Basic Trope: Two opposing powers each try to win over a smaller but significant third power to their side to gain an advantage over their rival.
Straight: The Freedom Federation and the People's Pact are locked in a power struggle. Both of them want the small but proud and independent nation of Bendova to join their side and help them defeat the other.
Exaggerated: The leaders of the Freedom Federation and the People's Pact pour everything they have into bringing Bendova into the fold, to the point that the rest of their allies desert their alliances out of neglect.
Downplayed: Freedom Federation and People's Pact put a lot of effort into getting bendova to join them, but they don't plan too much around it.
Justified: Bendova controls a strategic choke point restricting traffic between the two alliances, and/or has resources that will give whoever controls it a decisive advantage.
Inverted: The Empire of Bendova plays its neighbors, the Freedom Federation and the People's Pact, against one another to keep them from realizing that if they unite, they can conquer the empire together.
Subverted: Bendova realizes how important it is in the struggle between the Freedom Federation and the People's Pact and has made secret bargains with members of both alliances in an effort to become a superpower itself.
Double Subverted: ...Except the leaders of both alliances already realize this, and each is trying to make sure that Bendova betrays the other power first.
Parodied: The superpowers want to secure Bendova's all-important supply of cheese for themselves.
Zig Zagged: ???
Averted: There's no need for a power struggle, since the whole world is united under a single government.
Enforced: It's a spy thriller, and a neutral third-party setting allows for meaningful plot advancement.
"Mr. President, it's us or them. If we don't get one of our boys in charge of Bendova now, the dirty Peeps will take it over, and then we can kiss our freedom goodbye."
"Comrade Premier, the Freedom Federation is making inroads into Bendova. If we do not act swiftly, the People's Revolution will wither and die within twenty years, mark my words."
Invoked: Bendova's founders picked its location specifically because they knew both larger nations would want access to either its resources or strategic value. In fact, Bendova actually has agents in the Freedom Federation and People's Pact working to convince them of Bendova's value as an ally.
Discussed: "I'm not going to mince words, General. You know how important having a friendly Bendova is to us, and we know how important keeping your country safe from foreign terrorists is to you. If you'll allow us to build bases on your soil, we'll help you keep your borders secure."
Conversed: "So you're saying that if I control the 'Bendova' space on the board at the end of the round, I get 10 extra points each round? Neat!"
The contest between the Federation and the Pact erupts into open war, and most of the fighting takes place in Bendova. By the time a peace is worked out, Bendova has been devastated by warfare and partitioned between the two larger nations.
The two nations pour so much money and effort into Bendova that they neglect their own internal concerns, and they begin to collapse and splinter from the inside. This causes trouble for Bendova, which had relied heavily on aid from both governments.
Reconstructed: Bendova's unique position allows it to act as a intermediary for the Federation and the Pact, bringing them back from the brink of war several times. It also becomes a sort of middleman- Bendova sells Federation goods to the Pact and vice versa, allowing trade that would otherwise be impossible.
Played For Laughs: The agents from the Freedom Federation and the People's Pact spend more time trying to interfere with one another than they do actually trying to influence the Bendovan government. As a result, Bendova stays independent, and both sides end up wasting a lot of time and resources for no good reason.
Played For Drama: The meddling of the People's Pact and the Freedom Federation throws Bendova into chaos as "terrorists" and "freedom fighters" (don't ask which is which) backed by both sides fight the government and one another. Regardless of who wins, the people of Bendova end up much worse off than if no one had gotten involved in the first place.