Playing France in Colonial Diplomacy

by Jim Burgess

I agree that Colonial Diplomacy is over-priced for essentially a run of the mill variant, but it does have some interesting diplomatic and tactical features. For one thing, the positions all have interesting characteristics and unique problems to solve.

France is hardly unplayable... I suspect you haven't taken the right approach. I don't have time for a full tactical/diplomatic article, but here are some of my tips for playing France in Colonial Dip:

  • The number one priority is neutralizing a potential incursion by Britain into Southeast Asia. You probably have to do that by allying with the Dutch and the Chinese, at least at the beginning. Given each of their "special problems" (China without fleets and the Dutch needing help to get at Japan or Britain), this should not be much of a problem.
  • Make Japan your dearest and longest enemy. To me, the hardest thing to do is to put Japan away in this game. Put it up as a challenge to at least two of Russia, Holland, and China and go for it. They NEED your fleets to do it.
  • At some point you need to put the Dutch down or go for a two way with them. As a stung Dutch player, I suggest the latter, but from the advisor's seat on high, the former probably is better; however, timing is very, very tricky. Since this is a "late game" problem in all likelihood, after the Dutch are divided between attacking Japan and Britain (with the soft underbelly waiting for your gut wrenching stab), the total board position at that time must guide your choice.
  • China really can't hurt you if you play the first couple of seasons right, so take advantage of that... open question as to how, but you'll think of something. Attacking China in a big way is not the way to begin thinking about it.

So, that's a start. Don't ridicule the game too quickly. I have found its subtleties and subtext to be rewarding with good play. I would admit that novice or poor negotiating players are not likely to do well in this game and the presence of too many of them might make the game worse for you or whoever was having trouble playing France. But like a lot of these countries there is a lot of upside and downside potential. In a game with this many centers, that fluidity is extremely desirable.

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