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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Kanitatlan

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BEING POLAND
A WORKED EXAMPLE

This AAR is rather unusual in that its purpose is to explore HOI3 as a game and discuss the rather challenging prospect of playing Poland as a path towards providing insight into play rather than to provide any sort of story. I haven't properly explored Poland since the very early days so this AAR is going to be a bit of an exploration for me as well as the audience but hopefully I will again find a way to win as Poland although it is definitely now much harder.

At all stages I will discuss the strategy being used and the reasons for it. In some areas the decisions will be made to limit the scope of the game I am exploring and in others it is wide open. I will save at some key points and go back to illustrate and compare different approaches and some of the runs from save points will be focused entirely on illustrating localised points.

There is an open invitation for all audience members to post their own analysis, especially if it differs from mine, but you will be expected to provide reasoned argument or evidence to support your views. Alternate views are only useful if other audience members can learn from them.​
Game settings
  • Patch 1.4
  • Everything set on normal
  • Everything set on manual control - I can't afford any AI decision-making
The Game setting in Poland in the 1936 campaign with the following restrictions arbitrarily set to restrict the scope of the exploration
  • The game will be played on the basis of war starting due to the Danzig or war event occurring on 1st September 1939. I will cheat to make sure this is the case (you'll see). This restriction is there to make the strategy repeatable and not ruined by circumstance.
  • I won't be pulling any cheap diplomatic tricks, the development of normal German progress up to Danzig will not be interfered with.
  • This includes no military adventures prior to the German attack
  • I won't attempt to use anything I consider to be a genuine exploit in the game.
  • The purpose of the AAR is to be informative, not to win.
Other posters are welcome to explain alternative strategies that breach the above rules but I don't think I have enough time to give so comprehensive an analysis.
 

Kanitatlan

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THE PROBLEM



Poland 1936 - the problem​

We will all be familiar with the geographical challenges facing Poland. In real life the issue was compounded by having 2 major nations with long frontiers but in this game we are going to ignore the Soviets as the game simulation of the Molotov Ribbentrop pact (MR pact) purely by events and without an actual Soviet invasion. Unfortunately the initial long German frontier is only going to get longer when Czechoslovakia falls prey to the German expansionist policies. Fortunately their alliance with Hungary does not tend to lead to a Hungarian invasion so I will only really have the Germans to deal with (the Slovak army doesn't count).

The first consequence of the long frontier is that there is no opportunity to obstruct the German advance by bottlenecking and taking advantage of stacking restrictions. We end up with a border offering 28 provinces for the enemy to attack which in practice means twice as many province boundaries. Now we can cut off the corners (including Danzig) and reduce this by 6 provinces but this doesn't gain us a great deal in total breadth of front.

If we assume every province is attacked on two fronts at the same time then this provides 420 brigade widths of combat, which is significantly larger than any likely Polish army. The key point of this is that there is no realistic bottlenecking without major loss of territory, which will lead to a lost campaign. During the actual battle sacrificing space is only going to be effective if it is temporary and done to achieve a winning advantage or allow time for someone else to do that. Unfortunately there is no realistic prospect of a useful French or British intervention so I am pretty much on my own.

In conclusion I believe I need a policy that will support Poland being able to stand and fight and potentially defeat the German invasion. To do this I need the most powerful force I can create in the time available. I have limited resources and therefore will need to make the most of them.
 

Lordban

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A Kanitatlan take on Poland in HoI 3? This should be most interesting and instructive.
 

unmerged(156978)

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There is an open invitation for all audience members to post their own analysis, especially if it differs from mine, but you will be expected to provide reasoned argument or evidence to support your views.
I would advise you to build a small army and invade the Baltic States just to have more manpower and industry, but this strategy seems quite unrealistic.

You should probably make some infantry, cavalry, a bit of mountain infantry, but mostly militia so that you can have enough troops to defend Poland.
 

unmerged(78039)

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Adopt an elastic defense; von Manstein in his memoir "Lost Victories" repeatedly notes how Poland's doctrine of static defense was their biggest downfall. Also, in case of German war, don't position your forces on the border, rather behind the Vistula as a natural obstacle, in order to avoid a flank by the north and south, to provide a much more narrow front, and also to predict more accurately where the main thrust of the German attack will come. Invest in more mobile forces; calvary, even motorized divisions if you have the industry. Remember the defence of Poland is a matter of time untill the Allies can launch an offensive of their own. Remember this and a victorious Poland will follow. :)
 

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I'll be following this one, it's a shame that the USSR won't be attacking you just to add to the challenge!
 

Modo

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I tried this in 1.3 with AIIP. I used serious min-maxing to get near technological equality for 3 INF + 1 ART divisions (not so much on doctrines, obviously). I converted all manpower this way before war broke out. There were some spare IC days for stupid stuff, but not many. I lost after trying to capture Koenigsberg, which happened less than a day before Warsaw fell, about a month into the invasion.

To help with manpower, some militia divisions might make sense (1 INF + 2 MIL + support is pretty good on defence). Militia will require additional research, though. You could try using pure infantry, and spending the spare IC days on some forts if you can exploit their tactical value.
 

AdmiralNelson

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I'm going to quote you, here:

Kanitatlan said:
A more interesting question is what should the Poles have done about. MY first suggestion would be to read von Manstein’s appraisal in Lost Battles where he very nicely analyses Polish decision in the campaign. The primary issue is that the Poles could not win if deployed along the indefensible border. In truth they could not win anyway but a much more effective defence would have been deployment along the line Suwalki, Lomza, Warsaw, Lublin, Zamosc, Prezymsl. This is still six provinces and hence only 1 province shorter but this is simply a trick of the map. More importantly most of the line is behind river barriers. Also the highly defensible Warsaw is part of this line. Further, penetration of the line doesn’t lead rapidly to the destruction of Polish forces. Successful attacks on the ends of this line can be used to fall back towards Warsaw with the ultimate objective of concentrating the army around Warsaw and finally in Warsaw. The Polish army could survive for weeks on the basis and force the Germans to fight for access to Warsaw followed by an all out siege with very high concentration of force. This type of defence would not save Poland but it would give the British and French a considerable time to attempt to intervene. Since Poland cannot possibly win a lone war versus Germany its strategy must be based on providing the best possible opportunity for the French and British. This involves preserving the Polish army for as long as possible rather than holding all of Polish territory.
That's from your analysis of the Fatherland Polish Campaign. Will this same strategy work in HoI3? I've tried it in HoI2 and it worked for a good while (perhaps indefinitely, I really don't remember).
 

Kanitatlan

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A Kanitatlan take on Poland in HoI 3? This should be most interesting and instructive.
That was exactly my intention so hopefully you won't be disappointed.
You have my attention. :)
Nice to have you aboard.
I would advise you to build a small army and invade the Baltic States just to have more manpower and industry, but this strategy seems quite unrealistic.

You should probably make some infantry, cavalry, a bit of mountain infantry, but mostly militia so that you can have enough troops to defend Poland.
As stated in the intro I won't be going for any pre-war expeditions as it is too unrealistic and misses the point of the AAR which is as a background for exploring the game.
Adopt an elastic defense; von Manstein in his memoir "Lost Victories" repeatedly notes how Poland's doctrine of static defense was their biggest downfall. Also, in case of German war, don't position your forces on the border, rather behind the Vistula as a natural obstacle, in order to avoid a flank by the north and south, to provide a much more narrow front, and also to predict more accurately where the main thrust of the German attack will come. Invest in more mobile forces; calvary, even motorized divisions if you have the industry. Remember the defence of Poland is a matter of time untill the Allies can launch an offensive of their own. Remember this and a victorious Poland will follow. :)
I guess I'm going to partly agree with you and partly disagree. Read the start up analysis posts and you'll see what I mean.
I'll be following this one, it's a shame that the USSR won't be attacking you just to add to the challenge!
I don't think the USSR would really add to the challenge it would more like make the whole thing utterly pointless and probably totally uninformative.
I tried this in 1.3 with AIIP. I used serious min-maxing to get near technological equality for 3 INF + 1 ART divisions (not so much on doctrines, obviously). I converted all manpower this way before war broke out. There were some spare IC days for stupid stuff, but not many. I lost after trying to capture Koenigsberg, which happened less than a day before Warsaw fell, about a month into the invasion.

To help with manpower, some militia divisions might make sense (1 INF + 2 MIL + support is pretty good on defence). Militia will require additional research, though. You could try using pure infantry, and spending the spare IC days on some forts if you can exploit their tactical value.
I tried it several times right at the beginning and unfortunately caused tech rushing to get pwned as I kept winning. I'm going to disagree quite strongly with your suggestions but I'll leave it to the AAR to explain.
I'm going to quote you, here:

That's from your analysis of the Fatherland Polish Campaign. Will this same strategy work in HoI3? I've tried it in HoI2 and it worked for a good while (perhaps indefinitely, I really don't remember).
:D Who can say anything but well done to such a devoted fan, I can hardly believe you dug that up :rofl:
 

Kanitatlan

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THE START - SOME TRIVIA

We will start by getting out of the way all the simple issues from the starting position before moving onto more complicated discussions over the core strategic decisions.



The Government​

There is little to say about these ministers as there is very little scope for changing them to something more useful since most of the substitutes are very similar. The only change is in the Minister of Security as shown above which barely needs any justification.

I'm not sure what +10% counterespionage actually does but it sounds like it may mean I can clear out enemy spies with 9 of my own instead of 10. Quite frankly if that is the case this is not very exciting, even if it allowed 5 to act like 10 then it isn't very exciting. The leadership cost of spies is 20 leadership days (LDs) so a full set of 10 for defence costs 200 LDs and is definitely sufficient for my purposes. On the other hand +5% leadership for 1350 days pays off rather handsomely by comparison yielding 461.7 LDs (actually higher with education research). In fact I think this is simply always a no brainer - go for the "man of the people" every time.

Elsewhere there are some useful ministers but these have little impact on strategy. +5% IC is useful but doesn't dictate any alternative strategic decisions. +20% supply production is useful and means my supplies are slightly better value than other countries but since there is no opportunity to convert supplies into other manufactured goods this doesn't suggest any particular strategy. The -25% on artillery practical decay does provide some support for producing artillery brigades but as far as I am concerned that is just a bonus as other reasons are more significant.



Policies​

Our government policies are already optimal for our current state and as good as it gets for a peacetime nation with one tiny little exception but…



Three-Year Draft requirements​

interestingly there is no issue in changing this. Our neutrality is exactly 60 and all we need is for it to be a teeny weeny bit less. One day of spies reducing our neutrality will permit me to change this law with significant benefit to long-term force strengths.



Politics​

There is really nothing to say to this, we don't get an election until after the Danzig campaign is over and support for our autocratic style of government and the resulting policies is perfectly adequate. Given the objective to survive the German attack I can safely completely ignore the politics and simply deal with any consequences when I've won.



Headline Figures​

The headline figures really don't tell us much until we start the economy running. Everything is pretty satisfactory including national unity at 70%. Whilst a higher figure would be nice once we are sufficiently beaten up to trigger a collapse at this level then the war is already lost anyway.



Intelligence report​

Intelligence policy is going to be very simple. I will cancel all overseas espionage as being a waste of precious leadership since I am too small to have a significant impact and need all the leadership I can get. I will start with one day of neutrality lowering to allow the draft laws to be changed and then switch to counter-espionage. I am going to waste a full 200 LDs on building up 10 spies although I do wonder if this is sensible. I could just build up 5 and then have 750 officers instead of the rest.

On 3-year draft 1 LD = 7.5 officers



Leadership on day one​
 

Myth

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A Kanitatlan HoI3 AAR! I'm here! I definitely agree about Man of the People. +5% leadership is simply an amazing bonus.
 

Lordban

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Indeed there are few cases in which the Man of the People provides a benefit less interesting than that of another Security Minister.

Are you actually going to invest some LD in a spy network in Europe? The return from an investment of Leadership points to place spies in most of European countries isn't evident, and the simple maintenance of a stable network in a major power like Germany requires an expenditure between 1 and 2 L/day.

Also regarding spies, but this time your domestic spies: lowering Neutrality has an interesting side-effect on production, ie. lowering the CG needs derived from the number of active Regular (non-reserve) brigades. I do not know how much IC is actually spent to cover for Regular brigades, but there might be a non-negligible gain to make there.
 

JDMS

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Looks interesting. I'm following. :)
 

Modo

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I tried it several times right at the beginning and unfortunately caused tech rushing to get pwned as I kept winning.
I don't quite understand this sentence. Who got pwned using what approach? :confused:

I'm going to disagree quite strongly with your suggestions but I'll leave it to the AAR to explain.
I only gave it one serious try, just like in HoI2. I don't know what really works, only what doesn't. Just giving another perspective. :)
 

unmerged(134218)

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Here's what I am wondering: The Government-in-Exile mechanic can allow you to be able to field partisans in the hopes of eventually liberating your country, but the only way to to form such a Government-in-Exile is to join up with an Alliance. You can't join up with the Allied though, because it's unlikely they'll be able to march over to the the lands formerly known as Poland, but I'm not sure that the USSR will accept you into their ranks as well.

It would seem that you might need to resort to a Government-in-Exile, as indeed, that mechanic was made specifically to make playing countries like Poland more fun.
 

Kanitatlan

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A Kanitatlan HoI3 AAR! I'm here! I definitely agree about Man of the People. +5% leadership is simply an amazing bonus.
Glad to have you on board I am currently ploughing through your AAR instead of writing this.
Indeed there are few cases in which the Man of the People provides a benefit less interesting than that of another Security Minister.

Are you actually going to invest some LD in a spy network in Europe? The return from an investment of Leadership points to place spies in most of European countries isn't evident, and the simple maintenance of a stable network in a major power like Germany requires an expenditure between 1 and 2 L/day.

Also regarding spies, but this time your domestic spies: lowering Neutrality has an interesting side-effect on production, ie. lowering the CG needs derived from the number of active Regular (non-reserve) brigades. I do not know how much IC is actually spent to cover for Regular brigades, but there might be a non-negligible gain to make there.
There will be no spy network as I agree entirely that it lacks point. I have picked up the lowering neutrality point and have been trying to avoid counting the pitiful gains in IC to reveal how little I gain from it.
Nice to see you in HOI3land!
Looks interesting. I'm following. :)
I'm on board. Looking forward to it.
Glad to have you all on board.
I don't quite understand this sentence. Who got pwned using what approach? :confused:
I only gave it one serious try, just like in HoI2. I don't know what really works, only what doesn't. Just giving another perspective. :)
Tech rush penalties were increased to prevent my exploiting it so ruthlessly as medium sized countries like Poland so I guess I was pwned. :(
Here's what I am wondering: The Government-in-Exile mechanic can allow you to be able to field partisans in the hopes of eventually liberating your country, but the only way to to form such a Government-in-Exile is to join up with an Alliance. You can't join up with the Allied though, because it's unlikely they'll be able to march over to the the lands formerly known as Poland, but I'm not sure that the USSR will accept you into their ranks as well.

It would seem that you might need to resort to a Government-in-Exile, as indeed, that mechanic was made specifically to make playing countries like Poland more fun.
I have no intention of becoming an government in exile. The purpose of the AAR is to explore opportunities for avoiding that result, and yes I will need all the luck I can get.
 

Kanitatlan

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THE ARMED FORCES

The first issue is to look at the current state of the armed forces and ask ourselves what we want to do with them. The current army consists of
  • 111 infantry brigades
  • 6 mountain brigades
  • 10 cavalry brigades
all organised in a somewhat messy and crappy manner. Given the leader benefits passed from the different command levels it is only sensible to embed our divisions into a full structure from corps up to theatre. This involves creating 2 new corps HQs and 1 army group HQ but I can in the process delete several armies. I have retained 4 army HQs although currently I only need 2 since I expect to build a lot more units.

Having done this I established that I'm currently paying 3.7% of IC in consumer goods to compensate for regular (ie non-reserve) brigades and deleting the two extra army HQs brings this down a bit. HQs are all regular brigades so it is attractive to minimise the cost although I will have to pay for reinforcing new HQs later.

In the process of reorganising ground forces I have placed logistic commanders in post for all corps, army, army group and Warsaw theatre HQs to reduce supply consumption during the build up period. For those of you who think this is too much effort I would just say that this will probably save enough IC to build a whole division.

I have disbanded the cavalry brigades as I really cannot justify keeping them. To give them current tech in 1939 will cost me more than 1500 LDs which would be a ridiculous investment for a mere 10 brigades. This does imply a decision not to build any more of them but I think this is a necessary economy given their questionable value. Building cavalry will dilute practicals acquired elsewhere and they are simply slightly weaker infantry that move slightly faster. My campaign play should illustrate why they have little to offer.

I am in 2 minds about retaining the mountain brigades as well but they do not require any additional technology. They are expensive compared with infantry but once you have them they might as well stay unless I have sufficient IC to build the manpower into something else.



Non-ground forces​

The remaining forces immediately raise several issues.

Firstly, just what is that navy for? I can understand Poland's desire to have a token navy but in this game it is pointless and is going to be immediately deleted to conserve a few resources (not many but some).

The air force is a different issue since I would dearly love to have an effective air defence. Unfortunately effective air defence is just not on the cards as it would require nearly 1000 LDs if I forget the fuel tanks and build the best short range interceptor I can for 1939 technology. Unfortunately the issue is forced by the IC cost of building interceptors - 3,085 each (start of game cost). Infantry brigades start at 429 allowing 7.2 for one interceptor and acquired practical experience will make it the difference greater. Building 10 interceptors would probably cost over 25 infantry divisions - not going to happen - and any less simply won't be effective.

I've looked at this repeatedly and I just cannot see any viable way of building a decent air force than can oppose the Luftwaffe rather than just get shot down.

The air units will stay but I don't expect them to be very useful.