And please remember that all of this is still very much a work in progress; a lot of things might and will change from here until we release in- oooops, no spoilers
Before we start with the nitty-gritty, we’ll just take a sneak peek at the updated Italian Focus Tree
But now, Avanti!
It wasn’t until 1943 that Mussolini was finally ousted from power (keep this information in your head for a while, and we’ll come back to it). Up until then, there was almost no way of removing Mussolini from power - but what if? What could have happened if only?
Let’s start with the most plausible route Italy could have taken if Mussolini was deposed pre-1943, namely the:
Alternative Fascist Path
While Italy was firmly in the grip of Mussolini and Fascism, that didn’t mean that Mussolini himself was spared from criticism within his own ranks. A lot of other leading fascists were quite vocal about their opposition to joining forces with Nazi Germany, for example, and still more opposed Italy’s entry into the War. Historically, it was the Grand Council of Fascism (yes, that was a real thing) that finally managed to oust Mussolini from power once the Allies had invaded Sicily in 1943. So the power struggle between Mussolini and the Grand Council will take center stage in overthrowing the Duce and guiding Italy on a new path.
It all starts with the war with Ethiopia. Depending on how you fare here you can either go down the historical route with the Solid Progress in Ethiopia focus or if you find yourself stalled in your offensive; Struggle in Ethiopia will open up a fast track to overthrowing the old regime with Undermining the Duce.
While Mussolini was the very face of fascism in Italy throughout the 1920’s and 30’s, there were other prominent fascists who at one time or another were potential successors to Il Duce. Two of these were Italo Balbo and Dino Grandi.
The first thing a new Duce has to do is to either Consolidate Power over the Fascist Party or Stop the Squandering that ran rampant under Mussolini’s reign. Depending on who you chose as the new country leader, these focuses will unlock further focuses in their respective path.
Balbo has two unique paths available to him; one focuses on the reorganization and modernization of Italy’s army and airforce. During the 20’s Balbo was appointed head of the Airforce, the Regia Aeronautica, and made headlines as an aviator. Under him, the Aeronautica became a world-class airforce - all of which is represented in his starting Leader Trait. While he was convinced that Italy’s future lay in the skies, he also had ambitions to reform Italy’s army; to make it a more mobile and motorized force. He was also part of the formation of the Saharan auto-aviation Companies, a long-range motorized reconnaissance unit with its own aircraft attached to it. All of this manifests itself when you have to choose between Reorganize Regio Esercito and Reinforce Regia Aeronautica; basically choosing to invest in either the army or the airforce since Italy’s resources still are scarce.
In order to access Balbo’s two exclusive paths, you will first have to unlock the means of production and resources to forge ahead by stopping Mussolini’s squandering in the shared sub-branch with Dino Grandi. And who even is this Dino Grandi fellow by the way?
One of Grandi’s exclusive paths is open to be pursued as soon as he’s made the new country leader; seeking bilateral agreements with either France or the UK. Since he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and sought after an alliance with the UK, you can now deepen the relationship with either country.
Maybe to no one’s surprise, Balbo’s Balance of Power revolves around the military. To increase military production and experience, Balbo will draw resources from elsewhere.
As usual I need to start with the classic disclaimer “Everything you’re about to see is work in progress bla bla bla…” However, this time for real, everything you’re about to see is super WIP. Any resemblance between this and reality on release will be purely coincidental… Well maybe not that much, but in any case just a heads up that we won’t be getting into too much detail on these branches.
So let’s talk about Vittorio Emanuele III, King of Italy from 1900 to his abdication in 1946.
During his reign, he led Italy into several wars, not only both World Wars, but also the Italo-Turkish war, the Second Italo-Ethiopian war and many other conflicts in North and East Africa, hence the nickname Il Re Soldato (the Soldier King). Kind of a thrones collector, Vittorio Emanuele was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in May 1936 shortly after Haile Selassie fled from Addis Ababa and Italian troops drove into the Ethiopian capital. Following the occupation of Albania in 1939, the Albanian Parliament also proclaimed him King of Albania (it feels like the fascist regime was kinda convenient for the Italian monarchy after all). He finally abdicated in favor of his son, Umberto, in 1946, but the Kingdom of Italy was already well on its way to become the Republic of Italy, so the newly proclaimed King Umberto II didn’t really have much time to enjoy the throne.
In-game you can crown Vittorio as Emperor of Ethiopia and King of Albania once you control those territories, improving his country leader trait (it will also improve his National Spirit if he is not the current country leader). But now let’s take a first look at the Monarchist branch!
To the right of that branch, there is a small industrial and equipment-themed branch in which you will be able to get a bit more out of your controlled resources thanks to Extraction Industry.
Mobilize the Railway Guns will spawn the four old Cannone da 381/40 AVS railway guns used by Italy during the Great War, which were not mobilized during World War II, and will grant some production bonuses for more railway guns.
Last but not least, New Forms of Weaponry for now grants a pretty basic National Spirit and gives some research bonus. However, I would like to do something along the lines of making Italy a pioneer in nuclear research (requiring Italy to be one of the first countries to research Atomic tech), and possibly grant better bonuses in terms of National Spirit.
To the right, we have a small Vatican state sub-branch, through which you will strengthen the ties between Italy and the Pope, not only getting some stability, political power and ideology support for Non-Aligned, but also getting some interesting bonuses towards operatives and compliance. Worth noting that completing Seek Papal Support will actually replace the Grand Council of Fascism in the Balance of Power by Papal Influence, so make sure to keep an eye on Your Holiness if you go that route…
On the left side, Revoke the Acerbo Law leads to a conservative democracy, led by either the Christian Democrats, or the king himself.
Just a bit of context, Democrazia Cristiana was a moderate political party founded in 1943, which played a significant role in the resistance against fascism and especially during the post-war period. Even though these guys were anti-fascists, they constantly opposed left-wing parties and groups during the Liberation War and they were not necessarily republicans (in fact, they tried to avoid having a clear position about the monarchy).
After choosing your democratic leader you can Expand Intelligence Services for some extra operatives and Cooperate with Moderates to unlock some extra democratic characters.
Below we have another late-game sub-branch, similar to the Greater Italy one presented a couple of weeks ago in the Historical Italy Dev Diary. However, this time the theme is… Slightly different, old-fashioned and, truth be told, memey. We’re of course talking about the Mare Nostrum and Roman Empire branch, which will be available for all Fascist and Non-Aligned leaders.
In this branch you will get some military and resistance bonuses to support the rightful Italian expansion (culminating with the Roman Empire formable nation), some designs and the possibility of getting puppet states in Iberia and expand your faction beyond finis terrae, encouraging South American nations to join your alliance.
As you can see, both Towards a Greater Italy and Mare Nostrum are available for Mussolini, Balbo, Grandi and the Monarchist branches.
And I would like to take this opportunity to show not only Umberto’s portrait but also some of the other fascist and common generals that now have new portraits!
Before we leave behind these branches, I’d like to show you guys a couple more things that have been implemented very recently thanks to the help of our freelance CD who is doing an exceptional work in fleshing out some of the decision categories and adding so much flavor to content related to formables and releasables, big kudos to him!!
Africa Orientale Italiana is now a releasable colonial tag that you can establish after completing the focuses Ministry of Italian Africa and The New Emperor of Ethiopia. Unlike collaboration governments, it will NOT have cores in any state, however, it will come with a unique national spirit, political advisor and country leader providing bonuses towards resistance and compliance in its territory, so that the AI can manage without babysitting it. However, if they still struggle due to a big war effort or other reasons, Mother Italy will also have the option to feed its puppet with more Manpower and equipment with which to garrison the states.
The Balkan Diplomacy category has also been expanded with many new flavorful decisions, here you can see some of them.
Greater Italy (the branch starting with the focus Towards Greater Italy) is now a cosmetic tag and succeeding in fulfilling all the Italian irredentist desires will come with a nice reward!
And now let’s move on to the Anti-Fascist Republican branches!
Historically, the origin of the Italian Republic can be identified in the Italian Resistenza against Fascism, which was characterized by the joint commitment of multiple political groups, sometimes with opposing ideologies and agenda, there were communists, socialists, conservative christian democrats, liberals, republicans, monarchists, anarchists… All of them (or most of them at least) gathered in the Committee for National Liberation (CLN). These groups would later form part of the Constituent Assembly during the post-war period, and would write a Constitution based on the principles of democracy and anti-fascism.
Thousands of partisans from all these groups lost their lives fighting against fascism in Italy, both Italian fascists and German nazis, and multiple warcrimes were committed by the fascist forces in the territories that were kept under their control after the Armistice of Cassabile (8 September 1943).
In-game, these branches try to depict what could have happened in Italy if the anti-fascist movement would have gained strength earlier, during or shortly after the war in Ethiopia, toppling Mussolini’s regime through civil war and proclaiming the Italian Republic before World War II started.
So let’s see how they look in-game:
Just like we explained in the first Italy Dev Diary, when the game starts Italy is in the middle of the Second Italo-Ethiopian war, and the initial political focuses can only be auto-completed based on your performance in the war. Mussolini will issue orders demanding territorial gains in the North and South of Ethiopia and, if you fail the Duce, the focus The Abyssinian Fiasco will be autocompleted, unlocking immediate access to the Anti-Fascist initial branch. If you, on the other hand, succeed on those missions, you will get rewarded for it, but the focus Solid Progress will be autocompleted and in this case you won’t be able to access the Anti-Fascist branch until the war in Ethiopia is over.
The initial anti-fascist branch starts by preparing the opposition for the incoming confrontation against the fascists. Yes, there will be a civil war if you attempt to topple Mussolini’s regime.
Organize Strikes in the North will grant you control over the Northern states in the civil war, spawning some extra divisions there and sabotaging enemy factories once the conflict starts.
The Southern Farmlands works along the same lines but in the South, and instead of sabotaging enemy factories, the fascists will get some temporary attrition/supply penalties.
If you, however, get to complete Solid Progress and Triumph in Africa you cannot access any of the focuses above, so no extra divisions for you and no penalties for the fascists. The state split will probably be slightly different in this way too, to compensate for that.
Defy the Duce will trigger an event about the formation of the Committee for National Liberation, in which you can choose between a democratic or a communist committee, and the civil war (or the Liberation War) will start.
Appeal to the Bourgeoisie and Seize Old Equipment are meant to help with equipment, manpower and consumer goods during the civil war.
By completing The Italian Republic, the king will be kindly asked to… “retire”. You will lose the National Spirit but the focus provides some stability and political power to make up for it.
Once the civil war is over, you can choose whether to go for Communism or Democracy.
Both The Popular Front and Italian Socialism will start a Balance of Power between communists and social-democrats.
Let’s see the Communist branch first:
The leftmost branch starts with The Garibaldi Legion. The Garibaldi Battalion was a (mostly) Italian volunteer unit of the International Brigades fighting against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. It was named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, a very important Italian figure during the Italian Unification.
This focus represents the willingness of an Italian Communist government to get more involved in the Spanish conflict, increasing the numbers of volunteers and forming an actual legion to support the Spanish Republic. It will provide a National Spirit, active as long as the Spanish civil war is ongoing, improving the capacity of communist Italy to impact the outcome of the Spanish conflict.
Gruppi di Difesa della Donna will, among other things, grant a bit of Manpower and increase partisans activity in Italian states occupied by the enemy. It will also make the partisan Ada Gobetti a general.
A New Era for the Red Shirts will increase your militia capacity significantly because, if the fascists (and even monarchists) can have their Blackshirts, what is stopping the communists from having… Red Shirts!?
So, a little bit of context. This name is also related to Giuseppe Garibaldi. It is believed that during the civil war in Uruguay, in which he and the Italian legion participated in support of the Colorado party, they were given red shirts for slaughterhouse workers. Later on, these hardened Red Shirts would prove key to winning several battles during the Italian Unification against the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and the Papal States.
They might not have the best camouflage ever, but I honestly think that the 3D model looks very cool!
A Leader Steps Forward will allow you to choose your communist leader (remember, the committee for national liberation is still in charge). Here you have two default options, Palmiro Togliatti (Communist Party) or Sandro Pertini (Socialist Party). However, there is a third leader that might be available.
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian Marxist philosopher and politician, founder of the Communist Party of Italy and very critical of Mussolini and fascism. He was of course imprisoned during the Fascist regime, in 1926, and he remained deprived of his liberty until he died in early 1937. After several years of imprisonment his health critically deteriorated and in 1933 he was moved from the prison to a clinic, but still didn’t receive adequate medical attention.
The focus Liberate Antonio Gramsci represents the international campaign to demand Gramsci’s release from prison leading to taking action to liberate him and save his life. If you complete this focus in time (before 1937) he will also be a (fairly good) leader option, even though he might need some time to be fully operational!
Industrial Socialization and the focuses below are meant to help rebuild the deteriorated national industry after the civil war, and to the right there are some focuses shared with the Democratic branch, mostly focused on internal stuff such as locking/unlocking characters from other branches, appeasing the military or dealing with the Mafia and the Carabinieri.
The final part of the Communist branch gives you the option to side with the Soviet Union or opt for an independent path, potentially antagonizing the Soviets.
Before saying goodbye to our communist friends, allow me to show you some of the new partisan generals because I think they look really good!
Let’s move on to the Democratic branch!
Similar to the Communist branch, the upper half of the Democratic branch has the shared focuses to deal with internal affairs, some industrial focuses to restore the industrial capability of the country and a focus to aid the Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War.
The Republic’s Leadership will, just like it’s communist counterpart, trigger an event in which you can choose the party and political leader to lead Italy towards the path of socialism and democracy.
This time, you can choose between Ferruccio Parri (Popular Party) and Ivanoe Bonomi (Labor Party).
Bring Exiled Scientists will unlock Enrico Fermi as a Nuclear Scientist and grant some research speed bonuses.
After achieving Social Stability you can access the late-game branch where you can choose between leading your own faction, aiming at becoming the keeper of peace and democracy in Europe, or you can reach out to other democratic faction leaders to join their alliance and kickstart some cooperation programs to withstand the inevitable fascist onslaught in Europe and to oppose the communist threat coming from the East.
Here you can see some of the democratic generals, even though most still lack portraits.
And the last branch to show is the Anti-Colonialism branch.
The Ethiopian Question is available once the Italian civil war is over, and will deal with the situation in Ethiopia in case you two are still at war, attempting to peace out with them or arranging some cooperation if they are going communist. If the war is already over, the focus will just be bypassed and you will be able to choose your new colonial policies for your former colonies and the newly-acquired Ethiopian states (assuming you didn’t lose the Ethiopian war, of course!).
Abolish the Colonies works similarly to the French focus French Union, in which colonial territories and puppet states managing the colonies will hold referendums to decide if they want to become integral parts of the new Italian state or if they prefer to go for independence. Certain factors such as high compliance and regional development will make the AI lean more towards being integrated.
After that, you can expand your resource industry in the integrated regions and Condemn Colonialism to get some early wargoals against other colonial powers in Africa.
To the right, New Colonial Policies and the focuses below aim at releasing your colonies as puppets, creating a confederation of states encouraging cooperation and development between its members, and allowing Italy to get the most out of its puppets.
Negotiations with Albania and Enlist the Bashkimi Kombëtar work similar to their fascist counter-parts, you will reach out to Albania to try to annex or puppet it, and then get some extra militias and militia cap.
The branch ends with some bonuses towards local troops and irregulars in the former colonies, and Liberate the Workers of Africa will provide wargoals against any country controlling states in Africa and following an ideology not matching yours (either communist or democratic).
And we are finally done with the Italian Focus Tree! But before saying goodbye let me show you a couple of things, starting with the remaining political advisors that were not shown in the previous Dev Diary, because there are A LOT, and they have really cool portraits! They’re roughly grouped by ideologies, even though some of them are available to more than one.
Here are some of the new operatives that have gotten portraits, each one unlocked via different focuses or ideologies.
Last but not least, a small tease of more 3D models on the works:
And that was all from me! I hope you guys enjoyed reading about the Italian alternative history introduced in By Blood Alone and make sure to stay tuned for the next dev diary in which we will go back to Switzerland to explore its exciting non-historical options!
In the meanwhile, here you have the full Italian Focus Tree, in all its glory! (Well, we did what we could)