Out of all leaders in the game, Oskar Dirlewanger is the target of the most horrific, bizarre, and outright hilarious deaths, with more than seventy death events dedicated to him. Given that he was a notorious war criminal, serial rapist and an extremely disturbing real-life case of Sociopathic Soldier, this was an intentional move of the developers to give him as much karmic retribution as possible.
People who were Neo-Nazis in Real Life rarely if at all get treated well within TNO. People in TNO like the SS Native Collaborators (like Bert Eriksson), German Militarists (like Otto Ernst Remer) or SS High Command Members (like Paul Hausser or Joachim Peiper) were usuually known for becoming Neo-Nazis after the end of the war. They become advocates of Ultranationalism or Esoteric Nazism in-game no less. This role isn't necessarily limited to Germany though, with Eugène Terre'Blanche, in real life an Afrikaner Neo-Nazi, becoming the leader of an Ultranationalist Afrikaner faction during the third South African Civil War.
In the Don't Surf demo, one Ian Smith is assassinated. He's the guy who declared independent Rhodesia in our timeline: a white Apartheid state in what is now Zimbabwe. Him getting killed was made as a Take That! to both the man himself and those who wanted Rhodesia implemented in the mod.
Related to Unacceptable Targets below, Hero of the Soviet Union recipients who were deprived of their awards after committing heinous crimes are fair game for Historical Villain Upgrade, as can be seen in the entire roster of Aryan Brotherhood generals. The same could be said of ruthless KGB Generals and Soviet hardliners, with most of Omsk's military leadership along with the Ordosocialist leadership in Komi consisting of the former and Dmitri Yazov, Omsk's leader after Karbyshev's death, being a prominent example of the latter. Soviet officials that have had extremely hateful and/or anti-semitic views such as Ivan Serov and Valery Nikolayevich Yemelyanov, who also fits earlier criteria by virtue of murdering and dismembering his wife with an axe, are also fair game.
Accidental Aesop: Sergey Taboritsky's Holy Russian Empire (whose unique subideology is even called Imperial Cult, and whose army is even called the Imperial Guard) takes quite a few cues from the equally totalitarian Imperium of Man from Warhammer 40,000 with its elements of genocide, purity obsession, Crushing the Populace, inequality, worshipping an effectively dead monarch and religious dogmatism used to justify all that. The game therefore accidentally manages to bring about An Aesop that in literally any other setting, the Imperium of Man is a nightmare state and one of the worst humanity can achieve, especially if saner paths are possible.
Valery Sablin is a good example, particularly regarding his ambitions when revolting against Genrikh Yagoda. Is he a much-needed bastion of benevolence and kindness in a world so deprived of either, and in which his refusal to resort to violence against the world's violence is actually a virtue rather than a flaw, given what happened to the likes of Tukhachevsky and Omsk? Or is he a naive fool who can't accept that the world is too far gone for his dreams of an idealistic Union to ever work out, and will simply destroy all the chances of rebuilding a Soviet Union meant to last? Or is Sablin yet another sad tale of someone who starts out with noble and sympathetic intentions, but will inevitably have to commit so many atrocities to secure his utopia that, in the end, is doomed to end up little different than Yagoda?
For that matter, Genrikh Yagoda is an example as well. Is he a ruthless, yet genuinely well-intentioned ruler who, unlike Sablin, recognizes that the world is grim enough that it's impossible to maintain a functioning, successful state without having to do terrible things? Or is he just a cruel, selfish tyrant whose argument that the dystopian world requires one to utilize ruthlessness to build a better world is either little more than a flimsy excuse to be a despot, or a slippery slope that will inevitably lead him to become just as bad as those responsible for making the world a dystopia in first place, in which Yagoda's potentially liberal Soviet Union couldn't possibly make up for all the pain and suffering he caused in his Reign of Terror? Notably, Yagoda's reforms wound up being a case of Exact Words, as while Yagoda liberalizes the economy, he would keep the NKVD in power, and that if Irkutsk liberalizes its government, it would be in spite of Yagoda, not because of him, causing most of Yagoda's support to dry up
The Central Siberian Republic (AKA Tomsk) is another example. It's a democracy, but rather than operating on a traditional party system, political factions are largely divided among intellectual cliques known as "salons". As such the Republic's leaders are largely philosophers, scientists, artists, and other intellectuals. The central political divide isn't even left versus right, but rather Romanticism Versus Enlightenment. The Republic's supporters present it as a bastion of liberty, idealism, freedom of thought, cultural growth, and intellectual development. On the other hand, opponents see its political system as an elitist ivory tower, distant from the average citizens it claims to serve. This actually plays a part in Tomsk's gameplay; after uniting central Siberia, the Republic will undergo a "cynicism crisis" as the result of its influx of new dissidents with negative attitudes towards the salon system. The player must carefully manage the crisis to avoid collapse.
Richard Nixon gets an in-universe example. After his resignation and Kennedy's assassination, the player can choose to either denounce him full-on, painting him as a power-hungry wannabe tyrant, or try to rehabilitate parts of his legacy, describing him as a well-intentioned leader who felt forced by circumstance to commit unethical actions.
Is Rurik II genuinely deluded in thinking that he's an incarnation of the original Rurik? Or is he merely pretending to be insane to secure more power for himself? When he's on on his deathbed, he reveals to his children that his insanity was all a lie, but they're unsure if he's telling the truth or suffering from one last delusion before dying.
Konstantin Rodzaevsky adopts a stray kitten and names it Mura. Is this a rare moment of genuine empathy or does he only like it because it tried to bite him, fitting with his beliefs that only those that are strong and willing to do violence deserve to live?
Is the United States and the OFN a noble faction that can truly make a positive impact on the world by stopping the spread of fascism? Or are they an authoritarian police force that gives Unwanted Assistance to selfishly spread their own global influence and are only slightly less bad than the other factions?
Does Bormann just see his son as another disposable pawn for him to use in the Wehrmacht or does he harbor some secret affection for him? When he receives the news of his return after he dissappeared during the South African War, he tells Klopfer to just release him and affirm that he doesn't have time to discuss "failed generals", which implies the former. However, he does go into a daze when he first receives the news and quietly mutters his affectionate nickname "Krönzi", which may hint at the latter. It also doesn't help that he rebukes his son when Klopfer hears this name and breaks him out of this daze, which makes it more ambiguous as to whether he's snapped back to reality or is just trying to suppress his sentiments so that he doesn't look weak and vulnerable to another coup.
Anvilicious: The moral that hate destroys is sent with the sublety of a nuclear bomb - and that's Not Hyperbole, one of the possible outcomes of the game is The End of the World as We Know It via nuclear exchange. If you play as one of the evil factions, the game won't shy away from depicting the horrific things you do to your people, and those factions that embrace their enemies' tools quickly begin to stoop to their level and spread misery just as far and just as horrible. Granted it's a message not found in strategy gaming in general, so this isn't inherently a bad thing.
In both betas Old World Blues and Don't Surf, there were numerous complaints about the small, neon text of the UI, which has caused headaches for some players. When the mod released, the UI was fixed to increase the size of the text and get rid of the neon font, making it more legible.
After receiving complaints about creating eccentric Russian warlords by unfairly subjecting Historical Villain Upgrade to completely normal individuals, the dev time retconned many of these warlords to switch them into more appropriate leaders, such as swapping the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood from anti-fascist Alexander Medvedev with neo-Nazi Alexey Alexandrovich Dobrovolsky.
After all the division and drama surrounding the planned canon sequence of events for the alternate 1972 start date, the developers have ultimately chosen to scrap the idea outright.
For those who think that the Atlantropa project is too unrealistic and unnecessary of an addition to the setting, the developers have released a submod "Terra e Libertà" that restores continental Europe to its normal borders. Later, as development for the Penelope's Web expansion focused on the Mediterranian began in earnest, they ultimately removed it altogether in the main mod.
The "Toolbox Theory" update completely revamped the economy system so that it actually has tangible effects in-game, while remaining simple enough to get a good idea on how to manage.
One track that was produced for the scrapped OST, Burgundian Lullaby, is an eerie remix of the SS marching song "SS Marschiert in Feindesland". It has a soft, but still dread-inducing music that illustrates in music the terrifying dread of Burgundy. It thankfully comes included with the complementary soundtrack mod, Last Waltz of Europe, and was eventually added to the OST proper.
Valery Sablin is one of the most divisive figures of the mod. Some praise him as one of the most wholesome and idealistic potential unifiers of Russia, creating a genuinely benevolent socialist nation that protects the individual freedoms of its citizens. Others criticize him either for being overrated, considering his one-party system to be undemocratic, or for being a Creator's Pet, as he faces relatively few consequences for many of his actions.
Himmler and Burgundy are controversial in the fanbase, related to arguments over whether TNO should lean more into fantasy or realism, stick to the original ideas of the mod or undergo dramatic refashioning. Supporters of the former enjoy Burgundy's role as a Big Bad who represents the worst excesses of Nazism and tries to manipulate global tensions in an attempt to start thermonuclear war, arguing that it heightens the tension and scary tone of the mod, was an iconic part of the original story and setting, gave the country a uniquely colorful role in the Cold War, antagonistic towards all three superpowers, and not only tapped into real world neo-Nazi doomsday accelerationist ideas like ''The Turner Diaries but tied into the mod's central themes of the inherent self-destructiveness at the heart of Nazism. Those in the latter camps dislike Burgundy for competence-washing the SS as a fiendishly-capable organization capable of influencing global events rather than Fascist, but Inefficient and reducing the complex politics of the Cold War to a "cartoonish" conspiracy where a clear villain is behind all sorts of massive global problems. Closely related, there are also divisions over exactly how stable Burgundy should be, with opinions ranging from Burgundy lasting all the way to its originally intended lifespan of 1981 to Burgundy not existing at all.
Better Than Canon: Similarly to Kaiserreich, many people in the fanbase consider TNO to be far superior to the vanilla version of Hearts of Iron IV, in no small part due to its sheer depth and quality of storytelling. This is certainly helped by the fact that many individual country paths have more events and focuses than entire countries in the base game.
The canon story, originally planned for an alternate 1972 start date, has been defended quite strongly as not only a plausible set of events, but useful as a future jumping-on point once development reaches that stage, since, for example, a conservative but not warhawk-ish WRRF reuniting the USSR and starting the Second West Russian War against Bormann's Germany is easier for a first-time player who grasps the premise but is not deeply immersed in the story and world of the mod to understand than, say, an anarchist, neo-monarcho-syndicalist, or technocratic Russia preparing to face down a Germany transitioning to democracy after Speer has been puppeteered by the Gang of Four. It also let the developers focus heavily on the stories and themes of flawed systems and global conflict, and how just getting rid of Nazi control would not erase the scars an Axis victory had wrought on the world. However, many fans really hated the idea, feeling it rendered alternate sequences of events "non-canon" and invalidated other outcomes, and some disliked or found implausible planned future story elements, such as the Second West Russian War ending in a German-Russian stalemate and an OFN-negotiated ceasefire that ceded some but not all of RK Moskowien to Russia when Russia is one of the most popular countries in the mod. Eventually, the developers decided to scrap the concept, though many have still argued about whether this decision was the right move. The since-departed original head developer, ThePinkPanzer, gave an interview in which he weighed in, shared some of his future plans, and somewhat-bitterly blamed the decision to scrap canon after his departure to be the result of fans furious that their own preferred story path wasn't "canon."
The fanbase is fairly split between those who want the mod to embrace its "silly/memetic" elements and those who want to take the mod in a more serious and realistic direction. The former camp contends that focusing so much on plausibility kills a lot of the creativity and memorable content in the setting, arguing that the premise is so unrealistic, that the mod should embrace it more, especially when some of the "silly" stuff in question is beloved and iconic. Meanwhile, the latter assert that being more realistic heightens the narrative drama and preserves the audience's suspension of disbelief, maximizing the mod's potential to explore the relatively plausible implications of an Axis victory in World War II. (For what it's worth, the developers have steadfastly insisted they only remove content when they feel they can come up with something better to replace it with, rather than "just" to try to enforce realism.)
In a similar vein (and although the two opinions are related, they are distinct), there are those who don't mind that a lot of development has come to focus on reworking and replacing old content so long as the new content is of sufficient quality, and fans who not only dislike the idea of getting rid of all the old content from Panzer, but feel that it represents a restless desire for perfection that will never be satisfied and that it's coming at the expense of a lot of much-anticipated new content, most obviously the planned expansion of the mod's timeline past 1972.
Heydrich's path and the SS Civil War is a contentious topic. Some fans love the narrative of a Himmler-Heydrich conflict, the colorful cast of warlords that emerge in the chaos, and the horrifyingly dark tone of the story, especially with the ending of Central Europe collapsing and ramping up the threat of nuclear terrorism. Other fans dislike the path as a strictly linear campaign with limited replayability, a drastic mischaracterization of Heydrich and the SS as a whole, and a wasted opportunity to explore an SS-led Germany. The announcement of a future Heydrich rework into a more traditional campaign has further divided the base over whether the SS Civil War should be kept in and to what extent.
Albert Speer's path makes it very clear that he's still deep down a Nazi, no matter his reformist façade. Seeing the Gang of Four coup him, turning him into an powerless puppet, all while the Gang uses him to truly create a better Germany can be an incredibly satisfying ending.
With the many, many post-USSR Russian Warlords, many of them are totalitarian ex-Soviet tyrants, far-right reactionaries (ranging from mentally unstable dictators and Neo-Nazis to pro-nuclear warfare genociders), crooked leaders of sham democracies, and even rogue soldiers or flat-out criminals - which makes events where these morally bankrupt factions ultimately lose (either by being beaten in battle by a superior faction or overthrown from within by an Internal Reformist) very satisfying, especially when the leader in question panics when they realize they're about to lose their power and/or life, vainly tries to be Defiant to the End against whoever bested them, or if the opposing faction celebrates the defeat of the tyrants with wild jubilation.
There's also the uphill battle of staying true to your ideals as Sablin and managing to pull it off regardless of the odds stacked up against you. Buryatia's outright noted as the second-hardest unifier to play as, and various people both in-universe and out would say that realistically achieving what you've just done wasn't possible - but you did. To anyone who happens to agree with Sablin's views or at least respect his idealism, that's extremely satisfying.
Reinhard Heydrich's entire route. Despite being one of the most horrific Nazis ingame and in real life, you get to take down some equally odious Nazis in his route such as Fegelein and Eichmann, unify a really unlikely coalition, and give Himmler, who has been pulling the strings of many nations in an effort to destroy the world through nuclear war, his just desserts.
With enough skill from the player, Long Yun can successfully liberate all of China from the Japanese occupation and, even better, invite Sun Fo to the newly freed nation and put China on the road to democracy, finally fulfilling Sun Yat-sen's dream. It's incredibly cathartic for those who want to restore independence to China and don't have the patience for Gao to do it himself in a future expansion.
"Common Knowledge": To some, Reinhard Heydrich's route is seen as a redemption path for him, where he immediately renounces on his Nazi beliefs to stop Himmler's nuclear plot and commits suicide out of grief for the injustices he's committed. While Heydrich is certainly A Lighter Shade of Black compared to Himmler, the route makes it clear that he's still a Nazi at heart. When forging alliances with groups like the Poles, Heydrich can barely contain his outrage over cooperating with untermensch and only tolerates them out of pragmatism and at the insistence of saner figures like Hans Speidel. Further, Heydrich can team up with other vile Nazis like Ferdinand Schörner and Konrad Henlein, showing that Heydrich is still sympathetic to far-right, nationalist ideologies. Even when Heydrich finally defeats Himmler, the game makes it clear that Heydrich doesn't repent for any of his views, only feeling guilt for breaking the tenets of Nazism by betraying Himmler, working with "sub-humans", and inadvertantly killing more Aryans than any supposed Jewish plot could have. While he certainly feels remorse over losing the affection of his family, not even the insistence of his daughters is enough for him to extend more rights to women, revealing just how committed he is to his fanaticism. Ultimately, Heydrich's path paints him as a pitiful, almost tragic, figure who feels genuine regret over what he's personally lost, but never renounces his hateful ideology and commits suicide out of a loss of faith in Nazism, not out of remorse for the pains he's inflicted on the world.
Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler is the leader of the SS and the creator of the Burgundian System. Following the German economic collapse in the 1950s, Himmler would attempt a failed coup to overthrow Hitler. Being offered the SS State of Burgundy by Hitler to sate his ambitions, Himmler would spend the next decade laying plans for a second coup against Hitler. Upon failing to assassinate Hitler in 1963, Himmler shifts his focus towards instigating a nuclear war to wipe the planet clean of non-Aryans and pave way for total Aryan dominance. To achieve this goal, Himmler would develop Burgundy's nuclear capabilities while intervening in the German Civil War in favor of Heydrich and later Goering, as well as the South African civil war in favor of Huttig. In order to wipe out the French and Belgian population within Burgundy, Himmler would enslave the population and work them to death in the Rodomo complex, while slaughtering anyone speaking or teaching French. If defeated by a horrified Heydrich, Himmler's last act is to rant about how with his plans in ruins, Germany will forever be at the mercy of the "undesirables".
Gutrum Vagner, real name Alexey Alexandrovich Dobrovolsky, is the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood, a brutal Nazi-emulating state based in Permhaym. A former conscript in the Red Army, Vagner embraced Nazism after the Germans won the West Russian War, and would seek to impose Aryan ideology on Russia to destroy its Slavic culture. In Permhaym, Wagner would run a racial ruling caste enslaving all non-Aryans, with many of these slaves suffering a lack of food and being used as cannon fodder by the Brotherhood; following the German Civil War, they would start to reunify Russia. Gutrum and his men would commit horrific atrocities against everyone they conquer—committing genocide on the Muslims in Bashkiria; unleashing a mass purge of Orthodox priests in Gayny; and launching a massacre against everyone in Komi. If Vagner unifies West Russia, and subsequently fights off an attempted coup by interior minister Zigfrid Shultz, he will replace the Russian way of life with his own version of a Germanic Aryanized culture. If he takes over Siberia, he will declare Siberia to be "infested with subhuman trash", he will settle "Aryans" in Siberia and launch a massive ethnic cleansing campaign, either killing or enslaving non-Aryans in the area.
Zigfrid Shultz, real name Valery Nikolayevich Yemelyanov, is the interior minister of the Aryan Brotherhood. If the Aryan brotherhood unifies Western Russia, Shultz will advocate in converting as many Slavs to Aryans as possible, using this to build a power base capable of overthrowing Vagner. If successful, he will declare himself as Velimir, High Priest of Hyperborea and all Russia. He will then create a horrific theocracy based on Slavic supremacy and the worship of the Hyperboreans headed by him. He will destroy any literature deemed to be "heretical" and enslave anyone who adheres to Russian cultural identity or Communism, with said political enemies being put in concentration camps where they are sent on death marches, killing hundreds, if not thousands in order to weed out "true Aryans" deemed worthy of joining the Brotherhood. Once he has unified Russia, Velimir will start planning to invade the middle east on the pretext that all of Palestine once belonged to the Slavic Hyperborean race, also making plans to capture Germany and drown all of Europe in blood, regardless of the consequences.
SS-Oberführer Oskar Dirlewanger is the leader of the Dirlewanger Brigade. After being driven into the wastes of Russia following Himmler's failed coup attempt in the 1950s, Dirlewanger has reorganized his brigade into a bandit army, killing and pillaging anything they see. Setting his sights on the Orenburg Commune and the Ural League, Dirlewanger works with Trofim Lysenko of Magnitogorsk to kidnap Russians from both locations for the purposes of human experimentation. If Dirlewanger succeeds, he will slaughter the entire population of Orenburg and the Ural League; massacring entire villages and carrying out mass rape of women, with anyone he can't kill being sent back to Magnitorgorsk to be experimented on. Eventually, he will turn on Magnitorgorsk, and, if successful in killing Lysenko, Dirlewanger will declare himself the second coming of Alexander the Great, seeking to conquer Russia and be remembered as a boogeyman that the children of Russia will forever fear. If civilization is destroyed in nuclear war, Dirlewanger and his brigade will be remembered as personifications of evil by the various cultures emerging from the ruins of Russian society.
Crosses the Line Twice: The Yasuda Crisis world event, describing the Tokyo stock market crash and the following economic crisis, has this closing option:
Cry for the Devil: Samara's capitulation popup "The traitors will never get to tell their side of the story," becomes a cry for the devil (especially if they are AuthDem or Despotist) when the player has played Samara and learned about all the people inside the collaborationist KONR; the wide range of members of the KONR aren't all irredeemably evil fascists who want to destroy Russia and rule over the rubbles. There are people who genuinely want to build a democracy like Zykov, people who were utterly screwed over by the Soviets like Bunyachenko, average soldiers who try their best to build good relationships with the people, and even Vlasov wants to redeem himself by actually finishing his job and liberating Russia from the Bolsheviks. When Samara capitulates, and the traitors no longer get to tell their side of the story, it suggests that any trace of goodwill and positive contribution that the KONR ever made will become wiped away from history, and they will forever be remembered as traitors and nothing more.
When it was uncovered that Speer was never a true reformer and merely wanted to create an improved form of Nazism, many drew comparisons between him and Deng Xiaoping, nicknaming his path "Dengist". However, overuse of the term caused the community become sick of it and now, fans rarely use the term itself unless they sardonically censor it (i.e. D*ngist).
Genrikh Yagoda often got this pre-release, due to many perceiving Sablin as a naive Wide-Eyed Idealist that's punching way above his weight and having no idea how to survive in the dark world of the New Order, along with the belief, supported in part through Word Of God, that Yagoda is not as tyrannical as some other authoritarian socialists and is only taking ruthlessand pragmatic means to consolidate power and unify the Soviet Union, at which point he would liberalize. This has significantly died down post-release when it was revealed that he only liberalises the economy and fully embraces the role of being a ruthless NKVD dictator carrying out a Reign of Terror against political opponents, with many of his remaining fans only supporting him to spite Valery Sablin's fans and because Yagoda provides a quick way to wipe Buryatia off the map in the early-game rather than any actual support for Yagoda himself.
Like the DSR, Gus Hall had fans before his early content was added. He is stated by the devs to be the second worst path for the USA, though the specifics remain unknown. Even after it was revealed that he would carry out massive purges of the FBI and the CIA at literally the worst time possible as his very first act, he kept many fans because the thought of wiping J. Edgar Hoover's little empire is too appealing. It was only when he tried to invoke a lavender scare, outing J. Edgar Hoover's sexuality to discredit him and others in the CIA (after signing radical civil rights legislation to equalize all sexualities no less) that he started to lose support and the degree to which he was destroying American democratic institutions began to become clear.
Mikhail Matkovsky has a fan following that unironically believe him to be a good option morally for reunifying Russia because of his supposed move away from Fascism in his route and his genuine moral opposition to Rodzaevsky. This is despite the fact that at the end of the day, he moved away from Fascism not because of any moral reason, but primarily because of pragmatism, and that he's still a Fascist at heart, as evident by his disenfranchisement of minorities and the setting up of his own forced labour camps at Dalstroy. The fact that he is juxtaposed next to and genuinely less bad than Rodzaevsky doesn't help.
Lev Gumilyov is seen as a genuinely benevolent ultranationalist or much less unpleasant that other ultranationalists due to the fact that he is far less overtly racist, seeking co-existence between the various "Eurasian" ethnicities and working against more racist and Slavic-centric elements of his party. His hatred of "Fallen Slavs", racism against non-Eurasianists, his own antisemitism and antiziganism, and the fact that he creates a hyper-miliaristic neo-fedual society with no hope of social mobility is often ignored by many players.
A very odd case with Reinhard Heydrich. He spearheads a coalition against Himmler to prevent nuclear destruction of the world, and has to resort to allying with reformers, militarists, the RAF, and even Poles and Eastern European slaves in order to accomplish this. This caused much of the fanbase to joke about the ludicrous situation in which one of the most dedicated and brutal Nazis in history has a "redemption arc" for forming a so-called "Avengers" scenario, but it's mostly humorous as most fans are fully aware that he isn't really redeemed or good for the events that transpire. The devs would take note of this and respond about how he's still a Spartanist and that any of the more serious notions about him being "good" are undermined by the fact that he still feels conflicted over appeasing those that he deems to be beneath him. Notably, when he realizes that Nazism and its tenets are inherently flawed and only served to ruin him and Germany, he opts to kill himself.
Nowa Polska, a rump state of the Polish people (and, in fact, the only one by the start of the mod) in Western Kazakhstan, of all places, became a major hit even before it was fully revealed.
Gorky, despite not being an eligible unifier for Russia, has plenty of fans due to its large tank fleet. Within days of the second demo's release, fans were already implementing custom events and decisions allowing them to be a regional unifier and showing them off on the TNO subreddit.
The Father didn't even have a confirmed identity when he was first unveiled and in spite of leading the (Seemingly) irrelevant-in-the-large-scale unorganized Northeast Siberian territories had dozens of reddit threads speculating his identity and players excited to play as him. Many crackpot speculations has only increased his fame in the community. The revelation that he's Alexander Men and a benevolent Christian anarchist as opposed to being villainous as most people thought, with him being tolerant even of those who don't share his faith, further cemented his popularity.
John Glenn, a potential R-D candidate in the 1968 US elections, is very popular due to being a former astronaut whos very supportive of space exploration. Hes often styled by the fandom as Glenn! in reference to the popular Jeb Bush meme. His popularity has only skyrocketed in release when it was discovered that he can land a man on Mars!
Despite being a secret path for Komi that was only lightly teased pre-release, Sergey Taboritsky's Holy Russian Empire has proven to be the most popular and discussed of the many paths the country can take, likely due to Taboritsky's uniquely insane version of Esoteric Nazism, and the sheer bleaknessof the path.
Pavel Batov is popular almost entirely for the fact that he's the direct opponent of the game's Memetic Loser Boris Yeltsin for control of a Sverdlovsk unified Russia. The fact that his Russia is based on the Red Army being pragmatic about fixing Russia without being strung up with greed and ideology also ironically makes him somewhat unique in a sea of ideologues, his "People's Union" being seen as a sane populist alternative to whatever Yeltsin cooks up despite Yeltsin being more competent here than he was in our timeline. His very catchy reunification song also titled "To Serve Russia" is used by fans of proof that he's a selfless Earn Your Happy Ending type of warlord. And finally, if the genocidal maniacs in Omsk beat the odds and unify Western Siberia, they will suddenly have to deal with him and his National Salvation Commission, and the AI will almost always succeed in killing Yazov and deunifying Central Siberia, saving the world from their insane plans.
Of the new Russian unification paths added in the Cutting Room Floor update, Mitchell WerBell's West Alaska path seems to have become the most popular, in no small part because of the inherent ridiculousness of an American mercenary reuniting all of Russia, and the route being one bigMetal Gear Solidreference. The fact that his unification theme is a catchy rock song (Warren Zevon's "Jungle Work") helps as well.
Barry Goldwater managed to gain a lot of love from various players for being the only potential US president to refuse to cut any deal with the German Reich no matter what and for the section of his focus tree where he can choose to crack down on American fascists and Yockey's supporters, culminating with the Badass Boast "America is no friend to fascists"
Mikail Suslov is extremely popular for being a chessmaster capable of manipulating most of Komi's political world to get what he wants. The fact the only time he loses his calm is when he learns about Serov's ordosocialism (considered by many one of the worst option for the reunification of Russia) increased his popularity quite a lot. The fact that his Soviet Union is utterly average with no major quirks actually cements his popularity as like Batov, this has been used o frame him as a pragmatist wanting to pursue populism and development in realistic ways. That, and his rule has become the baseline by which the fandom uses to measure other incarnations of the USSR one can create.
The Bogi Smerti, a warlord state that use to rise from RK Moskowien's collapse who use Satanic imagery to intimidate their victims, and the mystery surrounding their masked leader and his true identity have made them stand out enough to garner fascination from the fanbase. They and their leader the Antikhrist are often depicted in fan content, with some even hoping that they'd get a focus tree someday. While removed and hated by the Devs (due to their entire lore being incoherent and their addition into the game being a complete joke on their part), the fanbase actually mourned their removal. Their Spiritual Successor, the Brotherhood of Cain, a band of unironic crazy Satanist warlords who arise after Taboritsky's Holy Russian Empire collapses with his death, is similarly popular.
Vorkuta is a minor West Siberian warlord that can't unify Russia, but it's gotten a lot of attention, due to the infamous reputation of its gulags. Some have even dedicated submods to Vorkuta to give them gameplay content, if not outright turn them into a unifier in their own right.
Adhemar de Barros became one of Brazil's most popular leaders after the release of the Cold Southern Springs demo, and kept his status after CSS's integration into TNO. It would be expected for Adhemar to be disliked for being a corrupt opportunist powermonger with little to no concrete goals. Instead, fans embraced him for being so unapologetically corrupt that he makes it his entire personality, and even his campaign platform.
Pre-release, there were many wild guesses in the community about some Russian paths. These typically boil down to three points:
BurgSys Komi: The chaotic Komi Republic is a source of much speculation, and one early dev statement sayign that "Komi can go every ideology" quickly led to speculations of a possible Burgundian System Komi path. The devs later statements flip-flopped between supporting BurgSys Komi and rejecting itThese include "Komi has one of the worst path in Russia, and one of the worst paths in the mod"; "Komi can go every ideology but one, and it's not the one you expect", "There is no BurgSys in the Komi power struggles", as well as a loading screen quote about a Russian who supports the Burgundian System., causing further confusion and led to many off-the-wall guesses. Until release, practically nothing about this "worst Komi path" has been revealed by the developers. In the final game, it turns out this speculation of the worst Komi path being Burgundian System Komi is real, the one ideology they can't go is Conservative Democracy, and earlier dev statements about BurgSys not being in Komi are Exact Words distractions intended to screw with the community — there's no BurgSys in the power struggle because the leader in question, Sergey Taboritsky, is first classified as a Fascist and does not reveal his true ideology until he has consolidated his rule and unified Western Russia.
Hyperborea: Based around this dev-posted meme that obliquely references Russian reunification paths. Specifically, the top left Radical-Bad End cell "The North Awakens" triggered an absolute deluge of Epileptic Trees questioning what is it referencing. The background image used in the cell is a distorted stylized Slavic pagan symbol, while Hyperborea is a mythical land common in Esoteric Fascist ideas. Guesses as to what "The North Awakens" is about range from more BurgSys Komi, the Father (see below), or other weird guesses. In the final game, it turns out The North Awakens refers to a horrific Slavo-Aryanism path for Aryan Brotherhood, who rename their country to Hyperborea. The fan posters' reference to Hyperborea is simply a coincidence that the devs milked to mess with the players.Additional note The "Hyperborea symbol" was developed by the TNO dev team for their original plans for a neo-pagan BurgSys Russia. It was first shown publicly in this series of fan-made posters, made by a user who apparently had some access to dev resources. The symbol does not appear in the final game.
The Father: The mysterious Russian figure mentioned but not revealed in the TNO demo caused a load of crazy guesses regarding his identity and what he actually does. Guesses to what he does often leads to more guesses of BurgSys Komi or Hyperborea, and guesses of his identity range from the sensible (actual Russian preachers) to the memetically ridiculous (Stalin, Trotsky, Vladimir Putin, etc.) In the final game, the Father's identity is Alexander Men, and his country is a Christian-Anarchist nation of egalitarian communes that emerges from Northeast Siberia. Overall, he is a very mild, multi-faith tolerant, kind man who preaches the loving message of Jesus Christ, and even gives kind, secular advice to those who don't believe but seek him out anyway.
After the Cutting Room Floor update, people began to notice that certain characters in Russian events were named Alexei and began to speculate, with varying degrees of seriousness, that one of them was actually Tsarevich Alexei, which would vindicate Taboritsky's beliefs about him being alive. The developers eventually Jossed this speculation by clarifying that the Tsarevich was, in fact, dead, and that the conspicuous number of characters named Alexei just happened to share his name.
This teaser in the form of a Polandball comic has caused many fans to speculate about the Post-Taboritsky collapse and content, especially from all of the flags that can be connected to previous warlord states and entities. The fans got their answer with the March 2021 After Midnight update.
Related to the above, fans discovered several files for Post-Taboritsky warlord reunification messages, despite there only being options to declare war on other states in the sandbox mode. Many are torn between the messages simply being made for fun and won't be released as content, or if these are genuine hints towards the warlords actually having the chance to re-reunify the country again, due to the developers previously stating that Taboritsky's reign completely destroys the very idea of a unified Russia.
The Black League of Omsk will bring nuclear destruction to the entire world in their pursuit of revenge against the Reich, but their uniforms and aesthetic, their relatable motivations, the writing surrounding their Great Trial, and their militaristic and obsessive nature give them a dark charisma, and have garnered this reception from the players.
Bogi Smerti, a warlord state that rises from RK Moskowien's collapse. Their use of Satanic imagery and name translating to "Gods of Death", their operation depending on intimidation factor, and the mystery surrounding their masked leader and his true identity made them stand out enough to garner fascination from the fanbase and even mourn their removal despite the Dev team making their loathing for the faction clear. Their Spiritual Successor, the Brotherhood of Cain, keeps the Satanic imagery while combining it with Hyperborea-style occultism, and is similarly popular among the After Midnight warlords.
Fanart at First Sight: Before the release, several characters of the unreleased game have been used in memes such as Albert Speer, Ulrike Meinhof and the rest of the DSR, the two Svetlanas of Komi and Scorza.
Nations and powers breaking into several warlord states is already a rather popular scenario in the alternate history genre, but with the popularity of the Russian warlord campaign and the frequent instances of Balkanization from certain countries and states, people enjoy imagining other factions in the lore facing collapse, followed by several states each championing their own ideology and racing to unite a new superpower under their banner.
Fans have made their own ideas for other potential Russian reunifiers, from giving the ability to warlord states that do not have such function to completely new and original factions and leaders, each accompanied with their own superevent. Due to there also being possible successors for leadership and potential Balkanization after regional unification, leaders are also invented with these effects and roles in mind.
Ever since the After Midnight update added 70's content for Taboritsky's Russia, fans have been imagining and writing other scenarios where yet another warlord era is ushered in by the collapse of another unifier, trying to come up with entirely new statelets and factions that would rise in response to the previous reign.
Many in the community wonder how a scenario where Taboritsky's delusions that Alexei is alive and returning when Russia is "purified" are actuallyproven correct would play out, especially with all of the Fridge Horror that such a thing entails. There has been some fan content creating their own portraits and profiles of Alexei, as well as at least one superevent depicting his return occurring.
Fanfic Fuel: Russia's unifiers have less specific event interactions once they conquer their region, so certain figures that have some sort of history with other leaders usually do not have any writing to emphasize their relationships and views as fellow powers just because they did not start in the same region. Fans tend to speculate on what such interactions could include, especially since Taboritsky draws unique reactions from many other warlords.
The Chinese fandom of TNO affectionally refers to ThePinkPanzer, the former lead developer of the mod, as "Chairman Pink".
Sentiments towards campaigns and routes are summed up and expressed with certain terms, either seriously or sarcastically.
Any path or country to play that makes its players feel increasingly horrified, depressed and gut-punched are consistently referred to as Cursed, with degrees of Cursed-ness being compared between different choices. If playing it makes you despise yourself, you know you've found a Cursed path.
Similarly, countries or paths that make players feel better for pursuing them and are more heroic in nature are described as Blessed.
Countries, leaders, and paths that players consider badass and uncompromising, regardless of actual morality, are referred to as Based. Those that are perceived to be less exciting, repulsive, or weak are described as Cringe.
Sergey Taboritsky is often referred by the fanbase as "Tabby", or "Taburet/Taburetsky" ("Табурет", which means stool) by the Russian community. He's also sometimes called the "funni clock man" and variants thereof due to the clock motifs of his campaign.
Burgundy is sometimes called Bruhgundy, due to the experience of playing it and its general existence being something of an ever-escalating Bruh Moment, with one Player Punch after the next. Similarly, the Burgundian System or BurgSys is sometimes called BruhSys.
Speer's route where he purges the Gang of Four and creates a reinvigorated Nazi Germany is referred to as "Dengist Speer", alluding to the parallels with Deng Xiaoping's reforms and the modern-day People's Republic of China.
Vöring for Göring, due to his appetite for world conquest.
Göring's plans for war are sometimes referred to with euphemisms of him eating the food that the enemy's culture is known for. Fall Rockwell's invasion of the U.S. is him wanting to "eat McDonalds" for example.
Having an economy fueled entirely by conquest and looting is referred to as Göringnomics.
The adherents of various toxic ideologies, including most permutations of authoritarianism and fascism, are given the tongue-in-cheek nickname of "gamers," and enacting their policies is sometimes called "gamer moves." Far-Right ethnostates such as Burgundy are also referred to as "Gamer Utopias" given that the only people with any hope of privilege are straight white males. For context, this is based on the "Gamers Rise Up" meme as well, which was formed as an ironic backlash to News Media depciting gamers as sexually frustrated bigots. Thus, the meme proclaims that said politically incorrect and sexually frustrated gamers will eventually fight back against the women and minorities "oppressing" them and that the actions of TNO's worst leaders are being done for gamer-kind, never mind that gamers come from all walks of life.
Gutrum Vagner and the Aryan Brotherhood LARPers are often referred to as "German simps" for their fetishization of Germany and Aryanism, including cheering for German terror bombers dropping bombs on them.
"Big Boss" or "Punished WerBell" for Mitchell WerBell III, who in his unification route manages to turn the entire Russia into a mercenary state, very similar to Big Boss's plan to create Outer Heaven.
The Volkshalle in Germania is dubbed the "Big Building in Neu Berlin" in reference to an infamous meme in the mod Discord. However, Baxter actually called it that "giant building."
Fanon: A number of fans believe that the anthems of each Russian unifier correspond to the songs played during their reunification superevent, such as "We are the Army of the People" for Georgy Zhukov and "To Serve Russia" for Pavel Batov. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, in which fans may accept another song as a substitute for their anthem because of how compatible they are to the unifier's theme, even if the song itself isn't used in-game. Some examples include "My Army" for Ivan Serov (which was used for Serov's reunification superevent prior to Cutting Room Floor) and "Sacred War" for Dmitry Yazov.
There's a significant overlap between the fandoms of The New Order and of Kaiserreich, with both being alternate history mods for Hearts of Iron IV. Both fandoms share memes with each other, and there are even references to Kaiserreich within TNO itself.
There is overlap with Warhammer 40,000 (although it's pretty one-sided, given TNO's size) - which is unsurprising given how the two have similar themes.
Bizarrely enough, there has been a lot of overlap between the TNO fandom and Danganronpa of all things, especially on the official TNO sub-Reddit. Also, there have been a lot of comparisons between Himmler and Junko, as well as Sablin and Makoto from their respective franchises. It helps that Himmler is prone to plunging people into despair, albeit via totalitarianism rather than a desire for chaos within itself, while Sablin is a Hope Bringer to Russia if he remains idealistic. This eventually resulted in a fan made and dev loved anime opening for TNO done in the style of the Danganronpa 3 despair arc anime.
The 2022 April Fool's Crossover Event between this mod and Equestria at War has caused the fandoms of both to warm up to one another significantly. Both fandoms have had immense praise for the quality of the April Fool's factions/leaders.
Air Cavalry divisions. They are—or, rather, were—the fastest division type in the game with decent breakthrough, meaning that a single division breaking through enemy lines had the potential to spell doom against enemies incapable of catching up before they capitulated. They were so broken, in fact, that one player was able to defeat Burgundy as France using quickly assembled helicopter divisions, winning a conflict designed to be literally impossible for France to win. As of the Toolbox Theory update, Air Cavalry divisions have been completely removed. In their place, infantry divisions can include an Air Assault Company support. They're not as fast, but still quite fast, and Marine or Elite Infantry divisions equipped with all the helicopter companies are still excellent choices for the rough, all-terrain conflicts found in the mod.
Each of the Central Siberan Unifiers have the national spirit "Legacy of the Siberian Plan", conferring a massive boost to their industrial capability and allowing them to build massive, modern armies and the infrastructure to support them.
In spite of a language barrier, the mod became popular among the Chinese and Russian Hearts of Iron communities.
Albert Speer is much more liked in the Chinese community than the Western TNO fanbase. This is possibly due to some of his similarities with OTL Deng Xiaoping: stabilizing the country after a period of totalitarianism and chaos and changing some of the most problematic elements of the old regime, but ultimately with the goal of maintaining and saving the regime, not ending it.
During the Don't Surf demo, it was possible to get over 100% support for the monarchy in Bechuanaland while playing as South Africa. This was swiftly dealt with, but for a short time jokes abounded about the British monarchy's eternal support.
In the early days of the mod, some of the event localizations were unfinished. While most of these were empty, some of them had absolutely hilarious placeholder text left behind by the devs.
A certain event in the Aryan Brotherhood resulted in Zigfrid Shultz murdering Gutrum Vagner and taking his place at the head of the country. Contrary to what should logically happen, Vagner remained an available field marshal, despite his supposed death. The bug has since been fixed, but now the opposite occurs: if Vagner survives Shultz's takeover attempt and has him killed, he will remain as a general and instead a different general, Filip Leman, will be removed.
Due to an oversight in puppet mechanics, it used to be possible for Germany to request every single Burgundian division, and dump them somewhere they can't retrieve them. This leads to France curbstomping Burgundy when Burgundy declares war, when normally Burgundy should curbstomp France.
Save games from previous versions of the mod will break while in a higher version. One of the funniest consequences of this is an immortal Adolf Hitler; the event to kill him will sometimes never fire, meaning that Germany remains united throughout the entire game.
Serov's Ordosocialist Ust-Sysolsk has a focus that is supposed to add 300 million dollars to the GDP, but due to an error granted 300 billion dollars instead, giving rise to a community joke that Ordosocialism is the most economically efficient system in human history.
The East African Interim Unity Government and the Central African Republic both share a tag (MZB) with RK Ostafrika. Burgundy has focuses to aid Ostafrika, resulting in Himmler sending support◊ and even divisions to William Westmoreland.
Hyperborea caused some grief during Toolbox Theory testing thanks to Perunomics◊: Their debt skyrocketed so hard it wrapped around, became negative, and boosted the state's economy to ridiculous levels while crashing every other economy in Russia, causing such an imbalance Hyperborean reunification became a given.
One relatively harmless bug during Harrington's USA presidency causes fringe NPP popularities to skyrocket very briefly, then everything going back to normal by the next week/month. Normally, this only causes a startle when checking the political pie chart. If it hits just in time for election season though, it can lead to America as a whole losing its goddamn mind and trying to pit Hall against Yockey with Harrington stuck in the middle.
Free Angola shares a tag with RK Südwestafrika and the OFN's Angolan mandate. If Schenck is successful in backstabbing his fellow Reichskommissars and establishing a free Angola, they can still receive volunteers from Germany, who effectively sends their divisions to fight each other.
The 1964 Winter Olympics in Canada. The event was bugged such that it fired on the given day an infinite number of times, causing the came to halt to a standstill, and even crash.
The fact the end goal of Heinrich Himmler's global machinations is to cause a nuclear war to Restart the World for the Aryan race is built up as a large secret, and a twist in Burgundy's storyline. However, this aspect of him is so well known about him among the community that it's the first thing people think of when they think of Burgundy.
The secret Hyperborean path for the Aryan Brotherhood is one of the most openly discussed and well-known Russian unification paths, both because of how insane and relentlessly bleak the path is.
The existence of Sergey Taboritsky, the Esoteric Nazi in Komi, has become infamous ever since the mod was released.
Love to Hate: Sergey Taboritsky, despite being the worst warlord for Russia and one that ends up destroying the very concept of Russia through his horrific actions, is one of the most popular talked about warlords due to the characterization, bleakness and the uniquely horrifying setup of such a route.
Never underestimate Göring—nothing will stop him from trying to consume anything and everything in sight.
Besides being an opponent to Yeltsin and being one of the better unifiers, Pavel Batov's ability to persist and cut Omsk's plans and path short, which is almost always successful when Omsk is controlled by the AI, has caused him to become this. It has even led to "Batovposting" as a response to Omsk's supporters, both ironic and serious.
Curtis "Bombs Away" LeMay has a positive image in the eyes of the fans, thanks to being a stout military figure that also subverts Wallace's segregationist presidency by signing in a new Civil Rights Act. What really drove him to popularity, however, was the event that depicts his diplomacy with Bormann, with him getting into a profane shouting match with the Nazi and angrily declaring Nikita Khrushchev's "We will bury you!"
Charles de Gaulle and Free France as a whole are jokingly treated as an unstoppable force that is easily capable of somehow returning to the French homeland and reclaiming it from both the French State and Burgundy. Even further, some have joked that they can become a full-fledged superpower on their own and win the Cold War.
Berezniki, a Russian warlord state that plays a role in Vyatka's storyline, gets this in more recent times due to how they have been designated for removal by the creators since before release. Its reputation already stems from its removal being constantly delayed, but has exacerbated from it managing to outlast a number of the old devs, who left before it could be officially scrapped from the mod. This has even spread to other unifiers, as when Yuri Galanskov was replaced as the chief ideologue of the idealistic anarchists in the Siberian Black Army. When its removal was announced to come with the long-delayed Toolbox Theory update, fans are suggesting that the mod will either be cancelled or that Toolbox Theory's release will never come. Alternatively, the Order of Saint George, which has absorbed Berezniki's former territory, is getting some of the same treatment in their place for "defeating" them. Fittingly, its final erasure was a hilarious comedy of errors◊.
The CIA, thanks to its far greater and more visible global outreach compared to even Burgundy. A player-led United States can, for instance, keep Iberia's stability high indefinitely, even if the AI makes decisions that would normally nuke it.
Of the options in the 1964 United States presidential election, Wallace F. Bennett gets this treatment the most. This is largely due to the memetic value of some of his policies - most notably the Silver Act - and being the moderate and status quo option in the election, meaning that he doesn't stand out in comparison to Robert F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, or George Wallace.
Richard Nixon gets this for having his presidency doomed to impeachment and resignation for his corruption, his focus tree being full of jokes due to a player not being able to complete much of it before said resignation, and having many similarities to what he did in OTL. Said focus tree having many descriptions written from the perspective of an angry and profane Nixon and his resulting unimpressive tenure have made him the butt of many jokes, which also wraps around to making him a Memetic Badass as seen above.
Hans Hüttig gets a lot of flak thanks to his "yee-yee-ass haircut." Aside from his cruelty and eventual implementation of the Burgundian System in South Africa, expect many jokes to be made about one of the most virulent Nazis sporting such terrible hair.
Due to how much they worship and try to emulate German and Nazi culture the same way an Occidental Otaku would for Japan, and how much Germany in turn refuses to want to do anything with them, the playerbase widely knows Gutrum Vagner and the Aryan Brotherhood as massive "simps". Not helping matters is the fact that they praise Luftwaffe bombers for attacking them and all of Russia.
The People's Revolutionary Council released in an only semi-complete state, with the Mongolian part of their content missing. As a result, while regarded as effective and competent, they are almost-universally seen and mocked as a blander version of the West Russian Revolutionary Front, without anything so interesting as the latter's power struggle between the contrasting extremes of Zhukov and Tukhachevsky.
Similarly to how democratic paths in base HOI4 are derided, the centrist paths in the Komi Republic are often mocked as uneventful compared to the more colorful personalities and radical ideologies in the Communist Party of Komi and the Passionaryy Organization.
Emil Maurice, the Reichskommissar of Madagaskar, is now being memetically Woobiefied by the fanbase, building up from his backstory of how he ended up in Madagaskar. This is also acknowledged by the official discord server with their :whyismauriceherejusttosuffer: emoji.◊
Memetic Psychopath: Thanks to Taboritsky being Komi's secret Esoteric Nazi path and implementing the Imperial Cult subideology across Russia, players joke about there being other possible secret Esoteric Nazi options for other nations, especially if they're more benevolent factions like Tomsk.
The Gang of Four tend to be depicted as this due to their subversion of Speer's reforms into making Germany a genuine democracy, though Helmut Schmidt gets this image the most thanks to him ending their playthrough by declaring Speer to be a Puppet Kingright to his face.
Pavel Batov, as part of his Memetic Badass status, becomes associated with such imagery for being the thorn in Omsk and Yazov's side. Nine times out of ten, he takes down an AI Omsk at the regional stage, preventing their plans.
Reichskommissar Josias in the Heydrich path of Germany, where he insults both Himmler and Heydrich within a short period of each other, with him calling Himmler a Mongoloid and Heydrich a Jew.
Ferdinand Schörner in nearly every path of Germany, but especially in Göring's path, where he is always prepared to give Göring, and the player, trouble, should Germany fall into an economic collapse after failing to conquer a nation.
In general, the creators of the mod aim to defy this with Fascists and Nazis who would be attracted to an Axis victory scenario by pulling no punches in showing how awful the world would be if their side won World War II, where extreme-right leaders are incapable of effectively governing their countries without self-destructing, turning on each other, or changing their ways. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop many them from being attracted to the mod and using it to live out their fantasies anyway, but those that make their extremist views known often end up ridiculed and mocked by the rest of the fanbase and banned from the community very quickly.
The game constantly emphasizes that the Black League of Omsk's goal of war and a nuclear exchange to ensure the erasure of Germany will devastate the entire world, even having Yazov regret their actions by the end of a successful campaign. Despite this, there are many fans that root for them, viewing their omnicidal crusade as justified, with the writing behind them providing the charismatic image of an uncompromising militant faction with sympathetic motivations.
Komi's Ultravisionary Socialists are repeatedly described as an insane cult masquerading as a legitimate science-focused technocracy, hiding massive human rights abuses behind a facade of beautiful futuristic aesthetics and rhetoric about human scientific progress and space travel, wretched at actually governing a nation, and even in Kardachev's reformist path there's a decade of mismanagement and authoritarianism to dismantle, if he even can. But they have many unironic fans who want to believe there're good ideas worth salvaging in there, usually admittedly because they're fans of the beautiful futuristic aesthetics and rhetoric about human scientific progress and space travel. They're stereotypically compared to "tech bros," Elon Musk fans, and the similar Misaimed Fandom surrounding Rick and Morty.
Apart from being put in as a joke, the Bogi Smerti were meant to be a loathsome bandit gang whose defining trait, the Hollywood Satanism posturing, was only an act to scare their victims away from their possessions for easy looting. Meaning, they were even more pathetic and fake than they would be without it. Many fans, however, wilfully looked past that and ran off with the premise of Satanist warlords, to enough chagrin for the developers that (along with other reasons) the faction was ultimately entirely reworked into Zolin's Brigade.
Given Siegfried Müller's affable personality and his comparative sanity compared to Hüttig, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that he is complicit in upholding Nazi colonial rule in Africa... that is, until the South African War starts and he starts shooting insurgents personally, and sees it as just another thrilling hunt.
Konstantin Rodzaevsky has always been an extremely hateful person, but he makes it very clear just how depraved he is through his public execution of Tsar Mikhail if he defeats Chita, as well as the spiteful way in which he kills Matkovsky if he defeats Magadan.
Hans Hüttig stands out amongst the African Reichskommisars for being a particularly genocidal Nazi, but he will finally cross the line when he either authorizes the use of chemical WMDs during the South African War or murders his own colleagues to implement his own twist on Burgundian Spartanism over Sub-Saharan Africa.
Albert Speer either ends up crossing it by purging Meyer-Landrut if Landrut wins the Ostland civil war and fails to align with the Gang of Four, or with his massacre of student protestors demanding greater political liberalizations in Germany during the Oil Crisis, the latter makes the Gang of Four aware of his true motives of preserving Nazism in more subdued forms and fully convinces them that he is just as much of a danger to a Reich free from Nazism as the hardliners.
George Wallace can cross the horizon when he enacts universal segregation across the United States, inciting mass racial wars that tear apart the country and inspiring Yockeyite "vigilantes" to arrest Black children for merely trying to attend school. Even in-universe, everyone, including his own supporters, think he's gone too far with this law and it's implied that Wallace agrees with them.
Mikhail Tukhachevsky crosses it when he orders the entire town of Bakaly massacred via chemical weapons when partisans take it over, affirming that his militaristic plans could have dangerous consequences when he turns his attention against Germany.
Dmitry Yazov from the All-Russian Black League cross this when he permits experimentation on his own people to develop new biological weapons for the Great Trial against Germany that the Black League plans for. He even recognizes that he's crossed a dangerous threshold at this point, but continues on with it anyway.
More Popular Spin-Off: The Russian Warlord campaigns receive a lot of focus for their content. Some have joked that TNO is really about reuniting Russia while having the side option to play as some other countries.
Kemerovo's Kievan Rus and Muscovite Tsardom aesthetic make it seem like it's a memetic path that caricaturizes the historical figures it involves and sounds crazy enough to fit in a setting like Red Flood. All of the aforementioned qualities are true to an extent, but the fact that it's actually a benevolent warlord state instead make it all the more beloved in the fanbase.
Sergey Taboritsky and his cursed Holy Russian Empire is so hopeless and filled with Nightmare Fuel, that it could normally be considered "edgy", but its horrors are well-written enough to unnerve and disgust the audience anyway.
Nausea Fuel: As Taboritsky the player is treated to a report describing a chemical weapons test conducted on live human subjects in gruesome detailas well as the difficulty of "draining" the "thick organic slurry" left over. "Our Regent is a great patron of the sciences."
Quite a few figures become Memetic Losers partially thanks to their actions in OTL, especially if they seemingly mirror their real selves by a lot when in-game. Yeltsin's alcoholism and belief in shock therapy remain present but reined in by the military, while Nixon's corruption and behavior is almost unchanged.
Samara's actions as the collaborator state that assisted in the Nazis' victory over the Soviets make them despised by players. It's often their status as traitors that first come to mind whenever they're ever brought up.
Omsk has mostly escaped their reputation of being "shovel-wielding maniacs" after release, but it still comes up from time to time.
After the release revealed Speer's agenda, which is to shift Nazism into a reinvigorated form of fascism with self-destructive traits shed and economic reforms, a route where he retains power and accomplishes this became referred to as "Dengist Speer" after fans noticed parallels between him and Deng Xiaoping's policies for the modern China. The term then saw scorn for overuse, as people would apply it to other leaders with varying degrees of accuracy, simplifying a "Dengist" into meaning "a totalitarian whose regime undergoes any economic reform".
The rathereccentric ideology of Berezniki made them into a Fountain of Memes during earlier stages of development, and while it wasn't the main cause, it certainly helped in getting them marked for cut content by the devs. The fact that they're a part of Vyatka's early storyline, to the point where their erasure was delayed until the Toolbox Theory update, is another thing the fans have taken note of.
From the Cutting Room Floor Update, Heydrich's storyline makes him a target for mockery due to his regret in supporting Himmler and coming to his realization only after being confronted with a possible nuclear apocalypse. Seeing the man enter desperation in the conflict and depression as his entire worldview collapses makes him both tragicandcapable of ridicule from players.
In earlier builds, Ivan Serov would have a Leaning on the Fourth Wall moment, where he would ponder how the Soviet Union could've lost to the inefficient and much smaller Germany, lampshading how unrealistic a Nazi victory scenario would be, but ultimately concluding that the Koreans were somehow involved in the Union's failure. It's one of the most discussed parts of Serov's path and continues to remain well-known, even after the developers removed the event.
Newer Than They Think: On the official Discord, some devs have stated that most of the major content in the mod were developed around six months before initial release, and that the "realistic historical political simulation" aspect of TNO was only fully established relatively late in development. Expectations of verisimilitude were much lower in earlier TNO development (indicated by the many fictional and fictionalized content in early TNO), but the appearance of verisimilitude in teasers made the TNO fandom expect "realistic historical political simulation" much earlier than the devs did.
Taboritsky's reunification super event is terrifying to hear... unless you recognize it from ''Verify Your Clock'', an admittedly dark Soviet children's edutainment video about efficient use of time.
Reg Birch's British unification event is also terrifying, with the sound of crowds being gunned down while an instrumental version of The Red Flag plays... except for the fact that The Red Flag uses the same tune as the classic Christmas song O Tannenbaum, making the experience less frightening and more surreal.
One-Scene Wonder: Rodzaevsky's cat, Mura, is only relevant in one event for Amur, but he's strangely the second most popular character from the country, simply for being a Morality Pet to his master.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: At release, Kaya's path was widely recognized as the most incomplete path of Japan, featuring tons of game-breaking bugs that would always result in the collapse of his government. Following the Toolbox Theory update, it was reworked from the ground up to not only fix the bugs, but also fix its characterization of Kaya and his cabinet and bring it closer to their OTL personalities. Now, it's arguably the most complete and bug-free path that the player can pursue in a Japan campaign. Tellingly, whereas the announcement of Takagi and Ikeda's removal in an upcoming Japanese rework was largely met with indifference, there are some fans hoping that Kaya's path would be kept to some degree.
Taking one step further from the aforementioned character interpretation differences, prior to the mod's release, Sablin was very often subjected to this from the fanbase, both from players who support Yagoda and players who oppose the communist warlords in general. The former group sees Sablin as an incompetent buffoon who has no idea what he's doing, and will only lead to the needless destruction of the Soviet government Yagoda worked so hard to maintain, while the latter group believes that Sablin is inevitably going to become just as brutal as Yagoda in order to maintain his regime anyway. Come release, this had signifcantly died down for a time when it was revealed just how wholesome Sablin's progressive Russia could be.
Boris Yeltsin gets this quite a lot, in a big part due to his OTL policies, which are widely blamed for wrecking Russia's living standards, despite much worse and outright fascist unifiers existing for Russia. This being despite the army of Sverdlovsk playing a key role in reining him in to the point where he would not be able to implement his OTL actions with what policies he enacted historically that he can enact being watered-down as a result of military pressure. Hes also a democrat who widely protects and expands civil liberties (unlike the hybrid regime of IRL post-Soviet Russia).
In the mod, Thatcher is at worst a British nationalist with authoritarian tendencies. Despite this, jokes about Thatcher being cursed to the point of claiming that a Burgundian System England would be preferable are common in the fandom. A lot of this has to do with the IRL Thatchers public image; shes both Britains most beloved and hated Prime Minister, with the latter being much more common on the internet.
Wallace F. Bennett gets this quite a lot for being more right leaning than the US paths generally seen as good, working with conservatives and even Dixiecrats with regards to Civil Rights. This being despite the fact that, in his best path, he can pass effective civil rights, push other nations in the OFN to end racist policies, and turn the OFN into a strong alliance of equals rather than an simple appendage for US foreign policies. As with Thatcher, a lot of this has to do with in real life controversies, particularly the growing perception that compromising with right leaning and reactionary figures in working towards greater racial justice actually harms race relations in the long run.
Some people prefer Bormann to Speer for the fact that he might facilitate a smooth collapse of the Nazi empire without causing too much chaos, whereas Speer could not only potentially legitimatize Nazism further if his reforms succeed, but also turn Germany back into a major superpower fully able to throw its weight around in the world, potentially becoming the world's sole remaining superpower in case Japan is destroyed by the Great Asian War, the United States falls into isolationism, and Russia fails to reunify. All of this while its fragile Authoritarian Democracy is just one fascist away from sliding back into Nazism. Post-release this has been zig-zagged. While the victory of the Gang of Four is generally agreed to be the best ending for Germany, Bormann, Goering, and even Heydrich are preferred over Speer assuming direct rule and overcoming the Gang of Four, which is seen by many as the worst path Germany can go down. This is because while Bormann will ultimately lead the Reich to ruin, and both Goering's collapse and Heydrich's suicide leads to Germany's total collapse into warlordism, Speer can legitimize Fascism and Nazism indefinitely by reforming Nazism to be something more subdued and tolerable but also much more insidious, consequently legitimizing hateful beliefs as the accepted way of life.
Many players root for Yagoda over Sablin, due to the perception of Sablin as a Wide-Eyed Idealist that forments his ideology based on misreadings of Leninist text, or dosen't get how governing works, and the perception of Yagoda as someone whose authoritarian measures were borne out of necessity rather than ideologically motivated in contrast to Tyumen. Pre-release, this view had only strengthened with the perception of Yagoda as the legitimate heir to the Soviet government and Word Of God statements that Yagoda can be fairly liberal as a leader after reunification. Post-release, support for Yagoda himself has mostly dried out as it turns out that Yagoda only liberalizes the economy. Support for Irkutsk itself is still fairly active however, mostly from fans who enjoy seeing Sablin's revolution being smothered in the cradle.
Quite a few players have admitted they like to play Omsk exactly because Yazov's ultimate goal is to start a nuclear war against Germany, believing that the TNO's world is so insane and dark that burning it all down is the best solution.
Signature Scene: The "From Cradle to Grave" event has become infamous and almost synonymous with the bleak tone of the mod in general, and Burgundy in particular, for it's extreme example of Would Hurt a Child that only escalates further as a Burgundy playthrough carries on. Most discussions of how dark TNO gets generally references this event as the go to example.
Squick: An early Burgundy event describes a SS loyalty test featuring the following question: "Have you ever felt sexual attraction to a member of your family?". We never learn what happened to those that flunked, or if they were the ones that answered "no" at all!
The User Interface is changed from the original utilitarian military theme to a period appropriate but eye watering neon crt style filled with line drawings that are absent of color fill, hard to read "terminal" font styles and very dull colouring. It is a huge reason why people refuse to play the mod even after the team made adjustments to make it easier to read.
A common criticism of the mod is that it's not a mod for a grand strategy game, it's a total conversion into a visual novel filled with esoteric minigames.
There are a couple fans who miss the old Order 44 superevent over the Jushin or Mutō coup, believing that the former set a more chilling atmosphere and Sequel Hook for the next decade.
A number of fans disliked the devs' decision to drop a bridge on Goebbels, having him killed by partisans before the events of TNO. More than a few people suggested that because of his fanatic militarism (special mention to his Total War speech) he should have been the leader of the militarists and follow the Take Over the World path instead of Göring, who expressed more often pragmatist and anti-war positions.
Herbert Humphrey only serves as Robert F. Kennedy's vice president who can get assassinated if the latter does too, but some have disliked this coincidence as a wasted opportunity to have Humphrey serve as a possible secret president like Thurmond and LeMay.
Many see Lev Gumilyov's path as a wasted opportunity to explore his real-life views because his path features a bastardized version of his Eurasianism ideology, which was advocated more by his followers than the man himself.
Some lament the current characterization of Dobrovolsky and his Aryan Brotherhood path, believing that bringing it closer to his OTL national-anarchist ideology would be far more interesting and realistic.
Many players feel that post regional unification, the interactions between the various warlords were very generic and bland, with interactions boiling down to generic decisions to either prepare for war or seeking a diplomatic reunification. Many players would have liked to see more interactions between each faction, especially between warlords that could have interesting interactions between each other if they were to meet. However, such events may be added in the future, as interactions between Omsk and the Aryan Brotherhood and the Divine Mandate and the Holy Russian Empire can attest.
Many players feel that the mod's usage of the Burgundian System is really a Theme Park Version of Nazism, and doesn't really delve into the actual reasons behind Nazism's evils, or the actual extreme ideas of real fringe Nazi ideologues. Some especially point to Himmler's focus on his nuke plot as a negative as it is fully fictional and totally divorced from the reality of Nazism. This is especially notable when it is taken into consideration that most of the other SS states and characters (the SS-Aktionsgruppe Moskowien and Heydrich) have motivations and ideologies that more closely fit in-line with the real-life SS - particularly Pleskau with its Truth in Television "Blood and Soil" ideology that was actually advocated by Himmler himself.
Unacceptable Targets: Russia (and Central Asia) development had a tendency to create warlords by first crafting a character concept and then fitting a real person from the region associated with it into that concept. Though sometimes the fictional character and the real person's character share some parallels, many other times the two are completely unrelated, and the devs often resorted to obscure figures (commonly Hero of the Soviet Union recipients) with unknown personalities for easy and flexible writing. This "real person, fictional character" writing became reallyproblematic when the fictional character is outright villainous, but the real person was morally upstanding, with Alexander Medvedev, the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood in earlier versions, being the most infamous example.note Medvedev IRL was a loyal Soviet soldier and a committed anti-fascist, so to have him literally start a Nazi cult is not only historically inaccurate and out-of-character, but also insanely offensive (especially since the devs later found out that Medvedev's family searches online for references to him) The devs later realized the issues with this kind of writing, and toned down the most egregiousnote (wow, that word being used right for once)Historical Villain Upgrades by using more unsympathetic real life figures, giving the villains more justifications, and cutting/rewriting the unsalvageable concepts, such as by fully rewriting Medvedev into an anti-AB resistance leader.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: The American government during the South African War is supposed to be seen as a hawkish, meddling Knight Templar getting unnecessarily involved in a violent proxy war and unsympathetically dismissing the anti-war protestors' calls for pacifism over conflict. However, given that the war's premise is about literal Nazi states invading a democracy, many players sympathized with the United States' position. Compared to the brutal Hüttig and the corrupt Müller, the United States' involvement can be seen as a Necessary Evil to block the spread of fascism and save more lives in the long-run, since South Africa doesn't stand a chance on its own. It can lean further into this territory if South Africa negotiated with the ANC over the Boers, meaning that the United States is more justifiably fighting a villainous faction of Nazis and white supremacists. Moreover, if the Afrika-Schild is still around after the war, Hüttig annexes the other Reichskommissariats and commits a bevy of genocides throughout sub-Saharan Africa, devastating the region through his actions, which may include South Africa. As a result, the United States' concerns about the spread of Nazism come off as more serious and important than what the anti-war protestors would imply. The United States does do horrible things in both the South African War and elsewhere, but some players found that the basic idea of their entry into the South African War was not one of them.
It would be hard to point a figure who suffered as much in the world of TNO (even by the world's standards) as did Dmitry Karbyshev. He experienced the most inhumane torture by Nazis in concentration camps as a prisoner of war for several years and escaped his death only to see his country wretched by the Nazis and ravaged by greedy warlords. He tried to take the power from the hands of those he considered to be an obstruction to the case of the Russian reunification, founding the Black League in Omsk with the purpose of preparing Russia for the Great Trial against the victorious Germany, but soon found the League degenerating into a bunch of power-hungry, bickering cliques who manipulated and took advantage of Karbyshev because of his old age. At the end, Karbyshev chooses to embrace death alone and leave his place to Yazov, knowing that all his efforts were for naught and having his name forever tainted with the monster he created.
Free France is a national example of this as they have been reduced to a tiny strip of land in Ivory Coast and the Kerguelen Islands in the Southern Ocean after decades of Luftwaffe bombings with Free France being stated to be the hardest nation in the game according to the devs.
Michael Andreevich, forced to accept the role of "Tsar Mikhail II", starts as a powerless Puppet King to the White forces of Chita, who is completely homesick for his home in Australia. While it's possible for Mikhail to be "punished" with exile back to Australia if he loses to Sablin's Buryatia, Matkovsky's Magadan, or the Father's Divine Mandate, or forcibly depose his White Army puppetmasters if Chita unites the Russian Far East, he's brutally executed if he loses to Yagoda's Irkutsk (being subjected to a show trial, then getting hurled down a flight of stairs and shot in the back of his head by a NKVD executioner) or Rodzaevsky's Amur (who ruthlessly tortures and then publicly hangs Mikhail), and in the later two cases begging to be sent home.
Nikolai Bukharin, finally revealed after speculation over what happened when his rule of the USSR... as an old, regretful man in a cabin in the middle of Nowhere, Siberia, watching the skies turn red and listening to the radio tell him how each nation dies in nuclear fire. A tearful man that considers the end of the world to be his fault, and that can't do anything but look at the picture he keeps of Lenin's funeral, with the people that once thought they could make it work.