austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

From one who's master of my fate now

Returning to Hearts of Iron II: As of the 2nd of October, 1950, the Allies had conquered and annexed the Soviet Union, marking the end of all the Great Powers liable to menace the free world, as far as I can tell. What next?

Well, the first thing, in-game, was the sudden massive derangement of the United States's economic system. The end of war results in a sudden massive demand by the public for what are billed as ``consumer goods'' --- people will put up with a lot less when the war is on, especially if it's going well --- and this results in less production available for military supplies, reinforcements, and upgrades of units, not to mention the challenge of getting the supplies to the armies in the field. So there's sudden shortages all over the place and, of course, a shortage of supplies for a unit 3,500 miles from the port of supply is just going to keep getting worse.

I also suspect there's just something messed up in the code about handling the sudden transition to peace. I can fix the worst supply crises by cancelling all the convoy trade routes and letting the game re-establish the ones that are needed, as it normally handles supplies automatically pretty well. Within a few days, although it cost the entire stockpile of supplies I had in the National Inventory, things were balanced again and ready to re-build.

The next point was Allies requesting their expeditionary forces back. I had been accepting units from all the allies to deploy against the Soviet Union and with peace breaking out, many wanted their forces back. I was glad for that as it'd lighten my supply burden, and I was curious just how many foreign troops I was carrying on my military budget. With the end of hostilities --- and literally so, 24 hours after the annexation of the Soviet Union, with the game triggers relatively deaf to what this would look like --- 130 divisions were reclaimed by their host nations.

This still left me with many, many expeditionary forces from Allied powers left over. And it left me with a gameplay challenge: would it be authentic for a triumphant United States in 1950 to keep supporting foreign armies indefinitely? (Remember that despite three World Wars fought together in the past decade the events which formed the United Nations and NATO have not happened in any recognizable form.) Granting that the expeditionary forces would be returned on request, how long would the United States wait? Should I return armies to their home territories, or at least to territories controlled by their home countries, before forcibly returning them? For the time being, I let this wait.

On the 2nd of November wass the first real wave of post-colonial dissolution since the liberation of India and Pakistan (including Bangladesh) the 2nd of March 1946, if you don't count my carving China and the Soviet Union into many little states (more on this anon) or the independence of Egypt at some date I don't quite remember. Oh, here it is: on the 2nd of March, 1947, the United Kingdom granted Egypt autonomy within the commonwealth and declared Jordan an independent Kingdom. Simultaneously, France created independent nations of Lebanon and Syria and granted ``some autonomy within the French union'' to Cambodia.

Anyway. On the 2nd of November 1950, the United Kingdom announced The Independence of Burma had happened to them, which suggests a certain self-centeredness even for the British Empire, although that's just how the game titles events and reports things. The newly created Burma also announced that The Independence of Burma had happened to them (``recently''). Simultaneously, the Netherlands announced that the Independence of Indonesia had happened to them, a state of affairs which Indonesia agreed on.

But not everyone would get their freedom. The United Kingdom, the game reported, selected the option ``Nope, it's imperative that we maintain control'' in the game event ``The Middle East and the Zionists''. This is a bit cryptic --- I've never played the United Kingdom out this far so haven't seen the options --- but the upshot is, the British remain in Palestine.

Over the course of November, I began repatriating foreign divisions to their home countries, ultimately deciding that they could work out how to get their troops home; if nothing else the game allows for a ``strategic redeployment'' where I really don't know how the troops get from where they are but they end up back at the nation's capitol.

I repatriated fourteen divisions and then realized I was curious just how many foreign divisions I had and where, and that that point I started tracking. So I know that in November 1950 the United States returned 16 divisions which had been in Ukraine (now an independent republic under the United States's guidance), 20 from the Qumul region of China (the northern end of the western curl, just southwest of Mongolia); 1 from Khobdo; 19 from the Xiben Ma Se nation within China; 56 from Nationalist China (specifically, the vicinity of Jining); 23 from independent Manchukuo; 16 from Korea; 10 from the Japan-occupied regions of China (not to worry, Japan was a republic under United States control and curse the game for not letting me do something about that implausible state of affairs), 9 divisions from European Russia; 18 from the Transural Republic; 17 from the western limb of the Siberian Republic; 10 from Asian Russia; two from the far eastern extent of Asian Russia (basically, Vladivostok); 9 from fan favorite Tannau Tuva; 4 from Kamchatka; and 8 from Shanxi, in China. That's just dividing things up by where the forces ended up, not where they came from; it was too hard to work out how many each ally had sent.

As mentioned, the Soviet Union was carved up into quite a few powers. Some would be familiar to the post-actual-Cold War world, such as Russia, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Kyrgistan, Kazakstan, and so on. Some were created by the game's logic: the Transural Republic, for example, and Siberian Republic which break up that vast expanse of Russia-In-Asia. I've described European Russia, Asian Russia, and Far Asian Russia separately because they are discontinuous as these interloping states have forced them to be; for that matter, Siberia is almost separated by Asian Russia into two limbs. This would be sure to result in hilarious, which is to say tragic, consequences except that all these former Soviet states are American puppet governments. China is similarly divided into states that roughly track the 1930s civil war era of contending cliques, with the notable exception that there's not a Communist China.

Over December 1950 the United States returned a further 33 divisions which had been placed in Nationalist China; 11 which had reached Guanxi; 7 which were in French Indochina; 6 in Tashkent; 2 in Vladivostok; 1 in Romania; 9 in abakan; 4 in Kazakshatan; and 14 which had been brought to Seattle as part of the great train of forces going from Asia to Europe for fighting against the Soviet Union on its more fluid front.

In total, as best I could calculate, it turned out there were something like 469 divisions of Allied armies being supported by the United States. I was curious and was able to find: as of the end of this war, the United States had 486 Army divisions of its own, 151 Navy divisions (ships as substantial as a destroyer or above), and 92 Air Force divisions. I was surprised the army was quite that big, although I was less surprised how imposing an Air Force I'd assembled.

That covers the immediate three months following the end of the war, the start of the winter of 1950. And what did 1951 hold?

Not a whole lot, really. The major international policy I got involved in was repatriation of lands which had been taken during invasions and not returned sooner. For example, there was the corner of northwestern Germany which the United States had been occupying since the lightning war of 1943 and which I'd just never got around to doing anything about. And there were patches of formerly Soviet territory which could be assigned to Russia, or the Transural Republic, or Siberia, or the various -stans as seemed fitting. Some of these produced weird side effects: I gave one spot of land to Kyrgystan (I think it was) and the game automatically transferred ownership of an adjacent desert to one of the Chinese cliques. That was what I'd hoped to do anyway --- the desert was part of the Chinese ``national provinces'', the home territories --- but why it should be automatically triggered like that is strange and a little baffling.

I admit to being a bit of a privateer as far as repatriating these territories go: I'd not just hand them over but ask how much the repatriating nation would be willing to pay (in money, supplies, rare earth elements, oil, or electricity) for the territory. To make me sound less like a jerk, they were getting these territories back in better shape than they lost them in --- usually with air bases of substance built up, with the infrastructure improved, and often with new industrial facilities being built, if not completed. But mostly I felt like the United States would want some kind of repayment for the blood and treasure put into liberating central Siberia, even if it would be a nearly symbolically low payment.

The great accomplishment that only can be defined in out-of-game context terms, but which is exciting for folks who like this sort of game, happened on the 19th of November, 1951, when Hyman Rickover's research team completed the research needed to allow Nuclear Battleship Propulsion. This is not to say they'd built a nuclear battleship, but that it was now within the United States's ability to build one. What this did, though, was clear out the technology tree; for the first time that I recall, I'd completed researching everything that could be researched. In-universe, of course, things would carry on, but in-game, every research team could close up the books and go home.

(Well, not exactly. There were various doctrines of air, sea, and land warfare not explored, but that's because some selections close off branches. If you decide to pursue, for example, if you choose to focus on a high-mobility/spearhead approach to land warfare, you lose the chance to pursue the human-wave approach. But for the doctrinal paths I followed, I maxed them out.)

As for world politics, eh. No big new decolonializations. Jordan's head of state was murdered on the 21st of July, and Lebanon was threatened with a sudden change of government but the existing regime hung on to power in the event of 2 September. The United States chose not to outlaw the fascist parties despite a movement that it do so in September 1951; I don't like outlawing parties if I can help it and I really can't see fascism having much of an emotional appeal given that it proved this timeline to be hilariously incompetent in battle. The United Kingdom returned a Conservative government on the 3rd of October. And France continued to decline to release its Italian territories to form an independent puppet state on the peninsula.

So with all that peace breaking out, really, my focus turned to figuring out what if anyplace was likely to be the next trouble spot. There are a few bellicose nations out there, but when you've got the armies that picked off Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union still fresh it's hard to feel too worried about the Polish menace, especially when they seemed sated by shooting at the Soviets and those client states. Then there's reducing the armed forces so that the supply needs don't overstrain the peacetime transport capacity while still leaving enough experienced forces in place to fight whoever might come next, if anyone does.

The game doesn't insist on a rush to demobilize the way of the kind the actual democratic nations felt, so I don't need to worry about that. And I was able to do wonders by scrapping some ancient destroyers which had managed to go through three World Wars without ever sinking anything, even enemy convoys. Wow.

Trivia: The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was not authorized to deal with war ``refugees'', those who ``for any reason, definitely cannot return to their homes, or have no homes to return to, or no longer enjoy the protection of their Governments''; even so constrained by the end of the war in Europe it had over six million Displaced Persons in its camps. Source: 1945: The War That Never Ended, Gregor Dallas.

Currently Reading: Bachelors Anonymous, P G Wodehouse.

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