An Introduction to Italian Opening Strategy
By Richard Hucknall
cross-section of hobby members which country they least like to play and the
answer would probably be Italy. Why is this? Ok so Italy has the worst record of
wins; but the reason must be the lack of scope for expansion. The only obvious
advantage is that it is the easiest country, to defend at the start and does not
have any obvious predators.
immediate neighbours are usually eager for non-aggression. France has its eyes
on Iberia and the Low countries while Austria lives in fear of Russia and
Turkey, looking longingly at the Balkan centres. Moves against Italy in 1901 are
uncommon and seldom dangerous. Often they are reactions by France and Austria to
suspected Italian aggression. Assuming that Italy is unlikely to be attacked in
1901, what is the best policy?
all-out attack on France is silly. A(Ven) may get to Pie, but it takes too long
to get within striking distance of Mar and Iberia with the fleet, especially as
Tunis must be taken for a build. By this time France is alerted and can build
and move accordingly. Furthermore, Austria or Turkey may grow rapidly at the
start and begin to move towards Italy. The one occasion when an early attack on
France can be expected to pay dividends is if you know that England and Germany
are also planning a joint invasion in the north. Then, with Franceís defences
widely stretched quick rewards can be achieved with Mar and Spa almost certain
on Austria can be beneficial especially if Russia is ready to assist from the
rear. A(Ven) can be sent to either Tyr or Tri while A(Rom) follows up into yen.
If the moves are successful then Italy is in a strong position but if they have
been anticipated he is left with two armies that cannot effectively combine.
Another choice is to move to Pie and yen and attack no-one! With a fleet build
for the gain of Tun, just sit back and await developments. Although it seems
unattractive policy it does have the advantage of keeping on friendly terms with
everyone until it is clear exactly what you are going to do. Offers of alliance
are bound to arrive in a position like this.
cannot discuss Italian opening strategy without mentioning the Lepanto Opening.
This involves F(ION) convoying A(Apu) to Tun in 1901 then building a F(Nap) and
moving F(ION)-EMS, F(Nap)-ION in Spring 1902 followed by the possibility of the
convoy to Smy/Syr in Autumn 1902. The idea is to attack Turkey with Austrian
help but the key to the move is the action of the Turkish F(Ank) in Spring 1901.
If it goes to Con in the first move, it is likely to go to AEG in the next
season and may be able to disrupt the convoy, particularly with a F(Smy) built
in Autumn 1901. There is a variation called the Key Lepanto which requires great
trust on Austriaís part. The basic idea remains the same but Austria allows
A(Ven)-Tri in Spring 1901 on the proviso that it moves to Ser or Alb in the
Autum. The advantage is that it appears to be a stab on Austria, especially if
he screams loudly enough, but invariably Italy double-crosses Austria and orders
the army in Tri to Bud or Vie resulting with five or six units at the beginning
of Spring 1902. the big disadvantage with the Lepanto openings is that while
Italy is mucking about in the east, France can be pushing two fleets into the
Med which can bring all the Italians plans to naught.
question of alliances I would consider the Italian/Russian alliance to be one of
the strongest on the board. Unless Austria is very astute (or lucky) in the face
of a co-ordinated Spring 1901 attack from these two countries they can divide up
all of Austria, then the Balkans and finally Turkey, assuming they have no
trouble on other borders to deal with. An alliance with Austria can also be very
strong but more trust than normal is needed as these countries are in the unique
position of having adjacent home supply centres. A Turkish alliance invariably
leads to conflict in the middle game unless they have carefully arranged,
separate areas of expansion and builds agreed. Donít write Italy off. Youíll
probably survive longer than some countries.