France is a major power in 1936, one of the winners of the Great War, and in control of a globe-spanning empire. Their heartland in Europe is rich; almost half of Africa is under their control, and they have colonies in Indochina, Syria and Guyana, not to mention direct control of islands in all the oceans of the world. However, their government is divided, with Communist influences threatening to weaken it further.
The memory of the Great War is also very much alive, and the people of France are reluctant to fight another major war in Europe. Should an aggressive adversary like Germany threaten its heartland, France is unlikely to be willing to sustain defensive efforts that could see the entire country devastated. On top of that, the French military leadership is made up of old guards who are inexperienced with modern warfare and dangerously complacent regarding the intentions of their enemies.
That being said, if a player takes control of France and is able to iron out all of the country's internal problems and strengthen the military-industrial complex enough before war breaks out, they are in a good position to repulse and defeat both Germany and Italy and annex both countries, thus ending those threats for good.
If played correctly, the Second World War (and any other conflicts before 1948) could very well see France reborn and reshaped and emerge from the crucible of war as the far bigger and stronger European Union. If allied with the United Kingdom (which can annex all of its dominions and even the United States to form the Imperial Federation), these two titans can easily become the dominant superpowers of the post-war world order.
France is located in Western Europe. It consists of mainland France and the island of Corsica. France also controls a large number of overseas territories and colonies including, Algeria, Syria, Madagascar, and resource-rich Indochina. France is dominated by flat, arable land in the Northwest and forest and highland in the center. France borders Belgium to the north, with the Ardenne forest making natural bulwark. To the Northeast in the region of Alsace-Lorraine lies the small Vosges mountain range and the huge river Rhine, which makes up the natural border with German Reich. To the south lies the Pyrenees mountains which separate France from Spain. To the east lies Switzerland and Italy lies to the Southeast separated by the huge Alps mountain range. Significant rivers include the river Rhine between France and German Reich, Le Rhône to the southeast, La Seine to the northwest, La Loire which runs through the center, and La Garonne which runs in the southwest.
France both borders the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the English channel to the Northwest and the Bay of Biscay to the west.
France, along with the United Kingdom, guaranteed the independence of Poland prior to its invasion by Germany. Feeling secured by the Maginot Line in the Eastern provinces of Alsace-Lorraine, France declared war against Germany with the United Kingdom in 1939 after Germany's invasion of Poland. However, around a year later, in 1940, when actual combat ensued between all three powers, the Allied armies were defeated in just six weeks during the Battle of France against Germany and Italy, in contrast to the years-long campaign expectation by both sides. Thinking their chances poor regardless, Germany gambled on a decisive victory by sending Panzer divisions through Luxembourg and the Ardennes' forested hills, terrain which the French supreme commander Gamelin thought unable to sustain tank movements. The Panzers then drove—without waiting for infantry to secure their supply lines—through France to the English Channel, surrounding the bulk of the Allied forces which had been sent to Belgium's border with Germany aiming to deny them room for mobile warfare and overconfident that their main thrust would be through Belgium as in WWI's Schlieffen Plan.
Threatened with annihilation, the British evacuated their expeditionary forces and what Allied units they could until Dunkirk fell. Soon thereafter, the french front collapsed and Germany begun an offensive southwards capturing Paris completely unopposed on the 14th of June and occupying the northern half of France (with the frontline going from Bordeaux to Grenoble) by the 24th of June. The French military completely disintegrated and the French government agreed to an armistice on the 25th of June—effectively surrendering the whole country—in a defeat which caused great astonishment to the rest of the world, as up until that point, France was a leading world power (both economically and militarily) that only 20 years earlier had won the Great War.
After the crushing and humiliating defeat, Germany and Italy annexed territories of eastern France (equivalent to the states of Alsace-Lorraine, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Savoy, Nice and Corsica in-game) while the rest of metropolitan France was placed under the jurisdiction of Vichy France, a German client state led by Marshal Philippe Pétain with its de facto capital in the french town of Vichy. France's colonial empire on the other hand, was either occupied by the United Kingdom and the Free French forces under general Charles de Gaulle or conquered by the Axis powers (Primarily Italy and Japan).
- Main article: French events
- Main article: French national focus tree
France, as one of the seven major powers, got a unique national focus tree.
The French national focus tree can be divided into 5 branches and 7 sub-branches:
- Devalue the Franc Branch
- This branch offers the possibility to develop Metropolitan France and the overseas colonies, as well as add two more research slots.
- Begin Rearmament Branch
- This branch, which focuses either on defensive or offensive expansion of the military. The defensive focuses give army and fortification bonuses while the offensive focuses give army and air bonuses. They end with the shared focus Army Reform which removes the starting national spirit Victors of the Great War.
- Form the Popular Front/Revive the National Bloc Branch
- This branch develops French industry. The left side of the branch adds factories to various states, completely removes Inefficient Economy and leads to the communist sub-branch. The right side of the branch develops construction speed, manipulates party popularity, and leads to the fascist and monarchist sub-branch. Both sides lead to the historical democratic sub-branch of the focus tree and Intervention in Spain decisions.
- Invite Communist Ministers Sub-branch
- This sub-branch allows France to become Communist, gain manpower and political power. The Reconciliation section gives stability and political power. It leads to the Anti-Fascist coalition section which allies with neighboring or Balkan Communist and Democratic nations and manpower. The Revolution to the Utmost gives war support and a civil war. It leads to the Loyalty to the Cause section which gives war goals against the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Italy. Both the Reconciliation and the Revolution to the Utmost leads to the Loyalty to Moscow section which allows France to join the Comintern. This section and the Anti-Fascist coalition section leads to a focus that gives war goals against all neighboring Fascist nation.
- Leftist Rhetoric Sub-branch
- This sub-branch is only available if the La Résistance DLC is not enabled. This allows France to become Communist.
- The Blum-Viollette Proposal Sub-branch
- This sub-branch allows France to core Algeria, gain non-core manpower and compliance or lose the national spirit Full Employment. Depending on the choice of the colonies, the French Union focus allows France to annex and core its colonies or increase resistance.
- Review Foreign Policy Sub-branch
- This sub-branch allows France to either create the Little Entente with Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania or Poland, support Finland in their war, join the Allies or create the Stressa Front with the United Kingdom and Italy.
- Utilize the Leagues Sub-branch
- This sub-branch allows France to become Fascist, gain claims on various nations and make alliances with other European nations. The Latin Entente section allows France to ally with Spain, Portugal and Italy for French Somaliland, gain claims on Greece and war goals on Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Towards a New Europe section allows France to join the Axis, gain claims and war goals on Belgium and Canada. Both sections lead to war goals claims and subjugation on the Middle East.
- The Council of Rambouillet Sub-branch
- This sub-branch restores the French monarchy from either the House of Orléans (Orléaniste), Bourbon (Légitimistes) or Bonaparte (Bonapartiste). The Orléanist section gives war goals against Germany and Italy. The Légitimist section gives an alliance, an annexation or wargoal on Spain. The Bonapartist section gives war goals against United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and the Soviet Union. It also has a focus to split Germany into 7-9 different countries.
- Right Wing Rhetoric Sub-branch
- This sub-branch is only available if the La Résistance DLC is not enabled. This allows France to become Fascist.
- Naval Rearmament Branch
- This branch includes focuses which grant experience and research bonuses that improve the navy.
- Air Focus Branch
- This branch includes focuses which grant experience and research bonuses that improve the air force.
France starts with very good tanks, having unlocked 2 levels of the light tanks tree. This is offset by a major penalty to doctrine research, making it extremely time-consuming to develop proper doctrines.
|Without Man the Guns|
France is the only nation to start with Battlecruiser II, a 1940 technology.
We have signed the London Naval Treaty and accordingly are restricted in the size of our capital ships.
Victors of the Great War
- Recruitable Population: −0.3%
- War Support: -5%
- Land Doctrine Research Speed: -75%
Having emerged victorious from the Great War, the army has developed a dangerously complacent attitude which causes strategic developments to come slowly and with some reluctance.
The state of French politics is far from stable. While reforms are needed and welcome, the nation is divided and getting drawn into a conflict would put it at great risk.
Having fortified the border gives France the opportunity to plan and prepare carefully, but it does sacrifice some flexibility in the event of something unexpected.
- Recruitable Population Factor: -25%
We are in the enviable position of having very low unemployment, partially because of the massive bloodshed of the Great War. However, this has made it difficult for companies to find skilled workers, and the military finds it hard to compete with the labor market for recruits. Extending the draft would only exaberate the problem. We should try and find other sources of manpower to make up for the shortfall, either in recruitment or in the economy.
Communists and far-right extremist leagues are always ready to resort to violence to advance their political cause.
Disjointed Government can possibly be removed by completing National Focuses in the Popular Front/National Bloc branch.
Victors of the Great War can be removed by completing the Army Reform focus at the bottom of the Begin Rearmament tree.
Changing conscription laws will make Full Employment worse but can be removed with the National focus.
France starts outside of the Allies at the start of 1936, but has options to join later. They also have focuses to form their own faction with Czechoslovakia and invite Yugoslavia and Romania to form the Little Entente.
France has a focus to unlock decisions concerning whether to intervene in the Spanish Civil War, or encourage non-interference by other parties.
|Rule||Whether it applies||Reason|
|Can declare war on country of the same ideology group without a war goal||No||Democracy|
|Can Guarantee other Ideologies||Yes||Democracy|
|Can create Factions||No||No National Spirit. Requires National Focus|
|Lowers World Tension with Guarantees||Yes||Democracy|
|Can puppet a country||No||Democracy|
|Can justify wargoals against a country that have not generated world tension||No||Democracy|
|Can create collaboration governments||No||Democracy|
France can form the European Union through a decision if it is democratic and controls the requisite territories (those being all of its own starting core states a well as the starting core states of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Staff and DesignersEdit
These are choices of ministers and design companies for France.
|Conscription Law||Economy Law||Trade Law|
| Limited Conscription
|| Civilian Economy
|| Export Focus
8 Military Factories
10 Naval Dockyard
33 Civilian Factories
Military production is dwarfed by Germany (20 more factories) and Italy (11 more factories) and only on par with Belgium. The player can also expect production to be crippled by the 1936 strikes. However, the very good civilian production allows for considerable military buildup in the years before the war and France can easily build up its industry to a comparable level once the strikes and other negative modifiers have been removed.
These numbers represent the base available resources, depending on the trade law a certain amount may be traded away.
France has access to huge amounts of Steel and Aluminum. They also control large supplies of Rubber, Chromium and Tungsten from their Asian colonies. They have no access to Oil so they need to import that.
France has 74 divisions in 1936, but many of those are colonial divisions with only six infantry battalions, and their armored divisions are basically brigades:
- Six are Division de Cavalerie with 4x cavalry and a cavalry recon detachment.
- Seven are Division d'Infanterie Motorisée with 9x motorized, support artillery and a motorized recon company.
- Nine are Division Coloniale with 9x infantry and support artillery.
- Four are Division d'Infanterie Alpine with 12x mountaineers and no support.
- One is a Divisione Légère Mécanique with 4x motorized, 2x light tanks and a motorized recon company.
- Five are Brigade de Chars de Combat with 4x light tanks and no support.
- Nineteen are Division d'Infanterie with 9x infantry and support artillery.
- The remaining 23 are Brigade Coloniale with 6x infantry, no support, and low reinforcement priority.
France relies on the heavy fortifications at the border against Germany to defend them there. With its far-flung and vast colonial possessions, defending them against attack will require a higher concentration of light, fast forces compared to Metropole defense.
In terms of technology, France has a good head start on mechanized, motorized and tank forces with only a little catch-up for infantry weapons. The problem with fielding a modern army will be expanding France's production base, which is both extremely limited and faced with the prospect of crippling manpower shortages in the very near future in 1936.
Examples of alternative division template names for France include:
- Mountaineers - Division d'Infanterie Alpine
- Marines - Division d'Infanterie de Marine
- Paratroopers - Division Aéroportée
- Motorized - Division d'Infanterie Motorisée
- Mechanized - Division d'Infanterie Mécanisée
- Armor - Division Blindée
|1936||Citroen U23||Motorized I|
|1940||Citroen P107||Mechanized I|
|1942||SOMUA MCG||Mechanized II|
|1944||AMX VCI||Mechanized III|
|Name||Type||Techyear||Tank Destroyer / SP-Artillery / Armored AA Variants|
|FT 17||Great War Tank||1918||None|
|H35||Light Tank I||1934||Generic|
|FCM 36||Light Tank II||1936||AMR 35 ZT-3 (TD)|
|AMX 12t||Light Tank III||1941||F3 155 mm (SPA)|
|AMC 35||Medium Tank I||1939||W15 TCC (TD) / ARL V39 (SPA)|
|S35||Medium Tank II||1941||SAu 40 (TD) / 105 AM (SPA)|
|SARL 42||Medium Tank III||1943||Generic|
|B1||Heavy Tank I||1934||Canone de 194 (SPA)|
|ARL 44||Heavy Tank II||1941||Generic|
|AMX-M4||Heavy Tank III||1943||Generic|
|FCM F-1||Super Heavy Tank||1943||Generic|
France has 1 Carrier(CV), 5 Battleships(BB), 7 Heavy Cruisers(CA), 7 Light Cruisers(CL), 52 Destroyers(DD) and 63 Submarines(SS) at the start, and boasts a somewhat modern - if badly understrength - fleet. Whilst the Marine Nationale is strong enough to decisively defeat either the Kriegsmarine or the Regia Marina alone, it would have no chance against a combined Axis fleet. As with her tanks, France begins the game with modern naval technology, such as 1936 BB, DD and SS techs and two unique designs: La Fantasque, a destroyer model with tier 3 (1940) engines, and the Surcouf Class submarine with 3 custom slots. Many of these designs are clearly aimed against an anti-surface role, prioritizing fast, lightly-armored ships with minimal ASW capability and strong scouting capabilities. However, poor naval infrastructure and low shipbuilding priority means that constructing a large modern fleet is not easy, and in fact can often be counter-productive in that it denies vital raw materials from tank and motorized production.
|Bourrasque Class*||Destroyer||26||1922||DD battery I, AA I, 2xTT I|
|Chacal Class*||Destroyer||24||1922||Bourrasque + DC I and Light Engine II|
|La Fantasque Class||Destroyer||2||4||1922||DD battery II, AA I, TT I, TT II, DC I, Light Engine III|
|Mogador Class||Destroyer||1936||2xDD battery II, AA I, TT II, DC I|
|Duguay-Trouin Class*||Light Cruiser||5||1922||2xCL I batteries, TT I, scout plane I, no armor|
|Émile Bertin Class||Minelayer (CL)||1||1922||2xCL II batteries, 2xAA I, mines, no armor|
|La Galissonniére Class||Light Cruiser||1||4||1922||2xAA I, 2xCL II batteries, scout plane I, CL armor I|
|Suffren Class*||Heavy Cruiser||6||1922||2xCA I battery, AA I, TT I, scout plane I, CA Armor I|
|Algérie Class||Heavy Cruiser||1||1922||2xCA I batteries, 2x AA I, scout plane I, CA Armor I|
|Surcouf Class||Submarine||1||1918||2xTT I, scout plane I|
|600 Series*||Submarine||19||1922||TT I|
|630 Series*||Submarine||16||1922||TT I|
|Saphir Class*||Minelayer (SS)||6||1922||TT I, mines|
|Minerve Class||Submarine||4||1922||2xTT I, Submarine Engine II|
|Redoutable Class||Submarine||21||3||1936||2xTT I|
|Dunkerque Class||Battlecruiser||1||1936||2xBB I batteries, 2x AA I, 2xSecondary I, Scout Plane 1, BC Armor II|
|Courbet Class*||Battleship||2||1922||2xBB I batteries, 1xAA I, 3xSecondary I, BB Armor I|
|Bretagne Class||Battleship||3||1922||2xBB I batteries, 2xAA I, 2xSecondary I, BB Armor I|
|Richelieu Class||Battleship||1||1936||2xBB II batteries, 2xAA I, scout plane II, 2xSecondary II, BB Armor II|
|Béarn Class||Aircraft Carrier||1||1922||2xHangar Space, 1xAA I, 1x Secondary I|
|* marks a variant as "obsolescent".|
42 Naval Bombers
204 Tactical Bombers
France starts with 450 fighters, 42 Naval Bombers and 204 modern Tactical Bombers. It is a rather good air force, but it will need to be significantly strengthened before the war starts.
These are the Military Staff candidates for appointment in France.
Strategies and GuidesEdit
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Forming the European UnionEdit
France is quite possibly the best candidate to form the European Union as if staying democratic, it can expect to end up in a defensive war against both Germany and Italy, allowing both countries to be annexed in a single peace treaty. The main problem with forming the EU as France is the inability to annex Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg but this can be worked around by going down the French Entente line in the focus tree. Be sure to kick Czechoslovakia out of the faction before Sudetenland as otherwise you will end up in a war with Germany too early. Wait for Germany to capitulate all the minors on the mainland before justifying on an axis member and joining the war.
Once the war starts its important to deny military access to all other belligerents and rack up massive war score on your own. The most straightforward approach would be to first neutralize Italy by launching naval invasions to encircle and destroy their troops before matching on Rome. Start in Sicily and work your way up the peninsula towards Rome. If you have land forts around level 6 or higher then the Axis nations will be very hesitant to assault your positions and you can focus on taking down Italy. Once Italy falls, be sure to quickly capitulate Germany before the Allies are able to do that. You need to have a high war score in order to pull off this strategy.
Once the Axis powers are defeated and the peace treaty commences, annex the BeNeLux countries in their entirety and as much of Italy and Germany in the first peace treaty as possible. Try to annex all coastal states as the allies will not annex any states that they cannot reach. Only Italy's and Germany's starting regions are needed so a German Republic forming in Austria or an Italian Republic forming in Albania (due to Allied demands) is very convenient if you can cut then off and stop them from getting more land in the peace deal.
An alternative (albeit untested) way to form the EU is to allow Hungary to become a major power and then occupy and hold the territories needed before the peace deal.
Lastly, it is also possible to take advantage of several random events to increase Communist support high enough and flip France to communism, allowing them to manually justify war goals on Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands and annex them, then progress down the Democratic branch of the National Focus tree and drift back to Democracy and form the EU.