The Turkish Hedgehog

By Charles Steinhardt

I have read widely that there are only a couple of valid openings for the Turkish. Nobody ever seems to consider anything but Con - Bul, and while there perhaps might be reasons for doing other things, and while I think that any opening is usable in the right alliance structure, the only time I have ever not opened to Bulgaria was in a game in which Austria and Russia were very closely and publicly allied, and the only way I thought I might be able to break them apart was to have them fight over Bulgaria. It didn't work, by the way. Anyway, opening theory for the Turks then seems to be based upon what is done with the fleet. Most Turks will open to the Black Sea, hopeful to get in but even more mindful of the disastrous consequences of seeing a Russian there in Spring 1901. Either the army Smyrna moves to Armenia, in which case this is an all-out attack on the Russian, or the army Smyrna moves to Con, which is more standard and while possibly threatening to Austria, is rather standard. If allying strongly with the Russian, then Ank - Con is expected for the fleet, and this sends a clear warning to the rest of the world that there is a Russo-Turk.

The essential problem for the Turk, though, is more fundamental. The Turk, as we all know, has severe problems pressing any sort of attack without the Black Sea. Armies leaves slowly and are often blocked. The Turk cannot, in fact, support any attack without control of the vital seas surrounding his lands. Yet, the Aegean Sea cannot be quickly occupied, and the Black Sea is a must, meaning that even a Turk who wants to use that route for expansion cannot do so quickly. Turkey is a fortress, but that has its disadvantages as well. Thus, Russia is the only country which can be quickly attacked. Further, Russia is by far the more dangerous of any Turkish opponent, in that if the Turks take out Austria first then Russia has the upper hand while if the Turks and Austrians combine against Russia, the Turks may not have the upper hand in supply centers but they are surely the only nation which can stab. Thus, as the Turk, I recommend attacking Russia, and early because if Russia is not immediately pressured then the rest of Europe starts to worry about the Russo-Turk, and while Russia can expand even in the face of such worries, no Turk that I have ever seen can beat an Austro-Italian alliance while the Bear is occupied up North.

Thus, we come back to the essential problem for Turkey: Russia is an important target, but cannot be successfully attacked very easily. In fact, the strongest anti-Russian attack can be stopped dead in the water just by Sev - BLA in Spring 1901, which happens more often than not. So how should the Turks deal with the Bear? I propose that the much-maligned Turkish Hedgehog, F Ank - Arm, A Smy - Con, can actually be a safe and very strong anti-Russian attack if played correctly. As you will see, it also can help with the other natural Turkish problem: all of Turkey's neighbors know that if the Turks start to grow, they are hard to contain, and as a result it is often very hard for the Turks to conduct successful diplomacy with their neighbors without conceding much more than they should need to.

So, I present the Russian Attack (I need a better name, maybe something with my name in it :)) version of the Turkish Hedgehog. Spring 1901 Diplomacy should go something like this:

Austria: Ask for peace, try to turn him anti-Russian. You need to convince him to move to Galicia in the Spring, and with most Austrians this is easy to do. Propose a 2-2 split of the Balkans, the usual platitudes but try to ensure that he moves to Serbia and to Galicia.

England: Tell him that the Russian asked for a Russo-Turk. Tell him further that you're unsure, as the Russian tends to be stronger, but that none of your other neighbors seems friendly. Ask him for advice.

France: The usual platitudes about Turkey and France being great long-term allies. Point out to him how useful it would be if Italy were to get involved in a land war instead of a naval war.

Germany: Make sure that the Russians do get bounced in the North. Wouldn't it be nice for the German if he and the English, who have so much in common and who make such good allies, were to work together against France?

Italy: Just make sure he doesn't try the Lepanto. Your goals in the West involve that he'll be invited, hopefully, to the French slaughter.

Russia: Negotiate a bounce in the Black Sea and eternal friendship. Your goal here is that he believe you will bounce in the Black Sea, as if so he will not move Moscow - Sevastopol.

If you've done things correctly, then Spring 1901 will look something like this: The English, French, and Germans all will be your friends, as the other side of the board always likes Turkey as a good ally for the long-term, easy to work with in mid-game, and not a threat otherwise. Thus, you should succeed in the formation of the Anglo-German alliance against France, which also becomes an Anglo-German alliance against Russia in the North. Russia does not get Sweden this year, and next year should be threatened. I should hardly need to point out, as well, that if you are involved in the formation of the Anglo-German alliance, and if you keep in close contact, you can also have a good chance at breaking it up when the time comes later in the game. Italy, meanwhile, will not try the Lepanto as he has two better alternatives: the attack on France, perhaps the easiest place for Italy to get real gains quickly, or an attack on Austria as the French urge him. This should continue, and thus we can now look towards the East, with the full knowledge that Italy will not be attacking Turkey and that we can then deal just with the Austrian and Russian.

Spring 1901 moves:


StP - GoB Sev - BLA Mos - Ukr War - Gal (*bounce*)


Vie - Gal (*bounce*) Bud - Ser Tri - Alb (or Tri H - as your goal here is not Greece, neither matters but you'd prefer the Italo-Austrian war at some point.


Con - Bul Ank - Con Smy - Arm

Now, we can just deal with Austria and Russia. Russia is in the Black Sea, and as a result has three choices: moving to Rumania, covering Sev, and trying for one of the Turkish home centers. The last would be a rare choice, in that it is only 50/50 and in that the Turks, after all, did not move to the Black Sea, so they cannot be too hostile. In my experience, usually Russia chooses Rumania and covers Sev. Meanwhile, you can secure Austrian friendship here. In this case, Russia has to choose between covering Sev and supporting himself into Rumania. Point this out to the Austrian, and tell him that you're moving to Rumania. You'd appreciate support from Serbia, but you figure that at worst, even without the support, Russia has no builds. Then, the Fall 1901 Moves:


BLA - Rum (*bounce*) Ukr - Sev War - Gal


Alb - Gre Vie - Tri Ser H


Arm - Ank (*bounce*) Con - Ank (*bounce*) Bul - Rum (*bounce*)

The only time you have problems in this opening are when BLA S Arm - Ank. However, this is very unlikely, as Russia has to cover Sev (and if you suspect he'll try it, Sev's a nice consolation prize for not having the Black Sea...I always love a Russian with a disband in Spring 1901. I have, in the 5 times I've played this (I don't always play it with the Turks) never seen Russia fail to cover Sev. Hopefully this article won't stop that from happening in the future, and if it does then I point out that there is always the Take Sev variation.

Builds then:


A Vie A Bud

Turkey: F Ank

And at this point, Russia will collapse quickly. In the North, the prospect of a weak Russia combined with a strong Anglo-German alliance is too good to pass up, and St. Petersburg should fall by 1903 at the latest. A natural continuation looks something like, for Spring 1902:


Ank - BLA Con S Ank - BLA Arm - Sev (*bounce*) Bul - Rum


Bud S Vie - Gal Ser S Bul - Rum Vie - Gal


BLA - Rum (*bounce, dislodged, destroyed*) Sev H Gal S BLA - Rum (*cut, dislodged*)

Sev falls by Fall 1902, and the Austrian is further in the Ukraine. Then in 1903, Moscow and Warsaw fall, one for you and one for the Austria. Thus, if you and Austria stick together, by 1903 the Turks have their home centers and Bul, Rum, Sev, Mos for a total of 7 centers, and the Austrians have, in addition to their home centers, Ser, Gre, War. The inherent problem, of course, is that the Austrians will tend to stab if they think that they'll come out at a disadvantage. Fleet Greece can easily enough go to the Aegean. As a result, the key to this war is in ensuring that the Austrians do not stab. There are a few different ways to do this. My favorite is to ask the Germans, who of course you are great friends with as you helped create a winning EG alliance, to make sure that the Austrians don't stab. Point out that Germany really would like to see the Russians gone, and that Germany can't do it himself because he needs all of his armies in France. No Austria will stab you if they know that Germany would react in a hostile manner, as Italy and Germany at this point are loosely allied and can easily strike at Austria, while the Turks have just managed to, if they build fleets, gain some holdable centers and build fleets to work WITH Austria against Italy, your natural next target. Of course that's the mid-game, and the subject of another article. Anyway, the point is that the Turkish Hedgehog, rather than as a hedging opening, can be the strongest form of anti-Russian attack. So next time you need to pull out a surprise for the Bear, consider the Hedgehog.
Charles Steinhardt
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