It’s been taking a while to get into it, but I’m beginning to get somewhat good at Hearts of Iron, the WWII strategy game made by the same folks who did Europa Universalis. It’s a little different from the grand strategy games I usually enjoy, more focus on the military and politics, less on building infrastructure, but I’m learning to like the combat model, which has the smallest unit being a division with an attached battalion and is streamlined but with enough complexity to keep it from being boring.
My latest game has run from January 1936 (the earliest start date) to early 1939. I played as Brazil, and took an economic hit for the first year building up my industry, meanwhile researching land combat doctrines and conducting field trials for combat techniques I don’t even have the equipment for yet (my first light tanks with 40mm cannon aren’t going to be done until Summer '39). I then combined my starting army (6 divisions) and invaded Venezuela in fall of '36.
I expected them to be tougher, but I annexed them within a couple of months. When '37 began I had 40% more industrial capacity, partly because of the improvements that I ordered in January of '36 that were just completed, and part because of my annexing Venezuela. I no longer had to trade for oil, either. I had some dissent at the beginning of the war but my victories made my people happy, and since I was in a state of war my people were happier with less consumer goods. I’m doing good at this point, and my eye is wandering towards Colombia…
In a previous game Colombia sent my army running home to Panama when I played as the USA, but that was three years later and I didn’t know how important studying doctrines and Great War records was to improving your efficiency. I still prepared myself, stationing new divisions of infantry with engineer support in bordering provinces. I counted on them to hold back any counterattacks and declared war in spring of '37. My army conquered them even faster than Venezuela, and they were annexed in just over a month. One very significant thing happened during the war - I joined the Axis. This wasn’t significant immediately.
I disbanded my old militias, and my army was still bigger than it was in 1936 and Brazil was becoming more and more powerful. My economy skyrocketed, and because I had joined the Axis I could remain in a state of war without having to worry about it, because I was already at war with Republican Spain and England. This kept the need for consumer goods down. My military technology was expanding rapidly, especially in infantry and artillery. I have prototypes for basic light tanks but I’m not bothering developing final models, instead waiting until I get other advances that will allow me to build a better tank. One of my scientists made a breakthrough in aviation research, allowing me to build light bombers (I haven’t invested in an airforce at all yet, I have one squadron of pre-war fighters). Refugees increased my manpower in a random event. After reorganizing and redeploying my armies, I declare war on the USA and take the Panama Canal, with no resistance. I roll on through the rest of Central America, meeting very little reistance, annexing everything as I go. I have also started taking British, French, and Dutch colonies, which I had left alone before joining the Axis. I pause to think about it, and then I conquer Mexico, though that took about 4 or 5 months (their cavalry kept running around behind me to recapture territories, sometimes taking shortcuts through New Mexico and Texas). I finally manage to Annex them and am looking longingly towards San Antonio when the USA attacks Chihuahua.
I attack San Antonio because I thought this offensive opened up a weakness in their defenses, but reinforcements show up, and I see that their forces are almost twice as organized as mine, and though I outnumber them I know I can’t take them and I withdraw to Monterey. I send reinforcements to Chihuahua to hold off the American attack but eventually they fall to the superior American army, 4 divisions lead by General MacArthur. I saved the game and gave up for now, wondering how I’m going to stop this. I couldn’t sue for peace, even when I was holding San Antonio as a bargaining chip (true, I didn’t have a very good hold on it at the time…).
I think I can hold them north of Mexico City, but I may have to give up the border provinces. I hate that it will be hard to get the USA to sue for peace when they hold so much of my territory. I’m also considering liberating Mexico, they would remain in the Axis and might act as a buffer nation.
Any suggestions? I’ll have some nice tanks soon but I bet the Americans have better by now, they have over 3 times my peak industrial capacity.