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Black Sea Conundrum

PostPosted: 26 Apr 2017, 17:10
by DrRicochet
I get that Turkey thinks he should have it and Russia thinks he should. But from an objective view point, who should the Black Sea officially belong to? I feel like it does more harm than good to DMZ it.
Is there a trend where it goes more to one country than the other?

Re: Black Sea Conundrum

PostPosted: 26 Apr 2017, 17:55
by Zosimus
There are only three scenarios that make sense. The first is a Juggernaut, in which case you basically need to DMZ the Black Sea. The problem is two-fold. First of all, how can you trust the other person to respect the DMZ? The second is that Russia always gets bounced from Sweden because everyone freaks out over a Juggernaut. A DMZ makes sense for Turkey (assuming that he knows that Russia will respect it) but not for Russia.

The second scenario is that Turkey and Russia are not hostile, but they're not Juggernauting either. In this case Turkey and Russia will agree to a bounce in the Black Sea. Russia will probably play the Southern Defense (War-Gal, Mos-Ukr, Sev-Black Sea) so either Russia has bounced in Galicia and remains in Warsaw or he broke a DMZ and is in Galicia, pissing Austria off. In that case, Russia needs Rumania badly, and so he is likely to play Sev S Ukr-Rum, Ukr-Rum, Galicia S Ukr-Rum (or it's in Warsaw and cannot support). Meanwhile Turkey, with armies in Bulgaria and Constantinople, has nothing better to do with the fleet than move it to the Black Sea, where it will sit for the foreseeable future.

The third scenario is that Turkey and Russia are hostile. If Austria is also anti-Russian, then obviously Turkey gets and keeps the Black Sea (Sevastopol and Rumania too probably) while Russia falls back to the Ukraine line (A Warsaw, A Ukraine, A Moscow is unbreachable from the south) or Russia can't convince Germany to give him Sweden, in which case Russia takes an early bath, because he's toast. Otherwise Austria is taking Russia's side and then Russia will bounce in the Black Sea to start, take Rumania with a fleet in the fall (letting Turkey have the Black Sea) and then build a fleet in Sevastopol to try to force it in spring 1902. So in this scenario again Turkey gets the Black Sea (and will probably build a fleet to keep it).

Re: Black Sea Conundrum

PostPosted: 26 Apr 2017, 18:41
by rd45
Zosimus wrote:The third scenario is that Turkey and Russia are hostile. If Austria is also anti-Russian, then obviously Turkey gets and keeps the Black Sea (Sevastopol and Rumania too probably) while Russia falls back the Ukraine line (A Warsaw, A Ukraine, A Moscow is unbreachable from the south) or Russia can't convince Germany to give him Sweden, in which case Russia takes an early bath, because he's toast. Otherwise Austria is taking Russia's side and then Russia will bounce in the Black Sea to start, take Rumania with a fleet in the fall (letting Turkey have the Black Sea) and then build a fleet in Sevastopol to try to force it in spring 1902. So in this scenario again Turkey gets the Black Sea (and will probably build a fleet to keep it).

That third scenario is basically the reason why R & T need to find a way to love each other. If they each distrust the other sufficiently to have to build second fleets around the Black Sea, then they're both in the crap. Russia wants to have exactly one southern fleet, IMHO. Beyond 1903 or so, the best place for it is Sev. Turkey wants as many fleets as possible, with at most one of them anywhere near the Black Sea, and the rest out in the Med, doing something useful.

So FWIW, I vote for the unstated option 4, which is "it should change hands as needed between R & T for the first couple of years, and if anyone still cares after that then your problems are a lot bigger than the Black Sea"

Re: Black Sea Conundrum

PostPosted: 26 Apr 2017, 20:38
by DrRicochet
A lone Turkey fleet in the Black Sea is easy for Russia to defend against but a lone Russia fleet in the Black Sea is a little bit more tricky for Turkey to defend, so wouldn't it be good if Russia was ok with the Black Sea going into Turkey hands to help that relationship?

Re: Black Sea Conundrum

PostPosted: 28 Apr 2017, 08:34
by Mr.E
Ah, the Black Sea. I'm already within 10 mins from work and I don't have time but am I gonna bore you all to death with this at a later time... :P

Re: Black Sea Conundrum

PostPosted: 16 May 2017, 22:41
by Thyrfing
Whoever takes the Black Sea will have a big advantage over his partner in the alliance because it both makes a stab far easier and difficults a possible stab by the partner, so DMZing it is the best option without a doubt if the idea is cooperation between RT.

The main problem is that the Russian fleet has nowhere to go, in has no other option but to linger around BLA (unless you want to channel it through CON). This means a DMZ is half giving the black sea to Russia, who will be able to move there more often than not.

Re: Black Sea Conundrum

PostPosted: 21 May 2017, 09:57
by Mr.E
The Black Sea is half English Channel, half North Sea, IMO.

It is similar to the Channel because it is really only immediately important to two powers - Russia and Turkey, to state the obvious. It is, though, much harder for any other power to gain some direct interest in the Black Sea than for the like to happen in the Channel. Like the Channel, it can be a cause of angst in that neither Russia nor Turkey really wants to allow the other power to occupy it.

It's similar to the North Sea in that there are a large number of SCs affected by allowing a fleet to occupy the space: Ank, Con, Bul, Rum and Sev. However, unlike the North Sea, getting out of the Black Sea is difficult. Other than an SC grab, then, why would either Russia or Turkey want to be there? There is an answer, of course, but I'll leave you hanging for now if you haven't got to where I'm going.

Turkey doesn't want Russia in the Black Sea because it threatens Constantinople and Ankara. Should Russia get into the former, she has access to the Aegean and the Med. Turkey already has Italy to compete with there and, potentially and in the long run, France. Austria is less likely simply because it is much more improbable that Austria would become a serious naval power: Trieste is almost too remote to allow this, even ignoring Austria's need for armies.

Realistically, Constantinople isn't under serious threat in the early game. A(Bul)-Con is a given; even if Constantinople isn't occupied by another Turkish unit after S01, it's defensible using a self-bounce. Similarly, Ankara shouldn't be under serious threat - easily defended - but having a Turkish unit in Ankara after F01 means a unit held back from something else. It is far away from any more useful position. And it prevents a Turkish build in Ankara.

However, if Russia is a canny enough diplomat to let her get into Ankara, Turkey is already in difficulties - even worse if Russia gets into Constantinople! If Turkey is left in any doubt following a successful F(Sev)-BLA in S01, cover Constantinople.

But does Turkey want to occupy Black Sea herself? Should F(Ank)-BLA succeed in conjunction with A(Smy)-Arm, Russia has problems. Again, Sevastopol should be easily defended but this assumes Turkey is actually aiming for Sevastopol. A more threatening strategy Turkey may want to use might be in conjunction with Austria. Turkey agrees to Austria getting Greece, if Austria will help Turkey get Rumania; F01 orders for Austria's army in Budapest or Galicia - or both! - to support A(Arm)-Rum (convoyed across the Black Sea, of course), combined with A(Bul) S Arm-Rum, should be enough to get Turkey into Rumania, especially as Russia will more likely try to cover Sevastopol and possibly bounce herself there to keep the space open for a build... which might not happen.

Turkey, then, can gain an advantage over Russia by occupying Black Sea in S01. But, unless she can be fairly confident of Austrian help, it can be more of a nuisance to Russia than a threat. The choice, then, is about whether it is better to be an annoyance to Russia or to keep more flexible options open by avoiding moving to Black Sea.

Russia doesn't want Turkey in the Black Sea because it is an annoyance. Should it result in an army getting into Sevastopol, then - potentially - Moscow is in danger. It shouldn't be but Russia still loses a home SC. If Turkey's fleet occupies Sevastopol, it's going nowhere except Rumania. But, should that happen, then Sevastopol may well fall anyway, possibly in the same year. Even should Turkey fail to progress against either of these SCs, Russia still has the yellow peril in the south.

For Russia, given the difficulty in getting her southern fleet out of the Black Sea (it is likely to be restrained in a Straits jacket ;) ) F(Sev)-BLA in S01 is more of a defensive move except that it is also used to get an army into Rumania. In a Russian Southern System opening, of which there are five named variants in the Library of Diplomacy Openings, Russia may forego grabbing Rumania in S01 in favour of occupying the Black Sea.

In the "Turkish Attack Variant" Russia opens with F(Sev)-BLA, A(Mos)-Sev & A(War)-Ukr. Despite the fact that F(Ank)-BLA leaves Russia's only successful move in this opening being A(War)-Ukr, it was - when the Library was compiled - the third most popular Russian opening. It could place three units in a position to capture Rumania but, ironically - given its name - isn't overly threatening to Turkey (OK, the F01 order of Sev-Arm could be a problem). The only other variation with a specific name in the Library is F(Sev)-BLA, A(War)-Gal (without a specification of where the Muscovite army goes). This is called the "Southern Defence". Yet, if Moscow moves to Ukraine, Rumania is under as much of a threat as the "Turkish Attack Variant".

Often, F(Sev)-BLA is meant to bounce Turkey's F(Ank)-BLA, whether by agreement or otherwise. It usually signals that Russia doesn't quite trust Turkey. But is this the ideal way to deal with these doubts? If Russia isn't sending A(Mos) north, then why not F(Sev)-Rum, A(Mos)-Sev, A(War)-Ukr - the Southern System's "Rumanian Opening"? This has a better chance of guaranteeing Rumania OR defending Sevastopol.

Does Russia want to get into Turkey's SCs? Well, that would certainly send a message to everyone else, although it could be the wrong message (see below)! It is likely to help Austria and/or Italy jump on the anti-Turkey alliance.

For me, Russia is better to take Rumania than defend the Black Sea unless she fears a German attack. If she's worried about Austria moving into Galicia in S01, Russia could order A(War)-Gal (the "Rumanian Opening, Galician Variant"). Actually, Austria being in Galicia is likely to be more problematic to Russia than Turkey in the Black Sea. Russia occupying the Black Sea in S01 is really only useful to attack Rumania in Fall, so why not take it in Spring?

This all assumes antagonism between Russia and Turkey or, at least, wariness. What about a potential Juggernaut?

If one power will agree to another getting the Black Sea in S01, a Juggernaut is possible. This probably looks more realistic than a stand off in the Black Sea if the two players want to disguise the alliance. Russia and Turkey bouncing in the Black Sea is more likely a sign of distrust. While Russia doesn't lose anything by staying in Sevastopol as far as getting Rumania is concerned (compared to F(Sev)-BLA), Turkey loses the option of getting her fleet onto the Mediterranean coast. For a Turkey who isn't starting as anti-Russian, F(Ank)-Con is likely to be the best move. The Aegean Sea is a key defensive AND offensive space for Turkey and an F01 order of F(Con)-AEG often makes a lot of sense.

However, if either Russia or Turkey occupies Black Sea in S01, players tend to see the other power as being under threat. It is a little wasted for Turkey unless he's playing the longer game. If he is prepared to order F(BLA)-Con and build a fleet in Smyrna in W01, then moving his fleet to Black Sea as a disguise in S01 is OK. But the lie is betrayed immediately.

For Russia to occupy the Black Sea as part of a Juggernaut is much more useful. He can use the fleet to occupy Rumania, supposedly a non-threatening move against Austria but as part of the sacrifice of that fleet down the line. Perhaps the most used of the disguised Jug is the 1902 destruction of the Russian fleet by Turkey - agreed with Russia. A southern fleet isn't much use for Russia in a Juggernaut; removing it and replacing it with an army - anywhere - is much more effective. Should Russia decide to stab Turkey later, he can always build a new fleet in Sevastopol at a later date.

More interesting, for me, though is the "Black Sea Swap". This involves the following moves:
Code: Select all
SPRING 1901   
Russia         F(Sev)-BLA and something like A(Mos)-Sev, A(War)-Ukr.
Turkey         A(Con)-Bul, F(Ank)-Con, A(Smy)-Arm.
FALL 1901     
Russia         F(BLA)-Con, A(War) S Sev-Rum.
Turkey         A(Bul) S Sev-Rum, F(Con)-AEG, A(Arm)-Sev.

Russia gains Rumania and Constantinople but loses Sevastopol - net gain in the south of one.
Turkey gains Bulgaria and Sevastopol but loses Constantinople - net gain of one.
Perhaps more importantly, however, the Juggernaut has two fleets in or near the Med and, if Turkey builds a fleet in Smyrna, three. The Russian fleet becomes useful.

There are, of course, difficulties with this opening. Not only does it require as much trust as the "Key Lepanto" needs for Italy and Austria, it means that Russian and Turkish units are intertwined. Effectively it ties them down to long-term cooperation. It also isn't much quicker to push Juggernaut forces through the Med than Turkish fleets on her own.

Still, interesting, unusual and - until 1902 orders - well-disguised.

These agreements - the Russian fleet sacrifice and the Black Sea Swap - aside, it is likely to be true that one power allowing the other into the Black Sea would mean the occupying power would hold an advantage over the other ally. I don't necessarily think this is in having an aggressive fleet in place; I think the problem is what that fleet makes possible - convoys.

Convoys are possibly the most useful aspect of occupying the Black Sea. They allow a speedy shift of an anti-Russian attack (such as Ank-BLA and Smy-Arm) to become anti-Austrian - an army in Armenia could pop up in Bulgaria or Rumania. And, for Russia, an army in Rumania can easily appear in Armenia or Ankara one move later. If there was one reason to get a fleet into the Black Sea, for me, it would be to use the convoy.

This would suggest an often overlooked strategy - which I'm going to call the Continual Occupation Strategy - is a good reason for occupying the Black Sea. Toby Harris, World Diplomacy Champion 2015, is one of this strategy's adherents: occupying key spaces and never giving them up. For instance, Russia could grab the Black Sea in S01 and not intend to use it aggressively in the early game. If he can do this and prevent Turkey building a second Black Sea fleet diplomatically (which shouldn't be too hard if some sort of cooperation happens between the two) then that fleet can readily sit there defending the south and biding it's time very nicely.

For Turkey, the same theory applies. It can defend against Russian aggression - Russia is highly unlikely to consider building a second southern fleet for a long while - and throw the odd convoyed army across the water in one direction or another.

It has to be said that Toby uses this strategy in a tournament context where the goal is to be quickly successful somewhere and use this occupation strategy to maintain a position among the players. However, it has something going for it in the regular game also: it's a great strategy for maintaining the status quo in one area of the board while progressing in other areas.

Finally, should the Black Sea be a DMZ? Personally, I dislike relying on a DMZ - but I also dislike wasting orders on a bounce. If the other power was insistent on moving to the Black Sea, I might not contest it. But, as with everything in the game, that would depend on how I believe the diplomacy is going.

A DMZ is ideal. It allows the freedom to move units, including to the space (although that obviously has a cost), and - assuming it is honoured by both powers - it can build that much needed trust. Defensively, though, it isn't disastrous to have the other power occupy the space in S01; I usually wouldn't waste a move on a bounce.

The Black Sea is problematic if you let it be problematic. It is a good space to occupy defensively; it is a good space to use as part of a COS (see? Already catching on). However, both Russia and Turkey have more important SpOOcs - Spaces of Optimal Occupancy - and occupying the Black Sea can probably wait. Occupying the Black Sea as part of a COS is possibly more useful early on for Russia than Turkey, the latter needing to consider the Aegean.

Whatever happens in the Black Sea can be turned into some sort of positive for either neighbouring power. It might take work - possibly a lot of work, admittedly! - but accepting the outcome and working with it should be the aim. Unless you, as Turkey or Russia, have a pressing need (really?) or desire to be there, then there shouldn't be a need to wet yourself at your opponent being there - early in the game, at least.

Later on it might be a different prospect...

Re: Black Sea Conundrum

PostPosted: 21 May 2017, 11:00
by Jack007
Thank you Nibbler for this excellent article. I'm sure I gonna use some of this when playing the Sultan or the Tsar the next time.