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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Rensslaer

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EARLY TO WAR
1936 Germany With Itchy Trigger Fingers



Goal: To make the world safe for Germany.

Decision: War with the Western Allies in October 1938.

Rationale: We've been building up for war actively for nearly 3 years, and they're just beginning to wake up. We have an advantage of surprise we will only lose with time. Let's get this done!

Secondary Rationale: Poland serves as a bulwark against our primary enemy, the USSR. This avoids a stab in the back early on in the war.

In October of 1938, Germany turned her back to restive Poland and a weakened, Sudeten-less Czechoslovakia, hoping to steal a march on the concerned but disorganized western Allies. War was declared against The Netherlands, which triggered a declaration by France and the British Commonwealth of a state of war against Germany.

This game uses HOI TFH with the Historical Plausibility Project's latest (final) HOI 3 version, which is HPP_333(b). The Historical Plausibility Project's goal has been to make various things more realistic and offer flavor without complication, more ahistorical options without game-breaking weirdness, and in general alot of improvements. My main complaint with this version is that there's a bug which gives infantry the combined arms bonus, but I don't see huge impacts in gameplay as a result.

This is to be a strategy AAR, which is to say I'm focusing on grand strategies, and will explain those strategies and strategic imperatives as I see them (as shown above).

This is just a teaser -- in coming days I will return to 1936 and briefly show Germany's preparation for war, her early moves, and changing master plans before coming back to October of 1938 and war.

I will try to keep this moving. In the past many of my AARs have included such extravagant detail that it bogged things down. Many people enjoyed all that, but I'm guessing that since HOI 3 is old, now, there's not as much interest in the kind of details I included in Imperio Novo, for instance (which began a week or two after the game was released).

The result? Not as much focus on individual battles or orders of battle.

I haven't read a whole bunch of Germany AARs, so I don't know how often players have gone to war in 1938 (or 1936!!). It seemed to me to be somewhat off the beaten path, but I'm curious what other readers have seen.

Prologue coming soon, to explain how I came to begin another AAR 13 years after my first one (Fire Warms the Northern Lands, in Victoria 1), and 4 years after my most recent AAR (Serenity, in Victoria 2).

Thanks! Great to be back at the game! I would be very glad to hear feedback from anyone at any time.

Rensslaer
 

Idhrendur

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I'll be following, and hopefully will learn something.
 

Macke11

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I've heard that Rensslaner AARs were great, so I suppose this is a good opportunity to find out myself!;)

Also, I would support details on battles and OOB, but the choice is entirely yours and regardless I'll see if I can keep up with this.:)
 
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Bullfilter

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Will be interested to see how things go, also any observations along the way as to how HPP was different/better than plain TFH (I'm 'saving up' the two major mods until I have played more HOI3, having only returned to it after a short stint after it first came out). Good luck with the AAR.
 

Rensslaer

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Prologue
(feedback to feedback to follow)

I think it’s been 5 years since I’ve done an AAR. I never promised myself not to do another AAR, but I figured I’m busy enough that I really don’t have time to do another AAR. And I’m completely right – I don’t have time to do another AAR.

But…

Writing AARs has been in my blood since I began Fire Warms the Northern Lands in 2004. I habitually take screenshots of gameplay as I go, even when I don’t plan to do an AAR. And, against my better judgment I continued to take screenshots during my new HOI 3 game even though I knew that left the door open to an AAR I didn’t have time for.

So… <sighs>

Here I am. :)

I make no promises as to pace. I’m actively studying for various cybersecurity certifications because I desperately need a better job. I really need to be doing that rather than playing or writing about taking over the world.

My reputation with AARs is to do something surprising. In Fire Warms the Northern Lands (Victoria) I started to build a great empire, then almost LOST playing as Prussia! I think folks appreciated an edge-of-your-seat story, told honestly. In Sforza!!! I took over most of the world as tiny Milan. In I Am Siam I played with the big dogs and took over much an industrialized (Victoria II) world as an (initially) uncivilized minor. In Kriegsgefahr I avoided World War II entirely, as a strong but peaceful Germany (believe it or not, this is actually quite difficult, the game systems steering you toward war, especially if you’re creating a strong enough military to defend yourself).

Why HOI 3 and not HOI 4? Honestly, I bought HOI 4, became MEGO overwhelmed, and began another HOI 3 game within 12 hours (I started with vanilla TFH... getting to that in feedback to feedback!). It’s not so much that HOI 4 is so overwhelming, it’s just my habit to micromanage my units, and I get the impression HOI 4 makes it more difficult to do that. I may be completely wrong (I’m sure I’ll hear why!). I’ll go back to it once I’m done with this game.

Learning HOI 3 was easy for me because I literally "wrote the book" – I wrote the Manual and Strategy Guide(s). I began playing the game many months before it was even released. I watched the girders go up, learned every aspect from the inside, even influenced at times how the final product developed. I learned HOI 3 intimately because I watched it grow from toddlerhood to adulthood. It’s very familiar to me, and I feel a kinship with it. It’s my place of comfort.

I hope that this Germany AAR can stand out from the rest. Germany in WW II AARs can easily be a dime a dozen, I think (who didn't buy this game just so they could play Germany??), and it’s hard to do something dozens of others haven’t done. I don’t often read Germany HOI AARs for that reason, so I don’t even know. Maybe I’m completely uninformed. Maybe what I do has been done by others – I really don’t know. Let’s just say what I did up to 1941 is completely different from everything I’ve seen before, and the greatest challenges still lay ahead. I began my Germany game conventionally enough, building up the world’s strongest military in violation of the Versailles Treaty. Then I sensed an opportunity – felt it, more than saw it – and knew it wouldn’t come again if I missed it. From there, everything changed.

Hope it keeps your interest! For those huge percentage of you who’ve never seen my AARs before, I can simply say that I generally do keep peoples’ interest, so please give me a chance. For better or worse, here it goes. I've survived gameplay up to 1941, but in many ways the challenge is only beginning.

Thanks in advance for your readership! I value readers, and will respond to any feeback.

And so....
 

racebear75

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Subbed! Although I think, Uriah's Doppelgänger-AAR is a real landmark for Germany-AARs, but a real different approach will be interesting, too.
 

nuclearslurpee

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I make no promises as to pace. I’m actively studying for various cybersecurity certifications because I desperately need a better job. I really need to be doing that rather than playing or writing about taking over the world.
Personally, I find that regardless of how much someone has on their plate, everyone needs a hobby.

Definitely following this, it's been too long since a good HPP AAR graced these forums. I'm curious about the infantry bug you mentioned, is that really a bug? I was under the impression that combined arms could be granted to infantry divisions in TFH as the combined arms bonus was completely overhauled for that expansion.
 

Rensslaer

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I'll be following, and hopefully will learn something.
Welcome, Idhrendur! I hope you will learn something too. Thanks for following along!

I've heard that Rensslaner AARs were great, so I suppose this is a good opportunity to find out myself!;)

Also, I would support details on battles and OOB, but the choice is entirely yours and regardless I'll see if I can keep up with this.:)
Welcome, Macke11! I'm glad you've heard that - I hope to live up to expectations! I'll see what I can do about details. The goal is to explain the interesting details while avoiding a commitment to needless turgid details that get in the way of a good story. I'll be trying to strike that balance.

Subbed! Although I think, Uriah's Doppelgänger-AAR is a real landmark for Germany-AARs, but a real different approach will be interesting, too.
Welcome, Racebear75! I've read parts of Doppelganger, but haven't finished it. It's been a long time, though, so I don't remember and probably need to just start over. :) Thanks!

Personally, I find that regardless of how much someone has on their plate, everyone needs a hobby.

Definitely following this, it's been too long since a good HPP AAR graced these forums. I'm curious about the infantry bug you mentioned, is that really a bug? I was under the impression that combined arms could be granted to infantry divisions in TFH as the combined arms bonus was completely overhauled for that expansion.
Welcome, Nuclearslurpee! Yes, and I should probably have writing my second novel as my hobby instead of playing games and writing AARs, but this is just in my blood, you know?! Besides, writing fiction is how I got into my first AAR, so it goes hand in hand.

You may be right about TFH and the combined arms issue -- someone else had mentioned it as a bug in the HPP forum and I'd assumed it was. I never really felt it unbalanced anything terribly -- you still don't make great progress anywhere without tanks. I'm just not used to seeing infantry units with combined arms, as my experience with TFH is pretty slim.

Will be interested to see how things go, also any observations along the way as to how HPP was different/better than plain TFH (I'm 'saving up' the two major mods until I have played more HOI3, having only returned to it after a short stint after it first came out). Good luck with the AAR.
Welcome, Bullfilter! In actuality I started with vanilla TFH (I'd played with the HPP mod before, but wanted to both try out TFH and didn't want to bother with modding uploads, etc.). After getting a couple years in, I started obsessing more about growing irritations, like "Darn it, I can't use cavalry and/or garrison units to cover my conquered lands unless I keep up on garrison/militia/cavalry techs, which are a total waste of time and tech research slots." HPP fixes that, so I switched and started over. There's alot more too -- I'm going to borrow/steal and modify an entry from my Kriegsgefahr AAR where I explained the major differences between HPP and vanilla HOI 3...


HPP: The Historical Probability Project Mod

Some of the obvious differences with HPP are superficial. The German battle flag is used, instead of the old Imperial black-white-red. Germany is known as the German Reich. Japan also uses the Rising Sun flag instead.



Ignore that silly picture of Hitler as Head of State – I have some Junker aristocrat as my Head of State. We keep Hitler in a monkey cage and ask him to make public statements from time to time.

One of the key divergences of HPP from vanilla HOI 3 is they have separated out some of the factors which in vanilla are agglomerated and abstracted into an “economic mobilization” status. One thing they’ve separated out is Taxation – how much money your government has available is related primarily to your taxation level, not to your mobilization level. I like this.



Laws in HPP are also more expensive to change, and the larger the change from the status quo, the larger the expense (as opposed to them all being the same cost in SF/TFH). HPP also has generally higher costs for changing any laws.

Industrial Policy Laws have changed somewhat, too. In the Strategy Guide for standard HOI 3 (page 13), I indicated Consumer Product Orientation was only useful during peacetime, and even then Mixed Industry was probably preferable. During war, I said Mixed Industry would do fine, but Heavy Industry was preferable. The choices were essentially “no-brainers” (if collective wisdom on this has changed for vanilla HOI 3 I’d be curious to hear why). In HPP, the consequences of each have changed, and there are no longer obvious choices.

(Note of contrast between Kriegsgefahr (SF) and Early to War (TFH) -- the graphic is 95% the same between SF and TFH, but TFH has added an impact to Resource production levels)



In HPP they’ve added a consequence (greater Supply Consumption) for Heavy Industry emphasis. But the benefits during wartime are also greater (better Supply Throughput and better IC Efficiency – the two reasons you’d still want to choose this during war). The Mixed Industry has smaller degrees of the same tradeoffs, but without the IC Efficiency benefit, which makes it less useful (someone might still decide to stick with MI during wartime, though). HPP’s Consumer Product Orientation is still not a great choice for wartime economies (not a no-brainer, though – someone might choose to keep the Dissent Change benefits), but has become a likely choice for peacetime economies.

The Education and Training Laws (both sets) are significantly different in HPP, but I have no need to change anything here, and so won’t go into detail. The defaults for both are different from unmodded HOI 3. Germany has a “standing army” rather than a 2-year draft. And Germany has a far lower default for Education than in the unmodded game, which I think is probably realistic (again, balance probably decided the default in HOI 3). HPP makes the impact of more intensive Education Laws less (I think only 20% of the unmodded impact on Leadership) than in the unmodded game. I think this is also realistic – I’ve studied education policy a lot, over the years, and as far as I’m concerned, throwing money at education has a relatively minimal impact on results. In HPP the impact is directed more toward relative qualification of the officer corps, and less toward more effective research.

Another note not in the original Kriegsgefahr note: HPP also impacts Leadership positively over time according to how much IC you have and/or other factors which determine the greatness of your empire. I presume if you were to build Turkey (Bullfilter!) into a great power, HPP would reward you with an additional bonus to Leadership.

The Economic Laws – what is sometimes referred to as Industrial Mobilization – are also quite different. Because of the conceptual changes in HPP, the higher range options do increase available IC, but the lower ranges do not, unlike in unmodded HOI3/SF. Also, these don’t have as much impact on the availability of money (this effect having been mostly shifted into Taxation Laws).



I notice that in HPP I seem to need more relative IC devoted to Reinforcement, I believe because the “Manpower Rotation” during peacetime is higher (soldiers retiring, terms of service expiring, etc.). I think this is more realistic too.

Whereas when I played this scenario (Kriegsgefahr) in HOI3/SF I reduced my mobilization to Full Civilian Economy, to save on Resource Cost/Use, the Resource Cost/Use is less in HPP for Basic Mobilization (the default for Germany), so I leave it where it is. This avoids what would have been higher Consumer Goods costs, and I get to keep my Reserve units at 60% instead of 75% (just in case). The difference between -10% and -20% Resource Use isn’t going to make an enormous difference in my stockpile sizes. The main thing that depletes Stockpiles is the IC use, which isn’t affected by these lower levels in HPP. ((HPP also artificially retards extremely high resource stockpiles through a "storage penalty" which assumes you'll eventually have difficulty finding places to store all the stockpile)).

Before I move on, I’ll note that in HOI3/SF Germany starts out at War Economy, with +25% IC benefits. In HPP you start out at Basic Mobilization (in unmodded HOI3 that would have meant -25% IC, but not in HPP). This is more realistic and historical (the unmodded game may have set a higher level for balance purposes). The oft-quoted statistic is that Nazi Germany didn’t fully engage itself in a wartime economic footing until 1942 or 1943, historically. Basic Mobilization is about where Germany would have been, historically in 1936.

The elements in the Tech Tree for HPP aren’t entirely different from unmodded HOI 3. There are some differences in what you can research, yes, including old Techs missing and new ones added. As far as I can tell, there is no Garrison/Militia set of Techs, which is fine with me (conceptually, there has never been a difference between technologies or techniques which benefit the regular army versus militias, etc. – militias just use older equipment). HPP also has a process for filtering increased infantry techs down to the lesser reserve/garrison/militia units so they grow naturally stronger over time from hand-me-down weapons and/or training.



The main change in HPP is that everything is organized differently. Techs are more definitely queued, one after the other (at least this is what I presume from my brief experience – correct me Slan or TheBromgrev if I’m wrong). And many techs cannot be researched automatically – they are keyed to General Staff policies, which may be very different from one army/navy to the next.

Basically, if I’ve not unlocked (chosen) a certain doctrine – differentiated by overall strategy/tactics concept and/or year of advancement – then I cannot research the techs keyed by that doctrine. Because of this, once I make a choice to follow one doctrine over another, there may be techs permanently locked off to me. This is not really a disadvantage because I’ve chosen not to need those techs – I’m heading in a different conceptual direction anyway.

Note from Early to War: I actually feel like the doctrine process is bugged in HPP 333b -- I never, for instance, got the opportunity to choose an armored or infantry doctrine for 1940, which means I need to go in somehow and trigger these or else forego those techs.



Now, I’ll admit that in unmodded HOI 3 I would sometimes cherry-pick techs here and there, based on what benefit they provided. I believe this was sometimes necessary in unmodded HOI 3. I believe it is NOT necessary in HPP because the combat values affected by each tech have been switched around to be (in my opinion) more logical. I no longer have to research Militia Support Weapons (or whatever) to get my Militia units up to speed – they use the same techs as Infantry. I no longer have to have some obscure tech (one of a set of 5) to increase Artillery Morale – that’s affected by the same tech, hypothetically (i.e. I’m not looking this up), as would provide Organization for Artillery brigades. Again, this makes more sense to me – good job, HPP team!

The upshot of this conceptual change in the Tech Tree is that you must make sensible decisions about command/deployment/operation philosophy when those choices come up. It also means it’s wise to keep an eye on which doctrines your probable opponents are choosing, so you know what kind of techs they’ll be researching.



When the choice comes up for Infantry Doctrine (notice Germany is 4 years ahead of your “average” country in Infantry Doctrines), I choose what Prussian/German armies have always chosen since von Moltke – Infiltration Doctrine. Basically, I want to be mobile and send out scouting skirmishers to make contact with the enemy, allowing the rest of my unit to flank the enemy and surprise them. The Infantry Techs I can research will be affected by this, though I’m not entirely sure how, just yet.



The last major difference I want to point out is that HPP adds a fourth tab to the Doctrine techs (I think this is merely an organizational change, but I may be wrong). You must choose your “Operational Doctrine” in addition to your Infantry, Tank, Air, Naval, etc. This affects (more rigidly, I think, than HOI 3) how you employ your whole military. The UK chooses Grand Battle Plan (which, again, is historical).



On the left, in the above screenshot, you’ll notice a different set of Decisions than unmodded HOI 3. Two options for Anschluss, which is good (either might have been used, historically). The HPP Re-occupation of the Rhineland event requires fewer troops on the border than the unmodded event, and I believe the HPP event is more historical.

When I was writing the Kriegsgefahr AAR I didn't know what the Mobilization or Swedish Metal decisions did. Mobilization is an alternative (again, I believe more realistic) method to get your country ready for war. The Swedish metal takes into account the unavailablity of Swedish metal imports during the months when the Baltic was partly frozen -- I don't completely understand the historicity of this, but I assume this was so.

So there you go! An overview of HPP. I'd be curious how ICE (BlackICE now???), for instance, compares. Macke11??? Feel free to post a comparison or promotional for it here.

Hoping to make an initial non-teaser AAR post from the beginning months of 1936 soon. Thanks for reading! Any comments are welcome!

Rensslaer
 
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nuclearslurpee

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I'd be curious how ICE (BlackICE now???), for instance, compares.
I've never played Black ICE, but from what I understand it relies on a lot of events to push the game along a close-to-historical path (some might say "railroading" here), in addition to adding a very complex unit tree - I recall from looking at the mod info way back when I was deciding between BICE and HPP, there are multiple types of infantry, artillery, AT and AA brigades, etc. each suited for different terrain or provincial modifiers, such that using the wrong type of unit could prove nearly-disastrous. Essentially the opposite of HPP's simplified unit/tech tree (in some respects, anyways...the naval stuff is another story) and historically-plausible flexibility

Otherwise, nice summary of HPP! A bit cursory, but any HoI3 mod of this scale is going to be quite deep anyways! I thought I'd add a few notes from my own experiences for any curious readers (I imagine anything here is a bit too late to change the progress of this AAR, though):
  • Artillery/AT/AA brigades are all amalgamated into the "support" brigade, which greatly simplifies division building (conversely, five-brigade divisions can no longer be constructed although a few starting divisions have five brigades, notably for Japan).
  • Most techs no longer provide theory points in their field, instead providing "Education" points, which are used to research theory techs. Since theory techs are now the only way to gain theory points in other fields, they are actually necessary to research now or you'll start to stall tech-wise in the early 40s
  • This doesn't affect Germany much, but naval combat has been overhauled so that CAs are screens instead of worthless capitals, BBs are now viable, and CVs are not invincible - they're actually quite fragile and should be kept out of direct combat instead deploying their CAGs to nearby sea regions, which is I think more realistic.
  • The 3.3.3(b) patch (IIRC) makes the espionage AI much more reactionary and aggressive. Espionage actions will lead to legitimate spy wars with AI nations in my experience.
Personally, I love HPP and can hardly play the game any other way, so I'm quite excited about this AAR if that wasn't already apparent. :p
 

Macke11

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I'm afraid that I'm the wrong person to ask about a comparison, mainly because I have barely played HPP yet (My HoI3 play time has sunk into vanilla or BlackICE instead...), but also because I'm not too experienced with BlackICE either (I don't play much more HoI3 than what I do for my AAR.).

I can safely say that BlackICE makes the division designer something I actually spend time in, as opposed to vanilla, and as I read nuclearslurpee's post I get the impression that HPP is simplified instead. As I said nuclearslurpee has already told you this though.

nuclearslurpee
also mentioned a use of events to enforce a more historical approach to the war and I suppose I agree somewhat with that, although I haven't seen much of that in my current game as Japan and I can't remember my Germany-games well enough to talk about them.

The tech tree is really big and includes a lot of new techs, which I suppose one could call "narrow" because of the limited scope of many individual techs, but I think they add to the immersion.

I know this probably didn't give you a much better understanding of what BlackICE does differently, so I might do a more thorough description sometime in the future, if no one with more knowledge has done it before me. :)
 

Animum24

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This sounds really nice.

I'm always really interested in the differences between vanilla gameplay and the numerous mods out there.
Personally, my only experience with mods is the Downfall mod, as I enjoy the vanilla gameplay and regard it more like a fix to some issues or added depth in some aspects of the vanilla game. I have watched some let's plays using Black ice, but must say that I think it has gotten a bit out of hand recently. The AARs I really enjoyed were Doppelgänger and the other one which was using 100% historical build ups, OOBs and strategies for Germany. Sadly it hasn't been updated since a long time.

I will follow this AAR, as I always enjoy Germany, be it as an AAR, a let's play or a play-through for myself.
 

Rensslaer

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Just a brief response to comments before I begin laying out the first actual update of this AAR. I've catalogued the first 250 screenshots or so (up to May '38 -- I take ALOT of screenshots!) and decided approximately where to break them up into about 8 updates. So 8 updates to cover 2 1/2 years of pre-war prep..... that still sounds like a slow pace to me, but it's alot better than the extreme detail I've put into some of my strategy AARs (which were intended to act as mini-manuals with hands-on examples to supplement the manuals and strategy guides I wrote).

First update coming in the next couple of days, I hope. RL tugs... no, YANKS.... at me. So this is the best I can do at present. :)

I've never played Black ICE, but from what I understand it relies on a lot of events to push the game along a close-to-historical path (some might say "railroading" here), in addition to adding a very complex unit tree - I recall from looking at the mod info way back when I was deciding between BICE and HPP, there are multiple types of infantry, artillery, AT and AA brigades, etc. each suited for different terrain or provincial modifiers, such that using the wrong type of unit could prove nearly-disastrous. Essentially the opposite of HPP's simplified unit/tech tree (in some respects, anyways...the naval stuff is another story) and historically-plausible flexibility

Otherwise, nice summary of HPP! A bit cursory, but any HoI3 mod of this scale is going to be quite deep anyways! I thought I'd add a few notes from my own experiences for any curious readers (I imagine anything here is a bit too late to change the progress of this AAR, though):
  • Artillery/AT/AA brigades are all amalgamated into the "support" brigade, which greatly simplifies division building (conversely, five-brigade divisions can no longer be constructed although a few starting divisions have five brigades, notably for Japan).
  • Most techs no longer provide theory points in their field, instead providing "Education" points, which are used to research theory techs. Since theory techs are now the only way to gain theory points in other fields, they are actually necessary to research now or you'll start to stall tech-wise in the early 40s
  • This doesn't affect Germany much, but naval combat has been overhauled so that CAs are screens instead of worthless capitals, BBs are now viable, and CVs are not invincible - they're actually quite fragile and should be kept out of direct combat instead deploying their CAGs to nearby sea regions, which is I think more realistic.
  • The 3.3.3(b) patch (IIRC) makes the espionage AI much more reactionary and aggressive. Espionage actions will lead to legitimate spy wars with AI nations in my experience.
Personally, I love HPP and can hardly play the game any other way, so I'm quite excited about this AAR if that wasn't already apparent. :p
Ahh, this is probably why I chose HPP over BlackICE in the first place. I feel like the game exists to allow alternatives, and it always chafed at me when the game (HOI1 comes to mind, maybe HOI2 also) channels you into historical patterns, like, "Hey, you haven't taken the Sudetenland, yet! What do you think you're doing, messing with Danzig??!! Just for the record, I'm not going to let you do that. <<game engine stamps its foot>>" I also didn't like all the little unit choices. I'm sure some grognards enjoy the realism it adds, but for me I have a hard enough time deciding what units to build at what time without planning my units like it's a game of chess.

You're right about the "support brigades" in HPP -- I like how they become an amalgamation of all the small companies of AA and anti-tank resources that would historically be assigned to any division. You're not left without appreciable AA protection just because you don't have an AA brigade. On a side note, during the development of HOI 3 one of the small items I pushed for, which made it into the game, was for AA resources to have a hard attack rating (i.e. against tanks). Others might have pushed for it too, as it's quite historical -- there are many examples of the German 88mm AA guns, for instance, being used in direct fire mode against tanks (North Africa comes to mind). I think it's a nice touch.

I didn't / still don't completely understand the HPP process with theory techs. After your comment I started wondering if that's why I haven't gotten some of the operational direction flags offered to me (like blitzkrieg orientation), and I added some theory techs into the queue again (I'd done them early on and hadn't seen much effect so I stopped).

I'm afraid that I'm the wrong person to ask about a comparison, mainly because I have barely played HPP yet (My HoI3 play time has sunk into vanilla or BlackICE instead...), but also because I'm not too experienced with BlackICE either (I don't play much more HoI3 than what I do for my AAR.).

I can safely say that BlackICE makes the division designer something I actually spend time in, as opposed to vanilla, and as I read nuclearslurpee's post I get the impression that HPP is simplified instead. As I said nuclearslurpee has already told you this though.

nuclearslurpee
also mentioned a use of events to enforce a more historical approach to the war and I suppose I agree somewhat with that, although I haven't seen much of that in my current game as Japan and I can't remember my Germany-games well enough to talk about them.

The tech tree is really big and includes a lot of new techs, which I suppose one could call "narrow" because of the limited scope of many individual techs, but I think they add to the immersion.

I know this probably didn't give you a much better understanding of what BlackICE does differently, so I might do a more thorough description sometime in the future, if no one with more knowledge has done it before me. :)
Hmm... I'm a big fan of tech trees. I was once involved in the elicitation of the tech tree for an infamous galactic colonization game called Outpost (infamous because it was released without a manual -- me and other fans actually had to develop an unofficial manual for people to use via the Internet (pre-WorldWideWeb). I may have to give BlackICE another look for just that reason. Or I might have a hankering to play a more historical German war, and that would increase my interest in the more intricate unit design functions.

This sounds really nice.

I'm always really interested in the differences between vanilla gameplay and the numerous mods out there.
Personally, my only experience with mods is the Downfall mod, as I enjoy the vanilla gameplay and regard it more like a fix to some issues or added depth in some aspects of the vanilla game. I have watched some let's plays using Black ice, but must say that I think it has gotten a bit out of hand recently. The AARs I really enjoyed were Doppelgänger and the other one which was using 100% historical build ups, OOBs and strategies for Germany. Sadly it hasn't been updated since a long time.

I will follow this AAR, as I always enjoy Germany, be it as an AAR, a let's play or a play-through for myself.
Welcome, Animum24! I've typically been a big fan of HOI 3 in general -- when I was involved in development I realized this was designed as a quantum leap beyond any WW II strategic sim produced previously, combining the strategic elements of diplomacy, unit planning, tech trees, etc. with an almost tactical level approach to the battlefield. In the Strategy Guide I got to use real-world military terms and techniques to explain how to mount breakthroughs and spearheads, etc.

Anyway.... I'm off to do some assembling of the first update, and also to apply for some jobs. I'll be back soon!

Rensslaer
 

Bullfilter

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Just a brief response to comments before I begin laying out the first actual update of this AAR. I've catalogued the first 250 screenshots or so (up to May '38 -- I take ALOT of screenshots!) and decided approximately where to break them up into about 8 updates. So 8 updates to cover 2 1/2 years of pre-war prep..... that still sounds like a slow pace to me, but it's alot better than the extreme detail I've put into some of my strategy AARs (which were intended to act as mini-manuals with hands-on examples to supplement the manuals and strategy guides I wrote).

First update coming in the next couple of days, I hope. RL tugs... no, YANKS.... at me. So this is the best I can do at present. :)



Ahh, this is probably why I chose HPP over BlackICE in the first place. I feel like the game exists to allow alternatives, and it always chafed at me when the game (HOI1 comes to mind, maybe HOI2 also) channels you into historical patterns, like, "Hey, you haven't taken the Sudetenland, yet! What do you think you're doing, messing with Danzig??!! Just for the record, I'm not going to let you do that. <<game engine stamps its foot>>" I also didn't like all the little unit choices. I'm sure some grognards enjoy the realism it adds, but for me I have a hard enough time deciding what units to build at what time without planning my units like it's a game of chess.

You're right about the "support brigades" in HPP -- I like how they become an amalgamation of all the small companies of AA and anti-tank resources that would historically be assigned to any division. You're not left without appreciable AA protection just because you don't have an AA brigade. On a side note, during the development of HOI 3 one of the small items I pushed for, which made it into the game, was for AA resources to have a hard attack rating (i.e. against tanks). Others might have pushed for it too, as it's quite historical -- there are many examples of the German 88mm AA guns, for instance, being used in direct fire mode against tanks (North Africa comes to mind). I think it's a nice touch.

I didn't / still don't completely understand the HPP process with theory techs. After your comment I started wondering if that's why I haven't gotten some of the operational direction flags offered to me (like blitzkrieg orientation), and I added some theory techs into the queue again (I'd done them early on and hadn't seen much effect so I stopped).



Hmm... I'm a big fan of tech trees. I was once involved in the elicitation of the tech tree for an infamous galactic colonization game called Outpost (infamous because it was released without a manual -- me and other fans actually had to develop an unofficial manual for people to use via the Internet (pre-WorldWideWeb). I may have to give BlackICE another look for just that reason. Or I might have a hankering to play a more historical German war, and that would increase my interest in the more intricate unit design functions.



Welcome, Animum24! I've typically been a big fan of HOI 3 in general -- when I was involved in development I realized this was designed as a quantum leap beyond any WW II strategic sim produced previously, combining the strategic elements of diplomacy, unit planning, tech trees, etc. with an almost tactical level approach to the battlefield. In the Strategy Guide I got to use real-world military terms and techniques to explain how to mount breakthroughs and spearheads, etc.

Anyway.... I'm off to do some assembling of the first update, and also to apply for some jobs. I'll be back soon!

Rensslaer
An interesting little prologue post. I will see how this 'HPP Showcase' ;) game and AAR progress, as I was probably already leaning towards HPP as the WW2 mod I might start to play with (having only played the WW1 mod so far).

Given I like the ability both to replay the traditional conflict but also take an alternate history approach, I will see how the game event and mechanics seem to pan out with your Itchy Trigger Finger.

Good luck with the job hunting, too :)
 

nuclearslurpee

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I didn't / still don't completely understand the HPP process with theory techs. After your comment I started wondering if that's why I haven't gotten some of the operational direction flags offered to me (like blitzkrieg orientation), and I added some theory techs into the queue again (I'd done them early on and hadn't seen much effect so I stopped).
It's probably easier to understand as a comparison to vanilla. In vanilla HoI3, you have various levels of theory (e.g. Infantry theory, Artillery theory, etc.) which go up when you research techs in that area. For example, if I research Infantry Small Arms, I get a theory point in Infantry Theory. If I research Capital Ship Engine, I get a point in (IIRC) Naval Engineering Theory. Those theory points will help research future techs in that area more quickly, just like practicals help build units more quickly. (I'm sure you know this already since you more or less wrote the book on HoI3.)

In HPP, researching most technologies will instead give you a point of "Educational System" instead of the corresponding theory, and the techs in the Theory tab have to be researched to provide actual points of Theory in whatever field(s) you want to focus in. The Theory tab techs themselves work the same as vanilla, it's just that the fact that researching most techs no longer gives points to the corresponding theory, so the Theory tab is actually useful (and perhaps needed) compared to vanilla where it mostly gathers dust. Note that the Theory tab techs use "Educational System" to accelerate the research, so there's a kind of back-and-forth between researching Theory techs and everything else to keep an "optimal" level of research speed.

As for the operational techs, those are controlled by events so I don't think the theory techs should be affecting that. The events are set up so that you only have one doctrine tech available for each category (infantry and armor in the Land tab plus one in the Organizational tab), so if you're waiting for another tech to roll around you may need to research the one already available. Otherwise there could be a bug in the events, HPP is great but I know it's not perfect.

An interesting little prologue post. I will see how this 'HPP Showcase' ;) game and AAR progress, as I was probably already leaning towards HPP as the WW2 mod I might start to play with (having only played the WW1 mod so far).
I for one can highly recommend it, although both Black ICE and the Downfall mod are also worth looking into. One caveat is that there is no longer an event to lower neutrality for player-controlled minors, which for example would have very much changed the nature of your Turkey AAR. That said, you could certainly add your own event to handle that if it was an issue for any AAR you might have in mind in the distant future...
 

Rensslaer

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Jumping right in, the second real goal in any HOI Germany game is to retake the Rheinland and Ruhr with all its industry. In vanilla, you have to get a certain number of units in place in certain locations before you can trigger the Rheinland event. In HPP as I recall it's easier (as it wasn't very hard historically) -- you have to get a certain number of units in place, but the positions are not specified and the number of units is almost already achieved at start of game (in vanilla, as I recall, you have to quick-build some units like maybe militia to hurry up the event).

I achieved this on April 2, 1936. It concerns/worries the Western Allies, makes the lowland countries apprehensive, but bolsters Germany's economic and military position and increases her national pride. The threat (in HPP anyway) is barely noticeable, and that's reasonably historical -- Britain in 1936 was more or less of the opinion that the French had imposed a ridiculous burden on Germany at Versailles and it was time to loosen some of the restrictions. Only the French felt really threatened by this move.



I'm going to skim over some of the more mundane things happening, whereas in other AARs I might have shown screenshots.

During this spring/summer period of 1936 one of the key things I achieved is an advance in supply production. This is key because of the FIRST real goal of any Germany HOI games -- stockpiling enough resources to sustain a wartime economic dynamo after trade is cut off and your only way of getting new resources is via conquest. Germany has an awesome amount of "Energy" resources (read, Coal and Wood) which it could use or trade (in HPP anti-stockpiling triggers prevent you from building up too much of any resource, so it's basically you use/trade it or lose it). But Energy is cheap, and doesn't bring much back on the world market. Supplies, instead, become Germany's chief trade good. Many countries are willing to pay alot of money for supplies, and that gives you the money to trade for other key resources like Metal and Rares (which I typically get from UK, France and the USSR).

At this point I have 11,000 Rares, so my trading goal is to increase my Rares stockpile (it's the hardest to find, and most reliant on foreign trade), and get my Metal stockpile up to 22,000 (or, ideally, 33,000, on the assumption that I'll eventually have enough Rares to require that kind of stockpile). I am planning on having an economy which will have 350-450 IC by 1941 or 42, so that will require 350-450 Rares, 700-900 Metal, and 1400-1800 Energy... PER DAY! If I run out of anything I start to run out of IC, and that means quick death for a wartime Germany.

Another thing I achieved early on is Industrial Production, which is a percentage bonus turning Base IC into Available IC, and Industrial Efficiency, which increases the rapidity with which your units/buildings can be produced. Also Agriculture is important -- it provides a percentage bonus to Manpower (probably because more efficient agriculture allows fewer workers to produce more food, freeing men for battle). Germany is flush with Manpower early in the game, but by the time you get to fighting the USSR you're going to be scrabbling for recruits.



In April of 1936 something fateful happens. I don't know how typical this is, as I've not played alot of Germany games. But when I look back at early savegames it looks like I have a "fractured government" which seems to be a result of a near-equal presence in the polity of socialist, national-socialist (Nazi) and western conservatives. The fractured government seems to have an effect on my National Unity and unrest. Not seeing any responses to the challenge that I particularly liked, I reluctantly chose to have the Social Conservatives lead the opposition coalition. In later years this fractured government condition seems to have gotten worse, with increased effects upon my unity and unrest such that I had to either allocate Espionage points to upholding order through propaganda or increase my Consumer Goods production to reduce unhappiness within the population. I'm not sure what would have been different if I'd chosen the other choices (if I were writing another strategy guide I'd look it up, but I don't have time right now). But well into the late stages of the war I still had significant popular support in Germany for socialists and conservative democrats. It seems harder to handle as time goes on and may eventually become a crisis instead of an irritation.

Of course, the other big thing we watch for in 1936 or '37 is the Spanish Civil War. Mine started in mid-April, 1936, and things quickly started to go badly for the fascists.



I've played many HOI games (including one where the Spanish Civil War never started, interestingly!), and I seem to remember the Spanish State prevails about 2/3 of the time. I'm not accustomed to seeing the Republic rise and take control of the situation, especially as quickly as they did this time. I was really trying not to pay attention. I had other things I was worried about. I knew I would want to send volunteers and expeditionary forces at some point, but I really expected I would have several months to think about it.

I didn't.

In other news... My industry during the early period was devoted in large degree to increasing IC and producing more industry. I was recruiting and training garrison units -- you'll see the purpose in a bit, here. I had light armor and infantry underway. And also a number of forts along the French border and AA positions to go with them.

Research-wise, I'm doing basic techs. Small Arms improves infantry fighting capabilities and Level 5 (achieved in May 1936) allows paratrooper units. I quickly got some into my production queue. My achievement of Rare Materials Processing increased production. Medium Tank Chassis is the tech (in HPP -- in vanilla also?) which allows me to build Medium Armor units, and I immediately threw some into my production queue when this was achieved in mid-1936.



The Heavy Artillery advance helps in HPP with the Support Brigades (artillery, AA, AT) and increases the killing power of infantry and mobile units alike. Small Engine Aircraft Armament Level 1 allows the building of Heavy Fighters. I think HOI vanilla refers to fighter-bombers, but I think HPP changed the concept a little. I find Heavy Fighters valuable (historically this is debatable, until you get to examples like the P-38 Lightning) because they have far superior range to regular fighters and they have good armament.

I'm also focused on Naval Techs early in this game. My rationale is that I need to get these techs up to a reasonable level first, then I intend to build a decent cruiser navy to carry me through the first stages of war with the Western Allies. What can these accomplish against battleships??? I don't know, but it's better than having nothing at all, and I'm nowhere near being able to have battleships ready.

I achieve a second Industrial Efficiency advance at the end of July, 1936 -- I'm hot & heavy on these techs, so long as they're not made prohibitively expensive because they're "too far ahead of time" (once they become so, I slow down and focus on other techs). The Summer Olympics occur in Munich. Italy annexes Ethiopia. I'm growing closer to Italy, diplomatically. I do intend to bring them into my coalition.

In summer of 1936 I achieved submarine and cruiser technological advances, and I place those into the queue too. It's getting quite crowded in there, now, and my IC hasn't really improved because it takes about 9 or 10 months, at game start, to build fresh IC. The increase by this time is 0/3 (Base/Available) only because of my earlier Industrial Production advance.

I'm working on battleship and battlecruiser techs too. There are two lines of thinking here. Either you lay down obsolete battlewagons early in the game, so they'll be ready in time for conflict. Or you research the techs and wait to lay down new battlewagons until later in the game where your ships can compete with higher-tech opponents with stronger guns and better armor. I chose the latter option. I don't want dreadnaughts -- I want modern battleships, and if it takes longer to produce them that's just the breaks. I'm not expecting, at this point, to be wanting to mount an invasion of the UK early on.

Frankly, at this point I wasn't expecting to be mounting an invasion of France early on either. That changes later. In August of 1936 I'm fully expecting to mount a defensive war on my Western border while I conduct a relatively historical expansion in the East.



Those garrison units have been going into the forts along the French border, which I'm also beefing up. I don't want these guys charging over the border into my soft Bavarian underbelly while I'm busy causing trouble elsewhere, like in Yugoslavia or wherever. In my experience, with a river, with fortification, with AA and with sufficient screening garrisons, my border should be defensible, and I can put heavier units in reserve to respond to any breakthroughs. By the time the French get anywhere I should be done with whatever eastern adventures I'm up to, and can move the bulk of my army back to respond.

By September 1936 I despair of the situation in Spain. We Germans do not like the Spanish Republicans. They're fellow travelers with the Soviet communists, and in fact the USSR sent significant aid to the Republicans during the summer. In early Fall, Hungary sends volunteers to aid the Fascists, and so do I (in truth, I wonder if this is bugged -- I sent volunteers when asked, but the Spanish Republic thanked me for them!). It's really seeming like half measures are not going to help.

Can the Spanish State fight back from the really bad military position they've found themselves in, even if we do help them? Do I send expeditionary forces to a war that may already be lost?? This quandary agitates at me at this point in the game.

 

roverS3

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This should be interesting to follow, I'm in. An early war Germany in itself is an interesting proposition and having never played with mods, I've been following a couple of AAR's with mods, like Macke11's 'The Pacific Empire' using Black Ice, and now HPP with yours, maybe I should try one of those in the future...

In April of 1936 something fateful happens. I don't know how typical this is, as I've not played alot of Germany games. But when I look back at early savegames it looks like I have a "fractured government" which seems to be a result of a near-equal presence in the polity of socialist, national-socialist (Nazi) and western conservatives. The fractured government seems to have an effect on my National Unity and unrest. Not seeing any responses to the challenge that I particularly liked, I reluctantly chose to have the Social Conservatives lead the opposition coalition. In later years this fractured government condition seems to have gotten worse, with increased effects upon my unity and unrest such that I had to either allocate Espionage points to upholding order through propaganda or increase my Consumer Goods production to reduce unhappiness within the population. I'm not sure what would have been different if I'd chosen the other choices (if I were writing another strategy guide I'd look it up, but I don't have time right now). But well into the late stages of the war I still had significant popular support in Germany for socialists and conservative democrats. It seems harder to handle as time goes on and may eventually become a crisis instead of an irritation.
I don't know much about this specific event, but considering the 'fractured government' modifier, I think it's to small in Vanilla TFH, it's effect is barely noticeable over long periods of time. So I guess 'fractured government' being more of a pain in HPP seems more realistic

Medium Tank Chassis is the tech (in HPP -- in vanilla also?)
The Vanilla tech is called 'Medium Tank Brigade', same, but different, but still same...
 

roverS3

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Sorry for splitting my response in 2 posts, I just forgot this:

I intend to build a decent cruiser navy to carry me through the first stages of war with the Western Allies. What can these accomplish against battleships??? I don't know, but it's better than having nothing at all, and I'm nowhere near being able to have battleships ready.
I always liked the intricacies of the Naval Strategy in HOI3, and I think a victory on the sea is achievable with a Heavy Cruiser / Destroyer navy, as the most important factor is being able to run from battles you cannot win, as well as Sea Attack / Hull size and Sea Attack / ICDay. All of these favour the Heavy Cruiser, which packs a heavy punch for it's hull size and it's price. With it's high speed (for a capital ship) and combined with fast Destroyers, it should be able to outrun almost any enemy fleet (except pure Destroyer fleets, which you easily blast out of the water), as your closing speed will be much higher. The Heavy Cruiser strategy is only worth it if you build (a) large fleet(s) and don't mind losing a few of them, but look at it this way, instead of repairing heavily damaged Battleships, you can build more modern cruisers... Crush the enemy with speed and numbers... If you want to easily close with late game Carrier fleets, your only real option, except a Carrier fleet of your own, is a really fast Cruiser Fleet.
 

Eurasia

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Interesting idea. Question - if Poland joins the Allies what happens them? Puppet them and keep them between you and the USSR? :)
 

Macke11

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Interesting with the Spanish Civil War. I don't think I've ever seen the Republicans get an advantage that early.

It seems like big countries are hit the worst by the new stockpile mechanics in HPP, if there isn't something I miss. I look at it from this perspective:

A small country may not produce as much resources as the great powers, but if they have the same limit to resource stockpile the smaller country, which presumably fields a smaller army and industry, will use up less of their resource supply every day and thus it will last longer for them. Is this right, or does the stockpile limit scale with the size of the country in some way?

EDIT = I just realised that as the amount in stockpile decreases, your production increases, and that should make my theory invalid, right?
 

Bullfilter

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Very interesting so far, including some of the explanatory stuff, for those of us who are reasonably familiar with but not experts at the game.

A general AAR question, out of curiosity: how far ahead have you played? And if it's a matter of just catching the story up to 1938, do you intend to write then play again, or always play well ahead and back cast from there? Will just affect the way I comment really :)