Hearts of Iron 3: Collection Review
My meeting with the Hearts of Iron series began with Hearts of Iron 1. It was an intriguing experience to say the least. I could play as any nation, and either follow the “set path” of the 2nd World War, or make my own history. When I bought Hearts of Iron 2 I was incredibly happy by the introduced changes, and the nicer graphics. I could still do the same things I could do in Hearts of Iron 1, but with slightly more complexity, and much more fun. Today we have Hearts of Iron 3, and I can honestly say that in terms of complexity it is like Hearts of Iron 1 and 2 combined. On the other hand, Hearts of Iron 3 does not strangle you with a cable cord. It is the friendliest grand strategy game I have ever played. What does Hearts of Iron 3: Collection bring to the table?
Hearts of Iron 3: Collection Review
The Hearts of Iron 3: Collection includes Hearts of Iron 3, as well as: For the Motherland and Semper Fi expansions. It is the up to date Hearts of Iron 3, which also includes all the different Sprite Packs you ever might had wanted. In order to give you a glimpse of what Hearts of Iron 3 is, let us break it all down into manageable segments.
You have a choice between two game types. One of them is what I will refer to as the “Grand Campaign”. During the Grand Campaign you can start from a number of possible pre-set dates, influencing the progress of the war from as early as 1936. As mentioned earlier you can play any nation that exists at a specific time period. You could play as one of the Big Boys (USA, UK, France, Soviet Union, Germany, Japan) or as any other smaller or less important nation (Brazil, Nationalist China, Luxembourg, Sweden, etc.). Your other option is playing one of the set scenarios, as one of the sides. For example, you could take part in Fall Blau as either the Axis or Soviet forces. The difference between the Grand Campaign and Scenarios is that Scenarios often offer you much less freedom, but have more individual Events which influence the course of the Scenario. Grand Campaigns are far more demanding and far longer, since you have to pay attention to a lot of details. Let us jump to the specifications of the Grand Campaign and what could await you.
Me and my Nation
When you start a Grand Campaign game you will have your historical borders, a certain army, pre-set politicians, technology, etc. Unlike in a lot of other games a lot depends on your Political system. A dictatorship has an easier time declaring war on its neighbors, while Democracies (depending on which one you pick) feel much more fractured and you might have a harder time going to war, if you so desire. On the other hand, Democracies have their own strengths, and unlike in the case of dictatorships an unfavorable party could disappear if you wait patiently. A troublesome dictatorship will remain, unless there is a coup.
Most nations will start with some Strategic resource. Strategic resources offer some bonus to your nation. It might be antibiotics, which allows more troops to recover, or aluminum which allows for quicker airplane production. Each province within your nation will produce a certain amount of basic resources. These will include Oil, Energy, Population, Leadership, Coal and Steel. All of these are necessary not only to allow your economy to run efficiently, but in some cases also to keep your army in top shape.
When you start off a game you will usually have a limited army, which you will have to expand and improve if you desire to go to war. Let’s us talk about this huge area in Hearts of Iron 3.
On War: Production, Technology and Organizing your Armies
Expanding your army sounds simple. You produce divisions, sort them into armies, and then deploy them where they are needed most. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. The construction of an army also means you have to organize it. First of all, you have to create a Theater of War. Once that is done you have to allocate Armies to said Theater’s HQ. Organizing a Theater on your own can be demanding if you start from scratch. In a Theater you have Army Groups, which then have Armies, which then have Corps, which then have Divisions. Thankfully, most nations have their Theaters sorted out at the start, so you do not have to be worried about this. However, if you plan on starting a fresh war, let us say in South America, you will have a bit of work.
Before we organize an army we have to produce it first! The production of an army is as simple as a few clicks. You select how many and which divisions you want to produce, and in what order. More complex divisions, such as Tanks or Airplanes will need more IC (Industrial Capacity) to produce. As such, a Tank Division might need 26 IC, while an Infantry Division only 6. Depending on countless variables you might be able to pay less IC when producing certain unit types, or they might take less time to produce. Aside from building units you also have to maintain them. Some of your IC has to be dedicated to the production of generic supplies. Supplies include such things as food and ammo. Fuel is a separate measure. On top of this, once the fighting starts, you will have to invest some IC into reinforcements (new tanks do not appear out of thin air).
Then again, before you produce an army, or once you already have an army, it is not a bad idea to keep it up to date. Research will not only benefit your armed forces, but also your economy. The problem with Research is that it is unlikely that you will keep every single branch of your armed forces in top condition. Aside from basic equipment research for your planes, tanks, infantry and ships there are also the Doctrines, which influence the effectiveness of your units, as well as combat. Once you research a new technology, such as new small arms for your infantry divisions, they will all have to upgraded, and that means more IC costs.