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Thread: Strategic Explorations: An AAR response to Myth

  1. #1

    Strategic Explorations: An AAR response to Myth

    Dear Myth,

    Your AAR, "Explorations in Strategy," is one of, if not the best I have ever read. As a fan of that AAR, I have started my own Italy campaign using some of your ideas as a guideline for my game. This said, my own campaign went of a couple of different directions and I thought it might be interesting to post those as a separate AAR, rather than hijacking your own.

    This is my first AAR, and will not be nearly as detailed, either in Strategic depth, or in the use of screenshots (I frequently forget to take screenshots in important moments). Your virtuosity in both AAR writing and tactical deployments is not in question, and I have no intention to supplant your fantastic work. I only mean to present some of the diverging events in my game as an alternate version of what might have happened (particularly with a more proficient Germany!).

    If you would like me to close this thread, just let me know and it will be done.

    Humbly, and with the utmost respect,


  2. #2
    Dear Readers,

    To get a better picture of the strategies that I'm dealing with, you should definitely read the "Explorations in Strategy" AAR by Myth.

    As metioned above, this is my first AAR and I'm happy to receive any and all feedback. If anyone can help out with information about formatting, especially indexing my posts, and editing screenshots, it would be most appreciated.

    This game is currently live and at the time that I'm starting to post my write up, I have played almost to the end of of 1942. This is a game as Italy, on HOI3, Semper Fi using the 2.03b and c patches (fortunately, the saved game has not been affected by updating to the 2.03c patch). It is being played on "Normal" difficulty level, and in the "Normal" mode (as opposed to "Arcade).

    This is mostly a gameplay AAR that I will be narrating as Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, or at least a version of him based more on my own voice, and occasionally I will step out of character, so don't complain about that. Occasionally, I will make a joke. Laugh at it. Haha.

    Above all else, go and read Explorations in Strategy by Myth. I'm serious. It'll rock your world. It's that good. Then come back and enjoy this little thing.

    EDIT (December 10, 2010): I'm having problems with the original photobucket account I was using. Something about exceeding bandwidth. All updates after this date will be with a different one, and shouldn't have any problems. However, I don't have the time or energy to re-upload all the screenshots throughout the entire AAR, and put the new URLs into the old posts, so I'm afraid if you're coming across this AAR between December 10, 2010 and January 2, 2011, you're not going to see screenshots until the most recent posts. Thanks for understanding!



    Chapter 1: Early Days (1936)
    Chapter 2: The Ethiopian Campaign (1936)
    Chapter 3: Italy's Grand Strategy
    Chapter 4: Yugoslavian Invasion (1937)
    Chapter 5: Balkan Campaigns (1938-39)
    Chapter 6: East AND West (1939)
    Chapter 7: The Iberian Invasion
    Chapter 8: Preparing to take on the West
    Chapter 9: War with the West
    Chapter 10: Closing off the Med
    Chapter 11: War in the East
    Chapter 12: Mopping up, and preparations for Operation Leone Marino
    Chapter 13: Those Pesky Americans
    Chapter 14: The Battle of Ireland
    Chapter 15: The Invasion of England, part 1
    Last edited by mankle30; 27-01-2011 at 01:56. Reason: Look . . . . Index!

  3. #3

    Early Days

    Following the strategy in the “Explorations in Strategy” AAR by Myth, I decided to try to use the same strategy, albeit with a slightly different twist.

    I found Myth’s “projection of force” strategy appealing and immediately began researching carrier techs and building carriers. While I skipped over building an escort carrier, I began building my first aircraft carrier as soon as I had researched the tech. Subsequently, as soon as the next round of upgraded techs were researched for carriers, I built another one.

    I also focused on researching infantry techs and upgrading light armour techs until I could build S.P. Artillery, and then began researching and building medium armour.

    This was the main difference between my approach and Myth’s. I concentrated very early on my army, especially since it would be in action quickly in order to take the Balkans. I produced brigades of artillery to attach to my existing infantry divisions in Europe, and by the beginning of my Balkan campaigns, almost all of my combat infantry divisions were triangular (two infantry and one artillery brigade).

    By the time these campaigns were over, all new infantry divisions were square, with three infantry brigades and one artillery brigade. Early armour divisions were also triangular – one light armour, two motorised infantry, and later divisions added a self-propelled artillery brigade to add firepower while maintaining speed and mobility.

    As you can see from the production queue below, I upgraded all of my start game cavalry units to light armour.

    The above two shots show my technology queue.

  4. #4
    Field Marshal TheBromgrev's Avatar
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    Nice start. I'm always intimidated by Myth's AAR due to how long it is. Did you fill out the starting land OOB, or rearrange it to what you want?

    Also, looking at your screenshots reminds me of how horrible the vanilla tech trees are (historically cavalry used the exact same weapons as foot infantry, for example). I strongly recommend you NOT research the terrain-related equipment techs. That's because the tooltip is wrong, and they actually increase attrition. It's a known problem since v1.3 at least, and PI never fixed it. However, if you're not afraid of a little modding, you can easily fix the techs by putting a '-' in front of the effects in the tech files (ie 1.0 becomes -1.0). The tooltip will show up as a red number, but it will actually do what the tech is intended to do.
    Last edited by TheBromgrev; 11-11-2010 at 05:53.
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  5. #5
    Thanks Brom, and welcome!

    As I mentioned, I've already played well into the game (I'm currently at early 1943), so any recommendations for gameplay are welcome, but probably not going to help much! I've already researched the terrain techs that I felt I'd need -- desert, and mountain mostly, plus airborne and amphibious eventually. I won't be spending too much time on a lot of those details. I just wanted to give readers an idea of the techs that I was researching right at the beginning -- to make the point that I concentrated a little more on the infantry, and eventually artillery techs right at the beginning. It also helped that until I had the CV researched, I didn't have to spend 3 or 4 tech spaces on the carrier upgrade techs, and could use that for other things.

    As for Myth's AAR, yes, it's very detailed, but an excellent read, and gave me lots of great insight into how the game works, as well as some military strategy. It took me probably a week or two to catch up, but it's well worth it.... His index is excellent, and the AAR is really well organized.

  6. #6
    Field Marshal TheBromgrev's Avatar
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    Ah, I see. I did read that you had played ahead, but didn't realize it was that far ahead. Anyway, the modding tip I mentioned still applies for the mountain/desert/jungle/arctic terrain techs, so if you make the change you shouldn't see any ill effects. Of course, make a backup copy before editing any game files. The vanilla amphibious and airborne warfare techs are good to research; it's just the attrition-related ones that do the opposite of what you think they should do. That said, the medicine/first aid techs found in the Industry tab do work correctly. Again, it's the terrain equipment techs that actually make you lose more men due to attrition.

    I'm curious as to how your game turned out. I've played as Italy before, but the horrible starting OOB is a big turn-off for me (the USSR OOB is even worse), so I prefer to play nations with a better initial set-up. Less time wasted getting the OOB in the state I want it to be.
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  7. #7
    Thanks for the modding tip . . . I'll definitely consider that for future games.

    As far as the OOB goes, yes, it's pretty nasty. Since you're interested (and the only reader to pipe up), I'll put a little bit more about that into the AAR, but my initial builds of troops goes into fattening up the initial OOB, which does change soon after that. One thing I like about Italy is it's initial high manpower, making it easy to get lots of troops without worrying too much about later manpower issues!

    Any idea of how to index?

  8. #8

    The Ethiopian Campaign

    We begin 1936 at war. This is a war which will not only test the mettle of the Italian fighting spirit, but will show that Italy is committed to maintaining and expanding her colonial interests.

    While other leaders* would allow their generals to lead this invasion of Ethiopa to lead this campaign themselves, I oversea this war myself. After all, what can go wrong? We have forces both the north and to the south of Ethiopia. All we must do is close in on Addis Abeba from both sides and we will win easily!

    (the situation on the 16th of January)

    In actuality, it is just as simple as that. Slowly but surely our forces approach the Ethiopian captial. In the meantime, the reports of my chiefs of staff begin to trouble me, not in their reports of our results, as we are winning decisively, but in HOW we are winning.

    Problem #1: Our infantry moves slowly over the large distances of the African terrain. We must put an effort into modernizing and mechanizing our forces. We have started to replace our traditional cavalry with the light tanks that are available to us, but more R&D is needed to make that force faster and more powerful than the units that we will be going up against in the near future.

    Problem #2: Our regular infantry performs admirably, but there are far too many irregular and militia formations in East Africa to be effective.

    Problem #3: While our regular infantry is effective, the addition of artillery will allow them to roll over their opposition, particularly infantry and irregular infantry who do not have the same heavy weaponry in support.

    Problem #4: Our units are weary after each attack and need far too much time, as much as 5-6 days, to recover their ability to keep pushing forward. While in Ethiopia, we have a number of divisions to take over on the line while previously engaged divisions rest, in the future we will need to develop doctrines and techniques which will allow to keep pushing forward, in a variation of what our German friends in the north call "Blitzkrieg."

    (clearly our troops are superior)

    (engaged in battle both north and east of Addis Abeba)

    We still had not reached the capital on January 26. This pace was maddening to me. After another month of slow grinding, we finally took the capital and Ethiopia surrendered.

    (February 26. Now we're at peace)

    After consulting with my cabinet, I decided to install a puppet government in Ethiopia. While there are some benefits to our Industrial Capacity, manpower and leadership to annexing the country, I decided that in order to repress the population, and defend that territory, we would spread our already insufficient forces in Africa too thin. I left our theatre commander take charge of the redistribution of our forces, especially throughout North Africa. If war did come with those democratic countries west of us, we needed to be able to defend our Libyan holdings, and secure other parts of the Mediterranean.

    I then immediately ordered our industrial policy to change to one more oriented towards consumer goods. While we would be building and training new units, we needed to upgrade our current ones with better training and equipment, and by changing our policies, we would have to put less of our industry into producing consumer goods.

    (our production queue at the end of February. Notice the triangular, artillery reinforced infantry division.)

    *Myth left the invasion of Ethopia to his AI and the war dragged on and on for over a year. See "Explorations in Strategy, Part I" http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/...67#post9957567


    Next chapter: Italy's Grand Strategy, or, The Calm Before the Storm

  9. #9

    Italy's Grand Strategy, or, The Calm Before the Storm

    Even though we had just recently concluded our war in Africa, most Italians believed that there was more to come. Our fascist neighbours to the north were again looking to expand their empire and exact revenge for the land taken from them after the last Great War. Fascism was on the rise, and we could count similar political philosophies in Portugal as well as Germany, and Franco was fighting a civil war in Spain over these ideologies. That little conflict had stirred some uncomfortable tensions. The Soviets, the great bear in the east, had conspired to aid the Republicans, and the British and French were also siding with them. On Franco’s Nationalist side, the Germans were helping out as were we, but mostly in terms of trade and supplies. Should this divide continue, we could end up at war with the Western powers, and even possibly the USSR. We would definitely have to ally ourselves with Germany and Franco’s Spain if they win the war.

    On land, our borders were secure (although our African colonies were vulnerable), however we were especially vulnerable at sea. Our supply lines to Africa were especially endangered, particularly if the British were drawn into a war and had free reign in the Mediterranean to raid our convoys. Thus was born my strategy. Italy must rule the Mediterranean from Gibraltar to the Black Sea.

    The first steps to this achieving this goal were in the research and development of naval technologies that were far beyond what we had. We needed a modern, powerful fleet capable of projecting our power anywhere from the seas. The bottom line was that we needed aircraft carriers and powerful light cruisers to defend them. This would not be easy, as our limited technical capabilities would need to be improved quickly. Also, we would have to invest heavily in building drydocks, prototypes and experimental ships immediately as the technology becomes available, due to the long build times forseen for this huge vessels. The positive is that we expect the amount of time for us to build the ships to drop as our engineers develop their ship-building skills.

    Once this process of modernizing and upgrading the Regia Marina was underway, we needed to turn to our army. We had already identified our needs for the purposes of improving our army – the war in Ethiopia had aided us in that. We were already moving along those lines. But in order to secure the Mediterranean, we needed to expand, and the only real target for our hunger for coastline was to the east. We would also be able to capture more factories to put to use in our war effort, and coerce the local elite to research on our behalf.

  10. #10

    Yugoslavia Invasion

    Our first target was Yugoslavia. Historically, Rome had conquered much of this land, with Emperor Diocletian building his massive palace at Split, and later into the renaissance era, many of the cities on the Dalmatian Coast in that currently Slavic country had been under the sway of the powerful Venetian dynasty.

    Yugoslavia was a good start. Naval power would only be necessary to blockade their tiny, insignificant navy in port, and their army should be caught off guard and unaware as we launch a complicated, many-fronted assault. It was also expected that the West and the Russians would not get interested in a Balkan war. They were all concerned with Germany and the rising beast that was slowly becoming more and more daring, breaching the Treaty of Versailles with their brazen diplomatic and military maneuvers.

    As we completed our new infantry and light-armoured divisions, we massed them near the Yugoslav border and rearranged our East Army group under Marshall Balbo to include 1 army, commanded by General Vercellino. Under his 2a Armata, he had 4 corps totalling 130,000 men. The first two corps, made up of the bolstered XI Corpo d’Armata and VI Corpo d’Armata each now had 5 infantry divisions apiece. The third corps, Cei’s Corpo d’Armata Celera was the three newly upgraded former cavalry divisions now charging with light armour. These three corps had been lined up in Istria and landed at our port at Zadar. They would concentrate on taking the north’s major cities of Ljubljana, Zagreb, Split and Sarajevo. The armoured corps and XI Corpo d'Armata would take the north (Ljubljana, Zagreb) then push southeast, VI Corpo d'Armata was stationed in Zadar and would take Split then move inland. The newly formed 1st corps of 3 infantry divisions, under Lt. Gen. Ago would storm the beaches of Cetinje and push slowly towards the capital of Beograd. All of the forces would meet there to force the Yugoslav surrender.

    (Our forces set to invade Yugoslavia)

    We launched the operation on August 20, 1937 and it was concluded shortly thereafter in October. The world barely took notice of our glorious victory. We now had more ports on the Dalmatian Coast, including the large harbour at Split. The rest of the Balkans were getting a little bit nervous, as they rightfully should...

  11. #11

    Balkan Campaigns

    Following our successful campaign against Yugoslavia, we set the rest of the Balkans in our sights. We couldn’t declare war right away. While we had become more threatening to the rest of the countries in the region by taking Yugoslavia, our public still desired a measure of neutrality. We had our intelligence forces create more fear of our neighbours while decreasing our neutrality.

    We kept building our army and reorganized it under Marshall Pariani who was leading the newly created Balkan HQ, and now had the 1st Army Group under his command. In the 1st Army Group, were placed two armies- the 3rd under General Vercellino and the 2nd under General Guzzoni. By our attack on Greece, which we projected at the summer of 1938, we would have 154,000 troops ready to attack in the region.
    Our first step was quickly taking Albania. They had a coveted airfield that would aid us in our attack on Greece. This was done on May 12. Our troops were positioned and on June 25, we declared war on Greece. We sent most of our troops south to take Salonica, while the XI Corpo d’Armata under Lt. Gen. Aymonnino, with two armoured divisions from the Corpo d’Armata Celere supporting sailed to assault Athens. This pincher movement, taking the most important cities of Greece should bring about their quick surrender.

    (notice the placement of our Navy at Athens and Salonica)

    The campaign lasted under two months, and on August 18th, we annexed Greece. I instructed Marshall Pariani to take Bulgaria on his own, and unfortunately, he did not keep solid records and much of the rest of our Balkan campaign went undocumented. While he did not report regularly, the campaigns were successful, attacking Bulgaria on October 14, 1938, and getting their surrender on November 8.

    (Our troops massed on the Bulgarian border)

    (After Bulgaria's surrender)

    Romania was a tougher nut to crack, but by February 14th, 1939, I was informed of our victory, and Italy had control of the Mediterranean east to Turkey, as well as Black Sea ports in Bulgaria and Romania.

    (The Italian Empire on February 14, 1939)

    Now Italy had excellent strategic positioning, a much increased Industrial Capacity and more intelligent minds to assist in our war efforts. We have now firmly allied ourselves with our neighbours to the north, Germany, as a member of the Axis, and they have been telling us to prepare for war. They plan to expand, and if we plan well, we can take advantage of their moves in order to pursue our colonial aspirations.

    However, there has been one interesting event that presents a conundrum, or, if one looks at it in a certain way, an opportunity...

    Next chapter: The Spanish Conundrum

  12. #12
    Lt. General Brad1's Avatar
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    Great job so far, I'm looking forward to more! I'll be watching!

  13. #13
    Thanks Brad, and thanks for posting! I was hearing crickets for a while.... but it's here on in that the campaign starts to get interesting -- after all, who wants to read about Italy rolling over the Balkans (even though, historically, they need the Germans' help!).... It's also here that my game really started to diverge from Myth's ....

  14. #14
    Field Marshal Baltasar's Avatar
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    Looking forward to this, especially because I suspect you'll have learned some lessons from Myths approach to the game. Wondering what you'll do differently.

  15. #15
    Private Totalise's Avatar
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    looks good Mankle. Just finished reading Myth's AAR so it will be interesting to see what happens with your Italy.

  16. #16
    Baltasar: Yes, I have. There's a great deal of tactical knowledge to be gained from Myth, and I hope when you read some of my upcoming posts, you'll see which ones I've been able to put into action.

    Totalise: Thanks! Keep reading and you'll see!

  17. #17

    The Spanish Conundrum

    One of my minister’s reports had come in early in January of 1937 that, while not of the utmost importance to our preparations for our Balkan campaign, would nonetheless become an important factor in shaping our growing Italian Empire. Republican Spain, despite both Italy’s and Germany’s aid to Franco’s Nationalists, had won the war.

    Our aspirations are to dominate the Mediterranean, closing it off to our enemies, and making it a safe haven for our convoys, and those of our allies. Now that our armies had taken the Balkans, we owned the sea from Sardinia east on the north side, and a portion of North Africa on the south. However, the strong British presence at Malta, at the mouth of the Med at Gibraltar, as well as holding the Suez would create problems, particularly in supplying our troops in North and East Africa. Additionally, with a potential enemy holding Spain (including the southern jaw of the Straight of Gibraltar), we could potentially be trapped in the Mediterranean without better positioning.

    Now, in February of 1939, with our Balkan campaigns complete, I was faced with the decision to either take Turkey and be able to control the eastern Mediterranean, or take Spain and hold the gateway in the west. Our allies, and leaders of the Axis, in Berlin were warning us to prepare for war. This was not so worrisome, as we had been at war, on and off, since 1936. However the upcoming war would be different - we would be fighting the powerful Western nations.

    I immediately requested and was granted a meeting with the German leader to find out more about their plans for the coming year in order to best chart the Italian course of action.

    Germany was planning to attack Poland. This came as no surprise to me (although their non-agression pact with Russia did), and it was to our relief that Germany would not ask for an Italian Expeditionary Force for this invasion. The Poles should not present much of a challenge, particularly if the Wehrmacht was as powerful as its leader claimed. It was what followed the Polish invasion that concerned Italy. When Germany turned its attention to the west, we were warned that should their invasion of France (and possibly the Low Countries, adapting the Schlieffen Plan and going around the Maginot Line) hit more resistance than thought, we would be pressed into service particularly to distract the French army in the south. This concerned us. If we went to war with France, we would be at war with the British. This would unleash their navy in the Mediterranean and potentially wreak havoc on our supply lines.

    If this was the case, any campaign we launched, particularly in Spain, had to end before our Axis leaders launched Fall Gelb, attacking the Low Countries, and Fall Rot, attacking France. The Allies would not contest an attack on Turkey, and we did not expect an alliance with Spain. Therefore, the choice was presented – Turkey or Spain, or fundamentally, East or West.

  18. #18
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    Hmm, it's interesting that you first went east into the Balkans instead of west into Spain as I did. Looking at it from a maritime angle, the Italian grasp of the mid-Mediterranean notwithstanding (due to Malta and the British ability to enter the sea from west or east as necessary), you exacerbated your weakness without putting you in a position to be able to do anything about it yet. IE, you extended your coastline immensely, but it didn't really put you significantly closer to Suez and certainly not to Gibraltar, both of which would be necessary to close the sea and make it truly yours. Furthermore, you've raised eyebrows in other European capitals no doubt, and they could be wary of any inroads toward an attempt to get closer to either gate of the Mediterranean. Plus, you've got a longer and less defensible border with the USSR than I did as you got Bessarabia too, further to the north and east of the Prut River. It'll be interesting to see where you go from here. I'd say your game has already begun to deviate significantly.
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  19. #19
    Welcome Myth! Thanks for stopping by . . . Yes, the Eastern Frontier is longer and harder to defend than yours was, although I think I've expanded my army more than you did, primarily for that contingency. Also, while I haven't been updating on technology or production (I didn't really take screenshots of that, or keep too much track in detail), the first couple of years were spent teching up on CV and CL, and throughout this period, I have been building up the navy, and the ships will soon be available for deployment.

    I'm not sure if it's the same in the HOI3 Vanilla, but in SF, by having cores on Yugoslavia, you need to lower neutrality/raise threat by 20 fewer points, making it easier to doW on them earlier.

    And the reason that I didn't launch an attack on Republican Spain during the civil war was that by the time I was able to doW on them, there was no defensible area near Gibraltar (i.e. with a port) that I could invade and hold!

  20. #20
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    As long as you can control the seas, prospects against the British look fine. It's not that AI is a master-planner - it won't coordinate its amphibious attacks. Defending against the SU might be tricky, though.

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