AAR 131468 : Europe

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AAR 131468 : Europe

Postby kookaburra » 13 Jul 2017, 20:24

Fall 1903.

England, Germany, and Russia have fallen into civil disorder. Republican French troops surge north and east in a bid to crush the old monarchies once and for all. Italians and Turks exchange blows in the Balkans.

And out of the ashes, a new Europe will arise.

Russian Dawn (Fall 1903 – Spring 1904)

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I joined this game as Russia in the fall of 1903, not long after my predecessor left the game. It was immediately clear to me that France was on a path to victory since he was busily soaking up the territory his two greatest rivals (England and Germany) had abandoned to him.

However, my most pressing problem was the Turks, under the command of Anonimus. He had just stabbed his way into Rumania, catching my predecessor off guard. From the correspondence, it seemed I had a good relationship with Italy; had I paid better attention to order history, I would’ve noticed that the former tsar had just stabbed Italy in Trieste, fomenting bad blood that would prove nearly catastrophic.

But, in my oversight, I felt my first order of business was to cement the Italo-Russian bloc (ill-fated as it proved to be), drive the Turks out of Rumania, and protect Sevastopol from further Levantine depredations.

Fortunately, I accomplished this in short order, establishing a defensible southern border against the Turks. An expeditionary thrust into Denmark secured a valuable expansion of the imperial army in 1904, and I felt (however wrongly) secure in my friendship with Italy.

Interlude: Swiftly-Shifting Alliances

I had opened negotiations with France immediately to secure Norway and Denmark to myself, and to build a sustainable DMZ in central and northern Europe after the reduction of Germany. France’s imperious and uncompromising style of negotiation was an immediate tipoff that there would be no accommodation with Paris.

Despite the lopsided weakness of my position vis-à-vis France, he point-blank refused to retreat any of his forces until Germany had been reduced and I had DMZ’d Denmark. Later, he demanded the DMZ of Norway as well, something we had not previously discussed. Given the tenor of our communications, I felt confident France had no intention of seeking victory in the south; and that I would be overrun as soon as he’d secured the Berlin/Munich axis.

Had France acted in a more deferential manner, I might have fallen prey to his ambitions. However, his aggressive correspondence was all the red flag I needed. I glibly promised France everything he wanted (winking emoticons and all), including the assistance of my Baltic fleet in destroying the last idle German army in Berlin. Then, I made my gamble.

Betrayal in Berlin (Fall 1904)

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After I’d slammed the border shut on Turkey, he proposed we ally against Italy and France, since France was clearly on a path to a solo victory. Further, he proved his good faith by refraining from further attacks against me. I counter-proposed the only thing I thought might achieve success: an immediate tripartite alliance between Turkey, Italy, and me to stop France.

I laid out my case to both countries, but received no response from either by go-time. Convinced we would either stand together or fall to France, and with no certainty that my proposal would be accepted, I unilaterally withdrew my forces from the southern front and threw them north into France’s path.

This included using my Baltic fleet not to assist France in destroying the last German army in Berlin, as promised; but rather to support the abandoned German army to hold. When France’s attack unexpectedly shattered at the gates of Berlin, his reaction was swift. The private messages moved quickly from bemusement, to disgust, to promise of retribution. For France, this had become a war for the extinction of Russia; there would be no compromise.

Meanwhile, a small but significant event had taken place. In the cold waters of the North Sea, the last English fleet in existence suddenly came under the command of fresh-faced but plucky young cadet jammiebirds. Quickly realizing his misfortune in commanding a lone fleet with no supply centers, he resigned himself to scuttling at the hands of the French. That is, until an intriguing offer chattered to life over his ship-to-shore Marconi device: retreat to Norway, defend the tsar’s northern flank, and the Russian bear’s mighty paw would shelter him. Thus was born the Anglo-Russian alliance, which would prove consequential in the northern theater.

The Darkest Days (Spring 1905 – Spring 1906)

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Both Italy and Turkey agreed to my offer of alliance, after I’d worked hard to broker the division of Greece to Turkey and Serbia to Italy. The French fleet was already menacing the western Mediterranean, and Italy’s position would be critical to our survival.

However, it became clear Italy had no intention of supporting the alliance. He shifted north to Budapest en route to Vienna as I’d suggested, but he also continued attacking the Turks in Greece and in the eastern Mediterranean. Later, we discovered he believed France would allow him to survive as a loyal junior ally. He would be sadly disabused of this notion.

At this point, though, Turkey and I found ourselves alone in a struggle to hold back the French hordes while blunting Italy’s assaults. I voluntarily surrendered Sevastopol and Rumania to the Turks, giving them the military capacity they needed to contain the Italians; and the sultan’s steady advance against Italian opposition was truly inspiring.

Still, these were tough times. I could barely achieve the most critical tasks of holding the line in Germany, preventing France from cutting south into what once was Austria, and maintaining an existence in Scandinavia that would certainly crumble when the full weight of the French navy arrived. The night was indeed dark, and full of terrors.

The Ill-Timed Stab (Fall 1906 – Spring 1908)

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At this point, France made what proved a premature stab of his junior ally. In the spring of 1906, France landed troops in Tuscany; and in the fall, in a blitzkrieg movement, he occupied both Rome and Naples. France now stood at 15 supply centers; but he had lost the ally who was actively blunting all efforts to stop him. Italy sent one final communique, accusing France of deceit; then abandoned the game.

This was the turning point of the war. Generale paul1455 took the reins of Italy, quickly sized up the situation, and correctly concluded that partnering with France would be an exercise in suicidal folly. He joined the alliance against France, and began the laborious process of shifting his troops from east to west while two of his three home centers groaned under French occupation.

The grinding seesaw continued for two years. The French navy cracked the line in Norway, but England and I pushed the French garrison out of Sweden and retreated England to safe harbor. Berlin fell to the marauders, and both of my armies in the center were forced to disband; but the Turks rolled into Livonia and Bohemia just in time to prevent the utter collapse of the central front. Slowly, with great effort, a line began to form through the bleeding heart of Europe.

The Miracle of Rome (Fall 1908)

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By Fall 1908, France stood at 17 supply centers, and still held both momentum and initiative. We felt confident we could keep him out of Warsaw, but we were equally confident the strains of La Marseillaise would soon echo through the sun-baked streets of Tunis.

Our only chance of salvation lay in the reconquest of Rome or Naples, but we had no assured path to either end. The possibility of taking Naples was so great an outlier that we abandoned the idea early, but taking Rome was fraught with great uncertainty. Each approach to the Eternal City had its French countermove, with no guarantee of which defense France would adopt.

Personally, I’ve never expended so much mental energy on the attempted dissection of a stranger’s psychology. I spent cumulative hours over the course of 24 hours composing plausible reasons France might adopt any single defense. I’m not exaggerating when I say it took me a few days to recover my mental equilibrium after that exercise if clairvoyance.

In the end, my prediction of French action proved inaccurate, except in one key respect: I determined with Italian agreement that we should leave Apulia unmolested. We’d attacked it consistently for several seasons, and we felt France needed an undefended quarter to lure him out of position.

Sure enough, as the first snows of Winter 1908 began to fall, French tanks from the Roman garrison ground to a halt on the empty beaches of Apulia to deflect an invasion that never came. Meanwhile, far to the rear, tearful Italian soldiers from Venice fell to their knees in front of the Colosseum, thanking the saints and the Virgin that they had lived to liberate their city from the godless French.

The Long Sunset (Spring 1909 – Fall 1912)

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The alliance would expend much more time and energy before the close of hostilities, but France never fully regained the initiative. In the fall of 1909, Italy rolled into Naples, completing the reconquest of all his home centers.

Turkey defended Warsaw with great skill, timing his movements in and out of the city to avoid bogging down in the fall and forcing the disbandment of yet another unit from the battered Russian army. Eventually, Turkey worked his way into Berlin and Munich, pushing France behind the borders he’d held when I threw myself into his path way back in 1904.

Sadly, this period saw the tragic end of England due to Russian miscalculation. I had been England’s strongest (nearly obsessive) advocate when it came to defending his position, primarily because I felt the need of two friendly fleets in the north. But, quite frankly, the strain of maintaining a protracted, unequal defense caused me to get greedy. In the fall of 1910, I left the English fleet in Sweden undefended while I lunged for both Norway and the Baltic Sea. I gained the latter, which proved critical for breaking France’s Teutonic line; but it came at the cost of England’s brave sailors.

Farewell, faithful jammiebirds. Without you, Scandinavia and Europe would almost certainly have fallen to French depredation years ago. Russia will forever regret the memory of your Union Jack sinking beneath the icy waves of the Gulf of Bothnia.

The end finally came in Fall 1912, when three simultaneous dislodgements of French units in Denmark, Tuscany, and the Ionian Sea proved too great for French resolve. Two NMR’s later, the French government fell. Within 60 minutes of the second NMR, a three-way draw had been proposed and accepted by Russia, Turkey, and Italy. The war was over, and with it one of the most fascinating games I’ve ever played.
kookabura sits in the jolly gum tree... which is why you never see him coming.
kookaburra
 
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