I love this game!! As I’ve mentioned before, I am an old bureaucrat with more than 30 years in federal civil service in the Executive Branch, another 10 years of full time consulting to federal agencies, and still serving as an occasional part-time consultant to federal agencies. I’ve enjoyed every day of a long career in federal service involved in the inner workings of government and the high and low politics that drive government activities and actions. Churchill, the game, captures the flavor of these governmental activities in the historical context of World War II, and as such, is now perched right at the top of my all-time favorite game list!
A few months ago I reported on a series of Training Scenario three-conference games against the Bots, and provided a set of Variant Bots for enhanced solo play with minor Bot tweaking toward the board state and end-game situation of the Training Scenario. Recently I had a chance to play a game using the Variant Bots and again I played as Stalin against Churchill and Roosevelt. One of the minor adjustments for the Variant Bots was to open up more Leader play on the Global issue by allowing the Bot Leaders to pull Global from an opponent chair back to the center to keep the issue in play, rather than freezing the issue in an opponent chair when the Bot Leader could not advance the issue onto its track.
With this new feature in mind, I expected a wild shootout with Global issues in play and Leaders firing back and forth on the issue! Well, as in all politics, you don’t always find what you expect! And therein lies the excitement of real politics and the Churchill game, you know generally what you want to achieve and how you plan to do it, but every situation is new and fraught with peril, the twists and turns require the ultimate in adaptation and adjustment on the fly to capitalize on changing circumstances! So this game report will be how it played out with the Variant Bots, and I hope you find the narrative from Chairman Stalin’s point of view an enjoyable excursion in alternate history.
Well, the Allies have joined me here in Moscow for what I hope will prove to be a very effective conference, code named Tolstoy in honor of a great Russian, no doubt an attempt to appeal to my good graces, but having none, I just smiled at the name, and planned my attempt to take the initiative from the westerners. My central committee staff provided me a summary paper labeled “C,” and it seems that Roosevelt will be unable to attend and also Churchill will not be able to fully engage in his usual irresistible style, but they will be able to influence debates, so their presence will be felt to some degree. Also, the intelligence portion of the summary indicates that the latest convoy to Murmansk has successfully arrived and that Churchill has been induced to send resources to Burma, probably against his better judgment. NKVD in a separate report on partisan activities indicates that there was turmoil among the various clandestine networks, but overall there was no effect on the current state of our underground activities.
The status of the military fronts has placed me in a precarious position, with both the West Front and my East Front two areas from victory in Germany, and with the West in a very advantageous position for a potential breakthrough from the Rhineland before I can marshal sufficient resources to fight my way in from Prussia through East Germany. I am inclined to completely surprise my “allies” and abandon the effort in Germany while putting all my resources into conquering Asia first and use the strength of my position there to negotiate a better post-war position in Europe. The Global positions are frozen at the moment and that will provide me a short opportunity to focus on military advances before engaging in the final Political-Military shootout that I expect with Churchill and Roosevelt.
Another curious thing about the fronts is that the wily Churchill has seduced Roosevelt into supporting his Mediterranean first strategy at the expense of our three-way alliance and has dragged Roosevelt all the way into Rome! Another curious thing, my spies have provided me with information that Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s staffs have apparently cooked up some sort of statistical mumbo-jumbo about how to assess the attainment of national objectives taking various Political-Military alignments and military front locations into account. I like the more direct approach: this is what I want, and now I have it, so I win … accounting is for accountants, but if they want to use it, I’ll at least spy on it and see what they think they know from it … I find this all very strange, and speaking of strange, they even have a “strange” statistical accountant assigned to the US Pacific Air Force in China, a certain Lieutenant Colonel Robert McNamara, he is definitely strange, even named Strange! As in Robert Strange McNamara … why anyone would name someone strange is, well, strange to me, especially when they could have given him a real name like Tolstoy, I’ll never understand these westerners, but then I don’t need to fully understand them, just exploit their weaknesses to my advantage.
Back to the statistical assessment, the westerners have UK at 23, largely on the strength of Churchill’s Pol-Mil alignments plus his position in Italy and still holding out one colony from Roosevelt’s foray into the Asian colonies, while the US lags in returning to the Philippines. I am apparently at 22, again benefitting from my limited Pol-Mil initiatives to date, the US lag in the Philippines along with the slow pace of Atomic research that I’m not supposed to know anything about, but actually I’m better informed than even Mr. Truman, the US Vice Presidential candidate! Roosevelt is tagging along behind at 16, based almost entirely on his foray into disrupting Asian colonialism, no doubt causing internal friction between the westerners as Churchill is an old Victorian to the core and unwilling to cede an inch of empire, his own or any others.
As I align my array of available staff members for the conference, I am now certain that I will surprise my allies and go Asia First! I have seven staff and not one, not even a single one, is talented on arguing for the East Front, so it is unlikely that I will be able to align sufficient resources to contest a likely western breakthrough into Germany. My staff for this conference includes: Merkulov (1), Malenkov (1), Kaganovich (2), Shaposhnikov (4), Kulik (4), Voroshilov (5), and Zhukov (*). Not one East Front specialist! The western statisticians have rated my various staff members and I have included the western assessment of their abilities. My assessment is that they do their job or they are shot, I have dozens more where they came from …
I don’t yet know who the westerners have brought with them, but I have several very strong staff members that I am going to use in the intense conference deliberations, so I’m going to throw Merkulov into the agenda setting arguments, also Merkulov has a propensity for undermining his fellow staffers and using his influence among the security forces to send his fellows to the Gulag, so I’ll be killing two birds with one stone here, getting Merkulov out of action early and avoiding losing another member.
The westerners now reveal their agenda strategies and it appears that both will be following my lead not using their strongest members for the agenda deliberations, but going instead for the second tier. There is only one second tier for Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook, and only one as well for Roosevelt, Mr. Morganthau. As always the British are well rehearsed with their arguments and apply this superior capability against the normally more capable Morganthau, so it is a virtual tie between him and Beaverbrook. I’m keeping my powder dry for now and not wading into this little fracas, and Roosevelt’s strong views are made known, settling the agenda in favor of the Americans, who promptly begin squabbling among themselves over whose prime issue will be picked first! I’ll never understand these democracies … what I want is what I get, and no one dares disagree with me … anyway it appears that Hopkins wants Strategic Materials on the table, and Stimson wants to play to his strength with a Political-Military issue. After a few minutes of heated discussion and a short recess, where I think I saw the two engage in some sort of Rock-Paper-Scissors game, they came back to the table with the decision to place the Pol-Mil 1/3 issue on the US3 space based on their perceived difference in strength between Morganthau at 4 compared to my Merkulov at 1. One good thing for me is that with Morganthau shooting his bolt on the agenda win, he won’t be using his Global issue expertise to bring that issue to the table or capture it if the British bring it. I want to hold off as long as I can on Global issues so that I can accomplish my military objectives while keeping Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s political ambitions in check.
With the first issue on the table, it was now the British turn to select two issues, and it appears Cripps as the strongest member will place UK Production on the table. It never ceases to amaze me that these democracies put their own issues on the table, where I can take advantage of them, but it does provide them the self satisfaction of dangling the bait and then perhaps winning their own issue so that they can declare that they “won” the conference. These bureaucrats are all the same, they would rather win a petty argument and declare personal victory than win the war! At least my bureaucrats know how to play the game, I tell them what I want and then they do it, no argument over the argument …
Selecting the second British issue isn’t unfolding like clockwork, the way they usually do, must be because Churchill isn’t fully engaged … it appears that three of the staffers are about equally weighted on their prime issues, “C” and his nefarious underlings going for Pol-Mil, Pound all in on Strategic Materials, and Cunningham carrying the water for Montgomery and trying to seize European Leadership from Roosevelt. Another brief recess for the three to settle their differences, and it’s Cunningham’s European Leadership that takes center stage.
I am fully prepared with no dissention among my staff, and to the utter shock of the assembly I place USSR Declares War on Japan right out there! Roosevelt has been badgering me relentlessly to get into the Pacific war, and I have been resisted with equal vigor, but now my interests have changed, and I’m going to try to force the issue against these opposing ankle-biting staffers. I also quickly place the UK Directed Offensive on the table, because Churchill is my main enemy in Europe and I need to suppress his ebullience every chance I get, plus I want to encourage Roosevelt to divert his normal Lend-Lease aid that finances Churchill’s production resources to me instead for the offensive into Manchuria.
With my issues on the table, the US staffers now place their two and Hopkins holds sway at this stage placing Strategic Materials in the center. There appears to be a minor dispute between Hoover and Wickard, quickly resolved in favor of Hoover placing a second Pol-Mil issue, 2/2, on the table and keeping US Production out of conference and away from my grasping clutches. It’s interesting that the westerners went in for Pol-Mil, but with no one in the issue selecting deliberation that could put the Global issue on the table, leaving all the Political Alignment potential for a later conference. Clandestine networks are one of my specialties, as I have them entrenched everywhere including the so-called “impenetrable” Manhattan Project, and even among these western staff offices where the statistics are computed.
With the agenda settled, we break for lunch where I enjoy some minor entertainment using my typically blunt style to provoke the polite conversationalists into topics they would rather not explore!
Resuming the deliberations after lunch, the Americans who set the agenda phase, defer to the British to begin the discussion of the first issue. It appears that Cripps will hold off on UK Production until later leaving the more or less equal trio of “C,” Pound, and Cunningham to pick up where they left off on picking agenda items to discuss among themselves which issue to advance using their particular strengths. They appear to be better rehearsed after the break for lunch, and they quickly resolve for Cunningham to rise in favor of advancing the European Leadership issue well along the UK track to their 4 space.
I chose not to debate this issue because I have other plans for obtaining allied resources for my offensive, and without the Global issue nor the Atomic Research issue on the table, the Americans will be focusing on advancing issues rather than debating, so the British move stands without opposition.
Wasting no time, I have the very strong Voroshilov rise with my full confidence to advance the UK Directed Offensive to the Soviet6 space where it is almost unassailable.
The Americans have two equally strong members Stimson and Hopkins and will save one of them for last with the other becoming the next strongest now and playing their opening issue. Whether by prearrangement or some sort of handshake, Hopkins goes first and with considerable oratorical skill, no doubt finely honed through his long personal friendship with the president, advances the Strategic Materials issue to the US6 space, deep in their clutches, and a clear signal that they are looking out more for their own interests rather than sharing the wealth that would accrue to all of us by leaving the issue in the center at the end of the conference. I had allowed the two offensives of the European Leadership issue slip into the British sphere, but I may need the Strategic Materials resources, and I can’t let it stay so close to Roosevelt’s chair, even if FDR himself isn’t sitting in it. My man Malenkov is normally considered a back-bencher among the snobbish elite of the British and American statistical rating “bureaus,” but he has great depth of knowledge and skill in debating the British and Americans on this topic, so I point to him and he rises in opposition of Hopkins’ advance. Malenkov exceeded even my expectations and through his careful exposition of the facts and his debating skill, along with the natural inclination and weakness of the westerners to demure when we debate them, Malenkov moved the issue all the way from the US6 space almost to the center in the US1 space, well within our reach for later in the conference.
The British trio is now down to “C” and Admiral Pound, and at this stage, the decision is quickly resolved. Pound rises to reengage on Strategic Materials, a topic of some expertise to him, and makes his points deliberately and without fanfare moving the issue from the US1 space to the UK3 space. Pound is reported to be unhealthy, but even though flushed from his exertions, he calmly takes his seat and appears none the worse for wear.
Having debated I want to keep staffers for later in the conference so I pass my turn, and look to the Americans for the next discussion. Stimson is now the senior man with Hopkins finished in his stint, so the next strongest member is Hoover, who rises to bring another Pol-Mil issue to the US side of the table. Hoover presents a reasonably well argued case for the US to have a second Pol-Mil issue and the 2/2 marker is moved to the US4 space.
There is no debate, the British trio is now “C” who quickly makes an unassailable case to advance the Pol-Mil 1/3 issue from the US3 space to the UK1 space.
With no debate, I am up next, and give the nod to Zhukov. It’s always uncertain how Z will perform in these settings, but this time he is in fine form, and with his knowledge of military logistics he applies this expertise to frame an exemplary argument that moves the UK Production issue from the center all the way to my Soviet6 space.
The Americans are reaching deeper into their back bench and it is becoming apparent that they had a fairly weak hand for this conference, providing me a small window of opportunity. The Americans must choose between Biddle or Wickard for the next discussion and neither of them have particular expertise in this conference with Wickard’s specialty in US Production left behind in selecting issues for the agenda. The American select Biddle and he rises with a choice of issues to argue. Given the reach of his performance, he can try for Strategic Materials where he can center the issue for US benefit (and the rest of us as well), Pol-Mil 1/3, or USSR Declares War. Hopefully Mr. Roosevelt has issued strict instructions to avoid my issue, but Biddle seems to be leaning toward it when he abruptly decides that he will be more effective on the Pol-Mil issue. Biddle makes a modest but sufficient argument to move Pol-Mil 1/3 from the UK1 space to the US2 space.
The British also appear to have a somewhat weak hand, and the normally strong Atlee is hindered by his political opponent Churchill still being active in the conference. Two issues within his reach not already on the UK track are the just-moved Pol-Mil 1/3 and my USSR Declares War issue. Atlee looks back and forth between the issue papers on the table, but in the end he seems bent on raising my ire so he selects my USSR Declares War issue advancing it from the center to the UK3 space. Although I am exceedingly angry and no doubt turned somewhat purple, or perhaps merely reddish with rage, I try to remain calm, knowing I have an ace up my sleeve. With the issue on an opponent’s track, no one will deliberately seek this issue again, and only randomly move it toward the center until I can make a big play at the end to hopefully advance it to the center and put my Asia strategy into play.
I’m up again, and I think it is time to make another move on Strategic Materials. At this stage of the war with the eminent surrender of Germany in the offing, it would seem that we would be debating major war issues, but the staffers came prepared for this conference more aligned with production and materials rather than directed offensives and global arguments. Oh well, politics is not necessarily what you think you should do, but sometimes it boils down to making the best you can with the hand you are dealt. With that in mind, I point to Kaganovich, normally not a strong personality in these kinds of arguments, but he has my confidence, and does a workman-like job of moving Strategic Materials from the UK3 space to the center where we will all benefit equally.
The US delegation now nominates Wickard to show their true colors as they unwind allied unity and seize the Strategic Material for their sole utilization. Wickard moves the issue from the center to the US3 space.
I am incensed by this lack of solidarity and immediately turn my glare to Shaposhnikov, who like Zhukov is skilled in military logistics, and knows instinctively what to do as he rises to debate the precipitous American argument. With Shaposhnikov’s inherent strength and our notorious debating skill, he succeeds in moving the issue from US3 to Soviet2. I am very pleased with this move now because we will need this production resource to replace the UK Production issue that we are likely to lose when Cripps rises at the end to snatch the production issue from our grasp.
Brooke now rises for the British and he is always an uncertain quantity like Zhukov, but again he demonstrates strength in this situation, and Pol-Mil 1/3 and 2/2 along with the just moved Strategic Materials are all within his reach. The British ask for a short recess and when they return, they have selected Pol-Mil 1/3 for this round, with Brooke moving it from the US2 space to the UK3 space.
I am much relieved that Strategic Materials was left alone for a change, and wishing to stay in the rotation to the last play having debated with Shaposhnikov, I pass and look to the Americans for the next move.
The Americans are down to Stimson and Leahy, and are saving Stimson for last. Leahy has no issues in his specialties within reach of his capabilities, and can advance no issues onto the US track, so he merely moves the Strategic Materials issue from Soviet2 to Soviet1.
Cripps now rises for the last British play, and eloquently speaks on behalf of advancing the UK Production issue from Soviet6 all the way back to the center. With only Kulik remaining I cede this move to the British having captured the Strategic Materials production resource to replace the UK Production that I just lost.
I am now up for my last play, and I point to Kulik who rises and speaks forcefully on advancing my USSR Declares War issue from the UK3 space to the center where my declaration of war against Japan will come into effect and my Asia strategy can play out.
As winners of the Agenda, the Americans go last and Stimson rises to argue the case for advancing Pol-Mil 1/3 from the UK3 space to the US3 space.
This certainly proved to be an arduous conference and I could not have imagined that there would be so much give and take on the Strategic Materials issue, an issue that normally resides ignored in the center of the table to the mutual benefit of all, not so this time indicating the general weakness of the staff members brought to the conference and the particular skill sets of those members. I brought the big war issue, UK Directed Offensive to my track early and it stayed where I put it to resource my Asia strategy.
The Americans took both Pol-Mil issues, and the British took only the European Leadership issue, with USSR Declares War and UK Production remaining in the center at the end.
It seems we have a tie between me and the Americans and the statisticians want a final tally, so I weigh in first to break the tie in my favor. Roosevelt had already broken the Agenda phase tie, and I don’t know if Churchill would have given the nod to me or to Roosevelt, most likely Roosevelt, so I preempted the argument by boldly settling it first as is my prerogative, and I was so pleased with it all that I had my staff pose for a group photo arranged in speaking order in the conference.
With the wrap-up administrative details out of the way, the military sub-committees are now busily determining the resource allocations to implement conference decisions and also assessing intelligence reports on the allocation of enemy reserve forces to reinforce the various fronts. While planning for the major fronts, covert Political-Military action is proceeding behind closed doors.
With the Global issue out of play, and having won two Pol-Mil issues, Roosevelt’s OSS will only have one production funding for the 1/3 issue, along with OSS’ one network, and have four Clandestine Networks to put in behind the lines. The one Political Alignment for the various governments in exile they are promoting cannot be resourced yet and will be lost now. They will have to wait until a Global issue paves the way toward further expansion of the ink blots. This limitation plays well into my strategy of resolving the military action before getting heavy into the Pol-Mil shootout, because I’m disadvantaged in that game compared to the wily Churchill and the energetic Americans who seem to swarm everywhere all at once. Avoiding one Political Alignment marker going on the map for Roosevelt is a win for me at this stage!
Even though everyone thinks these Clandestine Networks actions are highly secretive, I have enough spies everywhere to have a general sense of the state of play. The US OSS took advantage of areas previously ignored and placed networks in Malaya, pushing Churchill completely out of the Asian colonies, and also in Denmark. They then raised my ire by attacking and eliminating my network in Austria and following that by placing one of their own. I was very annoyed and mentioned it personally to Harriman, and he shuffled his words carefully trying to invoke some random mumbo-jumbo statistical methods in an attempt to divert me off the track, but I will seek vengeance when I can for this foray into my sphere of influence.
As expected, Churchill was inflamed and bit the end off of his cigar at being frozen out of Asia by his personal friend, and used his single MI6 resource to eliminate the new OSS network in Vietnam. Why he chose Vietnam for France over his own Malaya is a mystery to me, perhaps he has been captured by statisticians too. I could easily now take revenge on the US Austrian network and liquidate them, but I need to establish my presence in Asia and also would like to tweak Churchill’s nose, so I make a play into the now easily accessible Vietnam. It seems there are many people there with a Communist bent, so I’ll keep the NKVD close to them and see how that develops into the long future.
While all this backdoor, dark of night, action was proceeding, the military subcommittees completed their planning work, convoys and the wheels of logistics rolled into action, and the fronts turned strategic decisions into operational plans and attacked on all fronts.
The major action in Europe would be whether the West Front could break through into Germany. According to intelligence reports the Germans had six reserve armies and they always put one of those against me, then they split two one each to the West and the East. Then their statisticians came into play and for reasons that still mystify me, they sent two more reserves against me and only one against Eisenhower.
The West Front faced only two reserve armies, and their logistics train built up an impressive array of resources to advance the front. Eisenhower placed his Theater Command Offensive Support, the UK general staff provided their two Offensive Support from the European Leadership issue as they prepare to ease Eisenhower upstairs and replace him with Montgomery, the UK production board applied their one available production OS that was saved at the last moment in conference by Cripps, the US production board applied four production OS from the Arsenal of Democracy, a total of eight OS completely overwhelming the two German reserves and when combined with the Front a statistical score of 14! This total is more than enough to assure an advance on a broad front with the prospect of overmatching a segment of the defensive line for a breakthrough. The well supported army groups pushed hard and Patton’s Third Army penetrated deeply in the south and Montgomery pushed hard in the north for a breakthrough into Germany and total surrender! The westerners were expectedly ecstatic at forcing a German surrender and also freezing me out of a share of the pie as I had no chance of advancing out of Prussia. After the battles, the statisticians estimated that the armies performed at a very high breakthrough level of 90% combined with the 40% overmatch from the advancement statistical score putting the western allied forces well over the top in breakthrough power. While I was not happy, I had seen the hand writing on the wall, especially after looking over my array of staff members for the conference, and had decided on an admittedly unorthodox Asia First strategy that may prove more successful given the circumstances that exist now. Politics is all situational and this situation calls for an adaptive approach. I may be able to leverage an Asian position to get back into Germany for the post-war power struggle, time will tell, meanwhile on to the Eastern Front.
In the East with four reserve armies against me, and with my Asia First strategy my production resources going to Manchuria, the Eastern Front was unable to advance against the depth of reserves.
In Churchill’s pet project, the Mediterranean Theater faced no reserve armies and with all production and theater resources going to the Western Front breakthrough, they had a small chance of successfully advancing, estimated by the statisticians at 20%. After the big push in the Italian boot, the statisticians estimated that allied forces had missed an advance by a mere 10%, and remained stalled in central Italy.
Turning now to the Pacific, I’ll save the best for last! The Central Pacific Front received no resources at all and one of the Japanese reserve armies was sent to hold them in check to prevent a further advance within closer B-29 bomber range. With no support, Nimitz’ forces remained stalled in the Marianas Islands but still within B-29 range.
As revealed in the Conference staff summary paper, Churchill had previously agreed to provide a production resource to support the CBI theater, and honoring his commitment one Offensive Support was provided to bolster the British, Chinese, and American forces in that theater. With this support the statisticians estimated the chances of a successful advance at 40%, and the after action summary showed that the forces performed within that range. Stilwell and the Chinese took Myitkyina in the north and Slim’s 14th Army pushed the Japanese all the way beyond Rangoon to complete the advance into Burma. As an aside, I’m not sure why the British have stashed their best general way out there in the jungle … Slim is undoubtedly a rare general whose military acumen exceeds his ego, and they would have been better served by having Slim on the Western Front, but still, the British have prevailed on the Western Front with ego exceeding acumen, thanks largely to the American general staff whose egos remain in check, well except for the exuberant Patton whose outsized ego is well matched by his military acumen, the rarest of all among generals, and admirals too I should add. In my army when ego exceeds acumen, the solution is simple, “adjustments” are made. Sometimes I make adjustments anyway, generals are as they say in America, a dime a dozen here in Russia.
In the Southwest Pacific, Roosevelt has made a political commitment to return to the Philippines at the behest of his senior egoist, oops I mean General MacArthur, and as revealed in the intelligence section of the Conference summary paper, the Japanese deployed one of their reserve armies and sortied their fleet to oppose the planned American amphibious invasion. The one remaining US production resource provided one naval build-up that countered the losses from the Japanese fleet and the Theater Command Offensive Support neutralized the Japanese reserve army. The statisticians determined that MacArthur’s army forces had only a 20% chance of successfully advancing and the after action assessment determined that the performance was 30% deficient. MacArthur remained stalled in New Guinea, but at least the American fleet thoroughly defeated the Japanese fleet and the Japanese now have only one reserve fleet to throw into the final battle for the Pacific.
Now for Manchuria! The Murmansk convoy production along with my meager three production provided four Offensive Support, two UK production from the UK Directed Offensive provided two OS, and the Strategic Material production provided one more OS, for a total of seven against the two Japanese army reserves that are always sent against me. With five OS and the Far Eastern Front’s strength I have more than enough force to advance, but I failed to breakthrough. The statisticians determined from the after action reports that I had a 12 advancement score that sealed the advance and provided 20% toward a breakthrough. Breakthrough performance was determined to be only 30% and when combined with the 20% my Far Eastern Front fell well short of the mark. I’ll send Beria out there to “look into things.”
I’m well pleased that I successfully declared war on Japan and have advanced into Manchuria, although I’m disappointed that the army failed to break through. One Japanese army reserve was eliminated and I am now well positioned to advance to Korea in the coming months, and perhaps even into Japan to gain leverage on sharing in the occupation of Germany.
As these events played out, planning began for the next conference, at Yalta this time, and my spies report that the western statisticians have analyzed the “national interest index” and determined that the alignment is: UK at 28, with the victory against Germany, the strength of Churchill’s Pol-Mil alignments, plus his position in central Italy, while the US lags in returning to the Philippines. I am apparently at 27, gaining national interest stature from the western perception that I won the Moscow conference deliberations, and again benefitting from my limited Pol-Mil initiatives to date, the US lag in the Philippines along with the continued slow pace of Atomic research. Roosevelt is still tagging along at the end at 25, but surging with the victory against Germany and closing the gap on Churchill with Asian colonies now dominated by Roosevelt and me.
My central committee staff working very diligently behind the scenes provided me a summary paper labeled “B,” and it seems that Roosevelt is in poor health and unable to attend again, and also Churchill will not be able to fully engage again, as before in Moscow they will be able to influence debates, so their presence will be felt. Roosevelt is insistent on increased pressure in the Far Eastern to ease pressure in the Pacific islands against his forces so my Directed Offensive will be placed on the table for deliberation. Also, the intelligence portion of the summary indicates that the Japanese are again sending a reserve army to the Philippines to prevent MacArthur’s return. NKVD in their separate intelligence report indicates that there was turmoil among the aspiring governments in exile, but overall there was no effect on the current state of our political alignments.
As I align my array of available staff members for the conference, I am pleased to find that I will have a very strong hand in playing against the westerners. My staff for this conference, with their western statistical ratings, includes: Malenkov (1), Zhdanov (2), Vasilevsky (4), Kulik (4), Molotov (5), Voroshilov (5), and Budyonny (5). A strong hand indeed, and depending on the strength of the western staffs, I may have a good chance of “winning” another conference!
As before, I don’t yet know who the westerners have brought with them, but I’m going to nominate Budyonny for the Agenda deliberations. Budyonny seems intimidated by me in conference, but he is strong in the back room agenda arguments, so I’m sending him in to hammer the table for me.
The westerners now reveal their agenda strategies and it appears that both will be saving their strongest staffers for the deliberations! The British have decided to go to the bottom tier, and apparently have a choice between Wilson and Cunningham, and through some no doubt statistical process decided on Wilson to go up against my Budyonny. This is good for me, and it takes away the possibility of the British putting the Atomic Research issue on the table. The Americans again go toward the second tier and the only staff member in that tier is again Mr. Morganthau! Once again the Americans will not be offering the Global issue for deliberation!
So there we are, Budyonny outmatches Morganthau and Wilson, and I win the Agenda segment! Comparing Budyonny with Wilson including the superlative British preparation of even a lower tier member, I have a two space advantage in selecting the first issue for the conference. With my plans for the Far Eastern front, I select the US Directed Offensive and give a nod to the Americans in thanks for Roosevelt insisting on putting my DO on the table as a condition of the conference …
The Americans select next and are more organized this time, immediately selecting Pol-Mil 1/3 and 2/2 based on the strength of Hull and Stimson. The British are uncharacteristically in turmoil with four equal members arguing for their specialty issue. After a rather too long recess that I’m more than sure now involved some sort of statistical processes, they come back to the table and nominate European Leadership again on the strength of Cunningham’s arguments and Pol-Mil 1/2 promoted by the irrepressible “C.” The European Leadership issue nomination is curious since the war is over in Europe, but it makes some sense in that the British no doubt wish to lead the administration of the occupation as the senior European partner between the two westerners, plus in their statistical analysis, playing an issue to their strength may help them win the national interest assessment if they think they have “won” the conference once the deliberations here in Yalta have concluded. I’m beginning to understand these westerners more, especially their weaknesses …
As Agenda winner I now immediately make my two selections, the real war issues: US Directed Offensive and UK DO. There are four DOs on the table for this conference, and once again the westerners failed to nominate the Global issue! Twice in a row Morganthau was sent into the Agenda deliberations. Also, with Wilson going into the Agenda deliberations and General Arnold mysteriously absent twice now, perhaps with health issues, the Atomic Research issue is not on the table. The torpid pace of atomic research has stymied the ability of Roosevelt to force the Emperor to surrender without an invasion of Japan, and my advance into Manchuria has not played into Roosevelt’s hand. The Americans have a strong hand on Pol-Mil, but no Global, and the British apparently have a weak hand with the issue selection revolving around four second tier staff members, the two previously mentioned along with Pound and Evill. Ha, I am evil personified, but that British Airedale actually is Evill! I’m very pleased with my position at the moment, in politics sometimes you have a perfect plan, but most of the time you have luck, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Whichever kind you get you have to make the best of it, and this time it looks like I have some good luck to go along with my plan.
As Agenda winner I turn to the Americans to begin the proceedings. After a short side conversation, the Americans select Stimson as their strongest member, so Hull rises first and argues without opposition in advancing Pol-Mil 1/3 from the center to the US6 space.
The British are up next and reserve their strongest member Ismay who is not aligned with any particular issue but has Churchill’s confidence. Pound’s Strategic Materials issue was not selected so he is silent for the moment, and the senior British delegate asks for a recess to select an issue proponent. After a short debate among Cunningham, “C,” and Evill, the delegations return to the table. “C” rises and argues stridently without opposition to advance the Pol-Mil 2/2 issue to the UK4 space.
I watch amused that the westerners are diverted off into Pol-Mil, and now that it is my turn, I point to Voroshilov who isn’t aligned with any issue in particular but has my full confidence in advancing without opposition the UK Directed Offensive to the Soviet6 space.
Turning to the Americans, Stimson remains in reserve while the Americans ask for a recess. They return after a lengthy discussion among themselves, first choosing between Walker and Hoover, and with Walker having no specific issue interest but with the confidence of Roosevelt mulling the choices among issues that he can bring to the American track. Apparently he could reach my DO, the US DO, Pol-Mil 1/2, and European Leadership all still in the center, as well as the other US DO on my Soviet2 space. The Americans, still smarting after the precipitous replacement of Eisenhower by Montgomery just after Eisenhower led the western forces to victory in Germany, go in for the European Leadership issue! I was dumbfounded although I maintained my usual stern countenance. There is a war still going on, but I’m happy to let them play their game and I’ll play mine … Walker rose and spoke without objection in advancing the European Leadership issue to the US4 space.
Cunningham would likely have been next up for the British, but his preferred European Leadership issue was now out of his reach, so Evill and Wemyss took precedence. Their specialist issue, the UK DO, was well beyond either’s reach, so they first deliberated between each other selecting Wemyss to rise and speak on a choice of issues among Soviet DO, US DO, and Pol-Mil 1/2 in the center and the US DO on my track in the Soviet2 space. I held my breath in hopes of them falling back into the Pol-Mil game, but this time Wemyss argued for my DO and advanced it from the center to the UK3 space. I could not suffer this sling of outrageous fortune, and pointed to Kulik who rose in strong opposition to the British advance. Kulik is an expert on offensive warfare plus he enjoys our natural stubborn debating strength, so he pulled my DO from the UK3 space and advanced it to my Soviet3 space. With that exertion behind us, I passed my turn to the Americans to see how they were going to play the remaining issues.
Hoover rose immediately and without hesitation or objection advanced the Pol-Mil 1/2 issue from the center to the US4 space.
Evill then rose for the British and having a choice of the US DO in the center and the US DO on my Soviet2 space, selected the US DO on my track advancing it onto the UK1 space. I chose not to debate this play in favor of nodding to Vasilevsky who rose and spoke strongly on the requirements for the Far Eastern Front in Manchuria and advanced the US DO in the center to my Soviet4 space, and also secured one Offensive Support for my Far Eastern Front.
Crowly next rose for the Americans and with his limited skills he was at least able to advance the US DO from the UK1 space to the US1 space. Cunningham, weakened by his preferred issue out of reach, made a modest advance of the US DO issue from the US1 space back to the UK1 space. Seizing the moment, I pointed to Zhdanov, normally an expert on production matters, but in this instance emboldened by our notorious debating reputation, and he immediately rose speaking on behalf of advancing the US DO from the UK1 space to my Soviet2 space.
I then passed again to gain a sense of the end game maneuvering with the strongest staff members about to weigh into the deliberations.
First though Admiral King, who is out of his depth on anything except the Pacific war, rose and spoke without much substance on the only issue he could reach, but at least it was a military issue. King could not actually bring the US DO on my Soviet2 space onto into the US sphere, but he was able to modestly advance it to the Soviet1 space.
Admiral Pound then rose and similarly disadvantaged with his Strategic Materials issue not in play spoke weakly on the only issue he could reach, the US DO just advanced, moving it once again from the Soviet1 space to the center. Again I seized the moment and nodded to Molotov and with his considerable strength along with our debating skill, advanced this US DO issue once and for all from the center to the Soviet6 space. I passed again to put the final round in play. Pound was visibly fatigued by these exertions and collapsed at the table. He was taken to a hospital, such as these are in the Russian Crimea, but we heard later that he perished.
Carrying on with the business at hand, Stimson rose and argued convincingly to advance the Pol-Mil 2/2 from the UK4 space to the US2 space. Ismay then rose for the British with Churchill’s full confidence to argue for advancing the Pol-Mil 2/2 from the US2 space back onto the British track at the UK3 space.
Now going last as the Agenda winner, and clear conference “winner” under the westerners national interest index statistics, after brief introductory remarks by Malenkov, I spoke with unassailable authority from my chair to advance the Pol-Mil 1/3 issue from the US6 space where the esteemed Hull had taken it early in the conference to my Soviet1 space.
So there we are with good luck on selecting my staff for this conference, and poor luck for the westerners, I took all of the important military issues, all four DOs, yes all four! Plus I brought the Pol-Mil 1/3 issue to my side of the table for a very convincing five issues won against only two for the Americans and one for the British. Well perhaps I should immodestly claim brilliant leadership in addition to good luck! The American eased Montgomery out of European Leadership for whatever ego satisfaction that was worth to them, but the two Offensive Support for that theater issue are no longer of any use, so they will have clandestine networks to place with their 1/2 Pol-Mil issue, as will the British with their sole 2/2 issue.
Again I am so well pleased that I posed for a group photograph with my staff arranged as before in speaking order in the conference.
As always, the Clandestine Networks actions are highly secretive, but with my spies pulling back the veil, here is how it turned out. Each of us funded our networks with one of our production resources. I had four networks and placed mine first. I removed Churchill’s network from Poland and placed my own, then I liquidated Churchill’s network in Greece and placed a communist cell there. Churchill and Roosevelt had three each, and Roosevelt with his natural Arsenal of Democracy leadership graciously held the door open for Churchill to go first, a decided advantage to Roosevelt in this clandestine game! Churchill tried to reestablish his colonial ambitions removing American cells in Malaya and the Dutch East Indies and my small but growing cell of Communists in Vietnam. They are very ardent Communists in Vietnam and we will be hearing from them again. The US in the advantaged position placed their three networks back into the Asian colonies retaking Malaya and the Dutch East Indies and replacing me in Vietnam. [See note in Post Mortem about tie-breakers with US Arsenal of Democracy, also see start of Conference 10 for Stalin’s reaction to losing out on one of his “won” CNs!]
And again with the Global issue remaining off the table, all of the Political Alignment opportunities cannot be resourced and are lost. I continue to be amazed that political alignments remain frozen while I pursue my military ambitions, all playing right into my hands for a Pol-Mil shootout at the time of my convenience.
As for my military ambitions, I’ll get right to the point. The Japanese sent two reserve armies against me to try holding me in Manchuria, and with their one remaining reserve army they reinforced the Philippines against MacArthur as we learned in the staff summary paper at the beginning of the conference.
Beria returned from his visit to the Far East and reported his findings and the “adjustments” that were made to improve our performance. We bolstered the front with the Offensive Support from Vasilevsky’s conference oratory, four OS from the two US DOs, two OS from the UK DO and my two production from my own Soviet DO. A total of nine OS to offset two Japanese reserve armies, seven OS plus the Front for an advancement score calculated by the statisticians of 16! We pushed the Japanese back, and then drove for the breakthrough with a 60% factor over what we needed for the advance. Reports continued to come in that the Front was stalled, but then all of a sudden a weak spot was found and our glorious forces broke through all the way into Korea!! Victory is mine!! I quickly stopped smiling though because the after action assessment, as we learn to apply these statistical measures over the mere brute force of manpower numbers heaped upon manpower numbers, suggested that the breakthrough was achieved with very low performance and even 10% less would have left us in Jehol China after all that offensive firepower was brought to bear. I will be sending Beria on another fact finding mission …
Continuing with the lesser interesting developments in the Pacific, the British provided me with two of their production for my offensive, spent one on their only Pol-Mil issue and had one still left that they would have spent on the Americans to force an invasion of Japan. However, there were no American fronts adjacent to Japan to force the issue, so Churchill sent his last production to Slim in Burma. With this one OS it was determined that Slim had a 40% chance of advancing, but performance was well off the mark failing by a 50% margin, although with the monsoon in that part of the world even the most advantageous calculations can be undermined by the weather.
Similarly, Nimitz in the Central Pacific with no additional reserve armies to face, but no offensive support had a 20% chance of advancement and failed by a 50% margin, remaining stalled in the Marianas.
MacArthur in New Guinea was given the Theater Command OS to offset the Japanese reserve army, and the last remaining US production, after four to me and one for Pol-Mil, was used to increase Naval forces to the four level to offset a possible sortie of the last Japanese fleet. As it turned out the Japanese fleet didn’t sortie, but that was not known at the time the resource decisions had to be made. The statisticians assessed that MacArthur had a 20% chance to advance into the Philippines, and the after action report assessment indicated that he narrowly missed his opportunity falling 10% short of the performance mark. If only the production had been spent on OS rather than that naval force, or if only the Pol-Mil had been foregone for Churchill’s advantage, if only … politics is filled with if-only and it is easy to become paralyzed by ankle-biters scurrying around pronouncing “if-only” … I just move on and say, here is where we are and here is where we want to go, everyone get moving and get moving right now!
Once again, planning has begun for the next conference, at Potsdam in Germany this time, and my spies report that the western statisticians have analyzed the “national interest index” and determined that I have surged into the lead based on my successful breakthrough into Korea! I’m starting to like these statistical assessments and have decided to set up my own statistical bureau dedicated to inventing similar arrays of favorable numbers. The westerners are scoring it: USSR at 41, with the breakthrough into Korea, another conference “win” for me in their mind, and again benefitting from my limited Pol-Mil initiatives to date, the US continuing lag in the Philippines along with the stalled Atomic research. My spies in the Manhattan project tell me that there is some problem with the Uranium-fueled fission device and they haven’t found a theoretical way to make the Plutonium device work. Of course none of this has been tested so none of it may ever work, but whatever you do, don’t breathe a word of it to Truman, he knows nothing about it at all! Roosevelt has drawn even with Churchill at 26 on his domination of the political situation in the Asian colonies, while Churchill has faded to 26 from 28 losing ground from clandestine networks that I liquidated in Europe, while retaining his position in central Italy and the continuing American lag in returning to the Philippines.
Needless to say, I am very pleased with my military victory in Asia, and for the next conference, I’ll protect my position and leverage further political initiatives into gaining a seat in the German occupation deliberations.
After the Yalta conference, we learned in April that President Roosevelt died, and the inexperienced President Truman will now be attending the Potsdam conference. I saw some opportunity to work with Roosevelt, but the stubborn Truman is a horse of a different color, but at least he is inexperienced, a lack of quality that I hope to exploit to my advantage as we organize the post-war occupation agendas. My ever diligent central committee staff has once again produced a summary brief for the conference, labeled Issue Paper A.
The briefing highlights Truman’s weaknesses as the new president, and also mentions Churchill’s situation as not attending the conference, although he will be in communication as necessary depending on how the issue topics evolve. That British democracy amazes me, here we are in the final end game of the largest war in history, and they are arguing with each other about changing political horses in mid-stream! The Americans had no choice as the inestimable Roosevelt perished, but even at that the Americans could have sent an Army general to finish it rather than a politician! The Americans are positioning for post-war by providing foreign aid rather than boosting their production allocations to the surrender of Japan, but they are continuing their largesse to me, even in my Asian success, by sending another Murmansk convoy. The intelligence briefing indicated that there was another imbroglio among the governments in exile, but as is often the case without a real capital to cement their positions, these are like so much hot air with no effect.
Then as a mumbled footnote, the staff briefer spoke in low tones something about a failed Clandestine Network, I didn’t let this pass, and glared at the briefer until he spoke up. It seems that the strength of my oratory, in taking that 1/3 Pol-Mil issue as the last argument in Yalta, had earned me extra resources in the intelligence sub-committee deliberations, but once my own intelligence staff broke out of the alliance sub-committee for their own allocation meetings, a miscue of paperwork left one of my network opportunities unfunded, and we didn’t place a network that I had earned! I was furious with this mistake, and I immediately turned to Beria, and said that adjustments would have to be made, and so they were as Beria later reported back to me. Studying the map now, and with some hindsight not available before the military action played out, I most likely would have inserted a network into Czechoslovakia to liquidate the American network there to position for a change in political alignment if a Global issue were to open up Europe in the coming Potsdam conference, but then there were other choices as well, although Czechoslovakia is in the Soviet sphere of influence and there is no room for Americans to meddle in my sphere.
Having gained good fortune in the array of very fine staff members for Yalta, I was expecting a less stellar group for Potsdam. I had hoped for more, but I will have to settle for these: Zhigarev (1), Vatutin (1), Meretskov (2), Voznesensky (2), Kaganovich (2), Beria (3), and Novikov (3). Luckily, I am well positioned from my previous success to just hold firm for this conference, and with this group, I am not expecting to advance my position, but hold where I am.
I have yet to learn who the westerners have brought with them, but with my low rated staff members, I need to save the best for conference, so I will nominate Vatutin for the agenda deliberations. Vatutin, as a front line officer is vulnerable when exposed as participating in conference, but can be used for the agenda and then safely returned to the front without fear of ambush. At this stage of the war, that is of little consequence in the grand plan, but every little detail can be important, so Vatutin it is for the agenda.
The westerners now reveal their agenda strategies and both are going all in with their best staff members to position for a conference “win” in their mind at this late stage of the war. The British apparently consulted Churchill in choosing between Bevin and Atlee, and whether it was pique against Atlee or a strategic consideration, the nod went to Bevin for setting the agenda. The Americans sent their best, Hopkins, having only him among the first tier. The British are always more prepared than anyone for these agenda discussions and Bevins narrowly surpassed Hopkins’ considerable abilities, and thoroughly outclassed Vatutin, who left the conference at this point and returned to his military duties. The British delegation then deliberated among themselves to select an issue that they would most likely win on the strength of their staff qualities, and it turned out that Lyttleton was most persuasive in putting the UK Production issue on the table and advancing it to the UK5 space to start the issue placement segment. Yes their own production issue! Amazing … win the conference for ego and leave the war to others!
I selected next and picked Pol-Mil 1/3, expecting the Global to be on the table, and use the Pol-Mil issue to hold onto my position. For my next choice I initially thought about the Global issue along with a greater potential for political alignment, but then I decided that with Atomic Research, I could win it early and would be a guaranteed an issue in my column without the risk of others winning the Global and perhaps easing me out of any Pol-Mil issues with my less than stellar array of staff members. Also, with little progress on atomic research, there is no risk that the Atomic Bomb will force a Japanese surrender, so my gambit in attacking Manchuria cannot now play into the hands of the Americans! I took the certain guarantee and placed Atomic Research on the table for the first time in the end game of the war.
The American delegation went next and revealed a somewhat weak hand with an emphasis on production, going with the strength of Jones and Wickard for Strategic Materials and US Production! The war issues again off the table for production oriented Americans!
The British with a similarly weak hand went with Mountbatten and Brooke for Pacific Leadership and US Directed Offensive, finally breaking the westerners production mindset and going for war issues, although the British have little use for war issues in Asia at this point …
Once again, the Global issues have not made it into conference, a strange situation, with Churchill and Roosevelt, and even the neophyte Truman, it seemed that these international statesmen would have reveled in tussling over the shape of the world to come, but they have become captives of their staffs as can happen in these democracies, leaving the Global issues out of our deliberations. I’m well pleased because that makes my position easier to hold, especially with the potential for an early issue win for me on Atomic Research.
With the British winning the Agenda, I go first, and Zhigarev rises and provides the most flattering introduction of me, as I smile and move the Atomic Research issue into my chair without hesitation or debate. My staff is suddenly nervous, as if in expectation of some paranoid reaction on my part, but I am well pleased at my success in capturing this issue right at the beginning, and they are very happy to see that there is no outburst.
I continue smiling as I turn to the Americans, who have reserved Jones as their strongest member, and so Wickard rises and provides a well-reasoned argument for advancing the US Production issue from the center to the US4 space.
The British reserve Beaverbrook as their strongest, and must choose between Anderson who does not have any particular issue expertise and Lyttleton whose issue is already on the UK side of the ledger. After a short side conversation, Lyttleton rises and after contemplating among four available issues: Pol-Mil 1/3, Strategic Materials, US Directed Offensive, and Pacific Leadership, through a mental process that remains a mystery to me, he decides to lend his weight to the Pacific Leadership issue and advances it to the UK4 space.
I give a nod to Novikov and he rises, speaking with determination and resolve, advancing the Pol-Mil 1/3 issue without debate to the Soviet3 space.
Next the Americans ask for a short recess so that they can decide among Leahy and Embrick with expertise on Directed Offensives, or Ickes who without Roosevelt and with no issue expertise is now a relatively weak political member. They might as well be rolling dice for whatever method they use to select their debaters, but however they do it, after we reconvene, Ickes picks among the issues that he can influence and selects US Directed Offensive over Strategic Materials and advances it without debate from the center to the US3 space.
Anderson who waited while Lyttleton debated previously, now rises for the British and selects among Pol-Mil 1/3 on the Soviet3 space, US Directed Offensive on the US3 space, and Strategic Materials still remaining in the center. Anderson directly attacked me, and argued forcefully for the Pol-Mil issue advancing it from the Soviet3 space to the UK1 space. I could not let this stand, and turned to Beria, who convincingly refuted Anderson’s arguments and advanced the issue from the UK1 space back to the Soviet3 space. I was very annoyed by this affront, and passed my turn to study the reactions of my so-called allies.
The Americans need to huddle again as they say in their game of football, because three members, Marshall, Embrick, and Leahy, are available for the next issue and their specialist issues are already on their own track. After a few minutes of discussion away from the table, the delegation takes their seats, Embrick rises and weakly advances the Strategic Materials issue from the center to the US1 space. Seeing a small opportunity, I look to Kaganovich and he rises in debate, advancing the issue from the US1 space to the Soviet2 space. Even though Kaganovich successfully followed through, he nervously looks to Beria who is still lurking behind me, and with a wave of my hand it is settled, Kaganovich is safe … for now. I decide for the moment to pass on my next turn to save strength for the end game.
Next up, Atlee for Britain is less effective because Churchill is still actively engaged by wire if not actually present, although surely Atlee is also somewhat preoccupied by election fever … anyway the only issue in range of his grasping hand is Strategic Materials and he makes a play for it advancing it from the Soviet2 space to the UK1 space. I give a nod to Voznesensky and he rises in debate, countering Atlee’s argument and returning the issue to the Soviet2 space.
Now running short on staff, I pass my turn, and look to the Americans. The Americans choose between Marshall and Leahy, selecting Marshall who has only a middling effectiveness in this conference, no doubt slow progress in the Pacific weighing heavily on his mind, and the only issue that can reach the American track is the much prized Strategic Materials, so Marshall makes a somewhat less than stellar argument to advance it from the Soviet2 space to the US1 space. I’ve spent far too much on this issue, and choose not to debate it.
Brooke now rises for the British and argues persuasively and without debate to advance the US Directed Offensive from the US3 space to the UK2 space.
Now somewhat annoyed with myself for having spent so much on the Strategic Materials issue, I nod to my last staff member Meretskov, to advance Pol-Mil 1/3 from my Soviet3 space to my Soviet5 space hopefully out of reach of the remaining opposing debaters. I won’t reveal self-annoyance to my staff, but I should have used Kaganovich and Voznesensky to move the Pol-Mil issue to my chair instead of diddling over the Strategic Materials issue that Jones was likely to win anyway. Every point can count in this international game of high politics, and I missed a chance here by allowing myself to be drawn into an extended debate by those clever westerners … I wouldn’t be so paranoid if they weren’t all against me!
With Jones still reserved as the strongest member, Leahy rises on behalf of the US arguing without debate to advance the US Directed Offensive from UK2 to US1.
Likewise, the British reserve Beaverbrook, and Mountbatten rises with a choice of US Directed Offensive or Strategic Materials within his reach, and for reasons known only to himself, this naval admiral chooses to argue on behalf of materials issues over war issues?! In any event, he advanced Strategic Materials from the US1 space to the center.
I have used my last staff member, and must wait until the others have finished to see where we stand.
Jones rises for the Americans, and as expected plays his hand on Strategic Materials advancing it from the center to the US5 space. I grind my teeth at the lost opportunity to perhaps advance other issues onto my track and leave the materials to Jones …
Beaverbrook with Churchill’s full confidence, now rises as the last to speak. Beaverbrook has studied the state of play, and could advance the Strategic Materials issue to the center for a bonus one production for all, but that would make the conference tied under this arcane westerner statistical method at 2 to 2 to 2, and then according to their tie breaking rule, I could break it except I already made my move on Atomic Research, leaving it next to Truman who would break the tie on behalf of the US and make them the conference “winner” whatever that exactly means in context of winning the war, of course to all of us, winning the peace is as important now as winning the war, so there we are, Beaverbrook will not play on Strategic Materials to benefit us all and will play instead to benefit only the British, as I no doubt would do if I were in his place. Beaverbrook had the choice between US Production and US Directed Offensive and through some process of abstract reasoning decided to argue for US Production, advancing it from the US4 space to the UK1 space.
With this final play, the British have gained the UK Production, Pacific Leadership, and US Production issues; the US has gained the Strategic Materials and US Directed Offensive issues, and I have captured two issues of most interest to me, Atomic Research and Pol-Mil1/3. In their statistical “national interest” scoring method, the British declare themselves conference “winner” in the race for national prestige, and with that bit of smugness behind us, we move to the military committee to allocate resources toward winning the war. Well, one other bit of smugness, Mountbatten has now thrust himself into leadership of the Pacific War! MacArthur must be incensed, and Vinegar Joe Stilwell most likely is writing another 100 pages of invective in that notorious diary of his! Nimitz, ever the gentleman, will be quietly getting on with business …
Being more in a quiet mood myself at the moment, I surreptitiously strengthen my spy network on the Manhattan project, and learn that the Americans have placed extra resources to accelerate progress, but that there was another technical failure, and they don’t advance. It seems they are at least another year away from achieving a working bomb.
And in the interest of posterity, even though we didn’t do as well in this conference I still posed with the staff for a group photo.
After the ceremonial closing remarks and photographs, the intelligence sub-committee went to work on the details and allocated the Clandestine Network resources, including those that I resourced from the generosity of the Murmansk convoy. Without any movement on Global issues, I directed my staff to place four networks, one to liquidate the US network in Austria, and replace it with one of my own, and then the same in Denmark. I’ll have to leave Czechoslovakia alone for now, but only for now …
Truman, learning from staff reports of Roosevelt’s prior largesse in the network game, politely suggests that Churchill place his network, which he does, liquidating the US network in Malaya, and then Truman promptly issues orders to the OSS to restore the US cell in Malaya, which they do through the Arsenal of Democracy power to decide these close-run circumstances.
With things stagnant in the Pacific, I intend to force the issue, so I place three production resources toward naval support and the potential for an invasion of Japan. If I can occupy Japan, I can bargain for my seat in Germany if the westerners wish to join me in Japan!
Churchill ponders his options, but with the pressure of the election he is preoccupied and so pours everything into CBI even though there is nothing really to be gained there. Slim does look formidable though with four UK production resources, two Offensive Support from Mountbatten winning the Pacific Leadership issue, and one US production also going to CBI.
Truman is intent on going all in for the Philippines in spite of his reservations about MacArthur, and instructs his staff to place the four remaining US production resources along with the outgoing Pacific Leadership Offensive Support with the SW Pacific Front.
We are all back in our home headquarters now, intently reading the reports and updating our maps. It turns out that the Japanese navy sortied against the Central Pacific and destroyed enough of the amphibious fleet that Nimitz was unable to advance from the Marianas. The Japanese fleet returned safely to Japan after wreaking havoc in the Central Pacific.
The Japanese army, suddenly aware from intelligence reports about the growing strength of the my Far East fleet, mobilized all forces in Japan to face my Far Eastern Front. With three armies against my Front with no other offensive support, I was unable to invade Japan … for now …
MacArthur benefitted from an abundance of resources, and for the first time in months all the Japanese reserve armies were engaged in other theaters. The SW Pacific Front moved into the Philippines without significant opposition, and MacArthur returned! Several times it seems once all the newsreels were shown! MacArthur’s amphibious navy did experience losses to the dreaded Kamikaze attacks, so more production resources will be required for the navy if the Americans intend to advance further.
Slim in CBI also benefitted from an abundance of resources, estimated at 60% more than needed to advance against the Japanese in theater with no augmentation from the strategic reserves all opposing my prospective invasion of the homeland. In evaluating the after action reports, the statisticians determined that Slim had about a narrow 10% margin above the force ratio he needed for achieving his breakthrough of the CBI Front into French Indo-China. Churchill is winning the Asian ground militarily, but the Americans were solidly well-positioned in the much more important political game for the post-war world!
And although I haven’t paid any attention to it, in the interest of completeness, I should mention that the Mediterranean Front remained stagnated in the mountains of Central Italy and was never able to advance against the Germans dug in ahead of them.
Now at this stage of events, planning should have begun for the next conference to decide the occupation arrangements for Germany and the final defeat of Japan. The westerners appear to be in a state of confusion over what to do because according to their planning time tables, the war should have ended now. I’m not so sure why they would have been that optimistic, but they are very confused, as further compounded by a new president for the Americans and a new prime minister for the British. The higher level politicians are not yet signaling for another conference although I am eager for it, and if they don’t do something soon, I’m going to proceed with my invasion of Japan. The atomic bomb is at least two conferences away, and I should be able to successfully invade Japan from Korea before the British can build up a naval force and then advance into Hong Kong and then Japan. Churchill is completely out of the picture now and that will hinder British effectiveness in conference and on the war fronts. I’m very well positioned in the Pacific and feel strongly that I now can bargain my way into the occupation of Germany.
With the high politicians in the west dithering about another conference, the statisticians have little else to do and are busily computing their statistical national interest index scoring. My spies in their statistical bureaus have reported to me that with the conference win, and my liquidation of American networks, the British eked out a small lead over the Americans, but I am still well ahead actually gaining net points for the success of my Manhattan Project spies and establishing two more networks in Europe. The scoring had it me 43, Churchill or Atlee take your pick 26, and Truman 24. But then in a real twist of arcane statistics, that is actually very exciting to me as a way to make these numbers sing when I want them to sing, they have invented a modifier factor that says if I’m in the lead, they take some off of my “score,” also they take some off the next one on the national interest scale, and then add something to the lowest! Just the thing I may need as I position our propaganda machine for the war that is coming next after I finish off this one! Anyway the statisticians applied these adjustments, reducing my “score” to 39, the British to 23, while raising the Americans to 30!
So there we are, I have “won” this war by 39 to 30 over the Americans and they in turn finish second 30 to 23 against the British! All this mathematical manipulation and the fact that we have not yet forced the Japanese to surrender, suggests to me that our alliance, such as it was, has been fractured, and we will be going in different directions soon.
I have had my own statistical bureau keep an updated world map on the wall of my headquarters, and I like the way it looks, with the exception of still having to bargain for my proper place in the German occupation. Once I add a western seat in Japan for mine in Germany this map will look a lot better, and with eastern Europe plus Denmark a sea of red, the color is coming along very well!
I am pleased beyond measure with this outcome, having won it on every way they can calculate it, and now enough with these numbers, I’m hopeful of another Murmansk convoy arriving soon, and a new conference for me to lay my hands on more western resources for my invasion of Japan! On with the war!
Well, well, well, that was an interesting game to play, perhaps not so interesting reading about it, but it was definitely fun to play! After I had tweaked my Variant Bots a little specifically for the end-game represented by the Training Scenario, I was eager to give them a try. I especially wanted to see how the tweak that gives the Roosevelt and Churchill Bots more play on the Global issue would work out, rather than the Bots just watching Stalin scoop it off the table if he plays first, as he often does with the British having a leg up in winning the agenda segment.
Best laid plans … as it turned out in this game, card draw luck combined with agenda staff selection luck never brought the Global issue to the table! Dang, I’ll just have to play another game! Morganthau went into the agenda segment twice and wasn’t around to help pick the Global. Card draw luck also never put the Atomic Research issue on the table either until finally as Stalin, I took the sure thing for three points in the final conference. Hap Arnold never appeared at all and Wilson was thrown into the agenda as Morganthau had been on Global.
The three conference game has a higher element of card draw luck than the longer scenarios because there is a fresh shuffle to start the game, and then with Conference 9 being odd there is another fresh shuffle to continue. Stalin was lucky to have a relatively good hand on the first shuffle and then the second shuffle for Conference 9 gave him another good hand. Two good hands in a row is pretty powerful even though the hand for Conference 10 is likely to be not so good. In this game Stalin had two good hands in a row at the start matched up against poorer hands for the Bots both times, making for a quick 10 points on conference wins, and a virtually unassailable lead once the cards were turned into a breakthrough into Korea by the end of Conference 9.
The good luck can also be bad luck if the fresh shuffle gives two poor hands in a row at the beginning with the third conference then having a relatively better hand. I didn’t record the hand card values for Roosevelt and Churchill as I did for my own hand, and I haven’t gone back and reconstructed it from the card by card narrative, but it seemed to me that the Bots were disadvantaged in card draws for the first two hands. One thing I did notice was that in most of my previous games, Anthony Eden almost always appeared twice, and in this game I didn’t see him at all! A good thing when playing Stalin!
Without the atomic issue appearing in the first two conferences, there was no chance that the US could advance to Trinity and force Emperor’s Surrender, so the risk of invading Manchuria didn’t cost Stalin the five surrender points Truman could have received with more success on the atomic bomb. The odds of Hap Arnold failing to appearing at all in three conferences are 14/21 combined with 7/21 for 0.22, approximately roll 1 or 2 on the 10-sided battle die, so not real remote, but it would be good to see him if you’re Roosevelt!
Also, there seemed to be a lot of card luck on drawing staff members with production and strategic material bonuses that tends to put these “materiel” cards into conference rather than the “war” cards for Directed Offensives, Theater Leadership, Pol-Mil, and even Global and Atomic Research issues. Never has so much bureaucratic blood, sweat, and tears been spilled over so little fighting leverage! Some of the really high bonuses come into play when putting one’s own production issue on the table, which seems unusual for a high shootout end-game scenario, but it does help win the conference when one can put their own production issue into conference and then win it, and a conference win is as good as one Pol-Mil marker that may never get played if Global never gets into the game. Anyway it was a somewhat unusual game with good card hand luck for Stalin and a lot of production in play, but it wasn’t the big war shootout that I had been expecting.
I had some fun writing the session report more as a narrative from the point of view of a political leader than as a game play summary, hence the “statistical methods” instead of random die rolls. When I was in government I worked with a number of political leaders, and even those who were somewhat analytical were not so much interested in rolling dice to decide things. Even if you gave them a game theoretic 2 by 2 matrix decision without Nash equilibrium that is best played by rolling dice, they would never take it as a dice roll, they would have to reason it out one way or the other … of course there are no unrealistically simplistic 2 by 2 game theoretic matrix decisions in government, so no need to carry any dice to the office …
And while my political leader Stalin appears skeptical of “statistical methods” as a narrative device, I really enjoy the construct of the game in all its elements, especially the different victory conditions and the dice rolling aspect of reaching a final outcome. If you play it well, you can keep the dice out of the decision and if you don’t play so well, then you are at the mercy of the dice, which as Mark Herman has told us many times, are no one’s friend.
Also about the narrative, it was fun to do it once, but if I ever do another card by card session report, it will be less narrative and more like: Cunningham randomly selected Strategic Materials, Value=2, advanced center to UK2, or Cunningham selected European Leadership, Value=2+2, advanced center to UK4. Perhaps not as interesting to write or read, but gets to the point a whole lot quicker.
One more tweak on the Bots. While playing the game, I nervously watched Roosevelt almost randomly select the USSR Declares War on Japan issue and advance it onto his track, but as the die rolled out, another issue was picked for the advance leaving USSR Declares in the center. Churchill actually did pick it randomly once, but I moved it back to center by the end of the conference to activate the issue and follow through on my strategy of taking Korea to offset the loss of Germany. Since Roosevelt is interested in activating the event for the possibility of gaining five points for Emperor’s Surrender, I tweaked my Roosevelt Variant Bot to avoid playing on this issue unless it is the last issue in play and moving it to the US track will win the conference for the US. The thinking here is that the three sure points right now for winning the conference is better than waiting to see if five points might be gained later for Emperor’s Surrender which may never happen anyway because Hap Arnold never appears!
Now for a word about the Arsenal of Democracy tiebreaker. As you will note above, I twice used Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy tiebreaker to decide who goes first when the Clandestine Network count was tied. In the games we play here at my house, when the Arsenal of Democracy tiebreaker is employed, Roosevelt gets to break the tie by deciding the outcome of the issue, not necessarily by being locked into one choice. For example, it is advantageous to go second in Clandestine Network placement because the gains from whoever places first can be undone by whoever goes second. So when Roosevelt breaks the tie he gets to decide the most advantageous move for him to make at that moment. Perhaps it is to go first and let Churchill undo him to give a benefit to Churchill, or perhaps it is to go second and undo whatever benefit Churchill might have gained, but it is not to automatically say that Roosevelt has to go before Churchill.
Some will argue that this is not the right way to play and perhaps it isn’t. Rex Stites made a well-reasoned argument with cites from the rule book in a recent thread that my way is not the way it is supposed to be played, but I would respectfully differ with that point of view, and would even go so far as to suggest that Roosevelt could give a conference win to another player when Roosevelt and the other player are tied for most number of issues won. There may be a circumstance when Roosevelt wants to narrow the point differential that might be best achieved by giving a tied conference to the other player rather than automatically taking it for himself. This approach may not reflect the Designer’s intent, and may not be how many interpret the rules as written, but when playing a game at my house that’s the way the Arsenal of Democracy tiebreaker works.
As a general thought, I believe the historical effect of the Arsenal of Democracy is a little undervalued in the game, although if it is pumped up very much more it might unbalance the game as a game. The Murmansk convoy and the extra Soviet production from three naval units in the Arctic Theater are clearly associated with the Arsenal of Democracy, but also some significant fraction of Stalin’s three “normal” production and Churchill’s four “normal” production flow from the Arsenal of Democracy. I’m not enough of a scholar to hazard a guess as to what the fraction could be, but if Roosevelt had followed the George Washington tradition and declined to run for a third term in 1940, it is possible that a more isolationist and more conciliatory president could have been elected who might not have put the full weight of the Arsenal of Democracy into the wars in Europe and Asia. There may never have been a three-sided wartime fighting alliance against the Axis powers. With Roosevelt carrying the allies forward with the Arsenal of Democracy, he should be gaining a big play in how the war effort goes. Also, in reading about Roosevelt’s character and executive skills I could well imagine him smiling at Churchill and Stalin, and in the spirit of magnanimity giving them a beneficial tip of his hat, all the while slanting the “favor” to his ultimate advantage.
Be that as it may, that’s the way the Arsenal of Democracy tiebreaker is played at my house, Roosevelt breaks the tie by deciding it to his advantage.
Here’s one more comment before the Big What-If. I used Fred Shugars’ Version 2 of the scoring tool found in the Files section, and I like it a lot. We don’t usually score conference by conference in live games, but for this solo game, I used it at the end of each conference and saved each spread sheet for posterity. I also used it for the Big What-If.
After the game was over and I was reviewing my notes to prepare this session report, I suddenly realized that I had played the end game wrongly for Churchill. I had assumed that the Churchill Bot would play a realistically historical Churchill, and with nothing else to spend his resources on in the 10th Conference, he would go for the CBI Theater even though the real Churchill wasn’t very interested in it and the game Churchill could score no points from it.
One of the reasons to play solo games, aside from an interesting gaming experience, is to prepare for games against live players, the live players in my group are way sharper than me, and they don’t take so long to devise interesting strategies, but then all of a sudden it hit me. A real player could play as unrealistically ahistorically as Churchill for a game win as I had been playing with Stalin’s unrealistically ahistorically Asia First game winning strategy derived from several playtests previously reported in this forum. A game player Churchill might well totally unrealistically and ahistorically play to help Stalin invade Japan and make it a Condition 2 victory where second place might win instead of Condition 3 runaway that Stalin couldn’t lose! YIKES, could it be? Well let’s ponder the Big What-If!
Say for example, Churchill offers Stalin a deal, I’ll throw in with you to invade Japan, and Stalin foolishly takes the bait, or Churchill allocating production after Stalin, notes that Stalin put three naval in the Far East to signal his intention to invade Japan (to “narratively” gain bargaining power for a seat in occupying Germany but having no actual game effect) and so plows all of his resources into the Far Eastern Front instead of the fallow CBI Theater. So, it’s Stalin’s three production for naval to provide for amphibious invasion; then Churchill’s four production, two Pacific Leadership issue Offensive Support, and one US production from the US Production issue that Churchill won in conference; all lined up against the three Japanese reserve armies against the Far Eastern Front. Seven Churchill OS minus three reserve armies leaves four OS to go along with the Front’s value for YIKES!, an automatic advance and Japanese surrender to Stalin, no plus points for Stalin since he already has eight for Korea, but now it’s a Condition 2 Victory not 3, with Churchill in second place and the margin still at 19 points!! Now looking at the Soviet game ending die roll for the Condition 3 victory we see that it is four, so four added to 15 is exactly 19 and still a Soviet victory, PHEW!! …, but if the roll had been 1, 2, or 3, Churchill wins!! Instead of throwing everything away on CBI, one of my live opponents would likely have thought of this gambit when I didn’t and played it 50/50 for the win!
So, what could I have done to counter this, well I might have wasted my three production making Churchill resource the three naval and three OS opposing the reserve armies, still leaving him with one offensive support and the Front for a 40% chance of forcing a Condition 2 victory then to the final 50/50 die roll. Ok 40% times 50% is still 20%, and a 20% chance is better than no chance, so the equivalent of 1 or 2 on the 10-sided battle die that always rolls against me regardless of the way I want it …
While Stalin is all smug in his big win, a sharp Churchill player could have pulled a win from the fire with an astute end game-play. Writing a Bot to accomplish this sort of nefarious scheming is one tough thing to do though. But with these sorts of what-ifs that can come into play, all I can say is: I love this game!
One last indulgence, what if there were more conference cards?!! The time table for victory is the historical ten conference count, but this game as it ended with Stalin poised for an invasion of Japan, seemed to be crying out for at least one more conference to win the war in the fall of ’45 or perhaps extend the game for two more into ’46. Obviously the winner after three conferences would be happy to stand pat, but perhaps there could be a mechanism to weigh the winner’s interest against second and third for a continuation. What about two dice combined for the winner and one each for second and third, high roll decides, tie for high goes one more conference. Let’s see now, three cards, one for each capital, pick one randomly and go at it hammer and tongs some more!
And with that I’ll just add, enjoy your games!