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Reading comments on the boards from players who have tried out the demo, I have heard much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the army interface, how to manage HQ's, and so on.

In truth, managing these aspects is rather simple, so much so that it is possible for me to conquer Poland in a little over a month without sending a single move order and with perhaps half a dozen clicks of the mouse.

This AAR will be an illustrated primer on how to manage your armies to your hearts content.

Note that this AAR will be somewhat picture heavy. Hopefully photobucket won't weep for mercy.

UPDATE:

Also please read through some of the comments, especially those by potski, they further explain this system.

Finally, note that this guide has already been edited and corrected two or three times, so its possible I've made some errors about the capabilities of the system. Furthermore, this guide was written, as the title would indicate, during the demo period before the game came out. The AAR mostly covers the *interface* behind AI control of armies and that should remain roughly unchanged through future patches, but note that the precise results one can expect from AI control will change as patches are released. Nonetheless, this AAR should get you started on such basic thing as how to set objectives without problem, and from there you can experiment yourself.
 
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Chilango2

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Allright, so, we start up the game, make our various starting decisions, blah blah, we don't care about these things, we care about the fact that we're at war with two of our neighbors and have alot of things to do.

Now let us take a moment to look at the map shall we?




Pay particular attention to the parts highlighted by the red arrows. The plus button will expand your summarizer, which will give you a list of all your armies. The second one will put you in theater map mode. Click on both.

Your result should look like this:



See that I have already taken the liberty of expanding the 'tree' of the structure of command. You can tell that a unit has units 'under' it within the command structure because the arrows are blue, as opposed to grey. Thus, all the infantry divisions directly under OB West are essentially theater reserves which that theater command can command as it sees fit if its AI has been turned on (something we'll get to in a bit). Then you have Heeresgruppe C, which has its own pool of army group reserves, and IX.Armeekorps an army with several divisions within itself under *it*.

As a side note, when I use the term 'reserve' in this AAR I am referring to the strategic, not tactical concept of reserves. If you fight in a battle you will sometimes see your offensive has X units in reserve, this is *not* what I am referring to. Rather these reserves are units the HQ's can send wherever to help an attack or stiffen a defense. Note that division placed directly under the control of the theater HQ won't be reassigned by it (as a matter a fact, the AI will not reassign any division or change its hierachy from what you have created, either up or down, at all. That's up to you.), it will simply move the division to place X where it happens to be helping this or that army. The division is thus a sort of quasi-independent command.

Note that we could give AI objectives to each of these HQ's if we liked, but remember that AI control always flows downhill: if you give a theater objectives, it will override the objectives of the army groups and armies under it. If you give a army objectives and leave the theatre HQ under human control the army ai will follow its objectives as best it can and will take into account the presence, condition etc of neighboring armies.

Let us also take a moment here to briefly explain what a theater is. The computer creates and destroys theaters, you cannot do that yourself. It will only create or destroy theaters if you tell it to, under the production screen. Theatres are fundemetally areas of control and responsibility. A division/army/armygroup etc will not cross theatre lines on its own. Theatres are where, by default, naval and air assets are assigned, and as such they will remain under human control unless you attach those units to a AI controlled HQ at a lower level or turn the theatre HQ itself on. The theater HQ is clever enough to use these assets against all your enemies, OB West, even if it is charged with defending France, will use its air assets to defend from UK bombing runs and will even send out your submarines to raid UK convoy routes. (although from my brief experience, this last part it does not handle well). Any other HQ with these kinds of assets will attempt to use the assets in its theatre and adjoining sea areas. If a division in another theater is reassigned by you to that theatre, it will have that division move into its area of responsibility and use it to meet its objectives. What will not work properly is attempting to give a HQ goals which are clearly outside its theatre, for example asking a division under OB West invade Poland.

Keeping all this in consideration, we can already see a number of different options as to how to manage our offensive into Poland present themselves, we could have Army Group North and South have different objectives, leaving the theater command under human control, or get really down in the muck and give each army, or even corps, its own specific objectives.

Let us, however, keep things simple.
 
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Chilango2

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Let us take a moment before we begin giving the AI its objectives to explore the interface for divisions, how you can move up and down the chain of command at will.

Click on any unit on the map. The result should look somewhat like this:



Notice the bars on above the unit, these are the various 'layers' of command above our unit. I have intentionally selected a lower tier unit to demonstrate. What we have here is 11. Infantrie Division, a single division consisting of three brigades of infantry. The division is the smallest strategic level land unit you can control and will consist of 1-4 brigades. You can see that 11. Infantrie Division is part of 1. Armeekorps, which is, as its name states, a Corps. This Corps would, in HOI 2 terms, be a small army consisting of three infantry divisions much like the one we have selected. Above 1. Armeekorps we have 3. Armee, an army, which has two other corps like 1.Armeekorps, as well as several individual divisions in its reserve.

We can tell all of this by looking at the list on the right, in the summarizer, in case your not following where I get all this from.

3. Armee is one of the armies that is part of Heeresgruppe Nord, an army group, which has several other armies like 3. Armee. Heeresgruppe Nord is itself one of two army groups that are under the theater command of Ober. der Wehrmacht, which is in charge of the area in red. Let us see what happens if we click on Heeresgruppe Nord.



We have moved to Heeregrupe Nord, which is itself a division consisting of 1 brigade, the HQ brigade, under that brigade we see a short list of the corps it controls as well as the divisions it has in its reserve. Notice how the unit itself and the corps under it are seperated in the display. These corps are not in the same 1 brigade division as our army group HQ, after all.

Now, let us learn how to detach and attach units from their command structure. Let us click on another unit.



Here we have 252. Infantrie Division, one of the divisions that Heeresgrupe Sud has as its reserve divisions. Notice the button I have circled in red and drawn an arrow pointing to. If we click on it, this division will fall out of the command structure and will be a freefloating piece of flotsam.

Let us make them feel less lonely by reattaching them to the command structure.




Notice how 252. Infantrie Division is listed as its own entity on the summarizer on the right, being neither under OB West or Oberk. der Wehrmacht. If you turn on the AI for both of these theaters and give them objectives, this division will not be affected by them, will not take order from them, and will sit in place until *you* give them orders. In the offensive that is about to develop, we could detach a division, an army, or an entire corps from the chain of command and command them directly, or give them a specific objective under AI control to, say, close a developing pocket if we wished, and then reattach them to the command structure when we're done.

Note that you cannot give orders to a unit that's under an AI controlled HQ. However, if you detach your unit, give it some orders, and then promptly reattach it, the AI will not interrupt those orders, as far as I can tell. I've experimented with this for a bit now, and it seems to hold true. YMMV, of course. Still, if what I have seen on my own is at all normal, it should be quite possible to close off any developing pockets without the AI mucking it up, if that is your desire. Note that I said the AI won't interrupt *orders* not objectives, which it *will* override. You'll want to order the attacks yourself and then reattach the units in question, not merely set objectives for the AI. If you want to set objectives, you'll want to leave the HQ AI unattached from its parent until the objective has been completed.

If we remember where they came from we can reassign them there, or if we have forgotten we can simply attach them as reserves to the nearest AI controlled HQ, who will manage them within its own objectives. The tooltip will only list HQ's of the appropriate level (it won't let you attach an army group to a corps) and will have the nearest HQ's near the top. Remember that AI objectives always flow down the hierarchy from the top, and that the AI will never change the hierachy you've set up.

I also want you to notice the button just to the right of the one I have circled, the one with multiple XXX's on it. This button will create a corps HQ for this unit, assuming it isn't already a corps. If you clicked on it, it would create that HQ and then you would see you could click on it yet again to create an HQ above that at the army level, and so and so forth until you created an entire new army group chain of command which would be unattached to either theater. If you had a army HQ that was unattached to an army group, it would also directly allow you to create a new army group HQ's. Note that new HQ's will take some time to be properly staffed and organized, and until they have done that they won't benefit the troops under them much. You cannot create new theater HQ's, you can, however, request the AI to recalculate theater areas in the production screen. Note that in most cases, this will do nothing. The AI will tend to create new theaters if it has a new front (i.e you declare war with a neighbor and thus have a new hostile border). It will sometimes eliminate a theater if a border is no longer hostile (i.e once you conquer Poland, if you ask the AI to redraw the theatre areas, it may consolidate all of Germany under one theater).

In any case, ff we click on the button that's circled (same position as the detach button, one becomes the other as appropriate), we get a menu where you can select which HQ to add it to. Selected the HQ as appropriate, and viola! your division has rejoined the command structure. Note that the Hq's listed in the dialog are sorted by how far they are from your selected division, with the closest HQ's being near the top.
 
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This should certainly be quite interesting to read. Get those posts up! :p
 

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Let us now begin learning how to set commands and objectives for the AI command structure.

First, select your appropriate HQ.



Here, I have selected OB West, the western theater command. This HQ will be charged with defending the Siegfried Line from the French Army while we conquer Poland. It controls ever single ship, plane and division within the blue area. By giving it orders, I am effectively giving all units *under* it orders.

Again, notice flag icon I have circled. This is the icon you click to turn the AI for that HQ on. Let's click on it, shall we?



On the left we see the stance selector, read the manual for details on each stance, but they pretty much do exactly what say on the tin. Tooltips also pop up to describe your currently selected stance.

You'll also notice I have already selected the first objective for this HQ, Todtmoos. I did this by the simple expedient of right clicking on the province. When HQ AI is turned off, right clicking will move the unit, as normal. With it turned on, however, right clicking selects or deselects objectives. If I wanted to undo Todtmoos as an objective, I could just right click again. Let's finish setting objectives for this HQ.



As you can see, I have told the HQ to defend the border with France to a depth of two provinces. This should be sufficent for our purposes.

Note that this is no way necessary. I could select a single province in France with a defensive stance and the AI is smart enough to attempt to hold the border with France, and it will only advance if it has overwhelmingly favorable odds (which, given the situation, its unlikely to ever get). I could also set a single defensive objective within the German border and it would not advance but defend along the border, allowing itself a bit of an elastic defense and the occasional retreat. My objective selection here is actually a bit inefficent, but I didn't know better when I first created this AAR. :p



Here, I have done something similar with the eastern theater command, Oberk. der Wehrmacht. I have kept things simple by simply setting every Polish VP province as an objective, no subtly here, and set it to blitz. I could leave the theater command under human control, as previously noted, and set the army groups under it to capture specific objectives, but that would defeat the whole point of keeping this dead simple. Note that blitz is better used at the army group or lower levels.

I also haven't set a line of attack. To do this, I would select the HQ that's under AI control, hold the shift key, and then right click. A green arrow from the HQ's current position directly to the province in question will be drawn. The AI will *try* to create an axis of attack along the line you have drawn. You cannot, unfortunately, set up waypoints along the axis of attack, and it will always start from the current position of your HQ. It's strictly a shortest distance between your selected HQ's current position to the goal.

Thus, if you want a particular line of attack, take care to preplace your HQ's in the appropriate spot so you have the line of attack you intend. Also, once again, you cannot set the axis of attack for the HQ's that are under the HQ you've automated. Lines of attack, therefore, are more useful if you only automate the army groups, armies, or corps.

Note that I have set the defense of the western theater and the eastern theater in their entirety with a few dozen clicks. The Polish campaign took 8 clicks to set up. The western theater took more clicks for the simple reason that I was still a bit new to the system and didn't know better myself :p. I could have, as mentioned earlier, set the objective a bit back of the line, say, Hamburg, and the AI would probably do a good job, although it would permit itself to lose some provinces and perhaps engage in more of an elastic defense. I could have probably done better by setting to defensive stance and a single objective inside France, as described by potski in one of the comments in this thread.

Next, we will see how our campaign progresses.
 
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Here's the start of the AI's campaign in Poland, as you can see, its attacking along the line, and most of its attacks are going well.




Here we see the western front AI shifting its armies into position:




One week into the invasion, there has been some minor progress, Danzig has been taken, as well as several other provinces:


 
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Two weeks in, progress continues. I'm doing nothing but watching, remember.




In week three of the war, the southern front is beginning to break open:




Here we see that the AI has managed a small encirclement, and continues to push along a wide front.

 
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Meanwhile, on the western front, the French have made major offensive efforts, unlike in our history. They don't have much to show for it, however. They managed to gain one province by overwhelming it with 40k some troops.




Moving forward, it's now October in Poland and the Polish southern flank continues to disintegrate, and from the north Heeresgrupe Nord has some infantry making progress into Warsawa.



A few days later Warsawa is captured.



On the western front, my AI continues to stall the French forces, despite the fact that the French tend to be able to achieve local superiority in numbers. We see the detail of a battle here so we can see the kind of forces they have committed to their offensive. No sitskrieg here, as you can see. This attack is not unusual for the western front, it has seen roughly this same level of pressure since the war started. Note how the AI has units moving to the south to reinforce the provinces that are under attack.



Meanwhile, in the fifth week of the war, Lodz has been captured and the Polish defensive position has become critical:




And a day later, the Polish army lays down arms as its government flees to the UK, refusing to surrender:


 
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It certainly should be interesting! It both demonstrates how the AI works and adresses a game feature totally new to everybody here. Great idea! :)
 

Chilango2

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Note that the AI conquered Poland at roughly the historical date, while facing several challenges the real german army never had: a 'real' western front, no soviet attack on eastern Poland, as well as inferior army research. (in the demo, several techs that I suspect Germany will start with are not in fact researched, judging from their historical research date. Some of these techs do things like speed up attack speed) And of course, I'm working here with the standard 1939 OOB, which any player should be able to imrpove on if they play from 1936.

Also note that my plan was simple in the extreme, nothing fancy.

Furthermore, I could have, say, detached an individual infantry division or two at any point to, say, quickly close a developing pocket and then reattached it so the AI could finish it. I could have also left the theatre in human control and set objectives on the army level along with axis of attack. I suspect that this combination of human and AI control, to one degree or another, is where the best strategic results lie.

Any questions?
 
Last edited:

unmerged(78039)

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Great AAR man, you were right, but not only did they achieve almost the exact historical date with an intense western front, but also no soviet help. AI has shown it's worth in this AAR.
 

unmerged(11986)

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Very nice!! Thank you. The last two days of playing the demo has mostly been me playing with the AI. You taught me a thing or two that I didn't already know.
 

Jorath13

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Coming from a noob with only HoI 1 experience, thank you, thank you, thank you for this tutorial of sorts. Honestly, I found this AAR more enlightening than the in-game tutorial! And pretty cool that the AI acts like it does.
 

SomeAussieGuy

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Awesome job, sure explains to me how to make use of the AI in terms of conducting an offensive.
 

SuperKyle

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I figured out most of this by tinkering around myself, but I sure didn't know about "Reserve" divisions that are under certain HQs. The possibilities..hmm. =)
 

Spricar

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Awesome job man, will give demo another try as I lifted hands of it at the moment.

But still... this Ai theatre thing is totally wrong IMO. I want to play the game, not watch it for christ sake!!!!!
 

mib

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Very informative, thanks for a great AAR...

But I think this should have been included in the tutorial or manual, instead of necessitating someone external to explain it well...
 

ComTrav

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I'm wondering if it's possible to give orders to units under automation without detaching it from the unit hierarchy. In other words, I'm totally fine giving the AI strategic direction of most of the theater, but if I see an opportunity, I'd like to disable AI control for maybe an Army or a Corps to take advantage of an encirclement or something--and I'd like to do it without losing the benefits of being in the hierarchy.
 

unmerged(18239)

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Thanks a lot for this informative AAR. I will play a '41 Barbarossa game later today as the Soviets and most certainly didn't want to do it HOI2 style. But, I did not get the nack of the HOI3 assign-to-the-AI thingy yet.

Great work!
 

lecnac

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Nice Job you did there Chilango. This is the kind of tutorial which is missing for the overwhelmed masses. It is perfectly understandable that such detailed tutorials are not in the game, taking up quite some time and effort, so maybe there should be a forum section dedicated to such user made tutorials.

At least get this into the wiki :)