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 Hungary.
Historically, Hungary was a close ally of Nazi Germany and joined the Axis in 1940. It participated in the invasions of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, however, its army was virtually destroyed at Stalingrad and Voronezh. Miklós Horthy, acting as regent for King Charles IV (in exile), engaged in backdoor negotiations with the Allies and eventually the Soviet Union, leading to a German coup in 1944. Can you steer Hungary toward a different fate?
Hungary starts the game in 1936 as a fascist kingdom with 70% national unity. It has a volunteer army, export trade focus, and civilian economy. The fascist party, led by Miklos Horthy, has 54% popularity, the democratic party, led by Arpad Szakasits, has 43%, the communist party, led by Matyas Kakosi, has 3% support, and the nonaligned party has zero support. The next election will be held in March 1939.
Hungary is divided into three states: Transdanubia, Northern Hungary, and Alfold, with mixed clear and forest terrain. Its resources are concentrated in Northern Hungary. In terms of industry, it has 6 military and 10 civilian factories, plus 4 additional open slots, 1 oil, 4 steel, and 194 aluminum. With all industrial techs and National Focuses researched, Hungary will have a maximum of 46 unlocked building slots in its three core states, 57 if you include Southern Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia.
As a landlocked country, Hungary has a land-based military. It has 14 infantry and 2 cavalry divisions, and 72 interwar fighter planes and 24 close air support planes. It has 35,620 manpower initially available for new units, and two generals available to command your troops. General Geza Lakatos has a sill level of 3. General Ivan Hindy has a skill level of 4 and is a trickster, granting him a +25% recon bonus.
Hungary 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, Recon Company I, 1934 Artillery, Interwar Fighter, and Close Air Support I. You won’t even have access to motorized units in 1936.
Strategic Advantages: As a fascist county, Hungary can begin justifying war goals right away. There are plenty of small neighboring countries to target, however, Hungary will receive land concessions through events if it remains friendly with Germany. It has the potential to nearly double its landmass without going to war. Aside from Germany, Hungary is insulated from major powers, so it has plenty of time to prepare for WW2. Expect not to become directly entangled in that conflict until 1941.
Strategic Disadvantages: Hungary has little in terms of natural defenses. Its open terrain means you will have to focus on building fortifications if you hope to stand up to an invasion. Also, most territory you receive through national events is devoid of resources, save for Southern Slovakia with its 20 steel.
Land Acquisition: Hungary benefited from several territorial concessions between 1938 and 1940. If playing the historic scenario, the First Vienna Award should come in November 1938. This nets you Southern Slovakia, with 20 steel and 3 civilian factories. The Fate of Czechoslovakia triggers around April 1939 and adds Carpathian Ruthenia, with one open factory slot and no resources. The Second Vienna Award should trigger around June 1940. That gives you North Transylvania (usually), with its 3 civilian factories. You also have the option to receive Vojvodina, with its 2 factory slots, in the Fate of Yugoslavia event.
Terrain: There are only three types of terrain you have to worry about in Hungary, one of which, plains, offers no combat penalties or movement restrictions. In forest terrain, units suffer a +50% movement cost, -20% attack penalty, and -10% penalty to enemy air superiority. Basic leg infantry (including special forces like mountaineers, marines, and airborne) are best for fighting in forests because they incur no negative effects beyond the base terrain penalty. An engineer company boosts defense in forests by +25% and movement by +5%. Budapest’s urban terrain inflicts a +20% movement cost, -30% attack penalty, and -50% penalty to enemy air superiority.
The large river dividing Hungary (the Danube) inflicts a -60% penalty to attack and -50% to movement. Marines grant a +40% attack bonus across large rivers. You’ll notice Hungary’s eastern and southeastern border are wide open to enemy movement and attack. This is a good place to build land forts. Acquiring Carpathian Ruthenia and North Transylvania solve this problem by adding a formidable barrier of hills and mountains to the east.
Fascist Hungary Strategies: I made building Hungary’s embryonic industry my first priority, and a strong army second. Hungary won’t join the war until 1940, and won’t get into direct combat until Germany declares war on the Soviet Union, so there was plenty of time. I joined the Axis after the First Vienna Award in June 1940. I declined a call to arms against the Allies, thinking I would focus entirely on the Soviet Union. I didn’t have to wait long.
Germany declared war on the Soviet Union in January 1941. At that point, Hungary had 18 infantry, 14 mountain, and 8 motorized divisions, plus 320 close air support planes and 110 Fighter IIs. I used my mountain divisions to overtake the former Polish state of Stanislawow, but the German Army cut me off from any further gains. Then, Germany did something I’ve never seen before and invaded England!
I joined the war against the Allies and quickly moved my motorized divisions to northern France to cross the English Channel to aid in that effort. Unfortunately, I realized I had nothing to transport them across the ocean. As a landlocked country, Hungary doesn’t start the game with any convoys. I neglected to build any because, well, there’s no ocean nearby and Hungary has no dockyards. Too late to turn back–the United States joined the Allies, guaranteeing the war would last for many, many years.
The United Kingdom capitulated on August 20, 1941. Meanwhile, Germany declared war on Yugoslavia with no invasion plan or nearby divisions. Thankfully, I had prepared for this eventuality, but I would have to confront Yugoslavia with half my army, the other half fending off Allied amphibious landings in Italy. The Soviet Union capitulated shortly after I sent 24 infantry divisions into northern Yugoslavia. Romania took Stanislawow at the peace conference, even though Hungary held onto it for the entire duration of the war.
Yugoslavia capitulated in June, and responsibility for occupying most of the country fell to Hungary. I used the additional industry to continue developing my core provinces. Not content to focus on defending its already overstretched territory, Italy declared war on Greece, and I was forced to divert my forces there to stave off another disaster. For the next several years, my manpower was eaten up defending against dozens if not hundreds of amphibious assaults in Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Turkey.
Finally, by April 1946, the Allied threat in Turkey and the Middle East had been neutralized, but at the cost of 852,000 Hungarian casualties. Italy capitulated in February 1947. After several Axis play throughs, I can say with confidence the Italian AI has no ability to defend itself. Be prepared to act as the Italian military if you want to hold onto Europe. Thankfully, Spain joined the Axis shortly thereafter, and cut off access to the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar.
Kicking the Allies out of Africa was the next logical step, but it is a huge continent, and its low infrastructure makes movement and combat tricky. Usually, I invade Africa from north to south, through the interior, but this time, I decided to try a different strategy and start around the outside first, leaving the interior (with its rugged terrain and 0-1 level infrastructure) for last. It became clear that in order to do this, I would have to free up troops guarding Mediterranean coast. One after the other, I secured the islands of Malta, Crete, and Cyprus. The Allies now had no bases from which to launch amphibious assaults.
South Africa held out until May 1950. By 1952, the campaign for Africa had all but wrapped up, but the Allies had liberated Great Britain. Apparently Germany failed to properly garrison the island. Leave it to the Axis AI to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. When the U.K. surrendered in 1941, I hoped for an easy victory. I’ve never seen the Axis AI actually defeat the Allies, and for a while I thought it might be possible. Eleven in-game years later, the alliance seemed no closer to victory. Without the ability to build a large navy, it is doubtful Hungary could successfully invade North America, even if I was able to re-conquer Great Britain.
Republic of Hungary Strategies. The democratic party in Hungary already has sizable support (43%), so after appointing Jozsef Szell (democratic reformer) as a political advisor, I peacefully transitioned to democracy in February 1937. It would be interesting to see if, as a republic, Hungary would still benefit from the usual territorial concessions. Events proceeded as usual prior to 1940, and it seemed the Republic of Hungary would benefit from fascist diplomacy. However, the Second Vienna Award did not trigger.
As a democracy, you cannot raise your conscription level past limited (2.5% recruitable population) unless at war, so you have to be judicious when it comes to creating an army. I designed an infantry division focused on artillery, to reduce manpower requirement. Each division had 5 infantry, 1 anti-tank, 1 artillery, and 1 anti-air battalions, with recon, engineer, signal, and field hospital companies attached. I also chose to research Superior Firepower Doctrine, to maximize artillery effectiveness. I considered creating offensive and defensive templates, but did not yet have enough Army Experience to spend.
By the time Germany declared war on the Soviet Union, Romania had become fascist and joined the Axis, so Hungary was sandwiched between potential enemies. It would be suicidal to attempt to join the Allies at this stage in the conflict. Germany invaded Yugoslavia in July 1942. Surprisingly, they put a fight and Legionary Romania capitulated three months later. Italy surrendered on June 1, 1943 under pressure from the United Kingdom and France.
The time was right to join the Allies. Now at war, I put Hungary on a war economy and increased its conscription to extensive (5% recruitable population). I put plans in motion for 16 infantry divisions to invade the German puppet of Slovakia, and it surrendered within a few days. As Soviet forces pushed the German Army away from the Hungarian border, that freed up divisions to move west and continue advancing into former Czechoslovakia and Austria.
The division template I created seemed to be effective. After gaining experience, I added a support company of towed rocket artillery to the basic infantry division, raising its Soft Attack to 225.5 (this includes technology and doctrinal boosts). I moved into Oberschlesien and Niederschlesien to seize the steel and aluminum resources there, then continued my advance into the German heartland. Berlin fell on December 30, 1943. Germany capitulated 26 days later.
Japan held out until August 20, 1945. As usual, postwar Europe looked like a mess, with Germany divided into three countries: one democratic, one fascist, and one communist. At the negotiation table, Hungary took all of the former Czechoslovakia and part of Austria. I didn’t gain many resources doing this, but those lands were unified for the first time since the end of the First World War. Not a bad result!
In this case, timing was everything. A democratic Hungary deprived Germany of a valuable ally in eastern Europe. Romania was isolated from reinforcements, so it collapsed under pressure from the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia (alongside divisions from Greece). Germany committed all its units to fighting the Soviet Union in the east and France and the United Kingdom in the west, so resistance was minimal when I entered the war. I was able to brush aside the few divisions they had at the border, and my six mechanized divisions ran circles around their garrison troops. Had I entered the war earlier, however, it is doubtful the small Hungarian army could have held off both the German and Romanian armies for very long.