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Tunis is the only supply center that Italy is guaranteed to have by the first fall of the game, but are there any playable openings or situations where Italy should delay getting this guaranteed build? If Italy moved their fleet to the Adriatic Sea, it could help attack Trieste or convoy into Albania, and if it moved to the gulf of Lyon it could attack Marseilles or convoy into Spain.

It looks like the extra unit outweighs the benefits of an early attack on either Austria-Hungary or France because they could repel the attack or re-take their territory before you build a fourth unit. However, I was curious if anyone preferred an opening that didn't involve ordering a fleet into Tunis in the second round.

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3 Answers

Well quickly to address the last sentence. It is actually quite common for Italy to take Tunis with an army rather than a fleet. Then with F ION and A TUN, there are options for ION-AEG, ION-EAS and the convoys TUN-ALB, TUN-GRE which aren't possible with a fleet in Tunis.

But to answer the question in the title, there are certainly occasions when Italy does not take Tunis on the second turn (and is still playing intelligently), but these are rare.

Occasionally Italy will forgo the Tunis build to try to take Greece. The other case one sees is if Austria has let Italy into Trieste in the spring, Italy is now guaranteed a build and can order ION-AEG instead of going to TUN in order to gain position in an attack (allied with Austria) against Turkey.

But I should emphasise that not taking Tunis is a minority opening, and almost always played with an expectation that Italy will be getting a build elsewhere.

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Good question. A short answer is that Italy doesn't "need" Tunis as a fourth supply center when it ALREADY has a fourth supply center.

As another answerer pointed out, this may occur when Italy can use the Fleet Ionian to take Greece, (with the help of an ally) or better yet, has Trieste in hand after capturing it the first move.

Italy is, in fact, one of the weaker countries in the game. Its main advantage is that it represents "no threat" to the others, but is just strong enough to tilt the balance of power in its favor if it has a fourth supply center.

Usually, that fourth supply center is Tunis. But if it is another one, then Italy might be advised to refrain from taking Tunis as a FIFTH supply center in the first year, in order to remain "non threatening."

The reason is that Tunis is "only" a supply center that is not strategic. Whereas Trieste and/or Greece are STRATEGIC supply centers. If Italy has one of those, she is already ahead of where she'd be with Tunis, and "nothing" else.

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I agree that the reason to not take it is because you're taking something else. I don't necessarily agree that not taking Tunis as a 5th is advisable, everyone is going to assume it is yours and assess you as such anyway. Unless you're playing with inexperienced players that just count pieces on the board, I'd still grab it as a 5th in 1901 if I could. –  bwarner Apr 1 '13 at 12:21
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I played a 7 player game many years ago as AH, when Italy decided that taking Trieste in Spring 1901 was a better deal than taking Tunis. Accepting that I could no longer WIN the game, I instead played to ensure that Italy finished 7th. I finished 4th for my worst result of that tournament.

You are not truly playing any particular country in a Diplomacy game, you are playing your opponents, and your own strengths and weaknesses. The ability to build trusting and/or respectful relationships with your fellows will have far more influence on your success in the game than any answers to questions such as "When should I take Greece/Trieste instead of Tunis as Italy?".

Make your alliances explicitly time-limited; learn what those lengths should be as each co-party to an alliance; and earn a reputation for backstabbing only when provoked, but completey, utterly, and ferociously when that occurs. Earn a reputaion as a player who ensures increased success for your allies, and you will have more allies, on better terms; and more wins overall.

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How did you keep Italy No. 7? I suppose you made an alliance with France to crush Italy. And coming in 4th, who did you outlast? Probably either Russia or Turkey, in addition to Italy (and one other)? –  Tom Au Apr 14 '13 at 20:12
    
I made a treaty with predominantly Russia that I would limit myself to Vienna, Budapest, Serbia, Venice(!) and Trieste once I took it back. Everyone was nervous about Italy after the first turn backstab, so even France (who was the prime motivator for the action) was content to join my alliance against Italy. Finally Italy had to agree to a deal under which he withdrew from Trieste and I agreed not to take Venice. I of course reneged and took Venice and received hearty thanks and congratulations from everyone except Turkey and Italy for doing so. England and France came 2 & 3. –  Pieter Geerkens Apr 15 '13 at 0:53
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