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France: A Quick and Dirty HOI3 AAR

Bullfilter

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France: A Quick and Dirty HOI3 AAR
Game version: HOI3 TFH, no mods, cheats or tagging
Game settings: 1936 Start, Normal Difficulty
Format: bare bones descriptive reports
Pictures: no additional pictures - just screenshots
Like the title says – a quick and dirty report on one man’s fight to keep France alive and win the war!
 
Last edited:
Reserved

Bullfilter

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Episode 1: January 1936 to September 1939

Bullfilter

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Episode 1: January 1936 to September 1939

All, this is a ‘holiday project’ I’ve been meaning to do for some time. This was the game I played (and completed) just before I started playing Turkey in my current ‘Talking Turkey’ HOI3 AAR. Fortunately, I had kept the saves, so this report just dips into those at key points to illustrate the story.

Unlike Talking Turkey (which is 'live play', episode by episode), this is a game I completed and thought I’d write up as a quick, bare bones, game play and short history AAR. No narrative, characters, photos, detailed battle description, etc. Just a true After Action Report on my fourth attempt to play France – all having failed abjectly before then!

By now, I had come to believe that France was not much more likely to survive the Blitzkrieg than Poland, but thought I’d give it one more try. But I had become a little more familiar with the game by then and had learned a few lessons from previous failed attempts and had read a few other France AARs (having been only a lurker up to that point on this forum).

Given those failures, and to start at ‘par’, this game was played at Normal level. The game objective was simple: France to survive and lead the fight to a Democracy World Order (12/15 victory conditions).

This is what happened. In brief.

October 1937

After the usual reorganisation of the order of battle and command structure, this is how things stood in 1937. There were no fancy plans for early interventions or such like. The previous game had been an attempt to save the Czechs and see what would happen if France prepared to attack early while the Czechs fought on. It ended in abject failure, with France conquered a year early (at least) from memory.

mvTOmC.jpg

So this time, the plan will be to defend along the river lines of northern France, prepare defences (forts) to extend a ‘Maginot Line Light’ west from Metz, concentrate on the land army (infantry and mech/armoured tech and building) and see if the storm could be weathered until the Soviet Union joined the war. And ensuring we don’t have the Italians storm through a too-weakly-held southern front – which had also happened to me previously. Still very early days here, production still quite low as units are upgraded (I wanted quality).

v02ZAj.jpg

Above is the Government entrusted with this task. Vincent Auriol wouldn’t have been my first choice for President! But there was no choice, so bad luck! Funny, as President he is -5% IC and as Armament Minister is an Administrative Genius with +10%. Go figure!

e8eSaH.jpg

And above is the leadership allocation at this time. Mainly land unit and doctrine techs. Some offensive ones, for the mechanised counter-attack (it will form a key part of the defensive plan this time) and later, a hoped-for strategic offensive. One can dream! The other key focus is on Officer Training – I want that high too.

July 1939

As the storm clouds gather, France does its best to prepare for war. You can see the reserve defensive line in preparation north of Paris and west of Metz. The plan is to fight a contested withdrawal back to them as a last line of defence, using favourable terrain (rivers, forts, woods etc) to slow the Germans down as much as possible and buy time. We’ll be calling on our British Allies to send an expeditionary force, which is hoped can help hold the western part of the line, allowing us to reinforce the vulnerable centre facing the Belgian border.

Na5LVv.jpg

The position on the Italian border has been reinforced but it will need more to be secure. There are more mountain brigades on the way, with four due to be produced by the end of November (see below). This should be well before any likely declaration of war by Italy. We hope.

ccPwR8.jpg

French production is now up to a healthy 117 IC off a base of 100. Officer strength is up to 125% - quite satisfactory, but with a large swag of units coming on line. More forts are in production, with two key ones due in August and September. We’ll have a look at progress on the Western Line soon. Earlier production had boosted artillery and anti-tank holdings, so that most front line Maginot Line divisions in the areas most under threat had either an artillery or anti-tank brigade attached to its three infantry divisions. Other than the Alpine brigades for the southern front, most remaining production concentrates on infantry and armoured units. Hoping also to use a radar outpost to improve early warning and air interception, eventually.

kIGmBS.jpg

With technology, key capabilities in the armoured area are shaded in blue. Of note, light armour is almost up to date and medium armour also on the way. SP Artillery can be built but is not yet a focus. Anti-tank has had some development, but Artillery has been brought up to date. Infantry capabilities are in green. With cavalry at L3 and Motorised infantry available and mech infantry able to be researched when ready, it will not be further pursued. Nor will militia training. Basic infantry equipment is reasonable, if not all at full current levels yet. Some aircraft research is being done, in the hope of at least being able to keep interceptors in the air at some point – though no great hopes there. There are few engineer brigades dotted around the army, but these are not a key research focus.

BE12fQ.jpg

September 1939

London is on the radio again: now war is declared, and battle come down!

bR9DAD.jpg

This enables the usual wartime laws to be introduced, with a welcome boost to production, conscription and training especially.

OaOh1n.jpg

After a few days of war, Poland is already being nibbled at and has much of its army in the east. They are right to be suspicious of the Soviets, but it won’t help them stop the Nazi’s and their henchmen. Alas, France does not believe it can do much to help them – yet, anyway. She first needs to survive and for that needs to buy time.

BhsLVi.jpg

The Maginot Line is being held reasonably thinly in the south-east, where the terrain is more favourable. From the ‘corner’ and west towards Metz, it is more heavily garrisoned – this is where the first hammer blows are expected. Sarreguemines is held by four infantry divisions and two spare brigades, which are still mobilising. It is the principal front line infantry reserve for that sector. The main mobile reserve is in Mirecourt. From here, they are available to either reinforce or counter-attack anywhere along the Maginot Line. Four of the divisions there are equipped with SP artillery, to bolster hitting power without sacrificing speed.

n0ZVfb.jpg

The Western Line has by this stage been partly constructed. The map below shows both unit dispositions and fortification lines – completed (orange) and under construction (yellow). These are of course dwarfed by the Maginot Line (The Metz-Sarreguemines portion can be seen, in blue, to the east), but they are better than nothing. Where they can, they attempt to reinforce natural river lines of defence. Some depth defence is being prepared north of Paris in Beauvais, just in case.

hP5qUg.jpg

And at this stage, officer levels are up to 128%, manpower is now down to 594 (and will continue to decline as full mobilisation is reached). National Unity is at a reasonably healthy 63%.

yD1sgV.jpg

The next episode will cover the beginning of the war, the fate of Poland and whether the War in the West is phony or real.
 
Last edited:

Macke11

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Well, this looks like it will be interesting, @Bullfilter!:)

I can't say I recall playing France in a real campaign, and the memory I have of the country is from when I was still relatively new to HoI3. The fact that I just said it didn't become a real campaign should be clear enough about what happened.:p I'm more used to playing as the French nemesis on the other side of the Rhine, which I've probably spent most of my in-game time doing (though not recently), so I welcome this new perspective.

Also, I must point out that, from reading Talking Turkey and now this one, I'm starting to have a soft spot for fortifications. I used to more or less ignore them before, but when I saw you building them regularly I started changing opinion about them and realised that they actually can be useful. :) Have you done any deeper research about them, or do you simply like the idea of fortifications, similar to me?;)

I hope to be aboard on this one, but one never knows... At least now during the holidays I'm having some spare time to relax from energy-consuming work, so I'm positive about it.:)
 

Bullfilter

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Well, this looks like it will be interesting, @Bullfilter!:)

I can't say I recall playing France in a real campaign, and the memory I have of the country is from when I was still relatively new to HoI3. The fact that I just said it didn't become a real campaign should be clear enough about what happened.:p I'm more used to playing as the French nemesis on the other side of the Rhine, which I've probably spent most of my in-game time doing (though not recently), so I welcome this new perspective.

Also, I must point out that, from reading Talking Turkey and now this one, I'm starting to have a soft spot for fortifications. I used to more or less ignore them before, but when I saw you building them regularly I started changing opinion about them and realised that they actually can be useful. :) Have you done any deeper research about them, or do you simply like the idea of fortifications, similar to me?;)

I hope to be aboard on this one, but one never knows... At least now during the holidays I'm having some spare time to relax from energy-consuming work, so I'm positive about it.:)
Thanks for hopping on so quickly Macke! :) While many seem to enjoy seeing if they can get Germany all the way to Moscow (and I’ve tried once or twice too), there’s something almost magnetic to me of trying to rescue France from seemingly guaranteed destruction. I can dimly recall trying to do so years ago with HOI1!

In a previous game to this one, I had used forts to good effect in Russia, plugging gaps between river line defences in depth and also in front of Moscow - which the Germans reached and attacked but couldn’t quite get through. So I thought I’d try something similar here. No science, more a bit of battlefield experience. I found them useful for inhibiting the Germans getting through gaps in river lines. And if you can afford it, putting them behind existing obstacles (rivers, straits like the Bosporus or in the Peloponnesus) or on good terrain (hills, forests etc).

The theory here was to stop those damned German breakthroughs, get entrenched lines prepared in advance and try to wear them down, then try to reinforce defences with reserve divisions while rotating out shot ones. This story will show whether it worked, or just became a good ‘college try’ that led me to play Turkey instead when I crashed and burned yet again! :Do_O
 

stnylan

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Always nice to see France survive
 

Bullfilter

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Always nice to see France survive
Let us hope and pray it transpires thus ;). Given my past failures, divine providence is needed! :eek:
 

nuclearslurpee

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I daresay I see some vague hints of the Yeniceri Line in these images. This should be interesting.
 

Bullfilter

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I daresay I see some vague hints of the Yeniceri Line in these images. This should be interesting.
Welcome my friend. All learned in the hard school of defending against the Wehrmacht in Russia on Very Hard setting ;).
I'm onboard, too. And looking forward to the German attack in the west.
Likewise welcome. You won’t have long to wait! Although I have a couple of days away with family first for Christmas, then the Phony War will be over. :) I can already hear that distinctive squeaky, clanking rumble of many tanks approaching in the distance - but whose are they? Ours or theirs? :confused:
 

Eurasia

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Interested to see what you do and how you win. :)
 

roverS3

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Sacrebleu! (No one really says this anymore) Another @Bullfilter AAR! Vive la France! Interested to see how this pans out.
 

Bullfilter

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Macke11

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Thanks for hopping on so quickly Macke! :) While many seem to enjoy seeing if they can get Germany all the way to Moscow (and I’ve tried once or twice too), there’s something almost magnetic to me of trying to rescue France from seemingly guaranteed destruction. I can dimly recall trying to do so years ago with HOI1!

In a previous game to this one, I had used forts to good effect in Russia, plugging gaps between river line defences in depth and also in front of Moscow - which the Germans reached and attacked but couldn’t quite get through. So I thought I’d try something similar here. No science, more a bit of battlefield experience. I found them useful for inhibiting the Germans getting through gaps in river lines. And if you can afford it, putting them behind existing obstacles (rivers, straits like the Bosporus or in the Peloponnesus) or on good terrain (hills, forests etc).

The theory here was to stop those damned German breakthroughs, get entrenched lines prepared in advance and try to wear them down, then try to reinforce defences with reserve divisions while rotating out shot ones. This story will show whether it worked, or just became a good ‘college try’ that led me to play Turkey instead when I crashed and burned yet again! :Do_O

Even though HoI1 was my first game of both Hearts of Iron and PDX in general, I never really got into it. Since I bought HoI2 at the same time, that became what I played instead. Oh, how many fine memories don't I have from that game?:) I can't recall playing France then either, but something I did do was try to prevail as the Soviets a couple times. In one of my best runs I charged into German Poland one or two years early. It ended with me and AI France dominating Europe, but then I realised that they had managed to grab the most IC-rich regions and fielded ~500 IC, so I gave up and never let the Allies defeat me (because back then I didn't have enough patience with these games). Now you have something to beat, although you probably won't have the USSR on your side. ;):D I could tell you the story of how I smashed the French to bits and pieces as Germany and broke through the Maginot Line, but due to the setting of this AAR, I will not.;)

Now that you say it, I have a vague memory of you having told the background of your use of fortifications. Either in your AAR or when you adviced 'Odin' and the Committee. In any case, I'm looking forward to see how the defensive line turns out to work. :)
 

Bullfilter

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Nice idea for a quick AAR. I will follow this, as I have never really followed a France AAR.
Welcome! I’m hoping to pump this one out quite quickly. It’s kept fairly simple by not having taken any screenshots at the time (it was never planned to become an AAR) and it having been played long enough ago (over a year) that I can’t remember too much of the details in between! ;):eek: But fortunately there are enough saves to trace things through - you can all see whether I crashed and burned after a valiant struggle; survived; or even marched across Europe in triumph for Democracy, truffles and French cinema!
 
Episode 2: 28 October 1939

Bullfilter

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Episode 2: 28 October 1939

Strategic

After almost two months of war, four new countries had joined the Allies: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark. Alas, two had since surrendered: Poland and the Danes (not long after being attacked in the aftermath of Poland’s defeat).

tLatvG.jpg

As illustrated below, Denmark and Poland had been fully occupied, with Poland divided between Germany and the USSR per the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Note the small area circled in blue: we will come to that shortly.

oz3BLq.jpg

But before we do, something I should have specifically pointed out earlier: the Republicans had previously won the Spanish Civil War, defeating the Nazi and Fascist surrogates.

sCf0nu.jpg

Land

So, while the Germans were busy taking down Poland, France decided to take some bold action after all! The entire mechanised reserve combined with some additional units from the infantry reserve stationed on the Maginot Line attacked the German fortifications to its north. Before German units started returning from Poland to counter-attack, a three-province-wide bridgehead was seized. The easternmost province of the salient has just been pushed back and is retreating towards Sarreguemines, but the others are trying to dig in. It was hoped this may create a bit of a buffer and provide a forward defence linking up with the most strongly held part of the Belgian line in this area.

V9d5KN.jpg

German panzers (von Manstein’s 3 Pz Div) are currently counter-attacking Saarlouis: superior tactics have negated the French delaying defence, but the French are dug in and still resisting strongly.

SBEd8H.jpg

Meanwhile, further west, objectives have been set for the BEF – where it is hoped they can start preparing defences in depth for the final line of resistance. A few Royal Marine divisions have already arrived and have been transferred to French command.

EHoFAF.jpg

Air

In the north, France deploys three INT and three TAC wings.

QA0Ke3.jpg

And one of each in the south, where all remains quiet for now.

fAQSR3.jpg

And on the production front (among much other construction), three of the cavalry units are well on the way to being upgraded, to form the basis of a new MOT division. With new laws, production is now up to 167 from a base of 100.

cEWoyf.jpg

Naval

At sea, the French Navy is very active. It has been divided into four surface fleets and two submarine fleets. This activity is a mixture of patrolling (in conjunction with the British) in the Atlantic approaches and the Western Mediterranean; convoy protection for the key US trade route and submarine raiding in the Western Med and off the Italian coast.

To1DUx.jpg

LXoz3t.jpg

by48wM.jpg

LcxODm.jpg


WQgTXC.jpg

And here is a record of Allied and Axis warships sunk since the start of the war. Of note, the Danes suffered heavily from NAV air attack (something to beware of); the UK has lost two heavy cruisers to German surface raiders (who must currently be very active); and the British have used carriers and destroyers to sink four German SS flotillas.

lK8rjb.jpg
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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Well if you can hold onto those few provinces it will make any future offensive actiosn easier to be sure.
 

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I like the initiative of the hook around Luxemburg, at least it buys some time, at most it's a good starting point for a push into the German industrial heartlands.

Good to see the french Cavalry swapping their horses for tanks and trucks, not a moment to soon.

I'm a bit surprised by the fleet composition. 2ème Flotte and 4ème flotte lack escorts while 1ière Flotte has 7. I get the need for a Destroyer heavy Anti-Submarine fleet, but having not one but two other fleets suffer 'lack of escorts' combat penalties seems a steep price to pay. At least, I hope the 1ère Flotte destroys a lot of Submarines... Anyway, I'd love to hear your reasoning for the fleet compositions. Otherwise, the deployment of the fleets makes complete sense.

Looking forward to the coming developments.