Should Italy open west more?

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foodcoats
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Should Italy open west more?

#1 Post by foodcoats » Thu Aug 15, 2019 4:43 pm

I'm hardly the most seasoned player, but I was just noticing that in the 20 classic (GB/FP) games I've completed, I have seen Italy fake west three times, but only once actually move against French SCs before Austrian or Turkish dots. I know that this is entirely in line with the conventional wisdom on playing Italy, but two things stick out to me:
  • it isn't fundamentally any harder for Italy to go after France than to go after Turkey (it's pretty much a two year play in both directions).
  • it's feasible for Italy to prop up Austria simply by letting them take Greece and Serbia unmolested and giving them support from Ionian.
Obviously there are a million other things to consider, but on balance I am surprised it isn't more common for Italy to attack France.

So, do you think Italy should open west more often? By "open" I don't mean their S01 moves so much as trying to get Marseilles and Spain rather than Smyrna or Trieste.

bunp
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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#2 Post by bunp » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:33 pm

I think one reason Italy does not go all in on France more often is due to how defensible Spain and Portugal are. Portugal is notably the most isolated SC on the board, only bordering two other territories. When France is under attack from multiple enemies (often Germany and England will both smell blood in the water if Italy focuses on France and join in) their best option is to hole up in Spain and Portugal and it would take several turns of joint effort between England and Italy to get them out. During this time there are plenty of opportunities for Austria to backstab you, Turkey/Russia to take over Austria and outgrow you, or Russia/Germany can move against England giving France breathing room to start pushing you back.

If you are successful as Italy you have gained ~2 centers that you need to dedicate ~2 units to defend, so you haven't really strengthened your position at all. It is possible, but rare, for Italy to grow further into the north (paris, brest, english home SCs) but it would require a very friendly Austria as you cannot extend that far without leaving your Western front completely exposed for the first few years.

And this is assuming Germany and England even join in. If one or both is allied with France the result is generally a stalemate the eliminates any opportunity for you or France to grow until one of you gets flanked by a neighbor.

Generally, the risks outweigh the benefits. It is usually more productive to be an active player in the Eastern theater and try to get your piece of Austria, Turkey, and/or the Balkans.
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Chaqa
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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#3 Post by Chaqa » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:45 pm

I tend to open west with Italy more often than most people I think, and I have mixed feelings on it. I think it depends a lot on press vs. gunboat, disposition of the other western powers, and even opening moves of Turkey, Russia, etc. I think even if you don't intend to fight France, parking an army in Piedmont is huge for keeping France in check.

And really, assuming you get Tunis in 1901, you can launch a relatively successful attack on France in 1902-1903 (moving the fleet to Tunis and then West Med in the spring of 1902). Or, you can commit to the Lepano initially and then send your second fleet west in 1903.

Overall, I think Italy's best gameplan is often based on game context and personal preferences.
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foodcoats
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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#4 Post by foodcoats » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:26 pm

bunp wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:33 pm
I think one reason Italy does not go all in on France more often is due to how defensible Spain and Portugal are.
That's an interesting point, I hadn't thought of it in those terms. I suppose you need to surprise France and hopefully create a situation (i.e. via E/G) where they may be unwilling to crash back to Spa and Por just to spite you.

On the flip side, I find that Turkey can cleverly defend all three of its home SCs (and sometimes Bulgaria as well) very easily, too. Both France and Turkey can become fortresses, but I have a feeling that France can crack under a triple assault more easily than Turkey does. Turkey almost has to get backdoored to get cracked.
bunp wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:33 pm
If you are successful as Italy you have gained ~2 centers that you need to dedicate ~2 units to defend, so you haven't really strengthened your position at all. It is possible, but rare, for Italy to grow further into the north (paris, brest, english home SCs) but it would require a very friendly Austria as you cannot extend that far without leaving your Western front completely exposed for the first few years.
This is definitely the strategic reason I think that attacking France is unappealing. There's no "force multiplier" - you basically need at least 1 unit per SC held - and movement further north is incredibly difficult. It's not that it's particularly easy to advance through Austria, either, but your fleets can do a lot more work in the Med.

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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#5 Post by foodcoats » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:31 pm

Chaqa wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:45 pm
I tend to open west with Italy more often than most people I think, and I have mixed feelings on it. I think it depends a lot on press vs. gunboat, disposition of the other western powers, and even opening moves of Turkey, Russia, etc. I think even if you don't intend to fight France, parking an army in Piedmont is huge for keeping France in check.
Alright, now I know the Chaqa Italy meta. :razz:

But, yes, you're definitely right about game context, and in particular I like your point about Piedmont checking France. Checking France's southern game is a really good play because of how strong France is in general and how a completely peaceable Italy allows France to put its back against a wall - potentially holding off an E/G alliance for years.

Italy needs to play a long game, and showing other players that you're willing to make those gentle pokes against the big powerhouses can help you play kingmaker until it's your chance to take the throne.

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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#6 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:54 pm

France can certainly be your first major opening push of the game, but it's critical that you don't just throw yourself at France before anyone else has. France is very frequently attacked early by England and/or Germany in this metagame, and even when France gets the choice of who to fight, Italy is almost always last on the list. This means that France's units are naturally drawn north, so your attack has a reasonable likelihood of success even if it's going to be telegraphed, as it often is with Italy.

If you go after him first then his units will naturally be drawn south, and E/G will reap the benefits, not you.
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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#7 Post by Matticus13 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:42 pm

http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameI ... #gamePanel (I was Germany)

We formed a Central Triple and Italy went both directions with some success. It was a surprise attack on both fronts; against Russia (A/G in S02), and then France (G/I in S02). It nearly stalled out against France, as they picked up London unexpectedly in 1902.

If Germany is not interested in moving towards France, the furthest I would venture is Piedmont, as Chaqa suggested. Another Power has to at least be occupying French units on another front.
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foodcoats
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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#8 Post by foodcoats » Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:32 pm

Matticus13 wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:42 pm
http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameI ... #gamePanel (I was Germany)

We formed a Central Triple and Italy went both directions with some success. It was a surprise attack on both fronts; against Russia (A/G in S02), and then France (G/I in S02). It nearly stalled out against France, as they picked up London unexpectedly in 1902.

If Germany is not interested in moving towards France, the furthest I would venture is Piedmont, as Chaqa suggested. Another Power has to at least be occupying French units on another front.
I do love a Central Alliance. And green and brown look so good together!

You definitely need a partner... I suppose if there's an F/G and you get an E/I it's much like A/I facing off against a Jugg. So maybe the right play for Italy is to figure out where there's a third wheel they can pounce...

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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#9 Post by swordsman3003 » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:32 am

As I've written before, Italy simply cannot ignore Austria and Turkey in favor of an attack on France. Austria and Turkey have no hope of solo winning without invading Italy. The same cannot be said about France.

Introductions to Gunboat Diplomacy Solo Wins
5 Reasons I Love to Play as Italy in Gunboat Diplomacy

A lot more is possible in a press game than a gunboat game. However, the strategic problem is the same: destroying Turkey or Austria removes a perpetual and inevitable threat while destroying France does not.

I absolutely love taking French centers when I get to play as Italy, but more often than not I view such as strategy as risky, even greedy. A core tactical problem is that you will probably have to vacate Ionian Sea to send multiple fleets against France. If Turkey or Austria slip into Ionian Sea before you capture a French center, you will probably never recover.
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foodcoats
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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#10 Post by foodcoats » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:42 am

swordsman3003 wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:32 am
As I've written before, Italy simply cannot ignore Austria and Turkey in favor of an attack on France. Austria and Turkey have no hope of solo winning without invading Italy. The same cannot be said about France.
This is a great point, swordsman. I was thinking of it in terms of, "Italy needs French centres to win, Germany and England are incentivized to attack France early because France is so good, so why not take French centres earlier?" But as you point out, this leaves unresolved the spectre of two potential powerhouses at your back. There's no set of eastern alliances that will completely leave you alone once they're done fighting, so unless you're just sneaking into Marseilles somehow, I can see how it would be far too high a risk to open this way.

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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#11 Post by David E. Cohen » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:57 am

If the diplomacy (small 'd') is right, why not go east and west simultaneously?
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foodcoats
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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#12 Post by foodcoats » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:07 pm

David E. Cohen wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:57 am
If the diplomacy (small 'd') is right, why not go east and west simultaneously?
Agreed. As swordsman pointed out, it's maybe impossible in gunboat, but in full press Diplomacy at least, I think that a 5 centre Austria can be bolstered with a single fleet in Ionian and pretty handily withstand the juggernaut. This probably means you have a fleet and an army to attack France, and another army that can play shenanigans in the stalemate provinces.

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Re: Should Italy open west more?

#13 Post by Puscherbilbo » Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:10 pm

I mentioned it elsewhere:
Taking Triest and using that 5th built vs France is a nice option.
Basically Fleet+Army east, 2 Fleets+Army west.
It is very hard for Austria do play a hard counter here without selfdestruction.
Even in an A/I 5th italian built much more useful than Austrian.
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