Belgium

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Historical introduction

In 1936, the Kingdom of Belgium still controlled a part of Central-Africa roughly the size of Western Europe packed with natural wealth and cheap labor. Furthermore, the area's around Liège and Charleroi made Belgium into an industrial powerhouse, at least when one considers we're talking about a small nation. All in all, Belgium had quite a lot of influence in those days.

Translation into HOI

Belgium is slightly underpowered in HOI 2, as it's 30 ic don't actually reflect the industrial grandeur of the pre- WW2 era. However, we see some kind of compensation for what concerns the tech teams, which are quite strong. As with other colonies, the makers of the game have also taken some liberty as to the makeup of the Congo - awkward manpower and resource distribution and such.

A warning for the handyman - modding and this guide

This guide was written without using any mods, or without doing some tweaks by myself (think upping the manpower production for some provinces, adjusting some sliders, ...). Aslo, no free-slider mod was installed (so you'll actually have to make policy decisions). If you modded the files, you'll might want to use other tactics, obviously.


Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

1. Strong teach teams

You have few teach teams with a skill lower than five. As such, you average team skill is higher than that of nations like France and the Soviet Union. You also have a large number of teams, all with skills matching closely to the technologies you'll be needing (Belgium is especially strong in industrial technologies, and the "Union Minière"-team could even land you an A-bomb, given a spare slot). As a matter of fact, you have a decent tech team for almost any technology. You can literally go anywhere qua technology; your limitations will be in other fields.

2. A (relatively) high industrial capacity

You start with 30 base ic. That's not a bad deal for a minor power, you know: most have to make do with 20. If you weren't positioned in between France and Germany, you could have even called yourself an upper-minor power. And 30 is only ten away from the magical 40 - and a third research slot (which will pay dividends, as you are heavy on technology thanks to your strong teams).

3. A solid resource base

You have an incredibly wealthy colony to exploit, full of rare materials for the trading - minors seldom have that advantage (only Belgium and Holland, actually). It also means you can expand the industrial base without having to fear for shortages or trade away hard-earned supplies.

4. A large army to start with

Well, it's true: you start with a decent amount of (outdated) infantry divisions. But, as you're caught in between France and Germany, not to mention the combo democracy - dove - isolationist, you won't have any fun with them.

Weaknesses

1. Low manpower

This problem is typical for minor-powers, and especially hard on those which have a good ic base: you don't have the manpower to spend all that ic. This is a problem you can't really fix, as no national provinces can be added to the Kingdom. However, it also means you can afford to disband some "vanilla" units to create more exotic ones, like mechanized infantry. As such, your nation can make the jump to a small but high-tech army a-historically fast.

2. Awkward positioning

Tough luck - you're in between Germany and France. And because of the Maginot-line, the only way for those powers to meet in a land war is by going through your country. This means you'll have to pick sides, because you'll end up in the war sooner rather than later: the deadline usually is the first of may 1940 - that's when Germany invades. This also means, also taking into account how peace loving, democratic and isolationist you actually are, you won't be able to go out on any serious conquests. This will be a defensive game.

3. Policy

Democratic, Isolationist and Dove. Those aren't the best of slider settings. And since you won't be getting a lot of scripted events, these are not prone to change. You might, of course, get lucky and land some policy events, but those are random and usually come at a hight dissent cost. On the upside, you're only one step away from a totally Free Market, and you're not too Draft-prone either


Walkthroughs from 1936 onward

If you play Belgium, you can of course go a number of ways, and choices early on will determine where you'll end up. So heed this warning: play straight. You can't afford to change strategy half-way. Pick an objective, clearly defined, and don't stray. You can't afford to wait and see how things play out - remember the 1940 deadline.

The bastion of democracy

The first guide will detail a game wherein Belgium holds it ground in Europe, thus keeping France from falling, and in effect stopping the German war-machine before it even starts rolling.

Slow ride - 1936 through 1938

At first, you won't be doing a lot of fun things - I suggest getting a book to read through the waiting periods.

The first thing you do, is optimize your cabinet - put Hendrik De Man on armament and Philip van Isacker on Security. The added ic will compensate for the dissent. Next, optimize you leaders of the army: make 'm all Logistics Wizards. This will cut your supply consumption, allowing you to squeeze out extra ic for production.Use your policy point for this year to slide towards free market. Put about 15 ic on production (it should about work out). Now, start building factories - you'll want to produce 10 of them to gain a new research slot. For research, focus on industry first, infantry and land doctrine second.

As time progresses, you'll want to save and load a lot, avoiding things like 'major worker strike', a-historical events or negative policy slides because of foreign influence. It's gamey, but it's needed.

Hints: in 1939, you'll receive a new land-doctrine tech team. Hold of any 1938 research in that area until that time. Research the Advanced Construction Engineering before mid 1938 to speed up the fortress building later on.

Fortress Belgium

If you played it out well, you should have ten extra base ic by mid 1938. Now use all your newfound ic to build 10 land forts in Ghent, Antwerp, Liège (already has two) and Arlon. They will be completed one month befor the German invasion, if you are able to funnel enough ic into it. Also, put some of your extra ic into new infantry units. Spread out your armies over the before mentioned provinces.

What now?

If all the forts, and the infantry is in place, you'll be able to stop the German advance into Belgium and France. You'll lose Holland, though. From here on, a lot will depend on what the others do. France will be able to hold the line, but don't expect them to do a breakout. The UK is usually not too happy to donate troops for the land war in Europe, so you'll have to wait for a counter offensive until the US joins in on the fun.

As their armies will be tied down in Western Europe, the Germans will usually not attempt Barbarossa. The Russians, however, often attack Germany around 1942 if Barbarossa doesn't occur, so that'll be a major distraction for Germany - basically, It means Germany gets crushed between you, France and the Soviet Union. If you play the counter offensive carefully, you'll be able to grab a decent portion of Germany, along with France and the Soviet Union. You'll probably end up with a base ic of around 60 (you'll probably build some factories yourself too, as you don't have enough manpower to seriously expand your army as you wait behind your forts).

So this way, at the start of the Cold War, you'll have made the Kingdom of Belgium a medium player in Europe. It's not exactly the world, but...

What happens after that, however, is up to Stalin. If he tries anything, you can always withdraw behind your forts again.

Spare IC

As you might have noticed, Belgium (if not occupied after 1940) usually has a lot of ic and no manpower to spend it on. You can invest this in either more ic (why not a fourth research slot?), or in expensive military hardware with a low manpower demand: planes, a fleet, tanks, ... But these are more of a fancy luxury than actually useful, as you'll spend most your time behind concrete walls. If you're really desperate, go ahead and build a nuclear reactor - Union Minière is capable of doing about half of all research in that area with ease.

A fascist henchman

Coming soon!

Dietsland

This one is pretty straightforward: invade, occupy and annex the Netherlands. It goes without say you could just as well turn this around and make Holland annex Belgium (the former was more likely after WWI though, so I'll be describing that scenario). Either one would be equally historically possible.

Policies

You can't invade another country if you're a democracy. You'll have to put as much effort as possible in going dictatorship, preferably right-leaning. This will be hard without some lucky policy-events, but it can be done without them. Just make a move towards "authoritarian" with every slider-point you get. If you get events, choose those that make you more right-leaning and authoritarian. If you want to become a leftist dictatorship, you'd best wait 'till the first elections (put your starting slider-point in "free-market"), then vote "left" and start moving "authoritarian" from there. The sooner you become a dictatorship, the better. Time is of the essence.

Production

You of course have to keep a decent army if you want to defeat the Dutch, but don't waste too much ic on it: Holland has an awfully puny army, even for a minor. Their focus is on a strong navy, but their land army (and research teams that go with it) is simply awful. If you just upgrade your starting units, you'll be well upon your way to winning the war for the Low Countries. Also, resist the temptation of building a navy; you'll be relying on others for that.

Building ic is somehow what optional here, as you'll get those extra 10 ic for the third teach-team slot from conquest. Note that you'll still be needing between three and five homemade ic, though. And don't put them in the Congo if you go Axis.

Whether you'll be building forts, is a matter of who you'll be siding with. If you go Allies, this'll be mandatory. However, chances are you won't manage building enough forts in time: you have a war to think about, remember? Also, you'll have to beat Holland before the Germans invade Poland, as you'll be in the Allies while conquering Holland. This means you'll have less time to build up your defenses (as you shouldn't count on France beating Germany as it is occupied with Poland). See the "Gameplay" section for this.

Gameplay

You'll be doing some creative diplomacy here, which shouldn't be a problem: for a minor power, you're relatively good at generating wealth (especially when taking into account you'll be working down a lot of dissent from your policy-events and DoW).

First of, become a dictatorship and build some transports. Once that is done, invade and occupy the Dutch mainland. This won't be too hard, their ground army is weak. The only possible problem is the Germans defending Holland, so make sure you're close with them: influence Germany until the relation is 200+. do the same with the Allies too.

After that, you'll notice you won't be able to annex Holland yet; they have some oversea colonies. To get them, you'll have to join the Allies (which will work even if you are a dictatorship). As soon as you join the Allies, load some of your troops in the transports and sail off to the enemy colonies (Indonesia etc.). Your newfound Allies will probably grab some land too, but the oversea areas aren't your primary concern (if you go Axis, you'll even lose them). The Allis will also deal with any Dutch fleets; now how nice is that? After grabbing all their land, simply annex them.

Now, you leave the alliance. Just like that! This, you'll do either because you want more time to build up defenses in Europe, or because you'll be joining the Axis. This is why you'll want to wrap up the dutch before 1939. If you go Allies, follow the "Bastion of Democracy" from here (but with a bigger empire) - but do remember you might not be able to do this because of having to little time/ic to build up your defenses, not to mention a longer border with Germany.

If you play Axis, you join Germany just before they invade you (so the Germans will rush through your country to France, in stead of the French going towards Germany and crushing you on the way). Now, you might try to grab northern France (historically a part of Belgium's forerunners in the medieval times), making your European base larger. However, you will lose Congo and the Dutch colonies (Japan might take Indonesia back if it turns Axis, but that's a different story), so you'll have terrible resource shortages (just like all other Axis players). From here, you'll play an Axis support game, probably spending most your time getting annihilated by the Soviets. Or maybe not; Belgium should be a powerful ally for Germany at this point (thirty fully upgraded divisions, possibly some armor and aircraft, great research team, ...; stronger than the typical Central and Eastern European Axis at any length) and might just tip the balance in Germany's favor.

Le Congo

This isn't so much a guide as it is a simple suggestion, since there really isn't much to tell about this one. In short, the aim here would be to transfer you base of operations from Western-Europe to the Congo.

Policies

You're free to go as you please for what concerns policy and ministers, although you will get the optimum effect when following the "Bastion of Democracy" road. Also, it goes without say that you should avoid siding with the Axis since you'd be surrounded by enemies, cut-off from Europe and usually outnumbered. Of course, if you're a tactical genius, you could always try to conquer the whole of Africa with 20 divisions. Are you feeling lucky? I'd advise against it, though, as the infrastructure is simply to low for any fancy tricks; the side who has the most divisions usually wins in this slow, grinding war of attrition.

Production

Depending on what side you'll be going for, you'll need to focus entirely on moving you industrial base to the Congo (building factories, and possibly infrastructure) or balance factory-building with keeping up a decent army (if you're going Axis).

If you decide to play along with the Allies, disband all of your units when you start. They only eat away your supplies (and thus ic), and they will automatically be destroyed as soon as the "Belgian Capitulation" event triggers. Any army you'll be using after 1940 will be one you built from the ground, in the Congo. Also note that keeping your units alive to stall the German advance in Europe is not a good idea, since that means you'll have fewer manpower to use on your new army. The goal for ic in Congo should be about 20, never less (as you'll lose a research slot). What you'll be building after the capitulation (playing an Allies-support game in Africa) is entirely up to you. Keep in mind that you'll be short on research slots and ic, though.

If you go Axis, ship all your units to Africa, then build ic there. You'll be building a bit less ic in Africa because your units will need supplies, which take up ic you'd otherwise use for building more ic. If you're wondering why you'd want ic in Africa (if you go Axis, you get to keep your provinces in Europe), it's because you'll need to provide your troops there with supplies. As the Allies usually control the seas, any supplies will have to be produced locally. Also keep in mind that any resources to keep the factories running will have to come from Africa as well (this might mean you'll be making a push for the energy-rich south Africa early in the war).

Gameplay

Boring as hell if you go Allies: you'll play a support role in Africa, and you wont be reaping any serious rewards. Not much to say here, really.

If you play Axis, you'll be in for an impossible assignment. Literally impossible. Your pain strategic objectives will be getting a hold of South Africa's energy to the south, and linking up with the Italians to the north. The main problems for this are a lack of infrastructure, which rules out any swift victory, and the arrival of the British. Remember, you lack serious manpower; you'll have 30 devisions tops. This is simply not enough to guard the coasts, make a push south, defend the border to the north and defeat the British Empire and all of it's minions. One positive aspect, though: France usually isn't that big a problem, as they get their ass handed to them by Germany (and thus focus their attention on Europe, as opposed to the British). The only way this can succeed is if it is coordinated with a strong Germany that controls the seas and keeps Britain occupied by executing operation Sea Lion. Feeling lucky?