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Germany strategy guide
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|Germany strategy guide/1939|
In Hearts of Iron 3 it is one of the major powers. Germany is the leader of the Axis, has a prime location, and a strong economy. Furthermore, it has the largest number of diplomatic decisions and events of any nation in the game. As a result, it allows the player to pursue a wide variety of strategic and tactical challenges. Germany, while potentially daunting, can serve as a great starting point for new players. It allows the player to jump right into the action, and with its focus on the land combat and a somewhat forgiving nature it allows the player to bloody themselves before progressing onto more difficult nations.
While Germany can devote a considerable amount of leadership to research early in the game, it is not possible for Germany to research everything.
- Infantry, Armor & Land Doctrines: An obvious priority for Germany, including regular Infantry as well as Light, Medium and Heavy armor. Nearly every land doctrine is worthy of research for Germany.
- Industry: An essential focal point of Research, with just about every technology (excluding rockets) being a priority.
- Aircraft: Fighter airpower is essential to Germany's success, particularly in defense against Allied strategic bombing.
- Naval technology: Germany is fairly weak in naval technology, for players who wish to take on the UK, investing in Battleships and Destroyes is essential from day one. For players who prefer a historical game, submarines alone will do.
Axis: Through the regular course of gameplay with no player intervention, the following nations will offer to join the Axis assuming the game follows a historical path:
- Italy & Japan (Summer, 1937)
- Hungary (Early 1939)
- Romania (1940 after Bessarabia)
- Finland (1940 after Winter War)
- Bulgaria (1940 after Constanta)
- Siam (after the "Fate of France" event)
- Guangxi Clique & Yunnan (Shortly after Japan defeats China)
Notable possible Allies, when using influence and raising threat on the Allies include:
- Saudi Arabia
- Nationalist Spain
- Yugoslavia (High neutrality makes this unlikely: can join during war against the USSR when threat is high enough)
- Argentina (High neutrality makes this unlikely)
- Chile (High neutrality makes this unlikely)
Nations that will not join without specific factors:
- Switzerland (Never)
- Sweden (After the defeat of the USSR)
- Portugal (requires Nationalist Spain to be in the Axis)
- Vichy (Requires Allied DOW)
- Turkey (Requires German ownership of Soviet border provinces and high USSR threat)
- Re-occupation of the Rhineland: This can be achieved in January, 1936 by simply occupying the provinces indicated in the decision. This decision provides a loss in 3 neutrality for Germany and a 2% decrease in Disent, plus a gain to income of $500, as well an increase of 2 to unity. Relations will be decreased; France -15, England -5, Belgium -10, Holland -5. Threat to France will increase by 3. The re-occupation is required if you wish to do the Anschluss of Austria before 1938.
- Anschluss of Austria: This event can be trigged by May, 1937, if Germany fills Austria with spies on the mission "support our party" from the start of the game. It is also fairly easy to achieve by waiting: early in 1938 Austria will have the "political crisis" event, after which time the conditions for the anschluss are met. This decision is very valuable for Germany as it provides 1 additional leadership, 19 additional base IC (a great deal more effective IC with modifiers of course), a -5 loss in neutrality, and additional manpower. Conversely, Germany gains 5 dissent, 20 threat, poor relations, and provides France and the UK with lost neutrality.
- Treaty of Munich: Available in January of 1938. This causes 5 dissent and a large 15 threat gain for Germany. While this does not result in any immediate gains for Germany (only 3 base IC and minor resource and leadership gains), it paves the way for the eventual annexation of Czechoslovakia.
- The First Vienna Award: Available in October of 1938. This causes 5 dissent and increases Germany's threat by 20 for the world. This allows Germany to annex Czechoslovakia without a single shot fired. 13 total base IC is gained along with resources, and 1.6 leadership. Slovakia will become a puppet nation in the Axis, and if allied with Hungary they will get Ruthenia.
- Claims on Memel:Available in January, 1939. Lithuania must not be in the Axis. Germany gains the port of Memel and 1 base IC.
- The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact: Available in January, 1939. This decision will help prevent a preemptive Soviet attack. The game sets a threshold such that the Germany player must have more brigades on the border with the Soviet Union than they do to be able to declare war, according to the following time-table:
- June 1940 to December 1940: 200% needed (e.g. Germany must have two times as many brigades as the Soviet Union on the border)
- January 1941 to June 1941: 100% needed
- July 1941 - December 1942: 50% needed
- January 1942: Can break at any time
Furthermore, this event provides significant benefit to the Soviet Union by triggering the Soviet ability to run the decision of the Winter War against Finland, and the annexation of the Baltic states.
- Danzig or War: Available in May, 1939. This decision will begin WW2. This event will not fire if you are at war.
- Blitzkrieg: Improves unit speed and re-organization gain rate.
- Independent Croatia: Croatia will be created but the provinces it controls blocks Germany's access to the Mediterranean.
- The Vienna Dictate: Occurs in June, 1940, Germany has two options:
- Force Romanian acceptance: Loose 5 neutrality. Hungary becomes significantly more powerful. Romania's relation with the Axis severely worsen if Hungary is in the Axis.
- Deny the Hungarian Request: Apparently no in-game effect aside from slight improvement in Relations with Romania. (How does this affect Romania's chances of joining the Axis?)
- Armaments minister Hjalmar Schacht provides a useful +10% IC bonus.
- Ministers of Security offers several good choices, starting with the Man of the People (Goebbels: +5% leadership), or the Crime Fighter (Diels, +10% counter espionage).
- Head of Intelligence Wilhelm Frick provides a +5% espionage bonus as Head of Intelligence (thus Germany can have a +10% bonus with Hitler).
- Chief of Staff is unimportant in 1936, but should be revisited in 1939.
- Chief of the Army has Werner von Blomberg, saving -10% on supply consumption.
The primary goal in internal espionage for Germany is to build up the internal spy system. As Germany's threat level increases the player will get increasing research penalties from enemy spies. To avoid this have at least 10 spies in place and counter espionage selected.
There is no requirement for Germany to have spies abroad, however several benefits can be gained from doing so.
- Spies in England and France can be used to increase their threat which in turn will delay Allied nations joining their side too early in the war (e.g. an unattended Belgium and Netherlands may join the Allies shortly after war with Poland). Alternatively, lowering the national unity of France will cause it to collapse more quickly, which has the net effect of saving German manpower.
- Spies in the USA can be used to "support our party", which if done as early as 1936, will have the effect of bringing the American-Deutsch bund into power in USA in the 1940 elections. Coupled with diplomatic influence starting in 1936, an Axis USA, or at least a neutral USA, is possible.
From 1936 on Germany can get crude oil from the United States, Persia, and Venezuela, if the player feels the need to trade for it. The Soviet Union and the United States are excellent suppliers of metals and rares. It is best to pick one main supplier and get all of Germany's trade goods from them. This way the player gets the best prices. The United States can be effectively kept out of the war just by improving relations by trading with them. Supplies can be sold to the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and France. Just make sure to cancel any trade deals that expose Germany's convoys before the war starts unless the player wants to continually rebuild them. Huge stockpiles of resources are generally not needed because once the war starts Germany can get everything it needs from Europe.
Early in the game it is important to build up Germany's practicals. The player should build a little of everything for their first few production runs. For example, at a minimum: 1 interceptor, 1 tactical bomber, 1 infantry division, 1 armored division, 1 battleship, 1 destroyer or light cruiser, and some IC. Extra IC is always useful for Germany and can be spent in a number of ways even if it is low on manpower.
Re-organizing the German military is particularly important to get the full benefit from Germany's great commanders. For player's who enjoy building a historical Order of Battle (OOB), see the Germany OOB guide. The German armed forces in 1936 start off with a insufficient command structure as historically some Army's and Army group's were not established yet.
Germany begins the 1936 campaign with its best Panzer leaders primarily assigned to I. Armeekorps, IV. Armeekorps. These are Germany's most valuable commanders and should be removed for future use in Panzer divisions. Germany has a large number of Old Guard commanders, some of who are quite valuable (considering traits, starting skill, and max skill potential), including: Hänicke, Bader, Dollman, von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels, von Berendt, Halm, Fischer H., Fleck, and Köstring. Visit the complete listing of Germany military leaders for more details.
If the player needs a guide for what to build leading up to the war, load the 39 scenario and build what Germany starts with. The player should have no trouble building the 39 scenario’s army even while building your airforce, navy, and some IC. This will use most of Germany's manpower and the player probably will not be able to start the war in May if they build that many units. Just be sure to save enough manpower to mobilize (around a 100 with 3 year draft).
Does Germany need a Navy?
- If the player's goal is to conquer all of Europe and the Soviet Union, then Germany does not need a Navy of any kind. In this approach, Germany can choose to build a very limited Navy with only submarines. The intention here would be solely to harass UK supply lines.
- If the player's goal is to conquer the UK and the world beyond Europe, a powerful Navy is essential. Surface Area Groups (SAG) are the best fleet for Germany: a mix of Battleships with Destroyers for screens. A Germany that chooses this route should immediately research naval technologies and begin ship building from the beginning of the game (start with 2 to 3 Battlecruisers to gain practical). A successful naval engagement with the Royal Navy will require no less than 12 modern capital ships (3 BB and 9 DD is a good mix). Ships do not upgrade their main armament, engines, or armor: thus it can be timed so that Battleship technology research is completed once the first set of Battlecruisers is done, which in turn raises practicals for Battleship construction. Dominance over the Royal Navy is a difficult but possible goal:
- Be patient in engaging the Royal Navy: it takes time to develop a strong Kriegsmarine even with the best planning
- Multiple fleets is essential, because any engagement will damage German ships, at which point immediate relief can be sent via a fleet on standby. This second fleet will typically end up sinking more Royal Navy ships than the first fleet could have done.
- A Reserve fleet of Destroyers is essential: they tend to take heavy damage so rotating them out for fresh ships allows the fleet to get back into the battle much quicker.
- Air superiority is mandatory to prevent CAGs from ripping the German fleet to shreds.
- Lots of research, preferably at least 1 year ahead of time.
- Try to find a fleet in port in range of your Naval and TAC bombers and Port Strike their naval base to sink the ships that were damaged by the Kriegsmarine.
- The Royal Navy is large, but doesn't have that many up-to-date naval vessels. Their outdated BB's will be easy prey for your more modern fleet, but their CV's are dangerous, and sinking them sets the RN back seriously.
The best fleet leaders are: Raeder, Saalwächter, Warzecha, Guse, Densch, Förste, Marschall, Böhm, Carls. The best submarine leaders are: Dönitz, von Stosch, von Friedeburg, Wolf, Niemand, and Sobe.
Since most players will use stacks of three aircraft, the players goal should be to have no less than 12 interceptor wings at the start of the war. The player will need 3 stacks to intercept bombers from the UK and 1 stack to use for air supremacy in Poland. This is minimum amount needed at the start of the war and the player should be building more when the war starts. Since Germany starts the game with a fairly large amount of tactical bombers, it shouldn’t need a whole lot more.
Matching Germany's historical conquests require considerable planning and co-ordination. The following general tips are helpful strategic advice:
- Each war should be carefully considered to ensure swift and meaningful victory. Taking on too much is a common pitfall for Germany.
- Mobilizing Germany's army normally takes between two and four weeks to reach full strength and should only be done when the player is ready for war.
- Speed is essential, thus mobile units and doctrines that improve the attack delay are important. If the player is having problems conducting historical blitzkrieg attacks because of the attack delay they need to raise their officer ratio. The base attack delay is 168 hours. An officer ratio of 140% reduces delay by several hours. Researching the first two Operational Level Organization techs (1918 and 1936 tech years) reduces delay 24 hours each.
More than any other nation, Germany will have a significant problem with Partisans. While Partisans do not present a serious threat, they are a constant nuisance for Germany and cause logistical problems, especially later in the game as more territory is occupied and/or annexed. A Collaboration Government is the best policy for occupation to avoid serious disruption of supplies, etc. Meanwhile, the best units to deal with partisans are high speed mobile units. Calvary is somewhat fast, do not require fuel, and are strong enough to beat partisans. Meanwhile, light tanks can be twice as fast as Calvary, but will require some fuel. Finally, garrisons with military police are rarely useful in some strategic occupied cities: simply to avoid partisans from revolting in that particular city.
Fall Weiß: Poland
See the Germany strategy guide/1939 for information on the 1939 scenario.
Historically, Fall Weiß took 5 weeks to accomplish. In the game using conventional tactics, it is possible to defeat Poland within 2 weeks. Yet, a quick victory is not the most important thing: Poland can be a nice plan for some commanders to gain experience; thus prolonged battles for certain favorite commanders is a better choice than using overwhelming force. Poland is an excellent, easy example of the effectiveness of Blitzkrieg. Poland has six Victory Points that need to be captured, with the majority of its forces on the border with Germany. The general strategy is to break through Polish lines and rush towards the victory points.
- Danzig: The easiest VP to capture, perfect for infantry. Gives the "Polish corridor" strategic effect.
- Grodno & Lwow: The furthest VPs make for excellent Paratrooper airdrop targets.
- Krakow: In Semper Fi, this was changed to urban territory, advisable using infantry, and attacking from the flanks or rear to avoid river + urban penalty.
- Lodz: A way-point VP. Capture this on the way to Warszawa with armor.
- Warszawa: Encircle as quickly as possible, drive Polish forces away from retreating here. Begin the assault early, as an urban assault will take time.
In Fall Weiß, Infantry is best used for holding lines and filling holes opened by armor. After the fall of Poland, leaving behind infantry to guard the border with the Soviet Union is a wise move.
Fall Gelb: Low Countries & France
The French border with Germany is protected by fortified defenses called the Maginot line. Germany would sustain extremely heavy losses attempting to attack France via that route. As a result, historically, Germany invaded the Netherlands and Belgium as a path to invading northern France, which had a relatively open border with Belgium. The player would be wise to follow this strategy! Historically Germany attacked the Low Countries on May 10th 1940, but the game allows the player to conduct this offensive before the winter of 1939.
Netherlands: Infantry can be used to assault and manage the Northern portion of the country. Armor should be used in the south, primarily in the plains. Armor does not need to be used in any major engagements: instead armor should be focused on positioning for the invasion into Belgium and then France. Note that the Netherlands cannot be taken by VP locations alone: all territory must be captured.
Belgium: Once Germany's armored corps are in position, declare war on Belgium. Use armor to attack Western Belgium in the plains regions: armor will slow considerably in forests. Use infantry to collapse the Eastern portion of the country, and take up defensive positions in the forests of the French border. Meanwhile, Luxembourg can be attacked and easily dispatched. The low countries (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg) will all fall within a month of relatively low intensity fighting.
While the low countries are being methodically enveloped, Germany can execute operation Fall Rot: the invasion of France. This can be done as early as 3 weeks after the start of the Western war. A few factors can expedite France's surrender:
- Maximum spies working to disrupt national unity as early as 1936.
- Having Italy and Nationalist Spain in the Axis will force France to fortify those borders.
- Calling Spain or Italy to arms to assist the war effort.
- Using paratroopers to capture VP locations.
The primary route to rapidly defeating France with minimal losses is to Blitz armor through the plains regions on western France (e.g. the Lille and Calais regions). Use armor to rapidly encircle Paris before launching the main assault. Once Paris falls, armor should fan out to the western and southern regions of France in a rush to capture land. The key to defeating France is to shatter national unity, which is most readily achieved through occupation of territory. Generally, it is preferable to defeat France before the onset of winter conditions in November. Defeating France will require approximately 3 to 6 weeks, depending on difficulty level, player skill, etc.
Weserübung: Denmark and Norway
Denmark is easy to overrun with as little as one infantry corps in approximately 2 weeks of light combat. Germany will have to capture Copenhagen victory provinces before Denmark surrenders. Note that Germany may receive both Iceland and Greenland when Denmark capitulates. Both territories possess no economic value in terms of resources or IC. They do however, have limited strategic value for assaults on North America. Iceland is within transport range of the Canadian port at St. John's, while Greenland can access ports as far south as New York City.
Norway is relatively easy to take out with just two VP provinces (Oslo and Narvik). These can easily be attacked simultaneously, either both by sea or Oslo with Paratroopers and Narvik by sea. An additional complication, however, is that some level of naval supremacy is required, especially if the UK has not already been confronted. If the German navy is not strong, an air attack at Oslo will open a friendly port with which to transport additional troops for conquest. In any event, defeating Norway is an approximately 2 - 4 week engagement.
Directive 25: Yugoslavia & Operation Marita: Greece
The key to conquest in Yugoslavia is capturing the provinces with VPs, and not getting bogged down in the mountains. This is fairly easy to achieve in approximately 4 to 6 weeks. After the fall of Yugoslavia, Greece is open to attack. Italy declares war on Greece on January 1, 1940, so the player will have to move quickly if they want Greece for Germany.
In the period of time before operation Barbarossa, some units can be spared to help Italy in northern Africa. There are several strategic reasons for sending troops to northern Africa:
- Secure the Suez canal to protect the Mediterranean Sea
- Protect Italy's Southern flank from Allied encroachment
- Keep the Allies bogged down in Africa
- If Operation Seelöwe was conducted, capturing UK provinces in Africa can eventually lead to their surrender
A single panzer corps, preferably of light tanks due to their superior speed, is typically sufficient to make a landing and secure Africa. Air superiority is also important in Africa due to the vast expanse and low infrastructure. The UK will have an air presence that will have to be defeated before Germany can use air power to gain a decisive offensive advantage. Generally, Libya and Egypt are fairly easy to capture and require only the time it takes to traverse the land. If Northern Africa is secured, the Middle East can be taken but has fairly limited strategic value. With the conquest of Iraq, Persia is a possible target but would considerably expand the front against the Soviets.
Republican Spain: Historically, Nationalist Spain won the Spanish Civil War and was a non-belligerent in the war. In the event that the Republicans win the Civil War in the game, they may become an important target, particularly since the Allies or Comintern could influence Spain to join their alliance. Another reason to invade the Republicans is that one of Germany's victory conditions may be having Spain in the Axis. Finally, Spain offers land access to Gibraltar, which is a key strategic concern for control of the Mediterranean Sea. Spain offers challenging mountainous terrain in the North and the South, making armor highly ineffective. Meanwhile, the interior of the country is largely plains, where armor would excel.
Operation Tannenbaum: Switzerland: Historically, planning for this operation began after the Fall of France, although it was never executed and Switzerland remained neutral throughout the war. In the game, the capture of Switzerland may be one of Germany's victory conditions. Switzerland contains only two Victory Points: Zurich and Bern. Thus, capturing Switzerland is fairly easy within a two week period, particularly if Switzerland fails to mobilize their army. Switzerland also offers an interesting ahistorical possibility. Instead of invading the Low Countries as a method to attack France, it is possible to use Switzerland instead.
Scandinavian Conquest: Considering the ease with which Norway and Denmark can be captured, opening Germany to a complete conquest of Scandinavia is possible. Sweden is the most well defended of all Germany's northern neighbors, and has six VP provinces, at least five of which will need to be captured before Sweden crumbles. Sweden may take between 2 to 4 weeks to defeat, depending on tactics. Meanwhile, Finland is quite a bit easier with a relatively weak army similar to Norway's, and only three coastal VP provinces. As a result, Finland can fall within a week of fighting. Complete conquest of Scandinavia has both strengths and weaknesses. The advantages are that Finland opens a large front against the Soviet Union. The disadvantages are that Finland opens a large front against the Soviet Union! This can be difficult to staff, and might not be a productive front since it is heavily forested and arctic. Finally, too much war mongering will increase Germany's threat level and drive potential allies away.
Bulgaria, Romania & Turkey: Germany has several ahistorical options in Southern Europe depending on the player's strategic plan. Instead of aligning with Bulgaria and Romania to bring them into the Axis, Germany may decide to attack them. The advantage of this route is that it opens up new supply lines for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union and new fronts for the war. The disadvantage is that this places a much greater burden on Germany to man the front lines over a much larger territory, and it eliminates the manpower offered by Romania and Bulgaria's existing army.
Operation Seelöwe: UK
Some players may consider it gamey to invade the UK because it is relatively easy to accomplish. Operation Sea Lion can be waged anytime after the fall of France, however note that the fall of London will trigger an automatic DOW from the Soviet Union. Germany requires a powerful navy to be able to launch this attack, and air superiority is very helpful as well. Capturing ports is essential to supply, however attacking ports directly is a very costly and time consuming. The UK is fairly large, and will have to be completely occupied: even then the UK will not surrender (taking colonial holdings is necessary, such as Egypt, for example). The UK campaign can be completed within a 2 to 3 month time frame.
A three pronged attack can be highly effective:
- Northern group: Land near the port of Newcastle using mountaineers. This is the most time consuming portion of the UK to capture: even with mountaineers it will take a couple months to complete.
- Southern group: Take the least defended ports, and once captured, transport armor into them (two armored corps should be sufficient). Bring an additional infantry corps to fight the urban battles, while armor blitzes the country side.
- Ireland: While not explicitly critical to the overall success of the operation, Northern Ireland and Ireland should be defeated to ensure total victory over the UK in Europe. Ireland can be defeated simply by capturing both victory points.
The war with the Soviet Union is the center-piece of any Germany game and is the most challenging task for a player, particularly on higher difficulty levels.
- A large amount of units is important: as troops move into Russia the land expands and troops become more spread out.
- Supply is a challenge, thus avoiding deploying too many units that consume too much supply.
- Air superiority is important.
- See also: An example force composition for defeating the USSR on Hard difficulty
- The most important goal for Germany is to destroy Soviet divisions through encirclement. Use heavy armor to break through the lines; armor to exploit and penetration, and infantry to protect advancing armor
- Rapid conquest is essential: the Soviet Union will win a war of attrition
- The invasion force will generally be split into Northern and Southern Army Groups (divided by the Pripet marshes). Heressgruppe Nord should be primarily infantry due to heavy forests. Heressgruppe Sud should have a healthy number of Panzerkorps due to the plains
- Hungary and Romania are fairly important to the war effort in that they supply approximately 50 divisions to the front lines
- Nationalist Spain in the Axis can create a distraction if the UK is still around since the UK can fairly easy invade and conquer Spain and thus threaten occupied France.
- Finland requires significant reinforcements to survive the Soviet onslaught.
For a player who has defeated the Soviet Union, there is only one adversary left worth challenging. This is quite a different opponent due to huge logistical challenges, but a conquest of America is possible.
Convoy building should start early enough to provide roughly 200-300 merchants and 150 escorts at this point of the game (probably 1942 or 1943). Some convoys will never come under threat and therefore don't need to be escorted. The most serious issue with invading America is that it will be necessary to achieve mastery of the high seas over the US Navy, or else supply lines into America will be severely threatened.
The USN will have a number of obsolete carriers and battleships but usually very few modern vessels except for destroyers. Therefore it is possible for Germany to out-tech the Americans and field a much more modern surface fleet. There should be plenty of spare IC and leadership to research naval techs once the rest of the world has been dealt with. Ideally, limited building should be done from the start of the game to keep practicals up. Because it starts with absolutely no research into the carrier techs, Germany should probably concentrate on building battleships, cruisers and destroyers. Of course the carrier techs can be researched, but will require far more time and effort. If you choose to skip carriers, light cruisers can also be safely ignored because their doctrine is the one you won't research. Because of this, the ones you start with can be disbanded or used for secondary tasks but will not be part of the main battle fleets.
Fleet composition can go a number of ways. To close into firing range against carrier fleets it is necessary to use the fastest ships available. If the invasion is to happen before the end of the game, building the fleet once 1942 techs are reached should be enough. The most cost-efficient option is probably a mix of destroyers and battle-cruisers. An even mix of those at this tech level will have an average speed of 31kph, undoubtedly faster than what the Americans have. This will be most excellent to hunt down their carriers. What's more, battle-cruisers VII (1942) have a sea attack of 23, about as much as you can expect from their obsolete battleships, so you will not be out-gunned. If added safety is sought though, battleships can also be built. At this tech level you can be 100% sure that they will be superior to their opponents. Just keep in mind that their slower speeds make them more vulnerable to carriers. Alternatively, it is possible to go for a mix of heavy cruisers and destroyers. Heavy cruisers have a significantly shorter build time than their bigger brothers so this is the way to go if you want to get the invasion going as fast as possible. They are also a bit faster than BCs, and therefore more effective against carriers that do not have a heavy escort. Build large numbers of them and expect to lose a few, as they are no match even for older battleships.
The USN will not be defeated in one or two engagements. You must win many battles over a few months to start wearing it down, and even then it will likely have intact fleets in the Pacific. Whatever fleet composition you choose, build extra ships to replace losses just in case. If building starts as planned in 1942, the fleet will be ready for action in the summer of 1944, perhaps making it possible to land on June 6th... A goal of 18 capital ships is reasonable and allows three battle fleets of 12 when combined with their DD screens. A mix of the options laid out above can also be interesting (for example, 12 BCs and 6 BBs with 18 DDs). Moving to Japanese-controlled ports in the Pacific can be interesting to finish off the USN once the battle of the Atlantic has been won, but it would be wise to check that they have fuel to supply the fleet with. They often run out so you could be in for a nasty surprise.
Securing Forward Ports
When annexing the United Kingdom you will be given a few particularly useful overseas territories. Make sure to have some transports and garrisons ready to ship out to St-John's (at least two divisions, both the port and the channel crossing into Canada must be held) and Bermuda at this point to make sure the Americans don't beat you there. Alternatively, you can also stage amphibious landings there if the UK hasn't yet be annexed. The Falklands, Kingston and St-Helena can also be useful if the player wants to have full control of the Atlantic. Since there's some spare time as the fleet is being built, consider building up ports, airbases, coastal fortifications, radars and AA in the islands you choose to use. This will provide forward bases for the fleet to operate from and should make the invasion easier. A level 10 radar in Bermuda will provide line-of-sight to much of the Atlantic, making it easy to intercept or bomb USN fleets as they pass by. It is also close enough to the Panama Canal, an excellent spot to conduct convoy raiding operations.
The AI Allies usually react to German presence in Newfoundland by moving large armies to northern Quebec and Labrador and attempting to cross on to your new island. Don't worry though, you can hold the crossing with a single panzer division because of the massive amphibious and stacking penalties that they will face. This disproportionate reaction is actually good because it means you can land simultaneously in Quebec and the Hudson Bay and quickly cut off a large number of divisions. At the same time, land near Boston or New-York from Bermuda and march on Washington. Marines are useful if you want to land in the ports (the big ones have coastal forts), but you can do without them by landing in undefended provinces and capturing ports with your 30-day supplies. Alternatively you can skip landing in Canada and stick to the US for a more entertaining fight with stiffer resistance, but in any case it shouldn't be hard.
You should have a massive doctrine and technological advantages, along with more experienced troops and leaders. The Americans will quickly collapse. Because supply will be a problem, consider quality over quantity when picking out your invasion force. Match your most experienced units with the most experienced leaders. A handful of elite divisions will work far better than larger numbers that would be hampered by constant supply shortages. Also keep in mind that panzer divisions consume large amounts of fuel and supply, so landing a large all-panzer force is definitely not the best option. In the initial phase of the battle, a single panzer corps with all your 'stars' (Rommel, Guderian, etc) and some support from elite special forces (marines + paratroopers) will go a long way in securing a large enough beach-head to supply the next phase of the offensive. Use the panzers wisely at first so as to avoid spending their strength in difficult terrain; just go around, create pockets, and reduce them with infantry when you begin landing the second wave. Use paratroops to wreak havoc behind enemy lines and help close pockets faster. Particularly important is the capture of a few large airfields to rebase some jet fighters and quickly ground the inferior USAF to open the skies for your tactical bomber and close air support squadrons.
If you fail to break through in the early stages of the battle, the most likely situation is a stalemate where the Americans will mass all they've got around your beach-head but fail to breach it while you remain unable to mass sufficient numbers of breakthrough divisions because of poor supply. This is why it is important to use elite troops and generals : your landing force may need to hold it's ground against massively superior numbers of enemies. Capturing level 10 ports and securing a large enough portion of the coastline to begin building new ports will therefore be a top priority. The only way to break the stalemate will be with large enough numbers of panzer divisions. One way to make this happen is to hold your ground as the new ports are being built so that the next phase of the offensive can be supplied. It can also be particularly helpful to substitute standard infantry for paratroopers since they consume only a fraction of the supplies and are almost as good. Alternatively, you can capture Washington for it's large supply stash. If you succeed, expect to have 50k+ of fuel and supplies on hand for your offensive. You might even create supply shortages for your enemy as it's supply lines are re-routed to a new capital.
Gaming the System
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