Juggernaut panic

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Juggernaut panic

#1 Post by Amwidkle » Wed Nov 24, 2021 11:38 pm

Another orthodoxy I remember from first learning Diplomacy is the dreaded "Juggernaut" alliance of R/T. The idea of these two nations teaming up is allegedly so threatening that it demands the full and immediate attention of all 5 remaining nations, and airtight coordination among them. I've been in games where, even before the S01 moves are made, frenzied whispers of "a jugg" infect the press of all nations. Frankly, this is silliness.

First of all, R and T are only two nations. That ought to go without saying. Do they really stand a chance against the remaining 5? Not remotely. Yes, Russia starts with 4 units. But that small inherent one-unit advantage is balanced out by Russia's enormous front. Russia's extra unit plus the theoretical advantage of a consolidated Eastern side of the board doesn't remotely make up for the fact that 2 nations will never stand up against 5 united nations, which is apparently what "Juggernaut panic" calls for.

Second, a true R/T partnership is pretty infrequent to begin with. The Black Sea area is too tactically sensitive for trust between the two nations to easily take hold. In my experience playing Diplomacy, R/T is more unlikely than likely.

Third, the durability of an R/T alliance, even once established, is a very open question. A peaceful Black Sea area in '01 could still give way to R/T war in '02. Even if the alliance holds past '02, after the alliance's initial gains are made in the Balkans, the question of how exactly to parcel up Austria becomes contentious. The "Black Sea" issue of initial and ongoing trust between R/T doesn't disappear, but instead becomes extended along an even more elongated front. At about Trieste, Turkey runs face-first into Italy (or, possibly, France if the latter took over the Italian peninsula), and a grueling struggle in the Mediterranean. Turkey might instead look north at his Russian ally for easier gains. Similarly, Russia, rather than slugging it out on his own against whomever has come to dominate the West, may find greener pastures south in the lands of his Turkish ally. Once the delicate R/T trust is broken - and all it takes is a single move - opportunities for alliance reconfiguration abound.

Bottom-line: "Juggernaut panic" is an effective bit of propaganda that favors Austria, mainly, who is the one nation on the board whom a juggernaut most directly threatens. But there is little reason for Germany and Italy - let alone even more distant England and France - to fear that any perceived R/T friendliness in S01 or F01 is a long-term existential threat overriding more immediate concerns.

R/T is a viable alliance like any other, but it's not inherently stronger than other common, less-panic-inducing combos, like I/A, E/F, or E/G.

It seems to me that a lot of Diplomacy orthodoxy (here's looking at you, Richard Sharp - @ http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/god.htm) is simply written from a pro-Austria perspective. Don't get me wrong, his writing is excellent and contains great pro-Austria advice, but remember that other nations don't have to necessarily toe the Austrian line.

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Re: Juggernaut panic

#2 Post by TomareUtsuZo » Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:04 am

The Jug is scary precisely because one never get's all five other nations aimed at it. I've done the Jug a bunch of times, ended up with three to four nations aimed at us each time. The Jug was strong enough, every time, to make sure one, if not both, of us get to be major players at the end of the game.

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