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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

HIS - Ottomans - Turn 2 Preparing for the Rest of the Game

Turn 2 - Preparatory Work

Ottoman Position

By turn 2 the Ottomans should have taken Belgrade and, once completed, ended their turn immediately, This should leave them with a sizable army and an extra card in hand to begin the turn.  They may, or may not, have pirates in play which can be used to "raid" non-war players, or as a threat to focus players' attentions to their naval units.

The question is: Now what?

Tempting Buda

Like Turn 1, Turn 2 should be a preparatory turn for the Ottomans.  Many players will immediately want to attack Buda.  It is there and seems an easy to grab target.  However, conquering Buda will place the Ottomans at war with the strongest European power in the game: the Hapsburgs.  Depending on how things are going with France, England, and the Protestants, this may not be ideal.

The Danger of an Early Buda Attack

If the Ottoman player attacks Buda on Turn 2 they have two potential routes: through Szegedin or Mohacs.  Of the two, Szegedin is the "safest" in the sense the Hapsburgs cannot access it and cut it off, permitting the armies in Buda to retreat if attacked.  Mohacs, however, provides more strategic flexibility, allowing the Ottoman player more access routes to Europe.  Both options will require 3 cp.
Assaulting Buda through Mohacs or Szegedin.  Szegedin is unassailable,
but if Mohacs is not taken, it will revert to Hapsburg control allowing for a rapid counterattack by the Hapsburgs on Belgrade
Ideally, the Ottoman player would take both cities and then capture Buda, but this requires more CP (5 cp) of movement and requires splitting the Ottoman army.  Keeping the army together is possible, but requires an even greater amount of CP (6 cp).  Even at full power the Hapsburg Power can a quick response, and stiff resistance, from the Hapsburg player.  Depending on how the battles go, the Ottoman player will find himself facing a parity in forces with the Hapsburg player and a long grinding war whose outcome is uncertain.

"Buda Can Wait" Strategy

Instead, I prefer for the Ottoman player to not rush the attack.  Instead, the player should consolidate all the Hungarian lands on Turn 2 and focus on diplomatic efforts.  If the cards in hand permit it, give up a card to the French to support their efforts, which will most likely be against either the Hapsburgs or the Papacy.  This is fine for the Ottoman player as both are direct enemies the Ottomans must face eventually.  In this strategy, the French helps wear down the Hapsburg/Papacy player without risking your forces.

If diplomacy fails, or if sufficient cards permit, the Ottoman player can assault the Knights of St. John at Rhodes.  Success means the Knights are no longer a threat and the Ottoman naval units may be moved to Coron where they may lend support by sea.

In this approach, the Ottoman player should end Turn 2 not at war with any power, in a consolidated position to launch attacks against the Papacy, Hapsburg or Buda, have 2 extra cards in hand to begin the next turn, and weaker opponents due to other player's wars.

An Ideal Turn 2 for the Ottomans.  Whom and how will the Ottoman's attack?
Buda from Belgrade?
Naval assaults to capture fortresses along the Mediterranean (making Piracy easier)?
Or Naval Assaults into Italy (against Papacy or Hapsburg)?
One other benefit of delaying the attack on Buda is the Piracy card.  The fall of Buda to the Ottomans is virtually inevitable.  In any field battle the Ottomans should be able to crush Buda, and given their special "war loss" conditions, they are easier to beat than a normal city-state.  If the Ottoman player waits until Piracy comes out, the Ottoman player will be one step closer to drawing another card, making the fall of Buda even more appealing.

The Ottoman player can even move (or place with their Home Card) armies on the fortress at Scutari, threatening a naval invasion of Italy or an overland invasion through Venice.

Conclusion

For me the Ottoman's Turn 2 seems as predetermined as Turn 1.  The Ottomans should consolidate their territory, build their army, remove unnecessary threats (knights), and threaten attacks from multiple angles.  I feel this position is stronger for the Ottomans than the direct attack on Buda.

So, for me, the real decisions of play for the Ottomans occur on Turn 3: Who and where to attack?

What is your opinions?
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