It has been a pleasure to see that Darkest Hour has made it more of a challenge to steamroll the world as Germany – still, with the right strategy you'll find little resistance to your nazi hordes.
One of the biggest changes between DH and HoI2 is the fact that you can't expect to have a big enough army in '39, if you at the same time wish to spend the first couple of years expanding your industry. Fortunate enough one doesn't have to start the war in September '39.
I have experimented with finding out when the best time to start the war is, and I have come to the conclusion that the spring of '41 is the time, why? First of all you'll have the opportunity to expand your industry, thus giving you an edge throughout the entire game, second if you start to early you will have too small of an army, if you wait your opponents will have a much stronger army. Not that it isn’t possible to win, but with this strategy of mine, I wish to claim, favours the balance of power to your advantage the most – almost to the extend that it get’s boring.
This is what I do: In the beginning I build one industry in every German province, spreading them out, thus reducing the risk of having them hit by air raids. I build a little extra in the east, furthest away from British bombers. I spend about two years only building industry.
Besides building industry, I max the IC by choosing the right ministers and go central planing.
I start researching production techs in order to max it further. Computers to improve my research in the long run and submarines and destroyers since I wish to build a modern as possible navy for my invasion of Britain in autumn '41. For this I also need paratroopers. In addition I make sure that the ships already in the production queue will be ready for this invasion, not before not later.
I always make sure to have things ready, just at the time when I need them, by doing this you don’t waste any IC’s or supplies on thing you don’t need.
I also make sure to have a balance between research and production. No need to research things that cost IC if you’re full up on production, rather research something that will give you a benefit for free. At the same time, make sure to have techs ready when you have the free IC, this way you won’t waste time on building supplies or obsolete units, who has to be upgraded anyway.
I also manually manage my trade in order to squeeze out a couple of extra IC’s. I stockpile money, which I use on ‘Invest in national research’ – it’s good to have 2000 or even better 4000 bucks to decrease your dissent after a smear campaign, while it at the same time improves your research. I find it a waste to spend it on spy missions; they’re not worth it, just make sure to have a high enough counter espionage. I try to trade as little supplies away as I can, in order to cost me as little IC as possible. Rare materials should never be exported, you’ll need them later. Further, there’s no need of having 100k coal, trade it away. Trade away blueprints too; you need as much money as possible, and make sure you never run out of rare materials. Blueprints to the japs will only benefit you in the future; naval techs to the soviets won’t really be able to harm you! :-)
I start attacking Poland in the spring '41 just when the snow has smelted, when I'm done here I turn my attention to the west, which falls during the summer. Before the winter I land paratroopers (it's a bit of an exploit) in Lincoln, which is unprotected due to not having a beach, and land my forces without having to perform a difficult amphibious assault – the Brits in '41 have nothing to resist me with. The large navy of modern cheap subs and destroyers will protect the transports. After the invasion is complete I land forces in Iceland, which is important for the invasion of America. From here I can with '36 troopships land in New Foundland, from where I will start the invasion later, for now it just provides me with valuable rare materials, which my industry desperately needs.
My plan now is to build up my armed forces for the invasion of the USSR in the spring of '43, shouldn’t worry really, I'm outproducing them anyway.
'42 I will use to consolidate my power. In the game I just played, I allied with Nat. Spain who was in a deadlock with Rep. Spain in the north. They gladly accepted to be my ally and my forces crushed the republicans, and as a bonus I took Gibraltar. After this I turned my focus towards Yugoslavia, this country is important because of 1) Its rare materials 2) It's access to the Mediterranean, which I will use to land forces in North Africa to help Italy 3) My allies have cores on it, thus giving me stronger allies. Further, these wars will give me experienced leaders and units to be used against the soviers later.
Spring ’43, the Soviets collapsed after only three and a half month of fighting giving me the bitter peace. My navy from the invasion of Britain is still strong and big enough for the invasion of America. If one focuses all units in one seazone, they won’t be able to resist you transporting your army there even if they overall have a far stronger navy – If you’re about to loose, you can just exploit the possibility of fleeing and still manage to get your units across the pond. When I have landed my army in New Foundland, the AI isn’t able to stop you from transporting them to an unprotected Canada; from there you have basicly won the game, hurray!
I would gladly hear if anyone have any comments or improvements to the perfect German strategy, I'm still convinced that it's more or less the most efficient way to play Germany, but maybe I'm wrong?