Hearts of Iron IV - 45th Development Diary - 19th of February 2016

Hearts of Iron IV - 45th Development Diary - 19th of February 2016

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Time for another friday diary! Today I'll be talking about one of the biggest changes in Hearts of Iron IV compared to the previous titles: Battle Plans.



Design Goals
When I started looking at what direction to take HOI4 for unit control and provinces I first looked at HOI2 and HOI3 to see what worked well and what didn't.

HOI2
+ Fewer provinces making full manual control always possible
- Few provinces leads to a lot less cool encirclements and removes a lot of interesting tactical gameplay

HOI3
+ Lots of provinces allowing encirclements and interesting gameplay
+ HOI3 had a purely cosmetic battle plan drawing system, and still people used it - because drawing plans feels natural in a strategic wargame like this and it feels right to see and makes showing things to others in say AARs easier.
- Lots of provinces means manual control everywhere can be overwhelming, difficult to manage in multiplayer and annoying in areas where you "don't care so much".
- You could hand over control to HQ units run by AI for you and give them objectives. The problem was that effectively you had very little control, and features that play themselves are generally not a good idea. Giving up control also isn't something most players like to do.

For HOI4 we decided we wanted to attempt the best of both. Keep the high province count, always allow manual control override, enough tools to automate parts that didn't matter and control and feedback when managing lots of units at the same time so you would not be surprised by the system doing things you didn't tell it. The system is specifically not allowed to be clever, that is the player's job, so if you tell it to suicide into the maginot line it will say it thinks it's too risky, but do it anyway.

The battle plan system in HOI4 lets you draw plans on the map which are followed by assigned divisions, but at any point you can go in and reassign things or issue manual overrides. The player's role is then basically to draw up high level plans and to watch for opportunities and situations to take advantage of (such as small encirclements, or prioritizing fighting a certain enemy, or cutting off someone's retreat). Generally the strategic situation will change over time, so while you may have prepared a longer plan expect that you will need to improvise and adapt parts as you go or break off a group to manage some emergency, or particularly stubborn enemy section.


Controls
Battleplans are controlled for each Army and you have several tools for drawing them:

Naval Invasion & Paratrooping:
Used for planning naval and paratrooper invasions. We will cover these in a diary in 2 weeks or so.

Assign Frontline:
Used to assign divisions in an army to a frontline. You can either assign to the whole frontline with a nation by clicking it, or click and drag to assign just a part of it. Having an assigned frontline is required for making offensive plans because you need to know where to attack from.



Offensive Line:
This tells divisions assigned that you want them to advance along their axis of attack (represented by an arrow that you can bend and adjust as you want) from their assigned frontline to the offensive line. You can chain several of these together if you want as well.

Offensive lines and frontlines may also be overlapping. I prefer to assign a big front line of infantry to a frontline with a broad attack plan, and then manage my panzer divisions or other breakthrough units along smaller sections of that front and with a much narrower offensive line. In my barbarossa plan above Guderians panzer divisions are operating in this way together with von Rundstedt's infantry.

When you have drawn an offensive line you can hover mouse over its arrow and the game will show you a map highlighting step by step of how your units would move to take this area (the green strips in the picture below)


Fallback Line:
This lets you paint a line useful both for say setting up a defensive position behind a river or other position (for example a coastline). They are very useful for falling back in a controlled manner as well by reassigning your attackers to it they will instantly rush back and hold that point instead (I do recommend leaving some defenders to slow the enemy during your retreat).


Garrison Area:
For this order you give the army an area of responsibility instead of a frontline. Divisions will spread out to guard the most important provinces, keep resistance down, or take back provinces as long as it's pretty safe. So useful for home defense, or mop-up of areas.


Assign Divisions
Lets you quickly reassign divisions between frontlines, attack orders or command groups. Super useful and you'll be mostly accessing it by holding down the Control key.

Edit Mode
Lets you adjust any part of a plan by clicking this or holding down the Alt key. You can do things like changing the axis of attack, reshaping offensive or fallback lines.

Delete
You can of course delete whole plans (just right click), or parts of plans (click on the plan on the map).


Planning Bonuses
Battle plans are not just a way of controlling your units, they also come with advantages if you put the time in to prepare them. The longer you prepare a plan the more bonus is acquired up to a point that depends on your doctrine. For example Mobile Warfare Doctrine gives you faster planning but you can only plan to half the level of a player using Grand Battleplan (Even units given manual order as part of a plan will gain this bonus by the way). As you progress along the plan the bonus slowly goes away, so you may want to time it to coincide with a good defensive position for regrouping. There are also certain leader traits that improve planning and can create powerful combos with the right doctrine.


Next week we will take a deeper look at Britain.
 
Last edited:

podcat

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Anyway within a battle plan to assign specific forces to an attack vector?
yes, you select them and click Assigment Mode (or hold down Control) and click on the arrow/frontline. So you can set up a forking path as I did in my barbarossa plan above and reassign how many goes with each fork at any moment.
 

GhengisKhan

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When you make a multilayered battle plan will the troops stop at each successive front to gain back planning bonus or will they just push through to the end front with no regard for planning bonus attrition?

Also with Grand battle plan getting twice the possible bonus will it make them almost unstoppable if you allow them time to get that planning bonus? Is the trick to picking the mobile doctrine constant attacks to keep the battleplan doctrine player off balance?
 

No idea

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T

The longer you prepare a plan the more bonus is acquired up to a point that depends on your doctrine. For example Mobile Warfare Doctrine gives you faster planning but you can only plan to half the level of a player using Grand Battleplan (Even units given manual order as part of a plan will gain this bonus by the way). As you progress along the plan the bonus slowly goes away, so you may want to time it to coincide with a good defensive position for regrouping. There are also certain leader traits that improve planning and can create powerful combos with the right doctrine.


Next week we will take a deeper look at Britain.
What bonus do you get? What does "you can only plan to half the level of a player using Grand Battleplan" mean?
 

Uglyr

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Is there a way to make efficient grand encirclement plan where some forces will make breakthrough while others will keep enemy from breaking encirclement and slowly reduce circle?
 
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Gort11

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Is there a graphical way to tell how far you can go before your planning bonus runs out, or do you just have to learn from experience?
 
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Piggy

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To clarify, do you mean if you've had the plans and units assigned to them in place for several weeks-month then you'll gain a larger bonus than if you just made them the day(s) before?

Also, what happens if you slightly alter the plan, add or remove a unit, change a units path but the overall plan remains the same, do you lose all the bonus or just a percentage?
 

RSalins

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Are you able to pause a battleplan? i.e. The offensive is not going as well as expected and losses are heavier than expected so the units need to stop and reinforce. Rather than deleting the plan and creating a new one after being reinforced; can the units pause, reinforce after a time, and then continue with the plan that was already in place.
 

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If you decide to manually control a unit assigned to attack an offensive line, will they be reassigned to their original plan once they complete your order?

For example, if I have a plan to attack into Poland and order it to commence, then I select a couple panzer divisions assigned to the offensive line and deviate them to perform an encirclement, will they continue the offense once they encircle and crush those stubborn defenders?
 

Gort11

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What bonus do you get? What does "you can only plan to half the level of a player using Grand Battleplan" mean?
It's some kind of combat bonus - I assume a bonus to soft and hard attack.

"You can only plan to half the level of a player using Grand Battleplan" means an army using Mobile Warfare doctrine can only gain half the bonus from planning that an army using Grand Battleplan can. However, the Mobile Warfare player can plan faster, so you might get four German offensives with 50% planning bonuses for every one British offensive with a 100% planning bonus.
 

Gort11

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If you decide to manually control a unit assigned to attack an offensive line, will they be reassigned to their original plan once they complete your order?

For example, if I have a plan to attack into Poland and order it to commence, then I select a couple panzer divisions assigned to the offensive line and deviate them to perform an encirclement, will they continue the offense once they encircle and crush those stubborn defenders?
Yes.