Help Me Get Into Hearts of Iron IV

(If someone knows a good topic to put this in off-hand, would love to hear it so I can merge it through!)

I recently purchased Hearts of Iron IV, Paradox’s grand strategy war game based on World War II. This is a game I’m fairly interested in conceptually (despite some misgivings) and am quite keen to play around with. This isn’t my first time at the Paradox rodeo, but I would like some guidance.

The way I learned Europa Universalis IV was by watching a lot of it. For Hearts of Iron IV, I feel like this same principle will still ring true. That said, I felt I was lucky enough to stumble onto pretty decent EUIV players by luck – and not all of those people are great at HoI.

Can you recommend me good and fun players for HoI IV? Can you give me some basic guidance on how to get into and have fun with the game? Where should I dabble? Who should I play? What’s a good baby’s first country?

So I am literally asking a chat full of strategy nerds about this right now and the answer is: “this is awkward timing.” Because the new expansion profoundly changed the game so a lot of earlier playthroughs are not quite as instructive as they once were. That said, EnterElysium has a good reputation among my friends. Quill18 is a good bet as well, and has a tutorial.

This is also a useful guide to keep open as you play your early games.


Yes, I’d second Quill18; he’s both entertaining and very informative—plus I find that he’s very up front about when he’s unsure concerning how a mechanic works, which is far more helpful as he interrogates it vs. so many other streamers that tend to gloss over or state things that are simply incorrect (I also enjoy EnterElysium but I find he makes a lot of unsupported statements that end up being wrong about why/how a mechanic works).

In terms of where to start, the tutorial drops you into playing Italy, and while the tutorial is nowhere near perfect, I do actually think playing Italy is a good area for beginners for a few different reasons:

  1. you begin with an entirely manageable military conflict vs. Ethiopia from the get-go which lets you learn land combat without much chance of losing and scuttling your playthrough right off

  2. regardless of how the war develops long-term, your position at the beginning is highly defensible while offering you a variety of options to pursue—a (historically) friendly Germany to your north insulates you there (and provides mountains for defense if you’re wary of them); your border with France to the west is both mountainous and thus defensible if you don’t want to push on that front, but also not the central focus of defense for a fragile France, making it possible to push there if you choose; and your national decisions tend to focus on Mediterranean concerns to your east that are all mostly pushovers militarily compared to you

  3. you’re on the Mediterranean and can learn the naval ropes in that arena without necessarily having to contend with the British navy, like you would playing as Germany, but you can also choose to ignore it/not worry about it as a beginner because you’ll still have plenty to do and won’t be sunk (ha) if you simply focus on a continental campaign

  4. despite being one of the major powers, you’re almost a secondary player, so you still have more variety and options in terms of systems and resources than if you start as a small country, but you’re also not starting with as many of the starting complications you might face as a different major power (UK is pretty much alone at the start; USA has a far different, longer on-ramp into the war; both of them benefit from more experience with the naval systems; Germany is strong at the start, but also public enemy no. 1—although honestly I might suggest them as another close option for a beginner—USSR takes quite some time at the beginning to get its house in order; France is eminently playable, but as a beginner they obviously start under major pressure from Germany)

Aside from all this, I can’t speak to the new DLC as I haven’t played the game since that (& the latest patch) dropped.

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I was going to say Quill, and haven’t got much else to add because I haven’t played 4. Hearts of Iron 2 on the other hand might be one of my most played games ever. Sometimes I get an itch to go back to it, but I think I find it too dated at this point. I so wish I could play 4, but you need a decent computer and all that garbage.

They are good games!