hearts of iron 4 tutorial

Hearts of Iron 4 Tutorial: Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Discover tips and tricks to guide your country to victory

Discover tips and tricks to guide your country to victory

Hearts of Iron 4 is a strategy game that allows you to take on the role of a country’s leader during the tumultuous times of World War II. With its deep gameplay mechanics and historical accuracy, Hearts of Iron 4 offers a unique and challenging experience for players who enjoy strategy games.

In this tutorial, we’ll provide you with tips and tricks to help you become a better player and guide your nation to victory. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just looking to brush up on your skills, this Hearts of Iron 4 tutorial has something for everyone. So, let’s dive in and conquer the world!

Setting up a Playthrough

Best advice for beginners that are new to Hearts of Iron 4; think about what kind of playthrough you want to have in advance. The first thing to consider is how historically accurate you want your playthrough to be.

Historical AI Focuses

If a more traditional World War 2 experience is what you are looking for, then you will want to enable Historical AI Focuses. This setting will enable the AI to more closely follow the decisions that were made in actual history.

hearts of iron 4 tutorial histocial ai
For the players who need everything to be “canon”

If disabled, you will find an unpredictable, but incredibly fun world. Events such as a democratic Germany, a second American Civil War, and more are all possible.

Selecting a Country

After you have decided how you want your game to proceed, feel free to select any country you like. Most countries will provide a fun and interactive playthrough, without a massive difference in difficulty.

hearts of iron 4 tutorial select nation
Feel free to pick your country of choice

Paradox Interactive has done a good job of adding unique focus trees for each country. Even minor countries lead to a countless number of unique playthroughs.

Explore Focus Tree

After selecting your nation and entering the game, you will want to explore your nation’s focus tree before doing anything else.

hearts of iron 4 focus tree generic
Each country has a unique focus tree

Decide on a Path

For most nations, you will find at least three distinctly different paths to take, all of which will shape your playthrough differently. Most of the time, these paths revolve around different ideas which will push your nation toward one of the four main ideologies in the game:


Democracy is a political ideology that advocates for representative government, individual freedoms, and the rule of law. In the game, democratic countries have focused on diplomacy and often seek to maintain stability and peace in the world. They also tend to have a strong economy and can build up a large and technologically advanced military.


Communism ideology advocates for the establishment of a classless society, in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. In the game, Communist countries have a strong focus on industrialization and often have a large and powerful army.


Fascism is a right-wing ideology that emphasizes strong authoritarian government, nationalism, and the subjugation of individual rights to the needs of the state. In the game, Fascist countries have a strong focus on militarization and expansion, often pursuing aggressive foreign policies and seeking to dominate their neighbors.


This ideology represents countries that do not align themselves with any of the major powers, either because they are small and vulnerable or because they have chosen to pursue a policy of neutrality. Non-Aligned countries have a lot of flexibility in their foreign policies and can choose to align themselves with any major power or remain neutral.

Typically, all four directions will provide you with different benefits, alliance options, and conquest goals. It’s important to look through these carefully and tailor your strategies to achieve your desired goals.

Technologies to Prioritize First

The order in which you choose to research your technologies can give you an important jump on other rival nations in Hearts of Iron 4.

Industry Technology

hearts of iron 4 Industry Technology research tree
Industry Technology tree

Industrial Technologies refer to a group of technologies that improve a country’s ability to produce and manufacture goods. These technologies include improvements to infrastructure, factories, and resource extraction. They also include research into new methods of production and logistics, as well as advancements in industrial automation and management. Industrial Technologies are crucial for a country’s economic growth and military strength.

Electronic Technologies

hearts of iron 4 Electronics Technology research tree
Engineering Technology tree

Electronic Technologies are underneath the Engineering Technology umbrella and refer to a group of technologies that improve a country’s ability to communicate and wage war in the modern age. These technologies include advancements in radio communication, radar and sonar technology, cryptography, and computing. They also include research into missile guidance systems and jet propulsion. Electronic Technologies are crucial for a country’s ability to detect and respond to threats, and to project military power over long distances.

Military Technology

hearts of iron 4 military Technology research tree
Infantry Technology tree

Military Technology is underneath the Infantry Technologies umbrella and refers to a group of technologies that improve a country’s ability to conduct warfare. These technologies include improvements to weapons, vehicles, and equipment, as well as research into new military doctrines and strategies. Military Technologies are crucial for a country’s ability to defend itself and project power on the world stage.

Best Order of Priority

The order in which technology to research can vary from nation to nation, but more times than not it’s a good idea to prioritize industrial and electronic technologies first.

In this case, military technology can come a little after once you get closer to war. You will find that having an established and advanced industry can be just as important, if not more important than your military technology in winning a war.

The only time to deviate from this strategy is if you start as a smaller and less developed country. Many of these underdeveloped countries will begin the game with only the most basic military equipment. If this is your situation, then it will be important to upgrade military technology first. Once you have these technologies more developed, you should focus on developing submarine technology

Focusing on Submarine Technology

hearts of iron 4 naval technology research tree
Naval Technology tree

Submarine technology is under the naval technology umbrella. The naval technology trees can be very overwhelming to look at. Additionally, building larger capital ships can be very costly and take time even for the largest of nations. Many times I find prioritizing submarine technology can be the best bang for your buck.

Submarine Hulls

hearts of iron 4 naval Submarine technology Hulls research tree
Submarine hulls are cheap to develop and a worthy investment

You should only have to research newer submarine hulls and only a few upgrades to make a serviceable submarine. They have very low development costs and can be made quickly. With not much effort you will be able to develop a submarine force that can disrupt even the largest of navies.

hearts of iron 4 Naval Bomber technology research tree

When developing your air force, choosing what to develop oftentimes comes down to personal preference, sometimes even the situation of your starting country. Personally, I find both Naval and Strategic bombers to be incredibly useful.

Naval bombers can be a great cheap hack to greatly disrupt an enemy fleet and gain naval supremacy in a desired region.

hearts of iron 4 Naval Bomber plane designer
Customize your planes to suit your needs

If you flood regions of an enemy coastline, you can cause great devastation to their fleets and even cripple them through the destruction of their ports. While your naval bombers are causing sea and coastal destruction, your strategic bombers can cause equal havoc on the mainland.

Strategic Bombers

You can have your strategic bombers target any kind of industry you like and with a large number, you can truly cause devastation to a country and draw its war recourses away from them.

hearts of iron 4 Strategic Bomber plane designer

The combination of both naval and strategic bombers will be a very effective way to gain the Upper Hand in many of the countries in the game.

If you’re still having trouble with Hearts of Iron 4 and want to try something similar, you should try your hand at Europa Universalis 4. We’ve outlined the best 4 nations for beginners in another guide to help you get started.

That’s all for our Hearts of Iron 4 tutorial! We hope these tips and tricks have helped you improve your gameplay and guide your nation to victory. Remember, Hearts of Iron 4 is a complex strategy game that takes time and practice to master, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t succeed right away. With persistence and a willingness to learn, you’ll be able to lead your nation to greatness. Whether you’re playing for fun or aiming for a high score, Hearts of Iron 4 offers endless opportunities to test your strategic skills.

For more great gaming news, tips, and reviews, check us out at Shark Games.

Avatar of Tyler Vareski
Tyler has over 11 years of experience playing strategy games. He has a particular fondness for Europa Universalis IV, of which he has logged over 900 hours. Despite the challenges that come with playing a complex game like EU4, Tyler finds it incredibly rewarding and loves sharing his knowledge and strategies with fellow gamers. Outside of EU4, Tyler is a massive Star Wars junkie. He also likes 2K too much and doesn't eat enough vegetables.