Tuscan Opening

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Tuscan Opening

Postby Enriador » 25 Feb 2018, 03:16

I would like to present you with an Italian opening that I thought of recently: the Tuscan Opening, also accurately described as the Tuscan Variation of the Lepanto Opening.

It all started with a simple question: what is Tuscany's purpose? Okay, it's the gateway between Italy and France in the battle for the Mediterranean during the mid/late game. But what about its early game use, especially in 1901? Can it be used for any other purpose than screaming "I'LL KILL YOU FRANCE!1!1!" in a French Attack (A VEN-PIE, A ROM-TUS, F NAP-TYN) where Army Rome Hold has identical use?

Let's go through some other moves to unusual spaces first:

Army Liverpool-Clyde is a shady opening, but it guarantees that Fleet NRG alone can convoy the army. It ensures that England will either convoy to Norway or waste both fleets convoying it elsewhere, which in any case will make Germany (and to a lesser extent France) more certain about English (lack of) influence over the Low Countries.

Army Moscow/Warsaw-Livonia can be convoyed to Sweden, which enables a supported attack on Denmark in 1902 (while disabling many other options).

Army Vienna-Bohemia can, under rare circumstances, be a key part in an even rarer Austro-Italian opening where Austria moves for Serbia and Greece while Italy convoys to Tunis, with A Venice being supported by A Vienna into Munich - an almost assured 2-center grab for each power.

Army Smyrna-Syria in Fall 1901 is not just an effective anti-Lepanto move, but enables flexibility in the case of a pro-Russian Pastiche Opening (A CON-BUL, F ANK-BLA, A SMY H) where Fleet ANK goes to CON in Fall. It allows maximum flexibility as Turkey sends Army SMY-SYR away and waits Russia's move: if the Tsar treacherously moved to BLA, ANK will be open for the fleet build; if Russia kept its word then Fleet SMY can be built normally.

Army Berlin-Prussia is part of the legendary Centrifuge Opening (A MUN-KIE, F KIE-BAL) where the army is convoyed to Denmark in Fall.

But what about Tuscany? Can a move there in 1901 make sense somehow? Well, turns out it can!

Imagine the following context before Spring 1901 (when your only source is what other powers say!):

1) Italy is willing to help Austria stop a rising Juggernaut

2) Austria is paranoid about its defense

So nothing uncommon right? Obviously, if Italy does not care about Austria's doom or if Austria does not mind moving east in force while an Italian army looms in the horizon, more traditional openings will certainly give the Pope more options. The Tuscan Opening attempts to give Italy a reasonable start when both points above are true (which they usually are), by making a move towards Turkey - the traditional Lepanto - while also reassuring Austria that its home centers will be safe - unshackling the Archduke to use the powerful Balkan Gambit Opening, Galician Variation. To achieve both objectives, here is the opening:




Image: https://i.imgur.com/VSlSFZy.png

For this article we shall refer to the opening above (the Venetian Variation), but there's an alternative set of moves (the Roman Variation) that has the same result:




Image: https://i.imgur.com/CNRs8HV.png

By moving to Tuscany from the start (alongside a Lepanto Opening), Italy makes it impossible to stab Austria at Trieste in Fall 1901, giving the Archduke much-needed freedom to halt Russo-Turkish ambitions in the Balkans with all their three units. An initial dosage of trust is needed from both sides, but if things go well by Spring then full-blown cooperation by Fall will be a great reward in their anti-Juggernaut crusade.

The opening does give Italy less leverage over Austria, and may actually be considered more to Austria's advantage than Italy's, but it's up to the Pope to balance whether keeping a shadow over Trieste is worth it when a Juggernaut is on the move and Austria has to constantly watch over its back - potentially wasting a precious unit to do garrison duty or rush back to Trieste due to some nasty rumour (probably from France's President or England's Prime Minister working in junction with the Juggernaut).

If Austria breaks their word and moves Fleet TRI-VEN, your units at Tuscany and Apulia can easily retake the center and still grab Tunis with the fleet; if Austria attempts a flamboyant opening like the Blue Water (F TRI-ADR, A VIE-TYR/TRI) you can assure both a bounce in Venice and the build. In any case, Italy hasn't much to lose by trying the Tuscan Opening while the gains (bounce in Galicia and possibly Rumania or two units on Bulgaria by the year's end with a Italian sea invasion on its way) can be quite numerous indeed.

Perhaps you're wondering: if the problem is staying with the army in Venice, why move specifically to Tuscany, and not anywhere else? Well, the problem is that:

Tyrolia sucks even more than staying in Venice - it borders Vienna on top of Trieste, and adds Munich and thus an angry Kaiser into the mix. Not exactly the most helpeful behavior when stopping a Juggernaut is the goal.

Piedmont may be used to balance the West sometimes, but most often it'll cause a nasty build of Fleet Marseilles that will do your march to Syria no good at all. Why meddle in the West when a larger shadow rises in the East?

Apulia is out of question - it forces Army Rome to do a "Lesspanto" towards Naples, and in the case that Austria does move its fleet to Venice you cannot be assured of retaking it.

Rome adresses many of the problems stated above, however it has two drawbacks: first, it blocks a home supply center from builds, and no matter how marginal Rome can be in the early game, it's important to keep the option of Fleet ROM open if and when the wind changes course. Second, and there's where it loses to Tuscany: Rome lacks vital leverage over Piedmont, which means less of a say in western affairs should anti-French policy become a priority. From Tuscany, and army can reach Marseilles within a year - not an option to be underestimated.

Be warned that there are contexts where using the Tuscan Opening may not be to Italy's (and Austria's) advantage. Notably, when a Juggernaut is not so certain: too friendly behavior risks throwing Tsar and Sultan into each other's arms a bit sooner than needed. There may also be a case for Army VEN-TYR then TYR-BOH, enabling Italy to help with Galicia in 1902, or for Italy to interfere in a Western Triangle resolving too quickly by sliding into Piedmont or Tyrolia. Finally, using an unusual opening may raise eyebrows across the board regarding your skill or experience, which can serve as a liability or a key advantage in your race to 18.

In conclusion, the Tuscan Opening is Italy's answer to the question: "how can I send Austria spinning madly at Russia/Turkey without the guy freaking out about Trieste?" It's a minor sacrifice of Italian early power in order to boost Austria's own initial capacity to strike at a feared enemy, and may constitute the foundations of a happy and well-built alliance that will open many windows - and supply centers for the green units.

When the stab on Austria comes in your victorious end, may you have sweet memories of opening to Tuscany in an equally sweet Spring.
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Re: Tuscan Opening

Postby Enriador » 25 Feb 2018, 03:17

Thanks to folks from PlayDiplomacy.com who helped me realize that Tuscany had an early game purpose after all (vie ... 16&t=56371). Also thanks to Backstabbr for its amazing Sandbox mode.

I hope you guys like it! Feel free to discuss and critize both the opening and the article.
Posts: 40
Joined: 06 Jul 2016, 07:11
Class: Diplomat
Standard rating: (974)
All-game rating: (975)
Timezone: GMT

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