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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Alex Kernel

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Someone might notice my preference for playing those countries with tragic destiny and few chances of victory like Romania, Italy, and France. Since the yet to be finished Romanian campaign, and my Italian experiment much experience was gained, and this time I changed the tune to France.

One year ago (or more) I tried a French campaign, thereby getting a severe beating that really discouraged me from new attempts with yet another hopeless country. This year, after interrupting my work at the Romanian campaign and learning fleet strategy with Italy (another failed campaign, but very instructive nonetheless), I did delve into the secrets of land combat departing from the unfounded supposition I was an expert in the field. Months of research into division composition, effective building and research strategy, and offensive and especially defensive battle tactics turned me confident to challenge again the tough fate of France.

One small notice: the campaign is not over but it got very interesting with unexpected twists that I would gladly share with you.


An unforgiving beginning

France starts with marginally more Leadership than Italy, poor resource production, limited MP, few apt generals, and catastrophically low IC Production. In a short sentence, this country is destined to lose. Historically, France was almost bankrupt throughout the 1920s and 1930s because of the devastation of its industrial cores during the First World War, a psychologically scarred nation after the millions of lives lost during the same conflagration, and a politically unstable state in part due to the lost self-confidence after a pyrrhic victory.

Given the ruinous state of France, these are the self-imposed conditions for a French victory:

1) France has to successfully resist the German offensive during the first two or three years of conflict.
2) Should Germany be defeated with the participation of the Soviet Union, which according to other players will DOW Germany at latest in 1942, France has to establish a demarcation line at the Rhine, and prepare for a war with the Soviets to liberate Central and Eastern Europe from Bolshevik occupation, in other words, to rebuild the Cordon Sanitaire, and eventually drive Russia beyond today Ukraine. According to the German and Romanian historical sources, when the Axis officers captured the first HQ documents of the Red Army in the first days of war, all the Soviet battle plans were exclusively offensive, and so was the disposition of troops, suggesting Stalin was preparing his own surprise attack on Germany and its allies a few weeks or months later. One can only speculate when the Communist power planned to start its own offensive for the domination of Central and Western Europe (in my opinion it is possible that Stalin actually wanted to wait longer so that Germany and the Allies spend their energies against each other first), but in a scenario of a French (Allied) victory west of the Rhine and a Soviet victory east of the river, we would have had the same Cold War scenario, where the Soviets took a very confrontational stance, perhaps feeling frustrated by the American power stealing their chance of a full invasion of Europe and internationalization of Communist order. The only factor that stopped a Third World War in real life was the American use of the Atomic Bomb in Japan and the implicit threat to the security of the Soviet empire in case of direct confrontation.
3) France and its Allies enter war with the Soviet Union, regardless of who DOWs whom, and France has to establish an European Democratic Liberal order as soon as UdSSR is defeated, or even during the War. France will thus liberate all the countries, reestablish the borders prior to the Second World War, since Paris guaranteed them in the Versailles Peace Treaties. This should be the basis for a liberal world order, less impregnated by nationalistic politics which are steering the world nowadays back to a world rife with conflicts and great power competition.
4) Should the option be possible, the Allies will try to establish liberal democracy in Russia as well, hopefully in an alternative historical process that didn't go astray for the Russian people and for the Russian democracy as in real life during the 1990s.

The following parts will be rather short centered on my policy decisions, the response of the AI, and the turn of events, without the rich historical background present in the Romanian AAR. The experience gained in the past and present campaigns will impact the Romanian campaign as well, in ways that I will explain there.

PS: And yes, there won't be any tricks meant to exploit the system in an antihistorical manner. The play will be within the limits of sportivity. For example, I will refrain from Atomic bombings, strategic bombing of the enemy capital city, overuse of the paratroopers, and other egregious tactics. The game is the vanilla TFH variant, normal difficulty level, any modding for France being absent.
 
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nuclearslurpee

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Mini France AAR
Hooray! France AARs are always their own special brand of fun. :D

Will you be "playing to win" so to speak, or looking to play at least semi-historically? By this I mean essentially playing with the foreknowledge of a DoW in 1939 and a land war against Germany versus playing with a historical mindset not knowing what will happen next. In the latter case it is interesting for example to see how one can balance historically-accurate naval production with producing the necessary land forces to resist a German invasion, particularly as vanilla France is severely gimped in terms of IC.
 
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Bullfilter

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Ah, like to to see the rage against the game, especially as France. Best of luck. :)
 
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Alex Kernel

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Hooray! France AARs are always their own special brand of fun. :D

Will you be "playing to win" so to speak, or looking to play at least semi-historically? By this I mean essentially playing with the foreknowledge of a DoW in 1939 and a land war against Germany versus playing with a historical mindset not knowing what will happen next. In the latter case it is interesting for example to see how one can balance historically-accurate naval production with producing the necessary land forces to resist a German invasion, particularly as vanilla France is severely gimped in terms of IC.

It is impossible to exclude the historical mindset, when we all know the historical events and that the AI is hardcoded to follow them.

Let me disclose a few things. The campaign has reached the French-German hostilities, which entered a hot phase. The AI surprised me pleasantly by diverging in key instances from the historical suite of events to get a strategic advantage. I did the same as well in response and things got interesting. So, the AI took the decision of a semi-historical game for me, without going wildly different at the same time. I will not go further with the campaign untill the story here doesn't reach that moment.

My general strategy at the most abstract level revolves around countering the formidable German armoured divisions, which historically broke the back of the French army. France is so deprived of IC capacity due to the Civilian Economy (-50% base IC) that a further investment in the navy is impairing any serious effort to reform the land army. Moreover, France gets plenty of punitive events like political scandals, corruption or espionage éclats, worker strikes, and peace demonstrations that further diminishes France's development options. Besides, France goes to war way sooner than many other nations, which compounds her difficulties.

I will go through every policy area to explain how I adapted to the pretty messy French situation.

An important aspect is that I only played France once a long time ago and many things did take me by surprise in the present campaign, as we'll find out together, which is in an atenuated sense playing without foreknowledge that a seasoned player acquires through repeated play of his nation of choice.
 
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It is impossible to exclude the historical mindset, when we all know the historical events and that the AI is hardcoded to follow them.

Let me disclose a few things. The campaign has reached the French-German hostilities, which entered a hot phase. The AI surprised me pleasantly by diverging in key instances from the historical suite of events to get a strategic advantage. I did the same as well in response and things got interesting. So, the AI took the decision of a semi-historical game for me, without going wildly different at the same time. I will not go further with the campaign untill the story here doesn't reach that moment.

My general strategy at the most abstract level revolves around countering the formidable German armoured divisions, which historically broke the back of the French army. France is so deprived of IC capacity due to the Civilian Economy (-50% base IC) that a further investment in the navy is impairing any serious effort to reform the land army. Moreover, France gets plenty of punitive events like political scandals, corruption or espionage éclats, worker strikes, and peace demonstrations that further diminishes France's development options. Besides, France goes to war way sooner than many other nations, which compounds her difficulties.

I will go through every policy area to explain how I adapted to the pretty messy French situation.

An important aspect is that I only played France once a long time ago and many things did take me by surprise in the present campaign, as we'll find out together, which is in an atenuated sense playing without foreknowledge that a seasoned player acquires through repeated play of his nation of choice.
I should perhaps clarify. By "historical mindset" I mean playing as if you do not know what will happen next, in other words repeating some of the "mistakes" that France made historically because they did not know what would happen in 1939-1940. For example, many players will not build any navy as France, whereas historically France built many warships up until 1939/1940 because they did not know what would happen and believed they needed a navy for various reasons. So the "historical mindset" might build a navy even though it "wastes" precious IC, or might find some other justification to not build a navy or to reduce the amount of ships built.

Of course either approach is good, I am only curious. :)
 
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This looks like it could be fun. I'll be following along. I do hope we will get to see Richelieu and both of the Dunkerques built... The AI usually doesn't manage this, and that has always frustrated me. To be fair, I have seen Strasbourg being built, but not Richelieu.
 
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Alex Kernel

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So, we are in January 1936 trying to steer the country towards a safer harbor. Let's get an overview of my decisions for France by policy panels:

1. Diplomacy and Trade

France has 9,10 base Leadership (LP) and the rest up to 16,38 LP from policy decisions and the English Channel bonus. Every LP point matters. It hurts to divert any of them to anything else than research, but France is also low on every possible resource in the game. The only possibility to redress that is to trade supplies for money (probably the only way out for such strapped countries), whereby every 20 supplies take away approx. 3 IC from my military production. And not to forget, the Full Civilian Economy cuts the IC and resources production in half. From 98 IC base, one gets 66 IC with the help of an Administrative Genius Minister and of Improved Technology.

The plan is to sell massively Supplies (IC) to all majors and buy resources of all sorts instead, except fuel and oil, which are available on the world market at exorbitant prices. To make this possible I allocated 1,19 LP to diplomacy for up to a year. France is too poor to afford complicated diplomatic games with non-aligned countries. Better let them to other Majors, especially faction leaders. The second goal is to improve trade relations with those majors from which France intends to buy resources, mainly the US, UK and USSR.

2. Production

The consumer Goods needs are very high, and so the supplies production due to the external trade policy. One has to play tough with every available margin. In order to alleviate the supply consumption, I summon the land army in Paris and reform the Chain of command installing leaders with the Logistics Wizard trait on the top positions in the military. The first order list will see Dunkerque land on the bottom because the meager investments the country can make will be allocated for the reform of the land army. At this point we have a sizeable number of infantry divisions, all of them lacking any artillery support, and a few incomplete armoured divisions (3) inefficiently combined with other arms. The air force is in better shape, and due to its very expensive units, will receive attention later on. The French Navy is the second-best in the world, after the English one, and is in no urgent need of updating.

The French assessment for the moment is the national army needs improved production practicals while endowing infantry divisions with artillery brigades and to redress the weak industrial capacity. Since the Artillery units per se are very expensive, we will start with ordering AT artillery regiments to the national industry. In the long term, we will compensate for the lack of IC by building more (2x) Industrial Capacity which will increase in number every time the first batch will be finished: 2x -> 3x ->5x -> 7x, and 10x. This should safeguard the long term capacity of France to remain a competitive Major Power on the world stage, a status that is currently seriously under threat. The general consensus among the experienced players is France cannot afford to spare any IC for industrial capacity. Instead, it should exclusively dedicate to its land army. I beg to differ in that matter. My bet is France will have not only to stop the Nazi onslaught but also to fend off the equally destructive Communist menace from the East. With the actual IC plus all bonuses France won't surpass 150 IC and therefore never be a match for Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Remember, the dies have not been cast by the end of 1940, and I have no idea if this assessment is right or not. Another order is for an Air Base with the aim to increase faster the infrastructure practical for the IC production.

3. Technology

Research will be dedicated first to increase the IC, LP, MP, supply production, and resource exploitation bonuses under the Industry tab. Then the focus will be on always upgrading the infantry and artillery (i.e. ART and AT). On a distant third place in the priority list are the research of Light Armour (later ARM) and Fighter technologies. France can simply not afford much else. Under Theory, we will pay attention to the Supply Organization (throughput means production in my understanding) and Transportation. Since the military doctrines advance fastest in combination with battle experience, they will be in the beginning let aside with the exception of the Guerilla Warfare and Large Front theories, which enable reductions of supply consumption. Whenever these research areas are completed in time and extra research slots are available, Air doctrines will be studied, and the Tactical Bomber technologies researched.

As for the LP distribution, France has also to address the reduced Officer Ratio (89%) and the extremely low national unity of 34,99%. Thus we will spend 1,19 LP to stabilize the Officer Ratio and 0,5 LP for Espionage.

3. Politics

France has plenty of negative traits politicians. Until the next elections, we'll have to live with them. I did change one or two of them on the ministerial positions though.

4. Intelligence

The main task of the Intelligence French community will be to support internal national stability. Counterespionage is not so important in times of peace, since even the hostile countries refrain from openly disruptive espionage missions. The Spies will absolutely prioritize Raising the National Unity and later spend some energy on supporting the ruling party. Once the internal espionage network will reach maximum capacity, the espionage LP will be redirected to Research.

The spies in Germany will be instructed to increase German Threat abroad, as long as their network manages to keep a low profile.

Dear readers, now you have a broad overview of my peacetime strategy for France. Gladly waiting for your feedback. Any proposals and critique are welcome as usual.
 
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Alex Kernel

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This looks like it could be fun. I'll be following along. I do hope we will get to see Richelieu and both of the Dunkerques built... The AI usually doesn't manage this, and that has always frustrated me. To be fair, I have seen Strasbourg being built, but not Richelieu.

Are Richelieu and the second Dunkerque ships in the original order list? In my default order list only appears one ship, namely Dunkerque.
 
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nuclearslurpee

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The French Navy is the second-best in the world, after the English one, and is in no urgent need of updating.
Taking potshots at the Americans and Japanese. It's a bold strategy, we'll see how it works out.

The general consensus among the experienced players is France cannot afford to spare any IC for industrial capacity. Instead, it should exclusively dedicate to its land army.
Generally, the way the math of IC works out is that each point of IC you build takes about 4 years to break-even, i.e. you make back the amount of IC-days you used to construct the IC in the first place. This timeline is too short to contribute to defeating Germany, however if you are confident in your strategy to beat Germany it makes sense to plan ahead for the USSR.

Additionally, for France since the initial laws are so bad, the IC build may not pay off as quickly, but if you can ramp up to wartime laws very quickly it might pay off in less than four years.

Dear readers, now you have a broad overview of my peacetime strategy for France. Gladly waiting for your feedback. Any proposals and critique are welcome as usual.
Keeping in mind that this is vanilla and not HPP, what I probably would have done if I was trying to play optimally would be:
  • Put all leadership into espionage for a month or so to build up 10 domestic spies, 10 spies in Germany plus some in reserve.
  • After that, put the 0.38 into diplomacy and espionage depending on needs and the rest into research. Ideally you want to keep just enough in espionage to maintain 10 spies in Germany, with a bit of micromanagement to turn them on and off when needed to avoid counterespionage sweeps.
  • Use spies in Germany to raise threat, which helps reduce your neutrality and get the best laws. Once you have the best laws you don't need the spies anymore, but they may still help other Allied nations reduce their own neutrality.
  • Don't even think about officers until probably 1939 once you've gotten the best training laws and reached the point where additional research won't reach the field fast enough to help stop the German offensive.
  • Start producing AT and ART for the existing divisions, along with one or two new INF/INF/INF/AT or ART divisions purely to keep practicals cooking.
Note that following from my above reply, this assumes you are focusing solely on beating Germany in 1940. If you are confident that you "only" need X amount of troops and can spare the IC to build factories then I'd say build factories now and support brigades later. Either way, definitely build infantry divisions one or two at a time to keep the practicals cooking.

Either way, the main goal in vanilla I think is to maximize what you can get out of your leadership which means dumping as much as possible into research until 6-12 months before war and then switching to officers. Espionage I think is generally a waste for an Allied nation except for raising threat in Germany.

Again, this is a "play to win" strategy. If I was playing "historically" I'd probably be doing something very different like spending all my ICs on ships while my generals drank cognac to numb the pain.

Are Richelieu and the second Dunkerque ships in the original order list? In my default order list only appears one ship, namely Dunkerque.
No, Strasbourg and Richelieu (and Jean Bart, for that matter!) have to be built by the player later in the game. The "default order list" usually just contains a few ships that historically were under construction (to be precise, had been launched) as of 1936.

France actually historically built a lot of ships given their economic situation in the few years leading up to Danzig...from my notes, in 1936-1940 looks like roughly 17 to 20 destroyers, 8 destroyer leaders/light cruisers, 14 or 16 submarines, the two BCs, and the two Richelieu BBs although Jean Bart was not completed.

All that being said, France in HoI3 is severely nerfed compared to OTL (no small feat, given how badly-off France was in OTL!) and it's not possible in vanilla to complete the historical buildup for all three branches (even in HPP I've not yet pulled it off...so many damn infantry tank battalions...), so ignoring the navy is a sadly understandable and necessary direction for France.
 
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What do the laws look like? If National Unity is exceptionally low and/or you're dealing with a lot of dissent, it may be worth it to switch to Consumer Goods Orientation, and switch back to Mixed Industry once CG demand has come down.

France made a lot of bad decisions leading up to the war, but the biggest problems were with the organisation and mindset of the army. The tanks were too spread out, the communications weren't up to scratch, with many tanks lacking a radio, and orders being relayed by messengers and landlines like in the 1st world war. As for the mindset, they all thought they were fighting the 1st world war all over... until the panzers reached the channel that is...

Are Richelieu and the second Dunkerques ships? In my default order list only appears one ship, namely Dunkerque.
Yes. Strasbourg is Dunkerque's sister ship, and Richelieu is a step up from the Dunkerques with more of everything thanks to it's more efficient design... thicker armour, bigger calibre guns (380mm instead of 330mm), and more power, but also more displacement. In-game I'd estimate that Starsbourg should be started before Dunkerque is finished and Richelieu as soon as it finishes. OTL both Dunkerque-class ships took some damage in Mers-el Kébir, but escaped to Toulon, where they were scuttled by their crews on the 27th of November 1942.

Richelieu, about 90% completed (all the big guns and the armour and the propulsion system were mounted and working, and had been tested.) escaped out of Brest. She was relocated to Dakar after being intercepted by a British fleet on her way to the rest of the French Battleships in Morocco. The British put her out of action using torpedo bombers. She got hit, but was still salvageable and under the orders of Vichy. Even after being patched up with local means there was no way she was going to get to any VIchy French, or even Axis drydock, so she languished in Dakar, until operation Torch, during which she was captured without much further damage. Then she was refitted in New York, getting a lot of updates. Tons of 5" and Bofors AA guns, modern radar, reshaping and/or replacing gun barrels so they fit US standard ammunition more tightly etc. Missing out on major actions in the Atlantic, she ended up going back and forth between the British Pacific Fleet and the Med during the later stages of the war, mostly bombarding land targets. Immediately after the war, she was part of the 'triumphal' French return to Indochina. She stayed in the main fleet until 1959, when she was put in reserve, before being disarmed and broken up in 1967.

It should be noted that the sister ship to Richelieu, Jean-Bart was also in the later stages of construction, but she was still missing some key components (Half of her main armament, and most of the secondary armament wasn't there). Having escaped German bombs to Casblanca, she ended up also being captured during operation Torch, she served also as a parts-bin to fix damage on the Richelieu. She was finished in France after the war, and ended up with a bunch of more modern equipment which couldn't be mounted on the Richelieu, this lead to Jean-Bart only being mothballed in 1961, and broken up in 1970. The last Battleships of the Marine Nationale.

Realistically, if France were to focus more on it's ground forces with a 1940 war in mind, it would have still finished Dunkerque and Strasbourg, putting the RIchelieu's on the back burner to free up resources.
 
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The trajectory of France has been set in stone. Things went in the described fashion until March 1939, a moment when the AI proved it can divert from the script and think for itself. Let's begin with a short description of how things developed.

January 1936

FRA 01.01.36.png


Then fast forward to 17 March 1939

FRA 17.03.39.png


By March 1939 France has filled its resources to close to maximum levels due to the wise ( ;-) ) trade policy.

The insufficient officer ratio from January 1936 went down from 95% to 89% due to the low spent LP (1,19), and from January 1939 went again with massive investments up reaching 106% in March 1939. France started clearly to prepare for war.

Spies raising National Unity from the first day (+1,50 at ten spies maximum capacity) have raised the National Unity from 34,99% (actually, a national decision had meanwhile added 10%) to 71,78%. This means many beneficial war laws could be adopted around January 1939.

The Industrial Capacity of the country rose from 66 (base 98) to 153 (base 104). That includes an increase of 6 base IC, which will compound over time.

That being said, at the time I was preparing to man the borders with Germany, Italy and the Low Lands, the national Mobilization being programmed to start at the end of July 1939. Then German AI stroke. On the 17th March 1939 Germany claimed that the settlement negotiations with Czechoslovakia failed and consequently declared war to Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia had security guarantees with the Allies, especially France, which triggered an Axis-Allies war.

The situation was disastrous for France because my troops where not in the position on the Maginot line, were not Mobilized, and the assignment of Leaders was still to be executed. As you can imagine, even with the transport by train, the French troops were not able to secure Maginot. The mobilized Germans broke through 2 provinces in the Maginot Line and when I tried to counter-attack my understrength divisions were no match. The French aviation managed to keep the balance only for a week or so. Hell broke loose.

GAME ABORTED - France concedes defeat: 0-1 for the inventive AI.

Nonetheless, I didn't lose hope. Coincidentally, I did save the game 2 weeks in advance of the tragic events, so an alternative reality was started from that moment anew.

In the first days of March, France sounded total Mobilization, sent urgently all troops at the Maginot Line and the Italian border, and all the leading posts in the military hierarchy were filled with the most able high officers at hand. Barely had France filled its defensive positions along the Maginot Lines, the fatidic day 16/17 March 1939 came and Germany had second thoughts: it could be wiser after all to annex the Czech part of Czechoslovakia under the disguise of a Slovak Independence declaration and the proclamation of a Bohemian and Moravian Protectorate...

This was a first episode where I learned to have more respect for the AI capabilities.
 
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Note that following from my above reply, this assumes you are focusing solely on beating Germany in 1940. If you are confident that you "only" need X amount of troops and can spare the IC to build factories then I'd say build factories now and support brigades later. Either way, definitely build infantry divisions one or two at a time to keep the practicals cooking.

Either way, the main goal in vanilla I think is to maximize what you can get out of your leadership which means dumping as much as possible into research until 6-12 months before war and then switching to officers. Espionage I think is generally a waste for an Allied nation except for raising threat in Germany.

At this moment I do now that France did resist the first German attack in 1940. But as I was playing in March 1939 I had no idea if I can pull a successful defence next year or not. Things are further unclear, but only now I do have some hope.

The German AI continued to surprise me with several unscripted decisions, though that might be a consequence of me also playing a tad out of the book, after the first shock.

About raising Threat to Germany, you're right. The problem with that decision is that rising German Threat also permits the Soviet Union to Mobilize and adopt the better war laws long before the real life events took place. With an eye on the long breath of history, I preferred not to stir the bear before his time comes.

Soon we'll come to the game's present time (end of 1940), and we'll see together what happens.
 
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What do the laws look like? If National Unity is exceptionally low and/or you're dealing with a lot of dissent, it may be worth it to switch to Consumer Goods Orientation, and switch back to Mixed Industry once CG demand has come down.

Frankly, I don't remember what I did with the laws because there is a very long hiatus in my saves. From 1 January 1936 until 17 March 1939 I haven't saved a single game. In principle, I don't turn back and live with my good and bad decisions in order to level the playing field with the AI. However, from 22 August 1939 the saves became more regular because I at that moment I took the decision to make this AAR. From my recalls, France can change her first Laws only after it reaches 60% National Unity, among other conditions. This signifies France forcefully stayed with the default laws until mid 1938. The task to increase NU was further delayed by the occurrence of many punitive internal events.

Dissent was not a serious problem, except when certain events skyrocketed it. National Unity was the real challenge, more so than the resource, IC and LP scarcity.
 
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This is a funny first try! Very rarely does the game actually punish the player for taking advantage of the script to do gamey things like redeploying all divisions to the capital to cut down on supply spending, but when it does happen it's always amusing.

Best of luck on the next try though!
 
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This is a funny first try! Very rarely does the game actually punish the player for taking advantage of the script to do gamey things like redeploying all divisions to the capital to cut down on supply spending, but when it does happen it's always amusing.

Best of luck on the next try though!
Absolutely this. I think this is more bad luck than anything the AI did deliberately, the vanilla event chain in TFH has a 10% chance the Czechs will reject the First Vienna Award (which Paradox fairly lazily wrap up into the annexation of Czechoslovakia) and that will trigger war.

Whatever the cause, good luck with the next run through. France is a challenge, Paradox have put it in a far worse position than reality, so you will need all the luck you can get!
 
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Absolutely this. I think this is more bad luck than anything the AI did deliberately, the vanilla event chain in TFH has a 10% chance the Czechs will reject the First Vienna Award (which Paradox fairly lazily wrap up into the annexation of Czechoslovakia) and that will trigger war.

Whatever the cause, good luck with the next run through. France is a challenge, Paradox have put it in a far worse position than reality, so you will need all the luck you can get!

Hey @El Pip , I'm very happy to see you participate in this AAR! Probably you're right, the AI has most of the time (if not all the time) no idea what it's doing, and that 10% chance of the First Vienna Award being rejected materialized in my scenario, but damn, that decision came at the RIGHT point for Germany. I like to believe in the illusion the AI actually knows what and why it is doing, trying to cope with every new situation, and for the beauty of the story I will suppose he's doing so. Is the process of giving human traits to other beings and objects not called anthropomorphism?
 
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It’s all come in a rush! were you aware that the Czechs had obtained security guarantees before the Germans struck them? Was it the British? I’d also have added a few new mountain divisions to help block the Stab in the Back. Also (if playing with non-historical foresight, which I think is fair for such a nerfed France) preparing the most defensible river-and-fort line possible in northern France, to extend a ‘Maginot Light’ west to the Channel. I like the idea of some optimistic IC building, but lend lease should also help once ar war.
 
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It’s all come in a rush! were you aware that the Czechs had obtained security guarantees before the Germans struck them? Was it the British? I’d also have added a few new mountain divisions to help block the Stab in the Back. Also (if playing with non-historical foresight, which I think is fair for such a nerfed France) preparing the most defensible river-and-fort line possible in northern France, to extend a ‘Maginot Light’ west to the Channel. I like the idea of some optimistic IC building, but lend lease should also help once ar war.

Game-technically things are simpler: (a) Czechoslovakia refuses the dictate called "First Vienna Award", (b) Nazi Germany DoWs Czechoslovakia, (c) Czechoslovakia joins the opposite alliance, which happens to be the Allies, and, voila, France is out of the blue at war with Germany! My explanation though wanted to sound more historically plausible than this automated mechanism.

One of my strategic decisions regarding the preparations for war was to not extend the Maginot line. Instead of the countless IC necessary to build forts, I opted for an investment in increasing IC capability and of the number of support brigades for the French divisions. For the Italian frontline, I did build a few mountain divisions and beefed up the existing ones. My next episode will start with the French order of battle and with the composition of the Frenc Air and Land Army at the onset of WWII.
 
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Interesting they join an alliance like that once already at war, but the Allies aren’t. Sure there wasn’t a British guarantee that triggered it? I’ll have to go and have a look at the event, as it’s a key thing to be aware of, to provide warning for a possible early unsought war.

Instead of the countless IC necessary to build forts,
Agree, can’t duplicate it. What I was suggesting was more pick a river line combination, then build some forts in the ‘gap’ provinces. It doesn’t take that many to make a reasonable line and they get a bit cheaper along the way. It does work, but is only one path and I look forward to see how your rebooted defence goes.
 
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On the 22 August 1939 the French army was positioned along the entire eastern border, after the French secret service got intelligence on German preparations for large scale war operations.

FRA 22.08.39.png



On the 31 August 1939 Germany sent an ultimatum to Warsaw asking for an imperative solution to the Danzig crisis. Poland refused and Germany invoked Polish military aggressions at the common border the next day to declare war. England and France having previously guaranteed the independence and territorial integrity of Poland declared war to Germany, opening the Second World War against their will.

FRA 01.09.1939.png


During the first days of September the French General Head Quarters decided the immediate course of action:

FRA Battle Plan 09.39.png


The leading Generals have noted that only in half of the Maginot line provinces there are two full divisions, the rest being defended by one division each. When the first German attacks occurred, dangerous divisions' shuffles had to be ordered to effectively repel the enemy. Unless France withdraws essential troops from the Italian border, the nation is in danger. On the other hand it was argued Italy is an hostile Axis member, who could declare war on France at any time.
In conclusion, the only effective defence will be to attack.

The plan of action was to wait for a week in the hope Germany will divert some troops from the Maginot Line to the Polish frontline. Then the only complete armoured and motorized corpse will pierce the German defence through Pirmasens with the mission to close a pocket in Euskirchen and capture lots of hostile divisions. The bombers will support the French avant-garde, and the Interceptor groups will defend both the troops and the bombers at any cost. Behind the combined armoured and motorized division, will follow one infantry corpse diverted from the Belgium border. The main goal of this reduced scale offensive (this is maximum France can afford to throw into battle) is to force Germany to fight on two fronts. Maybe the ensuing chaos effect would save Poland from defeat and offer France the opportunity for further inroads in Germany's heartland.

Next comes the composition of the French army at 1 September 1939.
 
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