As you might expect, warfare is a massive part of Hearts of Iron IV. Countries can engage in combat with each other on land, sea, and in the air, across the entire planet.
Most combat in the game will occur on land. This is where players have the most control over their forces and can directly see the results of fighting, as territory changes hands. Land forces are managed at multiple levels, those being the theatre, command group, and division level.
Command groups are organized into different player-made theatres. For example, while playing as the United States you may organize your armies into the Pacific and Atlantic theatres. Unlike the other levels of organization, these are completely optional and depend on your preferences.
Personally, I only make theatres when I have over 10 armies operating at once, or when I have armies spread across the globe. Generally I will create a theatre, name it after a continent, and assign all forces from that continent to it.
Armies are controlled through command groups in Hearts of Iron IV. Here you can use the battleplan designer to create orders for an entire army, or multiple armies if you have a field marshal selected. Each army can have up to 24 divisions for most orders, while armies with garrison orders can field significantly more.
Every player has different preferences for organization command groups, but I prefer to have a mix of troops in each of mine. This lets my armies be used in a variety of situations and reduces the micromanagement I have to do. Some other popular strategies include organizing them based on division type or what types of attacks they will be performing.
Command groups are usually led by a commander, which you can read more about here.
The smallest level of army that appears on the map is a division. Divisions are designed in the division designer, and can be used to fulfill many purposes in your army. Generally, players will create an armored division, infantry divisions, and divisions to counter whatever their enemy may be producing. The Soviet Union might prioritize divisions that can destroy tanks, while countries that can’t produce a large air force may want Anti-Air divisions.
Divisions can be individually controlled on the map, although it is recommended to create command groups and only take control of a division when absolutely necessary.
Controlling the seas can be just as important as dominating on land in Hearts of Iron IV. Having a superior navy can lead to reduced trade for your opponents, as well as the ability to invade any overseas possessions they may have.
Control of a navy is less direct than your army, as you do not draw out plans or directly control your ships. Instead, you send your fleet to a region and assign them a mission to complete.
Naval task forces can be assigned six different missions to complete in a region. Fleets assigned to patrol a region will actively search for enemy task forces, and depending on your rules of engagement, fight any enemy forces. If there is a task force assigned to a region then they will join in the combat.
The most common use for naval task forces is protecting and attacking enemy convoys. This is done through the convoy escort and convoy raiding missions. A patrol mission assigned to a region will assist any convoy raiding occurring by spotting enemy convoys.
In addition to the functions above, navies can also participate in minelaying. They will continue to add mines until there are 1000 mines in a region. Mines contribute to naval supremacy, as well as increasing the chance of accidents for enemy fleets. If you are aware of mines in a region, you can assign a task force to mine sweep in a region, which will remove mines.
The final front you can engage in combat is the air. Aerial combat functions very similar to navies, with no micro control being possible. Instead, you will assign air wings to a region and give them a mission to fulfill.
While a few more air missions are available compared to naval ones, most of them are impractical or rare to use. Players can expect to use four air missions for most of their time in Hearts of Iron 4, those being air superiority, close air support, interception, and strategic bombing.
Air superiority will interrupt any enemy planes in a region while also supporting your other missions. This mission is especially useful when you are attempting to land paratroopers, as it boosts your air superiority rating significantly. Interception missions are similar, but they exclusively target enemy bombers and transport planes.
Close air support is a great use for tactical bombers, as it deals direct damage to enemy troops and provides an attack bonus to any divisions in the region. Strategic bombing will damage enemy buildings and infrastructure, dismantling the enemy’s industry.
Warfare is the biggest component of Hearts of Iron IV. Understanding the mechanics of each type of combat can improve your gameplay and take your strategies to new heights.
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Strategy game enthusiast, especially Paradox titles and the Civilization series. Whenever he's not writing he spends his time watching sports, enjoying coffee, or studying history.