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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Juan_de_Marco

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awesomeness! the anticipation of how the woar will turn out can be felt in the air. Yeah that situation in Cabinda is pretty scary. Even if you would attack the Belgians too early, your forces would be weaker and the French would notice. but as long as your transport fleets can hop around unmolested in that part of the world, you can use the same division for protecting more than one province at the same time.
 

Woody Man

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Hmmm, yeah from where I am, things look like they could go ok, or not well at all. Do you think you'll be able to pop more men into Africa? I guess you've already had a look at military access into HK.
 

Rensslaer

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As war begins, we begin trying to formulate a good allocation of IC, especially now that we’ve picked up even more. Douala had one factory, and Dakar had another – we’ve gone from 31 IC to 37 (at war mobilisation), to 39 in short order (notice the date is the 19th – 2 days ahead of present – I’ll capture more IC over the next couple of days to bring it up to 39).

WarStartProd.jpg


Thinking very hopefully, I place the submarines near the top. I early on concluded that once war began, I would have all the troops I’d need, in pre-positioned locations, and that after the war started I’d concentrate on reinforcing existing units and building “hardware” like ships and planes (or even factories!). In retrospect, looking back on this planning from four months into wartime gameplay, I don’t know what I was thinking. This was one of two unexpected needs that cropped up – one of which (the need for exponentially higher numbers of convoy ships) had already begun to tickle my consciousness, but at the other I was a little surprised I hadn’t thought of it.

As you can see, I’ve already begun to anticipate the need for convoy ships and escorts. I don’t know what I’d have done if I hadn’t at least foreseen that this could be an issue, and worked to alleviate it. If I’d gotten into the thick of combat and later realized this need was greater than I could ever have expected, I’d have been even further behind. I want another cavalry division – they will be very useful in Africa for maneuver offense. And I’d still like to complete that second level of the Macao fort, even though I don’t expect it will be useful for a year or more (why? Because if I have the opportunity, I’d like for it to be more than a 2-level fort, and to accomplish that in a year’s time, or two, I’ll have to complete the 2nd level first). The Bf-109s are a priority too, and in time they’ll overtake the fort as a priority – I just want to get the fort and the other high-ticket items to progress a little before I set them back on the back burner again.

17SepFW200.jpg


As the 17th dawns, bright, over Lisbon, the new naval bomber & scouting airwing equipped with FW 200s is activated, and cleared to begin missions. It is immediately flown out to the Azores, where it begins operations looking for British or French convoys to attack.

17SepDouala.jpg


An early plan for the cavalry division I landed at Douala was to take it off immediately, and move it to capture another nearby African port. However, scouting has shown that most of the desirable ports have garrisons – a definite change from the v1.1c game I started earlier! I also considered taking him by sea to Cabinda, or even adjacent to Cabinda, to help defeat the French mountain unit. However, I decided that he might be more useful attempting to cut off the French from behind. I did not find the travel times for cavalry overland to be outrageous – a matter of a couple of weeks I think – so this will hopefully be more decisive than just stopping the attack (which is all I would likely be able to do).

Meanwhile, I realize I made a stupid deployment decision for another of my cavalry units. I thought he might be useful “on the wing” of the South African advance, and might be able to get around the enemy and cut off some supplies. In retrospect, I realize he was so mired in the sands and forests of the terrain, that he couldn’t move quickly for any purpose. Not even to escape, as it turns out – this unit was attacked, there was no point in continuing the battle at bad odds, and so I retreated to continue in the direction I wanted to go anyway.

17Sep0400Stupid.jpg


This unit would be stuck in the Angolan backcountry for months, being persistently harassed by the South Africans, and was basically useless to me in all that time. He was meant to defend territory as a secondary deployment goal, but he couldn’t even do that against two full-size infantry divisions. A total waste, which is common in war.

My Tac bombers begin bombing the single brigade of Royal Marines stationed at Bathurst, Gambia (the province of Banjul, in the game). I have one garrison division stationed north of them, in newly captured Dakar, but I’m waiting for a cavalry division to move in from the south so we can attack from two sides.

17Sep0800Dakar.jpg


Finding a garrison guarding Hong Kong, our transport carrying an infantry division begins to prowl the South China Sea, looking for an undefended port. Remarkably, they find the French Indochinese city of Saigon unoccupied (they actually spotted an HQ unit making its way north upon the coast, obviously having left its post for some reason!). Perhaps the other defenders have been pulled back home to defend Paris, which is under threat by the Germans.

17Sep1100Saigon.jpg


This is an easy grab. They move into the city, which has resource production (with other resources nearby) and a factory (this is another of those which combined to lift our IC to 39).

The occupation policies we’re using are “full occupation” (moderately upsetting to the population) – 50% IC, but less manpower and leadership. The IC is more important to us now.

18SepCabinda.jpg


We’ve brought our tac bombers down to Cabinda to attack those French mountaineers to try to reduce the likelihood of them prevailing while we’re occupied elsewhere (and while our cavalry works its way into their rear). The situation in France makes me wonder how long we’ll have to hold out, at all…

19SepFrance.jpg


The Germans have trusted directly toward Paris, and are advancing generally at a slower pace elsewhere. The French are not having much luck maintaining a defensive line. The fact that there’s an “O’Connor” there makes me think the British have sent expeditionary forces over the Channel. They’re not helping a lot, and I wonder if they’ll not be trapped there.

But, alas, the French are not the only ones suffering defeats. One of the precious few Allied victories in the entire war, so far, occurs when Indian colonial troops march into our Portuguese colony of Goa.

18SepPangim.jpg


Those dastardly British! We had hoped it would not come to this, but Goa is indefensible and surrounded – not like Macao. There was nothing that could have been done, with the forces we had at hand.

That inset, by the way, is showing our chase to try to capture or sink the French transports we flushed out of Saigon Harbor. As we first invaded, we feared there might be warships in there, and that they might stop our attack. But we were lucky -- just transports. Now, presumably, they're settling into the only remaining French port nearby, near Hanoi, in the north.
 

Myth

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Fantastic, get that invasion of Indochina going! ;)
 

unmerged(87183)

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Good work!
 

th3freakie

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Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooa! :(

Time to start the campaign again.
 

Lord E

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Nice start to the war. It seems that progress during the first days of warfare was pretty good, and your conquest of Saigon was a clever move, especially considering the French will soon surrender if the Germans keep up their momentum. At the moment you are able to sail your ships around, but I fear that soon the oceans will be a dangerous place for your small fleet. I am actually surprised that your naval forces in the Far East haven’t been attack by the British yet, have they removed all their naval forces from Hong Kong and Singapore?
 

LaBretonniere

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Won't Saigon's province be granted to the Vichy when France surrenders, regardless of who holds it now?
(All of French Indochina, for that matter, so that Vichy France can grant Japan use)
 

Jorath13

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Won't Saigon's province be granted to the Vichy when France surrenders, regardless of who holds it now?
(All of French Indochina, for that matter, so that Vichy France can grant Japan use)

I too wonder about this...as a Japanese player I'd be miffed if the Portugese pulled this stunt in an MP game. :D Sad about Goa, but as you point out its not defensible really.
 

Rensslaer

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FYI - Index of Updates has been posted, edited into the initial post.
 

cynicalyouth

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yay! an index no more worrying about missed posts.

Great job so far, I'm looking forward to the war to come.
 

unmerged(105596)

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Exterous

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Hopefully all goes well and no Allied fleets manage to sneak up on you!
 

Rensslaer

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Império Novo

Focke-Wulf200Final420.jpg

(This story was begun in the first post of this AAR. If you didn’t read it, it’s located here.)

...

Aiming for the spot beneath the clouds where he expected the convoy must be, Ari nosed their beloved Chita over, and shoved the throttle forward to increase the feed of fuel to the engines. Over the onboard intercom, he announced, “Time to instruct the world about the Império Novo.” He let the phrase hang in the air so people could contemplate. “Eh?”

“Império Novo!” came a voice in reply from an enthusiastic crewman. The New Empire.

As gracefully as only a Focke Wulf “Condor” could, this bird of prey had fixed its eyes upon its target and dove with portentous purpose.

Soon, the softness of the cloud embraced them, and the perceptible world transformed. Increasingly, droplets of water touched the windscreen, instantly joining a streaming migration of raindrops toward the left or right. A mass colony of water, in small components, marching to the whim of the winds.

The gray dimness of the fog mimicked the darkening mood – for the first time, they were going to war.

When they had been in training, the other pilots began to adorn the noses of their planes with exotic symbols – mascots, names, pretty ladies… The crew talked about what their plane would be called. Aristides was taken by the beauty and grace of the craft, and he conveyed this impression to the others. “Condor” was too obvious, and at the same time didn’t even seem to fit – too much a Germanic appellation. Too little poetry.

Some of the crews had taken “eagle” or “hawk” themes, but that didn’t seem to fit either. A swan? Graceful, but not swift, or dangerous, everyone agreed. Copilot Paulo told about when he had been to the Portuguese colony of Angola. He had gone on safari, and had seen gazelles grazing. They panicked, for a reason he could not tell, and then he spied it – a cheetah, racing with every toned muscle toward the herd of animals, and viciously ripping the neck out of one of the creatures. He had been so impressed… So were the others. Their Focke Wulf would be known as “Chita.” Their lanky young navigator, Aaran, turned out to have some remarkable artistic talents, and he painted their mascot on the plane’s nose – an angry, muscular cheetah, stretched out at a full run, intent on its prey.

Suddenly – instantly – they were free of the cloud’s grip, exploding into brightness, shedding the windscreen's raindrops, acquiring a renewed vision of dark water, punctuated by whitecaps… and ships! Much closer now. Aristides quickly corrected their angle of attack and sighted upon the nearest of eight transports.

Freed of its wispy bonds, burst out from its hiding place, Chita stretched out, and pursued its quarry.

There was no reaction, at first. The convoy plowed through the moderate swells carelessly. Then an alarm must have sounded, as an escort corvette on the far side began to turn, reversing its direction to head toward the danger. Within the next two minutes, as they closed, the courses of the other ships began to waver – wholly uncoordinated, and panicked. The first sign of enemy fire became apparent. A twin burst of anti-aircraft fire punctuated a long, streaming tracer from the corvette’s bow. A machine gun on one of the transports began to spray wildly. Nothing daunting – they pressed in, lower.

Manoel’s cannon – a 20mm with a throaty burp – began to pulse out projectiles toward their target. The first several shots fell short – three or four were in the air at a time at first, so there was no way to correct the aim. But he zeroed in quickly, and two shots blasted the ship – one in the hull above the waterline, another near the pilothouse – before another overshot.

At close range, they were upon the wallowing craft before they knew it. Manny stopped firing, and concentrated on his bombsight. To think of anything as “silent,” with all the roaring noise of their engines, was absurd, and yet it was almost “silent” for several seconds, as everyone anticipated the coming clash.

The mass of the ship passed underneath Ari’s cockpit, and he turned a businesslike eye toward what would be his next target. Whatever was happening below, he no longer had any possible effect upon it. Pascoal’s rear-facing machine gun began to chatter as the target came into his view. A line of tracers from the ship’s own machine gun flashed past to the left, drawing Ari’s attention, momentarily.

Over the normally sedate intercom came a howling shout – a heart-rending wail that continued for what seemed forever. “What is it?” Ari asked, sudden alarm evident on his face, and in his voice. “Who’s hurt?”

The shouting stopped, only to be replaced by the excited voice which had uttered it. “We got her! Ka-boom!” Manny crowed. “Ripped a huge hole in her side! Big splash of water, but we got metal too! Railings, and bits of metal!”

Ari grinned over at Paulo, who was beaming! Water and debris, together, seemed like a good indication of a waterline hit – possibly spelling death for the ship!

A loud “thunk” against the side of the aircraft brought them immediately back to the task at hand. A quick survey out the windows showed a second escort ship closing from the south, as well as the guy on the far side, who had now penetrated the perimeter of the convoy and was crossing its breadth to get closer to Chita. Another freighter – larger than the first – loomed near in front of them.

“Ready for the next one, Manny?”

“Got it, Sir!”

There was no time for more cannon fire, here. It was close enough to require Manoel’s complete attention. The lull, again, then a brief, hefty jerk to the plane as the weight of the plane’s second bomb flew free.

Immediately, there was a growl of disgust. “I’m sure I missed that one – sorry.”

“It’s all right, Manny – you got one!” Ari began to climb, and wheeled toward the left. Over his shoulder, he could see the first target they’d hit. It was leaning over in the water, evidently beginning to sink. “And it looks like it’s done for!” A cheer rose along the intercom.

Still in the fight, Manoel’s cannon started banging again, joining Pascoal’s persistent chattering fire. Different targets, surely. What were we hitting? Paolo was stretching to see over the rim of his cockpit window. “Good shot, Manny! Keep it up!”

Ari leveled the plane, which silenced the sound of the cannon. Combat in three dimensions – shift the attitude of the plane to bring one weapon to bear, you often ruined the aim of another. Heavier calibers or higher priority targets got precedence… If the pilot grasped the correct calculus.

Long-range deflection shots weren’t going to kill a second ship, he'd decided. Ari centered on a third freighter, instead, and bore in on it, anxiously conscious of the fact this maneuver would place them considerably closer to the southernmost corvette’s pluming 3- or 4-inch guns. Puffs of black or gray indicated the ship’s shells, fused to explode at a certain too-close-for-comfort range. The concussions were perceptible through his hands, feet, and seat as they rocked the aircraft.

As they drew near, the cannon started up again. Chunk-chunk-chunk-chunk… Again, the target disappeared beneath the curve of the plane’s nose before any damage was visible. But, from below them, Manoel bellowed with glee, cackling about holes he was punching in the enemy ship.

Quickly, they were past the ship. The cannon’s fire stopped, to be replaced by Pascoal’s machine gun, which kept firing for a good 30 seconds as they bore away.

Suddenly, one of the corvette’s airburst shells exploded very near the plane. Chita shuddered, and Ari winced. But none of her flying qualities changed, as a result of what must have been only superficial damage. Ari’s muscles relaxed slightly, having frozen in dread for his plane, more than any personal fear. He was reminded of his own mortality, too. And that of his crew. “Sound off…. Everybody still with us?” All four of his fellow crew answered okay.

“Time to get out of here, guys.” Manny and Pascoal voiced their disappointment, but only briefly. They knew to follow orders. And maybe they were considering the proximity of death in their minds, themselves.

Pulling the yoke back, Ari urged Chita to rise. Its momentum carried it up swiftly… for a short while. Then, inevitably, the speed slowed, and even though he’d shoved the throttles on all four engines forward, he had to ease off on the angle of his climb to avoid losing too much speed. He was well above stall speed, but he didn’t dare fly slow enough to become a sitting target.

He did roll over starboard into a moderate, banking turn, having to level off his climb yet more to do so. Every hundred meters between him and the ships made the enemy’s fire less accurate – less likely to take them suddenly out of the sky and put them in the water. But so long as they remained in range, the danger did too.

Slowly, with distance, his heart slowed its pounding. They climbed, gradually, into the cloud layer, and safety. For an extra measure, he changed course again, rolling to the left.

They flew on for another 30 seconds into the blinding gray, then Ari came back to himself. “Course for home, Aaran?” His navigator began scratching out a course with his pencil and handheld geometric instruments. Ari sighed, tiredly.

Home.
 

Myth

Strategy Cognoscenti
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Jul 8, 2005
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The hunt for prey, a fantastic scene! :D