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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Kanitatlan

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Edge of Darkness

HOI2 1.3a USSR 1936 on VH/F
The only change from standard HOI2 is that I have processed all the leader files to show the leader traits prefixed to their names. The utility for this is available on the HOI2 Wiki.

Please note that this AAR has now been reset and part way down page 2 restarts with HOI2 version 1.3b, all comments and policy statements up to that point remain correct but events will of course tend to deviate.

This AAR is going to be a detailed report of a game played with the above settings. It is a game report rather than a story and is intended to explain why I am doing things as well as what I am doing. I am setting out to win the game rather than achieve some historical accuracy or role-playing objective. However, I am setting myself some restrictions; specifically I will be conforming approximately to the historical path through the game and not exercising any wild ahistorical strategy. This means the following things

1. No extra adventurous wars except those “expected” by the game
2. No major deviation from historical diplomatic strategy – I won’t be exploring the possibilities of collecting lots of money and trying to subvert any major powers into my camp.
3. I will play a safe game. The objective is to avoid risk of not winning rather than taking risks to achieve a more dramatic victory. This means, in particular, minimising the risk of getting involved in unintended wars.

Note that I am not exploring the value of the above, simply not trying them. I don’t know whether there are realistic viable strategies that I am ignoring but this is my chosen path. Within these limits I will be allowing any tricks that I like to take advantage of the AI since, as far as I am concerned, the AI is already pretty much cheating given all the advantages it receives on VH (and that are standard, e.g. infinite air/naval range).

Since I am following the historical path, this means that I am aiming for a full war with Germany starting in the summer of 1941. Due to the predictability of the AI I can pretty much assume that there is no risk of becoming embroiled in a major conflict prior to this time and I will behave appropriately. This means that my strategy is not multi-player friendly but then you wouldn’t be playing on VH for a multi-player game.

Day 1

Ministerial Policy

Lazer Kaganovich +5% IC =10% Industrial research,
Yan Berzin +5% research,
Kliment Y Voroshilov –15% supply consumption

Yagoda and Tuchatjevskij will be changed as soon as possible (1/1/1937) for..
Uritskij –10% consumer goods
Shaposhnikov +25% manpower –5% Infantry (time and cost)

Apart from these a care little which ministers are in place as it will make little difference to my game. If minister changes where free then I would take more interest in minor benefits but they are not so I tend to simply keep the same ones.

Slider Policy

I will get 3 hawk moves free (Zet offensive, Chasan Lake, Khalkin Ghol) and therefore I will only need 1 manual move to achieve maximum hawk by mid 1939. Therefore I will start with 1 hawk move followed by an interventionism move for 1937,1938 and 1939. Along with free interventionism moves this will put me at full hawk and full interventionism by late summer 1939.

A key benefit from full interventionism is the 0% dissent hit for declaring war. This means that there is no automatic dissent hit from starting the winter war. It also means I can DOW and invade the Baltic States for early acquisition (after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact) to avoid the often very long and drawn out process of demanding territory off them.

One of the assumptions in the above is that I will go along with the great officer purge. This option costs 10 dissent and lots and lots of officers. If I reject the purges then I will get a 30% dissent hit (note that this is an extra 100 days of dissent reduction) and 2 dove slider moves. The 2 dove moves are a bit of a crisis as this would mean that my unit builds would be at 90% cost and time (81% of list price) as opposed to 80% cost and time (64% of list price). This represents a reduction of about 21% in unit builds, which would be unacceptable. The alternative is to forgo 2 interventionism moves and do them 1940 and 1941. This would cost some ICs (about 30 IC years more on consumer goods) and force me to use diplomatic methods with the Baltic States. There is something to be said for both alternatives but I have decided to try going with the purges. The gain for me is something like a total of 90 IC years, which is enough to build an additional 20+ factories. That amounts to about 8% more IC and TC for the key years of the game.

Industrial Policy

I will be starting by building approximately 3 rounds of factories. These aren’t all started simultaneously so it’s a little difficult to be definite. They take different times to complete and the slider moves (interventionism) provide some additional IC release so the completion dates slowly spread out. The vast majority of factory builds are in the safe areas of Siberia but some will be done in the only high infrastructure provinces that I have since builds there are more efficient. Also, Leningrad and Moscow will have their infrastructure increased. This won’t pay off in terms of faster factory builds within the game time scales but does make them militarily stronger locations.

The evacuation events for sending industry to Sibiria are worth a look. They remove 6 ICs from Kiev and Leningrad, which actually makes it pointless to build any ICs in these cities. In fact if these cities are left as is then the event will actually increase my IC total by 7. Taking advantage of this cannot be reasonably called an exploit since I have little choice in the matter. With some effort I could build both up to 6 ICs by 1941 but it would require some dedication. In line with my policy that pretty much anything goes when playing VH, I will take full advantage of this anomaly.

I have one definite policy that will apply throughout the game and that is that I will attempt to eliminate dissent as quickly as possible. This means 100% of ICs on dissent reduction when appropriate (i.e. at the start and 1/1/37 after the minister changes and after the purges event).

Technology

The truth is that as far as winning the game is concerned all I care about is making my infantry divisions stronger and cheaper. This isn’t all that matters but it comes close. This means that the technology focus is on…

Industrial improvement (including research improvement)
Infantry divisions
TC technologies
Land doctrines

As a supplement significant effort will go into air power but completely focused on fighters (good general purpose medium range air superiority unit) and CAS (cheap ground attack, very cheap). This means fighter and CAS aircraft models and some air doctrines.

I will supplement this technology strategy with other technologies that contribute to the long-term goal of world conquest but the initial objective is to win the Great patriotic War. The penalties for early research as sufficiently serious to delay key technologies until more appropriate times whilst researching long-term goals such as a few steps of aircraft carrier.

Trading

I will trade all of my energy surplus (and sometimes more) to acquire supplies and rares. I am willing to trade rares in moderate to small amounts with friendly nations for supplies. I will try to avoid trading oil with the Axis but I am willing to trade a fair amount with other countries since I am following a low oil demand strategy. I can afford to trade some metals but it isn’t clear to what extent my industrial build up will over stress my raw materials base.

The principal objective of trading is to build up large stockpiles of raw materials for my expanded industry and to build up a huge stockpile of supplies so that I can maximise useful builds during the build up to war.
 
Last edited:

GrimReaper

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Hooray, a HoI2 mathematic formula for conquering the world :D

I'm on! :)
 

unmerged(47162)

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VH/F..good luck!
 

Kanitatlan

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Army

At the start I disband all of the 1918 infantry divisions, all of the cavalry divisions and the armoured divisions (tin foil tanks, are they serious). These will never be worth upgrading and are simply a drain on my supply capability. This is a bit gamey but then the AI has some rather gamey benefits on VH. This leaves me with 15 motorised, 11 mountain and one HQ. These units are all concentrated near Leningrad and placed under logistic wizard commanders. Note that the motorised units are always moved via strategic movement to minimise their oil use.

All of the brigades are disbanded except for the 4 engineer brigades. 1 of these brings the HQ up to speed and the other three go to a fast 3 division mechanised corps. All the other brigades are a poor investment of supplies and the artillery require a ludicrous number of upgrades.

All of the air force is disbanded, as this is just a drain and will never be worth upgrading. I also sometimes disband a few ships but on this occasion I have been quite restrained.

The long-term build plan is to build as many 1939 and 1941 infantry as I can ready for the invasion backed up by some fighters and CAS. Those of you that follow the boards will have seen me argue repeatedly against attached brigades and demonstrating their limited worth. The normal argument is that they show very little value for battle winning compared to the same manpower in infantry divisions. For a USSR game the issue is not manpower but ICs. Once ICs are the limiting factor there is definitely no good reason for building brigades. I can get more firepower per IC from plain infantry than I can from any other unit type and by some margin. This is particularly true for the USSR due to the variety of infantry price reductions available – 4 doctrines giving –0.3 cost and a minister giving –5% time and cost. With full hawk and very long build runs I can get infantry divisions amazingly cheaply.

Proper cost is 7 IC x 95 days.

Allow early start with 2 doctrines (-0.6), -5% minister, -20% hawk and an average gearing of 37.5% on a serial build of 14 and I get an average cost of 220 ICdays. Note that the minimum cost (i.e. additional units on the serial run is less than this). In fact the cost for new divisions when the invasion starts is …

-1.2 cost from doctrine, -5% cost and time minister, -20% cost and time hawk, -50% time for gearing, -20% time (19 days) from small arms assembly line giving 4 IC for 29 days (taken from a 1941 saved game) or a total cost of 116 IC days. This is the true secret of the Soviet infantry strategy. There are even very good arguments for not having the army ready in time for the invasion as it won’t be truly effective for some time (see below).

Just for reference using my evaluation system (appraising geared up average costs for units) 1939 & 1941 infantry score 34 and 39.6 for SA per IC whilst the best of other units are artillery which gets into the 20s. The even score more HA per IC than armoured divisions. In fact the only area where they don’t provide the cheapest (in ICs) effective attack strength is when the target has extreme hardness (armour + heavy tanks) where AT brigades start to become better value. The arithmetic is overwhelming in favour of a pure infantry build.

Ground Defence Efficiency (GDE) and the Great Patriotic War (GPW)

This is without doubt the key issue for any Soviet player. At the start of the 1936 scenario I have a GDE of a mere 20%. This means that for each casualty (org or strength loss) that a foreign unit would take (GDE 80%) I can expect to take 4. Now this means that for any force of mine to fight as effectively against an enemy as a force with GDE 80% then it will have to be significantly larger. If it is N times the size then it will inflict N times as many casualties and its individual units will take casualties at 1/N times the rate. This makes it NxN better at winning. This is the square rule of combat – it means that to compensate for the 4 times penalty I only need a force that is twice as big (2x2=4). This double size force will be as effective at winning battles as the smaller force with full GDE but it will still take twice as many casualties as the full GDE force. This means that it is still not fully equivalent as I won’t really want to lose all that manpower or ICs to reinforcements. It is a good guide to the strength needed for the Winter War.

The Soviet player received a series of increases in GDE, specifically – 1 during the Winter War (12 dec 1939) and then 1 every spring (1 May) from 1940 to 1944. These would eventually bring GDE up to 0.8 but we can’t be waiting all that time. After someone has DOWed the USSR there is a GPW event which has a 10% chance of occurring every 10 days and it restores the full 0.8 GDE. (Note that the comments say it is moved to 0.7 but it is in fact moved to 0.8). This GPW event is the key issue in Soviet strategy as my units will be fighting at a severe disadvantage until it occurs. In fact some of the events will have occurred by the time of the invasion so I will already have GDE of 0.5 giving me 2.5 times the casualty rate of the enemy. Applying the same square rule as before I need a force that is 1.6 times as large. Or, looking at it the other way round, each stack of 24 Soviet infantry divisions will fight as effectively as 15 full GDE divisions.

Rather interestingly this is quite close to being a –40% combat penalty in terms of consequences. The difficulty setting (combining my penalty and AI advantage) is equivalent to only a –25% combat penalty (I get 90% strength versus AI 120% = 75% of their strength). This is quite nasty.

The strategic response to this is clear and obvious. I simply don’t want to fight until the GPW event triggers. In fact I need a defensive strategy that attempts to minimise combat until it triggers. Prior to 1.3 the chance was 100% within 30 days which made the situation fairly predictable. What I have now is the following probabilities that it has NOT triggered after the given number of days

10days 90%
20days 81%
30days 73%
40days 66%
50days 59%
100days 35%
200days 12%
300days 4.2%
360days 3.25%

As you can see there is even a small chance that it hasn’t triggered in time for the 1942 summer campaign. Basically I need a flexible defensive strategy that lets me roll with the punches until the GPW event triggers. This is going to be so unpredictable that I must plan to be able to handle no GPW for the entire 1941 campaign period until snow closes down the frontlines.

Given this delay until I can efficiently go on the offensive an alternative strategy suggests itself. If I assume that my main offensive will wait until 1942 then I can go for a much lower build up for 1941. I can run an efficient fighting withdrawal with a much smaller army than I need for a war winning offensive. One of the difficulties with this is that I do of course need a significant build up for the Winter War but even that is not really any longer necessary (it used to give the December GDE increase). The only gain from the Winter War is a tiny bit of territory and a –10 dissent on completion if the events run their default course. So an alternative is to go for a much later build up with an extra round of factory builds. This does run the risk of leaving me with a resource shortage but I don’t believe that can be any realistic risk given the stockpiles I can build up.

Mentioning stockpiles raise one important issue, I cannot ever afford to lose Moscow – it must be held at all costs. My resource stockpiles are held there and they are immensely valuable. This means that whatever happens my fighting withdrawal must keep control of Moscow.

Let us imagine I can get all 4 doctrines, small arms assembly and 1941 infantry by mid-may 1940. I can then build 40 parallel series of 1941 infantry. The first 7 would be complete in 387 days (mid Jun 1941) giving an army of 280 divisions – not really a fully adequate force but by Jun 1942 it would become an army of 760 divisions (that’s gearing for you) which is actually beyond my manpower capability. This plan is only assuming 80% of peacetime available ICs devoted to infantry builds and has no allowance for the gains from an extra year of factory builds. The real question is how early can all these technologies really be achieved and is it worth the risk.

If I really have to wait until 1942 for my main offensive then can I optimise without going for a late build strategy?

A bit more analysis

For those of you that want a bit more analysis of the army and its ability to fight the Axis invasion here is some more mathematics.

When the Germans invade (this is from previous experience) they are likely to have an army with about 10% armour amounting to an average hardness of around 10% or less. If we take this 10% figure and then assume higher levels of combat for their mobile troops then I can estimate an overall average hardness of enemy divisions in combat of about 20%. This then sets a target of hardness to optimise my troops for. The AI tends to mix up troops and there is little point in my trying to produce specialised units to fight German ‘hard’ troops so I take the 20% hardness as an overall target. Against this degree of hardness I can appraise the combat capability of the type of units I propose to use. In particular

1939 Inf has an effective attack of 10
1941 Inf has an effective attack of 12

This indicates that 1941 divisions have 20% more effective firepower than the 1939 divisions making them significantly more attractive. It must be remembered, however, that they still have the same org, morale and casualty absorbing capability so they are really only 10% better (average of 20% and 0%). They are also faster moving now that 1939 divisions have been changed to 4 movement. This actually makes the step from 1939 to 1941 infantry the biggest improvement in infantry divisions (except for the original step from 1918 since they are such rubbish). The next step in 1943 has a smaller increment in abilities and also attracts a 10% increase in supply requirements (by my appraisal the ESE consequences amount to a 2.5% combat penalty and potentially through reduced ESE a movement penalty).

Enough of 39/41 divisional comparisons, there needs to be some appraisal of other units including brigades. Let’s consider each type of unit in turn.

Militia is pretty useless at this period (see militia thread).

Garrisons are only really good for partisan suppression and hence irrelevant to the main campaign

I have no need of any elite troops (mountain, para, marines etc.) their benefits in terms of improved terrain and weather capabilities are insufficient to justify their cost. There are no major areas of difficult terrain except for forest where numerous infantry is perfectly acceptable.

Mobile troops are currently not featured to any significant extent due to their IC cost and TC load. I can get far more fighting power of infantry for my ICs than I can from mobile troops. Also mobile troops in any numbers will clobber my TC and apply penalties across the entire army.

Brigades suffer the same consequence. They are unable to provide good value for ICs and have little role in my army. If I was manpower limited rather than IC limited then artillery brigades would actually be quite attractive as part of a fighting withdrawal since they would give me a better attrition rate against the enemy. The fighting withdrawal is, however, about avoiding combat due to the GDE penalties so as to conserve forces for the counter-offensive. Detailed analysis of brigades is available in the following (and further referred) thread - brigades thread [note that the brigade threads cover significant issues related to comparing combat units and are useful reading for themselves]
 

Kanitatlan

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Now we move on to actually starting the game. Here is the starting position which, of course, tells you nothing as it simply represents the initial conditions for the 1936 campaign.

jjnx9j.jpg


Eliminating that starting dissent takes a while and here is a display for March 25th when it is finally cleared. You cannot tell much from this either but it does give an indication of my current trading situation. As you can see I am well into building up stockpiles of everything including supplies. It is perhaps worth noting that I do not intend to manufacture supplies in any significant quantities for some years to come.

jjnxfm.jpg
 

GrimReaper

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Great start, the Red Wall of Death is measured and honed to perfection.
 

Kanitatlan

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The Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War started on July 18th 1936 and the Republicans immediately received my support. They receive the ‘event’ support plus 10 supplies per day plus any trades they want. They look fairly well set up with a slight military superiority ready for their usual win when I play SU.

jjp5r6.jpg


Aug 4 36

(note that I am using the nofog command to be able to show the foreign situation)

However, as I watch things develop it quite quickly starts looking not so good but I will stick with them. By late October it is beginning to look as if they are doomed.

jjp4y9.jpg


Oct 22 36

This situation looks irrecoverable but we will just have to wait and see but by January 1st I am definitely convinced.

jjp5ya.jpg


Jan 1a 37

No free blueprint this time then.
 

unmerged(47162)

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guess all of your efforts on the rep spanish has been wasted..
 

GrimReaper

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At least the Nat Spain had a run for the money.
 

Kanitatlan

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1936 end of year review

Nothing much has happened in 1936 except for the Spanish Civil War. This has at least netted me 1 move to interventionism (enough IC for 1 more factory) although it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting anything else. As can be seen from the image, I have 104.85 IC currently being spent on factory builds for 21 in progress. Obviously 2 of these will be late (1 because of part funding and 1 because it started with SCW intervention boost).

One other odd thing happened …

“November 11, 1936 : Government nationalises private sector happened to us”

Now I know that this is clearly SU government policy but how come there was anything left to nationalise? Still a 1% IC bonus is nice to have even if it costs 5 days to shift the dissent.

The image shows my production display after my annual intervention slider move but before adjusting the production. I have also changed 2 ministers (see intro) but only the reduced CG demand is shown. Notice also the increase in ICs and manpower production from technology acquired so far.

1937 isn’t going to be a lot different

jjpdw8.jpg


Jan 1b 37

Meanwhile Europe is beginning to look like the armed camp it is destined to be although I do feel a little left out.

jjpe28.jpg


Jan 1c 37
 

GrimReaper

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Kanitatlan said:
Now I know that this is clearly SU government policy but how come there was anything left to nationalise? Still a 1% IC bonus is nice to have even if it costs 5 days to shift the dissent.
Probably a bureaucrat unable to calculate, got shot, now everything is corrected :D
 

Akaki

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Watch out for those purges, since the event may kill some random officers (and loosing Zhukov surely would not be nice...). Oh, this event sucks...
 

Kanitatlan

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1937 End of Year Review

Not a bad year. Significant further technological progress and factory build completions leave the economy well on the way to war winning potential. My stockpiles are accumulating nicely and everything looks good.

The only highlight of the year is …

May 11th 1937 Zet Offensive:: +1 hawk, +1 interventionism

The end year economic report (after 1938 slider move)

jjr329.jpg


Jan 1a-38

Notice that available IC has gone from 77.22 to 155.4, this is a substantial increase and is down to a combination of ministers, technology and factory builds. I have maximum IC technology now and am moving onto improved supply production efficiency.

Meanwhile the Spanish Civil War has been converted to a comedy show as the Nationalists play at sitting on their hands.

jjr38n.jpg


Jan 1b-38
 

unmerged(47162)

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maybe theres hope for the rep spanish after all!
 

Michaeru

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The AI just isn't courageous enough to attack. It feels it has not enough troops and will now produce militia like a madman. Probably.
What will happen is that the fronts keep this way. If nobody takes MilCon, it is a battle of production and whoever has the bigger production capability (current probably Nat. Spain) will win.

Well, this happens in my games anyway.
 

Kanitatlan

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1938 End of year review.

A rather more interesting year this time as the purges come up on March 2nd. As previously stated I am going with the purges – lots of officers down the tubes and you will all just have to wait and see who turns up later. In the process my ministers get mixed around so I have to take more dissent switching them back (Restore ministers (Uritskiy and Alksnis))– Beria is a big no no. This leaves me with 12% dissent which takes until 25th April when we are we are back in business if perhaps a little short of good leaders.

Aug 8th I get the Chasan lake incident giving a +1 hawk adjustment.

By the end of the year things are looking more stable but I am still operating a pure factory build regime. This has been an excellent year for trading with some very unusual trades. I have been getting loads of oil from the USA for energy at bargain prices and then selling it on mostly to the Japanese for great piles of stuff (energy and supplies). The net effect seems to be to put me ahead by about 40 supplies per day. This has been an unexpected bonus as I have never managed to do this well before. Stockpiles of metals and rares are satisfactory and as normal.

jju4pz.jpg


Despite obvious implausibility this next image is this years state of the Spanish Civil War. I think I am going to have to report someone to the league of nations for using chemical warfare as they all seem to have gone to sleep.

jju4wx.jpg
 

GrimReaper

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Kanitatlan said:
Despite obvious implausibility this next image is this years state of the Spanish Civil War. I think I am going to have to report someone to the league of nations for using chemical warfare as they all seem to have gone to sleep.
Right on. Why wage a war if it ends up in a permanent siesta anyway? ;) :D
 

Akaki

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Produce some transports, guarantee the independence of Rep. Spain, DOW Nat. Spain (or bring Rep. to alliance) and transport there bunch of your mot. and mountain infantry, maybe there's a chance...
 

Michaeru

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Bah, the League of Nations. What can they do anyway? Saying: "Why support this revolutionist rabble?" :rofl:
 

Kanitatlan

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Review of Strategy

Review of Strategy

I have now definitely committed to the late build strategy. I believe this is probably the right way to go but I think the alternate slider/purge strategies could do with a bit more discussion. The two strategies are…

1. 1 hawk move followed by all interventionism moves and purge the officers.

OR

2. 3 Hawk moves followed by no purges and then interventionism moves.

Option 1 gives me additional ICs due to reduced CG need from the interventionism moves and also as a result of 18 less dissent from no purges. This should be 20 but I used up 2 restoring my ministers.

Option 2 gives me early hawk moves and, if all factory builds are set up and queued before the ‘no purges’ dove penalty, reduced build time for factories. This reduced build time is approximately twice the interventionism bonus and therefore quite attractive. By the end of 1939 my hawk moves would be restored leaving option 2 with just the 1940/41 slider moves to finish the interventionism state.

The full analysis of this could be quite difficult but it seems to me that I could probably build nearly as many factories on the hawk first option although the additional dissent is still a major loss. The real issue is how much do I care about all those leaders that I lost. The lost of research teams also hurts as I am left with nobody with any air-doctrine related skills.

I am not certain that I have used the best option here and sometime I will have to run through these early years again taking the other option. Comparability may be difficult because of that nationalisation event shifting me up 1% industrially. (Any volunteers?)