A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[AH] On the 1914 Europe map of Diplomacy as an alternate history (#alternatehistory)

One of the things that I am doing now, in the early days of my quarantine, is playing an online game of Diplomacy with some old friends. Looking at the standard European map, an elaboration on the map of Europe and adjoining areas, makes me think of the way that this map might better represent different alternate history scenarios than our own history.

1914 map of Diplomacy

The distribution of supply centres, the starred regions capable of supporting military units, comes to mind. Each region is capable of supporting military units of very comparable power. This suggests to me a relatively even level of development across the map, that (say) Belgium and Bulgaria are at similar levels.

One thing that particularly jumps out at me as the relative power of southeastern Europe, including the Ottoman Empire. Anatolian Turkey apparently does have the economic power and military heft necessary to support Great Power status, to a level comparable to Italy or Austria-Hungary. Is Diplomacy set in a timeline where Ottoman modernization succeeded? (But then, how can the loss of the Balkans be explained?) On a smaller scale, Tunis being a supply centre might also suggest successful modernization there.

(Another thing that pops out as me is the space on the map for other Great Powers. A Scandinavia that encompasses three power centres could surely be a great power. A United Netherlands with only two supply centres would be more vulnerable, while it seems that the main problem with a Balkan conglomeration would be a backstory.)

An idea: WI there is an earlier separation of the European Balkans from the Ottomans, the shock of this separation triggering more successful modernization not just of the Ottoman Empire but of other Muslim states in the Mediterranean? Perhaps the Ottoman Balkans managed to split off as a unified state–a broader Orthodox conspiracy–and even managed to become a separate power themselves?

Another thing that pops out to me is the distribution of supply centres on the map in specific regions. A world where western France industrializes before eastern France, where Bavaria beats the Ruhr, where Trieste outstrips Bohemia (an Illyrian unit in the Hapsburg empire?), would be a very different world.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 28, 2020 at 5:35 pm

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