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Hearts of Iron II: After Action Report

For those of you who don’t know what Hearts of Iron II is: it is the most awesome WWII simulator available on the market today.  Hearts of Iron III may supplant it, but that hasn’t been released yet so I can’t know for sure.  Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I convinced Fiercemudcrab to give it a try.  At first, the enormity of the game seemed a little overwhelming and he didn’t seem to like it.  A couple of days later, however; he decided to give the game a fair chance to prove itself.  He was intrigued.  That made me so happy that I grabbed my laptop and rushed to his house where we proceeded to set up a LAN game so I could fully instruct him on the game’s many intricacies with a thoroughness that only a veteran of many years could provide.  After a couple of experimental games where we terrorized the world first as Sweden and Finland, then as Canada and Australia, we decided that we were ready to take up the cause of the Allies as the US and UK.  What follows is a summary of the incredible 15 game years of constant war and outrageous alternate endings to WWII that we could only wish would have really happened.Fiercemudcrab felt that he was ready to take on the challenge of one of the larger nations with overseas holdings and whatnot instead of just Canada or Finland.  The complexity would increase, but so would the ever-so-useful Industrial Capacity (IC for those of you who apparently live in an “I don’t like to play awesome games” closet).  I figured he could use the UK, since it had a decent amount of IC, some good tech teams, and wouldn’t be too hard to use.  I went with the US because dealing simultaneously with Japanese, Germans, and the continents of Central and South America was something that I already had experience with.  This time, I would try to take on one front at a time.  That way, I wouldn’t be overextended and pretty much useless in Europe where my less-experienced friend would doubtless need help against the powerful Nazi hordes.

Things became interesting almost immediately.  Fiercemudcrab, deciding that Irish independence was as much an affront to the dignity of the United Kingdom as it was a joke, declared war on the Irish.  Fiercemudcrab cited the repeated insults against the royal family, Irish terrorists in Northern Ireland, and cultural inferiority as reasons for the invasion.  It may have also had something to do with the 10 or so IC that was present in Ireland.  Couple that with a blatant disregard for the supposed Democratic process that would make such a declaration normally impossible (we turned on the “Democracies can start war” function), and you get a seriously messed-up situation for the Irish.  After driving slowly over the speed bumps on the border of Northern Ireland, which in hind sight may have been the Irish army, the country fell within a couple of weeks.  Chalk one more up for democracy!

As the United States, all I could really do was sit and watch the map change color.  My Americans were always isolationist when something amazing is happening.  I knew that American troops should have been there alongside their British brothers killing people who had no real means of defending themselves.  Alas, it was not to be.  I turned my Isolation-Intervention slider one notch towards Interventionism.  Next year, I would be able to do the same thing.  Some of my people now felt that they no longer wanted to be left out of such blatant wars of aggression in the future.  Now I just needed to get the slider to the midpoint so that I could override the other half of my society.  The victory of democracy over the rest of the world was on the horizon!

Now something happened that I seriously didn’t expect.  France looked across the Channel and saw the whole Irish-domination situation.  During the brief time that was going on, all of the Allied economies got a jump to wartime levels of production that hadn’t been seen since the last blatantly imperialistic war.  France, having tasted wartime IC even for just two weeks, was hooked.  France became an IC junkie.  The only problem was that its dealer was gone; peace reigned and IC sank back into Depression-era levels.  France needed to get its fix…but where?  Its colonies in Africa were all adjacent to other European megasuperpowers like Italy and Belgium.  Obviously that road was far too dangerous.  Can you remember the last time someone tangled with the Italians and came out on top?  French Indochina was right next to Siam, the superpower of Asia.  The Chinese were also engaged in a civil war, so France couldn’t exploit their divisions lest they ally agaisnt the French and take control over the most valuable colony in the world.  No, there was only one way to go: straight into Germany.  Literally two weeks after the Irish were destroyed, the French decided to try their luck against Nazi Germany.

So in 1936, the Allies went to war with Germany because France needed its fix of wartime IC.  France immediately penetrated into the industrial heartland of Germany, removing some of its IC and taking them for itself.  The Soviet Union, always eager to kick some fascist ass, declared war too.  The only problem was that there was a giant Poland blocking the way.  Now Poland was faced with a difficult decision.  On the one hand, the Allies were obviously making gradual progress on a Germany that hadn’t yet annexed Austria or Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union was in on the action too.  On the other hand, the Germans had been saying for years that Polacks were sub-human that deserved death while their homeland should be repopulated with good Aryans.  The Poles made the obvious choice.  It was no surprise that half of Poland was overrun within a few weeks after becoming the second member of the Axis.  Many other small and unimportant countries followed Poland’s example.  After all, if they couldn’t defeat the French and Soviets alone, they could do it with the help of a nearly defeated alliance, right?  Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Czechoslovakia (another obvious choice), and Austria all joined with Germany to defeat the combined powers of the democratic and righteous Allies and the hated communist USSR.

Italy decided that the time was right to make its move.  It had its eye on some of the most valuable real estate in the world: Africa.  Its conquests in Ethiopia had only temporarily satiatied its thirst for conquest.  Immediately after declaring war on the Allies and siding with the Axis, the Italians launched their attack on Africa.  Africa’s topography and infrastructure ensured that the Italian conquest would be a slow and painful one.  The Italians wisely avoided tangling with the Belgians, but had their way with French North Africa since the French were busy fighting real enemies in Europe.  Fiercemudcrab’s Egyptian holdings were also threatened, and the Italians moved in from the West and started taking valuable provinces filled with deserts.  Fiercemudcrab stationed his few divisions to protect the Suez Canal, the only thing in Africa that the Italians should have actually tried to get.  The Italians followed the military logic their real-life counterparts did and completely bypassed the Canal, ensuring that Indian reinforcement would not be far away.

Meanwhile in Europe, the French continued their push into Germany, but were largely stalled because their starting divisions were not able to spread out and defend captured provinces against counterattack.  The French and their British allies dug in and drove off German attempts to retake their industrial center.  In hindsight, putting your industry on the border with your worst enemy might not have been a good idea.  In the US, I was researching some kickass infantry and tanks, while yearly moving my slider one more tick towards Interventionism.  Finally, a break!  A random event moved my slider TWO ticks towards Interventionism, finally convincing half of my people that joining in the French war of aggression would be a good idea.  A hop, skip, and an electric slide later, the Americans were now part of the Allies.  My IC jumped to meet wartime need, which turned out to at least equal the industrial strength of the Axis combined.  Infantry divisions were ordered, and Kansas farmboys were called to serve.  The industrial giant had awakened and was ready to kick some Nazi ass!

In Africa, the Italians ended up capturing everything from French North Africa to British Egypt to Italian Ethiopia.  Then they received some unexpected help.  It turns out that Portugal was not indifferent to the plight of the poor Axis powers.  Portugal joined the Axis and helped the Italians push further into the heartland of Africa where victory provinces and valuable resources were nonexistent.  Portugal’s geographic position meant that they would be the first to be punched in the face by American military power, which was growing stronger every month.  For reference, the game speed we were playing meant that a game day lasted about 30 seconds.  The Azores had apparently stopped sending their comforting radio messages back to Portugal, and the Portuguese in Africa were being tossed around by the South Africans of all people.  Would these indignities never cease?  A couple of days later, a force of 12 American infantry divisions landed in Lisbon.  The mighty Portuguese fleet escaped, only to be discovered by the vastly superior American fleet.  No one survived.  My Americans, slowed only by the difficulty of navigating Portugal’s hilly terrain on Portuguese roads, soon took all of European Portugal.  The French captured some place that the Portuguese had in China and the Belgians and South Africans took care of the victory provinces the Portuguese had in Africa.  Portugal was the last nation to enter the Axis, and the first to leave.  I annexed them, and then released them under a puppet government.  This would become a common fate for defeated enemies of the United States.

American infantry divisions arrived frequently in Europe, as did Fiercemudcrab’s British soldiers.  The French, feeling more secure with all of these extra numbers, launched several offensives in Germany.  The French would push forward by a couple of provinces, forcing us to advance with them or allow the French to be cut off and destroyed.  After a while, the Americans started pulling their weight.  Austria, then Czechoslovakia, then Yugoslavia (another Axis addition) all fell quickly under the pressure of Allied numbers.  By this time, I had researched mechanized infantry.  Mechanized infantry are by far the most awesome of all infantry available to the Hearts of Iron II commander.  By the time the war ended, I had over 200 divisions of mechanized infantry.  I also had tanks.  Now I could advance faster than the French and was taking all kinds of stuff (in the name of France of course).  My mechanized infantry also took care of Italian coastal provinces, ensuring that their troops in the heart of Africa could no longer be supplied.  The Italians now had to wonder why they were cutting their way through deep African jungles while Rome was being danced on by French and Belgian troops.

Germany fell before most of the rest of the Axis, leaving Italy in command of the Axis alliance.  French occupied territory pushed all the way into Poland, and completely throughout Germany.  The Germans were forced to surrender to the French yet again within a quarter of a century.  After they were finished crying bitter tears, they asked if they could have their independence, only as members of the Allies.  France promptly insulted them in French and kicked them in the face.  There would be no independent Germany for the remainder of the game.  Italy was not much better off.  Italy had actually been conquered, and only some victory provinces in Africa remained.  Since three of their four victory provinces were in Egypt, and were currently being taken by my mechanized infantry, those didn’t really count.  The only place they had left was a territory in the middle of Italian Ethiopia.  Fiercemudcrab staged a brilliant amphibious landing designed to maximize enemy casualties through surprise and superior firepower.  No one was there to oppose the landing, since they were too busy having their asses kicked, dragged on the floor, and thrown off a cliff by the South Africans.  Now if you are getting pwnd by the South Africans, then it is time to seriously reconsider your readiness to conquer anything.  The last victory province was taken, and Italy was annexed by France.

The war in Europe was over!  France owned everything from the Atlantic to the middle of Poland, from the North Sea to the Mediterranean.  The Soviets managed to take most of the Balkan countries and useless places like Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Greece.  The stage was set for the next great series of wars.

Fiercemudcrab and I had been planning to attack the Soviets after the war with the Axis was over.  For one we didn’t like communists, and second we didn’t want to share the world with communists.  That and they were interrupting our glorious conquests of Europe with their fanangling, and they couldn’t go unpunished for that, could they?  The French formed a pretty solid line along the entirety of the Soviet front in Europe.  Fiercemudcrab and I each had troops supporting the French, but we also had a lot of guys in Africa who weren’t doing anything.  Our IC had dropped back down to peacetime levels and we, like the French, desperately needed our fix.

There was only one place that seemed like it would not only serve our needs as a quick IC hit, but also as a strategic base against the Soviets: Turkey.  Turkey had a tiny army, no navy, and an airforce that could be shot down by WWI biplanes (I had P-51s).  The only problem that we foresaw was that the speed of our advance would be slowed by the mountains of Eastern Turkey.  Once we moved our overwhelming forces into position, we declared war.  Turkey obviously suspected that something was up when 40 or so American divisions and about 25 British division showed up in French Syria.  They moved their 1936 infantry (we had 1943) into position along their border.  When we attacked from the ground, air, and sea, they were chewed up about as good as the homeless guys they throw into the hot dog grinders.  It took a couple of weeks to completely take Turkey.  An amphibious landing in Istanbul, spearheaded by the 1st “OLOLLOL!!1!!1” Mechanized Division,  meant that they had nowhere to run and gave me control over entry into and out of the Black Sea.  The Soviet navy (lol) was now trapped.  Also the Turks were annihilated and a more democratic system was put in place by the peace-loving Allies.  How’s that for a reversal, you genocidal maniacs?

Well this has been incredibly long, partially reflecting the couple of dozen hours we spent aggregately on this game alone.  I will report on our battle against the Soviets in the next installment.  By the way, the game world in Hearts of Iron II starts in 1936 at the earliest.  That’s when we started.  The entire war with the Axis and the conquest of Turkey were completed by 1939.  If only that had actually happened in real life; the French wouldn’t be known as such pansies!

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Categories: General

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