Thursday, 22 June 2017 10:54

THE WISE OLD WEASEL -- ITALY Featured

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June, the start of sundress/ wedding season, is fittingly named after the Roman goddess Juno. Juno was the goddess of marriage, but really, she was the goddess of jealousy. She’d stroll out of her Mount Olympus high rise, see all these nymphs (in the classical sense) in their sundresses holding hands with their boyfriends (or her husband Zeus/ Jupiter), and be filled with envy. That envy inspired her to turn people into cows, start wars, or send literal Furies after her enemies. Really, there are only two kinds of stories in Roman Mythology: ones where Juno aggressively seeks vengeance, and ones where she does not.

Passive Juno allowed the continent we push blocks around to be named after her husband’s slam piece.

Aggressive Juno orchestrated the fall of Troy.

You know what they say about Italians- they learn best from their mothers. This, Weasels, is where we share our wisdom.

 

THE WISE OLD WEASEL: ITALY

Image result for juno goddess

A disappointed, passive Juno surveying her four center Italy, about to be squeezed in 1908.

 

ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME- YOUR ITALIAN OVERVIEW

Now like Juno, Italy doesn’t have to be constantly aggressive, but it must be jealous. Italy’s great challenge is getting stuck on 4 centers, home and Tunis, until the end of time. In fact, Italy only gets out of the gate, which our stats department defines as reaching 7 centers, in 33% of games, worst of the seven powers. But a strong Italy, with its variety of weapons and targets, brings havoc across Europe.

Italy is uniquely positioned between the theatres and at the edge of the stalemate line, if you count Tunis. Early game involves a fun variety of openings and establishment in one theatre, midgame requires a strategic maintenance of tempo and unit mix, the end game a vast kaleidoscope of solo possibilities.

YOUR ITALIAN INSPIRATION-HISTORY'S MOST FAMOUS STAB

 

THE SECTION WHERE WE PUBLICLY ASK FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS, AT TIMES BY NAME

Drop a comment for how you best (or least best) play Italy. Brandon and Jim both had some solid results last year they could perhaps speak to. I find that Chris Kelly often does well on the boot, consistently hitting 7+ as the Italian. Perhaps Bull Weasel and Turkey superfan Matt “the Sundstrom” Sundstrom could share some thoughts on how Italy can best annoy Turkey, its biggest threat? Not to forget subprime Weasel John Gramila soloed with Italy at the 2016 WDC.

Hit the jump for stats department report on Italy, best club results, and Jake’s most recommended Italian articles.

GREAT WEASEL HEROES OF EPICS PAST

 

Italy ranks sixth in board tops, with 10% of Italian seizing the day successfully. Italian success is best correlated with Russian success, followed by the Germans. Italian not success is correlated with Turkey, followed by England (!), then Austria and France. That’s an interesting snafu in the data-logic would suggest France is the bigger threat for elimination, but it seems any witches success is most devastating towards Italy’s prospects. This season has been meh for Italy, with the third highest average score, but the second least tops.

The peak of club Italian Renaissance came in game 250, as David St. John nearly crossed the metaphorical Rubicon on his way to 17 dots and 73 points. The best bar Italy was a 16-center, 69 point effort this season by your own dear Speaky Weasel, his second time as a bridesmaid this season.

A ROOM WITHOUT BOOKS IS LIKE A BODY WITHOUT A SOUL

Like Cicero, read up on the brilliance of your forebears.

Edi Birsan explaining the opening he created, the Lepanto (must know for new players)

The Blue Water Lepanto, which is more fun but less good for Italy

Another fun one, the Bohemian Crusher, which is an Austria killer

Winning with Italy (highly, highly recommend- tremendous overview)

Dipcast-Italy

Hey look it’s a super long recap to the best Italy bar game. Yes I wrote it shut up.

I for the life of me can’t find the game 250 recap- maybe Jim could drop a link in the comments?

 

{jcomments on}

 

Read 224 times Last modified on Thursday, 22 June 2017 11:14
More in this category: « The Wise Old Weasel -- France

Comments   

# Jim O'Kelley 2017-06-22 21:04
+1 # Jim O'Kelley 2017-07-01 22:51
Well, here are a couple of early-game things to keep in mind when you're playing Italy.

1) It's always best to assume that even if Russia and Turkey start the game at each other's throats, they'll patch things up quickly if you jump Austria. Plan and negotiate accordingly.

2) The likelihood that the French will launch a Mediterranean campaign is inversely related to the player's experience level. Again, plan and negotiate accordingly.
+2 # Jake Trotta 2017-07-10 14:51
DON’T TRY IT-THE THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T DO
Bad news first: Italy is probably the hardest or second hardest country to play. The results are terrible. You don’t really see Italy’s “luck” their way to a victory like you do England, Turkey, or France (France in particular does this all the damn time). You need to be a kickass diplomacy player to kick it with the boot. Fortunately, there’s really only three ways to play Italy “wrong.”
• If it’s 1904 and you’re at the same 4 centers you had in 1901, you’re doing it wrong.
• DON’T EVER LEAVE THE IONIAN. I know the definition of an expert is “know the rules well enough that you know when you can break them,” but seriously don’t break this rule. It’s never a good idea. Ever. If you leave the Ionian, you deserve to lose.
• Blitzing Austria in 1901 when they’ve made a valid kamikaze threat (meaning they both have the will and ability to do it). If you can’t guarantee yourself 2 Austrian dots by the end of 1902, it’s not worth it.
• Bonus fourth way: if you take Munich before 1905 for any reason other than Germany invited you so you could follow along to Silesia or Burgundy, you doubly deserve to lose. Unless it’s an AIR.

OPENINGS OVERVIEW-ONE BORING OPTION AND MANY FUN ONES.
This is just an overview that explains short term tactics for 5 mainstream openings and 1 bad idea. For strategic considerations, see below.

Lepanto- Venice H, Rome-Apu-Tun, Nap-Ion-Convoy. Great if you want to lepanto. Not great if you like excitement.

Key Lepanto- Ven-Tri-Serb/ Hold, Rome-Apu/ Ven-H, Nap-Ion-Aeg. Big, big fan of these. Instantly makes you a player in the east, guarantees the fifth dot. If you do follow up to Venice, don’t dot for 3 in 01. It won’t work and you’ll get jugged.

Bohemian Crusher- Ven-Tyr-Boh, Rom-Ven-Tyr, Nap-Ion-Tunis-Ion. This kills the Austria. High risk, high reward. Haven’t seen it in a weasel game before.

West- Ven-Pie-Mar/ H, Rom-Ven-Pie, Nap-ION/TYS-TUNIS. I love this one. If you can get Mar early, you can really goof up France’s game. Should Turkey give you the time, you might even pick up Iberia.

Feint-Ven-Pie-Tyr, Rom-Ven-Tri, Nap-Ion-Tunis. Another fave rave. Build some Austrian trust, then swoop in with great position for 02.

Italian Hedgehog- Ven-Pie-Mar, Rome-Ven-Tri, Nap-Ion-Tunis. I’ve never seen it done, but damn does it sound entertaining! If you could combo “hey Austria give me Trieste and I’ll build two fleets” and sneaking into Mar… 3 builds in 01. Woof. What a fun bad idea.

RELATIONSHIPS OVERVIEW-THIS IS HARDER THAN YOU THINK

I’ve found in playing Italy that I have to make more strategic decisions… and they’re murkier than the sort of choices you have to make as most other nations. West or East starts in 1901, but lasts throughout the game. Here’s an overview of the strategic choices to keep in mind as you negotiate.

Austria-The one guy you have leverage on in the early game. He needs you more than you need him, and most are willing to play ball and get you the fifth dot. I love love love moving to Aegean in exchange for Trieste (or serb) in 01. Bottles up Turkey right away, and guarantees your fifth in 02. There will be temptation to stab early. Timing is key there. Long term AIs work great and are a strong alliance, plus delaying can get you an even bigger stab later. One big caveat- Austria at 7+ is a monster. Big Austria is a bear to take down and starts being a threat to take Venice. It is important to not get overextended if you notice your red buddy is about to hit that 7-8 center mark.

England-Great buddy in the early game… but at what cost? Northeast England may destabilize Russia, who you might need later as a counterbalance. Southwest England may get Iberia before you, which is bad news. And England having success against Germany means you’re probably going to have France down your throat. England is not a direct threat to your interests, but IS a threat to what you need to make those interests happen. Tread carefully.

France- A big threat. As Jim said, inexperienced players tend to go south. A slide over to Piedmont can prevent this… or also cause it. France can quickly become a tempo demon if they convoy to wales or gain traction in Germany early. I’m a bit of an advocate for opening to piedmont more just to slow France down (and if it helps Germany). That being said, I’ve seen a lot of Frances get ganged up on by EG and just hand Iberia to a late-arriving Italy. Most players tend to play it safe and do early game DMZ’s. That may be a good idea… or a terrible one.

Germany- I’ll try not to GI fanboy too much here, but it is my favorite alliance. Successful Germany means less successful France and England, ideally providing western opportunities for you. If he is going to Burgundy and is going to get in, go the hell to Piedmont. Germany is another country that requires a high level of expertise (definitely the hardest of the west), so good coordination is crucial. The one caveat is if you need Russia around to slow down Turkey, German interests may run counter to that.

Russia- IR is a tremendous alliance. One of its biggest benefits is cloaking-you can’t really see it until the midgame. BUT its biggest drawback is reliability- can you really trust Russia? Will Russia even be around to help you? If I’m feeling confident that Russia will side with me instead of Turkey, then I’m happy to blitz Austria. But if he’s a ditherer or is losing STP… I’m a lot more skeptical. Strongly encourage frequent communication to figure out if you can count on your great white friend. If not, AI all day.

Turkey-you should tell him to go to Armenia. If he’s down, you’ve got two options. Either hit Austria and accept that the game will likely be a coin toss between you and Turkey (sounds like a fun bar game), or start coordinating with Austria on when and how you’re going to take him down (sounds like a fun house game).
+1 # Chris Kelly 2017-07-11 21:22
Quoting Jim O'Kelley:
1) It's always best to assume that even if Russia and Turkey start the game at each other's throats, they'll patch things up quickly if you jump Austria.

To me, this gets at the geographical challenge for Italy in being stuck between the western (ENG/FRA/GER) and eastern (RUS/AUS/TRI) triangles. You're awkwardly positioned to launch an immediate frontal assault on anyone to start with, but even if you do & succeed, you'll have a hard time defending your gains against the other two members of the triangle.

In particular, one of my personal maxims (which I'm not always smart enough to follow) is that Italy can take Austrian centers early on, but it can't hold them. Per Jim's quote, it invites Russia/Turkey to ally against you, even if they started the game at war. Also, as Jake notes, even if you think you can somehow avoid creating an R/T, stabbing Austria is pointless unless you're taking at least 2 centers (i.e., enough to cripple AUS rather than annoy them & drag both of you into a mutually destructive stalemate).

But I think attacking France right off the bat can create similar problems. A move to Piedmont certainly throws a wrench into French plans, but undermining France can backfire if it lures an English/German alliance into the fray -- and, in particular, if English fleets drop down toward Spain & Portugal. Like Jake, I've seen a besieged France "hand Iberia to a late-arriving Italy" (and sometimes been that Italy), but I believe being *late-arriving* is an important element of that. Because Italy can't really overpower anyone, your attacks/stabs have to be especially well timed.

In short, I think the most reliable path to at-least-modest success as Italy is being a bit of a scavenger -- holding back & taking time to see who's fighting who, then jumping in at the right moment to pick off centers from whoever can least defend themselves. Not exactly the proudest or most daring way to play, but hey, scavengers have their place in the food chain, too.

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