Diplomacy Puzzle #1 – The Ghug Gambit

Hello, I’m CaptainMeme and this is the first
episode in (hopefully) a series of puzzle videos for the board game Diplomacy. Before
we start I’d like to extend my thanks to webDiplomacy user Ghug who talked me through a few of the
more interesting phases in a game he was playing in. That game ended up being the inspiration
for this puzzle. In reference to that, this puzzle is called Ghug’s Gambit, and it’s one
of the more challenging puzzles I’ve seen. Anyhow, without further ado, let’s get to
explaining the scenario. It’s Spring, 1911. You’re playing Austria
and you’re currently in an alliance with Russia against a 17 center France. He only needs
1 more center to win the game. A quick examination of this board shows that there’s no possible
way to stop the French player from winning; eventually, he will take Tunis no matter what
you do. However, thankfully for you, the French player is particularly boastful and is claiming
that he’ll be able to solo even if he tells you his moves before every turn goes through.
While Diplomacy players are notorious for lying to each other at every single opportunity,
we’ll assume that he’s actually telling the truth for the sake of this puzzle, and that
he intends to keep that promise for the rest of the game. Here is the order set that the Frenchman has
provided you for Spring 1911. You’ll notice that a lot of his units are holding or support
holding other units. This is because he’s playing particularly defensively in the north
and doesn’t think that he’ll need those units acting aggressively to solo. In fact, since
his northern armies are all blocked in and his northern fleets are so far away, the game
will come down to the three fleets that he has moving at the moment, so you can assume
that he’ll never move any of the rest of them. These three fleets are: the fleet in the Gulf
of Lyon, the fleet in the Mid Atlantic Ocean, and the fleet in the English Channel.
Your objective is to come up with orders for both yourself and the Russian, for the Spring
and the Fall of 1911, such that after 1911 the French player will be stalemated and will
not be able to take an 18th supply center, assuming that he continues telling you his
orders. This can be an active stalemate, when you are having to continually bounce him in
a province, or a passive stalemate, where you’re just supporting hold your units. And, that’s it! Seems easy, right? You’ve
got six fleets against his three and a bunch of spare armies in the Italian peninsula ready
to block him off. However it’s a lot more challenging than it first appears. As always,
there will be a hint video going up a short time after this, and a solution video in a
couple of days. Please avoid posting spoilers in the comment section of the video – if you
want me to check your solution, you can email me at DiploStrats [at] gmail [dot] com, or
you can PM CaptainMeme on webDiplomacy.net, or you can join the Diplomacy Discord Server
which is linked in the description. Thanks for watching and I hope to see you all in
the next video!

  1. I believe that the only way France doesn't force this game, regardless of what A/R do, even with telling them his moves ahead of time, is if the French player makes suboptimal moves.

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