Oh, you mean a story,
full of blood and guts,
showing the wars
as a man might see them.
They’re full of lies, you know;
only the dead
have seen the truth of war.
And to kill a protagonist
while sometimes done
is a shabby trick;
the living reader
does not truly feel
the weight of death
that is written
in ink on paper.
In any case
a narrative demands
an inspired writer
whose head is full
of stories of war
and not of cotton.
Sick men write
no great narratives
a few lines of free verse
may sneak through;
they’re slippery, those
pieces. You should trust them
as much as you trust
a fine well-written story
of war; which is to say
not at all.
In this session we reached 1936, and Venice fought three interlinked wars: Against Egypt, against India, and against England.
The first war was the result of Kuipy’s desire to get revenge for the Nile Delta War, recover my African enclaves, and push the Venetian border back across the Suez. To accomplish this he built up an army in his Arabian possessions, and attacked in April with a wargoal of five states. Fortunately, the small circle of moly I keep around my gaming chair kept my mind unclouded, and I was able to see the subtle warning signs:
Fortunately, even so subtle and elusive a Power as the Jackal, with its PLOTS SPANNING CENTURIES, cannot move in the world entirely without leaving tracks that the sufficiently wise may note.
There was nothing I could do about his control of the desert weather, but I did manage to move rather a large number of submarines to the Red Sea, where they could in principle interfere with his supply lines. The Jackal’s powers are much reduced by salt water; however, by PLOTS SPANNING CENTURIES it has managed to darken the minds of a particular set of Swedes, so that level-1 submarines are in fact entirely useless in HoI4 (more on this later). If the subs had any effect on the Arabian War I have yet to learn of it. Fortunately I wasn’t relying on them; I should have been so wise in other wars.
One of the Jackal’s special sandstorms, affecting only one side of a front line.
Instead I relied on my small but excellent army. As shown in the sandstorm screenshot above, the numbers of divisions were about equal; eleven on my side, eleven stacks on Kuipy’s – if we assume that those are all one-division stacks and there are no reserves, exactly equal numbers. (This leaves out whatever Kuipy had in Africa; since he failed miserably to break the Suez Line in spite of multiple attacks, those units might as well not have existed.) However, where our lines touched, his crumbled like paper, and I was able to punch two holes in his line and rush my tanks through:
First encirclement of the Arabian War.
Note the different widths and attacks of our divisions. Idhrendur’s converter creates three kinds of division: ‘Advance’, ‘Support’, and ‘Basic’. The Advance has line artillery plus supporting engineers and recon battalions; the support has either line artillery or support battalions, but not both; the basic has neither. How many of each you get depends on your army composition in Vicky. My army converted entirely as Advance divisions; I think I’m facing a Support here, or perhaps even a Basic with some tweaking to make it width twenty. In any case they were quite unable to put up any serious resistance against the glorious advance of the Venetian army; in pretty short order I had another encirclement:
Second encirclement, and ready to push for Yemen.
and once that pocket collapsed it was all over except for another heroic last stand in the southern Arabian mountains.
At this point the obvious next step is to use my complete naval superiority to cross the Red Sea, or alternatively the Med, and invade Egypt proper. I fact my esteemed German allies had done precisely that, but got chucked out again, indicating presumably that Kuipy Had Reserves hidden somewhere on the Dark Continent. However, while I was winning a crushing victory in the Arabian War, I had also got embroiled in the Indochina War, declared by India against my ally Japan. In truth I was rather expecting my participation in that conflict to be symbolic, pro-forma, and quickly over, which is of course exactly how people get involved in land wars in Asia.
Heavy fighting expected on the Persian border.
It turns out, however, that Ragatokk, playing India, is as tactically formidable as ever, whatever the industrial strengths. Taking advantage of some weakness in Gollevainen’s prewar deployment, he was able to encircle a large Japanese force in Indochina, then rapidly advance to the Pacific coast, driving the Japanese pell-mell before him and into their ships. (Gollevainen states that he was able to evacuate a large part of his army, but not all of it.) That still left a Manchurian front, which is still fairly well stalemated; Japan has not been driven off the mainland, but has lost the southern part of its Pacific rim. Nonetheless India was able to redeploy a reasonable army to my entirely undefended Persian front, and start advancing. So instead of invading across the Red Sea, I force-marched my divisions north as fast as they became available, eventually stopping the Indian advance in the Iranian highlands. Conveniently, due to the aforementioned heroic last stand in the Yemen mountains, half a dozen divisions were freed up just as my new Persian front began to advance here and there; rather than fight a grinding attritional struggle through those mountains, I shipped them across the Persian Gulf:
The Persian landing.
Shortly thereafter, the glory of Venetian arms (I’ll allow Germany an assist) was enhanced by another encirclement:
At this time, however, the third war started, and went rather more unfortunately for me. England, worried about the fate of Egypt after its disastrous loss in Arabia – neither moly nor cold iron are in fashion, this decade, in Whitehall – accepted the Accursed Republic into its faction, and immediately launched an attack across the Tyrrhenian Sea. This, unfortunately, is where I was relying on those useless subs, my army being already stretched to its limits – who defends everything, defends nothing, as the man said. You would think that fifty of the things, operating in so constrained a body of water as the Tyrrhenian, would at least inconvenience an invasion; the more so when supported by land-based aircraft. Not a bit of it. Baron was able to land at his leisure, and if he had any supply problems they weren’t worth noticing. Instead I scrambled to put together a fighting line at the edge of the Po plain:
Clenching the muscles of the soft underbelly.
Note the futile English attacks on the fortified Po Line in the west; seven divisions holding off twenty. For a while it looked like I would even be able to hold the edge of the mountains, and thus maintain at least my Venetian factories in the fight. In that case, I might have waited for the New World, in its power and its might, to come forth to the rescue, and the liberation, of the Old. (Not to mention completing the conquest of India, and the freeing up of the Imperial Japanese Army to fight in Europe.) Alas, it was not to be:
The Po Line still holds, but both flanks are ruptured and it is in danger of double envelopment.
We are currently negotiating a limited peace in Europe and Africa.
World map, September 1936.