Hands On: Hearts Of Iron IV

Hearts of Iron [official site] is my Moby Dick. I’ve spent an inordinate portion of my adult life playing grand strategy games, particularly those of the Paradox variety. I’m slightly unusual in that Europa Universalis wasn’t my gateway game – I entered the fold by means of the first Crusader Kings, which swiftly became one of my favourite games, despite its problems. From there I moved to Europa Universalis II and struggled to infiltrate the colonial powers of Victoria. It wasn’t until the sequel that I learned to enjoy the nineteenth century.

Hearts of Iron IV might finally bring me into the heart of the twentieth century.

The series has always been there, rumbling angrily in the background as I play with its grand strategy siblings. I’ve tried to love it over the years but the condensed timeframe seemed to leave little room for the kind of wild tangents away from the historical path that I enjoy. Too often, I’d begin a campaign and abandon a couple of hours later when I felt locked down on the path to all-consuming war.

It’s not that I expected to play a World War II game without any warring whatsoever, but the inevitability of the conflict meant that my approach focused on victory from the start. Rather than playing with the possibilities of the world and experimenting with short- and long-term strategies, I was obliged to work toward very specific goals from day one.

On the whole I like to play with a crisis of my own making, or at least one that I feel is personal to my experience, rather than a preordained series of events.

There’s reason to believe that Hearts of Iron IV will allow for greater deviation from history, particularly if the plans for minor nations work out. Rather than the guidance of scripted goals, minor nations should have a set of dynamic objectives that adapt to the wider strategic situation. Given the enjoyment I’ve managed to find playing the secondary powers of Victoria II, particularly since the Heart of Darkness expansion, I’m inclined to give Hearts of Iron the benefit of the doubt in this area but I’ve only had chance to play as Germany so far.

I am a terrible Adolf Hitler. Perhaps I should find that reassuring and in some ways I do, but for the last fifteen minutes of the hour that I spent with Hearts of Iron IV, I was on the verge of screaming horrible insults at Warsaw. It refused to fall, you see, and as the session came to an end, I was determined that I’d claim Poland as my final act. It wasn’t to be.

In less than an hour, I prevented World War II by screwing up the invasion of Poland so efficiently that the French army had marched into Berlin by 1938. I’d been following scripted historical goals – y’know, remilitarising the Rhineland, the Anschluss, the kind of to-do list that caused me to wince everytime I glanced at it – but had jumped the gun somewhat, declaring war before my troops were fully prepared. In the final moments, the French invasion on the Western Front was pushing my troops back faster than I could push into the East.

Watching military action in motion is exciting in Hearts Of Iron IV. You’re watching blobs, lines and arrows moving around on a map, yes, but it’s a very handsome map, with light melting across the globe as day and night cycle. It’s the most attractive Paradox grand strategy game to date, presenting the movements of troops at the strategic level but managing to capture some of the thrill more commonly associated with operational tactical level combat.

As I’ve only played a little of a game that will demand an enormous amount of time to understand, I’d like to sprinkle my positivity with caution. If strategies don’t play out credibly over the long-term, and if the AI can’t offer both unexpected interruptions and a decent challenge, the finer details won’t matter. But, for now, it’s worth noting how fine those details are.

Rather than butting heads as numbers tick down in a box at the side of the screen, HOI IV’s armies perform manoeuvres. They stand off and regroup, they bunch together and blitz, and they encircle isolated enemy forces. All of their actions are the result of (hopefully) careful planning, which takes place across several phases. For the sake of flow, I’ve divided my invasion into five distinct actions, each of which illustrates how the game works, particularly in relation to earlier entries in the series.

The phases are Production, Deployment, Politics, Preparation and Action.

The Production phase took me by surprise. I expected army construction to be far more complex than it is, which left me struggling to understand what my next step should be, sitting with the game paused while I clicked through menus. As it turned out, I’d taken all the necessary steps and just had to set the game in motion to see the fruits of my labour.

Every nation has military and civilian factories, and each of those factories can be added to an order. If I want to build tanks, I attach some military factories to an order for the specific classification of tank I need (unlocked through research). The game tells me how quickly those factories will churn out units and then I can unpause and wait until they’re ready to be deployed.

The system of assigning factories cuts down on micromanagement, setting up production lines that continue unless they’re interrupted by outside interference or a change of plan. One way in which the game will model different national approaches to the makeup of military forces is through the updating and alteration of those production lines – research a new piece of kit and you’ll need to retool your factories to put it into production.

In theory, it’s possible to shut down all production while refitting your factories but if you’re caught in the middle of a conflict, that means you’ll be unable to reinforce units or replenish your forces at the frontline until all of the new gear is in place. Instead, most nations will convert factories a few at a time, keeping the bulk of their lines in action, even if the final product might not be cutting edge. Because factories become increasingly efficient when producing a specific kind of hardware, it could even be worth sticking with seemingly obsolete tech. An outdated army that outnumbers its flashy opponents five to one might burn through manpower quickly, but it could be the right choice in certain circumstances.

Deployment is simple. Units are assigned to a commander and placed into a friendly territory. Before placement they’re kept in reserve, moving from the factories to an off-screen pool. Commanders have specific skills, and might be better suited to infantry or tank command, as well as a preferred maximum unit count. They can exceed the displayed upper limit but won’t provide any of their bonuses to units beyond their command capacity.

I’m going to skim over politics because I mostly shouted at people. I shouted at Austria and applied influence to encourage everyone to vote for the Fascist Party. I followed that triumph with a quick bout of yelling in the general direction of Poland. Well done, Adam. What a piece of work.

Essentially, when it comes to war, you’ll need a reason to declare war. If you’re playing as Germany you can probably fulfil a historical goal or two to unlock an Aggression claim on a territory. That was my experience at least. And then I committed the mistake that led to the fall of Berlin. I declared war on Poland BEFORE setting up my armies. Oops.

I’d gone through the Production and Deployment phases just fine but I hadn’t set an actual battleplan in place. That was very silly of me because I basically did that daft thing fighting game characters sometimes do, yelling out the name of my special attack right before doing it. I phoned Poland up and shouted Blitzkrieg down the phone and THEN I started moving my tanks into position.

Battleplans are my favourite part of the game because they let me scribble all over the map. Once units have been assigned to a colour-coded group, a front can be painted across national borders, showing where they should fight and attempt to contain the fighting. Arrows can be dragged across the map, describing not only the route that your forces should follow, but also where they should stop their advance and settle into defensive positions.

It all feels natural. Arrows make sense and, as mentioned earlier, the movement of troops is clear. I found the invasion tense and dramatic, as the route back to safety was sealed leaving thousands of infantrymen stranded behind enemy lines. Watching tanks punch through defences in a way that watching numbers whittle down in Crusader Kings II will never be.

I’ve rolled the Preparation and Action phases together because they feed into one another in a loop. As the situation changes – whether that’s because an ally joins the fight on either side or simply because a plan doesn’t quite come together – new plans are needed and, theoretically, the cycle of order and action could continue for six years or more. Even though I failed in my bid to conquer Poland, I wanted to see what happened next.

That’s the hook. What happens if…? The big surprise is that I didn’t get to see any ‘what if’ scenarios because I was following the historical script almost to the letter (just a little earlier and with inferior planning) and yet I still enjoyed playing. I played the parts of Hearts of Iron IV that I expected to bounce off, as I have in the past, but found them absorbing.

The interface feels slightly clumsy, with the flow from one set of information to the next not always as natural as I’d like, but I never felt as swamped by data as I did in Hearts of Iron II or III. This is a game that wants me to concentrate on painting the map, with the colour of my nation, with stonking great arrows and with glowing battlefronts. There’s space for tinkering, in the depths of the research tree and the intricacies of trade, but your nation feels like a machine in need of direction rather than a heap of spare parts in need of a machinist.

I haven’t even seen the possible alternate histories the game might create and I already feel like I’ve lodged a harpoon in its side. Next, I strike at the sun.


  1. Meneldil says:

    I guess my main problem with HoI is that the whole chain of events leading up to WWII is too unbelievable to be properly portrayed in a game. Italy siding with Germany, Germany defeating France and the UK in 1940… This was completely unlikely at the time.

    In HoI II, Paradox chose to script the game to death, meaning that Germany got completely unrealistic advantages, while France and the UK were nerfed to the ground. It sucked, quite honestly.
    So in HoI III, Paradox decided to let everything go according to random events. Which meant that you’d end up with completely retarded situations, like USSR siding with Italy against France and Germany.

    Alternate history is what makes Europa Universalis or Crusader Kings fun. But it’s also what kept me away fro HoI.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      I always find you get the most out of the Paradox games if you push them in a historical direction and don’t try an min-max or do gamy things too much.

      So be Germany or Russia, and make the game about having them fight eventually. If you be Germany and make the game about allying with Russia it is in my opinion not that fun.

      Your comment does really show how these games leave Paradox damned if they do and damned if they don’t regarding railroading history.

      • Brinx says:

        Funny, I approach Paradox games the completely opposite way. It’s still not about min-maxing for me, but I deliberately try completely ahistorical routes that I think are fun and ridiculous.
        The great thing about these games is, that they allow for such diverse approaches. (Not HOI II thoughm but you already pointed that out.)

        • Anthile says:

          The problem is that CK, EU and Victoria are about eras that are often defined by changing borders, exploitation and almost casual warfare. In the timeframe of HoI that entire line of thinking came crashing down on, well, just about everyone. It’s no accident decolonization begun briefly after WW2.

          • Brinx says:

            Well, I’d argue that most of these already came crashing down during WW1, especially the casual warfare thing. (Which is something Victoria 2 never even tried to mimic and that’s okay; it has a different focus.)
            But you’re right, HoI is a very different game compared to those three, which might be why I never could get into it as much as the other Paradox games.

        • Harlequin says:

          I’m with you on that, specially regarding CK2. Blobbing and amassing giant swathes of terrain is dull (and this is something they should focus more on, in the future: the hardships of a large empire. More catastrophic events, increased difficulty in maintaining vassals loyal, etc.) and makes the game a cakewalk, but creating the Scandinavian empire as the Fylkir and then spreading out the norse religion through European terrain until its bordering the papal state, which has 0 moral authority due to successive Holy Wars, was the most fun I had in the game :}.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        But Germany and Russia did ally for a while…

        • Cei says:

          The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was not an alliance, it was a non-aggression pact. They’re designed to stop war between two belligerents, even if a state of war exists between one of them and an ally of the other (for example). So no, Germany and Russia did not ally during WWII.

          • Cinek says:

            Technically it was a non-aggression pact, practically it resulted in an alliance. Both countries attacked sovereign nation in an agreement dividing it between them, and until Operation Barbarossa both nations basically conducted land-lease programme much like later on Western Allies did with USSR. One of most notable examples being transfer of an Admiral Hipper-class Heavy Cruiser Lützow to Leningrad in 1940, which later on was shelling Germans trying to take the City.

          • jerf says:


            Lützow was not “transferred”, it was sold, for 150 million Reichsmarks (double its original cost). Also it was only ~70% finished when it was moved to Leningrad. As part of the contract Germans promised to help finish its construction there, but never did since they knew they would attack USSR.

            link to en.wikipedia.org

          • behrooz says:

            The longer this description thread goes, the more it sounds like how alliances actually tend to work in say… Civilization.

            Sid Meier is even better at this than we thought.

    • Didden says:

      The UK and France always felt right to me. They were utterly unprepared in 1939 for war, France had the best tanks but didn’t have enough and no idea how to use them and focused most of its resources on defenses that were completely bypassed. The UK was completely open to invasion after Dunkirk.

      So it isn’t unrealistic to consider that Germany could have invaded England in 1940. It was only the Luftwaffe switch to bomb London (After the RAF bombed Berlin) that gave Fighter Command the breathing room to recover manpower, resources and repair runways, otherwise we’d have had no real air force to defend against a sea invasion and as carriers later showed, the Royal Navy would have been very vulnerable from the air if it tried to defend the channel.

      • mike2R says:

        My understanding is that Sea Lion was basically a pipe dream. I realise this isn’t exactly a url to inspire confidence, but a very succinct argument as to why can be found here:
        link to philm.demon.co.uk

        • K33L3R says:

          Not to mention Germany lacked specialist landing craft and the few they did have won’t of been enough, England wasn’t open for invasion nor was the original plan to invade (Hitler didn’t want to fight Britain, Britain declared war on Germany not the other way around)
          Operation Sea Lion was mostly threats and bluffs, German high command decided to force Britain to surrender so made a big show of troop build up in north France, the Blitz, attacking convoys and so on with the threat of “more to come”, it was Churchill’s stubborn bullheadedness that kept Britain in the war, a forgotten part of history is many people, including some of those in Parliament wanted to sue for peace, remember the memory of WW1 was still very fresh at this time

        • Fumarole says:

          Playing the Operation Sea Lion campaign in Steel Panthers I was one turn away from victory in conquering Britain; that was one hell of a hard fought campaign.

      • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

        well, just take a look how the long the Allies planned D-Day… for years. They had total air and sea domination and still stuck for quite a while (see Caen). Doing an invasion is logistical nightmare even with a proper fleet and Kriegsmarine wasn’t one.

      • thetruegentleman says:

        By that time (1939), France had the best tanks of the Allied powers, but not better than Germany; prior to Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, however, France’s tanks WERE better than Germany’s (though a bit hard to repair).

        Thus, it’s hard to say that France was flat unprepared for war. For example, if France had acted in response to the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the war could have gone any number of ways, depending on how everyone else in Europe reacted to France and Germany.

        The point is that Hearts of Iron IV could very well end up like Crusader Kings 2, with history bending and breaking the further back one goes; as HoR3 allows one to go back to 1936 (predating even the first non-trash Russian tanks), we can probably expect to be able to start at least at that date, but probably even further back due to the influence of Crusader Kings. If this is indeed the case, France could very well be the one blitzing Germany, which could very well see France conquering the entire nation, and then facing down the USSR, with no Operation Sea Lion in sight (although Japan will give Britain something to do even if it does nothing in Europe!)

    • Cinek says:

      No game will ever satisfy your needs, if you are basing your opinion on what you feel are unrealistic advantages or “nerfs to the ground”.

      Yes, HoI II was scripted, but balance wasn’t nearly as far from realism as you try to picture it.
      And you did not play HoI III if you are saying that it was left to random events. Far from it.

    • ShowMeTheMonkey says:

      This pipe dream goes for most Paradox games and the Total War series…

      If there was a magical option available that switched from “historical AI” or “free AI” I would be very happy.
      The historical AI would be scripted for actual events and stuff, so each faction/country/civ would try to act the way they did historically.
      The free AI would be whatever the hell it decided to do.

      Ahhh. A man can dream….

      • egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

        I don’t get your dream! I feel like there is always an element of chance, the way history rolls out. I think it aspires to capture that. If like in these CIV games that are popular now where the AI fights AI, you could do that with Paradox games and start off with maximum realism as spectator and let it go, it should be a fair chance it’ll play out pretty much the same as it actually did. But the idea of being able to make states act historically feels dubious to me. Every country affects the other, and if some states were disabled from that and had a linear way of being, whilst France had gone fascist, that wouldn’t work for me!

        I think at the starting grid it would be alright if you could change conditions and factors, to make some countries unknown and some have their historically accurate personalities from that jumping off point.

        I’m not that familiar, basically dabbling in the Total War games, Hegemony, Civ, and being frightened of Crusader Kings, but I wish for a strategy game where there is a timeline of world history and you could jump in as any country at any point, though it would certainly be nice if there were recommended moments and challenges.

        • egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

          The number of years you get in to playing and kind of inevitably making an alternate history would unlock those years in the to the timeline of what actually happened, for that country or an adversary’s… So you could keep threading back in and out.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Ah yes, of course. The famous beating of the UK, the fall of London. But it was all better once the Russians came and liberated us.

    • Zephro says:

      Hearts of Iron is more about the “what if” scenarios and not about alternate history really. You want things to go roughly down the correct path and not end up with sillyness so that you can toy with particular ideas.

      What if the allies intervened after Czechoslovakia?
      What if the allies assaulted the siegfried line immediately?
      What if the Germans didn’t provoke neutrals with U-Boat warfare?
      What if the Germans actually reached Moscow?
      What if the Germans focused on the Panzer 4 rather than wasting resources on insane projects?

      You can play with all of these things and have a great time. But if you go what if the germans and russians are allied? It just sucks.

  2. Joshua Northey says:

    Moby Dick is a great way to describe these games. I have spent sooo many hours playing HOI and I am not sure I have ever completed a campaign. It is a ton of fun up through Babarossa, but once you successfully attack/defend there it all gets rather tedious.

    I kind of wish the game had settings for victory conditions as much as that is against the spirit of Paradox games. Would let you walk away from the game with less of a feeling of leaving an unfinished project.

  3. Cei says:

    There’s a group of us on the forums who will be playing this as soon as it comes out in a multiplayer session dragged out over several months. We’ve done EU4 several times (one game ran 3 hours a week for the best part of six months), and HOI4 is going to be awesome.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Is this an open invitation or are you just bragging about your digital social life?

    • emptyskin says:

      I would also like to know if you are inviting people or just sublimating tweets onto RPS

      • Phasma Felis says:

        God forbid people talk about playing a video game in a comment thread about the video game.

      • Cei says:

        You’re more than welcome to come play with us.

        However, I think your comment is a bit out of line. I’m not even trying to get people to play games elsewhere, talking about the RPS forums on RPS seems pretty reasonable to me.

  4. Gap Gen says:

    If it’s any consolation, Hitler was also terrible at this.

    • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

      “You don’t want to be like Hitler, do you?”

  5. teije says:

    This may be the HOI that finally gets me into the series. Fiddled around with HOI2 and bounced off HOI3 hard. Been following the dev diaries closely and it looks very promising – complex enough, but not too much micro-management.

    Scheduled for late Q2 release I believe.

    • Cei says:

      Come do a multiplayer game with us. We introduced EU4 to a bunch of new players and they all ended up loving it, despite the batshit insane learning curve.

      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      • teije says:

        Thank you much for the invite. I’m a huge EU and CK fan and sunk hundreds of hours in each. But a solitary curmudgeon in my gaming experience, so SP only for me.

    • Cinek says:

      HoI III already had a very minimized micro-management. You could conquer entire Europe without ever touching a single unit.

  6. RedSparrows says:

    ‘Battleplans are my favourite part of the game because they let me scribble all over the map. Once units have been assigned to a colour-coded group, a front can be painted across national borders, showing where they should fight and attempt to contain the fighting. Arrows can be dragged across the map, describing not only the route that your forces should follow, but also where they should stop their advance and settle into defensive positions.’

    Holy shit, this is my days scribbling in exercise books at school brought to my screen in glorious tyranno-vision. I adore Paradox games already, this just made me even more excited squeeeee

    • emperor_nero says:

      I had yet to hear about that. It sounds fantastic!

    • Zephro says:

      I’ve wanted a strategy game that worked this way for 2 decades!

      Say NO to micromanagement.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        Total War series has allowed you do basically do this from the get-go. Just auto-resolve your combat and you are basically dragging army blob figurines across a tactical map landscape and doing some background decision making.

        Also various 4X games have automated combat / aggression management AI.

  7. dsch says:

    What’s with this new lip-service about feeling bad for following the historical German warpath?

  8. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Just tell me which research path I have to take to get Battleship Sieglinde.

    • RedViv says:

      DAMMIT I missed the opportunity to become the first Gillen-crossreferencing person.

      Oh man, I want that mod already.

  9. P.Funk says:

    Sending someone who never ever got to grips with HOI3 to do a hands on of HOI4 is sadly rather pointless I’d say.

    Yes this is probably a nice outing for those who are considering getting into it, but for those who are familiar with HOI3 it basically means that anything thats different or changed, any classic deficiencies that were never ironed out, well we have no clue if thats been addressed. Sorry Adam, not your fault, but still unfortunate.

    I honestly feel like a hands on is best put in the hands of someone who properly understands where a game is coming from.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Quite frankly I would want someone who has also played through some campaigns in HOI 2 as well.

  10. thekelvingreen says:

    Arrows all over the map? World War II? So it’s Dad’s Army: The Opening Credits: The Game?

  11. Akbar says:

    “It’s the most attractive Paradox grand strategy game to date”
    honestly I think that ugly 3d playdoh dung has nothing on Sengoku

    It’s a well written article but I completely disagree with your optimistic outlook. I understand the appeal of broadening HOI’s fanbase by making it less overwhelming but only if it’s possible to do that without sacrificing depth and realism. From what I’ve seen HOI4 does none of that and they’ve made many choices I really don’t like (e.g. reducing politics to three parties, which is sad considering how interesting the schisms you got during the interwar era you got that came with radicalisation in Europe, or those arbitrary leadership points what-have-yous, or the fact that a democracy-supporting Hitler is a completely possible outcome, or the lack of OOBs. Gameplay is going to feel silly when one American party gets >99% of the vote most of the time (considering that one democratic party would mean the reps and dems would be merged)). Also the Dutch and Yugoslav flags have been upside down/switched for a while now which speaks magnitude to their continued dedication to historical realism.

  12. ExitDose says:

    From what I’ve seen of HOI4. this looks like it will elude me like the prior games in the series did.

  13. Syt says:

    “I am a terrible Adolf Hitler.” – Confirmed: Adam Smith = worse than Hitler. ;)

  14. egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

    The modularity sounds good. When are they going to get down to releasing Crusader, Victoria, Europa and Hearts of Iron so that they are still standalone but also compatible with each other as standalone “expandalones”? Is that just my own pipe dream? You could tell a story right the way through them, the interface changing as the form changes. It’d be so grand if the map room was just one aspect and there was also a pretty and intuitively helpful screen for the parliament and other rooms full of chairs, unique to each country.

    With some of the work they put in to Crusader Kings I also feel the potential that you could play as a sort of gambling puppeteer, role playing more minor individuals and the choices they face in the onslaught of time.

    Pleased the combat is so good. Still have a hankering for the RTS and individual level action of the Total War series, but I understand why that’s not neccessarily necessary either.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      The problem with a running game like that is it’s actually quite easy to become world dominator in each one. It makes for a pretty dull game.

      • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

        I’m considering playing Crusader Kings II in a method that involves switching to a random ruler each time the current ruler mainly for this reason…

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Yeah, also these games aren’t perfect. Once you get to the stage where you have a gigantic empire, some of the fun is lost and a lot of tedium is introduced. In CK II, for instance, it’s too easy to form a giant empire and in EUIV it’s extremely unlikely that if you started with one carried over, you would end up doing anything other than just adding to it. By Victoria II world conquest would be a very achievable goal.

  15. Opellulo says:

    “I’m going to skim over politics because I mostly shouted at people”

    Adam, you should trademark this quote.

  16. btxsqdr says:

    I’m glad that you like such games. I remember when such games were totally uncool ten years ago (“Operational Art of War”?). Growing up with Avalon Hill board games and creating own grand strategy games as a kid, I always was addicted to Paradox games, and I enjoy how they evolve and their community, tbh. HOI is one of my favs. I look forward to HOI4. It looks nice, but I hope they improve the economy mechanics and make diplomacy more important. HOI3 was, like its prequels, from some point on easy to play. Once you know how it works, you started with Germany in 1936 and had 10 air carriers in Hamburg by the end of 1939, with an army bigger than France and UK together, due to the simple economy game mechanics of HOI3, which broke the whole game imo.

  17. RegisteredUser says:

    This reads a frighteningly lot like unit command has been further abstracted. A huge issue that already killed HOI III for me, with its nonsense “theaters” and such.
    The right direction for HOI 2 to go was to finally be able to tell planes where EXACTLY to fly and scout and defend instead of rough territories, and the same goes for any and all units. If you cannot cell by cell precisely tell units to advance, act, replenish etc, then there is precious little point.
    Micromanagement may be nice to delegate in some regards(for example being able to set rally points for finished production / units), but is an utter and absolute must when it comes to the heart of things. And that, in thise case, is war.

    Here’s hoping they did something to bring combat and command back into a shape that is enjoyable. HOI 2 Armageddon still remains the unbeaten champion of WW II simulations to me.

    Btw, the article skipped over whether various things such as leaderless unit penalties, terrain penalties, mixed arms, etc pp stuff still played a huge role or not. You know, key determining elements of whether or not you’re going to be winning or losing wars and how you are forced to play if you want to be successful at all.