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Rule Helvetia! Helvetia Rule the Waves...

helvetia.png


This is the story of how Helvetia, the personification of Switzerland, rose up from her resting place guarding the river Rhine to guide her country to naval greatness. No longer was she content to only guard the river Rhine, she longed for the sea -- to project the power of Switzerland on all the seven seas.

HelvetiaBasel-wiki.jpg

Helvetia guarding the river Rhine, in Basel.​


The goals of this AAR are the following:

* secure access to the sea for Switzerland
* build a fleet large enough to be a threat to the Great Powers
* attack Great Britain and fight a large-scale naval battle with the Royal Navy
* preferably win one of those battles

<hr />

NOTE: Please use the discussion thread on the Victoria 2 forum to comment.
 

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Part 1: A First Step to Greatness


"Your Ladyship", the Federal Council beckoned. "We are all truly glad to see you take over the affairs of Switzerland once again! Naturally, we do not need to tell you the state of our -- eh-hm, your -- nation, do we?" -- "No, I am Switzerland. This is what Switzerland looks like currently:​


switzerland.jpg


We have a nice set of RGO provinces, with important goods for industrialisation. Also, two factories are staffed by Swiss craftsmen, one steel and one fabric factory.​


switzerland-infra.jpg


"But we need to expand, councillors. The nearest ports are to the Mediterranean, held by Sardinia-Piemont, and Austria-Hungary. Both nations are either strong military-wise, or in the sphere of a strong Great Power. We need to strengthen our forces to be able to fight either Austria, or France."​

"Your ladyship! Grave news! The Liberal Revolution has started, the people are calling for more freedom!"​


age-liberalism.jpg


"That is not grave news, councillor. On the contrary! We will use the liberal sentiments our people have to give them more political reforms. I want a new constitution set up, to allow maximum freedom for our people. We shall surpass even the United States in democracy! The reasoning is simple: the more freedom we allow our people, the less they will want to emigrate to the US, and we have more people to man our factories and enter our armies."​


springtime-nations.jpg


"Ah, the Springtime of Nations. Councillors! I have a delicate task for you. You need to manipulate the people and the Upper House very carefully. Let the militancy of our populations rise just enough to get reforms through the Upper House. Encourage liberalism for our voting population, and consciousness for reforms for our entire populations. If you do this well, we can enact a number of reforms in these times of troubles.​


reforms.png


(Note that the high number of these reforms was only possible due to the rather unique starting reform position of Switzerland, and a bit of luck. Other countries will only be able to pass one, perhaps two reforms until the Liberal Revolution is over.)​

"Meanwhile, chancellors, I have found a weak link in the web of spheres and alliances: Baden! Our neighbour to the north is only protected by an alliance with smaller states, no Great Powers. We shall attack them, even though they do not offer access to the sea. But our Infamy is low, and it is time to show the world that Switzerland is back in action.​


baden-weak-link.jpg


The Swiss army academies offered the very best of the class of 1845 had to offer: two great generals that would help immensely in the following months of combat.​


baden-attack-armies.jpg


A formal declaration of war was made on June 9th, 1845. While the Liberal Revolution was raging in Europe and in Switzerland, the Swiss armies no longer defended the capital, but marched into Baden. The Swiss populace would be held quiet by the numerous reforms passed.​


dow-baden.jpg


A few bloody battles later, Baden was fully occupied and had no chance but to accept the offer of annexation into the glorious Swiss Federation.​


baden-annexed.jpg


While the revolutions still ravaged across Europe, reforms were passed and the general populace became content. The revolution in Switzerland was over!​

end-revolution.jpg


"But mylady," one of the councillors asked, "we have not been able to pass democratic voting rights yet! Did you not want to pass these reforms to discourage emigration?" Helvetia smiled. "Councillor, you have too little faith. Had I given voting rights straight away, then the revolution would have been over, the people contently going back to their work. No, universal voting rights had to be saved for last! Now, with the last ebbing liberal fires still burning, we will enact voting rights, and Switzerland shall be forever a democratic country! Waiting until now has allowed us to pass many more reforms, riding on the wave of liberalism in our -- my -- country."​


weighted-universal.jpg


After the annexation of Baden, the Bundesrat feared that the larger German powers (Prussia and Austria especially) would retaliate and try to free their Baden brethren. Extensive diplomacy tried to keep Austria and also Prussia on good terms with Switzerland. Many a diplomat went from Bern to Vienna and Berlin in these days. Additionally, an alliance with France, the greatest enemy of the Germans, was signed in 1858. Only now were the constant fears of retaliation soothed a bit. Switzerland's Infamy was declining, as the world gradually accepted that Baden was part of the Swiss Confederation.​


france-ally.jpg


Meanwhile, on the other end of the world...​


csa.jpg


Years of consolidation followed. Some setbacks were inevitable.​


botanical-expedition-failure.jpg


But in total, Switzerland underwent a period of modernisation, as technology made lives easier for everyone. The state reached 1 million POPs (4 million inhabitants) in 1864.​


1mil-POPs.jpg


The next year, the first true, non-tricked liberal Upper House was formed.​


first-true-liberal-UH.jpg


51% liberals were enough to pass another reform Helvetia sought: fully universal voting rights.​


universal-vote-want.jpg

universal-voting.jpg


Switzerland was now full-fledged democracy, with extensive civil liberties. All political reforms, except for trade unions, were enacted.​

Indeed, a few days after the voting rights were established, a referendum was passed by the population allowing the Jews to be full and accepted citizens of Switzerland.​


referendum-jews.jpg
 

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Part 2: Securing Access to the Sea


In 1867, the first socialists appear in the Upper House.​


first-socialists-in-UH.jpg


Nothing to be worried about at, as the population is content, relishing the freedoms granted by the constitution.​


const-contentment.jpg


Meanwhile, time passed and still no access to the sea was secured. Of the two Great Powers that sat in the way of the sea (France and Austria), Austria was the weakest. It had been fighting with Prussia and Russia, and as an oppressive government, it was assumed that their technology might be lacking. Helvetia had her eyes set on the rich lands and industrialised ports of Venetia. To secure these lands, the army technologies were single-mindedly pushed. By the early 1870s, a doctrine called Deep Defense System was researched. Swiss scientists talked in awe about the possibilities of planned defences. The recent advances in machine guns made the Swiss army the (hoped for) most unassailable land force of the world. Swiss scientists whispered in horror about an invention called "Gas Attacks". Chemists had found various gases that were extremely deadly in use against humans. They were horrified that these might be used on the battlefield, and were trying to push international laws that would forbid this. While Switzerland could pass the decision to create the Geneva Convention, Helvetia decided against doing so.​


army-tech-rush-gas.jpg


(Note the other inventions that also help in inventing gas attacks. The research made up to now has been to optimise the invention chance of gas attacks, as gas is deadly on the battlefield if the opponent does not have gas defenses.)​

Austria was the target, but it had established itself in a web of alliances that would be difficult to fight all at once.​


aus-allies.jpg


The search was on, again, for the weakest link in the web of alliances. It was found in Würtemberg.​


wur-weak-link.jpg


The perfect opportunity came as Austria was deeply entangled in a war with Prussia over the Hegemony of all German states (modulo the Swiss Confederation). While gas attacks had not been invented yet, it was hoped that the early war experiences would help in this regard.​


asu-pru-brothers-war-losing.jpg


Würtemberg was attacked, citing a minor casus belli that would not entail a lot of Infamy in the eyes of the world. Switzerland would need all the goodwill of the world once the true war goals were presented: annexation of Lombardia and possibly Venetia, for the prized ports of Venice.​


dow-wur.jpg


It seemed that Austria saw through the thinly-disguised diplomatic feint. It left Würtemberg standing all alone and did not rush to its defence.​

Damn. Helvetia bit the bullet and declared war on Austria proper. The situation would probably never be so favourable again.​


dow-austria.jpg


Switzerland was now at war with Würtemberg, and Austria with all her allies.​


austrian-wars.jpg


The armies marched into Austrian territory, keen on battle.​


first-moves-austria.jpg


Just after the declaration of war, patriotic esprit lead to the invention of early Trench Warfare. Further boost the Swiss armies would need. They could only hope that their technological superiority would hold against the much larger Austrian forces.​


trench-systems.jpg


And then, what was silently (but never publicly) hoped for, happened. Gas warfare was invented. General Gustave Funk, a ruthless man highly skilled in attack (Attack +4!) was the first to employ it on the battlefield. The advantage was total. Swiss forces, armed with machine guns and gas artillery grenades could hold the line against a 10-fold superiotiry in numbers, if not more.

(Note: the Swiss armies enjoy a large tech lead on the Austrians. Not having machine guns and the numerous inventions that come with the techs of the time means the Swiss armies are qualitatively 2-3x superior to the Austrian armies. Add to the fact that skilled soldiers are fighting mostly mobilised farmers, and you will see that these seemingly easy victories canot easily be replicated against another opponent. France in particular was up-to-par in army techs.​


gas-attack.jpg


The battle of Trent was one of the first longer battles fought in this war. At first, the situation was slightly in favour of the Swiss armies, as they held excellent defensive positions. As the first gas grenades were sent to the front, the battle quickly turned into a slaughterhouse. The Austrian troops simply had no material and not doctrines to effectively fight the machine guns of the Swiss army.​


battle-trent.jpg


Würtemberg and Bavaria were the first to see the inevitability of the war, and offered peace. Over time, most of the other, smaller allies deserted Austria as they saw the horrors of the front.​


peace-bav-wur.jpg


While province for province was occupied, Swiss scientists had begun to theorise on naval shipbuilding. They did not have any ports yet, but once the ports of Venice were in their hands, they tried out the first steamer prototypes that were invented.​


steamer-researched.jpg


The armies of Switzerland were soon nearing the gates of Vienna.​


at-the-gates-of-vienna.jpg


Austria became desperate and offered Lombardia, what Switzerland was publicly claiming.​


peace-offer-aus-rejected.jpg


The offer was rejected, without giving a reason. First, the troops need to further take territory. Then, it would be decided if it was possible to add another war goal:the ports of Venetia.​


aus-add-wargoal.jpg


Soon, Austria offered peace at the terms dictated from Bern: the provinces of Lombardia and Venetia. Switzerland had achieved everything it wanted from this war: Austria was crippled and no threat for a longer time. The three new port provinces were immediately ordered to build ships for the Swiss Navy.​


peace-aus.jpg


The new provinces were rich in silk, which would come in handy for the fledgling luxury clothes industry of Baden, and other strategically important resources, including more iron for the steel industries of Switzerland.​


lombardia-infra.jpg


New factories were also annexed. These would need a few days to get used to their new owners, but eventually all made a nice profit.​


lombardia-factories.jpg


The added industrial power of these factories was enough to catapult Switzerland into the top industrial nations of the world -- it was ranked 7th in total of all nations, a Great Power in itself! Now, it would take probably half a year for the world to recognise Switzerland as a Great Power on the diplomatic stage.​
 

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Part 3: First Steps as a Great Power



Just after the (costly in terms of Infamy) war against Austria, a minor border issue gave Switzerland that longed-for casus belli. Too late, as they now held a truce with Austria.​


border-incident-AUS-after.jpg


The new ports were immediately ordered to build steamer transports. No real warships, yet. Switzerland was still frantically playing "catch up" in naval technology and researching ever better warships. No point in building wooden man-o-wars when in 2 years one can build ironclads!​


building-steamertransports.jpg


All this is very costly. The price for steamer convoys skyrockets as Switzerland goes on a buying spree. There isn't enough on the world market to satisfy Switzerland's hunger for steamers, and the naval powers of the time start to become concerned.​


buying-steamerconvoy.jpg


Switzerland was finally recognised as a Great Power by all other nations on August 1st, 1876. 40 years after Helvetia took over control of her country and two wars later, the stage was finally set for the greatest game: naval supremacy.​


GP.jpg


A border incident with Bavaria gives us a welcome pretext for war, again.​


border-incident-bavaria.jpg


We attack Bavaria for the neighbouring state.​


dow-bavaria.jpg


Austria will defend its ally, but we now know that Austria is no longer a threat... or are they?​


war-bavaria.jpg


An Austrian navy is blocking our ports!​


aus-fleet-venice.jpg


Our own navy only consists of 2 small monitors, but we cannot let this chance of our first naval battle be ignored! The first Swiss battlefleet enters the Gulf of Venice.​


swi-fleet-venice.jpg


The battle is going badly. We have better armoured ships, but our doctrines and other naval inventions are sorely lacking. The (comparatively) large Austrian fleet manages to turn the battle in its favour, even though we add a freshly-finished monitor to our attack fleet.​


naval-gulf-venice.jpg


We lose this battle. Our navy needs to be strengthened more, much more beforewe can even begin to think about challenging other navies, much less Britain's Royal Navy!​


naval-gulf-venice-lost.jpg


A few battles in Bavaria later, and Austria (as alliance leader) agrees to part with Niederbayern. Switzerland is now one of the strangest-shaped countries on the map.​


peace-bav.jpg


Meanwhile, we get accustomed to being a Great Power and do... well, Great Power-y stuff. Like pillaging... ehm... securing historical treasures of other countries.​


valley-of-the-kings.jpg


We excavate the mummy! Oh well, not. But the artifacts come pouring into the Swiss Museum in Bern.​


excavate-valley-kings.jpg


Also, while we couldn't build the Suez Canal (the Ottomans beat us to that -- well, us, and everyone else), we can build the Panama Canal. Totally strategically irrelevant for us, we have no interest in that area, no troops and no navy to speak of that could defend that piece of land, but hey! It's what all the cool Great Powers do!​


panama-canal.jpg


Meanwhile, our conscious and demanding population asks for social reforms, so we give them pensions. Expensive!​


first-social-reform.jpg


Another border incident (lucky!) later, we can attack our most favourite enemy once more -- Austria!​


dow-austria-bohemia.jpg


Austria is still a mess after (or, more accurately, because of) all these wars against us. The epic battle of Klagenfurt shows once again that the Austrian army is no match for the well-equipped and highly disciplined Swiss army.​


battle-klagenfurt.jpg


Tuscany did give us a little surprise, as it mounted a naval invasion of the Panama Canal!​


panama-attacked.jpg


Our fleet stationed there sank the transport ships, but only after the army landed.​


navalpanamawon.jpg


In the end, Austria accepts our peace terms as our troops approach Vienna. The shape of Switzerland on the map has gone from strange to downright bizarre.​


peace-aus-bohemia.jpg


Switzerland gains more industrial power as a result of this conquest. A rich region, Bohemia. The factories are immediately opened and workers are no longer unemployed.​


ind-bohemia.jpg
 

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Part 4: Schweizer Bundesmarine vs. Royal Navy


By 1890, the naval technology catch-up game was nearly done. First the ship designs were researched, so that the actual ships could be ordered. Then, doctrines were put up to "speed".​


swi-naval-techs.jpg


By 1890 the Swiss Navy comprised of 56 ships, all modern Ironclads and Cruisers, with some older Monitors among that. It was the fifth largest navy in the world. Still, it was dwarfed by the Royal Navy and its 273 ships.​


national-naval-comparison.jpg


A spy came to the audience chamber of Helvetia. "Mr. von Speichern-Neuladen," she enquired, "you have information on the British fleet?" -- "Yes, milady. I have been able to catch a precise glance of their technological setups. I believe that are very much on par with our fleet. The war you have in mind cannot be won by technological dominance as easily as the wars against Austria were. Here, see for yourself."​


naval-techs.jpg


Still, Helvetia hoped that the Royal Navy had more older ships, and the fleets were more dispersed. The British Empire encompassed the entire world, after all. The combined might of the entire Swiss fleet might be enough to win some naval battles. We're not in it to win the war, only naval battles! The Schweizer Bundesmarine was no German High Seas Fleet, it was there to fight battles. So, the moment we've all been waiting for, Switzerland dows the United Kingdom, in a suicide move.​


dow-uk.jpg


The main fleet was sent to the Home Isles, as it was hoped that the main fleets of Britain would be found there. On the way, a few transport ships were found off the coast of Brittany.​


first-naval-battle-brittany.jpg


The first battle between the Swiss and the British navy was a decisive victory for the Swiss. No surprise, as there were no warships involved on the side of the English.​


first-naval-battle-brittany-won.jpg


After cruising the Channel and the Sea of Ireland in search for the UK fleets, a small fleet was spotted, again, off the coast of Brittany. Admiral Herzog ordered full speed ahead, but the lookouts already reported a larger British fleet approaching. This would turn out to be the first larger naval battle of the war.​


small-fleet-brittany.jpg


The British fleet steamed into the battle to protect the transports. In numbers a bit smaller than the Swiss fleet, it nevertheless proved a worthy opponent.​


brittany-large-fleet-enters.jpg


Still, victory in this first major naval battle would be with the Swiss. Their larger fleet had won the battle!​


small-brittany-won.jpg


Admiral Herzog immediately ordered his damaged ships to follow the fleeing English ships to the Doggerbank, where he finally could engage the enemy once more. Luck was on the Swiss side. The British admiral had decided to launch a counter-attack, but was ill-suited in doing so (Att -4!).​


follow-doggerbank.jpg


This battle was also won, as the fleeing British were very disorganised. Only few ships were sunk, mainly smaller, older wooden vessels. Given the luck we had with the -4 leader on the side of the UK, and given that we were chasing a routed fleet, this is disheartening. The Swiss would need decisive naval victories to win this war. The UK had all the naval advantages in her hand.​


follow-doggerbank-won.jpg


Another battle was fought, but admiral Deucher (who had taken over command) received a telegram ordering him to return back home as fast as possible. A large UK fleet had arrived in the Gulf of Venice, blockading the Swiss ports. Vital goods were no longer arriving, especially steamer convoys which had to be imported. This would cripple the war efforts of Switzerland, and its navy in particular.​


uk-blockade-venice.jpg


Deucher arrived in Venice days, too many days later. The battle was fierce, as the Swiss knew this would be probably the most important battle of the war.​


uk-battle-venice.jpg


The UK had more ships, but not all were of the modern, Swiss types. Their admiral was also much better suited as the old enemy in the Doggerbanks. Nevertheless, the Swiss navy managed to win this battle with a little luck. Only few Royal Navy ships were sunk, and all were old, wooden ships.​


uk-battle-venice-won.jpg


Deucher immediately ordered his fleet to pursue the fleeing Brits. His ships were damaged, but so were the English ones. What he did not see was that a second British fleet, of comparable size already waited in the Gulf of Taranto, guarding the retreat of the first fleet.​


follow-venice-other-fleet.jpg


The naval battle of Taranto was fought, with the British aim of giving their retreating first fleet enough time to retreat to Malta. Ironclad battled ironclad, with the British navy being again numerically superior.​


battle-taranto.jpg


Still, again this battle was won. A Pyrrhic victory, admiral Deucher mused.​


battle-taranto-won.jpg


While Deucher had lost none of his ships, the only ships sunk of the British fleet were again a few old wooden frigates. He ordered a pursuit again, but by now his own fleet was very damaged. The combined British fleets were in Malta, a port were repairs were undertaken already. The British outnumbered him nearly 4-1, and could exit port any time.​


blockade-malta-damaged-ships.jpg


All the battles were won, but the war was lost anyhow. The British ships were repairing in Malta, while the Swiss navy blockaded the port in a last attempt to press for victory. Once the British ships would exit port, the resulting battle would be too much in the UK's favour. The fleets outnumbered the Swiss fleet substantially, and there were plenty more English ships around the world that could enter the fight. There was no way to secure a landing on British soil, and even should this be possible, the British army was far larger, and technologically equal.​

The wartime upkeep of the huge fleet cost as much as the entire expenses of the Swiss government combined. Steam convoys could only be imported, and the Royal Navy could easily begin their blockade once more. Deficits were soaring and cash was running short. Helvetia needed to accept the White Peace offer of the UK. Time to cut down the navy, rebuild the lost ships, and expand the industrial base to be able to support a larger navy.​


wp-uk.jpg
 

safferli

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Epilogue


The adventure "sink the Royal Navy" was over. It simply was not economically viable and tactically possible to force naval supremacy on the British. Next steps would be to consolidate the industry and try to encourage a steamer convoy industry, to be able to support a large navy on ones own.​

The bizarre shape of Switzerland's borders meant that the name "Switzerland" never appeared on any maps. But one thing did appear, and seeing this told Helvetia that there was still a chance to beat the Royal Navy.​


swiss-afrika.jpg


The race for Africa had begun!​
 

safferli

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As requested, the endgame worldmaps. Click on the image for a larger version.

Europe in 1895 (a little after the end of the AAR). Fully relish the bizarre shape of Switzerland! :)




And a map of the world in 1895.


 

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Why this thread doesn't have any comments? This is awesome!

If I recall correctly they used to post these Beta-AARs locked, so none of the original readers were actually able to reply to it.

However, I feel I must point out that even though it is - as you say - a fine AAR, this ís thread-necromancy..