Experience the first After Action Report (AAR) from Paradox
Interactive’s upcoming Strategy title Hearts of Iron 2 exclusively at
GameZone! This in-game epic saga is based on one player’s experiences in a
gaming session and the perfect way to understand the game and its strategic
depth in more detail.
Defending the republic – a French AAR
September 1st, 1939
War descends over Europe-yet again. As the German war machine
starts rolling into Poland, the French and British allies stand to the west, far
from ready to go to war. Will democracy prevail over the forces of fascism?
The situation of France is far from hopeless. A
well-fortified border with Germany, protected by the mighty Maginot line, backed
by a massive infantry army and a fair amount of air and armoured support.
The first thing to do will be to assess the overall status of
The diplomatic situation sees France allied with the British
Commonwealth and Poland, fighting against the Axis of Germany and Slovakia.
The resource situation is not the best. We are running
deficits in Energy, Rare materials and Oil; we are only managing a surplus in
Metals . It will be a priority to improve this situation by setting up trade
deals with our allies.
The only items in our production queue are 1 battleship and 1
We currently have 87 divisions under arms, including 3
Headquarters, 8 mountaineers, 4 armoured, 6 motorized infantry, 6 cavalry and 60
infantry division. While this might seem an impressive number, many of the
divisions are outdated and need upgrading.
The Air Force consists of 9 interceptors, 4 tactical bombers,
3 naval bombers and 1 close air support squadron.
Naval forces number 1 carrier, 3 battleships, 21 cruisers and
36 squadrons of destroyers, submarines and transports.
The diplomatic game
We are blessed with a mighty alliance with many potential
trading partners. Within 2 days of the German war declaration, the British offer
to supply us with enough resources to cover our deficits, of course we
Our next move is to negotiate with the UK about the exchange
of Blueprints for important technologies, which will aid us in developing them
faster. We offer to supply them with improved versions of ships and airplanes in
return for 2 important brigade technologies, early artillery and improved
anti-aircraft brigades. Both will give our divisions an added punch against
German land and air power.
Another thing that we need to do is to reorganize our
government. Many members of the French cabinet are not optimal choices for our
situation-we mainly need Industrial power and combat bonuses offered by
ministers. A number of top positions are reassigned to optimize industrial
output and the organization of our forces
Also, we choose to take one step to a hawk lobby in our
government to receive an additional organization boost for our forces.
Researching the theory
To stand a chance against any German attack, we must
immediately improve the quality of our forces in the field. In the face of
severe time shortage, we opt to go for upgrades to the existing divisions rather
than for new ones.
Also to this end, our research mostly goes into infantry
doctrines and brigade attachments, which will enhance the fighting power of our
infantry. The blueprints gained from the British will help us reduce the time
needed for the research.
Producing the means
The German menace on our borders naturally calls for an
immediate building program on our part. Unfortunately, our Industrial Capacity
is severely strained by the need to upgrade and reinforce many of our infantry
and cavalry divisions.
But we need added firepower to stop the German attack, which
will surely come. Most troublesome is the air situation, our fighters are
mostly short-ranged and outdated and we must therefore anticipate German control
of the skies over the battlefield. To counter this, we order 2 serial runs of 2
anti-air brigade attachments as well as 2 serial runs of 3 artillery brigades
together with 2 times 3 infantry divisions. Although this building program will
greatly strain our industry, we feel that we will have a better chance against
the Germans with the newly produced stuff.
Going to War
With the groundwork for the war done, we begin issuing the
first orders to our forces.
Our first actions are to assign our fighters to Air
superiority missions over the Maginot line in order to preserve the morale of
our soldiers and to fend off any German attempts to bomb our forces.
Likewise, our Atlantic naval forces stationed at Brest
receive orders to conduct Anti-Submarine Warfare in the English Channel, in case
any German submarines decide to break through and threaten our convoy routes.
Our army Also undergoes major redeployments. Our mobile
forces are pulled out of their infantry corps and re-organized behind the front
to serve as a mobile reaction group. Their commander will be General de Gaulle,
the father of French tank warfare.
With most of our forces stationed behind the mighty Maginot
line, things look good for the republic. But it turns out that our fighter cover
is insufficient, as German bombers continually attack our precious headquarters
while German fighter intercept the French pilots before they can engage the
As a reaction, the production of an added 4 squadrons of
Interceptors is ordered. We choose Interceptors because they are our most
advanced fighter model and despite their short range, they offer the best chance
to deal with the German bomber threat. We just hope that the Germans will leave
us enough time to strengthen our defenses.
On September 24th, the Germans surprise us with a
two-pronged attack on Strassbourg. Poland fell only 10 days earlier and that
the Germans would switch their attention west on us this quickly was not
expected. Oh well.
The attack is made by 17 enemy divisions, mostly infantry;
against 6 French infantry and 2 cavalry divisions. Although our forces are
behind the Maginot line, we opt to play it safe and order our forces in Metz to
support the defense in Strassbourg.
The battle is short, and victory is ours. But the attack was
not deliberate, rather a probe to test our defenses. We can only hope for more
time to build up our defenses.
Unfortunately, the German Luftwaffe continues its offensive
against our forces and although our anti-aircraft guns take a heavy toll on the
German planes, our organization suffers greatly.
As a short-term means to improve our defenses at the German
border, we choose to strip the 7 infantry divisions left in the south of their
brigades and attach them to the garrison troops in the Maginot line. We hope
that they will aid us against the German Air and possibly ground assault on the
The Battle for France
On October 15, our fears become reality. The Germans have no
intention of giving us the time needed to fully prepare our defenses. Again they
choose Strassbourg as their target, where 6 lone divisions hold the Maginot line
due to re-organization of the field army-a mistake, as soon found.
51 German divisions, including several armoured formations
converge on Strassbourg from 3 provinces.
We immediately order all available forces to aid the defense
of the province, but the reserve divisions we can muster are not fast enough to
take part in the battle. After only 8 hours of fighting, Strassbourg falls to
the German invaders.
At once we choose to start a counteroffensive against the
province in order to liberate it before significant German forces can move in.
The mobile corps under de Gaulle with 12 armoured and motorized divisions is
ordered to attack supported by 24 mountain and infantry divisions. Defending are
24 German divisions, including 4 armor units.
But it is not enough. Superior Organization carries the day
for the Germans, as our French forces crumble under the constant air bombing of
the Luftwaffe. Within a week, Mulhouse and Chaumont fall to a German offensive,
and our forces struggle to maintain a solid frontline.
But the German offensive turns out to be unstoppable for our
demoralized forces. At the start of November, German panzers have broken through
our second line of defense and surrounded a substantial portion of our army at
Metz, while our remaining units desperately try to screen Paris from the German
advance. Hopes are now very low, and only a miracle can save France from falling
to the Germans.
After another week of heavy fighting, the Germans finally
wipe out our remaining forces in Metz, after taking heavy casualties themselves.
Yet without air cover or supplies, our divisions did not stand a chance against
massed German air and ground assault.
The frontline now runs at the doorstep of Paris, and while
our army is fighting hard, our remaining air force desperately tries bombing the
German armoured units in order to stop their advance.
On November 10, the first newly produced Brigades finally
come off the lines, and are promptly thrown into the final stand of Paris.
Unfortunately, it seem as though they will come too late to make a difference.
Finally, the last stand around Paris took place on November
19. In a galant battle, the remaining French forces fought the Germans for
nearly 2 days, but finally had to give way to superior organization and
Meanwhile, throughout the war, the French navy, led by the
carrier Jean Bart, has made numerous incursions into the North Sea and the
German coast. Goal was the destruction of the German fleet and submarine arm.
After several victorious battles, the German Kriegsmarine had
been confined to port, and the carrier began air-to-ground operations against
the ports at Kiel and Wilhelmshafen, dealing severe damage to German naval
Unfortunately, in the end this did not matter, as on December
6, the last French resistance on European soil ended with the evacuation of 4
armoured and 2 motorized divisions under General de Gaulle from Cherbourg.
After only 3 months of war, and only 7 weeks after the start
of the German offensive, France is fully controlled by the Germans.
Even though the motherland is defeated, General de Gaulle has
pledged to return one day and bring defeat to the German aggressors, and he
will, but this is another story.