The election predictions made for bad reading. As the leader of Victoria I had been passed over for the top job in Australia once too often! Now simple demographics were going to scupper me again! Damn! No way, not this time! This time there would be a time for decise action; risky; but if successful then victory and absolute rule over the entire region would be at hand!
Gathering my cabinet I outlined the plan. The civillians were ashen-faced, the military men baulked but were finally swayed. The plan called for immediate and daring action. New South Wales' size and population and production and military strength were substantially greater then Victoria's, but if a strike could be launched in the sparsely populated western half and the resources taken or razed to the ground while holding off the bulk of the forces in the east with feints, then it may be possible to negotiate favourable terms before anyone else got involved. The minister for armaments pleaded for more time, but time was not a luxury, as every delay just strengthened the enemy at a faster rate than our forces.
One week later, after a swift mobilisation it began! 'Operation Menzies' Brows' was underway! The bulk of Victoria's small military, it's tanks, mobile infantry and artillery were concentrated by the main highway and the hydroelectric dam in the mountainous east. The airforce, made of a couple aging light attack aircraft was held in reserve. No point wasting them against the FA-18's of NSW. In the west, a special high speed force would be the key. Recon units and fast infantry units made up a small 4 battalion invasion force. Their job would be to seize and hold or destroy the oil facilities in North Western NSW and take as much territory as possible in the difficult to supply western half. I knew that any counter by NSW here would be long and arduous, even against such a small force precisely cause of the distance and terrain. The plan was to discredit the NSW government to such an extent that it loses the backing of the people.
While that was the initial plan, contingencies were made for a possible strike down the eastern coast into the heard of the capital Sydney if the opportunity arose and total victory! The initial forays were made by the heavy armour force in the east, capturing small towns and facilities near the border and brushing aside the feeble garrisons there. Almost immediately, NSW retaliated with all its armour and airpower. There was barely enough time to regroup by luckily the NSW commander's counterattack was disjointed and so only one or two units at a time joined the fight allowing a concentrated riposte to be sent by our units who couldn't believe their luck at the failure of NSW to use its numerical advantage! As the fighting wore on, a bloody stalemate developed on this front, with the Victorian units starting to lose cohesion and strength at the attritional battle that was starting to wear them down despite the destruction of NSW trump cards it's armour(Australia has no tank production ability at scenario start),one it couldn't replace. But disaster befell our armoured divisions as well soon after, as during withdrawal for refit they were surprised and destroyed by the NSW airforce. The losses would all have been in vain had it not been for the Western strike force that exceeded all expectations at this point!
Here they encountered no resistance all the way north till the queensland border and captured most of NSW oil refineries. Not having any long term desires at this point for the territory, they were ordered to destroy all these facilities and wreak havok as much as they could going east. NSW finally scrambled a few units, that promptly died and soon, about half of the State was in our hands! Seeing the danger, the NSW commander started to pull out from the eastern front bloodfest to counter this new front, giving a much needed respite for our forces. With fresh conscipts and light infantry and recon units(about all that could be built quickly), Victorian troops took full advantage pushing into NSW and towards Sydney up the East coast, sweeping away the decreasing numbers of NSW troops facing them. Just south of Sydney however, in the face of heavy artillery and airpower the offensive stalled. The light units and conscripts were badly mauled and so they fortified small villages and waited for us to build up forces. It would stay like this for a few months with each side probing and destroying the odd unit with little progress. In the west, the lack of supplies had hid our expeditionary force. While they held off the attacks of also badly supplied NSW units for a long time, they eventually succumbed to attrition. Luckily, NSW then turned back to the east, leaving most of our gains intact. Neither side seemed strong enough to defeat the other, and NSW rejected all overtured at peace( This game was played before the 1.2 patch. In retrospect, several ideas may have been more successful had it been played with the patch). During this time a fateful event would as it turned out have a devastating bearing on the war: Declaration of War by three other states against Victoria: South-West Australia, Queensland and South New Zealand.
The Queensland and SNZ declaration mattered little. They couldn't get to me at the moment apart from one inquisitive frigate that was promply destroyed, and I still thought that after defeating NSW I could make peace with them. That left SWA, the only one with a border. After an agonising buildup, Victoria finally had enough reserve units to make a big push into the heart of NSW, but here a decision was made to divert them to capture Adelaide, the only major city beween us and the protective desert in the west. Capturing it would give us a good population boost as well and break the back of this state's ability to threaten us. So, the force that took months to build up was hastility despatched in a frontal assault, made even more urgent by the increasing incursions into Victoria by the SW Australian army.
On the outskirts of Adelaide, after crushing feeble counteraatacks, the force faced heavy artillery and airpower as in NSW. The lighter force sent here with no artillery support(it was still trudging slowly to the front, the air transport being a victim of NSW air superiority long before) was cut to shreds, but blinded with rage and annoyed at the distraction, I poured ever more freshly built units into the fray. Adelaide and the damn air and land base that were such thorns, finally fell after the order was given to send a few speedy units around the back and tear into the rear of the lines, an obvious solution that for way too long passed me by what with a stubborn desire to bash my way through!(Now I see how the lure of a quick thrust, had turned Stalingrad into such a disaster despite envelopment being a better option!).
At the same time, and despite the heavy attrition in South Australia, NSW proved to be relatively poorer tactically than the South Australians. The NSW navy was harrassing units moving up the coast, but the one and only P-3 Orion in service along with the small Victorian navy took a heavy toll forcing the enemy back to its harbour. The cost was total though, the few ships were destroyed and the lone P-3 shot down by airpower when straying too close to the enemy CAP. NSW had an obsession with the consumer goods factory south of Sydney: Our troops would take it, withdraw, then NSW would launch a raid to recapture it and move further south, becoming easy prey to encirclement and destruction. Eventually, after one such raid, where 4 units were destroyed, Victorian troops sensed an opportunity to press on. For a few months, even with the siphoning of troops for the Adelaide offensive, enough were sent quietly to the force south of Sydney to finally be able to make a difference. Unlike Adelaide, this time there would be a methodical and united offensive with artillery and light mechanised units. The success was swift. With the heavier battatlions destroyed or badly mauled during the recent foray against the civilian factory, NSW artillery on the southern flank guarding Sydney only had a few garrison units and SAM troops for defense. In a few days of pitched battles, the infantry was gone and a massacre of the artillery and SAM units in the rear and the bases began. Not even the airpower could save NSW as after expending their ammunition, the 5 aircraft or so couldn't land and resupply as Victorian troops had taken the field. Another success happened in Sydney Harbour as the NSW fleet was destroyed at anchor. At this point the desperate NSW government withdrew the capital north to Newcastle, but within a week it had fallen and the few NSW units were heading to their last bastion Lismore in a headlong rout! With victory in sight, the dastardly Queensland government somehow did a deal whereby it inherited NSW territory and all it's units and held our tiring pursuers off at the last major base in NSW still not in our hands!(With the 1.2 patch, it seems that such 'treachery' is no longer in play,but here it allowed Queensland to almost double its airforce and increase land units by a third, not to mention grab a big base that would make any attempt to get Brisbane even more difficult.)
At this point, despite the Victorian military in desperate need of repair and rest, it seemed as though the war was proceeding well: NSW was gone, South-West Australia had just lost half its population and New Zealand was no military threat. Only Queensland looked still in shape, but the plan was to spend the next few months rebuilding and getting ready for an envelopment of Brisbane before a final push. To this end, while forces were built up, another strike team was assembed to cut Queensland in half and capture resources in the central North while slowly pushing east,in the poorly supplied areas to eventually paralyze their economy and increase discontent, just as in NSW. While the cutting of QLD did succeed, the supply situation was much worse and 4 units were left stranded. At this point word was coming in from ministers all round of lack of production and resources. Of excessive demand for everything and nothing to compensate. Units weren't being produced and fuel and ammunition not getting through! With growing disbelief, I checked the economic statistics: Taxation was at 98%!Shortages of every commodity, no power, debt so high that impossible to build new things, and money haemorraging through ridiculously unnecessary research and social spending programs!
It all suddenly became clear: The more than doubling of the Victorian population through conquest did not go hand in hand with a similar increase in factory output. Indeed, one of the short sighted policies of my invasion plans was to destroy any production facility that may have been retaken by the enemy. The ridiculous attack on Adelaide had eaten up precious units, but resulted only in a million more citizens to look after while economically all I got was a handful of low quality factories and useless(in this scenario) Uranium mines! Production of military supplies and industrial equipment also did not end up keeping pace with attrition. Desire fore quick unit production and concentrating on military matters meant that no infrastructure was put in place!
With the Victorian economy facing total collapse and incresingly bitter populace, a last card was played to try and salvage the situation. Peace overtures and land repatriation was offered to all mainland foes, but was rejected. And as Victoria, who still had over 12 million people from a starting strength of 5 million collapsed; little North New Zealand, which stayed out of the war and which was a symbol of economic management and wealth garnered vote after vote!
The dream of empire in ruins, over 100,000 Victorian military and civillian casualties, more than 170,000 casualties on our foes side....all for nothing!
Slumping back in my office seat, I studied the 9mm on the table. There was only one honourable way out for such a failure....time to take it!
A single player AAR for the Australia campaign scenario, default settings! Hope someone enjoys it
lengthy I know, but just so enthusiastic for the game which allowed such an interesting challenge with many twists and turns!