Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

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Finland1944
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Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Finland1944 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:34 am

I'm posting this text intentionally in AAR category, because it gives the background information to the experimental Pekka vs Morris (free oil) AAR. Maybe we can see some other this kind of experimental AARs, so we can discuss about the concept in this thread.

So where do these variants come from? I'll explain, but it's a long story…

In the end of this message there is a list of some possible historical variants. I've tried some of them in my own pbem-games. The original use of them has been the need to balance the situation during a game.

Let's start with those AARs, in which one player has met a catastrophe, like has failed Sea Lion. In such a situation both players seem to agree about game over. Another alternative is to imagine that it really went that way historically, but luckily also another event took place that balanced the situation so that it makes sense to continue the game. For instance, Turkey will join Axis because it knows that UK has put all it's resources to defend British isles, and must be weak in Iraq.

When I'm reading these AARs, it seems to me that ceaw is very much about winning or losing. Do you take Berlin in February or May? Personally I experience this a little bit stressful, because I easily take things too seriously.

But there is another approach: let's choose one or more historical variants and find out, what kind of outcome we get. During the game players can evaluate their performance, but there is no objective measure, acceding which one can yell: "I won!"

The emphasis is in simulating a "what if" historical situation. We are curious to know would have happened if these historical details were different." It's likely that in the end of game both players can say "oh, now it's obvious that the setting strongly favored one of players, we should have understood it in the beginning". But that's fine, because it is the result of that simulation. This combination of settings led to this result.

++++++

Variants are based on mutual agreement: "I'll do this, you'll do that, this is how we create this historical variant, a laboratory for simulation". We don't need to have these programmed in software. People can implement these by themselves.

Players can negotiate about a balanced combination of these: "if I can have this one favoring me, which one do you want for compensation". Or they can use variants go compensate the different skill levels. The effect of all these depend on timing, too. Player can decide the timing beforehand, it can be connected to a game event (eq mud), or it can be a probability per tun (like the Med fleet size > risk of Italy joining war ).

+++++++++

One meaningful way to change history is to make nations to join Axis or Allies. Technically you just agree together that one player make a nation to seek protection of the other side by dowing that nation. In the following list, I've written only few historically meaningful explanations for these events, but definitely there are lot of them.

1) Possible variants favoring axis:

-Italy joins war earlier > opportunity to attack France, US production reduced ( = allies dow it)

-Aryan Scandinavia: Norway and Sweden trust in Hitler and join Axis (=allies dow them)
(In the opportunistic Sweden there was a strong support for nazism. What if that they got the power?)

-Turkey/Spain/Portugal joins axis for free ( = allies dow them)
(For instance: Spain joins after Italy in order to take its share of France.)

-Allies don't defend Malta/Gibraltar ( = gar is left alone to defend, no repair)

-US postpones joining the war. (presidential campaign? because of Pacific theater? how long?)

-USSR postpones using Siberian reserve. (Pearl Harbor postponed? how long?)

-Allies don't attack Vichy. ( > no landing Italy to Italy?)

-Free France doesn't join war.


2) Possible variants favoring allies:

-Stalin makes a backstabbing attack in 1940 ( = axis dow it)

-US joins war earlier ( = axis dow it)

-Norway/Turkey joins allies for free. ( = axis dow them)
(In Winter 1939 Axis can't land anymore, so Norway dares to ask protection, UK send troops, but not too many to risk Sea Lion, will Germany chase them away in 1940?)

-Axis attack Vichy. ( = allies get NA for free, axis get Marseilles)

-Axis postpone Barbarossa in 1941 (how long?)

-Italians give up more easily. (Gar of Sardinia is evacuated.)

-Patriotic Mussolini: Italians only defend Italy and NA. Hitler can wage his war in Russia or where ever on his own.

(The last one resembles the situation that we Finns had in second world war: many politicians and generals said that we should advance only to reach the 1939 border. We crossed it, but made a compromise: we didn't give our effort for the siege of Leningrad.)

+++++++

Thanks's for your patience,

Pekka

PS
1) Right now I'm in the middle of terrifying scenario 1940 as Axis. I've just crossed Seine, and quite a many Soviet mecs moving in the same direction in Poland… This is not intended to be a balanced setting. It's about "what if"?

2) There are many mathematically oriented people here. I'm curious to see, if someone is going to suggest how many "balancing points" different variants are worth.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Cybvep » Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:10 am

Here is sth which I propose: if the Axis controls Athens, Crimea and Stalingrad, Turkey will see an opportunity and join the Axis, i.e. the Allies DOW them. That would make the Southern Campaign more interesting and it wouldn't be too drastic.

The same rule can apply if the Axis conquers Damascus and reaches Baghdad. It would add some spice to the game.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by trulster » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:06 pm

Well historically the Axis did control all those three (well Stalingrad only 90%), and Turkey was nowhere near to joining the Axis. Maybe if you add Batum (on the Turkish border) to the three. Agree that it would make for added spice and tension if Germany are near to fulfilling the requirements.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Cybvep » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:11 pm

Sure, why not? I'm not saying that Turkey would join the Axis then, BTW. I'm just saying that it's an interesting what-if.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:30 pm

Cybvep wrote:Here is sth which I propose: if the Axis controls Athens, Crimea and Stalingrad, Turkey will see an opportunity and join the Axis, i.e. the Allies DOW them. That would make the Southern Campaign more interesting and it wouldn't be too drastic.

The same rule can apply if the Axis conquers Damascus and reaches Baghdad. It would add some spice to the game.
It's way too easy for the Axis to get Athens, Sevastopol and Stalingrad in GS compared to the real war. If you get Turkey as a reward for doing so then you will see most Axis players going for Stalingrad. In GS you get Turkey on your side if you get the above cities + Baku.

Maybe one could increase Baku to be Baku, Tbilisi or Batumi. This way you have some possibilities if you break through the Caucasus defense line. Turkey could have joined the Axis if the Germans could put pressure on the Russians in the south. I don't think Stalingrad would have been enough.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Cybvep » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:42 pm

In GS you get Turkey on your side if you get the above cities + Baku.
Yeah, so this pretty much never happens (BTW don't you need to get Baghad, too?) and getting Turkey when you already have the Caucasus is a bit meh. It's just "the rich get richer", there is no dynamism. Their main role should be to HELP you to get the Caucasus (or the Middle East, depending on your focus).

Maybe Suez should count, too. So if you have Suez and Stalingrad (not a common situation, but there are more incentives to attack Egypt in 3.0 than in 2.1), Turkey will join, even if you don't have Baku. Then you can continue your push in the ME and in the Caucasus.
Maybe one could increase Baku to be Baku, Tbilisi or Batumi
This is an interesting option as well.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:47 pm

Finland1944 wrote:"Aryan Scandinavia: Norway and Sweden trust in Hitler and join Axis (=allies dow them)
(In the opportunistic Sweden there was a strong support for nazism. What if that they got the power?)
There was a 0% chance for Norway to join the Axis. The Norwegian people were mainly pro-Allied, but the mentality was to stay out of the war. The Labour Government in Norway at the time (Regjeringen Nygaardsvold) had introduced the "broken gun" strategy for Norway. That meant for Norway to remain neutral they should not do anything against either side. The Norwegian Government should not mobilize any troops to provoke either UK or Germany. This way they hoped nobody would be interesting in invading Norway. Stupid, but that was the mentality at the time.

The only Norwegian political party that would work with the Germans and wanted to join the Axis was Nasjonal Samling (Vidkun Quisling's party). At the latest prewar election Nasjonal Samling got 1.4% of the total votes. That is virtually nothing. Surely too low to form any opinion to join the Axis. The Norwegians were very sceptical to Germany and Hitler, more than the Swedes.

I would even claim that Norway would not have joined the Allies if the Germans hadn't invaded Norway. Norwegian politicans knew what Hitler was capable of and knew that if Norway joined the Allies then Norwegian cities would be terror bombed. The Norwegian politicans were not happy with how UK tried to lure Norway into the war by activating the north, minelaying the Norwegian waters was the last. So the response was to do nothing that would provoke Germany.

So I can't really see a reason to let Norway voluntarily join either side in GS.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Cybvep » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:58 pm

Norway shouldn't join, but Sweden cooperated with the Germans, so if someone wants a challenge, the two players may agree that the Allies will DOW Sweden during Barbarossa or whatever, "pretending" that the Swedish government is more pro-Axis and pro-war than it was IRL.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:08 pm

The Swedes were opportunists during WW2. They benefitted financialy from trading with Germany, the iron ore being the most important. Th population was mainly pro-German before the war, but at the same time the Swedish mentality was to stay out of any wars. The Swedish neutrality was embedded in the soul of almost every Swede. So something major should have to happen to let Sweden voluntarily join one side.

Germany was happy with the Swedish approach because they got their iron ore. Germany even improved their position by putting pressure on the Swedish Government so German troops were allowed to use the Swedish rail network back and forth from Germany to Norway and even some times into Finland. So Germany got from Sweden what they wanted (their resources and ability to use their territory for non-military purposes).

Sweden would NOT join the Allies because it would mean war with Germany. Sweden was very vulnerable to German bomber attacks and even an invasion. What would Sweden gain by joining the Allies? Nothing. Not even at the end of the war when Germany was crushed did the Swedes join the Allies.

During WW2 an image of the Swede became a tiger with the Slogan "En svensk tiger".

This means 2 things in Swedish. The direct "A swedish tiger" and the indirect "A swede keeps his mouth shut".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/En_svensk_tiger

The latter meant that Swedes should not say anything in public that could upset neither the Allies nor the Germans.

The Swedish tiger even got an additional meaning in Norway. A tiger has as everyone knows stripes. In Norway people who collaborated with the Germans during the war were called "stripete" (striped). So the symbol of the Swedish tiger also meant for Norwegians that the Swedes collaborated with the Germans.

Until late 1942 it was not uncommon for the Swedish border guards to send Norwegian refugees back to Norway, and thus capture by the Gestapo. It was only after Stalingrad and El Alamein that all refugees were allowed into Sweden. The Swedish policy up to that time was to not provoke the Germans.

Most Swedish civilians, however, were not so fond of Germany so they would help Norwegian refugees. The Norwegian underground organization soon learnt which Swedish border crossings were "tainted" with pro-German guards and which were ok. So they helped refugees get to the crossings that were considered safe.
Last edited by Peter Stauffenberg on Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Cybvep » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:10 pm

LOL. Did you read what I said? I wanted Sweden to join the AXIS, not the Allies :D. As I said:
(...) Sweden cooperated with the Germans, so if someone wants a challenge, the two players may agree that the Allies will DOW Sweden during Barbarossa or whatever, "pretending" that the Swedish government is more pro-Axis and pro-war than it was IRL.
Sweden even let the German troops use their railoroads to get to Finland.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Finland1944 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:33 pm

I think Stauffenberg wanted to comment my original approach where I made a liberal suggestion that we can throw nations to here and there according to what is wanted. I agree that Scandinavians shouldn't be treated like that ;-)

One example of flexibility is showing loyalty to Soviet union by this kind of actions:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_ex ... c_soldiers

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:01 pm

Cybvep wrote:LOL. Did you read what I said? I wanted Sweden to join the AXIS, not the Allies :D. As I said:
(...) Sweden cooperated with the Germans, so if someone wants a challenge, the two players may agree that the Allies will DOW Sweden during Barbarossa or whatever, "pretending" that the Swedish government is more pro-Axis and pro-war than it was IRL.
Sweden even let the German troops use their railoroads to get to Finland.
My point was that the main policy for Sweden was to remain NEUTRAL. There was nothing to gain by joining the Axis since Germany got the resources and could even use the rail network. Sweden didn't have any territorial claims anywhere meaning that they would join in any German offensives to get a reward for doing so. Sweden was a peaceful country who would do their utmost to stay out of the war. Sweden would defend their home territory and that's it.

This is different to Spain and Turkey. Spain wanted to get Gibraltar and Morocco as a reward for joining the Axis. Turkey wanted to get territory back in Greece and Russia.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by JimWC » Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:04 am

Homemade historical variants is a brilliant idea. It doesn't matter whether the scenario variants are historically plausible. Introduce interesting variants into the game and shake things up. Keep it fresh and exciting.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by shawkhan » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:34 pm

These kind of options I think should be on the start screen rather than some of the other inane options such as Corps sized paratroopers. If we simply accepted the white 'neutral' options and put in some of these interesting variants instead, the game would have much more variety. I think some people get hung up on historicity. Who cares if they 'think' it could never happen in the 'Real' war?
Vidkun Quisling for example actually existed. You could hypothesize that the Axis handled the situation more intelligently. One of the greatest 'what ifs' of the war was the way Ukraine was handled for example. What if the Nazis hadn't behaved in such a stupid manner and had encouraged Ukrainian 'independence'? Having a new minor ally appear after Barbarossa start was a real possibility. W/o different possibilities, a player is simply forced to recreate all the bad decisions of the war. This turns what should be a Game into a mere Historical Simulation. Wargames are all about 'what ifs'. To make some of these interesting possibilities optional would give this game a great deal of much-needed variety.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:32 pm

The problem with many of the what-ifs is that they will become the norm if they get mainly benefits. We all know it was stupid of Germany to treat the civilians in the occupied countries so poorly. If they had been treated nicer then you would get fewer partisans etc. Who would go with the treat poorly version unless there is a benefit for doing that. E. g. like the max SS units you can get depends upon how many countries you suppress with violence. So more SS units means more partisans.

The game called Advanced European Theatre of Operations by Decision Games has such a function. You can flag a country with atrocies done and if you have then you can use SS units in that country.

If you really want to have variety then you should have a chance for USA to remain neutral beyond Pearl Harbor. It was the stupid decision by Hitler to DOW USA that brought USA into the war in Europe. USA would have been focused on only Japan for at least 6 months, maybe longer. You could even have an option where Pearl Harbor never took place and USA would remain neutral unless an active dow.

The Axis actually handled the Quisling situation quite well until April 1940. The problem was that Quisling had no support within the Norwegian people. The Norwegians were anti war at that time, thus the broken rifle strategy by the Government. So allowing Norway to join the Axis is just as unlikely as allowing Italy to join the Allies prior to June 1940.

There were fanatics in the Scandinavian countries who joined the Axis war effort. That is implemented in the game via the SS mech unit Wiking and Nordland. That is the extent of support the Axis could expect from Scandinavia.

I'm not even sure the Norwegians would have joined the Axis if UK had invaded Norway to "protect" against the Germans. I think Norway would simply have laid down their arms after a few days and surrendered. Game wise it means UK could DOW and immediately get control over all hexes once one Norwegian hex is Allied controlled.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Cybvep » Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:42 pm

I'm not even sure the Norwegians would have joined the Axis if UK had invaded Norway to "protect" against the Germans. I think Norway would simply have laid down their arms after a few days and surrendered.
That's interesting. It's your home country, so I'm sure that you know much about it. I know that the Norwegians were anti-war and anti-Axis, but do you think that they would never accept the German help if the Allies invaded them? Even if the Germans said sth like "We can send 50k troops to defend Oslo and other southern Norwegian cities within a few days". "Oh, and the Luftwaffe will help, too". I don't think that the Germans would be harsh towards the Norwegians in such case, the occupation policies in the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway) were relatively lenient if you compare them with the ones used in Yugoslavia, Poland or the USSR.

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:37 am

It depends on how the Allies would land in Norway. If they invaded like Germany with bombinb raids against Norwegian cities then you would have seen some opposition.

If it had been more like landing "protection" troops for Finland, minelaying Norwegian waters, patrolling Norwegian waters to prevent the iron ore from arriving then I think they would have done nothing.

E. g. the Altmark incident showed that Norway didn't do much to prevent Allied interventions in Norwegiain waters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altmark_Incident

Read here about the Norwegian campaign and the chapter about the Winter war:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_Campaign

Winter War

Main articles: Winter War and Franco–British plans for intervention in the Winter War

When the Soviet Union started its attack against Finland on 30 November 1939, the Allies found themselves aligned with Norway and Sweden in support of Finland against the much larger aggressor.

After the outbreak of war between Finland and the Soviet Union, Norway mobilized larger land forces than what had initially been considered necessary. By early 1940 the 6th Division in Finnmark and Troms fielded 9,500 troops to defend against Soviet attack, positioned mostly in the eastern regions of Finnmark. Parts of the 6th Division's forces remained in Finnmark even after the German invasion, guarding against a possible Soviet attack.[2][10] During the Winter War the Norwegian authorities secretly broke with the country's own neutrality by sending the Finns a shipment of 12 Ehrhardt 7.5 cm Model 1901 artillery pieces and 12,000 shells, as well as allowing the British to use Norwegian territory to transfer aircraft and other weaponry to Finland.[2]

This presented an opportunity to the Allies who, while genuinely sympathetic to Finland, also saw an opportunity to use the pretence of sending troop support to additionally occupy ore fields in Sweden and ports in Norway.[11] The plan, promoted by the British General Edmund Ironside, included two divisions landing at Narvik, five battalions somewhere in Mid-Norway, and another two divisions at Trondheim. The French government pushed for action to be taken to confront the Germans away from France.[12]

This movement caused the Germans concern. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had placed Finland within the Soviet sphere of interest, and the Germans therefore claimed neutrality in the conflict.[13] This policy caused a rise in anti-German sentiment throughout Scandinavia, since it was commonly believed that the Germans were allied with the Soviets. Fears began to crop up in German high command that Norway and Sweden would then allow Allied troop movement to aid Finland.

The proposed Allied deployments never occurred, after protests from both Norway and Sweden, when the issue of transfers of troops through their territory was suggested. With the Moscow Peace Treaty on 12 March 1940, the Finland-related Allied plans were dropped. The abandonment of the planned landings put immense French pressure on Neville Chamberlain's British government, and eventually led to the Allied mining of the Norwegian

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:38 am

Read here about the Norwegian campaign and the chapter about the Allied plans:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_Campaign

Allied plans

With the end of the Winter War, the Allies determined that any occupation of Norway or Sweden would likely do more harm than good, possibly driving the neutral countries into alliance with Germany. However, the new French prime minister, Paul Reynaud, took a more aggressive stance than his predecessor and wanted some form of action taken against Germany.[12] Churchill was a strong agitator for action in Scandinavia, because he wanted to cut Germany off from Sweden and push the Scandinavian countries to side with the United Kingdom. This initially involved a 1939 plan to penetrate the Baltic with a naval force. This was soon changed to a plan involving the mining of Norwegian waters to stop iron ore shipments from Narvik and provoke Germany into attacking Norway, where it could be defeated by the Royal Navy.[19]

It was agreed to utilize Churchill's naval mining plan, Operation Wilfred, designed to remove the sanctuary of the Leads and force transport ships into international waters where the Royal Navy could engage and destroy them. Accompanying this would be Plan R 4, an operation where, upon almost certain German counteraction to Operation Wilfred, the Allies would then proceed to occupy Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen and Stavanger. The planners hoped that the operation would not provoke the Norwegians to resist the Allies with armed force.[20]

The Allies disagreed over the additional Operation Royal Marine, where mines would also be placed in the Rhine River. While the British supported this operation, the French were against it, since they also depended on the Rhine and feared German reprisals on French soil. Because of this delay, Operation Wilfred, originally scheduled for 5 April, was delayed until 8 April when the British agreed to perform the Norwegian operations separately from those on the continent.[12]

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:40 am

Here is an article about Operation Wilfred (Allied mine laying of Norwegian waters):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Wilfred

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Re: Introducing a "homemade historical variants" -concept

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:52 am

The conclusion is that the Norwegian Government would tolerate A LOT to prevent becoming at war with a major power. Norway was more sceptical to Germany than UK and France so if the Allies had made good reasons for landing "protection" troops in Norway they could have got away with it. If they had started to fire at Norwegian troops or bombed Norwegian cities then the situation would have been different.

If the Allied invasion of Norway had been done like the Allied invasion of Iceland (Operation Fork) they could have got away with it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Iceland

I'm not saying that the Norwegians would have been applauding if Allied troops had landed in Norway. It would certainly have caused a lot of distrust and many would have protested. So it depends on HOW the Allies intervened in Norway. If the aim was to stop the Swedish iron ore then I think a formal protest would be what it would have ended with. I think the biggest concern for the Norwegian Government would be that Allied troops in Norway would trigger Germany to become hostile towards the Allied troops there with bombing raids etc. Then Norwegians would be killed in collateral damage.

The main strategy for Norway was to do as much as possible to stay out of the war, just like the Swedish policy was. Sweden had to accept German troops being railed through Sweden and I'm sure Norway could have reluctantly accepted something similar if the Allies had demanded it.

Anyway, this is just speculation. The Allies never got the chance to intervene in Norway.

I think one has to think about the situation of small countries like Norway and Denmark in WW2. These countries had so few and small forces that they had no chance standing up against a major power invading. E. g. Denmark didn't fight hard against Germany when the Germans invaded. It was futile.

Game wise it's probably ok to allow both sides to invade and "fight" a token force in both of these countries before they surrender. It simulates the real situation quite well. Norwegian forces held out in the inland and north for 2 months, but that was mainly because the Allies intervened after the German invasion. The country is so difficult to move troops in that it took time for the Germans to clear all resistance. In Denmark you could reach all parts of the country in just a few days. It's completely flat.

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