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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Bingo Brett

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Prologue:

“Dammit!” Bingo Brett shouted as the pop up message announced that the Battle of Qingdao has been lost. Nearly 80,000 Imperial Japanese troops were now cut off from supplies and fuel. It would be only a matter of time before the rampaging hordes of Chinese armies finally surrounded and destroyed the entire army that he transported there. He figured the Japanese incursion zone around Shanghai would be next, and then the counterattack into Shanxi territory would follow. Any hopes of salvaging this Hearts of Iron 3 game went down the toilet.

Bingo Brett took a remaining swig of the half warm Diet Pepsi sitting next to the monitor and sighed in resignation. Quit to desktop. HOI3 had been a disappointment when it first came out, and Bingo Brett had just put it to the side while settling in to play some EU3, CK and Vicky. But after hearing there was an expansion for HOI3 coming out, he decided to give the game another try.

Three hours earlier, he updated the game to the latest version, and dissected the HOI 3 wiki strategy articles. It was time for Bingo Brett to have some good old fashioned World War II game play with his favorite country. Now there he was looking at the wiki articles again and frustrated on how quickly the AI could come up with divisions of troops out of nowhere. The Nationalists shouldn’t be this difficult he thought. After considering seppuku with a dull butter knife for his epic failures, Bingo Brett said, “If I could defend as well as the AI does, I might even win as France!”


And thus an AAR idea was born.

The goal of this AAR is pretty simple. Can I as a relative novice HOI3 player do what the French could not in 1940? Can I build up France enough to create a WWI Western Front stalemate against the German Wermacht? As a secondary goal can France keep its colonial holdings against the Axis forces of Japan, Italy and possibly Nationalist Spain? And finally the stretch goal, can France begin to turn the tide and push the Germans back towards Berlin?

We’re working with version 1.4 of the game and all settings are set to Normal. This AAR will end when one of the following conditions is met:

  • Germany overruns France and the Vichy regime is established (The most likely outcome)
  • France survives in any form on January 1, 1942.
  • France captures any German owned victory point province. (hahahaha)
  • I get bored.
I hope you will join me for the (probably sarcastic) fun of flying les couleurs, eating some vichyssoise, and drinking some Three Buck Chuck as I try to Hold That Line! :)
 

Vesimir

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Your plug worked.

Also, I think this is the first HoI 3 AAR I'll follow.

EDIT : You changed your Avatar!
 

JDMS

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Sounds interesting. I'll follow. :)
 

Bingo Brett

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Part I: Opening Moves (January 1936)

Force Reorganization:

So looking at France’s position in 1936 I saw that I had a lot of work to do, as the starting situation was worse than I expected. Many of the Maginot line corps units were two divisions under strength. These needed to be augmented first. A minimum of three divisions per Maginot province is my goal to keep some German divisions in place along the border. That’s one less division that can be used to complete the end around through Belgium or the Netherlands.

North of the Maginot line I reorganized the reserve troops into the Dutch and Belgian defense forces. I want to have these fully staffed with 25 divisions by war start – ambitious for sure. To the South, the Italian border was garrisoned with several divisions of Alpine troops. I like this, but I plan to add a few brigades to them and a few more divisions so they are at full strength. I expect the Italians will not enter the war until slightly later so I have more time to add to this theatre. The border with Spain is undefended, which will obviously be a concern if historical factors come to play.

I also took time to reorganize the Navy situation. Really I should just give the whole bloody lot over the British. France started out with three (yes three) squadrons of submarines! For what purpose I have no clue. So after disbanding the level 1 sub, I moved the three to Brest as I plan to use them as spotters against other German subs or ships. Now I know some people would consider sending them to the Pacific Theatre, but I don’t like subs chances against the Japanese Navy or air power. I also merged and reorganized the surface fleets in Brest, Marseille and Algiers; keeping the strongest fleet with the Carrier in Brest, and moving the oldest ships off to Africa.

Now let’s look into France’s colonial situation. North Africa seemed fine at the moment with only five divisions of troops there holding down the main ports and VP provinces. But why the hell were there three half strength mountain divisions and an HQ in Djibouti. Frackin’ Djibouti!! Ok, so I could have kept an eye on Il Duce, but these guys will be rotated out. Since I planned to move the transports away from Indochina, I had them stop to pick up these units and return them to France for reorganizing.

Speaking of Indochina, there were only two divisions of low level infantry holding down this overseas possession. When the Japanese do breakthrough to conquer all of China, as I expect, there is no way two divisions will be enough troops to hold them back. So I have a dilemma: Do I reinforce these guys or prep them for a strategic withdrawal into British held Burma? I decided to send Djibouti forces there once they are upgraded with an extra brigade or two rather than use them on the Italian or Spanish border. My idea is to use them as a delaying force, and then make a stand at the one (and only) province where British Burma and French Indochina meet.

Technobabble:

001.jpg

France is behind in several technology areas and ahead in others like the oh so useful battle cruisers. With only 13.20 leadership points to spend, every bit counts. I decided to keep 9 points in technology development. This gives me time to develop better infantry, artillery, and fighters. I also will use the early years to expand technology in education, IC capability, agriculture and supplies. Some research in more defensive land doctrine and interceptor morale will also occur.

I’ll let the British handle the diplomacy and keep the amount of newly recruited officers low. Now I know you need to keep the officer/enlisted ratio fairly high or your troops run away screaming like they just saw Joan Rivers without any makeup, but I will compensate for this as we get closer to the day when Germany opens the war.

Intelligence & Politics:

004.jpg

Here I decided to follow along with the Wiki and put some effort into the spy network. My remaining leadership points will give me one new spy every six days. First, I need to bump up national unity which starts at 50%. That has to be at least 70% by 1939. Domestic spies will concentrate on improving that. I also replaced Dormoy with Delbos to reduce the penalty to increasing unity.

With Germany, I took a different track and max out the priority of foreign spies there. Their mission is to increase Germany’s threat and help to push other countries away from the Axis. Finally, the priority of foreign spies needs to be tweaked so that France wasn’t wasting these guys going to Albania or Honduras.

002.jpg

Production:

Gnashing of teeth can now begin. The penalties for a peaceful democracy like France suck. I needed troops, tanks, guns, planes, and lots of them. And yet I had barely over 1/3 of the IC to devote to this. I did not want to waste the investment already made in the Dunkerque but I also needed the production for troops, so I put the battle cruiser construction on hold. Priority investment went like this:

Reserve Infantry Divisions (3 infantry brigades, 1 artillery) x 20
Tank Brigades x 10 (2 Medium Armor, 1 Light Armor, 1 engineer brigade)
Interceptors x 6 - with more to follow when upgrades available.
Still I cannot fully produce the planes at the start. They’ll be just short of half speed. As the production savings and reduced need for consumer goods start to kick in, interceptor production will increase.

003.jpg

OK that’s all for now. Time to un-pause and move forward. Vive la France!
 

JDMS

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Your preparations are solid.
 

DanSez

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I think you would get better/faster production in the HoI3 model by producing your units one at a time instead of serially - your 20 inf divisions don't get the practical bump, at least in its full right, until the serial production is run

that's as far as I understand and know that is a big difference between HoI2 and HoI3

someone else can either refute or verfiy my claim.

Keep up the good work, I'll be reading
 

Bingo Brett

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JDMS: Thanks! It's good to know I'm thinking the right way.

DanSez: Hmmmm that's an interesting thought. I'll have to check that out later because that could make a big difference. Thanks for reading!
 

Palmyrene

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Good luck! Bon chance! Allez les Blues and so on.. !

It will be interesting to see how this develops. I'd like to see you take the fight to the Germans in due course...is this possibility behind your decision to invest in armoured forces so early?
 

Murmurandus

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Should be fun... :D
 

Royalfork

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I think you would get better/faster production in the HoI3 model by producing your units one at a time instead of serially - your 20 inf divisions don't get the practical bump, at least in its full right, until the serial production is run

that's as far as I understand and know that is a big difference between HoI2 and HoI3

someone else can either refute or verfiy my claim.

Keep up the good work, I'll be reading

Yes, he would gain the practical, but by the looks of things he doesn't have the IC to produce enough parallel to make it worth while.
 

Bingo Brett

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Palmyrene: Merci! Merci! Actually my decision to invest in tanks over motorized infantry relates to the tech comparison between France and Germany in the '36 scenario. Germany is behind France at the start but should be ahead by '39. So my idea was to build the bestest I can early to at least keep with the Germans. I don't like the idea of constant tank vs infantry battles.

Murmurandus, always good to see you mon ami. :) Royalfork, Jemisi, bienvenue!
 

Bingo Brett

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Part II: A Little Spanish Intervention (1936-1937)

007.jpg

On January 18, 1936 the Spanish Civil War started. And as
you can see from the screenshot, the Republican side seemed to have a bit of an upper hand in territory. While I didn’t have all the criteria to intervene, namely 50% support for the ruling party, I decided to help the Republican side beat the Nationalists.

I set the spy network up to start reducing the national unity in Nationalist Spain. Unlike the Germans, the Nationalists were not as effective at killing off the each spy as it shows up. Meanwhile I attempted to set up some trade where I ship supplies to the Republicans. The AI said this is a likely trade, but it falls through. Since I’m not putting too much into the Diplomacy slider, I decided to wait on trying to set up a trade pipeline for a more opportune situation.

In the meantime, the Nationalists made some sizable gains over the Republicans. Most of SW Spain fell to the Nationalists. They almost created a pocket surrounding Madrid which would have been bad… very bad. Lucky for this game, the pocket did not close but the Republican surrender percentage went over 40%.

Checking over the situation I found six spies sitting around while the Nationalist’s unity score is 99%. Guess that was a bad idea and waste of a few months of activity. So I switched the spies over to “Military Espionage” to disrupt their offensive planning. Republican Spain needed resources badly, and I arranged for 10 units of energy to be shipped to them in a deal they would be fools not to accept.

Soon the battle turned to the Republican side, and I think the AI moving the troops away from North Africa helped. A year after the war began and it was now time for the Republican forces to go on the offensive. They reclaimed all of southwestern Spain that they lost early and slowly consolidated their army for a final offensive. On May 5, 1937, the Nationalists quit and were annexed by Republican Spain ending the Spanish Civil War.

010.jpg

Overall, this was a bit of a boondoggle for France, but the outcome was the most favorable. I doubt the French Intelligence (oxymoron?) was that decisive in changing the tide of battle. And every day those spies were in Spain, that’s less of an increase in French unity or German threat. The small amount of trade will may help move Spain towards the Allies, but not much. But let’s not be too gloomy, at least there will be little need to defend the Franco-Spanish border.

Vive la France!
 

Murmurandus

Crusader for Fun and Profit
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Well, at least that's one worry less, but I'm sure things will go down the drain anyway... ;):p
 

JDMS

Hypothetical Hegemon
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