An eventful session, full of wars and betrayals!
To clear up the confusion, let me briefly summarise the events of the war. The members and goals of the coalition against France were thus:
- Norway: Recover Kent, gain Gibraltar if possible, reduce French power.
- Italy: Reduce French power, strengthen Germany.
- Germany: Recover some of the cores lost in previous French wars.
- Prussia: Gain an Adriatic harbour, support the other Germanic power.
- Finland: Reduce French power, get revenge for the invasion of Finland in the previous war with Georgia, cash.
- Georgia: Revenge, sweet revenge. (Or so I surmise.)
At the edges, Africa was restrained by a NAP and alliance with France, but apparently desired to regain southern Iberia. There may have been some confusion here: Africa said some things which might indicate that he thought he was required by the house rules not to attack France, which is not the case. But he did get several warnings from other players that pacta sunt servanda and he had better stick to his word, or who would treat with him in the future? I get the impression that Africa has been signing alliances for their own sake rather than out of appraisal of national interest; he mentioned at one point (after signing an alliance with practically everyone in the game) that he was “founding the UN”. If so, he admirably recreated the effectiveness of that body. In the event, he did not attack France.
The rest of us did, however. Norway and Italy landed in Spain, at Almeria, after a naval battle in which much of the French navy was sunk while (bravely but ineffectively) attempting to deny us entry to the Mediterranean. On land, however, we did not do so well: France could reinforce overland faster than we could by sea, and we were eventually forced to evacuate. Having by this point seized the Med islands as bases, we instead landed in Rome, in support of the Georgian landings at the heel of the Italian boot. Our plan was to seize a line across the peninsula, cutting off the French armies resisting the Georgians and destroying them, and then marching north to support our German allies. Italy is, famously, an un-soft underbelly, but we were nonetheless making progress; the terrain favours defense, but Norway and Italy both fielded large numbers of tanks, and of course naval support was decisive along the coast. Our beachhead expanded, but we had not quite managed to get to the Adriatic when other events intervened.
A brief digression to the German front: France had begun the war by attacking north from the Alps and east from the Normandie coast. For reasons I do not understand, there was a large gap in its front line where the Western front would have been in OTL’s Great War. For further reasons I do not understand, Germany unaccountably failed to advance into it. I find this very puzzling, but it is so. Finland, incidentally, supplied 20 divisions for these Wacht am Rhein operations. The main Franco-German fighting was therefore along the line of the Alps, and fairly inconclusive. However, I believe that we would eventually have succeeded on the Italian front and thus brought the French troops in the Alps under fire from two directions; what’s more, France was running out of cash and making peace feelers. We eventually agreed to these terms:
- Kent to Norway.
- Eight German core provinces to Germany.
- Four provinces to Prussia, giving them an Adriatic outlet.
- France to limit its industry.
- 1 million from France to the attacking Powers.
At this point, Georgia was attacked by China, Indonesia, and Japan, and separately by Africa. I am not sure how it happened, but whatever was guarding the eastern Georgian border must have been destroyed, and Persia and Central Asia were swiftly occupied. Further, Africa overran the Levant and had got as far as occupying eastern Anatolia when the threat of war with Norway dissuaded them. I list these events in sequence, but in fact everything was happening at once, negotiations with France were being shouted back and forth on TeamSpeak and in game chat, there was the issue of whether the German provinces would cut metropolitan France off from Italy and the eventual agreement that we would pick provinces such that France still had a land connection – and in the middle of all this the Indonesian and African declarations of war, France much heartened by finding enemies of its enemies, offers of bribes to keep France fighting… It was a mess. There was the issue of whether the Georgian sub (by this point without effective means of resistance) had the authority to make terms, which he did; then in the middle of it we got word that the former Georgian perm was quitting, and unceremoniously installed the sub as the new perm, with authority to negotiate anything he liked. Then there was the question of whether France was stalling the negotiations, using the plight of Georgia as a bargaining tool; if the West could not come to Georgia’s rescue, he would have had to accept the original terms, which were harsher than what has been outlined above. China offered to double any Western offer if France would keep fighting. I suspect France got a bit tired of being shouted at by two sides simultaneously, and besides, there was the possibility that we might abandon Georgia and concentrate on crushing him. In the end, he agreed to the same territorial changes, but with the million pounds to go the other way – from the coalition to him. (So far we’ve paid him 400k.)
I started shipping troops to Anatolia as soon as I felt confident of the peace with France, but I could not declare war – engine limitations – until the peace was actually signed. Since I was alliance leader, I had to wait for Germany and Prussia to occupy their gains; France was a bit slow to move his troops out of their fighting lines; it took quite some time before I could make effective threats. In fact I had established a defensive line across Anatolia and was ready to hold at least a Balkan/Turkish bastion for Georgia well before the peace was final, and could only watch helplessly as African troops – still formally at peace with me! – marched right past it, not a shot fired. In the end, though, I got Kent, and could threaten people to some effect. Africa signed a peace giving it Madagascar and nothing more, “or else”. (Noting that the African successes were due solely to Georgian inability to resist; my hundred divisions would have crushed his occupying forces like a bug. A bug, I tell you.) With that peace signed and the Levant returned to Georgian control, things looked much brighter. I marched east as fast as the dreadful Georgian railroads could carry my troops.
There was a Japanese force of twenty divisions at Trabzon, which I defeated handily in two weeks of campaigning; they tried to flee eastwards to the Indonesian lines – still east of the Caspian at this point – but I caught up to them and forced their surrender. The Indonesians and Chinese were oddly quiescent at this time; had they made a concerted push, they might have got further west than they did, out into the open terrain of Mesopotamia where their numbers could be made to count. But as it happened, they almost stopped once they had occupied Baku (the Georgian capital), and I was able to march to contact and form a fighting line in the mountains, and retake Baku, creating the current line of resistance.
Georgia has stamped new divisions out of the earth, and the Persian line is unbreakable by either side. I see three possible courses of the war: One is a grinding attritional nightmare, fought out in some of the best defensive terrain on Earth; another is some sort of compromise treaty, involving no doubt Georgian concessions and perhaps – as in the previous crisis of this kind – monetary compensation for the West; and the third is a decisive naval battle laying one or the other side open to invasion of their homelands, forcing a peace. And meanwhile France laughs at us all, safe in the knowledge that the American Powers cannot betray a faithful ally. What would we be if we left Georgia open to partition and dishonour, for the sake of advantage in Europe? “Are we not Ynglings?”, they ask at New Bergen; there is irony in it, if you know the full story of that other time, and the reputation the Ynglings had there. But in this timeline, they mean the question to say, “Are we not honourable men?” And they will lay blood and treasure on the line for the sake of that honour.