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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Let's Play Hearts of Iron 4 as Poland

I played Poland once before, in 1.0 version. It was my first real campaign after short Iran game to figure out game controls, and mostly thanks to AI being horrible I conquered Germany by 1938.

Now AI is somewhat less dumb, so it would probably be harder. The rush Germany strategy probably still works, but I wanted to try some alternative, in case they ever make Germany too strong for Poland to take. (there's even stronger strategy of taking advantage of Sudetenland glitch, but this is exploit-free campaign)

The strategy I wanted to try:

  • rush revanchism focus to be able to fabricate at 10% world tension, before guarantee spam starts
  • conquer all 3 Baltic states for extra factories
  • give Germans Danzig when presented with ultimatum
  • focus exclusively on Soviet Union
  • after Soviet Union falls, get Danzig back, and while at it Berlin as well

The series also tries to answers the question of just how good the build of 6 mountaineers, 2 artillery, and 1 medium tank is, but conclusion of that is only in the last episode.

Here's episode 1. The rest will be published once a day.


Anonymous said...

Just starting into the playlist now, but I expect your answer to the 6/2/1 INF/ART/MARM question will be that it's incredibly effective (at least against current iteration of AI which seems to spurn AT). In my Germany game I used these (INF/MTN/MAR variants) and e.g. conquered SU (90% national unity) with 70k casualties vs 5 million. After all of Africa and Asia, casualties vs Allies ~100k. Germany can make these fairly easily, since it can get the PzIII far ahead of time, countries with less industry might struggle to field these on top of actual armour divisions.

taw said...

Spoiler alert: I ended up switching from MNT to MAR.

Anonymous said...

Finished watching, no real surprises! I share your pain over the AI, battleplans, trade mechanics, field marshals, end-game grind, etc. I would add that the combat mechanics have some awful behaviour around pinning and withdrawing. Armored spearheads struggle to close an encirclement due to dozens of low-org divisions funnelling into the choke point and retreating out the other side. Combat speed is 33% regardless of relative strength. No counter-attacking to break pins, which shouldn't be able to pin reserves at the very least.

Only difference in our builds was I used signal companies vs logistics, which becomes a real pain when AI Italy floods your lines with a hundred divisions that don't even fight, just kill your supply. 6/2/1 MOT/SPG/MARM is handy too (or modded Mot. Art.). In the end it doesn't really matter, as you say, since the AI is more or less incapable of being a strategic threat. Can't play MP with my setup here, but from what I see of others' games, I'm not missing much.

BTW, a very common reason for the AI to shuffle units up and down the line: it doesn't understand that an empty front province is covered by attacks launched from it. So the typical advance by all units in a singly-connected tile, supported by left/right shoulders, results in the "AI" immediately sending a unit to fill in "the gap" left behind, often from comically far away, even abandoning a support order to do it. We desperately need a "passive" setting for the battleplans, or even just have all stationary units build planning (at which point you start to wonder what's the difference b/w that and organisation?).

taw said...

Anonymous: Signal companies were basically worthless in 1.1 - they buffed them to be 4x stronger in 1.2 and I still don't see any reason to use it. Logistics sounds boring, but it's pretty essential for fighting outside Europe, or with AI allies stealing most of your supplies.

From what I've seen 1.2 AI uses a lot better templates if you let game run late - it will use support antitank, medium tanks, mot/spg etc. But only if you play at historical pace, if you try to basically win by 1940 existing templates are fine.

The frontline gap was supposedly due to bug in 1.1 too, same one which placed half of units on last tile of a frontline.

With quite a few issues fixed by next patch, I'll play some more HOI4 soo.

Anonymous said...

That GER game was started in 1.2 beta. I used signals mainly as a test. Gives GER almost 20% reinforce chance at tier 2, which modestly shortens combat times. I think it makes a noticeable difference to mobile breakthroughs, since if the enemy is kept perpetually low-org the shortening can be a meaningful percentage of the total combat time. You have to have optimised everything for division speed though or a few saved hours won't end up mattering anyway. Also I was trying to leave battleplan in place (inactive) for as long as I could tolerate it, and if you give support orders at the same time as the attack order (ctrl click enemy unit instead of combat bubble), the battleplan AI will convert it to attack "for your convenience". So I would just wait for the bubble before supporting, but then all supports have to reinforce.

So, signals slightly useful. On the other hand, logistics lets you simply have more divisions involved, which probably has a bigger effect than any of that! The thing is, every GER start I try to use less divisions and more air power, so logistics mostly useless to me until my AI allies show up.

I was on historical timetable basically until Barbarossa was over (I should learn to just quit at that point, srsly). SU was more of a challenge than earlier versions because massive pockets can funnel out the "exit" at an annoyingly fast speed. Not sure whether they are stratting out or what, but I eventually learnt to shut that nonsense down with larger spearheads and much more pinning. I think Barbarossa lasted into '42, which is some sort of improvement I guess, and I saw a few (but only a few) MARM mixed in there. By early 1943 Nat. China was actually fielding decent divisions with full equipment and decent stats, many that could pierce the 6/2/1, so that was refreshing to see at least, although they were of course doomed..

The specific frontline behaviour I described is still well and truly present in 1.2, I filed a bug report on it. I hope you do give 1.2 a go (YouTube please!), but on the other hand, I would like to spare you the pain and suffering...

taw said...

OK, so testing signal companies now, level 1 to 4, after patch:
* Planning speed: +0.4%/day to 1.1%/day (base is +2%/day)
* Reinforce rate: +5%/h to +14%/h (base with radio is +7%/h)
* Cost - 500 men + 105 production (still rather expensive, support art is 84/96/108 depending on artillery tech)

Before patch:
* Planning speed: +0.1%/day to +0.28%/day
* Reinforce rate: zero
* Cost - 500 men + 225 production (it was most expensive support company of all by huge margin)

It's no longer crazy to get them, but I don't think they'd fit in my 5.

I'll probably play some more games on twitch/youtube. I waited for the patch after Poland game.

Anonymous said...

With mobile warfare doctrines, Barbarossa launched with 19.2% reinforce chance and planning 4.5%/day, if I remember right. Yeah, not a must-have, but no longer completely crazy. They should probably also slow the planning decay rate.

Arbitrary limit on number of supports is arbitrary, and it's annoying that supply problems can't be solved with entirely separate units instead of competing for a slot.

taw said...

You can stack those bonuses nicely, but I'd still choose superior firepower's bonuses over all that. I've taken a loot at some mods that rebalance doctrine trees to make non-superior-firepower ones better, maybe I'll try one of them.

Anonymous said...

SF definitely has a lot going for it, yeah. The SA bonuses might start to lose their lustre as hardness increases late game, but most games don't last long enough for that shift I guess. I've wondered why the max planning bonuses from Grand Battleplan are underrated, but hardly tested it properly.

The game I talked about above used only UI mods, but I like Expert AI, No Man's Land, Motorized Artillery (though the combined Support Artillery Company is OP), the Meaningful Terrain/Supply/Weather ones (could maybe use some tweaks), Increased Resources. I like the New World Order mod, but it scales up political power and factory output a bit much. Extra research slot for majors if many new techs in tree (e.g. Adv. Bldng and Inf. Eq.). There are minor problems, e.g. the division design scripts from Expert AI won't know about Mot. Art.. Probably the supply-oblivious current AI will just get crucified by the Meaningful mods (and ruin the player's day at the same time of course). I'll check out the Land Doctrine ones again, wasn't convinced initially.

I also use More Unit Levels with the vanilla range and 5% increments, and I've modded it to smooth out the rate of progression (in vanilla Trained to Seasoned is 3x XP vs. Seasoned to Veteran). I'm tempted to try changing the bonus range from -50% to +50%, but it might cripple the AI in practice. HOI games have this constant theme of discrete bonuses in large steps, but I much prefer gradual improvements. E.g I'd like to see leader traits split into 5 levels, but not sure if I can find the time. The armour vs. piercing mechanic is a bit too much of a cliff for my liking also. Bonuses could come in as your front/side/rear armour (100/50/25% for argument's sake) exceeds piercing, or well I'm sure you could come up with plenty of good ideas. It doesn't seem moddable anyway, beyond tweaking constants for the existing mechanic. Any thoughts on why they don't expose the combat mechanics to modders?

I gather you like sandboxy stuff more than me. I have played a few other majors, but I keep coming back to do Germany "better". I appreciate that's not everyone's cup of tea. Next game I will probably try for historical to Barbarossa with Volunteer army only and Export Focus modded start, NF wars only. If volunteer only, I might allow myself a slight increase in non-core manpower after I read up a bit on the historical rates. Modded SU can field good divisions, but trying to get it to entrench multiple lines on its rivers and forts, use a deep front, strategic withdrawal, etc. - well we need a miracle.

Also interested in your opinion on the AI boost sliders in 1.2. Feel free to use colourful language!

taw said...

Blogger's spam filter got your post, I had to manually untag it :-)

I wrote a basic mod compatibility checker (just checking if two mods change same file, so can't possibly be compatible), and discovered than almost everything conflicts with everything, even if you disregard things checker can't know like AI not knowing how to use new units.

So I've been playing with just National Focus Project + nonconflicting graphics/UI mods.

I hasn't been updated to 1.2, so now I'm wondering about Land Doctrine Rebalance mod. I haven't actually played it yet, .

Big discrete jumps are worse simulation, but help players deal with information overload, so I'm not blaming them.

I don't love armor/piercing being binary, as it leads to degenerate multiplayer meta with every division having heavy tank destroyer, but without system like that what would be the point of antitank supports and of infantry tanks? I wondered about modding something smoother, but I don't think it's possible. I guess random weather/terrain modifier changing armor/piercing values would technically work (and it would get rid of combat width 80 cliff), but it doesn't sound very elegant.

I doubt I'll ever play with the sliders, but I understand there are different player types, and as long as it's clearly off by default (unlike EU4 lucky nonsense which they try to force onto everyone via achievement system) they don't bother me too much.