GrogHeads Forum

After Action Reports => Digital Gaming AARs => Topic started by: JasonPratt on March 06, 2014, 03:34:13 PM

Title: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 06, 2014, 03:34:13 PM
And then, for no apparent reason, I decided to play Ethiopia in World War One.


Wait. Let me backtrack. I have an explanation.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 06, 2014, 03:43:24 PM

In preparation for my upcoming 100th Anniversary Mega-Multi-Great-War Campaign, I felt I had better get more familiar with the interface and playstyle of one of the games I’d be running my multi-campaign on: Darkest Hour, the only Clausewitz game I know of that currently features a WW1 grand campaign. (Technically Vicky2’s grand campaign can run up past WW1 to the start of WW2, but it doesn’t start there. DH’s WW1 campaign can last into summer of 1942, theoretically unlocking all techs available up through the 70s!)

I thought long and hard about which nation to start with, and Darkest Hour has plenty of them. I didn’t want to start with Russia (or any other main WW1 combatant) because the whole point of this early experiment is to get to know the engine in a low-key setting of the period where I’m not flooded with decisions all the time but still have room and capability to feasibly grow in some directions. I looked at various Mexican, Central American, South American, Chinese/SEAsia and Arabian possibilities, but decided that I wanted to try bringing the ancient Christian nation of Ethiopia back from the edge of its grave -- or as it was known as this time by another ancient name, Abyssinia.

In 1914, Abyssinia holds a number of promising but underdeveloped territories in the central eastern interior of Africa, and is one of the only three playable African nations -- the other two being South Africa (too apartheidish for my taste) and Liberia (which has a nifty history but only one territory surrounded by France and Great Britain who will soon be Entente partners). The only other African nation per-se on the map is Senussi, the desert kingdom south of Tobruk and Benghazi; but while they have similar options of whether to go with the Entente or the Powers, and I’d appreciate the opportunity to see how far I can bootstrap myself up from even more of nothing than Abyssinia, they aren’t a playable faction (and I can’t figure out how to mod them into being one).

After several decades of fighting off various colonial incursions in the 19th century, while trying to modify its government and culture more along the lines of modern European nations (starting with a separation of church and state powers), Abyssinia has managed to succeed in losing its coastlines to Italy (and France, and Britain, though to be fair Oman had already taken a good part of it first during its slave running days), but also had succeeded in remaining a unified state (or at least a unified culture more or less during a period of rebel dissolution) and not becoming a puppet of any colonial power. Also, it has clawed and scratched its way up to being in some ways almost as advanced a military power as the United States during its civil war back in the 60s!

Abyssinia’s new emperor (stop laughing, he has a culture stretching back to the days when Ethiopians ruled Egypt), Iyasu V (Jesus the 5th, no relation -- I swear I’m not making that name up, that’s what the game gave me), sees great potential for Abyssinia to enter the 20th century as a native African power without peer, and as the only surviving unconquered ancient Christian power, becoming a light of reason and peace to the world.

But first he must pull Ethiopia up out of the darkness of the Abyss.

(Yes, I know I called it "Abyssia' in my humorous map comments.  ;) )
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 06, 2014, 04:17:05 PM
Part One -- Purgatory

[Note: it took me a while to find my 'narrative' voice, so just bear with me. Also, considering Ethiopia's situation, there won't be many screenshots for a while; but if readers have questions where screenies may help, I'll be glad to provide them.]

So, who do we have in our Abyssmal government? (You might as well get used to the puns...)

Iyasu V: a stern imperialist and disciplinarian, he calls his beloved nation to get its act together before the rising winds of world war hurl them all away. He’s good at calling people to a more frugal way of life, and takes a direct hand in effectively training the troops -- from a managerial standpoint, helping them get the provisions they need to become effective faster. But his paternal oversight generates a lot of resentment; hopefully offset by other factors.

He has appointed the archbishop Mikael of Wollo as head of government; a cheerful and moderately popular man, he reduces dissent and acts as a public relations and morale boost. Overwhelmed by the surprise of being called from his monastic pastoral office by Iyasu (especially considering the prior division of church and state functions), he’s happy to be here, and puts a good face on the current administration and its plans, but he’s a scholar and a moral encourager, not a manager, so he tends to be monetarily inefficient in the work allowed in his post by Iyasu. Still, that includes giving charity to the poor, of whom Ethiopia has a lot. Though Iyasu is a good man at heart, he can be brusque about the needs (and attitudes) of common people, so Mikael acts as his conscience, publicly and privately.

Foreign Minister Dejazmach Beyene Yimer is a different kind of scholar, a refined academic intellectual whose main role behind the scenes is to serve as the government’s headhunter for any intellectual talent in the country. Because he has a related hobby of studying other cultures and nations, he has managed to wheedle himself the post of chief foreign minister, and it’s certainly helpful that he knows enough of the relevant languages! But his disdain for other African nations, and for Muslim nations, and for decadent and heretic Protestant and Catholic Christian nations (the Ethiopian Orthodox seceded from central orthodoxy over a thousand years ago), tends to mean he isn’t very efficient at diplomacy.

[Note: in theory I could have options to replace my government figures; in practice with Abyssinia I don’t. But Yimer is the one I’d get rid of if I could as he’s only a liability. Still, I’m willing to pretend he’s the guy who is largely responsible for Abyssinia having any chance at all of developing itself technologically, about which more anon.]

Last but far from least is Iyasu’s good friend Habte Giyorgis, surely a miracle sent straight from God! A dedicated scholar of all aspects of the military, Iyasu was so impressed with the man’s genius and dedication that he has appointed him not only Chief of the Army, but Chief of Staff, Minister of Security, Head of Intelligence, Armaments Minister, and Chief of the Navy -- once Abyssinia reclaims its coastline. The man even has serious flights of fancy, so to speak, about creating Africa’s first indigenous Air Force! -- at great personal expense he has had a model of that French monoplane shipped to the country for study, and can barely be restrained from learning to pilot it himself: he’s far too valuable to the nation to risk in such a way.

Iyasu must admit that if any man had the ability to usurp him in a coup, it would be Habte; but fortunately the man is only a scholar, ambitious in what he can do for the country but a humble man who would regard such a treason as cursed by God. Besides, in effect he will soon be running the country anyway, and Iyasu would rather Ethiopia rise again on Habte’s shoulders than never again at all.

[Note: I realize this looks like I’m horribly haxoring the game, but I swear this is what the designers set up for Abyssinia. Giyorgis is insanely competent at everything. Did a designer get lazy and just plop him in everywhere remotely militant? Was a designer a huge fan of Ethiopia and ‘wrote himself’ into the game as a Gary Stu? Did this guy really exist historically, and if so HOW DID HE NOT CONQUER THE FREAKING WORLD?!? If the latter, my guess about the answer is “because he lived in Abyssinia at the turn of the century...”

No kidding, though, if Abyssinia has any chance of making a respectable dent in the world of World War One, this guy by himself is half the reason why.]

The very first thing Habte reports is that most of the generals in charge of Ethiopian divisions are corrupt; not cripplingly so, but enough to cause morale problems among the troops, and more importantly they would like to overthrow Iyasu if possible and use Habte for themselves.

While this sounds like paranoid egomania and/or a way for Habte to consolidate his own personal power in the nation, it also happens to be factually true: every grandmother in the street knows it’s true. It’s time to show people their new Emperor knows there are problems and will take whatever steps are necessary to stamp those problems out.

At midnight on June 27, 1914, after months of quiet preparation, the new dawn of Abyssinian glory began without ten of its generals, executed in their sleep for exploiting the state for their personal gain and oppressing the common people.

In public, Archbishop Mikael would lament later that morning while making the announcement to the press that such steps had to be taken without benefit of a proper trial, but these men were too dangerous to be given such opportunities. The leader, as everyone well knew, had even renamed himself Iyasu V, in anticipation of replacing the real Imperial heir in a coup! Fortunately the people did know about the corruption of the generals, so public dissent remained restricted mostly to clergy who saw only another totalitarian dictator removing opposition in a publicly excusable and popular fashion. In private, Archbishop Mikael warned Iyasu, “If the end justifies the means, what justifies the end?” The Emperor accepted the rebuke, and hoped he would never need to do something like this again. The troops on the ground gained some morale from the purge, as expected: fresh promotions helped, as did the faint sense that they would now be called to be more than thugs -- and that they would be held accountable if they insisted on acting thugishly, too. The families of the slain generals were closely watched (and compensated for their loss), their souls commended to God’s remedial discipline in the hope of resurrection to come.

And marching orders came in the morning.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 06, 2014, 04:23:36 PM
Part 2 -- New Dawn

Part of the reason the purge of the generals was carried out without much complaint from the people, was that (through Mikael) Iyasu and his cabinet had devised a series of strong announcements to accompany the news.

First, the handpicked loyal squads which entered the divisional command posts to execute the wayward generals, brought with them orders of deployment. All divisions were ordered to begin marching later that morning for the northern and eastern borders, specifically those near to the hated Italian invaders. The troops were assured that provisions would be made for disturbances in order as new generals were promoted up through the ranks (with officers filling their places), and also that they would not be sent into combat any time soon. Nor did high command expect an invasion from Italy -- yet. But rather than being spread out through the nation, guarding more against the people than the enemies of the people, the troops were being brought together in useful areas where they would be organized and updated to the best equipment currently available.

That’s a lot of militia. A lot of disorganized understrength militia (only 10% strength), with equipment that might have been state of the art for militia in 1870, and without even any headquarters! -- every division (of only about 1000 soldiers) fends for itself. The only true infantry in the whole nation is the Imperial Guard, based in the capital Addis Abeba, and their gear is almost 20th century in quality!

We aren’t tribal clans with 18th century muskets (like those poor souls up in Senussi), but we’ve got a long way to go. Habte says in theory we shouldn’t even spend effort upgrading them to equipment more like the Imperial Guard; but for practical purposes we don’t have any better options in anything like the short term. The best we can do is to consolidate them for reorganization at the borders and let them dig in (in case Italy advances) and pick up new equipment for a while. Where “new” means “20 years old”. Some divisions aren’t expected to get in place until mid-September anyway.

This introduces our immediate military goals. As can be seen on the map, Abyssinia is a landlocked country, thanks mainly to Italy. If we’re going to expand in the long term we only have two options: declare war on Great Britain and move inland, or declare war on Italy (and/or France who holds the port of Djibouti) and retake our ancestral coastal territories. Fortunately there are almost no troops nearby at all (so far as we can tell), colonial or otherwise, except for an Italian garrison of two militia divisions upcoast. Also fortunately, we have a standing hostility with Italy for invading our lands years ago -- and against Oman, though they may not remember it, and even though their coastal lands were taken by Italy and Britain. Habte says that if we work hard at improving our nation, feasibly we could not only retake our coastal lands but counter-invade the weak Muslim nations across the Red Sea and remove any future threat of invasion from Arabia ever again. His long-term plans include building a respectable navy and an air force, along with quality infantry and artillery. He likes the notions of armored artillery tractors he has been hearing rumors of, but doesn’t think they would work very well in our part of the world; but he is already looking to the Americans for inspiration in building a corps of infantry who can assault our enemies by sea.

Diplomatically we had better make friends with Britain as soon as feasibly possible, which means giving up the Hargeisan coast (unless Italy manages to take it first of course); and since Britain and France are likely to be allies in the great European War brewing across the Mediterranean, we should try to ally with them, too, and let them keep Djibouti. Italy seems likely to ally with Germany, with whom we have ambivalently decent relations: Habte’s own father is German for that matter! (Which might explain a lot...) But if the dominos of European war fall around us, we may have to consider reclaiming Germany’s African holdings for native Africans -- though that would mean leapfrogging in a naval invasion past Britain’s African coast territories to the south. Hopefully matters won’t come to that, as they are a fellow Christian nation who has never caused us much trouble; Italy is another matter, but we’ll do what we can for the soldiers and civilians whose lands we hope to liberate in a few years. The Muslims in Arabia are yet another matter again.

But that is a long way away. First we must build our own country’s strength. For that, we need to increase our industrial capacity; and for that we need factories. We have six. IN THE WHOLE NATION. Five are in Addis Abeba itself, thanks to herculean efforts by Iyasu’s father Menelik II (for which the corrupt generals wished the family’s demise), despite the region having almost no infrastructure (20%). The only other factory is in Dire Dewa, where half our farmland is watered by surrounding mountains. It basic roads are consequently developed beyond the mere trails found elsewhere in our country (aside from the capital itself) -- and probably a little cultural overflow from nearby French and British mountain coastal colonies doesn’t hurt, as their residents send caravans down for informal trading. But the miracles of the previous Emperor are at an end: unless we drastically begin developing our national infrastructure, we have no hope of building more factories, and without more factories we have no hope of making a better life for our people -- and a shorter life for our enemies’ soldiers who will be sooner or later coming to take our land with the weapons developed overseas!
That also means research, and lots of it; but until our industrial strength increases substantially we can only put two research teams to work at once. Fortunately, our researchers are militantly minded, in basic ways which will help our country sooner than later; unfortunately, we need non-military research much sooner than later. But they’re willing to do what they can even outside their field of interests. Perhaps we will find more skilled researchers as we grow.

Aside from the Gemgiabiet, a simple facility intended for training our foot soldiers, and of course our Oletta Military Academy for training our officers, we have a grand total of two men capable and willing to take on any research task: the redoubtable Habte Giryorgis himself, whose dreams it must be said run far in advance of his practical skill; and an eccentric German friend of Habte who insists on calling himself TAEZAR! Or Taezaz; his throat is ruined from years of smoking so his voice often sounds like he’s gargling rocks. He dresses like someone whose name only he seems to know, but whom he insists was a foe of Napoleon long ago. While he would make headway admittedly faster than the Gemgiabiet, it seems safer to assign the Oletta Academy to one of the two slots.

At the moment, the best idea seems to be to research... well... research! -- if possible we shall keep Habte busy constantly learning more effective ways to research, and put Oletta Academy to work learning industrial lessons other nations developed, God help us, by 1870! -- not only basic construction engineering, but foreman training and production teams, and even how to control work hours and appoint daily tasks.

Strange as it sounds, this one step is our most important research possible, for with it we will be able to improve infrastructure in any district, and then to build factories. Also, books will be printed and sent to officers in the field for teaching troops how to create entrenchments when they’re camping in an area. Habte meanwhile will be working on some kind of machine he says will sort cards with holes in them... but he promises this will help other teams complete their research faster.

This will cost a little money, and while we can afford it easily we don’t have much to start with -- only about ten million pounds sterling, which for a person is unimaginable wealth (as those rebel generals discovered) but for a modern nation is far too limiting.

Beyond our other plans, therefore (not including our actual strategic goals of course, not yet), Mikael announces to the people that Abyssinia will now begin printing our own currency! Habte warned that this will reduce our puny industrial capacity somehow, but on this he sounds insane -- it doesn’t seem to have hurt any other modern nation to have done it! Indeed, preparations were made months ago, and the new currency is released into circulation this morning: all 200 million of it!

Iyasu promises that the people will have consumer goods enough, though not an abundance; and that our soldiers will be supplied; and he makes good on those arrangements, while diverting the rest of our little industrial capacity to bringing our militia up to almost-20th-century standards. Archbishop Mikael even quietly makes some adjustments to edge our country into a freer market, which will provide more salary for research assistants, and reduce upgrading costs and time, though it will also reduce our income from consumer goods.

Indeed, a new day dawns on our little corner of the world: with violence, true; but also with hope for freedom and security.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 06, 2014, 04:29:55 PM
Part 3 -- Days of Turmoil

Habte and Iyasu discussed whether the militia who aren’t expected to be in place by late September might as well be disbanded and directly retrained as properly updated infantry divisions. However, that would take more manpower than currently available (even with the disbanded militia), and would also take somewhere near 240 days. For now they’ll just concentrate on getting updated; but militia already near the borders will be given priority.

On the 29th, the Foreign Minister accepted an ongoing trade deal with Great Britain, on his own recognizance, which will result in our industrial capacity being destroyed a few months from now so that our supplies, which we have plenty of, will increase. The Foreign Minister is an idiot, but Iyasu partially blamed himself for agreeing in an offhand moment that the Minister would have a totally free hand at economic diplomacy. After coldly pointing out the near certainty of Abyssinia’s destruction by this deal, Iyasu instructed Yimer to stockpile funds and industrial materials, selling oil and supplies as necessary, while restricting Yimer from several economic actions without notification and approval by Iyasu.

By July 10, Yimer had redeemed himself by accepting ongoing trade agreements with France, Russia and Germany (which might become problematic later), creating a balanced import export situation which allowed our economic factors to increase.

At about this time, Habte and Iyasu revisited the notion of beefing up our divisions more directly, by training brigades of military police: a significant number could theoretically be created in just over two months, and would help our divisions keep peace in the territories we hoped to reclaim soon. However, Iyasu had to veto the plan when they observed that creating these brigades would hamper the already crippled attempts at upgrading the troops; and besides the brigades would add no combat effectiveness at all. Upgrading the troops and then deploying the manpower to bring them to full strength (10K strong instead of only 1K) would still be a more effective way to project power for the foreseeable future. Our weakness, though painful, isn’t hopeless; and thirty years from now we hope to look back on these days with appreciation for how far we’ve been able to come!

Midsummer rains seem likely to delay the furthest troops from arriving (much less beginning to upgrade and reorganize) until early October.

One month into the New Abyssinian Dawn, Habte has completed about 10% of his research into better research; the OMA is lagging but this was to be expected. At this rate we won’t be able to create new infrastructure until midsummer next year. Still, we have no options but to soldier on. Habte reports that to bring our divisions up to full capacity would require almost 280 manpower units; at the moment we can provide 10 per year. We will certainly benefit by consolidating the divisions, but even so our ability to project force is dismal. Traders report that France has sent an infrantry division to Djibouti; whatever its calibre it is likely to be better than any ten of our militia divisions put together -- or our Imperial Guard for that matter! We can only hope they don’t take a mind to invade down out of the coastal mountains into our unguarded eastern territories; nor roll up the coastland held by Italy, preventing us from retaking our land without declaring war on our trading partner. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that they have our ancestral land right now, as much as Italy does...

In the marshlands of Goba, between the two rivers leading out of the Abeba heartland, our first divisional movements were completed on July 27. The militia divisions which had already been camping in the area, and so were the most reorganized already, were set into their own corps, and three of the newly arrived divisions also received a new corps -- though we don’t have true headquarters yet, so the corps are more like loose groupings of divisions each under a particular ranking general of one of the divisions in the corps. Three per corps is the limit beyond which organization is hampered, so we have sent one of the divisions into the Goba reserve as the Army of Tigray (which seemed to please them). Eventually their purpose will be to invade south and secure the desert of Baidoa, then to hold it against possible counterattack across its boundary rivers while the larger corps follow a circle route into the coastline area, spreading out to re-take Mogadishu etc. Probably that will be next spring at the earliest. Hopefully Italy will be too busy to reinforce before then: scouts on the northern border indicate the single Italian militia in the region has vanished, possibly allowing us to move northward more quickly than expected.


The strategic map early morning July 27, 1914. Some of our divisions were rerouted by other paths or to different places, still following the same basic deployment concept, which now might be late November before those two farthest western militia groups arrive.

In late July, the Austrian-Hungary Empire issued an ultimatum to Serbia, who sought and received Russian support -- but then also accepted all but the hardest of the Austrian demands. Italy withdrew from its military alliance with Austria-Hungary, citing “Italian concerns”.

On July 30, the French Pacifist Juares was assassinated. A few days later, the Ottomans announced they had purchased two British battleships at excellent terms, which were immediately delivered to the Ottoman Empire where they rested at port in the Mediterranean.

At 9:00 in the morning of August 4, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, notwithstanding Serbia’s capitulations to most of their ultimatum demands -- and notwithstanding Russia’s choice to stand with their Slavic brothers. Russia and Montenegro entered a military alliance with Serbia and declared war on Austria. Habte and Yimir agreed this would set off a diplomatic chain reaction leading to a continental European war. That afternoon, Mikael led a special national prayer service for the souls of the young men soon to die -- and the civilians who soon would follow.

August 5, Germany sends Russia an ultimatum, while Russia continues to mobilize. Habte’s German cultural contacts think the Ottomans will enter a quiet defensive agreement with the Germans.

August 6, Russia ignores Germany’s ultimatum. Germany enters a military pact with Austria-Hungary and declares war on Russia, Serbia and Montenegro.

August 7, France mobilizes, and Germany requests France’s neutrality.

Yimer brought word that in his diplomatic meandering he had learned quite by accident that France would be interested in picking up five of our depleted militia infantry divisions for 85 million pounds sterling. We were unsure how much good our five worst militias would do us in the foreseeable future, whereas if we had 300 million pounds this would put us close to being able to invest in a national research program for paying our researchers better and providing them with modern 20th century tools. Habte especially, as might be expected, had wished for such an investment in our county’s future (he planned to hire researchers to be assigned from a pool to any projects, rather than keeping any such money for himself); but did not like the idea of prostituting our soldiers to die in a foreign war.

Father Mikael arrived from his weekly round of overseeing charity to the poor, a task gladly offered to him by our Pope in consonance with his new governmental connections, and seeing the sober disquiet on the faces of our other leaders offered an inspired suggestion: just as we who seem poor in the eyes of the world seem rich in the eyes of God toward the poor in our midst, so also our achievements as meager as they are might seem valuable to those less fortunate than we. If then we wish to raise money to help our research, what if Yimer sought out nations even more destitute than ourselves who would gladly pay to lift their nation and people up to our level? Not indeed the Muslims of southern Arabia, he hastened to add, but thanks to telegraph offices we now had access through our foreign ministry to nations all over the world -- yes, even more honorable Muslim nations perhaps than the pirates who haunted our coasts in past centuries.

The other members of the Four stood in awe of our humble Archbishop’s suggestion, and Yimer exclaimed that he knew the perfect first group to contact: those poor Senussi tribes up north near the Italian coast, who might with their new information act to harry our Italian colonial oppressors!

Father Mikael added that Yimer should perhaps quickly poll any more advanced nation who might be willing to sell technology to us before the coming war made such relationships political suicide.

Electrified, Yimer raced out and began cabling contacts all over the world. Within a week, we had our answer, and gave thanks to God Most High for sending us such a lesson through the Archibishop.

The Senussi certainly were interested, but could only afford to pay 19 million when the cost of attempting the deal at all would be 43 -- a disappointing result, which naturally we did not pursue.

Belgium, amazingly, netted 15 million; Bolivia 13; Chile 1; Luxembourg 1; Holland 16; Sweden paid an astonishing net 6 million for cavalry technology dating back to just after the American Civil War; but we truly struck diamonds with Venezuela who was willing and able to pay 126 million pounds sterling (plus all negotiation expenses!) for 1870s cavalry and infantry technology.

We even floated the notion of offering agricultural technology to the barbaric southern Arabs; but they weren’t interested in paying a single coin for it.

Sadly, no nation anywhere was even offering technology for sale. But overall we soon had absolutely certain promises which brought our total to over 390 million pounds sterling (we could have tried for more but didn’t want to risk failure, though Yimer assured us that for all practical purposes we could have picked up another several million just as certainly). We immediately sunk 300 million pounds into our research, which permanently raised our research by only half a percent of speed but Habte said to give him 30 days and we might be surprised at what else he was able to accomplish.

Later that morning of the 7th, the diplomatic telegraphs were overwhelmed with a confusing flood of news. Germany declared war on France without even giving them time to decline neutrality; Belgium and Luxembourg entered military alliance with France, and everyone promptly declared war on everyone else with Russia entering a military alliance with France and its allies -- but cancelling its military alliance with Serbia and Montenegro! Serbia and Montenegro also cancelled their alliance with each other; but then all three nations joined the alliance with France. Yimer says this was only a matter of diplomatic accounting, so to speak.

To no one’s surprise, the United Kingdom joined the French Alliance on the 8th, and the appropriate war declarations were made. Germany financed a Baghdad railroad, and Russia started a wave of patriotic propaganda. On August 9th, Britain’s various puppet states joined on the side of Britain, of course; but for our purposes a far more annoying announcement was that Oman, our ancestral oppressor, had joined the Alliance, too. That means we would be declaring war on Britain (and France) and all the Entente allies really if we ever move forward with our plans to secure the southern Arabian penninsula and wipe out those pirates once and for all.

Germany annexed Luxembourg on August 11; the first national casualty of the war. Fortunately, our diplomatic deal with them should still be valid, as it would be annoying to lose 10 million pounds of diplomatic expense for nothing.

On August 18, the Ottomans somehow managed to bully Germany into granting them another two warships, apparently in ransom for the Mittlemeer division. Why Germany doesn’t just declare war on them, too, I don’t know, but Britain seems ready to do so. Meanwhile, with our second wave of maneuvers complete, three rested corps, one north and two south, make plans to cross their respective rivers into assault position. By late November they should be in place and rested.

That will be the earliest we can try to reclaim our lands.

[Historical/game-plot note: the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox, not to be confused with the Ethiopian branch of the Eastern Orthodox, were a part of the Coptic Orthodox Church based in Alexandria, Egypt, until 1959, and are still considered in autonomic communion with them although the Coptic Pope granted them their own administrative patriarchiate and thus their own head patriarch as head over their own archbishops. They would still refer to the Coptic Patriarch as Pope today, but as an honored title and position, not as having administrative authority over them. The game doesn't regard Mikael as a clergyman, only as a "happy amateur" who's good at reducing popular dissent; but his name "Mikael of Wollo" fits the notion of a monk, so I've gone that route in characterizing him.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 06, 2014, 04:31:29 PM
Part 4 -- A Day of Doom

Around mid-August, Yimer concluded a diplomatic trade with Great Britain which no one seems able to explain; apparently he renegotiated the ongoing trade agreement to reduce our imports of industrial goods and increased our export of supplies, leaving us with a supply deficit! Iyasu may have to take the reins from Yimer after all.

On the 21st, Russia lost Warsaw, and Japan cabled an ultimatum to Germany, who explicitly said they weren’t even going to bother answering! This public non-answer of an answer was especially insulting to the Japanese, who promptly joined the Entente.

A few days later on the 24th, Yimer managed to undo his negotiation blunder earlier in August by renegotiating Russia’s trade agreement with us: they’re still unable to meet much more than half our import requirements, but at least now we have a net surplus increase of goods again.

On August 28, the British withdrew their Navy from Ottoman territorial waters, and Russia sent troops to occupy northern Persia.

On Sept 5, Britain responded by sending troops to protect the southern Persian oil fields -- effectively occupying those territories.

Habte trotted proudly into the government offices on Sept 7 bearing a book he had composed laying the groundwork for basic air military doctrine. The Emperor stared at it for a minute in what Habte, somewhat correctly, regarded as shock; then asked mildly if we had even one aircraft to use it with, or even one thing necessary to begin trying to create aircraft to use it with. Crushed, Habte hung his head in shame; the poor academic had simply followed out whatever line of thought he had been fancying at the moment when we spent three hundred million pounds of silver on increasing our national research capabilities.

Still, Yimer thought we might be able to recoup our investment on the open market; and Mikael added that our long-term plans did envision African air supremacy. “Is your research into cards with holes in them ready yet?” Iyasu asked. Habte swallowed and shook his head, but promised that by April next year...!

“Go back to work, Habte. I’ll call you when I think you might be useful.”

Tears seeped from his eyes as the scholar left the room. But he had only himself to blame; and he knew that any other man would have been fired -- or more likely shot as a criminal. Mikael observed that numerous churches and charities had received mysterious anonymous donations over the past month; the staggering numbers now suggested a common source.
“Even so,” said Iyesu, “he knew we needed something, anything, more immediately helpful than that. Our whole nation stands on the edge of a sword, above the abyss. We cannot survive the decade at this rate. He may have doomed us all.”

Yimer, thumbing through the notes, added that they would have to be processed by academics first for presentation and proper dissemination. That wouldn’t take long, but our meager facilities were already absorbed completely by Habte’s and the OMA’s projects.

Iyasu sent me out to fetch back Habte; I found him weeping disconsolately on a bench outside, drawing stares of panic from those who passed by and recognized him. “Come back inside, and quickly! Stop that! -- don’t you know you might cause a mass exodus to Britain’s lands if people think you think our cause is lost?!? The Emperor may be about to pardon you, sir, in a way.”

“How long to properly edit and collate this information, to make it legible and... this is crucially important... salable, Habte?”

The academic shuffled through the papers, wiping his eyes. “Three months?”

“Jesus Christ.” Even Mikael shook his head, although he didn’t share the Emperor’s exclamation. “Get to it, then,” the Emperor added.

“I don’t know that I can do this while also... oh...”

“Yes, you wanted to work on this, so work on this. You have made your choice for all of Abyssinia. At least you can pick up again on your other project after... WHAT?! No, Habte, if you are saying you’ll have to start from scratch, I don’t want to hear it. God save us, Habte. Be gone; get to work on what you can do.”

Chastened, the greatest genius of all Ethiopia left the room.

[Note: yes, the game randomly gives you a blueprint 30 days after spending money on national research; but the blueprint is useless until it is also researched. Which can be done relatively quickly, but at this level of progress “relatively quickly” would still be three months, and that’s WITH someone who specializes in the research’s components working on it: in this case Habte. Hopefully, once a research component is learned it needn’t be learned again, and so can reduce the research time of other concepts which require that component; but I found from experience that even if a component is completed it has to be relearned from scratch if the research is cancelled. ARGH! This is the first outright BS complaint I’ve had with Darkest Hour.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 06, 2014, 04:35:22 PM
Part 5 -- A Day of Regathering

On September 8, Japan purged its corrupt generals; a move we understood the wisdom of, if also the grief of doing. The Emperor still looked as though he wanted to purge Habte, saying little to Yimer and Mikael, and less to aides like myself.

On Sept 10, Russia lost the region Riga, though whether to enemy invasion or revolt we couldn’t tell; Yimer said his contacts darkly suggested the latter. The Tsars had long had a bad reputation of oppressing their people -- the stress of this war might shatter that mighty nation, physically the largest in all the world, to burning shards of glass.

On Sept 11, Emperor Iyasu took a necessary risk: our upgrade program seemed to have utterly failed so far, so if we wanted to have any chance of taking and holding our stolen coastal territories from Italy, we would have to put more men in the army soon. The least expensive and most effective way to do this, was to enact a three year conscription. It ate our supplies to the bone, and dissent shot through the roof: Father Mikael thought we risked about a ten percent chance of revolt in any province at any time. How we were to offset that, I don’t know. We couldn’t even reinforce more than about a quarter of our divisions every day -- those two poor militias marching from the hinterlands would receive none, but still their regular supplies -- and even once our manpower finally drained we wouldn’t have full divisions everywhere. Nevertheless, our divisions quickly started receiving new recruits from all across the nation; and with a three year training program we could be sure that whenever later troops arrived they would be moderately well experienced already. As always, Iyasu made sure the troops and the citizens were well if frugally supplied.

[Note: I don’t know why the upgrade program didn’t seem to be working. Granted, it could only upgrade 12% of my troops, but it didn’t give a rate like per-month or whatever. Probably I should have chosen one division to receive upgrades until it pinged up, and then chosen another troop, etc.; I did choose some to receive no upgrades, and others to receive priority, but obviously that didn’t work.]

Habte carefully pointed out that we might as well dismiss the several divisions still on the march, and rotate them back through training into other divisions. Iyasu accepted this; but hadn’t yet forgiven Habte for his irresponsible lapse. Habte reported his consolidation of research was still on track, and then departed.

For many days we heard nothing much concrete about the war in Europe -- the usual non-news about war bonds being issued; Yimer said his contacts indicated Germany was ramping up its infrastructure. Iyasu suppressed twinges of jealousy: the German Empire had had decades of prior development already, and had earned the ability to help their country in such ways. For all Iyasu’s life his father had worked against many hardships only to prepare the day to begin such a task. We didn’t have much to show for it yet beyond a slightly reformed military; but the New Dawn Plan had only been in effect for a little more than three months. Habte apologized profusely for not correctly understanding how best to upgrade the divisions: had he focused on only one, it might have been up to late 1890s equipment already. Instead, the diffuse spread of equipment might as well have been of no effect. Father Mikael watched for signs of revolt. The Republic of China demanded the repatriation of a man, Sun Zhongshan, being held prisoner on some charge by Japan. On October 11, Austria-Hungary annexed Montenegro, the second small nation swallowed by war. Our final corps moved into place in Gode. A few months of rest and expansion and we’d be ready to take back our stolen homes while Italy was busy distracted by flames to its north.


On October 14, El Salvador purged its generals; several days later, the United States pulled out from Veracruz. So far the New World had stayed out of this Old World War (except for Britain’s puppets Canada and Newfoundland). Would they now begin attacking one another?

We laughed when various German contacts confirmed on October 23 that Germany had tried to bribe their ‘secret’ defensive allies the Ottoman Empire into joining the Central Powers, but the canny and arrogant Ottomans simply kept the gold and refused! A nest of vipers, themselves long poisoned by the intrigues and seductions of Constantinople: we still to this day remembered those Byzantine plots, fifteen hundred years ago. Whoever removed that sad, accursed city from the world at last would earn a prayer from us: that they themselves, whoever they were, would escape its webs.

On November 1, as if by magic or miracle, one of our northern frontier militias reported that they now met the criteria for 1897 weaponry! Sad as that sounded in 1914, we still were greatly pleased; but how had it happened?

A bemused Habte explained it, with humility, to the Emperor: of course when we were bringing various militias up to strength, we weren’t producing and giving them 1850s kit! At a certain point...

“...every reinforced division will naturally also upgrade!” Iyasu leaned back in his chair, his face slack in shock: how had we not realized?

“Well, yes; because, you see, except for your Imperial Guards, all the divisions started with only a thousand men. The situation is very unusual, please understand -- sir, did you not... er...” Habte ran his hand through his hair.

“My very good friend, no I did not understand!” Iyasu leapt to his feet, laughing, and practically vaulted the table to take the absent-minded scholar in a grateful hug. “You were watching out for us all along! -- and I have treated you poorly, when I ought to have trusted you more! Please, forgive--“

“But sir, you were right; I wrongly thought you had given permission to study whatever I wanted the most at the moment. I should have put that time and energy into completing my task at hand, or anyway speeding it up. I did fail my country, sir. I deserved your disappointment over my selfishness.”

“Then let us forgive one another, not as having earned it, but because we both repent of our various wrongs against each other! For though you did wrong, indeed, I should have respected you more for all your other contributions. And I am sorry.”

That night, two men feasted as friends once more.

That night, Mexico overthrew Zapistas, bringing the rebel colony into its fold once more.

Two very different regatherings. One would require more forgiveness, and repentance, and reconciliation than any man could imagine -- and wouldn’t soon occur.

[Note: DUHHHH!!!! I’m glad the game designers thought this far ahead, although having said that I don’t understand why in the world a division would only start counting as its upgrade after swelling to ten times its previous number under the older kit.]

[Note: I'll be out of town for much of the coming weekend, so it might be Monday night before the next entries. I intend to play the campaign on the road, if possible, but I'll have to be sure to get snapshots and take notes along the way.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: MetalDog on March 06, 2014, 06:51:19 PM
Good luck, Jason!  And safe travels.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 06, 2014, 07:20:13 PM
Thanks, MD! I have several more entries composed already, and hope to add a few more to my notes this weekend.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 07, 2014, 08:04:32 AM
Schedule changed so it's DH tonight and tomorrow morning (and maybe early after lunch) at home for sure. :) Possibly tomorrow night, but unlikely to start up again until Sunday afternoon.

The upshot is that I should be able to post more entries sooner than expected, starting tonight.

Dramatic question: is it unhistorical to have 'good' idealists running Ethiopia at this time instead of people trying to milk the system for their own advantage?

Answer: I have no idea what the real-life political climate was at this time (though I may do some research soon -- I know the government eventually went Marxist). But I toyed around with different mixes of characterizations, and decided

(1) to follow the cues given in the descriptions provided by the game, as closely as feasibly possible;

(2) that in order to accomplish anything the leaders shouldn't be working at cross purposes (in the beginning anyway ;) );

(3) to allow the game events to drive the story and thus any dynamic characterization;

and (4) that having men of good intentions be tested by their situation would be more dramatically interesting.

Right out of the gate their initial plans and accomplishments expose some minor cracks, blindspots and hypocrisies. I've left room for each of them to evolve in various directions as the game continues (including the nameless aide providing the narration), so I don't have planned character arcs for anyone. Which isn't how I normally write fiction (where I have preplanned arcs for my major characters, as well as plot goals to work toward and through), so I'm enjoying various little surprises the game is engendering.  8)

I'm also preplotting the initial situation for the Senussi, if I can ever figure out how to mod the game to make it a playable nation and set up a feasibly minor-but-feasible way for it to advance, and thus start play from an even more undeveloped position. So hopefully I can set up a remake someday called "The Tombs of Timbuktu".  ;D
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: mkivcs on March 07, 2014, 01:22:29 PM
Jason This is a gem. I grant you absolution from your nations flouncing around in dominions
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on March 07, 2014, 01:35:50 PM
This is cool, Jason.  Nice to see an Ethiopian AAR (and in the WW1 scenario, no less)! 

Right out of the gate their initial plans and accomplishments expose some minor cracks, blindspots and hypocrisies. I've left room for each of them to evolve in various directions as the game continues (including the nameless aide providing the narration), so I don't have planned character arcs for anyone. Which isn't how I normally write fiction (where I have preplanned arcs for my major characters, as well as plot goals to work toward and through), so I'm enjoying various little surprises the game is engendering.  8)

I do this as well in my AAR's -- not exclusively (I tend to do at least some character "pre-planning" when/where I can), but more often than not.  I think AAR's tend to lend themselves to "on the fly" character development much more than most types of fiction. 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 07, 2014, 01:45:25 PM
Thanks, mkivcs, and Martok; although I feel like the Abyssinians need at least five Ghidoras at some point.  8)

I'm chafing at the bit to get home and into the next stages of the New Dawn plan.  ;D

The next part, or the one after that (I have a long one I may break into two), will give an idea how the war in Europe is going at the start of 1915.

Meanwhile I've done some research at the office while chafing at the bit working taking a breaks, which indicates I can easily mod the game to continue past the nominal mid-42 stop date, possibly into the early 70s. However, a lot of "people" and research teams in the game may stop becoming available after 1926... which is weird, since the vanilla game does allow the mid-42 extension. Will they disappear and not be replaced? I don't know.

I think I can occasionally do a bit of light file hacking to overcome some of the goofiness in research such as the teams never gaining in experience, too; maybe add a fifth team later when slots open up. I'm tempted to lower the industrial requirements to auto-add new slots (set in vanilla 1.03 as 20 per slot after game start), but that might unbalance everyone's research and speed them along too quickly; but I think I can spot tweak Ethiopia to add a new slot a little faster instead.

My research also gave me a good idea how to mod up the tribal remnants of the Sassanids (whom I take to be the Senussi) for a remake of the campaign later. When-if-ever I do that, I have a mod-soup list to try compiling together so I can start back in 1897, with some hope of continuing to fire events after 1933 -- in my current game [edit: opps, traffic jam on the yard, had to fix...] there is no segue into the WW2 pre-campaign so special historical events stop will stop happening in the mid-20s or sooner. Of course a special connecting mod still means events from 33 onward won't fire off reliably without results equivalent to a historical WW1, but at least that way there's still a chance.

The mod-soup will also (hopefully) add in some missing German units, and some basic taxation, and an expanded tech tree. But for the Abyssinian campaign I'm sticking with vanilla 1.03 plus a few light spot-mods for my team where applicable. I'll be sure to note those as I go along.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: OJsDad on March 07, 2014, 02:28:46 PM
Jason, great AAR.  I've liked playing some of the nations that did not fair so well in history while playing Victoria2.  I know the AAR I just started is I'm playing as Germany, but I think you can see the vast differences between in game and what really happened.

I really wish Paradox would either make a game that starts in, say, around 3000BC, or at least one that starts around 1400 and goes through 2000.  I think they could really pull it off and would offer a great counter to Civ. 

Are you playing the original HOI. 
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 07, 2014, 02:42:15 PM

Thanks! No, it's an "official" licensed fan-mod (meaning Paradox sells it) for HOI2: Armageddon, called Darkest Hour. The engine is still the same as HOI1, just expanded and tuned up.

Theoretically, they did have a game chain running from CK1 (I think?) to EU3 to Vicky2 to HOI 2: Armageddon. So from 1066 to the early 60s (if not later).

Great Invasions from Matrix uses a pseudo-Clauswitz 1 engine, and runs from early 350s to somewhere just before 1066, but of course you can't port the ending conditions to CK1.

CK2 can start back in the late 800s, and does connect officially to EUIV; unsure if that connects to Vicky2 yet. CK2 also features an official design-your-ruler tool, which might allow someone to port part of a GI campaign into it.

I'm watching your AAR ( carefully as having upgraded HOI2 and upgraded HOI3 should make for a nice comparison.  :)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 07, 2014, 05:51:40 PM
Finally about to start playing "Part 8" + tonight; here's Part 6 to tide over meanwhile...

Part 6 -- Creeping Cold

On Nov 14, one day before my birthday, an Ottoman admiral acting on his own provocation shelled a Russian Black Sea port. The Ottomans tried to offer reparations, but the Russians refused and so, at last, the duplicitous actions of Turkey meant that no one would believe them in their innocence. Or maybe Russia wanted a simple excuse. The Entente followed Russia’s suit, declaring war on the Ottoman Empire, and in return the Ottomans stopped being such a ‘secret’ partner of Germany: they openly joined the Powers.

War would come to holy Palestine again it seemed, and to the city of the Peace of God, Yarushalom. At least we hold the Ark safe though we dare not ever use it; still, our fathers who came before us would probably suffer again.

The next day Yemen also joined the Central Powers, strangely. Or perhaps not so strangely: Britain, via the Raj, held some nearby territories belonging to Yemen a generation or so ago. Yemen might be thinking to expand. For us, that would be expedient, as then we ourselves might someday have an opportunity to take that area of the coastline ourselves, perhaps to return it to Britain as a gift or for consideration -- they seemed to have stopped the piracy there at least.

On Nov 29, the British Empire lost Al-Arish on the border of Ottoman Palestine; apparently not through Ottoman militant action, but in a local coup or something like that. Up in Europe, all our sources confirmed that Austria and Germany were doing well in pressing Russia back by several counties; and in the West, Germany was advancing slowly but steadily through France and already owned most of Belgium except for Brussels. As to how the armies were arranged, who could tell? At this rate the war would soon be won!

The Eastern Front, Nov 29, 1914:


And the Western Front:


So many foreign names, none of which we cared about. Iyasu reminded us soberly, that so far north this time of year, unlike our harsh but beautiful land, the winter soon would crush the Powers’ advances into Russia. The war might not be done by Christmas, nor even spring next year. Which, horrible as it sounded, would be to our benefit: the war would continue distracting the Italians.

On this day, Iyasu decided that although campaigning weather here, just above the equator, was fine, he would wait until after Nativity holiday, before contacting Italy to warn them: if they did not abandon their coastline stolen from us, we would liberate it. By that time, at this rate of mobilization, many of our divisions, even though still militia, would be not only brought up near full strength, and not only brought up to turn-of-the-century kit, but some would even be much better trained, nearly as much as veterans!

On December 2, Habte completed collating and printing his basic powered flight doctrine manuals. “I wish I could work on construction along with the OMA,” he said. “But...”

[Note: at this point my invention fails me. Other than for game restrictions, I can’t imagine a reason why research slots couldn’t team up on a project and finish it faster. Heck, it is entirely possible to run parallel sets of military production at once! -- though admittedly the game doesn’t allow, say, a serial set of units to switch to parallel in the middle of its run.]

“What can you finish at all in a month?”

“Nothing, Emperor. I can work out initial principles in a month for something, while working on something else. But then someone will have to spend a significant time researching and printing them up, meaning...”

“As before, if it’s you, you’d have to quit what you’re doing, starting over from nothing again on it later, to put the new blueprints into action.”

What a way to run a railroad, I thought to myself, being only an aide and not wanting to be dismissed for impertinence.

“Will the OMA finish anytime soon?”

“They are on schedule, sir, for next summer.”

“So our options are to give you a break for a month, then set you to work on whatever random thing we manage to come up with from a brainstorming session...”

“...a very expensive brainstorming session, paid for by funds from selling the current blueprints,” Yimer reminded us.

“...or, put you to work on something very likely to take you longer to complete than that.”

“Perhaps,” said Father Mikael, “we could do this again, just this once; by which time the OMA will have finished our most important research possible -- for our infrastructure purposes -- and then Habte could be put back on researching research while we sell whatever we’ve learned to finance...”

“...the next random advancement?!?” Iyasu pounded the desk with his fist.

“To some extent such research, sir, depends on random factors about what might -- I beg you sir!” Habte forestalled a rising burst of anger. “From now on you’ll find I’m much more careful over what I choose to pursue! But what I am asking you to understand, my Emperor, is this: what you are doing is building a research infrastructure while I look to see what may be harvested quicker thereby!”

Iyasu closed his mouth, and choked down his complaint. “I think I see. But, I give you the honor of explaining.”

“I know the money we spend on national research is excessive, sir. Part of it goes to permanently raise our research capability; only by a little, I know, but three or four times a year, it will add up. Most of it goes to... how can I put it...? So many things must be nurtured into place before we even start a research program. They must be grown. They must be sought, and sometimes planted, before they can even be grown. That is what I mean by infrastructure. But the growth is like the order found in a jungle, see?”

“Like the western tribes who move from place to place, seeking what has grown since last they visited there!” Iyasu had often traveled west to learn how to fight as a man, and live off the land: our political landscape sometimes led to ambushes and retreats, and his father wanted his son to be prepared for anything.

“Exactly, sir. I go to plant and cultivate, and also to see what might be ready to bring along more quickly now. What will I find? God only knows. Last time, I confess, I found a project quickly that tickled my fancy. I will be wiser in the future, sir.”

“Granted, a random advancement will not help us immediately, as much as a focused progression,” Mikael added. “But once we increase our provincial infrastructure, and start up more factories, we’ll have more leeway to put more researchers to work on whatever focused path we prefer.”

“This all assumes, of course,” Yimer mused, “that even though we will not be selling our advancements to anyone likely to use them against us, whoever they are won’t turn around and sell them to the Southern Arab pirates.”

Iyasu bit his lip -- clearly he hadn’t thought of that -- but... “No,” he waved a hand, “let us not paralyze ourselves over something that might happen anyway. Very well. I don’t like it, but let us proceed along this line.”

“At least each investment in national research will also permanently raise our research speed a little,” I ventured to add. Everyone stared. I shrunk back into my corner, blushing at daring to speak.

“Go forth Yimer. Sell these basic air doctrines.”

Just to be safe, Iyasu also issued more currency, even though this would reduce our industrial efficiency again by about a percent; but we could easily make that up later, and besides it reduces dissent.

Since this brought us near the needed total, we held off selling our plans until we had more plans to offer, and instead simply stopped outfitting and training new recruits for several days while we pumped out consumer goods instead. With the expected revenue secured, we invested again in national research -- and then printed money again! We ran out of supplies for our British trade agreement, but Yimer quickly set up a new agreement similar to the old one. I’m not sure England noticed.



Our British contacts warned us on December 10 that the United Kingdom had instituted Press Censorship, the first of the democratic allies to do so. Yemir thought that this would have little effect on his ability to find out various things, but then again he never found much. Iyasu considered expanding our intelligence assets, but decided to wait until after our crash of expansion.

On December 23, two days before their celebration of Christ’s Mass, the Brazilians started what they called the Contestado War. Details were sketchy: were they dealing with internal rebels, or trying to take over South America??

Both might have been true.

The hearts of men grew cold with the winter of war.

[Note: this narrative anecdote represents my decision, previously mentioned between entries, to use save scumming to overcome an engine limitation. I’ll accept a randomly chosen blueprint, on the rationalization given in the story; but if it isn’t something I myself might have chosen to research at this time, I will reload a previous save until I receive a reasonable random result.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 08, 2014, 07:32:16 AM
I managed to do very little last night other than write on the AAR concerning a momentous event. More actual playtime this morning I hope. After I post an entry this morning to move things along a bit. ;)

Part 7 -- The Year The Future Began

January 1, 1915: our corps or “chitets” in Gode were almost ready to march, though not upgraded, and the selected spearheads up north were now entirely ready (apart from one militia division still not brought up to our best equipment available). Emperor Iyasu’s planned assault would be reasonably well prepared, just after Christmas.

[Note: Christmas is celebrated on Tahsas 29th on the Ethiopian calendar = Jan 7.]

On January 4, we received bad news (of a sort) and good news (of a sort): the Ottoman Muslim religious leaders declared their part in the war a Jihad; and Habte brought a blueprint for an armored car.

“...and you called it a what?” Iyasu leaned forward and spoke with a tone that I recognized now as sarcasm.

“An ARMORED CAR!!” Habte was dancing so with excitement, I wondered if he should have used the city’s plumbing, for which the previous Emperor had fought so long and --

“A car. That is armored. With armor, you mean.”

“And armed! We can take a machine gun from, oh, a few years ago, a fairly recent one; mount it on top in a little armored cupola, see? And then we provide it with several grades of field optics -- “

“So that they can see where they drive.”

The Emperor’s tone was starting to cut through Habte’s enthusiasm. He stammered for a moment; Iyasu continued. “Driving, down our well-paved roads. Here in our capital city. And nowhere else in our country. Because the engineers brought here by my father were threatened with murder unless they joined this or that general, and so they left or disappeared, and so we have little ruts in the ground and our military officer academy tells me they will not be in position to even try to put men to work on them, not until sometime next summer...”

Habte swallowed -- and stood his ground.

“With all due respect, Excellency, you have not yet heard me out. This, sir, will change the world. I absolutely guarantee the greatest powers in Europe are at this moment putting these cars in production, and not only that but studying how to...” He swallowed again at the Emperor’s stony disbelief, yet still stood his ground.

“It’s true,” volunteered Yimer. “I’ve heard my contacts talk about them.”

“Up where there are roads,” emphasized Iyasu. “Up in cultured Europe.”

“Much of that culture is mythical, sir. Near the cities, sure; but sometimes not even then. And in the farmlands? The forests? The mountains?”

“Is that where they are deploying their armored cars?

“...I don’t know. To be honest, they seem to be more of something to chauffer high-ranking officers near the fronts. The armor protects them from nearby shelling fragments and from sniper bullets, you see.”

Iyasu looked dubious. Habte slapped his hand on the blueprints -- even the Emperor jumped at that. “Light armor plating. A light machine gun. A tractor engine to give it power to carry the armor around -- and to power it down the ruts and over the fields of our land. Officers, yes, can use it for scouting. Or for calling in field artillery.”

“When we get some artillery. Which we don’t have, and haven’t yet researched.” Iyasu, though, leaned back behind his desk, tapping his fingers in thought.

“That day is coming, sir. But more importantly, how do the modern tractors work? The ones that other nations use for building roads and factories instead of plowing fields? How do they go through the mud?”

“On tracks,” answered Mikael. “...oh. OH!”

“Armored cars, lead to armored tractors. Armored tractors can go where armored cars cannot; and even the armored cars will go where regular cars cannot. Armored tractors, carrying heavier armor. Armored tractors...” Habte tapped his blueprints, “carrying heavier guns. Even carrying small artillery pieces.

“Sir: I would not bring you this, unless I was sure it would help our troops. I certainly don’t recommend you sell it to anyone in our region. The nation who follows this path, faster and farther than anyone else, will rule the world.”

“What they cannot sail over. But I understand. And is this only theory, like your principles of powered flight?”

“No sir. Give me one hundred days, and you can put our factories working on building an army faster than horses. And much less easy to kill. And much more deadly at range.”

“And much less easy to feed,” Mikael mused.

“But much more easy to heal when wounded, and to keep when not in service.

“These, sir, will be monsters. Undreamed of by the mind of man. Soldiers will flee in terror, unable to comprehend their own despair!

“Jesus... wept...” Now Iyasu looked pale, his eyes creeping wider as though the face of his friend was melting away -- revealing a demon underneath.

“Yes. Well put. We must use these carefully, sir, lest we also grow into monsters.” Habte closed his own eyes, and after a moment he opened them again. The rising feverish light inside had dimmed, it seemed. “But whether we do, or whether we don’t, as sure as the sun goes down at night: our enemies someday will.”

Iyasu nodded. So did Yimer. Mikael closed his eyes, and said as if praying, “The future... My God, Habte. From this moment on, the future looks like this. Or worse.

“Yes, Father. Or worse. No one really paid attention to what I wrote last fall, regarding air power. I don’t know how to build those yet, or even begin to begin. But this, with wings, flying over mountains. Oceans. Shooting. Hurling down bombs. Angels of death, screaming as they dive.” Mikael wept silent tears. “Us or them,” Habte finished. “I vote us.”

So did they all. Even Father Mikael.

“One hundred days,” ordered Iyasu. “Yimer, offer it up for sale. Certainly not to anyone near. We need more money to speed our research along.”

So they did.

The year of the future began.


[Note: in game terms Habte isn’t even a little interested in armor, but it seemed both a good idea and more dramatic to play the hand I was dealt. In this case, I was okay with armored cars, although I wasn’t really planning to go for armor, not being likely to need it within my feasible goals. But then the dramatic drama occurred to me ;) : the meaning of what this piddly achievement would really MEAN for the world, and DID really mean for the world, even up to today. Sure, okay then. Let’s see if we can get some armored African cavalry erupting from the Abyss.]

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 09, 2014, 01:36:53 PM
Part 8 -- Feast of Kings

January 8, 1915, the day after the Feast of Christ: the leaders of Ethiopia convened in our Emperor’s office. Iyasu the Fifth, Emperor of Ethiopia, had an office, in an office building, near other office buildings, in Addis Abeba.

His father, Menalik, had had a moderate palace built, because he had thought that we must show the world that they should take his title seriously. No one would respect us without a palace, he had said.

Iyasu his son respected his father, who after all had fought throughout his reign to protect Ethiopia and to lay the groundwork for what we now attempted. He respected his father, but needed the respect of his people more than the non-respect of the nations. To Italy, to France, to the United Kingdom, a common millionaire could own a modest palace. To them, a millionaire might be regarded as common.

Iyasu kept his palace, but had turned it into a school, and a museum.

The chieftain kings of Abyssinian tribes were gone. Iyasu kept his title to remind us to respect our past, not to rule over long forgotten petty fiefdom kings.

The Emperor of Abyssinia lived with his wife and children down below his office, as any man in Ethiopia had a right to aspire to.

Today in an office the size of a bedroom for Europe’s lesser nobility, he had invited correspondents from all the agencies of the press across our nation. We didn’t have many; they fit in the room. An hour ago he had shown them the school.

“I,” he continued his speech, practiced for days where no one could see but his family, and the occasional aide, “am an Emperor. But who am I an Emperor of? Where are the kings I rule?

“Go home,” he said, “and look around. Every Christian is called to be a king or queen. We follow an ancient faith; we follow the King of kings, greater than any earthly Emperor ever. He has allowed me to be here now, to do what I am doing. And what am I doing? I am ruling a nation of priests and kings!

Later today he would give this speech at a public banquet, too; provided for all the people of Addis Abeba. Mostly poor.

“We are supposed to follow the way of Tewahedo: unity. Not of singularity, although we were falsely accused of this, and although we have often failed and fallen precisely into doing so.” This was a detail added with the approval of Father Mikael. Iyasu was referencing an ancient grudge and misunderstanding between ourselves and Christians to the north.

“Unity means we stand together as one. But we have fractured, and men among us have also oppressed as though only one of us mattered. Yesterday and this week we celebrate the closest unity given to us in Christ, presented to us repeatedly in our holy mass. We should live by that example. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we do not.” He paused to give the writing reporters time to catch up. A wax phonogram was also recording; a cylinder copy would be sent to any who asked to have it. The Emperor’s voice would also be sent somewhere than Ethiopia. Whether or not they wanted it.

“Every Christian ought to respect each other Christian, as a fellow priest and king. We do not do so, but we should. We also should respect each man, and woman and child, even those who aren’t yet Christian: we have been taught that Christ has redeemed each man and woman and child who ever lived and ever shall live, and that He shall bring us all together someday as priests and kings. This ancient faith was taught in Alexandria, taught in the first and oldest Christian school. In that day it amazed the world and earned the respect of Rome itself. We still hold it now.

“But, like us, like we sometimes do, not every Christian believes this. Just as we sometimes fail, so do other Christians.”

I couldn’t help but feel a little cynical, knowing where this was going. I believed in what he was saying, I believed in what he was doing and needed to do. But still: to say such things would build morale by providing a moral ground on which to commonly stand, yet also to justify...

“You know our history. You know we came from the sea, as did our faith, long ago. Once we lived by the sea. Then... people came.

“And they did not treat their fellow Christians as priests and kings.”

He was weeping now. I was not, but I had heard this often before in practice. He had not wept then; he hadn’t practiced weeping. I knew he truly felt what he was saying to these men; to his people; to the world.

To a nation of the world.

“I will be blunt. They stole our land and pushed us out, because their Emperor didn’t care to rule over kings!”

The people would cheer, later today. A cheerful rage.

“Therefore I ask their leaders, of their own free wills, to do what is right among men, and under the eyes of heaven: set our people free!

“And know:  we are coming soon, to see if they are doing so.

“If they need our help to do so... WE WILL SHOW THEM HOW!

Soon the reporters left.

Now the meeting began.

“We could be readier,” opened Habte. “But we are ready.”

“There are no Italian troops that Habte or I can see in any territory, sir. Possibly here, or here. Possibly not.” Yemir pointed on the map beyond where we could see.


“After what we have said,” said Mikael, “they will be coming soon.”

“We better be ready to meet them when they do,” answered Iyasu. “Better to meet them on the shores.”

“Two possibilities,” Habte mused. “Strike only north, or also south. Strictly speaking, we only have claim on the north by any standard the Europeans might recognize. Unless it had happened to them, of course. If we go only north, however...”

“...we will risk them fortifying the south. Also we risk our moral momentum, so to speak,” our Foreign Minister finished.

“Remember this.” Mikael was grim: “We will be fighting and killing men, not their masters who ordered them here. Christian men for the most part. But,” he continued, before Iyasu could answer, “we also should remember this -- “

“They were the ones who started it.” That was Habte. That bale light was lurking faintly back in depth of his eyes.

“They are better than us.”

Everyone blinked at Father Mikael. And blinked again. And started to answer all at once, but, “We have done what we could do in the time that we’ve had,” the bishop explained. “But Italy truly is better than us at fighting a war. They have better equipment. They have more men, and better trained. If we wait, north or south, they may make it impossible for us to free our lands from them. They may even preemptively invade us. Again.”

“You agree. We should go.”

“Yes, Emperor. We should go. God forgive us, we should go, and very soon, before whatever occupation force is there is ready to receive us. Fewer men will die. Fewer women and children and other civilians will die. Fewer of our soldiers, too -- who will gain a little more experience not at cost, God willing. Experience they will need in months to come.”

“I agree,” said Yimer. “But we should give them a chance to refuse. Or to accept. Not a long chance but a real one. Unless they already have an army on the move from where we cannot see, they will not be able to reach our border to slow us down before we... before we invade.” He wet his lips. He was never at church, so far as I had noticed or had heard by asking around; and rumor said he probably didn’t believe that God existed, whatever he said among us. But he believed in us, and in Ethiopia; and, despite his prejudices about the corruption of people in other lands, he did believe in the value of other people. He could not be happy with killing Italians. Pirates, maybe.

Yimer had wheedled his way into office, or rather he thought he had. Whatever he did or did not believe he had earned our respect. Possibly he had had Iyasu’s respect, to some extent, from the beginning.

Perhaps, I thought, Iyasu really did see the man as a king to be someday.

Yimer stood. “Send them a cable, Emperor. Send it to them by telegraph. Run it by horse if necessary, if the line to our city is down again; let the port at Massawa send it along. I will ride the horse myself! Maybe they will give it back, at least the northern coasts.”

“Maybe elephants will fly?” asked Iyasu. He didn’t chuckle.

“I also say it’s worth a try,” our genius Habte agreed. “And here is why: how long have we been parked on their borders? How long have they seen our divisions, camped and growing? What did the one Italian militia division do, when we began to arrive up north?”

“They have been busy with guarding themselves elsewhere. But, I see,” the Emperor said. “They have had a lot of reasonable warning already! And they haven’t acted.”

“Not so far as we know.” Mikael cautiously tapped his fingers together beneath his nose. “They might have troopships on the way with cavalry, and mountain fighters, and brigades of massed artillery. Even armored cars.” We crossed ourselves; Yimer, I noticed, just a tad late. Never mind. We were all in this together. Unity. “Or, they might not. But by now, they could have sent at least a few reinforcement groups. Did they have none nearby to send? Or, didn’t they care?

“I most surely agree with Yimer, and with Habte. Send the cable, Emperor. Give them a chance to do what is right without us having to make them. They might. They might.”

Emperor Iyasu of Ethiopia wrote the cable. I carried it to the only telegraph office in Abyssinia. Iyasu and the ministers went to the feast. Iyasu gave his speech again. The people sang in cheerful rage.

They didn’t.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 09, 2014, 01:42:19 PM
Part 9 --
“Fuck Italy.”

That was what I was thinking. I was sorry afterward.

I had brought the reply to the Emperor. I had gone to the telegraph office, after the public feast, to sleep on the floor if necessary until an answer arrived. I had made arrangements for relief in waiting there.

I had found the answer already waiting.

He had had me send a message by courier to the ministers. Two had already gone to bed. One had been asleep already. Father Mikael had been praying.

The message had simply said, “They didn’t.”

Also, “Come now.”

Now they were here. Sleepy and outraged.

“Didn’t the governor’s office even forward it on to Italy?” Yimer was sitting in shock, or in exhaustion. He had not been asleep yet. “He couldn’t have. Could he?? He must have made that decision on his own.”

“That is irrelevant now,” said Iyasu. “Even if he did, that is for him and his king or whatever to work out later.”

“Don’t they even care about the people who -- !”

Iyasu interrupted Mikael. “That is also irrelevant. Nor did they care about our people when they invaded us. Or about their own.”

“They won’t even have heard your speech yet. Won’t even have read it.”

Habte agreed with Yimer: “We acted too quickly. It was a very good speech, I thought... I guess.” He had been asleep. Maybe he thought he was dreaming.

“And that, so far as they are concerned, is also now irrelevant. Whether or not he has the right to answer no for his nation so quickly, we must assume he does,” the Emperor said. “Whether or not he is sending word to whatever troops he has nearby, to march for our border and take up guard, we must assume he is doing it now. Whether or not he is telegraphing even more troops in Mogadishu or in Gardo or both to be on the move -- whether or not he even can do that -- we must assume he can. And is.

“Light the signal fires, Habte.

“Sell our secrets for silver, Yimer.

“Father Mikael: pray.

“By dawn our soldiers will march, north and south, to free our people!”

“ Um, aide.” Habte was clearly too dazed; he couldn’t remember my name. “You have the honor. Go to the roof. Give the shout. Light the relay tower fires to put our plan in motion.

“I have monsters to make tomorrow.”

Habte’s eyes said what I was thinking.

[Note: the way the game works, you can make diplomatic demands on national lands belonging to you but held by someone else. The demand is a basket case, and doesn’t bother to list the lands in question. Map tags happen to indicate that those three northern coastal provinces once were part of Ethiopia, but the rulebook says that those are for flavor text and not to be relied upon. How in the world is a nation supposed to know what lands are more-or-less rightfully theirs, even by their own standards, historically speaking!? What did I just demand from Italy? Only the northern provinces? Also the southern coastline? -- I happen to know those are Ethiopian, too, traditionally, but the game doesn’t say so, only calls them part of the Horn of Africa. [Hindsight note: I learned the answers to some of this shortly afterward, but I wanted to preserve my line of thinking when I took the actions here.]

This time it didn’t really matter, I guess: the game said there was a zero chance of Italy ceding the claim -- a fact I didn’t know before writing Part 8 -- all but the final line. ;)  Sure enough they refused.

Worse, the game engine is set up so that even though part of the game has already told me that Italy refused, the moment I sent the demand, it’s also treating my ambassador as still on the mission -- which by the way cost me 143 (million pounds) to do, so that money’s shot, although it dropped me low enough that I could issue currency once again and actually came out a little ahead at the cost of another percent of efficiency. (I’m probably down five or six percent by now.) And at another nice reduction in dissent, which’ll be really helpful soon. Anyway, the point is that if I go in now, as far as the game is concerned I’ll be invading another nation without declaring war, until Jan 25. Will that count as a declare war anyway? Will I be socked for more penalties than if I could first declare war? I’m assuming that by making my demand for territory return, which the game internally acknowledges is a proper claim, I’ll be allowed a causus belli; but it doesn’t seem I have it yet. Or will I ever?! The only good news is that my troops will naturally take some time to cross the border, and I might be able to time it so that it happens on Jan 26 or not much later; and I kind of doubt that Italy is reacting to this provocation yet in-game before my ambassador’s mission is done. But who knows? And the game, playing Italy, might be releasing troops to meet my massing on the border after all; they could be on the way. [Hindsight note: again, I learned some of the answers to this a little later, but that’s for the next part.]

Had Italy accepted, I would have peacefully moved the troops, and if part of what Italy held on our coast, north or south wasn’t ceded, I would likely have let them keep it for a while and play the story out that way.

But here we are. And here we go.]

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on March 09, 2014, 02:42:34 PM
Wow.  Nice job, Jason!  You clearly have some ability in story-crafting.  Love the characters (especially Bishop Maikel, but they're honestly all good).  :) 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 09, 2014, 07:25:27 PM
Thanks again, Martok!

Things are about to get... weirder than I expected, over the next few entries. ;) Veterans of HOI2 are likely laughing their asses off at me now...  ::)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 09, 2014, 07:42:17 PM
I won't have another entry until Monday night (partly because I want to play somewhat further along a path to see if it's going to work out narratively and/or game-mechanically speaking); but while readers are waiting, if you haven't read U'geek's stellar Italy vs. World War 2 AAR here at Grogheads (which inspired my choice for this only slightly ;) ), click here:

The engine is HOI3, so you'll see some differences, although I don't recall what extra DLC (if any) Undergeek was using. He goes far enough to find a reasonable ending spot, too.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 10, 2014, 05:32:43 PM
Part 10 -- Only Playing The Game

“This is intolerable.”

“And yet we must tolerate it,” growled Iyasu in answer to Habte. He and Habte and Yimer were walking personally to the telegraph office. I was following on behind as usual. “And you will write up orders quickly, Habte; send them along by courier, catch up with the troops. A couple of leading scouts are fine, but no one in the division sets a foot across the border posts until they see the signal fires again or otherwise hears from us. They are to withdraw to their previous camps immediately. No mobilized action.”

“That may still happen, sir. Couriers might not arrive in time -- if only we had good radios for all our commanders! -- and the borders aren’t all clearly marked.”

“Unless we want a war with France and Britain,” Yimer said, “we must accept that we can’t simply march across the ITALIAN borders.” He hardly could speak through clenching his teeth. “They do recognize our historical claims to our northern coastal territories already, at least.”

“We told our people we would march. We told our people captive in those territories that we were coming to free them!”

“I don’t like it any more than you do, Habte. None of us do,” the Emperor said. “The only good news is that Italy thinks we’re only... posturing... to make ourselves look interesting. And yes, I know how insulting that is. We must play the game, however, in order to be regarded as a nation and not as bandits to be exterminated by anyone who wants to claim our lands. Like Britain or France.”

That for France!” Habte kicked a pile of horse droppings, going out of his way to find some in the street. I noticed he didn’t say anything about Britain, but that was understandable: Britain controlled a vast and unanswerable strength around us. One without any troops, but still, nothing would be gained by making war on all the world.

“Therefore we will play the game. I will go and cable France and Britain that we also claim the territories southward but that we guarantee their independence for whatever the standard time...?“

“Five years,” Yimer informed Iyasu.

“That way, if Italy joins the Central Powers, or is insane enough to initiate war against them on her own, then we have a reason the other nations will immediately accept to take back our lands.”

“And if Italy sits entirely quiet in her boot?! While taking the opportunity to send in reinforcements here!?”

“That is where you and your spies come in.”

“Sir, my spies are just about worthless!”

“Yes, and I am chiefly to blame for that,” Iyasu said. “I haven’t given you money to build their infrastructure further.” He grimly grinned a lopsided grin. “That will change and soon. Every six months, starting now, I will give you some national funds to build our network and skills. Meanwhile, every time we have an opportunity, we will conduct ongoing global campaigns to increase our chances of making a ‘legal’ war declaration on them. Also we start funding partisans in the local territories.”

“What will happen when we are caught in doing so, sir?” Not if, I noticed Habte didn’t say. Honestly, we barely had any skill at this at all.

“At this point I really don’t care. The worst that can happen is Italy decides to declare war on us, and I am fine with that. We’ll even get a bit of sympathy from it, maybe.”

“And maybe the world will launch into war against Italy.” I couldn’t tell, from how he said it, if Yimer approved of that or not. Father Mikael would not. But he wasn’t privy to these deliberations... and now I realized why.

“We can even try to steal blueprints perhaps from Italy...” “No,” Iyasu shook his head, and Habte closed his mouth with a grunt of annoyance. “A good idea, my friend, but not until we’re reasonably sure of being successful. Meanwhile we should spend our money on something that will help us whether or not we succeed. Or at least on something less expensive.”

“Then, if I may say so, sir, let us stick with the cheapest option, for we will have to keep printing money, and soon the effect on our industry will start to compound. That is going to happen anyway, I know,” said Habte, “because we need the money to seed more research. Still, let us not do what cripples us, if we can help it.”

“In that case, perhaps it would be better not to even spend the money trying at all,” Yimer said. “Not until we’ve built our agents up enough I mean. We can... we can just stay here, year after year, getting stronger, hoping Italy doesn’t... sir... I don’t know what to advise you.”


“I’m pretty sure that trying to steal some technical information would be cheaper than anything else we could try,” muttered Habte.

“That doesn’t give me a war. Unless we’re caught, over and over again perhaps. Maybe it’s worth a try. I don’t know,” Iyasu said. “I HATE,” he struck a wall while walking, “that our people will think we’re only playing political games! That they cannot trust us to help them!

“But that’s all we can do, without facing certain destruction.

“Play the game.”

[Note: seriously? Even if it catastrophically damages my international rep, I can’t just declare a war on someone THE GAME ITSELF agrees is holding my territory? I can’t even declare a war in effect by moving my troops across their borders? I don’t even have the option of moving my troops?!

Well, I can, but I have to be more interventionist first, or more belligerent, or my target has to be more belligerent, or both. I’ve already moved my internal policies sliders once, back when I first began the game, and I won’t have another option to do so again until June 1916. Crap. CRAP CRAP CRAAAAAAP!!

Huff. huff. Fine. At least I figured out how to check the map to show for sure that I have “inherent” claims on those territories up north; and how to put in a claim for territories down south. Still, no one will ever be able to convince me that the jumped-up little Emperor of the armpit of Africa wouldn’t totally be able to march his divisions over the border any time he wanted to, even if that was tantamount to international suicide. {gnashing teeth at the gaminess of the game!} ]

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on March 11, 2014, 09:24:47 AM
Why can't you declare war?  I'm not familiar with the HoI series' diplomatic mechanics. 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 11, 2014, 10:59:20 AM
It really comes down to the intervention vs. isolation slider. In Real Darkest Hour Life, Abyssinia is almost completely isolationist -- almost. They have just enough tics to allow something more than militia and garrisons to be built (though they start off with 10% strength militia anyway, and only one full infantry division -- the latter at 1897 kit, and all the formers at 1870 kit!); and to do things like guarantee someone else's independence, which costs a significant amount of money for someone like Ethiopia (at this stage) but allows you the option to declare war on people who declare war on your associate. Or to decline without a diplomatic penalty (because they aren't your ally either).

The isolationist end of the scale basically has only penalties in the game -- all your espionage and diplomatic options cost more, there are penalties in time and cost to produce combat units, etc. The only good thing about being isolationist is that if you behave badly diplomatically the other countries will forget you did so faster.

In the story, Iyasu has been building up his people to go over and rescue their fellows; but this is one of the relatively few strategic plot details without a direct mirror in the game. In effect he has been pushing the slider way over to intervention. But Italy isn't belligerent at all, or like maybe 1. They'll go up a little soon but not much, still only around 4, out of 100. Abyssinia would have to be at total interventionism in order to declare war on a nation with belligerence that low.

But neither is there much way in-game to affect that interventionism slider. In-story, Iyasu is shoving the slider leftward which he can do because he's an Emperor with popular appeal and a mostly like-minded limited oligarchy, appealing to a popular cause among a fairly small population. In-game, not many options.

This suggests the eventual solution, but I'll talk about that tonight or tomorrow night when I post the next entries.  :D (I'm at the office, and I can't remember offhand if I talk about the solution in the notes for Part 11 or 12. Part 11 definitely contributes a super-annoying game development, though, leaving me three choice to proceed.

Naturally, for AAR purposes, I take the most insane and thus the most dramatic option.  ;D
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 11, 2014, 04:20:24 PM
Part 11 -- Discontented Winter

By January 18, both Germany and Russia seemed weary of war already. Or at least their people did. Our people stamped in place, wanting to rescue more of our people from Italian occupation. On that day, France became the next of the supposedly “free” Entente nations to censor its press.

Yimer was told to no longer stockpile industrial materials, but only to keep enough of an influx to help maintain our balances. Instead, he was to stockpile cash wherever that was possible -- which somehow seemed to be never. Yimer promptly cancelled our deal with Germany, where the exchange was horribly inefficient anyway. Yet he also was told, not to put the plans for armored cars on the market, not until Habte had finished production preparations. He also wasn’t allowed to spend any money after all in doing anything other than planting and training more Ethiopian agents: he had been given this duty instead of Habte, while the other worked on research.

[Note: no, the game does not allow me to sell blueprints that I own, only to sell off blueprints of techs I’ve researched. This is silly, and even insane, but whatever. Habte is still officially minister of intelligence, until I get around to tweaking Abyssinia’s files to reflect Yimer in that role -- I found out how to do it, I just want to play the game a while, and at this point the difference is cosmetic. I also restricted Yimer from agreeing to one-time deals without my consent.]

Mikael, during this time, very carefully watched the final soldiers being kitted from our factories and sent to fill our divisions; as companies finished deployment, he would send out orders for the various sides of our factories to subtly shift to increasing consumer goods. The idea was to raise more money to increase our research infrastructure as often as possible without reducing our industrial effectiveness further. Iyasu had to resign himself to letting our armies upgrade naturally rather than helping along, at least for now.

On Jan 28, Yimer heard from various contacts that the Ottoman Empire had finished overhauling its Dardanelle defenses, whatever that meant. Yimer said it meant that Russia would find it harder now to fight on Ottoman ground.

By the 1st of February, France had pushed back Germany almost to its original claims -- it still held onto territories France had started the war with but which ethnically clearly belonged to Germany, but only held a single ‘new’ territory in France and the heroic Belgians had somehow managed to push them out of Mons!



Germany’s Eastern Front was still doing very well, although it seemed the Russians had managed to retake some lost provinces. Austria-Hungary was somewhat stalled against the defending Serbs, but had pushed a respectable Russian salient. The Ottomans had started their own campaign against Russia, too. What would happen in the spring, who knew?

Word reached us from the Senussi, via our Muslim minority contacts, that Italy wasn’t entirely sitting around letting her empire crumble without intervention: she had retaken a large and hostile Saharan Desert region lost to partisans back last summer. That was no small feat -- or possibly it was for her, but more important for us it signaled that she would not ignore any threats to what she regarded as hers.


Then news started to arrive from the British colonies south of us: the Germans hadn’t forgotten southern Africa. On the contrary, they were exploiting colonial weaknesses north of Dutch South Africa!


Germany hadn’t moved past Lake Victoria yet, but if they took Nairobi, or moved up into Gala, or up the coast to Mombasa, we would only have one colony between us. That would be a signal to redeploy our divisions. Unless we were too late.

On February 4, Ahmed Sharif, sheik of all Senussi tribes, declared that they would join the Ottoman Jihad. In one fell swoop they rose up all across Italian territories and retook their occupied lands, except for the most important ports where Italy still held military and cultural strength. The Tripolitarian leaders rallied to Senussi’s cause of freedom.


Iyasu fumed in impotent jealousy, but strongly debated whether we ought to quickly send out a statement of solidarity for the Senussi, guaranteeing their independence -- at least for now.

If we did, and Italy attacked them, we would have cause for a ‘legal’ war to retake land of our own. But the cost to send a proper diplomatic mission would be more than we could feasibly replace anytime soon by our anemic industry; and yet not enough to justify another emergency printing of money. If they would accept an alliance with us, that would be better of course; but Yimer was certain they wouldn’t: at best, we were vaguely respected trading partners.

After much deliberation between Iyasu, Yimer and Mikael -- Habte remained at work preparing our factories to create his infant monsters -- the Emperor decided to put our precious money toward our technological infrastructure instead, which we would soon be able to once again afford. It came down to this: was the mere possibility we might be able to legally fight against Italy, more important than increasing the strength of our country -- including to fight Italy one day?

On February 7, the satellite states of China denounced the central republic, possibly calling for civil war.

On February 8, England and France signed the Treaty of London, greatly increasing Britain’s role in the war against the Powers. England tried to open negotiations with Greece as well that day, but was told that Greece for now would choose to keep its neutrality. That didn’t seem overly wise to us, but maybe they wanted to see how far Serbia and Albania could erode the troops of Austria-Hungary first.

By February 19, our contacts said that France seemed weary of war -- certainly they had made no further progress, though aside from one province at least they had pushed the Germans out of France.

Then on February 21, 1915, came the news:

Italy had joined the Entente.

[Note: .......AAARRRGGHHHH!!!! .... All right, Darkest Hour, that’s it. Now I’m mad. Prepare to be violated.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on March 11, 2014, 06:24:10 PM
You know, when I first read this entry, I accidentally read the title as "Discontented Writer"...which I suspect might be only too accurate at the moment.  ;) 

Then on February 21, 1915, came the news:

Italy had joined the Entente.

[Note: .......AAARRRGGHHHH!!!! .... All right, Darkest Hour, that’s it. Now I’m mad. Prepare to be violated.]

LOL!  Figures.  ::)  Well this should get interesting... 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 12, 2014, 07:11:07 AM
You know, when I first read this entry, I accidentally read the title as "Discontented Writer"...which I suspect might be only too accurate at the moment.  ;) 

Quoted For Truth!  :D

I was partly discontented during that time because I was trying to write an AAR of it, and frankly finding it dull because I couldn't really do anything yet. This can translate a little into character frustration for dramatic purposes; but as Robert Jordan never seemed to understand, if your characters are bored and frustrated you should only talk about that enough to establish why (if that's even important) and then move along. ;)

So I took the opportunity to catch up myself (and readers, and the characters) on the Actual Great War going on up north -- so far as I (and the characters) could make any heads or tails of it. The fog of war is a harsh mistress. (As shall also become relevant soon in future chapters.  ::) )

My main discontent as a player, however, traces entirely back to Ethiopia not even having 1870s methods of construction. Which is understandable: proto-industrialization. (Though then they also shouldn't have factories. Which they do. Requiring me to invent plot reasons why. Edited to clarify: in HOI2 factories can only be built in a province with this first level of construction tech.) But it is utterly crippling my ability to develop FOR A WHOLE GAME YEAR.

Whenifever I come back to play another pre-industrial society (Senussi or whatever), I'm not only going to get the mod that allows me to start earlier in 1897 (so I'll have time to work before the fighting starts) I've also plotted out a reason why they would start with 1870s construction tech even if they haven't done anything with it or are otherwise even less developed than Ethiopia in summer 1914.

I've also got a plan together, including for this AAR (later), on how to make research work sanely. That'll take a little continual hacking of the save-game files as I go along, but I'll still be having to work hard for it in-game, just in a properly reinforcing way. It sure as hell isn't going to save me anytime soon.  ;)

Then on February 21, 1915, came the news:

Italy had joined the Entente.

LOL!  Figures.  ::)  Well this should get interesting...

I! Was! So! Piççed!

It did however clarify certain drastic plot opportunities, two or three clear choices worth. Those are coming up next in this afternoon's entry.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 12, 2014, 04:49:28 PM
Part 12 -- Didache

“To be clear,” said Archbishop Mikael of Wollo, as the ministers met to digest this horrible news, “this means we have two options now.”

“What a positive way to put it,” muttered Dejazmach Beyene Yimer. Everyone else looked like muttering too, including Mikael of Wollo. But they didn’t. Mikael continued:

“Two ways stand before us now. On one path, we disband our armies, except for a few elite divisions able to meet a German advance, so far as we might expect from them in Africa. We might even join the Entente, but in any case we treat Italy as we have treated France and Britain so far. As allies more or less. Perhaps we spend more money asking Britain to let us pass through to fight against Germany; we might consider this a middle way. Perhaps. But putting this way most bluntly, we demilitarize, and put our manpower back into our industry. We keep on investing, of course, in our technology and in our industry, even in our military research. This should go at least a little faster with our manpower readjusted back to peacetime.

“In return, we effectively give up ever being able to free our coastlines from our oppressor. We break our public promises to do so. And we have to regard our efforts to bring our militia up to par as basically wasted since the summer of last year. We might even have to spend our money earning ourselves a place among the Entente, so that we can have some assurance Italy won’t attempt to take the rest of our land.

“Otherwise, we set ourselves to war against the Entente, even if not in favor of Germany. That would mean we claim the other coastlands held by England and by France -- which we have a historical right to claim -- and we might as well begin to push into Great Britain’s other nearby territories. Maybe we ally with Germany and its allies, maybe not. Maybe we strike for an Africa free of colonizing powers.

“The Peace of God, or the Justice of God. From this fork in the road we cannot see which path will bring us the strongest Ethiopia, and thereby the most security for our people.

“We can however be assured which path will bring more death, for us and for others in Africa.”

“I guess we know your vote already, Father,” grunted Habte. That light in his eye was shining again.

“We are called to live in fair-togetherness with our neighbors,” said the priest.

“You voted to free our people.” That was Yimer.

“Declaring war to half the strength of the world to free our people? If we fail, all our people will die or be enslaved. And if we succeed, we will be the ones who brought new war to a continent mostly now at peace. Let us be fair to the Europeans: on the balance, Africa is calmer now than ever before in history since the Fall.”

“Will you support us if we vote for war?” the Emperor asked.

“Yes. I truly can see good reason to go to war as well. I don’t believe the lesser good is the greater good, however; and I want us to make this choice from reason instead of emotion, letting the emotions follow afterward.”

Iyasu nodded and opened his mouth, but Mikael interrupted: “Let me say this, please; then I will be silent, sir.” Iyasu glared, but nodded. “Please, let us acknowledge that we can grow in strength by staying at peace. Do not disregard this reasonable fact, in our deliberations. That is all.” Then the Archbishop closed his mouth, and closed his eyes, and leaned back in his chair to silently pray.

Iyasu nodded again. He looked around the room, inviting comments by eye.

Habte said, “I am prepared to kill them. But I am prepared to live together in peace. I only say this: I do not want our word to be worth nothing.”

Yimer answered, “What about our word to guarantee Great Britain’s sovereignty?” Everyone grimaced but Mikael, Yimer included. “Did we seriously mean that? Or did we only hope to have an excuse if Italy joined the Powers? In my heart, I did not seriously mean that. We didn’t hold that land when Britain took it; and I’ll be fair, we had not done enough of our duty to stop the pirates operating out of the Horn of Africa. The European powers freed us from that. Then they ignored whose land this ought to be, discounting us as savages. But I’ll be fair: at the time they were right.

“That being said, I want an Africa free for Africans, too. I just don’t know that we have any real chance to do it; and I don’t want our country, and our people, mangled for failing.”

Iyasu nodded at that as well, then faintly smiled and said, “I never sent that cable.”

“...what?” Yimer blinked.

“When we were walking to the telegraph office. You remember?” Mikael hadn’t been there, and gave no sign he thought this strange. “I didn’t know what to do to play the game. I changed my mind after writing it out, and never sent it.

“We owe Britain nothing. And clearly they think they owe us nothing either.”

“That isn’t fair,” said Mikael, but didn’t open his eyes. “They have a major war in Europe to finish as quickly as possible. A war they entered into for protecting a tiny nation from a military invasion. Even if they remembered us and Italy’s grievance against us, they have many more people to try to save from death than all our people on the coast combined -- who after all are not in danger from Italy, other than losing their rights as Ethiopians. To Britain and to France, bringing in Italy saves more people from a group supporting oppressors.”

“We promised them nothing. We promised our people something. And if we strike now, we might be able to free them, and to grow while Europe is busy being distracted by their European war. Then when their war is over, we might have regained enough of Africa to make a respectable peace.”

“Regained,” said Mikael. “We never held more than what we hold now, and the coastlands and perhaps some lands to the north and south. What are we regaining?”

“We,” said Emperor Iyasu, continuing a speech, on February 29, 1915, the European Leap Year Day, “will not be regaining Africa for Ethiopians only. They called this the Abyss! -- the swirling depths of darkness! Let us be fair! That is what we were, not only to them, but to ourselves!

“No more! Let us arise, and organize, and shine our ancient light! Let us retake Africa for Africans, not for the Central Powers of Europe, not for the alliance called Entente, but for all the people of Africa!

“Let us live and grow so that in future centuries we shall have changed the word Abyss to mean what is good and honorable, a light to the world from where we have leapt to a mountaintop!

“Let us build the land of Abyssinia!”

[Note: I honestly had forgotten to send the guarantee to Britain. Until I looked while writing this Part, I truly had thought I had. But I have to say, not only from a real life perspective but even from a mere gaming perspective I’d probably go with either acting as a mercenary for the Alliance and trying to march down south to fight against Germany, or growing Ethiopia at this point and hoping I’d be ready to help throw the Axis out in WW2 umpty-three years from now.

Still, this is a wargames forum, and a wargame AAR, and the most insane path seems more dramatically interesting. :) Consequently, I’m hacking the game file a bit to give Abyssinia a maximum interventionist rating of 10 now. This means a bunch of huge discounts to taking diplomatic actions (declaring war is free anyway), and a huge discount in dissent to declaring war, plus I can declare war on practically anyone now; it also means any sign of bad behavior will tend to get worse over time instead of better, which is pretty much the only downside.]

[Note on the chapter title: “the Didache” is an ancient Christian teaching text, dating back to the early mid-100s, or maybe even back to the 60s, the nickname for which comes from the Greek word we still get “didactic” from. It’s a moral exhortation lecture of the two-paths motif; and seemed thematically appropriate and exotic, although the paths in the game don’t seem so clearly the paths of light and darkness.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on March 13, 2014, 05:44:17 AM
Great entry, Jason!  I actually laughed out loud when the Emperor told the council he hadn't sent the wire to Britain...and again when you admitted you'd honestly simply forgotten to send it.  It's the little things like that which can add so much flavor to an AAR.  :D 

Also, thanks for the explanation about "Didache".  I was wondering about that. 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 13, 2014, 11:37:58 AM
Since I'm going to be out of town tomorrow afternoon for the birthday party of Niecemus Prime (she and Microniece have no idea what I'm saying when I call them that, but like the sound of it), I'm planning to post two entries tonight.

I think in gameplay I'm up to Part 17...? Not at the house where I can check my notes. But I expect sometime next week I'll have caught up enough I won't be able to post an entry a day, because I'll be dividing time between playing, testing theories on how the game works (I have a whole other parallel Ethiopian campaign going on now for some of that, starting at this fork in the path(s) ;) ), and composing Entries.

I promise I have SEVERAL MORE EQUALLY RETARDED AND/OR IGNORANT lapses on the way to report about, including next entry. I can say that things will be somewhat more exciting now at least.  :o
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 13, 2014, 04:08:07 PM
Part 13 -- Contra Mundum

March 1, 1915. Yimer sounded strangely satisfied: “So. We’ve declared war on about a third of the world, and told the other two thirds never mind we don’t need their help. Now what?”

“First things first,” said Habte.

“We rescue our northern people,” said the Emperor.

“Absolutely not.” Everyone stared at the bishop; this, disconcertingly, seemed to be a new habit! “First we protect our lands from France. Then, after we send those orders, we go get our people, north and south.”

“Absolutely,” Habte agreed. “The only troops we’ve seen for months are the infantry in Djibouti. Who showed up when? -- when Italy’s sole militia disappeared, probably to secure their northernmost port, if they haven’t left the region entirely. France now has a reason to invade us. Honestly, by themselves, that division of regular infantry could have killed our nation only a few months ago. France would be insane not to try to claim more land from there, and even pump spare troops as soon as possible into the breach.”

“Do you agree north and south?” asked Mikael. The other two men seemed stunned to have forgotten our only actual threat nearby.

“Oh, yes, certainly,” said Habte. “We have to knock out Italy’s means of reinforcing quickly, as well as rescue our people. I don’t know what we’re going to do if Britain throws together a few small garrison squads and raids our western provinces -- they could take the capital itself! But we’ve crossed the bridge and burned it thoroughly now. Let us go on and hope that if we fail...” Habte couldn’t finish.

“I will observe, if anyone cares to hear,” the Archbishop mildly continued: “for much of our lives, including the past several months, the only reason that we have survived as a nation at all, is because the colonial nations, even Italy, didn’t care to upset other nations by throwing themselves at us. We’ve fractured that charity now, thin as it might have seemed to us.

“Be that as it may. Now we must strike hard to live, and not look back, and pray both for forgiveness, and for a miraculous victory.”

“You don’t sound as if you expect a miracle, Father.” Iyasu was trying to get back leadership of the meeting again, after being minded of France’s threat.

“I don’t. Not for this. But I’ll be grateful if we get one. Meanwhile, what can we send out soon to the other points of the compass around?”

“Soon!?” snorted Habte. “Nothing at all! I was hoping to use the few remaining ten-percent-strength groups to help secure our lines of advance into the coasts, and then to disband them for training up our armored cars...” He rubbed his hand across his bushy hair. “Would it be quicker to march them now, or tell them to move in a group and meet all together at a place for retraining as... what would we train them as? You might as well forget the armored cars for a while -- I’ll have factories ready to start construction before the end of the month, or maybe early April, but I haven’t got a single clue how long they’ll take to build.”

“First things first,” the Emperor said. “Just as you’ve wisely said, my friends. Let’s put up a couple of roadblocks to any French opportunism, and then go get our people. We might have to march back home to rescue another set of occupied territories by then, but I don’t know what to do about that yet. So I won’t worry about it while we think on various options.”

Shortly after, one of our pitiful radios managed to make an intermittent contact with Major General Gebre Hiwot, of the Imperial Guard, stationed in Tendaho along with two ad hoc corps of three militia divisions each.

“What?” he crackled as Habte attempted to explain the need to keep some troops in place and redeploy others a little south. “The French division? When did they come back!? We haven’t seen them there since late October!”

That was embarrassing and convenient.

“Send a division and seize Djibouti,” ordered Iyasu. “We’ll split off another militia from the south to pick up Hargeisa, too. The Imperial guard should stick with the plan to head north and be prepared to help support some other attacks on either side. We’ll also send a couple of weak militias to put some bumps along your northwestern flank.”


[Note: I had totally not even noticed that the French division was gone. It had been gone so long I HAD NEVER NOTICED IT WAS GONE! In my mind, that blue blob simply stood for “French division in territory of France”. So that really was me making plans to protect against an incursion south by the French, and then realizing the French weren’t there anymore apparently, and going back to check my screenshot maps to see whenever the hell I’d seen them last! (Readers can scroll back upthread to see for themselves -- the French haven't been in Djibouti for, like, ever.)

...I’m going to lose this game, aren’t I...?]

After receiving acknowledgment of the alteration to the plan that had been in place for months, Iyasu added to Habte who was standing nearby: “In for a penny, in for a pound, as the British say. Might as well show our people we mean business, and secure our eastern flank entirely all at once, since we can’t help the west right now. Also we’ll need all the factories and mines that we can get, if they have any -- we just terminated all our trade agreements by war!”

“Maybe Yimer can set up convoy routes with any of the other two-third nations in the world who might still trade with us,” grumbled Habte. “That would be handy, too.”

“And part of our plan in any case,” the Emperor agreed. “Yimer and I had talked of that already.”

“Except,” Yimer reminded him, once they were back at the Emperor’s office, “I also told you we have no evidence any of those areas has been even slightly developed by the colonials -- aside from ports and forts! God forbid they have anyone in them ready to defend against us...”

“So taking those lands will be useless, at the present time, other than for popular morale,” said Mikael.

“And to deny our enemies an easy way to strike us back,” the Emperor reminded him -- miffed a little, it seemed to me, at having forgotten what his own intelligence network had told him. To be fair, those were duties currently split between men with rather different ideas of their jobs in mind... “Even technical wizards will find it hard to seize those lands by any invasion from the sea!”

“The British have some soldiers trained to do that, I recall. But yes, yes,” quickly added Habte, “I agree. And also, sending those nearly depleted militias up as recon-by-force, will help us plan to capture Khartoum: and they do have a factory!”

“Probably they will have reinforced by then,” the Emperor sighed. “Even now our troops will need the summer to take the Horn without resistance! -- longer if they find some! Or if some arrive. At least we’ll have plenty of options for building up infrastructure to then start building factories from. Holy Spirit, guide our hand and protect us... we could be spreading suicidally thin, without any way to really strengthen our hold until the winter...” He sighed and then he sharply inhaled. “But we loaded the guns and pulled the triggers already. Our only hope is to grab as much as we can, while we can, and then to hold it as long as possible while we build up our lands from inside out. We may have to retreat, or be overrun, in several places before we’re strong enough to take them back for good. But we’ll never be strong enough in time to do much at all, if all we do is stand around or push half-heartedly. Grab it all, drop if we must, drink what we can, try it again.

“The monkey fails to escape the trap of his greed by not letting go.” The scholars looked confused, except for Mikael who nodded. “A proverb from our jungle regions. Monkey-hunters catch their prey by setting out jars with treats and open tops. Monkeys smell and see the treats, grab themselves a handful -- and then are still there hours later, when the hunters return. Because they won’t let go,” he said. “Their fists are too large because of their pride.”

“Or because of their desperation,” the archbishop said.

“I’ll try to give our grasping monkeys some monsters to shoot the hunters with,” said Habte; shaking his head as he left the room.

[Note: I learned that parable long ago when I was only 6 or 7 by reading a book for children from African missionaries. I don't know whether monkey hunters really used to do that.]

[Title note: "contra mundum" is Latin for "Against the world", though I can't vouch for the grammatic accuracy. ;) ]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: bob48 on March 13, 2014, 04:54:09 PM
A very entertaining read, Jason. Good stuff.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- a Hearts of Iron Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 14, 2014, 07:15:37 AM
Argh, I got distracted last night -- success is getting more desperate -- and forgot to add another part in case I couldn't do it this afternoon or tonight...

I'm certainly learning the game as I go, this way, rather than stumbling around as one of the super-combatants like Russia! But HOI vets will be totally mocking my ignorance soon. Again. Repeatedly.  ::)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 14, 2014, 03:00:26 PM
Part 14 -- But Who Bewares The Ides

On March 8, Yimer negotiated a rather pitiful trade agreement with Germany -- half the agreed on materials weren’t getting to us for the supplies that we were sending out. However, it was better than nothing.

On March 9, all the Entente hit Germany with a trade and tech embargo, largely backed by the navy of the United Kingdom. Thus our agreement ended again, not by Germany’s fault. Annoying, but the German people would surely be suffering more right now from every kind of sadness of war (aside from general occupation).

On March 16, 1915, just before dawn, seven of our militia divisions, under the command of our greatest general, stumbled into a hidden British infantry division as they crossed into the mountains of Asmara. Our war's first battle began.

“A British division of infantry??? What in the actual hell!?” That was the joke told darkly in the streets that morning, attributed as a saying of the Emperor. Likely someone had heard him shouting something like that around six o’clock when he got the news: his window had been open to appreciate the newly coming dawn.

“I do feel reasonably confident we’ll win,” said minister Habte. “We outnumber them enormously, enough to offset the balance of odds against us otherwise.”


“We have to expect to win by superior numbers for a while,” he continued. “If we can.”

“But a BRITISH division??!”

“The area is widely regarded as more of a key strategic position than Massawa for some reason, sir. That is doubtless why they decided to park -- “

“A BRITISH DIVISION THERE IN ITALIAN TERRITORY! ...why is all the rum gone?” muttered Iyasu, checking his stock of supplies.

“Diplomatic reasons, sir. Ask Yimer.”

“Diplomatic reasons,” said Yimer an hour later. All four ministers now were present; Yimer had been awakened from a disreputable building elsewhere in town, but no one held this against him. He wasn’t married. “You donated all our rum, back last summer, as a gift to -- “

“Focus, man. The British division our men are fighting and killing and dying against.” Iyasu was drinking an orange juice and seltzer mix, along with just a touch of pure grain alcohol.

“Also diplomatic, sir, I’m sure. Who has ports they want to secure? Britain, France, and Rome. Who has the nearest troops not already at the ports? Certainly Great Britain. Fastest way to get there? Technically by ship. What if they don’t have enough ships nearby, to pack the division and all its gear? March it in on foot. Italy is their military ally now, and so de facto grants them rights to travel through their territory. General.... whoever-he-is,” Yimer wiped his eyes; Iyasu offered a drink, and stood to mix him a ‘morning toast’. “Thank you, sir. He hasn’t reported fighting against entrenchments, so the British have just arrived. We probably caught them marching.”

“Not by surprise, unfortunately,” said Habte. “Still I agree. We caught them on the hop. General Nessibu, by the way. Likely enough this means the British coast will not be garrisoned when we arrive, yet. Not for another month or so,” he answered the Emperor’s unspoken question. “Only ruts and paths connecting mountain valleys to one another right on down to the sea. It’ll be nightmarish just to travel, but they have to secure the area, too, as they go.”

“Who will reach where first?”

“Most of our divisions won’t secure their target areas until early to late mid-April,” Habte replied. “The Gubba Sefari marching into El Qadarif, our westernmost advance, will likely be next to arrive, end of March. They can march faster along tribal paths, due to having only ten-percent strength! In effect they’ll act as a base for sending out scouts to tell us what chances we have at taking Khartoum.”

“Certainly next on our list, later this summer, once we free the coastline. Not IF we do!” the Emperor sharply admonished his cabinet members. “I won’t be unrealistic, but we have to intend to succeed and send morale to the troops.”

“Propaganda, sir?” That was Mikael.

Iyasu flatly glared. “Maybe, yes. But not right now. That takes money we need to be spending elsewhere. Everyone caught up now? Very well. I will keep the radio watch and send my aide to bring you if there’s serious trouble. Back to what you were doing. Not you, Yimer, get some real rest.”

“I was truly resting, sir. I have a regular... friend. Cheaper than a wife, but she provides me company.”

“Careful what you say to your not-wife. Very well. Habte... ?”

“My wife is dead. Work is my wife. My life, I mean. I could use the sleep, but I won’t have time. We need the money and also the weapons, soon. Very soon. Far too soon...”
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 15, 2014, 12:54:20 PM
Part 15 -- The April Fools

Throughout late March, as the battle for Asawa raged (if “raged” could be an apt word for it -- we were killing almost as many horses as men, and not quite many of those), Emperor Iyasu V made several personal deals to try to offset our material deficits. Each and every one was then abruptly cancelled within hours. In one case Belgium signed with the Central Powers the very next day after cancelling a particularly nice trading deal that would have resupplied almost all our metal deficit. Greece continued to stay neutral in the European war, but mobilized itself in case of encroachment by Bulgaria.

Finally, on at 3 pm on March 29, 1915 -- the same day a tentative deal with Bolivia was struck to supply quite a bit of our rare material deficit for only ten percent of our supply surplus -- General Nissbu and his army of Ethiopian militia routed the British division with its more experienced general in the Battle of Asmara. Our casualties, 1510 men. Theirs, 1920 men, 886 horses, and 6 artillery pieces.

Early the next morning, our meager scout militia division secured El Qadarif, a land of pleasant plains across a river from Khartoum. Preliminary scouts sent out while the militia was working on El Qadarif, said the city didn't seem to have any defenders, British or otherwise.

“Take it,” Iyasu ordered. “I know they need rest, but their organization isn’t so bad; and they’ll organize much better than out in the city.” Couriers rushed and radios tweaked to try to send the orders: onward to Khartoum!

“That,” said Habte, studying the battle report, “was a lot of horses for an infantry division. I wonder if it was reinforced by a cavalry brigade. Also, we didn’t destroy it. We really barely dented it. Granted we were winning, but if it withdrew so quickly then that confirms it never was meant to hold the ground.”

“Could’ve been worse,” Yimer tightly said. “We could have been facing two or three divisions of cavalry supported by a headquarters ramming up our rear. So to speak.” He passed a scouting report.

Four or five curses fell at once. I’m not sure who said what or didn’t. Things were a little panicky right that moment.


“They landed quickly.” Habte was shuddering.

“Or rode north from Mombasa maybe.”

“Maybe both,” Yimer answered. “The cavalry is moving north, but could have come from Port Garissa. Scouting reports -- mostly from traders -- seem to describe a headquarters unit marching southwest. Both of them British. An HQ unit wouldn’t have come from Italian territory into British.”

“And,” Habte agreed, “not only wouldn’t have gotten ahead of an actual fighting unit, but couldn’t have outpaced cavalry. It’s going to get behind the horses as they advance and support them.”

“So,” said the bishop. “Arba Minch. That will be the first we lose. On the way to Addis Abeba.”

“Defeatism isn’t an option, Father.”

“Realism, sir. We won’t be defeated unless they take our factories here.” At least the Archbishop didn’t say “when”.

“Recommendations for stopping them, Habte.”

“The closest units able to support the capital, sir, are totally depleted militia units. One of which, in Goba, was preparing to take Baidoa. I’d say pull back that one, and the one which was going to take Kassala. It hadn’t crossed the river yet the last time that I heard from them. Both can travel light and fast.”

“Because they both are weak,” the Emperor said.

“I know. They couldn’t win, but they might delay until we manage to bring the Imperial Guard. That.... could be May, sir. Maybe the end of May.”

Maybe the end of us all.

Bolivia canceled their trade agreement with us on March 30. In only three months, maybe a little more, our factories would fail.

Reports of another British cav division arrived on April 1.


[Note: ohhhh good, they have lots more cav where that came from...  :P :P :P :P]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: bob48 on March 15, 2014, 02:10:48 PM
Looks like the midden is about to hit the windmill.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 16, 2014, 08:04:12 AM
Part 16 -- Bloody April

April 1, 1915. Another cavalry group appeared in Juba.

Habte tapped his fingers on his notes and studied the map. “I strongly advise you pull off some divisions from our corps, and march them back to us. We don’t know how badly we’ll need them there,” he said after raising a hand to forestall a remark he expected Iyasu to make -- but then flustered a bit when the Emperor simply nodded.

“I know, I understand. I only wanted to see if you had reached the same conclusion,” said our leader. “We know how badly we’ll need them here.”

“I didn’t expect them to move against us so quickly,” Yimer said.

“Horses can quickly ride. And,” Iyasu continued, “for all we know these might be understrength scouting forces, able to move more quickly: Britain must be funneling reinforcements into its European combat troops. We might be at an advantage here.”

“Really?!” asked the bishop.

“No. But it doesn’t hurt to pretend. Aside from pretense, for practical purposes we should assume we aren’t, but that we can win anyway. Now. How do we fight up to three divisions of cavalry each?”

“Only one way with what we have. Pin them down,” said Habte. “Let them attack. Put up a blocking element where they want to go. Hit them from the sides and from the rear, if we can manage it. Don’t let them get mobile again. Cut their supply if possible. Don’t ever let them cut our supply.”

“We can assume pretty safely they want to come here and say hello,” the Emperor grimly grinned. “However, they seem to want to do it in strength, not in a push from every side. Or not yet. The newest cavalry troops are heading down toward where their h-q is going. That doesn’t make sense, except to then come north along one path of advance, supporting the initial invading cavalry.”


[Note: guesstimated paths of advance]

“If only we had some terrible monsters to run the horses down,” muttered Mikael.

“If only I had been given several years of preparation before we told the world to get out of Africa!” Habte retorted. “And, before someone asks, you’d better get ready to understand that at this time the best we’ll be able to do is produce a brigade of armored cars. In about a hundred days.”

“What will that do?” “Not much,” the scientist answered the Emperor’s caustic question. “A brigade of mobile machine gun pits will fight about as well as maybe a half-strength militia division. Which will be amazing when you realize I’m talking about perhaps ten cars or twenty doing the work of five thousand mostly untrained men carrying forty-year-old equipment. But still, they cannot operate without support yet. And militia, by the way, don’t have enough internal organization to support them.”

“And we can probably reinforce several divisions to more than half full strength by then anyway,” the Emperor added. “And likely will be fighting over those same production factories by then. Thank you, I understand. We cannot destroy the world yet with a score of armored mobile machine-guns.”

“We’re lucky to have the machine guns, sir. But we’d be better off deploying them here in the capital buildings. Just in case.”

“Can we do that yet?” the bishop asked.

“No. I meant, we're lucky to have the means of making them. If we survive this raid. They might prove handy later.”

“That’s the spirit, Habte!” The Emperor clapped his hands together, stopping the spat developing between two of his scholars. “We have to look ahead and believe we can win! If we can’t, we’ll find out soon enough. Now -- “

“I believe they’re weak,” mused Mikael. In answer to questioning glances he continued. “The second division anyway. If they were strong, their leaders would go ahead and send them in to open up a second front as soon as possible, maybe reach us first. Instead they aren’t even going inside our nation, by one territory, and then proceeding down the line securing a broader run of supplies behind their thrust until they connect with the main advance.”

“... that’s very perceptive, Father! Hm,” pondered Iyasu. “So, we’ll have more chances to spread our militia divisions out in depth and then press in all around them.”

“We had better pray the troops we see to the south are only headquarters then,” said Yimer. “I’ll try to get more information soon. And try to get some kind of agreement to stick with various robbers,” he growled, and then departed.


[Note: current defensive organization plans; doesn't show our offensive operations]

Days passed; corps and divisions marched and trotted; militia reinforced. The Emperor stopped attempting to set up trade agreements himself -- they always seemed to utterly fail -- and reluctantly let his foreign minister do the tiresome work of fishing for any kind of deal that we could muster.

On April 7, our Army of Wag -- two very outdated militia divisions -- liberated Djibouti from the French, kicking our first European colonial power out of eastern Africa. No one had opposed their march. The French hadn’t bothered to even slightly develop the land, except of course the port -- which wasn’t large, but only the minimum size for handling naval units. It did however mean that now we might be able to set up a convoy. If we had the time and wherewithal to build or buy and recommission a ship. But of course, now we could receive a convoy, too. Yimer started investigating various options.

The very same day, General Nessibu’s Begemder Liberation Army, five divisions strong of only twenty-year-out-of-date infantry militia, finished freeing Asmala. The British were clearly retreating back into Kassala, but hadn’t gotten there yet. Since from there they might be able to threaten our nation from a different angle --and cut off any support to Khartoum, assuming that that aggressive scouting suicidal operation worked -- Iyasu decided to split the Army (for want of a better word) into two corps and shorten our defensive line by taking Kassala and Port Sudan to the north, leaving Italy’s port at Massawa open for now until the troops that were busy securing Asab could take it, too.

On April 9, Iyasu held another feast for the poor in Addis Abeba, proclaiming to them and to the press, “Ethiopia now is being freed!”

I noticed that he didn’t invite the press to his office this time.

On April 10, the Ottoman Empire freed Kuwait from the British, too. That was what they said.

And on April 10, 1915, Habte Giyorgis Dinegde gave us hope -- if we could live long enough to drink its bounty.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 16, 2014, 08:06:19 AM
The nice thing about having a 'small' war going on, is that I can talk in more detail about the operational strategies and guesses.  ;)

Three entries scheduled later tonight (really one entry split in two by an extended explanatory digression about what I'm going to do in the game.)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 16, 2014, 08:11:15 AM
Looks like the midden is about to hit the windmill.
( ( (

Current pooplevel 3.

Who would have thought that declaring war on EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT OF COLONIAL AFRICA TEAMED TOGETHER might be a bad idea?  ;D

On one hand, if I do manage to win (even with a little haxoring of the save game file), I will have seriously earned it.

On the other hand, I think henceforth I'll track changes with those little early 20th century electric fans...  8)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 17, 2014, 05:06:21 PM
Part 17 -- Downtown Abbey

“You may be wondering why I have called you all here.” Habte sounded rather more important than usual today; he certainly sounded dramatic. “It isn’t about the armored car, but yes, it’s ready for production at our factories -- for all the good that will do us -- and to be sold to other countries, Yimer. Which will help us more.

“But that is not what I wish to announce.

“I have invented the future.”

“Wait, hold on, back up,” Yimer said. “Just to reiterate, twenty or thirty armored cars, produced in two or three months, won’t destroy the world?”

Habte sighed. “Of course they won’t. What will be developed from them will. Or might. Twenty years from now perhaps. But make no mistake: the enemies we war against have already put this technology to work on aircraft like the one I imported for study. The Fokker Scourge last year. Bloody April is what they’re calling this month, up in Europe. Flying machine gun nests, traveling forty or even fifty thousand meters every hour over practically every terrain. Some of them are large enough to carry a belly of bombs. Five hundred pounds of high explosive each.” He paused to let that sink in; Yimer nodded, biting his lip and faintly added “’s true.”

“How could we ever defend against that?!”

“By having a war in Europe to distract them, Emperor. Otherwise, only by building such aircraft of our own, to intercept and hunt them down, dueling in the sky. Land-based artillery throwing up shells in the sky might randomly bring one down, out of thousands of detonations. Powerful machine gun posts might do it, if they fly low enough. Still, they exist, and if they exist the armored tractors on the ground cannot be far behind.”

“And those are the monsters we’ve dared to fight.” Mikael stared a thousand miles away beyond the walls of our little office. One such winged craft. One such tractor. Our stone and wooden walls would simply bury us.

“We don’t know when they are coming. But they will come, sooner or later. Still,” said Habte, “we must struggle on and fight and not give up. Even the slightest chance is better than nothing.”

“It sounds,” the Emperor gently said, “as if our enemies are the ones to have invented the future, Habte.”

“They have a long head start, yes. We must try to fight and hold on for years, while we struggle to catch up.”

“But...” the Emperor sighed. “We cannot ever catch up. I see that now. Lord, save us, what have I done? My friends, I have murdered our nation...”

“We might not catch up, sir, whatever we do. But I doubt they have what I now have.”

“Those... cards with holes?” the Emperor hopelessly sighed again, shaking his head.

“No, I don’t have those yet. Though soon I will.”

“Soon? You said you would have to start again from nothing!”

“That, sir, is true. But I didn’t mean it the way you’re worried about.” Habte rubbed his exhausted face. “I didn’t want to tell you what I was doing, because I didn’t think you’d appreciate it, and I couldn’t be sure it would work. Better for you to think that I had ignorantly burned my notes and progress, as though I was crazy. Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not...” he lowly growled, apparently to himself. Now Iyasu looked worried. Had the stress of our predicament cracked the wits of our greatest genius? “I have researched a THEORY OF RESEARCH! ... ..... see, I was right,” he said, looking at Iyasu’s expression. Yimer was hiding his face in his hand. Mikael, oddly, nodded and slightly smiled. Did he know about this already...? “Here are copies for each of you, in this box. The aide will give them to you.” That was me. They were impressively heavy binders, but in the box were only two. Before I could ask, Father Mikael explained to me, “I have one already, my son.”

“Can we sell them for more than usual?” Iyasu asked, dubiously thumbing through the pages.

“Under no circumstances, ever, would I allow you to do that, sir!” Habte looked horrified. “Burn my notes if you want, but please, please don’t sell them. Or only to nations which make you their king!”

Now Yimer and Iyasu looked confused. Mikael was nodding in agreement, though: “Our research right now is disorganized, and I don’t mean in ways a machine could fix. The research teams themselves must learn to apply their research across their disciplines, and to get better at researching.

“Science, up until recently, has historically been... how can I put it...”

“A competitive hobby,” Habte snorted in derision. “The greater nations are no doubt organizing their research now into truly national programs. But they don’t have my protocols and regimens.”

“How do you know?” Iyasu asked.

“Experimentally, sir. If they did, they would be very much farther along by now. And we know the principles, sir, for why they do not.”

“Because they don’t have militant scientist monks, to put it bluntly,” said the Archbishop. “Partly because the world has been slowly but steadily schisming natural study from religion, and thus from religious discipline, over the past three hundred years or so. For which the various churches also share the blame. Eventually, by intentional and accidental trial and selection, the nations will evolve, let us say, organizations of this sort without the religious connections. We have the opportunity to get there first. In theory. And in practice, if we have time to put it to work before we’re destroyed.”

“So -- this is a... plan... you two have been working on together.”

“For a while, yes,” said Habte. “Sir, I make no pretense. We have a long way to go, and there are limits to how fast we can make it work. If I had ten years, I am confident that we could put up our best research team against any other team in the world -- and finish the same assigned project ten times faster.”

“... ........ what?”

“10 percent of the time that they would take. Maybe a little better, even; like I said, there are limits, and we would have to train the teams religiously -- not in religion, you understand, but very much like our monks do. Or like the finest military combatants in the world. No: much better than that! Our training will help the training of our soldiers, though.”

Iyasu slowly stood. His face grew pale, and he tried to sit down again but missed his chair.

“You understand what this means, yes?” The Genius of Abyssinia rubbed his hands together. “If we can survive, in twenty years, or even fifteen, or maybe even ten, we will be the technologically dominant nation on the planet. Probably in a race with nations who managed to figure out the methods and principles, true. But we will be ahead. And we will stay ahead.”

The Emperor of Abyssinia was nodding. “If we survive.” Yimer was closing and opening his mouth.

“These methods,” the Archbishop said, “are a hundred years ahead of where the world is racing toward. We have them now, because we spend much of our time looking back upon, and respecting, the faded glory still among us. Which is also, in a way, the history of science.

“The only bad news, aside from needing time to pull this together...” The Archibishop of Wollo inhaled. “I am no longer Archbishop.”

“...what!?” That was Iyasu. “What?!” That was Habte.

“The Pope in Alexandria has told me it is improper for one of our order to be the head of a government which is hurling itself and its people into continental war. Even if the war is only the smallest in the world right now. He sympathized with the plight of our captive people, but still: a bishop should be a man of peace. And I am not only supporting warriors, which would be somewhat different. I am directly supporting war by governmental fiat.

Iyasu sighed and nodded at that. “I could depose you if that would help.” He tried to lighten the tone of the offer to show he meant no grievance.

“If I don’t voluntarily quit, no it wouldn’t help. But even if I voluntarily quit, I still would want to help with the research disciplinary project. We were going to create the Wollo Monastery Research Hub...”

“We still will,” Habte assured them.

“...but much of what we research won’t be arts of peace but war,” the Minister said.

“Therefore,” he continued, in a speech to reporters that afternoon, “in compliance with the options given to me by our Pope, I am resigning as Archbishop, effective immediately. No,” he answered a question, “I do not resent his decision. We only disagree over how I can best help Ethiopia, and I accept his right to manage his officers. I am not rebelling, I am resigning. There is a difference. A doctor might resign to fight in war, for example. Unlike such a doctor... I can never go back to being a bishop. I accept this. My country is more important than my personal preferences. Yes, you may call me ‘the Minister’ instead if you want. Our Protestant friends will think that very funny.

“No, good question, the monks who are volunteering, from all over Ethiopia, to create and staff the Wollo Monastery, are not giving up their monastic vows at all; or else they will not be allowed to join. We will not directly engage in conflict, for example. Mostly in fact, we will be offering management expertise and training, together with medical research if we get an opportunity. We can teach soldiers discipline, and organization and personal courage. How to operate together in a group and alone, and how to support whoever is operating alone. Probably we will cooperate with the Oletta in learning industrial engineering as we go. Perhaps we will learn other things, normally peaceful things which will strengthen our country peacefully -- while we are at war.

“Yes, another good question, thank you sir. Anyone wishing to join, man or woman, will certainly be required to meet our disciplinary standards. Due to the circumstances, unmarried men and women will live apart from one another; married men and women will be provided for. But neither men nor women will be required to take monastic vows, although that option will also be available. Muslims and other non-Christians will be allowed to join us, yes, for the good of Ethiopia and the continent at large, as this is not a religious order nor for religious research and debate.

“Oh, you have remembered well!” He seemed to be regaining some of his cheer again. “Yes, you are right: little villages of this sort were scattered around the world, once, helping preserve and transmit the knowledge of ancients before us down to their descendants, against barbarian war and invasions.

“Up north, in Europe, they were once called abbeys.

“And we will spread them all across the nation, as we live!”

All the Wollo Abbey’s research posts and support personnel were filled in hours.

They prepared to build our future. Our ministers prepared us to defend it.

The cavalry still was coming.

[Note: this is where I start lightly haxoring the save-game files to institute a much more systematic and sane "research" protocol in-game. In real-life nations had started doing this already back in the 1800s, and were certainly well-along in doing it now -- as the game tacitly recognizes with various clearly 'national' research centers -- but in-game research proceeds by the nation paying a small amount of money to let totally separate teams work on an assigned project from which they learn nothing and totally forget what they did to get that far, much less cooperate among themselves.  :P Granted, the research engine in the game would have to be somewhat rewritten and heavily re-balanced to keep a more-or-less historical development track. Still, since this is an alt-history where Ethiopia decides not to ostrich in the sand, I guess it's also an alt-history where scientific groups even in a heavily regulated nation assigning and paying for research projects wake up in a brand new world every few months.  ::) ::) ::) I've tried to paper-over this engine problem, and my solution to it, in the plot, while exploiting my solution as a way to bootstrap Ethiopia up, perhaps, into being able to achieve something notable.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 17, 2014, 05:44:12 PM
Okay, in this entry I'm going to step out of character for a while to explain what I'm doing in principle and in practice from here on out in regard to research. Anyone interested in the story can just skip along to the next part (I'll provide a link here for convenience ( when I post it tomorrow), or click off and wait until tomorrow.

I provide these notes only to show how much I am and am not cheating (to put it bluntly), so readers don't think I'm magically popping techs out of nowhere, or conversely are wondering why research constraints are still causing me problems for A VERY LONG TIME (also leading to story details, btw).

The new research protocols are this.
(1) Whenever a research team completes five projects, I’ll bump their basic skill by 1 (which increases their particular research speed). And I’ll be fair, teams that start above 1must complete the requisite number of projects. However, I will retroactively assign every pre-researched project (with which the nation started the game) to a researcher’s credit, matching components with expertise. For any small country, like Ethiopia, that won’t be many, but they still ought to count. Any researchers who show up along the way (and some are possible even for Ethiopia), don’t get retroactives, though: they’ll have to earn up to their level before they increase in general skill. We’ll say this represents them becoming acclimated to Habte’s special disciplines and protocols etc. (In effect Habte has pre-invented 21st century research organization methods, just not the tools yet, and of course with a local cultural flavor for the time and place.)

(2) For every researcher (or team) I’ll keep track of which components they have worked on during a project (including pre-research projects retroactively attributed to them). When they have five units of experience in any component type (regardless of what the particular component is, some of which are inherently more difficult than others by the way), they will gain a specialization in that component type. All researchers start with a few already, and those count as five units in that type of component. I don’t know what the limit is for how many specializations a researcher can have (I do know they can go as high as six at least), and once they reach that limit they cannot have any more specializations in play at any time, but this will allow them to organically grow according to what they’re assigned: they may be assigned Projects X and Y due to having component specialty helpful there, but through working on both projects the team picks up five units of experience in another component type, so picks up a new specialty. The game engine then applies this as a speed bonus of some kind (I think maybe 50%?) to finishing any similar kind of component in a project, though not a speed bonus to the project overall (unless all the components fit a team's research specialties of course).

(2.5) Once I've hit the game-engine limit for research specialties on a team, I'll keep adding them on a notesheet (where I'm tracking this data independently), and then activate them and de-activate others where applicable for a project.

(3) For every five more points of experience in a component, beyond initial specialization (which the game applies as a speed bonus), I will go in and manually apply a pre-completion bonus to each component of an assigned project matching that specialization. So after the next five times a team works on some kind of “electronics” component, I’ll go in and set all “electronics” components (if any) in their next research projects to 10 percent pre-completed. After the next five units of experience, it’s 20 percent, and so on. Different particular research elements within a general type (like different electronic types) tend to be inherently harder or easier to apply to a project, and most or all projects seem to have a double-slow code set up to make the final component finish at a basic half-speed rate modified by other factors afterward), but they shouldn’t have to be relearned EVERY SINGLE TIME.

(4) But I still need to have better cross connection between teams. So when a team starts earning specialty pre-completion bonuses, each team with such a bonus can grant half their pre-completion to a team assigned to the project, so long as the other teams aren’t working on a project yet themselves! If the assigned team doesn’t have that specialty yet at all, then naturally it still labors under the reduced rate of advance, but at least it has a jump thanks to reference from other teams who aren’t fully busy and so can lend a hand.

(5) I’ll add a limit so that in no case can any component be pre-researched beyond 95 percent, and then the usual rates of advance (pro or con) will apply. After all, even a perfectly understood component still has to be implemented in a new project in different ways than before.

(6) I’ll accept that new research slots only open up every 20 ICs, but whenever I reach the built-in game limit, I’m going to hack the save game to give us a new slot with each extra 20 ICs; and I’ll keep track so if we lose ICs I’ll set the slot to zero until when-if-ever we pick up ICs again.

(7) As noted above, I’ll go shopping around in annexed countries (via a save-game search) for potential (not actual) research teams (so that the conquering country doesn’t have a research team stolen out of their working stable), particularly looking for those who have some expertise I’m lacking in my own teams right now, and spend some reasonable kind of money to bring them to Ethiopia, figuring they escaped the coming storm and are looking for work, so I’ll give them a signing bonus plus moving expenses. By the same token, since they might be expected to have been hired by another country already, I’ll only hire ones with skills of 3 or less. So no nicking an expat Einstein, for example. (This, by the way, will also have story ramifications soon.)

(7.5) Relatedly, I'll go back through my saves to see where the annexed nation was as shortly before its fall as possible, and make a list of their techs and blueprints (but not their inventions as I figure those have to be dealt with separately in any case). Any finished tech or blueprint that matches reasonably well with one of the research teams will be imported, unless I've already finished them myself. Blueprints on techs I'm not currently working on will be simply dropped in to be researched by teams under the usual rules (with modifications as above). Blueprints on techs I'm currently working on will require me to do some in-game finagling that I won't go into the details about but which we may say represents in-game the research team taking a few days to look over the blueprints, evaluate and compare where they are in their own research, and then integrate the bps (and the speed bonus henceforth) into their progress. Already researched techs, I've discovered, cannot be simply dropped in, at risk of losing some or all of their bonuses; but I can set them up to be quickly researched by teams while other projects are put on hold to be resumed later. This gets them 'recognized' as properly activated and applied in-game, and can actually take up to half a month in-game time, so it isn't like they just magically pop in: effort has to be spent to get them integrated into the national production system etc.

(8) If a project must be abandoned, I’ll check where the percentages of completion are for each of the components, jot those down for archiving in their proper order along with who was working on the project, and only then do the re-assign. When-if-ever I pick up the research again, I’ll manually set the completion numbers back where they were, with two restrictions: no fiddling around further with reference pre-research (presumably already factored in, and simply too difficult to track for projects abandoned a while), and only the team who first worked on the project can get the full restart effect. The pre-completion numbers will otherwise each be multiplied by ten percent of the basic skill of the restarting team, so even a skill 9 team will only start at 90% of whatever the previous pre-completion numbers were.

Tracking research hack-bonuses summary: increase skill 1 for every five projects completed; give component bonus for every five components completed; + 10% bonus for every five completed afterward up to 90%; ALL specialty +bonus teams who aren’t on assignment can provide half their specialty pre-complete score to EVERY assigned project’s relevant component type; in no case can a pre-completion score exceed 95%; take a snapshot for restoring an abandoned project later, but multiply each pre-completion number by 10% of the basic skill of another team if they pick it up instead.

In short, if I survive long enough, Ethiopia/Abyssinia’s research is going to exponentially skyrocket; but I still have to work very hard to earn that progressive skyrocketing.

Have I mentioned, by the way, that the save files for this game run just over EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED STANDARD PAGES and just under ONE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED NINETY-TWO THOUSAND WORDS? And it grows LARGER (usually, unless nation data is deleted from being annexed) with EVERY SINGLE SAVE?!

Trust me. This is relevant to my achievement just reported. ;)

Right then. Back to Actual Strategic Thingies next time.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 18, 2014, 11:53:09 AM
Until I can get back to the narrative this afternoon, some Fraternally Anticipated Questions:

Can any of the characters stage a coup?

In-game, that kind of thing is handled by scripted events (which require various pre-conditions to meet), and maybe by decisions -- I'm not sure what happened first which way, but over in China the Republic went back to being Imperial and several of its satellite states stayed loyal while others formed a National Protection League. At least one, maybe both of those events were reported in the gamelog in the form of decisions that a player would have to make, even though the computer was playing China and its various subordinates -- and even though the computer has repeatedly followed the same course while I was reloading, and playing an alternate ovearall strategy, for testing various engine functions -- meaning there's likely a script for the computer to follow every time, making it a de facto 'event' rather than a decision, although a human player would be presented the choice. {inhale!}

Whether there are any provisions for that sort of thing, written into the vanilla DHFull grand campaign for Ethiopia, I don't know.

I do know the game data allows for the appearance of other 'characters' in later years as options for replacing the current ministers; and I know how to activate those in-game once they become available, but that would involve replacing ministers with other ministers; but that isn't quite the same as a coup unless provisions were made in the game's leader list for Ethiopia for a minister to be assigned to more than one position. Habte started out already assigned to just about everything, with definite skills and opinions on his topics, but I don't recall seeing anyone in the game-save code being regarded as an alternate for anyone else at a position with an activation at a later date -- which would reflect the ability to 'manually' set a coup in-game.

But I also know how to tweak the save-game file now to manually effect a coup and put various people in control (with various capabilities) whenever I want. So I do possess the ability to write a coup into the gameplay.

Am I planning on doing so? Not specifically as a goal, but I have intentionally written everyone so that if a coup looks dramatically interesting, or the best way to explain a game quirk, I have the option of taking that route. Anyone so far in the story could stage a coup, in that sense, up to and including the Emperor's wife (waaaay behind the scenes), several of the generals, and the unnamed narrator-aide himself! (And another very significant potential option is on the way in later chapters I've already play-composed but haven't posted yet.) I've even set myself the narrative challenge to look out for a way that Iyasu could stage a coup against himself!! -- not least because, thanks to a quirk in the game engine, this has already happened!!!  :o And I had to write a way around it. More on that for the next question...

Will any of the characters be going out to the action to fight?

I fully intend this to happen, although I don't have specific plans for it yet. The game data itself originally started with several of the characters in a 'general' pool to be assigned to divisions or larger groups, or even already assigned. However, back when I chose the Purge as my first 'decision-event' provided by the game, most or all of those generals were killed off -- including "Iyasu V"! Which I explained in-story as a guy renaming himself in readiness to kill the real Iyasu and take his place, because craziness is interesting.  8)

But the game doesn't connect various 'characters' in different duty sets; so even though, for example, Habte was killed in the purge, he's still Minister Of Dang Near Everything Because He's Some Kind Of Freaking Genius, and also one of the research teams available (although his research skills don't even come close to his capabilities as a minister).

Still, I can restart the Full vanilla campaign, quickly save it on its starting date pre-purge (if I haven't done that already), and then read the file to find their entries and then copy paste them into my current save-game whenever I want. Or I can create a new general in the campaign data and give him relevant skills, although I don't think anyone (except perhaps Taezaz, He-Of-The-Name-I-Cannot-Read-Whose-Hat-Is-Crazy-Awesome) would have particularly great skillsets yet. Fortunately, the game does assign skills to generals as they level up in experience, and those skills are relevant to what they've been doing, so when-if-ever I do start fielding them, even if they don't start off great (and even the best general currently in the field, Nissibu or whatever his name is, started at level zero), the game itself will let them grow and develop organically.

The main reason I haven't done this yet, is because there has been barely any fighting yet, therefore no reason to send a character out to the field to take command (at least as an Imperial representative). I fully expect that to change once the British start hitting me from all sides.

Which is a developing plot point I'll be getting back to in this afternoon's chapter. :)

Incidentally, if there's a way to manually promote generals within the HOI2:DH engine, I haven't discovered and/or-possibly researched it yet. I think I recall that the engine allows the player to do this in HOI3, however. My suspicion at the moment is that DH handles promotions automatically by an internal game-engine mechanic related to developing experience.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 18, 2014, 03:09:39 PM
Part 18 -- What To Do

The next day, April 11, the ministers, including the man the people were now (in some confusion) calling The Minister, met to discuss what they could do to help our country while our troops were moving into position. Habte arrived first, and after some brief discussion the Emperor agreed that both small corps (with four upgraded militia divisions) should pursue the retreating British infantry, who after all were still too strong for even two divisions of our militia to feasibly fight. We wouldn’t get the next port north as quickly, and might have to fight this same division there as well before driving them out, but the important point was to make sure they retreated beyond our chosen new defensive line rather than regrouping to make a successful defensive stand. Habte thought we just might be able to keep our own troops organized long enough to keep the pressure on the British division to the point that they’d instantly break when threatened. Our troops would definitely have to rest, and this presented a problem: the areas they were moving into weren’t good places to even try to rest!

Still, on the northern front we didn’t have any better choices yet.


By then, Yimer and Mikael had arrived, so once they’d been caught up on the slight but crucial change in plans, the ministers moved along.

“We should have anticipated,” said the Emperor, “that Britain must have significant troops to our south in Dar El Salaam,” no longer the hills of shalom, of peace, “formerly German territory. Germany is in trouble there, but they have still cut up Britain’s territories by a push from Africa’s West. At the moment, until they start sending troop ships for us, Britain must fight against Germany here by troops scattered across the east of Africa. Some they are sending here, but at the worst we must have more maneuver room than the Germans do or did in their eastern pocket.”

“Our distraction might even help them survive,” Yimer pondered, “until the main across the southern continent links up. Maybe I should ask the Germans how thankful they are!” That was worth a tense but cavalier laugh.

“The Germans have France and Belgium here to contend with, too. Possibly Portugal eventually.” The Emperor squinted at the map, trying to get an idea of who owned what and where nearby us.


“Those lands to the west,” he continued, “have ports where various European powers can send in troops and send out their supplies to help the war efforts northward.”


“At the moment, though,” he concluded, “I think we only need to worry about the British. Unless the Italians hurry, they’ll be bouncing off the coasts they thought they owned!”

“That’s a lot of land for the British to be coming from.” They stared at me. I shut my mouth.

“Yes, but it isn’t any more developed than ours, mostly,” the Emperor answered me. “Try not to fear. They can project enormous power as can France, and Germany of course, and even Portugal to some degree. But they aren’t here yet. This was not where any of them expected to fight anymore.”

“The British Raj worries me more,” said Mikael. “They have even more land, and much more importantly people. Even if they only sent militia, even understrength militia, with 1850 weaponry, they could drown us simply by spitting.”


“Hm. I’m kind of impressed,” the Emperor said. Then: “Soon we’ll almost be the size of India!” Even The Minister grinned a lopsided grin at that. “But I understand your concern. However, India has an enemy closer and vastly much larger and far more dangerous than we are -- yet: the Ottoman Empire. Who recently took Kuwait, remember, a British protectorate. The Raj will probably throw its weight in that direction mostly.”

“Speaking of Kuwait,” our Foreign Minister said, “I have had contacts sending contacts out to see if I can find any unemployed Kuwaiti research teams or scientists who might have escaped the Ottoman onslaught. If so, I’m sure I could find them a home nearby.”

“Luxembourgian scientists would be better; I doubt Kuwait was much more advanced than us!” said Mikael. “But yes. Who else has fallen already? Even the ones whom other nations would scorn to hire, might be useful to us.”

“I am already working to offer some Serbian and Albanian scientists sanctuary,” Yimer said, “although they haven’t fallen yet. Even a couple of blueprints might make a world of difference soon.”

“While we’re on the topic,” said minister Habte, “I recommend I finish my original research next. My cards with holes will soon be ready to go. Rebuilding and inventing the research of research, I was able to work out theories of its early operation. All I really need now are the sorting systems and some simple machines. I’m maybe 80% already done. Nothing else could be finished anywhere nearly as quickly, and we could put the benefits to work on every future project onward.”

“What are our feasible options otherwise?” the Emperor asked.

“What do we need the most?” Yimer asked. “Weapons to defend ourselves and hold our rescued lands, until we grow stronger.”

“What we need is increased production of weapons and everything else,” replied Mikael. “Even once the OMA has finished learning basic industrial engineering, the factories still need building. And to build those factories, we’ll have to improve our lands -- very substantially. Yet how will we do that? With whatever little industrial capability we possess already which isn’t already dedicated to keeping us alive until we get stronger!”

“How long are you saying that that will take?” the Emperor asked.

“YEARS!” Habte and The Minister answered at once. “By which I mean years until we can even start building the factories, sir,” continued our head of government.

Iyasu blanched.

“It simply isn’t possible, until we build up significant roads, and villages, and power supplies and routes, and... three times more than most of our lands possess,” the clergyman spread his hands. Whatever he said, people would always treat him as a bishop in spirit. “Most lands won’t be ready to build even one single factory without two years of work. And I mean two years if all we were doing was keeping our people supplied and happy. We just don’t have the strength yet to grow stronger faster than that.”

“We do have some hope, however,” added Habte. Mikael nodded, “Yes, yes, I was getting to that. We can gain some advantages by continuing in construction research -- but that won’t be an option until sometime late in the summer, late July, early August. However, we can more quickly proceed by researching production itself. Send my monks to our factories, sir, and they will start polishing up our production discipline and methods. We have the most experience at management in our research groups so far.”

“You mean,” the Emperor said, “that we can expand our factories that way?”

“To some extent yes, but actually I am talking about making our work, both at our factories and on the road, increasingly more effective. First we would reduce the amount of materials used; then increase the amount of work produced; then keep going for years along that line. This will not only help us reinforce lost material faster, but also help us work on infrastructure faster; and then of course on building our factories faster. Even research in agriculture, sir, would help this along, though not as quickly, mostly by making our heavy field equipment more efficient.”

“If you allow me to work on research as soon as possible, sir, such a plan will proceed more quickly,” Habte pointed out. “I can be finished sometime in July, maybe June.”

“Even so,” the Emperor said, “your methods will start bearing fruit a little before then, yes? I thumbed through your plans last night. You don’t really need the cards and whatall to get started along that line.”

“Um... yes, that’s true. And the sooner that we can increase our factory efficiency, the sooner we can produce more factories, and then produce more room to work on more research.”

“On that,” said Yimer, “I think we should focus first on production and then start working on research once the OMA is done. However, somewhere in there we should try to get our weapons better up to speed. Or better troops. Either Habte or Wollo should occasionally stop for a while and help us directly defend ourselves better. Not that I am the minister of defense, but still...”

“Agreed,” the Emperor said. “We’ll make that decision when we come to it. Habte, let Mikael and Wollo go first. You can make the final hop you need in August and then we’ll see where we are.

“With a miracle, maybe not dead already by then.”

Mikael soon reported, to our dismay: the production research itself would take six months to complete.

Who knew what kind of brutal slaughter we would be facing by then?
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 19, 2014, 08:51:24 PM
Well, I know now what kind of brutal slaughter we'll be facing by then!  ;D :o ( (

I'm almost at August now on my game, but I was so busy tonight I forgot to post a new Part (although I'm somewhere in Part 27 by now.) I thought I might take a moment to confirm: there will be many more "fans" by then... ;)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 20, 2014, 04:38:37 PM
Part 19 -- Tomb

On April 16, 1915, a division of our militia freed Massawa. From there it could, if necessary, move north to Port Sudan, but following current orders it stayed to rest and reorganize.

On April 19, a corps of two militia divisions freed Asab, completing our liberation of our most recently stolen provinces. They people welcomed us warmly everywhere, and Minister Mikael held a feast for the poor in Addis Abeba in honor of the justice of this deed; then made plans to tour the reclaimed provinces as a whole. Reports from our troops expressed shock at just how poorly the Italians had left the land undeveloped, even by our standards! It wouldn’t be useful for anyone soon, but it was ours again.

On the same day we learned that the British infantry division had in fact fooled our scouts, or possibly changed its plans, and retreated to Port Sudan. This did make sense as it would be easier to receive its reinforcements at the port. Undeterred, General Nessibu redirected the four divisions of his Begemder Liberating Army to begin campaigning immediately to take Port Sudan -- which we had been planning anyway -- and sent horses at a gallop to signal the detached division in Massawa to support the attack from there. The tired troops gamely struck out, knowing that if they didn’t harry the British out of the port our attempt to block our border would be more difficult later.

Yimer, gathering up the intelligence report that morning, said that individual scouts and tribal traders to the south suggested the British cavalry down in Garissa had been heavily reinforced with British infantry and maybe even some French expeditionary forces! That could be terrible news, but then again the reports now indicated this army was marching westward over a river away from Ethiopia -- yet the apparent HQ had changed direction, too, and now was heading north! As he was making arrangements that morning for the celebration feast, Mikael received news from missionary traders to the west that the British cavalry division over there had changed its mind, perhaps, and now was moving into Ethiopia after all. “I wish that they had not been as wise at war as I,” he joked with gallows humor, but kept preparing the feast. Lamentation fasts might come soon enough; and our hardy militia divisions were quickly moving into various support posts.

On April 21, another two Abyssinian militia divisions finished taking back the Hargeisa coast from Great Britain, and rested from their labors. The people there, as expected, still remembered their Ethiopian heritage and welcomed our troops with what poor feasts could be gathered together in such a wretched mountain area.

On April 23, our two small corps of coastal liberation divisions reclaimed Galkacyo. One corps rested and made ready in case Italy or its allies ever tried to invade the Horn through Gardo to the north -- we simply didn’t have the strength to claim it again anytime soon -- while the other tired corps shifted south to finish the reclamation sweep in Mogadishu: with its larger port it was rather more of a danger than Gardo, and besides it would need less infrastructure development in order to bring it up to fruitful production one of these years or other. The corps wouldn’t arrive at any rate until July, possibly later as it further tired from marching.

Iyasu sent a rider with a portable hand cranked radio to tell the corps as soon as possible that it had his permission to wait and rest until it reorganized better: Mogadishu couldn’t help us immediately, and any troops that disembarked would be better met by rested militia of our own until we could claim it. Just to be clear, however, he renamed the small corps the Mogadishuan Coastal Guards -- and sent out word that in celebration of this great liberation all the military groups now resting on the coast would be honored as the guards of their new homes.

Our battle with the British to the north meanwhile, at Port Sudan, progressed though not as fast with fewer divisions helping out, those having been sent to the south to prepare to save our capital in case of threatened invasion. Dissent in the area hampered us both (though us more than the British), as did desert conditions (the British more than us). Almost as impressive was a significant amount of shore bombardment from ships somewhere! -- far enough out our attacking corps had not yet otherwise seen them. This was a new experience indeed for our troops! But with far superior numbers they kept the attack, already having removed several more of the enemy’s limited artillery support, and (to our regret) several hundred horses caught up in the wars of men.

Early after midnight on April 27, the British General Plummer started a tactical withdrawal, reducing both our disorganization rates though his more than ours as he moved to a probable staging area for his retreat.

On April 28, 1915, the Senussi tribes accepted the request of the Ottoman Empire to launch a war against Britain in Egypt. Everyone in the Alliance naturally also then declared war on the Senussi; but the Senussi had not yet joined the Powers.

The immediate result was, strangely, a Senussi uprising taking Nayala, a territory far to their south beyond their encircling enemies, and beyond the original bounds of the Senussi shiekdom.


[Note: green areas controlled by Senussi; areas with red dots are historically their land, also marked by light pink in this case around them. Nayala is the green area to the south, past lands actually held, at least in principle, by France to the west and Britain to the east.]

This could be a potential problem for us in the future: likely enough, we would be at war with them eventually anyway, but when Yimer brought the report to Emperor Iyasu, he was told to trade no more military blueprints to those Muslim tribes.

“In fact,” said Iyasu.... “Listen, Yimer, I have a command, and you aren’t going to like it.”

“Let you try your hand at making trade agreements again?” Yimer rolled his eyes.

“No. But Yimer... you aren’t trying either.”

“I am! -- they are just so...”

“Inferior to deal with. Or perhaps superior superficially.”


“That, Yimer, is quite the wrong attitude to have, as our foreign minister. That must change.”

“I’m... I’m sorry, sir. I don’t know what to say. I am who I am, I don’t know whether or how much I can change. But I will try. I know our country needs it.”

“Yes, Yimer. Our country needs someone who can get past our bad reputation right now and make those trade agreements. Otherwise we will wither and die on the vine by the end of the year. And that is not even slightly an exaggeration.”

“... sir? ... am I...” Yimer swallowed. “Sir, I resign.”

“I accept your resignation for the good of our nation, Yimer. But without you our nation will not survive. We wouldn’t have survived: because of you we do have materials now for about three months. I know that you have been using your position as our new intelligence minister to search for fitting new researchers. Now you must show how strong your character is.” Iyasu paused expectantly.

“... ....... yes, I see. I must search for a foreign minister who will save our nation. Who will do what I cannot do.”

“Very well said, my friend.” The Emperor stood, and mixed him a glass of ‘morning toast’, except with rather more ‘evening’ in it than usual. “I wouldn’t require this of you, if these were times of peace. But they aren’t.” He handed Yimer the drink, and sighed and clapped his shoulder. “To our future, minister. And to your future as our intelligence minister.”

Yimer swallowed the drink and wiped his eyes. “I already think I have several options, sir. Give me a month. The first of June or earlier. You will be proud of me, sir. I know it.”

On May 2, 1915, our troops broke the will of the British soldiers again; we didn’t know where General Plummer would try to retreat, but he was leaving Port Sudan.


And then on March 8, our weary 1st Abyssmal Assault Scouts marched into Khartoum. When they had left to expand our boundaries, they had barely mustered 1000 men. Now they numbered almost 7500.

The people welcomed them freely and rejoiced.

The precious factory system lay in ruins.

[Note: “tomb” isn’t only a pun for Khartoum, but also a reference to my desire to play the game again as the Senussi, which I would call “Tombs of Timbuktu”.]

( I'll have a better photo tomorrow of what our troops accomplished during April...
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: bob48 on March 20, 2014, 05:09:22 PM
Gripping stuff, Jason, and you're up to 4 on the windmill scale I see.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: undercovergeek on March 20, 2014, 07:50:20 PM
Great read Jason
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 20, 2014, 09:37:49 PM
Thanks, guys!

Gripping stuff, Jason, and you're up to 4 on the windmill scale I see.

Ohhhh, there are SO MANY MORE windmills on the way...

Tonight I saw the arrival of the first of the Indian Raj units. There is no way on God's green earth I'm going to survive this. I'm far from dead yet, but still, simple math: I'm using up manpower reinforcements a little faster than they are, and they have VASTLY MUCH MORE MANPOWER they can throw at me. The only question is whether they decide that something else ought to be asskicked more than me. I vote the Ottomans.  ;D
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on March 21, 2014, 06:46:37 AM
Wow.  Just wow, Jason.  I'm a little bit in awe right now... 

Tonight I saw the arrival of the first of the Indian Raj units. There is no way on God's green earth I'm going to survive this. I'm far from dead yet, but still, simple math: I'm using up manpower reinforcements a little faster than they are, and they have VASTLY MUCH MORE MANPOWER they can throw at me. The only question is whether they decide that something else ought to be asskicked more than me. I vote the Ottomans.  ;D

I was going to say, I'm really hoping the UK hates someone else more than you, else I'm concerned you're going to be toast! 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 21, 2014, 06:59:39 AM
One thing I'm curious about which I don't have much way of telling, is how this is affecting the Senussi campaign eastward across the Egyptian coastline, and Germany's campaign further south in Africa. In my parallel game (which I just caught up to finally, since fewer things happen at peace obviously ;) ), Britain has been kicking the Germans and the Senussi after a harsh start, and has made a good thrust at the Ottomans around Kuwait. They don't have the same troops available in the main game thanks to me, and so far those two are holding their gains.

Whether this will come back to help me eventually, who knows? If the Senussi change their progress vector a little south and avoid trying to take Alexandria or anywhere heavily garrisoned, they could severely impede British supplies to my north. Too bad they'll probably stop at just retaking their ancestral lands, which isn't all of Egypt (just the desert west of the Nile provinces).

Edited to add: ooo, finally I made it to page 2!  ;D

I should probably mention that there is significantly more actual butt-kicking (and, um, ethical erotic mysticism), and by proportion less in-tent strategizing (though some of that, too), in my novel {plug}{plug}...

As long as I'm plugging, allow me to plug Undercovergeek's amazing HOI3 campaign as Italy again -- totally free (unlike the pittance for my book {cough COUGH}) and here at Grogheads:
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 21, 2014, 03:52:56 PM
Part 20 -- The Monkey’s Paw

“Useless!” shouted the Emperor. “Almost entirely useless! That is what I am! That is what I should have known: the factory would be useless! I know what you’re going to say,” he forestalled Minister Mikael, “and you’re right. Ten percent of a factory is better than nothing. And over time, maybe months, we can get it up to full capacity again. Months we may not have,” he heavily sighed. “But we must -- “


Iyasu snapped his head around to stare at Mikael in shock. “I take it back,” he growled. “I should have known what you were going to say, but didn’t.”

“I don’t mean surrender, sir. I agree, under normal circumstances we would keep the factory and Khartoum. However, we have over-reached, and that is making us weaker at a time when we cannot afford to be less than our possible best.”

Habte and Yimer were looking at him thoughtfully; the Emperor calmed his temper and asked, “What did you see in your travels? -- because you were the one who advised, that we take as much as we can while we can.”

“I also advised we withdraw if there was trouble, sir. You yourself agreed with me. The monkey’s paw, remember?”

“You don’t mean the British, then, to the south,” Habte surmised.


[Note: everything south of the Vs not a color like pink or whatever == Ethiopia. “Belgians are made of absolute justice AND ARE NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH!! -- note from self in alternate future found on my pillow, scrawled in a shaky hand, one morning.]

“No, we ought to be in place to feasibly crush them if they advance, by the time they advance. But they are connected to the problem.

“Our infrastructure is weak, and isn’t going to get any better anytime soon. The roads and lines of contact, sir, and also communication, help us move our troops around and keep them supplied. But we have spread our hand so far we’re starting to lose the feeling and blood in our fingers. I know, that doesn’t fit the monkey-trap image, but having grabbed so much, we will be stuck and unable to move if those British hunters to our south come looking. We just don’t have the factories yet to push our troops so far, and we don’t have the roads to push what we have so far.”

“You mean for us to withdraw and abandon our people, then.”

“Who are we abandoning to the north? Not Ethiopians. Who are we abandoning to the south? Somalians; our brothers, true, but not our immediate people. To our east? Also more Somalians.”

“They welcomed us with open arms!”

“I know, sir: but what were they going to do? We had guns and treated them nicely and promised to help them. Of course they welcomed us! But if we get ourselves shot in the head because we cannot move our troops around, there will be no help for them from us.”

“You aren’t proposing we leave our Ethiopian coasts again?!” asked Yimer incredulously.

“Hopefully not. But we must be prepared to do it, yes.”

“I cannot leave them to be invaded again by colonial powers, Mikael,” the Emperor flatly stated.

“I’m not suggesting you do, sir.”

“Wait! -- I think I see what he means.” Habte walked to the wall and tapped the map of the Horn of Africa. “We pull back only one province away from the sea, in all directions, and watch the coast. Then if the enemy lands, we can hit them in concentration, from a shortened and improved supply. True, it would be better to meet them on the coast itself -- especially in those mountains -- but if our supplies and reinforcements are overly hampered...”

“What will we tell the people? That we are running away?”

“Tell them the truth,” the Minister of Ministers advised.

“We have won our first and most important victory!” the Emperor of Ethiopia told his people, via the press and public announcements, following the advice of his head of state. The people cheered. The people who heard the generals reading this message in the liberated territories also cheered for a little while. “We have freed our people captured by the Romans years ago, on the coast! We have also pushed out colonial powers, without doing harm to anyone, in various other places around our land. We have come and we have seen what they did, and what they didn’t do. We know your plights, and we are making plans.

“Now however the time has come to send our soldiers home for a while so they can be close to their families. The Europeans have already started to move against us in the south, and just as we have freed your homes we must be free to keep our own homes free. Once we have rested and grown in strength, like the tide of the sea we shall return, bearing gifts.

“The Europeans may come first, returning for a while. Never mind. Treat them well, give them respect and no reason for them to fear you. Remember what our Lord also taught, and also Paul the Apostle: be friendly to Rome. God will see the peace in your heart and reward you -- for peacemakers shall be called the sons of God!

“Pray for the sake of the kings who come to rule over you, if they come; and pray for us that we shall survive and grow and come again; and we shall remember you, too, in our prayers, and come once again when we can -- God willing, like the flood of the Nile bringing life to all who live in its embrace...


Then we marched away as quickly as possible.


[Plotnote: yes, in case anyone was puzzled toward the beginning, I meant to include something about what Mikael had seen while he was out on the victory tour. Then I got distracted  ::) :P I only just now realized I never even got around to writing that up. I know what it was, but it wasn't especially relevant in this context, so I'll make a note and bring it out later sometime more dramatically appropriate. Or not -- if I don't it won't matter, I promise. But I'm already making plans for various options for revealing it later under various circumstances: I'd rather change it into a meaningful plot hole if possible, to be resolved later, than for it to be a mere authorial glitch!]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 21, 2014, 07:58:33 PM
Behold! -- Undercovergeek begins a new Clausewitz Engine AAR (, this time from Crusader King 2 with (at least) the Old Gods expansion. Late 9th century AD. The end of the Dark Ages. Still dark as hell: Franks Saxons vs Vikings.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: undercovergeek on March 21, 2014, 08:07:59 PM
still at def-fan 4?

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 21, 2014, 08:14:16 PM
.... yes. Yes I am. {mental note to myself, hereafter it shall be known as def-fan #}

After all, at the moment I'm only running away from a crippling fear of success.

Whether the British will let me run away is a whole other matter... ::)

(Or, since this is Ethiopia circa WW1 in a Clausewitz engine game, whether they'll let me slowwwwly drag myself away...)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 22, 2014, 08:14:50 AM
Part 21 -- From The Ends Of The Earth

Iyasu decided to keep the 1st Abyssinian Assault Scouts in Khartoum until they could reorganize and so move more effectively; and also the two small expeditionary corps in Galkacyo, but with plans to move them both later. The divisions in Djibouti and Hargeisa were ordered to pack up and move at once; the corps which had driven the British division out of Port Sudan, were told to stay where they were and rest from their labors.


[Note: red arrows move now; yellow arrows planned move a month from now when rested up again. Other current marches not shown. Also note, the British aren’t actually “out of” Port Sudan yet, just marching away. If you are asking yourself why in the world they would keep on marching away if we aren’t advancing, the computer shall also ask that question, soon, don’t worry...]

On May 11, traders and individual scouts indicated a small number of British infantry divisions had appeared in Malaka and Omdurman. It wasn’t clear which way or ways they were marching yet, but it didn’t look in any case as though our lone assault scouts could expect to withdraw from Khartoum.


“If they start now,” said Habte, “they might be able to get across the river and back into El Qadarif before the northern infantry cuts them off. Or before the enemy hits Khartoum.”

“...I see a better opportunity perhaps,” the Emperor mused. “They can stay in Khartoum, resting and continuing to receive our reinforcement, and then defend against assaults from positions of strength against tired enemies.”

“You mean as bait,” said Mikael.

“Yes. I understand and accept that, in principle, we would be better off withdrawing them from Khartoum. However, they might just run into Britain’s attempt to cut off their supplies to the east. Then they would be fighting out in the open, on the move, and terribly tired. The enemy to the north can only attack from that direction, or from El Obeid from the west. If the northern group moves west, we will withdraw from Khartoum, back through El Qadarif. If the enemy cuts them off to the east, we will soon have troops in place who can hit the enemy from the rear in strength. The southern British group could be more worrisome, as they can approach the city over land. But it is too late for us to retreat -- or rather advance in a loop back into Ethiopia -- along that direction anyway.”

The next day, our Sidamo Sefari militia arrived in the city of Addis Abeba, hailed as conquering heroes although they hadn’t even moved beyond our borders from last year. Still they were only moderately tired and soon would be ready to fight to defend our city -- or to help relieve Khartoum, perhaps. Another two divisions arrived the day after that, completely exhausted; Major General Norwich was given command of the newly incorporated 2nd Defensive Abyss Corps.

On May 13, Habte reported that we really didn’t have anything specially useful at the moment that could be researched extra quickly; but in lieu of that, he had written up some basic recon aircraft principles “...if we ever manage to get some recon aircraft,” he sighed. “Still, I have been studying the older French monoplane, and I believe I could almost fly it soon. Not to fight in, but to see our enemies sooner. Those two infantry groups on either side of Khartoum shouldn’t have popped out of nowhere like that.”

“Let it be so,” the Emperor also sighed. “I pray that we will survive to see you flying in the heavens, Habte.”

On May 14, we received confirmation the northern British group was marching to El Qadarif, as expected. The Emperor relayed orders to General Nessiba to take a small corps across the Nile to his south and help set up a trap to welcome our guests.

The next day, another British division or two (or three, who could be sure?) appeared in Kassala. Their marching destination wasn’t clear, but on the same day traders and individual scouts confirmed the divisions south of Khartoum were marching (and trotting) toward Addis Abeba.


“Well, that’s about right,” the Emperor said. “At this rate our nation has about three months to live. God help us.” On the same day, Japan issued a list of 21 Demands to the Republic of China. We expected a similar list any day from Britain and her allies.

The following day, as the Republic of China chose to answer the Japanese demands diplomatically, we received word that the British headquarters, down past our southernmost borders, now appeared to be marching up into Arba Minch, possibly to link up with the thrusts into Asosa and Jimma. Our Emperor decided by now our militia needed relatively newer equipment more than reinforcements, while we still had some chance to send them out.

The British had stopped retreating out of Port Sudan as well, and even had received another division of something! Where would they be marching to? -- strategically valuable Asara, or our northern coastline recently freed from Italy? Our Djibouti Coastal Guard, currently withdrawing from the coast, was retasked to march up the coast instead to be in position to lend support.

By May 29, the answer seemed to be that those divisions, along with a newly disembarked militia, were marching west away from Ethiopia, as was another newly detected division far to our west: possibly for the purpose of fighting the Senussi uprising. That was certainly fine with us. On the other hand, we now thought the British marching into El Qadarif would number at least two divisions; and with our factories full trying to reoutfit our poor militia troops the people were starting to grumble -- also in fear of the coming war.

No one questioned Iyasu’s wisdom now in trying to pull our soldiers back to make a defense against the British.

That evening, Yimer walked into the Emperor’s office and said, “May I present you Petar Plamenac, foreign minister once of the kingdom of Montenegro?”

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Staggerwing on March 22, 2014, 08:57:01 AM
Behold! -- Undercovergeek begins a new Clausewitz Engine AAR (, this time from Crusader King 2 with (at least) the Old Gods expansion. Late 9th century AD. The end of the Dark Ages. Still dark as hell: Franks vs Vikings.

Actually, right now I think it's Saxons (and some Britons) against the Vikings.  ;)

(OTOH, the Danes are probably pretty busy meeting the Franks in what will become Normandy right about same time...)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 22, 2014, 11:50:30 AM
Well, the king in his AAR was describing a Viking pirate criminal as "scourge of the Franks", which would be weird if the king wasn't a Frank, but U'geek hasn't said directly which tribe the king is with and I don't recall my DA history enough to recognize the name Aella.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Staggerwing on March 22, 2014, 11:55:56 AM
He was king of Northumbria, along the northeast of England into Scotland. Bob and Geek might be vaguely familiar with the place...  :D
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: bob48 on March 22, 2014, 01:32:26 PM
Yup. I live on the border of Northumberland, and I'm about 35 miles from the Scottish border. There are a lot of historical sites around here, going right back to Roman times.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: undercovergeek on March 22, 2014, 01:38:39 PM
Sorry to do this here - what's written so far is back story, ragnar was real and sacked Paris before being shipwrecked off the coast of Northumbria

I'm actually starting as Alfred who became Alfred the great king of Wessex..... I'm just writing some fluff to explain why Alfreds game starts with 20000 Vikings in York about to kick the crap out of aella to the north

Great update Jason, did you know you could upgrade militia to normal troops or at least can in hoi3
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Staggerwing on March 22, 2014, 01:46:38 PM
Sorry to sidetrack your AAR, Jason. I really should have kept my comments from derailing the momentum.   :-[
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: bob48 on March 22, 2014, 01:48:33 PM
^Naughty boy. Go and stand in the corner and don't come out until you're told to. :)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Staggerwing on March 22, 2014, 01:51:42 PM
But if I can't see the computer from there how will I know my time's up? I could be in the corner for hours, day or weeks even!  :o
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: undercovergeek on March 22, 2014, 01:52:02 PM
^Naughty boy. Go and stand in the corner and don't come out until you're told to. :)

He's Mr wing..... he posts where he wants
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: bob48 on March 22, 2014, 01:54:48 PM
Nobody really expects me to think things through logically do they?

..Oh. bugger.

Anyway, lets clear off and let Jason do his thing. I'm waiting for the next bit.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Staggerwing on March 22, 2014, 01:57:39 PM
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 22, 2014, 06:07:07 PM
No problems at all! -- I was the one who asked, more or less, after all. :) Got it, king of Northumbria, I know where that is.

UGeek, yes I discovered a few days ago that I can upgrade my troops directly, which I'll probably have to eventually do -- if I get the time to do it!  ::)

Right now all I can feasibly do is upgrade my militia to better militia and my infantry to better infantry, the latter of which I've done up to 1921 standard I think (not at the game right now). Which was weird because it cost A LOT less time to upgrade the infantry several levels than to upgrade even the least of the militia (from 1870 to 1897, 11 days). Note: I mean where I am in the game presently, not the AAR, where I don't have the techs to do that yet. But they're coming, very soon.

Upgrading any infantry to anything movably useful would take 280 days plus right now; I'm better off slowly applying militia upgrades, even to 1921 standard, since I can put those to immediate use.

Still, you may be able to answer a question: does production efficiency help reduce time to make divisions (or to upgrade them, or cross-upgrade)? I know increased IC doesn't, all it does it provide more headroom to work, not speed exactly.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 22, 2014, 06:07:46 PM
Opps, accidentally posted the wrong thing here. I'll just leave a blank and post the next part afterward to properly trigger subscription alerts.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 22, 2014, 06:15:20 PM
Part 22 -- A Distant Hope Arrives

The Emperor turned fully away from the map on the wall, haggard from lack of sleep, and staggered by the surprise.

“I... I welcome you, sir, to the capitol of our nation,” he said, trying to smooth his clothes. He looked like any European businessman, and not an especially prosperous one.

Yimer translated into Italian, and added, “He also speaks French, and I think a little Greek.”

The European shortly bowed, then looked at the Emperor’s outstretched hand. Then he said, “In my nation, only a few years ago, on any night our king would sit outside on his porch, watching the sun go down, and smoking a pipe, welcoming any walkers on the road nearby to come up onto the porch with him and talk.” He swallowed as Yimer translated back for us; and when he spoke again there were tears in his voice. “I do not know what happened to my king, Nicholas, when the Hungarians took our land. But I am very deeply honored to shake the hand of a king such as you.”

And, so he did.

“Why then,” cried Iyasu, “let us go outside and have a pipe if you wish, and eat from our grill, and talk!”

Petar gladly agreed, but then hesitated. Yimer explained: “He has brought some other men to see you, sir. They are waiting downstairs. I don’t think he wants to exclude them.”

“Certainly not! Well; we will have a banquet in our street, and offer the poor some meat as well.”

And so they did. The smell of the meats on the grill, and the bread brought by the Emperor’s wife and children, lifted the spirits of all who came near us, as the early summer sun set on our land.

“O king,” said the European statesman after drinks had been brought and mixed, “soon I shall tell you who these men are I have brought with me, scattered as we were from our homes in the Balkan Black Mountains. But first, allow me to ask: are you in need of a foreign minister who has experience making trades agreements with other nations?”

“Indeed I am! In these times of war, such men are like a mine of gold and platinum for a nation!”

“The king mayhap has heard that in the small but noble nation of Montenegro, we survived and thrived by making such agreements.”

“I have not heard, but now I have. Continue?”

“Yes, and I myself have had some experience in these matters, of a sort that may, perhaps, benefit your land, in these times of war.”

Yimer added, in their own language, “This man and the ones who taught him helped make Montenegro rich through trade, sir. Out of the several possible foreign ministers thrown into the seas by war, during the previous year, this man is the one whom I have heard the best things about. His contacts helped him survive and hide away from his home abroad, along with his family.”

The Emperor nodded. “As you can see, Ethiopia struggles, and I must be frank: the hand of Britain is closing down upon us.”

“But you have some ports, now; and my land was full of rugged mountains, Emperor of the Horn. Let me make a home, here, with a king who loves his people as did our beloved Nicholas, God rest his soul,” he crossed himself. “Then, if you can make your home safe, I will bring my family here as well. I shall be able to help you in your defense -- through several methods.”

“Several methods, sir?” The Emperor now was eyeing the men seated around us eating our meat.

“Yes, I think you will find that I knew people, and still know them. With the help of your able and honored minister Yimer, I have gathered them together from the winds, and in some cases saved them from our enemies. They were not wanted, where they were, even by our enemies, so they will not be missed. If they please you, they wish to live here in exile with me, and start a Montenegro of the Horn, as it were.”

“So far I see no objection, if they are willing to work for our nation. I think you will find us grateful in our compensation for their efforts, sir.”

“Allow me then to introduce you to Nicholas of Montenegro.” At this, a man of noble bearing but simple clothes, hearing Petar’s Italian, stood before Yimer could finish translating, and...

...the Emperor of Ethiopia leapt to his feet, spilling his jar beside him; children hurried to clean it. “You have brought me a king, and did not let me honor him -- !”

“Shh, shh,” Petra gestured quietly, “Who is a king in your nation but you, O king? Many men from Montenegro were named for the saint; is that not true here?”

Iyasu looked doubtful. The other man bowed and offered his hand. “I share the name of the king, of course -- and he shares mine! I am soldier visiting your country until, perhaps, the day when I can return to my own.”

“It shall be as you say, but if I may say so, your bearing is regal, sir.”

“You may say so, only don’t say it so loudly, my king,” the other man smiled. “As the first of my family named for the saint,” he lightly coughed -- the king of Montenegro had been Nicholas the First, I thought I recalled, “allow me to bring you gifts that I have managed to find, oh, scattered along the road, for I am poor.”

“Please, proceed.” The other men stood, as the regal Nicholas introduced them: a strong selection of men from Budva Dockyard; from the University of Montenegro; from the Bar Railway; from Montenegrin Agriculture; and far from least, several officers from the Podgorica Academy and the Montenegro Defense Ministry. “And this salty gentleman,” Nicholas said, “once was captain of the Royal Armed Yacht!”

Iyasu’s eyes kept widening with every round of introduction; with this last, they narrowed in humored suspicion and he shot a glance at Nicholas. “Alas, the yacht was lost at sea, during the final invasion,” the royal visitor said. “But, I found him sheltering some of these men, and Yimer’s contacts found us all, and one thing led to another, and here we are: seeking asylum.”

“And to work,” said the captain; also the other men nodded.

“I... honestly, my friends, you see how poor we are. All our factories push us weakly along, and I cannot promise you work, or not at once. But I can promise you homes, if you promise to offer us work when we ask.”

“We offer you that, and also more.”


At a gesture the followers of these men hefted traveling satchels.

“Blueprints we were working on before the final invasion,” said the soldier Nicholas. “And if you take us to your factories, you may find these men in particular producing light artillery pieces once you allocate resources. These other men, they can help your farm equipment. I myself and also some others can train and design some kit for combat engineers. I have been told by Petar that you may find these possibly useful on a day to come, even if not now. The blueprints need more work in order to fit them for production -- do you know about antibiotics? We can design you troopships, old but seaworthy. We wanted to build an airforce, and have worked up plans for recon planes -- “

“I have one of those!” Habte had joined the gathering sometime earlier, staying silent in the background -- now he hopped with delight. “A French monoplane, I mean, not the blueprints for it. I haven’t had time to draw up any...”

“This is Habte Giyorgis Dinegde, the greatest modern mind ever produced by Ethiopia -- so far as I know!” the Emperor laughed, as Yimer made translations. The other men bowed. “You will get along famously with him I think. But, sirs, I do not think you understand the plight of our desperation. We absolutely must have factories, in order to make such marvels; and we just don’t have the factories yet, or any way to make them, and even though very soon we could start making them we must make the room to make them so to speak. Which will take years.” And the Emperor sighed from the depth of his soul.

“We ourselves had not yet gotten far enough to fabricate factories on our own, so to speak.” The simple soldier Nicholas had clearly taken over being the spokesman; Petar stood aside and practically glowed with joy. “But we do have plans; also for helping factories be more efficient. Very basic plans, compared with other nations, but possibly we could compare our notes with what you are researching now, and speed things along a little more?”

“Habte!” the Emperor clapped his hands. “Take these men at once to the Imperial Palace and give them rooms, and then direct the proper men tomorrow to our research teams!”

“I have heard, sir, you gave your palace away to be a children’s school and also a museum.” Nicholas nodded in approval.

“The museum may have to move, although if we run out of room we may have to find you other accommodations. Which indeed we will: our children must be taught,” the Emperor smiled.

So saying the ministers gathered together the greatest hope we yet had found, and led them to beds for the night. In one grand heroic effort, the man that I had once dismissed as a flattering sycophant had managed more for our nation than all our other efforts combined in a year.

But would we, could we survive long enough to see that hope bear fruit?

[Note: nothing happened on the map during this plot interlude, of course, so the Def-fan is still 8. (Unlike Defcon that's worse. ;) ) Nicholas I of Montenegro was a colorful chap, a mountain man who cannily negotiated his way into being set over his native Montenego as king by the Austrians -- who then overran him of course in the war. I'll try to post his photo later, and that of Petar. The story about him chilling on his porch at the end of the day, smoking his pipe and inviting people on the sidewalk to come on up and have a talk, is 100% true. As are some other details which will come out a few chapters from now.

I don't have the faintest idea what happened to him after Montenegro was overrun; but if someone told me he retreated to one of the mountains where he threw boulder-artillery at the Hungarians until they had to call in a wizard to summon a comet down onto him, after which his ghost wrestled a hibernating dragon into submission and he rode it around zorching the Austrian army until the end of the war, I WOULD TOTALLY BE PREPARED TO BELIEVE THAT!  8) He was one of those memetic badasses like Davy Crockett; except very much more politically ambitious.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: undercovergeek on March 22, 2014, 06:16:04 PM
No problems at all! -- I was the one who asked, more or less, after all. :) Got it, king of Northumbria, I know where that is.

UGeek, yes I discovered a few days ago that I can upgrade my troops directly, which I'll probably have to eventually do -- if I get the time to do it!  ::)

Right now all I can feasibly do is upgrade my militia to better militia and my infantry to better infantry, the latter of which I've done up to 1921 standard I think (not at the game right now). Which was weird because it cost A LOT less time to upgrade the infantry several levels than to upgrade even the least of the militia (from 1870 to 1897, 11 days). Note: I mean where I am in the game presently, not the AAR, where I don't have the techs to do that yet. But they're coming, very soon.

Upgrading any infantry to anything movably useful would take 280 days plus right now; I'm better off slowly applying militia upgrades, even to 1921 standard, since I can put those to immediate use.

Still, you may be able to answer a question: does production efficiency help reduce time to make divisions (or to upgrade them, or cross-upgrade)? I know increased IC doesn't, all it does it provide more headroom to work, not speed exactly.

IIRC production efficiency will speed up the creation of units - but id check that before you develop a strategy round it

To be positive ive made myself clear, i dont mean researching better tech for militia, i mean you click on the militia unit and there is a button to upgrade it to a full military infantry unit
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 22, 2014, 06:31:49 PM
Yeppy yep, I know what you mean, though researching tech means the cross-over upgrade will arrive at the latest tech level. So if I told one of my 1870 militia to upgrade to infantry, they would end up 1921 infantry -- 280 days from now or thereabouts, during all of which time I'd have to dedicate 2-point-something IC to the upgrade process or it would take proportionately longer to complete! (Changing them over to current cav instead would take eight days longer and cost 4.6 dedicated IC during that time if I recall correctly.)

Cross-upgrading units does take less time than building them from scratch, however, and I don't think I lose any experience already gained for the division, unlike dismissing them and redrawing them from manpower. I can't set up brigade attachments automatically by this method, but I can build those independently and then attach them when the upgrade is done.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 23, 2014, 08:29:59 AM
Since the next scheduled Part will be another plotty/strategic one without maps, let me take a break for a moment to give some perspective about Montenegro and where it was in comparison with Ethiopia on the eve of war. (I did find out Nicholas survived the annexation of his country and lived until 1918, though I don't know under what circumstances, btw.)


Okay, that little dark blue country on the coast is Montenegro. It has a military alliance with Serbia (I guess, I didn't bother to check), which is why there is no fog of war in the light-blue country next door. The muted colors are fog-of-war, which is why it looks like there are two pink countries to the south one even smaller than Black Mountain! But that's just Albania, which is technically larger (though Nicholas had his eye on that lighter pink territory just beneath him, and wow that sounded so much different in my head before I typed it... ;) ) Albania was the only officially Muslim nation in the Balkans for a while; at the story-current time in the game it's still around, and I sell to it occasionally. I think it's still around where I am in my playthrough, too. I'm hoping to pick up some techs from it when-if-ever the Hungarians run it over; but by now I probably out-tech it anyway.

The big whitish nation to the north is Austria-Hungary; they kick off World War One by invading Serbia (for reasons scholars still debate heavily about). South of Serbia and Albania is Greece. That other blue country (all in fog-shade) to the right (east) of Serbia is Bulgaria; the brownish nation north of that is Romania, and a bit of Russia is peeking in at the top-right of the photo. Far to the right are portions of the Ottoman/Turkish empire where they've been pushed back almost to Istanbul (old Constantinople).

Appropos of nothing, please enjoy the Bad Ass Russian and the Brides of Dracula (and.... others....) -- soon he will be VIKTORY:

Okay, allow me to cleanse your mind after that:

There. Now we can continue... what? Oh very well...

Having established I have the best AAR of all (soon I will be VIKTORY!), I shall conclude this digression with a context map showing where Ethiopia was in relation to Montenegro (and still is since those nations did survive WW1 or were reconstituted afterward).


We shall return to strategic plottiness later this afternoon.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on March 23, 2014, 09:36:16 AM
Sweet!  So was this most recent chapter featuring Nicholas & Co. representing your "hacking" the game to give Ethiopia a bit of a leg up? 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 23, 2014, 08:45:12 PM
Very much so, yep.  8)

Not that it helps me much right now. But if I survive long enough it will. Come to think of it, I've seen a few actual dividends already... Not a lot but every little bit helps.

Today, being Sunday (thus appropriate), I played my 'peace' campaign and fiddled around with testing some things in it until March 1, 1916. Amusingly, I have managed to effectively bankrupt the world, purely from buying and selling supplies. (Well, maybe bankrupt isn't the right word. I've sucked up all the spare cash in the world and have put it to work in infrastructure both on the ground and in research. I also learned not to invest in public works because apparently that's useless unless I have an area already developed enough to put a factory on, which I don't yet even in the peace game.)

This, sadly, won't work in my 'real' campaign, because as a state at war with a ton of people who have much better anti-shipping than I do ships (which is none), most of my possible trade partners aren't available, and those that are (even the US) trade at not much better than 50% inefficiency, meaning I send out supplies but only get 50ish percent of the agreed upon cash.  :-\

Even so, it's a lot more efficient to do that than for me to earn it by taxing consumer goods, so I'll be getting around to it eventually in the AAR campaign (not anytime soon, more like part 27 or thereabouts. First I have to beat back the orkish hordes long enough to convince them to stay the hell out, so I can concentrate on factoring supplies without being distracted by dead people needing resupply and reinforcements. (... 'ork' is a British work, right? They have weird British accents in WH40K, and a British guy popularized the term, so I feel pretty safe drawing the parallel...  ;D )
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 24, 2014, 03:31:38 PM
Part 23 -- All Hat

On June 6, the OMA finished its research into industrial construction, about two months earlier than expected. There was much rejoicing, but also the sober reminder that we couldn’t do much with it yet -- except that our troops could now dig modern entrenchments when parked in a province! With the help of the Montenegrans, Habte even finished his cards with holes in them and put them to work. The agriculture research, sadly, turned out to be only things we already were doing. The combat engineering tech, however, proved to come with an unexpected bonus: instruction in logistics! It took longer to get the new research teams and technologies integrated in than the ministers had expected -- about half a month -- but at last it was done.

When the Emperor asked how much money this importation of our Montenegran helpes had cost, Yimer said that actually Habte had funded the search with national research money a couple of months ago. The costs had been substantial, but had already been paid.

( Iyasu V
( Habte
( Nicholas I
( Petar

Petar had not yet negotiated a trade agreement himself, but with his help Iyasu had once again reached out, and this time his amateur attempts seemed to have provided us with stable ongoing trades with the Republic of China (who in early June returned to being the Empire of its grand history, over against the several breakaway cliques around it) and our epic trading partner Venezuela. We weren’t yet solvent, and in fact our supplies were moving out faster than ever; but we were close to solvent in our materials, and if we got low on supplies then we would redirect our factories back away from upgrading our troop divisions.

( Wollo Research Abbey near downtown Addis Abeba [Note: actually an oasis from somewhere on the Arabian penninsula during the same period, but served the same purpose]

After much debate, and consultation with their increasingly unified research teams, the ministers decided to put the Abbey working on Mobilization for further logistic support in the field (with Habte contributing a little referential help behind the scenes), while the Bar Railroad crew, who were the most experienced managers other than the monks, picked up on the Abbey’s research so far in production efficiency -- pointing out that we would benefit even more from efficient use of supplies through the Abbey’s new project, too!

The British still were coming, but Habte and Yimer’s plans had started working -- though slightly so far.

On Petar’s advice, Iyasu made public speeches to the press to the effect that we were not actually trying to take over Africa militarily, but only recovering lands traditionally ours from the colonies -- lands the colonies clearly hadn’t wanted anyway -- and that we meant to be an example to tribes across our land for raising up our people to higher standards of living. We publicly opened our land to anyone fleeing the war in Europe who might wish to start fresh, not as colonizers but as citizens. The goal was to reduce the world’s perception of our extreme interventionalism, in order to increase our trade efficiency; Petar thought that this was a root of our current diplomatic troubles. Yimer nodded sagely but said nothing.

On June 13, the incomparable Tarzaz, or whatever his name was, asked to address the cabinet members; and on June 21, by appointment, he marched into the office, doffing his fabulous hat, and making an elaborate leg of a bow.

( Taezaz The Uncomparable

“O Emperor and honored men!” and he stood up straight again; I watched the hat in fascination, trying to figure out what he was doing to hold it at his side in such fine form. That had to have taken hours of practice. “The redoubtable Hapte and I have been discussing our military policy, and,” nodding to Habte, “he has asked me to present my theories for your consideration.”

“And you think now is the proper time for this?” the Emperor asked, narrowing his eyes.

“Yes, sire, most indeed. For until now, or recently, we thought to add more factories to our land in order to strengthen our production, including of our military. I agreed with this plan, and still agree -- but this plan will clearly not be feasible for a while.

“Consequently, sire, we should now consider what we have delayed for, yes, a year; or not exactly delayed, but now have come to nearly finish. Our military must grow stronger soon. Production has been wisely spent on making stronger what we already have; and since we won’t be putting production into increasing our absolute production capability soon, I recommend we set aside at least one of our factories to start creating our most efficient groups of soldiers possible.”

“You know that we are maximizing production right this moment to try to bring our militia up to snuff, of course?” Yimer suspiciously asked.

“Of course. And we will fail. We failed before, and now we are failing now. Pardon me my bluntness, if you can; but you have spread those upgrades out through more than one division. Consequently, all will be late. Even one division might take up to two months to re-outfit, working at full capacity. And then what? They will all be militia wielding gear fit for any war last century. Better than mid-century, to be sure! -- but we are now in a struggle against colonial enemies. They have better tech; and they have far more men.”

“And we are working as fast as we can to overcome that technical difference... er, commander.” Like Mikael, I did not know what rank this man now held in Ethiopia.

“For this I rejoice! -- and I have recommendations, too. First, however, is this: if you must insist on upgrading troops instead of training up new divisions, only send your upgrades to one division at a time. Pick whmoever you like; I would say one who is near but not where the fighting will soon commence. Let them not be distracted, and then come in to save the day. Be that as it may.

“For production of a new division: eventually I believe that we should focus on our quality to the highest available standard, since we will always have a manpower shortage compared to our enemies. Until then, we should invest production time and resources in whichever combination of troops and auxiliaries that give us the best performance at the greatest rate of production. Likely enough, these will not be the quickest nor the most capable troops to produce On this topic I have prepared some evaluation criteria during the previous year, and I give you my results.” Snapping his fingers he summoned an aide from outside the room, who brought a suitcase filled with sorted copies. He and I exchanged a look of patient long-suffering, after he had set these on the table; then he withdrew. “On this topic,” his master was saying, “I do make a particular recommendation, but you will have the methods and the data to judge what is best for yourselves.” He clicked the heels of his polished knee-high boots and shortly bowed; then continued. “The question of what to produce in the future is bound up with our long-term strategic goals. And on that topic, I say this: professional soldiers study logistics.” That had the sound of an epigram created by someone else. One of the European generals this man idolized probably. “We can flex ourselves to straining trying to push across our continent against a surging tide. Or we can dam the flow of that tide, step by patient step.” Suiting action to words, he stepped methodically up to a wall map showing the African continent. “The European powers haven’t bothered to build up supplies in Africa yet, but they will one day. Before then we should move,” thwap, thwap, thwap, he cropped each territory with a floppy stick for racing horses, “around the coast of Africa. Every port we take and hold will cut their tails a little more, with minimum loss of life on our part, and a reinforcing overlap of defensive effort. Once we ascertain that we have cut them from their supplies, we can send out special hunter divisions to grind particular corps away; until then we would dig and hold against all counter attacks.

“I am not saying that this could be quickly done. I am saying the Senussi, whether on purpose or by accident, are doing it already,” he gestured. “Except that I would concentrate on tapping out those ports still held by Italy first. Still, they are not me. And I am saying that this will conserve our efforts and make greater progress for the time involved than any other options. Leave Africa’s core alone until we’re ready to develop it.”

“In other words, we should become a colonial power,” the Emperor mused, stroking his chin as he looked at the map, and only a little sarcastically.

“Yes, with this one great difference. We are not dependent on outside supply chains, sir. Also, for them our colonization was a helpful past-time hobby. For us, this is our home, and we must secure it from invasion. Consequently, this will also give us a line of thought for research advancement, once you ever see that we are ready to try to advance along that line,” and he bowed respectfully again. Iyasu and the others nodded; in their faces I saw new respect.

“Consider what my comrade says,” said Habte. “We can begin this now, with one factory. But in the long run, what do we need?”

“Divisions which can fight in any African terrain, hitting prepared defenses hard, holding prepared defenses hard. Those will travel along the perimeter. In the interior, other divisions able to live off the land yet move with speed across terrain that will stop machines.”

“So, not armored cars. Or not yet anyway,” Yimer politely hid a smile at that behind a hand.

“True. Not for a while. Artillery will defend a coastline better.”

“Artillery then,” said Yimer, nodding. “And for marching on the coastlines...?”

“Elite light divisions. Each will be trained to fight in every kind of terrain; each will carry one brigade of combat engineers, and one brigade of artillery. Speed is not the issue here. Taking defended ground, and defending it ourselves, should be the key. And make no mistake, we should concentrate our infrastructure improvements first along the coast, and set up depots, too.”

“Those will have to be researched along the way,” added Habte.

“If possible we will add a third brigade of police; or, better, train up special garrison brigades, to help reduce dissent,” said Taser -- or Tazizaz. “Those should be our first concentrations of military research effort, along with logistical support, and of course production, medicine, whatever will help them stay alive to win.

“Later we should concentrate on cavalry as well. With horses we can speed along to hunt and harry our enemies, possibly adding some light artillery punch, maybe some armored cars, especially for coastal defense response along the better roads. I also recommend, if we get the opportunity, we work on bombing aircraft and on recon.”

“What about a navy?” Mikael wanted to know.

“A waste of time and resources, for the foreseeable future. As would be fighter planes. We do not need supply lines over oceans, and our opponents won’t be bringing bombers here for a while. Naval bombardments worry me,” he admitted. “But, again, coastal gun emplacements ought to help with that.”

Iyasu held up a hand, and studied the map for several moments. Theaziz stood quiet. Then the Emperor said, “I agree, I think, in principle. For now we’ll work along this line, but keep in mind we may have to alter our plans.”

“Of course. But we must first have a plan to alter whenever we see improvements. Shall I depart? My recommendations of what to spend our limited industry on are in the reports.” Then with formal dismissals and wishes of health, Taezaz departed.

Mikael inhaled, and then inhaled again. “If we are going to... seize control of Africa,” he said, “this would seem the safest way, with the least loss of life for everyone involved. Maybe also the quickest way that won’t result in our overextension. Let our enemies overextend.”

“That seems the basic concept,” agreed Iyasu. “They overextend; we do not; we defend what we hold, and take what brings them to stop the fight, step by step.” He shook his head. “A plan for years and years.”

“But we will certainly need those years and years in any case,” said Hapte. Everyone nodded, and then they opened the reports.

Yimer squinted his eyes. “oh my head hurts... He thinks we ought to be making immobile garrison divisions!? -- with 1870 kit?!?”

“From a purely defensive perspective, yes, they would spread out manpower most effectively. That makes sense,” Mikael said, “salted with a light artillery brigade and well-dug in.”

“Obviously for mobile reinforcements he would recommend something else,” said Iyasu. “But... Habte, what is the difference he means between factoring the manpower? I think I know but -- “

“The first would be how much combat power on offense and on defense, but I think especially on defense, we are getting as quickly as possible for our effort. The second number,” Habte explained, “gives an indication of how many such units we can put out for any manpower pool, compared to each other.”

“So,” Yimer said, “how far we can spread the relative power.”

“Yes, but concentrated manpower is a quality of its own,” objected the Emperor. “A division with more soldiers doesn’t degrade its fighting capability nearly as fast in combat by proportion to an equally strong division of fewer soldiers taking similar losses.”

“On the other hand, a larger division is harder to keep supplied and takes longer to bring up to strength,” Habte replied. “And also it takes longer to reorganize after chaos: battle or marching.”

“On the other other hand,” the Emperor wryly grinned, “being under one leader helps to get the goods to where they need to go, more effectively.”

“True, but a larger division marches slower when the roads are bad.”

“But it can spread out more on defense, or offense for that matter.”

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” Mikael laughed: “I see now why our colorful friend gave both the numbers for us! But may I say this also leads to questions of a field headquarters -- something else we must research, unless Yimer and Habte, or one of their friends, happens to help us out.”

“Anyway,” Yimer took a drink of afternoon toast, “either way we ought to be building cavalry right now, each with an armored car brigade. Or so says his calculations.”

“I do not see that he has factored the cost of continued supply,” the Emperor noted while shuffling papers in his copy back and forth to check. “That would seem important to keep our limited production as free as possible over time.”

“Maybe he thought the proportion would be inverse to our manpower,” Mikael said, though he didn’t sound confident. “When we have so few to put in the field, the difference wouldn’t matter so much. Ah well.”

“Any or all these calculations might need doing again,” Yimer shut his folder with a flop, “once we research more modern tech.”

“Until then, it seems that our efforts ought to focus, when we have the chance, on modernizing cavalry and garrison troops and mobile artillery, too. And armored cars,” the Emperor added.

“And headquarter companies, too, I think,” the Minister reminded them. “Oversight from shepherds can save a flock.”

“If we get the opportunity, yes,” Yimer agreed. “But we absolutely must increase our industry speed and efficiency!”

“And our research speed as well. I understand, we had to work on helping our supply lines first, and get them under control, but still...”

Plans were made at any rate to funnel all upgrading, for now, into one division marching to a central position to meet most incoming threats, but also to allocate one industrial factory to creating a reinforced cavalry and armored car division.

Petar tried his best to sell what plans we had to other nations, where we didn’t think that those would soon or ever be a threat; but he warned our difficulties now in trying to keep up contact with the outside world, would mean we often wouldn’t receive as much or any of the money. The Emperor quickly insisted he should only accept a deal at no less than three times the cost of what we would have to spend in trying to make the deal at all. Otherwise the blueprints might be wasted for no return, whereas if the nation wasn’t willing or able to pay we might try again later.

As it was, we couldn’t raise enough money to invest again into national research; and Nicholas strongly recommended we not attempt to print more currency to spend -- he argued so persuasively the Emperor flatly forbade it as an option. Fortunately, the money that we had invested already seemed to be sufficient to help Yimer and his contacts continue reaching out to save overthrown researchers seeking asylum.

But if we couldn’t put the plans to use, or sell the plans, then none of that would matter when the British rode us down...

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 24, 2014, 03:32:04 PM
[Note: along the way I learned that I couldn’t just drop the techs into the proper places of my save-game file. I could do that with the blueprints, but if I tried to do so with my already-researched techs the game didn’t apply the effects! So I have to assign and start the research, ideally to the fastest team who has an expertise in the final tech component (since that often runs two or three times slower than the others); save the game; quit; open the proper save game file; find the code showing the research teams for Ethiopia -- and for reasons, I can’t just text-search straight there, so that takes several seconds, including as the save file loads into Word (remember each save game file is about the size of ALL FOURTEEN BOOKS OF JORDAN’S WHEEL OF TIME!) -- {inhale} {not done yet!} change the completion percentages to 100 except for the last one to 99 (since setting it straight to 100 breaks the completion code and it never finishes); save the game (takes about 15 second even on The Presence because about-the-size-of-all-14-books-of-etc); restart and reload the game; check the tech progression; and if the final component is running slow (and/or I accidentally typed a 10 instead of 100 somewhere, which happens more often than I care to admit ;) ), go through all that entire process again to set the final component to 199 instead {inhaaaaalle}{still not done}; reload, recheck to make sure the final component didn’t turn out to be 3x slower (and go through all that process again if it does, until the game itself agrees completion is around 99+percent); then start the gameclock for a day or two until the research pings; holy bleep did I forget to copy-paste whatever the original researchers were doing so I can go back and restart them, by the same process one last time, once I’ve finished going through all this again for each tech to be integrated??? {inhale}{inhale}{inhale}{passout}

What I’m saying is that I’m not magically haxoring the techs into place. It takes so much work, that I don’t even bother unless I reaaally need the techs from Montenegro or whoever. Another factor will soon show up later in the plot, but I’ll cover that when I get to it.]

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 27, 2014, 10:25:55 AM
Sorry for the delay in entries; I've been out of pocket doing 'work' work things since Tuesday. I plan to have a new entry later this afternoon or tonight, assuming my face doesn't slide off or explode. Or both.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on March 27, 2014, 01:24:24 PM
Goodness.  Rough day? 

Anyway, no worries, Jason.  We'll be here.  :) 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 27, 2014, 01:30:28 PM
Goodness.  Rough day? 

Hectic season opening time at work (good for business, bad for stress) + West Tennessee, Home of All Allergies.

I may not actually play DH tonight either (couldn't the previous two nights), but I'll by God post or know the reason why! {dramatic pose!}

(......because I fell into a bed and didn't wake up until Friday, that'll likely be the reason why. ;) )
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 27, 2014, 07:38:18 PM
Part 24 -- Good Advice?

The Yannan Clique declared a National Protection War on China on June 15; we noted only because this might affect our tenuous trading arrangement with that vast unstable empire.

Only one factory quickly demonstrated that a new, completely obsolete division of cavalry troops, including a brigade of completely obsolete armored cars (by the standards of the world outside of Africa), would be ready sometime in 1919! But we were able, at the moment, to put four whole factories and some extra portions of others on the outfitting job, slating it thus for only almost a year from now. Which was quite insane, but what else could we do? The armored car brigade turned out to need 3000 men after all, and no less than 126 vehicles, which led us to wonder exactly what or who would do the fighting! Still, we thought, the cars themselves should boost their strength at least a little.

On June 16, we learned the King of Greece had fallen ill, and our Emperor cabled his hopes for a speedy recovery or else a clean transition should the aged man pass away; and promised to add his country to the prayers of our nation’s monks -- far from all of whom of course were hard at work in our research abbey. Still, as they said, quoting an ancient monastic proverb, work ideally is prayer.

By June 18, our utterly exhausted 3rd Abyssian Defense Corps finally took up position in Debre Margos to rest, reorganize, and dig itself in, waiting for British divisions to enter where it could create a combination strike. Nicholas, who had struck up great friendship with all the ministers, joked that in his country he had known a stage-actress with a very similar name!

The affairs of Europe seemed farther away than ever, despite our newfound friends who were quietly working with Yimer to prepare the safe exfiltration of many Serbian families. Austria had split the few remaining chunks of Serbia in two. On our continent, Germany looked to be still holding on against Britain and Belgium southward, while on the far northern coast the Senussi had driven impressively far into Egypt. The Emperor sent a cable to them telling them they were welcome for the distraction. The sheik cabled back that we were welcome, too! Meanwhile tales would reach of us of the heroic Belgian resistance to German colonization -- that was how we thought of it: apparently France was simply keeping Germany busy standing around on the border (having finally retaken the last of the counties Germany had seized at the start of the war) while Belgium flanked and stabbed, destroying armies. A classical one-horned-bull maneuver, as the impis of Chaka would have said, but played out on an international scale.


[“Germany your game is through; ‘cause now you’ve got to answer to: THE WAFFLE-LANNND! -- WAFF, YEAH!! FREE-DOM IS THE ON-LY WAY YEAH!” Context: back in the winter, Belgium had been conquered down to Bruges. France may be helping, and is certainly keeping Germany distracted along a nice short defensive line, but Belgium is the one retaking her land; remaining territories marked with B. “WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU-OU!?” (]

On June 19, Nicholas suggested a thought, while eating dinner again outside on the street with the Emperor:

“You want to improve your infrastructure all over your nation, do you not? And you need to do this, not only to move your troops around, but also to make some factories with your factories, do you not? So, hire some contractors from outside to come and work across your nation.”

The Emperor mildly opined that that would take money, and at the moment we were draining our coffers dry trying to make a division of obsolete cavalry in a year. With obsolete cars.

Nicholas sipped an evening toast, and opined in return that our Emperor’s sarcasm was growing more refined each week; but that if we needed the money he had an idea:

“Sell your supplies to America!”

The Emperor thought of that for a moment, and then for a minute, and then said: “You mean, forget creating the division for now or work on it slowly, and put our factories back to work creating goods for our people and making supplies -- which of course our troops also need and which they are frankly not getting enough of right now because of the cavalry project.”

“Indeed. That didn’t even sound sarcastic, sir.”

“And hope for the best in holding off the British with what we have.”

“Which for a year you would have to do anyway, or rather for more than a year since eventually you would need to redirect your industry once you ran out of money or the public dissent increased too much, or possibly if your current agreements to trade supplies, etc.” Some very experienced Ethiopian citizens from the liberated coastline had been brought to work in shifts translating our new European citizens, those who knew Italian anyway. One of them sent this along, and after pondering for another minute and eating a steak from a snake -- a local delicacy -- the Emperor asked:

“Well, how much would they pay?”

Nicholas said that that was a question for Petar, not for a soldier like himself, but that he had made some inquiries of Petar already, knowing our plight, and Petar thought that we might be able to sell our excess goods for maybe...

“FOUR {spppppit} MILLION,” the Emperor started choking on his evening toast.

“A day,” Nicholas shrugged. “If you don’t think you will need your cavalry all that much sometime in the next four years.”

“I something-something don’t that much!” sputtered Iyasu V. I hoped the translator had enough sense not to fully translate the gist of that indignity from our country’s Emperor.

“Obviously, with the war engulfing the world, the odds of you actually getting that much are reduced -- only half your shipments seem to be going where they should right now. Still, even two million might be useful.”

The Emperor sighed and wiped himself as well as he could. “True, and in itself that only would pay... how much for importing the work do you think?”

“300 million.” Iyasu did the math: “We could only pay for it every five months; and we would have nothing left over to buy our factory materials with.”

“True. But for the next few months, I think you may find you have some extra... valuable knowledge on the way. Or says Petar, and your estimable Yimer. And you may also find better deals from other nations. I doubt it,” Nicholas shrugged, and cut a bite of the steak with a campaigning soldier’s knife that looked as if it had seen some action, years ago, at the end of a bayonet. “But who knows?” He chewed. “Very much better than rat or horse!” he laughed. Lord, how disgusting. “Wait for your diplomatic envoys to return at the end of the month and feel out other nations, first -- ones with plenty of ports, of course, not inland ones, though certainly Switzerland needs the supplies I would think. You have made some insanely profitable acquaintances over in South America, so I have heard. Perhaps they will keep on being insane and outbid the North American states.

“Meanwhile, I also recommend you put your factories into production on some convoys. Three of them at least; they will be done more quickly than your cavalry division, at top speed, and leave you a little more industrial capacity while you’re at it, and will help contribute to your trade efficiency starting in, oh, 80 days I imagine. I’ve seen your factories,” he smiled.

“But the trade deal with the United States...”

“Will work much more efficiently with some convoys prepared to deliver your goods. True, they might be sunk -- you’ve started a war with half the power of the world, or more than half, including the greatest navy on the planet. Still, diplomatically the Allies might not want to enforce a trade embargo on a partner of the States. And to be blunt, your cavalry won’t save you. Even with armored cars. Not until you grow, and you need to grow in production first. Seriously -- I understand the overall strategic thought, but until you can produce that unit at, say, once a month at the most, strategically you have no business producing it at all. You should be putting your efforts into bringing up what troops you have as far as you can and supporting them.”

So, after discussing this with his ministers in the morning, Iyasu changed his plans again, though not without acknowledging the merits of Tazazu’s overall plan.

As promised, at the end of the month, or rather the start of July, Petar and Yimer brought some welcome news -- but also a disturbing possible answer to a great mystery.

Why had Britain not yet invaded our land...?

[Note: current def-fan level, still 8.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 28, 2014, 04:01:17 PM
Part 25 -- Mysterious Intentions

“I’ve asked you here this morning to meet without our Foreign Minister,” the Emperor said to his fellow Ethiopians. “He believes that we are meeting later in an hour. We will be here early, in order to cover some mundane management issues that he wouldn’t only not be especially interested in, but as a newcomer to our country couldn’t be expected to be familiar with, yet.”

“Which we just covered,” nodded Habte, “in order to have time for this instead before he arrives.”

“My aide has posted servants to watch for his approach,” Iyasu nodded in my direction. “We should have ample warning to turn the topic to something more boring.”

“Are we in trouble?” Mikael asked. “Did we make a mistake in inviting the Montenegrians here? What have you heard?”

“What I have heard is nothing. Which does not worry me,” answered the Emperor. “What I know are facts; facts that we all know. And those worry me.” Yimer squirmed a bit, and Iyasu added, “I am not in the least blaming you. You did what I asked of you, and far exceeded my expectations.”

“I myself expect that Petar will bring us new expat news today,” said our Intelligence Minister. “They may even have one or two Serbian teams extracted already with more on the way.”

“That does not surprise me. But it worries me as well, in conjunction with an obvious but mysterious fact.”

“Petar brought us Nicholas the Montenegrian king,” our Minister of Ministers replied. “A man who has survived so far by being both a ruthless fighter and an ambitious politician.”

“Almost certainly true, I have no doubt -- and Yimer, you should confirm or deny this as soon as you possibly can,” the Emperor said. “It might even make a difference whether this man is truly the king or only an imposter being foisted on us by Petar -- or possibly by Nicholas himself, as a proxy!”

“I’m willing to bet that that Armored Yacht wasn’t taken or sunk by the Germans after all,” muttered Habte. “They brought a significant number of people who worked in support of the craft.”

“Not an obvious fact, but something to check on, too, I agree,” Iyasu said. “No, the obvious fact is more obvious than any of that -- and far more ominous, too, in conjunction with our recent immigrates:

“The British haven’t invaded us yet.”

That created some furrowed brows. “Well... of course they haven’t. Why is that ominous, though?” asked Mikael, squinting across the room at a map on the wall, as Iyasu approached it.

“They have had three months at least to start an attack. And yet, they haven’t. They could have attacked us from multiple directions since before the middle of April. Maybe they were resting after a march in difficult country, I admit. Maybe they didn’t know our dispositions, I admit. But to the English we must seem an ignorant, backward people -- which to be fair, we are, compared to them! Colonial powers have not been known for their caution in taking African land so far. Why have they not attempted some recon by force, while they were waiting for extra troops to arrive? We’ve seen them moving toward us, changing direction, stopping, moving again. We haven’t any clear idea where they will be attacking us, but milling around outside our borders leaves them unable to strike us either. Keep in mind as well,” the Emperor said while tapping particular territories: “we took these from Britain. At the very least they ought to have tried to take them back. At the very, very least, they ought to have cut off our troops in Khartoum!

“But they haven’t. They are marching around in place, not going anywhere, so they cannot be resting from a march and gathering their strength -- all they are accomplishing is keeping us agitated about their plans to strike. Meanwhile they are giving us ample time to prepare to receive them.

“Is Italy coming to flank us from the south? That would make sense, especially since, unlike Britain, Italy isn’t much engaged in fighting up in Europe at the moment, and has made a separate peace, for now, with the Senussi -- whom the British are struggling against farther north, where these troops fluttering round outside our borders could be helping rather than tiring themselves at the end of their tether!” Iyasu then inhaled.

“I can only think of one explanation to fit the evident facts.

“Britain wants to invade but is being restrained.”

“Politically, you mean? And how is that ominous?” asked Habte.

“Because, I do not know for sure why they are being restrained. But I do know what might be restraining them.

“Someone entered our country, at about the time the British should have been starting a heavy invasion. Someone who has played the European political game so well, his tiny principality earned itself the name of a kingdom, and in less than ten years doubled its size despite its neighbors being contentious about their claims of land. Someone whose daughters are a deceased but popular Queen of Serbia; and an influential Countess in Russia; and, not least, the reigning Queen of Italy itself! -- and that is the smallest part of his influence.

“Someone who has been quickly Balkanizing, so to speak, the Horn of Africa recently.

“Someone allied intimately with many Entente powers, whom we have defied, and one of whom has armies doing bizarre maneuvers just outside our borders.”

“That... isn’t necessarily a problem, sir,” Yimer said, grimacing at the implications hinted by Iyasu. “He might be working behind our back to give us more time to prepare. Or to allow us to gracefully take a winning position and back away from war. We give back the British lands we took, also Djibouti to the French, and the southern coastline; we keep the lands that Italy took from us; his daughter the Queen could feasibly get the Italian king to recognize that we were only trying to free our people.”

“Maybe. Maybe that is what he is doing. What will he do when we don’t back off? He knows,” the Emperor said, “that we intend to work to remove colonial powers from this land.”

“Or, should we take an opportunity offered by him to do just that? Back away from war, with an honorable peace, and our immediate goal at least accomplished?” Mikael sighed. “You know I have never been comfortable with war to achieve our goal of a stronger land.”

“If he makes the offer, perhaps we might consider accepting. But he hasn’t made that offer,” answered Iyasu quietly. “Has he? Has anyone here heard Nicholas suggesting that we stop?” No one could answer. “Because, when he and I are talking, he is giving advice to push us onward.”

“He is in favor of our goal, our larger goal,” said Habte. “So... is he using his leverage among the Allies to keep them off our backs as long as possible?”

“But WHY?!” The Emperor softly pounded the wall, near the map. “He is in danger, too, if the British invade.”

“He thinks we can win,” Yimer shrugged. “Don’t we, ourselves, believe that?”

“He has been shoved from his carefully crafted nation,” Iyasu retorted. I noticed that he hadn’t answered the question. “He should be seeking security now! But he isn’t. I swear, I expect the man to volunteer to go and lead our troops somewhere! And don’t say this is vengeance: why would he have a grudge against the Entente? Only Italy might have helped him stave off Austria in time, and his daughter is Queen, whom by all accounts he dotes on. I might believe he would think that helping us take and keep Italian coastline was sending a political message somehow -- but then, what is the point of having the British dance around outside instead of solidly sitting siege?!” Iyasu shook his head. “He wants us to think the British are a threat, not a block to further expansion until we cool our heads and accept an Italian compromise.”

“If he’s the reason the British haven’t attacked,” the Head of Government mildly reminded the Emperor: “this is speculation about an explanation of facts. We don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes in Britain. I agree, it’s one explanation; and uncharitable theories are just as often true, because of the hearts of men. But what are we thinking of accusing Nicholas of?”

“I wouldn’t accuse him of anything yet. And you are right,” the Emperor said, “we’re speculating without enough facts to even make a reasonable conclusion or expectation.

“But I think we should watch him -- especially you, Yimer, although he might be more prepared to evade your suspicions, considering your post with us. I fear...

“...he may be thinking of staging a coup, with British support, and rescuing Africa from us. Gaining himself a colonial land in Africa. Very much larger than Montenegro was.”

No one had anything to say to that.

After a minute, a boy carefully knocked on the door. One of my under-rowers, as Mikael liked to call them -- he said it was a term from the Gospel of St. Luke somewhere. Petar was coming soon.

“We say nothing about our suspicions,” the Emperor instructed. “And at this time... I think we must accept whatever technical help they offer. But from this point on, Yimer, we must be much more careful about importing help into our country.”

Yimer understood; and soon our European friend arrived. By then we were discussing some tedious bit of normality, and acted as though we were just passing time until he arrived.

He said he had good news: that he had brokered deals to safely bring out most of the Serbian research teams, who would be arriving across the month, bringing gifts of completed research projects and some blueprints. He also thought he had a line on some of the Kuwaiti researchers, which would drastically increase our naval strength someday (if we survived that long, I thought); but on discussion it seemed the best recruit to be picked up from that would be an eccentric pilot who could train our nascent air force (if we survived that long, I thought). No more money remained from Habte and Yimer’s initial investments to bring in foreign researchers; but Petar said that, with his various contacts, we would not need to shoulder so much of the bill for that in the future. The Emperor opined that, in any case, we soon would run out of annexed nations whose technology could be useful to us right now; and that we certainly ought to give monetary priority to teams who could help us increase our production output. Petar agreed that, unfortunately, we ourselves would soon be on par with the nations who had been defeated so far -- which, after all, was one significant factor in their defeat! Still, he understood, or so he said.

Along the way, Habte brought up the curious behavior of the British forces, and after some discussion the Ethiopian ministers thought the explanation must be that the British were waiting to gain their strength again, perhaps combined with conflicting orders from home due to political struggles at Whitehell or whatever their government building was called -- which was worth a laugh for those of us who knew enough English to appreciate the joke. Petar agreed that that seemed the best explanation to him as well, and didn’t bother to press alternative theories, or to ask about holes left open in our explanation. Then again, he hadn’t been hired for strategic device, so... who knew? Perhaps he was being honest after all.

So we settled in on a month of incorporating new technologies as they arrived, starting with helpful production techniques. The list would be much more extensive this time, though by the same token we wouldn’t be able to use them anytime soon -- except to sell them.

Iyasu did decide that he wouldn’t wait to make the convoy ships, however: he said, following Nicholas’ own advice, that what could be accomplished now, in our current situation, would be far more helpful than what could be accomplished at some months in the future -- and we didn’t know for sure how much more helpful a convoy would be anyway -- and besides, they would be sailing without protection, against the might of the world’s strongest navy, so would be likely sunk or captured anyway if Britain put her mind to it -- AND we would have to generate cash and supplies to keep the convoy itself in operation.

Better to just accept that we would only get half of what we could bargain from the Americans, and certainly get that now through the normal channels of privately contracted neutral shipping countries. Petar had nothing to say, other than that he would do his best to get us a worthy bargain from the USA, but also that we ought to leave some overhead in our production, so to support our troops in case the British advanced after all, rather than promise American what we could only deliver by leaving our troops to burn without supply or reinforcements.

Which made sense.

Didn’t it?

[Gamenote: the real explanation for Britain’s bizarre behavior seems to be, that every time I reload a game from a save after testing, the computer starts all over again ordering other national troops around, but mine keep going. Consequently, things don’t move along very fast in other wars -- although they do move, Belgium for example, and the general Western and Eastern fronts, and obviously the arrival of the British troops nearby, and Serbia being swallowed. During one of my longer runs of a couple of months, Khartoum was finally attacked from directly west over the river by two very strong infantry divisions -- but my poor militia had much better defense and defensive damage capabilities due to parking there so long. Anyway, loading up the game again stopped the troops from moving again. It throws me off a couple of days as my supplies synch up, but if I save and reload the game every couple of weeks I might be able to keep the British off me kind-of indefinitely.

As to the in-story explanation -- who knows yet? I don’t. ;)

Current Def-fan level, still 8. From the next part onward, the blades will start to hit...]

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on March 28, 2014, 04:55:09 PM

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 29, 2014, 07:55:54 AM
I should have a new update after lunch.

Man, though... the game last night... let's say I have some stronger evidence now that someone else is working their way through Belgium up on the continent and giving that territory back to Belgium as they go.

Things look darkest, though, just before a person climbing out of an abyss can see a light far ahead.

(Whether that's the way out or optical flashes from exhaustion and air deprivation, remains to be seen... ;) )
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 29, 2014, 01:36:46 PM
Part 26 -- Hitting The Blades

Here near the equator, the seasons are always summer, but June, July and August tend to be a bit cooler than later in the year near Christmastime -- Mikael says our planet is closer to the sun, then. Still, our culture comes from northward more than southward, so we think of this as having passed midsummer. Now in July, we raced to integrate our Serbian technical expertise, while we warily watched for the start of the British invasion, whenever that might be.

Most importantly, we put one of the first teams to arrive, a highly skilled group from the Serbian Railroad system, to work on early improvements to our material usage in factories. Another team, equally skilled, from the Serbian Zastava Arsenal, arrived to teach our ministers about the principles of warfare now in the 20th century of our Lord and Savior’s birth. Aside from improving our organizational abilities with our divisions, most importantly this would provide us an option to make proper headquarter units -- even if their kit would still be state of the art for Prussia back in 1870! That would be vastly much better than nothing, if we could make them; but could we even feasibly take the production time to make them? We learned the answer in only a couple of days: at the expense of crippling our production elsewhere, we would need almost a year to kit out even one headquarters. So that was put aside like most other things.

A noble Serbian general, Radomir Putnik, also soon arrived; he had been instrumental in trying to develop Serbian infantry strength, and said that he had developed techniques and kit almost seven years in advance of the modern standard. Hopefully these would be of some use in upgrading our militia, too -- although Iyasu privately remarked this man looked more of a king than Nicholas the soldier! Meanwhile, the Zastava Arsenal started making plans that would allow us to train and kit out cavalry to something approaching the standards of seven years ago: General Putnik and Nicholas were highly interested in Taezaz’s larger strategic visions, and they brought in Habte to talk about how brigades of a hundred armored cars each might make such divisions an efficiently “African” force.

On July 4, we concluded a supply deal with the United States of America for an income of 3 million pounds sterling a day, although how much of that would actually arrive on any day due to the war of the world and our part in it, only God could say for sure. Still, it was vastly much better than nothing, and arrived at on terms which would allow us some flexible leeway in production. Petar said that he had been able to make the deal by appealing to American patriotic sentiment about their own successful but unlikely revolution against Great Britain, which started on this day almost 140 years ago.

Then, on July 11, 1915, the Battle for Khartoum began.

“I suppose,” sighed Iyasu as he held a council to bring the ministers, and some allies, up to speed (a turn of phrase popular in the factories for some reason), “we ought to be grateful for whatever political dithering caused their delay so far. But we now have some difficult choices ahead.” He walked to a closer map of that area, his hair tossed slightly by little electric fans that Habte insisted on adding to every corner of the office -- he had wired up eleven so far!


“Sketchy radio reports indicate a modern infantry division, of over 13000 men and 5600 horses along with no less than four heavy artillery pieces and seventy-two lighter ones, is attacking across the westward river from El Obeid. A score of motor vehicles has also been seen, probably ferrying ammo and supplies around. This division is also highly organized so far. To the south, another infantry division is attacking the city overland from Malakal -- a much wiser choice. It has closer to six thousand horses and thirteen thousand men, but less artillery -- only forty pieces.” That was said with some of Iyasu’s customary sarcasm. “Holding Khartoum, just to remind everyone, are fewer than ten thousand militia. With only soldiers, no other support. And with weapons forty-five years out of date.” He shook his head. “So far they are holding heroically, and we might see them stand against this force for maybe a couple of weeks. But do we even want them to? Why should our men there die, to keep Khartoum? It isn’t doing us any good at the moment, and its factory won’t do us much good in the future for a while. The only other feasible purpose, perhaps, is to provide a fixing point while other troops maneuver to attack the besieging division in Malakal.”

“If we retreat,” the ‘Minister’ of Ministers mused, “what will be the possible results? Because it seems to me that they could be crossing a river, or even caught trying to cross, when that group of divisions arrive from Omduran. They could be giving up a very defensive location for greater slaughter on the road -- which, not incidentally, was our rationale for having them stay in place before!”

“Not entirely our rationale,” Habte replied. “They needed rest and reorganization in order to have some chance of marching home again. Nevertheless, your point is well taken. But on the other hand, where could we feasibly strike from? Despite how it looks on the map, the infantry in Debre cannot reach them. So they will have to move, or else we’ll have to send troops from here in Addis Abeba. Just to be clear, our best approach, if we choose the latter, would be to send divisions to Jimma, which would also provide a defensive buffer across a river against the British cavalry trying to cross into Ethiopia there. But then again, would our divisions arrive in time? Or would they meet the cavalry instead already across? And even if they arrived in time, they would be flanked by cavalry once the crossing is made.”

“What are the relative travel times, Habte?” the Emperor asked.

“We could have all troops in Addis Abeba march into Jimma by, mmm, September 11, let us say. Or September 22 into Asosa, a more mountainous region, closer to Addis Abeba so that we could lend support to defending or counterattacking a thrust from our southwest, and which wouldn’t risk us meeting the British cavalry on the way, and still would allow us to strike at Malakal. But we’d get there at least eleven days later. Or the troops from Debre could cross the river into Asosa by Sept 25. Or, they could march up into El Qadarif, hopefully not to meet the British divisions on the way, by late August, and support Khartoum’s defense from across the river -- but then they could be attacked themselves from several directions!

“Sir, our original plan was to hit those multiple divisions coming down from Omduran with several militia divisions of our own, two of which will be in place next week though utterly winded, and three of which have been resting for a while, one of which we’ve been trying to get upgraded. I don’t see any good reason to throw away that plan to save a city we can’t even use right now while making our troops less vulnerable!”

“Well argued, I agree,” nodded Mikael. “How long would it take for our assault scouts to retreat from Khartoum?”

“Early August, at the earliest,” answered Habte. “This will be by far the fastest thing we can do, and our troops will be able to march away from danger, keeping them stronger during that time -- unless or until they run into the other British troops, who still look like they’re coming but we don’t know when they’ll arrive. It will also shorten our supply and transport problems, since we surely won’t keep them there but rather have them march back home to their brothers, ahead of the British divisions.”

“I can’t say I like the idea of retreating,” Iyasu growled. “But it does seem the most rational choice. Very well; but should we go ahead and try to march some divisions out, now that they’ve had some rest, to take up defensive positions between the British and our capitol?”

“I would be in favor of that,” our Head of Government said. “But if we do, let us put our Imperial infantry into Asosa, the area more exposed but also with better defense, and send our defensive corps to try to meet or beat the cavalry into Jimma. If all we’re able to do is get to Jawasa, well, so be it. That might even be better: we can hit the British advance from two directions in that case, while the western British troops are distracted securing Khartoum.”

“A clever plan, Mikael!” Iyasu agreed, and so did Habte.

Yimer walked to the larger map however and said, “But we now have reports of British divisions in Nakaru and Mogadishu -- surrounding our nation completely! We mustn’t leave them an open path to our capital province, surely! If I may suggest: now is the time to do what we had said we were going to do. Rotate our expeditionary divisions back more centrally into our country away from the southeastern coast. Unless we want to attack that division in Mogadishu...? We do have four divisions ready to try.”

“Mogadishu has two forts for land defense. I wouldn’t want to be the general who tried that. Still, we’d have forty-thousand militia troops...” Habte pondered. “If they only have, say, 13000, and if they aren’t rested well after the sea trip, and aren’t particularly well kitted out or supported by combat brigades... What would we gain by driving them out of that coastline?”

“A good opportunity,” Nicholas said, speaking for the first time that morning. General Putnik beside him grunted in agreement. “If I may...?” He stood and walked to the map. “You could easily take and secure the coast, down to here, allowing you to threaten the lines of your enemies to the south, cutting them off from supply. That might be the only way to permanently defeat them, even if your defense proves hopefully strong. What would it cost to, let us say, scout by attacking, to see for sure what our enemy has in the area? You can always abort the attack and return to your withdrawal, a day or two after you have assessed the situation.”

“Aside from Ethiopian soldier lives -- which I allow,” the Emperor said, “will be lost in defending our home in any case -- the only problem I see would be that we’d leave the northern coastline of the Horn open for other troop landings. We wouldn’t be able to hit them on their beachhead.”

“Then again, that was a reason for keeping four divisions ready on the coast as well: in case someone landed troops in Mogadishu, yes? You have given yourself an opportunity now. Be sure that what you relinquish it for, is worth it.”

“What if we only move this division back toward Addis Abeba,” asked Habte. “Then it becomes the blocking force, while our coastal defense corps starts to work its way south behind them -- assuming we can get them out of those forts, without us losing much strength, of course. We keep the corps up here to guard the coast. Or, we could send them over the river into Goba, ready to hit at another opportunity flank -- even though that would be across a river from the swamps. We could be there by the end of September, perhaps in time to hammer a nail into the coffin of whoever tries to take Arba Minsch.


“That would risk Hargeisa landings, or landings in Golcyoko later, being completely unopposed. But...”

“But it just might win us the war for our country in the south.” Iyasu pulled at his lip in thought. “Let us radio and courier our generals for this task, with the caution that we might change our mind a little in the next few days, once we see whatever the British strength may be along the coast. We don’t know whether the enemy will send in troops by the northern ports of the Horn. But we do know where they are sending troops right now, and taking this course could help us catch them in a trap.

“Let us walk, then, according to the light we can see, looking for more light thereby.”

And, thus paraphrasing Paul the apostle, he gave the orders.

A few hours later, we received the news: the fortifications were certainly a problem, rendering our attacks no better than their defense. But they had only 13,000 men and 6000 horses. The general expected to drive them out in a couple of days. Yimer was especially pleased, for the major-general who had brought together the two coastal defense corps to assault Mogadishu was a cousin and close family friend.

Other good news: the Gojjim Sefari had finally upgraded to 1897 militia standards. We could keep them where they were and spread the effort around, or try to bring them up to 1914. Considering the different results over, presumably, the same time, we realized we would have to work twice as long to add the strength spreading out elsewhere that we could get by focusing on this division. So we set them to continue.

On July 16, the Begemder Liberating Army (now more like a small corps) led by Nebissu, finally arrived at their defensive post in Gonder -- ready to be chased away by rabbits, they were so tired! Still, we had a plan for a rolling counterattack which would give them time to rest, when-if-ever Britain retook the territory outside Khartoum.

That night however, after sundown, British Sudanese colonial militia, backed by a division of British regulars, attacked our coast at Massawa. Immediately, nearby groups of Ethiopian militia, resting up for such an event, launched a massive counter-attack against the Sudanese port in support of Massawa’s defense. But would the British infantry at Kassala join the battle, hitting one of our counter-attacking defense corps from the side? And would one of the coastal defense corps even arrive in time to help?

Now I realized why Habte had put those fans in the office...


Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 30, 2014, 08:05:19 AM
Part 27 -- Summer’s Fall

We quickly heard from the Massawan front that our strategic counter-attack had convinced the British to break off to meet the threat. We dutifully did the same, although we thought about going ahead to push the assault up into Port Sudan again. We just didn’t have the overwhelming numbers to end the battle quickly, though, and wouldn’t until the end of September at the earliest. Still, it seemed likely Britain would try again from that direction, so we kept the other coastal defense corps marching north.

On July 18 Port Sudan and Kassala attacked the two-division corps in Asmara instead -- which was particularly a problem because that corps had left their entrenchments to help the Massawan defense. Since they might as well, our Kassalan division dutifully attacked Port Sudan; and, somewhat against our better judgment, Nessibu’s exhausted Begemder Corps began attacking Kassala across the river. We didn’t mean to win so much as make the enemy stop for long enough to let us get entrenched again. Unfortunately, as we suspected, General Nessibu’s troops were still too tired to do much to help, especially having to cross the river, so after a couple of days they retreated. This did not bode well for our staunch northern defenders.

But then the news of our two-pronged counter-attack filtered around the British attackers, and so they stopped to reassess, even as one of our counter-attacking corps gave up the fight and tried to rest. What would happen now??

What would happen, was that they would start their attack again the following day, having gotten their signals sorted out I guess.

[Gamenote: in real life what happened was that I was saving and quitting the game to set up my final research tweaks and get the Ethiopian teams back on regular research. Every time I did this the attackers would quit and start again. I didn’t intend to exploit that as a loophole, though. In fact, if anything it hurt me, because now none of my troops up there are set in defensive entrenchments!]

Our technologies brought in by Serbia and Montenegro netted us, along with a clever supply trade, a new treasury total in excess of 800 million pounds sterling! We could put teams to work for two months with that, even three assuming we survived long enough and kept our deal with the United States (or vice versa); or we could put even more workers out at once for a month. We didn’t know which way would be most efficient, and naturally we were worried about spending such huge sums of money wasting effort. After some debate, we decided to hire local teams -- not foreign teams per Nicholas’ advice, Iyasu stressed -- for one month and get a baseline for what would happen. By then, we could afford to spend more money at once on the local teams for a month; and then compare results. At worst, we would still be ahead but also know which way to go again. If we survived until then.

On July 27, our 1st Assault scouts fully entered El Qadarif, where they were promptly attacked by scouting elements of the oncoming British divisions from Omduran. As planned, our scouts immediately broke contact and marched for Gonder where Nessibu’s corps was trying to rapidly rest, so to speak.


The situation in the north looked frankly more than hopeless; but in the south, as expected, our coastal guards rooted out the British Mogadishu defenders on August 3. Even then, we had lost twice as many men almost, a little over a thousand to their 644 (plus horses). We wouldn’t be able to feasibly capitalize on such a victory until the late October at the earliest: time to secure the territory and then to rest a little before pushing on. By then, the battle up north would have probably long been decided -- not in our favor, so far as it looked -- and in the west we expected to then be waging a stiff defense. Yimer was pleased for the sake of his cousin at least.

Our northern defenders were fast wearing out, even though their losses weren’t crippling yet, so on August 8 Iyasu ordered the main defense to retreat back into Adrigat, while the Massawan flanking counter-attack was ordered to cease and rest as much as it could. Our hope was that the attacking British divisions could be led into a salient where we would be the ones applying overwhelming force to drive them out of our lands again.

On August 9, our coastal corps caught up with the British division in Mogadishu again, this time not in its forts -- but also with a brigade attachment of armored cars! Their combat efficiency was still much better than ours, and the fight didn’t seem to be going as well this time.

By August 11, our Gojjam Sefari division completed its upgrade to 1914 militia standard kit; but since upgrading it further wouldn’t increase its fighting power nearly as significantly, Iyasu decided to shift the upgrade process to one of the two divisions marching north along the coast to try to support our defense of the area, since these had not been in battle yet and might make more of a difference there if strengthened.

On August 16, our assault scouts finished their withdrawal into Gonder, and stopped to rest as long as they could along with General Nessibu, who took them under his wing. So far our attempt at drawing the British into a cauldron appeared to be working -- the Port Sudan troops hadn’t shifted over to trying to take the Massawan coast.

On the other hand, General Yimer’s coastal assault had run into a modern Indian infantry division just shipped in -- with a brigade of artillery support! -- to stiffen the British defense at Mogadishu. This was turning into a much worse fight than we had anticipated, and worse it signaled that Rajian troops would soon be arriving en masse. Worse yet again, the defenders had gotten back into the land forts! General Yimer reported that he now suspected the original British defenders had boarded ships in harbor and these had been let off, fresh and ready to fight.

When the first British infantry division retook Asmara (for the British, not for Italy), we launched our bullish strategy. First, the Djibouti coastal defense corps (not currently in Djibouti of course), well rested and ready to fight though still at only 1870 standard, started a forward attack. Our hope was that the other British divisions from Port Sudan were also on the way, or else would be diverted to help their ailing comrades.


Then as other nearby corps and divisions marched into place and/or rested up to fight, they would add pressure to the attack, catching the troops from Port Sudan as well.

Meanwhile, we received word that far across the world, the Chinese National Protection Alliance had forced Imperial China to cease its Imperial status (again) and become Beiyang China, allowing a return of the satellite states to status quo. Fortunately, this didn’t disturb our trade agreement any more than the shift of the Chinese Republic to Imperial status had.

At this point we were steadily eating into our stock of supplies in order to keep upgrading a wider number of militia who were already in or might soon see combat.

On August 21, my brother’s birthday incidentally, Yimer had to bring our Serbian neighbors the news that Austria-Hungary finally finished swallowing their country. They mourned, and must have wondered just how safe they truly were, with so many enemy troops surrounding our own nation...

By August 24, it was clear the invading British division in Asmara was seriously strong: thirteen thousand British regulars (minus not many casualties), and as usual now 40 artillery pieces and nominally 6000 horse (also minus not many casualties). Worse, it was defending in the mountains and its leader was considerably more experienced than the Djibouti Guard commander who lacked any time in modern combat up till now. That being the case, our assault scouts, now well-rested, petitioned and received permission to launch a flanking attack across the river from the south. The enemy, however, seemed to be large enough to meet the sally without exposing their flanks. Still the supporting attack had brought the relative amount of power up substantially in our favor.

On the same day, we learned that local labor had found the mountainous region of Asara, west of our capitol and where our Imperial Guard was currently marching to meet an enemy invasion, the quickest area (strangely enough) to increase our infrastructure in: from ten to twenty percent. Not enough to build a factory yet, and not in the best strategic position, but then again no place was very strategically safe at the moment. It seemed like our investment would, as in research infrastructure, pay out dividends randomly. Still, we hadn’t had to spend two years in doing it! We quickly assigned the local crews a further six hundred million pounds and marked our calendars to see what kind of results would happen a month from now with that money.

If we were even still a nation a month from now.

Down in Mogadishu, Yimer’s cousin reported that his assaulting defensive corps (perhaps intending some sarcasm) was now fighting no less than three modern British divisions each with full troops and a brigade of armored cars.


“Jesus help us -- even their horses outnumber us!”

Two hundred thirteen artillery pieces,” was the only answer Yimer could numbly give the Emperor. “Fourteen heavy guns. Three... three hundred, almost four hundred armored cars, roving the battle field, slicing apart our troops.

“The only good news my cousin can give, is that they are starting out utterly exhausted; and he thinks that these are new troops, other troops retreating. We do not know if the infantry now in Kismayo with their headquarters is one of them; but he thinks the three defending divisions aren’t properly integrated even with one another, much less by a British HQ. For whatever that’s worth. He begs to be moved forward on the list for militia upgrades, sir.”

Iyasu agreed, and shifted around the upgrade schedule so that only the 1870 militia near the battle lines would now be receiving kit. He also spent 7 million pounds on the bi-yearly intelligence upgrade, for all the good that did us. We had to look forward, somehow, to a time when that might be useful and we would wish we had it.

One bit of good news arrived September 4, when our tired 2nd Abyssinian Defenders arrived in the jungles of Jimma just in time to throw back the British cavalry division who had been half-heartedly thinking of trying to cross the river into our territory for months. As a reward, the Emperor put them on the upgrade list for 1870 kit militia. They’d probably need it.


Then the bad news arrived -- more bad news. Taezaz wasn’t the only person who could add up efficiency numbers.

“The King’s Own what?” the Emperor tried to ascertain from frantic radio dispatches cobbled together across several territories.

“....Massawa ....from Port.... Britain sent {garbled} King’s {garbled} Own!!! ...supported by infantry, too... hundred armored cars, hundred fifty.... nine thousand cavalry attacking...”


“Stand your ground! You have mountains! Help is marching northward. Soon will arrive! Over!” Soon, in this case, meant a few weeks. But they were better than no help at all. The main danger was that our militia would be too tired from futile attacks a couple of months ago, to hold until relieved.

Habte rubbed his head. Everyone seemed to be doing that this morning. “The King’s Own 1st Cavalry division. Apparently, we are giving them far more trouble than they expected!”

“In hindsight,” the Emperor growled, “we should have pushed on and taken Port Sudan. We will keep going this time, if we ever get the chance to do so again. That British division in Asmara needs removing, Habte!”

So General Nessibu’s rested Begemder Liberating Army added to the assault across the Nile onto the British salient on Sept 12, a few days later.


The very same day our Assabian Coastal Guard finished its heroic march into Massawa, relieving the militia. In response, the King’s Own cavalry promptly broke off the attack! For now, the three victorious militia divisions simply rested.

But for many of our people there would be no rest from battle anytime soon.

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 30, 2014, 08:11:13 PM
Part 28 -- Of All Souls

On September 13, our Imperial Guard arrived in the mountains of Asosa on our border, and started resting and digging in to meet any coming British division. Habte told us he thought that the Guard could be upgraded now in less than two weeks, so we diverted supplies toward that goal.

By September 20, General Yimer radioed that his men were too exhausted to continue attacking Mogadishu effectively, and requested permission to stop and rest for a while before his men were simply forced to stop fighting. Iyasu gave permission, and our battle to stop the influx of troops into Mogadishu ended with defeat.

Several days later our local infrastructure improvement corps reported two of our territories had been found best for quickly upgrading, one of which was Dire Dawa, our only other province with a factory. This couldn’t help us yet, but it was one step closer. It didn’t look likely we’d have any more money soon to boost our infrastructure farther, though: our supplies would generate the most immediate income, but we needed them now to upgrade our militia at a reasonable rate.

On September 27, a combined push by rested divisions broke the British back out of Asmara again, and we made plans to retake it and Kassala, preparatory to a joint operation against Port Sudan later toward the end of the year. Neither Iyasu nor anyone else wanted to stretch our transport capabilities so far again, but we had managed to do fairly well despite being stretche; whereas having the British constantly reinforcing through the port was “becoming tedious” as the Emperor dryly put it.


With combat currently ended for now, we took the opportunity to prepare various techs for the international market and to build up our supply of supplies again, while we could.

By October 6, General Nessibu was harrying the British across the Nile again at a different fording point, trying to get them to keep on moving out of Kassala; our assault scouts supported this attack. Despite an overwhelming qualitative superiority, the British were too tired to keep up a defense for long and on October 11, they chose to keep on moving out of the territory. Selected Ethiopian units, including Nessibu and his Begemeder Liberation Army, continued on into the contested territories.

The following day, however, a British 1914 Infantry division, supported by an Armored Car brigade, arrived in Asmara, having been sent to reinforce the British advance a month or two ago! Various divisions and corps of Abyssinian militia wasted no time supporting the advance of the 2nd Abyssinian Assault Scout corps into the territory.

That same day, Petar and Yimer concluded another round of “tech prostitution” as Yimer liked to call it. Between that and a shipment of spare supplies to the USA, some of which had been negotiated from tech trading, we managed to scrape up enough to pay our local workers to find the next easiest area of land to improve in a month. After this, however, we had no new techs to quickly work up -- unless we could find some teams from Kuwait!

On October 16, our various combined coastal militias routed the British out of Asmara again, and the 2nd Assault Scouts continued their march into the territory, which they finished October 19 -- although the British hadn’t finished leaving the area yet, this guaranteed they wouldn’t stop.

Yimer and Mikael worked out some calculations which proved that we could convert one unit of supplies into an extra four hundredths of profit (where one unit of profit equals the worth of one million pounds sterling); but selling the same unit of supplies to the USA, assuming large amounts to overcome the cost in getting it out, would be about 12 “cents” of profit (after the expected loss of supplies en route). In other words, we could earn money three times as quickly putting our production, such as it was, to making supplies rather than our own consumer goods. The only problem was that in about half a month we would need to put our factories back to work making consumer goods instead, in order to avoid a dangerous threshold of reasonable dissent among the people.

Petar had, on his own initiative, already set up an ongoing trade with the USA which on the whole was a better deal, at about 16 cents a unit after inefficiency; but with Iyasu’s help (and vice versa) they were able to negotiate a significantly better deal selling fewer units and then selling the surplus units saved to Greece and Denmark on a regular basis at a tidy profit. Overall Iyasu would have preferred to save all our supplies and then shop for a buyer every once in a while -- which would grant us an even better profit even after inefficiencies -- but Petar noted that one did not simply break a trade agreement with the United States. So each day a few of our supplies were regularly sold off at a rate significantly less than we could have sold them in bulk once every few months; but we could still store up most of our supplies for that purpose.

The equatorial autumn, such as it was, neared its end on October 31, 1915, with our southern borders being steadily reinforced by British infantry and cavalry divisions, holding Italian territory, especially the crucial port of Mogadishu. It didn’t seem likely we’d ever be able to move them off; all we could do was send in a couple more divisions, dig in, and wait to see if anyone tried to push their way into Ethiopia along that route.


So far, our war against the colonial powers -- meaning against the British, as we hadn’t seen any French or Italian troops since mid-last-year, much less fought against any -- had cost them 12,500 men, 5300 horses (more or less), and a smattering of light artillery pieces and armored cars. Our losses:

“...twenty-two thousand seven hundred men...” Iyasu couldn’t seem to breathe. “How many villages... how many towns... how many of our cities have I depopulated...”

“For what it’s worth,” Yimer said, “prisoners taken from fleeing British troops thought that they had also destroyed no less than thirty-four pieces of heavy artillery, and about fifty lighter pieces. Which we never had. That’s just how strongly our militia were fighting.” But his voice was shaking and a tear was crawling down his cheek; like a wounded man seeking water before he died.

“Our sorrow is great,” said Mikael the Minister, head of our government, giving a speech that afternoon, “but every man of England killed, or from wherever they come, also had family and friends. Why will their leaders not allow us to live free of their seizure and control!? And we are not the only ones who weep, on this Eve of Saints. In the Mexican Civil War, across the Atlantic Ocean, over one hundred thousand soldiers have died... not counting civilians, and women and children! And in the European war...”

He choked. And coughed. And shook his head. And rasped:

“...estimates we have compiled together... comparing various sources...” his voice failed him again.

“...more than SIX MILLION seven hundred thousand. Soldiers... only the soldiers...

“Think of our pain. Spread it three hundred times farther already. Only in one year. A year and a half. Not even that.

“What will this war be? The end of all humanity? The end of all war, we pray.

“We can only pray.”

And so he led a prayer for all the souls.

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on March 31, 2014, 04:48:39 PM
Part 29 -- Downslope

“Soon,” said the Emperor, still stunned the next day from the figures compiled by Yimer and our European guests, “we must make two connected decisions.

“First, do we continue on up this time and take the port of Sudan, and maybe also the wadi Halfa region to its west, up to the Nile? And second, do we try to hold position now indefinitely, whether there or here? For soon our reserves of soldiers in training will be depleted, and I do not think we should cripple our industry further by calling up even a partial mobilization. But without more troops, we cannot push out farther.”

“And until we study and implement more logistical technology,” said Habte, “we are only crippling ourselves by trying to push out farther anyway, in any direction.”

“So, we settle in, and make a fortress of our nation, and try to grow stronger and rebuff assaults... with the Port of Sudan?” Mikael wearily pondered.

“We can see what Britain will do with a port, when she can, down in Mogadishu,” Yimer observed. “I don’t see us ever taking it now; not for many years, after long preparation, unless they just give up and go home. They can push up northward, too, and I don’t know we can stop them. At least if we take Port Sudan, they won’t be able to do the same up there.”

“And with the Wadi, too, if we can,” insisted Habte, “we will control a side of the Nile, reducing some of their support to the south, in a position where they will have to hit us across the river in several places.”

“I think we shall have to try,” agreed Iyasu. “Mikael, I know you have monks who refuse in principle working in the abbey -- “

“Even for our country, sir, I would not compel them if I could. We fight for the hearts of our country, and -- “

“No, no, I didn’t mean that. I meant, could you institute a policy of wandering monastacism?”

Mikael furrowed his brow. “Excuse me, sir?”

“I know I have read about such things before, in ancient history. The people up in Europe also had such monks, still long ago but rather more recently. What I am thinking of, Father, is... groups of monks bringing water and food and prayer and cheer to the men in the factories, helping pass along letters perhaps to families and back. That might inspire our workers tremendously; the monks would be doing what monks are generally called to do as well, without even slightly compromising their vows or principles... yes?" he pled.

Mikael agreed and said he would try to arrange such ministry; but that he couldn’t be sure. “And,” he continued, “I have learned much in my post, during the year. Primarily I have learned I ought to be working harder myself to inspire our people to work for our country. Your suggestion, sir, fits into my plans. Yes, we must become more efficient, and frugal; but sir, on the other hand, I think the time has come to shift our production back to making consumer goods. The people must be rewarded on occasion, too. I am hearing... more than usual rumblings now.”

[Gamenote: this was me deciding to hack the gamesave file a little to make Mikael more competent at his job after having had some experience, since that sort of thing doesn’t happen in this game. However in hindsight, I totally forgot about incorporating it! On the to-do list for later...]

The Emperor insisted on a few more days, each of which would earn us three times as much from the USA, which after all would be spent in paying common everyday people build our nation up from almost nothing.

Meanwhile, the British tried to send another division of reinforcements into Kassala to the north, this time some Royal Navy Marines kitted for the previous century; but they were quickly sent packing by Nessibu’s slowly advancing divisions, aided by no less than three other militia divisions nearby. We also received word that, having rested from taking Khartoum, the British division there was on the move at last toward us again; though probably it would take a month or more to cross the river and secure enough of El Qadarif to even fight us -- and that was assuming it wasn’t another political feint, as troops had been supposedly trying to enter than territory from the north for nearly a year!

Some peculiar news arrived around November 4: the Senussi had accepted an offer of peace from the British! The tribes agreed to go back to the status quo if Britain would pressure Italy into recognizing the Sheik as the Emir of the area -- keeping in mind that the status quo meant the Senussi stayed in control of most of north central Africa except for some developed Italian port cities. However, the Senussi then became a puppet state for Italy, so in effect Italy passed off ruling a giant volcanic wasteland (where even the volcanoes were dead) to a client who valued and appreciated it.


[Note: to be fair, the French own vastly much more of a culturally barren wasteland devoid of any reason for human life to live there. And also a lot more of Africa’s dead volcanic deserts! {ba-dump-tish!}]


[Copyright Google Earth today for comparison -- would have pasted a proper link but couldn't figure out how to get Google to generate code for it. As you can see, Senussiland is basically modern Libya.]

The Senussi dutifully declared war on the enemies of the Entente, but then a day later insisted on their own isolationism and withdrew from the military alliance. Consequently, they sent out peace offers to everyone, including us, which Iyasu accepted since the last thing we needed was to have a Muslim army arriving to reinforce the British!

On November 7, another two divisions, this time militia combined with infantry (and not of the best quality either way but still superior to ours overall in men and material) took advantage of our Asmaran guards having not yet redug into their defensive positions, to launch an attack from Port Sudan. Some traders reported that they thought there was at least one maybe two divisions still held back in reserve to guard the attackers’ flanks, so we decided not to pull our Massalan corps out of their defensive holes, or not yet anyway. Our 2nd Abyssinian Guard corps would have to weather this attack by themselves for a while, at least until we could pull substantial forces into place to hit Port Sudan with meaningful strength. Reluctantly, Iyasu also ordered our other coastal guards to start marching for Asmara: they wouldn’t be in place until sometime in January, near Christmas, and wouldn’t be worth much in attack or defense for probably half a month after that, but we might need the extra men by then. This left our coastal flanks utterly unguarded; if Britain launched an invasion to retake Hargeisa we wouldn’t even be able to slow them down! But neither did we think we had a better choice. Iyasu gave orders for the local militia to start being upgraded again, one at a time.

Finally on Nov 16, 1915, our doom appeared: the 47th “London” Infantry division, moved to block our corps advance into Kassala. This small modern army, backed with a brigade of armored cars and plenty of artillery and horses, couldn’t be beaten by our brave militia, even though we outnumbered them three to two: we were still crossing the Nile, and they were defending in mountains. Only their relative exhaustion gave us even the slightest hope of forcing them to march out -- but then on the same day the infantry division that retook Khartoum finally finished crossing its branch of the Nile and entered El Qadarif.


We continued for a little while hoping the superior troops would tire and withdraw; we didn’t attack El Qadarif because  the whole plan had been to set up defensive lines that the enemy couldn’t push through while we desperately played for time and for a miracle from God.

As November wore on into the holy season, that miracle looked far away indeed.

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 01, 2014, 05:38:01 PM
Part 30 -- The Vanishing Light

The British corps from Kassala temporarily broke its attack on November 22, giving our troops a chance to rest for a couple of days. Our 2nd Assault Scouts, holding Asmara, even managed to upgrade one of their two divisions to a modern (if still slightly outdated) 1914 standard before General Haig, a four star general now in Port Sudan, threw an army against them of Biblical proportions.


With only eighteen thousand men, and a few support horses, we could hope to hold out; but our scouts indicated Haig had surged all his available force against us here. Now was the time for our troops at Massala to abandon their defenses and hit that corps from the side. We still couldn’t win, outnumbered by fifteen thousand in more-or-less modern European manpower alone -- not even counting artillery, cavalry fighters and over two hundred and fifty armored cars (doubtless of the best that Britain could bring). But we might be able to hold out long enough for a few reinforcements to arrive from the south as planned.

We couldn’t. On December 5, our Assault Scouts were routed out of Asmara. Their supporting counter-attacking brothers also ceased attacking; at best, perhaps the Briton Haig would take his men south into a cauldron where we could leverage all our local strength.

On the British day of Christ’s Mass, our Hargeisan Guard finished a grueling march to the south in order to set up defenses against a British thrust from Mogadishu. We might be able to push the British out, but we lacked the ability to concentrate proper force against a qualitatively superior foe.


In any case, our troops needed to rest before we even imagined attempting a battle there: late January, at the earliest. Both our sides had a Christmas of peace, as we rested and made some upgrades to the kit of our militia. Iyasu decreed that for now we would only concentrate on making enough supplies to meet our trade obligations: we had already lost Venezuela and the United States by letting our stock of supply diminish too far.

On Jan 13, our Djibouti Coastal Guards, still not quite fully upgraded yet, finished their march into Asmara, originally hoping to support our troops driven out by the army from Port Sudan. Now they stood in the way of that terrifying army, exhausted by their march! -- orders had been lost along the relay, or perhaps the general simply didn’t want to give up a prime defensive location, but the corps hadn’t stopped to rest and to guard our port of Assab again.


Our various militia corps nearby tried to lend support with flanking counter-attacks; and the 2nd Assault Corps wearily made ready to march back into Asmara, if the defense could hold for two weeks!

But it was not to be. Two days later, our foolhardy general realized his folly and retreated once again, now useless to us until sometime late February at best.

The following week, Britain retook Djibouti, giving it back to France -- and flanking our defensive lines terribly from the rear.


[Note: the only screenshot I have of this latest development shows an important extra feature from a day or two later which I'd rather not spoil. I'll show it early in the next part, so readers will have a better idea of just how catastrophic the British retaking that province is.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on April 02, 2014, 09:14:39 AM
Oh dear.  Matters are starting to look pretty grim!  Is there any hope yet? 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 02, 2014, 12:27:43 PM
The two-part entry this afternoon will definitely answer that question. :)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 02, 2014, 04:25:09 PM

Part 31 -- Out of the Abyss

January 23, 1916.

With ghastly calm, Emperor Iyasu the Fifth of Ethiopia summoned his ministers into his office that morning.

“Petar,” he began, “I thank you for your service. You and your people, and your Serbian allies, should flee as quickly as possible to the port at Galkacyo. Or to Mogadishu, if they’ll let you enter the province. My general Yimer there has been instructed to let you pass unharmed.

“I wish we could have given you a safer home until your home was restored. We will protect your retreat with our lives, as our honored guests.”

The European nodded. “You... you and your people have graciously welcomed us, despite some cultural and religious differences. I promise you: your charity will never be forgotten.”

“Speak well of us in your prayers, and to those you meet. That is all I can ask.”

“And, may I ask, what will you do?”

“I have made arrangements. Your... friend, Nicholas, has agreed to take my family with him, caring for them as his own, so that they will not suffer reprisals here.

“As for me... there is only one way that this will end in peace, now.”

The Emperor briefly glanced at the map of Ethiopia. This morning, our radio relays over the mountains and across the deserts had reported a fleet of capital ships waiting off the coast of Massawa. Twenty-five heavy-cannon ships had been counted, and over fifteen groups of smaller ships, up and down the coastline. And that was removing probable overlapping reports.


“The British can simply march their rested divisions into both our factory provinces, including the capitol city area here. We might be able to pull some divisions back to protect our capitol, but that would only give the British openings to advance from other directions and surround us more closely. We could possibly cut off the British advance from Djibouti for a time, but all they have to do is shell us off the coast and secure a line of advance. At worst, for them, their expeditionary assault force would face a rough few months before they reconnected with supply and fresh divisions -- who would be hitting us meanwhile as we tried to cut the assaulters off. Our military reserves are almost already exhausted: we only have reinforcements for maybe a month of combat more. We could save up supplies perhaps for a general mobilization, but only at the cost of crippling our industry fatally, hampering even what little power we have to kit new troops with weapons and other combat gear.

“Why should my people be asked to die for that?”

The Emperor took a deep breath. “Therefore, I will do what I planned, from the start, in case this happened.

“I will go in front of the people, as you carry away my family, and confess to being a murderer: a man who sacrificed the lives of my people, entrusted to my care by God, for money,” he twisted his mouth -- his ministers silently wept, some more freely than others -- I couldn’t tell for I could barely see. “I took the money and spent it overseas, investing it where it cannot be recovered now, in order to grow my own power in the world, trading the blood and sorrow of my people for worldly security.”

“...I know that isn’t true,” said Petar Plamenac, biting his lip.

“You must reassure my family, as must Nicholas -- but for the sake of our country, you and they must be silent!” Iyasu’s voice cracked as he struck his thigh with his fist. “The British must believe my people were deceived and acted on evil orders! -- and so must my people, to keep them from trying to fight the British further!”

The door to the office opened. Nicholas stood outside. “So... you will be reckoned with sinners to save your people? That is your plan? I heard you as I approached, wondering why no guards were posted outside.” He entered the room, shutting the door behind him. “Naturally, they could not be risked to hear this. Now I understand.”

“I will surrender myself to... to you,” Iyasu nodded, forcing the words from his throat. “My original plan, if worse came to the worst, was to let Mikael arrest me, having exposed my treacherous plot. He is still popular. They might accept his word. The British, however, might accept you more easily, a well-liked king with royal connections, as... steward over us.” Our Emperor trembled with shame, unable to look up from the floor any longer. “You can save our people. Mikael will support you.

“This is all I can do.

“Then, soon afterward, shoot me. After the people convene to judge me, of course. Make sure of the verdict.”

“You offer your country to me. Just like that. By your choice.”

“That, or have it ripped from me by the British over another several mountains of dead Ethiopians.”

There was silence, for a time. And for half a time again.

“I know few other kings or leaders, anywhere in the world, who would dishonor themselves like this to save their people further suffering. I did not,” said Nicholas the First, king of Montenegro.

Iyasu had seemed to stop breathing in his grief. He nodded and yet shook his head, at that remark: “My confession is true, in effect. My minister of ministers was right, whose peace I have also permanently ruined, for he never again can accept episcopal honors. He gave that away for our nation, for our people. Had I only agreed with him... Mikael, what hurts even more is that I know you’ll forgive me anyway...” Mikael couldn’t answer. “I am unworthy of your honor,” said our Emperor, “or even of your friendship. I cannot accept your forgiveness for what I have done to our people. But I can do this. This,” he said, standing up straighter, “is what I can do!

“Now let us go. Summon the press representatives. Come, I have one more duty to my people today! -- let us be doing it more quickly!!”

“I agree,” Nicholas said, standing away from the door to make way for our king, “if you will listen a moment more, to my advice.”

At noon we stood, still in shock, as Iyasu the Fifth stepped up on the mounted platform, in the middle of a gathered crowd, a single radio microphone propped up on a stand to catch his voice, to send it across our nation and to magnify it here, in Addis Abeba. Such miraculous technology; our fathers never had dreamed such dreams.

“My people,” said our Emperor, “today our struggle has ended...


[Def-fan... zero. For now.]
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 02, 2014, 04:27:27 PM
Part 32 -- According To What Light We Can See

When Yimer had first succeeded in making arrangements for the rescue of Nicholas I of Montenegro, the monarch had sent couriers to the Queen of Italy, his daughter. To put it delicately, the Italian king hadn’t married her for any grand political benefit, Nicholas being only a minor though popular king of a nation almost as tiny as Luxembourg, but because he was besotted with her many charms and talents.

She had been unable to persuade her husband to intervene in time to save her father, but Nicholas had asked her, considering where he was going, to work on convincing her husband to relinquish his claim on Ethiopia’s northern coast, so as to let us have our cultural unity once again and also a path to the sea.

Once open war broke out between us and Britain, the Italian Queen had promptly insisted upon an immediate visit to her peer the Queen of England; where, several weeks later, during her conversations on various topics, Nicholas’ daughter had opined that it was strange that British soldiers should be expected to fight and die against a nation that posed no immediate threat compared to, say, the Ottoman Empire. Not that she disagreed with the British desire to help their allies, the French and Italians, whose territory had been taken away, and certainly she sympathized with British outrage over their portions of the Upper Nile regions being invaded. But after all, those areas were traditionally Ethiopian, too, at least long ago; and as for the portions not so long ago, well, in her opinion her husband ought to give those back as a sign of good faith in a struggle against despotic annexation of weaker nations such as Serbia, Kuwait and Montenegro. Furthermore, she was prepared to stay there in Britain, or any other nation in the world that might accept her, and talk about this constantly to the press as well as to various political groups who might be interested in her opinion.

The Italian Queen, after all, had learned to play a weak political hand with maximum strength, from her father.

One thing led to another, and an agreement had been reached among the allies: Britian would get back Djibouti for the French, bringing French officials into the land, escorting a few French ships to the coast. British territory, where not yet taken back, would be promptly returned by Ethiopia, as would any Italian territory south along the Horn. Italy would not enforce, for an indeterminate period, its claims on what it called the coast of Etreria. Peace would not necessarily be formally granted to the Ethiopian monarch, but that would depend on his actions at this gesture, since after all he had made some propaganda speeches about wanting to rule over all the African continent -- the Italian Queen assured her husband and also British authorities, that she had it on good authority from her father, now harbored by the kind and merciful Ethiopian government, that the little African Emperor had only said such things to get his people ready to fight what he thought would be a hopeless battle against colonial powers combining together to stop his attempts at freeing his own people. Similarly, she said, this accounted for why he had taken Khartoum, but then had voluntarily marched away again without a fight.

This is what Nicholas told us before we left our Emperor’s humble office. A version of this, minus some unimportant details irrelevant to the people, was what Iyasu told his people in his proclamation of victory: we had earned the respect of Italy and her allies, who had larger wars to fight, and so we would give back various lands in order to keep our own -- including our northern coastline.

“You understand,” Nicholas gravely warned: “I only can manage this once. You must promptly do what I promised you would do. Otherwise, I’ll be on my yacht, safely guarded by a giant fleet of Entente capital ships, with or without your family in tow.” Nicholas had been given the news of the armistice arrangements by messengers from the fleet, once it arrived off-coast.

“You understand,” Iyasu gravely warned his ministers later, during a private celebration dinner, not including Petar: “Nicholas didn’t say so, but there is only one way that any of those monarchs would have agreed to that arrangement.” He paused to sip some evening toast, inviting further comment.

Habte looked confused, but Yimer nodded after a moment. “The European nations were promised that Nicholas would seize control of the region if necessary. Maybe even if we complied. Just not now. Later perhaps.”

“You understand,” Mikael added later toward the end of the meal. “You didn’t win this victory through war. Through war, you almost lost our nation instead.

“You won this victory only through your charity.

“Petar said they wouldn’t forget it.

“I hope that you don’t either.”

[Gamenote: your suspicions are correct. I totally hacked the gamesave code, to take away the ‘war’ that Britain was currently fighting with us. Just to be safe, I also tweaked our intervention score back to 6, which the game regards as neutral instead of 5 for no clear reason. I gamed it out as far as described by Iyasu in his expectations from the previous Part -- I just wasn’t ever going to have the wherewithal, no matter what I did, to convince the British to go away and do something else with their lives while I got stronger. Fortunately, I had already made plans in the plot to try this potential solution if things got apocalyptically bad; and I figured watching me be slowly ground away would get very boring. Trust me on that by experience. ;)

What will the world be like after WW1, though? -- how strong will we be by then, and what effect will that have when-if-ever war breaks out again?

We’ll see, after the appropriate timeskips! ;) ]

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 02, 2014, 05:40:40 PM
Some Fraternally Anticipated Questions meanwhile...

1.) Is this the end of the AAR? -- You'll know when the AAR is nearing its conclusion when the bat creatures and the lizard men start battling for world supremacy in the open. That answer seems safely ambiguous enough.

2.) Is the story going to get considerably more insane before the end? -- Not as far as you know; but if it does, I'll be sure not to spoil it ahead of time.

3.) Is this how I originally planned to end the story? -- Trick question.

4.) Is this how I originally planned to end... um... whatever just happened? -- No.

5.) Could I be a little more specific about that previous answer? -- Yes.

6.) Could I be a little more specific about that previous answer any time soon? -- Maybe.

Okay: this was one of my plans that I developed along the way for getting out of a game-ending defeat in-story. At least one of my other plans (maybe more) was also referenced in-story. I had others, too. I also had some plans in case I didn't suffer a crushing defeat. They may or may not possibly come into play later, so I don't want to talk about them yet.

One of the drawbacs to writing a narrative AAR is that up to a point I have to write what the game deals me, so I can't really make 'plans' too far ahead, I can only plan for possible eventualities. And then make specific tweaks to the game engine if I have to, but in a way that respects the game (as it has developed) and the engine.

7.) That sounds kind of like a working example of the theological position known as open theism. Am I an open theist? -- No. Though I probably would be if I was a Mormon. Look, you REALLY REALLY don't want me to get into talking about theology because I am entirely capable of blathering on about that for nearly nine hundred pages ( Just stick with anticipated questions about the game, all right?

8.) Is my meandering discussion with myself a working example of how the two natures of Christ inter-relate in orthodox Christi--? -- NO! ...maybe. There's a lot of dispute about that. Probably not.

9.) Am I going to get back to the game now before this seems too much like some kind of sneaky tie-in with Easter Season? NO! ...wait, sorry, I meant maybe. And also probably not. Again. Or words to that effect. Wait, back up, let me start over.

I'm somewhere in late 1917 (if I recall correctly) in my playthrough right now. I'm keeping a few notes along the way, but I'm not sure at all that I'll use those notes for any narrative purposes. I have a distant expectation that I won't be starting the narrative back up in any primary way until somewhere around 1920 for reasons I'm not going to say because spoilers duh. But it might be later. Or a little earlier. I don't know yet because the game writes a significant chunk of the plot and the voices in its head haven't told me yet.

10.) How long will it take until the voices in my computer's head tell me to start the plot again? Trick question. Resubmit.

11.) How long will it take until I game up to 1920 or whatever? I don't know yet. Could be a few days, could be a couple of weeks. I've tried to tie off things nicely here in case I never get back around to gearing up the story again WHICH IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE and I do want to let readers who've gotten that far know about that possibility ahead of time.

Even then however I'll want to play forward far enough beyond where I find the plot worth starting up again, that I have leeway for narrative testing etc., just as I did before. So the answer is "whenever plus".

Hopefully that Q&A was helpful.  :D

And more seriously, thanks to anyone who enjoyed my tale enough to read this far along. Or who wanted to skip to the end and found this note. Whichever.  8) I really do intend to keep going for a while, but I'm unsure when (or by the nature of my own fickle attention span even if) I'll start releasing the next 'book' for want of a better word, and I wanted to let anyone getting this far know that.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on April 05, 2014, 12:58:27 PM
All I can think of to say at the moment is...fascinating.  That was definitely a unique way to end an AAR (if end it be). 

Thanks for the write-up Jason!  It's been fun following Iyasu & co.  :D 

Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 07, 2014, 10:14:24 AM
Weekend update: nothing. ;) I spent the weekend playing through the PS3 port of Arkham Origins: Blackgate, doing taxes, and playing with nieces.

So with love and death and taxes done, back to Ethiopia this week (I hope). :)

April 14th update: now played up through late 1918, nothing too exciting yet. I'll cover the relevant details in a Part or two when I pick back up again post-War, which is when I expect the craziness to ramp up substantially.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 15, 2014, 07:41:45 PM
Added a couple of minor progress updates to the previous post, for anyone checking in new.

Nothing actually new since last night. I only spent ALL MY FREAKING TIME THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT BEFORE BED frantically trying to figure out what the hell I had done in tweaking my save files, to ruin my tech tree so much that I had eliminated by ability to research HQs.

This was all predicated on a completely false memory of having an HQ research branch on the tree. (

Hours. Painfully frantic hours. Utterly wasted. Maybe worse than wasted because now I don't know what I might have done that might have broken my research in some real way.

I just needed to vent. Please accept this smiley indicative of my mood vs my wretched imaginary memory which is EVEN THIS VERY MOMENT cheerfully providing me A COMPLETELY FALSE PICTURE of the HQ research branch positioned high and a bit right of center on the infantry research panel.


(Incidentally, I finally figured out HQs are upgraded along the main land-doctrine trail, at least in DH.)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: OJsDad on June 08, 2014, 02:27:29 PM
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on June 08, 2014, 03:36:19 PM

I have in fact been playing the game pretty faithfully (though off and on) for the past several weeks. But WW1 has dragged on into early 1923 with total stalemate on the western front, and I'm still peaceably growing Ethiopia down in my little corner of Africa so it would make awfully boring reading.

My tentative guess is that I'll post an update around August 1924 on the 'ten year' anniversary of the war's start. After that, if the war hasn't ended yet, I won't likely update until it does and I can turn on the craziness button.  :D (Darkest Hour WW1 doesn't have scripts past the War, and I'm a little fuzzy whether I can port a save game into the mod which bridges the WW1 scripts with the earliest pre-WW2 scripts, so I'll probably just go with flipping the switch that allows any nation to declare war on anyone whenever it sees fit.)
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on June 12, 2014, 10:03:11 PM
New update: with August coming up fast, I'm putting this campaign on hiatus while I begin the reason for why I played this campaign in the first place.

Specifically, I'm going to try to AAR several already-established WW1 games as Russia in parallel. (There are two more excellent looking strategic WW1 games on the way this year, but I'm doubtful I'll have them in time to try a parallel AAR with them. Maybe an expansion later.)

More to follow, hopefully, a couple of months from now, but I've already started trying to suss out what the hell I even have a chance of doing as Russia in Darkest Hour -- especially since I intend to start with the same strategy in each game and work out what happens from there. In DH that strategy seems... problematic. Though DH might actually let me do something very radical, which would make a ton more sense than any other typical Russian option in these games. But would I do it if I could? -- since doing so would run completely opposite to my intended plan for each game. Hmmm...

Less cryptic musings when I get around to it in another thread. Meanwhile, although I wouldn't call this AAR definitely dead I can't foresee restarting it any time soon since I'll be chugging along on the main project now.
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: Martok on June 13, 2014, 12:27:26 PM
Parallel AAR's?  Interesting... 
Title: Re: Out of the Great Abyss -- Ethiopia. World War One. HOI2:Darkest Hour AAR
Post by: JasonPratt on June 13, 2014, 03:21:22 PM
All in one thread for easier comparison (with screenshots of course), and so that I won't swamp the AAR list.