Forza Italia! A Late Game Pride of Nations AAR

By Roger Cook 04 Oct 2013 0

Part 1: Context 

Pride of Nations was released in 2011 when AGEOD (the designers) were part of Paradox.  At its core is a near 1600 turn grand campaign running from January 1850 to January 1920 in two week time frames.  Since the initial release a DLC has been made allowing an 1880 start, with the player having to deal with the late Nineteenth Century colonisation of Africa and the tensions that led to the First World War. 

The full campaign is a daunting experience which, depending on how much time you devote, will take 1-3 real years.  As such, the mid-late game has seen very few reports and yet is one of the most fascinating periods in a campaign.  Its at this stage that the in-game world has probably diverged from our time line with a very different balance of power between the major states.  

This short report is drawn from an AAR that has been running first on the Paradox and now on the AGEOD forums for almost 18 months. http://www.ageod-forum.com/showthread.php?28767-Manufacturing-Italy-%28a-PoN-GC%29]Manufacturing starts with the five provinces of Sardinia-Piedmont in 1850, overshadowed by France to the west and Austria in firm control of the Lombardy and the Veneto. 

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Sardinia-Piedmont at the game start

  

From this start, a slow rise to regional power began.  Italy, south of the Po was created in the early 1860s. However, it was clear that a direct attack on Austria was doomed to failure.  In consequence, two wars were waged on the Ottoman Empire between 1869 and 1877 to secure key objectives and confirm Italy's rise to power in the Eastern Mediterranean.  By 1878, with Prussia distracted in a war with Britain, war was declared on Austria (they had a defensive alliance but I was hoping that Prussia would not want 2 wars at once).  By 1882, Lombardy, the Veneto, Sud-Tirol and Trieste were Italian (so basically the 1918 borders). 

At the same time a colonial Empire had been forged that encompassed Italy's traditional gains of Libya and in the Horn of Africa.  From this, Italian control had spread over modern day Yemen and the Gulf States, Ethiopia had become a protectorate and Italy had claimed most of East Africa. 

At this stage, the question of how to win the game became a focus.  As a brief digression, the AAR was started to give players an insight into the complex economic model that is the core of the game and I had the rough idea it would be abandoned around 1870 with the unification of Italy (or the clear failure to achieve this).  As such, winning, in game turns, was not really considered.  However, as the dominant colonial power across Eastern Africa and Europe's pre-eminent industrial state, the focus shifted from 'how do I play this game' to 'can I win this game'. 

You win the game by amassing 'Prestige' and this comes from a variety of sources.  These include: Holding key regions (these in turn force the game to remain close to history as it is near impossible to gain a region you have no title to in a peace deal); Colonial exploration (and holding colonies that were seen as being in your 'Sphere of Influence'); Domestic development; Winning diplomatic disputes (called Crises in the game); Winning battles; and Industrial expansion (different factories, when open, yield different amounts of prestige).  The latter is actually the most important and 60-70% of Italy's prestige is being generated by its substantial industrial base. 

To win, you need between two and four times the prestige of the second placed power.  Britain, France, Russia and the USA need four times (reflecting their stronger starting position), Italy only needs double (to compensate for being held back early game).  Britain starts as the primary power, and retains huge advantages across the early and middle period of the game.  By the end of the second Austrian war, I estimated I would have more prestige than Britain by the end of the 1890s but would never achieve double their score.  This led to the conclusion that to win I had not only to maximise my prestige gain but to damage the British Empire directly and the only way to do that was by war. 

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 This shows the prestige table (F10 in the game) and some tooltips on eve of war with Britain.  I was clearly the second power in the world and slowly catching them up (I had 85,500 to their 95,500) but was not going to reach the target of double their score as they gained around 3,500 per year and I was earning around 8,500. 

Preparation for war took the bulk of the 1880s.  Strong fortifications were constructed in key regions (Sicily, Sardinia, around Rome and at key colonial bases) and Italy's borders in Eastern Africa were pushed south to reach the Boer Republics and the regions held by Britain north of Durban.  Equally a major shipbuilding programme saw the construction of 16 Battleships and a large transport fleet.  At the same time, the British Empire slumbered, dismissing Italy as an upstart nation that could be no threat to the greatest power in the world. 

 

Part 2: War 

Pride of Nations is a fairly standard AGEOD game in terms of the military side.  You build an 'army' (which can be anything from a single brigade to multiple corps) by assigning commander(s) and then allocating combat and support units.  There is a range of unit types from Guards Infantry to specialist cavalry formations, to Mountain units.  Support units are artillery (field and heavy) and useful additions such as balloons and signal units (both allow a commander to fully command more units) and hospitals (which allow you to recover post battle cohesion losses more quickly). 

A typical Italian army on the eve of war was: 

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That force consists of two infantry corps (directly led by the two commanders), a cavalry corps, a cavalry division and an alpini division. Support units are 3 regular artillery batteries and 2 heavy artillery batteries.  In addition it has attached engineers, balloons, and not shown ? signals, hospital and supply train.  Well led and, in terms of the period, state of the art. 

 

War was declared in September 1890 and the opening phase of the war saw 3 separate campaigns.  In east Africa, an isolated British column was to evade battle and for 6 months win small skirmishes, destroying Italian colonial buildings as it slipped out of traps (much like the real German campaign in this region during WW1).  In the meantime, a large Italian army was landed just south of Durban and a smaller force near Cape Town. On discovering that the British outnumbered the Italian units near Durban, both sides settled down to a cautious defensive campaign. 

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An important aspect of military planning is the concept of 'Power'.  This an amalgam of firepower and cohesion, is a key concept in all AGEOD games (even if it ignores the benefits for specific units in the right terrain).  In this case the two main Italian armies had around 3,500 power and the two British armies around 4,500.  Since Pride of Nations favours the defense in battle, any attack was very risky.  This stalemate lasted into early 1891. 

At the same time, Italy had committed two large armies to an invasion of India (I had invested heavily in transport ships in order to have strategic flexibility).  The initial landings at Bombay (a key fort and major depot), saw a grim victory of which Pyrrhus would have been proud: 

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Almost 60,000 Italians were dead or seriously injured for around 30,000 British.  This shows a typical PoN (indeed typical AGEOD) battle report.  Each side reflects the make up of their original army (a tooltip will show you what each symbol means).  Losses are then divided into ranged fire and close quarters.  Here the artillery the British had in the fort extracted a heavy toll.  The symbols show complete regiments (the building blocks to the counters) that were destroyed on each side.  On the lower right hand side, is all that was left of a Guards Corp that had led the assault.  5 out of 8 regiments have been totally wiped out and the remaining 3 are badly damaged (the red symbols).  One entire Italian army had effectively been lost. 

Fortunately, I had 3 reserve armies in Italy.  Once it was clear there was no immediate risk of a British invasion, one first seized Malta and then Gibralter (after a long siege).  Another went to East Africa to bring that elusive British column to battle.  The last, plus some unattached corps went to India. 

By April 1891, the British split up their army at Durban with the main force going to force me to raise my siege of Cape Town.  With this, the force remaining at Durban was driven into the fort and surrendered by early June. 

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By July 1891, the war had shifted dramatically in Italy's favour.  Durban was now in Italian hands, the forces that had been in action in East Africa were deployed to India and South Africa.  In both theatres, the local odds were now in my favour.  In India, Italy controlled a vast region from Bombay to Delhi: 

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In this map, Green is under Italian control, Red is British.

 

By the summer of 1892, all South Africa was in Italian hands and in India the British had been pushed to the margins.  With the war won, it was decided to gamble on an invasion of Britain itself.  This would ensure the sort of victory that would allow a devastating peace to be imposed. 

The initial invasion was with the army that had taken Gibralter, and saw landings in Wales: 

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The blue in this image is because it has been selected for invasion.

 

After a series of bloody battles in November-December 1892 London fell.  With that, Italy imposed a peace. 

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Warscore is the currency in this respect.  You gain by winning battles, inflicting losses and holding key provinces.  If your opponent's National Morale falls, or you hold their capital for some time, they are more likely to agree to punitive terms. 

One important mechanism in PoN is that you cannot demand provinces to which you have no entitlement.  So, within Europe, national borders tend to stay fixed but you can claim your opponent's colonies.  Here I took 4 colonies, two where pre-war I had a strong presence. Victoria (ie Melbourne) I took as it had gold mines. 

What you can do, though, is to demand that a nation be released.  Scotland was freed as it contained a lot of British manufacturing plants, and, in consequence, inflicted long term prestige damage on the British.  In addition to this, around 50% of the British industry had been destroyed in the war,  again badly weakening their prestige gain. 

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By the end of the war, not only was Italy top of the list (111,000 compared to Britain's 100,000) but I was gaining 11,000 a year compared to them being reduced to just over 2,000 per year.  On this basis, my estimate is I will win the game around 1907-08. 

In the war, Italy lost almost 1 million men, the British 2 million and a further half a million were prisoners of war.

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