Welcome to my second in a series of posts looking at minor countries in the game Hearts of Iron IV by Paradox Entertainment. Hearts of Iron IV is an epic historical simulator that allows you to experience the events of the Second World War as any country, and perhaps, change history. These articles examine the benefits and drawbacks of playing as any of dozens of minor countries in HOI IV. In this article, I’ll be looking at Ukraine. Ukraine is not a playable country, unless released by a player. Hearts of Iron IV lets you start the game as a major power, release a country, and then continue playing as that country. Neat!
If released by the Soviet Union, Ukraine starts the game in 1936 as an authoritarian democratic state (no elections) with 70% national unity. It has a volunteer army, export trade focus, and civilian economy. The fascist party, led by Stepan Bandera, has 30% popularity, the ruling democratic party, led by Kost Levytsky, has 15%, the communist party, led by Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, has 53% support, and the nonaligned party has zero support.
Ukraine is divided into sixteen states, with predominantly plains and forest terrain. Its resources are located in Kharkov, Kiev, Kherson, and Dnipropetrovsk. In terms of industry, it has 5 military and 7 civilian factories, and 1 naval dockyard, plus 57 additional open slots, 22 chromium, 56 steel, 20 oil, and 12 aluminum. There are several helpful ministers to choose from, though their names appear generic. Peter White, captain of industry, grants +10% construction speed bonus to civilian factories, infrastructure, and refinery construction. Jim Jones, war industrialist, grants +10% construction speed bonus to military factory and dockyard construction. These may be randomly determined.
As a recently-released country, Ukraine has no military. It has 145,020 manpower initially available for new units. The minister Bob Evans, a fortification engineer, grants +20% bonus to land fort, coastal fort, and anti air construction speeds. I hear he also cooks a mean sausage.
Ukraine starts 1936 with only 3 research slots, so you want to get the 2 bonus slots through national focuses as quickly as you can. It has researched Infantry Equipment I, Motorized, Mountain Infantry I, Paratroopers I; Engineer, Recon, and Military Police Companies, 1934 Artillery, Light Tank I, Fighter I, Naval Bomber I, Interwar Tactical Bomber, Strategic Bomber I, Mass Assault Doctrine, Fleet in Being Doctrine, and all 1922 naval techs (minus aircraft carrier).
Strategic Advantages: Ukraine inherits all technologies from the Soviet Union, so it starts 1936 in a good position for a minor power. If you choose to eventually go to war with the Soviet Union, there are potentially two isolated areas that can be taken easily: Crimea and Bessarabia (if claimed by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). Ukraine also stars with a variety of strategic resources.
Strategic Disadvantages: Ukraine’s flat, unobstructed terrain provides little in the way of natural defenses. Its long border with the Soviet Union, a potential enemy, is also a liability. As long as Turkey controls the Bosphorus Strait, Ukraine’s navy will be confined to the Black Sea.
Ukraine. Fascist Ukraine is simply called “Ukraine.” As they are in the majority, communists will quickly demand a referendum. You can actively oppose them, do nothing, or hold the referendum and become communist. I decided to boost nationalist forces with the goal of reclaiming Ukrainian lands in eastern Poland, as well as Crimea.
On August 24, 1939, Poland gave into German demands and ceded Danzig. This was the first time I’ve ever seen the AI pick this option in a historic game. Germany declared war on the Allies at the end of September and quickly overwhelmed Belgium, Netherlands, and France. The war dragged on for years without either side gaining a clear advantage while I prepared for war with the Soviet Union.
Germany finally declared war on the Soviet Union on April 16, 1946, and I activated my carefully laid plans. After a few short months, the Soviet Union capitulated in September, allowing the Ukraine to grab a broad swath of new territory at the negotiating table. Success!
Ukrainian Socialist Republic. As mentioned previously, transitioning to a communist state is simple, if released by the Soviet Union. Not sure why Ukraine wouldn’t just start with the same ideology as the releasing country. After the revolution, I joined the Comintern and slowly built up my army and industry. When Germany ceded eastern Poland to the Soviet Union in conformity with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Ukraine did not receive any of its claimed states.
To prevent a similar occurrence in Romania, I declared war on that country in February 1940. Romania joined the Allies, thus dragging the Soviet Union into a war with Great Britain and France. Romania capitulated in June 1940. Ukraine took the eastern half and the Soviets received the western mountains. I then set my sights on Bulgaria, in order to deprive Germany of another potential ally and secure the Comintern’s southern flank. The war against Bulgaria took less than two weeks.
All this preparation seemed like it was for nothing. Germany declared war on the Soviet Union in December 1940 and quickly brushed aside the marginal units they had stationed along the border. As my armies were pushed back toward Ukraine’s borders, I thought for sure the end was near. Thankfully, after a few months their offensive began to stall, and I trapped and destroyed up to twenty divisions in Bulgaria. After a few years of preparation, the Ukrainian and Red Army began to push the German Army back, with help from the Allies approaching in the west. Berlin fell on January 25, 1945.
Germany surrendered on April 22, leaving Ukraine in control of the Balkans and the Allies and the Soviet Union to slug it out for world domination.