austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Missed the Saturday dance

I should mention I'd finished off 1948 in my Hearts Of Iron II game. When last we left, there was a huge longitudinal front from western China through Siberia being struggled over, and my landings around Archangelsk had, by July, reached Moscow. And yet I could feel my basic weakness in European Russia and threat of a ``Battle of the Bulge'' counterattack.

I should mention some tidying-up of the diplomatic universe: by the 23rd of July the Allies had taken enough of Mongolia to annex that nation, reducing the Comintern to the Soviet Union, Rumania, and Bulgaria. There was some weird thing keeping me from re-establishing an independent, Allied Mongolian puppet state, but I was able to (on the 26th of October) bring postage stamp favorite Tannu Tuva back into existence. I'm sure they'll be the deciding factor in the war.

There is not, in Europe, the sort of breakthrough and counter-attack that I had feared. However, there was nibbling away of the Allied occupied territories. I had managed to reach Latvia and cut off Leningrad from the bulk of the Soviet Union; but, between Soviet forces moving up and Leningrad forces pushing back, I couldn't maintain the salient and they re-took that territory. In fact, there was steady fighting all around Moscow the remainder of the year, but I never needed to evacuate it.

In fact, with some reinforcements (discussed below) and beginning a new front after some rest and recuperation, the United States got to plunging back into the Soviet Union with devastating effects on the western front. On the 2nd of September progress had reached the point that it triggered the Great Patriotic War event for the Soviets, a special event which triggers when they'd lost a shockingly high proportion of their industrial capacity and their armed forces. This makes the Soviet armies tougher, although, since they're down from about 400 infantry and 40 armored divisions to about 250 infantry and 25 armored divisions, that's not as terrifying a prospect as it might be.

Coincidentally to the Great Patriotic War, there were the same day right-wing coups d'état in Iraq, Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela. I suspect the coup d'état engine threw a random number. All Ecuador did was elect the right in their election, also that day. The Netherlands had the Abdication of Queen Wilhelmina on the 7th of September, which I suppose is valid enough although she'd had a much less trying World War II in this timeline. Given the progress of this war, in the 1948 Election, I had the people select Harry Truman over Thomas Dewey. Truman won reelection, really, when the fourth of July was spent lobbing tactical artillery shells into the Kremlin, and I can't imagine this timeline's Republicans would have the sense of entitlement to the victory which set them off on the psychotic McCarthyism spiral.

Since the Soviet Navy consisted of several fiercely-painted rowboats I thought it safe to scrap some of the more obsolete and smaller ships, including a pair of destroyers which I discovered had been in all three global wars the United States had fought since 1943 and yet had never sunk a thing. Weird.

Meanwhile progress was still stalled on the eastern front and I finally decided what to do about it. The core problem is, all the Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian, and other Allied troops sent to me as expeditionary forces had far surpassed the point of diminishing returns. The generals assigned to units can effectively command only so many units at a time, and if you have more than that in your province --- say, being attacked by the enemy --- you suffer penalties in effectiveness which can actually make your gigantic stack of units less useful than having only a token force. And yet I needed more than anything else units in European Russia. So ...

So. I took some Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Canadian forces out of the Siberian front and shipped them by way of the Suez Canal back around to occupied European Russia. Some of these expeditionary units were reclaimed by their home governments when they set foot in Suez for reloading, but enough stayed in my control that I was strengthening my lines. Better than that, too: by the end of August the Allies had taken Leningrad, and would hold it the remainder of the year.

Although this was a great experiment, I didn't repeat the Suez conduit for what might seem silly reasons. The thing is, Sea Transportation has a range of about 9,000 miles, so you can't go from Shanghai to Leningrad directly. A stopover in Suez would be needed. But you can't assign transport ships to regard Suez as their home base because there happens not to be a naval base there. The naval base is in nearby Alexandria, in the control of Egypt, recently given independence by the United Kingdom and staying neutral in this war. I need a transport route that requires less supervision.

So this is the more nearly automatic route I developed: load Allied troops in Shanghai, transport them to Los Angeles. Send them by road from Los Angeles to Boston. Sea transport from Boston to Leningrad. It's slow --- land transport is done at sluggish rates even if they really should be moving by railroad, I suppose for reasons of game balance --- but very easy to command.

It is possible to create an independent Russian Republic, although I'll need to capture a few more provinces for the game's mechanism to allow me to do it. Primarily, I need to capture Kiev, Kursk, and Stalingrad; let's not go thinking the game designers don't have a sense of humor. I might be able to get them with a blitzkrieg attack, if I can get air cover and mechanized units in place soon enough. I don't even need to hold Stalingrad long, if I'm fast enough in establishing a Russian government.

And so come the end of 1948, there are these enormous numbers of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Canadian, British, Australian, New Zealander, and even Dutch troops tromping eastward on a course that's recognizably Route 66, to the Lincoln Highway, to the Boston Post Road, on their way to the liberation of Russia.

Oh, and a little game-mechanism glitch the final day of 1948: I got reports of the expiration of non-aggression pacts between the United States and every Latin American nation. This is the game's effort at shadowing the Monroe Doctrine/Good Neighbor Policy, and for the limits of game mechanics isn't bad. It's just they forgot when updating the game for the Doomsday Expansion Pack --- which is what I'm playing --- to move the expiration date of this from the old final simulation date of 1948 to the end of 1954, when the expanded game ends.

Trivia: On arriving in Moscow for the October 1944 conference, Winston Churchill's plane first landed at the wrong airport, then had to be diverted; nevertheless he arrived at his dacha (Viachelav Molotov's residence) earlier than expected and so his luggage was not there; and on attempting to take a bath, Churchill found only cold water coming from the hot and the cold taps. Source: 1945: The War That Never Ended, Gregor Dallas.

Currently Reading: We, Eugene Zamiatin.


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