Nothing Important Happened Today
We left last time at the start of the Spanish Civil War. They sure took their time, it's already December, 1936! You might have noticed on the screenshot in Chapter II that the Republican capital is in Valencia instead of Madrid and the Nationalist capital is in Valladolid instead of Burgos and it was actually supposed to be in La Coruna! The reason for this is that both Madrid and Burgos are very close to the starting frontline and losing your capital has much more severe consequences in Hearts of Iron III than it should: you use every single bit of stockpiled resources you have like they were stored in the Royal Swimmingpool and with the relocation of your main supply dump, the supply network also needs days if not weeks to adapt. In a war that can mean total defeat. To acoid that, we moved the starting capitals of both participants out of the way. Unfortunatelly La Coruna was taken by Republican forces right away, which might cause some problems to the Nationalists and not only because of the above but also because they are supposed to get their foreign reinforcements through the port in La Coruna so not having access to that port will have long-term consequences. Then again, it shouldn't be too hard to take it back I guess.
So, as I explained last time (I did, din't I?), the Nationalists get almost the entire Army, but the Republicans get a lot of free Militia units. There are some nasty side-effects to this method that are not immediately obvious. The new Militia units are all gained in provinces still controlled by the Republicans, but the original Army might be rather disorganised, spread out all over the country. They often start deep behind enemy lines, which might prove fatal. Also because of the usually low number of troops in total, neither side has enough units to form a consistent front. Unfortunatelly the AI is not really prepared for such situations and it will wander deep into enemy territory if it meets no opposition, which can and usually does result in units getting lost due to being cut-off.
Nationalist forces managed to take La Coruna in late January, allowing Germany and Italy to send some troops at last. Or at least some material help, the actual troops will arrive when they arrive. Still there's no sign of Soviet intervention! Maybe they are too busy reducint their Officer Corps from low to ridiculous.
Could this cause the quick downfall of the Republicans?
Meanwhile in the States, Presidential Elections were held:
Well, technically they were held in last November, but you know, with all the recounting by hand and stuff...
The election didn't bring any surprises, the Democrats have won, but it reshuffled my cabinet a bit, so I had to put back my chosen ministers in place. Or at least I would have, but for some reasons some of my candidates disappeared! Or were they never even available? Am I so absentminded?... Oh, well.
In Asia, things started to heat up in March already. Japan started to Mobilize, while China was still engulfed in a Civil War. But they got the memo and stopped fighting on the 28th of March after the Xi'an Incident, returning to Status Quo. Things remained quiet there for a while, but a month later bullets started to fly and the Marco Polo Bridge Incident escalated to a full war.
What's in China stays in China. For now.
If you observe the screenshot a little closer, it might seem a little strange. First, the Marco Polo Incident happens in April, three months too early. That is because Japan felt ready by then, they saw no need to wait any longer. The decision becomes available as early as January. Second, there are two additional events, not only the decision. When the Incident happens, China has the option to cooperate, trying to avoid war. That hurts their internal political standing, but in the given circumstances, that might be the lesser evil (or it may not, see below). On the other hand, if they weren't able to defeat the Commies yet, time probably won't save them, so they have the option to openly oppose the Japanese aggression. In both cases there's a possibility for the Incident to escalate. It's random, but the chance is much lower if both sides cooperate and much higher if both sides act aggressively.
The third strange thing is that even though Shanxi no longer even shares a border with Japan (or any Japanese holdings) and Beijing, where the Incident happened is no longer in Shanxi territory, they are the target of the DoW, not the Republic of China. The reason for this is purely gameplay based: to get both sides of China involved in the war right away (which is required to avoid exploits), it is necessary to have both of them guarantee Shanxi and for Japan to DoW them instead of China. This way Japan only needs to DoW one country (so there's no insane amounts of threat generated), both the Republic and the People's Republic of China are involved right away and they don't need to be allied for that. The only real downside is that this method requires Shanxi to exist in order to even start the incident, which might not be the case if a RoC player finishes them off beforehand. I'll come up with a better solution but until then it will have to do.
As for the Chinese Civil War, it is suspended for now, but it might restart if the circumstances are right. There are multiple way for that to happen. First, there's an event in '40 that allows the Commies to turn on Chiang (the Fourth Army Incident). Then once the war is over, either side can decide to restart hostilities, and when that happens, a part of the Republican Chinese army will side with Mao and the remaining Warlords can also pick sides. When this happens, the chances will heavily depend on the popular support of Communism in the Republic of China, which is why it might hurt more to let the Japs advance peacefully and thus avoid the war: it will bring a lot of support to the Communists.
The other decisions you saw on the screenshot are part of the redesigned manpower system. There are two alternative paths for maintaining an army: you can either have a Standing Army with professionals or a Drafted Army with reserves and conscription. A country with a Drafted Army may decide to call in the reserves when at war, which will generate a LOT of manpower in a relatively short amount of time. A country with a Standing Army may invest into getting more professionals, which that takes a lot more time but can also be done during peacetime. The US has a Drafted Army.
What Oil's in the USA stays in the USA. Well, at least some of it...
This Incident hurt American-Japanese relations somewhat, reducing the Oil-trade between the two countries. That's also an interesting concept I need
to talk about. The United States and Japan were very important trading partners in the early '30s. I can't remember the actual numbers and I can't
bother looking them up right now, but Japan was relient on American oil to the point where the Oil Embargo in '40 almost crippled their Fleets,
leading to the attack on Pearl Harbour. In HoI3 though there's no reason for the USA to give any oil in the first place, so the Imperial Japanese Navy is crippled right from the start. To help simulate the historical trade, there's a couple of Strategic Effects that increase Oil production in Japan and decrease it in the USA while increasing money production in the USA and decreasing it in Japan. The method is quite crude because the modifiers can only be percentages, not absolute values, but it works for now. The amount depends on the relations between the two, and they have dropped to 75 recently. (Starts at 100 if I remember correctly.) It's not that bad for them, but if they start shuffling around their Navy too much, they will feel the effects soon enough.
The Second Sino-Japanese War starts slowly but it will gain momentum soon enough. Also note the presence of the Great Wall, represented by level 1-2 forts!
Despite of what I said earlier, I couldn't restrain myself and researched the Firepower Focus Concept. That will make my Infantry Regiments more formidable! Awesome! And in May, 1937, Argentina signed the Anti-Comintern Pact. That's not enough for me to make a move against them, but if they actually join the Axis, that will have consequences! Unfortunatelly I don't think they will. Anyway, I'll continue with the Firepower Concept with Infantry Firepower Concentration.
The tech starts with some points already invested into it because I'm continuing with the same doctrine path I pursued before.
In June, 1937, the first level of my Nuclear Research Lab was finished. I wanted to place it in the middle of nowhere. I chose Phoenix, Arizona. I'll put the rest of them there, too, since the highest level is what counts, not the total amount. The good part is that this one single level was worth 6 points of practical (which will be heavily nerfed in the FtM version!), so now the second level will cost me 44 IC instead of 75. Time to start that Rocket Test Site in Houston, Texas! Which still leaves about 30 IC to spend on more IC.
Not the most ambitious IC-whoring, I admit, but it's a start!
Will this desperate attempt to form a defensive line save China?
By mid-July, China was losing a lot of land in the North and Shanxi was already defeated. They felt it's time to forge a Unified Front against Japanese Aggression, and they did. Xibei San Ma and the Guangxi and Yunnan Clieques all joined the Front and entered into an official Alliance with the Republic of China. As part of the agreement, the Yunnan Clique also relinquished most of their territory to directly be administered by the Kuomintang. As a repsonse, I tried to intervene in the conflict, attempting to mediate between the two warring sides. Japan was willing to cooperate but China wasn't. (Again, they could lose more in the long run because of the spread of Communism.) This improved my relations with Japan a bit so they get more oil again... Not exactly what I wanted to achieve... Meanwhile there was a major revolt in Xinjiang but that probably won't have any far-reaching consequences anyway.
By the end of the year, the Spanish Civil War is already decided although not ended (the Republicans still hold out in Valencia because of how the Surrender mechanic works) and the Second Sino-Japanese War is still raging on. Japan made a lot of progress from the North but there's no sign of a landing anywhere. They reached Nanjing but didn't take the city yet. As for me, I have my second level of Nuclear Research Lab