Wednesday, March 27, 2013

HIS - Ottomans - The First Turn

The Ottomans have a very specific action for their first turn: Attack Belgrade.  No other option makes sense.

Why take Belgrade?

At the start of the turn, the Ottomans gain 3 cards (plus Home Card).  To gain a 4th card they only need one key.  From their territory there are only two keys to attack: Belgrade and Buda.

Buda: Not an Option

Deciding to attack Buda first is suicidal for the Ottoman player.  First, Buda requires 4 CP  minimum to initiate the combat:
  • 2 cp to cross the pass to Sezgedin, 
  • 1 cp to convert Sezgedin to Ottoman control,
  • 1 cp to move and siege Buda
Unlike most spaces, there will be a field battle to control Buda before there is an assault.  The Ottomans should have no trouble taking Buda if they bring all their armies (reinforced with their Home Card).  This is, however, an expensive option compared to Belgrade.  Furthermore, Buda cannot be reinforced during the Spring Deployment phase as it is across a Pass.

The other reason is the fall of Buda will cause a war with the Hapsburgs on Turn 1, who will gain all the Hungarian spaces as friendly allies: including Belgrade.

This puts the Ottomans at a war with the militarily strongest power in Europe.  Furthermore, troops left in Buda are isolated with expensive reinforcement costs.  Lastly, with control of Belgrade, the Hapsburgs not only have the Ottomans contained, but are able to begin launching attacks directly into Ottoman territory.

On Turn 1, with the worst cards played against them, the Ottomans have an 80% chance of Success at taking Buda.  Long term, however, attacking Buda before Belgrade is unsound.


Belgrade on the other hand is only 1 cp away.  It will take another card to initiate the siege, but with a full assault of Ottoman troops, Belgrade will almost certainly fall.  Lastly, the fall of Belgrade will not cause the Hungarians to ally with the Hapsburgs.

Optimum First Turn

The optimum first turn for Ottomans is as follows:

  • Spring Deploy all troops from Istanbul to Nezh (or Nicopolis)
  • Round 1- Play Home card to add 4 regulars to troops to Nezh/Nicopolis (bringing total army size to 12 Regular and 1 Cavalry).
  • Round 2 - Play any card to place Belgrade under siege (If 3cp or higher, can build more units)
  • Round 3 - Play a card to Assault Belgrade.

Optimum Attack Path
If the above method is used, the assault will have at least strength 8 during the assault to Belgrade's 2.  Facing only one enemy, this assault will succeed 96% of the time.  If it fails, a second assault needs to be made which, even with maximum casualties, will succeed 91% of the time.  Thus, the odds of success in this methodology is greater than 99%.

With these odds, Belgrade will fall!  The Ottomans now draw an additional card each turn.  The problem now becomes, what to do on the following turns now that the door to Europe is open.


This opening move is so standard no other player should feel threatened by it.  However, there are three possible cards which might disrupt the Ottoman plans:

  • Knights of St John
  • War in Persia
  • Revolt in Egypt

War In Persia and Revolt in Egypt

 War In Persia and Revolt in Egypt both remove armies from Ottoman forces, but the Ottoman player may choose the armies.  In this case, the first three armies can come from Athens, Salonika and Edirne.  If the Ottoman Home Card is not played for armies (like it should be), the Ottomans will find themselves attacking Belgrade with 4 troops.  This still leads to a 80% chance Belgrade ill fall on the first assault if both are present.

Knights of St John

The other card is Knights of St. John, which causes a loss of 1 card from the Ottoman hand.  This simply reduces the number of turns the Ottomans have to capture Belgrade from two to one.  Still, the odds are 96% of taking Belgrade if the Home Card is played for armies.  If not played for armies, the Home Card provides odds of taking Belgrade to 92%.

With the above, Ottomans should always take Belgrade on the first turn.
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