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aka: Hearts Of Iron II

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A series of World War II Turn-Based Strategy / Real-Time Strategy and management Simulation Games by Paradox Interactive. The games allow players to take the role of virtually any country on Earth as of the time at the beginning of the games' various scenarios.

The series currently consists of :

  • Hearts of Iron (2002)
  • Hearts of Iron II (2005)
    • Has two expansions: Doomsday and Armageddon
    • As well as two official updated version/add-ons: Arsenal of Democracy, and Iron Cross
    • Another update which includes World War I has been released: Darkest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III (2009)
    • Has received four download-only expansions: Semper Fi, Dies Irae: Gotterdammerung (a Germany-focused mod for Semper Fi), For the Motherland (which breaks compatibility with DI:G), and Their Finest Hour.
  • Hearts of Iron IV (2016), released on 6th June 2016.
    • The first major DLC, Together for Victory, focuses on the Commonwealth nations (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, British India) and also adds a new system for puppet nations.
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    • The second DLC, Death or Dishonor, focuses on the Axis nations, and also adds new focuses and events for Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary and Yugoslavia.
    • A third DLC, Waking the Tiger, focuses on China and Japan and also adds alternate history paths for Germany to become a democracy or return to monarchy.
    • A fourth DLC, Man the Guns, reworks naval combat, adds fuel as a new resource for vehicles, and offers new paths for Mexico, and Netherlands and a revamped focus trees for America and Britain.
    • A fifth DLC, La Résistance, reworks resistance and uprisings in occupied territory, adds espionage and commando raids, adds a revamped focus tree for France, and adds new paths for Portugal and, Nationalist and Republican Spain.
  • Hearts of Iron: The Card Game (2011) which uses the series name and is based on World War II but has little else in common
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  • East Vs. West, set during the Cold War, which was canceled.

The games have a large modding scene actively encouraged by the developers.

Mods with their own pages:

  • Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg, set in an alternate history where the Central Powers won WWI. Active since Hearts of Iron 2 and one of the largest mods of the community.
    • Führerreich: Legacy of the Great War, a Spinoff of Kaiserreich based on a fictional alternate history book inside the Kaiserreich world where Germany lost WW1 but had a radically different result then our timeline.
    • Red Flood, another spinoff of Kaiserreich (loosely) based on another fictional alternate history book inside the Kaiserreich world where nobody won WW1 (France lost against Germany then Germany lost against Russia), resulting in another different (and even weirder) world, where the majors powers include a weakened Commonwealth, a communist Germany, a nationalist and divided Russian Empire, and a far-right France ruled by the surrealists.
  • Equestria at War, a Hearts of Iron 4 mod set in an expanded, Darker and Edgier version of the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic setting that blends WW2 tech with Magitek and fantasy races.
  • The New Order: Last Days of Europe, an upcoming alt-history mod for Hearts of Iron 4 set in a world where the Axis achieves a total victory in the Second World War, and then everything goes From Bad to Worse. TNO is narratively-driven and incredibly ambitious, featuring large amounts of unique events and scenarios.
  • Red World: A modern-day alternate history mod where the Soviet Union "wins" the Cold War but fails to create a new world order and has to dispute the control of the world with fellow socialists and communists.
  • Old World Blues, a mod set in (and allowing the player to determine the outcome of) the events of Fallout: New Vegas.
  • Thousand-Week Reich, another upcoming alt-history mod for Hearts of Iron 4, set in a world where Nazi Germany won the Second World War. While similar to The New Order conceptually, Thousand-Week Reich strives for a more realistic scenario, and plays very differently.
  • The Gates of Versailles, an alt-history mod exploring a world where the Napoleonic wars ended in a stalemate and France remained an empire and the Jacobin ideology surplanted communism as the predominant far-left ideology.

Other mods of interest

  • Darkest Hour started as a historical mod for HoI2, eventually released as a game on its own when Paradox started licensing its Europa engine.
  • BlackICE, a "historical immersion mod". Unlike countless other mods from this lists, its main selling point is trying to recreate as much of history and historical background as only possible, while throwing it into mix of already expanded gameplay rules and unit and technology rework. Oh, and being developed for HoI3, utilising fully its infamously layered gameplay mechanics to the fullest, so combined arms, proper division structure, logistics, production efficiency, weather, air coverage and radio range are going to haunt you if you don't take them all seriously enough. A HoI4 version exists, but it's nowhere near as polished as the one for 3, especially considering how the base game is still in active development, while 3's wrapped years ago.
  • FODD or FallOut DoomsDay mod is at this point an ancient mod for HoI2 (as the name implies, works begun around the time Doomsday expansion for HoI2 was released), eventually migrating to Darkest Hour and is still in development, with semi-regular updates. Unlike most Fallout mods, this one does its darnest to provide content for all of North America, rather than focusing on NCR or New Vegas content. Unlike most Fallout mods, it ignores entirely Fallout 3 and 4 (sans The Pitt DLC), while fully embracing Fallout Tactics, so YMMV.
  • Several popular and related modern day 21st century mods, including Modern Day Scenario II for Hearts of Iron 2, Millennium Dawn: Modern Day and Modern Day 4 for Hearts of Iron 4. The last two are currently in a process of merging.
  • Road to 56, a Hearts of Iron 4 mod which allows you to continue researching new technologies well into The '50s, and adds political actions that countries ignored in the base game (such as in the Middle East or Latin America) can take.
  • Hearts of Iron: 1984, a Hearts of Iron 4 mod set in the world of Nineteen Eighty Four, making each of the three Space Filling Empires playable; the disputed areas are themselves split into five playable countries (Free Africa, Free Arabia, Free India, Free Indochina, and Free Indonesia). The starting date is 1980 and a world war erupts in 1984 thanks to a scripted event. Due to the limited scope of the source (the novel being told from the perspective of an average citizen living in a specific part of Oceania), the modder had to use their imagination to fill the blanks, starting with the leaders of the other nations; Eurasia's leader is named "Mother Russia" and represented by a portrait of Valentina Tereshkova (of all people), while Eastasia's leader is named "Immortal Father" and is represented by a portrait of Mao Zedong. Due to its limited number of nations (and the fact AI is bad at managing empires so huge), this mod is actually intended for multiplayer games (though an alternate scenario is included, which splits the three superstates into five independant allied nations, more manageable by the AI).

Now has a Character Sheet.


This video game series provides examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Many of the political focuses in IV such as Britain turning fascist/communist, Trotsky returning to USSR and Germany retuning to monarchy would've taken Alien Space Bats to succeed post 1936, but are featured in the game because it's more fun to give players more alternative scenarios and modeling political events beginning in the year 1920 would be extremely difficult as well as demanding on hardware when the game is known to have problems with just reaching its 1949 end date on acceptable frame rates.
  • Ace Pilot: In IV, there is a chance to generate those during air engagements. Ace attatched to an air wing increase its performance in specific missions. Aces themselves are tiered, with the basic one representing what Ace Pilot is in Real Life, while tier 3 comes with Improbable Piloting Skills, Improbable Aiming Skills and make entire air wing perform as if it was fitted with lesser aces.
  • Alternate History:
    • A major marketing point of the series, the game allows for things as big as the USA having a revolution in response to the Great Depression (you can choose whether to become Socialist, Fascist, Communist, or something else), to events as small as a historically-neutral country joining a certain side (Spain/Turkey/Argentina/Portugal joining the Axis or Allies, Brazil joining the Comintern, the USA joining the Allies before Pearl Harbor, etc).
    • The second expansion for HoI2, Armageddon, features a full-on alternate history as one of its campaigns. Nations include the United States of North America (US/Canada), the Confederates being independent and owning Mexico, a communist Britain that controls the low countries and Denmark, a communist Japanese republic, Russia still being a monarchy, Prussia still being an independent nation, and many others.
    • IV gives players the option to choose whether the AI will pursue historical options (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Pearl Harbor, etc.) or whether it can go off the rails even without player intervention. For example, Germany and Poland reaching a peaceful resolution over Danzig or Japan deciding to look to Siberia for expansion rather than the Pacific. Additionally, with the right ministers, you can reform Germany into a democracy. With Waking the Tiger Paradox has begun to add in added alternate-historical branches as DLC material accompanying patches that modify the base tree — such as adding in options for Germany to go Imperial German or democratic German Empire or Japan going communist or returning to democracy, or Puyi's Manchukuo restorating Imperial China after rebelling against Japan.
  • Alternate History Wank: Any good player will cause this in the nation they play as: Germany conquering the Soviet Union and the world, Japan conquering China, France or even Poland holding off the Nazi tide, the red flag flying over all of Europe, the United States conquering the Soviet Union and Germany, a boatload of historically neutral nations (Argentina, Sweden, Turkey, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Spain, and so on) joining either side, the Republicans winning the Spanish Civil War (either the main faction, or after a takeover by the anarchists), WWII lasting beyond 1945, the Nationalists winning the Chinese civil war, etc. Anything is possible.
    • IV makes it even easier by including an option in Custom Settings to increase the strength of certain nations, giving them coded-in boosts to pretty much everything- less supply consumption, faster experience gain, more political power, and so on. So if you want to see Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, or China become a global superpower, you don't even have to play as them- just give them the boost, pick an out-of-the-way country and watch the show.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: The La Résistance expansion for IV adds the ability to play as an anarchist faction should you choose a specific focus tree path as Republican Spain. This fittingly drops your national stability to 0%, but you get several bonuses which compensate or cancel the negative effects of this; an anarchist state will never have its workers go on strike for example. The goal of the anarchists, after rebranding the nation to the "Regional Defence Council of Iberia" and later the "Global Defence Council", is to convert other nations to anarchism through both force and encouraging uprisings in other countries. Meanwhile, the entire world considers you as having crossed the Moral Event Horizon and will target you if not fully occupied with another war, while your army is effectively made up of volunteers, and you have major penalties to earning political power within the Defence Council's jurisdiction. Good luck.
    • In the second game and its expansions, it’s possible to play as the “Guerilla” faction, which is only spawn-able in regions that have achieved a state of anarchy after continuous warfare. They are not meant to be played, so more of a Self-Imposed Challenge.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: In IV, Germany can start a civil war to try to oust the Nazi leadership. If the rebels win, Hitler will be assumed to be dead. However, Hitler has a chance of not actually dying and instead escaping to the Americas, and can even come to power as a Fascist leader in Argentina as Señor Hilter or in USA as Adam Hilt.
  • Armor Is Useless: Subverted. The games actively encourages getting as much hardness and armour rating for your units as only feasible. Once enemy forces are unable to pierce your units, you can survive against improbable odds without taking (almost) any damage. And starting from III, units that the enemy can't pierce gain a combat bonus.
  • The Artifact: First game is the only one that had coal and rubber as resources - from HoI2 onwards, they were renamed as energy and rare materials instead. However, the placement of rare still corresponded with major rubber plantations.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI isn't completely stupid, but has a number of fairly obvious failings, some of which were covered up by bending the rules a bit. The AI is particularly deficient in the second installment when it comes to nuclear weapons:
    • AI nations will never develop nuclear weapons, as it was not written into their code.
    • AI nations that start with nukes (such as in the Doomsday scenario) will use them immediately against anyone they are at war with, regardless of how many their target has, ethical considerations, or if they even need to.
    • Possessing nukes will not act as a deterrent to the AI, nor will using them make a country any more likely to surrender. Similarly, other countries will not care if you use nukes, regardless of who you attack or with how many. Though they are not as much of a Game-Breaker in this game as they were in Real Life (particularly because they cannot be mass-produced), it is uncharacteristically ahistorical for there to be no political effects at all from the use of nuclear weapons. However, being nuked does raise dissent in the attacked nation, to the point that five or so nukes would completely remove its effective industrial capacity, even if majority of industry is still intact. Furthermore, Darkest Hour adds surrender events for nuked Japan, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and USA.
    • AI doesn't really understand the importance of strong industrial base, regardless of game. In II and Darkest Hour that meant AI had issues with production of everything and had subpar research, as those relied on IC counter - and often suffered from units having supply issues, as those are related with IC. In III that meant pushing most of IC into making of expensive units, without leaving enough of it to also improve the industry; nor it tried to improve its practical knowledge for construction, instead bee-lining expensive and hard-to-build factories directly. In IV AI not only will focus from the get-go on construction of military factories (so not investing in civilian ones, responsible for construction of everything else), it will also gladly convert civilian factories into military ones, further slowing construction of new buildings - and all of that while during peace-time.
      • And following this pattern, AI also can't do upgrades. In II and III it is very eager to make models that will be obsolete with next few weeks thanks to research and then spends full upgrade costs to directly upgrade the newly produced unit into newest technology - basically producing the same unit twice. Since AI can't allocate its existing capacity nor prioritise, this means there will be even less IC for production, while insufficient amount to upgrade in any meaningful quantity. In IV, this is made even worse, as all hardware is produced separately, meaning AI will first spend months into pumping out already obsolete gear and then instantly switch to newest possible model the day the tech is researched, losing all production effiency in doing so and ending up with no meaningful quantity being delivered to troops. If this happens during a war and stockpile of old models wasn't big enough to compensate, it can break a nation.
    • The AI does not seem to comprehend the value of turning its piles of divisions into proper units, leading to stacks of a hundred small units (frequently hodgepodged from expeditionary forces around the world) with atrocious organizational value that will get steamrolled by a player organized army with laughable ease. However, in case of countries like Nationalist China, Italy or Manchukuo this is intentional - and when player is controlling them, first few minutes are spend on re-arranging existing army into something useful out of the historical mess.
      • Additionally, in II and III, the AI is overly cautious, leading to long drawn out deadlocks with nothing happening when faced with large stacks that it really should be able to break through. In an Axis South America game this can be seen quite clearly by putting a few dozen divisions at the narrower points of Central America and witnessing American forces several times your size just standing there even though they should by all rights win, or in Italy where the Axis can deadlock Comintern or Allied forces for ages on end.
    • Aside of being cautious in general, AI has a tendency to try to ignore provinces with fortification. That's all good and well, but the problem is the inability to evaluate the fortifications themselves. For AI-controlled nation, it makes no difference if it's level 1 pillbox that can be rolled over without slowing or a level 10 fortress, as both will be considered equally dangerous to engage.
    • In III, many nations (notably the UK, USA, and Japan) do not defend their ports at all, leading to them being laughably easy to conquer if one can defeat or outmaneuver their respective navies. This was patched in later expansions, for better or for worse.
    • Also in III, the Soviet Union in a 1936 game will often build tons of reserve divisions, which are divisions kept at half-strength until mobilization. While the huge number of divisions it fields may look imposing (often hundreds), when Germany declares war on the Soviets, mobilization will completely deplete its manpower attempting to fill them all up (as Germany's already full-strength army hits them like a Mack truck). Predictably, this leads to the Red Army's full-scale collapse.
    • In IV the AI is basically completely incapable of managing the war in the Pacific; both the UK/US and the Japanese AIs. Or more specifically it is completely incapable of managing the amphibious landing part, with both the Allied and Axis AIs leaving islands that were historically bled over untouched and at worst no amphibious landings will take place at all while the IJN fights indecisively with the American and British navies, waging entirely pointless battles. While this has been alleviated somewhat, the Pacific War is widely regarded as the most weakly modeled aspect of WWII where the AI's incompetence at naval landings and warfare come to a head. And you can forget about anyone trying to land on the Japanese Home Islands without the player in the driver's seat. This can lead to World War II going on basically forever as no one bothers to actually deliver the knockout blows to Japan and whatever islands it does take once it's booted out of the continent.
    • In some games in IV, the AI will simply forget how to build tanks and train armoured battalions (even if you lend-lease them tanks), resulting in a bizarre scenario where, outside of player-controlled nations, tanks have become a Lost Technology, with the only the ones that existed when the game started being used. Since this means that the only counter the AI has to armour is, at best, towed anti-tank guns, this turns the already Game Breaking Heavy Tank battalions into super weapons.
      • In similar vein, if a country is not scripted to use them, it will never form air wings of naval and strategic bombers, even if they are leased to it. Some countries are also unable to make wings of heavy fighters and most of minors are prone to field Close-Air Support far away from frontlines, making them barely useful in combat. AI has also serious issues with managing its carrier air groups, usually overstaffing them with single type of plane (and often that type is CAS, which are only good for shore bombardment).
    • Sometimes, in IV, if you take some of an AI nation's territory while at war with them, they will endlessly attack your entrenched front lines until they run out of manpower and supplies, after which you can effortlessly push for capitulation.
    • AI is very bad at making trade deals. It often proposes deals unfavourable to both sides or at least the AI and rarely takes into account such minor factors like diplomatic relation value or distance (and thus requirement for convoys). In IV it additionally has absolutely zero strategical input toward making deals, often leading to situation like Germany buying resources from Allies before the war (thus giving away own industrial capacity to future enemies) or Romania trading oil with everyone, but Axis members.
    • Also in IV, the AI will recruit divisions pretty much forever so long as it has more than a pittance of manpower in reserve and with almost no regard to its equipment situation, and it never disbands divisions once they're recruited. As a result, the AI tends to make a massive, poorly equipped army that shatters after suffering even minor losses because its divisions soon can't get any manpower or rifles to reinforce. Not helping matters is that infantry equipment is one of the handful of techs that has top AI priority, which means that the AI will frequently change out production lines, losing production efficiency and switching to models that cost more industrial capacity per item, and worse, more steel. It's not unheard of for the AI to have four million men in the field and be over a hundred thousand infantry equipment in the red (that's a million rifles since each infantry equipment represents gear for ten soldiers) before it's fought a single battle.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Industrial capacity. It's allocated purely for balance issues and is in no way an accurate depiction of world industrial capacity at the time. If it was, the USA would have 40%, the Soviet Union and Germany with maybe 14% each (though both would expand rapidly as the years roll on, with Germany reviving its industry and devouring most of Europe and the Soviets still frantically industrializing), Britain with 10% (not including industrialized parts of the Empire like South Africa, Canada, and Australia), France with 4%, Japan with 3.5%, Italy with 2.5% and the rest of the world with 10% combined. Hearts of Iron 2's logistics system is also extremely unrealistic in that it is completely perfect - there are no supply problems, ever, apart from the underproduction or isolation. Hearts of Iron 3 makes some improvement on this, but logistics problems are still severely under-estimated.
    • IV takes a step backwards, removing the more complex logistics system of III and only offering the equivalent of the previous game's simplified "Arcade" logistics system. It also steps down in another area, as it gets rid of the all purpose "Supplies" resource used in the previous games (and until Man the Guns DLC, also fuel), meaning units can fight indefinitely, as long as they have at least one supply line to the capital. It does however require separate production lines to produce individual vehicles, planes, and weaponry, but in the same time abstracts the Industrial Capacity even further, with split between civilian and military factories and relatively easy was to catch up with the big dogs, as a single factory has now much bigger value for the whole industry.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Historically, Egypt was a puppet of United Kingdom instead of being completely controlled by UK. Darkest Hour fixes that, but still gives UK option for a provisional, direct control in the event of war.
    • In 3, Canada for some bizarre reason does not start out allied with the United Kingdomnote 
    • In IV, Sheng Shicai's Sinkiang is a fully independent country, while it historically was a puppet of USSR.note  The Sinkiang's ingame flag is a red six-branch star on the top-left corner of a plain yellow background, which was only used in 1933-1934. A historically accurate flag for the time the game is set would consist in a yellow six-branch star in the center of a plain red background.
    • In IV, Mengkukuonote  already exists at the 1936(1st January) start and is ruled by Demchugdongrub. Historically, a Japanese puppet state was installed in the area on May 12 of 1936, but its name, ruler, and flag are anachronistic at this date (they would be correct for the 1939 start, though).
    • In IV, the starting leader of France in the 1936 start is the President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister equivalent at the time) Edouard Daladier, who didn't occupied the post until 1938; in 1st January 1936, the historical leader should be Pierre Laval. Before La Résistance, Daladier was also the leader of France for the August 1939 start, which is historically accurate.note . With La Résistance, the starting leader of France for the 1939 start is now Léon Blum, who was no longer in charge at the time, since his Prime Minister terms during the Thirties were 4 June 1936 – 22 June 1937, then 13 March 1938 – 10 April 1938.
    • In IV, Ireland is an independent country at the 1936 start, while it historically was a Dominion until its complete independance from United Kindgom in December 29th 1937. Ireland should start as a British puppet with the same status as Canada, Australia, etc.
      • This is justified because the Republic of Ireland was not interested in being a Dominion, and did not join the war historically for this reason. It just took until after the war was over for the UK to be willing to accept this.
    • In IV, Bhutan starts as a completely independent country while historically it should be a very autonomous puppet of the Raj of India (the Raj monitored Bhutan's foreign policy).note 
    • Japan's flag is represented by the "Rising Sun Flag", which historically wasn't the Japanese national flag but served as the war flag of the Imperial Japanese Army. The historically accurate Japanese national flag looked roughly like the current one: the circle had a different shade of red and was slightly off-center.
    • IV confuses the fascist faction of China's Kuomintang, the Blue Shirt Society, with Wang Jingwei's collaborationist faction of the KMT, the Reorganization faction. BSS serves as the in-game Chinese fascist party, but has Wang as its leader; Wang never associated himself with the BSS in real life, and the BSS was an anti-Japanese fascist party.
    • Functionally, the Raj of India consists ingame in a single, homogenous British puppet, which is an oversimplification of a system which would be too complex to be viable ingame. Historically, the Raj consisted in two distinct parts, the British India (directly ruled from London), and the Princely States (many tiny autonomous principalities allied with United Kingdom and ruling locally). An acurate representation of this system ingame would theorically results in half of India being part of the major United Kingdom nation, and the rest being a mosaic made of about 500 puppet states.
    • In IV, Mongolia and Tannu-Tuva are both completely independant countries. A more accurate depiction of them would result in them being puppets of the USSR.note 
    • IV doesn't simulate the Phoney War, as full scale fights on French territory starts between Allies and Axis right at the moment the Allies declare war to Germany.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Or, in this case, looks foreign. Comintern nations in the third installment will have their names written in faux-Cyrillic on the map. This led to a fair amount of complaining from Cyrillic reading fans. As usual, there's a Game Mod to change this.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: With III's Their Finest Hour expansion, you can set a general's aggression level. At maximum, he's likely to pick extremely aggressive tactics, including "Reckless Assault" which gives the attacker a 50% bonus to damage, at the cost of taking 25% more damage from the defender. This aggression can backfire, though, if a skilled defending general picks the ideal counter-tactic, effectively blunting the entire assault and killing huge numbers of attackers.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Super-heavy armor, strategic rockets, and super-battleships tend to be like this. However, when deployed properly, they can be quite effective. Also, strategic rockets can attach nukes to them, creating an ersatz MRBM nuclear missile.
    • Nuclear weapons in Hearts of Iron II fall into this trope more often than not. They can only be unlocked after a long, difficult research chain that offers no other benefits, and can only be produced one at a time after building a hugely expensive test reactor. Only nations with plenty of industrial capacity and a tech team that specializes in nuclear technology can even consider them. Of course, scenarios where nuclear weapons are already available are the exception.
      • In III, the test nuclear reactor you must build does supply power, making it not entirely useless. That said, if you're a nation that can afford the nuclear tech tree (i.e. a first or second-tier power), in all likelihood you're not hard up for electricity.
    • Battalions that can be attached to divisions in II border on this and Cool, but Inefficient - most of them provide meaningless bonus or are outright useless. The few that are actually useful show up too late to make any real difference or are still underpowered in relation to their price, required research and build time. It was somewhat fixed in Darkest Hour, but only to certain degree. The only exeption might be towed artillery, but only when added to Marines and Paratroopers - they need every single bonus they can get, as there is limited amount of troops you can use for amphibious assault and paradrops, while mobility isn't an issue for them at all.
    • Ships powered by nuclear reactors. They show up very late into the game, require a lot of hard and time-consuming research and then obviously have to be build first. Only a handful of countries can even consider the entire process and all of them are better off with just regular navy, since the actual benefits of nuclear propulsion aren't even remotely close to the various expenses and most importantly time it takes to get navy outfitted with it. And a single ship with reactor is a meaningless addition, since regular units are going to drag it down with their speed and range.
      • To a lesser extent, late game naval units qualify in each game. Aside from screens and submarines, everything else takes just too much time to be build, so most navies will be composed from early 40s models and the entire research process for further upgrades isn't usually worth the effort, as the units won't be deployed before early '46 mark. By that point, naval warfare is usually long resolved, too. And naval bombers are cheaper anyway.
    • In IV, mechanized infantry eventually trumps everything else on land. They have infantry-level hit points, armored vehicle armor, enough antitank capability to blow through panzer armor, and speed that equals that of motorized infantry. However, they are by far one of the most expensive things to field. It takes a lot of industrial production and resources, to the point a single mechanized vehicle costs as much production as 5 trucks or most advanced model of a medium tank. And most importantly, the mechanized infantry only gets really useful with the final, third technology, set for 1944 for research, otherwise being lackluster, but still extremely expensive to make. It all makes them impractical to research and produce before the war is usually already done with and the actual benefits of deploying tier III mechanized vs. plain motorisednote  are cosmetic. And having 4 division of tanks supported by motorised is always better than having one of tanks with mechanized infantry, not to mention other ways of spending all the saved production. Man the Guns DLC made mechanized even more impractical, since now motorised infantry can be deployed with motorised artillerynote , greatly boosting motorised units without increasing their production costs at all and without any additional research being required - while mechanized gain... bigger fuel usage.
    • Amphibious tanks and tractors take everything awesome but impractical about mechanized and add even more to both the awesomeness and impracticality - they have considerable bonuses in naval invasions, river crossings, and marsh combat like marines, but also like marines, their deployment is limited by the special forces cap. Additionally, basic amphibious tanks are only a little better than 1934 light tanks and much slower and advanced amphibious tanks are only slightly better than 1939 medium tanks while being 1940 and 1942 technology respectively, they're more expensive than regular armor, and they're more fuel hungry. Amphibious tractors are more statistically competitive with mechanized, but they lack the third level (which also passively gives mechanized better hard and soft attack), are just as painfully expensive as mechanized, and they use as much fuel as the amphibious tanks, making them huge fuel hogs for what is essentially situationally better mechanized.
    • Rocket artillery and motorized rocket artillery - they're more powerful than conventional artillery, but they require heavy additional technological investment to be worthwhile and don't benefit from the common artillery designer, but rather the rocket theorist which many countries simply do not have, and as they start as 1940 tech, they often only come into play once you're already at war and need your existing production to remain in full swing, making it inconvenient to get them into production in the first place, and towed rocket artillery requires two units of tungsten where normal artillery calls for only one. Still, they have some niche uses - towed rocket artillery requires only one steel where tube artillery calls for two or three, making it suitable for countries like India that have larger reserves of tungsten than steel, and rocket and tube artillery are separate support companies, so a division can have both. Also, motorized rocket artillery requires no tungsten at all, only steel and rubber like regular motorized, and it has the highest soft attack of any artillery outside of heavy, super-heavy, and modern self-propelled artillery, once fully invested in.
  • Balkanize Me: China is represented as an alliance of several warlord factions (the Nationalists and Communists are just two among many) essentially functioning as an Enemy Mine to defend against Japan.
  • Bonus Boss / Easter Egg: In II, open up the console and type "Alienattack [province number]". Watch the slaughter begin.
    • Arguably the Soviet Union is a bonus boss for the allies and vice versa, America can also be considered one for the Axis especially if you can take out the allies before America joins the war.
  • Boring Yet Practical:
    • Infantry: versatile and doesn't require fuel or any other resource besides manpower, which, unfortunately, they eat like nothing else. With Their Finest Hour, infantry are actually required for any Combined Arms bonus. You can have all the tanks, artillery, and other specialized brigades you want, but without infantry, motorized infantry, or mechanized infantry, they get no bonus at all. Furthermore, militia do not count as infantry for Combined Arms.
    • Towed artillery, especially in Darkest Hour and IV, is an overkill for soft targets (like infantry) for almost no price. Compared with all other things you can research and build, those are just a handful of field guns and howitzers that punch really hard, are very cheap to produce and even easier to research. Excluding III, certain upgrades don't even require direct replacement of the already fielded pieces, making them all that cheaper to operate.
    • Military police companies in IV - they're not flashy and don't have any particularly neat effects for combat divisions like engineers or recon and don't have the raw stats of support artillery, but especially with the integrated support branch of the superior firepower doctrine, they are the absolute most IC-efficient source of soft attack in the game, and do so at no combat width cost, and have manpower efficiency only surpassed by artillery. With the integrated support bonuses, they're essentially an entire additional infantry battalion that takes no frontage and only uses half as many rifles and half as much manpower.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Sometimes averted, sometimes played straight, depending on how the game evolves. With the most recent version of HoI III, France (as per Paradox Interactive tradition) is somewhat of a monster.
  • Character Portrait: Every general and every minister for every country in the world has one. Some of these, like "General Camerashy" and "Admiral I'm on the Phone" have reached Memetic Mutation levels.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Pretty much a Justified Trope, especially for countries like Germany or the USSR. You can mandate new industrial development and allocate amounts of industrial capacity points to the areas of consumer goods, production, supplies, reinforcements and upgrades, with boosts or penalties to said industrial economy with certain minister types in your cabinet, whether you are at war and what choices you make in some events.
  • Commie Nazis: The literal version can happen in IV. After signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Germany can invite the USSR into its faction, disbanding both the Axis and Comintern and creating the 'Berlin-Moscow Axis' in their place. Unsurprisingly, this horrifies pretty much everyone else in the world, especially other fascists. The effects of forming the Berlin-Moscow Axis are so bad that a fascist/communist America can return to democracy immediately, while Britain rallies every last democratic nation on Earth to form the Grand Alliance faction as protection from the new Axis.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the second game the AI can see everything; it can carry out amphibious assaults anywhere on the globe; and its organisation regenerates while moving. It can also materialise massive fleets that weren't anywhere on the map or in any port a moment ago when you checked with the nofog cheat to make sure there weren't any nasty surprises waiting for your amphibious assault somewhere.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Heavy cruisers, just like in real life. They never pack enough guns and enough armour to be a real "big" ship, but in the same time cost too much to just mass produce them as fodder. Made even more explicit in III and IV, where players can customise their ships and still there is just no way to make heavy cruisers worth their price and construction time other than III's exploit to make actual battleships cheaper.
  • Cool Plane: as if air superiority in the series wasn't deadly enough, you have the option of researching air-to-air missiles, jet engines, radars, radar-guided bombs and missiles, and Rocket Interceptors. (All perfectly period appropriate, by the way.) Focusing on such advanced techs can give you quite the edge in air battles, especially if you also upgrade your AA defenses to fire surface-to-air missiles.
  • Cool Ship: Advanced Super-Heavy Battleships, topped only by Nuclear Battleships.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Rocket interceptors are very, very good at shooting down bombers in small air zones, as they are dirt cheap, have incredible speed, monstrous air attack, and very high agility that keeps them from getting clobbered by light fighter escorts like heavy fighters might. They also cannot do anything else - they can only run the interception mission, which does not generate air superiority, so they can't control airspace to directly benefit ground units (though shooting down enemy planes is an indirect bonus to that), and they're useless in large air zones because the maximum range of the top of the line rocket interceptor III is 750 km, meaning that outside small European and North/Central American air zones (and even then, only really when operated from centrally-located air bases), their efficiency will suffer badly. Additionally, the first two levels have very low base reliability (30% for rocket interceptor I and 50% for rocket interceptor II, while rocket interceptor III and all other planes have a base reliability of 80%).
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: IV's waiting screen occasionally quotes one of Hermann Göring's more famous (and far less foresighted) boasts, then decides to have some fun with it.
    "No Enemy bomber can reach the Ruhr. If one reaches the Ruhr, my name is not Göring. You can call me Meyer." - Hermann Meyer
  • Cyanide Pill: One of the upgrade available to your intelligence agency. It increases the chance your spies die when captured (which seems counterproductive, but serves to reduce the risk of them changing their allegiance to the enemy).
  • Delaying Action:
    • With the correct doctrine, or luck, defenders can activate a "Delay" event, which slows down the attacking sides advance and penalizes the attackers chances of causing casualties to the defenders, for a slight reduction to the defenders own chances.
    • This is basically the player's strategy for France, holding off the Germans until the British (and later the Americans) show up. How well it works depends heavily on you.
  • Developers' Foresight: In IV, the United States have aternate history decisions which allow to turn Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico into statesnote . If those decisions are taken while USA are democratic (non-democratic USA have different flags, devoid of the rectangle filled with stars), the flag will be altered to reflect the new states with up to three new stars.
  • Disc-One Nuke: In Hearts of Iron 3, there is a stat which keeps track of what percentage of your army is made up of officers, and this directly affects how well your units perform (training more officers means your men are led better in battle). Keeping it up to at least 100% is necessary to have your troops in good shape, but it can be boosted up to 200%. This means all of your military will be at double their normal organization. And since the highest the AI will raise their officer ratio is about to 120% or 130%, it's fairly easy to steamroll over everyone else just by taking advantage of this stat, at least in the early game. Multiplayer games tend to have a 'house rule' of only raising the officer ratio to 120% or so, while later in the series the producers took steps to tone down the effect.
  • Divided States of America:
    • It's quite possible, if the Random Number God is unkind to them in regards to random events or if they handle the aftermath of the Great Depression especially poorly, for regions of the United States to start organizing partisan militias and declaring themselves independent, eventually resulting in either the complete collapse of the country or a Communist revolution.
    • While the first game and HoI2 only involve the CSA, Texas and California seceding, one of the expansions, Iron Cross, takes it to a new level and adds Alaska, Hawaii, an Indian nation, Deseret, Chicago, New England, the Intermountain Federation, the African-American nation of New Afrika, and Cascadia.
  • Double Standard: Bizarrely, while the Rape of Nanking is an in-game event (though outside of the Japanese player's direct control) things such as The Gulag, terror bombing, or the Holocaust are officially banned. The USSR does have the choice of enacting the Great Purge though. The game gives a severe penalty if you don't do it.
  • Dummied Out: Hearts of Iron II has a scripted assassination event, where the US can kill a Japanese leader. Arsenal Of Democracy comments it out and makes it unusable, but it otherwise remains.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted. All units consume "supplies" that needs to be transported to the front. Getting cut off from supplies is a VERY BAD THING. Also, motorised units require fuel as well as supplies. Running out of fuel? Well, better build something other than tanks...
    • Semper Fi now gives you a choice. You can use the 'realistic' supply system, which features convoys, air-drops, and is based on an engine that calculates the efficiency of your logistics system by how far from your nation's capital your troops are to simulate the logistics... or you can use 'arcade mode'. In arcade mode, you troops receive supplies no matter where they are, and as long as you don't run out of them you're fine.
    • One critical but often underappreciated feature of the logistics system in III is the role of La Résistance, represented by "revolt risk." There may be no armed rebels actively fighting against your army, but there is passive resistance sabotaging your supply system. Germany is, true to history, particularly heavily affected by this. You can have piles of supplies in your capital, but your troops in Torun, just stone's throw away from Berlin, are running out of supplies because of popular resistance. One way to re-open up the supply lines is to deploy regiments of "military police," which are really State Sec repressing unhappy locals and are good for absolutely nothing else (they have such ridiculously low combat value that they would flee instantly even in fights against rebels most of the time).
    • Partially averted in IV. The logistical system has been completely revamped so that players must manufacture all individual equipment needed for their army, including infantry weapons, support equipment, artillery pieces, to even individual tanks and airplanes. In addition, changing an assembly line resets the efficiency. For instance, if the player changes a line manufacturing artillery at 90% efficiency to manufacturing anti-air guns, it will reset to 10% due to the factories having to start again. On the other hand, troops no longer need fuel and supplies other than replacement weapons when already fielded. It's impossible to actually be out of supplies or gas, making combat and army operation much easier to perform than in any of the previous installments, resembling 'arcade mode' from III. However, the expansion Man The Guns reintroduces fuel as a resource, with it being used to supply armor, airplanes, and ships.
    • Nukes (at least in IV) are a straight example. They're treated as an abstract resource produced by the nuclear reactors instead of an object with a physical location on the world map. Once you have nukes, strategic bombers in range of the state you want to drop a nuke on, and benefit from air superiority in said area, a nuclear drop can be ordered and executed almost immediately, regardless of the distance and supply lines between the nuclear reactors and the airfield the nuclear bomber takes off from.
  • Elite Mooks: Mountain, paratrooper, and marine divisions are specialist infantry divisions, and have a slightly stronger offense than their regular infantry counterparts on top of their special terrain bonuses or abilities.
    • Their Finest Hour adds special elite infantry units for each of the major powers, i.e. Army Rangers for the USA, Guards for the Soviet Union, Gurkhas for the UK, and so on. They are notably more powerful than regular infantry or special forces for each country, and depending on the unit get certain bonuses, i.e. Rangers get an attack and movement bonus in woods.
    • Patch 1.7 of Hearts of Iron IV adds a limit to them to prevent players from using special forces in the place of all their regular infantry to create an entire Elite Army - by default, any given country can have no more than the larger of 24 battalions or 5% of their fielded battalions be special forces. National focuses and technology can increase this, giving a greater special forces ratio and reducing their training time or technology can instead double down on how elite they are, increasing their training time, defense, and organization. Additionally, it adds accimatization for units, which reduces their penalties in extreme heat or cold as they spend time in that climate, and special forces technology makes them acclimate faster than normal units (much faster on the quality route and only moderately faster on the quantity route).
    • In addition to the special forces ratio limit added in Patch 1.7 of IV, the accompanying Man the Guns DLC also adds amphibious tractors (essentially amphibious mechanized) and amphibious tanks. They use the same special forces cap as the infantry special forces and are mechanized and armored counterparts of standard marines. Additionally, they have very high fuel use and amphibious tanks are generally inferior to conventional tanks outside of their special niche of helping establish a beachhead or break through fortified marshes and rivers.
  • The Empire: Without heavy player intervention, Germany tends to explode out of its borders and overrun the majority of Europe by 1941 and keep it overran for years until the Allies and Comintern force them back (though if Germany wins the war in the eastern front the Allies are in for a bad time). Japan is also quite capable of overrunning much of Asia (and rather ahistorically tends to win the conquest of India due to Britain's generally lackluster efforts put into defending it) and forming one of these for a good while before they are thrown back. Italy tends not to have so much luck.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Depending on the course of history, it's entirely possible for the game to end in a final showdown between an alliance of fascist dictatorships and their conquered puppet states and an alliance of equally repressive Stalinist dictatorships and their puppet states. Or a final showdown between Germany, Italy and Japan when they're the only ones standing at the end.
  • Fan Sequel: Arsenal of Democracy, Iron Cross, and Darkest Hour are all derivatives of the second game and use its game engine, and Paradox Interactive publishes them, but each is developed and maintained by an independent team consisting of fans of the original series rather than Paradox's own in-house developers.
  • Forever War: Disturbingly easy to make happen in II. While the War in Europe, Africa, and (possibly) the Middle East generally ends before the 40s are out no matter how many extra nations you throw into the Axis (Spain generally ends up being a bridge into Axis Europe as Franco can't quite cut the mustard against Gibraltar without help, while adding Axis Sweden tends to lead to Red Scandinavia, and Axis middle eastern powers usually fall to the Soviets or British soon) as the Allies and Communists usually beat the Germans and mop up the Axis minors, the war in Asia can go on for much longer if the AI decides it'd rather not do naval invasions today, and in the case of a South American Axis the Allies seem to have trouble pushing past a blockade above the Isthmus of Panama. The fact that the AI in II generally refuses to surrender without being occupied entirely or through event flags is a large factor in this.
  • Game Mod: Countless, including ones which take the game to an Alternate History, World War I, The Vietnam War or Turn of the Millennium setting. A Cold War mod is presently in development. Also there is a Fallout mod. Some of these mods have/are being released as stand-along games, such as Arsenal of Democracy, and Darkest Hour.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In IV, when playing as Communist China, the Xi'an Incident eventnote  allows to choose to execute Chiang despite Stalin's orders to agree for the alliance, and the ensuing flavour text states that Stalin is absolutely infuriated by this decision. In actual gameplay, it hasn't any effect on the USSR-Communist China relation meter.
  • The Generalissimo: Mexico at the start has to deal with a revolving door of these, including Plutarco Calles, the former dictator and current shadow president, and Saturnino Cedillo, military governor and warlord of San Potosi. If you ally with the Gold Shirts, one of them can even come to power. President Lazaro Cardenas himself is one who's trying to become an honest politician and reform the system, though even he can succumb to the lure of dictatorship.
  • Geo Effects: Terrain has a dramatic effect on combat; harsh terrain types like mountains, jungles, deserts, and any arctic environment impose penalties on attackers and defenders (but more severe for attackers) as well as doing attrition damage to the strength of whoever's invading. Rivers also impede progress and impose a penalty to attackers. Armor and artillery suffer the worst, while infantry suffer the least. Special forces divisions like mountain units (for mountain, arctic, and hilly terrain) or marines (for jungles, marshes, and rivers) actually get bonuses when attacking or defending in these areas, and engineer divisions greatly reduce penalties for harsh terrain. Certain technologies can reduce attrition in these areas as well.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Foreign IC", "foreign manpower" gained from appointing an Efficient Sociopath or Prince of Terror as your minister of security.
  • Glorious Leader: Plutarco Calles, who starts as The Man Behind the Man in Mexico, is also known as "Jefe Maximo" (Maximum Leader). He came to power through the musical chairs of the Revolution, and while he's officially retired as of the game start, he still wields significant influence, and can retake open power by allying with the Gold Shirt fascist paramilitaries.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Kenneth Althaus – in real life he was a very obscure US tank commander with no ties to Fascist or Nazi groups. In game he is a National Socialist chief of army minister if the US slider goes right/authoritarian enough. It led to a complaint from a grandson.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act:
    • Because the game mechanics of the series revolve around preparing and fighting for a major global war, this is in full effect. Even in the cases where Germany or Japan doesn't kick the war off, the British or Soviets will.
    • HOI 4 (with Waking the Tiger) added a somewhat downplayed example not directly tied to starting a war: if Germany goes for overthrowing Hitler, France switches its focus tree AI for one that is set to never take the historical democratic political pathnote , instead becoming either Fascist or Communistnote .
  • Hollywood Tactics: Can be used by the player or the AI, though generally not advisable, unless you have a serious numerical advantage. Surrounding and cutting off the enemy is a good strategy, however, because it cuts them off from supplies; it's also the easiest way to take out a brigade for good, rather than just allowing them to retreat and get reinforcements.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: In early game, submarines can operate with almost total impunity, with most of doctrines for them being ready around '40. But around '41 mark, a lot of radar technologies, new destroyer models and anti-submarine warfare doctrines are no longer penalised for research, quickly turning the table and making life for subs hard. By '43, submarines are virtually useless, as even AI controlled nations will easily hunt them down.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: The Silent Workhorse minister trait is basically this.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Most often seen when importing in a scenario from Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun. Whilst the borders and existing countries will change, the leaders most often won't. Meaning that you can have Adolf Hitler in charge of a democratic Germany, with or without the World War I scenario having happened.
    • Great Britain is hardcoded to always declare war to Germany in the Forties, no matter what is the geopolitical situation. Even if you managed to play Germany as a democratic state with peaceful relations with Poland and the Western Europe.
    • In IV, there's a chance that someone will spot the problem that would have caused the Hindenburg disaster, resulting in it safely reaching the its destination. However, it's stated that the public's trust in airship travel is still shattered due to how close it came to disaster, since the problemnote  was only discovered by a stroke of luck.
  • Interface Spoiler: When choosing ministers and army staff as Soviet Union in IV, finding out who can be victim of the purges is obvious from the very beginning of the campaign, as the conditions for hiring most of the advisers and generals includes "Not: Purged by Stalin" or "Not: Purged by Trotsky".
  • Irony:
    • Not only the wide-open sandbox gameplay technically allows to invade China while playing Tibet, but the game actually incites Tibet player to do sonote 
    • One of IV loading screen shows Churchill and a group of British officers looking at a map. It's based on a real photograph, except the original featured German personnel (Churchill replaces Goering, and the moustached officer sitting in the middle of the photograph is Hitler in the original picture).
    • According to this, many generic generals/amirals portraits are based on photographs of real people, not necessarily from the right countries... and sometimes from the other side. For instance, four of the Japanese generals are made from photographs of Chinese people (including Chiang-Kei-Chek's son), and three of the Italian generals were in the allied side during World War II (one of them is based on the US Marine John Basilone, who was born in USA but was of Italian ascent).
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Tactical Bombers do a little of everything close air support, strategic bombers, and naval bombers do, but not as well as any of the more specialized air units. While they make expensive substitutes for CAS and NAV planes, their range may make them worthwhile over large or deep sea air zones.
  • Joke Character:
    • In HoI4, several of the Chinese minor factions (Shanxi, Yunnan, Xibei San Ma, Guangxi Clique) are basically unplayable because a scripted event merges them into Chiang Kai-shek's China once Japan starts invading mainland China (end of 1937). They become functional countries if you play with the Waking the Tiger DLC, though.
    • Waking the Tiger allows the current "main" faction in China to eventually get American support in form of General Stilwell. He is skill 1 general with lackluster traits, while even the least competent Chinese ones start at skill 2, on 1-9 scale. The fact he's very low in the focus tree makes it even worse, because due to fighting defensive war against Japanese for past few years, Chinese commanders will be even better by the time Stilwell is unlocked.
    • Tannu Tuva. A tiny nation located in Southern Siberia that starts in the Comintern. The Soviet Union has a focus tree to annex it, as they did historically in 1944. Being the game it is, you can still do world conquests at least in HoI4, it just takes a lot of luck and skill because you have no manpower, awful technology and the spectre of the Soviet annexation looming. You basically have to invade Sinkiang, Tibet, Nepal and then take Xibei San Ma then the People's Republic of China with all of these problems so that you will have the manpower & factories to resist the Soviets when they come wanting to annex you.
    • Luxembourg. A single province, a low amount of starting industry (1 military factory and 3 civilian factories) and no room for expansion, a pathetic starting manpower, no starting army, and their initial army template is a joke (a single battalion supposed to serve as a police force)... and Germany will invade them to bypass Maginot Line.note 
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Among the four kinds of ideologies featured in IV, three of them (democratic, communist, and fascist) are self explanatory, while the fourth, "non-aligned", consists in all which don't fit the main ideologies. The non-aligned variant of countries actually include very different regimes, like monarchies (restored German Empire, United Kingdom under a certain Edward VIII's path, restored French monarchy or French empire, Yugoslavia, Bhutan...), theocracies (Tibet), very conservative and borderline authoritarian republics (Austria, Poland...), more classical dictatorships (Chang Kei-Shek's China, Argentina...), military juntas (Chinese warlords), and even anarchists (one of Spain's faction)!
    • It caused the issue of Legitimist France being able to join the Spanish Civil War alongside the Carlists or the Anarchists since the event modelising this choice only checked whether France had the same ideology. This issue ended up being fixed by 1.9.1.
  • Leitmotif: Each faction, most recognisably the Comintern, gets its own theme in the third installment. The themes get retooled depending on how each faction is doing; if they're winning it's loud and triumphant, if they're losing it's quiet and subdued.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Nationalist China has this going for them from the start. Rare materials, industrial capacity and tech are lacking from the start, and China's general region is divided into many warlords and some opposing factions, with Japan is peeking at them from a distance and Communist China threatening to backstab them. Should they survive the first couple of years and push back against the factions and especially Communist China, as well as building up a strong enough army to deal out serious blows against both, China becomes a solid major power capable of world conquest. And if China becomes democratic, it can become one of the most powerful members of the Allies after the Chinese Civil War is finished.
      • In Hearts of Iron II this goes even further. If China successfully push Japan off the Korean peninsula, they can receive the "Setting Sun" event which forces Japan to hand Korea over to China; due to how the game mechanics work, Korea inherits all the technology Japan had at that point and offer free blueprints as they are a puppet nation to China. The same event also provides China with new, upgraded tech teams. This allows to catch up tech gap at very quick rate.
    • In II and Darkest Hour, cavalry is basically outdated and outperformed by pretty much anything it can meet, as contemporary units will be always stronger, better armed and armored. When cavalry gains few trucks, a purposefully build motorised infantry is already present. Cavalry gets halftrucks? There is mechanized infantry already for few years. And then after a series of semi-related secret tech research, you unlock air cavalry. Your cavalry scraps most of its land vehicles and is outfitted with choppers instead, turning into blitzing fast unit that packs a serious punch, is cheap on both manpower and IC (just like all other versions of cavalry) and basically outperforms most of contemporary units even if they carry support battalion or two. Also, air cavalry still count as land unit, so you don't suffer air drop penalties nor have to deal with enemy interceptors and fighters. In case of finding hole in enemy lines, you can outrun half of the country until you run out of fuel or get encirclement. And due to their speed, air cavalry units are almost tailor-made for quick, swift encirclements, allowing to wipe out entire divisions caught in the pocket and cut entire armies out of supply.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Any Head of Government ministers with good traits are this, especially if the Head of State is a "Insignificant Layman" or "Popular Figurehead".
  • Meaningful Rename: Every country in the game has a variation on their name that is chosen depending on whether they are Democratic, Communist, Fascist or Non-Aligned. Some nations can have multiple names within a single ideology, depending on the exact circumstances they made the change. There are also the formable nations, in which multiple nations are unified into a single new one with a new name, each of which also have their ideological variants.
  • Mêlée à Trois:
    • Western Allies and Soviet Union sometimes go to war against each other while World War Two is still going, turning it into a Allies VS Comintern VS Axis conflict.
    • With La Résistance, Carlists and Catalonian anarchists can secede from Spanish Nationalists and Spanish Republicans respectively, turning the Spanish Civil War in a three-way conflict (or four-way if both spawned).
  • Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: A Mexican national focus tree gives them cores on their former territories.
  • Min-Maxing: Many division bonuses from generals and ministers depend on what "type" a division is, which is automatically determined by the total weights of each unit type that makes it up, which leads to cases like balancing tube, rocket artillery, and even motorized or self-propelled artillery to keep a division an "infantry" division to retain bonuses while stacking as much soft attack as possible in the division.
  • Monumental Damage: In IV you get some morbidly descriptive text if certain cities are nuked:
    London: At (day), Big Ben chimed for the last time, having been melted by the blast. Early reports suggest Buckingham Palace has been completely leveled and the whereabouts of the royal family are currently unknown.
    Kyoto: The city's location in the valley somewhat limited the blast, but the old Imperial Palace and many industrial buildings have been completely destroyed.
    Tokyo: The capital of Tokyo, although expected to be the target of firebombing, was never assumed to be a prioritized target of this new weapon. Yet ultimately, perhaps due to the significance of the new capital and Imperial Palace which has now been destroyed, an even more all-consuming fire has fallen on the city.
    Washington D.C.: In an attack clearly directed at the political center and historical legacy of the US, the White House, the Capitol and a number of monuments and memorials were wiped off the face of the Earth. Even the Burning of Washington over a century ago pales in comparison to the destruction visited upon the city by this devastating weapon.
    Rome: Due to its historical and artistic treasures, many had never thought the ancient city would be the target of such indiscriminate destruction. With the Vatican City also partially destroyed and the whereabouts of the Pope unknown, the event has horrified not only Italians, but Catholics around the world.
    Paris: Any victory parades at Champs-Élysées past the remains of the Arc de Triomphe seem unlikely in the city's current state. Perhaps the coming decades will see the birth of a new Paris, but Paris in the public mind, the city built in the Belle Époque, is gone forever.
    Moscow: A city many have tried and failed to conquer, Moscow was the target of a nuclear attack today. The explosion was directed at the heart of (leader's) leadership, the Kremlin having been nearly completely destroyed by the blast.
  • Nerf: Naval bombers have a rather uniform history of being continously nerfed in each part of the game and with all major patches, often to the point of highly unrealistical restrictions. And yet they are still extremely efficient in their job and always considered the biggest threat to any navy within their range.
  • New Meat: Replacements for killed soldiers decrease the experience value of the whole division. Take enough casualties and even that elite division of yours will turn into poorly trained fodder.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted. You can play any nation that existed or plausibly could have existed at the time of the game's scenarios apart from microstates like the Vatican or Monaco, including more obscure (with respect to WWII) nations such as Nicaragua or Liberia.
  • No Swastikas: Averted by some user-made modifications, though discussion of them is generally penalized on the official forums and After-Action Report writers often pixelate them if they're using such a mod. Played straight in "vanilla" III (which uses the Imperial tricolornote ) and IV (which uses a variant of the war flag with the Iron Cross in place of the swastika).
  • Nuke 'em: You can do this after some appropriately lengthy research. Using a nuke not only destroys large stacks of units, it also gives the targeted nation a major dissent hit. This causes their army to perform very weakly. In the third installment of the game, nuclear bombs also pretty much level the entire infrastructure of the target province (air bases, roads, factories, rocket test sites, and so on) with the ground.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: All four games suffer from this to various degree. Each time when some unit type or specific tech is find too powerful, it instantly rebounds in next patch by being nerfed to the ground with quickly slapped together change of values and stats that make it so strong. This usually leads to emergence of something else as too powerful and the cycle starts again or at least complains about the extensive nerf rendering something utterly useless. Carriers and naval bombers are probably most notable for this in all four games, as they are always introduced as strong in release state of the game, then nerfed, then "fixed" to be useful again, then nerfed due to being too powerful, then buffed again...
  • Off the Rails: In IV, when playing with the historical focus mode enabled, the AI managing the various major country will try to take focus which follow real history as closely as possible. If the player is fooling around in historical mode enabled and perform non-historical actions, the AI will still closely follow this line of action regardless if it makes sense or not, which can have weird results. For instance:
    • In Italy's focus, the prerequisite for taking the whole diplomatic branch is the victory against Ethiopia. While the Second Italo-Ethiopian War is an overwhelming and quick Italian victory if the AI manage this front, it's actually possible when playing as Ethiopia to hold the line or even expel the Italians from Eastern Africa, thus crippling Fascist Italy's diplomatic options.
    • If the Western Allies crush Nazi Germany, they usually turn it into a weakened puppet with a democratic government and part of the Allies faction. If they manage to do it early enough, their democratic puppet will carry on its aggressive policy and eventually declare war to Soviet Union, with the support of the Allies. Even if puppeted democratic Germany haven't trained any divisions to replace the whole army which have been disbanded after the fall of their original government...
  • Old Save Bonus: Paradox have a range of similar titles based on periods throughout history, and it's possible to start a game from 1066 (in Crusader Kings) or even 769 (in Crusader Kings II) through several other games (Europa Universalis and Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun) until Hearts of Iron ends the campaign in 1964. East Vs. West was supposed to cover the Cold War era but it was, unfortunately, cancelled.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • One very specific and low-probability chain of events in IV (with Waking the Tiger and Man the Guns DLCs) can have German-American architect Adam Hilt coming to power as a fascist leader of America. Adam Hilt is actually just Adolf Hitler with his moustache shaved off.
    • Similarly, Señor Hilter of Argentina is just Hitler without his moustache wearing a hat and big shades.
    • La Résistance adds another two more disguises to the list should Germany be defeated, after a certain amount of time, one of the two agents named Achim Hund and Andrea Hund might become available to German players, which are clearly just Hitler with a bigger moustasche and a monacle and fedora, and Hitler with his moustasche shaved off trying to disguise himself as a woman, respectively.
  • Paper Tiger: At first glance, France looks like it could be a first-tier power. On second glance, it's second-tier. Actually, France is a third-tier power masquerading as a second-tier: it starts with useless generals, weak tech, fractious politics, and a hostile first-tier sitting right across the border. Your primary goal playing this nation isn't so much winning as avoiding being booted off the continent entirely.
  • Point of Divergence: Even without your input, there is a certain chance that historical events will play out differently than they did in Real Life; for instance, the Hindenburg's gas leak is spotted and repaired in time (thus averting her fiery explosion), Amelia Earhart successfully touches down on Howland Island (instead of mysteriously disappearing on her way), and Leon Trotsky overpowers and kills his assassin with an icepick (instead of getting killed by a blow to the head). Some on these bring potential changes your gameplay options (enabling you to hire Earhart as an advisor, or as an ace pilot in IV, or initiating a resurgence of Trotskyism).
  • Puppet State: Present in all four games, with the Communists being particularly fond of creating them. IV adds a tiered system of levels of dependence, ranging from a Dominion (like Australia or Canada) that's largely independent except in foreign policy, to a somewhat autonomous Colony (like The Raj), to a totally subservient Integrated Puppet (like Manchuko). The tiers are indicated with chess pieces, from pawn to queen. Death or Dishonor adds a separate system for fascist nations, going (from least autonomous to most autonomous): Reichskommissariat -> Reichsprotectorate -> Satellite -> Independent. Waking the Tiger adds yet another separate system for Japan and (if it becomes independent) Manchukuo, taking precedent over the fascist system and consisting of Imperial Protectorate -> Imperial Associate -> Independent, with a special Imperial Subject tier in-between Associate and Independent that Manchukuo can become through a focus.
  • The Purge:
    • The Great Purge can be conducted by the Soviets. There's good reasons to do it, though if playing a long game, many Soviet players will avoid it and gain control through less brutal means. In IV, it's possible to have Trotsky taking the power in Soviet Union, which results in another purge.
    • Darkest Hour for HoI2 has a generic Purge-like decision. Using it gets rid of "disloyal" generals.
  • Railroading: In the third installment, the British will always declare war on Germany by 1941, even if they're allied with Poland, have the United States in their sphere, or didn't even annex Austria. If you make use of the "noneutrality" cheat, your threat will shoot through the roof very quickly, so Britain may actually declare war on you specifically for annexing Austria, the Sudetenland, or Czechoslovakia.
  • Red Baron: Ace Pilots always come with nicknames. If they are a historical figures, it's their real call sign
  • La Résistance:
    • It's possible for partisan groups to form if unrest is high enough, with this generally being significantly more likely in occupied or colonized territory than in your home nation. High partisan activity can positively cripple a country's infrastructure, and eventually may lead to open revolts in which the partisans organize and outright seize territories from their host nation. The Mass Assault land doctrine in the fourth game has the final skill in the Mass Mobilization tree give a huge +20% bonus to partisans, which often results in lots of factories being sabotaged.
    • The For The Motherland expansion will allow players to build "Underground" commando units to arm and mobilize resistance units in enemy-occupied territory, allowing for anything from subtle partisan resistance to sudden revolts and large-scale assaults by well-equipped rebel formations. This can be used to play merry hell with an enemy's supply infrastructure. In fact, this is one of best weapons a government-in-exile has available to it.
    • High revolt risk disrupts supply, which can seriously downgrade an army's fighting capability, even when there are no active rebels. This represents sabotage and various other acts of passive resistance.
    • In IV, prior to the La Résistance DLC, resistance consists in random acts of sabotage in an occupied territory (which translates ingame by factories being temporarily crippled) for as long as the current war lasts, then they completely stop when the war is finished (even in territories which are forcibly puppeted or annexed by the victor). La Résistance adds a complex overhaul of the system, notably making resistants still active in annexed areas after a conflict's official end.
  • Rightful King Returns: Many states have options to restore monarchy by selecting the relevant national focuses, including Nazi Germany.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: Hundreds of provinces. The third installment has somewhere in the region of ten thousand regions, achieved by subdividing territories and provinces into smaller areas that must be fought over individually. The fourth installment has even more, but makes the bloat less notable by making provinces nameless and relevant purely for unit movement; they're essentially somewhat irregularly shaped hexes. Everything except unit movement - production, resources, infrastructure and supply - is handled at the level of 'states', of which there are a mere few hundred.
  • RPG Elements:
    • Cabinet ministers and military leaders have different traits which have varying effects on the nation, diplomacy, the military and the troops under their command.
    • Then there is the experience meter for units and leaders. Experience of units is transmitted directly into their combat effectiveness, while leaders can gain new traits (HoI2) or grant bigger combat bonuses (HoI3)
    • The third installment introduces "strategic effects", which you can gain or loose depending on certain conditions, such as joining a faction, fighting enough battles, controlling a strait or canal, or holding enough provinces to dominate a body of water like the Baltic or the North Sea.
    • Their Finest Hour now allows generals to develop combat traits in addition to the ones they already possess, including new terrain traits like "Jungle Rat" or "Hill Fighter".
  • Schizo Tech: Bike battalions are present in IV for Japan, the only country that used such infantry in any meaningful quantity or success. They have virtually the same stats as regular infantry, but move much faster. They also make a great tandem with heavy tanks out of all things, since they both have similar speed and are faster than foot infantry.
  • Second American Civil War: One of the main selling points of the Man the Guns DLC for IV is a pair of radical alternate history routes for the USA enabling the country to become fully fascist or communist, with a Second American Civil War being necessary to each route implementing their radical ideology change.
    • In one, FDR goes much further in his New Deal policies and allies with an emboldened Communist Party of the United States of America to expand his support base, resulting in conservative elements launching a civil war to try to stop the country's march towards communism. If they are defeated, much like the Confederacy before them, their civil war brings up the very thing they sought to prevent as they have essentially removed themselves from American politics and the CPUSA actually does take power.
    • In the other, FDR is defeated in the 1936 elections and his opponents ally with the Silver Legion to try solidify their power via voter intimidation and other shady practices. Seeing this as a sort of "soft coup", FDR and the progressive wings of the Democratic and Republican parties, calling themselves the Constitutionalists, start a civil war, while Douglas MacArthur assumes command of the Loyalist forces. If the Loyalists are victorious, MacArthur can retain power or the Loyalists can establish a new Confederacy under the rule of William Dudley Pelley, Charles Lindburgh, or if the Kaiser has been restored in Germany, an architect named Adam Hilt, who is very definitely not an exiled Adolf Hitler in disguise. After which, the new far-right regime can attempt to leverage the vast American economy and population into world conquest.
  • Selective Historical Armoury: Some of the equipment and vehicles used in IV are a bit... odd.
    • Canada uses the American M50 Reising SMGnote  instead of the Stennote  or the Thompson note , and the M1944 Johnson LMGnote , instead of the Sterling SMGnote . They also use the Austin K5 trucknote  instead of the Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) trucknote , especially egregious since the production of the CMP and several other trucks was one of Canada's largest contributions to the war effortnote .
      • In a reversal of the trend, they have the Ram and Grizzly tanks instead of the Sherman, despite the fact that neither ever saw combat service as a gun tank (the Ram was mainly used for training, or converted into various other vehicles, primarily the Ram Kangaroo APC. The Grizzly was just a Canadian built M4A1 Sherman, and most were turned into Sexton Self-Propelled Guns. Only 180 of them were made, and they saw only two years of service in the Canadian armynote )
    • The Soviet Union's infantry sprites are all shown using the Tokarev SVT-38/40 as their main service rifle, instead of the far more famous and common Mosin-Nagant 91/30. The SVT-38/40 was considered too complicated for normal infantry use, and was given to snipers and elite troops instead.
    • The Czech infantry sprites use the rare ZH-29 semiautomatic rifle instead of the famous vz.24, considered one of the best Mauser-pattern rifles ever made, and built in the millions.
    • While their sprites are shown using bolt-actions, the Polish forces are issued the Kbsp wz.1938M semiautomatic rifle. This is particularly egregious as only 150 were built, and practically all Polish soldiers used the bolt-action Kbk wz.29 instead.
    • Australia starts off with the Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I...which they didn't even produce in real life, sticking with the SMLE No. 1 Mk III* model for the whole of the war. India also uses it when they used the No. 1 Mk III* in real life. New Zealand has the No. 4 Mk I unlocked for their 1936 service rifle, yet historically they only replaced the No. 1 Mk III* in 1945. Especially odd is that their infantry sprites are correctly modeled to use the No. 1 Mk III*.
    • New Zealand also can utilise the Bob Semple 'tank', which was never seriously considered for deployment and widely ridiculed within New Zealand even in its own time.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: There are plenty of nations that are much weaker that the player can play as and try to beat the historical odds.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty, especially in the achievements and ahistorical focuses in IV.
    • "Poland Can Into Space" which is gained from reaching all Rocket Technologies as Poland is yet another entry in Paradox's Running Gag references to Polandball.
    • For commanders with the trait "Logistics Wizard" the description is as follows: Supplies are never late, nor ever early, they arrive precisely when I mean them to.
    • "Med plutonium..." which is gained from nuking Denmark while playing as Sweden, is a reference to Riget, wherein the Swedish Dr. Helmer goes on angry rant about Denmark, which includes the line "Med plutonium tvingar vi dansken på knä!" (With plutonium we bring the Danes to their knees!)
    • "Our Words Are Backed By Nuclear Weapons", which is gained by developing a nuclear arsenal as India, is a reference to Civilization (where a Good Bad Bug made the Indians under Gandhi really like nuking everyone).
    • "Duce Nuked'em" is pretty obvious.
    • "District 9" is gained by building 9 factories in the Transvaal.
    • New Zealand can go fascist by choosing the national focuses "In the Darkness" and "Rule Them All".
    • "Nobody expects..." is gained by conquering France as Spain.
    • "The Bell Tolls for Us" requires winning the Spanish Civil War as the Republicans.
    • The flavor text for the UK's "British Stoicism" national spirit is from Kipling's poem "If—".
    • "Miklos Horthy and the Habsburg Prince" (received if the player restores the Austro-Hungarian Empire as Hungary) should be obvious.
    • The achievement "The Empire Strikes Back", for declaring war on a former Commonwealth state as the UK.
    • The achievement "The Good, the Bad, the Weird", for developing a strong oil industry as Manchuko.
    • The "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" achievement, for puppeting and annexing Guangxi and Yunnan as China.
    • The "Make a Man Out Of You" achievement, for having a million manpower for deployment as a Chinese warlord.
    • The "Assuming Direct Control" achievement, for starting out as a minor state and becoming the leader of the Allies, Axis, or Comintern. To complete the reference, the icon is Stalin with the characteristic glowing yellow Mind-Control Eyes.
    • There are also several Shout Outs to Paradox's other grand strategy games:
      • The event "Komet Sighted" is a reference to an infamous Europa Universalis event that destabilizes the country.
      • The achievements "Crusader Kings" and "Crusader Kings 2" require, respectively, a fascist South Africa under Edward VIII conquering Jerusalem, and a communist black nationalist South Africa leading an anti-colonial crusade.
      • The "Sunset Invasion" achievement, requiring you to invade Europe as Mexico, is a reference to Crusader Kings 2's DLC of the same name that featured an Aztec invasion of the continent. There's also "Sunrise Invasion" for invading Europe via Mexico as Japan.
    • When recruiting randomly-generated generals as United Kingdom (or another of the nations sharing the British culture), one of the portrait is Sean Connery dressed in the same uniform he wears in A Bridge Too Far.
    • Similar to the above, when recruiting spies in the La Resistance expansion of IV, on top of both randomly generated and historical agents, players may be able to recruit the likes of James Bond, Henry Jones, and Hans Landa. Additionally, among the recruitable historical agents are the likes of Ian Flemingnote  and Christopher Lee.note 
  • Space-Filling Empire:
    • Regardless of game, after pushing back Germany (and potentially Japan), Soviet Union facas a choice: either creating a whole lot of puppet states in "liberated" areas, or annex them directly. This can potentially mean Soviet Union including even France and Italy, while simultaneously taking over Manchuria and Korea, along with Japanese Home Islands.
    • Similarly, once Soviets are beaten, Germany stretches from France to Urals at the very least and can go further, taking over all of the USSR. If this happens, Allied attempt to take take back Europe is doomed to fail.
    • AI is capable 9 out of 10 times to conquer as Japan all of China, South-East Asia and Indonesia. Under human control, it's relatively easy to add all of India into the mix and going crazy with Australia and New Zealand, which stand no chance whatsoever when facing direct invasion. All of which can be achieved by about '41 mark with relative ease. By then, just attack Soviet Far East, as the Red Army will be too busy fighting against Germans to have there any troops beyond token garrisons to even think about stopping you.
    • Italy, under player control, is probably the most prominent example of an "empire" that ends up taking a lot of ground that's utterly worthless: namely, Sahara desert and Sahel region. AI will never manage to pull that, but under human control, Italy is still locked in fighting over utterly worthless territories, short from controlling Suez Canal and maybe taking over Iraqi oil fields. If you really stretch it, Italy can take over most of Africa and it will have close to zero value in terms of HoI mechanics, but outstretch Italian logistics to a breaking point half-way through.
    • In IV (with Man the Guns), playing as United Kingdom allows to make a series of decisions which would eventually result in the creation of the Commonwealth of Nations/Commonwealth of People/Empire/Imperial Federation (respectively the new country's name if democratic, communist, fascist, or non-aligned), a single country occupying the former territories of United Kingom, United States, Canada, India, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Unlike other examples, this can be achieved by not firing a single shot.
  • Suicide Attack: Several countries, including Japan, the Soviet Union, and various fascist or communist minors can unlock the Kamikaze mission, which causes the plane to do several times its normal naval attack at the cost of both plane and pilot. Japan can take this Up to Eleven with a focus that unlocks the Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka rocket-powered manned bomb, which is a purpose-built plane that is only capable of Kamikaze attacks and is absolutely devastating at them.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Both on the strategic and tactical levels. Players may well choose to pull back from a section of their line in order to withdraw from an obviously lost fight towards better terrain/reinforcements or they may be pulling the attacker into an encirclement trap assisted by the rest of the front line and reserves. Defending generals with the right doctrine or who are just lucky can also get it; it shortens the front, leaving attacking and defending units who take up more room than the front allows Locked Out of the Fight, and gives the defender a net advantage (both sides are penalized in their attack chances.)
  • Taught by Experience:
    • Units start on specific level of training, ranging from barely organised conscripts with few days of training to well-drilled, but never tested in combat troops. At least in IV divisions can be ordered to perform exercises, increasing their competence outside of combat to a certain level. However, the main source of experience for troops beyond training comes from fighting. Depending on game, this can go as far as provide whooping 75% bonus for hardened veterans, but it takes months or even years of very intense combat to reach that level and each replacement in the division decreases that value.
    • Officers in charge of troops start with scripted level and traits. From then on, only by leading troops in battle (or commanding other officers in a larger front/theatre) they can increase their skills, both in form of general commanding competence and specific traits, like bonus for specific type of troops or terrain. Excluding IV, there is also a scripted Cap on how high the skill of each commander can go, which means some of them will never be good, while other will run out of wars to fight before hitting their limit.
  • The Strategist: Any commander with Brilliant Strategist and Organizer traits becomes one, having a considerable advantage in forming battle plans
  • Title Drop: Not for base game, but for addons. Arsenal of Democracy is the USA. Darkest Hour has one in 1914 scenario, though player doesn't usually sees it, as he either wins, or quits game before he sees it: Any major nation defeated in World War One has final surrender event, which results in most its remaining army disbanded, disputed territory ceded to enemy, and being forced to pay high reparations, all of that without option to fight on despite the odds, or trying to negotiate with winner imposing his conditions. The only option in those events is, appropriately: "Germany Lives its Darkest Hour", "France Lives its Darkest Hour", "Russia Lives its Darkest Hour", etc.
  • United Europe:
    • The European Union can be formed by any of the founding nations of the real life European Coal and Steel Communitynote  by controlling the core territory of those six states.
    • Other ways of uniting Europe include the Greater German Reich (as a fascist Germany, include Paris, Leningrad and Stalingrad within your territory), the Nordic League (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) and the Roman Empire (as fascist Italy, control the territory of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent).
  • Urban Warfare: Urban terrain types cause your units to suffer penalties in combat, with armor and artillery suffering the worst and infantry suffering the least, especially with engineers attachednote . Since urban provinces are also almost always victory point provinces or capitals, this also means plenty of hard-fought battles to take these cities.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: The democratic powers have far larger economies and populations than the Axis powers at the start of the game, but can't do anything about fascist aggression until 'belligerence' (in II and its derivatives), 'threat' (in III), or 'world tension' (in IV) reaches certain levels. Democracies are also limited in their ability to conscript soldiers and channel their industries into military production before the war starts.
  • War Is Hell:
    • Much of the game has a bleak, depressing atmosphere. While many strategy games represent huge armies as single units with nondescript "hit points", Hearts of Iron represents units as divisions of thousands of troops, who tend to die in large numbers when armies clash. Fighting a war and receiving reports of tens of thousands of soldiers losing their lives in a single battle can be very sobering.
    • A lot of the historical quotes seen in the loading screens of Darkest Hour exemplifies this.
    • Even the map is darker and more subdued than other Paradox titles. This, combined with a very utilitarian interface, this makes for a very different game experience than, say Europa Universalis or Victoria.
    • If you've activated popups that report the effectiveness of bombing missions, it can get even more sobering, especially once you start teching up your tactical bombers. Seeing regular reports of a wing of bombers killing three hundred enemy soldiers in every strike, with six or so airstrikes a day, for weeks on end, can really put a perspective on things.
    • Made even worse with Hearts of Iron 4, where as you fight a war you get a constantly updating casualty list that can go into the millions or tens of millions, depending on how long the war lasts and the size of both countries.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: How the Spanish Civil War plays out in IV with the La Resistance pack installed. If playing with historical focuses turned on, the anarchists in Catalonia will turn against the republican government, and both will fall to Franco's unified nationalist forces. (Truth in Television, as this badly crippled the Spanish republicans in real life.) If historical focuses are turned off, it can go both ways, with the nationalists splitting between the Falangists and the Carlists while the republicans producing a four-way civil war.
  • We Have Reserves: If your manpower laws and focuses give you a good enough manpower pool you can start to have this attitude, though at the same time it's actually played with; having too many troops in a certain area can stretch your supply situation to the point where your units suffer attrition.
    • A truly egregious case happens in IV with Nationalist China. Even at lowest possible conscription level, you are going to have millions of reservist, as the game is incapable of representing KMT's problems with getting conscripts and instead just draws a percentage from Chinese population. AI doesn't understand that, so it pushes for extreme recruitment policies, ending up with more than 50 millions of potential manpower and constantly building new units, as the AI scripts consider that to be a massive overflow that should be quickly turned into more divisions.
  • World War III: Happens 8 times out of 10, given the fact that the victors (for instance, the Allies and the Comintern) tend to fall out over the spoils in a pretty dramatic fashion. Though the AI isn't particularly great at naval invasions.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Once you have built nuclear weapons, you could declare war on a defenseless country like Haiti and nuke it, over and over again. Even using a cheat to give yourself nukes just so you can nuke Haiti or other defenseless countries, several hundred times.


Alternative Title(s): Hearts Of Iron II, Hearts Of Iron III, Hearts Of Iron IV

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