Queen Anne Opening

(A Lpl – Edi; F Edi – Nwg; F Lon – Nth)

SummaryScreen Shot 2015-10-19 at 12.54.35 am

The Queen Anne is the second most popular English opening, and is seventh overall in the game of Diplomacy, occurring in 20.4% of games. The more aggressive of England’s northern-facing openings, it sacrifices defensive options (the army in Edinburgh cannot cover London as Yorkshire can in the Queen Elizabeth) in order to provide a full range of movement in Fall 1901.

The advantage of Edinburgh is that the army may now be convoyed by either fleet, enabling it to land in Norway and still leave North Sea available to move or support actions elsewhere. Of course, all the North Sea convoy options of the Queen Elizabeth remain as well.

Historical Discussion

Stephen Agar confirms the basic premise of the opening:

Widely seen as the most anti-Russian opening, with this combination England forsakes the ability of being able to cover London and have a supported attack on Norway in order to leave herself the option of convoying an army via the NWG – which is especially useful if you believe that Russia will not open with A(Mos)-StP as it leaves F(NTH) free to do other things. Having said that, there’s no a lot of point in this opening unless you want to keep your options open about taking Norway with an army, so perhaps we should consider the pros and cons of doing so.

He goes on to do just that, suggesting the St. Petersburg is a cul-de-sac for the English in an article that defined English strategy in postal play for much of the late 20th Century!

Richard Sharp favoured the English Channel openings and then the Yorkshire option, but considered that there was a case to be made for this being a riskier but more engaged opening:

So what advantages does the Edinburgh Variation have? The apparent gain is that the army can now be convoyed by either fleet, and the inference is clear: England intends to use F(NWG) to convoy the army to Norway, while F(NTH) is occupied elsewhere, perhaps taking part in the argument over Belgium. It is ironic that the Edinburgh Variation is habitually represented to Germany as being more pro-German than the Yorkshire; if anything, it is in fact rather less! But the main difference in the two lines remains the defensive value of A(Lpl)-Yor, and this seems to me to make it the superior choice.

Kevin Kozlowski, writing in the Gamer’s Guide To Diplomacy is cold on Liverpool to Edinburgh, suggesting it is only useful when allied with France and even then saying Yorkshire is better but that there may:

…occasionally be a case to made to move Liverpool to Edinburgh instead.

Hardly a ringing endorsement. In fact, the historical literature on the subject tend to dismiss the opening after ruling out that England would want their first target to be the Scandinavian centres. Despite the dominance of contrarian work on the opening, it maintained its popularity, suggesting that there were other unexpressed lines of thought on the matter.

Modern Theory

The opening is the poor cousin to the most pedigreed opening in the game. Yorkshire is considered the better place for the army simply because the offensive benefits are not worth the defensive sacrifice.

The option of convoying the army to Norway is certainly sound if a Russian attack is desired, but in this case either a more subtle Spring 1902 approach or a brutally aggressive move of F Nwg – Bar is favoured. Placing the army in Norway is great if Russia doesn’t get a build, but otherwise it is an invitation to build a unit in St. Petersburg. This, more than anything, is the critical flaw of the whole idea – the telegraphing of intent makes it very easy for Russia, Germany, and France to plan their builds with more knowledge of English intent than England has of theirs.

There are cases where the army in Norway and fleet in Belgium are good (particularly in three-way alliances) and a Russia under threat in the south can be quickly defeated through this opening, but amongst good players the opening is given limited use.

Notable Continuations

Named after Prime Ministers of Great Britain, the continuations for this line fall into two categories, those that transpose into Queen Elizabeth continuations and those unique to the Queen Anne.

The main Elizabethan continuations are:

  1. The Churchill (A Edi – Nwy; F Nth c Yor – Edi; F Nwg – Bar).
  2. The Thatcher (A Edi – Hol; F Nth c Edi – Hol; F Nwg – Nwy).
  3. The Lloyd George (A Edi – Bel; F Nth c Edi – Bel; F Nwg – Nwy).
  4. The Asquith (A Edi – Nwy; F Nth c Edi – Nwy; F Nwg s Edi – Nwy)

The main continuations unique to the Queen Anne are:

  1. The Harley (A Edi – Nwy; F Nth – Ska; F Nwg c Edi – Nwy)
  2. The St John (A Edi – Lon; F Nth c Edi – Lon; F Nwg – Nwy)
  3. The Talbot (A Edi – Nwy; F Nth – Lon; F Nwg c Edi – Nwy)
  4. The Walpole (A Edi – Nwy; F Nth s Ruh – Bel; F Nwg c Edi – Nwy)
  5. The Compton (A Edi – Nwy; F Nth s Bur – Bel; F Nwg c Edi – Nwy)
  6. The Pelham (A Edi – Nwy; F Nth – Bel; F Nwg c Edi – Nwy)
  7. The Cavendish (A Edi – Nwy; F Nth – Den; F Nwg c Edi – Nwy)
  8. The Stuart (A Edi – Nwy; F Nth – Hol; F Nwg c Edi – Nwy)
  9. The Grenville (A Edi – Yor; F Nth – Lon; F Nwg – Nwy)
  10. The Watson-Wentworth (A Edi – Yor; F Nth – Nwy; F Nwg s Nth – Nwy)

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