‘Hearts of Iron 4:’ What’s The Point Of Playing As Poland?

Hearts of Iron 4 Victory for Poland

Hearts of Iron 4 is a grand military strategy game that lets you play as any country in the world during World War 2. The obvious choices – Germany, USA, UK, USSR and Japan – all offer amazing gameplay experiences. But I’d like to take a moment to focus on the little guys. One of the rarely championed pleasures of a Paradox game is the ability to put yourself into what I call an ‘unwinnable scenario.’ Take, for example, my recent game as Poland.

In the real war, Poland withstood the German and Soviet invasion for barely more than a month. My only goal for the game was to hold out longer than that. Before the war, I built bunkers along the border and shifted all production to infantry weapons. With low technology and weak production, it was all about cheap and easy. No fancy tanks or trucks for me.

When the time came, the Germans hit me hard and fast, but my deeply dug in troops were holding the line. A month passed by and still Poland stood. I had achieved my initial goal. Now I grew more ambitious - how long could I keep Poland free? My line collapsed when Hungary joined the Axis and the Germans opened a new front to the South. I issued a general retreat and I figured this was the end. My troops reached a dense forest to the North and dug in deep. Here again they were able to halt the advancing Germans. In the woods, with no factories, no production and quickly burning through my small stockpile of weapons my troops fought on. Holding against far larger forces of German troops. I had to micro-manage every region, sometimes pulling troops out of a battle I was slowly losing to reinforce another battle I was quickly losing. Every hour of game time was thrilling. Soon I was scraping the bottom of the barrel and I had run out of rifles. It was only a matter of time.

But I noticed something, the German attacks weren’t hitting me as hard, I zoomed the map out for the first time and saw that the Wehrmacht had pushed to deep into Russia. They must have only left behind a token force, thinking I was all but beat. I pushed back slowly, eventually liberating my cities. Check out the below picture of a spoiler of how it all turned out.

Hearts of Iron 4 Victory for Poland

What made it so fun was that I wasn’t playing to win, I was playing to survive. Those stakes are rare in Video Games and in my opinion, underused. Paradox games are impressive because they offer so much freedom to the user to set their own goals. Maybe you want to turn Brazil Fascist and rule over South America with an iron fist, Maybe you want to turn France Communist and Ally with Russia over the UK. The important thing to remember is the right way to play isn’t always the way that will make winning the easiest - often it’s the opposite.

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