So, it commences!
The fascist warmongering hordes of Aussiematto are back in action against the cunning liberal democracies led by Amandkm. Thanks to my opponent for agreeing to let me write this up!
We are approaching December 1939 and reports are positive so far.
In China, Japanese SHQ had determined that the Russians pose a limited threat and thus have sent their weaker forces to garrison Manchuria freeing up several large formations to continue the campaign against China. The IJN has been building some experience, and learning that planes do crash when you fly them in close air support, but the main action is on the ground.
Kimura is leading a 4-army assault on Changsha and has crushed the outer defences comprehensively. Only the weather can save this vital city from occupation by 1940. At Nanning, an early aggressive thrust by Okamura's forces (reinforced it appears from the mainland) is taking heavy Japanese casualties in rough terrain and getting nowhere. A counter strike from Chinese forces in Henjiang to threaten Canton was seen off by unexpected garrison troops. Hard going there, as the weather closes out any air support: Nanning will hold for months yet. Chengchow is being well defended - pushing back and battering at least one Japanese army under the less than competent Itaguchi who is now being supported by the forces from Manchuria. After 2 months of quiet success, the Japs are now on the back foot! Meanwhile, Terauchi has brutalised an aggressive Chinese unit that thrust on Peking only to run into two armies. The fight is very much in the balance all along the front.
In the west, Poland lived up to its reputation for insane heroism in the face of overwhelming odds. Despite a perfectly executed drive from north and south panzer forces, and a powerful air campaign, which saw Warsaw captured within the first two weeks, the Poles struggled on for another fortnight, causing incidental damage, but slowing down von Runstedt's plans for the French. In particular, it appears that the survival of cavalry defending in Czechoka might have been just enough to keep Polish morale high enough to fight on. But now, Poland is conquered, stabbed in the back by Russia (who have proven themselves unworthy allies by also invading Finland!). The Low Countries are starting to feel nervous - especially as their embassies in Brussels report the unopposed entry of 1st Army in late November. And the Luftwaffe has shown the French why it is a bad idea to bomb the Westwall - a concerted air campaign caught the bombers on the ground and destroyed them. Still, the British have arrived, reservists are being called up and the delay from Poland will be costly as the weather now precludes any further offensive for months to come.
The Royal Navy, too, has learned to be careful - intensive raiding and submarine interdiction of convoys from Canada roused the destroyers, which have taken losses from Spee and Deutschland! But, of course, the Kriegsmarine remembers its history and the main fleet cowers in the ports like so many sitting ducks awaiting a future watery grave....
Italy, the fascist minion, eyes the possibility of joining this fight - not JUST yet, because its forces are weak, ill-trained, and out of position. Alarmingly, the French and British navies are sniffing out the Regia Marina's dispositions which might tip Mussolini into an early and ill conceived start to the war.
We approach Christmas and, broadly, the game goes as expected. More to come :)
(Side note: Amandkm and I proved that one can completely screw up Japan and still win as Axis. We just peacefully settled a contest in which I lost Tsientsin on Turn 2 and never recovered in China. By 1944, Tokyo was about to fall, but Rumanians were in Manchuria, Turks in India, Hungarians in Urumchi, Italians in Somaliland, and the Germans had taken London).
I still remember cardboard!