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Turkey/Ottoman Empire/دولتِ عَليه عُثمانيه (Ottoman Turkish)

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  • Leader in 1901: Sultan Mehmed V;
    • Head of Government: Grand Vizier Mehmed Said Pasha;

Color: Yellow

Neighbors: Russia, Austria, and Italy

Home supply centers: Constantinople, Ankara, Smyrna

Turkey has obvious natural strength—any beginner will be able to point out Turkey's strong defensive position, both from land and sea. Turkey has the greatest staying power of any on the board. Turkey can stalemate her enemies with six well-placed fleets and armies. Turkey's natural defensive strength, however, is the cause of its offensive weakness. And Turkey's defensive position is not as powerful as it initially appears. Russia has a fighting chance to wrest BLA from Turkey in the early years, and an alliance between Italy and Austria can land an Italian Army in SMY by Autumn 1902. Either of these cases mean curtains for Turkey. Because of its defensive position, Turkey is nicknamed "The Sick Man of Europe" for many. However, using this "weakness", and given some good fighting, Turkey can be the best man in Europe.

18 Center Goal

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3 home supply centers, The Balkans (4), Austria (3), Russia except St. Petersburg (3), Italy (3), and Tunis makes 17. If Turkey has built many fleets, usually as part of an alliance with Russia, the 18th center can come from the Western half of the Mediterranean—MAR and SPA are tough, but possible. Otherwise, Turkey must mass armies and cross the stalemate line to capture MUN. BER and STP are too easily held from the north to be included, though if even a single Turkish army breaks into Scandinavia, victory can almost be guaranteed.

Opening Strategy

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Turkey has by far the smallest opening book out of any Great Power. The army in CON always goes to Turkey's one natural SC, and the fleet in ANK almost always heads to BLA, whether Russia has agreed upon a bounce or not. Turkey fundamentally has two choices: attack Russia immediately with A SMY - ARM, or attempt to gain two builds with A SMY - CON.

A SMY - ARM: The Russian Attack

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Perhaps Turkey's best shot at winning, this opening aims at Turkey's most dangerous enemy—Russia. Unfortunately, Russia is Turkey's only possibility for a long-term ally, so the attack on Russia can leave Turkey friendless and surrounded in the East. The opening is quite deadly when Turkey takes the Black Sea, as an opportunistic Austria may be willing to offer Turkey assistance for a share of the Russian spoils. Without a fleet in BLA, the opening loses a good portion of its teeth, as gaining SEV is going to be impossible.

A SMY - CON: The Bulgarian Push

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Turkey's best shot at two builds in 1901 is a push through BUL, followed by either a move to GRE or SER, or RUM with Austrian support. Although Turkey rarely gets two builds—most Austrians move to ALB and SER in S 1901, and thus can pick up both SCs, and are wary of giving support to Turkey, Austria's natural enemy, the opening is safe and allows Turkey to work with or against any of his neighbors.

Unorthodox Openings

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Several unusual openings have also sprung up. These are not as forceful as the main lines, and therefore require more diplomacy, more trust, better intelligence gathering, and stronger tactical skill.

A SMY H with A SMY - SYR: The Syrian Sidestep

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Spring 1901: A SMY H, A CON - BUL, F ANK - BLA. Fall 1901: A SMY - SYR, F ANK - CON, A BUL H (or other). Very rarely played, this opening has decent surprise value (first played in game 1977KJ, first discussed in Diplomacy World #47). Turkey delays choosing Austria or Russia as his ally and leaves both coasts open for a build. Convincing Russia to stay out of BLA in Fall 1901 by suggesting or demanding F SEV - RUM or F SEV S A UKR - RUM is a major diplomatic victory. If instead F SEV - BLA, a Russian unit (new or existing) in SEV virtually guarantees war and requires Turkey to build F ANK.

A SYR can be useful in several ways:

1. Moving to ARM against Russia.
2. Convoying to GRE against Austria.
3. Discouraging Italy from playing a Lepanto.

This opening fails in the face of a determined Austro-Russian alliance, and should not be used if this alliance is expected. The Bulgarian Push offers a safer and more direct counter.

F ANK - ARM, A SMY - CON: Ship of the Desert

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Invented and first discussed by Richard Sharp, this opening can be played as an attack on Russia, or to disguise a Turk-Russian alliance. These approaches require essentially the same diplomacy:

1. Come to an arrangement with Russia over BLA. Tell Russia that you want to bounce in BLA if you plan to attack him. If Russia anticipates a bounce, he will be much less likely to play A MOS - SEV, which would spell curtains for you as A MOS - SEV is often part of an Austro-Russian anti-Turk alliance. If you are working with Russia, tell him you want to shepherd his fleet through CON and into the Med (ordering it as you tell him, in return for doing the same for him with your A BUL). You will temporarily trade CON for SEV, simulating a Turk-Russian war and taking everyone by surprise in 1902.
2. Tell Austria you want to partner with him against Russia. Let him suggest who gets what Balkan territories, but demand GRE and justify yourself by saying you will need GRE as a springboard to force Italy out of ION once Russia is gone. If he refuses, then demand he support you into RUM in F1901. The idea is to get Austria firmly on your side if you plan to attack Russia, and to lull him into a false sense of security if you are working with Russia.
3. Tell Russia, Austria, and Italy (contact them all separately) that it will take them a long time to eliminate you if they are planning to attack, and that in the meantime they'll be open to a stab by anyone else.

You want the following in the first couple of years:

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Turkey: F ANK - ARM, A CON - BUL, A SMY - CON
Russia: F SEV - BLA, A MOS - UKR, A WAR - GAL
Austria: A VIE - GAL, A BUD - SER, F TRI H or F TRI - VEN (but expect F TRI - ALB)
Italy: anything but a Lepanto.
England, France, and Germany: infighting, but preferably EG vs. F


Turkey: F ARM - ANK, A CON - ANK, A BUL - RUM
Russia: F BLA - RUM, A UKR - SEV, A WAR - GAL (altough A WAR - UKR is more likely)
Austria (assuming F TRI - ALB in S1901): A SER S A BUL - RUM, F TRI - GRE, A VIE - GAL (although - BUD or - TRI is also likely)
Italy, England, France, and Germany: same as before

W1901: Hope like mad Russia didn't play F BLA S F ARM - ANK. Build F ANK (or F CON if he played F BLA S A CON - ANK).

Russian Partnership
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S1901 - Same moves as Anti-Russian.


Turkey: F ARM - SEV, A BUL - GRE, A CON - ANK
Russia: F BLA - CON, A UKR - RUM, A WAR - GAL
Austria: A VIE - GAL, A SER S F ALB - GRE, F ALB - GRE
Italy, England, France, and Germany: same as before.

W1901: Build F SMY, and sail into the Med. with Russia.

This opening has the advantage of allowing Turkey to justify keeping a fleet in BLA for at least a few turns. When SEV and CON are swapped back (presumably in F1902), Turkey can argue that moving to BLA is the fastest way to get to the Med., and the best way to protect both BUL and RUM. This allows Turkey a fair amount of protection against a delayed Russian stab. Also, if you can lobby hard enough, Turkey would ideally like to see:


Turkey: F ARM - SEV, A BUL - RUM, A CON - BUL

This can be justified by claiming Turkey needs to build an additional unit in ANK in W1901 to quickly secure ION. Russia can always capture RUM in 1902 or 1903, by which time Turkey should have captured GRE, and probably SER too. Meanwhile, securing GAL is a strong medium-term strategic blow to Austria, who soon be surrounded by units in GAL, RUM, BUL, and GRE. GAL is then a stepping-off point for Russia's attack on Austria. A direct Turk will tell Russia he knows Russia often gets the upper hand in a RT, and that Turkey needs to expand as quickly as possible (i.e., as fast or a little faster than Russia) in the beginning to compensate for the difficulty he will have in capturing additional centers later.

Black Sea Strategy

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The Black Sea is an important sea space for Turkey—a Turkey that loses the Black Sea is usually gone within a year or two. However, many Russias (both friendly and enemy) will demand that Turkey not enter BLA in S1901 as part of an alliance. It is much safer for Turkey to arrange a bounce, but most Russias consider it advantageous to grab RUM as quickly and as surely as possible, which is facilitated by the lack of a Turkish fleet in BLA.

Sleeping Giant Strategy

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Turkey is naturally inhibited by the games geography. This requires them to play passively for the first two to four years. The best plan is either to negotiate for Greece or Romania, and simply wait. Then, while Austria is off fighting other enemies such as Italy, Germany, or Russia. Sweep in and take all their stars.