Welcome to the latest 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 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. This week I’ll be looking at Greece.
Greece starts the game in 1936 as a neutral, authoritarian state with 90% national unity and annual elections. It has limited conscription, export trade focus, and civilian economy. The fascist party, led by Georgios Kosmidis, has 23% popularity, the democratic party, led by Konstantinos Tsaldaris, has 10%, the communist party, led by Markos Vafiadis, has 2% support, and the ruling nonaligned party, led by President Ioannis Metaxas, has 65% support. The next election will be held in June 1936.
Greece is divided into seven states, with predominantly mountainous terrain and a long Mediterranean coastline. Its strategic resources are plentiful for a minor country. In terms of industry, it has 4 military and 8 civilian factories and 1 naval dockyard, plus 10 additional open slots, 20 tungsten, 68 chromium, 58 aluminum, and 24 steel.
Greece has 9 infantry, 3 mountain, and 1 cavalry divisions, but no air force. Its small coastal fleet consists of 1 heavy cruiser, 1 light cruiser, 8 destroyers, and 6 submarines. It has 28,020 manpower initially available for new units, and one general available to command your troops. General Markos Drakos has a skill level of 3 and is a hill fighter, granting troops under his command a bonus of +10% attack and defense and +5% movement in hills.
Greece 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 Weapons I, Mountain Infantry I, Recon Company I, Destroyer I, Light and Heavy Cruiser I, Battleship I, Submarine I, and Transport Ships. You don’t have access to artillery or motorized units in 1936.
Strategic Advantages: Greece’s mountainous terrain offers good defensive positions. It shares no borders with major powers (at least until Italy claims Albania), and can expect to avoid war until late 1940 or ’41, giving you more time to prepare than other countries in the region. Its plentiful resources means you can devote civilian factories to building defenses rather than trading them away. Greece has a very high national unity, so it will hold out to the last man before surrendering.
Strategic Disadvantages: Greece has a long coastline to defend (plus several islands), so expect to devote at least a dozen divisions to fending off naval invasions. Though surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean Sea, it lacks the resources and dockyards necessary to build large ships, so you will have to focus on defending convoys with destroyers and trade interdiction with submarines. Greece’s small population also severely limits the number of divisions you can recruit.
Military Composition: Greece has very limited manpower, so you must compensate by making judicious use of military resources. For example, although I like close air support, it’s better to develop tactical bombers because advanced tactical bombers cost less oil to produce. They cost more aluminum, but Greece has plenty of aluminum resources. Likewise, since most of your steel will be consumed by producing infantry equipment, rocket artillery is a good alternative to traditional artillery (advanced rocket artillery costs 2 tungsten and 1 steel per factory to produce, while advanced artillery costs 1 tungsten and 3 steel per factory). Choosing the Mobile Warfare Doctrine is smart as well, because it eventually allows you to research doctrines that increase your recruitable population. Mass Assault Doctrine does as well, but it doesn’t offer as many beneficial bonuses to your army overall.
The Greek mountain division (Tetragono Pezikou) is over strength by at least two battalions. You will want to reduce that by two mountain battalions (at least three if you are adding artillery) in order to achieve a combat width of 20, the most efficient width.
National Union of Greece. Although, historically, Greece was already fascist (albeit neutral) prior to WW2, the National Union of Greece was a small political party that collaborated with Axis occupation, and therefore represents the Greek fascist party in HOI IV. I transitioned to fascism through a coup on January 6, 1938. As happened in history, I tried to keep Greece out of the war, but Italy began justifying war goals in August 1940 (Italy’s invasion of Greece surprised everyone, including Hitler). I was left with a critical decision. Should I join the Axis to avoid war with powerful neighbors, but face war with the Allies and potentially the Soviet Union? Or should I fight and hope the Allies come to my rescue?
I decided to join the Axis. The Allies quickly destroyed my submarines and launched an invasion of mainland Greece, but I beat them back. I then went on the offensive, taking Cyprus in April 1941. However, I lost most of my fleet in the operation, so I would have to focus on an aerial invasion of the Middle East. Turkey joined the Axis in June 1942, slightly tipping the scales against the Soviet Union. I finally had the units and transports to launch a small invasion of the Middle East, so I put those plans into effect and dropped 6 paratrooper divisions on the naval base in French Lebanon. I lost 2 marine divisions trying to transport into Lebanon, and the Allies began pouring troops into the region.
It became clear marine and airborne units were not adequate for fighting in the Mediterranean coastline’s mountainous terrain, so I converted most of these units to mountain divisions. Now my goal was to cut off the Allied armies in eastern Syria, so I launched an airborne invasion of Palestine with 3 remaining airborne units and moved toward the Saudi Arabian border. By November 1942, I had trapped up to 17 Allied divisions in the desert. I took control of the Suez Canal in March 1943. The Soviet Union capitulated in September.
The war against the Allies dragged on into the 1950s with no discernible winner. At that point, 357,000 Greek soldiers had fallen in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. It became clear the Axis AI will never defeat the Allies. The AI merely shuffles divisions around the map without making any real progress, but Greece’s contributions to the war effort far exceeded anything that could be expected from them. Most importantly, I learned the value of changing division templates to match the mission and terrain.
Provisional Democratic Greece. With Nikos Zachariadis (communist revolutionary) as a minister, and the communist National Focus tree completed, it took until August 1937 to fully transition to a communist government. I joined the Comintern in July 1938 and spent the next few years boosting military capabilities and building forts along the Albanian border. Germany declared war on the Soviet Union in January 1941. I joined the war and moved into Italian occupied Albania, which Italy left defenseless. Turkey joined the Axis but quickly capitulated under pressure from Greece and the Soviet Union on two fronts.
One of the annoying things about the German and Soviet AI is they will continually declare war on countries despite how many wars they are already in or how well those wars are going. So as I was pushing Axis troops out of Syria, the Soviet Union declared war on Iraq, opening up another front when my 22 divisions were already stretched thin. Just as I was settling along the new frontline preparing to attack, the Soviet AI also declared war on Iran and Afghanistan, creating even more enemies to fight. After a hard slog through the mountains, Iran finally capitulated on August 30, 1943.
Germany surrendered in March 1944, followed closely by Hungary. With the war in Europe finished, I waited for Japan to fall. They finally surrendered near the end of April 1945 (first time I’ve seen Japan surrender to the AI). Greece got screwed out of all its hardwon territory at the negotiation table, so I grabbed the islands of Sicily and Sardinia from Italy. The United States grabbed Albania, and the Soviet Union took Turkey’s west coast. The Soviet Union puppeted Turkey, Spain, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Hungary, Romania, Korea, and Manchukou. Unlike previous versions of Hearts of Iron, post-war Europe looked like a complete mess, with ahistorical outcomes in a historic scenario.
Hellenic Republic. The road to liberal democracy is long, thanks to a limited National Focus path that gives no bonuses to democratic party growth. Minister Themistocles Sophoulis, democratic reformer, grants +0.10% democratic support per day. The Hellenic Republic was proclaimed on May 23, 1938, with President Konstantinos Tsaldaris as head of state. Transitioning to democracy left me with a national unity of 83% (though that can be raised by 10% later through the “Why We Fight” National Focus). In order to avoid being surrounded by enemies, I began boosting democratic party support in Romania, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Romania became fascist in February 1940, despite my efforts.
Italy finished justifying war goals against Greece in October 1940, and Britain and France guaranteed my independence, however, Italy never declared war. By May 1942, fascist influence began slowly overtaking democratic influence in Turkey, so I decided to stage a coup. This would take 13 months to complete. In the meantime, Turkey joined the Axis, despite having a non-aligned government. Germany declared war on Yugoslavia on July 5, 1942, threatening to bring the Axis war machine closer to the Greek border, however, the Allies invaded and liberated most of Yugoslavia shortly after.
The coup triggered on time. The Republic of Turkey declared independence on June 24, 1943 and joined the Allies. I began lend-leasing equipment to them, since my neutrality focus prevented me from sending volunteers. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union capitulated shortly after, freeing up German forces to fight the Allies. My efforts were slightly more successful in Bulgaria, where the democratic party overthrew the government and proclaimed the Republic of Bulgaria. Italy surrendered in February 1944, followed by Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania. It seemed the Allies found the Axis’ soft underbelly.
Despite misgivings about going to war with only 12,000 men in reserve, I joined the Allies in July 1944 and sent several divisions to help the Republic of Turkey. By October, German divisions returning from the eastern front began to push the Allies back in Eastern Europe. When Bulgaria joined the Allies, it actually made my situation worse because it left a longer border to defend when the German Army marched through. I would have to redeploy units out of Turkey to defend the border. As I feared, Bulgaria surrendered in May 1945.
For several years, Greece was alone, surrounded by enemies. I held a fortified, mountain line against brutal assaults. Then, province by province, I slowly liberated the Republic of Bulgaria and most of Yugoslavia, and the Allies began to liberate France. However, the 27 divisions I had along the border were stretched thin, and even against depleted German units, it was doubtful I could make real headway into the European heartland. I could wait for the Allies to push across Italy, or I could abandon my gains and focus on a more attainable goal: liberating the Republic of Turkey. I decided to do a little of both.
By April 1950, I had liberated the Anatolian Peninsula and the Allies had finally pushed the Axis out of North Africa and the Middle East. Unfortunately, the German Army broke through my defensive line in Bulgaria and threatened to trap most of my forces in Turkey. Somehow they had over 120 divisions in one province. I was forced to abandon the hard won territory in Turkey or risk being cut off and losing most of my army. Then, inexplicably, Germany capitulated! The tables turned, and I had trapped that massive Axis army near Istanbul. With no supplies, they were destroyed in a matter of days.
Japan finally capitulated on June 6, 1952. Greece was again sidelined at the negotiation table and received none of the territory she fought so hard to attain. Once again, the world was made safe for democracy!