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Hello comrades, and welcome back to another DevDiary for No Step Back. After Comrade @ManoDeZombi (as chairman of the People's Commitee for Focus Tree Production) introduced you to the historical and shared branches of the Soviet tree last week, today we will be talking about the Opposition against Stalin.

The opposition to Stalin during the 30’s was diverse and divided. Thus I guess it is fitting that the work on the various paths for the Soviet Union has been divided between several CDs unlike normally, when one tree is designed by one CD. Thus the creation of the CD Soviet.

I got the honor of writing this diary, so I shall do my best at covering all the options available for the alternative communist branches.

It is also my first dev diary, as I am relatively new to the Content Design team at HoI. Hope you like it!

Please note though that at the moment of writing this dev diary, a lot of things are still being worked upon, and copy edits to be done, so there will be changes before release.

Even before Lenin’s death, there was a bitter power struggle within the party. Lenin introduced a ban on factionalism, which Stalin later used to defeat his opponents. But before that happened, several sub groups had formed behind outspoken leaders. Initially the strongest ones were Kamenev and Zinovyev and their so called “New Opposition”. Their main opponent, back in the early 20’s, was Trotsky, leading what came to be known as the Left Opposition. On the other “side” of the spectrum was the Right Opposition, fronted by Bukharin. Of course, there were other groups as well - as the Workers’ opposition, and the Decemist faction, and nothing was stable for long as allegiances shifted.

Stalin, forming his own faction, aptly called the "center", and using his position as party secretary to his advantage, played the others against each other, gradually gaining total control of the communist party.

While all this was happening, the surviving leaders and generals of what had been the disunited white movement were plotting in Manchuria.

As communist you will have three main options. One is to stay with the center and keep Stalin as country leader. That option has already been covered, so let’s move on.

The second option you have is a move to the left.


As you can see from the tooltip, if you go down this path, you will end up in a civil war. There was simply no way Stalin would just hand over power to Trotsky or his allies. You have a few things you can do to make life easier for you once the war starts, and to prepare for what comes after.


You can send trusted advisors abroad, in order to keep them safe from Stalin. Relatively safe anyway, stay clear of ice picks.


You can tie closer bonds with Smirnov, and his Workers' opposition, who were always close to the left opposition anyway.


Additionally you can convince a few notable Military Officers to side with you. That will strengthen the ties with the military, making your side stronger in the upcoming civil war. Like e.g. Primakov (portrait is work in progress by the way, just wanted to show you one of the new guys):


Also, Stalin agitated a lot against what he called “wreckers” - organized workers doing planned sabotage - associated with the Trotskyists. Whether historically true or not, you can use that tactic against him and actually organize wrecker squads.


As can be seen from the screenshot above, you can point your finger at the Right opposition, in the hope that Stalin’s paranoia will hit them, rather than your people.

When you feel ready, you complete the “Ignite the Flames” to start the war - unless of course, Stalin’s paranoia has forced your hand already.

We’ll return to the Civil War in a sec, but first, let's take a peek at the other end of the alternative Communist Branch:

Bukharin's side of the Tree:


If you want to oppose Stalin, but don’t feel Trotsky is your guy, you can always go to Bukharin, and the Right Opposition. In order to confuse everyone, this time we have “the right” to the right of “the left”... But at least “the left” is to the right of “the center”, to keep some chaos… (There’s a reason for that though - which you can probably guess from the above, but more of that later).

Bukharin was one of Stalin’s first allies, and he used him to thwart Kamenev’s plans. Later he got brushed to the side and accused of plotting against Stalin. When the game starts he is out of favor, out of power, but not entirely out of options.

Just like the Left Opposition you can try your luck at removing Stalin by starting a civil war:


It should be noted though, that the Right opposition will have a much lower support within the military than the Left Opposition has - it is after all “Trotsky’s Red Army” - so if push comes to shove you might have to get some help from abroad.


For example, you can offer Vladivostok to the Japanese, making them more inclined to support you when the war starts.


Other options include e.g. trading future resource rights in return for Military factories.
If you are lucky, some nations might even send a general or two to help you.

The New Opposition and Common focuses
But before we delve deeper into the Civil War, let’s take a step - not back - but rather to the side. I mentioned there’s a reason the left and the right are together in the focus tree and that is of course because, as I said before, alliances shifted all the time, and if you want, you can actually join forces against Stalin. And ally with Zinovyev and Kamenev if you want to do that.


By choosing the “cooperative” option, you get access to more advisors and get a higher level of popular support, but you also get penalties due to the many differences of opinion in the party.



But of course, you don’t have to do this, if you’d rather work alone, you can always use the other side as scapegoats.

Another (very) important part in this part of the focus tree are the focuses intended to help you prepare for the actual war. You can start infiltrating the military, to gain control of a larger part of the Red Army/Navy/Airforce when the war starts, secure more generals and admirals to your cause, or simply divert Stalin’s attention to the military branch, making him target them instead of your political leaders, weakening his own forces before the actual show of force.


Similarly you can infiltrate the NKVD. This can be extra useful if you are planning on having the Right Opposition replace Stalin. More on that soon.

The Civil War Mechanics
Ok, so let’s return to the actual Civil War mechanics:
In general, the mechanics are very similar to the Spanish Civil War mechanics, although slightly simplified as the sheer number of Soviet states would make it overwhelming.
The first thing you have to do is decide from where you want to start the uprising. Depending on which branch you have selected you will be presented with slightly different options. This is roughly what it will look like for the Left Opposition. (again bear in mind the rather rough appearance of the Decision text etc - it is a work in progress image after all).


Once you have established a base, which will then be your base during the civil war, you can start infiltrating neighboring states - as long as Stalin hasn’t made a crackdown there first. In general it is a good idea to keep the supply situation in mind when planning your civil war. Only controlling states with a poor supply situation will make your attack on the capital much harder.


When the war finally starts, the states you have infiltrated will be the ones you control, so doing some thinking ahead can be recommended. Note that you cannot infiltrate central Russian states, nor Leningrad. Stalin and his cronies have too tight a grip on those for them to be taken.

The Military support focus unlocks a number of decisions that can be taken:


These will ensure that you get more officers and/or a larger portion of the armed forces when the war starts. However, as with almost anything the opposition does this also affects Stalin's paranoia. The more people you try to sway to your cause, the likelier he is to randomly swing at his opponents, real or believed.

You can also, as mentioned before, interact with other countries. Either by offering various concessions or by just doing a fundraising campaign (Left Opposition).

So far so good. However, Stalin won’t sit idly by while you are preparing to remove him. First of all, as soon as he gets wind of the plot, he will make crackdowns in various states, blocking them from being taken over by the opposition, as can be seen in the next picture, where Mykolaiv is secured by Stalin.


Additionally, he will use whatever means at his disposal to ensure the loyalty of Generals and admirals. So if you dally too long, you might lose a few key ones - having to fight them rather than having them on your side.


But perhaps most importantly, Stalin will continue with his own focus tree. And, as those of you who read last week's diary remember: that has effects on the opposition…



So the longer you wait with kicking off the war, the more people Stalin will have had time to purge. So it’s basically a balancing act. Some purges can be avoided, but it will cost you, and the paranoia will continue to increase. And if it increases too high, there is a risk that Stalin will actually start the war, rather than you. This is not only bad because you don’t get to choose the time, it is also bad as you won’t get the bonuses that the focuses that kick off the war gives.

And sooner or later you have to start that war:


With for example this guy in charge…


Killing Stalin
“And sooner or later you have to start that war” - to be totally honest; that is not entirely true. If you go down the Right Opposition path, you can actually try to remove Stalin in a different way. If you manage to convert the current NKVD chief to your cause, you can attempt to assassinate Stalin instead, and then stage a coup claiming power in the chaos that reigns after that.

You have to do this before Stalin’s ally (and basically 2nd in command) Beriya becomes head of the NKVD, however, or else it will be too late. If you succeed, you will have a window of opportunity in which you can move to replace Stalin's temporary successor with the man of your choice. Thus basically replaying the historical events of 1953, only some 15 or so years earlier. But beware, if the attempt fails, Stalin's paranoia will increase greatly (rightly so this time, I guess) - and that might lead to him launching a full scale war against you, so you’d better prepare for that eventuality...

Infiltrating the rank and file of the NKVD in addition to getting their chief on your side certainly increases the odds as well.


After the Civil War
So you fight the civil war, defeat Stalin. Then what?
Well, if you do it as one of the two communist branches, you can still do basically everything that Stalin could - apart from those focuses locked behind the The Centre focus. Not all, but most of the industrial and military focuses are still valid - as are most of the foreign policy ones.

But going through all this must surely lead to something else as well, right?

And yes it does.

For the Left opposition the “bottom half” (more really) of the tree looks like this:


You have the “Permanent Revolution” sub branch that helps you spread world revolution:



If you have Trotsky as your leader, he also gets an upgraded trait when you go down this route.

You can make final call on how to deal with any remaining opposition groups as well (goes for both left and right opposition)


If you go for the Builder of the Red Army focus ( only available with Trotsky at the helm) you can also have Trotsky assuming command of your field forces.


Aside from restarting world revolution you will have the decision on how to proceed with what was once the Soviet Union. How far will you decentralize? Either you can go for a fully decentralized state, including giving greater autonomy to the republics, in effect releasing them as puppets and then helping them get stronger:


Or you work towards giving the Supreme Soviet increased power, basically removing the need for a figurehead leader



If you are going down the Right opposition path, you will have a similar amount of things to do after the take over, but with a slightly different mix:


The “Back to the NEP” sub branch contains various focuses for revamping the Soviet economy, with the goal of turning the country into an economic powerhouse.


You can also upgrade Tomsky’s traits, again improving your ability to compete with the USA for example.


You can also get puppet wargoals and bonuses against non-communist neighbors through the “Enemies of the people” focus.

Like the Left Opposition you can go down the “Supreme Soviet” path, but you can also choose to keep your current leader and instead go for the “For the Common Good” sub path.


This further strengthens your country, and also your allies. Ending with the Socialist Humanism focus:


And here's a summary of the new leaders you can get through these parts of the Focus tree:







That was all from me for now. I hope you liked this little peek into what’s going on with the not so Stalinist Soviet things!

And hopefully I can come back with more details at some later stage.

Oh, I almost forgot, the entire Communist Focus Tree:


Well, ok some extras just for the fun of it:


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Can't wait to paint the world red with Comrade Trotsky! :D

EDIT: the civil war mechanics sounds really interesting! I have problems however in visualizing some images!

EDIT II: The "Path of Marxism Leninism" focus is mutually exclusive with something else (I see the double green arrow above the "Send support for Spain" focus). Is this just a WIP or is something else that you guys want to show us @Wrongwraith ?

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well nothing too bad today, we'll see when more than just the communist tree is revealed... I like the variety of leaders, and bringing back Bukharin seems fun, if it doesn't result in the USSR just being nerfed because it has to play catch-up with slower industrialization. Maybe a fun challenge path
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What happens if Trotsky is assassinated in Mexico, or is invited to the government (which in the end becomes president of Mexico), will he have the same traits?
Or perhaps the logic of HOI4 will allow two Trotskis at the same time o_O
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I am pleasantly shocked by the amount of Opposition Leaders you gave us, and you even implemented paths that synergise better with specific leaders, amazing!
I am noticing a nice trade of efficiency and risk, comparable to the Bulgarian focus tree in depth. This will be so fun to play with!

Only concern I have is that with how unpredictable the civil war will be, it's likely that the Union will be too weak to defend against the Nazis, especially if the player opts to be a Trot. I wonder how this will be balanced?
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