by Kathy Caruso
Don’t ever let anyone scare you into believing that Italy is impossible to play. All it takes is some guts and some good alliances.
As Italy, I like to make my presence known. I want the other players to see that this is one Italian player who isn’t going to sit back and wait for someone else to strike the first blow. On the opening move, let them know that you are in control.
Pre-Spring 1901 should be spent writing. Writing everyone–not just your neighbors. You never know who will pass on a juicy bit of information to you. I always try to stay as friendly as possible with France. I have seen nothing but disaster for Italy when she involves herself in a war with France in 1901; all they do is tie each other up, leaving the vultures to feed off their unprotected centers.
I am also a firm believer in trying to keep Austria around. Many Diplomacy players will try to get an I/R/T alliance versus Austria. Not if I’m Italy. When I play Italy, I feel that Turkey is the biggest threat to me. Once Turkey gets out of the corner, it is all over for Italy. So a smart Italian will try to get as much help from Austria as possible to eliminate the Turk. Once Turkey is destroyed there is no longer a threat at your back door, and this gives you lots of freedom.
Of course, you must keep in mind that Italy must play the percentages. You don’t want to ally with someone who doesn’t negotiate–you don’t play alliances by ESP. You will also find that a player’s reputation may precede him, and this can be used as an advantage. If the Austrian is a known NMRer, you certainly don’t want him for an ally. There is too much of a possibility that he will miss getting in his orders on a crucial turn, thereby damaging both of your positions. As for me, when choosing an ally I like to go with woman’s intuition, but somehow I doubt that piece of advice will be very helpful to most of you reading this.
I usually go with my standard opening of A Venice-Tyrolia, A Rome-Venice, and F Naples-Ionian. If nothing else, it gets you lots of attention. If the French player has opened to Burgundy, it also assures that you and he now have a common enemy in the German. Or you can use this opening to go after an uncooperative Austrian. I really feel that Italy must do everything possible to get two builds in 1901.
Italy should not be played with a laid-back approach. It should be played aggressively. Like I always say–go for broke! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!