Criticism of the Lepanto

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Amwidkle
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Criticism of the Lepanto

#1 Post by Amwidkle » Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:58 pm

I see a lot of Italy players defaulting into the "Lepanto" opening (i.e. army convoys to Tunis in F01, coupled with an attempt in F02 to convoy the Tunis army to Syria or Smyrna). When I was first learning Diplomacy, I remember the Lepanto being pushed as one of the standard openings. This however seems a lazy adherence to orthodoxy, as failed Lepantos in my experience outnumber successful Lepantos by a fair margin.

What are some reasons for this?

1. Italy is generally denied access to any Balkan center, with Greece going to Austria.
2. Italy's home center of Venice is unusually exposed for several turns. (Certainly to a supported attack from Austria, and even to the occasional rogue army from France that slips in through Piedmont and Tuscany.)
3. Turkey can keep Italy out of E. Med with a minimal investment of a single fleet stationed in Smyrna, or by guessing right and covering Syria from the army convoy.
4. Even if the Lepanto "succeeds," it's just as likely that Austria or Russia (or worse, both working together) actually claim the majority of Turkish centers.
5. Overall, investing 3 out of 4 units into attacking a relatively far-off neighbor seems a dubious tactical and strategic prospect.

These are certainly compelling downsides to the opening.

From Austria's perspective, it's a great deal - get Italy thinking about striking anywhere but Trieste. But from Italy's perspective, it's basically agreeing to become a second-class citizen and a subunit of Austria's army.

I'm not saying all Lepantos are doomed to fail. But rather than default into the Lepanto, Italy ought to think outside of the box in its openings and play every game like it was unique. Neutrality with Turkey, or even a long-term alliance with Turkey, shouldn't be out of the question. Turkey is really no worse an Eastern partner for Italy than the more standard choices Austria or Russia.

Like everything in Diplomacy, it all depends on the players, personalities, board position, and the agreements you're able to make and uphold.
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Deeply_Dippy
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#2 Post by Deeply_Dippy » Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:21 pm

An interesting piece Amwidkle.

For what it's worth my own view is that the preponderace of lepanto attempts reflect son the relative paucity of Italy's other early attack options.

France is effectively a no-go as it is impossibe to independently sustain the attack. Likewise, it is not possible in the early gamefor Italy to bring sufficient force to bear against Germany.

Despite the great potential for success, an attack against Austria typically results in a poor outcome for Italy as the gains typically fall to Russia and Turkey.

Which really only leaves the lepanto as a viable option - along with it's many variants.
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mitomon
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#3 Post by mitomon » Fri Nov 26, 2021 12:05 am

I think the fact that lepanto is so common actually lends to it's usefulness-you don't really know which variant this Italy will go for, if they even do. They could start with Lepanto moves, but then stab Austria or move on France, for example.

GalahadIII
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#4 Post by GalahadIII » Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:38 am

I do think that the immediate attack on Austria can prove effective as long as Turkey manages to gain control over the Black Sea during the early stages of the game. And Italy does have the lowest chance for a solo statistically.

mitomon
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#5 Post by mitomon » Fri Nov 26, 2021 2:55 am

GalahadIII wrote:
Fri Nov 26, 2021 1:38 am
I do think that the immediate attack on Austria can prove effective as long as Turkey manages to gain control over the Black Sea during the early stages of the game. And Italy does have the lowest chance for a solo statistically.
I want to back that up since my first solo ever as with Italy, and looking back at it I realize most of what I thought was skill back then as actually really just luck: https://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameID=155691

eddy
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#6 Post by eddy » Fri Nov 26, 2021 8:21 am

One version of the "Leptanto" that I really like, even though I've never actually seen it work, is when Austria agrees to let Italy into Trieste in spring01 and then that army moves to Albania or Serbia, not actually taking Trieste (depening on how Austria and Italy agree who should get Serbia, as I think usually both of them will only get one other centre, Tunis and Greece respectively). This means that the Italian-Austrian alliance has one extra army in the balcans to attack Turkey plus no one sees it coming after the first moves, because everyone thinks, Italy just stabbed Austria turn one.
The issue of course is, that if Italy just stays in Trieste, Austria is basically dead form the beginning of the game and it's pretty hard to build that level of trust in turn one :D
Plus as this thread already layed out, the Lepanto tends to be better for Austria, so this version - while also benefitting Austria in the long run if it works out - is mostly to the benefit of Italy, even without the stab. So Austria has to carry most of the (enormous) risk and receives quite few of the rewards. So even if Italy plans to go through with it, they can't really be the one to suggest it, the idea has to be proposed by Austria. And why would they, unless they're like me and just think, it's cool :D
In other words, I can't really recommend it, but if you ever manage to pull it off, let me know. I wanna see that! :P

(As a side node, I'd imagine, this might be more viable if you're not playing with random strangers online, but with friends offline, so you have a better chance of A) knowing if you can trust the peron and B) the other person, even if not being trust worthy, thinking 'whatever, let's do this'.)
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New England Fire Squad
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#7 Post by New England Fire Squad » Sat Nov 27, 2021 11:40 am

At least in gunboat, I strongly advocate for an early attack on France. Imo it’s by far the best option there is- the centers in Iberia + Marseilles are almost impossible to lose once attained, and unless Austria is a madman you really only need to leave one fleet in the Ionian to block off the Turk. In press this is more difficult but still very achievable.
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Amwidkle
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#8 Post by Amwidkle » Sun Nov 28, 2021 7:15 am

@eddy Richard Sharp calls that opening the “Key Lepanto.” :)

I agree Italy ought not be the one to suggest a “friendly” Spring occupation of Trieste. Austria might propose this risky opening ***if*** he thinks that R/T are firmly allied from the get-go, and/or that Italy is hell-bent on an Austrian attack anyway. This generous opening could turn Italy into a friend instead, in a bit of jujitsu. :)

I like unorthodox, outside-the-box openings like this which explore the ability of two allied nations to maximize their early potential. And compared to the regular Lepanto, it does remedy a key deficiency in the Lepanto from Italy’s perspective, which is that he is otherwise typically shut out of any centers in the Balkans.

Carol
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#9 Post by Carol » Sun Jan 02, 2022 8:22 am

Deeply_Dippy wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:21 pm
France is effectively a no-go as it is impossibe to independently sustain the attack.
France has a giant bulls-eye painted on it's back though, so Italy shouldn't have trouble to ally England or Germany, possibly both.

A_Tin_Can
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#10 Post by A_Tin_Can » Sun Jan 02, 2022 1:25 pm

Deeply_Dippy wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:21 pm
France is effectively a no-go as it is impossibe to independently sustain the attack.
I agree with Carol. If your definition of "go" for the early game is that you must be able to independently sustain the attack, then I don't think you can attack anyone (as any power).

President Eden
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#11 Post by President Eden » Sun Jan 02, 2022 3:44 pm

It should also be pointed out that while France can theoretically fully block any Italian attack, it takes four of France’s 5-6 units to do it, meaning that practically any support from England or Germany will blow it up. And it’s exceedingly unlikely for both England and Germany to decline to bring that support, because they both profit substantially from France’s defeat in most cases.
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A_Tin_Can
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#12 Post by A_Tin_Can » Sun Jan 02, 2022 4:13 pm

Wise words from President Eden.

You can't do this every game, but my favourite anti-france italian opening is:

Ven->Tyl->Mun

(Build two fleets)

A Mun->Bur (ideally with support from someone)
F Tun->Wes
F Nap->TyS
F Rom->Tus

(then try not to giggle uncontrollably - this is important, because allies don't like it when you giggle, and everyone is your ally, right?)

Bonus points if France is Bo, of course.

Yonni
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#13 Post by Yonni » Sun Jan 02, 2022 4:43 pm

If I'm England, and Italy offers to open west, there would have to be an especially weak Germany for me not to join the attack on France.

And likewise if I'm Germany. Maybe even more so if I'm Germany because, once France is gone, the G-I alliance is quite nice.
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A_Tin_Can
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#14 Post by A_Tin_Can » Sun Jan 02, 2022 5:16 pm

I feel like if you're Germany, then you probably don't have a weak Germany, but what do I know.

Lord Bolton
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Re: Criticism of the Lepanto

#15 Post by Lord Bolton » Mon Jan 10, 2022 6:25 pm

If I'm hitting the EMed with Italy, it's often a feint to get into Aegean Sea while I convoy Tunis-Albania. My primary targets with Italy are then Trieste and Greece. After that I have options.

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