Turkey Should Never Win
by Stephen Agar
The geography of the Diplomacy board can make it particularly
difficult for the Turkish player to turn a strong mid-game position (about 10-14 centres)
into a win. The most likely centres to make up a Turkish win are Turkey (3 SCs), Austria
(3 SCs), the Balkans (4 SCs), Italy (3 SCs), Tun, Sev, Mos, War = 17. To make the 18th the
Turk needs Spa, Mar, Mun, Ber or StP. But expansion past 17 is difficult, if not
impossible against competent opposition.
First, StP is usually out of the question because it can only be
attacked by two Turkish units, so is defended with a single support from Fin, Nwy or BAR.
Berlin and Munich can be denied by five units: A(Bur) & A(Ruh) S A(Mun); F(BAL) or
U(Kie) S U(Ber) (where U = an army or a fleet). Marseilles and Spain are held by A(Gas) S
U(Mar); U(Por) S U(Spa); F(NAO) S F(MAO). That's 13 units to prevent a Turkish victory!
And given that Austria is going after basically the same set of centres for the Austrian
win, this all holds good against Austria as well.
This means that Turkey is particularly vulnerable to a Stop the
Leader alliance which is put together by the other players. If Turkey want to win outright
a bee-line must be made for StP, a German home centre or the MAO. Of course, there are
many reasons why Turkey does win Diplomacy games - though it's usually on of three things
(1) one or more dropouts, (2) refusal by one or more remaining powers to set up the
stalemate, or (3) crap play by the others.
Two games that I GM'd in Spring Offensive leap to mind: in
93DX (Xerxes) Patrick Finglass got to 17 and then had victory conceded when it became
inevitable that he could take MAO (though Patrick was helped by French and Italian
dropouts). Had Graham Tunnicliffe (Germany) had one more fleet in the right place he could
have held Patrick, despite the fact that Por, Spa and Mar were occupied by anarchic units.
In 93BR (Pydna) Peter Berlin was held to a 3-way draw as Turkey - he got to 17 and then
realised that StP, Ber, Mun, Mar and Spa were unassailable.
So what do you do if you are playing Turkey against quality
opposition and you're not content with a draw? In Diplomacy Digest No. 99 Mark
Berch put forward four possible strategies:
(1) Push for an A/T alliance, with Austria going all out to break
through in Russia and then Germany, while Turkey concentrates on the Western Med - thus
breaking down the northern and the southern doors at once. You then stab your Austrian
ally at a fairly late stage in the game, when some of the crucial centres are available to
you - assuming of course that the western powers are too weak at this late stage to get
their act together.
(2) The second approach is to get a western power to open the
door for you. It doesn't take a great deal of help to do this - just a German support into
StP or French help into Mun. Often the western power won't realise the strategic
significance of what they are doing, especially if by so doing they are settling an old
score against one of the other players.
(3) Another tactic is to go all out with fleets in the Med, a
single-minded attempt to take MAO, using whoever is around to help. This sort of tactic is
often linked to an alliance with Russia (you can go after the Russian centres later). Of
course, this tactic is likely to work best if Germany has come out ahead in the west,
reducing the naval power of France and England.
(4) Perhaps the least practical strategy is to try and
breakthrough into Scandinavia - especially if it is left sparsely defended by England who
is attacking France.
The lessons to be learnt by Turkey are these. Pay attention to
what is happening in the west and try from the outset to have an ally there. Unless you
benefit from a dropout you may need a friend on the other side of the board to break
through. Secondly, recognise the limitations of the geography and always think ahead. You
have to accept that it is far easier to draw with Turkey than to win
[Acknowledgements to The Turkish 18 by
Howard Mahler (published in Hoosier Archives No.123) and Mark Berch's comments in Diplomacy