The next lectures look at the effect on strategy of transitioning from the opening to the mid-game, first from the perspective of the leaders – the 3 or 4 largest powers.
Before going too far, we need to answer: what is the mid-game? Hobby authors have offered many alternatives, but I am going to use my favorite (albeit imperfect) definition; when the first power on the board has been reduced beyond material offensive action (to 2 SCs or less) and the aggressors in that war begin to address their second target, the opening is over and the mid-game has begun.
This moment in the game often marks a significant strategic transition for every surviving power. Unless the first marginalized power was Italy (a rare occurrence), by definition at least one of the two triangles has been resolved, which brings to the fore key strategic questions. Consider:
Will the victors in the settled triangle now attack each other, one looking to become the dominant power on half the board? Or will they cross the main stalemate line, either as allies or independently, and threaten the powers of the other triangle?
Shall the opposite triangle redouble efforts to resolve by neutralizing a power, or will they cooperate instead to face the threat from the other side of the board? Or in yet another alternative, will powers across triangles cooperate?
Optimal mid-game strategy is highly situational and there is no one right answer to the questions posed. Factors such as the relative strength and position of powers as well as the style and motivation of players make a big difference. As a result, it is difficult to give generic mid-game advice. However, there are a number of concepts to keep in mind:
* The basic strategic insight – larger numbers win – now applies on a continental scale. Does any coalition control 18 or more SCs? If so, they have the potential to sweep the board and the opposing powers may need to address the alliance structure. If the board consists of 3 coalitions rather than 2, then no alliance may yet have the numbers to sweep.
* Position increases in importance. While complete stalemate lines are unlikely to form at this stage of the game, both crossing the positions required for your opponents to form them and retaining the ability to form them yourself are of enormous strategic value as they can make up for differences in force.
* Balance of power engenders stability. Rarely are alliances of materially unequal size and growth prospects stable in this stage. They tend to invite stabs by either power, the dominant (a crime of opportunity) or dominated (to upend the existing balance). Allies may address this or live with the consequences of the unstable structure.
Similarly, a powerful alliance might be destabilized rather than defeated outright. By throwing up unequal resistance, concentrating defenses against only one enemy or with strategic retreats, balance of power can be affected to the greater detriment of the opponents’ alliance.
***** OPTIONAL READING *****
Games are not won in the mid-game, however opportunities to win can slip away from poor mid-game strategy. In order to solo, this is the stage of the game where you must be looking to create and maintain opportunities to win. Here are a couple of articles that may inspire you.