The Waterloo Opening

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Enriador
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The Waterloo Opening

#1 Post by Enriador » Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:43 pm

One of the most famous battles in History, the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 heralded the end of an era and the start of another, marked by further revolution, industrialization and massive changes in all aspects of society. As the decisive stage of Napoleon's "Hundred Days", the quiet Belgian town won worldwide fame.

A century later, the fields of Belgium would be the ground for another Hundred Days, this time as part of the Great War. France and England, the mortal enemies of yore, joined forces to push through the German lines towards victory in 1918.

Inspired by this past of conflict and cooperation, I would like to present an unusual Anglo-French opening, putting the Entente Cordiale on a furious swirl against Germany right away in 1901. The opening starts simple in Spring 1901:

France:
F Bre-ENG
A Par-Bur
A Mar-Spa
England:
F Edi-NRG
F Lon-NTH
A Lvp-Wal

Link to image: https://imgur.com/mXcFI6d

As far as I can tell, neither of these openings have been properly named. The English opening is a Welsh variation of the Northern Opening, and doesn't really make sense by itself. The French opening is a variation of the Manche Opening, being somewhat similar to the English Maginot (A Mar S A Par-Bur, F Bre-ENG). When writing to Germany, England should declare a primary interest against Russia in Scandinavia (a bounce in Sweden would greatly benefit this opening), while France states their intent to hit England hard and grab Belgium with a supported attack.

The lingering question is how exactly sending a French fleet to the English Channel can be of any mutual advantage to England, especially if the idea is to attack Germany. Well, here's where our alliance's secret, seemingly innocuous weapon - the army in Wales - comes to bear in Fall 1901:

France:
F ENG C A Wal-Bel
A Bur-Mun
A Spa-Por
England:
F NRG-Nwy
F NTH-HEL
A Wal-Bel

Link to image: https://imgur.com/lrbyeQC

As England seizes Norway and Belgium while advancing onto Heligoland Bight, France captures Portugal, cooks Spain for the next year, and grabs Munich for a massive headstart against the Kaiser. As with every Diplomacy opening, this set of moves depends on the right context and diplomatic footwork - France must strongly stress to Germany its intentions of using the French fleet to support the army in Burgundy to Belgium, cleaning up the unsupported conquest of Belgium by the convoyed English army, and Munich by the lonely French army.

With two builds each and advanced positions against a (likely) 4-center Germany, the Entente Cordiale can radically up the tempo of the game and solve the Western Triangle as soon as 1903 if lucky. For the truly devious, England can also send F NTH to Denmark instead (the "Waterloo Whirlwind" variation), especially if in league with a Russian fleet intending to bypass Sweden in order to enter the Baltic Sea. Fun fact: it's the only possible way for England to get three builds in 1901.

Next time you get either England or France to play and you find a friendly diplomat on the other side of the Channel, try pulling up the Waterloo - at the very least you will laugh at everyone's reactions on that fancy Welsh convoy.
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yuuki
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Re: The Waterloo Opening

#2 Post by yuuki » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:01 pm

England is trusting too much in France and Germany is trusting too much in France. Only way I see this working is if France is both an amazing negotiator and extremely committed to make this plan happen.

I don't see how Germany doesn't defend Munich after France sneaks into Burgundy, and I also don't see how Germany just lets France into Burgundy in 01 without being suspicious.

Main issues here are:

France in Fall 01 can easily betray England and sneak into London. With England in Norway and Hel and no build it will be very difficult for England to come back from that stab. France can build fleet in brest and move next spring North Sea and E. Ch guaranteeing Lon for at least 02 while giving France enough time to prepare more units to send against England's backyard. Germany and Russia will be more than willing to pounce. It's game over for England in 01 if France stabs

If France doesn't stab, then the likely scenario is a 5 SC England, a 5 SC Germany, and a 4 SC France. Even with E. Ch fleet and Bur army, France can't properly defend if Italy attacks. Italy usually jumps on a 4 SC France immediately. England can stab quite easily if Russia is not fighting Norway.

My view is that France always stabs England in Fall in this situation. Much more to win and much less risk.
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Enriador
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Re: The Waterloo Opening

#3 Post by Enriador » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:45 pm

Only way I see this working is if France is both an amazing negotiator and extremely committed to make this plan happen.
It does require strong negotiation skills - this is not a beginner's opening like the Southern Hedgehog. Commitment relies on the extent France wishes to beat down Germany early on.

Do note England also needs to be well aboard the boat. It's simple far too easy for England to warn Germany off, grab Norway and Belgium, then put up an alliance with Germany by way of Fleet London and Fleet Liverpool.

The opening is quite versatile for both sides.
I don't see how Germany doesn't defend Munich after France sneaks into Burgundy, and I also don't see how Germany just lets France into Burgundy in 01 without being suspicious.
France doesn't even have to sneak into Burgundy. They can tell Germany right away they are moving there as part of an English Maginot - bonus points if threatening to use A Mar to forcefully support A Par-Bur, which Germany can do nothing against (Italy also happens to stay well clear of a France that has units in both Bur and Mar, it's a pain to do the Piedmont-Marseilles guessing game this way). France can either just scare off Germany or actually do the support and move A Mar-Spa in Fall, then taking Portugal in 1902. A delay, but far from fatal.

If Germany is too wary, France can also simply support A Wal-Bel and let Germany waste the usual position in Ruhr (which all but guarantees a gain in Holland in 1902, further biding England to France). Either way, France can successfully pressure Germany.
France in Fall 01 can easily betray England and sneak into London. With England in Norway and Hel and no build it will be very difficult for England to come back from that stab. France can build fleet in brest and move next spring North Sea and E. Ch guaranteeing Lon for at least 02 while giving France enough time to prepare more units to send against England's backyard. Germany and Russia will be more than willing to pounce. It's game over for England in 01 if France stabs
Yes, it can be really hard on England if France stabs. Again, we can trace parallels with some advanced openings like the Key Lepanto (oh boy, can't Austria be really screwed if it goes wrong) or the Slingshot Juggernaut (for either side, here). This opening isn't for the faints of heart.
If France doesn't stab, then the likely scenario is a 5 SC England, a 5 SC Germany, and a 4 SC France.
You didn't remark on it, but: France getting one less SC than England in the case Germany defends Munich is a fair trade for the extra danger England suffers in 1901.
Even with E. Ch fleet and Bur army, France can't properly defend if Italy attacks. Italy usually jumps on a 4 SC France immediately. England can stab quite easily if Russia is not fighting Norway.
To be honest, if France has to face initial hostilities from England, Germany and Italy, good Lord, no possible combination of moves can save it. Actually, having a fleet in ENG and an army in Burgundy can help by slightly delaying the inevitable.

Any English stab will have to deal with a French fleet in ENG, which can be a massive pain in the ass to get rid off as it can easily go into raiding mode behind English lines. Anyway, should France find itself facing both England and Germany... well, we got a standard situation where France bides its time, wards off G/E, and waits for the arrival of the Russian cavalry... only it already controls Burgundy and English Channel, a huge boon in early stages.

And of course, Italy cannot possibly reach France before it grabs another build from Portugal or Spain. I am not aware of Italy "usually" going west because France ignored one of the Iberian centers in the name of a more daring move. Eastern context will always be king here... but I may be wrong and Popes do jump on France ASAP. Got any data on this?
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yuuki
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Re: The Waterloo Opening

#4 Post by yuuki » Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:18 pm

Enriador wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:45 pm
Only way I see this working is if France is both an amazing negotiator and extremely committed to make this plan happen.
It does require strong negotiation skills - this is not a beginner's opening like the Southern Hedgehog. Commitment relies on the extent France wishes to beat down Germany early on.

Do note England also needs to be well aboard the boat. It's simple far too easy for England to warn Germany off, grab Norway and Belgium, then put up an alliance with Germany by way of Fleet London and Fleet Liverpool.

The opening is quite versatile for both sides.
I don't see how Germany doesn't defend Munich after France sneaks into Burgundy, and I also don't see how Germany just lets France into Burgundy in 01 without being suspicious.
France doesn't even have to sneak into Burgundy. They can tell Germany right away they are moving there as part of an English Maginot - bonus points if threatening to use A Mar to forcefully support A Par-Bur, which Germany can do nothing against (Italy also happens to stay well clear of a France that has units in both Bur and Mar, it's a pain to do the Piedmont-Marseilles guessing game this way). France can either just scare off Germany or actually do the support and move A Mar-Spa in Fall, then taking Portugal in 1902. A delay, but far from fatal.

If Germany is too wary, France can also simply support A Wal-Bel and let Germany waste the usual position in Ruhr (which all but guarantees a gain in Holland in 1902, further biding England to France). Either way, France can successfully pressure Germany.
France in Fall 01 can easily betray England and sneak into London. With England in Norway and Hel and no build it will be very difficult for England to come back from that stab. France can build fleet in brest and move next spring North Sea and E. Ch guaranteeing Lon for at least 02 while giving France enough time to prepare more units to send against England's backyard. Germany and Russia will be more than willing to pounce. It's game over for England in 01 if France stabs
Yes, it can be really hard on England if France stabs. Again, we can trace parallels with some advanced openings like the Key Lepanto (oh boy, can't Austria be really screwed if it goes wrong) or the Slingshot Juggernaut (for either side, here). This opening isn't for the faints of heart.
If France doesn't stab, then the likely scenario is a 5 SC England, a 5 SC Germany, and a 4 SC France.
You didn't remark on it, but: France getting one less SC than England in the case Germany defends Munich is a fair trade for the extra danger England suffers in 1901.
Even with E. Ch fleet and Bur army, France can't properly defend if Italy attacks. Italy usually jumps on a 4 SC France immediately. England can stab quite easily if Russia is not fighting Norway.
To be honest, if France has to face initial hostilities from England, Germany and Italy, good Lord, no possible combination of moves can save it. Actually, having a fleet in ENG and an army in Burgundy can help by slightly delaying the inevitable.

Any English stab will have to deal with a French fleet in ENG, which can be a massive pain in the ass to get rid off as it can easily go into raiding mode behind English lines. Anyway, should France find itself facing both England and Germany... well, we got a standard situation where France bides its time, wards off G/E, and waits for the arrival of the Russian cavalry... only it already controls Burgundy and English Channel, a huge boon in early stages.

And of course, Italy cannot possibly reach France before it grabs another build from Portugal or Spain. I am not aware of Italy "usually" going west because France ignored one of the Iberian centers in the name of a more daring move. Eastern context will always be king here... but I may be wrong and Popes do jump on France ASAP. Got any data on this?
I think that the incentives for France to stab are too high for England to agree to this if proposed by France. Only way this could work is if England is the one who proposes it and France is genuinely intrigued by the idea of playing a different strategy (meaning a France player that is more curious than ambitious), and even then it can be scuppered by Russia opening north and Germany defending properly.

Also, I'm not saying that France is facing a three way alliance against him from the get go which is obviously really difficult to deal with, just that if things go wrong for him in 01 he may be inviting that alliance to form in 02. I don't have data on that, but the best Italy players open neutral while biding their time to decide whether to attack France, Austria or Turkey. It's rare to see Italy commit to a strategy and not budge depending on initial moves. A 4 SC France cannot defend against two of the three neighbors working together, so Italy doesn't even need both England and Germany to commit. Burgundy support to Marseilles can be of course cut by Germany and if France leaves Burgundy to defend Marseilles then Germany runs over him.

It's an odd opening that could be fun to try but I don't see it leading to a long-term alliance like other openings may.

Enriador
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Re: The Waterloo Opening

#5 Post by Enriador » Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:23 pm

I think that the incentives for France to stab are too high for England to agree to this if proposed by France. Only way this could work is if England is the one who proposes it and France is genuinely intrigued by the idea of playing a different strategy (meaning a France player that is more curious than ambitious), and even then it can be scuppered by Russia opening north and Germany defending properly.
I wholeheartedly agree the opening is better executed when proposed by England - France may sound like an opportunist. I wouldn't claim it would "only" work under this condition though; the Key Lepanto is an example of a one-sided opening that has been proposed by the "losing" player even in championships. Under the right setup, anything can happen.

I don't think curiosity and ambition are opponents here. As you noted, France has the upper hand in terms of stabbing early on, and should the offensive be successful, France will have a crippled neighbor in Germany and a fleet hovering around the Channel in 1902. Oh, I also forgot to mention the empty North Sea... if France is really ambitious, they can do the good old Franco-Russian Entente and push down heavily on England without a load of effort.
Also, I'm not saying that France is facing a three way alliance against him from the get go which is obviously really difficult to deal with, just that if things go wrong for him in 01 he may be inviting that alliance to form in 02.
I see. Your point is valid, but any French opening can go wrong if England/Germany align their interests (F Lon-ENG, A Lvp-Wal, A Mun-Bur etc)... and a still-neutral Italy can strike west anyway if they smell French weakness and easy gains in Marseilles/Spain. I don't see this opening as fundamentally different from most gambits.
I don't have data on that, but the best Italy players open neutral while biding their time to decide whether to attack France, Austria or Turkey. It's rare to see Italy commit to a strategy and not budge depending on initial moves. A 4 SC France cannot defend against two of the three neighbors working together, so Italy doesn't even need both England and Germany to commit.
Indeed, but while Italy should wait and see most of the time, western-going Italians are a rare sight anywhere. After all, Italy can also get stuck along the Main Stalemate Line while Turkey and/or Austria grow in strength... and Italy is primarily an eastern power. The risk always exists, but from my experience most Popes focus on making sure everything is controlled around the Balkans before attempting western dashes.
A 4 SC France cannot defend against two of the three neighbors working together, so Italy doesn't even need both England and Germany to commit. Burgundy support to Marseilles can be of course cut by Germany and if France leaves Burgundy to defend Marseilles then Germany runs over him.
A 4-SC France can defend itself (for a while...) if it holds the right units at the right places (which it should, using the proposed opening). To use your example: I don't see how Italy would have a fleet in the Gulf of Lyon in Spring 1902 ready to lend support for A Pie-Mar (a fleet in Tunis or Ionian Sea can only provide this support in 1903!), while a German army cuts support in Burgundy... unless Italy already opened to Piedmont and the Tyrrhenian Sea in 1901, but then we are dealing with the hypothesis of Italy heading west right away in 1901, possibly as part of a triple (western-going Italy, pissed off Germany, stabby England).

And as you wisely mentioned, this doomsday scenario is obviously difficult to deal with, no matter the opening.
It's an odd opening that could be fun to try but I don't see it leading to a long-term alliance like other openings may.
That's a very good way of defining it. England/France is already a complicated alliance to drive all the way to a 2-way draw, but it can provide a good and (just as importantly) surprising head start for both countries that can rock the board good... if the context is right.

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Re: The Waterloo Opening

#6 Post by Claesar » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:30 pm

Enriador wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:23 pm
... the Key Lepanto is an example of a one-sided opening that has been proposed by the "losing" player even in championships. Under the right setup, anything can happen.
...
Yes, at the last WDC my Austrian neighbour suggested I open to Trieste. It happens.
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captainmeme
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Re: The Waterloo Opening

#7 Post by captainmeme » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:51 pm

A_Tin_Can was trying this opening out to see if he could make it work a couple of years ago. I don't know whether it ever did.

As the local Key Lepanto enthusiast, this opening appeals to me from a 'this is awesome if it works' standpoint but it's actually worse than the Key from a likelihood not to stab standpoint. In the Key, Italy has a choice between taking Trieste and taking Serbia, both of which give Italy a build - in this opening, France has a choice between getting a guaranteed build from London or giving England the build from Belgium - a much more lopsided choice.

I think it definitely can work if you have a France who is enthusiastic about doing interesting openings (just like the Key does); but you likely have to be playing England and propose it (because what England would ever accept this) and be a very good judge of character.
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Wusti
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Re: The Waterloo Opening

#8 Post by Wusti » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:33 am

If England doesn't get stabbed its a perfect platform for her to snowball from. I don't know why anyone would actually follow through on it though. Novel doesn't make it good.

Enriador
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Re: The Waterloo Opening

#9 Post by Enriador » Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:33 am

in this opening, France has a choice between getting a guaranteed build from London or giving England the build from Belgium - a much more lopsided choice
.

Indeed. France has to pitch a strong case to England from the start; before even considering the choice of convoy vs stab, England has to allow France into the Channel in the Spring in first place after all, a hard call to make... yet, if England knows Germany & Russia will dance along and France looks, like you said, enthusiatic, then *maybe* it is a risk worth taking.

I found the game you mentioned. @A_Tin_Can used a Manche/Vineyard combo, but overall it played similarly to what I had in mind: https://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?game ... #gamePanel. France stabbed early in 1902, but ended up drawing with England. I recommend reading the post-game press, it's very elucidative.
If England doesn't get stabbed its a perfect platform for her to snowball from
To once again draw an analogy with the Key Lepanto: the same is true of Italy. In the traditional Key, A Rom-Ven follows A Ven-Tri. Italy can do some nasty things in Fall like A Tri-Vie, A Ven-Tri, F Ion-Tun and get three builds, two of them Austrian home centers.

Novelty, however, is what gave that opening initial attention, which subsequently enabled further study after dozens of games of practises. We only know if an opening is effective by trying it several times, and in these times where we known half a hundred openings by heart, new tricks can lead you quite far if one is willing to try.

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