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A Weekly Threat Assessment of the Diplomacy Community

Championnat du Monde Francophone Results

Congratulations to Cyrille Sevin who won the tournament of 32 players with an 11-centre Austrian board top in the finals. A big thank you to French-Speaking World Championship organiser Nicolas Sahuguet. You can check out the games and final scores here.
To those who made the final board but fell short, we salute you and wish a speedy emotional recovery to Emmanuel duPontavice, Sacha Massicard, Ruben Sanchez, Christophe Borgeat, Candice Rocher and Olivier Prigent.

If you'd like to get to know this great community of French speaking Diplomacy players, visit their discord server.
Deadline News

The March edition of Deadline is here! The inimitable David Hood hosts a panel discussion of the flagship 'zine Diplomacy World, as well as a round-up of the headlines of the hobby. Tune in for the fantastic top board of the DBNI, Diplomacy A.I. research, upcoming events and much more.

The Champions Corner is where recent tournament winners share a specific move or strategy that they believe helped them to emerge victorious.
 
For this issue, we welcome the victor of the French-Speaking World Championship, Cyrille Sevin.
The event itself was designed to be as close as possible to the vWDC organized by Bill Hackenbracht (with Markus Zijlstra as non-player TD) as this event proved to be a complete success. As I have a (very!) long face-to-face player history (whereas I nearly never played online) it proved to be really an excellent substitute, and not only for this pandemic era.
As often in Europe, the system used was the C-Diplo 7 years of play, and the tournament winner would be the player with the most centers on the Top Board. There is a huge bonus for topping the board in C-Diplo. We had less players than expected sadly, only good thing then was it was easier to qualify.

The draw gave me Austria, always very challenging with a game very often decided in the first year. Italy was Ruben Sanchez, with whom my history was troubled. Last 2 times we played together were in WDC final boards; both time he played all game against me. Even if it ended both times very bad for Ruben I didn’t feel comfortable, but my intention was anyway to play with him, as IA is usually my first choice. But very interesting for me was the Russian player, with whom I had played a strong RT the day before. As Maxim Popov in Germany and Luca Pazzaglia in France countered this magistrally, it turned out very badly for me as Russia, with 5 powers ganging against us 2. So I had to "prostitute" myself toward Turkey, organizing everything diplomatically in the West especially with England (advantage of having only 2 units left, you have time to negotiate 😉…) It paid off, Turkey topped largely the board whereas I managed to end with 3 centers for only 2 units the last 2 years… No less than CON, WAR and ROM!! Even if it was my worst game of the tournament, it gave me the final board…. And will be an excellent souvenir in my collection of "odd" games.

Anyway, my intention was to work with Italy. What made me change my mind was when Russia came to me and answered to my question concerning his relationship with Turkey with "well, he will let me the Black Sea". I immediately saw the big opportunity for me. A DMZ in Gal was made possible (so I was safe regarding Italy) while giving also a strong appealing position for Russia, with UKR to take RUM and BLA and SEV to continue against Turkey. It was easy to convince Russia then and the plan worked extremely well. Italy needed to believe I would not stab so still helped against Turkey while I attacked him saying I would go against Germany (probably he saw it as his last chance so had to go for it). By end of 1902, Italy was down to 3 and Turkey to 2. I immediately saw that, with a need to contain France, the game was likely to go to one of us… I basically focused the rest of the game on reassuring my ally, arguing that a conflict between us would only favour France. He accepted a perpetual bounce in BUL while holding Army in Armenia every turn. As he was ahead, his chances were higher than mine (which I genuinely believe was true by then).
Last year was challenging. Having taken the whole Italy while Russia took the whole Scandinavia, I had MUN, he had BER and I was slightly ahead with 11-10. As the tiebreaker was not in my favour, I needed to keep this advance, even if MUN could not be kept. I was then lucky. First Russia was so afraid of me and probably under time pressure he lost NWY to England, just to send an Army Livonia which was unnecessary. Secondly, the tournament ranking system made that it was necessary for France to avoid a shared top (France would have then being 3rd of the tournament, against a 2nd place if no tie). So he supported me into BER after having taken MUN from me, ending the game in a 11-9-8 for me.

As often, the tournament was then won by a thin margin. On the 3 World DCs and 2 European DCs I won, only one win was clear. All others were decided only in the last year, which also make this game so exciting.
The vWDC hosts regular sessions where a hobby expert hosts a discussion of a topic they excel at. The Briefing's own strategy correspondent Natty Shafer brings us a synopsis of the talks. This issue he reports on Morgante Pell's Masterclass on how to succeed as Turkey.
Mastering Turkish Strategy
If you’ve been following virtual face-to-face play, you have likely noticed the weak showing of Turkish players lately. In a Masterclass on March 21, Morgante Pell presented a tour-de-force on how to better play Turkey, which he hopes will lead to improvement in the fortunes of Turkish players.
In Spring 1901, you’re unlikely to know who is really your ally and who is lying. Fortunately for the Turkish player, there are only so many plausible openings. The army in Con should always go to Bulgaria, leaving F Ank and A Smy to worry about.

Morgante advocates Turkey using the Sundstrom opening more often.

Morgante played Turkey to win the championship of the inaugural Virtual World Diplomacy Classic, a tournament of over 100 entrants. He laments the current “meta” where an A-I-R alliance pushes to eliminate or severely kneecap Turkish players early in the game.

How should Turkey open?

Players often worry that it may foreclose working with Russia and reduce your choice of allies. However, it isn’t necessarily an anti-Russian move. If Turkey is in Armenia, Russia is unlikely to put F Sev in Rum, which is terrible for an R-T alliance against Austria (because it severely limits Russia’s ability to attack Austrian centers). If Russia does put a fleet in Rum, though, Turkey likely gets the Black Sea which Pell says, "is so critical to Turkey's long term defensive prospects."

Who should be Turkey's First Ally?


One of the strengths of Turkey is that unlike other powers, you do not need to grow quickly. People worry too much about “getting out of the box.” It’s a mistake to push too hard, too early as Turkey. As long as you survive with 2-3 supply centers into the midgame, you can succeed as Turkey. A Turkish player who enters the midgame with 5 supply centers is always a danger to top the board or even solo, whereas another power with 5 SCs at the same point might even be in danger of elimination.

However, to get the midgame, you’re going to need to find an ally. Unlike some other powers, one ally is all it takes. The only way Turkey dies is a concerted A-I-R. By 1902 "I want to know exactly who I am working with," says Morgante.  When choosing among Austria, Italy, or Russia, Morgante alluded to minor preferences, but with the current anti-Turkish meta, your first priority is just finding one ally.
 

Choose the Juggernaut: the R-T
The Diplomacy hobby has a long history of over-reacting to the dreaded “juggernaut” but that only works in Turkey’s favor. The Western powers won’t be in position to check Turkey so Russia inevitably feels the brunt of any steps the West will take. This is the ideal situation wherein you have a good but weak ally who needs you and is not a danger to top the board.
According to Morgante, one of the reasons that Russia readily joins an A-I alliance to eliminate Turkey is that the Turkish player doesn't propose a way to deal with the Sevastopol fleet. If that fleet is stuck in Sevastopol or the Black Sea, sooner or later the Russian player will get bored of using the fleet to hold-support.
Morgante’s preferred method is the “Sev-Con Shuffle.” This allows Russia to use the fleet in the Mediterranean. The drawback of the Shuffle is that Turkey may get Sev while Italy bounces Turkey from getting into the Aegean Sea, which prevents Russia from taking Con, but that is a risk born almost entirely by Russia.

The Shuffle positions Russia to use its southern fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s also possible that Russia orders BLA-Ank, but Russia is unlikely to hold Ankara long term. Another possible problem is when Russia accepts the idea of the Shuffle, but is actually allied with Austria. It’s a big warning sign if Russia does not move Warsaw to Galicia in Spring 1901.

Another choice for dealing with the fleet in Sevastopol is to blow it up. This has sometimes been termed the slingshot Juggernaut, which destroys the fleet in Armenia. Instead of retreating, Russia disbands the fleet and has an extra build in 1902. However, there are other territories where the fleet could be destroyed, such as Rumania.
Once the Juggernaut has been established, Morgante cautioned not to abandon the plan for slow growth. Let Russia take Austrian centers while you defer much of the Balkans until later. Putting a fleet into the Ionian Sea and putting an army into Apulia positions Turkey much better entering the midgame. It also makes Turkey less of a target since they will have fewer Supply Centers.

Unleash the Kraken: the I-T


The biggest obstacle to working with Italy is the common belief that Italy and Turkey can’t be allies. However, it’s a very powerful alliance that breaks up traditional alliance structures in the east. For the I-T alliance to work, it is important that Italy opens with anti-Austrian moves and Turkey opens with anti-Russian moves. Italy moves to Trieste so often that it should not be mistaken for an anti-Austrian move. It is more important to watch and see what the army in Rome does. A move of Rom-Ven is a strong indicator that Italy intends to grow by taking Austrian centers.

Astro-Turk: the A-T

The Austrian-Turkish alliance is a wonderful alliance... for Turkey. The main drawback of the alliance is that it is so good for Turkey, Austrian players are less likely to agree to it.  Austria will almost always worry about their ally sniping them from behind. If you can manage to convince the Austrian player to ally, it’s a great situation. A Turkish player that can capture Moscow and Warsaw is in a great position to push across the stalemate line at the same time they start taking Austrian supply centers.

Mid-Game
As the game progresses, the other powers are drawn towards the stalemate line, towards the center of the board, and away from Turkey. That is the primary reason that Turkey just needs to survive until the midgame. Once people are looking elsewhere is the time for Turkey to look to grow quickly. "Once someone in the west is eliminated... is the time to grow... it distracts them from you" says Pell.
A look at the map reveals why. In addition to being a corner power, there is an unbroken string of Supply Centers around the Balkans. Immediately after capturing a Supply Center, Turkey is a threat to capture the next.

Endgame

Morgante only briefly touched on the endgame, mentioning in passing that it can be difficult to solo as Turkey because its units are so far from the stalemate line. However, because of its strong position in the midgame, Turkey is still one of his favorite powers to play.

 

This Sunday, March 28 at noon EDT, Dave Maletsky will be holding a Masterclass on Grand Strategy on the vWDC server.

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March

This issue was brought to you by Alessandro Tavani. Thank you for the support!
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