Hearts of Iron IV dips a toe in the ocean with Man the Guns

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First launched in 2016, Hearts of Iron IV is yet another of the grand strategy games to come from the great grand strategy Santa’s Workshop known as Paradox Interactive. Mixing sandbox style play and real-time war simulation, the title allows you to start in 1936 or 1939 and take one control of one great power — leading them to victory over the rest of the, you know, World War. Today, the third major expansion for the game was announced. Man the Guns develops the naval side of war, including the addition of modular design for warships.

Man the Guns also introduces new options for the democratic nations. The United States has a lot of roads you can lead it down, and now a navy that you can steer into the Gulf of Mexico to really start a scene. You must, as they say, man some of those there guns, in order to take back the water highways of war.

Wait, the second expanse to this game was called “Waking The Tiger” and it is set in Asia? That seems… You know, we don’t have to discuss that today.

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Here. Join me in taking a gander at the announcement trailer:

I might just be tired, but the part of the video description that said “Two thirds of the Earth are covered in water” felt like it was describing a post-apocalyptic scenario. I was like “Whoa, where are they going with this?” And then I remembered that’s just how the planet is? I think it is time to log off for the day, before I worry that 1/3 of the planet being covered in land is something that H.R. Giger came up with.

Follow the game’s development on the Steam page or via the official site. The game is currently 60% if, so if you want to grab it, man your funds.

32 Comments

  1. Zenicetus says:

    Wait… Battle of the Mexican Gulf? Really?

    Okay, I haven’t played this game, but that seems like a stretch even for alternate histories. How does the Axis get a fleet that far away without logistical support? Or is this supposed to be Japan, sneaking an entire battle fleet through the Panama canal? And what the hell is of strategic importance in the Gulf of Mexico, when all the big naval and air bases are on the East and West coasts of the USA?

    Someone tell me how this works.

    • Grizzly says:

      Could also be a several nations in South America getting themselves involved agains the US, or western european powers becoming hostile to the US and using their bases in, say, Suriname to launch an assault.

      • Zenicetus says:

        South American nations had no significant industrial capacity at the time, and by WW2 it’s *all* about industrial capacity.

        BTW, one reason I think this is silly, is that I’m an old guy, and I remember my Mom mentioning the “scare” about German subs showing up on the east coast, like off Miami Beach. Basically psychological warfare, because their logistic chain was stretched so far that this was all they could do; just surface and scare people.

        Maybe this new feature allows the logistics to support this kind of battle, but I’m still not seeing the strategic targets. The Gulf states in the US weren’t producing offshore oil at this time.

        • SirSpanky says:

          The German U-Boats were destroying navy ships and civilian boats on the Carolina Coasts until nearly the end of the war. There is a lot of information on this if you visit the Outer Banks of NC. They even sunk the Light Boats with there deck guns. In other words, the Germans were very active on the East Coast. Also, last year, 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard announced they Found a sunk, Most Likely Scuttled, German U Boat in the Great Lakes.

        • colin964 says:

          Ok so let me explain. Usually with every paradox dlc for hoi4 they add new focus trees/gameplay features. These focus trees are almost always alternative history. So the trailer could be describing and alternate history where south american nations and or mexico let germany use their ports as naval bases. Hoi 4 isnt about historical accuracy, thats not what its trying to achieve.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      They pointedly do not specify what the enemy is, so it could be one of the many alternate history options like an early USSR invasion, a fascist Europe allying with Germany against the US, or maybe even the US themselves turning fascist and fighting an Allied Europe.

      As for the location, the USSR option could tie into an early Cuban missile crisis-style scenario, or it could be raids on Texan oil reserves.

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        Malarious says:

        Yep. Consider the reference to the First American Civil War. So clearly something’s already gone horribly awry in this timeline.

        • Zenicetus says:

          I still want to know about the logistics that would support this scenario. If you read about the history of WW2 in the Pacific, it was all about which side could support the front line battles with men and material over a long chain of supply ships and bases for staging.

          Does this new DLC model logistics, or can you just send fleets wherever you want, without dealing with that? I’m asking because this might get me interested in this game, otherwise it’s just meaningless as a “historical scenario.”

          • battles_atlas says:

            Ground combat supplies are modeled – all territories have a supply limit, and increasing it requires developing infrastructure or ports, or in the short term you can make limited use of air drops. Naval fleets currently don’t have the same supply system, but they do have a maximum range from nearest friendly port, which currently caps out for Japan on the US west coast, way short of the Gulf of Mexico (though if they took Pearl Harbour they *might* be able to make it.

    • Admore says:

      I’d say the way it works is that the continental United States has not two, but three coasts. There were, and are, significant naval bases on the Gulf of Mexico including Mobile and Corpus Christi.

      In addition, while you’re thinking about industrial capacity, you might consider where all that American oil for the Allies war effort came from. A very large portion of it came from Texas, which does in fact have a major port on the Gulf of Mexico. Also a tremendous amount of food and other material shipped out of New Orleans, after coming down the Mississippi, and out of Galveston or Mobile as well.

      Also, a large number of ships were built along the Gulf Coast.

      The Germans were quite aware of this, and UBoats operated around the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. There are wrecks of ships off Galveston and well over 50 merchant ships were sunk in the Gulf.

      Perhaps not the silly joke you seem to think it was.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I still want to know about the logistical chain that would supply Axis attacks in the Gulf of Mexico, including entire battle fleets like in the trailer. If the game includes this, I’m interested. If not, it’s a fantasy.

        To be clear, I like alternate history. I’d just like it to be at least a little bit believable!

        • Admore says:

          My answer was really to your “what the hell is the strategic importance of the Gulf of Mexico”. And the answer to that is: vastly important.

          As to whether the Axis could dream of approaching the Gulf for an invasion, I’d tend to doubt it. The US shut down UBoat operations fairly quickly in the Gulf, having such a large coast near the shipping lanes and so many friendly islands to work with.

        • jackalope81 says:

          Air cover was a larger issue rather than ship range. Large fleets traveled with their own oiler and supply convoys to refuel and resupply. Brest to Houston is actually a fairly short distance compared to the Pacific. For example there was a British vs. German surface battle near Argentina and the Torch landings were launched straight from the U.S.

          As for Texas and the Gulf the worst month of shipping losses the Allies had was when the uboat campaign in the Gulf was in full swing. The Germans were there to sink tankers and did so often. The intracoastal waterway from Brownsville to the east coast and up to Boston was specifically built as a protected waterway for barge traffic to avoid uboats. Mexico actually entered the war because of the Germans sinking two of their tankers during this campaign. The uboats were resupplied and refueled by mothership uboats that came from France.

    • modzero says:

      Easy, with the resources of the entirety of Europe, the New Roman Empire easily has the industrial capacity to support this. Or maybe it’s just Byzantium.

    • pookie191 says:

      Considering you can start the game in 1936 in Germany with Hitler in power and a couple of years later have a different leader and be a proud member of the Allies after a peaceful transition of power and now the allies are fighting across the planet against an expansionist Soviet Union, A LOT could of changed for the US to be fighting in the Gulf of Mexico.

      It could be anything from the Axis powers winning in Europe and Asia, through to the US deciding to invade it’s neighbors to fuel the new American empire after getting rid of that annoying democracy

    • shad says:

      The first great naval battle in WW II was between the UK and Germany on a river in Uruguay, South America.

      A battle in the Gulf of Mexico is hardly a fantasy scenario.

    • thebigcromwell says:

      There is gonna be a second american civil war. If you look closely in the trailer you can see the CSA flag, as well as the narrator saying “the first american civil war”. Why would he say “the first” if there isn’t a second? Presumably the battle of the mexican gulf is a war between two american factions in a civil war

    • kernelforbin says:

      There’s a setting chosen when starting a game called ‘Historical Focuses.’ If enabled, the game will (for the most part) follow the story of WW2. If it’s disabled, the game becomes more unpredictable. Countries may or may not follow their historical path. There are of course patterns with the AI, which you come to learn as you play.

      You can choose to play as any country, which comes with the pros/cons of that country’s current situation as of 1936. You can play as Fascist El Salvador and invade the USA. You can turn the UK Communist, the Germans Democratic… so the “Axis” (whoever that’s comprised of from game to game) invading the US isn’t as unlikely as it was in real life.

      Naval supremacy is a mechanic required to invade via water, and Air Supremacy required to drop transport planes. Depending on your invasion path you may need supremacy of some kind in the Gulf.

      If you are the kind of person who has those “what if X did/didn’t do Y in WW2” conversations with friends you’ll love the game.

    • RPSC says:

      So I can understand where u got confused.

      If you rewatch and look veeeeeery carefully at the ships and posters, you can see the flag of the C.S.A. As well, some posters mentions going to fight in Richmond. This is an alternate history scenario where the C.S.A. breaks off once again, or just a “second” American Civil War. As well, you can here the mention of the FIRST American Civil War. So a battle with this strategy and location would make sense in a U.S.A. v.s. C.S.A. war.

      Hope that cleared some things up!

  2. Lord of Beer says:

    If you follow their official forums, you’ll see the game has been in a poor state since their last expansion. Various changes made to it increased micromanagement, nerfed the power potential of small countries, and drastically slowed down combat. As a result the once thriving organized multiplayer scene for the game has been completely killed off. Consensus is the devs don’t know how to play their own game and are just rehashing old ideas from HOI3, despite the fact that that game was much less approachable or successful.

    • Replikant says:

      Sounds like Paradox alright.

    • shad says:

      The good ol’ one-man decided upon ‘consensus’.

      • battles_atlas says:

        Yeah Lord Beer is simplifying quite a lot there. Overall the game continues to get better, though right now there certainly flaws in the new commander structure, but you can just not use those features, even if the AI has to suffer them. Whether or not its sufficiently improved for a game that was released two years ago, and 3 or 4 DLCs, is more debatable. I’d really like to see functioning naval combat finally sorted by this patch – the AI is still completely incapable of putting up a fight in the Pacific, given destroyers don’t last long in the current engine, and the AI runs out of them, then proceeds to just charge around with fleets consisting purely of capital ships, when then get wrecked.

    • shauneyboy68 says:

      People are complaining, but forum complainers does not a reality make. The game is playable and quite good. Where it falls on it’s face is when one scours the interwebz hivemind for the optimal strategies for each country and then proceeds to roll the AI. Yes, the AI is not at Deep Blue levels, but name me a real time strategy game at this level of complexity that has one that is?

      Right now the main problems are:
      1. Imbalanced naval combat (BBs and CVs rule, no reason to build naught but)
      2. Problems with the front line system (gaps tend to open up during advances along long fronts with multiple armies; would be nice to have a function to “lock” flanks and have the AI do all possible to stay connected
      3. I’d say combat in major urban centers needs a rework (right now it’s pretty easy to roll into Stalingrad once you’ve made it that far)

      That’s about it. The AI isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. Sure, with 100s of hours it’s not the challenge it once was, but it’s entertaining. If one takes the plunge, do yourself a favor and avoid brining the combined knowledge of millions of hours to bear and develop strategies yourself.

      • Lord of Beer says:

        The other problem is that the core Clausewitz 2.0 engine that HOI4 is built on is still 32-bit, and 10 years old. It struggles with all of the units and combat happening after 1943 and becomes basically unplayable in multiplayer after that time also.

        • shauneyboy68 says:

          Yeah that may be the case. I haven’t played multiplayer so I can’t comment. I can say that I don’t exactly have a high powered machine, but the game seems to run just fine at endgame. It chugs a bit when you have it at max speed and are trying to take actions that require precision (redraw frontlines, micro lots of units, etc), but aside from that I haven’t experienced any performance issues.

          • Carro says:

            Joy, another expansion for a flawed and ultimately boring “grand strategy” title. I wonder if they’ll lie about features again or just make the game even more memeable. Hoi4 is truly an adventure.

    • Nihilist says:

      Well, that’s just like your opinion, man.

      You could post this under every Paradox Article and will find some followers. I don’t think so regarding HOI IV. It started great and especially the last DLC was and is a lot of fun to play.

      If you talk about Stellaris though… I would copy and paste your commend there..

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