Hearts of Iron 4 is the latest installment of Paradox Interactive’s grand strategy wargame franchise. The series allows players to take on the role of a world leader as they attempt to guide their nation through warfare and eventual victory.
In Hearts of Iron 4, players have the option of choosing the German Reich as their controlled nation. The game allows players to look back at German history. They also get a chance to traverse the historical path as they aim to reach their goals.
Diving into the game enables players to have fun while also learning more about Germany and important events in the nation’s history, albeit in a more unorthodox way. It’s certainly not a typical video game in that regard.
For this article, we will be focusing on the German Reich. To be more specific, we will discuss how you can successfully play as that nation inside Hearts of Iron 4.
Use this article as your HOI4 Germany guide and become a master tactician on the online battlefield.
Before you start playing, you will have to make a decision regarding what kind of experience you want to have. You can either try a single player or a multiplayer campaign. Just as with numerous other titles, the single player and multiplayer campaigns are going to be very different.
Multiplayer campaigns can offer varied experiences. You can team up with friends and tackle cooperative multiplayer or go up against them in competitive multiplayer. Both options are fun and worth trying out as well.
Given that up to 32 players can take part in a single Hearts of Iron 4 multiplayer game, there’s also an element of unpredictability inherent to each campaign. Your experience will also largely depend on which country you choose.
We can discuss the HOI4 Germany multiplayer guide some other time. For now, our focus will be on the single player campaign for the game.
You can choose from running either a full-fledged single player campaign or a tutorial campaign. In both types of campaigns, the AI will be in charge of controlling the other nations. The difference is that the game will offer you some tips as you go through a tutorial campaign.
Try out the tutorial campaign if this is the first time you’re playing Hearts of Iron 4 or if you’re still getting the hang of things. Full-fledged single player campaigns are not going to feature much in the way of hand-holding so be prepared for that.
Now, let’s talk more about running a campaign with Germany inside the game.
The German Reich in Hearts of Iron 4
Since this is an HOI4 Germany guide, let’s take this opportunity to discuss some of the standout features of the nation inside the game.
Germany is one of the major countries in Hearts of Iron 4. That means they are incapable of losing their major status while a war is raging inside the game.
Furthermore, the major countries in the game also start out with a good amount of factories. Being in control of those factories to start gives you a leg up on many competing nations.
Let us now dive into more specific aspects of gameplay in this Germany guide HOI4.
Germany’s National Focus
In Hearts of Iron 4, there is a gameplay element known as National Focus. The National Focus of your chosen country will determine how it develops throughout the campaign.
The National Focus is represented as a tree with multiple branches and sub-branches.
Following a specific National Focus path will require investing a significant amount of those Political Points you earn regularly in the game. You do not want to misuse any of those Political Points so be very careful about which National Focus you select.
It will also usually take around 70 days to complete a National Focus. That should further drive home just how important it is to select the right one.
Which National Focus Branches Should You Choose for Germany?
At the very start of your Germany campaign, your top priority should be improving your industrial infrastructure. You need to consistently build throughout the early portion of the campaign or else rival nations are going to leave you in the dust once the battles begin.
It’s incredibly important for you to set up a solid infrastructural base as the German leader. With that in mind, the Four Year Plan should be your initial National Focus.
The Four Year Plan branch should be your priority because it improves your industry and allows you to build fort lines around the European continent. It even gives you an additional research slot that should prove immensely valuable as you seek to further industrialize your nation.
The most important takeaway from any HOI4 Germany industry guide is that you have to start with the Four Year Plan.
Once you’re done with the Four Year Plan, you can turn your attention to other National Focus branches that allow you to further fortify your nation’s military.
Choose the Air Innovations Branch, the Army Innovations Branch, and the Naval Rearmament Branch after the Four Year Plan. Picking up those National Focus branches will give you a stronger base to work with once more battles get underway.
So, what about the Rhineland branch?
You don’t want to select Rhineland too early because it increases World Tension significantly. At this point in the campaign, you don’t want to get into those battles just yet.
Instead, prioritize improving your army by building strength divisions and training your soldiers. Go after nations like Poland and France if you want to train your troops. Apart from the valuable experience, you’re also getting important resources from that tactic.
Germany’s National Spirits
The next section of this HOI4 Germany Guide will focus on the National Spirits. Those National Spirits are important elements of the game because they can either put your country in an advantageous or disadvantageous position.
The nation of Germany has a total of three National Spirits inside Hearts of Iron 4. Let’s discuss them in greater detail below.
First off, you have General Staff. The General Staff is a pretty helpful National Spirit because it positively affects planning speed and division organization. It specifically grants a 25 percent boost to planning speed and a 5 percent boost to division organization.
Next up is the Bitter Loser National Spirit. The Bitter Loser National Spirit can be helpful because it allows Germany to start creating factions. You can start overwhelming more opponents with the combined forces at your disposal.
Bitter Loser also grants a 50 percent boost to ideology drift defense. Ideology drift defense prevents your chosen nation from moving away from its dominant ideology at the start of the campaign.
You only really need ideology drift defense in multiplayer games when human players may try to use that tactic against you. In single players games, that boost is less helpful.
Last up, Germany HOI4 also features MEFO Bills as a National Spirit. Or at least it will if you have the Waking the Tiger expansion active in your game.
The MEFO Bills is a National Spirit for Germany that you will want to use early inside the game.
MEFO Bills will provide 25 percent boosts to the construction speeds of your air bases, naval bases, naval dockyards, and military factories. Other important elements of your nation you can build faster with the help of the MEFO Bills include forts, anti-air facilities, fuel silos, radar stations, and synthetic refineries.
Remember how we talked about the importance of strengthening your industry earlier? Well, the MEFO Bills are going to help with that.
Do note however that using the MEFO Bills will cost you a lot in terms of Political Power. You may have to be more discerning when you deploy them because they can really put you in a hole if you’re careless.
There are four distinct types of ideologies in Hearts of Iron 4. Those are communism, democracy, fascism, and non-aligned.
This is an HOI4 Germany guide so we’re going to focus on that nation’s ideology in the game. In this case, Germany follows the ideology of fascism.
A nation following the ideology of fascism inside Hearts of Iron 4 can send volunteer forces to other countries. That can turn them into a valuable ally. You should also remember to send volunteers to Nationalist Spain in order to strengthen your troops.
If you’re playing as Germany, you may also be able to enter a war inside the game earlier. That feature should prove quite helpful if you’re going on an HOI4 Germany speedrun.
By the way, Germany being a fascist country in the game grants them a greater amount of freedom. Restrictions related to World Tension do not affect Germany if they remain a fascist nation.
Resources are required to complete numerous actions throughout campaigns waged in Hearts of Iron 4. Those resources will be crucial for the purposes of building up your nation and strengthening your forces inside the game. You will need plenty of them on hand if your campaign inside the game is going to turn out how you intended.
This is actually one area where Germany can prove to be a challenging nation to use. Early in the game, Germany simply does not have a lot of resources to use. Germany has a good amount of steel and aluminum early on, but that’s about it.
That lack of resources is precisely why we recommend focusing on your industry and infrastructure when you start the campaign. Use the MEFO Bills to build the fuel silos and synthetic refineries you will need. Start working on compensating for your resource shortages as soon as possible.
If you’re still having a tough time collecting all the resources you will need, go ahead and start trading with other countries. Forge deals that will enable you to make up your shortages as soon as possible. Seek out whichever trading partners offer the best deals along with the resources you covet.
The only thing you have to remember when trading as Germany is to avoid making deals with the Soviet Union. You want to avoid trading with the Soviet Union because doing so will likely strengthen them. Doing that can backfire later on because many progression paths for Germany involve getting into a war with the Soviet Union.
This HOI4 Germany Strategy Guide is on the record as noting that trading with the Soviet Union should be your last resort if you’re low on resources.
Germany’s Military Units
Managing your military properly is obviously crucial in a game like Hearts of Iron 4. There are three different types of military forces present in the game. Those are the army, the navy, and the air force.
Investing and training the right units will be hugely important. Developing all types of units is an option, but it can be a detrimental strategy in this game. Some units simply aren’t that helpful in the type of combat you should be trying to wage.
Let’s make things simpler by going through the military forces and highlighting the units you should invest in.
Your army units will be critical when the time comes to infiltrate enemy territory. They will be your go to troops inside the game because they offer the most versatility from the German side.
Focus your resources on infantry units. Get those artillery and support upgrades in order to strengthen your frontlines. Your trained and upgraded infantry units can wreak plenty of havoc.
Offer more support for your infantry units by investing in tanks and other motorized units. With all those army units at your disposal, you should be able to efficiently take over enemy countries.
Unlike with some other nations, naval units are not essential elements of success if you’re controlling Germany. Many of the battles you will be involved in will simply not necessitate the presence of an overwhelming naval force.
All that said, this HOI4 Germany guide still recommends investing in the development of at least 2 naval units. The units you’ll need are light cruisers and submarines.
Light cruisers will be helpful because they can serve well as escort ships. You will want to have them on standby as you facilitate trades during tense times. Make sure you have a mid-sized fleet of light cruisers ready to go.
Meanwhile, the submarines will prove useful as you try to disrupt transactions being made by nearby nations. Going up against the full force of a nation that has invested heavily in its naval forces is not going to work out well for you. Use the cover of water to attack and take your opponents by surprise instead.
Air Force Units
You have to incorporate more variety when building up your air force. Go with tactical bombers, naval bombers, and close air support units. They are the ones you’ll need the most.
Deploy the close air support units when you are locked in a struggle. They should make it even easier for your army units to drive deep into enemy territory.
The tactical and naval bombers have different roles in this HOI4 Germany guide.
Similar to the submarines, naval bombers should be used to disrupt transactions. Just be careful and avoid attracting too much attention while using them to attack by air.
The tactical bombers should be used to attack smaller nations. You can boost your forces and resources nicely by letting those tactical bombers fly at the right times. Maintain that kind of assault throughout the game and be amazed at how effective those tactical bombers actually are.