Hmmm….. Well, let’s check out the map. A big country. Lots of areas. Is the glass half empty or full? All I see is the empty. Lots of areas to defend and worry about. Lots of enemies that can attack me from all sides. I’m feeling paranoid already! The EU is a massive threat from the west. To the east we have China. Japan can always jump in as an ankle bitter. No threat from the south, unless you are playing with the Islamic power. The CW could always launch a surprise invasion through the Norwegian sea. All in all, I’m most worried about the EU. I’m not sure why exactly. Counting out the areas, it is just as easy to be conquered by China as by the EU. I guess maybe it is because of Eastern Europe. There are lots of good factories to be had there: Poland, Romania, Ukraine. If the EU is attacking me in Russia, that means they already have already overrun all that production too, so I would be out produced.
What is the best defense against that? Seize Eastern Europe first! Of course that will ensure that there IS a war with Europe. But what are those Chinese up to? I am in between the rock of Europe and the Chinese hard place. I can see right away these two must NOT become allies. I think I can handle either one of them for awhile. Both at once? I might last a turn. I’d be lucky to last more than 2.
It is hard to ever see Europe as an ally. Somebody is going to want Eastern Europe at some point. I see war with the EU as inevitable. How long do we want to put it off? I think this is going to vary per game. Does the EU start the game weak? Turn 1 might be our best opportunity to take them down a few notches and get the upper hand. If we start off weak, it’s best to adopt a delay and build strategy.
China could be an ally. We focus west. They hit Japan and/or the CW. We both keep forces off of each other’s borders. That is easy to do if we are engaged on opposite fronts. Could the US or CW be an ally? Not likely. Japan is an exciting possibility. If I was sure that the EU was committed elsewhere, Japan and I could make quick work of China. With a little luck, 1 good turn should be all it takes to stomp them out of the game. Nice. I like this better. I hate defensive, paranoid thinking. Much more fun to think offensively. “What can I take?”
Speaking of things to take, I love the Middle East! What better target? A Middle Eastern strategy will make for an exciting game. First, you need to get China and the EU distracted somehow. Diplomacy might buy you a turn or two. Inevitably, lots of oil companies will come out in the Gulf Region. Who is in a better position to take it? You build in Volgograd and march south. No other power can put more military power into the Middle East more efficiently than Russia. You march in and seize everything. Won’t that make lots of enemies? And how! You will instantly be public enemy number one. No getting around that. Won’t that put you at war with the whole world? Yes but so what? It is a war of your design. It will be an expensive uphill battle for them. Cheap and easy for you. They have to build fleets and ship people in from all around the world. Can’t they just ignore the Middle East and invade you directly on some other front? No. Not seriously anyways. With what oil? All the stuff you just seized and are sitting on?
This really puts the hurt on everybody. They have to fight you in an awkward and expensive campaign. You can’t be ignored. They don’t have oil to do it with but you do. Oil prices will skyrocket! You can sell a little here and there to keep your cash levels high easily while fighting. This game will instantly explode into total war from turn 1. It will be a knock down drag out. Will you come out on top? It will be close. Go big or go home.
What can you accomplish on the diplomatic front in this game? Not much. At best you may be able to con a couple of players into not attacking for a turn or 2. A good approach here is convincing them to just stay neutral and get rich by selling oil at high prices. “Let all the other players do your fighting for you!” By the time they realize they need to be actively involved in stopping you, it will be too late!
You are a land power. Armies, Armies, Armies. Shouldn’t you have a few Navies? No. Every Navy you have is an Army you don’t have. The only way I could see starting off with and building Navies is if nobody is playing China and the EU. If they are active players, watch what they build at opening. Especially the EU. If either of them builds any Navies, they are vulnerable! There is a good chance that a concentrated turn 1 blitz could knock them out of the game. Won’t that make enemies? You bet but who cares? You just doubled up on turn 1. Bring it on!
As mentioned above, Japan makes a great alliance partner against China. Try to take out China quickly. If you pull this off, Japan will have to turn and face the US/CW, while you rapidly shift west to take on the EU. If you can keep up your momentum you have a good chance of beating the ‘allies’.
If you can trust them, they could make a good alliance partner too. You fight Europe, they fight Japan. No inherent advantage here. (unless something good aligns with the cards) This could easily turn into a long, bloody stalemate. Use caution here.
Eventually, Europe will be an enemy. Try to plan on when you want this to become openly hostile. Could the EU be an ally? It will be very tough to decide how to divide Eastern Europe. If you can pull that off, it is a possibility. What if new cards come out in Easter Europe later? The deal you worked out could fall apart later at any moment. Besides, what is to be gained? You fight China while EU attacks the CW? I see this easily falling apart at some point too. Nah, it’s better just to plan on fighting them.