This is the latest in a series of reviews (and I use that word pretty loosely) of YouTube Dip channels. You can find the list of the channels I’ve looked at here.
So, given that I am playing my first game on Backstabbr, and I’ve drawn Austria, I thought I’d look at Triumvir’s advice on playing Austria. And, when I looked, I saw that Triumvir had done a video on the Key Lepanto. As this is something I’m looking to play with Italy in this game, I thought I’d watch the video.
The first thing to say is that this was an after-thought for Triumvir. He’d discussed Austrian opening strategy (no doubt I’ll come to this video in a later post) and hadn’t mentioned the Key Lepanto opening. Which is fair enough; if you’re going to look at openings for each power, keep it simple and just focus on that power.
Triumvir starts off by discussing the Lepanto opening. He describes it briefly as Italy opening with F Nap-ION, A Ven-Apu, A Rom-Nap. I’m not sure this is a very good way to move both armies. If you’re moving A Ven-Apu, then the Roman army should be moving to Venice. Yes, you’ve agreed this opening with Austria (despite Triumvir describing the Lepanto as being an Italian opening – it isn’t; it’s as much a combined opening between Italy and Austria as any other Lepanto opening) but you can’t really trust that this isn’t Austria looking to get into Venice.
He then seems to suggest that Italy moves straight to the East Mediterranean Sea from Ionian, as if this is what should happen in Fall 1901. I don’t think that is what should happen at all. Given that Italy’s armies aren’t getting out of Italy that way (without Austria convoying one) this isn’t going to work – Italy can’t get through the game if they don’t build in 1901!
Anyway, this is just an introduction. Let’s look at what he says about the Key Lepanto. I have to say, though, that given this extremely brief and poor discussion of the Lepanto, I wasn’t thinking I’d get much from the Key.
So, what are the moves? Well, I think the player controlling Italy in the game I’m playing must have done is looked at this video because they seem to be thinking very much along the same lines as Triumvir as far as moves go. I’ve never seen the Key Lepanto described in this way before! This is a variant you might call the ‘Rumanian Key Lepanto’ or, less charitably, the Lock Lepanto.
Austria’s moves are:
- F Tri-Alb
- A Ven-Gal
- A Bud-Rum
Italy’s moves are:
- A Ven-Tri
- A Rom-Ven
- F Nap-ION
The problem with what Tirumvir does throughout the video is that he doesn’t include the possible movements of other units. Given that Austria’s armies are moving very much towards Russia, here, and that Russia could well be moving towards Austria, both A Ven-Gal and A Bud-Sev could fail. It is common for Russia to open with A War-Gal and (somewhat less common but still not unusual) F Sev-Rum. This would mean that neither of Austria’s armies move.
So the big idea for Austria’s armies – that, in Fall 1901, A Gal S Rum H, or A Gal-Ukr, A Rum S Gal-Ukr – is suspect. Certainly, unless Russia’s an idiot, one from A Vie-Gal and A Bud-Rum will fail, at least. Where does that leave Austria? Potentially with both armies stuck where they were and no build from them; and, if that is the case, why would Italy move out of Trieste? What could be worse is that Austria’s fleet, which is aiming for Greece, could well be left to bounce in Greece with Turkey, who has moved A Con-Bul in S01, ordering A Bul-Gre in F01. No builds for Austria! See ya.
I’m going to call this disastrous opening the Lock Lepanto. I know the Key Lepanto is named after the player who first introduced it, Jeff Key (the link here will take you to the Library of Diplomacy Openings first page; choose ‘Italy’ from the powers dropdown menu, then ‘Lepanto, Key Variation’), and it doesn’t refer to the unlocking of Italy’s access to the Balkans (although it could) but I like Lock Lepanto as being the antithesis of ‘Key’ given that it locks Austria out of the game.
Anyway, the idea of the Key Lepanto is that Italy gets into Serbia. What should be happening in a Key Lepanto is the following:
- Austria: A Bud-Ser, A Ven-Bud/Gal, F Tri-Alb
- Italy: F Nap-ION, A Ven-Tri, A Rom-Nap/Apu/Ven
- Austria: A Ser-Gre, F Alb S Ser-Gre.
- Italy: F Nap-AEG, A Tri-Alb.
- The second Austrian army needs to respond to where it is. Ideally, if it was ordered to Galicia and this succeeded, it should support Russia in/into Rumania because Russia should be on the side of the A/I alliance. If it bounced and is in Vienna, it should either move to Budapest or, if Italy opened with A Rom-Ven, it must be ordered to Trieste. If it was moved to Budapest, as should really be the case with the Key Lepanto, it should support A Tri-Ser.
- The second Italian army needs to respond to where it is, also. If Italy moved it south – to Naples or Apulia – it’s going nowhere. It needs to hold. If it moved north, to Venice, which is a scary option for Austria, it should move south to Apulia, or west to Piedmont. Apulia is the best bet as Italy will be looking to build a fleet in Naples to convoy that army to Tunis.
The idea of the Key Lepanto is that Italy gets into Serbia. Austria takes Greece, Italy takes Serbia. Italy looks to get their fleet into an advanced position against Turkey, ideally to the Aegean Sea. If Turkey has ordered F Ank-Con in S01, then they’re likely to move F Con-AEG in F01… but could equally look to order F Con-Bul if they believe they’ll get support for A Bul-Gre.
Anyway, back to the Lock Lepanto that Triumvir is calling the Key Lepanto. Trimuvir does mention the strategy needed behind this opening: to keep Russia and Turkey off balance and even attacking each other. There’s no success to the Key Lepanto if Russia and Turkey are allied. The Juggernaut (the Russo-Turkish alliance) will usually win out against an Adriatic Alliance.
What I’m struggling with here is that, even supposing Austria’s opening moves in the Lock Lepanto work, and she ends with armies in Galicia and Rumania, how is this going to help keeping Russia and Turkey separated? Given that Austria now prevents Russia from taking Rumania unless Russia uses three units (F BLA, A Sev, A Ukr) if they can, this means that if Russia is to take Rumania they will need Turkish help… which seems to force Russia and Turkey together! If Turkey has opened strongly anti-Russia, then they are unlikely to change tack anyway, so perhaps an Austro-Turkish Austurk Alliance is possible. A decent Turkey, however, will be looking for signs of a Key Lepanto and will see it.
Triumvir describes the Fall 1901 orders as being:
- Austria: F Alb-Gre.
- Italy: A Ven-Apu, A Tri-Ser, F ION-EMS.
- He says that Austria’s armies should respond to what has happened elsewhere: to hold on to Rumania and possibly has A Rum S Tri-Ser.
Again, there are huge problems with this. There is no consideration of what Turkey’s army that is sitting in Bulgaria will do. If Turkey suspects a Key Lepanto all they have to do is order A Bul-Ser and Italy’s army won’t move out of Trieste. Even given A Rum S Tri-Ser, because Russia will be attacking Rumania, that support is cut. Alternatively, A Bul-Gre prevents Austria’s F Alb-Gre succeeding and Austria only gets a build if they can hold on to Rumania! This is all very risky!
Italy’s order of F ION-EMS is likely to succeed. If Turkey has a fleet in Constantinople, they’ll probably move F Con-AEG, so Italy will only get her fleet into the Aegean Sea if Turkey thinks they can get Greece so uses F Con-Bul (whichever coast). Again, though, a decent Turkey will recognise the danger and is likely to simply hold in Bulgaria and order F Con-AEG.
If Italy does get her fleet into the East Mediterranean Sea, as the Lock Lepanto suggest, then what good does it do? It’s isolated and, although it means Turkey has to tie a unit down defending Smyrna, there is nothing to be gained from F ION-EMS. If Italy gets to build her fleet in Naples, it is only when that fleet gets into the Ionian that the idea of attacking Turkey comes along… and then only if Austria can survive following the potentially catastrophic 1901 moves.
Triumvir does say that he may do a longer video looking at how Turkey’s and Russia’s moves might complicate this explanation of the Key Lepanto but, frankly, I don’t think that needs to be a very long video. It’s simple: Russia either orders A War-Gal or F Sev-Rum and you’re stuffed. Turkey simply has to attack Serbia or Greece from Constantinople and you’re stuffed.
This is very disappointing as a video discussing the Key Lepanto. It isn’t the Key Lepanto at all. It is set up to fail. Of course, the Key Lepanto is a very easy way to have Austria fail anyway… why wouldn’t Italy simply hold in Trieste and transform the Key into the Stab Lepanto?
I can only hope that other Triumvir412 videos are better than this.