Before the Civil War
Prior to the start of the Civil War (which is unavoidable in one form or another), Herbert Hoover is President of the US. The American economy is struggling and will collapse altogether (<0 free civilian factories) once Black Monday hits. The US has limited options before the war in terms of focuses, as most of their tree is locked until during or after the war.
The pre-civil war US has three major factions: the various democratic groups (Democratic, Republican and Farmer-Labor Party), the syndicalists of the Socialist Party under Jack Reed and the non-socialist authoritarians in the America First Party under Huey Long. All of them are hoping to put their man in the White House in the upcoming 1936 election.
Events will periodically pop up, showing the player the political instability of America. These events will tell of political infighting and instability, key figures in America giving their support to a certain party, riots, racial violence, and special elections. Some of these events will give the player a choice of which faction grows stronger or loses strength. Others however leaves the player with no choice, only to make them watch America divide itself even more.
The option will arise shortly into 1936 for Hoover to suggest the democratic parties form a unity ticket, with Floyd Olson as candidate, and run as a single party. Doing so will cost 200 political power and create the coalition ticket, and lead to a series of events which cost political power to keep the coalition intact. If no political power is spent keeping the coalition together, it will fall apart again.
Black Friday Recovery
The main pre-war focus path is to deal with the aftermath of Black Friday. This is done through the Garner-Wagner Bill focus, which can either pass or fail. The bill passing will begin the economic recovery, most notably allowing the US to build factories again, and leads to focuses to form new government agencies with their headquarters in different states (each focus offers a Northern and Southern choice, and increases that state's chance of staying with the Federal Government come the Civil War); these agencies will provide bonuses. If the bill fails, there will be no recovery, but an equivalent line of focuses will still allow players to choose whether to build support in Northern or Southern States but without the bonuses.
There's no guaranteed way of passing the bill, which by default has a 1 in 3 chance to pass. This is increased to 50% if the coalition ticket is agreed or if a compromise is made with either Reed or Long. In order to compromise with Reed, it's necessary to reject his first offer and press him for a better deal. If the coalition ticket and a compromise with Reed or Long are both agreed, then the bill has a 2 in 3 chance to pass.
Whether Garner-Wagner passes or fails, the US then has a focus to call in Canada's war loans. Canada will refuse, and there are then options to either pass the Hawley-Smoot tariffs (harming relations with Canada for political power) or reconcile with the Canadians.
The 1936 Election
The results of the election are in and regardless of the choices made, no party is able to achieve the required amount of electoral college votes needed to win. This will fire up an event that allows the player to choose which candidate win the election. The potential candidates are:
- Alf Landon (Republican)
- Floyd Olson (Farmer-Labor)
- John Nance Garner (Democrat)
- Jack Reed (Socialist)
- Huey Long (America First)
Depending on the winner of the election, a short branch of the focus tree will unlock. There should be just enough time to complete one focus before the start of the Civil War.
If Landon wins, the mutually exclusive Direct Economic Intervention, and The Iron Glove foci are unlocked.
If Olson wins, the mutually exclusive The Velvet Glove, and The Iron Glove foci are unlocked.
If Cactus Jack wins, the mutually exclusive Austerity through the Storm, and The Iron Glove foci are unlocked.
If either Reed or Long win, they can either pursue their own agenda or attack the others' faction.
The way ACW starts, who its belligerents are, and the amount of territory each side holds is highly dependent on the player's choices. There are 4 ways the ACW can start:
- MacArthur coups the democratically elected government, which leads to a 4-way civil war between the Federal Government, the Pacific States of America, the Combined Syndicates of America, and the American Union State.
- The Federal Government tries and fails to either compromise with or assassinate either Long or Reed, leading to a 3-way civil war between the Federal Government, the Combined Syndicates of America, and the American Union State.
- The Federal Government either negotiates with or assassinates Reed, leading to a 2-way civil war between the Federal Government and the American Union State
- The Federal Government either negotiates with or assassinates Long, leading to a 2-way civil war between the Federal Government and the Combined Syndicates of America
The paths the player can take to achieve these scenarios and the probability that the AI will take them are shown in the diagram below.
30 Days to Stand Down
Upon the secession of each of the factions in the conflict, an event will pop up for each allowing the player to play as the faction they prefer. Following this, there will be a 30 day grace period allowing each side to raise militia and start building industry. In addition, certain states can flip over to certain sides of the conflict. During this time: Panama will take the Canal, Puerto Rico can released as a puppet, Hawaii will secede without a fight, and both Alaska and New England have the potential to be occupied by Canada at the request of their governors. Once the 30 days are up, the 2ACW officially begins.
Democratic Federal Government
Federalist Military Focuses
The bulk of the US' military focuses (other than War Department Expansion and US Navy) become available once the civil war begins.
MacArthur's Federal Government
Pacific States of America
Combined Syndicates of America
American Union State
After the Civil War
Federalist victory in the Civil War unlocks two new branches of the focus tree, dealing with reconstruction and foreign policy respectively.
Upon completion of the ACW, the focus Victory in the Civil War unlocks which once completed will unlock the focuses Begin Reconstruction and either Democracy Triumphs or The American Caesar depending if MacArthur decides to restore democracy.
Upon completing Victory in the Civil War and having 100K in division in the field, the US will have three broad choices in its foreign policy:
- Rebuild the Monroe Doctrine: Which allows the US to establish closer relations with its Southern neighbors though the establishment of the League of American States along with the ability to establish puppet regimes in weak nations.
- Enter the Fray: Which allows the US to join the Entente and declare war on various factions
- Fortress America: Which allows the US to continue the prewar policy of isolationism.
If Landon, Garner, or Olson was elected president and were not couped by MacArthur, or if MacArthur led his coup but restored democracy, the US will hold its next scheduled presidential election in 1940, with subsequent ones every four years in 1944, 1948, and in 1952.
The makeup of each election will be based on who the current president is at the time of the election. See each election scenario in the chart to the right. Aside from three scenarios, each president will run for two full terms but will invoke George Washington's self-imposed two term limit and not run for a third.
With the end of the 2ACW, either with a total Federalist victory or a ceasefire between the PSA and USA, MacArthur will have the chance to restore democracy. He will do so by appointing a puppet president (with the Shadow President trait), who will hold office until the next scheduled election. If the PSA exists, it will offer the US its annexation, but could stipulate that MacArthur be arrested for leading the coup of 1937. If the President of the US agrees, he will loose the trait and participate in the next election.