Only one thing remains uncertain: Who will ultimately pull the first trigger?
Pff. Uncertain, indeed. Obviously it was the Ynglings. How could it be otherwise?
My first geopolitical aim in HoI4 was to settle my grudge with Bohemia, including the Second Bohemian War, Fourth Bohemian War, and the ongoing (as of 1936, that is) Occupation of Pommern that followed the First Baltic War. (The First Bohemian War was a victory, and there was no Third Bohemian War). Since I had cores on Pommern, I could justify rapidly, and declare the first war of the game on May 5th, 1937. Before doing so I had ensured that the war would be one versus one, by signing a NAP with Occitania (who suggested it, for reasons I still do not know; Mike, the Occitanian player, has well earned his sobriquet of the Silent Knight), by promising the Latin Empire a share of the spoils, and by signing a NAP with Khazaria in exchange for a Latin NAP with Bohemia, thus reassuring Clonefusion that both the neighbouring Great Powers would stay out. The details of the war itself are below.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Apart from the relatively small-scale maneuvers around the Baltic Sea, there were also major diplomatic events: The factions have been formally created as treaty organisations, and the small fry who didn’t find a Great-Power protector in time have been crushed, with a few exceptions. In particular:
- Khazaria (Clonefusion) heads the faction All the Russias.
- Medina (Tazzzo) leads the House of War.
- The Latin Empire (Dragoon) rejoices in the faction name The Latinate Dominance.
- Atlassia (ranger), Leon (Sauron), Great Britain (Gollevainen), and Nova Roma (Zirotron) have formed the Pact of Hercules.
- And finally, Japan (Mark), Elysium (James), and the Ynglingske Republikk (King of Men) comprise the Legion of Doom, and plan to split the world into American, European, and Asian hegemonies and then rule peacefully together.
Of the remaining played countries, only China (Blayne) survives as an independent power; while not formally a member of the Legion of Doom, he agreed to cooperate with us in the partition of Korea (Jodokus), and thus gained China’s historical borders (for a particular view of ‘history’ and ‘borders’) by the annexation of Manchuria. The rest of Korea (which stretches far into Siberia) went to Japan, who also landed in North America to support Elysian operations against Korea’s vassal Kimifornia (unfortunately unplayed, not that it was likely to matter). Kimifornia, attacked by all its neighbors including Herculean vassals Rharia (Brickfrog) and New England, was rapidly overrun, in spite of the loss of fifty Elysian divisions to a single immensely lucky sub, and thus America is split between the Legion and the Pact according to the Treaty of Tenochtitlan:
Occitania (Mike) was likewise attacked by the Pact of Hercules – possibly accounting for his willingness to NAP me – but got away lightly, with only two or three states annexed, the loss of his entire army, the installation of a puppet government, and “associate membership” in the Pact of Hercules. As a result, my German border, running a little west of the Ems (or is that the Weser? The HoI4 map seems to be missing a river) is now the most heavily militarised area in the world, with a hundred divisions on each side exchanging glares and the occasional potshot. That leaves Bohemia, whose demise I consider in some detail next. There is also unplayed Australia, not by any means a major power, but more defensible than Nova Roma and probably playable if you don’t insist on fighting Great Powers on massive attritional fronts.
In a war with Bohemia, there might be fighting all through Poland and up to Novgorod, but it was clear that the decisive front would be in Germany, its industrial core; and Yami made his prewar dispositions accordingly, putting almost his entire army – a dozen cavalry divisions around Novgorod being the only exception – on his two German fronts, one facing Yngling Germany, the other ready to attack Prussia. By dint of this massive concentration, he was able to outnumber both Tyske Arme, defending Yngling Germany, and Polske Arme, lined up just west of the Vistula and ready to retreat behind it – note the beginnings of a line of fortifications east of the river. While I cannot read his mind, I infer that his plan was to quickly push me back along the coast, cutting my Panserarme off from supply and thus preventing the slashing attack into the otherwise-undefended Polish plain that it is preparing in the screenshot; in the west, I think he may have hoped to break through, again, along the coast and north of the Oder, to get the tanks into Denmark and encircle my German army. This is not orthodox HoI tactics, but being so badly outnumbered, it was not obviously silly for Yami to go for the high-risk, high-reward gamble; although he had just enough troops to defend his entire border if he formed a continuous line, it would be thin enough that my tanks could punch through at their leisure, and while that might force me to fight a war of attrition there could be only one outcome. However, this did leave him without any defense against that armoured blitz towards the Carpathians, and it does not seem to have occurred to him that I might invade Pommern across the Baltic, as shown in the screenshot.
I declared war, as noted, on the 5th of May, and by the 15th Jyske Arme had landed in Pommern and Panserarmes blitz was well underway; I was even able to push slightly against the southern flank of Yami’s German front, hoping to have the three armies meet north of the mountains and encircle both of Yami’s two. Meanwhile Polske Arme was being driven back towards the Vistula and indeed across it; the fall of Danzig was almost the only Bohemian victory of the war, but as if to make up for that, they kept the city until the final capitulation, for all my attempts to retake it.
By the 26th I had reached the mountains, but had also run into some trouble with my encirclement, in that a sharp Bohemian counterattack had created a counter-encirclement containing rather a lot of my tanks. (This being 1937, light tanks only, and no convenient Polish cavalry for them to ply their machine-guns on.) However, just like my own armoured troops, Yami’s were operating on a shoestring with tanks made largely of plywood; once my infantry came up I was able to break through and rescue my tanks.
By June, therefore, I was fairly master of the situation. My tanks were out of their pocket, and I had trapped five Bohemian divisions in Berlin; my German army was advancing and stretching out south, where Yami’s left had been dislocated from the Occitanian border and was more or less hanging in air, as well as pushing at the base of the salient that had been Yami’s defensive line south of Berlin. Meanwhile, four armoured divisions were pushing almost unopposed towards the gap in the mountains that the Elbe creates. The only problem was the Vistula Corridor, where the Imperial Guard – none of your Vassal Swarm for this important front – stubbornly refused to allow me to cut Danzig off from the rest of Bohemia; in fact this corridor was to persist for the entire war, in spite of my repeated heavy attacks from both sides. However, in a sense this didn’t really matter; Imperial Guardsmen defending the Vistula Corridor were not available for the presumably more important defense of Prague, and perhaps Yami should have pulled back the entire Danzig Front in order to create a defense of the Carpathians and the Sudetes.
I am not certain whether Yami recognised the need to keep a continuous front and not allow my army to encircle his – at this point, any prewar plans to march along my coast and cut off my supply for the interior were clearly in tatters, and all that was left was to fight bloody attritional warfare in the mountains and hope for help from Occitania or the Pact of Hercules. He told me later that this was his first multiplayer HoI war, so perhaps he did not realise the importance, or perhaps his troops just couldn’t move fast enough; in any case I was able to get Jyske Arme, that had landed in Pommern, down behind his German line, and punch through with Tyske Arme from the west, so as to create some nice pockets around Berlin.
I went that one better, when my tanks reached Prague and met my infantry coming in from Germany, loosely pocketing a large proportion of Yami’s army in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, the westmost part of the mountain arc that surrounds Czechoslovakia. However, these two months into the war, I was somewhat startled to see Medinan troops suddenly appearing on my eastern flank, where I had in effect nothing, having spread myself very thin while racing to encircle Skanse Elbe. The foreign aid that was the only thing that could save Yami had appeared at last; was it in time?
A week later it certainly looked as though it had been; my beautiful encirclement was gone, two corridors punched through to resupply Skanse Elbe, and a new corridor had opened up between my German and Prussian fronts, trapping another division – in fact, this unfortunate infantry division was the only one I lost to encirclement in the entire war.
There followed a somewhat hectic period, in which I did not stop to take screenshots, and thus my next view of the situation is from three weeks later, in July; but by then it has cleared up wonderfully. If I was spread thin, so was Yami; and while Tazzzo’s dozen mobile divisions could punch through my thin encirclements, they could not hold the line when I brought up my infantry from the liquidation of the Berlin Pockets. Thus I managed to restore the encirclement of Skanse Elbe, trapping a good two dozen divisions, perhaps a third of Yami’s army.
Such a force, defending a mountain redoubt, took a while to reduce, but I held off all attempts to relieve them and was eventually able to finish off the pocket, in effect ending the war.
In hindsight the remaining operations are mop-up, although they did not appear so to me at the time; my focus shifted to the Danzig front, where Yami was somehow able to put together an armoured counterattack that punched deep into my lines for a while, and where the Imperial Guard still stubbornly held the Vistula Corridor open, leaving Danzig as Bohemia’s window on the world – or at least on the Baltic, allowing them to see the dozen battleships of my main fleet upholding the blockade. It’s not clear to me that Danzig was particularly valuable to either side at this point, but it is clear that I could not retake it, in spite of the apparently favourable battles in the screenshot.
The armoured counterattack, on the other hand, I was able to deal with; there wasn’t enough Bohemian infantry to guard the bases of the salient they created, and pretty shortly there was a third Berlin Pocket. Note the Latin volunteers fighting the Medinans. That said, Dragoon’s statement about “aiding the capture of Danzig” is plain nonsense; Danzig was still holding out in October when the the capitulation came.
Shortly after this, Medina declared war on the Latin Empire, and all the volunteers went home; with that, Yami no longer had a southern front, and I could simply send my panzers motoring unopposed through the countryside to take the remaining victory points needed for capitulation. The surrender came on October 5th, pleasingly five months to the day after the declaration; I annexed Bohemia entirely, ending nine hundred years of rivalry over the Baltic coast, Germany, and the Polish plain.
Postwar borders, with the cession of a tier of southern Bohemian states to the Latin Empire.
Medina has declared war on the Latin Empire; apart from the inevitable fall of Latin India, this war seems to have entered a quiet phase, with the two sides exchanging shots a few dozen miles east (that is, in Medinan territory) of their prewar Anatolian border where the initial Latin offensive stopped, but neither able to advance further in that difficult and now fortified country. Dragoon has proclaimed his satisfaction with this state of affairs, as his offensive was intended – he says – to bring him only a more favourable defensive position on that front; his plan for an actual victory remains unclear. Tazzzo has not said anything about the war.
It appears that the Legion of Doom will clash with the Pact of Hercules; at any rate their border with me is full of tanks and guns, and very unfriendly they look, too. I am modernising the forts at Viipuri in anticipation of Leon reprising its campaign of 1766, and preparing the Leidangsflåte (currently the third navy in the world, with 17 modern battleships) to control the North Sea. Such a war would leave Khazaria as the last uncommitted Great Power, able to strike at me, at Dragoon, at Tazzzo, or at China with complete strategic freedom. I thus face the risk of a two-front war, well beyond my power; in such an event my plan is to retreat to Scandinavia and hold until my allies can rescue me by operations elsewhere. It is still no joke to fight in Norway in winter.
Eurasia, October 1938. Several minor countries have disappeared; two of the Great Powers are at war.