First, the Mantra!
‘Not every division works for every situation, so I need to change things sometimes.’
But what is the best doctrine? It’s Superior Firepower.
Yet you have a sneaking suspicion the others have value too… and you’re right. So let’s talk about them and when you’ll use them. Start with these questions: Are you fighting on the Offensive or Defensive? Was that with Motorized units? Tanks, Infantry, or all of them? What kind of air and naval support are we bringing to the battle?
We’ll talk about the 3 flavors of doctrine: Air, Sea, Land, and how each one will help you find success based on how you play and what they do to benefit your troops.
Yes, dear reader, we’ll go through it all.
Grab a bevvy and settle in.Notes on DoctrineDoctrines are meant to be something you develop overtime during the war (game). In previous versions, you could complete your entire doctrine tree by mid-1939 and rip into enemies with your “superior tactics and garbage weapons.” It wasn’t well balanced then.
But now, it’s different. I won’t say better. But it isn’t worse.
The change did make doctrines take time to develop. Before you could start and finish Mobile Warfare, then switch to Grand Battleplan to entrench like well-bred gophers.
You need to be more aware of WHY you’re picking one branch vs. another; you won’t have a lot of time to switch midway through if you make a mistake and pick the wrong branch.GeneralsGenerals traits and promotions can complement very nicely with the right tree. An easy example is pairing Grand Battleplan with Infantry leaders using the ‘Ambusher,’ ‘Unyielding Defender,’ ‘Defensive Doctrine,’ ‘Guerilla Fighter’ bonuses.
If you can hear this picture, we can be friends.Style Determines the WinThat is YOUR PLAY STYLE. How you ‘Gary’ sits at the keys and manages the game. Your personal style can be the cause of your doom or the secret to your success.
Are you tired? Have you got a lot on your mind? Did you finish your homework you really should be doing but can’t stop thinking about?
These will affect your game. Be aware of your own headspace. The game can save for a reason. Use it to your advantage.
Therefore: Any doctrine can find success.
Let me repeat it: ANY DOCTRINE CAN FIND SUCCESS.
They all have benefits that apply to different stats and can benefit a different play style. If you’re an on-the-move player, find a doctrine that fits that too.
That means your armies will need to fight and be built in specific ways that complement that doctrine. But it should be said that if you (personally, you) always drive your army at full speed into the enemy without rest, chances are a doctrine based on recovery and recuperation is your jam regardless of the country because that’s just how you play the game.
So, pick a doctrine that will compliment YOUR playstyle and YOUR war goals.
Achievements are a different rap and often require you to ‘settle into the meta’ or play a certain way. Which to me is… hoopla. But another discussion entirely.
Poland during ’30 minutes of Hel’ slaying with a ring of fire.
Ground DoctrinesOverruns are the BEST way to win wars. Don’t @ me. An overrun unit is destroyed. They are removed from the game, and a portion of its equipment – if any can be absorbed by your units. Your enemy must replace them at great cost, if at all. This can cripple an enemy army if you catch a few units in a pocket at a time and annihilate them.
To figure out what we’ll use for our combat line, let’s use a FlOwChArT!!
We start by asking: Will infantry be our core attack unit? Not ‘what will I populate the front line with? Specifically, “What will I attack with?”; what your line defense looks like should be a 20w infantry, if possible, with support from Artillery and Engineering companies.
But what is your OFFENSE?
Now, that COULD be the whole front line of infantry. Totally awesome! But that’s what we’re here to determine. If Infantry, men, are the core of our attack group, how will we use them? Or are we using motorized units instead?
Land Doctrine Flowchart!Option A: The Ankle ExpressInfantry can be used in many ways, from landing groups to garrisons to combat line units. It is the most versatile unit on the battlefield. This doesn’t mean it is the strongest but used well, can be more than an advisory even for large tank divisions. You can wear down a superior foe and push his weakened units out of the way.
For example, China starts with little in the way of production capacity but vast reserves of men. We know Japan is coming, and we’ll be fighting against a superior foe. Arming our people is going to help keep the Japanese invasion from succeeding. China would be using an infantry-based attack group defensively. They won’t have an initial attack group. All infantry will more or less be the same. Further, they aren’t trying to invade Japan (typically).
Grand Battle Plan would be a great pick for them to use paired with a 20w infantry.
Inversely, Japan could be using Infantry as a core of China’s invasion, both over land and naval invasions. Japan will be on the Offense and will have more than 6 MILs in ’39, so Superior Firepower is a great tree choice for them to use.
If you played a smaller country, like Yunnan or Norway, you might not have that many MILs completed by 1939.
With one or two MILs to start, and usually 3-5 available through focus trees or early construction, 6-10 is typically what you’ll see in the smaller countries for the number of military factories they’ll have available at the start of the major war, (or in 1937 for China!). Still, up to 10 could be considered for using the Mass Assault tree this way.
This also means your priority in MIL usage probably should be almost exclusive to Infantry Equipment. Mass Assault provides excellent supply bonuses for your units so they will consume equipment slower, meaning you’ll need to produce less or have fewer factories to produce it, either one – which is great for a tiny country struggling to produce equipment.
Further to that, if you play as a low population country, say… Ireland – using the additional manpower to create a larger Manpower pool can create a sizeable army. And you’ll get that same bit of supply grace as well as a little extra. This obviously will help take the fight to a larger enemy.
Does this mean you ‘need to continually spam units out’? No, of course not! That’s stupid.
That ability being one feature of the doctrine does not make it the ONLY use of it. Moreover, you really shouldn’t find yourself in a position where ‘spamming units’ is your only hope for victory. That’s bad planning, right, Joe?
Which side of the Trees? Typically, I say go right on Grand Battleplan and also for Superior Firepower, UNLESS your main combat line is a 7/2 or a 14/4 Infantry Unit. Those need the benefit of Dispersed Support (left option of SF). The soft attack and recovery rate here pump up the ability of the attacks wonderfully. Integrated Support is superb for Infantry that uses support companies to bulk their stats or modify their abilities. Signal companies, recon, etc.
And I would recommend the shock and awe branch over the airland battle in general. The recon bonus is preferable to me over the additional air superiority boost for my infantry, but we’ll cover that a little more in Air Doctrine.
For Mass Assault, the Deep Battle tree can provide excellent bonuses for a country pushing back with their manpower as an advantage. They can produce just enough to stay in the fight, but maybe not have many ‘extras’ like tanks with mechanized units but have a fair supply of men – Brazil or some smaller Chinese states fit this bill nicely.
Small producers with limited manpower pools, use the Mass Mobilization branch to perk up your manpower by 5% and dip into a -30% supply use bonus!
WARNING! Using either branch of mass assault, your division templates with infantry will drop their width, and you’ll need to adjust your templates accordingly.Option B: Fueled by DinosoulsDo you have a local supply of rubber, OR can you make it yourself?
Playing as the USSR means you’ve got almost everything you need locally, including oil… but do you really want to trade with capitalist pigs for rubber when stronk communist worker can build in factory for you? Полезные идиоты.
Or playing as Italy, when Germany fails to build refineries, and no trade partners exist after 1940 because the rubber supply zones through the world started like this:
United Kingdom52.05%Netherlands35.76%France4.70%Siam4.00%British Raj1.60%Brazil1.50%Liberia0.20%Philippines0.10%Ethiopia0.10%
Using the mathometer, it appears the Allies control uh… *dry cough* 94.21% of the world’s rubber supply.
I hope you’ve got some handy!
Having rubber means trucks and mechanized units will be able to be produced without supply degradation.
So, again, I ask you – have you got some of that sweet, sweet, rubber locally? Or are you in the Allies? Or can you keep a supply secure? You’ll regret having no rubber for your mechanized units when your neck deep in Soviets.
Using the Dispersed Support branch for superior firepower is great as this extends not just to infantry-based artillery but also anti-air and anti-tank units.
That’s right, Billy!! It covers their motorized variants too – including the oh so stackable rocket trucks. *drool*
Let’s quickly touch on those. Rocket Trucks are often passed over due to their weak stats. When you properly upgrade your rocket trucks, holy scatclapper is that thing menacing on SF. Rocket trucks aren’t ‘a one-off’ like motorized or even, say, a tank could be… it requires upgrades through many different branches of technology to be fully effective. It would help if you planned to use these; it’s not something you can add in as an afterthought to great effect.
Ok, back to SPG’s and mobile warfare, the tank version of motorized artillery.
It’s aweeeesome to use at carving up enemies. I like using a 20w with these early and a 40w later in the game, as supply zones dictate.
Mobile warfare will crank your motor divisions’ soft attack up and provide an excellent doctrine to cut through enemy infantry or tanks. It also greatly increases a unit’s speed. Use them like scissors to clip through soft enemy front lines and create encirclements. Use a motorized unit or even cavalry to act as a defender/follow up unit, slipping them in after moving your tanks forward.
It is VERY tempting at this stage to ‘pull a Guderian’ and rush for a larger encirclement like he did at Dunkirk. But it could have cost him dearly if he lost. After all, the biggest profits mean the gravest risks. For HOI4, this is a practiced maneuver by veterans, and you should try and get good at it.
Cut open the front at 2 points, shove a wedge to keep the pocket separated. Create and then destroy the bubble. Move on.
If you’re sticking to tanks only, say as Sweden, you’ll use a heavy tank division to do the attacking (chef kiss!), then stick with the Blitzkrieg side of the focus tree. It’ll tune up your overall organization and, in turn, keep your tanks moving forward. Use the mammoth 15Tanks/10Mot to slap your opponent out of the way.
WARNING! Having mobile warfare and NOT moving forward is not good. Mobile Warfare is all about moving those motorized units – even if slowly. When they’re stagnant, you are in grave danger of losing the battle. And possibly, the war. By constantly having to fight entrenched units (the little shield has been filled silver), it is costly and increases the defensive values fighting against your advance. You may need to change your template, likely by making it larger or adding more hard and soft attack units to break the enemy front line.
You could also call in the air force…Air DoctrineWhen the enemy is bereft of organization, he will be destroyed in short order.
This is a HOI4 fact.
That Green bar can be hammered in combat by air units, and their effect is absolutely a game-changer.
Let’s go back to the flow chart to start with – what are we trying to accomplish with our airplanes.
When I say ‘fuel is readily available,’ I mean you can either produce fuel or oil locally or that it can be imported without much interruption to supply.
Battlefield Support is a very combat friendly tree for nearly all theaters. You can use it with light or heavy framed air units to great effect. If you’re looking for one to plug in and use, it’s always a good choice, but there are other options for you to consider.
Let’s go through a couple of examples.
Playing as Portugal, we’ll use heavy fighters to support our many small island holdings and ground-based naval bombers for our air force at sea. We don’t have enough aluminum or fuel available to go for tactical or strategic bombers, and we want to get as much range as possible on the fighters, so heavy fighters and NAV bombers are our plan.
Our best doctrine, in this case, is Strategic Destruction. The additional intercept and naval attack bonuses will be of most benefit here as there won’t be extensive land combat or strategic tile destruction.
Playing as Romania, the front line has stalled near Stalingrad. You set your 200 available Tactical bombers to blast their airfields and infrastructure. Looking through the chart, Operational Integrity will give bonuses to attacking strategic targets using tactical bombers. Perfect!
I know, it’s crazy, but hear me out.
First, it’s true they do not have the same max range or speed and are more expensive per unit… annnd cost one additional technology than their ground-based counterpart, but if you know that you’ll be building a navy, then save the production slots and get yourself a carrier air force. And of course, if you can afford it… build carriers!
The max range penalty that gets applied is on a low-medium-high scale, and typically light frames are often in medium/high penalty areas already. Building more airfields closer to the action will decrease this penalty. So, if you’re going to do it anyway, the carrier variants will also reap the benefit.
Even as a minor power, they’re pretty good – and the range bonus you’ll get from the Naval Aircraft Designer is pretty swanky for offsetting that initial range penalty. Engine upgrades can cover the rest.
That said, ground-based light airframes are cheaper at nearly every level, but the heavy fighters can go further, and typically I find, live longer. If aluminum, rubber, and oil are readily available, there is no reason you can’t produce heavy airframes.
Hungary could be a massive air fleet producer with a steady supply of rubber and oil – both made by refineries. When to STRAT and when to TACThe Strategic Bombing mission is used against targets on the map, not units. These are MILs, CIVs airfields, AA sites, and the like. If you’re finding it hard to remove an enemy, want to drain his capacity to conduct war, or you want to increase your own war score, strategic bombing is the way to go.
Strategic bombers will outperform TAC in this operation. They are the masters of this domain.
Note: To drop nuclear weapons, you MUST have at least 1 Strategic Bomber.
The Close Air Support mission cannot be performed by strategic bombers but can be completed by TAC bombers (and, of course, CAS), making them more versatile than strategic bombers. I find the benefits can be very similar, but strategic bombers will reap more benefits if focused on over the long run.
All of that said, I find the best air force formula is this:
Interceptors + Ground Support + Naval Support = win.
How you define those terms is up to you and your game.
If you’ve got resources to spare, “Ground Support” could look like 10,000 CAS. Or it could be 25 tac bombers because they can do both ground AND naval support for your tiny, pitiful country.
Speaking of Naval Support…Naval DoctrineI’m not going to get into naval ship templates or deployment makeup here, just the doctrine and a little on tactics. Once more, Jimmy, the flow chart, please!!
What type of fleet you’re building boils down to 2 choices, really: Is it a surface fleet or not? Italy was. Japan was. Germany was not. It relied heavily on U-boats while Japan finished the Yamato and Italy… well… Italy had boats too, apparently.
Like our rubber supply questions, Chromium is key and required for capital ship construction and later-generation light hulls. If you don’t have chromium or aren’t prepared to trade for it, keep to a submarine fleet, or limit the number of surface vessels you’re using.
If you are using Capital ships, the choice becomes: Carriers or not. Turkey, for example, could create a carrier fleet with its large resources of chromium. Iraq, maybe, should stick with Submarines.
Submarine Warfare tip: You can create ‘spotter’ subs, those equipped with radar, but set them to patrol while never engaging the enemy; meanwhile, another torpedo submarine group or a squadron of NAV bombers can come in and wipe them out. Get creative with the way you build and deploy submarines. The results can be devastating.
The Short of It All
Naval doctrine isn’t as broad-reaching as ground doctrine is, and the air is even less than Navy. The choices are more obvious once you’ve set your plans to production.
· Fleet in being: Battleship bonuses.
· Trade Interdiction: Submarine and Screen Bonuses
· Base Strike: Carrier bonus, specifically: instead of 4 carriers, you can have up to 6 carriers in combat without penalties.
Of all the doctrines, naval and air are the most straight forward as there aren’t deep branch selections. Just fill up on what you’re using or what fits best.
For a more in-depth guide on the Navy, I suggest you look HERE at my naval warfare guide – check my profile.