Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide 1 - steamsplay.com
Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide 1 - steamsplay.com
A guide on how to best manage everything from tech selections to production, to composition of forces. We’ll go over what you need to know to power up your minor nation in HOI4!




Minor nations can be hard to play, or very easy. It depends on some simple things – including luck. In this guide we’ll talk about growing from a minor to a major power, setting up your nation for success, and some easy pitfalls to avoid.

You’ve probably seen this mantra before, and it is absolute:

‘Not every division works for every situation, so I need to change things sometimes.’

Because of the broadness of minor nations in terms of manpower, constructible tile spaces, industry output potential, formable cores, resources, and more… I’ve broken this guide into segments for you to follow through to determine how best to play whatever minor you’re using.

I haven’t played ALL the countries in HOI4, but after a while, you learn the ropes, and they all sort of work in a similar way. My current timer sits at almost https://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198016996650/hours. This game is awesome because it has so many countries to play.

A Song with Many Notes


Can we just take a second here to discuss what a Minor, and Major are? Because it’s… like, weird.

”Major powers refer to ones with the highest number of factories, within the top 7 or 70% of the average of the top 7, updated monthly.”

Once you got that, you’re a major. Except when that isn’t the case.

Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

Who wants to tell him?

Like, Italy is a “MaJoR pOwEr”, except… they’re not. Well, not really. There is, I feel, a third category.

Call it a ‘Middle Power’ if you like.

China-proper, Portugal (especially with Brazil), Spain, Italy, Sweden, and a handful of others all start with significant steps up from other minor nations like Cuba, Ethiopia, or Xibei San Ma. Hungary begins with vast aluminum deposits, local steel, extended cores on nearby territory, yadda-yadda. Haiti can’t even claim the other half of the island it resides upon.

So, for ‘terms’ we’ll call a Major Nation any country that can produce over 125 factories by about 1940. Civs, mils, dockyards all of it. You get 125, you are a Major Power.

Major Power. o7

A Middle Power is any country with roughly 35-125 factories. These are advanced or developed minors; countries like South Africa or China could sit here. Their production is a significant step up from the lowest but still would find a measure of difficulty against the largest nations in a direct conflict.

The last of course is the true Minor; those with fewer than 25 factories at around 1940. They cannot produce much but have an output that can be significant if used effectively.

When discussing minor countries, the thoughts used are going to be interchanging between the different types fluidly. You’ll need to consider what type of country you’ll be using, and how it applies to the sections below to determine what you’ll need for success.

I may create a re-do as several new countries have been released since, but I have digressed, let us continue on with…

Construction (Dispersed vs Concentrated)


Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

Here it is, the answer to the question:

“Should I use dispersed, or concentrated industry?”

Here is the answer: Yes.

Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

But seriously, the answer is “yes” because you need both, just for different reasons.

The main idea here is:

If the bulk of your equipment will be produced “at a later time” or will never change once started, then you’ll likely want to stick to concentrated industry.

If you plan to modernize your guns, infantry, tanks, and planes often, dispersed will keep you from losing much in production over time.
Example 1:

Let’s say you’re playing as Ireland on a historical start.

You won’t (likely) be building a mechanized supported, rocket truck-based heavy armor division with signal, engineer, recon, and maintenance companies; requiring imports of steel, chromium, aluminum, rubber, oil, and tungsten. It has a lot of tech and resource requirements not to mention it would take a long time to recover equipment lost in battle – or worse, by attrition! But you COULD have a really good light tank-based division to help your ally cut through the enemy. Upgrading your infantry equipment and tanks every 1-2 years is going to set back your production. You NEED to be able to recover that lost output quickly. The answer here is clear, dispersed is the way to go. It will make up the lost production time by being able to switch to new models faster, meaning less buildup time for your production line.

Example 2:

Playing as Sweden, you flipped to fascism and took some neighbors creating your first formable state. Your early tech focuses were on weapons and electronics. Now you’ll be building a heavy tank division with SPGs and Trucks. However, by the time you finished researching the tech for the heavy tank I, HTII is now only 190 days away. You may as well advance the next tech and start your line with the latest variant. Meaning you won’t be starting production on that line until the desired tech is available; or possibly not until you’ll be ready with factories to produce it. Ya gotta build the building first!

That 5% (then later a huge 25%!) extra production from concentrated is going to go a long way.

Tip: Playing as the USSR-Historical, research Light Tank II and wait for the German tank alliance research bonus. When you get it, wait until January 1939 and use the 100% research bonus on the T-32, then the 2-year research cooldown on the T-34. You’ll have the T-34s rolling out in no time. 😊

As far as the bomb defense bonus, it means bupkis if you have no air force defending your factories… so, consider that.

Each gives a bonus of 20% to your “Max Factories in a State”; construction regions where you can add MILs and CIVs or whatever else you may need. Construction is a great way to start your war machine up. A great way to increase your construction capacity is through…

Focus Trees


Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide
Anyone who says this tree ‘sucks’ probably only plays Germany.

There are two kinds of focus trees that minors get to use. Unlike majors, minor nations share the same focus tree template and as a result, roughly half of the minor nations use the generic focus tree.

That’s the first kind – Full Vanilla. Don’t poopoo it. The tree has some real strong perks, including wicked ahead of time bonuses, early manpower bonuses, and the suuuuper hot secret weapons focus giving FOUR x100% research speed bonuses to electronics.

The second type of focus tree is like a trip to Flavourtown; each is more different than the last, but not all are ‘good’. These can be the most varied by design so just be forewarned you’ll want to look at each country-specific tree to see where the benefits and pitfalls are.

This can be laborious so if you’re looking to do something specific, say, build a carrier fleet as fascist Poland (I don’t know…) they have only a handful of naval focuses, and none are for carriers. Not the best combination, but not an impossible task either. Submarines, however, well, Poland gets a couple of perks to submarine research so THAT would be worth investigating.

It’s called MIN-MAXing. If you’re unfamiliar with the term it means minimizing your penalties by maximizing on your perks. chances are good you probably already were doing this in many ways.

Common traps the game creates are in things like World Tension barriers, meaning you can’t do something until world tension increases. India can’t separate from the UK until 10% world tension for example. they also come as manpower penalties or production penalties – Canada has both! So, look for these in your prospective country and figure out what you’ll need to undo it. After that, all you need to do is consider your goals, equipment requirements and prioritize your focuses appropriately.

As a general rule, however, I look for increases in population, free CIVs, MILs, and NAVs, and of course, research slots. A strong tech branch can make up for other lacking elements. But something you’ll want to keep up to date on is…



TLDR; you’ll be best to stick to 2-7 lines of production, including navy and air forces.

Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

Sticking with equipment that can source material locally is crucial as a minor. This is often due to trade and not necessarily production capabilities. Burma is oozing tungsten and wouldn’t need to import it at all, but it does require steel. With a steady import of steel, Burma could deploy a complement of rocket artillery, medium tanks, rocket trucks, mechanized, standard artillery, and Infantry to the battlefield. That is a very strong military potential packed in one imported good. However, as a minor every civilian factory you trade away for resources is a hit to your economy that may not be recoverable. If you make too many trades and weaken your production, you could be left a spectator in the coming world conflict.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things. A great example is a functional heavy tank division. Sounds expensive, but it’s not. 2HT, 8CAV, needs 3 production elements – Infantry equipment, and Heavy Tanks and Fuel. It’s an effective defensive or counterattack unit. You can produce a useable 20w for ‘the big war’ and only end up using a handful of factories on each, including for fuel.

To acquire a means of production, Civilian factories are like mana from heaven. Get as many as you can, as often as you can. CIVs are more expensive than any other building so getting them as a minor should be part of your overall…

War Goals


You need to know what you’re going to try and accomplish, or you’ll just be spinning your tires looking for a chance to react to the war as it unfolds. Keep it simple stupid is the understatement here. One or two types of infantry or a single tank division if they’re expensive, keep focused on making what you have really, REALLY good. You are NOT the Soviet Union. You are Iran. He has 131 CIVs, you have 4.

I like to use this loose methodology to help get myself where I want to be for wars:

Step 1 – The Means of War.
Figure out what you’ll need from planes to tanks to ships. Focus on the techs and start planning the moves. If it’s a paratrooper corps I’ll be using it to support my allies in Europe, I’ll need transport planes, fighters, paratroopers, and more. Switch governments, research tech, build factories, whatever you need to do to get your country ready for conflict with the enemy.

Step 2 – Engage Allies / Prevent Foes.
Sign non-aggression pacts, make agreements for military access, send volunteers; whatever you need to do to keep outside forces from changing your plans. The historic game setting is the easiest for avoiding this step as most countries run like trains on a track, but for non-historic, this can be a crucial step.

Step 3 – Stage the War.
Sometimes this is a focus, other times it’s a reclaim core state option, and others still it’s simply: ‘Justify War Goal.’ Once you’ve got your forces ready it’s “GO” time.

Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

And it would have worked too if it weren’t for those meddling kids!

Step 4 – Bleed it Out.
Once the equipment is ready, or ready enough even, and you’ve got the rest of the other objectives complete, open up the war in earnest. Planning naval and air invasions ahead of time can be of great benefit.

Something to consider though is who will oversee the actual armies, and departments of your government, who are your…



Canada’s best army is built with Special Forces supported by Heavy Fighters and Tac Bombers. Escorted by Cruisers and Destroyers doing anti-submarine patrols.

We know because their focuses are built around these items, and the country has several advisors that complement each of these elements. They can claim these technologies quickly and the produced materials are improved by their country leaders.

Before you play your country, open up the politics screen – Q – and take a look over what you’ve got available. There is also a wiki list hoi4.paradoxwikis.com – https://hoi4.paradoxwikis.com/Political_parties_and_leaders you can check out.

Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

I love the minor vanilla states for their random leader traits as well. Many are strong. Some are unfortunate. This is something you’ll want to be aware of when selecting countries. Random leader traits are only for some generic focus tree nations.

Increasing stability with leaders can provide some benefits to your country if you’ve got a permanent block from getting you higher. China, for example, has difficulty getting 100% stability due to penalties and national traits. A Stability Leader overcomes some of those helping to increase many overall perks including political power gain and production output. Something to consider if you have an unstable country on your hands. Many leaders will increase your research speed, or combat capabilities so, pair those with the appropriate…



Most minor nations start with 3 tech slots. While some begin with four, others possess only TWO! Gaining more research slots is easy for some, and for others, it’s quite tedious. Not all countries can get all 5 slots either if you don’t meet certain conditions. Because of this, tech upgrades take (typically) too long if you have several items in your kit list. Upgrading engineers, artillery, infantry equipment, airplanes, industry, and more can be very challenging if you’ve only got 3 slots to work with. Upgrading all the equipment you have means you may need to constantly triage the best upgrade tech. It would be like using muzzleloaders and field cannons alongside radio companies and jet aircraft.

Advanced players will do this knowing what they’ll gain and lose from some items versus others, but if you’re new and just starting out stick to only a handful of technologies and be the BEST of that thing. Mountaineers? Sure! Focus on guns, doctrine, production output, and special forces. Those guys will be punching holes through the alps like dwarves to gold.

Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

or an Arkenstone…

A great way to increase your tech of course is through focuses but also, spies. Spies can be a bit of an investment but you can recover a little bit of lost research time by stealing it from the enemy. Although this isn’t a great way to say, complete your naval research, and it is an investment, so that’s why you should be aware of your…

Capabilities and Proximity


Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

“The closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm.”

Said the hobbit before he is engaged in a battle on all sides while having no fighting experience and only wins because a forest of magic trees is there to carry the fight.

The analog here for WW2 alliances is strong.

For the LOTR example, Pippen wasn’t capable of fighting Saruman on his own, he knew that. So he got Treebeard and his posse of pissed-off poplars. But also he was at the right proximity to do combat (from on top of the talking tree) effectively and safely.

When you also look at the availability of resources it quickly becomes a question of what you can produce today, and what can you claim to use in the future war. Carving out an empire is also about knowing what territory to go for, and when. What you’re capable of, and how far away things are can be a real drawback to your overall war plans. Knowing these two elements is really mostly a matter of experience.

I know I can field a 2m man Canadian Army. I also know I can take losses exactly once before I’m out of manpower.

Available manpower of 1m doesn’t mean SHOULD produce 1m soldiers. Know your capabilities.

How far is that front for resupply? Can you respond to an advance if they invade behind you, or flank your position? Will resupply be a problem if you can’t reach the sea zones with your rank 1 destroyers? Understand your proximity.

If you’re El Salvador and you want to take on the Soviet Union, you can. But you wouldn’t want to do it alone, so you should look to build strong…



Pick a winner because you’re in it under their successes or failures. Being a good minor nation player means you can be a difference-maker in the coming war. Romania when taking Hungary as a puppet (or just outright own them) can create a massive Strategic air force and bomb craters from Bucharest to Moscow, or Berlin; literally paving a road of destruction for your alliance to walk across.

But be warned, many factions can and will come to the rescue of smaller countries through independence guarantees. The Allies are the worst for interfering with your world conquest plans. Quickly, I’ll highlight the historical factions:

The Allies (FRA UK USA) – Got Democracy? Winston’s hound house is going to enforce the London naval treaty, keep an eye on world tension and bark at anyone peaking the meter past 25%, and will generally clog your notifications and supply zones all game long, whether you join them or don’t.

The Axis (ITA GER) – Team Brown. Typically, they make 2 dashes and stop. Even when they succeed, they don’t really know what to do next, it’s kind of funny actually. A dash into Russia, and pop over the low countries into France; Stall. Typically that’s where it stops until America enters. Or they lose. ¯ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere (JPN) – TLDR; Team Brown: Japan. Joining Hirohito early can help you gain territory in China but watch to not get bogged down in the conflict there as it can be quite costly in materials and manpower if protracted.

Chinese United Front (CHN CCP) – When the United Front forms, it signals that this is a great time for picking up a lot of XP as either a friend or foe of China. Neutral countries looking to claim territory in Asia should seek to join either the CUF or the Sphere to increase non-core manpower gains by the millions.

Comintern (USSR) – Being close to Unkie Joe, not just politically but geographically, has advantages; it is practically a gilded invitation to the Union. He’s not the best partner, but he can be counted on for quite some time for resources, and if things stay fair weather, his trade will remain open.

If you plan to help in the defense of the USSR against Germany be warned there are going to be massive supply issues so stick to special forces, or to air and naval attacks and bring logistics companies everywhere.

But factions aren’t all that and a bag of chips, I mean, the tech bonuses are nice, but you could also go it alone. Several states do well just picking up and making an empire, it really does boil down to a calculation of…

Risk vs Reward


They say go big or go home, and they’re right.

The risk and the reward are something you must weigh when picking your minor nation. “Can I get away with this?” is probably one of the strongest arguments and best motivators.

Can Ireland invade the UK? Ehhhhhhhhh, probably not by sea. But what about paratroopers; then can I get away with it?

Using Spain to conquer the Netherlands? Could I get away with it? Probably, if my fleet isn’t wiped in the civil war and if I can get enough naval superiority when I need it and the world tension remains low enough.

Brazil naval invades Portugal in 1939? Can I get away with this? Probably, if I can get marines to secure the outlying islands first.

You see where I’m going here. Growing an empire isn’t easy, especially when a lot of lands are already taken, going to be taken, or has a larger more powerful master nearby looming over your war plans. Typically, you only get the chance to claim one or two countries in a peace deal before The Allies step in to ruin your day.

Hearts of Iron IV In the Ode of A Minor Guide

credit to u/Alpheia for the absolute titan of a meme!

Depending on what country you play you may just want to grab the one missing ingredient and start engaging in your larger campaign once you’ve collected your ‘gem’. An example for me is when I play as Canada, I grab Cuba first. The island serves as a launchpad into the South Atlantic. It has a pocket of steel that unlocks at Excavation III and a huge deposit of Chromium which I use on heavy tank divisions. Canada has little in the way of Tungsten, so capturing Cuba and using the chromium for heavy tanks makes a great replacement for both light and medium tanks. The risk is virtually zero but the reward is huge.

Below I’ve pointed out some countries you can attack early in the game. Each brings some needed element. Gaining one or more can significantly increase the overall capacity of your country to wage war, which is why I feel these are my shortlist for…

Minor Nations for Conquest


The Netherlands/The Dutch Indies – For the European war this is a must-have territory. Taking it as soon as possible (starting your war goal in the Spring of 1936) can ensure you have strong positions over the English, French, and Germans. Plus, it awards you the puppet state of the Dutch Indies and will grant some territory in the Americas rich in oil and aluminum. If you’re trying to do a speed run from Europe, the Dutch could be a great first move. Should you encounter some Indonesian troops and fight them in the previously mentioned Dutch conflict, you’ll get the chance to incorporate the Indies directly into your territory and not make a puppet out of them. There are huge quantities of rubber and oil, and the islands operate as a great space for holding hostage the naval transit through the Indian and Pacific oceans. Bring friendly Subs or NAV bombers and liquify the enemy navy.

Siam – Unaligned to start, fascist-leaning, and an easy space to gain a stronghold of rubber. It’s the Billy Baldwin of the rubber-producing areas in the Asian theater. It’s still a Baldwin, and you know which one it is, so don’t discount its value. But it IS the Billy Baldwin of the region. There isn’t much there for resistance and it’s a pretty easy pickup without costing a lot upfront. And the returns could be a decent addition to your campaign.

India Event – Watch for the decolonization of the UK. Should it happen in your game be ready to charge into the subcontinent because it is nearly void of defensive armies, let alone capable of fighting off any major engagements. Especially if it has Pakistan/Bengal to deal with first. By extension, Burma will release in this event and although democratic, I find it and India itself are often left unprotected by a lapse in allied guarantees.

As the Americas (Not America/USA) – If you play a country in the Americas you can freely attack almost all other countries in the Americas without the USA invoking their protection policy. It’s more like a guideline for the locals, and a hard rule for foreigners; how very American. So, Brazil can absolutely run wild over the smaller states next to it. As can Argentina, Mexico, or Columbia -Woo Gran Columbia! But if you’re Spain and come looking to colonize Haiti… Murica gonna have t’ have words with ya, son.

“You shut your got-dang mouth or I’ll shove that Ditch Witch down your throat and dig a tunnel straight through to sunshine!” ~Hank Hill

European Minors – Look, this is just a Charlie-Foxtrot wrapped in a SNAFU tied to a TARFU. Because of the numerous guarantees that are thrown around, my advice here is: pick one, babe. There are exceptions. There always are. But the general trend in this region is that there aren’t a lot of countries you can dip two-deep on and not stir a firm warning from the island of tea and crumpets and is also a bleeding heart for guarantees.

Iran / Iraq – If given the choice, I say take Iran. It’s got more oil initially and can easily overtake Iraq after. You also get access to 3 harbors, not just 1. And of course, it has more territory. That said, both are great acquisitions, just watch for late guarantees by the English on Iraq.

Spain – the Communists get protected by Unkie Joe so it’s not an easy swipe if the Spainards flip red. However, the other three totally can be especially the war ends reasonably early. So, send some volunteers to help the side you want to win! Or push some equipment their way picking up a little extra XP as well. There are good amounts of resources in Spain, it’s a solid pickup for state-building. And because of its position as a bridge on the Mediterranean and Africa, you can direct European and Atlantic naval conflicts as a result.

Portugal – Probably the most important country in the game in terms of Island possessions outside of the UK and France. It has at least one in nearly every theater. Portuguese islands stretch from the Mid Atlantic to the Cape of Africa and into Australian waters while India, Indonesia, and China also have Portuguese holdings as well. Combined with their massive Tungsten deposits it would make Portugal IMHO the most important minor nation to control for sea trade and supply.

China (Warlords) – the small states that makeup China can be grueling to fight over. They typically have horrible terrain and are in abysmal infrastructure areas so large well-equipped armies quickly become shells of themselves in the deep regions. Bring smaller units. 20w can even be too big for some regions without making upgrades to the infrastructure. To win the border wars, I use a special 5Inf +1 Art division with support artillery. It’s small, light for supply, and maxes out the front-line width in the border conflict. You may lose one fight initially but trust the build.

Minor nations are the spice to the Hearts of Iron 4 life, without them the game would be incredibly static and painfully unoriginal. The wild variances with the new content create worlds unrecognizable to our own. Have fun with your minor nations and good luck!


Written by OriginalWebCam

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