Strategic Diplomacy (Part 6) – Turkey

by Harry Drews

In many ways, the problems that confront Turkey are the same as those with which Austria must grapple. There is a distinct danger to either of an early blitz by several neighbors that means certain elimination. If this threat can be thwarted and two or three supply centres have been captured then the going becomes a little easier. For both Austria and Turkey the avenues of expansion are very similar. Moscow and Warsaw are attainable easily enough but St. Petersburg cannot usually be taken without external assistance. There is a fair chance that Munich and Berlin can be taken but hardly anything more in this direction. In order to win, it becomes necessary in most games to take some Italian possessions. To do this it is mandatory to break through the Ionian bottleneck.

Despite the similarities, Turkey and Austria require quite different styles of play. This can be directly attributed to two factors. Turkey starts from a corner position which is quite safe once a bit of expansion has been successfully undertaken. Also Turkey can mount a balanced offensive which can be composed of any combination of fleets and armies.

The likelihood of an early multi-nation conspiracy against Turkey can often be correlated to the a awareness level (read experience) of the players. More knowledgeable players realize that Turkey looks deceptively innocuous on the map but usually what Turkey captures cannot easily be taken away. If Turkey can reach about ten supply centres in total then it becomes extremely difficult for the other players, even acting In unison, to reduce Turkey in size. In appreciation of this fact, the successful Turkish commander will play his game as a continuous march to more advanced stalemate lines.

If we are playing Turkey, how can we negate the early blitz on ourselves? The key is Austria and if you can ‘read’ Austria, then you can plan your early strategy. Convince Austria that he has more to fear from Russia/Italy than from you and you have broken the back of the blitz. In your correspondence with Austria, argue on the basis that you both have much In common, yet you compliment each other in position and equipment. Relentlessly dwell on the Russian and Italian dangers. Sow the seeds of distrust. Austria starts the game with a weakness which generates fear. If you can assume the role of the protector and fellow weakling you have your foot in the door. Propose a reasonable plan of action. If your efforts to win Austria fail then redouble your efforts with Italy and Russia. There are four of you in the corner, If you can get even one country on your side then at worst there is a stalemate until one of the three western powers intervenes and then you may have some success. It is difficult to be specific at this point but if you want Turkey to win you must be prepared to exert a lot of effort in the early going to avoid possible catastrophe. There are valid arguments to present to the Russian player. Russia must contend with both England and Germany. An agreement may be worked out that will concede most of the Balkans to Turkey. Russia will accept limited gains here in exchange for a quiet sector and the chance to concentrate his strength elsewhere. It may be a little harder to scrape up an argument that will cause Italy to accept your point of view. It pan be done if Italy has western problems or ambitions.

The player who is determined to win as Turkey must be rather cold blooded. If we count up supply centres, then it becomes clear that there cannot be a lasting alliance with any of Italy, Austria or Russia. The ‘reasonably attainable’ centres include the perimeter Moscow, Warsaw, Trieste, Greece and everything within for a total of thirteen. The difficult centres encompass St. Petersburg, Berlin, Munich, and the Italian sector. At some time the Ionian will have to be seized. To expand Turkey requires dissention among her opponents. This means diplomacy, the delicate, subtle sort that some players never attempt. It may mean breaking and reforming alliances to prevent expansion setting in as a permanent nature.

Let us take a bit of space to recapitulate. All things being equal, Austria Is the least threat to Turkey. For this reason and because Austria can be of great value to Turkey, a determined effort should be made to form an alliance. In purely negative terms, a squash-Turkey plan will achieve little momentum without Austria.

In positive terms, Turkey can rip out the soft belly of Russia before a coherent defense is established. Or, alternately, Turkey can burst through the Ionian before Italy is a power and before France becomes established in the area. Austria becomes a pivot—point. The final motion will be to cave—in this centre just as you would stick a fork in a warm pie. Austria will find it difficult to stab Turkey since she lacks the essential sea power. A minimum of units have to be retained to guard against this eventuality which makes for maximum efficiency. If the alliance with Austria has been formed key the order of your attacks on Italy and Russia to what Italy does. If Italy is so foolish as to move into Trieste then strike west. Should Italy become entangled with France then give the broth a wee bit of time to simmer. Plunge into Russia and let the defense of the lonian be lowered.

If no alliance with Austria exists then all is not lost. But Turkey holds less of her destiny in her own hands. Time is crucial. With Italy or Russia as your ally it will become harder and harder to stab this ally with the passage of time unless there is opportune intervention from the west. This is leaving a lot to chance, The more time that passes the more likely it is that one of France, England or Germany will dominate the game and steal victory from your searching arms. If Turkey can take ‘the Italian centres there is a chance of taking Marseilles and Spain. It may not be necessary to try for the difficult German centres or St. Petersburg. These last mentioned centres may rest forever out of your reach if there is organised western opposition to your advance.

There is some merit to the Russian alliance. If you can feel secure over the Black Sea and if Russia must keep one eye on Scandinavia then you will be left to wage an e3sentially one-front campaign which will surely produce significant gains unless Italy and Austria are solidly, united. Should the latter prevail then all there will be is a stalemate. If Russia is intent on a sizeable piece of the Balkans then as Turkey you may have to be satisfied with limited gains and the chance of a Russian stabs. In this case it becomes imperative to deal with the Germans or British. All in all, the outlook is not quite as bright with the Russian alliance.

Should Italy become Turkey’s ally then there will be problems later on similar to those faced with Russia, One or other must either stab at some point or else a disproportionate number of units mist be commited to the defense. This alliance is not to be preferred unless there is nothing else, or unless you have the ear of an appropriate western power and can count on ‘timely assistance on the stab I suppose you could always imagine the beat. Maybe the Italian player will have a heart of gold and will turn against France, leaving a skeletal force behind But when forming a strategy, surely it is inadviseable to assume that “things will turn out right” or that you have a golden pen that will work the miracle. Nor can you count on a player’s stupidity even though he may have a reputation for it.

As Turkey, be prepared for the worst. Do your utmost to stall the blitz. Do not hesitate to send incriminating letters you have received to the other players. Boomerang Austria over to your side. Forge correspondance or supply your opponents with lies. Offer to substantiate these ‘facts’ with documented proof but somehow never get around to doing it. If you can get Italy, or Russia, or Austria to commit themselves against someone other than you, then the battle of survival is partly one. Should you hang on end even grow a little then be cautious in your outlook. Your moves will draw more and more attention to yourself. It may be impossible to do what you had planned. Do not despair but, rather, prepare yourself to share in a draw by forcing stalemate. Bide your time and an impatient opposition may disintegrate through internal stabs. The special stalemate mentality thai is unique to the Turkish position also means that your greatest fear becomes the likelihood of one of the three western powers winning without having to admit you to the draw. Direct all your efforts to preventing this. Go to the point of relinquishing centres to that neighbor of yours who can beat resist this usurper, The Turkish path to victory may be one of the most twisting and uneven of any, but it still can be one of the surest.

Craftiness and deviousness are essential qualities to a winning Turk. If you can lie and maintain a sweet angelic posture; if you can stab an innocent and then pull the knife out a bit when someone else joins in the slaughter (so that your victim will be grateful and turn his fury on the latecomer); if you can bide your time till those around you become distracted and lower their guard against you, then my boy, not only will Islam dominate your little Europe but you will be ranked as one worthy enough to handle with aplomb those other far easier countries in other games.