The hills are alive with the sound of music- but will you be around to hear it? Greece and Bulgaria are some of my favorite things, but you need a German older and wiser keeping Russia out of Gal for you! Can climb every mountain? Will Edelweiss bless your homeland forever? Or will F02 leave you singing “so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu?”
Grab your bags and your rich Uncle Max! This, Weasels, is where we share our wisdom.
THE WISE OLD WEASEL: AUSTRIA
Austria, like the dear family Von Trapp, is surrounded by danger. But, if you make it past the awkward introduction, it is a classic that can last for years. Sure, you’re the only country that could realistically die by fall 02 without having made any real mistakes. But, if you hit 7, you’re everyone’s defensive nightmare with a ton of super fun options.
But those first two years are a real problem between preventing a juggernaut, overly stabby Italies, Galician headaches, deciding who gets Rumania, and ensuring that you’ll even survive to S03.
YOUR AUSTRIAN INSPIRATION
For those early years, full of problems…
So, Weasels… how do you solve a problem like Austria?
Hit the jump for correlation stats (with a new out-of-the-gate statistic!), the great Austria performances of Weasels past, and Austria strategy recommendations. Comment with your own Austrian strategic advice.
WHEN AUSTRIA WAS MADE GREAT
Austria ranks fifth in top percentage and average score, earning or splitting the top in 12% of games. A new stat we’re using here at the Wise Old Weasel is “Out of the Gate percentage,” which is the frequency a nation makes it to the midgame. This is calculated by percentage of games in which the country hits 7 centers. Here Austria checks in again at 5th, hitting 7 in 42% of games.
Austrian success is best correlated with Germany, followed by England, then France, then Italy, Russia, and finally Turkey. AT has the strongest negative correlation of any two nations on the board.
The best Austria since Sum of Squares was in game 201, when Mr. Brad Harrington Hauled in a quality 16 dot, 65 point performance.
ANNALS OF AUSTRIAN WISDOM, ALSO KNOWN AS THE SECTION JAKE NEEDS TO UPDATE:
Editor’s note: I’ll be linking things once I track them down. Old game recaps, strategic articles, dipcast, and so-forth will go here.
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I’ll get us started with some quick-hitters I’ve learned about Austria in the past year or so, then post a longer thing later about working the AT (both in a bar and in longform setting).
• You need Italy more than Italy needs you, so always be on the lookout.
o If they want to convoy to Greece, probably don’t let them do that. What does an Italian army in Greece do for you?
• Italy, when extended for a Lepanto, is super vulnerable
• Taking Venice with an army is AI’s version of taking LVP with an army (meaning it is an acceptable one dot stab).
o Doubly true if you can build f-tri behind.
But make sure you can get away with it
• Don’t hit Germany unless you’re really freaking rolling (or he is)
o I’ve never seen an AIR or RAT move west for more than a season or two.
o You need Germany to slow down Russia and the west. Don’t screw his game because it was a dot (shout out to Shelden for teaching me this one)
• Prevent Turkish armies on Bul and Rum at pretty much all costs
• Fleets in Rum and/or Bul are just fine though
• Don’t always keep Russia out of Rum
o If he gets 0 builds and Turkey is a solid player, Turkey is more likely to capitalize than you
• You want Russia to move the fleet to Rum. You want Russia to build all the fleets.
I have two or three helpful principles that I’ll share when I get a chance. In the meantime, here’s some advice for a specific tactical situation:
If you open with a Southern Hedgehog (Tri-Ven, Bud-Ser, Vie-Gal; note that the actual Hedgehog, which substitutes Bud-Rum for Bud-Ser, is just stupid. Don’t do it.) and the Turks open to Bulgaria and Constantinople, then despite what you think your relationships are with the other players, there’s only one proper order for your piece in Serbia.
Move it to Bulgaria.
[b]The Austrian Dating Game: how (and when) to play different alliances[/b]
I, and I think most new players, initially disliked Austria because it’s freaking hard. If you don’t play relationships right in the first two years, you gon’ die. Unlike Turkey or France or even Italy, it is REAL tough to recover from a meh start. It has a real steep learning curve, but if you can find a buddy and get past five, Austria is SO MUCH FUN.
That’s probably the best piece of advice for Austria-have fun with it! To stare death in the face and laugh is a blast.
[b]Let’s take things slow- Austria in not-bar games[/b]
AI: A lot of people run the AI because they feel they need to. This is true-ish. I would not recommend attacking Italy right out the gate unless you’re hardcore metagaming. But don’t give your diplomatic, strategic, and tactical value to Italy without getting something in return. Too often, Austria’s in this club are in abusive AI’s where Italy is just kinda hanging around, not really providing value, and waiting to stab.
• If you’re giving them Trieste, make them go to the damn Aegean and wait on Tunis. Or build two fleets.
• If you’re giving them Greece, make them give you the Aegean, which is an amazing defensive position for Austria.
• Your ideal is the Lepanto into Syria. If they actually do a Lepanto, thank your lucky stars. If not, make them go west or at least commit a direction. An Italy floating around at 4 centers behind you is either going to stab you or make the game really boring.
o If they are new or don’t really know what they’re doing, coach the hell out of them. The Key Lepanto is a great idea with newer players- you’re establishing trust by allowing them to pass through your homeland. In newbie brain, that’s a real bonding moment.
AR: Statistically, AR is just a touch more risky than AI, but not by much. It’s a fun alliance that weasels really don’t do enough, because it kills your biggest threat (Turkey) while needing only one DMZ to maintain (Gal).
• If you partner with Russia, Turkey has to be dead or relatively dead. If Turkey is two fleets, that’s fine. If Turkey’s fleet and A-Arm, yeah ok.
o Even a baby Turkey with 3 centers can help Russia crush you fast. Plus even a baby Turkey can turn into a full-on demon in two seasons.
• You’re the bigger fish in the midgame AR. The plus side of allying with Russia, provided you make it to the mid-game, is that you can force Galicia easier than he can (probably), which means stabbing for Rum is easy. Rum+Gal=Ukraine, and Ukraine means dead Russia.
• Messing with Germany will help Russia more than it helps you, because it frees up Scandinavia and Denmark, which only Russia can access. Only hit Germany in an AR if you will still end up way in front.
• Watch out for IR. If they’re happy together, they can double up on you, which can either kill you or your game. Better to hand Russia a dot and convince him to build a northern fleet than take it for yourself and take on the wintergreen.
AT: These powers have the strongest negative correlation in the game. That means if one does well, the other doesn’t. So it is an expert level alliance, especially in the long term. A big part of the reason why is the Balkan knot: both of you have access to 4 quick centers that all touch each other. I worked an AT with Jay Heumann that should have rocked the world, had we not both stabbed (poorly) after I mis-ordered a convoy. Here’s what it looked like:
• Sundstrom opening, but in 02 it is Austria, not Turkey, that takes Sevastapol, in exchange for Greece with a fleet. Turkey builds fleets, Austria builds armies.
• Austria takes Moscow, Turkey follows behind into Sev with the fleet. Austria moves to Rum. Ionian is taken, with Turkish A-Bul convoyed into Apu.
o Rum and Sev are then flipped, with a Turkish fleet in Rum and an Austrian army in Sev. Bul, Serb, Greece remain open.
• Austria gets Rome and Venice, Turkey gets Tunis and Naples. Austria continues on to Warsaw, Munich, Berlin, Turkey heads towards Iberia.
So it’s 4 DMZ’s and a hell of a lot of coordination, but once you get there, you’re in a position where neither person can stab for more than a dot.
Triples are fairly simple.
• Watch out for wintergreens.
• Caveat about destabilizing Germany to Russia’s benefit.
• Oh, yeah mean a juggernaut?
• It’s possible, but only under super unique circumstances that aren’t worth discussing.
[b]OK, that’s cute, it’s good to have dreams of the perfect AT. But what about bar games?[/b]
Austria is a great bar game country. In fact, if you get Austria in a bar game, jump for joy. Because of its proximity to so many centers, you can easily pick up a couple in the last year scramble. Bar games, which will have their own WISE OLD WEASEL down the road, are shorter, more fluid, and have a greater dependence on tempo.
So based on that, here are some Eastern quick hitters from Austria’s perspective.
Quick note: these are all just based off of my bar game experiences. Not very sciencey or stat based.
• AI is harder in bar games. AI is the most stable alliance, but unless someone screws up, takes the longest to build. Italy also knows he has little time, so he will be a stabby little bastard. I almost never see Italy move to Albania in 02. I see it maybe 30% of the time in bar games.
• AR might be even better for Austria in bar games. I can only remember one honored Galicia DMZ (not including rookie players), so even if you agree to it, just go there anyways. AR’s can work, and Austria tends to come out on top. The West HATES Russia in the bar, plus Russia’s hate Turkeys that open to Armenia. With R having to deal with so many more counterweights, you’ll probably have an opportunity to capitalize late game and swipe some variety of Rum, Warsaw, Sev, Moscow. Seriously guys do AR more often.
o Potential downside: Russia’s that have their STP cut off early (which happens a lot) seem to throw everything they’ve got at the south, which tends to mean you.
• AT is for the gamblers. It can work great because you both can grow fast. This also makes it GREAT for new players- they feel they’re growing quickly, but aren’t tactically strong enough to cash in on the Turkish positional advantage. With an experienced player, the bar game AT will fall apart at some point, but that’s fine, and if you make it to the last year, then the two of you will both had a shot at the board top. Bar games are all about finding a way to get to the dance. If you run the AT, you’ve got a 50-50 shot of getting there.
I like to play Austria with a couple of principles in mind. Here they are.
[b]Principle 1: A Hostile Italy Will Destroy Your Game.[/b]
Securing Italian friendship should be the primary objective of your opening game. You’ll need his active help if there’s an R/T Juggernaut. And even if R/T start the game at each other’s throats, as is often the case in our club, you should assume that A/I conflict will beget a Juggernaut.
In the opening game at minimum, don’t be the one who starts an A/I war, regardless of how vulnerable a Lepanto-ing Italian is. More on that later.
[b]Principle 2: Start an R/T Fight[/b]
Don’t let the Juggernaut form. If it does, the best you can normally hope for is to fight it to a standstill with help from a friendly Italian until the West sorts itself out. Relief may come thereafter, but at that point, you’ll be hard pressed to contend for the board-top or better.
So get them fighting and pick a side.
Given principles one and two, shunning a RAT would seem like a natural corollary. Not all RATs are created equal, though. If one develops organically, roll with it. I just wouldn’t try to orchestrate one. (Unless maybe I were playing Russia. Or Turkey. Or France.)
Two more things about the first principle.
First, don’t be afraid to give one of your core five centers (Home, Serbia and Greece) to Italy to secure his friendship. Probably insist that he build a fleet with it rather than an army, though.
While it may be easier to cede Trieste, it’s usually much better to give Italy one of your Balkan dots if you can arrange that. If you play long term without one of your home centers, you’ll run into the situation I faced last night at Diversey River Bowl ([url]http://windycityweasels.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1100:toga-party-of-three&Itemid=231[/url]): You won’t have room for your builds. It’s hard to accomplish your objectives when you’re playing short.
Second, sometimes your interests need to take a back seat to the interests of the country you’re playing. The importance of securing Italian friendship cannot be overstated.
Why do you think Austria has a reputation for being an all-or-nothing country? It’s because so many Italian players are tempted by your three dots and the Balkan knot of four beneath them. If the Italian succumbs to temptation, you’re going to have a nothing result. If he resists, you can have a really good game.
That’s why it’s so important–from a cultural standpoint–to reject the urge to stick the knife in an Italian who is strung out because he decided to help you.
Last night in Game No. 335, Brian Shelden convoyed to Tunis while also moving Tyrolia to Bohemia. He built Fleet Naples as I built Armies Budapest and Trieste. I did not walk to Venice.
Now, there is an honest corollary to [i]this [/i]point. If the Italian decides to destroy your game, return the favor.
Hope that Russia and Turkey don’t get their act together, even work to that end diplomatically. But your goal now is to make the Italians regret their decision by dragging them down with you.
That probably won’t help you in this game, but hey, it’s not always about you. You’re doing it for Austria.
Cultural change requires sacrifice.
Jim, I wish I’d re-read this just before our Moot game where I was Italy to your Austria. Things would have gone so much better…