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Ironhead 5

Major, United States Army
14 Badges
May 11, 2006
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Diplomacy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
Welcome to the "How the heck do you play this game?!" AAR. This AAR is designed to be a tutorial for novice players, and will demonstrate all the steps to a successful campaign from beginning to end. We will start with the simple building blocks of getting started, and progress with baby steps toward the more advanced concepts of the game. By the time a novice finishes reading this, he will have a firm grasp of the game dynamic and will be able to conduct his own campaigns with any country.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we will play as Germany in the 1936 scenario, with normal difficulty and normal aggressiveness. Our goals will be simple and largely historical. We will allow the game to be event-driven up until the invasion of Poland. We will try to forge alliances with the traditional Axis powers. We will conduct a traditional invasion of Poland in September 1939, and wait to attack France and the Low Countries until May 1940. We will also invade Denmark and Norway when the appropriate event fires. Our invasion of France will be through the Ardennes region (Luxembourg, Bastogne, and Liege) and we will try to "sickle cut" Allied forces in Belgium. We will attack Greece and Yugoslavia after that, and invade the Soviet Union in the spring of 1941. That invasion will consist of small encirclements by our mobile forces, with infantry reducing those pockets. Our panzers will not outrun the infantry by more than what the next encirclement requires. Meanwhile, we will concentrate on a U-boat navy until we can subdue the Soviets.

The intent is to reduce gamey exploits. Advanced players know that it is better to attack as early as possible with Germany, and that it is better to build a carrier navy or surface ship navy. Advanced players know that late into the invasion of the Soviet Union panzers can be sent forward to quickly seize Sverdlovsk. We will not do that here, because advanced players also know that easy victories do not necessarily make for fun games.

I am playing with Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday, with patch 1.3a (JCJS). If anything I mention during the course of this AAR is different in the Armageddon version, I encourage spectators to mention it and I will edit my posts to note the differences. Spectators are also encouraged to voice their opinions for what they believe are the best options for certain situations. If an option is doctrinally correct and not "gamey," we will follow that option.

When reading this AAR, text that is bold and white represent instructions for those following along to execute. Everything that is in normal, green font represents additional details that are provided as an FYI -- just in case you want to know WHY you are doing what you're doing.

So let's get started!

Lesson 1: Getting Started
Lesson 2: The Diplomacy Folder
Lesson 3: The Production Folder
Lesson 4: The Technology Folder
Lesson 5: The Intelligence Folder
Lesson 6: The Statistics Folder, Menu Options, and Message Settings
Lesson 7: Military Units and Leaders, Trade Deals, and the Reoccupation of the Rhineland
Lesson 8: January-February 1936
Lesson 9: March-December 1936
Lesson 10: 1937
Lesson 11: January-June 1938
Lesson 12: July-December 1938
Lesson 13: January-August 1939
Lesson 14: Invasion of Poland
Lesson 15: Sitzkrieg
Lesson 16: Invasions of France, Benelux, Denmark, and Norway
Lesson 17: Blitzing England and Invading Yugoslavia
Lesson 18: Invading Greece and Preparing for Barbarossa
Lesson 19: Phase 1 of Operation Barbarossa (May-June 1941)
Lesson 20: Phase 2 of Operation Barbarossa (July 1941)
Lesson 21: Phase 3 of Operation Barbarossa and the Bitter Peace (August-October 1941)

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You've purchased Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday, installed it on your computer, and dowloaded the latest patch. You're ready to get started on playing your first campaign, so let's fire the game up!

After the opening video (which is pretty neat the first time you watch it; if you get sick of watching it every time you start up the game you can press escape to skip it), the first screen you see is this:


The tutorial that comes with the game has some interesting information, but even after going through the entire tutorial you will still have plenty of questions about how a campaign works. So let's skip the tutorial. The options for playing multiplayer (which you will surely want to do after learning the game) and viewing the credits are also here, as is the option to exit the application. For now, click on "Single Player."

The next screen has a list of campaigns and scenarios in the upper lefthand corner. Scroll down until you see the scenario with "1936" written in big numbers and "The Road to War" written across the top. Click on it.

Across the top of the center of the screen are a number of flags. These flags represent nations that you can play as. In Hearts of Iron II (hereafter referred to as HoI2), you can play as any nation. If you do not want to play as one of the nations represented by the flags at the top, then simply right-click on one of the flags, like so:


You can then scroll down the list of countries until you find the country that you wish to play as! For this game, we will play as Germany. Go ahead and click on the German flag. A brief description of the German situation appears, and makes for an interesting read. Before you click on the Start button, let's click on Options. In the center of the screen you see the six options available.
  • Difficulty ranges from Very Easy to Very Hard, and affects such things as how much our factories will produce each year, how fast we can research new technologies, and how well our military will fight against our enemies. We will leave this on Normal, which is the most balanced setting.
  • AI Aggressiveness refers to how likely the AI (artifical intelligence; the computer-controlled nations) is to launch attacks and take risks. Surprisingly enough, a more aggressive AI does not necessarily make the game harder; sometimes, an overly aggressive AI gets itself into trouble with foolhardy invasions. We will leave this setting on Normal.
  • Game Speed refers to how fast the game clock progresses. This can be changed in-game. Early on we will want it to go fast, since not much happens in the early years of this scenario. Let's set it to Very Fast for the moment.
  • Share Countries allows multiple players to control one country. It is irrelevent to our game and we will leave it off.
  • Autosave allows you to have the game automatically save your campaign at periodic intervals. Early versions of this game had problems with "crash to desktop" (CTD) errors, losing game progress in the process. The 1.3a patch is very reliable, but the autosave function can still be useful in case you make a major strategic error and wish to restart from a recent autosave. For this game, however, we will leave the autosave off.
  • Use Counters refers to how military units are depicted in the game. With this function turned off, units are depicted as a sprite. With this function turned on, they are depicted as a NATO-style counter. For this game, let's turn the counters on.

Click Accept, then click Start. Our campaign is about to begin.

The next screen you see will look like this:


Let's familiarize ourselves with this screen. First, before you do anything else, click on the box that has the date in it in the upper righthand corner. The date should turn gray and the words "Game Paused" appear next to it. Next, click on the Start Game box to close the Game Objective Summary. The game is paused and you can explore at your leisure.

Across the top of the screen is a series of green numbers, culminating with a red fraction in the top right. Hover your mouse over each of these green numbers for details. Starting from left and going right, these numbers are:
  • Energy. This is how much electrical power your nation has in reserve. Energy is required to power your factories. For every IC you have (see IC below), you need 2 units of energy per day. If you allow this number to drop too low, you will not be able to produce as much. Fortunately, Germany is blessed with a surplus of electrical production, so you will not have to worry about this too much. In fact, you have enough of a surplus to trade energy to other countries for resources that you may have a shortage of.
  • Metal. Metal is also needed to fuel your factories. You will eventually be creating tanks, planes, and ships, and these all require metal. Even if you were only creating infantry units, you would still need metal (don't infantrymen use metal belt buckles, metal helmets, metal gun barrels?). This is all abstracted by the game; whether your factories are producing only tanks or are only infantry equipment, each factory uses the same amount of metal -- that is, one unit of metal per day per IC. Germany is blessed with surplus metal as well, so you won't have to worry about this too much.
  • Rare materials. This represents all the unique chemicals and substances that go into industrial production. Every factory that Germany has (and Germany has lots!) requires rare materials (0.5 rare materials per day per IC), and unfortunately, Germany does not produce enough of this. We will eventually have to trade with our neighbors to acquire more sources of rare materials. For the short term, we have a small supply of this that can sustain our production until we can make some trade deals.
  • Oil. Oil fuels our tanks, planes, and ships. We know that historically, Germany suffered a catastrophic shortage of oil late in the war and could not put its aircraft and tanks to effective use. Hopefully that won't happen to us! When it is time to go to war we will have to make sure we have enough oil.
  • Supplies. Supplies, like oil, play no part in industrial production. Rather, they are the fuel for your military. Every military unit you have will consume supplies. Furthermore, while the previous four resources are all automatically generated by your nation, supplies are created in your factories, and thus you must make sure that you allocate enough of your production toward creating a steady flow of supplies. As your factories churn out supplies, they add to this number you see at the top of your screen. Every day, your units draw the supplies they need from this number. If you build up a large enough surplus of supplies in this pool, you can actually stop producing additional supplies for a short time and your units will continue to draw from this surplus. But beware! If this number drops to zero, your units will not be receiving supplies and you will see the level of dissent in your country rise (see dissent, below).
  • Money. Money is used to fund scientific research and espionage activities. It is also used for diplomatic activities and can be used as a bargaining tool in trade deals. Like supplies, money is generated by your level of production. As we will see when we discuss industrial production, the more that you allocate industrial production toward consumer goods, the more money you generate -- sort of like your economy is humming along and generating wealth. If it drops too low, your scientific research slows to a halt, which we do not want to see. This is another resource that we will want to trade for.
  • Manpower. Manpower represents the number of military-aged males in your country that can be recruited into service. Each day, a few more boys in your country become men and can be conscripted into service; if you are at war, however, this number can drop precipitously as you try to reinforce your units to maximum strength. Each time you create a new unit, this number will drop as new recruits are taken out of civilian life and inducted into the military. This number can be approximated as one thousand times what you see; in other words, Germany currently has 850,000 military-aged males available, and this is represented by the number 850.
  • Nuclear Warheads. This represents the number of nuclear warheads your country currently has in reserve. We will not develop any nuclear warheads (or "nukes") for several years, so this will remain at zero for most of the game.
  • Dissent. This represents the level of dissent in your country. Several factors can raise dissent (such as a critical shortage of supplies, as noted above). Only two things reduce dissent: an increased allocation of industry toward the production of consumer goods, and certain events. Dissent is bad for your country, and we want it to remain at zero. Dissent will suppress your industrial production, it will increase partisan activity, and it will make your armies fight a little bit worse. As a general rule of thumb, if your dissent rises above zero, you will want to immediately allocate industry toward consumer goods to drop it back to zero.
  • Transportation Capacity. This represents the trucks, railroads, barges, and other transports that carry crucial supplies to your military. It is directly proportional to your industry; the more factories you have, the more trucks etc that are able to move supplies to your front line (ratio is 1 IC equals 1.5 TC). The first number represents how much Transportation Capacity (TC) you are currently using; right now it is low, because your military is still relatively small and not overextended in some war. The second number is the maximum that it can rise to before your logistics start to suffer. As our military grows and starts fighting in other countries -- especially deep in the Soviet Union -- the first number will eventually exceed the second, and we will be exceeding our capacity. We can still fight; but since fewer supplies are reaching the front lines, our combat power will diminish. Historically, Germany could not send enough supplies to its front lines deep in Russia during the invasion of the Soviet Union. We, too, will see this effect. Hopefully by the time it happens, the Red Army will be on its heels and victory will be within our grasp.
  • Industrial Capacity. Up until now, I have referred to our industrial production in abstract terms. In game terms, it is known as Industrial Capacity (IC). This is the approximation of the output capacity of all of our factories. Germany is a heavily industrialized nation and has lots of factories and thus, plenty of IC; however, it is not at its most efficient right now. If you hover over this number you can see what the breakdown of numbers means. The 18 refers to the amount of IC that is being wasted (we will fix that later); the 135 refers to the amount of IC that we can currently use; and the 142 refers to the "base" amount of IC we have. In short, we have 142 factories in all of our provinces. The 142 IC that we could harness from these factories is affected by a few modifiers. Most importantly, Germany cannot use all of its IC while it is at peace, so the most we can currently use is 135 IC. This can, and will, rise above base IC once we go to war (we have a few positive modifiers affecting IC).

Below the numbers across the top of our screen is a number of different folders: View Map (which we are currently in), Intelligence, Technology, Production, Diplomacy, and Statistics. We will go into all of these folders later.

The lefthand quarter of your screen is dedicated to an informational view of... well, whatever you happen to click on. Right now we are clicked on the province of Berlin, and so we see a picture of Berlin (the picture indicates the type of terrain, which affects combat; more on that later). The star with the number inside indicates that Berlin is worth 30 "victory points." Victory points (VP) are used to keep score in this game. In order to fully defeat a country and annex it, we will need to conquer every province that has VP. To the right of the Berlin picture are the abbreviated names of Berlin's neighboring provinces, as well as the type of connection: Potsdam, Stralsund, and Cottbus all have normal land connections, but Kustrin has a river connection. This would affect combat, if we were ever fighting a battle between Berlin and Kustrin (hopefully not!). In the bottom righthand corner of the Berlin picture is a number with some little blue people; this is the amount of manpower that Berlin contributes to our manpower pool each year.

Immediately below the picture of Berlin are four boxes: from left to right, they are the number of factories in Berlin (19, very high!), the amount of anti-aircraft (AA) guns in Berlin, the number of static land fortifications in Berlin, and the number of coastal fortifications (this is zero, and is a different shade than the others, because Berlin cannot build coastal forts; it is a landlocked province). Clicking on any of the first three boxes will order our factories to build an additional factory, AA gun, or land fort. Let's not click on any of these, though; we do not need them here.

The four numbers immediately below these boxes represent the amount of resources that Berlin contributes to our national stockpiles. Below that are three boxes. The lefthand box represents the level of infrastructure in this province (Berlin is at 100%; historically, the reichsautobahnen improved the infrastructure of Germany). Many other provinces, especially deep in Russia, have much lower infrastructure and this will result in much slower movement and logistics for our military. The middle box represents the level of partisan activity in this province. As we conquer other nations, partisan activity will crop up (think of it like the French Resistance) which will depress our TC and could possibly erupt into an all-out rebellion, if we aren't careful. All of our German provinces are at 0% partisan level, so we won't have to worry about that just yet. The righthand box represents all other improvements to the province. Berlin only has an airbase, but other provinces could have naval bases, radar sites, rocket test sites, and even nuclear reactors (once we research the necessary technologies).

The space immediately below all this shows the units we have currently stationed in Berlin. Later, we will be assigning commanders to these units. In the bottom lefthand side of the screen we see a world map, with a darker shade over half of the world indicating (approximately) which side of the globe is experiencing night (the clock in the upper right shows only Greenwich Mean Time). To the right of the global map is a wide, darkly shaded but transparent field; this is the game log, where important messages (and some trivial messages) are recorded.

And in the middle of the interface, occupying most of the screen, is the map. Feel free to roam around the map; you can scroll north, south, east and west simply by moving your cursor to the sides of the screen. Our first lesson ends here, but before we end we will do one last thing. In the bottom lefthand side of the screen, immediately below the global map, are ten buttons. These represent different "views" of the map. Currently, we are viewing the map in terrain view (meaning that beige provinces represent plains, green provinces represent forests, brown provinces represent hills, etc). Click on the second button from the left to switch to political view. This will now color the provinces according to who owns them. Our color is gray, and we can now see exactly what our geopolitical situation is. Note the separate two provinces to the east; this is East Prussia, and this played an important part in the reasons Germany eventually went to war with Poland.
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OK, first lesson is up. I had a couple things I wasn't sure about, and have put a few questions in bold and in parenthesis in that post. I would appreciate if others can take a look and answer those questions.
It is indeed Money, but at least I simply use Nukes in everyday speech when referring to the Nuclear Weapons I build. Alos most people shorten manpower to simply "MP".
trekaddict said:
It is indeed Money, but at least I simply use Nukes in everyday speech when referring to the Nuclear Weapons I build. Alos most people shorten manpower to simply "MP".
Changed. Any thoughts on my definition of "share countries"?
Ironhead 5 said:
Changed. Any thoughts on my definition of "share countries"?

It could be a function for Multiplayer, so that multiple players can control/use the same country. :confused:
trekaddict said:
It could be a function for Multiplayer, so that multiple players can control/use the same country. :confused:
Yeah that's what I thought too... until someone says otherwise, I will keep that definition.
True, but in HOI2 context it is mostly Manpower. Multiplayer is abbreviated with "Mp" in my book.
trekaddict said:
True, but in HOI2 context it is mostly Manpower. Multiplayer is abbreviated with "Mp" in my book.

Sticky: Updated Weekly Scheduled HOI2 MP games

Also HoI2: DD is using MP as military police ingame.
Look, I'll just write out "manpower." It's not a term I'll be using so often that I urgently need to abbreviate it. Although I have always referred to the MP brigades by the abbreviation "POL." :confused:
You need oil to run factories? :eek:

I've been playing this game for years and I didn't know that...
I wasn't so sure about oil, but then again I never had a completely de-mechanized country.
Now that we are familiar with the game's interface, let's look at the Diplomacy folder. Go ahead and click on the Diplomacy tab. Here is what we see:


From here, we could conduct diplomacy with other nations, and we eventually will. All other nations are listed to the left. We could also view only the Allied nations, only the Axis nations (which is just us, for now), or only the Comintern nations. We can also view nations by continent. Above the list of nations, we see that our "belligerence" is currently at zero. Belligerence is a measure of how warlike and aggressive we are; as it rises, other nations are more inclined to shun us, and if it rises high enough other nations will even declare war (DoW) upon us. Belligerence rises through hostile acts, such as declaring war on other countries and annexing other countries. Certain events will also raise our belligerence. We also have a modifier attached to our Head of State, Adolf Hitler, that raises our belligerence whenever we are at war. It is important that we try to keep this low until we are ready to go to war.

In the top center of the screen we see diplomatic information for Germany. We have a few non-aggression pacts and we are guaranteeing the independence of a few nations (a guarantee of independence, or GoI, means that whenever another nation DoW's the guaranteed nation, all guarantor nations whose capital is on the same continent as the guaranteed nation's capital will receive a slider shift toward interventionism -- see slider shifts below). Importantly, we have territorial claims on France and Luxembourg. If we can conquer these nations, then we can incorporate those territories back into the German Reich, back where they belong ;) . The field in the top right indicates all the actions we can do for a particular country. If we were to click on another country from the list at left, we would see actions such as Declare War and Guarantee Independence. Since we are currently clicked on our own country, the only action is to Liberate Nation, and that option is grayed out. When we conquer other countries, we can choose to "liberate" them by propping up a puppet government. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, but we won't go into them here; we're Germany, so we won't be doing this too much.

The bottom righthand side of the screen has our diplomatic sliders. This determines the type of government and policies we have. From top to bottom, they are:
  • Democractic-Authoritarian. Democratic countries have certain advantages, such as that when they liberate nations they receive a small dissent hit (authoritarian countries receive a large dissent hit, which is one of the reasons we won't be doing this). One advantage of being an authoritarian is that we can change our ministers for a dissent hit of only 1%, as opposed to the 2% hit that democratic countries incur (see changing ministers, below).
  • Political Left-Political Right. This affects what ministers are available to us. This, combined with the democratic-authoritarian slider, also determines what type of government we have. Since we are fully authoritarian and fully right-wing, we are National Socialist.
  • Open Society-Closed Society. This abstracts how much citizens are allowed to publicly oppose our government. We're Nazis, so of course we are a pretty closed society. This slider also has other affects; hover over the slider to see the effects. These first three sliders we won't touch too much.
  • Free Market-Central Planning. This abstracts how much control the government exerts over the economy. As a general rule of thumb, either extreme of this slider is good; having this slider in the middle, like we have it, is bad. We are going to try to move this slider toward Central Planning. If you hover over the slider, you can see what the effects of this slider currently are.
  • Standing Army-Drafted Army. This determines how our military is recruited. Do we have a professional, highly trained standing army? Or do we have a small peacetime force, and draft our citizens when we need them? Ideally, we want a full standing army; the advantages of this are that our recruits come into the military with more experience, and it is easier for us to upgrade our units as we discover more modern innovations.
  • Hawk Lobby-Dove Lobby. This abstracts how popular war is within our government. Since we plan on waging a lot of war, we want a hawk lobby. However, there is no need for us to manually change this slider; we will experience a few events in the next couple of years that will move this slider for us.
  • Interventionism-Isolationism. This is similar to the previous slider. An interventionist government can freely interfere with other nations, including forging alliances and declaring war. Again, there is no need to touch this slider; events will move this slider toward interventionist for us.

We are only allowed one slider move per year. Slider moves are very important, and so we will want to pause the game every year on January 1st to make another slider move, until both Standing Army and Central Planning are maxed out. For now, go ahead and click on the button underneath Central Planning.

Let's turn our attention to our ministers. Go ahead and take a look at all of them; if you hover your mouse over their portraits you will see some information about their policies and how they modify our government and our military. Some ministers, such as Adolf Hitler and Rudolf Hess, cannot be changed. Some of them, however, can. When you hover your mouse over them, if they turn a different shade, that means we can change them.

Changing ministers causes a 1% dissent hit for us, so we won't change ministers unless there is a clear advantage for us. In this case, there are two ministers that we want to change. The first is our armaments minister. Go ahead and click on the portrait next to armaments minister:


Werner von Blomberg, our current armaments minister, provides us with a 10% bonus when we are researching infantry technologies. This is nice, but there is a better choice out there: Hjalmar Schacht provides a 10% boost to our IC. This is a much more important and substantial benefit, so click on Hjalmar Schacht's picture. Note that our dissent immediately jumps from 0% to 1%.

The next minister we want to change is our minister of security. Click on the face next to minister of security:


Wilhelm Frick provides us with a bonus of 15% extra foreign IC (when we conquer foreign provinces, the factories in those provinces only provide us a fraction of an IC-point; Frick's bonus would increase that fraction). Currently, we do not have any foreign provinces to worry about; furthermore, Frick also has a negative bonus of an additional 10% extra consumer goods required. This means that in order to keep dissent down, we would need to allocate more of our IC toward producing consumer goods, which means less IC goes toward military production. Compare him to Franz Gurtner. Gurtner's only bonus is that our required consumer goods spending is 5% less. That may not be much, but it is a difference of 15% when compared to Frick's +10% consumer goods spending. Let's make Gurtner our minister of security. Click on his picture. We now have dissent of 2%.

Good! This is all we have to do now in the diplomacy folder. We will return here in one day to make some trade deals. For now, we cannot make any trade deals because none of the other nations have calculated how much of a surplus or shortage of resources they have; this takes 24 hours of game time to do.
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GeneralHannibal said:
You need oil to run factories? :eek:

I've been playing this game for years and I didn't know that...
No, my error. I changed it.

Also, can the community confirm or disconfirm that our first slider move should be toward Central Planning, as opposed to, say, Standing Army?
Ironhead 5 said:
No, my error. I changed it.

Also, can the community confirm or disconfirm that our first slider move should be toward Central Planning, as opposed to, say, Standing Army?


The increased IC is nice to have first since you are building up. Increased XP and org is good too, but you already will have the best armies for quite a while. By the time other countries start to catch up to Germany you'll be able to have full standing army if you wish.

Nice initiative btw. I'll be following.