In my previous two installments, I’ve discussed what Gal means for Austria and Russia, the two powers who will engage in a knife fight over Gal. However, the winner of this wrestling match also has further repercussions across the board. However, for the finale of this series, we will focus on the other power in the Eastern Triangle: Turkey. Who occupies Gal, and how they do so, can have a strong influence over decisions the Sultan might make regarding alliances, and avenues of expansion.
Unlike with Russia or Austria, the early game control of Gal affects Turkey in a purely strategic manner. The tactical implications are usually minimal. What Turkey faces as far as decisions depends upon who his friend is of Austria or Russia, and who controls Gal.
If Turkey is friendly with Austria and hostile to Russia, Austrian control of Gal keeps Russia from taking an aggressive forward position. Assuming Russia succeeds in taking Gal, and has an army in Ukr, even a Turkish fleet in Bla is a mild inconvenience. Austria has to defend his home supply centers, and Sev is relatively trivial to defend, so Turkey is stuck in a situation that launches Bul-Rum with support from Bla, and moves A Con-Bul. This is assuming Turkey has moved into the Black Sea, which is the best case scenario. If Turkey has F Con for the Fall, then he is facing a deadlock in a war with Russia. An Austro-Turkish alliance depends on the ready availability of Austrian armies to cause troubles for Russia. Unless Turkey has moved the optimal Spring anti-Russia opening of A Con-Bul F Ank-Bla and A Smy-Arm, successfully, Russian control of Gal freezes up the Austrian front and slows the Turkish advance.
On the other hand, Austrian control of Gal, coupled with A Bul A Con F Bla for Turkey is a field day. Turkey can quickly take Rum with Austrian support, move Bla-Sev for the potential of doubling up, and Russia is faced with a very difficult scenario. There’s very little to write about this situation: if Russia is facing an AT alliance, and Austria controls Gal, Russia’s southern flank is going to be quickly chewed up.
However, an Austrian alliance with Turkey is fairly unlikely, as the success of one in the mid-game depends on the failure of the other except in the most pathological of cases. What is more likely is a Turkish alliance with Russia against Austria. In this case, Gal plays no lesser role, to wit it determines who gets to make the first push. Russian control of Gal, meaning there is a Russian army in Gal, causes Austria to freeze up Ser and Vie to cover Bud securely. Austria’s fleet, which in the worst case scenario is sitting in Alb and poised to move into Gre, can be bounced by the army in Bul, the fleet in Con can move into Aeg, giving local numerical superiority over the Austrian and spelling out his rapid collapse. If Italy has been a threat to Austria, so that the fleet is not in Alb, or is frozen to cover Tri, then Turkey can quickly pick up two builds in the first year.
Austrian control of Gal, which means simply that Russia is not occupying Gal, changes the dynamic. Austria is free to take Greece, move into Gal, or both. Turkey can attempt to bounce in Gre, but it will not be successful unless Austria is facing a threat from Italy. This means a potentially protracted early war with Austria, which can be doomed to failure if Russia finds himself in a fight with Germany or England (or both!). The risk of an RT alliance has a way of galvanizing the rest of the board against the dreaded Juggernaught.
Unfortunately, we have only covered a few of the possibilities with Gal. Austria might go full bore on occupying Gal, forsaking Ser for the Spring and attacking Rum with support. Or perhaps he is occupying Gal, then taking Ser in the Fall, as a precursor to an Austro-Turkish assault on the Russian. There are so many possibilities for Gal that we could only give you a few samples of what could happen, and hopefully guide you, the reader, in a systematic method of thinking about and understanding what the circumstances mean in the larger context of the game, and since every game of Diplomacy is different, that is the main skill each player has to cultivate.