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Italy strategy guide

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Contents

Overview

Italy is a rising, but vulnerable major power. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy went through centuries of foreign domination until the 19th century. In the Great War of 1914 to 1918, Italy entered the war based on the promise by France and the United Kingdom that Italy would be guaranteed a fair share of the spoils of victory upon Germany's and Austria-Hungary's defeat. However this promise was not fulfilled, causing Italian fury at the so-called "mutilated victory". Fascism under Il Duce Benito Mussolini rose to power on the pledge restore Italy as an empire and heir to the Roman Empire and challenge other major powers to seize this. Fascism has successfully rallied the Italian people to nationalism through its visions of Italian imperial grandeur. This is the dangerous project which Italy intends to undertake through aggressive imperialism and it desires to seek allies to aide it in destroying the current status quo to Italy's favour.

Among other major powers Italy is the weakest as far as Leadership pool is concerned, it's also pretty backward industrially and seriously deprived of resources.

In the hands of a skilled player knowing what's needed to achieve victory, Italy can expand rapidly carving a vast empire for itself and become a danger for even biggest majors. This requires a lot of careful planning though since dangers are many and the world isn't a nice place any more.

Italy begins the game with a fascist government with 60 Neutrality and 80 National Unity. The ruling party has a popularity of 52 and a organization of 90. There is no dissent.

It's highest technologies are Infantry theory, Infantry Practical, Militia theory, Mobile theory, Artillery theory, Artillery practical, Naval engineering, Destroyer practical, Cruiser practical, Capital ship practical, Submarine practical, Electronic engineering theory, Automotive theory, Armour practical, Aeronautic engineering, Single engine aircraft practical, Fleet in being doctrine and Mechanical engineering theory which are all at 5.

Technology

While at war with Ethiopia but all leadership to officers, to make the most of the service by requirement bonus only available during wartime.

Focusing almost all its Leadership on research Italy can support up to 14 research projects at once. This means Italians can afford researching everything they need... but can't really afford to throw points around into things that aren't compulsory.

The work towards glorious imperial Italy of the future starts by building a solid economic foundation which can be done via the Industry tab:


  • Industrial Production and Efficiency techs are many years behind compared to other major powers and should be researched as the first thing in the game.
  • Supply Production is also backward and should be upgrades as soon as possible since exporting supplies is the only way to pay for imported resources to fuel the rapidly expanding industry.
  • Coal processing / rare material techs may also be considered as it is by far

Radar should be researched ASAP in 1939, it will take 200-300ish days to research and then 200 days to build 10 paralel - so fingers crossed and you should have a radar station operation by time you go to war with Britain.


After industry it's time to review Infantry and Tank tech trees.


  • Infantry is quite modern but could use better Mountain equipment to be more efficient in harsh

terrain.

  • Special Forces can become Italy's speciality allowing it to better operate in hard terrain of mountainous terrain of the Balkans and also conduct naval invasions more efficiently. Special Forces doctrine needs work as early as 1936 for starting Mountain divisions to have advantage over enemy infantry. In later years Marines and Paratroopers will be an excellent addition to Italian army.


  • Light Tank Engine technology is up to date but other tank techs are seriously backward. If Italy wants to field tanks at some point, it's worth starting research in this area right away. Tanks are however by no means compulsory and maybe not best suited to the terrain of the balakans.
  • Artillery Barrel&Ammunition tech is also up to date being a good start to field infantry with Artillery attachments allowing to increase fire power without spending as much manpower on it. Artillery Carriage&Sights is another project Italy should get to right away if Artillery is planned to be used in future wars. Keeping Anti tank techs up to date as well maybe useful


  • Among Land Doctrines, first picks should be Infantry Warfare and Assault Concentration for Infantry and Artillery army and Operational Level Organization allowing to regroup armies faster to launch another attack. If Italy plans to field tanks in WW2, Blitzkrieg, Schwehrpunkt and Mobile Warfare doctrines should be among its early priorities. Tactical Command Structure upgrading Cavalry and also Motorized and Mechanized infantries should also be started early on to upgrade existing fast units and also ensure high quality of those newly trained.

When Italy's army success is ensured on land, it's time to review Italy's knowledge about naval and air combat.


  • Battleships are very modern, all 1936 techs researched and their guns and engines even researched ahead of time. This makes them a natural focus for Italy.
  • Battleships need escort to detect enemy navies, defend them from enemy airplanes and screen them in combat, especially against submarines. Italy starts with Destroyer technology very much up to date and Light Cruiser technology a bit outdated. A choice needs to be made immediately whether Italy will focus on Destroyers or Light Cruisers as navy's screens. If DDs are chosen, no research in the area of navy will be necessary before 1938. But if more durable CLs able to operate on a much bigger area are the choice of Italy, work on them should start right away.
  • Naval doctrines for Italy are all up to date and no research will be necessary until 1937.


  • Italy may venture off outside the usual BB+escort route and attempt to produce Aircraft Carriers for Regia Marina. This is a major development though since no research in the area was done in Italy so far. It will take at least two years in hardware and doctrine research to be able to start producing an up to date Carrier and another 18 months after that to finish the project so it's a major development. Consideration should be made whether mobility and firepower of Carriers is worth the effort or not.
  • It's also possible to focus on Submarines but it's not the most effective way of spending research points and industrial capacity so should be avoided.


  • Aircraft of Italy is very modern and won't require and research until 1939.
  • Aircraft doctrines aren't that modern though. Main tasks for airforce need to be determined and research needs to be done in that area after all other technologies mentioned above are covered. Land army needs doctrines like Ground Attack Tactics and CAS or TAC pilot training. Navy needs support airplanes able to attack enemy ships and ports. Doctrines should be picked accordingly to this tasks. Interceptor doctrines can be safely put away for future since it will be a while before Italy has to fight an enemy with enough interceptors to require those technologies.


Distribution of leadership

Initially 10 domestic spies should be created as well as enough diplomats to facilitate trade/alignment deals.

Italy should devote 3-4 Leadership to improve its officer pool to 200% and then more as needed to keep it there. Italy lacks the manpower to field a vast infantry army as well as the oil (and Leadership) resources to field a large number of armor divisions. Therefore Italy needs to make sure every unit they have is operating up to its full potential.

Once the above is done Italy can focus the rest of its Leadership on ~10-14 research projects.

Diplomacy

Alliances

The most obvious alliance route for Italy is Germany. Any other alliance with the Allies or the Comintern would be both ahistorical and gamey. It is possible to join the Axis as soon as the civil war in Spain begins.

Diplomatic Influence

Germany will be very active influencing other countries to join the Axis so Italy doesn't have to be active in this area and can focus on research instead.

Hungary will be the first country to join the Axis, later the same is very likely to happen in Japan, Bulgaria, Portugal and Nationalist Spain. Sometimes even Yugoslavia decides to join the Axis. Influencing those countries to join the Axis will be a waste of points.

The preferred way of expanding the Axis for Italy should be puppeting and annexing the countries in the Balkans, Spain (if Rep. Spain wins) and the Middle East rather than spending leadership on influencing them.

Decisions

  • Between January 1st 1939 and December 31st 1942 Italy can annex Albania. Provided neither of them is at war, they are not allied and Germany annexed Czechoslovakia already. Decision will remove 5 points of neutrality, add 2 points of national unity, reduce relations with Greece and Yugoslavia by 5, Albania by 20 and of course give Italy control over Albanian land which means getting another airfield and a port to launch an invasions into Greece and Yugoslavia. There's no reason to not take it.
  • After annexing Albania the next step is putting pressure on Greece. Doing it is possible since Jan 1940 provided both countries are independent, not allied and not in war. Greece will refuse the claims and war will start. Annexation of Greece will earn Italians a very important strategic position on the island of Crete from which convoys may be raided and an invasion to Egypt and Palestine can be mounted.

Politics

Ministers

Italy starts with some of the best ministers possible.

One possible area for change in 1936 is the Head of Intelligence to Domenico Cavagnari, who provides a +5% espionage bonus which provides enough defence for Italy against enemy spies that domestic ones can focus on lowering neutrality.

Guide Jung will provide +10% IC bonus as Armaments Minister, but if industry is eating resources too quickly Mussolini is a good choice as he provides a +5% boost to Resource Production and will take away the IC boost Jung provides, which can quickly turn around a resource deprived Italy. Mussolini as Security Minister will add +5% to Leadership. It's hard to imagine a better setup.

Laws

Italy begins the game with the following laws.

Civil Law: Totalitarian System

Conscription Law: One Year Draft

Education Investment Law: Medium Large Education Investment

Industrial Policy Law: Mixed Industry

Press Law: Propaganda Press

Training Law: Advanced Training

Since Italy begins the game at war, it has plenty of options:

It's necessary to enforce Specialist Training as a default for ALL units produced as Italy because Italian commanders are very weak with a huge majority of them with 0 or 1 skill that Italian army needs to somehow make up for this disadvantage. +30% bonus in combat coming from experience provided by Specialist Training is a good way of making up for lack of talent of Italian leaders.

Intelligence

With totalitarian system and good ministers Italy is a very safe country from enemy influences. Nevertheless, it's useful to train 10 domestic spies early in the game and use them to lower Italy's neutrality lowering consumer goods demand in process. Side projects can be occasional National Unity improvement if it falls below 80 due to events and supporting the ruling party.

There is little need to send spies abroad so leadership should be saved for research. Even without raising threat of any countries, Italy can join the WW2 in mid-1939 without problems by declaring war on Yugoslavia and other Balkan states. And even if that's not possible, in Jan 1940 a decision can be made to go to war with Greece regardless of neutrality and threat.

Economy

Trading

First of all, it's best to trade with European nations since Italy convoys will be in serious danger as soon as the war starts. Trade with Europeans happens over land so it can't be attacked by the Royal Navy.

If Italy decides to choose Total Economic Mobilization with +10% IC armaments ministers and rapid expansion of Industrial Capacity, it will quickly become more deprived of resources than Japan.

Organizing such an amount of resources is a quite demanding task and needs to be done right away or Italy will collapse financially within one month. The plan is to produce and sell Supplies to other countries, earning money with which resource imports will be paid for.

Other countries will offer trade deals to Italy if they notice Italians produce more resources than they are using so around 10% bigger than required investment of Italian IC into Supply production should be ensured. First exports deals should be initiated by Italy, good first buyers are Soviets, Germans and Americans with whom Italy won't be at war for quite a while. Smaller deals with smaller countries will allow to earn some extra buck on the side and also diversify the list of the buyers a bit.

The best supplier of resources for Italy is the Soviet Union. Good relations with them should be built up from day one to reach 200 level before mid-1936 and ensure better prices for future deals. This relations can be established via making bigger amount of smaller deals early on, 10-15 energy for example. When they reach 200, time comes for bigger deals like buying Metal and Rares.

An alternate source of resources for Italy will be conquest. Upon conquering Balkan states Italy will receive their stockpiles of resources and also get access to their production.

In late game an attempt should be made to conquer rich British, Dutch and Belgian colonies and become independent from Russians before Axis starts fighting them.

Industrial Production

If Italy wants to be a major player, it's industrial base will need a major expansion. The good news is with Total Economic Mobilisation and great starting ministers Italians are perfectly capable of such an expansion while not neglecting other areas of activity. They should try to invest most of their available IC into expanding their factories since day one. Each of them costs a little bit below 5 IC and builds 14 months with your starting practicals.

Investing 60-70 of starting IC into expansion and spending the rest on construction of much needed Battleships is a good starting strategy. Such an aggressive expansion of scheduling big "runs" of new IC should be continued until late 1938 when gearing up for war will have to start. After war preparation is ready, units are ready and upgraded, going back to IC expansion is a good choice.

As a side project Italy can expand airfields and ports in key locations. Zadar and Trieste are important footholds into the Balkans which already have ports built but don't have airports. If Italy pick Close Air Support bombers instead of Tactical ones, airports in this locations will be very helpful. So will be adding at least one or two airports in Ethiopia to help Militia there deal more swiftly with British expeditions sent to reclaim the area. Tobruk airport as a base of many convoy-raiding and bombing runs could use a minor expansion as well. Moqdishu is also a good candidate for port upgrade.

Building airports and ports will increase construction practical allowing to build factories even more cheaply.

Whatever IC is left pre-war should be used on army production.

Military

Army

  • Command and Control: The Italian army require some serious reorganizing, most of the divisions are binary, and the force as a whole has terrible spans of control throughout. Most Corps control 1-2 Divisions while most Armies control a single Corps and Army Groups are lucky to have 2 Armies assigned. Tarabulus HQ is unfortunately Italy's best organized force at the start. Commando Superiore is nothing but a disgrace. Priority #1 on 1 Jan 1936 will be a reorganization of the Italian forces, on this day pour through every unit and decide who will be the defense forces, who will be the expeditionary forces, who will be the African forces and whatever other force requirements the player has. It is suggested to arrange the maximum number of units to a higher command (eg. a Corps with five Divisions assigned to it) in order to maximize the very poor generals skill talents, also assign generals with the Old Guard trait to the defensive force since Italy will probably get very little use of that force any time soon.
  • Generals: Italian generals are a mess as well. It is notable that Bilbao, the best Italian air commander is fated for an early demise('39?). Priority #2 on 1 Jan 1936 must be a radical shuffle of the general command positions. It is advised to assign generals with Commando and Logistic Wizard traits to the Tarabulus HQ since infrastructure in that area is very poor, and these assignments will lessen the impact on forces in that theatre. If supply isn't too bad of a problem it may be useful to attempt to use the Ethiopian campaign to build some experience for some of the more skilled commanders to have some sort of preparation for any future Italian campaigns. Air experience is hard to come by, use planes whenever the chance is presented.
  • Modernizing the Force: Italy has some good tech in a few categories, Infantry, Artillery, Navy and Airplanes come to mind but they are significantly behind the power curve in other categories, Light tank is the only tech known in the Armor tree. An Italian player should choose whether to specialize in what Italy is good at and buy production licenses from a very willing Germany or try and widen his technological focus at the trade-off of being forced to minimize any espionage or diplomatic manuevers. The Italian player should also choose what his aims are before beginning his modernization, is he going to focus on dominating the Mediterranean, assisting the German defense, projecting Italian forces and influence into the unsteady Balkans or is he going to go mad in a fit of ahistorical ferver and invade the British mainland with Italian paratroopers backed by a Mil/Mil/Mil/Mil naval invasion force?

Navy

Regia Marina is your main source of pride and the best proof Italy can soon become a major player in the world stage. The truth is that what you start with is just a humble beginning.

The four starting Battleships make for a very strong force for the time being but are no match for the Royal Navy. Expanding the number of BBs with more modern vessels is required as soon as 1936 if in 1939 Regia Marina is supposed to challenge the UK for their control of the Mediterranean.

Building at least 4 new Battleships by 1940 is compulsory. An addition of at least one Carrier, even a small and not very modern Escort Carrier, would add significantly to the overall versatility of Regia Marina allowing it to bomb enemies docked in ports. The ideal 1940 Regia Marina composition is 6 Battleships and 1 Carrier or to save leadership on many costly Carrier technologies, just 8 Battleships with escorts. A worth while longer term goal is to aim to have 100 ships - to get the Grand fleet effect.

Heavy Cruisers and Transports should team together in one or two groups to not reduce range of transport ships but still maintain a good deal of protection. Remainder of escort ships should be merged together and placed in a central location for quick rotation with the ones that get damaged while escorting Battleships.

Starting Submarines are pretty ancient and there's not much use for them. They are likely to get sunk really fast after the war starts. Disbanding them to save on supply is a viable option. If disbanding isn't an option for the player, their convoy raiding will have to be closely monitored so damaged vessels are quickly sent back home.

Construction of new more modern escorts should start slowly in 1939 to warm practical up for 1940 level of techs when the amount of produced escorts should rise significantly to cover the vast empire between Gibraltar, Iraq, Romania and South Africa Italian army is likely to conquer by that time. The better choice here are Light Cruisers for their higher durability and longer range. Adding more capital ships, especially with huge presence of Battleships is advised when USA join the war and start endangering Italian empire with naval invasions.

Air Force

Italy start with a very solid and versatile air force and has nothing to be ashamed of compared to even the biggest major powers.

In Jan 1936 Italians have at their disposal:

  • 5 Interceptors.
  • 3 Naval Bombers.
  • 3 Tactical Bombers.
  • 1 Transport Plane.

Italians don't need to build Interceptors for quite a while. They also don't need to build more Tactical and Naval bombers since for the small wars of 1939 and 1940 what they start with is more than enough.

If any expansion is to be made, it should be building either Carrier Air Groups for constructed and planned Carriers or Close Air Support. CAG or CAS together with starting NAVs all based in small squadrons on many Mediterranean islands can be a real menace for enemy shipping, much worse than submarines. CAS can also do a world of good against Romanian or Spanish tanks.

Commanders

The main weakness of Italy are their horrible commanders and admirals. Compared with Germany, Japan or United Kingdom it's shocking how weak Italian commanders are.

  • There's a whole crowd of people with 0 skill, those should be used to garrison ports, lead Militia units in Africa and in general do things that don't require much strategic or tactical thinking. All that provided they don't have any attractive skills which would suggest you're dealing with a real talent, only inexperienced for the time being. Berbasetti di Prun is a great example of such a person, he starts with 0 skill but also is a Panzer Leader and Logistics Wizard. With some care he can be forged into a new Italian Rommel or Guderian. Other great talents hiding among 0-skill commanders are Calvi di Bergolo (Panzer Leader + Offensive Doctrine make him a natural choice to lead armored forces into breakthroughs), de Stefanis (Offensive Doctrine, Fortress Buster, Panzer Leader all on one guy!) and many more.
  • If a 3-star commander can be found or trained, he should lead the main Italian Army Group reducing supplies needs of them all. Less skilled two-star commanders will be used to lead other HQs and less skilled ones will command infantry divisions. They should be promoted and demoted accordingly to their skill.
  • The air force is affected by this as well. There's only one 3-star commander here, Balbo, he should lead the main 3x TAC bomber force. 2-star leaders should be given charge over bigger groups of CAS and sometimes switched to INTs for the duration of war against France when skirmishes become more common.
  • People who in Regia Marina are called "Admirals" probably wouldn't be good enough to clean decks in the RN or the IJN. Since it doesn't get better over time, it should be accepted as a given and planned for. Smaller fleets and with higher than usual presence of capital ships need to be used throughout the whole game. 3 BBs 4 DDs for example - with a Carrier and escorts close behind providing Air cover.

There's hope though, at least a few skilled leaders will be trained in the coming war to lead army, navy and air force a bit more efficiently. Still, Italy has no hope to ever get a pool of commanders similar to what other major powers get. So lots of good planning needs to take place to make up for that weakness.

War

General Strategy

  • National Unity: Italy begins in '36 with 80% national Unity. This is an acceptable level and can safely be ignored until later in the game.
  • Weather: Italy is less affected by weather than most of the European nations and most of it's historical or possible conquests (Greece, Yugoslavia, Ethiopia and Albania) have moderate weather as well which will relegate weather to be of little note to an Italian player.
  • Terrain: Italy's north is protected by a mountainous region with the played would be advantaged to use Mountain divisions in, but the majority of Italy is open to a sea-borne invasion as the nation is generally 3-4 territories wide throughout the majority of it's length. Sicily is also a good place to repel an advancing allied army if they dare to attempt an advance, use your navy to bombard or block the land bridge.
  • Leadership: Though Italy has a significantly lower leadership pool than say, USA or Britain, they do begin with a competitive 12-13 points. Remember to research Education and it is also suggested to have a Big Education Investment to close that gap. Most of Italian leadership points can be safely assigned to research as the majors tend to spy on germany more than Italy. You will have to trade for some resources though so some points in Diplomacy can be used, once you have established a sufficent resource pool use those diplomacy points to bring nations to the Axis. You begin the game with 100% officers and the Ethiopian War shouldn't take that down below 98%, most of the nations you will be interested in warring with at this time will have officer levels dramatically below this so you do not need to be all that concerned. In summation it is advised to use your Leadership to increase your techs, and use 1-2 points to handle basic intel tasks and Diplomacy.
  • Logistics: Italy begins the game with an almost sufficient level of convoys but perhaps 3-6 build sets may need to be produced if you wish to mobilize your economy. Russia and USA are great sources of Energy and Britain is not loath to sell you the rares and metals you may desire. Bringing the Ethiopian war to a quick resolution will improve your logistic situation as well and because of the poor infrastructure you may wish to assign your single starting Air Transport unit to an Air Supply mission to supplement land based supply.

War with Ethiopia

The primary goal for Italy in its war with Ethiopia is to seize the capital, Adis Abeba. This can be accomplished by the Army "Armata dell'A.O.I." in Eritrea, just North of Ethiopia. Capturing Adis Abeda will soon break Ethiopia's national unity, causing them to surrender. Italy will be given a choice to puppet or annex Ethiopia. Use the Ethiopian war to gain some air experience for your tactical bombers and use your singular air transport in an air supply mission to supplement the poor infrastructure.

As much as it's tempting to win fast, you shouldn't really rush this war. You can conquer Ethiopia in a couple of months by bee-lining your Mountain Divisions to their capital but the longer this war takes, the more time your Consumer Goods needs will stay extremely low. So it's a viable strategy to take it slow and try to conquer Adis Abeba only after the initial round of upgrades is finished in early Fall of 1936. Historically Adis Abeba fell in May.

You could drag this war on well into 1938 to boost your economy even more but many consider this too much an exploit.

While it may be tempting to allow the AI to handle this seemingly minor war do not do it. Not enough emphasis can be added that the AI has no idea how to capture Adis Abeba. It is unknown as if this is a bug related to having a split front or if it is WAD but what is clear is that the Somalian forces under AI control will be steamrolled by quantitatively and qualitatively inferior Ethiopian troops. The upside to this is the Adis Abeba defense will be decisively overmatched from a northern invasion. In some situations it may be advantageous to shuffle commanders in favor or some who will alleviate the disadvantage from the poor (20%) infrastructure in Ethiopia as nearly every battle fought will be with a decreased efficiency due to lacking supplies. Ethiopia will surrender upon completion of the day that their capital is occupied, which will lead to possibly the most important decision of the Ethiopian Campaign, whether or not to annex Ethiopia. Annexation seems to be the best choice, although it does force you to convoy supplies into the almost worthless country you gain a minor amount of leadership and some insignificant amount of resources. The most compelling argument for annexation relies on the mechanics of trade, you cannot trade with a country that is non-contiguous to your capital and does not have a port, meaning that if you choose to puppet Ethiopia you will never be able to trade with them, and they seem to disregard the 1000 resource cap making your entire conquest of their country that much more meaningless. The next decision will be how much of a defensive presence you you keep? Most situations will benefit from evacuating the majority if not all of the army, as the western border will be completely abandoned by english troops and france has only a tiny force in it's Horn of Africa holdings which will also be put under Vichy control once the conquest of Paris is complete.

War in the Balkans

After annexation of Czechoslovakia by Germany you will be presented with an opportunity to annex Albania in a similar way. When you take it, you will get a whole new foothold into the Balkans and a great place to launch your invasion into the area from.

Balkans shouldn't be a big challenge for your forces if you built them up long enough, just remember about a few basics.

Your first target will be Yugoslavia, which is best annexed to provide a base of operations to fight other Balkan states.

  • Declare limited war, you don't want Germany seizing half of Yugoslavia. Launch three simultaneous invasions from all three footholds you have in the Balkans.
  • Provide TAC/CAS and BB support to your troops fighting near airports and shores to speed things up.
  • There's a small corridor leading into Yugoslavia from the coast through Ogulin province. A great place to make a breakthrough with tanks if Italians have any by that time.

The second target should be Bulgaria. They will serve as a base for more invasions and thus should be annexed.

  • Their Cavalry-based forces won't be much of a challenge.
  • When the main Italian army pushes towards Sofia, a smaller naval invasion should target their port of Varna and hold there to split their army in two and obliterate any defensive strategy they might have had.
  • They will provide Italy with a great way of launching an invasion into Romania through plains on the Black Sea coast. The same invasion launched through mountains from Yugoslavia would take much much longer.
  • Annexing them will greatly extend Italian border with Greece over-stretching Greek army and drawing more of their forces into the north making your naval invasion around Athens much easier.

Romania. Italians most likely don't want to share a border with Soviet Union so they should puppet this country. Romanians will still give you all their priceless Crude and other resources (lots of them in there, it's the richest of Balkan states) as well as field a sizeable army (they even build tanks!) to garrison the USSR border for you.

  • It's much much faster to only hold Yugoslavian border with them and punch through their lines along the coast.
  • Terrain there is much easier, you can use your ships as an aid and also land a smaller naval invasions behind their line ruining their whole defensive strategy.
  • Another breakthrough could be made in the plains of Nadlac province in the north with an attempt to reach their VP in Cluy but don't put much pressure here if you see they are defending hard.
  • Don't march too much into northern provinces, just try to surround Bucarest and take it. After that war will be over.

Both Romania and Bulgaria should be attacked fairly early in the war because later events may prevent Italy from taking over those countries. Romania will be seriously shrunk by demands from Soviets and Hungarians. Bulgaria is very likely to join Axis and become an ally meaning neither their resources nor their port will be at Italy's disposal.

Greece. A great annexation target for the port of Athens alone. A decision is possible to be made in Jan 1940 to start this war.

  • They will give a strong resistance in the north and mountainous terrain will favour them so invading them from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia isn't the best way of doing it.
  • Italians are much better off only holding Greeks back along the Yugoslavia-Bulgaria line while e a naval invasion on their VPs in Salonica and Athens is concluded. This way Greece will fall much faster.
  • If Italians don't want to make a naval invasion (Royal Navy may be one of reasons not to), they should prepare for a really long war of attrition in the mountains.

Turkey. Italians should prefer to make them a puppet due to their huge size and not really useful strategic position.

  • Greek airports and harbors are very useful in the invasion.
  • If Italy can seize Cyprus before this war, it will provide a great deal of help. A decoy invasion can be launched from there aiming for Gaziantep Victory Point.
  • Terrain will force a long and slow war. Italian forces should land in Izmir and Trabzon and the main army should march from the Balkans to take Instanbul and try to slowly get through the mountains surrounding Ankara.
  • Mountain brigades are more useful in Turkey than anywhere else, stay patient and keep pushing from multiple directions, they will break eventually.
  • Puppet them, they will give all their Rares, field a solid army and Italy won't have to hunt Partisans in all those mountains. Their 20 IC and 1.2 Leadership isn't worth the hassle of governing this country.

Hungary.

  • They used to be a good target for an attack in earlier versions but as of HoI3 1.3 they join Axis fairly soon in the game and thus can't be attacked by Axis Italy.

War in Africa

After Balkans are under Axis control, it's time to remove UK from Egypt and connect Libya with Ethiopia. This is best done after France surrenders so they don't meddle into your war and won't backstab your invasion force. Their navy is pretty sizable and may be a bit too much for Italian navy. The big prize here are the Suez Canal, Alexandria and pushing the British out of the Mediterranean and eventually also their middle-eastern oil fields.

Step by step plan:

  • Take Malta and Gibraltar using Marines and CAS/TAC support. British almost never have more than GAR there but it may be tricky if their navy walks at Italian transports executing a naval invasion.
  • Use CAS and NAV to raid convoys going to Egypt. This will cut English forces in Egypt from supplies and reinforcements.
  • Ferry every single unit faster than 5 mph you have over to Tobruk in Libya.
  • Prepare a naval landing on Rhodos and get ready to use Crete (or Cyprus) to execute infantry landings near Alexandria and Tel-Awiw.
  • Provide air support for your invasion, TACs should be moved to Cyprus (to help with Tel-Awiw), CAS to Tobruk and Crete. INT should be present close by in case TACs English have stationed in the Middle East get too problematic.
  • Militias in Ethiopia should be put into defensive stance preventing English counter-attacking in the area. They will most likely be out of supply until Italians connect Ethiopia and Egypt so don't count on much input from them.

And when all this is done, it's time to execute.

  • Simultaneous landings in Alexandria and Tel-Awiw will both cut English forces from their supply and provide supply for Italians.
  • Fast unit offensive from Libya will quickly sweep all the in-land forces and push towards Red Sea cutting English holdings in half.
  • After that part of fast units (Cavalry for example) should push south to quickly connect Libya with Ethiopia and provide over-land supply route to Italian units there.
  • After CCCN militias get their supply they should first attack British ports in the area and hold there until faster and more professional units from Egypt arrive. After that Italians will have around four naval bases in the area and also an over-land route from Egypt. It will be enough to get the seize the rest of East Africa, including South Africa and Belgian Kongo both rich in natural resources Italy badly needs by this time.
  • Infantries used to take Alexandria should garrison the city and move across the Suez Channel to push into Levant, rescue Tel-Awiw landing party from siege they probably are under due to Iraqi army coming in to rescue of their overlords.
  • Puppeting Iraq and taking Kuwait is the ultimate source of Crude for Italy. Combined with Romanian oil field it will be more than enough for the rest of the game. Iraqi army is seriously outdated so unless there's a British force in the area one Corps of triangular divisions of infantry with help of one faster motorised unit should be more than enough to the job.
  • Kuwait should be garrisoned. It provides priceless Crude and British will try to take it with their transports and infantry based in India.

WW2

Germans don't need your help in Poland, they also don't really need it in France. Moreover, even if you help in France and push towards Marseilles, you won't get any land from that because Germans always divide France between themselves and Vichy.

So as much as it may seem tempting to help, it's a much better idea to take care of Balkan and African wars while Germans are still busy in France rather than help there and neglect other fronts.

Since you can declare war on countries in the name of whole Axis, you can help Germans make some crucial decisions. For example if they leave Luxemburg in the middle of their territory and decide to guard the border with it heavily instead of moving on with their offensive, you can declare war against Luxemburg so Germans annex it. Same with Scandinavia, you can encourage German incursion there by declaring war on Denmark and Sweden in the name of your whole alliance.

It's also good to declare war on Yunnan and Siam so Japanese can get their lands and resources. Do it only if you don't plan owning India yourself.

Neutral Switzerland in the middle of Axis territory kind of spoils the map of Europe for your allies so an intervention there might be to your advantage. Swiss being your puppet can provide quite a bit of resources, they have a lot of energy and even some crude. Their IC and Leadership don't really warrant annexing their country but it's also one of the options. Just don't cry when rebels spawn in one of those fortresses high in the mountains and you won't be able to retake it without a sizable force.

As hard as taking Switzerland might seem it actually isn't. You should have plenty of mountaineer brigades experienced after wars in the Balkans. You also have a sizable force of bombers and an airport in Torino which you can use as a base for bombing the whole front. And most importantly, you have a transport plane and some paratroopers whom you can drop between Swiss lines right in the middle of their country so Swiss army from their northern border can't help their army in the south.

One thing to remember is to declare a limited war. You don't want Germans to get half of already small Switzerland!

Gaming the System

1. Fighting the war with Ethiopia for 3 years. If you don't take Adis Abeba, Ethiopia won't fall and you will be able to stay at war with them as long as you want to. This will reduce the demand for consumer goods considerably and give you some free IC to both keep your practicals "warm" and invest into building your industry up much more than you could if you had to give consumer goods to your population. Just remember that when you demote your commanders in times of war they lose experience. So don't downgrade anyone to lower rank unless you know he won't have at least 1 point of skill left after you do it.

2. Paratroopers. Dropping them at VPs of enemy will make wars take much less time, sometimes you will be able to make your enemies fold in a matter of days if not hours. What's even better, you start with a supply plane built so you only need a bunch of paratroopers and special forces doctrine to have a full set of perfect invasion forces.

3. Manoeuvre. Balkans or Turkey aren't the friendliest places for your Cavalry or Motorised divisions... so send them all to Africa. Running around enemy cutting off his supply and taking his naval bases before he can go back to defend them will allow your faster force to defeat a much more numerous enemy.

4. Raiding Convoys. Don't hunt convoys with ships and don't bother with submarines (maybe get Cruisers instead). It may seem silly but your navy is best kept in harbors where British can't sink your ships. You have plenty of islands, each of them has an airport and you most likely will have a considerable amount of light airplanes. Your starting 3x NAV along with whatever CAS you can spare for the job can deliver an enormous damage to any British ships passing the Mediterranean and what's best they can't be sunk. Best British can field to counter your airplanes will be CAGs from their carriers... but those you can tear into pieces with your Interceptors.

5. War in Spain. You can ally with Nationalists and declare war on Republican Spain and steal some land from that war. The most hot pieces are Baleares, Tangiers and even land provinces around Gibraltar. After the war is won by Nationalists you get to keep whatever lands you have occupied during it. So look greedily at the progress of Nationalists and try to get a piece of the cake there. Nat. Spain will drift away from Axis due to you owning their core provinces so later you will be able to finish them off and conquer the rest of Spain along with colonies. Since this war breaks in pretty early in the game you can use this war to keep your consumer goods demand low between Ethiopian War which is usually finished mid-1936 and World War 2 which starts in May 1939.

6. Deployment exploit. You can keep a part of your force in deployment queue where they don't use any supplies and as you advance into the Balkans deploy them at the very frontlines of your war. You can deploy anywhere you want in the Balkans included only occupied provinces, you don't even need to annex the country, it's enough have control over a province to suddenly dump a division there.

7. Stealing Vichy from Germans. Vichy normally doesn't join the Axis and doesn't participate in the war. If you declare war on Vichy, so will Germans and they are more likely to annex it before you can do it. But if Germans are otherwise occupied (Barbarossa, D-Day, channel islands superstack issue), they won't have enough troops nearby to quickly advance into Vichy and you will have enough time to snatch it for yourself connecting your Spanish and African possessions. So just watch German movement closely and wait for an opportunity. Gains are huge and annexation isn't problematic with quick advance into Southern France and amphibious attacks on ports in Algieria and Tunisia.

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