Don't Be a Turkey: Play Turkey!
Introduction: Turkey is Good
The images conjured up by this country are generally of a notorious
nature militarily: Bashibazouks and
Mamelukes. Pillagers of
Constantinople and twice besiegers of Vienna.
Impalers of heretics
and, of course, "The Sick man of Europe."
Well, put away that
thermometer and body bag and break out the dancing girls and hookah! When playing Diplomacy, you'll find that Turkey is one of
countries on the board when properly played.
I (a self-proclaimed Hobby Old Fart since 1976) have played Turkey
in most of my games. My bias thus
naturally leans toward the Yellow-Pieced
Country. And while it's generally
true that a mediocre Turkish
play can outdo a good Italian or Austrian (the Carusos and other
Hobby Legends aside, of course).
geographic location offers a natural "hedgehog" position. It's
a nice, compact area that is hard to be rooted out of early unless a solid AI or RA develops.
Even then the hostile alliance usually tips their hands by Fall 1901, giving the Turk
time to prepare
a defense and seek help. But let's
discuss the Turk's offensive
potential versus its defensive prowess.
Drang Nac Westen (or, Go West Young Man)
should be able, through astute Diplomacy, to link up with one of
his Balkan neighbors and cause some tensions between the other two. As to
choice of allies, I personally prefer the Russians because almost all the considerations of playing that duo
Geographically, an RT has no rear or flank enemies, due to the
good ol' board edges.
you're in like Flynn when it comes to coordinating moves. Once
the land bridge of Ukr/Rum/Bul is established, you've got a natural
springboard for joint operations. (Alas,
poor Archduke; I knew
him well...) The Russian should
keep peace with a least Germany in
the west, so that full attention can be devoted to the Balkans early.
far as moves go, a good option is to simulate war between yourselves
by moving to Arm/BLA, writing obfuscatory letters, etc. Then at a later date (Fall 1901 to Spring 1903 is good)
you can use a Black
Sea fleet to convoy into Austrian Areas, optimizing surprise. A
truly trusting alliance will also try to get the Russian fleet into the Med. Or
you can arrange a Turkish "stab" (aided by the Austrians, no less) into Russian occupied Rum in Fall
1901. Russia can retreat his fleet off the board and build an army to
use against Austria
in the Balkans. Hey, the RT has
more options than a Chinese Menu!
you and your Tsarist ally can smokescreen the board long
enough to get positioned against any expected western counterattack
that will organize. (Western
players worth their salt will
indeed organize to stop an RT, given its lethality.)
best thing for Turkey and Russia is to immediately write both the Austrian
and Italian early and often. Don't
let them even think of forming
an IA "Lepanto" against you in Turkey, instead offering each of
the nebulous gains for neutrality while you do your deeds. Promise Italy you won't build fleets, even though
"Austria wants me to
sail against you." (It's probably a fib, but so what? We're not playing
bingo here.) Tell Austria (rightly
so) that you encourage him
to go for two in 1901, if he'll let you get the other two in the Balkans. I recommend getting him to support you to Rum from Ser
while he gets Gre
and Ser. Austria will be more than
happy to bide his
time with an amenable Turk who's preoccupied "elsewhere."
unsheathing of blades is best saved for the moment when Austria is
out of position (diverted west or sucked north versus Gal/Rum) - that's when the RT is best poised to strike.
you get rolling and Austria or Italy is weakened, you must write furiously
and heavily to Germany, France, and England.
Stress that this
"apparent" RT is temporary at best, that it's expedient for you
to eliminate the
"obvious AR" that was forming, etc.
Solicit their help
in "keeping Russia in check" while offering lots of vague promises
of assistance to them. With a
little luck and a lot of letters
(remember that this game is called "Diplomacy") you can divide-and-conquer while the West fights among
themselves. Timing is everything in an RT: when to strike, when to move, when
to begin your disinformation
campaign against the board, etc. Always
stay friendly with
others, since one never knows when the time may arrive for you to
realign your priorities!
word of caution: while the RT
alliances are very strong, perhaps even
more so than the EF on the opposite edge, don't get overconfident
or smug about your power and position. I
remember a game
back in 1988 where I was the Sultan and was allied with Don Williams. (I
consider Don to be one of the great all-time Dip players, by the way.)
We figured that our aggregate 30+ years of PBM experience and our RT geography would let us run rampant
over the unknowns
to our immediate front.
were rudely awakened by a competent AI, which literally had our backs
to the wall until the previously-mentioned factors of luck (Italian player resigned) and skill (we badgered and
persuaded two other
sharp players to help us out) came into play.
We eventually won
with a 17-17 two way draw, but in the first 3-4 game years all we could think about was survival as two-center puppets.
Moral of the story: be
humble with yourself, be smart versus enemies, and write incessantly. First
impressions and continued writing mean more to us old
gamers than any jazzy new move you can think up.
also recommend play a "tactical game", in which you look 1-3 turns
ahead and look for
short gains. This would be as
opposed to a "strategic
game", in which you would do things like plan coordinated moves
for 1906 while still in 1901! With
your "nibbling" strategy and
hoped for suppression of anti-RT coalitions, you should be well on
your way to imposing the Turkish crescent over half the board.
Conclusion: You Can Have Your Cake
and Eat It Too!
putting aside the main advantage of an RT alliance as the ideal Turkish
policy, playing Turkey can offer a myriad of options.
An AT works
well when you strictly lay out demilitarized zones and growth plans, while the IT (very rare) can work at least until
Midgame if you
do an Italian fleet/Turk army mix. Turkey
can always project itself
as the friend of the country "over the horizon" (France's buddy against Italy, Italy's buddy behind Austria, etc.)
You should get away with that most of the time, since everyone likes
to have their
neighbor made into the middle of an Oreo with your help.
Turkey occasionally requires breaking some eggs (lying) with respect
to your neighbors early on, but keep in mind that this is how successful omelets are cooked up!
gotta go. I have real Turks to talk
to here (I write this from Zakho,
Iraq.) Hope this article stimulates
some interest in playing The
Best Country among any closet Turcophiles out there. Good hunting!
From Diplomacy World No.64