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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
XI: 2. Operations Malay Tiger, RY: The Malaysian Peninsula, British Borneo, and the Ocean Islands July - September 1942

Wraith11B

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6oDxIQN.png

The Sun Also Rises
2. Operations Malay Tiger, RY: The Malaysian Peninsula, British Borneo, and the Ocean Islands
July - September 1942

As objectives for the planned expansion of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere were debated, one expected target was always high on the list: Singapore. Aside from Hong Kong, Singapore was the central hub of the British colonies, the stepping stone on the way from India to Australia. Particularly well sited in the area of the Malacca Straits, Singapore was known as the “Gibraltar of the East,” a phrase that was ironic as no effort was made in making the defense of the city or the Malayan peninsula a priority. Interbellum planning--made irrelevant with the destruction of the Royal Navy--had been that any attack would be preceded by a long period of escalating tensions, which would give the Royal Navy enough time to sail a powerful squadron to Singapore. Another assumption--and this one even more fanciful given the political climate--was that the Americans would be on hand to provide assistance. Any efforts by commanders in the area of operations to expand forces available to their commands largely fell on deaf ears. Indeed, only after the declaration of war came did any forces receive orders to go to the Asian theater of operations, and that order only went to the British Army’s 1 Airborne Division, which had the dubious honor of conducting the world’s longest airlift from bases in England to Singapore.

u256B21.png

A soldier of the Malay Brigade, obviously perturbed about
being photographed. His weapon, a Lewis gun, shows how
the British Army failed to really prepare their distant stations.

Japanese planning was, as ever, elaborately (some might say overly) complex. One naval task force was detailed to conduct landings at Kota Bharu with two Special Naval Landing Force divisions, just south of the border between Thailand and the Malay peninsula; another was slated for Johore Bharu with one division and XI Corps Headquarters. While no air forces were dedicated to this mission, no appreciable enemy air power was expected, either. Escorting these forces was an ancient surface action group built around the Ise- and Fuso-class battleships of Battleship Divisions 4 and 5, the two “youngest” of the Yahagi-class light cruisers of Cruiser Division 5, as well as two light cruisers from Cruiser Division 6, Naka and Kitikami. Five destroyers from Destroyer Squadron 18 (made up of the Shiratsuyu-class) were also brought along. Two groups of submarines (approximately twelve, though accounts differ) of a fourth-generation of IJN submarine class were tasked with cutting the supply lines from Britain, though their success was less than stellar. Facing this force, were perhaps nine thousand troops in Singapore of varying quality, as well as command forces for the area of operations. An Indian infantry division was available in Kuching, but with no naval or aviation assets available to conduct a sealift, they were unable to mass to effect the inevitable conclusion. Just after the declaration of war, London did order a group of naval bombers to deploy to Kuching, though the unit did not arrive in time and was later diverted[*].

fMGddZW.png

The comparison of the Orders of Battle on the eve of
Operation Malay Tiger, which encapsulated the invasion
of not only the Malay Peninsula, but also British Borneo,
Nauru and the Ocean Islands.

A mere four days after the declaration of war, on 15 July, the two landings began in earnest at Kota and Johore Bharu. With no real opposition, the Japanese forces were ashore rapidly and began moving towards their objectives, which for the landings at Kota Bharu was the major city of Kuala Lumpur and for the forces at Johore Bharu, Singapore. Unfortunately, the commander of the SNLF division at the latter landing site became indecisive, believing he did not have the forces to assault the garrison and thus wasting nearly ten days in waiting for the other two divisions to come down through the peninsula before finally launching his own attack on 25 July. This was bloodily repulsed, as reconnaissance by the defending forces had detected where the assembly areas of the amphibious forces were, and calling in nearly every available HE round from the islands 15” guns. Japanese intelligence had also failed to note that the British had flown in an entire airborne division, and so despite nearly equally bad losses, the British remained in control of the field when the attack was finally called off on 3 August. It would be almost a month of waiting until the rest of XI Corps was brought in, for the final assault on Singapore to be successfully concluded and all resistance ceased on 4 September; much of the Singapore Command’s units surrendered, while the 1 Airborne Division withdrew to Rangoon in what was the longest and largest air evacuation ever, at least until the German evacuation of Arkhangelsk in June, 1943.

ZXjzxUR.png

LTC Frederick Royden Chalmers, CMG, DSO, who was promoted to
Lieutenant in both the Boer War and the Great War, survived Gallipoli
and the Western Front with his command of the 27th Battalion only to
be in Nauru during the Japanese occupation of the island. OTL: he was
beheaded after an air raid on the island, and the man who ordered the
execution was hung by the Australians for war crimes.

While those operations were underway, landings were also executed against other British Pacific holdings, specifically Nauru and Ocean Island. These islands were largely worthless--aside from some phosphate mining on Nauru, they were geographically isolated--but the Japanese high command deemed the islands to be important as a way to establish a defensive position against any attempt to invade Japanese territories. As the Japanese arrived on 15 July, the island's chief administrator, a retired Australian Lieutenant Colonel veteran of the Boer and First World Wars Frederick Royden Chalmers, stormed up and down the beach hurling insults at the Japanese as they shelled several presumed defensive positions, but no armed resistance to the invasion occurred.[**]

On 30 July, two SNLF divisions were landed in Miri, in British Borneo, and on 31 August, another division was landed in Sibu. The two divisions in Miri rapidly overcame the effective resistance of the 6. Indian Division, and the entire division surrendered mostly intact on 5 August. It had only taken a month and a half, but the Japanese were now in complete control of much of the British Pacific holdings and the Japanese turned their full attention to Australian and New Zealand territory, but more importantly, to the efforts of a service scrambling to prove their worth: the Royal Navy.

*****

Author's Note:
[*]: The AI did dispatch No.16 RN Coastal Command naval bomber wing to Kuching. No idea why. I don’t recall it actually doing anything.
[**]: This actually happened when German auxiliary cruisers shelled the island in December 1940; with no auxiliary cruisers in the Kriegsmarine, I altered his enemy a bit...

Reading about the fall of Hong Kong gave me flash forwards to 2020. A chilling time for democracy.

Nice update Wraith!
History might not repeat itself, but it rhymes in the weirdest ways.

This AAR truly is a masterclass in the art of breaking butterflies upon the wheel.
I do try my best to keep things... relatively... out of the space-time continuum but with the uncanny valley feeling of certainly could have happened.
 
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stnylan

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I mean, shelling is so rude!
 
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Cromwell

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The Japanese managing to perform incompetently even against minimal opposition. That delay on the attack on Singapore...

A shame about poor old Chalmers.
 
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Wraith11B

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I mean, shelling is so rude!
Doubly so when there is no resistance to the assault...

The Japanese managing to perform incompetently even against minimal opposition. That delay on the attack on Singapore...

A shame about poor old Chalmers.
Indeed, as I recall, when I set all of them to go, I was then pulled away by something else, only to come back when I noticed that the battle was still going on. That's when I noticed that it was going to fail and called it off. I just waited for the rest of the corps to come up in support at that point. Not exactly textbook (a little bit behind OTL), but the British forces certainly inflicted more damage than OTL.
 

El Pip

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Once you accept the minimal acceptable standard is 'perfection' (because frankly there is no excuse for the Axis not to perform at that level given all their massive advantages) that was a miserable failure of an operation for Japan and should result in several case of seppuku, as the disgraced officers make amends in the only honourable way.
 
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Bullfilter

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The sense of creeping dread one gets when the Japanese start rolling south worsens now. At least for Australia there wasn’t a whole AIF division stuck in Singapore and the paratroopers were able to evacuate. That was a tremendous loss for us: a division of our best trained troops, of which we only had five (not including militia forces). About 15,000 of its total strength of 20,000 were captured, and I think about 5,000 of them died in captivity.

The country only had a population of around 7.2m at the time. Today, by current population proportion, that 15,000 would be like losing around around 50,000+ men. With most of the rest over in the Middle East, the RN largely absent, and nothing much standing between here and there. Sobering times.

Of course, I expect you to follow the HOI3 AI bushido hard-code and invade Sydney next! :eek: To do anything else would, of course, incur tremendous dishonour. As I’m sure @El Pip would agree, the only expiation of a failure to carry it out would be seppuku.
 
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Wraith11B

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Once you accept the minimal acceptable standard is 'perfection' (because frankly there is no excuse for the Axis not to perform at that level given all their massive advantages) that was a miserable failure of an operation for Japan and should result in several case of seppuku, as the disgraced officers make amends in the only honourable way.
For sure, against the AI. I'm tempted to revisit this whole thing via my more recent capabilities (that is, six bloody computers) and see how that works out in BlackICE or HPP. Especially since I'll be able to more relevantly throw roadblocks in for myself.

The sense of creeping dread one gets when the Japanese start rolling south worsens now. At least for Australia there wasn’t a whole AIF division stuck in Singapore and the paratroopers were able to evacuate. That was a tremendous loss for us: a division of our best trained troops, of which we only had five (not including militia forces). About 15,000 of its total strength of 20,000 were captured, and I think about 5,000 of them died in captivity.

The country only had a population of around 7.2m at the time. Today, by current population proportion, that 15,000 would be like losing around around 50,000+ men. With most of the rest over in the Middle East, the RN largely absent, and nothing much standing between here and there. Sobering times.
Most of them are in Oz, mucking about with not much to do other than play Rugby, apparently. It's one of the things about this game that exists in HoI4: the AI "does better with more units." Which to me means "We can't figure out how to properly code an AI to balance itself using a more realistic system of manpower and production."

Of course, I expect you to follow the HOI3 AI bushido hard-code and invade Sydney next! :eek: To do anything else would, of course, incur tremendous dishonour. As I’m sure @El Pip would agree, the only expiation of a failure to carry it out would be seppuku.
Ha! Well, unfortunately, because the AI gets certain abilities (looking at you, Transports) that a human does not, it takes a few jumps to get places.
 
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Bullfilter

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I'm tempted to revisit this whole thing via my more recent capabilities (that is, six bloody computers)
:eek: That way lies madness!:D
 
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nuclearslurpee

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Most of them are in Oz, mucking about with not much to do other than play Rugby, apparently. It's one of the things about this game that exists in HoI4: the AI "does better with more units." Which to me means "We can't figure out how to properly code an AI to balance itself using a more realistic system of manpower and production."
In fairness to Paradox, this is something of a consequence of the fact that the game lacks the granularity to represent the numerous border, garrison etc. units that a real nation would have deployed around their holdings, which are smaller than brigade/division-size and thus not representable on a map. So you get situations like Australia's AI having to defend their entire country with a handful of divisions which not only isn't really possible, but is frankly unrealistic.

Australia on 8 Dec 1941 for example had only six divisions (4 INF, 2 CAV) on the entire continent (with another 4 INF divisions overseas in Malaya and the Middle East, plus 1st Armoured existing more or less only on paper). However in addition there were around 20ish brigade-level formations scattered across the country, which in HoI3 are pretty useless as single brigades are basically not combat-viable for anything more than a 3-hour delaying action, where in reality the combination of independent brigades and fixed defenses would be enough to if not fend off an enemy landing at least require the enemy to commit overwhelming force to any point worth landing at - whereas in HoI Japan can just sail a couple of Transports around looking for an undefended port and casually drop off a MAR division with no problems.

You see similar problems to various extents in...virtually every theater that's not Germany conquering the world, actually (and even then, the Atlantic Wall isn't modeled well). The British AI can't garrison its colonies effectively, US AI has similar tendencies (and also tends to garrison its land borders when it doesn't need to, which is another AI problem but historically there were plenty of loose regiments and etc. patrolling those areas so it's a related problem), Japan in China tends to stall in part because they can't use ad-hoc Mixed Brigades to fill the line, and so on.

A "simple" solution without adding even more micromanagement and granularity into an already-detailed game would have been to let urban tiles and/or the buildings in them offer resistance to attacking units even if no divisions are stationed there on the map (perhaps also adding an MP cost to forts, bases, etc. to represent fixed defenders). This solves a lot of "small" AI and gameplay problems - naval bases and coastal forts can resist a small landing by themselves, "undefended" cities with military infrastructure don't welcome paratroopers with open arms, fortified lines like Maginot don't magically become useless the second the French AI assidentally pulls the defending divisions out of Haguenau in a panic... and so on.

Which brings us back around to blaming Paradox anyways for not implementing something perfectly reasonable like this to help fix their damn game, of course. :p
 
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GarfunkeL

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These problems existed in HoI1 and HoI2 already so we can justly blame Paradox for not improving on the AI for HoI3, especially when they did implement two ambitious features: the massively grown world map with thousands of provinces more than before, and a semi-realistic weather system that actually - well kinda wonkily but anyway - works.

Similarly, the blockheaded refusal to never include railroads is mystifying. Vicky1 managed to model them. Railroads were extremely important for the logistics of war the moment they were built. Campaigns in both WW1 and WW2 were planned around the usage of railroads and where stations were. Paradox even went to the trouble of making a lot more complex and (again) semi-realistic logistics system, yet baulked at including railroads.

Of course, at launch we had HQ units running amok across Europe, Brazil joining the Comintern, supply system so difficult to understand and so easy to break down that it required the addition of 'arcade' mode, and many, many, many more wonderful little issues, so I guess maybe they already had their plate overloaded.

And of course times two - HoI4 had many of the same problems at launch, still does not include railroads and still does not model sub-division units at all. Oh well.
 
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Similarly, the blockheaded refusal to never include railroads is mystifying. Vicky1 managed to model them. Railroads were extremely important for the logistics of war the moment they were built. Campaigns in both WW1 and WW2 were planned around the usage of railroads and where stations were. Paradox even went to the trouble of making a lot more complex and (again) semi-realistic logistics system, yet baulked at including railroads.
This may possibly be my single greatest complaint with the game, frankly. It becomes nearly impossible to fight a proper strategic WWII campaign without railroads, given how heavily Barbarossa and onwards was dominated by the railways (both the gauge problem the Germans ran into, and generally how much fighting was done to control each railroad junction). Similarly, the Chinese theater in the early stages was primarily a series of campaigns fought by the Japanese to seize rail lines. So much lost potential here, although at least the infrastructure level gives us something to work with.

supply system so difficult to understand and so easy to break down that it required the addition of 'arcade' mode,
I still maintain that this is the single most accurate piece of game mechanics that Paradox has ever implemented. Not through any fault of their own, of course.

By the way, @Wraith11B this is supposed to be an AAR, where's the update?? :p
 
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This may possibly be my single greatest complaint with the game, frankly. It becomes nearly impossible to fight a proper strategic WWII campaign without railroads, given how heavily Barbarossa and onwards was dominated by the railways (both the gauge problem the Germans ran into, and generally how much fighting was done to control each railroad junction).

Just...look, there's no way paradox is going to go to all the trouble of modeling railroads when a German game won't be using the main model of whatever it is they go with, because their main campaign where railroads are important (and the one that lasts longer than two weeks) is against Russia...which involved otl redoing every piece of rail they came across to fit German gauges. So unless paradox builds a beautiful railway model, and another one for converting them whilst at war, and for converting them back, all without anything breaking and of course, having to be usable by the AI...

It's beyond them. Why on earth would they bother with that?
 
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Just stopping by to say that, as part of resolution to 'get more into HOI', I am finally putting this fine piece of work on my reading list. (So going by Talking Turkey speeds I'll probably be all caught up in, oh I don't know, three months or so? :D)

Should say also that this looks impeccable. Great job on the presentation.
 
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:eek: That way lies madness!:D
Madness?

THIS! IS! PARADOX!

In fairness to Paradox, this is something of a consequence of the fact that the game lacks the granularity to represent the numerous border, garrison etc. units that a real nation would have deployed around their holdings, which are smaller than brigade/division-size and thus not representable on a map. So you get situations like Australia's AI having to defend their entire country with a handful of divisions which not only isn't really possible, but is frankly unrealistic.

Australia on 8 Dec 1941 for example had only six divisions (4 INF, 2 CAV) on the entire continent (with another 4 INF divisions overseas in Malaya and the Middle East, plus 1st Armoured existing more or less only on paper). However in addition there were around 20ish brigade-level formations scattered across the country, which in HoI3 are pretty useless as single brigades are basically not combat-viable for anything more than a 3-hour delaying action, where in reality the combination of independent brigades and fixed defenses would be enough to if not fend off an enemy landing at least require the enemy to commit overwhelming force to any point worth landing at - whereas in HoI Japan can just sail a couple of Transports around looking for an undefended port and casually drop off a MAR division with no problems.

You see similar problems to various extents in...virtually every theater that's not Germany conquering the world, actually (and even then, the Atlantic Wall isn't modeled well). The British AI can't garrison its colonies effectively, US AI has similar tendencies (and also tends to garrison its land borders when it doesn't need to, which is another AI problem but historically there were plenty of loose regiments and etc. patrolling those areas so it's a related problem), Japan in China tends to stall in part because they can't use ad-hoc Mixed Brigades to fill the line, and so on.

A "simple" solution without adding even more micromanagement and granularity into an already-detailed game would have been to let urban tiles and/or the buildings in them offer resistance to attacking units even if no divisions are stationed there on the map (perhaps also adding an MP cost to forts, bases, etc. to represent fixed defenders). This solves a lot of "small" AI and gameplay problems - naval bases and coastal forts can resist a small landing by themselves, "undefended" cities with military infrastructure don't welcome paratroopers with open arms, fortified lines like Maginot don't magically become useless the second the French AI assidentally pulls the defending divisions out of Haguenau in a panic... and so on.

Which brings us back around to blaming Paradox anyways for not implementing something perfectly reasonable like this to help fix their damn game, of course. :p
It would be nice to have a bit of a CivV answer of resistance, but modeling things like independent brigades (especially for the Garrison brigade type) if it came with an "Corps" level HQ and a massive bonus to defending against amphibious assaults or in urban/fort terrain. Whelp, that gives me an idea...

Getting back to the idea of an independent brigade, I feel like that would require something like a more modular division design system with battalions as the basic building blocks and could help nations that only have small, largely defensive armies which would come into play by having a force limit (tied to both territory, manpower, IC, leadership, etc) that they would be unable to exceed. Gone would be the days of Liberia having ten divisions.

These problems existed in HoI1 and HoI2 already so we can justly blame Paradox for not improving on the AI for HoI3, especially when they did implement two ambitious features: the massively grown world map with thousands of provinces more than before, and a semi-realistic weather system that actually - well kinda wonkily but anyway - works.

Similarly, the blockheaded refusal to never include railroads is mystifying. Vicky1 managed to model them. Railroads were extremely important for the logistics of war the moment they were built. Campaigns in both WW1 and WW2 were planned around the usage of railroads and where stations were. Paradox even went to the trouble of making a lot more complex and (again) semi-realistic logistics system, yet baulked at including railroads.

Of course, at launch we had HQ units running amok across Europe, Brazil joining the Comintern, supply system so difficult to understand and so easy to break down that it required the addition of 'arcade' mode, and many, many, many more wonderful little issues, so I guess maybe they already had their plate overloaded.

And of course times two - HoI4 had many of the same problems at launch, still does not include railroads and still does not model sub-division units at all. Oh well.
They not only made a fairly decent infrastructure system, but then failed to properly refine it so that there are definite "paths" that would follow how armies at the time moved, and then continued in their failure to have a proper pathing AI in the logistics system which might get to be where they needed it to have a really successful game system. It is almost like they could have gone just a hair smaller on the provinces, had a limit to what each could hold (ie, I can't have all installations in each province) and then a limit to the number of units that could be stationed there. Ah, what I would do if I were in charge.

This may possibly be my single greatest complaint with the game, frankly. It becomes nearly impossible to fight a proper strategic WWII campaign without railroads, given how heavily Barbarossa and onwards was dominated by the railways (both the gauge problem the Germans ran into, and generally how much fighting was done to control each railroad junction). Similarly, the Chinese theater in the early stages was primarily a series of campaigns fought by the Japanese to seize rail lines. So much lost potential here, although at least the infrastructure level gives us something to work with.
This could have been done through the Industry tab research: Set the gauge of the national network, and prohibit use of the opponent's system until repairs that cost IC are made.

I still maintain that this is the single most accurate piece of game mechanics that Paradox has ever implemented. Not through any fault of their own, of course.
Kinda in a half-arsed way, it is.

By the way, @Wraith11B this is supposed to be an AAR, where's the update?? :p
I'd quote Johan or Gandalf here, but suffice it to say that the process is ongoing. I'm probably going to have to break the one projected update into at least two if I intend to get through July to October or whenever and cover all of the naval combat, though I'm trying a bit of tying off the minor skirmishes in such a way that I don't need to really cover them. We'll see.

Just...look, there's no way paradox is going to go to all the trouble of modeling railroads when a German game won't be using the main model of whatever it is they go with, because their main campaign where railroads are important (and the one that lasts longer than two weeks) is against Russia...which involved otl redoing every piece of rail they came across to fit German gauges. So unless paradox builds a beautiful railway model, and another one for converting them whilst at war, and for converting them back, all without anything breaking and of course, having to be usable by the AI...

It's beyond them. Why on earth would they bother with that?
To be fair, the damage to the system would be useful in France and the Low Countries as well, but you're right. It's only going to be super important in Russia.

Just stopping by to say that, as part of resolution to 'get more into HOI', I am finally putting this fine piece of work on my reading list. (So going by Talking Turkey speeds I'll probably be all caught up in, oh I don't know, three months or so? :D)

Should say also that this looks impeccable. Great job on the presentation.
Welcome welcome! I hope that my attempts at professionalization meet with your approval. As I get more and more into this game, I seem to be adopting a more... Pippian... level of timing. As I mention above, I am working on the next update, and will try to have it out at the end of this off rotation.
 
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Getting back to the idea of an independent brigade, I feel like that would require something like a more modular division design system with battalions as the basic building blocks
This may or may not be the subject of a persistent fantasy dream for me...

I'd quote Johan or Gandalf here, but suffice it to say that the process is ongoing. I'm probably going to have to break the one projected update into at least two if I intend to get through July to October or whenever and cover all of the naval combat, though I'm trying a bit of tying off the minor skirmishes in such a way that I don't need to really cover them. We'll see.
Oh, sure, you come in here and don't even update but tease us with naval combat. Bah, fine, I can wait a little longer...

...but not much longer! :mad: :p

Welcome welcome! I hope that my attempts at professionalization meet with your approval. As I get more and more into this game, I seem to be adopting a more... Pippian... level of timing. As I mention above, I am working on the next update, and will try to have it out at the end of this off rotation.
El Pip seems to have infected the entire HoI3 board with his unique sense of timing, which is a concern as not all authAARs are El Pip. :eek:
 
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El Pip seems to have infected the entire HoI3 board with his unique sense of timing, which is a concern as not all authAARs are El Pip. :eek:
This is the terrible consequence of me actually finishing not one but two AARs in the same year.
 
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As I get more and more into this game, I seem to be adopting a more... Pippian... level of timing.

Ah yes, the commonly diagnosed pipiosis. Also known as a sudden urge to take the scenic route. I suppose it gives plenty more time to catch up on my part! :D
 
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This is the terrible consequence of me actually finishing not one but two AARs in the same year.
Truly 2020 has been a horror show of unimaginable proportions.
 
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Truly 2020 has been a horror show of unimaginable proportions.
This does make it the perfect time for me to start an AAR with actual action in it. What would one more shocking horror be amongst so many others?
 
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This does make it the perfect time for me to start an AAR with actual action in it. What would one more shocking horror be amongst so many others?
Only slightly less shocking than if @Wraith11B were to post an update in the very next post, which may or may not just happen to have top-of-the page billing...
 
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