Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fictional AltHistory #9: Command & Conquer Red Alert Timeline Headcanon

So lately I've been on a Command & Conquer kick, partly thanks to the excellent work done by the OpenRA Team, who have taken the freeware files of the original Command & Conquer (1995), Red Alert (1996) and Dune 2000 (1998) and turned them into a fully functional, modern RTS for modern computers. If you want to relive an RTS classic, then go check them out!

Since I'm absolutely positive that EA will never make a good C&C again.

That said, I once did a fictional AltHistory scenario on the first C&C here, well over a year and a half ago, and I think it's time to revisit the grandfather of all RTS games, this time with it's slightly loopy and campy B-movie quality of it's brother, Red Alert 1.

So, Point of Divergence. Hmmm... This is actually harder than I thought, mostly because RA1 is an alternate history already, asking "what if Albert Einstein built a time machine and erased Hitler from history?" And, considering all the talk about Nazi's today, I'd rather not get into that right now...

Well, the games themselves feature the heroic Allies fighting the brutal Soviets for control of Europe, introducing new technologies and desperate tactics to try to change the tide of battle: attack dogs, flamethrowers, Tesla coils, double barreled Mammoth Tanks, nuclear weapons, invulnerability and teleportation devices... the list goes on. Oh, and Tanya.

But, there is one thing about Red Alert 1 that popped up, but then never came up again...

Who is that handsome guy in the back there? Zoom in!
... damn low resolutions. Find a better picture for this joke!

Ahah! You magnificent bald, goateed bastard Kane, you!

An aborted attempt to tie the Red Alert series to the original Command & Conquer, the Tiberium series.

Now, over the years, a myth, persay, has developed on how this tie together would work. But this scenario never struck me as likely, because it was that a Soviet Victory in the "Second World War" of this timeline was what would lead to the establishment of the Global Defense Initiative and the emergence of the Brotherhood of Nod. But it just doesn't feel right to me, that, the Soviet Union manages to conquer all of Europe but then allows a United Nations organization (which should never have been established in this alternate timeline) to then build a global military force. It just always struck me as wrong that the Soviet's would allow something like that to happen, or that the United Nations would be formed, and then in turn form GDI, after a collapse of the USSR.

No, my headcanon for tying RA1 and C&C1 together involves an Allied Victory.

"But wait!" the C&C fans would begin to bellow. "The Allied Victory is what leads to Red Alert 2, and then to Red Alert 3! So it can't be used for C&C1. How can that work?"

Ah, well here is where it gets weird: I say that Red Alert 1 and 2 are both in the timeline.

Not sure what he's confused about. Most likely why watermarks are hovering all over him.

Okay, let me explain.

So, we start with Einstein going back in time in the late 1940s, killing Hitler, and returning to his time, just to see the Soviets Rise up, and try to take over Europe. With the United States still isolationist, it's all up to Europe (including a non-Nazi Germany) to unite and hold back the Soviets, forming the Allies, or, rather, the United Nations. It was only after the USSR tried to develop atomic bombs that the US joined the United Nations, sending men, weapons and supplies to help the beleaguered Allies, and invade Russia itself, and topple Stalin, and the USSR.

After this, the US and her European Allies begin to rebuild, and Michael Romanov is placed in charge of the much smaller Soviet Union. But in the 1970s, with the USSR rebuilt and gearing up for revenge, they launch a multi-pronged attack on the United States, which wasn't the great military power it was in OTL because it only helped at the very end of the previous World War, and then went back to a semi-isolationist stance, content that the damn Commies are contained. But now with the US the prime target of the USSR (with their mind control agents, attack squids, missile launching battleships and flying airships of death), and the Allies (which have dolphins, tanks that turn into trees, weather control superweapons and, of course, Tanya), perhaps because the US didn't come to their immediate aid or because they were afraid of the Soviet Union, wouldn't join until later, at which point the Allies manage to overcome the destruction, and bring down the USSR.

Up until now, this is based on the lore of the first two Red Alert games. Now is where the Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey stuff comes into play.

That noise you hear is Daleks allying with the Brotherhood of Nod and the Soviets.

The expansion for Red Alert 2 featured a campaign by the psychic Yuri trying to take over the world. Now, in the Allied Campaign, at the last mission, there is a... thing that happens, where the screen gets all wobbly, and the "timelines merge" with the ending of Red Alert 2. And with the world now at peace, and the United Nations dominate, all the major powers agree to dismantle, or at least decommission their most advanced weapons, with many of the blueprints being destroyed or locked away. And, with all of Europe, North America and Russia now a war torn ruin, and with no "superpower" to easily fill in the slot, the United Nations forms several unified military commands. One of which, after some name changes (including the catchy Operations Group Echo: Black Ops Nine) becomes the Global Defense Initiative.

"But wait! What about Red Alert 3?"

Simple: it's a branching timeline from the end of Red Alert 2, but it's not the "main" timeline of our history. It's an alternate scenario of the events of Red Alert 2, and therefore not associated with the Tiberium Timeline.

"And Kane? And the Brotherhood of Nod?"

Ahh, well here is where they finally come in: they have always been an enigmatic, mysterious organization, and mentioned all the way back in the 1950s. If I remember correctly, there is even something at the end of the RA1 campaign where someone mentions they didn't find all of Stalin's advisors. It's quite simple to assume that Kane and the Brotherhood went into hiding for the events of RA2, and only emerged afterwards when Tiberium finally arrived on Earth.

This was really the Scrin's way of welcoming Humanity to the spacefaring community. A planet warming gift.

"Then why didn't the Allies/GDI just take the weapons from the previous war and use them?"

Well, what says they didn't? Well, some of the technology, at least. For example, Nod's Stealth tank? What if it's a refinement on the Mirage Tanks of Red Alert 2, just they don't turn into trees now. And the Apocalypse tank could have been used to build the first Mammoth Tanks for GDI. But other technology, like the Iron Curtain, Chronosphere, Weather Control Device, Prism Tanks and others would have degraded, or purposefully/accidently destroyed over the forty some years between the war in Red Alert 2, and the late 1990s/early 2000s that Tiberium Dawn takes place. Even if they had the blueprints, it would take time to rebuild it all, if it wasn't seen as not useful: after all, GDI isn't exactly running on a big budget, and even has it's budget cut half way through the campaign after Nod media manipulation. So I don't see GDI investing in trying to rebuild old technology, most of which may only have limited use on the modern battlefield, after years of rusting in bunkers and warehouses around the world.

So, this does take some leaps of faith and assumptions, but this is how I would tie the two branches of Command & Conquer together. Is it perfect? No: after all, why would the allies give up on Prism tanks after showing their usefulness? Though, there have been efforts to restrict and eliminate certain types of weapon over time, so I could see that happening here as well. But, I think it provides a somewhat satisfactory explanation for the two timelines intersecting.

But what do you think? How do you think the timelines of Command and Conquer being tied together, or if they should at all? If you have a comment or a suggestion, leave a comment below, email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com or look for me on Twitter, @tbguy1992.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Alternate History Scenario #30: No "Iron or Blood" German Unification

It's 1848, the Springtime of Nations. Revolution has swept Europe, sending monarchs and autocrats fleeing in the face of popular upheaval. Prince Metternich of Austria, the founder of the post-Napoleonic world order, has been forced from office. A Second Republic has been declared in France. Even the bastion of reactionary conservatism, the Kingdom of Prussia, bows to the demands for a constitution and liberty.

When King Friedrich Wilhelm IV announced a parliament to meet, he summoned many Junkers and nobles to come. However, several refused the call, one being a young, eccentric junker named Otto von Bismarck, considering this a capitulation and illegitimate, and therefore a waste of time. 

Bismarck, here in 1847. Or a younger General Lee. Frankly, everyone in mid-19th century had that kind of beard and mustache.

The national assembly that had been gathered debated what was needed to make Prussia a constitutional monarchy, but King Friedrich Wilhelm had his own plans, and by December, had reoccupied Berlin, dissolved the assembly, and promulgated a conservative constitution that tipped the scales in the favor of the rich, nobles and military. 

Elsewhere in Europe, 1849 turned into a resurgence of the reactionary movement. This was topped off when the liberal nationalist Frankfurt Assembly offered the crown of a new Emperor of Germany to Friedrich Wilhelm, who promptly declined it, considering the Frankfurt Assembly illegitimate (and not wanting to get on Austria's bad side).

As the memory of 1848 drifted off, Europe returned to its conservative, Congress of Vienna roots from a generation before. Nationalism, while not gone, had been suppressed with bayonets and broken promises. France and Britain were more concerned with imperialism in Asia and Africa, while Austria, Russia, Prussia and dozens of smaller states continued to uphold the status quo, but the remnants of of Springtime of Nations was still there: the Prussian constitution, most notably.

King Friedrich Wilhelm suffered a stroke in 1857, and his brother, Prince Wilhelm, acted as Regent for the mentally incapacitated King until Friedrich Wilhelm's death in 1861, at which point Wilhelm ascended the throne as Wilhelm I. The Prussian legislature by this time had become increasingly liberal, and, with their powers over budgets and taxation, began to make demands, including on how the money should actually be spent. When the army asked to raise more soldiers, and increase the terms of conscription from two to three years, the Landtag refused to pass the budget to grant this money. This was a terrifying prospect to the Junkers and the Army: the famed saying of Voltaire that Prussia was not a state with an army, but an army with a state, was just as true a hundred years later. The fact that the people (mostly middle class professionals that chafed under the conservatism entrenched by the Army and King) wanted a say in running the army and how their tax money should be spent set conservative and liberal at each other's throats. 

Because there is nothing in history more vicious than a left and right battle royale.

The problem that King Wilhelm faced was that it was becoming increasingly hard to solve this constitutional crisis: giving into the Liberals would upset the army, but getting rid of the Constitution might lead to another 1848. Wilhelm was also not the most confident of men, prone to self doubt. He considered abdicating, but was convinced to stay on the throne. But the political deadlock continued: Minister Presidents, who served at the King's pleasure, was unable to get the proposals through parliament. New elections were held in 1863, but that only lead to more liberal members being elected. Emboldened, the Liberal majority demanded that the constitution be reformed, and a true constitutional monarchy on the basis of the British be declared. This was even more horrifying to the elites of Prussia, because the monarch of Britain was little more than a figurehead: while Queen Victoria was popular, and nominally in charge of the military and the nation, the Prime Minister was the one that exercised full political control.

King Wilhelm, his nerves straining, finally acquiesced to the Liberal demands, and began discussions on reforming the constitution. The Army was furious, and soon the more reactionary members were plotting to capture the King, dispose of parliament, and reform an autocratic regime. But the coup attempt was badly bungled: the King was shot, and died several days later. The people in Berlin rose up, threw out the army, and declared a republic. The entire nation was in chaos, with many soldiers refusing to follow their officers orders. The Crown Prince Frederick, himself a Liberal, was ignored by all sides. Austria and Russia, fearing the worse, began to mobilize their armies. France, having become the Second Empire under Napoleon III in 1852, sensing an opportunity, marched into the Rhineland while preaching that Prussia should become liberal. War was only averted when the British proposed a conference in Brussels, and began working on a new settlement.

The German states, considered unstable and unruly (and threatening the peace of Europe), where forcibly federated into a new German Confederation. Prussia was to be made part of it, but was carved up into smaller pieces (part of the Rhineland given to France, part of East Prussia to Russia, and a big chunk of Silesia back to Austria) and made an equal of states like Bavaria, Hanover, Saxony and Wurttemberg, as each Kingdom was given a veto on unified action: all decisions on a federal level had to be unanimous. Austria was also technically made part of it, but mostly to give the Emperor in Vienna a veto over anything the other states might attempt. The smaller kingdoms could keep their armies, and only in war were they to be unified. And the German Confederation was not allowed to make alliances without approval from the other Great Powers, which effectively neutered the nation.

It was hoped that by forcibly unifying them, and keeping them squabbling amongst themselves, they would prevent Europe from going to war. But this was short lived. The Federal Parliament, seen as originally as little more than a debating club, soon gained a liberal, nationalist majority. The smaller Kingdoms of the Confederation began to see themselves as Germans first and foremost, began to chip away at the restrictions: central power was centralized in the mid 1870s, Austria relinquished it's veto in favor of massive loans in the face of Hungarian unrest and economic crisis, and the prohibition of alliances was rescinded in 1879. However, the new German confederation vowed to remain at peace, only maintaining an army for defense, and developed friendly ties with other nations in Europe. Militaries were not excessively large, mostly for defense or, in the case of France and Britain, for the defense of Empire. Italy remained a patchwork of independent states under the boot of Austria despite support in France and Germany for Italian unification, though that is still far in the future.

The only time that a unified Italy hasn't disappointed everyone was 1800 years ago...

The German economy began to grow rapidly as railways and a merchant marine was built up, while many immigrants headed for America. By 1900, Germany was rich, had a decent army, and the goodwill of all nations. The problems the nation faced was more between socialists and laissez-faire capitalists as industrialization swept Europe. While some nationalists were furious that Germanic lands like Alsace-Lorraine, Prussia and even Austria were not part of the larger Germany, there was little in the way of military threats in Europe.

At least until Austria and Russian nationalists began to rise up in the early 1900s. But that's another story.

As for Otto von Bismarck: the well known and popular farmer of East Prussia, having built a fortune from land and mining, died peacefully in his sleep in 1898, leaving his vast wealth to his extended family. While a true Junker conservative, refusing to fly the German Confederation flag until his dying day in place of the Prussian standard, he never did participate in politics, refusing to even vote in elections.



But what do you think? What would have had Bismarck never came to power or unified Germany through "Iron or Blood?" If you have a comment or a suggestion, leave a comment below, email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com or look for me on Twitter, @tbguy1992.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Alternate History Scenario #29: What if Gaius Caesar Succeeded Augustus?

September 9, 2 AD: Gaius Caesar, the designated successor to Augustus, had been invited to meet with rebellious Armenians, but, sensing a trap, he declined, and laid siege to the fortress. A couple months later, the rebellious Armenians surrendered, and Roman control of the Armenian Kingdom was assured. While the death of Gaius' brother Lucius had been a blow to the plans of Augustus, the bright and charismatic Gaius easily filled into the roles that Lucius' death had opened for him.

Gaius "Babyface" Caesar... either an Emperor
or a 1930s gangster, I dunno.
For the next twenty years, Gaius continued serving as consul, proconsul and other positions within the Principate, gaining experience, recognition and popularity, especially in the expansion into Germania. The birth of two young boys to his wife Livilla in 4 and 6 AD guaranteed the Julio-Claudian Dynasty as his adopted father began to resign more and more from political life. By 24 AD, Augustus was the Princeps in name only, as Gaius had been named to all the positions and titles that Augustus held, and the power they represented. So when Augustus died in 25 AD, the succession was clear, and welcomed by all.

Almost from the start of his reign as the Princeps, Gaius groomed his sons to succeed him: the eldest served on the border of Germania, while the youngest served in his father's old position in the East facing the Parthians. In Rome, Gaius continued Augustus' work, centralizing the state under his control. The Senate, while it's old prestige and power had waned, began to be revitalized as an advisory council and was allowed, within reason, to propose laws and vote on them. However, Gaius' approval was still needed, and if he dismissed or publically disagreed with the law, it would fail.

However, there was one problem Gaius was unable to tackle, and that was how to continue the growth and prosperity of the Empire. For decades, the conquests of foreign lands had brought in the wealth and resources needed to make Rome the Capital of the World. But even with the capture of Germania, which was mostly wild and untamed, with few settlements, no mines or farms, the question of how much further the empire could continue was left in the air at Gaius' death in 53 AD.

The succession of Gaius' son's was peaceful, but there was an undercurrent of concern. The speed of building had slowed, and military victories were few except against dissatisfied rebels or the ever present Armenian question. The lustre of the Principate was beginning to wear thin as the son's began to exert more overt authority that their grandfather and father never did, and senators, who had been sidelined for decades, longed to return to influence and power. Some began to plot, while others sought to rise to the Principate, and some few even thought that the legal fiction of the Principate should be totally replaced with monarchy. Soon cracks began to grow, as the son's began to be surrounded by opposing camps, and their influence began to tear them apart. 

When in Rome, do as the Romans due: stab possible tyrants on the floor of the Senate
By 59 AD, the split had become irreversible, and Civil War soon broke out again. But this time, there was no strong ruler to unify the widespread lands, and soon the Roman Empire began to fracture: Gaul and Hispania became the home of one of Gaius' sons; Africa, Syria and Egypt the other, while Italy, Illyria, and Greece became home to a new Roman Republic. The fighting between these three nations and their ill-defined borders would continue for decades, but never again would the whole old Roman Empire of Augustus be reformed. The empire he established, with it's complex legal and political machinations to maintain the illusion of the Republic that Augustus had created, collapsed when the ambitions and follies of men became too much. By 100 AD, the Roman Empire was gone, replaced by many smaller, bickering states that once were unified but had drifted apart.

But what do you think? What would have had happened had Augustus' chosen successor succeeded him? If you have a comment or a suggestion, leave a comment below, email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com or look for me on Twitter, @tbguy1992.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Alternate History Scenario #28: Hitler Doesn't Declare War on America

I'm really sorry for the long delay since I last posted. Life issues have gotten in the way and I really haven't been in the best mindset to work on these things. But, I'm here now, so let's get back to it!

Today's idea comes from someone on Twitter, who asked what if Hitler hadn't declared war on the United States after Pearl Harbor, and how the war would go: would the US focus only on Japan? And would the Soviet's still win in the East?

The answer to both questions is, undoubtedly, yes. This is a fairly popular topic on Alternate history websites, and discussed to death before, but here's my two cents anyway.

And because I'm Canadian and we don't use penny's anymore, it's really zero cents since we would round down.

Franklin Roosevelt basically only had the political capital to go to war with Japan in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese had attacked America, and to many people, the fighting in Europe was still not their concern. When Hitler brashly declared war on the US a few days after Pearl Harbor, only then was America and Britain really able to coordinate to go on the offensive against both Nazism and Japanese imperialism.

So, if Hitler doesn't attack, and despite Roosevelt's concerns that Hitler may be the bigger long term threat to America, he will have to content himself with supplying Lend-Lease to the British and Soviet's until either he can find a way to bring America with him to take on Hitler, or Germany does something stupid, like, say, sink an American ship and kill American citizens. But in this scenario, that never happens, so the US basically has to just sit by and hope the British and Soviet's can fight Nazi Germany itself (and which I will get to in a moment)

However, unlike many suggestions that with the full might of America focused on Japan, that Japan would be defeated sooner, say in 1944, I disagree. I think the Pacific Campaign as we know it might be the basis for this alternate timeline as well. You have to remember that the majority of the fighting was with naval and air forces, and only a few major landing operations. It still takes time to build ships, train air crews, and eventually go on the offensive. While the American's won't be sending B-17 Flying Fortress's to Europe, it's not like they would be perfectly suited for the fighting in the Pacific, as they don't have the long range that the B-29 Superfortress had (and which only started to be built in 1942). Even then, it took until the Battle of Saipan in 1944 before even the B-29s were in range of the majority of Japanese cities. Just because the US would have more manpower, and wouldn't be focusing on Europe or North Africa, you can only send so many more Marine's and battleships to the Pacific: You still need a fleet in the Atlantic, just in case the Germans did do something. And maybe there are a few more landing craft, a few more divisions landing on beaches or squadrons of Mustangs and bombers over the skies, but it wouldn't be enough to shorten the war by a year or more. Maybe there would be a difference of a few months here and there, but in general, it wouldn't majorly change the war as we know it from OTL. By August 1945, the Japanese would be pretty much only defending their home islands and the little bits of Empire that the American's haven't yet liberated.

Liberated with excessive firepower and a belief that America is always right.

That leads me to another point: the Manhattan Project. What would it look like in this TL? My guess: more or less the same. Just because the US is not involved in fighting the Nazi's, which the British and Americans were sure where racing for an atomic bomb, doesn't meant that the US would just ignore this potentially powerful weapon. My guess is that the Americans take over the project (which help from British, Canadian and other scientists), and would complete a weapon in time to drop on Japan as in OTL.

Why Japan? Because the Americans are in charge, and Operation Downfall, the proposed invasion of Japan, would still be a horrifying proposition to undertake. And in this TL, only the Americans would be in Operation Downfall, as the British are still dealing with the Nazi's. So, in order to prevent the upwards estimates of a million American casualties, President Truman (I'm sure that Roosevelt would still pass away in early 1945) would authorize using nuclear weapons. Plus, it would serve multiple purposes: make the Soviet's think twice about going to war with the west, and if the Nazi's are still around, convince them to give up before American joined and dropped an Atomic bomb on Germany. And, like in OTL, it would convince the Emperor of Japan to surrender and end the Pacific War.

Just a few mushroom clouds to get a point across.

Now, for what happened in Europe? From 1942 onward, it would be a story of the Nazi's wearing themselves out fighting the Soviet's (Stalingrad and Kursk are still in the future here). During this time, Strategic bombing and fighting in North Africa is basically all the British can do. They do not have the manpower to even begin contemplating an invasion of Europe, so the war in Europe is stretched out a bit longer. But by 1943, the Nazi's will be in brutal, ignominious retreat in the East, fighting for every foot of ground as the Soviet industrial and manpower advantage comes to bear. By 1943, the British and Commonwealth powers will have driven the Axis out of Africa, and then proceeded to the invasion of Sicily and then Italy itself (which was Churchill's brainchild, being the Mediterranean strategist he was). When the Germans finally prevent the British from reaching Rome, in 1944, the British would then land in Greece or Yugoslavia, part of Churchill's plan to attack the "soft underbelly of Europe," and without the US to basically demand a Normandy landing, the attack would go on. Maybe in 1945, the British would finally land in northern Europe: maybe Normandy, but I'd be more confident in Norway. Strategic bombing, which never lived up to the promises of it's biggest supporters, really wouldn't have changed much in my opinion: morale never broke, industrial production never really slowed down. Just civilians killed, cities leveled, and hardening hatred of the enemies of the Third Reich for causing all this damage (though some unspoken questions of why the Nazi's couldn't stop it).

But by this point it wouldn't matter, because the Soviet Juggernaut would be steamrolling west, smashing all the Nazi armies in the way. Berlin would be captured by mid 1945 as in OTL, and Hitler and the leadership would retreat to the west of Germany, then maybe into France (as there would be no second front). Stalin would stop at nothing to end Hitler and the Nazi's once and for all, and "liberate" all of Europe. The dropping of the Atomic bomb doesn't convince the Nazi's to give up, so the Russians begin pushing east over the Rhine and into France itself.

At this point, the American's may finally enter the war, but with most of their troops still in the Pacific, it's an empty gesture more than anything. By the time that the first B-17s or B-29s could get to Europe in late 1945, Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris would all have the Hammer and Sickle flying over them. By the beginning of 1946, Russian troops would have reached the Pyrenees, and here is where things may get complicated: would Franco allow the Nazi's to flee to Spain, or would he prevent them from dragging him into war with the Russians? My guess is that Hitler would try to flee to South America, but be aprehended before he could. The war would be over, Hitler and the Nazi leaders executed after a trial in Moscow, and all of Europe (minus Spain, Sweden, Greece, half of Italy and Norway) would all be Communist puppet states.

Die Waffen Legt An!

What happens after this? Well, America would be the strongest nation in the world, but with few friends. China, in this TL, would have kicked out Mao with help from the US, and the majority of the Pacific would be capitalist. But Britain would be basically under siege with the Soviet's just a few miles away across the Channel, and resentful that the US never really helped fight the Nazi's except for some boats of equipment. The Soviet's would use the diversionary tactics of Churchill, and the lack of support from America, to make Communism look better to the people of Europe, Asia and Africa, undermining the belief that democracy and capitalism was the way to go.

The Cold War of this Timeline would be between the wounded Soviet Union, the Nuclear Armed and relatively unscathed and somewhat isolationist America, and a Britain that, unlike OTL, would have to cling to the Royal Navy and a strong military to protect itself instead of letting the US protect them, turning it, basically, into Oceania from 1984.

But what do you think? What if Hitler had never declared war on the US? If you have a comment or a suggestion, either email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com or look for me on Twitter, @tbguy1992.