attack (Nathan Johnston)
France: Army Marseilles SUPPORT Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
France: Army Paris -> Alsace.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
Says Stephen Breininger, "Your army in Alsacia might be able to slip into Belgium or force its way into Munich. But this plan might be moving too amny of your forces away from Spain."

Greg Nelson notes that "this keeps Germany out of Alsace and will almost always take Switzerland. If you make both Alsace and Switzerland, you threaten Munich. A Mar can pick up Monaco in the fall unless Italy orders A Mil-Pie."

Robert Shepard says, "I like this opening the best. It provides a good balance of offensive and defensive positioning, and doesn't commit you to war with any other power (and) it gives France an almost sure bet of taking Switzerland.

Maginot (Simon Withers)
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco. (Monaco Variant)
France: Army Marseilles -> Switzerland (Swiss Variant)
France: Army Paris -> Alsace.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay.
France: Army Lyon SUPPORT Army Paris -> Alsace.

Charlemagne's Alliance
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco.
France: Army Paris -> Alsace.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Navarra.
France: Army Lyon SUPPORT Italian Army Milan -> Switzerland.

Lowlands (Simon Withers)
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco.
France: Army Paris -> Picardy.
France: Fleet Bordeaux HOLD.
France: Army Lyon -> Alsace.

Napoleon's Revenge (Erik Stensland)
France: Army Marseilles -> Switzerland.
France: Army Paris -> Picardy.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay. (Atlantic Variant)
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Navarra. (Basque Variant)
France: Army Lyon -> Alsace.
Greg Nelson says, "This opening puts all your troops on the front line right away but gives up any hope of picking up Monaco. Only use this if you can surprise the German and get Munich from him."

Erik Stensland describes the variant: "Move Marseilles to Switzerland to either bounce Italy and Germany out or setup a take of Munich. Move Paris to Picardy to position yourself against Germany. Move Lyon to Alsace to help take Munich or Belgium, if the move works. Move Bordeaux to Navarra to show Britain that you want an alliance."

Anti-Italian Openings

French Fashion Tour (Greg Nelson)
France: Army Marseilles -> Piedmont.
France: Army Paris -> Alsace.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
Greg Nelson says, "This opening can really get Italy in the shorts. Almost always, Italy's fleets and armies move away from Milan. You take Switzerland, and can support yourself into Milan in the fall. Monaco can be picked up in 1996. Meanwhile, Italy is on life support. You need German help on this, which you can get easily by pointing out that Austria, Croatia, etc. all fall to him."

Latin Offensive
France: Army Marseilles -> Piedmont.
France: Army Paris -> Auvergne.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Bay of Biscay.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
Greg Nelson comments that "to avoid annoying the German (in the French Fashion Tour), you might consider sending the Paris army south, depending on your Spanish-British stance."

Anti-British Openings

Swiss, Britanny Variant (Simon Withers)
France: Army Marseilles SUPPORT Army Lyon -> Switzerland.
France: Army Paris -> Alsace.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Britanny.
France: Army Lyon -> Switzerland.

William the Conqueror
France: Army Marseilles -> Monaco.
France: Army Paris -> Picardy.
France: Fleet Bordeaux -> Britanny.
France: Army Lyon -> Alsace.
Greg Nelson says that "this opening works well only if you have a German ally. You can use the fleet to assure that you take Belgium in the fall, in cooperation with a German fleet in Holland."

Statistics on the Use of Openings for Egypt

GameOpening UsedYearSC CountStanding
ThisthatSwiss, Basque Variant199671st (tied)
Day2dayAlpine Fist, Southern Variant2004142nd
ModsquadHelvetic Attack 2000103rd
Lie2meGarde-Frontiere, Atlantic Variant200674th
DickensMaginot, Swiss Variant 200294th (tied)
OdessaEiffel Tower 200385th
IzmirGarde-Frontiere, Atlantic Variant200036th
KatrasHelvetic Attack200236th
GdanskFrench Fashion Tour199756th (tied)
LyonAlpine Fist, Paris Variant200347th
DespairHelvetic Attack199867th
MilanHelvetic Attack199967th (tied)
DesireCamembert199757th (tied)
MinskSwiss, Basque Variant2001110th
Kgb? (Blind Game)1997??
BuchananCharlemagne's Allianceelim.
CairoMaginot, Monaco Variantelim.
Euro95Helvetic Attackelim.
NatoSpanish Attack, Monaco Variantelim.
RostovSwiss, Britanny Variantelim.
SpartikuAlpine Fist, Belgian Variantelim.
blitzzHelvetic Attackelim.
deleriumSwiss, Navarra Variantelim.
liarliarGarde-Frontiere, Bordeaux Variantelim.
sevilleSpanish Attack, Swiss Variantelim.

Strategy for France in Modern Games

France is one of the toughest powers to play in the Modern variant. It starts out the game with four neighbours -- Italy, Germany, Britain and Spain -- and must form many alliances if it is to survive. This is hard enough in a press game, but can be very difficult if press is removed. Furthermore, although France starts with four units, one of these units is a fleet in Bordeaux, which is almost useless in the first year or two.

The first decision France faces is its initial choice of target. Here there are several schools of thought. France has a similar position with regards to Spain as Austria has with Turkey in the standard game. Neither can really attack the other right away and do much damage, yet unless Spain is handled carefully, he will come charging into France a few years down the road. France has a better chance of going after Germany in the first year by moving to take Switzerland and possibly even Munich or Belgium. The same goes with Italy and Switzerland, from which France can sneak into Milan or launch a supported attack if she moved to Piedmont. So perhaps the question boils down to, when should France handle Spain?

One reason for attacking Spain right away is that your main ally against Spain, Britain, will probably not be around Spain very long unless you help out. If you want British help you should therefore send at least some forces towards Spain to slow Spain down and then take Monaco and hopefully Switzerland, build a fleet in Marseilles and then get Britain to send a second fleet southwards. The problem with taking on Spain in the first year however, is that for France to use any force at all, she exposes her back to Germany for a few years and will not get very far.

Peace with Germany is therefore of utmost importance for an early attack on Spain. The easiest way to achieve this is to get someone else to attack Germany or vice versa. Poland is the first choice here, but will probably be busy with Russia and Urkaine. It may be easier to get Germany to move eastwards against Poland, but don't count on it, especially in no-press games. Germany and Britain, on the other hand, are natural enemies, and could easily fight over the lowlands and Scandinavia for quite a while. However, Britain will want you to help out against Germany if you are attacking Spain together, and you will face a tough land battle in northeastern France. At this time, the temptation is probably too great for Italy and he will move west and try taking Marseilles and Monaco and that will be your downfall.

Another option for dealing with Spain is to wait a few years and help out Britain against Germany. Britain doesn't start with any armies, and so will have a hard time capturing Frankfurt and Munich. If you manage to take out Germany quickly, you should be able to stop with a nice demilitarized zone between you and Poland. You might then be able to turn around fast enough and attack Spain together. Britain will almost always want Gibraltar back, so he should be wililng to do this, but at this point Spain should have captured Gibraltar and Morocco and be quite a tough nut to crack. Still, a concerted effort by you and Britain to take Spain out should succeed in about 3 years. You will need a lot of forces to take Spain though, so this means exposing yourself to an Italian attack.

Peace with Italy is therefore the key when attacking Spain in the middle years after Germany is gone. Now the game position may finally help you though, since Italy will probably have expanded eastwards into the Balkans and either Egypt, Turkey or Ukraine should now turn on Italy and keep them busy. Still, if Italy wants to get involved in the west, he can probably keep them busy for a while just holding his position in the Eastern Med and then move west in force. If this happens, you should try getting Italy to go after Morocco by land. An army in Morocco should be of no threat to you and means one less unit for Spain. Perhaps it's even worth it to ask Egypt to do this if he has had early success against Italy in Africa.

A third option for dealing with Spain is to first take out Italy. Even though Italy has many centers nearby, it is possible to coordinate with Germany and take Switzerland and Milan in the first year while Germany takes Austria. If Germany keeps on helping you, he could move some land forces southwards to Venice while you move on and take Rome and Naples. At this point you should have about 3 fleets in the Mediterranean while Spain has taken out Britain in the south. Your ally Germany should also be attacking Britain, which at least is consistent with your interests.

The key to success when you turn on Spain now is timing because you will still need 2 to 3 years uninterrupted to take out Spain. If Britain falls easily against Germany, you may face a German attack, though if you have been a good ally he may turn east. Unfortunately, to take Britain, he probably needed a few fleets and there is not much use for them in attack inland in Poland or Russia. Perhaps the best thing is to have cooperated a bit on attacking Britain, though it is hard to see how you would have done that with your lack of resources. Also, if a major power in the east has emerged by now, you could easily find your recently captured centers in Italy under attack. This is more likely if Egypt has won the battle and a bit less likely if Turkey has, but again, with all the fleets he would have built to take out Egypt, he probably would be best positioned to move west rather than north against the Ukraine or Russia.

All this may come to make you wonder -- can France realistically ally with Spain? I believe the answer to this question is yes, provided you establish a few ground rules and keep an eye on your back. Spain can either go north against Britain or east against Italy and Egypt. If you believe it is best that Spain move northwards, Spain may also need a bit of convincing because your centers will be closer than Britain's to take, so perhaps you can offer Bordeaux up? It is not a very useful port with Spain around, and you could therefore stop worrying about your Atlantic coast. The only thing you should worry about is Auvergne, because it borders all of your home centers. I would either insist on being allowed to keep an army there at all times, or have a DMZ in Navarra and Barcelona and only allow Spain to have a fleet in Bordeaux. With Spain as an ally moving against Britain, you should breathe a sigh of relief and move against Italy, because at least one of you has to protect your front in the Mediterranean.

If on the other hand you want Spain to move eastwards, Tunisia and Libya are not that far away and you could offer him ground support in the north against Italy. Again you should be concerned about Auvergne as outlined above. Your defense against Spain centers around Auvergne and if it is gone, you are almost guaranteed to fall. In this case, however, it may be possible to station a fleet of yours in the Mid-Atlantic. This should prevent Spain from surrounding you, and you could say that you are also defending him against Britain.

Finally, you might ask, what about attacking Britain? I think the general consensus is that with Germany, Italy and Spain breathing down your neck, with Britain begging to help you against two of these, and with your starting positions in Modern preventing you from even reaching each other's home supply centers in the first year, that such an attack would be ludicrous. Still, if you wish to attack Britain, the best avenue would be to ally with Germany and take Belgium in the first year. You could also move your fleet north to the Channel or to the Mid-Atlantic? From there, I wish you the best of luck!

Initial Tactics for France in Modern

Now that you have chosen your overall strategy for playing France, it is time to look at your initial tactics. The moves for France boil down to a few simple things. What to do with your fleet in Bordeaux? Should you move to Alsace to keep Germany out? Should you support yourself into Switzerland? And can you wait to take Monaco?

The fleet in Bordeaux is not very useful in the first year, or even after. If you are going to attack Spain in the early or middle years, then you should help Britain to stay alive in Gibraltar or Morocco as long as possible. This means moving to Navarra for a stab at Portugal or a move on to the Mid-Atlantic. If you are sending an army south as well, possibly to the Bay of Biscay and supporting the army into Navarra.

On the other hand, if you are not attacking Spain, then you should probably just keep the fleet in Bordeaux or around Bordeaux so you can defend it. This is more or less the only use of the fleet. This is why you might want to consider giving up Bordeaux to Spain to get him to move northwards.

The next question is whether to move to Alsace in the first year. This is very similar to the question of whether you should move to Burgundy in standard dip. If you are attacking Germany you should definitely move there, otherwise, the move is a defensive one, but may irritate Germany enough to attack you. The most likely unit to move there is the one in Paris which can also move to Auvergne. The move to Auvergne is probably the strongest you can make against Spain, because he must then move back to Barcelona to cover it, and probably loses a build. However, if Germany moves to Alsace, he will border Paris, Lyon and Switzerland, so you will probably have to go on your gut feeling on this one.

The last two questions are tied together. If you support yourself into Switzerland, you will be waiting to take Monaco at least until the fall. You must decide how important Switzerland is to you. It will be quite hard for you to hold if Germany and Italy are allied. However, it does border two of your home centers, and if either Italy or Germany holds it, they will be able to attack you much more easily and may be quite tempted to do so. If you wait until the fall to take Monaco however, there is a small chance that Italy will move to Piedmont and keep you from getting it. Generally, I think it is worth the risk. The only time I would not support myself into Switzerland would be if I thought I would get in unnopposed and I wanted to move to Piedmont myself from Marseilles, either to block Italy or to be able to take Milan in the fall. It is questionable however whether giving up Monaco for Milan is worth it. It would be better to sneak into Milan from Switzerland in the fall, move into Switzerland from Alsace and take Monaco from Marseilles.

Finally, in addition to Auvergne, Alsace and Piedmont, the Ligurian Sea is an important spot to defend for France as it borders both Marseilles and Monaco. This means keeping it free of Italian fleets. Probably the best way of doing this is by building your own fleet and stationing it in the area. It may not be necessary to put it there, especially since it also borders Rome and may antagonize Italy, but having a fleet in the Gulf of Lyon would both help against Spain and serve as some deterrent against Italy.

Allies for France in Modern

Who should you ally with as France in Modern? As I stated in the strategy section, Britain is a good choice for an early attack on Germany or Spain. It is probably also the easiest power to convince to be your ally. For an early attack on Italy, Germany is probably the best ally, though Egypt may well want to help out. Other non-neighbouring allies you might want to consider talking to early on are Poland, Egypt and Turkey. If you can get any of these to attack Germany or Italy early in the game, your position will be much much better, as you will have more time to deal with Spain without worrying about these two.

France does have an advantage in that once you get large enough, you can attack both in the Mediterranean or the Atlantic, and still can build armies close to the action. For this reason, France should also entertain a relationship with a strong power in the east. This could be either Russia or Ukraine. I feel that Russia is probably the best ally for France at that point in the game, because it too will have navies both north and south, and together you have a good chance of crushing any resistance. I also have a feeling that the fates of Russia and France are somehow linked, because all the games that France has done well in until now, so has Russia and vice-versa. This remains to be proven though!

As a closing statement, I think one must say that to play France in Modern requires a very good diplomat and a brilliant tactician. My hat is off to whoever can pull off a solo victory as France!

Player Comments on France in General

Says Stephen Breininger: "France, Humph! This is a tough one! If Italy and Germany both gang up on you, then your sunk! You will be fighting 3 countries (Spain will be quick to jump in). At least your misery will not last too long."

Rick Desper comments: "At this time, many Modern games have been played. Most have ended in disaster for France. The common themes to these early disasters? War with Italy or Germany."

Toby Tyrell feels that "playing France in the Modern variant can be summarised as follows: 'don't do it!' Perhaps a good diplomat will be able to make a go of it with a weak-minded Spain, but if you are playing NoPress then don't choose France!"

Player Comments on French Strategy

Stephen Breininger notes that "the temptation is to head east (that is where the available supply centers are located. But France has to prepare for a battle with Spain!"

Says Rick Desper, "I think the key to France is going anti-Spanish, and not getting caught up in a stupid war with Germany or Italy. France cannot grow quickly like many other powers can (Italy, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Egypt) and it doesn't have the defensive strengths of some others (Egypt, Britain, Spain.) However, it has a nice central location, and it does have ports on both sides of the Med -- which makes it unique in the Modern variant. (Correction: Russia also has a Southern port, but it often loses it to either the Ukraine or Turkey, since it is so remote from the other Russian home SC's.) I would suggest playing France as a balance-of-power country. The exception is the foreign policy toward Spain. A strong Spain will always be a threat to France. Britain and Italy both make good secondary targets for France. You would think France would be a strong endgame country. There do not appear to be easily held anti-French stalemate lines."

Simon Withers claims that "because of France's inability to attack Spain effectively, the best she could really hope for is A Auv, A Nav, F Por with the support of an English F SAO, and that's hoping for quite a bit, France should keep an eye on the Spaniard while moving on Italy or Germany. Again, any move toward England in the first move is going to be so utterly weak, it's not worth bothering with."

Erik Stensland's strategy is "based on Position. Position, Position, Position!!! I love to move towards an opponent, rather than take a simple SC. The most important thing, I think, is to get position on Germany and destroy Spain quickly."

Player Comments on the Fleet in Bordeaux

Stephen Breininger says that "the fleet in Bordeaux is almost useless!"

Rick Desper "would hazard a guess that Bor-Bis is the most common move for that force (but) it would seem that the fleet's move is not quite so important as the actions around Switzerland."

Says Greg Nelson, "the fleet in Bordeaux doesn't have much to do in 1995. You can sail it to Navarra if you are anti-Spain, or to Brittany if you are anti-England, but most people will just put it to sea in the Bay of Biscay."

Robert Shepard notes that "France has a tough time maintaining a fleet in the north at first, so it seems best not to try. France can constantly remind Britian that he is not building northern fleets to encourage a British alliance (not to mention the fact that the Spanish are likely to take Gibraltar)."

Player Comments on Switzerland

Stephen Breininger offers: "Strike a deal with Italy, he goes after Austria and you go after Switzerland."

Rick Desper concurs: "I recommend securing Switzerland. Any neutral SC which borders two home SC's must be controlled by the owner of said home SC's. The good news is that Switzerland should be French at the end of the first year unless Germany and Italy are totally in synch in an anti-French campaign."

Robert Shepard thinks likewise. "Taking Switzerland seems important since Italy and Germany will want to go different ways, neither of these two would want the other to have it. Three way negotiations here can often be fruitful."

However, Toby Tyrell notes that "Germany and Italy can get into squabbles with France over Switzerland."

Player Comments on the Mediterranean and France

Rick Desper offers "another piece of advice: build F Marseilles the first year. The Mediterranean is far too important for France to forego all influence on it. F Mar is useful in influencing Italy and Spain, and provides a measure of protection for Monaco and Marseilles."

Player Comments on French Allies

England

Erik Stensland thinks that "England is your greatest ally. You must show England that you want NO part of a Sea battle. Let him go after Italy, while you clean house on land. Your ally in the East is Poland. She can do wonders for your growth. She not only can keep Germany busy put she also can keep England from growing too big. Then there is Egypt; she will help you deal with Italy when the time comes."

Rick Desper is in agreement: "Britain is the natural choice. Britain starts out entangled with Spain, and has basically no good avenues to attack France. Unless Britain wants to go North and abandon the MAO, B/F is a natural alliance."

Spain

Robert Shepard outlines a choice. "Either peace with or the rapid elimination of Spain is the first priority of France. Nevertheless, Spain as a long term ally can be problematic."

Rick Desper also cautions against a Spanish alliance. "Dippers from the Standard game might feel that France's two major worries are Britain and Germany. Nothing could be further from the truth. (Well, ok, it would be further from to truth to say 'France's two major enemies are Egypt and the Ukraine, but I digress.') What typically happens is France gets jammed fighting for Belgium or Switzerland while Spain methodically takes Gibraltar and Morocco, only to then turn on France in full force. If France waits until Spain has six SC's and the big momentum, France is meat. If B/F are coordinated the first year, they can keep Spain to one build. Try Par-Auv-Bar, combined with Bor-Nav and Gib-SAO. This gives the option of an attack on Portugal with two forces or a landing in Morocco. Also, Britain can easily bring at least one more fleet South in the first or second year. Once the alliance has two British fleets, two French fleets, and two French armies, it is just a matter of time before Spain collapses."

Toby Tyrell, too, notes that Spain is a problem for France. "In all of the Modern games I am involved in France is having a rough ride, and it is easy to see why. Where else is Spain going to go? Spain's natural, and almost inevitable, route to expansion is to come through France, and since Spain has little else to worry about this means trouble for France."

Michael Artz also agrees. "One thing I have determined is that Spain & France do not mix. One will eventually have to confront the other, much as Italy/Turkey in the regular game."

On the downside, Simon Withers notes that "France cannot attack Spain with much force in 1995, even with British help."

Italy

Stephen Breininger's feelings are that "usually Germany & England will fight it out over the lowlands (BEL, HOL, & DEN). Spain will probably be attacking you in the 2nd or 3rd year. Italy is the wildcard! If you go to war with him, you will be fighting on 2 fronts. This will probably be your ruin. My strategy would be to form an alliance with Italy."

Erik Stensland's feeling is that "Italy has too much growth potential to the east to worry about you. So Italy will leave you alone as long as he sees that you are going after Germany and Spain. Which are also 2 of his biggest enemies."

Rick Desper calls peace with Italy "essential for a number of reasons. It is rare that France can get further with an early anti-Italian attack than capture of Milan. If Italy collapses early, you'll likely Turkey or Ukraine or Egypt get huge fast, depending upon how the Balkans are going. I have seen one game where France managed to take out Italy by himself, but I would characterize that Italy's play as unusually below average."

Germany

Rick Desper advises for alliance with Germany, saying, "War with Germany? Put it right out of your mind. It's not even worth fighting for Belgium. It is likely that Germany will be more preoccupied with Britain and/or Poland. If you can buy peace with the sacrifice of Belgium, it is worth the cost. After all, Belgium is much closer to natural German SC's than French SC's. But -- if you do let Germany take Belgium, don't let him into Alsace!"

However, Erik Stensland notes that "in Modern, Germany really can not grow to the East so he must come after France."

Vincent Mous-Harboesgaard
(vim2@rocketmail.com)

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