Hearts of Iron 4 announced


I decided to give the USSR a try on veteran vanilla difficulty.

I focused on building a strong infantry army and rushed T-34s to give me a counter-punch if necessary. I intentionally slightly neglected my fighter production given the resources demanded to fully win an early air war would have otherwise crippled my land forces. After building an adequate industrial base, I elected to build a line of level 5 defense forts along my border with the Axis powers (current and future).

The game proceeded fairly historically until my Winter war where I crushed the Finns. The Germans shared Poland with me and immediately pivoted to France for an early submission. This concerned me, but Germany largely focused on others continental matters before declaring a fairly late war against me in July, '41.

My line of forts and anti-tank equipped infantry helped me hold my initial defensive positions until September '41, when I allowed my front-line forces to retreat beyond my secondary defensive line (2 provinces away with no forts) and form a new secondary defense line. This initial secondary line is still holding in late November '41. I’m hopeful it will hold until winter sets in and I’m able to allocate my production to push out another few dozen infantry divisions.

Overall, I’m happy with the progress so far. The Germans have been blunted and their 2M causalities will hurt them far worse than the 250k causalities I’ve suffered will hurt me. Another season of this and my superior manpower should allow me to begin driving west.


re: Those casualty figures, I see the AI can still be easily lured into futile attacks across a broad front, whereas in reality such fronts would simply become a sitzkreig.


When the entire front is well-defended and no obvious weak points exist that can be exploited then it becomes the simple war of attrition I’m in now. I probably could have taken fewer losses had I been more willing to surrender territory, but I wouldn’t have inflicted as many causalities as I did. Another million or two and the Germans production will begin to become hampered.

It’s a shame the AI can’t use paratroopers or naval landings effectively. The use of either of those would probably have disrupted me enough to cause pretty substantial losses. Similarly, a concerted effort in the middle with a heavy armour component might have been enough to create a pocket or two that could have cost me divisions. As it is, I’ve only lost two divisions when they chose to retreat in a poor direction.


I feel that a large, well-defended front should lead to concentrated armour attacks where you are trying to make gains before the opposing side’s armour can respond in enough strength. Which would lead into misdirection attempts, etc. Obviously way beyond what the AI is capable of. Does anyone know if this sort of thing is a feature of the German-Soviet front in multiplayer?


Also, how do you find veteran? I tend to like boosting the AI through the sliders or through ExpertAI difficulty controls. I don’t like how the default difficulty controls tend to handicap the player’s game and have pretty uneven effects (e.g. low production efficiency cap reduces early production more than late). Also the PP handicap feels like I can’t get through the appointments that I “should”.


The handicaps annoys me, to be honest. Despite the vanilla nature of it, it definitely feels like I’m not playing the game the Devs intended me to play. Honestly, I’d rather the difficulty gave bonuses to the AI over penalties to me.

I usually play via slider manipulation or ExpertAI, but wanted to try without because I hadn’t previously played as the USSR beyond '38 in vanilla and so didn’t have any of its achievements. You can definitely see the effects of not playing ExpertAI in my current game. Particularly in how there’s no way I would manage to hold a mostly static front with Germany in '41 with it enabled.


Oh that’s important.

  • OK another question. Would it be better, once all my troops are in the defensive front-line positions. To delete the front-line and just leave people where they’re at so there’s no shuffling? Or is the shuffling good?

  • If you have an artillery support unit attached to your infantry division, does that take artillery production, support production, or both? Also, does it take truck production because it’s towed?

I hope you don’t mind, but I have a lot of questions as I’d like to try and copy your technique to see how it plays out for me. Some things like research order can vastly change the outcome of the game.

  • What was your research order and focus?
  • Which focus’s did you take? (screenshot would be all that’s needed)
  • How many factories of each type did you build? Did you go all Civ and then all Mil?
  • When did you start building forts? (I’m not sure when to start building so they’re done in time). WHat level did you build those forts up to and did you build them along the German line after the fall of Poland or on the original Polish line?
  • Did you build forts at your secondary defensive line? Also, if the first line was still hoolding, why retreat?
  • Could you take a screenshot of your current line so I can see where you held for your defense line #2?
  • Did Japan take all of China and Italy all of NE Africa in your game too?
  • Could you post a pic of your armor and infantry templates?

Oh man, whew. Okay, let me see what I remember!

  • What was your research order and focus Stay on top of industry and electronics. Feel free to take them slightly early (eg, Oct-Nov of the prior year) in order to maximize the bonuses. I almost completely ignored the naval tree, and only spent any effort on the air and land doctrine trees once I had secured the '39 infantry tech and T-34. My land doctrine tree was Superior Firepower.
  • Which focus’s did you take? I found it crucial to get those early factories from the 5-year plan and armament effort, and then the extra research slot via the Stalin Constitution tree (I prefer it over the Collectivist Propaganda tree mainly because you get an awesome leader out of it). After that, it’s about finishing that purge ASAP. If you follow it in the same order I did, you’ll have ample opportunity to take the Lessons of War focus during your Winter war with Finland. Once I finished with the focuses in the screenshot, I switched over to ‘Construction Focus’ (in the lower-left) to help with my fortification efforts.
  • How many factories of each type did you build? Did you go all Civ and then all Mil? Yeah, so my standard in HOI is to build exclusively civilian factories until I have ~60 (after trade) usable in the construction window. Unfortunately, for the USSR I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that. I think I built about 15-20 (mostly in the far east) with an occasional military factory thrown in there just to get me some extra equipment production. Once I had that, then I switched over to exclusively military for a couple years. I also splurged and built 5 provinces worth of level 3 radar for improved visibility (radar coverage can overlap, but it caps fairly low, so those provinces can be quite spread out).
  • When did you start building forts? Beginning in early 1940, I started building forts on the Polish, Hungarian, and Romanian borders (to level 4 or 5).
  • Did you build forts at your secondary defensive line? Also, if the first line was still holding, why retreat? I didn’t bother building secondary forts. I find that combat is too fluid to rely on such defined secondary lines. Eg, in my case, I did better than expected, and so that effort either would’ve been lost (not used at all), or I would have retreated to that second line and wound up abandoning a sizeable chunk of territory. In my case, I wound up pulling up and retreating to my secondary line because there was a risk that the first line might collapse in a few spots. Rather than letting German divisions smash through those weakened areas, I felt it better to abandon and reform a couple provinces away. In essence, I’m using that defense in depth strategy that rho mentioned a few days ago.
  • Could you take a screenshot of your current line so I can see where you held for your defense line #2? It’s going to be highly fluid depending on the situation in each game. Initially, I drew my fallback defense line with four infantry armies very roughly about 8 provinces behind the border. I expected the Germans to crush through my primary line and I wanted to give myself a breather while they waited for their supply lines to catch up (the AI is risk adverse when it comes to overextending supply lines). What happened was that once I saw that the main line was holding reasonably well, I moved those army groups’ fallback lines up to about 2 provinces behind the main line, using forest provinces or hugging the eastern side of rivers where possible.
  • Did Japan take all of China and Italy all of NE Africa in your game too? I haven’t played a HOI game since MtG where China held and Africa stayed British/French. I actually poured tens of thousands of infantry weapons into China thinking that I could them withstand the Japanese… to no effect (well, I did get some experience out of it).
  • Unit templates I don’t have access to my game right now, but here’s the short version:
    • Infantry templates: I disbanded the NKVD immediately for their equipment. I immediately modified the base infantry template to have 10 infantry battalions (to get a width of 20), saved it, and then created a duplicate of it that I called ‘Modern Infantry.’ I modified the ‘modern infantry’ template, as tech allowed, to include support battalions of artillery, recon, engineering, and anti-tank. The USSR has no need for field hospitals! As Mike mentions above, I periodically update my fielded divisions to this new template as equipment on-hand allowed. If I ran short of anti-tank or support equipment during the years of peace, I would stop training new armies of ‘modern infantry’ and train one of ‘old’ infantry. For reasons of bookkeeping/sanity (important when dealing with the sheer # of units that the USSR eventually gets), I always order infantry training in lots of 24 divisions. For similar reasons, I only upgrade infantry armies in their entirety (never piecemeal).
    • Armoured templates: Once experience allows, I expand the default armour template to include six tanks and four motorized infantry (objective width is 20). My armour units also include support artillery, recon, and anti-tank battalions. This isn’t even close to optimal, but it’s what I prefer. Your mileage may vary. Once I obtain medium tank tech, I’ll duplicate the original light armour template and convert the light tanks over to mediums.

A few other things to note:

  • When my war broke out, I had approximately 3000 fighters split between the Baltics, Eastern Poland, and Ukraine. This was nowhere near sufficient and my aerial losses were horrendous. But I happily traded those aircraft losses in exchange for having short periods of air superiority (aka, ‘green air’). Although I have five factories assigned to CAS aircraft production, I’m currently holding those in reserve.
  • When war broke out, I had six or seven armies of infantry (of 24 divisions each) forward deployed directly on my western borders. This gave me a ratio of about four provinces to an army, which I found was mostly sufficient to blunt the incoming attacks. I think by time summer '41 rolled around, I had managed to convert all but one of these to my ‘Modern Infantry’ template. I set a further four ‘old’ infantry armies on the secondary defensive lines.
  • Insomuch as equipment allowed, I kept my infantry armies trained to regular status. I made sure to halt any ongoing training around May '41. The same applied to all aircraft (although you have to manually stop their training once they hit regular).

I think that’s about it. Feel free to ask other questions.


It’s kinda of cool that computer Germany took out a human player. Now admittedly Jpinard is new to the game but he is an experienced strategy game players and didn’t do anything obviously wrong

By most account Germany AI got a buff with Man the guns although sadly in my US game even giving Germany a buff they couldn’t take out France. So, I basically have to quit. It is March April 40 and Germany is stalled in the Belgium. The world tension is at 100% so I can join the allies and send a 1/2 dozen armor and full army of 40 width infantry+artillery… I’m pretty sure Germany wouldn’t be able to take out France.


That is so interesting. Is this with Historical Focus set? The Axis have been on a world-dominating tear every game of MtG I’ve played!


No I don’t have historical focuses on. It’s interesting I always play a pretty historical game, i.e. never switch governments but turn off historical focus. Maybe I should do the opposite keep historical focuses on but play a Commie US, or a peaceful Germany sometime.


Building industrial might in Hoi 4 is a game of its own, there are some real gains by knowing what infrastructure you should build stuff in, and when to build what, For Germany I usually like about 120 civs by 1938 august…then I build factories like crazy, this strategy can be dangerous, as you might have problems short term…but certainly not long. Same goes for Russia, but you can do more as your fun doesn’t start until 41.



Here’s a shot of my current status. The original border is approximately 1-2 provinces to the west of where the middle of my line is. My lines against the Germans in the Baltic, as well as against the Hungarians and Romanians have held.

It’s looking like I’ll lose one heavily fortified mountain province in Stanislawow any day (which shouldn’t be an issue with the other units nearby. If anything, it may make my defense strong as it’ll shorten my border. Spoken like a true party member!


Is there a noob intro video that you would solidly recommend? I love the idea of the game, but I am brand new. I did buy all the expansions as I am weird like that.


@jpinard is brand new too, he might be able to recommend a video!


Quill18 put up a new video series on Youtube for beginners that covers the basics pretty well. It was loaded a couple of weeks ago so the information is pretty current.


Do this for sure. It helps tremendously. And read all my questioning posts lol.


OK this appears to be a major part of the game I didn’t know about.
What do you mean by wait for their supply lines to catch up. Also, you touched on something I’d totally neglected in all my games. I never researched decryption or encryption because I felt like it wasn’t as important as other things. Sounds like I had that backwards?

Also, what if I just said, screw fighters, I’ll just add anti-air support groups to all my infantry divisions. Could that work? If I’m also slowly putting out some fighters too to help?

Also - would it be possible for me to put units in Cairo to help the dumb British hold that and the Suez Canal? The AI is super stupid and never bothers defending those critical ports. I went to an earlier save and sent volunteers but they were sent to Albania and I couldn’t figure out how to relocate them to Egypt.


It means that even if they have an empty path before them (say, all the way to the capital), they’ll be too scared of encirclement to just go.

It certainly worked before, if you put enough (probably fattening them to 30 or 40), don’t know about now. The fighters would still be easy targets, though.