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The Pastiche Opening

By John Torrey

From Diplomacy World #9


Let's say you are Turkey in a brand-new Di­plomacy game. Naturally, you've started exchang­ing letters with Austria, Russia and Italy, but as usual. It is hard to know what to believe. You don't want to commit yourself by attacking Russia on the first move (A Smy-Arm, F Ank-Bla), but you don't think you can trust him either (by moving F Ank-Con). Italy could surprise you with a Lepanto opening, but then again he might have a war with France. You'll probably go for the “normal" opening: A Con-Bul, A Smy-Con, F Ank-Bla.


The idea is to keep your options open and prevent an early disaster from Russia taking the Black Sea. This opening, however, reduces your options by locking that Ankara fleet out of the Aegean and Mediterranean.  It is a big reason for the success of the Lepanto, because that fleet just has no access to the weak points Italy will hit first.


The Pastiche opening is designed to repair the flaws in the normal Turkish opening. Your first moves are: A Con-Bul, A Smy H (!), F Ank-Bla. Because that army in Smyrna has not moved, neither Russia nor Austria is directly threaten­ed. Your fall Diplomacy can be conducted in an atmosphere free of stress. In the fall, you can order: A Bul H (or -Rum), F Ank (Bla)-Con, A Smy-Ank (or -Arm). Telling Russia that you'll order the A Bul-Rum (assuming you had bounced in the Black Sea) forces him to support his move to Rumania, thereby leaving the Black Sea vacant. The army in Smyrna moves to Armenia unless Rus­sia is definitely friendly.


Now you have some real options. After the fall moves are published you should have seen enough to know whether to build your fleet in Smyrna -- for a southern campaign or defense-- or in Ankara – for an offensive in Russia. Either way, you'll have two fleets working together, something never possible with the "normal" open­ing.


The risk -- that Russia and Austria will get together against your unsupported army in Bulgar­ia--is insignificant, at least in 1901. If Rus­sia is in Rumania, then you are in the Black Sea, if not, then they have no supported attack. Af­ter 1901, you should have enough diplomatic bear­ings to hold your own. Of course, no opening in itself can save you if you have no allies and your neighbors launch a determined attack.


Few powers in Diplomacy have the possibility of choosing a major direction after 1901 while retaining relative freedom from attack. With the Pastiche opening, Turkey can have both.