War of Southern Aggression (Hearts of Iron)

It’s been taking a while to get into it, but I’m beginning to get somewhat good at Hearts of Iron, the WWII strategy game made by the same folks who did Europa Universalis. It’s a little different from the grand strategy games I usually enjoy, more focus on the military and politics, less on building infrastructure, but I’m learning to like the combat model, which has the smallest unit being a division with an attached battalion and is streamlined but with enough complexity to keep it from being boring.

My latest game has run from January 1936 (the earliest start date) to early 1939. I played as Brazil, and took an economic hit for the first year building up my industry, meanwhile researching land combat doctrines and conducting field trials for combat techniques I don’t even have the equipment for yet (my first light tanks with 40mm cannon aren’t going to be done until Summer '39). I then combined my starting army (6 divisions) and invaded Venezuela in fall of '36.

I expected them to be tougher, but I annexed them within a couple of months. When '37 began I had 40% more industrial capacity, partly because of the improvements that I ordered in January of '36 that were just completed, and part because of my annexing Venezuela. I no longer had to trade for oil, either. I had some dissent at the beginning of the war but my victories made my people happy, and since I was in a state of war my people were happier with less consumer goods. I’m doing good at this point, and my eye is wandering towards Colombia…

In a previous game Colombia sent my army running home to Panama when I played as the USA, but that was three years later and I didn’t know how important studying doctrines and Great War records was to improving your efficiency. I still prepared myself, stationing new divisions of infantry with engineer support in bordering provinces. I counted on them to hold back any counterattacks and declared war in spring of '37. My army conquered them even faster than Venezuela, and they were annexed in just over a month. One very significant thing happened during the war - I joined the Axis. This wasn’t significant immediately.

I disbanded my old militias, and my army was still bigger than it was in 1936 and Brazil was becoming more and more powerful. My economy skyrocketed, and because I had joined the Axis I could remain in a state of war without having to worry about it, because I was already at war with Republican Spain and England. This kept the need for consumer goods down. My military technology was expanding rapidly, especially in infantry and artillery. I have prototypes for basic light tanks but I’m not bothering developing final models, instead waiting until I get other advances that will allow me to build a better tank. One of my scientists made a breakthrough in aviation research, allowing me to build light bombers (I haven’t invested in an airforce at all yet, I have one squadron of pre-war fighters). Refugees increased my manpower in a random event. After reorganizing and redeploying my armies, I declare war on the USA and take the Panama Canal, with no resistance. I roll on through the rest of Central America, meeting very little reistance, annexing everything as I go. I have also started taking British, French, and Dutch colonies, which I had left alone before joining the Axis. I pause to think about it, and then I conquer Mexico, though that took about 4 or 5 months (their cavalry kept running around behind me to recapture territories, sometimes taking shortcuts through New Mexico and Texas). I finally manage to Annex them and am looking longingly towards San Antonio when the USA attacks Chihuahua.

I attack San Antonio because I thought this offensive opened up a weakness in their defenses, but reinforcements show up, and I see that their forces are almost twice as organized as mine, and though I outnumber them I know I can’t take them and I withdraw to Monterey. I send reinforcements to Chihuahua to hold off the American attack but eventually they fall to the superior American army, 4 divisions lead by General MacArthur. I saved the game and gave up for now, wondering how I’m going to stop this. I couldn’t sue for peace, even when I was holding San Antonio as a bargaining chip (true, I didn’t have a very good hold on it at the time…).

I think I can hold them north of Mexico City, but I may have to give up the border provinces. I hate that it will be hard to get the USA to sue for peace when they hold so much of my territory. I’m also considering liberating Mexico, they would remain in the Axis and might act as a buffer nation.

Any suggestions? I’ll have some nice tanks soon but I bet the Americans have better by now, they have over 3 times my peak industrial capacity.

Is this game a freebie, or do I have to buy it? It sounds amazing…

Sad to say, the first Europa Universalis worked about as fast as a drunken starved half-dead burro on my computer. So I never got to play. :frowning:

It sounds very nice.

It’s a terrific game in many ways.

However, it’s frustrating in others. Try to play as a Commonweath country and then pull your hair out in frustration when you find Great Britain appears to be unaware of the existence of the Commonwealth. A big game hole that makes no sense.

I hope future patches fix the AI. I tried a game as Sweden and declared war on the Axis in September 1939, despite the fact that I had only six relatively weak infantry divisions. The Germans could have taken me in three months and had enough steel to last them decades, but they literally did nothing. They couldn’t even take France. The game’s too easy.

I never played EU or EUII, but from what I read Hearts of Iron emphasizes the military aspect of the game far more, less emphasis on diplomacy and empire building. Europa Universalis had all areas divided up by culture and religion, which discouraged annexing countries that are very different from your own, and improving relations with those of the same faith or national culture. Hearts of Iron has taken away culture and religion, and has replaced them with political affiliation - you have three ideologies, Democracy, Fascism, and Communism, and a countries ideology is usually somewhere in the middle. You can spend diplomacy points to try to influence another country to lean more towards your side, or try to cause a coup, because a countries government does not automatically change to fit it’s ideology - for instance, you can spend influence points over a long period of time to make France lean towards fascism, but they as long as they have their original government (reformed socialist I think but am not sure) they aren’t likely to join the Axis until there is a coup. I believe elections can cause a change of government too - i.e. re-electing FDR moves the USA a smallish amount towards Communism on the ideology triangle and increases the USA’s War Entry (your War Entry has to reach 100% before you can declare war if you are a democracy).

There are also historical events, as well as random ones. Unless you play a major country you aren’t likely to have a direct say in any of the historical events (I did not have the option to send material as Brazil during the Spanish Civil War, for instance).

What I love is the technology tree. There are (I believe) 14 categories of technology to research - Infantry, Armor, Electronics, Industrial, Nuclear, Rocketry, Artillery, Naval, Submarine, Light Aircraft, Heavy Aircraft, Land Doctrine, Naval Doctrine, and Air Doctrine. Each of these has tons of things to research, each with a description and a little picture. Just like real life the technologies from different fields are reliant on each other, so you can’t just spend all your time researching Armor and get the best tanks. For instance, to research arctic gear for your infantry you need to have discovered Nylon in the Industrial section, as well as having researched certain infantry techs and learning certain land doctrines. It’s not uncommon for a tech to require advances from 3 or more fields - for instance, if you want jet-powered night bombers you need certain advances from Heavy Aircraft, Rocketry, Electronics, and Air Doctrine. The game also simulates the difference between theoretical research and applied research. On top of that, not all applications of research have benefits, some lead to future applications that do have an effect. For instance, for basic decimeter radar you need to research basic electronics (theory) and invent the magnatron device (application), which is used in a lot of the basic electronics but has no benefit of it’s own. The technology system was confusing at first, but once you learn how to track what prerequisites are needed for a certain tech it’s a lot easier. Oh yeah, another touch of realism is that spending more on research does not make the research go faster - every technology has a cost in IC (industrial capacity) and time. Developing basic tank engines would cost you 6 IC for 90 days, while Pre-War Field Trials will cost you 40 IC for 360 days. Big difference, but Basic Tank engines are just one of several things you need to build a basic light tank prototype, while Pre-War Field Trials will open up several land doctrines to study that can improve the organization and defensive values of all your land units.

This system doesn’t mean you have no way of speeding up your research in general - you can research as many techs at a time as you have the IC for. Since new theoretical advances generally cost quite a bit more than the applications that they open up, what generally happens if you finish researching a theory and that frees up a bunch of IC to spend on the applications that just became available - for instance, researching Improved Infantry Weapons might cost you 20 IC for 180 days, but after you research it you can then research Service Rifle, Anti Tank Rifle, and Improved Mines (each 8 IC for 90 days) with the IC you freed up. Making a big theoretical advance usually leads to an explosion of new applications in the next few months. If you concentrate on just a few fields you can advance really far, if your country is rich enough. Playing as the USA I had nuclear ICBMs in 1943 and was working on nuclear powered naval vessels.

As to the AI, it’s got a lot better in the 1.02 patch. The computer can and will make amphibious invasions, they do a better job of defending their borders (gone are the days of Romania conquering the USSR), and they help their allies more by sending expeditionary forces.

RickJay, what version were you playing and what AI aggressiveness did you have it set on? It sounds like you are on 1.02, because France puts up a hell of a fight with the latest patch, now that land fortifications have been made more useful. Of course, if France had not placed so much trust in the Maginot Line then they might have been able to hold of the Germans. Germany may not have invaded Sweden because they saw no profit in it, or needed the troops elsewhere. Also, you mention that it was September 1939 - maybe Germany didn’t want to get stuck fighting in Sweden in the winter.

I want this game. It burns within me like fire.