by Rohan Keane

I enjoy the diplomatic skill of playing Italy, love a fast rolling Russia and never complain when given France, but if you really want to make me happy give me the Turks every time. Turkey is strong in attack without appearing that threatening, its corner position makes it incredibly powerful in defence — the best on the board — and, as the odd man out in the east, he is usually the automatic best friend of the Western Powers.


Turkey has three points of attack to consider: Russia (usually via the Black Sea and Armenia), Austria (usually via Bulgaria) and Italy (usually via the Ionian).


This is the fun part. The only thing you can say as a Turk under attack is "Bring it on!" And say it with a smile because if you're going to be under the pump as a country then Turkey is the place to be. It takes all three of the other eastern powers to bring down a competent Turk, and let's face it: even if the West leaves them alone long enough for them to do the job, a good diplomat should be able to find something to force a wedge between your attackers.

I find that it helps to point out to Italy that they'll probably only get Smyrna from all their hard work and they should at least get Trieste to keep the alliance equal and fair. This can start some interesting Austria/Italy conversations. Tell Russia how you overheard Italy and Austria discussing the next stage of their expansion and that only included Russia's centres and not Russia. As for Austria, just play on its paranoia by pointing out how they can easily become the meat in the Italian/Russian sandwich.

But, interesting as this mischief is, it doesn't really matter that much as long as you have a good rapport with the western powers. I have seen Turkeys in this position tell the east to get stuffed and only talk to the west, and at the end of the game still be a strong player in a respectable draw. I personally wouldn't recommend this as a tactic, but it does go to show how strong Turkey is in defence.


Turkey can ally with any country comfortably by virtue of its strong defensive position. The other country has to either move away from Turkey to fight or is on the other half of the board and can't stab until the end game. I will give a quick critique of the basic pairings:


This is my favourite part.

Sometimes, the eastern gang of three decide the world would be a nicer place without the spider in the corner, and have taken off their size 11 shoes in preparation for a great big squash fest. The Italians have Lepantoed, the Russkies have opened and built south, and the Austrians are always too busy with the others to talk to you.

Now, you've got a great country to fight a defensive war with; but barring a miracle you're gonna die. Spring 1903 moves are read and, lo and behold, here comes the miracle: England moves on St Petersburg, France moves into the Mediterranean, and Germany throws everything it has east. What do you do?

Wait until everybody runs up to the stalemate line, stab everybody you can reach, and then laugh like a mad man as your eastern enemies collapse one after the other? Tempting, but you'll probably end up in the corner on 4 or 5 centres as at least 2 of the western powers clean the board.

Far better to go cap in hand to the eastern powers and promise them that you will do anything you can to help them, lend them any unit they need to hold a line and that your other units will sit still and be good doggies while the line is holding. All you want from them is survival once the western 3-way falls apart. Don't forget to be pathetic when asking if you can help, and be pathetically grateful when they (as they will) take you up on your offer. Now you get an army into Galicia or the Ukraine and a fleet into the Ionian where they can support the line. You must also give good tactical advice on how to hold it, and work hard diplomatically to keep the faith amongst the eastern powers, but most of all you must be seen by your eastern allies to be the hardest worker on that side of the line.

The whole time you are doing this you are also working on England to stab Germany or France (or both). If the stab doesn't come then you've lost nothing. The game stalemates and you survive. If the stab does come then now you can stab everybody you can reach and laugh like a mad man as your eastern enemies collapse one after the other. The difference is that this time, double figures should be the lowest you should settle for.


When playing Turkey, and things look bleak, don't despair: every turn you survive is a turn that an alliance can break down; that an attacker can get bored and move elsewhere; or the western powers sort their differences out and come and rescue you.

Nil desperandum; and patience, my spider in the corner!

Rohan Keane

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