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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Eurasia

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So just the order in which you pick who you will fight can decide for you if you will join the Axis or not? I didn't know about that. I knew that if Japan attacked Pearl Harbor the US automatically join the Allies but did not know about the Chinese Republic being forced into the Axis. Interesting. I assumed as a human player that would be your decision.
 

Kovax

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It happens to ANY country that attacks a country at war against a Faction. You automatically join the faction that the country is at war against. In fact, the US is a perfect example of how it FAILS to work except under historical circumstances. IF Japan waits until Germany and the Soviet Union are at war to attack Pearl Harbor, and if Japan is drawn into the wars against both the Allies AND the Commintern, then the US will join the Commintern instead of the Axis, because the Commintern incidentally happens to be the first choice on the list, not the Axis. Position on the diplomatic triangle, ideology, and Relations have no effect; the game just checks to see if the attacked country is at war with the faction, and if so, the results are applied.

In other words, now that the factions are at war, UNTIL either the Allies or the Axis are gone, I cannot declare a war on any faction member without being automatically placed into an opposing faction. In all probability, if Germany is at war with BOTH the Allies and Commintern, declaring war on Japan or Germany would probably put me in the Commintern, for the same reason as it would put the US there: it's the first choice on the list for that decision. If true, it happens. If not, it checks the second option. If true, that happens. If not true, then nothing else happens. The only reason I wasn't forced into the Allies when Japan triggered "Marco Polo Bridge" is that Japan is not admitted to the Axis until AFTER the declaration of war. Unfortunately, while many of the hastily drawn up scripted events and decisions to replace the original failed diplomacy engine have been reworked and improved, a few of them (such as this one) are still in need of an overhaul that will never be done.
 
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Kovax

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I seem to have painted myself into a corner.

The war with Xibei San Ma began in February, and the two VP locations in the eastern end of the country were taken in March, but the difficult terrain and frequent muddy weather dragged out the capture of the final VP location (Golmud) until early June. The Xibei military units were of little concern, it was almost entirely a problem of traversing the continuous rows of mountains with only level 2 Infrastructure.

After a few more months of waiting for something to change significantly between Germany and the Allies, I finally decided to press the issue, declaring war on Shanxi in late August, 1941. As feared, when my divisions advanced into Japanese territory, the provinces were "liberated" for Japan, not China. The two provinces of Manchukuo were also "liberated", and Manchukuo was restored as a two-province vassal. There is nothing short of a second war against Japan that I can do to reclaim those provinces. Declaring war against the UK and France for my two core provinces in the south put me in the Axis, so I can't declare a second war with Japan.

I have decided to end this AAR as a failure, due to inability to accomplish the goal of annexing ALL Chinese cores, but have reloaded an early save (1937, just after the annexation of Guanxi Clique) just to prove to myself that I can actually accomplish those goals. Basically, the order of events seems to be critical, and I apparently did it wrong early in the campaign.

So far in the "revised history", I've declared war on Shanxi, after stacking a few more divisions on the border with Japan, because I'm pretty sure that Shanxi will pull its divisions from the Japanese border, potentially giving Japan the troop balance on the border that the AI's logic needs to trigger the Marco Polo Bridge event. Note that a human player can trigger it at will after it becomes available, but in this case the AI will check for a favorable force balance before activating the decision, which is the ONLY reason why Japan didn't do so during 1937 in the AAR. I wish Germany's AI logic would do the same, rather than having 100+ brigades of armor and motorized infantry wasting away for lack of supplies in the mountainous interior of Norway, and only 2 combat divisions and a handful of HQs to cover the entire Soviet border.....and then triggering Barbarossa. I'll probably make one or two more posts with a general description of whether and how the revised plan succeeds or fails.
 
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roverS3

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A two-province Manchukuo? What a mess. Now we all know to hit Shanxi first, just to make sure such an abomination doesn't happen. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.
 
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Idhrendur

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It was a good attempt. Better than I'd have been able to do.
 
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Kovax

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I did a few additional tests last night. First, I reloaded the game to just before the attack on Communist China in mid-1937, and declared war on Shanxi instead of Communist China. The attack went fairly well, despite the still-weak Officer Ratio and substantial number of divisions being kept along the border with Japan, and the capital was taken fairly quickly. As feared, Shanxi quickly pulled its divisions from its own border with Japan. In July, with Chinese divisions only a few days from taking the last of Shanxi's VP provinces, Japan triggered Marco Polo Bridge. I suspect that Japan began mobilization in June, when the decision became available and Shanxi didn't have sufficient deterrent brigades on its border, but they didn't trigger the event until July. I tried to fight it out, but in 1937, China is still far behind Japan in techs, doctrines, Officer Ratio, Commander skills, and number of divisions available, and my divisions didn't gain nearly as much experience against Shanxi as they did against Communist China in the AAR. My initial push against the Japanese in Manchuria surrounded and destroyed 5 divisions and a couple of HQs, but the tide quickly turned as Japan committed more units to the front. Within a couple of weeks, the situation had become desperate, and it was clear that I could not win. I was running out of units with any semblance of Organization left, while Japan was still bringing in fresh divisions.

For another test, I declared war on the UK over Hong Kong, took the French and UK enclaves, and went to the diplomacy screen. Once at war with an entire faction, they won't accept a White Peace ("Impossible").

In essence, Shanxi MUST be taken out, and a significant number of Chinese divisions put on the expanded front with Japan, BEFORE Japan is able to trigger Marco Polo Bridge. That requires raising Threat on both the UK and Shanxi practically from day 1, otherwise you won't have enough troops on the border to deter Japan from triggering the Marco Polo Bridge event, and you simply don't have an army capable of taking on Japan in 1937. The remaining warlords can be taken out at any time, as long as you or they are not in a faction. Manchukuo needs to be defeated and annexed, and then Japan must be driven off all Chinese territory before offering a White Peace, which they will accept because it's only a Limited War (they join the Axis AFTER war is declared). The only way to take (and keep) the French and UK enclaves is to declare war on the Allies and force the individual surrenders of both France and the UK (which will probably become Governments in Exile), and either defeat the entire Allied faction or else run out the timeline, which is realistically only possible if you join the Axis and help them win.

I'm convinced that it's achievable but the order of events and timing are critical, so I just restarted the campaign from scratch.
 
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Kovax

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Replayed the situation up to October of 1937. This time, I spent no IC on aircraft in order to maximize infantry upgrades and new divisions. Spies were sent to raise the threat of the UK and Shanxi. By the end of 1936, the UK's Threat was just over 10 points, while Shanxi only posed around 1.6 Threat. The military buildup of the country certainly seems to make a difference in the amount of Threat it presents, and Shanxi doesn't do all that much of one.

In mid-February, Officer Ratio had plummeted to an abysmal 27%, and I decided that I had to start the mobilization and officer recruitment process in order to defeat Shanxi early enough to beat the Marco Polo Bridge deadline. The badly under-strength divisions at "Volunteer" laws were filled out with highly trained troops under the new 3-Year Draft and Specialist Training laws, as the divisions mobilized at the "-50% Cost" bonus for initial mobilization. All but 4 points of Leadership (dedicated to absolute top-priority techs) were dumped into increasing the Officer Ratio, graduating over 50 new officers per day at a 50% bonus, rather than the previous -25% penalty. By late May, China's Officer Ratio edged over the 50% mark, the deadline was approaching, and I decided that I couldn't wait any longer. War was declared.

The capital was quickly taken, and I began moving troops to the north in order to put them on the Japanese border BEFORE Shanxi surrendered. On June 28, 1937, Shanxi was annexed. Three days later, on July 1, Japan got its "Marco Polo Bridge" decision (I loaded up as Japan to verify it), but did not activate it due to the number of Chinese troops on the border. A close one, but it worked.

By late October, the Officer Ratio had been brought up to 70%, and troops were positioned on the borders of Communist China. I feel that it's essential to annex them before winter, in order to have enough time to make decent use of their Leadership points and IC for my buildup against Japan. The desperate race for Shanxi's VPs didn't leave much time or opportunity to fight protracted battles, so the amount of commander experience gained was relatively minor. The war against Mao's communists will require a bit more head-to-head engagement in order to take those heavily guarded mountain and urban provinces, which should provide all the experience my army needs. This time around, I'll even have an airfield within range BEFORE the war, rather than after it's already effectively been won.

I'm moving a few divisions in the south toward the Guanxi Clique border as well, which will be my next target after ComChi, and possibly while it's still in progress. It's got a significant amount of Resources, as well as a moderate amount of IC and on-board Leadership. Again, I'd like to have a few extra months to use all of that before dealing with Japan. The other two Chinese warlord regions (Yunnan and Xibei San Ma), have far less of everything, and will take far longer due to the miserable terrain, so they can sit for a while.

I also prioritized the Industrial Production and Production Efficiency techs, in order to unlock Advanced Construction as soon as possible, so I should be able to start upgrading Infrastructure somewhere around the time the war against Japan begins (probably mid-to-late 1938), rather than practically a year into the war. I'm still dedicating the majority of my Leadership points toward Officer Ratio, and will likely continue doing so until it's well over 100%, at which point I can back it down to about 5-6 points and focus more on Research.

As said before, I see the goal of unifying ALL Chinese cores as achievable, but it's no simply task, and the timing and order of events are critical.
 
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Kovax

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The assault on Communist China was initiated in late October, and completed in about a month. Between the simultaneous attacks from both north and south, improved commander skills from the Shanxi conflict, and the assistance of a TAC wing, the invasion went much more smoothly than in the original AAR. This time around, Mao sent half of the troops guarding Xi'an north to face that threat, leaving a much weaker target for my troops in the south to assault. On the negative side, my commanders got significantly less combat experience this time around than in the brutal original slug-fest, but at least a good bit more than in the relatively tame war of maneuver against Shanxi. I've got a handful of additional Level 2 division commanders now, and one at Level 3, all of whom will be moving to the northern border.

I noticed that my Threat, as perceived by most of the Allies, was getting considerably higher than I'm happy with, so I'm delaying further annexations of the remaining warlords until Germany's Threat exceeds mine again by a sizable margin. The troops are sitting there ready on the Guanxi border, but I'm not giving them the green light. As of March of 1938, China's excessive Threat is already becoming a problem for the Axis (similarly, the UK's is a problem for the Allies), and another DoW will likely allow both France and the UK to take more aggressive economic actions. I WILL need to join the Axis eventually to take those UK and French enclaves, since my previous tests show that the Allied faction will NOT accept a White Peace, so I certainly don't want to make things any harder for Germany and Italy.

Germany annexed Austria in March of 1938 (gee, there's a surprise), but the UK and France are still seeing China as the bigger threat. I'm probably going to wait until summer to bait Japan into attacking, and delay any actions against the warlords. That means not declaring war against Guanxi Clique until after Germany triggers the Munich decision, most likely well after Japan declares war on China.

The focus on getting Advanced Construction should yield results in July of 1938, when the tech completes. At that time, I can start building up the Infrastructure from Nanjing to Beijing, and then beyond that as I advance against the Japanese. I should be able to support a significantly larger force deep into Manchuria by late 1939, rather than early 1941. A relatively modest Infrastructure highway across China to eventually deal with the UK through our shared border in Burma can wait another year or two. There are Infrastructure Level 1 provinces in the way of any ground invasion there at present, but I can build up one on my side of the border to allow access.

I'm beginning to switch from producing mostly Infantry to building more Artillery, aircraft, a couple of Transport ships, and other items, since I've already got about as many ground troops as the current Infrastructure can support against Japan, and the improved Infrastructure won't be done for about a year. No point in building and supplying huge stacks of troops that I can't actually use.

The border situation, tech levels, and officer ratio are looking FAR more favorable to China than in the previous AAR, and I've got a few more months to build up before drawing a DoW from Japan. Basically, I need to finish the war against Japan in time to drift back to the Axis corner, and join in time to assist Germany (and Japan) against the SU. In theory, IF I can take my cores from Japan and force a surrender by sometime early enough in 1940, then fight another 2-3 day war against Portugal for their worthless province in China, I might be able to join the Axis and place a wargoal against France for their Chinese enclave. That still won't give me Hong Kong, so defeating the UK is still the long-term sticking point.
 
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Kovax

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In late August, 1938, China's Officer Ratio reached 100%. AA brigades were placed with several HQs to offer some limited defense against the inevitable air attacks, and the first couple of Infrastructure projects were started as soon as research on the Advanced Construction tech completed. Several units were pulled back from the border, and on August 31, Japan triggered Marco Polo Bridge.

The withdrawn units were brought forward, a breakthrough was made directly north of Beijing, and a second break was made adjacent to the western end of the border (the last province is impassible terrain). The break above Beijing near the center of the Japanese line, made by three 3xINF+ART divisions. was immediately exploited by a couple of 3xINF and a couple of 3xCAV divisions. Those drove one additional province deep, then split, turning east and west. A full Corps followed a couple of provinces behind, both to secure the provinces behind the lead elements, and to drive as far and as fast as possible before Japanese divisions from the Soviet border could re-establish a coherent defensive line. The drive east reached the coast, cutting off 3 Japanese divisions and two HQs, while the western drive met up with the drive from the west end of the border, trapping 4 more divisions. So far, so good.

The western end of the front ended up roughly in line with the west end of the river crossing Manchuria before encountering a LARGE group of Japanese divisions, while additional Chinese divisions spread out along the river, driving back the few scattered Japanese units which had arrived piecemeal. The river proved to be an effective barrier between north and south in both directions, and despite repeated Japanese attacks, Chinese units were (barely) able to hold a Forest and a Mountain province on the extreme western end past the river until relieved by fresh units, anchoring the flank on that border. Most of the Chinese units concentrated on the eastern end of the front, engaging the Japanese in a series of brutal battles just below the river which depended heavily on reinforcements arriving and moving to the front of the combat. This I need to describe in detail, as this is a "tutorial" AAR:

Chinese divisions attacking from multiple provinces would break a Japanese division or two, and drive them back. The faster Chinese Cavalry divisions would arrive first, and be counter-attacked by a Japanese division almost immediately at roughly even odds. Additional Japanese divisions would then join the combat over time, and additional Chinese divisions would arrive piecemeal in the province and become part of the combat, but too often NOT advance into the line of battle. Eventually, the CAV division would break, causing the ENTIRE group of Chinese divisions in the province to retreat, most of them at or near full ORG.

The problem for China is that Japan has a doctrine which gives a +5.00% Reinforcement Chance per hour, in addition to the base 0.40 chance, plus the modest boost for the skill of the Corps Commander (if in range). MOST of the Japanese units were receiving between a 5.40% to 6.20% chance per hour for their reinforcements to advance into the front and actually participate. The Chinese reinforcements would get from 0.40 to a maximum of around 1.40% if their Corps HQ was in the same province, and it typically ran around 0.40-0.80% per hour due to the low commander skills and the HQ often being in a nearby but not adjacent or same province. Some countries have ministers which provide a modest +1-2% increase in that chance, but China isn't one of them. That means, in MOST situations, one Chinese division was being actively engaged by multiple Japanese divisions (which would advance to the front line at least 5x as often as their Chinese counterparts), would take heavy casualties, and break before a single reinforcement in the province could actively assist, causing ALL of the divisions to retreat. Without that doctrine (sadly, not due to complete until mid 1939), China was unable to hold a lot of its freshly taken provinces. I had to fight a lot of the battles twice.

The solution was to have the available divisions attack, but any CAV divisions would be held back after the defenders broke, rather than allowing them to advance into the province ahead of the Infantry. The regular INF divisions would tend to arrive simultaneously in a group from the same starting province, putting multiple divisions on the front immediately. Subsequent reinforcements would then have a lot longer window of time to move forward before the front units ran out of ORG and broke. The previous tactic was to throw a lot of divisions at the target from multiple angles. The new tactic is to send the majority of the attacking divisions from a single province, with only one supporting division from each of two other provinces if possible (to force a penalty on the defenders, and to increase the frontage to commit more total brigades), and NOT allow those support divisions to move forward after victory if it would put them in the target province ahead of the main force.

Anyway, the eastern end of the front, rather than being a hard-fought struggle for every province, has eventually tipped over the edge in my favor this time around. Most of the Japanese divisions are already broken and recovering ORG, and being driven back province after province with only a handful of fresh divisions to stem the Chinese advance. The port of Dalian was cut off by Chinese divisions in October, and taken in early November. Japanese divisions routed across the river, leaving Mukden defended only by a couple of HQs and a recently routed and still heavily depleted infantry division, which proved no match for 5 Chinese divisions in spite of the river and urban modifiers. Mukden was taken in early November, providing nearly a full point of additional Leadership, as well as several extra IC and sufficient resources to feed it. By the end of November, 1938, Chinese troops held 2 of the provinces on the river dividing Manchuria from the Korean Peninsula, and a full Corps of additional units were being brought up from the interior to relieve a few of the most badly depleted divisions, which in turn were being drawn back for coastal defense duties near the capital.

A handful of extra Infantry divisions and a slightly higher Officer Ratio at the start of this drive seem to have made a substantial difference. I also have one more level of supply doctrines researched at the start, giving me a little more leeway for using those extra troops at the end of a long line of mediocre infrastructure (only a couple of brief supply shortages so far), and several key points of that infrastructure will improve by late spring. While Japan still has slightly more IC and Leadership, China isn't forced to commit a major portion of its own to naval and air assets (yet), so Chinese land forces have nearly caught up with Japan's in quality, and are now closing the gap in quantity at the front, while the Officer Ratio is slowly but steadily rising, now around 105%. With a human player at the Chinese helm, Japan is losing ground steadily, and pulling units from one flank because it's in imminent danger of a complete rout on the other flank. As before, the ideal would be to drive them all into Korea, so they're available to Japan later when China joins the Axis, but realistically, most of them will end up trapped and destroyed in Manchuria after Manchukuo surrenders.

Once Germany triggers First Vienna, I'm going to invade Guanxi. Troops have been stationed on their border and ready to go since the beginning of 1938. Ever since the Munich event in October, Germany's Threat has been about on par with my own in most of the major rival countries. Rather than exceed it, I can wait a couple more months. I'm about at the point where I can switch research from its heavy emphasis on Infantry and various Production techs to a wider range of assets, including air and naval units, since I've only done limited air research and NO naval expenditures at all beyond a couple of Transports (to take Taiwan) and Convoys (built before the war to ferry resources).
 
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Kovax

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In December, 1938, Chinese troops expanded their hold on the west side of the river adjacent to Korea, eventually spanning 6 provinces. A push north between the Korean border and river adjacent to the Manchukuo capital was made, but Japanese reinforcements from Korea started to arrive, including two Marine divisions and a couple of elite units (Infantry symbol with a star), and those were gradually joined by the large group of Japanese units which were pulled from further west. The rapid advance soon dropped down to a slow grind, and only limited progress was made in January, due both to the additional defenses, the bitter cold, and the hilly terrain with a few mountains to hinder movement.

The first few Infrastructure upgrades completed in April of 1939, allowing placement of another couple of divisions. More upgrades were pending, and a fresh batch started. In early May, Zinjing, the capital of Manchukuo, was taken after a series of bitter fights, giving China another 0.9 Leadership, another source of Manpower, additional IC, and more Resources to feed that IC. The remaining Manchukuo VP location, Harbin, was 4 provinces further north, and blocked by several Japanese divisions. By that point, too many Chinese units were in dire need of reorganization and rest, and a drive to Harbin seemed like a daunting task. It seems like it may be the better part of a month before any further attacks will become feasible, and additional units will likely be needed, meaning a long wait until more Infrastructure upgrades allow a larger force at the front.

The previous attempt at this managed to take Harbin in December of 1939, so I've still got most of the rest of the year to beat that, and I should see some major improvements in the situation in September and October after additional Infrastructure upgrades and a couple more divisions are completed.
 
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roverS3

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The reinforcement tech really helps a lot. I like the tactic you use to get around it.

elite units (Infantry symbol with a star)
That would be the Konoeshidan, the Japanese Imperial Guard.

Anyhow, that last playthrough is looking great. I hope this is the one.
 
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Kovax

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Infrastructure upgrades in mid and late April made a substantial improvement in the situation at the front, although Japanese reinforcements coming through Korea continued to keep the balance relatively even overall, making any progress slow and painful.

The supply situation in the western end of the front was getting pretty decent, although the eastern end was still being plagued by occasional "out of supply" instances until June. Much to my annoyance, while the Infrastructure through China proper was now looking good, the supply system insisted on routing supply though two level 3 Infrastructure provinces in eastern Manchuria, rather than the adjacent level 5 provinces, causing some shortages in parts of the front in the east, and improvements were not expected to complete until December.

A full Corp of 3xINF and 3xINF+ART was sent up along the liberated western borders of Manchuria toward the front, while several 3xGAR divisions were deployed on the river border of the Korean Peninsula. I had been unable to thin my forces on that river due to the presence of a large number of Japanese Marine divisions on the Korean side, as any single division would be attacked by 2 or 3 Japanese Marine divisions on the opposite bank at roughly even odds, requiring me to scramble assistance to the site. The solution, rather than stacking two combat divisions per province, was to use one combat division and one garrison division, since GAR preform almost as well as INF on the defensive. Since GAR use 1/3 the supply, I can deploy three GAR divisions and free up 3 INF divisions, rather than placing a single new INF division.

As Japan continued to pull units from the western end of the front to bolster the eastern end, the fresh Chinese Corps arrived, and commenced a drive aimed well above the river. Japan responded by redeploying units from the gap between the rivers further east to reinforce the west, and three fresh Chinese divisions from the Korean border arrived in time to exploit the weakened front. A drive was made in August, 1939, on the west side of the river running diagonally below Harbin, which turned in and eventually linked up with the drive from the west, bagging 7 Japanese and Manchukuo combat divisions and 4 HQs. The scattered counter-attacks, and attempts to break both in and out resulted in Japan engaging in numerous bad-odds combats, leading to several more broken Japanese divisions. Chinese troops guarding the south side of the river crossing Manchuria began advancing across the river as Japanese troops tried to flee.

Only one province, a single Japanese division, and several days of Attack Delay separated the Chinese army from Harbin. Elsewhere, Germany declared war on Poland. Unless Japan can pull a couple of extra divisions in the way, Harbin should fall in September, and I should be able to clear MOST of the Japanese from Manchuria before winter sets in. Whether I can liberate every province before the end of the year remains in doubt, but a fully liberated Manchuria and a truce with Japan are now only a matter of time.
 
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Kovax

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This time, the weather delays were on my end, due to a real-world snow storm. Anyway....

Harbin fell fell in late September, with China annexing all of the provinces except those actively occupied by Japanese units. Those units west of Harbin were effectively cut off from supply, and the remaining days of September and all of October were spent in isolating the Japanese into small pockets and liquidating them systematically. By the beginning of November, Japan began driving additional divisions through the remaining 2 border provinces with Korea, and the Chinese were pressed fairly hard just to hold, rather than advancing to close that last opening. Bad weather set in once again, complicating matters, and the three Chinese MTN divisions had been reduced to practically zero ORG during the encirclement battles, but one of the two remaining border provinces was taken.

With the end of the war approaching, taking Taiwan became a relevant matter, and troops were loaded up at the port of Shanghai and transported to a port directly across from Taiwan. An attempt was made to land troops on the island, but even though no Japanese ships showed up in time to contest the landings, 7 Japanese CAGs quickly reduced the ORG of both the defending CL fleets and the loaded transports to zero, and the Chinese were forced to break off the attack and flee to port. I'll make another attempt in a month or two, after my fleets regain ORG. I don't have the German-design sub this time around, so I may have to use a couple of DDs as decoys to draw off the Japanese fleet.

The supply situation between Nanjing and Beijing is now pretty solid, but since I shifted the western half of operations in Manchuria to the east, the Infrastructure in the east is no longer capable of supporting all of that. Basically, the Infrastructure in Manchuria started off in worse shape than in China proper, and I've had less time to fix it as the front advanced. Several provinces ran out of supply along the front, and the AI knows when your units are out of supply, while it's not apparent to the player when the AI has supply issues unless you're actively engaging them. I had a great deal of difficulty holding the river line against combined attacks by up to 4 Marine units on a single out-of-supply border province until reinforcements could arrive.

At the moment, the campaign hangs by a thread, and Manchuria could be won relatively suddenly or else the Chinese troops could be driven back, requiring a long period of reorganization before the next drive. Unfortunately, several units are not regaining ORG because they're out of supply, yet I dare not pull units back because I need them to hold the line. Further Infrastructure upgrades are ongoing, and I've got roughly 50% of my Production dedicated to it.
 
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Kovax

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The remainder of November was spent recovering ORG and allowing the new Infrastructure upgrades to build up to their full potential. Another French tech was stolen a couple months earlier, the third since the start of the campaign, this one Level 2 Cruiser AA. Overall, I'd say that the Leadership investment for spies in France paid off reasonably well, because I got 4 research levels of 3 different techs, one useful at two levels, one semi-useful, and the other irrelevant, for the initial expenditure of 10 spies plus just a handful replacements over the span of 4 years. That's about what I'd have spent on researching 1-2 techs of my own choice. The first round of that AA upgrade was now done, providing slightly more resilience against air attacks,, and construction of a second INT was completed, giving me 2 INT to oppose the Japanese CAGs for the next attempt to force a landing on Taiwan.

During the first week of December, one of the MTN divisions was back to nearly full ORG, and an assault was made on one of the mountain provinces right on the eastern border with the Soviet Union, around 3 provinces above the Korean border. Japan held a thin ribbon of provinces from the Korean border all the way up to the far north-east corner of Manchuria, where that ribbon attached to a large "balloon" of close to a dozen Japanese-occupied provinces. As long as that "balloon" existed, Japan did not seem to be aware that their entire operation in Manchuria hung by a thread. My assault cut that thread in the middle, stranding about 6-8 divisions north of the break, while over a dozen more still held the base of the "ribbon". Once cut, the AI realized that its units were in fact in a dangerous pocket, and after their attempt to reconnect with the closed pocket to the north failed, a mass exodus began. All but one division per province began a race to the Korean border to get out of that pocket. Chinese troops had little difficulty taking the pair of upper provinces below the break, but that last province above the river at that end, Yanji, resisted heavily. With Chinese troops attacking from 3 directions, and Mountain divisions involved, the momentum gradually shifted from around a 40% balance to positive, and eventually despite an elite Japanese division on the defending side, a couple of days into 1940, the Japanese retreated.

The large isolated pocket in the north was being cleaned up, and only one more province along the river line remained in Japanese hands, Dalizi, which sits astride a narrow gap in the rivers separating Korea from Manchuria. I had delayed taking this province because it's in contact with two other provinces on the Korean side with no river protection, plus the two adjacent river provinces. Holding this province could be difficult, and I needed the troops elsewhere. Now, it was time to deal with that and Taiwan, since there won't be a lot of time left for a counter-attack.

Since I had not spent the IC to license-build a German submarine while I was still close to their corner of the diplomatic triangle, I had to use a couple of Destroyers as decoys. One was sent to convoy raid just south of the Korean Peninsula, between Korea, Japan, and mainland China. The other was sent to the north-east of Korea. My 2xINT was stationed at an airfield within range of Taiwan, and the transports and protective Light Cruiser fleets were just about fully repaired, and waiting just across the strait from Taiwan.

Japanese ships and planes began shadowing one of my DDs, so I loaded up the troops and started the second attempt at Taiwan. As before, one of my landing divisions attacked the Japanese MOT division directly to pin it in place, while two other divisions were landed in the adjacent provinces to outflank it. This time, only a single CAG showed up initially, which was engaged in roughly an even fight by my two INT. It did some light damage to one of my CL fleets, but nothing severe. Two more CAGs arrived and began attacking the transports, so one CL fleet and my 2xINT were diverted to protect the landing at all costs. The second CL fleet was moderately damaged, and the transports were in really bad shape, with one of them down to 4% strength, when the two flanking divisions of troops reached shore. My fleets ran for port, bringing back the third division. Meanwhile, the surviving DD in the north was withdrawn to the nearest port. While my two divisions on Taiwan engaged the single MOT, two more divisions were loaded up, and my INT group was reassigned to ground attack. Another landing was made, this time in the same province as one of the successful flankers, so it did not draw Japanese attention as a new attack. The troops made it ashore unhindered, one of them joined the ongoing attack, and the other moved to surround the enemy unit to cut off its only line of retreat. The MOT eventually broke, the port was seized, and the Chinese units scattered to seize control of the rest of the island. A supply convoy was set up to provide for the units on the island. China received the "Taiwan Strait" bonus, giving a +10% supply through-put boost, as well as other bonuses. I REALLY could have used that a few months back, but I wasn't aware of the bonus.

Cleaning up the last of the pocket in the north-east took a few extra weeks, but by mid-March, the last province of Manchuria was entirely in Chinese hands. Japan accepted a truce, and all of the core territories in Manchuria and Taiwan were formally re-annexed into China.

Three days later, the attack on Guanxi began. Their three VP locations were all vulnerably placed on the borders, and occupied by Chinese forces by the end of March. Even before the surrender, Chinese troops were already moving into position for the attack on Yunnan. That was was started in early April, and completed by mid May, since the capital, Kunming, had a sufficient VP value to make taking its secondary VP location irrelevant. Simultaneously with the attack on Yunnan, war was declared on Portugal for the province of Macau, an epic struggle which lasted the better part of 3 days while a Chinese division moved into the undefended province. A truce was accepted, leaving only Xibei San Ma and the tiny French and UK enclaves yet to re-integrate.

I am no longer under any serious time pressure, as long as I actually declare the war on Xibei before getting involved in the Axis' war against the Allies. As long as they're already at war, Xibei won't join the Allies when I declare war on France/UK. Ideally, I'm hoping to get close enough to the Axis corner and join before France capitulates, since I can then place a war goal for their enclave, which would be enforced when France surrenders to Germany. Otherwise, I've got to wait until the UK surrenders to get both, because France will become a Government in Exile, and I'll only occupy the territory, not own it, until the faction leader is defeated.
 
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serutan

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Good work. If you get into the Axis , it would be interesting to see how/what you do against the Soviets.
 
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Kovax

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Getting to the Axis corner proved to be more difficult than anticipated, mainly due to the UK spending Influence to pull me away. While that was active, my drift was a tiny fraction of a point toward the Allied corner, and when they weren't influencing, it ran +14 or more toward the Axis.

I had hoped to join the Axis before the Fall of France, in order to place a war goal on France's enclave in Guangdong, but Germany moved a lot faster in this game than in most. By April, they had chewed through Luxemburg and the Netherlands, had most of Belgium occupied, and held two provinces of France itself, one on the Maginot Line and the other along the Belgian border. My distance to the Axis corner was down to 77 at that point, and it looked like a tight race. Then the UK began influencing, and Germany raced for Paris. France fell in early June, and while the UK was at least no longer exerting Influence on China, my distance to the Axis was still around 75. That means I have to join the Axis, occupy the French and UK enclaves,, and then wait for an Axis victory to actually annex those enclaves. I expected that for Hong Kong, but now it applies to both. Of course, beating the Allies means joining the Axis, which also means fighting the Commintern, UNLESS I feel strong enough to take on the Allies in my own separate war. That's not likely, but I'm not ruling out the possibility, even though it means that Japan may very well declare war on me again once the truce runs out.

Meanwhile, Chinese troops were stationed on the Xibei San Ma border's eastern end and parts of the south-east, but were still a depressing distance from the western end of their border. I decided to launch the attack anyway, because there was really nothing to lose if Xibei troops occupied a few empty mountain provinces in the far western end of China: no IC, no resources, no Manpower, and no VP locations. The attack on the western end of the country went like the proverbial hot knife through butter, but the abysmal Infrastructure proved to be an obstacle. Where Manchuria's level 3 Infrastructure in most provinces was bad, Xibei's level 2 Infrastructure was horrible, and moving a single province took a month or longer. The long, narrow provinces leading to the western end of the country ended up taking over 3 months to traverse, partly due to terrain (mountains), partly due to infrastructure (mostly at level 3, thanks to recent improvements), and partly due to nearly constant bad weather (is there ever GOOD weather in western China?). As October arrived, along with colder weather, the capital of Galmud was still a long way off, even though most of the army defending the country had been broken repeatedly with ease, and with the assistance of long-range air support. I'm reminded of how bad Chinese Militia would have fared against Japanese troops in 1937 if I hadn't made extensive changes, and I've already seen from the receiving end how painful constant air attacks can be.

With the much improved Officer Ratio, current Infantry techs and doctrines, artillery support, steadily improving air support, and a much improved logistical situation, I'm expecting Chinese troops to perform decently against Soviet infantry. It's the Soviet armor that worries me, even though armor is poorly suited for the environment where the combats are likely to take place. My infantry has basic infantry anti-tank equipment up to current standards, but effectively not enough AT brigades to be worth mentioning, and no armor at all, although the initial Light Armor tech should be unlocked in another month or two.

With base IC somewhat over 100 now, half-decent production techs, and reasonably industry doctrines, I've got the ability to produce a lot of "stuff", but so far over 50% of that has been dedicated to building Infrastructure highways to the various fronts. Now that the Infrastructure list is dwindling in size, I've got the IC available to put a couple of license-built submarines in the queue, which Germany granted, along with a TAC and another INT. Next step is a license-built CL to begin modernizing China's obsolete navy and improve the pathetic Practical value, until I can research a couple more CL techs to build my own. I put a baseline tech CVL in the production queue to boost the Practical, so China should have a modern carrier fleet in the water by around the end of the war. It's not like I need to build more Infantry that can't be supported beyond the borders, so I'm switching to air and naval assets as the Infrastructure projects complete.
 
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Kovax

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Around mid-November, China's diplomatic stance came within range of an Axis admission. This was not acted upon immediately, however. On the 18th of November, a lone Chinese mountain division entered Golmud, forcing the surrender of Xibei San Ma and its formal re-annexation into China. As the troops passed through the modest town, many wondered "We came all that way just for THIS?".

A couple of additional infrastructure projects were added, to provide a negotiable path through the mountains to UK-controlled Burma. Another infantry division moved to support the division already in place adjacent to lightly-guarded Hong Kong, while the lone division on the unprotected border of the French enclave was considered sufficient.

The additional division by Hong Kong arrived on the 21st, and China completed negotiations to enter the Axis later in the day. On the 22nd, Greece surrendered to Italy, and China declared war on France over its enclave in the Guangdong region of China, then added a war goal for the UK's enclave as well. Once again, all merchant shipping was ordered into friendly or neutral ports for the duration. The war declaration brought all of the remaining Axis countries into the war against the Allies: Japan, Hungary, and Bulgaria.

The French enclave was successfully occupied without shots being fired, but the UK enclave was defended tenaciously but hopelessly by 2xGAR division. This was no match for two divisions of Chinese regulars, and Hong Kong was occupied by China a few days later, but formal annexation would have to wait until the surrender of the UK, the leader of the Allied faction.
 
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Kovax

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There was very little that China could do to prosecute the war until the infrastructure upgrades on the western end of the country were completed. One of them was due to finish in March, which would bring the Level 1 province up to Level 2, and allow access to UK territory from the former Yunnan region. The other was due in May, allowing a second access path just east of Bhutan. Major infrastructure work was in progress across China to support the invasion, occupying nearly half of China's Production budget.

Despite Japanese patrols, UK fleets seemed to roam the South China Sea and surrounding waters at will, making it suicidal for China's obsolete ships to venture out of port. A second licensed CL was added to the production queue, and with the added Leadership points of all of the warlords bringing China's research up to Major status, China expanded its research programs into Carrier and Light Cruiser development, to eventually build its own competitive fleet. Further infrastructure upgrades were initiated in Manchuria, to provide a clear path to Soviet territory in the event of being called to war against the SU by Germany.

Finally, in March, Chinese MTN divisions began the invasion of British-controlled Burma, making a bee-line toward one of two airfields across the inhospitable terrain. The Japanese arrived first, from the south. The second airfield was taken by Chinese troops, however, and a drive was begun westward toward Bhutan. A second drive headed south-west for the coast.

Meanwhile, Japan had gotten a couple of divisions isolated and cut off from supply in Brunei. A division of Chinese troops boarded transports and went to the rescue, with both modest CL fleets as escorts. They arrived without incident, and the troops began debarking onto an undefended port, until a Dutch fleet engaged the group, with UK air support. The Chinese fleet was quickly run out of Organization, but managed to put the troops ashore before fleeing for home. Several weeks later, additional troops were ferried to the port, and a rescue was made. The small enclave provided valuable resources to China, which had been running critically low on Rare Materials and Metals until the US offered a couple of deals, sharply reducing the drain. Now, in July, the resource situation was back to positive, but barely.

A further landing was made on the eastern end of Java in August, adjacent to the port, and the port and surrounding resource-rich provinces were taken. Bhutan fell to the Chinese in late August, with a single MTN division driving off the defenders and occupying the capital. Bhutan was liberated from UK control and made a puppet of China. The push was continued by the lone MTN division toward Nepal until a division of Gurkhas arrived on the southern flank, forcing a halt until reinforcements could be brought forward. A UK group of 4xSTR Bombers began pounding that MTN division, while a Chinese TAC proceeded to hit the Gurkhas.

At sea, China's first license-built submarine began operations off the western coast of Malaysia, sinking several UK convoys. The UK in turn hit several Chinese convoys supplying the occupied islands and bringing back resources. Resource-rich Java was completely occupied by China, while Sumatra fell to Japan. All but 4 provinces in the Malaysian Peninsula had been taken by Japan by mid-August, one of those being Singapore, which was undefended but still not occupied by Japan.

At the end of August or first of September, Germany declared war on the Soviet Union, but did not bring the rest of the Axis into the struggle. Chinese troops at the Soviet borders were reinforced, and an additional Corps of troops was moved near but not on the border to cut off the entire Vladivostok strip if China ended up fighting the Soviets. I just hope that Japan's failure in Manchuria was sufficient to deter them from attacking the US, which I understand they don't do if they lack certain resources. The US has placed embargos on several Axis countries, but so far they're still trading with China, and I'd MUCH rather trade with them than fight them.
 
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roverS3

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Great job, @Kovax . I didn't know AI Japan was limited by it's acces to certain resources in it's calculus as to whether or not to DOW the US. In all my games, Japan declared war sooner or later, so I never looked much further. I do find a pure CV-CL navy to be a bit short on the shore bombardment front, but it's certainly a very powerful and relatively cheap plan (in research, doctrines, etc.) when compared to more varied navy setups.

The big question is whether China will be keeping it's entire empire after the war, or whether they'll have to give some of it back or create dominions. Having China and Japan take almost random patches of South-East Asia also isn't a recipe for good peaceful cooperation between the Empire of the Rising sun and the Empire of the Dragon. If China keeps it's conquests, I sense an Asian Cold War in the future, or even a ww3 starting in South-East Asia or Korea.
 
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Kovax

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China has a war goal for the Netherlands' islands in the region, and for the UK enclave of Hong Kong, while Japan has not yet placed any war goals on either the UK or the Netherlands. If they place a war goal, we both get what we currently hold; if not, then I get all of the Netherlands' colonial possessions, and Hong Kong, although I'll definitely place a more aggressive war goal on the UK if they're on the verge of defeat and Germany doesn't place a goal for itself. I'm not committing to holding the jungles of northern Burma at this point, just waiting to see how the situation shapes up. It's not like the UK is about to surrender any time soon.

Since Japan does not control the Chinese coasts in this campaign, all its holdings in Vietnam and Burma need to be supplied by sea from Japan. That's a positive thing in the sense that they're not forced to use a depot in northern China to route supplies all the way to India via low-infrastructure provinces with high Revolt Risk, but would be a big negative in a war against China, which now has submarines to hit their convoys. China's holdings, on the other hand, are all connected to the capital by core provinces with steadily improving Infrastructure, except for the island holding in Brunei and Java (which could be a long-term problem for Rare Material resources if subjected to intensive raiding). In any future struggles against China, any resources from Japan's holdings, and the supplies of any troops stationed in Vietnam, Sumatra, and Burma, as well as a few of the smaller islands, would be subject to convoy raiding. Japan is already finding that out (to its dismay) from the extensive UK, Dutch, and now Australian naval activity in the region. With Chinese Leadership now in the Major class, Japan is quickly being relegated to the lesser military power in practically every aspect other than capital ships, and even that will change eventually. I don't see any post-war conflict in 1945+ against China going at all well for Japan.

I probably won't have another update until after the New Year.
 
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