Hello folks, and welcome to the start of a Hearts of Iron liveblog! The game is Hearts Of Iron III, the latest of the games. The model is "Semper Fi", the first expansion to the game.
For those not in the know, Paradox Interactive has released four grand strategy game series that can all roughly fit into four chronological periods. These series are Crusader Kings, which is set in the early and high middle ages (1066-1399) Europa Universalis, which, as the longest running game, starts in 1399 where Crusader Kings leaves you, and ends in 1820, Victoria An Empire Under The Sun, which takes you from 1836 to 1920, and in later versions all the way up to 1936, and finally Hearts Of Iron, the latest version of which we'll be following, which is set during the events of the Second World War and, significantly, a fair period after, from 1936, the road to war, through the outbreak of war in 1939 (or earlier if you're an aggressive-minded allied or comintern (USSR) player) all the way up to the end of the war in 1946, and then 15 years onwards from there, more than enough time for the player to have got himself involved in a nuclear exchange with Russia, once again proving that if gamers were in charge of war policy, whatever the nation, we'd probably all be dead. Or possibly duelling with sticks.
Hearts Of Iron lets you take charge of any nation that was around in 1936. This means that the player can either take one of the major players, such as the US, Britain, Germany, France, or the USSR, or they can take on a minor role as one of the smaller factions, or even bring an originally neutral party like Switzerland, Spain (fascist or socialist) or Turkey into the conflict. And there is no explicit win condition; there are three main factions, made up of nations belonging to those factions, and these factions do have objectives which can be used to measure the extent of one factions victory, but otherwise its one massive sandbox, events leading up to the 2nd World War not withstanding (There is heavy railroading between 1936 and 1939 to ensure that the players and AI get around to, y'know, actually kicking off world war II, but even events around 1938 can go ahistorical; if you're extremely aggressive as Britain you can potentially force France to fight Germany over Czechoslovakia instead of Poland (and promptly jump into the action afterwards as the Germans promptly drop all plans for Poland and scramble mid-build up to deal with the French, who are probably shaking their fists at Chamberlain.) France can also get Germanies "threat level" high enough, and their own neutrality low enough, to go to war prior to or just after the Anschluss, but it requires an extremely aggressive player and France, as the belligerent, will be on its own. The game allows the player to very much set their own objectives; will you attempt to Hold The Line as Poland, or perhaps you'd like to bring Turkey into the war as it attempts to keep the axis out of as much of the Balkans as possible... and give the already bumbling Mussolini a horrible surprise in Greece in the process.
One of the fun things is you can jump to any other nation from your last save file, leaving your original nation under the... not very reliable hands of the AI. This means that if you wanted to, say, play as France, but wanted Britain to force the Germans to fight for Czechoslovakia, you can play through until September of 1938 as France (the month the Treaty of Munich happened, 29th to be exact but the game allows it to happen a bit earlier) then switch to Britain before Germany takes the decision to press for a takeover of the Sudetenland and set your newly built up France on the hapless Germans.
I will be back with the factions that I suggest we go, though veterans of the game can start suggesting factions now. Once I've got the factions up, stated why you should go them (or why you shouldn't go them in some circumstances) and votes are collected, we can jump into the action. I may just decide "fuck it" and jump in as a faction; jumping the poorly-prepared Axis as France or Nationalist China is always fun; I've got an idea involving the Siegfried line, large tanks, and paratroopers...
Comments away... but no bombs please. I was picking shrapnel out of my sternum for hours last time that happened.