Key Lepanto

Most experienced players know that the central powers (Austria, Italy, and Germany) will have to stick together in the first few years. Although you might dislike your central allies, you have no choice as the danger coming from the corner powers is simply too large.

Specifically, the cooperation between Italy and Austria is usually quite standard, but also passive. They usually agree on DMZ’s or standard bounces. Especially playing Italy this could come across as boring. There is however a unique set of moves, which can turn everybody’s world around: Key Lepanto. I suggest you read my article on the Lepanto opening first, this is just the ++version of that opening.

Apart from the moves you have to make as Italy and Austria, negotiating and convincing all the players around you becomes extremely important. It requires a brilliant piece of diplomacy from Austria. The main plan is fooling Russia in Spring 1901, and fooling Turkey in Fall 1901, but the details are more complicated than than.

The moves

Spring 1901 Fall 1901
A (Vie) – Gal
A (Bud) – Rum
F (Tri) – Alb
A (Gal) – Ukr
A (Rum) s A (Gal) – Ukr
F (Alb) – Gre
A (Ven) – Tri
A (Rom) – Ven
F (Nap) – ION
A (Tri) – Ser
A (Ven) – Apu
A (Mos) – StP
A (War) – Ukr
F (StP) – GoB
F (Sev) – BLA
A (StP) – Nwy
A (Ukr) – Rum
F (GoB) – Swe
F (Sev) s A (Ukr) – Rum
F (Ank) – BLA
A (Con) – Bul
A (Smy) – Arm
F (Ank) – BLA
A (Bul) s A (Rum) holds
A (Arm) – Sev
Please note that in the table above I have written down the ideal moves. Within your alliance you can obviously only hope to influence the Russian and Turkish moves.

The Austrian side

You have to be an extremely good diplomat to pull this off, so brace yourself. Let’s start with Russia. You have to make sure Russia is worried about everything and everyone apart from yourself. Whisper about English ambitions in Scandinavia and most importantly, make sure you arrange a bounce on the Black Sea. A Turkey and Russia that thrust each other make a key lepanto impossible.

The difficult thing about this move is that after Spring 1901, Russia immediately knows you have been fooling him. Occupying both Rumania and Galicia is very threatening to Russia, so do not waste too much time after Spring 1901 on Russia, your credibility will have faded by then. However, it still helps if you have ensured an English player to have moved to NWG and NTH, and an army to York or Clyde as well, as this confirms the suspicions from Russia about British ambitions in Scandinavia. Even better would be a Germany move to Silesia or Prussia, but this is not easily achieved. Minimum a German fleet in Denmark will help to put pressure on Sweden.

Some players might try to keep communicating with Russia after Spring 1901 with arguments like “I handed in the wrong moves” or “last minute panic which caused me to do this”. These arguments could work, depending on the Russian player. Please note you have done a lot of in depth communication with Russia already, so claiming know that you are an ignorant player is difficult. However, situations are different every game of course.

Turkey is important to get on your side after Spring 1901. Promise him spoils, but also indicate you need help as you have been stabbed (!) by Italy in the spring. This is not difficult to sell, as an Italian army in Trieste is usually not what one desires. The most difficult move is to get Turkey to support your army in Rumania. You must promise him Greece in exchange in 1902 and all kinds of other spoils. Furthermore you tell the Sultan that your Rumanian army will support Armenia to Sevastopol in Fall 1901, which you will not do. It is key that Turkey does not make a move for Serbia in Fall 1901, as this will uphold the progress of the Italian army in Trieste.

The Italian side

From the superficial optics, Italy runs a lot less risk than Austria with these moves. Moving to Trieste provide ample opportunity, and in case something goes wrong, you still have Trieste at the end of the day. However, if you play it well, the move to AEG means that Turkey is your enemy after the fall, so please do not think this provides only options for the better.

Italy should probably play a rather ignorant, easy to convince, borderline stupid player. Stabbing Austria in Spring 1901 is not considered clever by more experienced players on the board.


The result after fall 1901 is astonishing. If executed perfectly all players and neutral observers will be like “Huh… They have fooled us”. That is what you want… The positions of both Turkey and Russia are now severely compromised. Italy has one build and Tunis to grab next year. And Austria is already so close to Warsaw and Sevastopol that further spoils lie ahead. Last but not least, let’s not forget the Italian fleet occupying AEG, not a nice feeling for the Sultan

I believe only highly experienced Austrian players are able to make this work. I have only tried it twice, once successfully (ending with a solo victory as Austria) and once unsuccessfully, which gave me a death in 1905 as Austria. But if you like high-risk high-reward, this could just be your move.