Welcome to another dev diary for Man the Guns, where we’ll at long last be taking a look at the much-anticipated first nation that will receive an all-new focus tree in this expansion! As an indication of exceptional planning on the part of Paradox, it would appear that my performance as the Netherlands in the just-finished EU4 Dev Clash was nothing more than a long and carefully-planned marketing campaign to tease the new focus tree…
And nobody (not even I) knew I had been doing this for hype-building purposes all along!
As the theme for Man the Guns is naval warfare and democracies it’s only natural to look at those minor powers who were exiled after being invaded, but continued to do the best they could to contribute despite their sometimes rather minute resources. Perhaps none of these fit the bill better than the Netherlands. Out of all exiled governments, they had the most resources with which to continue the war after being invaded. Their mainland European exploits may not have been terribly glorious (unlike the Poles who were much more active in actual frontline actions), but the Dutch contributed in other areas.
Venezuelan oil, processed on the islands of Curacao and Aruba in the Caribbean, were invaluable to the British, as 80% of the fuel the RAF used during the Battle for Britain came from these refineries (the largest in the world at the time). Large amounts of bauxite ore from Suriname were imported by the US and the UK to fuel their extensive aircraft construction programs throughout the war, and together with the refineries both areas would end up being defended by French, British, and American troops as their value was recognized even before the war.
Among the merchant marines of all minor powers in the world, the Dutch ranked only behind the Norwegians’ in size, and together with the other exiled powers they were critical in helping the British stave off defeat in the Battle of the Atlantic. Finally, the East Indies were considered a vital strategic part of the “Malay Barrier”, a strategic defensive area intended to keep the Japanese out of the Indian Ocean. All of these combined would result in the Dutch even being allowed brief (a few months only - until the fall of the East Indies in March 1942) representation in the Combined Chiefs of Staff, a privilege even the Dominions or Free French were not allowed throughout the war.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
The initial situation facing this small monarchy in 1936 is not a good one. While other nations have already begun to recover from the Great Depression, the Dutch have been obstinate in their refusal to drop the Gold Standard, and so the “Crisisjaren” (‘years of crisis’) are still in full swing here. In addition, the government has been struggling in recent years, with many cabinets falling in rapid succession, and general political instability abounds. Furthermore, being neutral with a prime seat to observe the carnage of the Western Front in the Great War, and thereby also taking in a large amount of Belgian refugees, a powerful pacifist movement has taken hold in the nation over the interwar years, preventing any increases in expenditures for the military. This movement is only made stronger by the public’s firm belief that neutrality saved them from the last war, and so therefore the Dutch should remain aloof of the growing world crisis and let the conflagration rage all around them once more, as it did before… Because surely being neutral will save them from invasion once again...?
In the game this is represented by the following starting spirits:
- Wilhelmina: 15% Stability
- De Crisisjaren: -50% construction speed (for everything)
- Aloof Neutrality: Currently identical to normal Neutrality spirit (higher tension limits to joining factions, guaranteeing, and sending volunteers)
- Shell-shocked Spectator of the Great War: -50% recruitable population factor, 25% reduced factory output, 10% reduced dockyard output.
- Weak Government: -0.5 Political Power gain, and -10% stability.
In addition, the country’s leader has been updated to properly represent the historical situation.
As the Netherlands start is therefore very weak, it’s critical to start reducing and removing these negative spirits as soon as possible. The first branch, however, provides you with a stop-gap measure for the Crisis, as by attracting foreign investments into your lucrative colonies you can reduce the “Crisisjaren” spirit somewhat. However, this costs political power, which you will be short of unless you see to your government...
From here, you can invest in building up your colonies. On the left-hand side you can focus on the West Indies, notably the Dutch Antilles (Curacao) and Suriname, by expanding the resource production and industry in these areas, as the world crisis results in more and more countries requiring the key resources these areas provide. In the other branch, you focus on building up industry and infrastructure in the East Indies. Defenses can be built up, and digging up the 1927 report “Foundations of Defense of the Dutch East Indies” will provide bonuses to destroyer and cruiser production speed. In addition, should the Venezuelans make use of your weakness after German invasion to ‘offer their aid’ in protecting the Dutch Antilles (just off the Venezuelan coast), and this ends up escalating, you can take the initiative rather than wait for a Venezuelan war declaration.
In the meantime, in order to properly reduce the “Crisisjaren” you will have to focus on the mainland somewhat. Abandoning the Gold Standard was historically done late in 1936, and the Dutch were one of the last to drop it and let the economy recover. From here on in, you can continue on the large public works that were being undertaken in this period - the Zuiderzee Works. Already having dammed off the ‘South Sea’ with the ‘Afsluitdijk’ (‘close-off dike’) in 1932, turning it into a lake, the Dutch were busy poldering select areas, such as the Noordoostpolder which would be finished during the war. Together with the Maastunnel, these focuses will in total reduce the whopping 50% construction penalty to a mere 10%, and, with the Artillerieinrichtingen, provide another few military factories on top of infrastructure and building slots for Friesland.
It is at this point that the player is first met with a choice. The people clearly believe in their ‘talisman’ of neutrality, and there is ample possibility for industrial build-up on the mainland. You can elect to therefore continue the Zuiderzee Works with the creation of the ‘Flevopolder’, winning huge tracts of land for the state of Friesland to gain powerful industrial bonuses, and finally get rid of that pesky “Crisisjaren” spirit, in return for an investment of a whopping 210 days… Once this focus is completed you may then focus on either the ‘Randstad’ (the ‘rim city’; the areas of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag, and Utrecht, surrounding the ‘green heart’), or on the ‘Zandstad’ (the outlying areas such as the states of Brabant and Friesland). As we will discuss later, focusing on the Randstad will provide you with much more concentrated industry, making it more easily defensible, while the Zandstad will enable better maximizing of building slots. These focuses are very powerful, providing ample civilian and military factories, and/or resources and spirits. However, by doing this you do lock yourself in to continental play…
...and, depending on your ideology, this might not be the smartest path to take, considering your neighbour has been gunning for a war in recent years. In all likelihood, once the Germans come knocking, you -will- die. Luckily, you have quite a powerful colony in the East… And so, rather than focus on the mainland, you could instead focus on tightening colonial ties, to then move the government-in-exile to Batavia and continue the war from there. This annexes the East Indies, giving you full access to all of the industry and resources you built up there before. You can then build the industry (civilian, military, and dockyards) up even further, while also increasing recruitment in your non-core Indonesian states, thereby creating a new army to continue the fight, with the eventual goal of total liberation of the homelands. Topping both paths off is the powerful “Make Use of Our Riches”, providing a whopping 20% more resource efficiency.
Whichever way you choose, you would do well to look at the sorry state of your military. “Overturning Military Budget Cuts” kicks off this branch, providing some army experience and war support. From here, you can “Prepare the Inundation Lines”, giving a passive spirit increasing fort construction speed, but more importantly also allowing you to intentionally flood parts of the country in the face of an invasion.
Inundating the land requires both a war and to keep full control of the Holland state for 14 days. If any province is lost, it has no effect, thus making paradrops (as done historically by Germany during the invasion to thwart precisely this from happening) more of a requirement. If successful, the four provinces highlighted here will get the following modifier:
Together with making the Afsluitdijk represented as a strait (properly reflecting how difficult it is to take a 30-odd kilometer long and 90 meter wide causeway), this makes “Fortress Holland” far more difficult to take, if properly prepared with defenses.
Finally, any nation that fully controls the Holland state and is at war can flood these provinces, so it is entirely possible that the Germans use it against the Allies after D-day (as they did historically). And, as a small addition, while adjusting the Afsluitdijk I also added a few more Victory Points for notable cities in the Low Countries.
At the time, there was not only fear of an invasion from Germany, but also of a pre-emptive British invasion, and so you’ll have to decide which one to defend against. Defending against the British will provide forts in all provinces with a naval base, and the finisher establishes a small fort line against the Belgian border. Protecting against Germany, however, focuses on building up the historical Dutch Water Line, establishing a fort line in the provinces that are also flooded through the inundation decisions, and adding forts protecting the Afsluitdijk in the north. These defensive bonuses synergize heavily, but they do depend on being able to hold on long enough to flood the countryside, and they involve giving up entirely two-thirds of your country (essentially everything except for the Randstad). Whichever enemy you defend against, you will incur a sizeable opinion penalty with them…
Finally, you also unlock decisions to reduce pacifist sentiment in the country. Doing so will gradually reduce the severity of the Shell-shocked Spectator spirit, while also improving war support. Alternatively, you could simply wait to be declared war on, which will also outright remove the spirit.
Other than static defenses, you of course can also see to the army itself. The commander of the continental Dutch army, Izaak Reijnders, got into repeated conflicts with the rest of his General Staff and the government, and so, just as in history, you get to replace him with a better alternative: Henri Winkelman. Other than the new leader, this also gives you Doctrine research bonuses and Army Experience. Then, if you own the Death or Dishonor DLC as well, you have the choice of either focusing on domestic development of arms (giving research bonuses), or focus on license production (giving production bonuses and cheaper licenses). If you do not own Death or Dishonor, you may only pick “Modernize Our Infantry Equipment”. Whichever one you pick will set the tone for all other equipment types you get bonuses for, i.e. if you focused on license production all future focuses will give license production modifiers rather than tech bonuses. A last notable focus in this segment is “Secret Staff Talks”.
Historically, while the Dutch were officially neutral until they were invaded, they did see the looming threat of war, and discussed potential military cooperation with Belgium and France. Thus, not wanting to lock the Dutch into any particular playstyle, it is possible to talk to any of your Major neighbours, and obtain bonuses such as equipment, doctrine tech bonuses, temporary defensive bonuses in case of being attacked, as well as preparing your gold reserves for evacuation in the event of attack.
Both the Air and Naval branches focus to a large degree on defense of the colonies. One focus worth talking about here is The Battlecruiser Plan. Historically, the Dutch sought to build a trio of battlecruisers based on the designs of the Scharnhorst-class of battleships. In the game, to obtain these, you’ll have to refrain from antagonizing the Germans too much… This means that if you prepare your defensive lines against the Germans before taking this focus, you might not be able to, at all…
For anyone who cannot have enough Political Power, replacing your failing government is undoubtedly going to be first on the list. While removing your negative spirit, though, you also get a rather bad country leader for the impending war. After the war, De Geer became notorious as a defeatist, and even went so far as to leave the UK and travel back to occupied Netherlands via Portugal, to there distribute leaflets on how to ‘cooperate best’ with the occupying Germans.
From here, the Dutch position as the Gateway through which international trade entered the European continent becomes important. Both Germany and the UK start with decisions that allow them to influence Dutch trade. Historically occurring during the Phoney War, for gameplay reasons I’ve had to make this happen even before the war begins. The British wanted to blockade the Germans, but the influx of trade through the Netherlands was a thorn in their eye. The Germans, on the other hand, wanted to increase the amount of trade flowing through the Netherlands, thereby circumventing the British blockade. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the Dutch therefore had to carefully navigate these demands, lest they be invaded by either party. In the end, they managed to maintain trade neutrality until the very eve of the German invasion.
By investing political power, the Germans and Brits will be able to accrue ‘Trade Influence’ over the Netherlands. The Dutch focuses “Cave to the Germans”, “Cave to the British”, and “Maintain Trade Neutrality” are all locked behind certain Trade Influence requirements. In the case of the former two, the Germans and Brits, respectively, need 15 more Influence than the other, needing at least 25 in total, while to maintain trade neutrality neither can have more than 5 Influence more than the other, while they also each need at least 50 influence in total. Completing the “Gateway to Europe” focus also enables the Netherlands itself to influence the Trade Influence each country has. If the Dutch cave to either of their neighbours, the ‘winner’ will gain the total pot of invested Political Power. If the Dutch maintain trade neutrality, they will gain the entire pot, instead.
Caving to either side serves as the plausible reason for why the country would have started to drift in certain ideological directions, however, if either Germany or the UK are not fascist/democratic, their respective focuses will simply bypass, ensuring the player is not prevented from going into a certain ideological direction due to the world situation.
Caving to the Germans opens up the path for fascist drift, and from here it becomes possible to outright ally Germany or decide to go it alone. Be aware, though, that going it alone will likely result in a war with Germany, as they still desire passage through your territory… Various focuses here allow you to focus either on armor or naval build-up (dockyards and a reduction in ship cost), as well as a way to soothe relations with the Japanese by either giving them outright control of the resource-rich East Indies which they desire (and which you likely will lose anyway when going to war with the Allies), or simply give them control of the resources there.
The “Netherlands First” path provides more manpower, and also gives a wargoal on whoever holds the new state of Nord-Pas-De-Calais, which has been separated from Picardy, now, so that, together with the wargoals on Belgium and Luxembourg that you get in both paths, you can take the full extent of the ‘Leo Belgicus’ geographical area. I have also unlocked the decision to unify the Netherlands that was added in Waking the Tiger, for people who own Man the Guns and play as the Netherlands. Finally, you can reclaim your old colonies, lost to the British, French, and Americans.
Caving to the British opens up two separate paths of democracy. You may either do the historical thing and go with Britain, replacing the defeatist De Geer with the more war-minded Gerbrandy, and gain extra manpower by instituting the ‘Vaarplicht’ (‘obligation to sail’; a historical law effectively resulting in conscription for the Merchant Marine, ensuring the Dutch had the manpower to keep their most valuable contribution to the war effort in the fight, but also setting it apart from the volunteer-only Merchant Marines of other nations). Further focuses give a variety of bonuses, such as naval doctrine bonuses, giving extra stats to your admiral Conrad Helfrich (under whom the Dutch were the only nation among the Allies to have any naval successes in the opening months of the Pacific war) and improving the submarine fleet, and enabling various decisions to obtain extra help when in exile. “Combined Chiefs of Staff Representation” is a weaker version of the British “Chiefs of Staff Committee” national spirit, and the “Fourth Ally” gives dockyards in Java and Sumatra and a 10% increase in dockyard output, allowing the Dutch to pull their own weight more in that theater of the war.
The other path focuses on forming the Benelux, and from there expand it into the European Union, establishing an alliance of the smaller powers in Europe to stand against the meddling Major powers, especially Germany and Britain.
From maintaining trade neutrality you may choose either the communist or monarchist paths. The former is kicked off by making the notorious “De Zeven Provinciën” mutiny in 1933, long considered a ‘taboo’ topic, discussable again. These mutineers, driven to their action by proposed wage cuts of up to 7% for Indonesian sailors, were considered heroes and martyrs for the communist cause, but their stories were not told in public for years. Using the outrage from this flagrant exploitation of their colonial subjects, you can then choose to remove the Royal House and withdraw from the colonies, instead focusing on the mainland. This will provide large bonuses in manpower, political power, as well as a brief boost in production and construction speed. The KNIL (Royal Dutch East Indies Army) is also returned home, ensuring a rapid expansion of the continental Dutch forces. From here, you may ally with the Soviets, the French (if they became communist), or go it alone. These branches see ample manpower bonuses, industrial and technological support from your allies, or powerful defensive bonuses if you choose to attempt it alone (though, of course, not without first ‘liberating’ the oppressed peoples of Belgium and Luxembourg…). All branches also provide wargoals, either against Germany, or pre-empting anti-communist intervention by the West by taking the initiative against the British, French, or even Americans.
On the Unaligned side, “Oranje Boven!” (named after a patriotic Dutch two-line song celebrating the Queen, which was used a lot during the Second World War as a symbol of resistance) gives your first neutrality drift. From here, a part of the branch ties in to the historical Democratic path - it is also possible to replace the defeatists, go with Britain, pass the ‘Vaarplicht’, boost Helfrich’s stats and improve the submarine fleet, and request Allied favors. From here, though, you can use Wilhelmina’s popularity as a resistance icon, as well as her powerful personality, to establish her as the country’s outright leader. Historically, she is alleged to have had plans to use the popularity she accrued while in exile in London to implement sweeping reforms in the constitution, greatly increasing the power held by the Royal House. She greatly disliked politicians, and wanted to do away with political parties altogether, while also ending the societal ‘pillarization’ at the time; a system where different strata of society are entirely separated from each other, including different newspapers, schools, hospitals, banks, and much more, depending on their religion or ideology. Historically this never came to pass, as she had greatly overestimated the support her ideas had with the people, but in the game you will be able to fulfill her ‘vernieuwing’, resulting in great increases in political stability and some recruitable manpower increases. Eventually, it’s possible to appeal to Britain to ‘reunify’ with the Belgians and Luxembourgians, considering they aren’t doing much in exile anyway, are they…?
Everyone likes their Bernhard Button!
In addition, should you want to, you could make the Queen’s son-in-law, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, a general, or even an adviser, and see what this independent and enterprising member of the Dutch Royal Family might get up to…
There we’ve at last come to the end of this diary… To me it was very exciting to work on this particular focus tree, as I was writing my thesis on the Netherlands in WW2 back when HoI4 was in production, and I finished it just before it was released. Studying WW2 history in this manner only served to increase my impatience for the game’s release... I thereafter made a prototype Dutch tree for my work test when applying for Paradox, and have since being hired worked on it in my “Personal Development Time” on a regular basis. Getting to finally put into the game the history that initially ignited the spark I have for HoI4 was a lot of fun, and I hope you guys will like it as well!
See you next week for a hopefully much smoother dev diary release!
Be a Dutch resistance hero and know your answer to “Wo ist der Bahnhof?”!
Give us back our bicycles!
To the Dutch: Come and Take Them!
We were considering doing a Tuesday teaser with cheese after people didn’t get the first two, but we realized it would only confirm to people it’d be the Swiss focus tree…
“Lou de Jong presents…”
Inundation is just fancy people speak for lots of water
Focus Tree, 96 hours edition
Writing this dev diary took longer than the Dutch lasted in the war
At least we lasted longer than the Danes @Havebeard
You need to be at least 1m80 to invade this country in case of ‘accidental’ flooding
Can you say “Scheveningen”?
Smugly annoying the Germans in the team, by pointing out the Dutch were the only country in all of Western Europe to stop the Blitzkrieg, during the Battle of the Afsluitdijk in Kornwerderzand.
Stoically reminding the Dutchmen on the team that no, you really didn’t. Also Afsluitdijk isn’t really a word, you are just stringing letters together.
The country in this dev diary is represented on the HoI4 map with a color in the 590–620 nm wavelength range.