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. This promise was not fulfilled, causing Italian fury at a so-called "mutilated victory". Fascism under "Il Duce" Benito Mussolini rose to power on the pledge to restore Italy as an empire and successor to the Roman Empire, challenging the other major powers of Europe. Fascism has successfully rallied the Italian people to nationalism through its visions of Italian imperial grandeur.
Among other major powers Italy is the weakest as far as Leadership pool is concerned. It is also quite backward industrially and seriously deprived of colonial resources. In the hands of a skilled player however, Italy can expand rapidly carving a vast empire for itself, becoming a danger for even the biggest major powers. This requires a lot of careful planning to prevent interference from the western Allies, or indeed from German supremacy preventing expansion.
- 1 Technology
- 2 Diplomacy
- 3 Politics
- 4 Intelligence
- 5 Economy
- 6 Military
- 7 War
- 8 Gaming the System
- 9 See also
Italy should focus on gaining 10 internal spies set to counterintelligence to avoid the research penalties of having enemy spies in Italy. While at war with Ethiopia, allocating all leadership to officers will make the most of the service by requirement bonus only available during wartime. Besides this, focusing almost all its Leadership on research Italy can support up to 15 research projects at once. This means that Italy can afford researching everything it needs... but can't really afford to throw points into things that aren't compulsory.
- Industrial Production and Efficiency techs are many years behind compared to other major powers and should be researched immediately.
- Any upgrades to computing which increase research efficiency are a must, as are the education upgrades for additional leadership. Italy struggles to keep up to date with the other major powers in terms of research.
- 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 Italy's rapidly expanding industry.
- Coal processing / rare material techs may also be considered as Italy is by far one of the lowest tier nations in that category.
- Radar should be researched ASAP in 1939 in order to begin construction of a radar station before war with Britain breaks out.
- Infantry is quite modern but requires upgrades in desert and mountain equipment, as well as this Marines and Airborne troops are useful additions to allow you to project power in the Mediterranean.
- 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 it is possible to use Light Tanks only as they share upgrades with Mot/Mec infantry.
- Artillery 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. Keeping Anti tank techs up to date as well may be useful.
- Among Land Doctrines, first picks should be Infantry Warfare and Mass Assault for Infantry-based armies and Operational Level Organization allowing faster regrouping of armies and thus quicker attacks. If Italy plans to field tanks, Blitzkrieg, Schwehrpunkt and Mobile Warfare doctrines should be among its early priorities. Italy will generally not be able to focus on all land doctrines so should stick to either Grand Battle Plan or Spearhead doctrine (Grand Battle Plan should be researched in 1940 if the player follows the first path.)
- Italy's Battleships are very modern with all 1936 techs researched and their guns and engines are even researched ahead of time. This makes them a natural focus for Italy.
- 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 screening vessels. 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 attempt to produce Aircraft Carriers to replace its Battleships as the main capital vessel. This is a major development since no research in the area is complete in 1936. 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. Consideration should be made whether mobility and firepower of Carriers is worth the effort or not.
- Submarines should be avoided unless the Italy player wishes to neglect their navy entirely and focus on a land approach.
- Italy's air force is very modern and won't require further research until 1939.
- It is important to focus on fighters and primarily one type of bomber; for Italy the natural choice is on medium NAV and TAC bombers. If the player opts to use carriers, CAG/NAV approach should be used as they share various technologies.
- Air doctrines are outdated and will require upgrades to pilot training/ground crew and for the various missions the player plans to undertake (port strike/naval strike, runway cratering etc.)
The most obvious alliance route for Italy is to join the Axis. It is possible to join the Axis as soon as the civil war in Spain begins by aligning to the faction and trading with Germany. Alternatively it is possible for Italy to join the Allies; historically the German annexation of Austria was greatly damaging to German-Italian relations. An Italian Allied player will face the full onslaught of Germany in 1940 from both sides of Switzerland, and should abandon any naval development to focus solely on its land armies.
Germany will be very active influencing other countries to join the Axis so Italy doesn't have to be active in this area and should focus on research instead.
- Between January 1, 1939 and December 31st 1942 Italy can annex Albania provided neither of them is at war, they are not allied and Germany has already annexed Czechoslovakia. The 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 from Jan 1940 provided both countries are independent, not allied and not at 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.
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.
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:
- Conscription Laws: Service by Requirement is available.
- Economic Laws: Total Economic Mobilization is available.
- Educational Investment: Big Education Investment is typically a good choice.
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.
With a 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.
First of all, it's best to trade with European nations via land since Italian convoys will be in serious danger as soon as the war starts.
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.
If Italy wants to be a major player, its 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.
The primary weakness of the Italian armed forces is their military leadership pool. Unfortunately for the Italians, it doesn't get any better with time.
Playing Italy requires careful attention the military leadership pool, exposing high potential commanders (low Skill vs high Max Skill/traits) to combat in order to gain experience to level up. Thankfully Italy starts in 1936 at war with Ethopia and later there is a possibility to join Nationalist Spain for further experience.
Italians start the game (1936) with 138 available commanders in the pool. 37 of them are skill level 0. 83 of them have a Max Skill lower than 5.
High potential 1936 commanders include:
- Bitossi - Skill 2, Max Skill 6, 3 Traits - Logistics Wizard (LogWiz), Offensive Doctrine (OffDoc), Panzer Leader (PnzLdr)
- Zingales - Skill 2, Max Skill 5, 3 Traits - LogWiz, OffDoc, PnzLdr
- Carboni - Skil1 1, Max Skill 4, 3 Traits - OffDoc, PnzLdr, Commando (Cmdo)
- de Stefanis - Skill 1, Max Skill 4, 3 Traits - OffDoc, PnzLdr, Fortress Buster (FtrBst)
- Frattini - Skill 1, Max Skill 6, 2 Traits - Engineer (Eng), Cmdo
- Graziani - Skill 1, Max Skill 6, 2 Traits - LogWiz, OffDoc
- La Ferla - Skill 1, Max Skill 5, 2 Traits - LogWiz, OffDoc
- Ianchino - Skill 2, Max Skill 5, 2 Naval Traits - Spotter, Superior Tactician)
- Barbasetti di Prun - Skill 0, Max Skill 5, 2 Traits - LogWiz, PnzLdr
- Calvi di Bergolo - Skill 0, Max Skill 5, 2 Traits - OffDoc, PnzLdr
In terms of Max Skill, the Italians start in 1936 with 36 commanders with a Max Skill greater than 5, ten of those are Old Guard and five out of the 36 have an end date before 1942. The highest Max Skill commanders are Messe and Roatta, both Land commanders and with Max Skill 8, and thankfully are both available in 1936 (at Skill 4 and 2 respectively) for the remainder of the game.
There's hope though, at least a few skilled leaders will be trained in the coming war to lead army, navy and air forces 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.
- Organisation: The Italian armed forces require serious reorganization, the immediate priority at the beginning of the game is the entire reorganization of the Italian Command and Control Structure.
The state of the Italian forces at the beginning of the game is;
- most of the Italian Divisions are binary, and the force as a whole has large spans of control throughout.
- most Italian Corps control 1-2 Divisions
- most Armies control a single Corps
- Army Groups are lucky to have 2 Armies assigned.
- Tarabulus HQ is Italy's best organized force, while Commando Superiore is nothing but a disgrace.
Because the Italian Armed Forces have a small and inexperienced pool of commanders to draw from, the Italians can benefit from a min-max Command and Control Structure. Minimum HQs to Maximum Divisions. Assigning Divisions directly to Army HQ, leaving Corps HQs out until the inexperienced commanders can level up and using five Divisions per Army HQ.
Careful use of the Italy Military Leaders list for promoting or demoting Starred commanders, is recommended. It may helpful assigning Theatre and Army Group commands to commanders who have a relatively early end date (1940?), a "natural solution" to the problem of a chronic low-experience command pool.
Attention should be given to Division Composition, based upon player priorities and goals. For example, deciding on 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 may desire. Assigning generals with the Old Guard trait to the defensive force can be effective, as Italy will probably get very little use of that force for quite some time.
- Generals: In addition to the points listed above, the radical reshuffling of 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 operating 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, but they are significantly behind the power curve in other categories. For instance, 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 maneuvers. 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?
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.
As with all the Italian Armed Forces, the navy suffers from a chronic Command problem. 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.
Be aware that the Regia Marina looses some of its best admirals quite early on, Ghé (Max Skill 6) in 1941 and Cavagnari (Max Skill 7) in 1942.
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 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.
Italy start with a very solid and versatile air force and has nothing to be ashamed of compared to even the biggest major powers.
The air force is affected by the Command problem. There's only one 3-star commander here, Balbo (who is the second highest Skilled (3) Italian commander at the outset of the game), 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. Be aware that Pricolo (Max Skill 5) is scripted to end in 1941.
In January 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.
War with Ethiopia
The primary goal for Italy in its war with Ethiopia is to seize the capital, Addis Abbaba. Capturing Addis Abbaba will soon break Ethiopia's national unity, causing them to surrender. Italy will be given a choice to puppet or annex Ethiopia. Annexation is highly recommended as there is little to be gained from a puppet 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 Addis Abbaba only after the initial round of upgrades is finished in early Fall of 1936. Historically Ethiopia surrendered in May.
The Battle of France
Germany requires little help in forcing France to surrender. Moreover, even if you help in France and push towards Marseilles, Italy's gains will be marginal. It's a much better idea to take care of the Balkan and African fronts while Germany focuses upon France rather than help there and neglect other fronts. Following the historic route, mountain + alpini divisions should advance into France only after Germany has passed Sedan and approaches St Quentin/Dunkerque. A declaration of war before this point only puts Italy at risk.
Focus on attacking Marseilles using any mot/armour units available as it is accessible via some plains using the south-most route. At this point keep the Italian navy in port as France's navy is more than capable of sinking some of your most valuable ships! Focus on a land assault with air support for the time-being until France has surrendered.
North African Theatre
Intervention in North Africa is essential to reducing the power of the British Empire in the Mediterranean and opening up avenues to the east. This is best done after France surrenders so they don't meddle into your war and won't backstab your invasion force. The French navy is pretty sizable and may be a bit too much for an early Italian navy.
The strategic goals are gaining control of the Suez Canal, seizing Alexandria and pushing the British out of the Mediterranean and eventually taking their middle-eastern oil fields.
Step by step plan:
- Take Malta and Gibraltar using Marines and CAS/TAC support. The British almost never have more than GAR there but it may be tricky if their navy attacks Italian transports executing a naval invasion. See Mediterranean strategy.
- Use CAS and NAV to raid convoys going to Egypt. This will cut off British forces in Egypt from supplies and reinforcements.
- Ferry every single unit faster than 5mph 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 the TACs the British have stationed in the Middle East get too problematic.
- Militias in Ethiopia should be put into defensive stance preventing the British 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 off British forces from their supplies and provide supplies for the Italians.
- Fast unit offensive from Libya will quickly sweep all the in-land forces and push towards Red Sea, cutting British holdings in half.
- 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 the 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.
Controlling the Mediterranean Sea is a theatre of its own for Italy. The Med provides all of Italy's convoys, access to North Africa, the Black Sea and the Atlantic, and control of the Suez Canal greatly cutting off the supplies of the British Empire.
The Italian Navy, even with full attention and upgrades, will not be able to take on the British Navy by 1940. Therefore, it is important to rely upon air support from carrier air groups CAG or NAV bombers and to challenge Britain only when it is necessary to secure a landing/defend troops from reinforcements.
Naval supremacy relies upon these four rules:
- Rule 1: Keep Italian navies in port where they can remain fully repaired until needed. Do not chase the British navy in 1940.
- 2: All naval operations should take place within range of an airbase with NAV/CAG support set to "naval strike" that sea province.
- 3: All amphibious invasions should be backed up by the full capabilities of the navy and the appropriate air support.
- 4: Only when Italy has constructed at least two or three modern battleships and one or two carriers should you engage British navies aggressively (and even then using air support).
After the 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.
A decision is available in Jan 1940 to pursue war with Greece. It is better to secure Greece before you are at war with the Allies so that your navy is unchallenged. Greece is a great annexation target for the port of Athens alone, but it will also grant you access to the underbelly of Bulgaria and greater access to the Black Sea. There are three victory points: Athens, Thessalonika and Heraklion.
Athens and Thessalonika can be seized by a single motorised corps but mountain troops or armour will make the invasion a lot easier. Some mountainous terrain in the north will slow your advance without mountain infantry; a corridor exists on the West coast for faster units to steamroll Athens. A single marine division can capture Crete - ensure you land on an unoccupied province before the Greek army garrisoned there can intervene and then capturing it should be easy.
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.
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 Istanbul 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.
Since you can declare war on countries in the name of whole Axis, you can help the 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 that Germany annexes it. Likewise with Scandinavia. It's also good to declare war on Yunnan and Siam so that Japan can seize their lands and resources.
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. (In TFH if you join Axis this is now basically impossible as you have a truce with Vichy up to the point when they join the Axis officially)
|Major Powers||France · Germany · Italy · Japan · United Kingdom · United States of America · Soviet Union|
|Regional Powers||Argentina · Australia · Belgium · Brazil · Bulgaria · Czechoslovakia · Guangxi Clique · Hungary · Manchukuo · Nationalist China · Nationalist Spain · Netherlands · Poland · Republican Spain · Romania · Sweden · Turkey · Yugoslavia|
|Minor Powers||Austria · Canada · Chile · Colombia · Denmark · Finland · Greece · Ireland · Mexico · Norway · Peru · Portugal · Shanxi · South Africa · Switzerland|
|Micro Powers||Afghanistan · Albania · Bhutan · Bolivia · Communist China · Costa Rica · Cuba · Dominican Republic · Ecuador · El Salvador · Estonia · Ethiopia · Guatemala · Haiti · Honduras · Iraq · Latvia · Liberia · Lithuania · Luxembourg · Mongolia · Nepal · New Zealand · Nicaragua · Oman · Panama · Paraguay · Persia · Philippines · Saudi Arabia · Siam · Sinkiang · Tannu Tuva · Tibet · Uruguay · Venezuela · Xibei San Ma · Yemen · Yunnan|