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Hearts of Iron IV

Hearts of Iron IV

Written by Aidan Kelly on 6/24/2016 for PC  
More On: Hearts of Iron IV

Hearts of Iron IV (HOI IV) is the next iteration in Paradox Studio’s game Hearts of Iron series (Hearts of Iron III was released in 2009). During the campaign you will focus on pre-war and wartime strategies. You can choose to begin the campaign in either 1936 or 1938. What’s the difference? A 1936 start is suited for players whom wish to be involved in laying the groundwork for their armed forces, war plans, factories, research and diplomacy. This is important because anything you research takes time. The focuses, research and production goals take at least 70 days. Much like Stalin and his 5 Year Plans in pre-war Soviet Union, you also need to have a plan to improve your nation. A 1936 start is more likely to lead to alternate versions of history. The campaign begins with fewer alliances or wars and less World Tension.

If you choose the 1939 beginning your experience will be more likely focused on recruiting, supplying and organizing land, sea and air forces. This is because at the time the German Reich had undergone the Anschluss of Austria and consolidated its power in central Europe. The Blitzkrieg machine is poised on the Polish border and the Ribbentrop-Pact is in place. So, if you want to fully develop your ideal nation and play through a potentially alternate history start in 1936. If you’d rather get stuck in choose 1939 and get ready to rumble. Don’t worry, regardless of which timeline you choose to begin, you’ll have control of every aspect of your nation.

There are seven superpowers in play: France, Japan, UK, USA, German Reich, Italy and the Soviet Union. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t play almost any country that existed at the time. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team at Paradox nailed the facts and included every nation. There are a TON of nations in the global map. Within each faction are leaders and military commanders accurate to the time. The USA can field Patton, the Russians Zhukov and the German Reich can field Rommel. Imagine planning the D-Day invasion of Normandy with Patton or Operation Barbarossa with Rommel? Stop drooling on your keyboard nerd. Sure you can play as the German Reich and see if you can perform where Hitler failed, but why not invade the USA as Mexico? Do 32 counties sound good lads? Why not invade the UK as Ireland once the war kicks off? Or go off the grid and play as Chile or Argentina? As much fun as it is to play as the superpowers, I had the most fun playing as minor factions. My Irish campaign was full of glory and certain doom. Naturally I invaded Northern Ireland and created a unified Ireland and began plans for an invasion of mainland Britain. Then Britain glanced my way and decided that Paddy Irish man had had enough fun and bombed Ireland and its infrastructure back 5 years. As Belgium I managed to buy the French and British a few extra months before the German Reich crashed through my defences. It was glorious.

National Focus
Each faction use their own individual focus trees to further the nation’s goals. It really depends on which way you want the campaign to play out. Focus trees are split into branches and some are mutually exclusive to one another. This means that if you choose A, you cannot choose B. This is only the case for a minority of choices. Each focus takes roughly 70 days to research. The research time can be increased and decreased depending on modifiers. These focus’ give your nation an edge via improved construction times, reduce research times and gain diplomatic influence. Diplomatic influence you say? Indeed sir! Democratic nations need World Tension to be high in order to research some focuses.

This is not the case with communist or fascist states. Choose wisely. Let us consider the Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, where Germany and Russia agreed on a non-aggression pact. Through this pact neither nation promised not to aid or support an enemy of the other party. If you play as the German Reich you can work your way towards this pact with the Soviet Union. Now that your right flank is secure you’re free to Blitzkrieg your way to the Atlantic. On the other side, if you play as the Soviet Union, you can work towards a National Focus which enables you to demand ownership of Polish territories from the German Reich. This was a secret protocol included in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It also buys the Soviet Union time to finish off the Japanese on their right flank. That is correct, we haven’t even broached the Pacific Theatre yet. World Tension affects the National Focus availability of certain nations.


The research trees in HOI IV are majestic. Remember Yaks from Red Alert 2? Who wants Yaks and T-34s? Or perhaps some Sherman’s and a Mustang? The research tree is broken into branches specializing on different parts of your war machine. Although the research branches are further broken down, we’ll keep things simple for my sake, and categorize them. So, you can choose to research land, naval, air or industrial technologies. Land technologies include improvements to infantry tech, artillery tech, support battalion and armor technologies. Naval and Air technologies are pretty straight forward with one branch each. Industry is broken into engineering and industrial technologies.

All research branches, except industrial branches also have individual a doctrines. All doctrines are mutually exclusive, meaning you cannot use the perks from two branches simultaneously. One doctrine one branch. Depending on which faction you have chosen the doctrines enable your army, air force or navy to specialize in certain combat strategies. There are also modifiers! Yay! Let’s break down the modifiers into two types, general and specific. General modifiers include trade law, computing technologies and “ideas” delivered through political momentum. There are also specific modifiers which are normally gained through national focuses or political appointment. They affect research bonuses and production bonuses respectively. Let’s not forget about the ahead of time penalty of 200%.

If you want to research something which ahead of time by a day or a year you’ll face penalties. In one way this ensures that nuclear weapons aren’t introduced until later in the game. Throughout the game you’ll receive events on screen. The more common ones include the Anschluss of Austria and Italy conquering Ethiopia. I received such an event whilst playing as the Soviet Union.  The German Reich wanted a non-aggression pact, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which would guarantee me from aiding or supplying enemies of the German Reich. In return I’d receive a massive armour bonus research rate. If I declined I received a 75% research penalty across the board. Sorry Adolf, there ain’t no show like the Joe show.Land doctrines can enable the mass assault tactics suitable for Russia and its insane manpower or Blitzkrieg tactics for the mobilised German Reich. It’s up to you which doctrine is going to be the most effective in regards to your war plans.

What do Roosevelt, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, De Valera have in common? They all need political power to control their cabinet and therefore their nation. Within each faction the political system is broken into different parties such as communist, fascist, democratic, non-aligned etc. Each ideology has its own unique types of government. Check out this link for the full list of government ideologies. As leader of your nation, you can appoint ministers to your cabinet from a pool of candidates. Candidates includes but is not limited to fascists, communists, democratic reformers, construction guru’s and smooth talkers for trade deals. Here you can find historically famous politicians accurate to the super power. This allows us to change the direction of our nation’s foreign policies, depending on the national unity of the nation. Each nation has a level of national unity, the higher it is the less likely there is of a foreign power instigating a coup. Said coup, can lead to a civil war if your national unity is too low. This is a great tactic if you want to integrate a nation to your faction. It also means that nations with opposing ideologies will not join your faction, unless you have a national focus researched or world tension is pretty high, around the 80% level.

Construction, production and resources.
As a nation you can order the construction of factories and peripheral buildings such as air bases, naval dockyards, radar stations, railways, AA defences etc. Factories are broken into construction and military factories. Construction factories create consumer goods to keep your population happy and build other types of construction. Military factories determine your production line. Once you create a division template, your production lines work to produce the weapons or vehicles needed to fulfil the order. Military factories produce anything used in the war effort. Planes, tanks, guns, artillery and so on. Naval dockyards produce all sea faring vessels such as submarines, cruisers, destroyers, battlecruisers etc. All items on your production line require resources. If you play as the Soviet Union the only resource you have to worry about is oil and rubber. They have VASTS amounts of resources. However, if your nation doesn’t have the required resources than you can arrange a trade deal with a foreign nation. The trade deal requires military factories and convoys. It’s a difficult balance between assigning military factories to the production lines or trade deals, and sloppy planning can lead to a lack of supplies for your troops. This has a snowball effect. Troops suffer a massive combat penalty when they lack supplies. It can cut combat effectiveness by 50% which is easily enough to cause a break in your lines.

War Council
So our nation has spent the last 4 years researching combat technologies and now is the time where all the planning comes to fruition. Researched technologies and doctrines improve the combat statistics of your forces. Lets look at division templates. Each nation begins with a single template per type of combat unit. This can mean a ground infantry template, mountaineering template and military police templates. Editing a template enables us to add artillery support, field hospitals, recon units, armoured battalions and more troops to a single division.

Once you’ve saved the division template click on recruit and select a province. When designing a template keep an eye on your experience points. It costs between 5 and 25 experience points to alter a division template. Don’t worry though, you can integrate a general into your cabinet whom increases troop experience per day. When recruiting troops from provinces it takes time to supply and then train the troops. If you’re pressed for manpower you can deploy divisions straight away, however they’ll suffer penalties for being rookies. When planning the offensive create an army group and use the interface to create a frontline. The general will deploy his troops along the selected line. When ready, use the offensive line tool to tell an army group to attack in certain directions. You can edit those directions and add air support to the theatre from neighboring air bases. Depending on your air doctrines, you can focus on air superiority, strategic bombing or close ground support. So that silly doctrine you researched 3 years ago grants a 20% effective bonus for strategic bombing, sweet! It takes a number of days to prepare for the attack. If you hover over the selected army group’s portrait you’ll see a green tick. Hover over it and it will tell you how long it will take to prepare, or what it needs to begin preparation. For instance, an amphibious assault will need Intel on all bodies of water between it and its target. Terrain has a huge impact on combat, so take that into consideration when deploying army groups to a front. It’s pointless to send an armored battalion into the mountains, instead find an open plain and watch the devastation.

I’m going to be playing Hearts of Iron IV for a long time. It’s a pretty game with a great sound track. Thankfully, that’s just a bonus. It’s any armchair general’s dream to be in command of the invasion of Normandy or Operation Barbarossa. This game doesn’t feel cheap or rushed, and it manages to deliver all that delicious information to the player in a considerable fashion. Said delicious information is the medium through which we find the narrative of Hearts of Iron IV. Read the focus trees, research branches and doctrines. Check out the cabinet members and political climates throughout your campaigning. Use each playthrough as a chance to create a new narrative, a new world order.  

I mean why repeat history when you can write it? It was my first Hearts of Iron game and I'm disgusted it took me so long to settle into the franchise. The learning curve is very reasonable, just expect to spend the first hour of a campaign reading everything. If you're into history that shouldn't be a problem. The game does a fantastic job at delivering accurate content and historical events. It does all this while allowing the player to go in any direction during a campaign. If you have any crazy campaign ideas drop a comment below or hit me on Twitter.

Rating: 8.8 Class Leading

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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