The Opening Moves For Turkey

(or how to gobble up a decent empire)

by Simon Franklin

Of the seven articles that I plan to write, this one is probably the easiest to do. In my opinion Turkey is the best power on the board (O.K – I know I’ll get twenty letters saying ‘rubbish’, but nonetheless, for these four reasons I believe that of all the Great Powers, Turkey has the best chance of surviving, doing very well, and perhaps even winning). 

(1) Turkey has only two immediate adversaries, Russia and Austria – compare this with England (3), Austria (4), Russia (4) and France (3) and you will see that apart from measly Italy, Turkey has the least to worry about in terms of enemies (this also saves on stamps). 

(2) Turkey has only five provinces – Constantinople, Ankara, Smyrna, Armenia and Syria. Therefore there is less to defend, so less units are needed. 

(3) Turkeys supply centres are all self-supporting – i.e. any one touches the other two. Only Austria and Germany share this distinction. 

(4) Turkey is almost invulnerable to army attacks, being touched by only two land areas. 

So if one accepts that Turkey should be strong, then how should one use that strength – aggressively or passively? These two options are summed up in the openings that follow – really the only four openings that a Turkish player should consider. 

A(Con) – Bul; A(Smy) – Con; F(Ank) – Bla 

This is the most common opening by far – it is not really aggressive, and it enables one to form alliances with anybody. Russia may be disgruntled at the Black Sea move, but as he moves there 55% of the time, he will probably have bounced you out anyway. This is not an obvious anti-Russian move, and it protects Ankara against a (very rare) Armenia move. I quite like this opening. It has no real disadvantages and if the Black Sea move succeeds then it is a very powerful opening indeed. 

A(Con) – Bul; A(Smy) – Arm; F(Ank) – Bla 

This is my favourite – the anti-Russian opening. The immediate advantage is an enormous attack on Russia, hopefully culminating in the eventual taking of Sevastopol and Rumania. I once witnessed a game (still am witnessing it.) in. which the Turk played this opening and the Russian, went to the Black Sea and Galicia with A(Mos) – StP. Unfortunately, Austria played the Southern Hedgehog… The Fall 1901 positions were: Russian A(Ukr); Russian F(Bla) with Turkish A(Sev), F(Con) and Austrian A(Rum)! The obvious disadvantage of this move is that you have to have an Austrian ally, having totally committed yourself to a war against Russia. This one is not for cautious players, but it is great fun. 

A(Con) – Bul; A(Smy)-Ank; F(Ank) – Con 

I don’t like this one, but I see its advantages. You gain the Russians trust by not moving into the Black Sea, and you still get one build from Bulgaria. This, of course, is played when you want Smyrna free for building, It could be the prelude to A(Smy) moving to Armenia after the builds, but it will usually mean that one is planning a fleet in Smyrna, probably to contest Greece. This is obviously as non-commital an opening as (1) and if you are a cautious player, this is the one for you. 

A(Con) – Bul; A(Smy) Hold; F(Ank) – Con 

This is rather better than (3), but still very passive. It aims to build a fleet in Constantinople or Ankara after F(Coni) has moved to the Aegean. You then transport A(Smy) to Greece – supported by A(Bul). A rather slow way of doing things, but good if you have a strong Italian alliance to help you against Austria and you don’t want to annoy Brother Russia. 

So, perhaps a quick summary of the aims of these four openings. 

(1) To consolidate your position, and let Russia know that you’re no weakling, aiming for gradual expansion, probably by sea-power as a fleet in Smyrna is really the only sensible build (although now I think about it, (1) could transform into (2) by building A(Smy)!). A non-committal opening. 

(2) A Russian Blitz. Allied with Austria, a very good opening indeed, aiming at Sevastopol and Rumania. Quite a risky opening, but it pays great dividends if it comes off. 

(3) and (4) Quiet, passive openings, maybe turning into a Blitz in l902,with (3) being a Blitz on Russia and (4) a Blitz against Austria or Italy. 

To conclude, a Turkish player is someone that you try to ally with. He will always ally with Austria or Russia against the other, and on the rare occasion when Austria and Russia ally, Turkey can usually hold them off long enough for the alliance to crumble. A Turkish player can afford to make demands and get his own way because of the strength of his position. All-in-all, Turkey’s an Ace power Happy Gobbling. 

Reprinted from Vienna No.1 (June 1984)