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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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DystopianAlphaOmega

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A Tragedy in Ten PAARts AmatAAR Italian MP AAR

Table of Contents:



Hello all. Long-time fan/player and fan of Paradox games here. I have been having a great time with HOI IV so far. Other Paradox games require dedicated groups or friends/family to play MP, but improvements to and the length of HOI IV means that you can have a lot of fun in multiplayer pickup games. While some of these games do not get very far, some turn out to be very fun. This is the story of one such game which I had last week, playing as the fledgling Kingdom of Italy. It will be divided into 10 parts of varying length.

Disclaimer: I mainly play for fun and am very far from being a very good player. I no doubt made many mistakes as did other players. I hope that this AAR will be taken in the friendly/good-spirited nature which it is intended and that I won't be eaten up too badly by the forums here. Please remember that most of my comments will be from a combination of what I remember from playing and what I have gleaned from the periodic saves which I made (where most of the pictures will come from). This means that areas which I remember less or did not take saves of will be less well documented. It also means there will be few pictures from early on as I took less saves during this time (my apologies).

Please note that my account is liable to be blatant propaganda very subjective. If, by chance, anyone in the game sees this please chime in, I would love to hear about what happened from another perspective.

Also, to any readers who stumble into this thread, please provide feedback. I am always looking for ways to improve (although I can't guarantee I will always agree and follow it, I value it anyways ;)).

With that out of the way, and without further ado, I present to you:


Part I: Prologue: The Trains Run on Time

Italy in 1936 was a nation with a chip on its shoulder. It was a Great Power, but only barely so. It lacked many resources and was poorly industrialized. It had colonies, but Italy had been late to the Scramble for Africa, so they were poor. It had picked the winning side in World War I, but had come out of it with a "mutilated victory." Italy made some gains, but got much less than what it had been promised.

Revanchism stirred and under the charismatic leadership of Benito Mussolini, a new fascist movement grew. When Mussolini marched on Rome in 1922 at the front of his paramilitary "Blackshirts," King Victor Emmanuel III, instead of calling inn the army, appointed Mussolini Prime Minister. Soon Mussolini would effectively become dictator, known merely as Il Duce - "The Leader." He pledged to make Italy great once more. Italy was often mocked for its military inadequacy and inefficiency. Mussolini vowed to create a disciplined, martial country where the trains would run on time. He promised to build a new Roman Empire.

For the fascist symbol, Mussolini chose the fasces, or bundle of sticks. Once used by Roman officials, it represented the strength of unity. A single stick could be easily snapped, but a bundle of sticks would hold firm.

In 1936 Mussolini stood as Italy's undisputed ruler, ready to strike out into the world...

Rules
This MP game had few rules (and some were broken), but basically no coups or unwanted boosting, no space marines, historical factions (didn't quite turn out this way), no wars for minors until 1937 and for majors until 1938 other than through focuses.


Players: Portugal, Romania, SU, Germany, France, UK, Japan, France, USA

All majors were played. I believe there was another minor, but that they dropped out early. Portugal went Axis and Yugoslavia Comintern. Romania was also pro-Axis.



Build Plan

Italy is a fun major to play. Big enough to make a difference, but small enough to be focused and manageable. Since I expected war to break out early, I initially planned on abandoning Africa and focusing on defending Italy, largely with infantry and mountaineers. I set my doctrine to Superior Firepower and moved to quickly finish the war in Ethiopia (always fearful of potential Soviet assistance to the African nation). Emperor Haile Selassie's government was quickly toppled and a friendly regime installed.


Communist Expansion

In the late 1930's, Mussolini and other European leaders became greatly alarmed by communist expansion. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia, long a mishmash of ethnicities collapsed in on itself. Josip Broz Tito was able to fill the vacuum, by pitting forward a vision of universal communist brotherhood which would transcend old ethnic and religious tensions.

Italians looked on with horror as their neighbour, whom they had long had a frosty relationship with due to border disputes, fell to the evil, loathsome, godless communist oppressors. Going back to the days of Venice, large Italian communities had lived on the Adriatic Coast. They had long been the target of Italian Irredentism and many had clamoured for their inclusion into the kingdom since the unification of Italy. Now even many Croatians called out for Italian aid. Worse still, the new Communist state quickly pledged its loyalty to Joseph Stalin and the Comintern.

Mussolini sent submarines to patrol the Mediterranean, the Regia Marina to patrol the Adriatic, and moved troops to the eastern border. He forged closer ties with Germany and reasserted Italy's claims on Yugoslavia. He also moved to fortify his other borders.

hoi4_10.png


hoi4_12.png


Communist nations began to look outwards in their insidious plots to spread their vile ideology through revolution.

Mussolini vowed to fight back.


The Reign in Spain

While Italians looked east, the next communist move in the Mediterranean would strike to the west, in Spain. The increasingly unstable Spanish Republic was collapsing into anarchy. Anarchists, syndicalist radical socialists, and communists moved in to fill the void, no doubt under orders from Moscow.

In the midst of the chaos, the patriot General Francisco Franco managed to rally a counter-revolutionary alliance to save the nation. He brought together an alliance of the Catholic Church, the military, monarchists, industry, and Falangists (quasi-fascists). Mussolini sent crack Italian Alpine troops to aid Franco's forces. They feared meeting Soviet forces, but strangely, only ran into Spaniards.

Italian troops played key parts in the liberations of Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid and soon the Republican forces were on the ropes. Soon after the defeat of the Spanish Republic, Franco declared a new "Spanish State" with himself as regent (the new country technically being a kingdom as a concession to monarchists, despite the royal family still being in exile). It was clearly based partly on the model of Mussolini's Italy.

Little did Mussolini know, this was only a brief hope spot in the many tragedies that would soon engulf Europe.

Well that's all for this chapter folks. Hope you all enjoyed reading as I did playing.

Next Time on Tragedy:
Part II: The Tragedy of Romania

hoi4_3.png





Red Stars over Yugoslavia
King Carol’s Plan
A guarantee that was allowed but failed a guarantee that was disallowed but succeeded
"Protecting" Albania
The May-December Romance
Saving Private Greece
Romania joins the spirit world (Or why to beware communists bearing strings)
The Red Menace


Edited: A few minor fixes and added Table of Contents
Further Edit: moved table of contents and title to top
 
Last edited:

TK-XD-M8

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>on forum for seven years
>seven messages
>one per year
>Part II will be in a year
 

DystopianAlphaOmega

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Echoes from the chorus:

>on forum for seven years
>seven messages
>one per year
>Part II will be in a year

Thanks for being the first response! :) Reminds me of an HOI 3 1944 Slovakia AAR (Inevitable Defeat - Slovakia '44) I once read where the writing actually went slower than gameplay. A great read by the way. I looked it up after your post, and apparently the author is still updating, so kudos to @El Pip, the true Lord of Slower-than-real-time. Hopefully it will not take me that long to finish this AAR though (especially since my poor attempts at humour are much less likely to hold an audience that long). I have seen many first time aar's fail, so I tried to plan my first aar out. I have already planned out the story into 10 chapters with a rough outline.

And without further ado, let's get back to Tagedy:
Part II: The Tragedy of Romania

Red Stars over Yugoslavia

When we last left our intrepid hero Mussolini, there was growing concern in Italy about the rise of communism in Yugoslavia. Italian-Yugoslav relations had been poor since the end of World War I, when the two erstwhile allies found themselves at odds over competing claims in the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire.


The sudden fall of Yugoslavia to communism only worsened this situation. Mussolini, an ardent anti-communist, knew that coexistence would soon no longer be possible with Italy’s Adriatic neighbour. Already, Croatians and Slovenes, neither known for their friendship to Italy, were calling out for the aid of their Catholic brethren in Italy, as the new Yugoslav state attempted to replace its ethnic and religious diversity with a uniform nation of proletariat revolutionaries.

The Yugoslavs had already sold their souls to the Soviet menace, and even the proud leadership of Italy knew that their country would be in dire straits should the Red Army manage to reinforce Yugoslavia.


While Mussolini tried to reassure the Italian people with the might of their Alpine frontier, a new genre of “invasion literature” spawned in Italy. From newspaper serials to novels, tales of Yugoslavians, or suspiciously similar substitutes, such as aliens, invading Italy flooded the scene of Italian literature. Thankfully, most of these scenarios were highly unrealistic, such as Yugoslavians building a tunnel under the Adriatic or raining from the sky, dropped by Soviet planes. Italian cartoonists had a field day portraying Soviet airmen pushing their hapless Yugoslav allies out the hatches of planes thousands of feet above the surface.

hoi4_10.png


Italy’s alliance with Germany seemed to provide some security. Italy dropped its previous objections to a union, or “Anschluss” between Germany and Austria, which occurred shortly after. Germany now shared a border with the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia and, Italy hoped, a vested Interest in protecting the region from communist aggression.

Meanwhile, the Balkans, the old powder keg of Europe looked set to ignite once more. Yugoslavia’s fall to communism had upset the always fragile balance in the region, as its neighbours looked warily at the possibility of being assaulted by both the Yugoslav People’s Militia and the Red Army.


Unfortunately for Italy, it seemed that Germany saw the true threat as coming from the West rather than the East. They signed non-aggression pacts with Yugoslavia and the USSR, rumoured to include secret plans to divide up spheres of influence on Eastern Europe.

Italy looked on warily as the Germans proposed a toast to their new Bolshevik friends. Italy had to be satisfied by vague German promises of the truce being only temporary.


King Carol’s Plan

While Italy was nervously eying its one communist neighbour, Romania was left in the unenviable position of facing two. King Carol II led the country, but seemed surprisingly unconcerned with the dire position his nation was in. Carol’s plan was simple. He would build the best army in Europe. It would be filled with legions of elite mountaineers trained in the Carpathian Mountains and supported by mighty batteries of artillery. With this army, not only would defence of Greater Romania be secured, but he could even look outwards at the possibility of conquering the upstart and revanchist Bulgaria to the south, finally securing Romania’s place in the sun.

hoi4_20.png

The MIghty Romanian Munte Division, well equipped, but hopelessly outnumbered. Italian templates posted below for comparison.

hoi4_14.png hoi4_15.png hoi4_16.png


There was unfortunately a problem with this plan. King Carol was a notorious spendthrift. He would throw lavish parties, tour around high society in Europe, and indulge his mistresses in decadent extravagances. Much to the dismay of Carol II, all of this cost money, and his divine right to the kingship only gave him so much in taxes. Conquering Bulgaria offered the promise of greater taxes, but surely the kingdom would not notice if minor military resources were diverted to his personal coffers.


As a result, while Romania in 1938 did indeed have some of the best units in the world, its army was woefully small. From a high of over 30 divisions in 1936, Romania’s army had fallen to a measly 7 divisions, all deployed at the southern border. Thankfully, this could be concealed from allies and enemies of Romania alike, as surely once Romania at last possessed Bulgaria there would be enough money for a full-sized army and the king’s luxury.

hoi4_19.png


The Red Menace

Unfortunately for admirers of extravagance everywhere, the world would never know how King Carol might have plundered the wealth of his southern neighbour.


It did not take long for Josip Tito to look to his neighbours to expand his concept of a universal brotherhood of workers into neighbouring countries. His north and west were blocked by the Axis powers, but his southern neighbour, Greece, seemed vulnerable. Yugoslavian propaganda began targeting Greece, calling for the liberation of their peasants and labourers into a the Yugoslavian Republic. Few in Yugoslavia dared mention how Tito’s grip on power was more tenuous than it appeared, especially given his reliance on his Soviet allies.


By the time Greek saber rattling grew loud enough for Italy to notice, it was nearly too late. Italy begged and threatened Yugoslavia to no avail. As it turned out, Italy’s imperialistic ambitions around the Mediterranean had weakened its credibility, and attempts to formally guarantee the independence of Greece were merely laughed off. At last, Mussolini, realizing he had little choice, began preparing Italy for war against Yugoslavia.


In response to escalating Yugoslav rhetoric Ioannis Metaxas, the dictator of Greece declared that he would never surrender his country to the communist hordes of Tito. When Yugoslavia issued an ultimatum demanding Greece to legalize the Greek Communist Party, invite them to join government, and allow Yugoslavian political organizers and commissars into the country to “protect and organize the proletariat,” Metaxas merely replied with the French: “Alors, c'est la guerre” – “Then it’s war.”

hoi4_18.png

Italian troops bogged down in Greece finally achieved a minor breakthrough, but still faced a tough slog through layers of defensive lines through difficult terrain (note AI Greece doing surprisingly well)

hoi4_17.png

Meanwhile, Yugoslavia's other borders were left largely open as Italy continued its rearmament program, raising hopes for a quick, decisive victory


Mussolini would not stand to see Greece, the cradle of western civilization and birthplace of classical antiquity to fall to the communist barbarians. Yugoslav troops found themselves increasingly bogged down in the mountains of northern Greece. More and more troops had to be pulled from the Italian border to support the increasingly pyrrhic quagmire of a campaign. Italy meanwhile deployed whatever troops it could spare to the Yugoslav border, both in the Italian enclaves in Dalmatia, and to the main border near Aquileia.


Protecting Albania

Italian states had long had an interest in Albania. Lying across the Straits of Taranto from Italian Apulia, control over both would effectively seal off the Adriatic. King Zog I was the ruler of Albania. He had risen from a minor nobleman to Prime Minister, President, and then King of Albania. Not one to be trifled with, he had once actually shot back at a would-be assassin.

Zog had always been wary of Italian influence, but was also no fool. He realized the threat posed by Yugoslavia, especially as their frontline expanded southward to occupy most of his border.

After high level negotiations, an agreement was reached between Italy and Albania to unite against the common threat. Following the defeat of Ethiopia, Victor Emmanuel III had claimed the title of “Emperor of Ethiopia.” The imperial dignity placed him, at least nominally, at a higher level than Zog. It was agreed that the Kingdom of Albania would pledge suzerainty to Italy, becoming a highly-autonomous province of the Italian Empire. Zog would retain his title of King of the Albanians while gaining the further stature of Lord Viceroy and Marshall.


With Albanian territory now open to Italian bases, and its offensive into Greece stalled, while occupying most of its army, Yugoslavia’s position looked grim. Events outside the region would soon dramatically alter this situation.

hoi4_11.png


Blood and Iron

“All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means”

While Italy had been focused in the Balkans, Germany had continued its expansion. This ultimately led it into war with France and the British Commonwealth, who viewed Germany’s rise with alarm while largely ignoring communist aggression. War was sparked when Poland was invaded. Franco-British guarantees of Poland's territorial integrity and Germany's refusal to withdraw from ethnically German territory made conflict inevitable between the Western Allies and Germany. Germany was forced to put its split its armies to fight this two-front war while France pushed into the Rhineland.

After defeating Poland, Germany had to rapidly redeploy west to counter this push. They managed to force Franco-British forces back to the Maginot line, which they proceeded to attack, to little avail, largely ignoring advice from Italy to attempt and “go around” as “exactly what they must be expecting”.

As this conflict brewed, Germany could not get involved in the Balkans without risking the Soviets attacking from the rear. However, it recommended that Italy could, at least publicly break from the Axis to coerce, and, if necessary, quickly bring an end to, Yugoslavian dreams for empire.

hoi4_3.png

Note the chat. The United States had decided to secure the world's oil supply by invading liberating the Venezuelan people. An action that horrified peace-loving nations like Italy. Unfortunately, Italy was too preoccupied to do more than issue a diplomatic objection to this revival of the "big stick" policy. Also seen is some of Mussolini's top level advice to his German ally.


Meanwhile politics in the Balkans began to boil over. The Soviet Union justified war on Romania while Romania continued to prepare to attack Bulgaria. Both misadventures were ended by apparent German arbitration, while the Soviet Union turned its revanchist efforts towards Finland, which would be invaded and quickly defeated.

Once Germany became embroiled in war with the west however, Germany could no longer provide much security, and renewed calls for the Red Army to liberate Romanians from their decadent king grew louder once more. Italy guaranteed the independence of Romania, refusing to allow another nation to be forced to fight the Bolsheviks alone. The nations of Europe had to stand together against the red tide, or be swallowed by it one by one. He hoped that the prospect of Yugoslavia facing a war on 4 fronts (Italy proper, Dalmatia/Albania, Romania, Greece) as well as possible German intervention would be enough to deter a Soviet attack. Mussolini was wrong.


Romania joins the spirit world (Or beware of communists bearing puppet strings)


Just two weeks before Italy was set to invade Yugoslavia to rescue Greece, the Soviet Union declared war on Romania. Italy quickly honoured its guarantee and called to for both to join the Axis and, united, engage in the ultimate struggle against the Bolshevik scum. On both accounts, Germany refused. Since Yugoslavia was not yet at war, Italian hopes of breaking through Yugoslavia to their new allies could not come to fruition. King Carol, in his hubris had believed his elite divisions could take on any foe, but when the Red hordes came streaming across his border, even he realized that he stood no chance. His forces fought bravely, but were quickly overwhelmed and surrounded. They also had little capability to deal with Soviet tanks. In only a few days, Romania capitulated.


King Carol had hoped that he might be able to retain power as a symbol of unity, even if it meant appointing a communist government (note: this game was pre Death or Dishonour, so this is just flavour, although the Romanian player did express interest in switching sides and becoming a turncoat puppet.) As it turned out, the Soviets had little use for a relic of feudalism in their new “socialism in one nation” policy, and so the kingdom of Romania was formally annexed into the Soviet Union as three separate SSRs (Transylvanian, Bessarabian-Moldovan, and Romania proper).


King Carol himself was actually hastily evacuated out of Constanta aboard an Italian submarine, which took him and his entourage to the battleship Andrea Doria. From here he was ferried to safety. Fortunately, the king had made many friends among Europe’s high society in his philandering years. Unfortunately, most nations of Europe were now trying to curry favour with the Soviets to not attack them (Germany) or to strike at their enemies (Western Allies), as such, King Carol ended up being hosted by Italy. He rejected Italian offers to move to Greece or Bulgaria to help rally resistance in those countries and instead stuck around to proclaim how Italy was now surely doomed, as Germany again refused to allow Italy to return to the Axis, although did eventually provide some artillery in lend-lease. (note, Romania stayed on as an observer the rest of the game, remaining in the “spirit world”) As the over a hundred crack Soviet Red Army divisions lined up on the Italian border, all Italian units were immediately recalled to mainland Italy, including Zog and his Albanian contingents (the King vowing that he would return). Lines of fortifications and trenches were hastily established. These were dark times for Italy. The tragedy of Romania cast a dark shadow over Italy. As Italy waited with baited breath for Yugoslavia to join the war and enable the red hordes to advance, little could Italy have known that the tale of its own tragedy had only just begun…


Next Time, on Tragedy:
Part III: The Tragedy of the Balkans

hoi4_4.png



Retreat to the Alps

Saving Private Greece

Soviet advance

Backseat commentary: Romania

Regia Aeronautica

Permanent Revolution

Glorious mother faction (Novus Romanum Imperium: Balkan Alliance for Peace)

The Great Hungarian Escape

Well, that's all for now, hope that people enjoyed. Please feel free to share any comments or questions anyone might have. See you next time on Tragedy.

Edit: minor fixes and corrected the amount of Romanian divisions to the accurate (and amazingly, also smaller) number
Further Edit: More fixes and clarifications
 
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Echoes from the Chorus

Can't wait for the next one!

Thank-you very much! I am glad you are enjoying and it means a lot that you commented. Hopefully this chapter lives up to your expectations



Part III: The Tragedy of the Balkans

“O cursèd spite, That ever I was born to set it right!” - Hamlet

Retreat to the Alps

In just 2 weeks the strategic situation had shifted immensely. Italy was now alone and without friends, facing the largest army in the world. King Carol was quick to point out that in such a situation, Italy was hopelessly doomed. Mussolini responded grimly that Italy wasn’t done yet. After all, the Alps were such a cold and dangerous place this time of year.



It did not take long for Yugoslavia to join his master’s war on Italy. In fact, it was unlikely that diplomatic technicalities could have held back the ravenous red hordes regardless. Fresh off their victory over the Romanian army, they were eager to continue their drive into the lands of the fascist pigs. However, Italy was no Romania. It had been preparing for war for years. All available troops had been deployed to the Udine-Trieste-Friuli Border. While individual Italian units were not as strong as the feared Romanian Muntes, each was still individually a match for any non-armoured Soviet division.

Over a hundred Soviet divisions bore down on Italian forces and, surprisingly, the line held. Hastily built Italian fortifications slowed down attackers, who were also encumbered by the hilly and mountainous terrain. The Yugoslav and Russian armies quickly overran the undefended territories of Italy in the Eastern Adriatic, but faced a hard slog to make any progress on mainland Italy.

Meanwhile, the Regia Aeronautica (Royal Air Force) patrolled the skies. They were able to inflict considerable losses on communist forces while greatly slowing down their advance with strafing, bombing supply depots, and harassing offensives. Efforts from the Red Air Force (most of Yugoslavia’s air force had defected during the revolution, leaving it a rump of its former might, which was not much to begin with) were quickly defeated. Divisions were shifted around to areas where Russia pushed.

However it was clear that the Soviet Union was, however slowly, pushing forward, regardless of their terrible losses. Italian propaganda claimed that one Italian, fighting for his king and country was as good as ten poor, conscripted and enslaved Russian peasants. Of course, this also meant that Russia has few qualms about throwing away the youth of their nation against the Italian barricades. Even King Carol was impressed by Italian resistance, stating that Italy was actually holding, and just might make it through to hold out after all. Mussolini, lamenting stated that, while one Italian may be worth ten Russians, what would happen when they sent the eleventh?

Nonetheless, Mussolini stoically continued onwards. He convinced the Pope to declare that this great struggle was indeed a holy war and crusade, in which the godless forces of the red devil must be held by the forces of faith, drawing an analogy between David and Goliath. Mussolini himself declared privately to his cabinet and the king, if it is indeed our fate to lose, let it be only when each one of us is face down in the sand, choking on his own blood. Publicly, Mussolini drew comparisons to the mighty Roman Empire, greatest nation of the classical world holding for centuries against barbarian hordes from the east.

Rarely did he reference the ultimate result of these conflicts.


Glorious mother faction (Novus Romanum Imperium: Balkan Alliance for Peace)


Despite the prayers of many Italians, Mussolini included it seemed clear that Germany would not be able to intervene in their favour anytime soon and indeed, refused them re-entry into their alliance. Mussolini began looking to build a new alliance. While Germany might have been able to ignore the Soviet threat, the remaining nations of the Balkans and Carpathians had no such luxury and increasingly recognized the threat from Soviet and Yugoslav forces. Should they manage to defeat Italy, these massive forces would no doubt be turned on them, leaving them a stark choice. They could join stick their heads in the sand until the inevitable came, or join together and die for something, buying Italy more time. Most importantly, this would provide hope that their countries might one day again be free and that none would die in vain. They were also spurred on by religious leaders to join in the holy struggle (The Catholic Church to support the Pope and oppressed Yugoslavian Catholics, and the Orthodox Church to save their oppressed brethren in Yugoslavia, Romania, and Russia), for the hottest places in hell are no doubt reserved for those who, in times of crisis, do nothing.

Spain, unfortunately, was still recovering from their own war with the communists and, with Franco’s cautious nature, did not join their former benefactors (note, despite being the only country to send equipment to Spain, I had not taken the “support Nationalist Spain focus, tucked away at the right side of my tree during the Civil War and thus was unable to go down the focuses there to persuade them to join my faction).

Thus, a mighty new alliance was created, the Novus Romanum Imperium, or the Balkan Alliance for Peace. Bulgaria, Italy, and Greece were the founding members of this alliance. To Italy’s surprise, Hungary, led by retired Admiral Miklos Horthy, soon also offered to join. Italy finally had allies. He opened up the first session of the alliance council with the bleak words: “God save us all.”

Some in France and Britain complained that such an alliance was a questionable application of “historic factions”, but Italy pointed out that so was Yugoslavia being part of Comintern, and besides, Germany had refused to let them back in the Axis. This was accepted as a fair point, with the allies even pointing out that they might have allowed Italy into their faction, all circumstances considered. Unfortunately, it was too late now, but this show of good will did enable Italy to pull its entire French border garrison to fight on the front lines. The dominions of Canada and Australia (both AI) even lend-leased some much-needed equipment, as Italian losses began to stack up. Increasingly, all Italian production was put towards rifles and artillery.

Italian woes were compounded by the loss of Venice, the canal city and mistress of the Adriatic. Its priceless treasures of art and sculpture had to be hastily evacuated before the advancing Soviet troops. Mussolini could only hope that the once great city would not be reduced to the swamp that it had been built on by its new occupiers.
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Soviet forces take Venice. Desperate Italian counterattacks proved unable to dislodge them. Attacks from both sides caused great damage to the city, but thankfully most of its treasures had been evacuated in advance further south. Unfortunately Venice's architecture and canals were not so mobile. Soviet forces were eventually able to break through North of Venice and secure their gains.

Saving Private Greece

The entry of the Soviet Union into the war had been catastrophic for Greece. Soviet forces did not stay long, and quickly moved on, but did open up a major push on Thessalonica and Athens. Meanwhile, these defeats and Italy’s new alliance finally convinced Greece that the two countries were indeed brothers in arms. Finally seeing that Italy had no ill intentions in supporting them and despite that Italy had been unable to guarantee them, Italian troops could now be deployed to this theater (this was considered possible since the main front had stalled). As such, five Italian divisions were deployed to Attica (the peninsula in Greece which Athens is located on). They were unable to push forward, but, with support of the Regia Marina, which now also patrolled the Aegean, were able to halt any further advance. This epic holding action stunned contemporaries. The only way to contextualize it was to remember the great victories against the Persians at Salamis, Plataea, and Marathon more two millennia earlier (which Greek and Italian propaganda quickly picked up on).

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Tensions with Yugoslavia had began over Greece. Mussolini refused to let them fall now.


Soviet advance

Meanwhile, though initially in disarray, the Soviet Union reorganized its forces to push into Bulgaria and Hungary. Despite wistful ambitions to push forward together, link up, and cut off the entire Red Army, the situation on the ground was much more desperate. Bulgaria was forced to capitulate, while Hungary was pushed back, although while fighting heroic delay and holding actions.


Permanent Revolution

Meanwhile, Soviet Command was becoming increasingly fearful and untrusting of Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin. His paranoia grew by the day. Some said he even contemplated massive purges of the army and government to root out any potential dissent. In peacetime, this might have been allowed by some, especially those who were ambitious enough to realize a superior’s demise is a subordinate’s opportunity for promotion. However, in such a time of war, all recognized that this could not be allowed to happen.

As such, Soviet forces guarding Moscow launched a palace coup to capture and overthrow Stalin. They recalled the exiled revolutionary Leon Trotsky as their figurehead. The majority of the forces on the front quickly pledged allegiance to the new regime, as their commanders had been co-conspirators. Trotsky pledged to continue his predecessor’s wars as part of the “permanent world revolution.”

Not all were content to witness this change in power. A variety of dissidents, from Stalin loyalists, to closet Tsarists challenged Trotsky’s takeover and began raising a rebellion in Southern Russia. Trotsky moved quickly to arrest and imprison such protestors however, preventing anything from coming of this. Mussolini’s intelligence had informed him of the apparent ticking time bomb that was the political situation in the Soviet Union. He had hoped the conspirators might consider joining forces with his alliance or, at the very least, delay and further distract Soviet forces. It was not to be, by the time news of the power change got out to the world, Trotsky had already firmly secured his position, perhaps having learnt some lessons from his previous struggle with Stalin. Mussolini could only hope that Soviet command and army had suffered somewhat from this debacle.

(Note: The Soviet Union had not done the purge, so the scripted uprising occurred but then, just as suddenly ended. Not entirely sure what happened, although possibly the Soviet player just deployed troops to all the victory points of the plotted rebellion before it even began (just my theory). It was rather a sudden great hope for Italy, which had forgotten the Soviets had not yet done the Great Purge, and then a subsequent disappointment, especially since I had hoped to at least invite the rebellious Russia into my faction. Alas, it happened too quickly and ‘twas not to be. Romania called this as min-maxing. My apologies that I didn't get a screenshot of the very brief Russian Civil War due to its length. Also, later looking at a save from just before it broke out indicated that the Soviets had no significant troops in the area, so if anyone has a better theory on how it ended so quickly please share)


The Great Hungarian Escape

Meanwhile, the situation was looking increasingly grim for Hungary. Admiral Horthy, recognizing the efficacy of Italian delay efforts agreed to integrate most of his army into the Italian military command structure. He also realized that Hungary, like Bulgaria, would itself would soon be lost, but that did not mean all Hungarians had to be. Italy had previously been given military access to Austria by Germany in case its forces were cut off in the Alps. It could now use this very access to enable Hungarian forces hastily arranged for passage of Hungarian forces through German Austria and over the Alps to join and assist Italy in the ultimate struggle. Riding a white horse and wielding the Sword of Attila the Hun (a legendary relic of the Hungarian Royal family which was to be evacuated along with the army and other Hungarian national treasures and regalia), he spurred his troops with the courage needed to continue. Hungarian soldiers, horsemen and trucks soon began filling the mountain roads of Austria and reinforcing Italian positions, helping to replace some of the Italian forces who had been cut off.

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The Hungarian Army withdraws through Austria as Soviet forces push hard on Budapest.

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The route of the Great Hungarian Escape as Italy struggles to keep its northern border with Austria open.

For his nearly unparalleled feat, Mussolini was quick to ensure that Horthy was made an honourary admiral of the Italian Navy and granted an Honourary PhD in heroism from the Mussolini Department of Leadership at the Sapienza University of Roma. This was done in a grand ceremony, after which Horthy made a mighty keynote address in formal Hungarian Regalia, talking of the horrors of what the communists had done to Hungary during their first attempt to seize power in 1919 and were again perpetuating now that they had returned. Horthy reminded the Hungarian people that they were beaten but not broken, and that as long as any man could fight, Hungary was not dead.


After the speech, Mussolini congratulated Horthy on the award. Horthy thanked him, but reminded Mussolini that the fight was far from over and that things remained grim. When Mussolini responded with a deep sigh, Horthy told him to keep a stiff upper lip. Horthy clutched the golden amulet that was part of his regalia and opened it. Inside was what looked like a cross on a sun dial. He told Mussolini that, while the sword of Attila was the most famous of Hungarian regalia, the amulet was the most valuable. It had allegedly been given to Attila by Pope Leo, who had met the conqueror to convince him to turn back from Rome. Horthy claimed that Leo had blessed it and promised that in his people’s darkest days, they would be saved by this artifact, which allegedly also contained a sacred relic of Saint George. Mussolini could only hope that this ancient blessing would still hold.

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Having pushed through successive alpine lines, Bolshevik forces seem set to sweep down the Po Valley.


The long Trek North: Ethiopia joins the fray


Meanwhile, the support of so many nationals, all fighting to defend Italy brought great joy to Italy. He would soon receive more allies, from the most unlikely of places. The viceroy left in charge of Italian Abyssinia had been doing a much better job than expected. He had gained the support of the Ethipian Coptic Church by promising to protect their rights and privileges. Thus, when the struggle with the communists began, the clergy called on the peasants, long their base of support to join in a new holy pilgrimage north to fight against the infidel servants of the devil, who sought to destroy all that was good and holy in the world. These new Ethiopian units were quickly shipped north to join in the defence of Italy.

Italy was now defended by a truly multinational brotherhood of nations. It may have been somewhat ironic, after all, the communists preached international brotherhood, yet oppressed all the peoples they conquered while fascist Italy had preached nationalism but were being voluntarily and vigorously defended by diverse peoples, many of whom had historic rivalries.

The tragedy gripping the world did not end at the Alps however...


Next Time on Tragedy:


Next time, the war turns grim for Italy, we turn to the other factions of the world in:

Part IV: The Tragedy of France

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Peninsular War

Gory Gory, what a helluva way to die

Reform the Line!

All Roads lead to Rome

The breakthrough and the end

Pork Chopped: Adventures in Sub-Saharan Africa

Oriental Mishaps

Well that's all for this update. I hope everyone had fun now that Italy has joined the fray. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them.

Edit: Picture added to preview
 

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Part IV The Tragedy of France


Echoes from the Chorus: Many ancient Greek plays only had between 1 and three actors. To help with story-telling (especially while actors changed costumes), many also contained a chorus (khoros), which would provide commentary, exposition/explanation, reaction, and possibly music to the production. The chorus of this tragedy is silent, no doubt holding their breaths in baited anticipation.


Peninsular War

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When we last left our intrepid heroes, things were looking grim for the New Roman Empire. Soviet forces had broken through defensive lines around Venice and were poised to sweep down the Po River Valley and the East Coast of Italy.

Italian, Ethiopian, Hungarian, and Albanian troops fought desperately to hold them off. Thankfully, the peninsular and hilly topography of Italy limited Soviet-Yugoslav ability to take full advantage of their numerical superiority. Nonetheless, Italian troops faced increasing difficulty facing down Russian tanks. These vicious machines had been greatly improved since the end of the First World War and now Russia was unleashing a terrible new age of armoured warfare into the world which Italy was simply not able to deal with. Only rivers, hills, and the dwindling Italian air force were able to provide effective resistance. Otherwise, slowly but surely, the Russian front advanced, one concentrated push at a time. Italian forces were forced to fall ever further back to successive layers of defensive lines.

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Stalin, while caring little about the lives of his men, was not content to win a slow and bloody victory of attrition. He wanted to finish the Italian nuisance so that he could marshal his army toward Germany and crush the fascist power between himself and France.

Gory Gory, what a helluva way to die

The Soviet Union and Italy had been among the earliest nations to experiment with paratroopers, units that could be dropped by airplanes behind enemy lines. While the Italian army had rejected such formations in any great number as impractical, Joseph Stalin had high hopes that they could provide him the breakthrough he needed and win him the war. The Italian air force still had control of the skies in the north, but scarcely operated further down in the peninsula. This provided Stalin the opportunity he was looking for. Operation Red Dawn had begun.

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While Italy's air force protected Alpine approaches, Italy's airspace was vulnerable further south, just the opportunity Stalin needed.

Thankfully, Italy had a reserve of units to deal with such incursions. Unfortunately, they were expecting a naval invasion and were deployed around the ports of the country. Italian units were quickly rushed to contain the Soviet assault, aided by the (now much more efficient) Italian train network. Meanwhile, Soviet forces were disorganized, and were unable to capture the main city near their drop site. They were surrounded while the fresh Italian garrison divisions encircled their position. A last-minute push by Soviet armour to relieve their comrades was heroically held off by the Italian army. Soviet paratroopers, the elite of Stalin’s new army were forced to surrender.


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Captured Soviet battle plans showing that Soviet paratroopers were originally intended for a support role. Stalin appeared to have overruled this in favour of a bolder approach, with the former paratrooper commander court marshalled sent to Siberia for treason and cowardice.


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Even with Italian victories over paratroopers, the main thrust of the Soviet army was still massive. Italy could only hope to delay such a steamroller.

Stalin, however was not one to back down easily. A month later, facing another stall in his offensives, he launched the remainder of his paratroopers in a very similar operation. While this move had caught many off-guard and in a panic, now Italy was ready. The previous defeat of Soviet paratroopers, a rare victory in such dark times broke their aura of mystique and invulnerability.

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Italian forces force the surrender of Soviet paratroopers as Soviet armour desperately tries to break through to save them


Italian peasants were quick to round up and turn in any paratroopers they could find. In one possibly embellished incident, an Italian mother, Maria Vidonta caught glimpse of a paratrooper hiding in the brush near her family’s home, while baking pizza for her family. The paratrooper was attempting to sleep nearly a day after jump and Maria, 45 years old, had spotted the red star on his helmet. Maria ran out to the bush, beat him on the head with her pizza roller, and dragged him to the nearby village’s constabulary. Italian propaganda would later embellish this story to have five paratroopers captured and beaten by this patriotic Italian mother. Across the region, the cry of “La morte ai paracadutisti!” (“death to paratroopers!”) was increasingly heard. Operation Red Rain had failed as spectacularly as Red Dawn had. Many generals were shot for this failure.


All Roads lead to Rome

Victories over paratroopers raised Italian morale, and prevented a route or surrounding of Italy’s army, but did not change the overall strategic calculous of the war. Soviet forces continued to push down the peninsula. Soviet forces continued to push further into the country.

Italy’s supply situation became increasingly precarious and desperate. First all production lines were refocused on artillery, rifles, and machine guns. Italy would have to make due with the tanks and planes it had produced before the conflict. As northern industrial areas fell to the Soviets, all production was redirected into infantry equipment. Patriotic Italian citizens donated old hunting rifles, steak knives, and even pitchforks to help equip the Italian army. Eventually the Soviets were able to push through in the north, all the way to the border with France. Several Hungarian and Italian troops held out heroically in mountain fortresses in the Alpines, but most of the army was able to retreat in good order. All Italian units were converted or integrated into infantry and mountaineer divisions. There simply were not enough supplies to sustain anything else. Mussolini began contemplating how Tripoli was this time of year…

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Italy's supply sand equipment situation deteriorated rapidly between 1938 and 1939, especially as the factories of the industrialized north were lost to the red menace.


Finally, Soviet forces were managing to maintain a sustained offensive, rather than the previous starting and stopping. Soviet forces pushed ever closer to the eternal city. A special mass held by the Pope, in which he called on all Romans to take up arms to defend their city and faith. Hearing of this, Stalin was reported to have scoffed, “the pope? How many divisions does he have?” Mussolini called on Italy to once more resist the barbarian invasion. It To many it seemed as though nothing short of a miracle or divine intervention could save Italy. Il Duce continued to hold out, knowing that time just might be on his side…

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As the war turned desperate, nearly all garrison units were put on the front line under the command of Field Marshall Rudolfo Graziani.



The breakthrough and the end: Fall of the Capital

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Even King Carol was impressed at the tenacity and effectiveness of Italian holding actions

While war raged down the Italian peninsula, Italy was not the only country in danger of losing its capital. The war between Germany and the Western Allies had been waging on for some time now. Suddenly, the stalemate was broken by Germany, with a mighty offensive through the low countries. Hitler had become frustrated with the lack of progress he faced in breaching the Marginot Line. With all other options exhausted, he finally decided he might as well try the old rambling plan of Mussolini. Hitler was shocked when the invasion actually succeeded. While not a massive, crushing blow, Germany’s armoured spearheads were able to make steady progress towards Paris. British troops eventually had to evacuate for fear of being cut off. As Italy desperately tried to hold on, Germany finally managed to take Paris. The French government collapsed (player quit) and a provisional collaborationist government was established under the leadership of WW1 Marshal Philippe Pétain.

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Germany could now turn its attention to its Eastern (and now southern) border. Italy just had to hold out for its hero a little longer…

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Meanwhile, the remainder of the Axis continued their own struggles, blissfully uninvolved in Europe…


Pork Chopped: Adventures in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Italy had been unsuccessful at convincing Portugal to join the New Roman Empire. Salazar, leader of Portugal, instead turned his eyes towards Africa and joined the Axis. He organized his army into small units, many of these were small but elite “Caçadores” units (translated as “hunters”). These units of sharpshooters guarded and protected the Portuguese Coast and provided the units he needed to deploy in Angola and Mozambique. When the war started, Portugal was surprisingly successful at pushing into South Africa while Britain and France were distracted. Unfortunately, Belgium joining the war and South African counterattacks proved disastrous to the Portuguese position. Angola and Mozambique were lost, but Portuguese units continued to hold on, especially around the captured Port Elizabeth. Italy lamented that Portugal had not taken his advice to focus on Europe, as additional troops were sorely needed in Italy, and moderately surprised that Salazar’s harebrained schemes were, at least for a while, actually working.

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Oriental Mishaps

Meanwhile, Japan’s long conquest of China continued. The Japanese army had steadily gained influence throughout the years leading up to the war and dictated Japan’s strategy. They proposed a great sweep west from Manchuria, to areas of northern and western China, where they hoped would be greeted with friendlier (or at least less opposed) minority populations. From here, they could sweep down into China and conquer the ancient civilization while the world focused on Europe. Unfortunately, Imperial Army planners underestimated the poor infrastructure and difficult terrain of these areas. The war would prove to be a long slog, which Japan would slowly advance in only through sheer force of will.

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Next Time on Tragedy:
Things finally start looking up for Italy while what goes around begins to come around for a certain Balkan nation in:

Part V: The Tragedy of Yugoslavia
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Shifting East

The Miracle

Encirclements

What goes around comes around

Liberation

Don't Cry for me, Yugoslavia

Well, that's all for this update. Please feel free to leave any feedback or questions you might have.

Edit: Added Pictures of Portugal's Exploits
 

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Part V: The Tragedy of Yugoslavia

Note Pictures of Portuguese exploits and misadventures added to Part IV


Echoes From the Chorus:

Nice, story mate on your gameplay

Thank-you very much! It is fun trying to write in events of the game and actions of other players into my narrative. Hopefully this story will continue to entertain.


Shifting East

When we last left our intrepid New Roman Empire, the Balkan Alliance for Peace was on the ropes. Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania (honourary member), and Albania had all fallen to the Red Menace while Italy and Greece fought desperately to defend their embattled homelands and threatened capitals. With the fall of France in a separate war, the mighty pendulum of fate finally seemed to be swinging in the opposite direction.

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Italian troops desperately defend the "Mussolini Line," the last major Italian defensive line before the capital itself

In Rome, there were high hopes that Germany might soon join the war against the Soviet Union and that their intervention might fundamentally alter the balance of the war. Mussolini called for an immediate German thrust from Austria and into Tyrol and Venice, which could potentially cut off the entire Soviet Army fighting in Italy.

Germany, however, was much more cautious. It took time to maneuver and shift its armies east and set up new garrisons in the west, to prevent Britain from re-establishing a beachhead and two-front war in Europe. Italy had bought it this much time already, what harm could a few more weeks do? Meanwhile, the Yugoslavian Armies continued their struggle alongside their Soviet Comrades.

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Both Germany and the Soviet Union had maintained a veneer of neutrality while they focused on more immediate foes, but each had carefully-prepared war plans against each other

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German Plans to cut off Soviet forces in Italy by pushing into Yugoslavia



The Miracle


Then, finally, in a matter of minutes, the miracle which Italy had long prayed for finally arrived. With a massive artillery barrage and massed assault of elite mountaineers, Germany declared war on the Comintern. The Axis and Novus Romanum Imperium were now co-belligerents against the communist menace.

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The German Attack, Operation Barbarossa. Like the Emperor for which it was named, it would involve German troops marching into Italy.

Italians were still short on equipment, but now had the opportunity to prove they were not so spent as the communists might have thought. With a cry of “Viva Italia” The Italian Army triumphantly charged forward, ready to push the communist oppressors out of their beloved country.

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The German-Russian border lights up. The Italian Army is holding its own, but low on equipment and plots its own counterattack.

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Italy's remaining industrial base was perilously low. Most Italian equipment was now produced in areas occupied by the enemy. Most of the pre-war build-up had occurred in the more industrialized north, which had better infrastructure and was thought to be safer in the event of war. Due to this calculation, Southern Italy remained relatively agrarian and poor.

As it turned out, Italians weren’t the only ones who believed that the Soviets should leave the country. The Russian Generals appeared to have had the same idea and had begun orchestrating a hasty withdrawal from their vulnerable positions in Italy. Italian forces found themselves fighting only feeble Yugoslavians and the occasional left-behind Russian.

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Soviet Troops risked being cut off in Italy and only narrowly managed to escape. Most of their Yugoslavian comrades were not so fortunate.

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The strength of Soviet armoured divisions caused great trouble to Italy throughout the war. These hated "war tractors" would help maintain the Soviet line long enough for their forces to withdraw, but were soon needed elsewhere. Without them in the field, Italian troops had clear superiority over remaining Soviet-Yugoslavian forces in Italy.

Soviet forces had largely withdrawn further east to combat the new German threat. The Wehrmacht, largely composed of mountaineer divisions, at first faced stiff resistance, especially in Poland. Soon however, breakthroughs were made and German units surged forward into Northern Italy, Yugoslavia, and Hungary.


Encirclements

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The pace of Italian advance and amount of fight left in the Italians stunned Soviets, Germans, and Italians alike. Many Yugoslavians were trapped, pinned between the Italo-German armies and the Swiss Border

In their haste to retreat, Soviet forces had little time to aid their Yugoslav allies in withdrawing. Most Yugoslav forces were not warned of Soviet withdrawal and were instead left behind. Many junior officers were stunned to wake up to find their allies gone and the previously defensive Italians charging at them with machine guns, rifles, and even the occasional pitch fork (equipment was still a major issue). Meanwhile, Germany’s rapid advance threatened Yugoslavia’s homeland from the rear.

Yugoslav command quickly collapsed. They simply did not have the manpower and weapons to sustain so many fronts. Germany captured Venezia, trapping most of the Yugoslav army in Italy while Yugoslavia proper was overrun with krauts.

Italy managed to trap a number of divisions in the Alps with its northward thrust. Some Yugoslav troops instead retreated across the Swiss border where they were detained by Swiss authorities, but were free from spending the rest of the conflict as a prisoner of war. Most Russian forces were able to successfully escape from Italy’s grasp. While this was a great disappointment compared to the hundred plus division encirclement Mussolini had hoped for, their was some consolation as yet more of the Yugoslav Army was caught between Italy and Germany in Venezia, land they had worked so hard to conquer, and were forced to surrender.

The Yugoslav Army had lost roughly 75% of its strength to surrender or desertion. Unlike the hordes, the Yugoslav state had no capacity to replace such losses.

What goes around comes around
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The collapse of Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia was a bully. It had first cowered before Italy, trying to secure a non-aggression pact so it could pick on its smaller, weaker neighbours. When the tides turned thanks to Romania’s collapse and the arrival of the Red Army, it had turned is expansionist eyes on conquering the Italy and the Balkans both. Now, Yugoslavia was once again weak.

In a reversal of the early war, Italy, instead of Yugoslavia had brought its bigger friend to the fight. The Red Army sent some token forces to Yugoslavia but it was not enough to plug the chronic gaps in communist lines around the South Balkans.

Ultimately, Germany would take Belgrade, putting an end to the failed experiment that was Yugoslavia.

Faster than even Italy could have hoped, Yugoslavia surrendered. Yugoslavian leadership fled the country, never to return and the meager remains of the Yugoslav army deserted en masse (player note: Yugoslavia player quit). However, the struggle was far from over, as the Soviet Army remained relatively intact, bolstered by the resources, industry, and manpower of conquered peoples like Romania, Hungary, and Poland.

Liberation

Yugoslavian collapse did open up new opportunities further south. Albanian partisans rose up to liberate their nation protectorate from the hated communists. King Zog himself was soon landed at Tirana, and acted quickly to restore control of his kingdom. Meanwhile, Italian and Greek forces pushed north from their positions in Boetia. Like their ancestors after the Battle of Plataea, the enemy hordes had been defeated, and could now be pursued deep into their own territory. Soviet troops put up some resistance at first, but were soon withdrawn by the Red Army Command to protect more urgent fronts.

Don't Cry for me, Yugoslavia

Once there was a farmer in winter walking across a field. He came across a viper, who was frozen by the cold. The farmer, feeling pity, compassion and mercy, picked the serpent up and warmed it under his cloak. The creature thawed. Once it had warmed up, the snake bit the famer, and slithered off (possibly only to refreeze). The farmer exclaimed “this serves me right for trusting such a wretched beast!” (in other versions, it is the snake who makes the point that this is the farmer’s own fault for trusting such a scoundrel)”- Aesopic Fable: The Farmer and the Viper

The tragedy of Yugoslavia was that it had begun to believe its own propaganda about international comradeship and brotherhood. It had expected the Soviet Union, known for its duplicity and ruthless pursuit of self-interest to protect it. When the chips fell, it turned out that Yugoslavia was no more than a puppet on a strings. Strings that the Soviets had no qualms about cutting when their mannequin was no longer useful.

The signs had been there all along, from the Soviets not giving Yugoslavia a mere scrap of Romania to them not daring to risk sending reinforcements before the war to protect Yugoslavia. They had similarly offered only minimal and transient support to Yugoslavia’s invasion of Greece. Yugoslavian troops had been left to die while the Red Army retreated form Greece.

In the end, Yugoslavia realized that even their model and great benefactor ultimately only looked out for themselves. Ruthless greed for territory and power had led Yugoslavia down the road for communism. It was thus ironic that Yugoslavian leadership never realized that Russia could possibly be just as self-interested.

The Cominteern could not mimic or even truly understand the fire-forged unity that an organization like the Novus Romanum Imperium could hold, fighting together and willing to sacrifice themselves to give each other a chance and more time. When countries like Bulgaria fought, they understood that they could surrender and die for nothing or stand, fight, and die for something. In contrast Yugoslavian troops were abandoned by their Soviet masters. No Italian tears were shed for Yugoslavia.


Some issues remained with the occupation. Germany maintained provisional control over Venice, nominally since it provided the best route for German supplies to travel through the Alps. Germany also provisionally occupied the better part of Hungary. Italy and Germany cooperated and offered each other mutual military access, but the sting of how their faction had broken up, and then failed to reform, remained. This hindered closer cooperation or better management of occupied territory.


Next Time on Tragedy: German Troops surge forward in Russia while Italy finally has a breather to consider its options. Will the bear or the kraut prevail in this titanic struggle? Find out in:


Part VI: The Tragedy of Russia

So what now?

The Eastern Front: Cri Me A River

Encirclement 2.0

Reinforcing Libya (We still own this place?)

To slay a bear?
hoi4_48.png
hoi4_49.png
hoi4_52.png

Well that's all for this update. Hope you all enjoyed. Please leave any feedback or questions you might have.
 
Last edited:

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Part VI: The Tragedy of Russia

So what now?

When we last left our mighty pasta-loving heroes, they had been bailed out of a nearly desperate situation by the Germans (who were once again their close friends).

hoi4_50.png
hoi4_51.png

Italian foreign deployments were delayed



With the stunning turn of fortunes in the war against the red menace, Italy’s large home army now found itself somewhat redundant. Since it seemed that only minimal forces were now required to hold the peninsula, Italy could now once more consider deploying troops beyond its immediate borders. Reinforcements were sent to Albania and Greece, but encountered little resistance and were soon surpassed by the German vanguard. Additional units were deployed south, and the first Italian regulars appeared that had been seen in the colonies in some time.

Italy was determined to continue its war effort with the red menace. After a delay to rest and re-equip, a transit treaty was negotiated through German territory, to continue the struggle. Germany’s main axis of advance was its spearhead towards Moscow. Italian command noticed that the in the south was much slower and had largely ground to a halt after retaking Romania. Italy's troops were thus sent to the Ukrainian front to continue the advance.

Meanwhile, the German advance proceeded rapidly across the plains of Eastern Europe. Often disorganized Soviet units were cut off far behind the front by the rapid pace of the German advance.
hoi4_48.png

Germany's rapid advance over the Eastern European Plains proved the versatility of Mountaineer Blitz Warfare

The Eastern Front: Cri Me A River

Neither the Soviets nor the Germans seemed to particularly notice the Italian intervention in the east. In contrast, it would greatly distract Italy from events in North Africa and back home.

hoi4_49.png

Germany's advance simply overran many Russian Divisions. It's main thrust was focused further north, meaning that advances in the south took longer. King Carol was disappointed that Romania no longer existed for him to return to (of course, had Germany allowed him into the Axis, Romania might have survived more formally in exile...)

hoi4_52.png

Player's note: my apologies that there aren't as many pictures after this and that even many of the pictures from this update don't fully portray the Russian campaign. From here on out I was increasingly occupied and had less time to take screenshots and saves.


In a maneuver worthy of a Roman general Italian troops were able to complete an encirclement of two Soviet armoured divisions near Odessa. These were the same hated tanks that had ravaged their country, and Italian troops fought ferociously to defeat the armoured beasts, despite still being ill-equipped to do so. The Soviet divisions were pinned against the Black Sea and fought on viciously for weeks before being forced to surrender. Meanwhile other Italian soldiers sacrificed their lives holding off frantic Soviet relief efforts.

Following this triumph, Italian forces pushed into Crimea. The front was poorly manned by Germans or Russians and the peninsula was sparsely defended. Nonetheless, this was still a major victory as Sevastopol, the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was taken. The quick capture of such an important city, by the Italians no less, was a major blow to Soviet morale and coup for Italian propaganda.


Reinforcing Libya (We still own this place?)

During the Soviet invasion of Italy, it had become fashionable for the Italian elite to buy vacation homes in Italian Libya. With large portions of Italy’s army now freed up, it was determined that it would be worthwhile to reinforce the region to guard these new villas.

Weaker, mainly non-Italian troops were positioned on the French border. Italian military planners assured Mussolini that with the fall of its homeland and collapse of its leadership, France was a spent power which posed no threat. Much larger units were deployed to the eastern border of Libya. Italian planners feared that Britain, which had evacuated its army from France largely intact, might decide to pre-emptively strike to secure North Africa now that Italy was no longer considered merely a heroic stalwart against communism, but a nation collaborating with Germany against an ally (if only an ally of convenience). From here Britain might find its way back into Europe through striking at Italy which, was considered the “soft underbelly” of Europe (especially as it had barely held off the now somewhat discredited Soviet Army and had no doubt taken losses in this previous life and death struggle).


To slay a bear – Russia’s flaw: overconfidence

Russia’s hubris led to the once mighty nation being humbled. They had been confident that they could quickly crush Italy. With the industry and position of southern Europe secured, they could have swept into Germany and dominated all Europe.

Now Russia had been pushed back, losing not only all the gains made in Eastern Europe over the past several years, but also losing massive parts of their core territory in Belarus and Ukraine. The Russian bear now found itself with its back against the wall of its own den. The German army relentlessly advanced towards Moscow and Leningrad while the Soviet Army was exhausted. Hope remained however if its western allies could only open up a second front…


Next Time on Tragedy:


Part VII: The Tragedy of Britain


hoi4_53.png





Leeroy Jenkins?

Diplomatic protocol

Pre-emptive self-defence

To the Canal

The Yanks are coming! Over There!

Trading up

The conquest of the Levant

Water in the Dessert: retreat to the canal


Thank-you very much for reading and hope you enjoyed. Updates should cover shorter periods now that the tragedy is quickly careening towards its climax. Please leave any comments or questions you might have.
 

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Part VII: The Tragedy of Britain


Sorry for the delay. As so often happens, I had intended to update sooner but life had other ideas. Nontheless, onwards to the chapter.


Leeroy Jenkins!

After the fall of France, the British retreated to their island home to lick their wounds. Thankfully for them, the Wehrmacht had little time to consolidate its position on the continent and even less to contemplate a potential invasion across the Channel. With Germany engaged in a massive struggle with the Soviet Union, the Western Allies could consider their next move.

On a positive note for the beleaguered Brits, America had joined their war on Germany. Unlike the British, the Yankees saw little reason to leave Italy neutral. President Roosevelt insisted to Prime Minister Churchill that Italy was the “soft underbelly” of Europe and could not be left unimpeded to aid Germany in its war against the Soviets. Disregarding British reservations, another great giant prepared to strike at Italy...

American army units were deployed to French North Africa, which had previously been largely devoid of troops. The rapidness of this left the weak Italian screening forces in the west of Libya vulnerable. Italian planners had expected that any major clash in North Africa would occur in or come from the strategically important (and still player-controlled) British Egypt.

_______________________________________________________________________________

It was not much later that President Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war on Italy. America’s democratic system meant that Italy was given at least some forewarning while American politicians debated the wisdom of opening up another front while already in the middle of a World War. Some Senators feared that attacking Italy would distract from the war with Germany and might even give Germany time to defeat the Soviet Union. Roosevelt assuaged these doubts was able to reassure most Congressman that Germany could be weakened from the air through bombing raids while the American Army and Navy would defeat Italy.

Ultimately, the declaration passed overwhelmingly and America declared war upon Italy. Unfortunately for American commanders hoping to drive Italy out of Africa by Christmas, Uncle Sam had forgotten one of the finer points of diplomatic protocol.


Diplomatic Protocol

America had staged its forces out of Free French Tunisia. When news broke out that war had been declared on Italy, American leaders began driving their mighty mechanized forces eastward. Before they could encounter any Italians, they were stopped at the border by Free French border guards.

As it turned out, America’s allies were not nearly so keen on war with Italy. Egypt was still sparsely defended and vulnerable, so Britain had elected to not immediately join with America’s declaration. The Free French colonies in North Africa had long had cordial relations with Italy. Italy was the main provider of European goods to the French which were difficult to produce in the colonies (for example, manufactured products and wine). Some border guards even reportedly threatened to detain any soldiers attempting to cross the border and impound any vehicles. Furious American Commanders were able to do little, as the State Department had left clear instructions that Frenchmen were not to be attacked, for fear of stoking Vichy sympathies.

Italian command was stunned that America had not yet made its move and it would take some time to realize why the American army was not yet streaming into Italian North Africa. American diplomats scrambled to convince their European partners to join the conflict. This was a task they were no doubt slowly but surely succeeding at, as British forces began appearing on the Egypt-Libya border for the first time in years. It was clear that war with the broader Allied Alliance was imminent.

Despite this, America’s diplomatic faux-pas had provided an opening that Italian military planners could not pass by.


Pre-emptive self-defence

Italy, whose “efficient” constitutional system allowed for much faster diplomatic maneuvers than those of its adversaries decided that its best hope of success and survival in North Africa was to launch a pre-emptive invasion of Egypt. This would assuredly draw the British and even the recalcitrant French formally into the war, but this was seen as an inevitability anyways. If Italy waited, it risked being surrounded by the British and American armies and pushed at from both sides.

It was determined that it was better for Italy to begin the war on its own terms. Mussolini made the ultimate, though regrettable decision to counsel the King to declare war on Britain. The goal was clear: to seize Egypt before British forces could build up a critical mass and capture the vitally strategic Suez Canal.


To the Canal

Italian forces flooded into Egypt. The few British forces present fought stubbornly, but were simply not numerous enough to defend the entire Western Desert. Italian forces were soon able to capture Cairo, Alexandria, and Port Said. Excited Italian troops were even spotted taking pictures near pyramids of the Great Plateau of Giza. A dramatic victory for Italy, if an easy one.

Mussolini still regretted not striking sooner when there had been no British forces in Egypt (and fewer Americans in Tunisia). The British units bought valuable time for American forces in the west, and prevented Italy from shifting its stronger units westward to hold the Yankee menace.


The Yanks are coming!

hoi4_59.png

The American Army, sizable, well-equipped, and able to tear through most Italian units with ease



Over there, over there

Send the word, send the word over there

That the Yanks are coming

The Yanks are coming

The drums rum-tumming Everywhere

So prepare, say a prayer

Send the word, send the word to beware

We'll be over, we're coming over

And we won't come back till it's over

Over there

- Verse from the 1917 song “Over There” by George M. Cohan

hoi4_58.png

Dwight D. Eisenhower was granted command over all Allied forces in the region

Once finally freed from the chains of diplomatic technicalities, the American attack into Italian North Africa was swift and fierce. America’s abundant use of tanks and self-propelled artillery demonstrated to the world the potency of its “superior firepower” doctrine. This was even more so when paired with the untouchable and nearly limitless industrial might of the United States. Italian forces were able to maintain a somewhat stable line in a fighting retreat, but were wholly incapable of holding the line in Libya for any period of time. Tripolitania and Fezzan were soon lost, along with several divisions which had become encircled. The sacrifice of these brave men gave their comrades time to fall back eastwards. Despite this, it wasn’t long until the Yankees had advanced through Cyrenaica and all remaining Italian units were on the run for Egypt.

Egypt’s Western Desert had become the frontline once more, only this time, with the sides reversed.

hoi4_53.png

Italian War Hero Giovanni Messe commanded Italian troops in Africa. Allied naval presence in the Mediterranean often robbed him of reinforcements, but he was able to make several strong stands, including along the Nile River, which American vehicles had trouble crossing.

Trading up (Egypt for Libya and Ethiopia)

The Yankee thrust from the west proved impossible to hold. Libya was lost, and British forces in the Sudan were able to subdue Ethiopia (most of its men of fighting age were away serving with the Italian Army). Nonetheless, Italy had gained a more important prize. Egypt, the land of the pharaohs, and gateway to the Eastern Mediterranean.

If Germany (or Portugal for that matter) could now secure Gibraltar, either through convincing the Spanish to join the war or invading the war-torn Iberian country the Mediterranean would be secured. Allied armies and navies in the theater would be cut off, or at least left vulnerable and impotent. This could also enable Italy to safely move the majority of its European garrisons to the Eastern Front. Unfortunately, Italy once more proved unable to sway the Axis Alliance diplomatically. The struggle in Africa continued.


The conquest of the Levant

Meanwhile, Italian vanguard units continued to advance beyond the Suez Canal and into the Middle East. Large portions of French Syria, British Transjordan, and British Palestine were taken. Italian troops faced little resistance from the already very beleaguered British Army or the defeated French forces. While these areas were poor, they provided the Italian Army in Africa strategic depth.

Capturing these regions also provided a victory for Italian pride and morale. The sacred city of Jerusalem once again fell under the control of the Roman Empire. The British and French, who had promised Italy a partition of the former Ottoman Empire, before reneging after World War I, had now themselves lost the spoils of war they had taken from the Turks.


Water in the Dessert: Retreat to the Canal

Meanwhile, American attacks continued relentlessly. American armoured columns began to push into Egypt, now reinforced by what few units the British could scrounge together in the Sudan.

However, Italian forces were now more concentrated. Unlike the previous poorly trained, woefully equipped, and largely non-Italian units America had faced, the American army now found itself against grizzled veterans. Many of these units had experience fighting Russian tanks and knew to prepare for the worst by taking advantage of the terrain. A Defensive line was set up linking Alexandria to Cairo, to the Red Sea. Behind this was a line along the Nile River and Delta. A final, last-resort fallback was prepared behind the Suez Canal. American probing attacks were beaten back, but, the power and speed of the seemingly endless American forces, eventually forced the abandonment of the Alexandria line.



The Tragedy of Britain


Britain’s tragic flaw was its indecisiveness. If it had promised peace with Italy or gone full-bore to defend Egypt, Italy would have been in a very difficult position. Britain’s minimal commitment to Egypt, and then only slow, but deliberate build-up in it, made conflict inevitable. It ensured that Italy had little choice but to launch a pre-emptive strike or watch its colonies crumble. I was not privy to Allied diplomacy, so I do not know how planned out and coordinated America and Britain’s actions or intentions were. What does seem clear is that their lack of coordination allowed me to take Egypt and seal off one half of the Mediterranean, far more than I had expected to be able to do after my titanic struggle with the Soviets.


Meanwhile, while Italian command was focused on North Africa and the Ukraine, America was plotting its own surprises…


Part VIII: The Comedy of America

hoi4_54.png




Leeroy Jenkins II: the Sequel

From Russia with Love

Leeroy Jenkins III: Third Time's the Charm

The Comedy of America


Thank-you very much for reading and hope you enjoyed. Please leave any comments or questions you might have.
 

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Part VIII: The Comedy of America

Another hectic week and another late update. Hope everyone enjoys.

Echoes From the Chorus


I am loving this! Seems like a very fun, hard and rewarding game. I should play MP sometime

Thank-you very kindly. MP (and especially pick-up MP) certainly has its ups and downs, but it is a blast when you get a good game going, win or lose. HOI IV is great in that it's very feasible to have such a pick-up game all in one (admittedly long) sitting.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

We last left Italy embroiled and mired in the greatest conflict of human history. In the East, Germany continued to push forward towards Moscow with Italian troops supporting them in the Ukraine. In Africa, Italian forces had fallen back to a defensive line in Egypt, where the American thrust across the continent was finally halted.

Mussolini understood that in the long run Italy’s position in North Africa and the Levant was untenable. He hoped that his forces there might be able to tie down and distract Allied armies long enough that the Soviet Union might be brought to its knees. With little prospect of a successful re-entry into Europe, even the proud Brits and Yankees might then be forced to the negotiating table. Or at least Mussolini could only so hope.


Leeroy Jenkins II: the Sequel

As it turned out, America had little interest in delaying the return of freedom to Europe. American commanders did not see it as necessary to clean up North Africa before proceeding to the next part of their invasion plan. After all, Italian troops had been in perpetual retreat on the continent since America had entered the fray. The theater seemed poised to fall to complete Allied control shortly, freeing up units to prepare an invasion from Tunisia to Sicily.

Using French bases at Tunis, American forces launched raids and probing attacks onto the coast of Sicily. Thankfully for the Italian position, Mussolini had ensured that all major ports on the island, and indeed across Italy, were defended by Italian line divisions.

Allied landing efforts were hastily beaten back. American troops seemed ill-equipped to conduct amphibious operations. Many landing barges had difficulty coming ashore and some American weaponry malfunctioned due to exposure to the salt water of the Mediterranean Sea (the Americans were not using marines). American commanders were certain that if they could capture a port, they could quickly pore in enough men, weaponry, and supplies to overwhelm the defenders, but, for the time being, this remained impossible to test. Despite atrocious casualties, both men and equipment were easily replaceable to the American war machine (despite being mostly manufactured a hemisphere away). American historians would also later argue that, while the attacks failed, they provided America valuable experience and intelligence which would be invaluable in future naval landings.

Italy took its fair share of losses as well, as the mighty United States Navy rained terror down upon Italian fishing villages with devastating coastal bombardments.
Nonetheless, beating back poorly-prepared American landings gave Mussolini renewed confidence in his coastal defences. He hoped that such follies and failures would discourage any further American forays into Europe.


Leeroy Jenkins III: Third Time's the Charm

American high command was not one to sit back and reconfigure its strategy. While a falsely confident and secure Italian General Staff turned its attention towards Egypt and Russia, the United States prepared for its next wave of invasions into Italy. This time, they would commit greater forces than previous probing attacks. American planners would also use intelligence gathered from previous failures to land at weak points in the Italian defences. This meant that most American units would be landed upon the largely undefended Sicilian coast. This would allow landed units to circumnavigate Italian garrisons and coastal defences. American units could then attack and overwhelm Italian forces from the landward side.

American forces remained woefully unprepared to launch coastal assaults should they meet any unexpected resistance at beachheads, but this time, reckless abandon would yield great fruits.

With Italian Command fully focused elsewhere, American forces came ashore in the night. They moved quickly, capturing towns and cutting telegraph lines. By the time Italian Command realized what was going on, partly due to German interceptions of Allied intelligence, most of Sicily had already fallen. American forces had even crossed the Straits of Messina and began to advance into Calabria.

hoi4_57.png

The American Expeditionary Force under General Dwight D. Eisenhower crossed the Mediterranean and began its relentless advance up the Italian peninsula while the attention of Italian Command was focused elsewhere. Allied dominance of the Mediterranean was nearly unchallenged, threatening landings all across the Southern European Coast. The Italian Navy remained in port, feebly attempting to follow a "fleet in being" doctrine.

From Russia with Love

When they finally realized the full scope of the American invasion, Italian leadership panicked. Troops were deployed to halt the American advance. When it became clear that Italy’s home guard was likely not sufficient to push back the invaders, Italy began redeploying large segments of its army from Russia back to Italy.

Germany questioned what Italy was doing with its army. It seemed as if they had ignored Italian contributions to the campaign against Russia and had not noticed clashes in North Africa. Thus, Italian leadership felt little remorse about recalling most of its forces to the home front. This decision was made easier by the Red Army having become so depleted that it no longer seemed capable of effectively manning the entire front in strength.

hoi4_54.png

Italian, Hungarian, and Ethiopian forces once again united to desperately defend Italy from a foreign invader.


Italian forces were able to greatly slow the American advance just North of Naples. In this, they were aided greatly by the peninsular, mountainous geography of Italy. The Apennine Mountain Range, which stretches across Central Italy, proved to be an especially difficult avenue of advance for American forces. Further incoming reinforcements gave Italians hope of surviving another great invasion, especially if they could once more be reinforced by Germany.


The Comedy of America

Originally, a tragedy was a play with a sad or ironic ending while a comedy was one with a happy or positive ending. America’s story was certainly no tragedy. Perhaps they could have intervened sooner to make a greater impact on the war, but once they showed up to the fight, they made their presence more than felt, even while British forces were severely depleted.


____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Would Italy be able to hold the line long enough to grant the Axis and New Roman Empire Ultimate victory? Would Allied interventions in Europe divert enough Axis troops to end Germany’s hitherto inexorable advance into the belly of the bear? Will Japan and Portugal find a way to make themselves relevant enough to the broader war that someone bigger than Italy takes notice and does something about them? Tune in next time to find out on Tragedy.



Next Time on tragedy: Italy is backstabbed and everything comes crashing down around our heroes. For the third time in 5 years, a great power invades the Italian Peninsula. Does any hope remain or is this addio?

Part IX: The Tragedy of Germany

hoi4_56.png



Ultimatum

Common Sense

Fall back to Italia! (8 Million Bayonets!)

Ultimatum II

Adventures in the East

The Tragedy of Germany



Thanks again for reading. Please leave any comments or questions you might have.
 

Adamgerd

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I am curious about one thing. Why did the allies invade Italy when Germany was a greater threat, Italy helped against communism and was separate from Germany?
 

DystopianAlphaOmega

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I am curious about one thing. Why did the allies invade Italy when Germany was a greater threat, Italy helped against communism and was separate from Germany?

Thanks for reading and for the question!

My relationship with the Allies was indeed a somewhat complicated one. The Brits even mentioned that they would have allowed me into the Allies once Germany had refused to allow me re-entry to the Axis (which would have changed the whole case of the game). I think that having historic factions (even if this was violated) may have increased tensions since I was seen as "supposed" to go with Germany. Of course, the historical factions was violated first by Yugoslavia, and then subsequently by me (after Germany left me up the creek without a paddle by refusing me re-entry into the Axis).

Indeed, even after Germany entered the war with the Soviet Union, I was more than content to stay at peace with the Allies. This allowed me to keep my convoys flowing unimpeded. It also left my homeland more secure and un-bombed while I could continue to prosecute the war against the communist menace.

Of course, it was ultimately the Americans, not the Brits, who justified on me, so perhaps they were just impatient after spending so long out of the war and action. Perhaps the Yankee player was looking for a theater of war to begin fighting in but didn't yet feel confident enough to attempt a D-Day.

Additionally, as long as I was neutral with the Allies, forces would have to be left behind to guard Africa from my forces in case I did decide to join the war ( a sort of "army in being"). As such, I can see why they may have wanted to secure this front. Perhaps they even believed that I was preparing a pre-emptive strike when they saw my troops re-appearing in Libya. I was not, and only did so when America was already at war with me, but the Allies would not have known this.

Also, once Germany went to war with the Soviets, the Allies and Soviets now had a common enemy to unite against. Instead of a valiant struggle to defend Italy from the Red menace, I was now effectively an accomplice to Germany, helping to bring Russia to its knees. From the Allied perspective, allowing Russia to fall was unacceptable, so I can see why they wouldn't have just let me be.
 

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Thanks for reading and for the question!

My relationship with the Allies was indeed a somewhat complicated one. The Brits even mentioned that they would have allowed me into the Allies once Germany had refused to allow me re-entry to the Axis (which would have changed the whole case of the game). I think that having historic factions (even if this was violated) may have increased tensions since I was seen as "supposed" to go with Germany. Of course, the historical factions was violated first by Yugoslavia, and then subsequently by me (after Germany left me up the creek without a paddle by refusing me re-entry into the Axis).

Indeed, even after Germany entered the war with the Soviet Union, I was more than content to stay at peace with the Allies. This allowed me to keep my convoys flowing unimpeded. It also left my homeland more secure and un-bombed while I could continue to prosecute the war against the communist menace.

Of course, it was ultimately the Americans, not the Brits, who justified on me, so perhaps they were just impatient after spending so long out of the war and action. Perhaps the Yankee player was looking for a theater of war to begin fighting in but didn't yet feel confident enough to attempt a D-Day.

Additionally, as long as I was neutral with the Allies, forces would have to be left behind to guard Africa from my forces in case I did decide to join the war ( a sort of "army in being"). As such, I can see why they may have wanted to secure this front. Perhaps they even believed that I was preparing a pre-emptive strike when they saw my troops re-appearing in Libya. I was not, and only did so when America was already at war with me, but the Allies would not have known this.

Also, once Germany went to war with the Soviets, the Allies and Soviets now had a common enemy to unite against. Instead of a valiant struggle to defend Italy from the Red menace, I was now effectively an accomplice to Germany, helping to bring Russia to its knees. From the Allied perspective, allowing Russia to fall was unacceptable, so I can see why they wouldn't have just let me be.
Now, I see how they could've felt threatened. For the "Instead of a valiant struggle to defend Italy from the Red menace, I was now effectively an accomplice to Germany, helping to bring Russia to its knees." it reminds me of the Finns. They too were seen as a valiant struggle to defend against the red menace until Russia attacked Germany and then they were seen as an accomplice to Germany and lost land back to the Russians. Also I congratulate you for really making the reader sympathize with Italy. I actually started sympathizing more with Italy than the allies
 

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This is all quite unique and engaging. Love it! The Mediterranean is quite hectic by the looks of things! And a tragedy in ten parts, looks like I caught up just in time for the grand finale! :cool: :D

But seriously, not enough tragedy yet. :p

Cheers!
 

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Sorry for another long delay in updating. University has now started up again so it has been harder to find time to update. This also likely means that my dreams of turning another of my MP games (France>Free France>UK) will likely not be happening anytime soon. Despite this, I remain committed to finishing this AAR, which, as per the title, is nearly complete.

Echoes from the Chorus:


Now, I see how they could've felt threatened. For the "Instead of a valiant struggle to defend Italy from the Red menace, I was now effectively an accomplice to Germany, helping to bring Russia to its knees." it reminds me of the Finns. They too were seen as a valiant struggle to defend against the red menace until Russia attacked Germany and then they were seen as an accomplice to Germany and lost land back to the Russians. Also I congratulate you for really making the reader sympathize with Italy. I actually started sympathizing more with Italy than the allies

Thanks for the response! Finland is actually a really good analogy. There actually might be some more parallels that you might notice in the next two chapters.

I actually think that the UK player was on decent terms with me the whole way through. Other than a few troops in the Sudan, they hardly engaged me (of course, they might have lost a good chunk of their army in France and had the rest defending their island home). I do wonder, in hindsight, if he was actually planning to attack me. The Yanks on the other hand were the ones to declare war on me and weren't in much of a mood to communicate.

Also, glad to know the Italian propaganda machine is doing its job well. It is easy to sympathize with an underdog when you have their perspective. I'm sure the perspectives of my opponents would have been fairly sympathetic as well though. With France fallen, the British Army depleted, and the Soviets on the ropes, it falls to America to launch desperate and hasty invasions into Europe to turn the tide before it is too late. History is written by the victors after all. I usually like to have "post-mortem" discussions with other players once games are complete to get some insight into what they were thinking.

Unfortunately, for reasons that are yet to be revealed, that was not possible this game.



This is all quite unique and engaging. Love it! The Mediterranean is quite hectic by the looks of things! And a tragedy in ten parts, looks like I caught up just in time for the grand finale! :cool: :D

But seriously, not enough tragedy yet. :p

Cheers!


Glad to have you on board and so sorry for the delay in updating! The Mediterranean is always a fun place to be campaigning. I had hoped we could close it off by bringing Spain into the war, but unfortunately Germany wasn't inclined to focus much on the theater and never really had a break in the action to contemplate such a move.

As for the tragedy, well, this act will end with quite the tragic twist for our hapless heroes.


Part IX: The Tragedy of Germany

"When you live on a giant's back, there's only one individual you ever really need to fear."

Ultimatum

As the Italian Home Guard finally managed to form a stable line, dire news came from the north. Germany’s increasingly irrational leader was now publicly commenting about the possibility of invading Italy - Player note: Germany had began justifying war on Italy (!).

An alarmed Italian diplomatic corps contacted Mussolini in Rome. Il Duce frantically began sending telegrams to Germany demanding to know what was the meaning of this.

The German ambassador stated that his country could not countenance allowing Italy to fall into Allied hands. Mussolini agreed with this, but questioned why Germany would attempt to accomplish this by invading Italy.

Italian forces were actively engaged fighting the Americans. Italian troops were inbound from Russia. Their eventual arrival offered the promise of overwhelming American forces on the peninsula and possibly even pushing them back to sea.

Mussolini also hoped that German forces, and especially their famed tanks, could assist in this endeavour. This was the sort of intervention on the peninsula that offered the best chance of success. After all, Mussolini argued, Germany had little to gain from attacking Italy. He also pointed out that Italy had persevered through one great invasion and would do so again. Italian unity and solidarity was high enough that even if the unthinkable should happen and Rome should fall, the nation would persevere in its struggle.

The German leader appeared ambivalent on the issue. Much pleading, bickering, and shouting ensued. Ultimately, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop assured Mussolini that Germany would not invade and would stop its anti-Italian rhetoric, at least for the time being (German justification for war cancelled).


Mussolini had little choice but to accept the assurances of a man who not so long ago had made similar promises to Russia.


8 Million Bayonets!

During the Soviet invasion, Italian leadership had claimed in propaganda that the sons of the nation stood ready to defend it with “8 million bayonets.” While as much a illuminating to Italian equipment shortages as to Italian patriotism, Mussolini now called upon all his armed forces and broader population to do their patriotic duty and hold back the enemy.

Things once more seemed poised to turn around in Italy's favour. For after the night must surely come the break of day. America's advance had been considerably slowed. While their slog up the peninsula continued, it was now clear that Italy would hold long enough for its forces in Russia to return home and stem the tide. Meanwhile, in Africa the Italian Expeditionary Force was cut off by Allied Navies, but continued to hold its defensive line.

The question remained if this twilight was preceding dawn and the break of day or dusk and another dark night...


Adventures in the East

Meanwhile, in Asia, while the world's attention turned to the epic clash in the Italian peninsula, East Asia remained on fire. Japan finally completed its conquest of China. It had been a tough slog, but Imperial planners felt themselves vindicated in their strategy of focusing on difficult terrain and areas containing ethnic or religious minorities. The Army had gained much influence through its campaigns, and ideas of a Pacific naval empire were quickly being replaced with dreams of conquering mainland Asia.

It was able to convince Imperial High Command to devote some troops to capturing Mongolia, Outer Manchuria, and the long-disputed North Sakhalin Island. Despite this, its focus and the greater amount of its forces remained committed in the south.

Thus, when Japan decided to finally engage the Western Allies in earnest, High Command once again sought to prove the superiority of Japanese soldiers by launching an invasion over the Himalaya Mountains and jungles of Southeast Asia into Burma.

hoi4_68.png

Greatest extent of the Japanese Empire in Asia.

Italian hopes that Japan might cut off Allied oil and Rubber resources in Asia or launch naval invasions to speed up its conquests were dashed as the newest Japanese invasion remained perilously slow as their attack on China. Italian and indeed world leadership had little time to contemplate this, as focus remained in Europe.

Ultimatum II

“For the time being” turned out to be roughly one week. German forces began massing on the Italian border and all communication links with Italy were cut. The Italian ambassador to Germany was expelled. Italian hopes and prayers that this was a relief force to deploy against the Americans were dashed when the Italian mission to Switzerland (through which Italy had been trying to contact Germany) reported that an invasion was imminent. Italian pleas and begging fell on deaf ears, Germany withdrew its ambassador shortly thereafter and declared war.

hoi4_56.png


The New Roman Empire would now face the invasion of the third Superpower in five years. Was all lost or was there any hope for redemption? Would Italy even have the opportunity to make a good show of things or would it end with a whimper rather than a bang? Had Italy drawn its last hand or did it still have an ace up its sleeve? Find out next time on tragedy.


The Tragedy of Germany - Germany’s flaw: trust

Germany had seen great success in its wars. It had successfully defeated Anglo-French forces in Western Europe and humbled the mighty Soviet Union. Their weakness was their inability to trust/have faith in or cooperate with their allies.

They were slow to take Italian advice on going through he Low Countries against France, preferring to waste valuable equipment and manpower attacking the mighty entrenchments of the Maginot Line. They refused to help Romania against the Soviet Union and left Italy high and dry to face the bear alone, not even allowing it back into the Axis (despite that a Soviet victory here would likely have spelt the end for Germany).

They delayed entering the war against Russia, allowing a large part of the Russian army to escape Italy and live to fight another day. It refused to countenance bringing Spain into the war to close off the Mediterranean. When Italy aided it in the Soviet Union and by tying down Allied forces in Africa, it had nothing but scorn.

Had it cooperated with its allies, Germany’s success would have been all but assured. Instead, they began an invasion which would, at the very least, sacrifice a potentially valuable ally and army, and, at worst, risk costing them the war. Even if they had no intention of helping Italy, I had a decent shot at buying them enough time (once my full army returned) to defeat the Soviet Union.

Alas, fans of alternate histories will be left to speculate if things would have truly changed had events occurred differently.


Next Time on Tragedy


Part X: The Tragedy of Italy

“Shoot me in the chest!” – Last words of Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini

Italy faces its final act, and it's standing room only as powers far grater than itself fight for their pieces of the pie. Can the New Roman Empire give one final hurrah, or will it go out with a whimper instead of a bang?

hoi4_62.png

The Führer's favourite general prepares to eat a nice dish of pasta.

Perfidious Germania

Stranded Forces

Refuge in Bulgaria: Or How Romania was finally freed

Holding Tight in Africa

No country for old men

The Beginning of the End

The End of the End

The End of the End: Scraps for Greece

The End of the End: Hungary saves the New Roman Empire: Or how to abuse temporal peace paradoxes for revenge and profit

Disconnect

Post-Mortem Musings

Sorry for the shorter update and lack of pictures after such a delay. Most of the remaining screenshots would spoil something or are being saved for the finale and not much time actually elapsed during this update (only about three weeks or so).

Again, thanks again for reading and please leave any comments or questions you might have.
 

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It is time that we approach the tragedy of Italy. I guess history doesn't change at all, aye? :p

U.S. in the Horn of Africa. Hmm...I believe we've seen how that plays out before... :rolleyes:
 

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It is time that we approach the tragedy of Italy. I guess history doesn't change at all, aye? :p

:rolleyes:

It does have an odd habit of repeating itself, even in ways we don't always expect. :( Perhaps my fault for putting faith in a German leader who spent months trying to crack the Maginot Line head on. Then again, they did rescue me last time I was under invasion. It's just too bad Germany's method of "securing" Italy wasn't done in cooperation with me. The Army they used to invade me could likely have caused some serious problems to the American invasion force, which actually wasn't all that large division-wise. That said, Italy may have a few more tricks to play before it's all over. After all, a good chunk of the Italian Army is now loose on Central Europe where they can have some fun with old friends. ;)

U.S. in the Horn of Africa. Hmm...I believe we've seen how that plays out before... :rolleyes:

Rest assured that loyal privateers and pirates funded by Italy will continue to hamper US shipping in the region :D (I think I might even still have a few subs operating in the region, but I didn't pay much attention to them since I set them up, so not certain on that). More seriously however, I don't remember when the US obtained East Africa. Perhaps Britain transferred it to them since America often begins to run short on build slots as time goes on.

Regardless, thanks for commenting!
 

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More seriously however, I don't remember when the US obtained East Africa. Perhaps Britain transferred it to them since America often begins to run short on build slots as time goes on.

Regardless, thanks for commenting!

I was referring to our old humanitarian missions in the Horn during the late 80s and early 90s that culminated in "Black Hawk Down" along with the continued presence of shipping issues in the region. :p

I'm sure Seneca, if he were resurrected, would write a splendid tragedy about the storm that is coming back to his native shores. :p