So, I’ve thought about the Key Lepanto as an opening strategy. There are a number of variants of this but the main aspect of them all is that Italy travels through Treste to Serbia in 1901.
I’ve seen a number of explanations of this on Dip forums and sites, but if you want to know what the Key Lepanto actually looks like, go to the Library of Diplomacy Openings, choose Italy from the powers dropdown menu and Lepanto, Key Variation from the Openings dropdown.
I’m not going into any great depth on the Key Lepanto here, I’ll save that for another post. I will, however, start by discussing the basic moves.
The Key Lepanto
The Key Lepanto is a combined opening for Italy and Austria. Here are the orders:
- Austria: F Tri-Alb, A Bud-Ser, A Vie-Bud
- Italy: F Nap-ION, A Rom-Nap/Apu, A Ven-Tri
- Austria: A Ser-Gre, F Alb S Ser-Gre, A Bud S Tri-Ser
- Italy: A Tri-Ser, F ION-AEG, A Nap/Apu H
There are some variations. If the two players agree to mask the opening, Italy could order A Rom-Ven in S01. This carries an even bigger risk to Austria, however: should Italy betray Austria, and decide to turn the Key into a Stab Lepanto, holding in Trieste with support from an army in Venice is great… but also is A Tri-Vie and A Ven-Tri is F01.
The Key Lepanto, then, is laced with risk to Austria. Yet, if A Rom-Ven doesn’t happen, it signals a clear Austro-Italian alliance.
Let’s assume that Italy and Austria decide to play nice, though, because – if they do – the Key Lepanto can be a great start, especially if Italy can get her fleet into the Aegean Sea in 1901. What happens, though, if they can’t or thinks can’t? What happens if Turkey opens with F Ank-Con, making F Con-AEG a possibility?
Well, Italy could move F ION-EMS instead. However, for me, this isolates that fleet and, frankly, this isn’t much use. While a fleet in the East Mediterranean Sea threatens Smyrna, it doesn’t take too much effort on Turkey’s side to block this threat. And, of course, that Italian fleet is isolated.
So here’s my take on a variation that I don’t think I’ve seen before and that I don’t think has been named: the Peloponnesian Key.
The Peloponnesian Key
It starts out the same as the Key Lepanto in Spring 1901 but it changes significantly in Fall 1901:
- Austria: F Alb-Gre, A Ser-Alb, A Bud S Tri-Ser
- Italy: F ION S Alb-Gre, A Tri-Ser, A Nap/Apu H or A Ven-Apu (depending upon what order was given to A Rom in S01)
What does this achieve? Well, Austria gets Greece and Italy gets Serbia as with the classic Key Lepanto. However, instead of an Austrian army in Greece, it’s a fleet, and vice versa in Albania. It also means that Italy doesn’t get her forward position against Turkey in 1901 – she’s in neither the Aegean or East Mediterranean seas.
What effect does this have?
For Austria, I’d argue they’re in a stronger position. Having an army in Albania means that Trieste, Greece and Serbia are all protected. If it’s the fleet there, then Serbia is that little more vulnerable. However, it’s the Austrian fleet that is in a much improved position.
In F01, if Austria uses the classic A Ser-Gre, A Alb S Ser-Gre, then her fleet is stuck in Albania. What can it do from there, especially if Austria has tried to order F ION-AEG and bounced with Turkey’s F Con-AEG? Effectively, Austria’s fleet is stuck in this situation. And if it can move out to the Ionian Sea, how does this help Italy’s fleet build in Naples? Where does that go? Often Austria will be reduced to ordering F Alb S Nap-ION, being ordered to Greece as a back-fill option should A Gre-Bul succeed, or holding in Albania. In short, it’s a second-hand unit. And it could face being stuck there for some time.
If, however, it gets into Greece, then it can support Italy to the Aegean Sea, or it can attack Bulgaria or support an attack on Bulgaria. It is, though, this flexibility that of having the option of supporting action into a sea space that makes it better than an army.
Add to this the fact that an army in Albania can move to or support in Serbia, something a fleet can’t, and you can see how positive this switch in places could be.
Of course, Italy hasn’t got that advanced position. If Italy has the option of moving A ION-AEG unopposed in F01, then that is the order that should be made, shouldn’t it? Well, I’m not sure how good that order is. If everything else works out as it should, Italy has an army in Serbia and Austria would have a unit in Greece (probably an army in this situation). That gives the Adriatic Alliance three units bordering Bulgaria.
However, Turkey could have enough support to thwart an attack on Bulgaria and, if they haven’t, could well have enough proof to persuade Russia to help them out. After all, when Turkey falls, where is the Austro-Italian alliance going next?
If Italy and Austria went for the Peloponnesian Key opening anyway, then they have two fleets bordering the Aegean Sea, and a second Italian fleet in Naples. It’s slower, but the S02 orders F ION-EMS, F Nap-ION, F Gre-AEG could potentially prevent Turkey getting into the Aegean Sea and putting three Adriatic Alliance fleets bordering the Aegean, that means they should be able to take it in F02.
I’d suggest, however, the F Gre S Ser-Bul could be a better option at this time. It might not work but the dangers of an Italian fleet getting into the Aegean Sea in S02 is almost as bad for Turkey.