After Action Report: Hearts of Iron IV - Kingdom of Romania Axis Playthrough

By Joe Robinson 05 Jan 2018 0

At what point would a reasonable person give up and accept the New World Order? Would it be when you got yourself locked out of Europe? Would it be when you were kicked out of mainland Asia? How about when your closest ally got nuked and overrun?

At what point do you accept that evil has won?

The year is 1951. This latest iteration of the Second World War has been raging for over ten years now, maybe more. This time around, Hitler’s Germany wanted to take Lithuania for itself which it did in short order, but the usual domino effect of alliances and protective herding propelled the conflict into the main event we’d all been preparing for. In rare bout of practical self-interest, I took the Kingdom of Romania (a new pick for me) into the war on the side of the Axis. I wasn’t planning to, initially; Romania is an interesting nation in the sense that it can join all three sides if it wishes (which it did historically), but I’ve had many a game on mainland Europe end abruptly because Hitler steamrolls over me. I decided to indulge in a little selfishness and jump on the SS train.

 

To say things are going well would be a bit of an understatement.

To begin with, my war was fairly local; taking over the Balkans & Greece was a priority, but the German-Soviet war also triggered during this early stage, so I sent the other half of my army storming off into Mother Russia. That war went disappointingly quick – we smashed through the southern regions and took Moscow, and the entire USSR capitulated to Romania. Like literally, the whole thing. I didn’t ask for much in the peace treaty (something I regret in hindsight), so now the former Russian territories are split between Japan and Germany. The whole thing took less than a year to wrap up.

The war then progressed to a more international stage: The allies were slowly driven out of Europe, ending with a stalemate at the France/Spanish border that lasted a while. In the meantime, I sent the Romanian version of the Afrika Corps to help Italy take over the entire African continent. During this period, we also had a break-through in Spain, and the allies were finally driven out of mainland Europe of good. Through-out this entire period, a very bitter struggle been raging out east. By the time I was ready to turn my attentions in that direction, the Axis already owned British India and most of mainland South-East Asia. China had fallen to Japan years ago and became a puppet nation.

Again, another stalemate had emerged around Hanoi, Hong-Kong and the coastal regions in-between. Supply was a big problem because the AI’s on both sides were sending a lot of hardware into these regions, but not doing a hell of a lot of fighting to try and break out. A similar problem had happened in Spain. Like before, I managed to break the deadlock by attacking key provinces, securing ports and basically starving out my opponents. East Asia soon fell, and apart from some neutral pockets the Axis controlled everything from Lisbon to Kamchatka, Cairo down to Cape Town, and even Scandinavia fell eventually.

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Then the war stagnated somewhat.

Fortress Europe was a term used to describe Hitler’s ‘high point’ during the early 40’s before the Allies managed to gain ground elsewhere,  but in my game it was gospel truth. We got to a point where the majority of mainland Europe was locked down, and despite the Allies’ best efforts, they couldn’t get a foothold anywhere. We fought D-Day hundreds of times, over and over, across various coastal provinces, and each time we keep throwing them back into the sea.

There were some high-points: A botched coup attempt in Finland caused several minor Axis powers to flip back to the Allies, opening up new fronts in the war. Those were stamped out quickly. The conflict spread to South America as Venezuela joined our side, but that was short lived – the same supply problems that continued to plague us in the East Indies also plagued the Axis in the jungles, especially as the AI kept pumping in more hardware than was needed. I’m glad I didn’t send any troops to that front, as I’m not convinced they would have returned. These same issues are what’s keeping us out of the Oceanic islands, however. Not enough supply to support offensive pushes.

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It wasn’t until Sweden joined us and we finally conquered Norway (the only mainland Allied nation we couldn’t attack because Sweden/Finland were in the way), and then things really kicked into gear. With Scandinavia completely under Axis control, the Axis AI finally realised that naval invasions were a thing. Sweden especially kept trying to get a foothold, and I’d practised enough at sea invasions to try my hand as well.

This period also exposed how disappointingly under-powered nuclear weapons are, however. I got nukes very late in the game as they were literally one of the last things I researched. To support my own invasion and just to see what would happen, I dropped four at once – London, Bristol, Plymouth and Portsmouth. Didn’t do anything… and that’s not counting the countless nukes dropped by the Axis AI at random points.

Anyway – with the Marines leading the charge, I managed to take both Dover and Porstmouth and establish a critical foothold with which to send in my elite mechanized forces. Meanwhile, my mountain-trained infantry would invade the north. That was a disaster, because they were unable to takeover any nearby ports and so 10 out of 11 divisions were wiped out. The single biggest loss of my game so far. Luckily, the Allies failure to eject me from the South mean’t that I eventually managed to overrun London, and the UK capitulated to Romania. A few months of clean-up operations and an invasion of Ireland means that, apart from Switzerland, every single bit of Europe is controlled by and Axis power.

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And yet, the war still rages on.

My original aim was to actually complete a game of Hearts of Iron till the end, because it’s actually something I’ve never done before (not even in Hearts of Iron III), but I’m starting to run out of steam. Despite the amount of land-mass we control (and how long we’ve controlled it for), the Allies show no sign of giving up. The war is ‘only’ 45% in our favour and that shows no sign of changing any time soon. Perhaps the AI will get its act together in East Asia, perhaps we’ll gain a new foothold in South America or maybe even mainland USA… but those kinds of operations are going to be tough.

It makes you wonder what would have happened in history if the Allies hadn’t turned the tide of the war – how long would they have fought on for? At what point would they have just thrown in the towel and accepted that there were far fewer independent nations on the map?

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