The Wise Old Weasel — Talking Turkey


Turkey, Thanksgiving cornerstone and diplomatic “Cancer in the Corner,” is next up because of the aforementioned holiday.

A reminder of what we’re doing here:

Weasels near and far, let us gather and share our collective wisdom on the play of individual powers in this great game. All are encouraged to comment with their perspective on playing each power effectively. For newer weasels, this should be a tremendous resource to quickly learn the game. For older weasels, this blog will provide areas to search for improvement and share discoveries. And for the oldest of Weasels, this blog is an outlet for the fruit of their many years in the hobby. This, Weasels, is where we share our wisdom.

Topics of conversation may include openings, negotiation, alliances, how to solo, how to play from behind, anything and everything that feeds into the proper play of the nation. Reminder: this is specific to club Turkish play under the one true scoring system, Sum of Squares.  

Gobble up your Turkish tactics after the jump.


Turkey may have limited early game strategic options, but is damn hard to kill and is perhaps the easiest nation to come from behind in. Your game may start slow, but if an opportunity presents itself, you may be, as they say, “jiving.”

“Don’t be a jive Turkey” -literally, everyone, except maybe England.


Since we moved to SOS, Turkey is right in the middle in terms of topping percentage, coming in 4th in total tops at 14%. It is 5th in lone tops at 12%. The best Turkey game in League play was a 55 point, 13 center by John Gramila. However, Matt Sundstrom just became Bull Weasel on a 15 center, 60 point Turkey trout, granting him the Greatest of All Turkeys. 

Matt as Top Turkey should surprise no one- if you haven’t experienced the Sundstrom opening in league play, you’ve seen a Chicago player do it in a tournament. I’ll let the Top Turkey/ Bull Weasel detail the opening in the comments.

Turkish success is most correlated with British, then German success. Shout out to Bryan Pravel, who likes the ET “Witches” alliance enough for me to prompt him to share (we’re very subtle with our social pressuring here at the Wise Old Weasel). Turkish downfall is most strongly correlated with Austria, then Russia and Italy are about equal threats.


Unfortunately, has been down for a bit (anyone know about this?). I’m posting the articles anyways- if we can’t find a fix, I can provide an alliance structure overview. Dipcast will still work.

DiplomacyCast Turkey Episode

On the IT

The spider in the corner

Why Greece is a BFD

Letting Russia have the Black

Refining the Jug Pt 1

Refining the Jug Pt 2

That should be enough to get us started, but there are plenty of questions. When should Turkey play aggressive early? How can an IT work? How about Armenia (Matt?) Why not Armenia (Chris Martin?) Why is black such a big deal? What happens if Russia builds a second fleet in the South (Chris Kelly maybe?) Where is your 18? Can you afford to give Italy Greece? Should you ever build an army before a fleet? What about playing Turkey in a bar game (Jim?)

Let’s hear it, folks.

Join the discussion!

Find out more about an upcoming event or article, talk smack before a game, brag about your board top, or most likely, ask what on earth your fellow Weasels were thinking!

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Jim O'Kelley

    It’s late and I’m tired, so this likely will be clumsier than I’d like, but I’ll attempt to tie thoughts on stats and strategy articles together.

    First, stats.

    [quote]Turkish success is most correlated with British, then German success.[/quote]

    I like how you’re using the club’s data to illustrate your articles, Jake. Makes it feel like the time spent logging all those games was worth it. 🙂

    I didn’t check, but I’m pretty sure you wrote last month that German success tracks closely to Turkish success as well. Makes sense. The reason is Russia.

    German or Turkish success at Russia’s expense creates a vacuum that the other can exploit.

    Hold that thought as we pivot to strategy articles. Like most, if not all, Diplomacy players, I gobble (point, Jim–go ahead and click the green thumb) them up. They’re fun to read. They can be helpful to newer players, too. But it also helps to know their limitations.


    1) These articles almost always make many assumptions about what the other players will be doing with their pieces.

    2) They’re usually really tactics articles, not strategy articles.

    3) They ignore the reality of the board you’re playing.

    And now, I’ll try to tie the two thoughts together with the glorious Sundstrom Opening.

    I first read about the Crimean Opening in the Spring 1993 issue of [i]Diplomacy World[/i]. Nothing wrong with its website. The link is here: [url][/url]. Check out David Smith’s great Sherlock Holmes-themed article on page 10.

    He lays out in fun and entertaining detail how effective the opening is at denying the Russians a Southern build. Most of us in the Chicago hobby can testify. At some time or another, we have witnessed this first hand from the wrong side of the Black Sea.

    Tactically, it’s a solid opening. But strategically? Well, you’re not going to find that in an article because the answer depends on who you’re playing and what they’re doing.

    My advice to beginners: Read strategy articles, but don’t let them guide your strategy. Instead, think of them as tools in your toolbox. Once you know what you want to happen, reach in your toolbox for the tools you need.

    Also, be flexible because I read that in an article once.

  2. Jim O'Kelley

    Where’s everybody else? Hmm. I’ll share three guiding principles for Turkish play.

    1) First, understand that none of your neighbors really [i]wants[/i] to ally with you. Okay, maybe Russia. Maybe. But for Austria and Italy, all things being equal, you’re at best their second choice as Spring 1901 negotiations open. Neither one relishes the idea of turning to face the mid-game with you behind them.

    Even the rare enthusiastic Russian is at least a tiny bit concerned about the attack he’ll face in the North if there’s an obvious R/T.

    2) With the above in mind, it’s best to remember that patience is the greatest of all virtues. Aggressive play is fine if it means you’re growing. My first Turkish solo was in a postal game. I did it by 1906.

    Extreme examples aside, barring catastrophe, a Turk at six or seven centers by 1904 is going to be around when the game ends. Do you feel as safe with Russia? Or Germany? Or Austria?

    But if aggressive play means putting yourself out on a limb, then you’re better off playing cautiously. It’s really, really hard for the other guys to chop off Turkey’s head if she doesn’t stick her neck out.

    At some point, the Westerners will come East, and when that happens, your game will open up. Wait for it.

    3) It’s okay to play Turkey with a tactical rather than strategic mindset. My friend Mark Fassio–who died a few days before Nate–said it really well in his article on playing Turkey in the second Gamer’s Guide:

    Worry “primarily about your growth and positioning for the next immediate one-to-three game years. To play Turkey with a ‘strategic’ view (planning ahead for four or six game years) does a disservice to the strengths of your position. A sound tactical game with a good ally (and lots of clever negotiation) will gain you all the centers you’ll need to lay a sound foundation for your run at supremacy in the late years.”

    Thanks to the Australian Peter McNamara, you can read Faz’ article here: [url][/url].

    Just remember that your tactical choices can reverberate on the other side of the board.

    (It’s also worth nothing that the Russian article in that Gamer’s Guide was written by our Fred Townsend.)

  3. Jake Trotta

    Figured these might trickle in slow after the Holiday, so I’ll add a few of my own thoughts.

    I really enjoy Turkey, it’s my best Eastern power. Jim’s thoughts are dead-on: patience is key, you can afford to play tactics first, and you usually win late. I’ve played it the most and have probably improved with it the most. As Jim mentioned, you can play a more tactical game with Turkey early than almost any other nation. IF you decide you want to play a tactics-first strategy, here are a ten Turkey tactical tips I’ve discovered.

    1) Get the black sea (or at least don’t give it to Russia, unless you’re doing something crazy). Austria and Italy, even if they successfully swing fleets around on you, lose a TON of tempo taking you apart if you play decent tactics. Russia is your biggest threat-without southern fleet leverage, you’re in a much safer place.

    2) Establish the Turkish Turtle. This probably has a real name other than my offhand alliteration, but if you have a fleet in the black, a fleet in the Aegean, and an army in Con and/or Bul, taking you down just sucks.

    3) Acquire the area surrounding the Black (if you can positionally/ diplomatically afford it). If you hold Sev, Rum, Bul + Turkish Turtle, you’ve got leverage to go north through Russia, west into Austria, or southwest towards Naples. This is especially fun (and safer) if Austria and Italy are fighting. If I see a Turkish player with those 6, that’s a huge red flag. Might be the most intimidating position at 6 dots on the board.

    4) Don’t rush to take Greece or Serb unless it’s in your interest to do so AND you can definitely hold it. Serbia gets traded around like an Ohio State jersey chaser, whereas a Turkish fleet in Greece can spook the board (and definitely Italy!) Taking it with an army can be safer and keep an IT intact. Both centers come at high diplomatic cost-Serbia is the Austrian version of Black Sea, Greece knocks on the door of the Ionian. Be patient on these.

    5) That being said, I’d take Greece, Serb, and Rum before I bothered with Moscow and Warsaw. Greece, Serb, and Rum get you a shot at Italy fringe and Austrian home centers; Moscow and Warsaw just spooks the west.

    6) Remember that you go from 7 to 10 to 13 real quick. Your tempo can be exponential-plan ahead for it.

    7) Use your tempo-killing turtle nature as a threat. If you’re getting Lepantoed, tell Italy that he’s vulnerable as hell and that you can make this take long enough for France to screw him. Tell Austria that Italy is vulnerable as hell. Get France into the Med.

    8) Know that even if you are getting jumped by 2/3 countries, you can have a ton of fun with creative tactics. Plenty of opportunities for support cuts, convoys, and misdirection.

    9) DO NOT EVER STOP TALKING TO PEOPLE. Turkey doesn’t have as many “mandatory” chats in each year- usually it’s Russia, Austria, and probably Italy. You may find yourself in a situation where you feel you can relax. Don’t do that. Cause chaos in the west, help your buddy England out, scare France away the Med… or into the Med if you need him. Having a good Turkey doesn’t require too much more than some luck and solid tactics. Having a great Turkey requires diplomacy… and subterfuge.

    10) While chaos in the west can be good, it may not help you until you’ve got fleets moving. While you’re still in the box, you love to see a triple. Again, France can be helpful if Italy is headed your way, whereas Germany and England are important Russia buffers. If both R and F are doing well, tread lightly.

  4. Jake Trotta

    Okay point 8 somehow turned into a smiley face, but I guess it works from a “stay cool” perspective.

  5. Matt Sundstrom

    I’ll offer a bunch of thoughts. Hopefully tomorrow.

    I like Jim’s comment about strategic thoughts. Will try to focus on those. The tactics are pretty straightforward.

  6. Bryan Pravel Test

    I am testing comments

    1. Bryan Pravel

      [quote name=”Bryan Pravel Test”]I am testing comments[/quote]

      They seem to be working!

      1. Chris Martin

        [quote name=”Bryan Pravel”][quote name=”Bryan Pravel Test”]I am testing comments[/quote]

        They seem to be working![/quote]

        I Concur!

  7. The Australian Peter McNamara

    Most of the Diplomatic Pouch articles can be found on the Internet Archive [url][/url].

    On 1 Dec, I received the following from Mario about the website being down: “Chris Babcock, who currently hosts the site, had a conflict with his host provider, which forced him to move elsewhere. This move is ongoing, but he understandably prioritized his family’s money making site. Patience.”

    1. Jake Trotta

      Thanks for the update! I’ll go back through and try to find the articles on the archive.

  8. Matt Sundstrom

    I’ll start by discussing the Turkish solo, the ultimate goal. Richard Sharp laid it out well. Turkey’s 18th dot is one or more of Spain, Marseilles, Munich, Berlin or StP. All of those are beyond a competently held stalemate line. So you have to plan to get there if you are thinking solo. That gets you to the first big (hopefully strategic) point…

    1. Beating the east is not enough. In fact, you need a partner in the east to have any hope of surviving much less soloing.

    I’d stretch this to say you need a good partner in the east to even do well. Turkey loses to a committed AIR. AIR may take a while to knock you out but it is inevitable. So find a friend and be faithful to them as much as possible. Or take advantage of a stab by one against the other. But do not try to fight all three. Your partner will appreciate having a strong ally and you survive (I consider survival goal #1 in any game).

    Any partner is viable in the early game. AR have the best long term prospects. Italy is ok but the partnership is harder to manage in the mid-game.

    2. The west matters a lot.

    The west is key to a big result. Lots of plusses and minuses. Some on the plus side…EG can hamper Russia, EFG chaos in the late game is your ticket to a solo (I got Sweden as a 19th dot once), England or Germany doing well is kind of OK (but more England) and a triple is fantastic assuming it will inevitably break. Western downsides: A strong EF is not good, France getting into the Med successfully is a huge problem as is Germany getting into Russia deeply.

    Basically, do not ignore what is happening between EFG. If you can affect it, do so.

    3. You cannot lose the Black Sea.

    Ever. Another point Sharp had right. Get a bounce in there. If Russia does not want to bounce, go there anyway. AI can’t really beat you so long as you control Bla. Minimally, it takes them a while to the point Italy is very liable to stab Austria before the job is done. Smyrna can be conceded, especially to a fleet. But Russia in Bla is deadly. You can’t defend everything at that point.

    This is even true in the late game. Even if you have a solid RT, Russia’s most effective stab is to move into Bla. Kill the Russian fleet somehow. The game is much easier once that happens.

    Lots of other good comments in this thread. Patience especially.

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