First of all, thanks to Brad for a great job of GMing. It was a very enjoyable game.

I had no initial preference for an alliance. Turkeys cant be choosey :-) I was attracted to the idea of an IT because its so unusual but my initial discussions led me to believe that Italy was not interested. He just kept trying to get me to attack Russia. Initial discussions with Russia were difficult. He wanted a DMZ and I wanted a bounce. I was keen on an RT but the Bla sea stuff made me hesitant. Austria was uninterested in talking to me until I told Italy that the only way I could attack Russia was if Austria was onside. Then... Within 24 hours, Austria wrote and offers me a game long alliance! I smelt an Italian rat.

Germany and France were friendly to me but England England explicitly told me that he wasn't interested in talking.

As the first deadline approached, I thought I was facing a solid AI and I needed to work with Russia to survive.... Until FG move south!

The EFG... nobody puts baby in the corner
Spring 01 threw the cat among the pigeons. France moved to Pie, and Germany moved to Boh! It looked like an EFG with England pulling the strings. The obvious move for me was to join them and take a chunk out of IAR while they were absorbed but I was the last guy invited to the dance and that made me nervous. England wasn't talking and Germany at first denied the alliance. The only serious offer I got was from France. He wanted me to help him against Italy, but an FT war against Italy would only net me two centres and the last thing I wanted was French fleets in the med.

I tried to warn France that the attack on Italy was not a good idea, and tried to develop a good relationship with Russia and Italy. At that point, I was still concerned about which way Austria would jump. I thought it probable that he would join the EG against Russia.

Germany was begging me to join his attack on Austria. He finally admitted the existence of the EFG and offered me a place in a 4 way draw but I didn't believe him. I thought the move to Boh was a feint and Russia would be his target. If I attacked Austria, and EGA attacked Russia, then I'd be trapped in the corner with hostile neighbours. Plus, I didn't like the idea of being a junior partner and not being involved

I told Germany I would prepare myself for an attack on Austria in 02 and waited. In the meantime I worked to ensure that Austria did not attack Russia.

At this stage, I was still convinced that Russia was my best choice for an ally, but he seemed curiously reluctant to keep me informed about the diplomacy in the North. I feared that England was out diploming him and he didn't trust me enough to let me help. As a result, I was pretty much locked out of a large part of the board. Italy was the most forthcoming. He and I shared intel and cooperated in our diplomacy with France, Germany and England.

The first week of October
In 02 I received a decisive message from England. Seemingly unaware of my diplomacy with Germany, he told me that he was planning a stab on Germany in alliance with Russia. Russia had told me nothing about this but the English army in Norway made the story ridiculous. It was clearly intended to get me to attack Austria (as Germany wanted) and to get Russia to trust England and attack Germany.

I didn't tell Russia about England's correspondence but I did warn Germany. Russia's reluctance to involve me in northern diplomacy was wearing and I hoped that if I could cause division between EG, maybe I could work with Germany. Germany replied that he knew of England's plans and was not in the least bit worried.

From this, three things became clear: 1. England was not serious about cooperating with me. 2. Germany and England were tightly allied so no alliance with Germany was possible. 3. Russia is playing his own game in the north and trusting England.

I began to drift closer to an Italian alliance.

Within 2 days of this correspondence from England/Germany, an equally decisive exchange developed between me, France and Italy.

France was still trying to get me to join him against Italy. Austria had joined the RTI and was resisting Germany strongly but his lack of correspondence was a source of concern to both me and Italy. Italy began to show genuine signs of working with me against Austria if France could be convinced to back off. At the same time, France was beginning to fear England's growth and saw that without my help, he could get nowhere against Italy.

A deal was struck where France would stab England and then I/A would stab Austria. That deal set the pattern for the rest of the game.

Mopping up
I/T stabbed Austria and as soon as the Austrian was broken, I stabbed Russia. FIT dominated the board from then on.

In the negotiations regarding the end game, several options were discussed. Italy was keen to attack France and go for a I/T finish, but I feared that Italy would gain more centres out of that than I would and I'd get vulnerable to a solo. France never suggested an FT sandwich on Italy but I was afraid that it may lead to a similar situation with France getting a solo. Also, both France and Italy had been excellent allies and I really couldn't justify attacking either of them.

I suggested we let Russia live but the others preferred a three way end, so we wrapped up the game.

The IT alliance
One of the most powerful motivators foreign this game was my desire to try an IT alliance. I had ever seen one work before and wondered if it was possible. I felt that if such an alliance can succeed, then it would open up a whole new set of openings for both Italy and Turkey. Every time, I have played Italy, I have suggested this to turkey and received little encouragement. This time I suggested it to Italy and although I believe his first preference was for an A/I, I think that by 1902, he too was keen to give the alliance a try.

The EFG was a crucial ingredient in that recipe because I was able to win Italy's trust by not attacking with France.

However, I am convinced that all my decisions were based mainly on strategic considerations and not on sentiment. Attacking Italy with France in the early game would have strung out my forces, made enemies of my Austrian and Russian neighbours and gained me little. It is also not in turkey's interests to have French fleets in the med.

England was clearly the diplomatic centre of the EFG. He either treated me with contempt or ignored me so there was never a serious option for me to join them.

The EFG broke at the same time as Austria took Munich so he became the most obvious threat in the south. It made perfect sense to attack him when I did. After Austria was broken, I could have stabbed Italy with Russia but it would have been a long are struggle and I doubt France would have given me any support. Also Russia was absorbed in his conflict in the north and was unlikely to be in a position to help.

As it was, I think this game shows that an IT alliance is just as viable as any other on the board.

Austria: I am sorry I stabbed you. I felt bad about it because you fought the EFG strongly and didn't deserve to be knifed.
Russia: It was not an easy decision. I had to choose between an IT and an RT. There were two reasons why I chose the IT. My desire to try something new, and the fact that you seemed reluctant to deal me in to your northern diplomacy.
Germany: I genuinely wanted to work with you in this game, but it was clear that your primary ally was always going to be England.
England: I could be wrong but didn't think you ever seriously wanted to work with me. That is why I tended to adopt a pretty hostile attitude to you diplomatically. I am one of those players who likes to stick his oar in every puddle on the board. I tend to interpret silence as hostility. I hope one day we can play again.
France: thanks for being a great ally. Straight talking and utterly reliable. Your opening move was terrible but given the strength of the EG I'm not sure you had many options. Your stab on England was timed perfectly and you negotiated an excellent deal with IT. well done.
Italy: thanks for a tremendous result. I never thought an I/T could be so easy. The trust between us was great and there didn't seem to be any issues or vulnerabilities. It would have been great to have finished the game with us as the two big dogs but for that, we probably needed an English or German ally.

Thanks to all and I hope we can play again one day.