Advanced small country guide

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Paradox has released a manual for HOI3 Semper Fi (SF), and this guide is intended as a supplement for small country strategies. A number of changes have been made that make minors some of the most challenging nations to play. This guide book is intended for advanced players who enjoy micromanaging, and want to get the most from the game experience.

The definition of a “small” country here is one with less than fifty (50) ICs, while a “tiny” country has less than twenty (20) ICs. On the Wiki site a Small country translates to a Regional Power, while Tiny counties are either a Minor Power or Micro Power depending on whether they have ten (10) or more ICs. The goal of a Tiny country here is to grow into a Small country, and the goal of a Small country is to grow into a Medium Power or Major Power. Countries may expand through slow growth or by ruthless acquisition, that is, depending on the situation or the initiative of the sovereign (a.k.a. you the player).

Neutrality and Unity are built into SF as a break on many of the activities here, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Little fish feeding on other little fish will move up the food chain. The rich colonial provinces of the western powers are tantalizing targets, and while the world’s major powers remain locked in conflict, opportunities are boundless. After all, it’s not called a “world war” for nothing.

Micromanaging small countries can be a lot of work, but waiting on events can still take its toll on patience. So, consider using windows mode and put the country on autopilot for a while. Judicious use of messaging and pop-ups will halt the game until you are available to make a decision. Also, consider setting the save-game timer for six-month durations to allow re-doing an important decision if it was accidentally missed.

The focus of this particular guide is landlocked countries, but it also draws from earlier versions that addressed a range of strategies for other nations. To validate the strategies found here extensive play-testing was performed on a number of small countries using the “Normal” setting. See Bolivia, Switzerland, Tibet, Ethiopia, and Communist China for the results of this play-testing.

The key to small countries is to bide your time. Don’t go to war before you’re ready. When just starting out the sovereign may not wish to immediately join an alliance or faction. On the other hand, one may wish to join a warring faction just to get around the stifling combination of low Unity and high Neutrality. Whatever the choice, the sovereign especially wishes to be the winning side in time to claim final victory.

Multi-player games are something of an exception. Here the small country experience may be even more dynamic provided one understands both the capabilities and the limitations. That extra Axis or Allied partner can make a huge difference in a worldwide conflict. Small countries are also a great experience for new players as a stepping-stone towards a larger role.


Currently there are, beyond our borders, more troops – and excellent troops – than ever before. We can be attacked on all fronts at the same time, which was not really conceivable a few weeks ago. The army must adapt itself to this new situation and take a position that allows it to hold on to all the fronts. It will thus fulfill its invariable, historic mission.”

General Henri Guisan address to Swiss Officer Corps, 1941

The direction a country takes always starts with its politics. First consider the leaders that you cannot change, because these are the ones that make decisions harder or easier.

Head of State and Government: These politicians will determine the direction a country takes, so plan accordingly. For example, Saudi Arabia has a head of government with a negative IC contribution. This Tiny country sits in a target-rich environment, so the expansionist strategy is the only way to go. Persia, on the other hand, starts with good heads in both the above departments but, has only ten (10) ICs. A Persian slow growth strategy might take years to implement, but with no natural enemies on its borders it can take all the time it needs.

Foreign Minister: Foreign minister(s) should work hand-in-hand with the diplomatic initiative except when they are needed for internal affairs. If the country is being pulled towards a faction against the sovereign’s wishes, consider a minister with susceptibility to another faction. If the Government is being overwhelmed by an undesirable party, consider a minister with tendencies to drift in another direction. Support of the ruling party is also most desirable in authorititian states. Some countries have natural tendencies, for example, Persia drifts naturally towards the Fascists, which works out well because it allows them to target neighboring provinces controlled by the British. Communist China, on the other hand, may wish to remain neutral and not join their most favored faction until the end-game.

Armament Minister: This post has great influence over your country’s military and industrial sectors. Suggested roles are covered in later sections. If your country has little or no choice of Armament Minister, then consider a strategy that works with what you have. Sometimes, a lack of choise may work out for the best. Siam, for example, is mineral rich, so consider a Tank Proponent while pursuing a mobile strategy for jungle penetration.

Minister of Security: A very minor player, useful in fine tuning a range of domestic variables such a Neutrality and Unity, and rarely a cause for concern if there are no alternatives.

Note: Leaders in the right-hand column have little impact on policy, and should never be a problem even if there are no alternatives.

Head of Intelligence: Should work hand with the intelligence strategy. Note, land/sea intelligence is used only in conjunction with radar.

Chief of Staff: Marginally adds to Army doctrines.

Chief of Army: Most reduce construction decay; the most essential resource for small countries is the supply consumption bonus.

Chief of Navy/Air Force: Most reduce construction decay. Small countries are best served by medium bomber and destroyer proponents.

Press Laws/Civil Laws: Don’t be fooled by false positive “red” in raising Unity. To raise unity, use Free Press in combination with Repression to backfill the counterintelligence role.

Education: Don’t go broke on education. The small country needs to sustain its build-up, and running out of money is not an option. One can save money by cutting back on education, and this is a good strategy in the very early going. Average Education Investment is most useful, and the Security Minister may even be able to help boost leadership in the short run.

Economy: One doesn’t need War Economy for everything, conserve your resources whenever possible. When not in Build Mode consider switching to Consumer Economy to conserve strategic resources and to earn more money. If running short on energy, switch to a less intensive economic policy and slow the pace of production. (for work-arounds see: Production).

Occupied countries: It should come as no surprise that you’ve conquered your opponent, so try to decide in advance what to do with them.

Annex vs. Puppet: If you annex now, you can puppet later, but not the other way around. Each has its advantages. If growing a tiny country, by all means, annex. But consider that the IC bonus, resources, and leadership, come at a reduced rate (unlike when the computer hands Austria over to Germany). During play-testing Turkey annexed Romania. The latter had 40 IC and 5 leadership, but afterwards Turkey’s leadership went up by only .5, while the bonus to industry was only about 4 ICs. That’s only about ten (10) percent of the annexed territory’s capacity.

Annexation otherwise stretches defenses and reduces diplomatic options. If this becomes a problem, the sovereign may puppet an annexed territory, and the new entity will gain all your technologies and doctrines. It could take years for a newly created puppet to rebuild armed forces, in which case consider providing them with a small expeditionary force to start out with. If they do not return these forces later, one can reload as the puppet and do it for them too. Just remember the rule for reloading: “Never press the Pause Button!”

Puppeting may be a good idea if resources are in short supply. There’s a network of resources (above 1000 each) that flow from the puppet to the puppeteer. Giving a puppet expeditionary forces may also have the advantage of improved supply lines over low infrastructure. In Eastern Asia, the Japanese AI uses expeditionary forces under Shanxi and Manchuria to help solve its supply chain problems. One could reduce your supply needs by splitting your army thus, and trusting the AI will do the right thing in the process.

If a vanquished nation has a large military, consider a domino strategy where puppeted units become a force multiplier. These added troops will allow your country to take-on increasingly larger nations as you go along. Make sure puppets have transit rights if using them in this way. In single-player one can temporarily reload as the puppet and make changes to its leadership—the right leaders in the right positions will enhance the abilities of a puppeted nation.


... if we were obliged to link either with the Germans or with the Bolsheviks, it would mean that our work would not be completed. Poland’s civilizing mission would remain unfulfilled.

Józef Klemens Pilsudski, First Marshal of Poland, 1919

Every small country should build up its diplomatic pool of influence, aiming for a target of 40-50. Build up your diplomatic pool early in the game because emergencies pop up when you least expect them.

Diplomacy in HOI3 centers on the three major factions. Alignment is one principal factor that enables one to join a faction. A neutral needs to reach a certain threat-to-neutrality threshold, which is viewable in the diplomacy screen tool tip. Threat levels also vary depending on geography, the further away the threat, the less impact it will have. Another key factor is Unity. One can have the right alignment, and meet the threat threshold, but if Unity is too low a nation will not be invited. Seventy (70) Unity seems the magic number. Kemal Attaturk may do everything possible to align with the Axis, but Bulgaria and Persia will get that invitation long before Turkey ever does. Still, if Turkey can raise Unity to at least 65, its request to join a faction will have a reasonable chance of success.

Neutrals have the advantage of making peace with the Majors. Romania, for instance, needn’t succumb to Hungary’s demands to redraw the border. Should Romania win the border war, Germany can be most agreeable to making peace. Many small countries have claims on territory owned by their neighbors, making the perfect casus belli for a sovereign to wage war. Even a guarantee of independence is only as good as the paper it is printed upon. Bolivia can conquer and puppet its neighbor Paraguay, then make peace with the US and keep its puppet in the bargain.

Factionless alliances (e.g. China) are only temporary arrangements to meet specific goals, such as the defeat of Japan in the east. Benefits that arise from alliances are; expeditionary forces, intelligence sharing, and territorial access. Alliances also pool resources—an entirely unequitable arrangement as, like a puppet, one loses control over stockpiles, and cannot make trades with alliance partners. So, always be wary of alliances with other countries, especially Majors.

Axis membership has the advantage of limited war, that permits minors to “keep what they conquer.” Saudi Arabia has a fascist government, so it will naturally align with Germany. Using the principal of limited war, the Saudi’s can campaign all throughout the Arabian peninsula and Iraq, expanding or annexing territories as they go.

Membership in the Comintern means limiting your targets to Axis minors and neutrals. One has no option of limited war, but may otherwise gain war materials at no cost. Turkey has such high neutrality and low Unity that it can’t possibly join any faction before 1943. Fortunately, this is a perfect time to choose sides. The Commentern is something of a dark horse in terms of victory points, but with the right set of victory conditions it can still win the game.

The Allies will limit your targets even further due to guarantees of independence, etc. The main benefit of being an Ally is trading with the UK and US. The US has seemingly endless supplies of raw materials, while the UK has colonies nearly everywhere, making them a handy neighbor to trade with. Members of the British Commonwealth have a legacy from the prior war that makes for nearly automatic membership. The Allies almost immediately begin wooing South Africa, who can safely put off membership until the right time. Changing allegiances is another possible strategy in Single-player games. Siam is surrounded by the Allies in 1936, and should align itself accordingly. But, this is not to say it cannot change allegiances later on.

In multi-player, being a minor means doing everything possible to help your side win. But, in exchange for this support, one should ask for something more than the usual border adjustments. A port in the Mediterranean is nice plum, although recognize too this comes with the responsibility of supporting Italy if necessary. Allied minors may also ask teammates to look the other way while they “colonize” some out-of-the way third-world nation. The Comintern has no good minors to speak of, but a Turkish player may be a welcome addition to the team in the late game (and provided its neutrality is guaranteed by all sides in the early going).


Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things, that are decisive. The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale.

Mao Zedong

The Achilles heel of all small countries is manpower, so never expend it foolishly. When war comes, the small country should to avoid risky schemes. To help reduce casualties, mass every available division before attacking. Also, at the first blush of combat begin researching Combat Medicine and First Aid as these technologies will help cut your rate of attrition. A small country may be subject continuous attacks on all fronts to deplete its manpower. This kind of war is generally used by major powers (in MP games especially) who would like nothing more than to attrition a smaller country out of existence. The strategy used by the AI is to steam-roll your lines, that is, attacking in waves to catch your divisions in retreat and to prevent their reorganizing. For this reason, one must insure all divisions are near 100% organized before beginning any attack, and avoid shattered units at all cost by retreating any divisions whose organization falls below 20%. Consider using the draft to fill-out your divisions evenly before mobilization.

Expeditionary forces can be a serious drain on manpower. To alleviate the situation it is recommended to click the reinforcement button on each newly acquired unit in order to halt the flow of reserves from your manpower pool.

When just starting out, consider scrapping starting units, particularly if they are not made of reserves. Ethiopia begins the game with a large regular army, which places great demands on consumer goods. By demobilizing these forcess it will free up much needed ICSs, as well as providing a large pool of manpower to draw from. Now the sovereign can build a great army. The demobilization strategy, however, should never be used with immediate threats on your border(s).

The draft should not be viewed as a means to raise manpower in peacetime. The 3-yr draft is the most effective tool, but if Unity is a problem it could take years, and years to achieve. For example, Turkey begins the game with such low starting Unity, it would take over three years to obtain a 3-yr draft. Fortunately it has a large standing army left over from the first World War, so the strategy here is to make due, and mobilize well in advance of campaigning. Other countries with Unity problems are; El Salvador, Guatemala, Slovakia, Croatia, Guangxi Clique, Yugoslavia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, and Ecuador.

Neutrality can also forestall the draft for many years. Canada starts with no armed forces, and must work to lower Neutrality for three (3) years before achieving the 3-year draft. Unfortunately, a large number of nations also fall into this category, they being: Finland, Luxemburg, Liberia, Philippines, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Communist China, Lithuania, Austria, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Bhutan, Yemen, Tibet, Ireland, Uruguay, Denmark, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Australia, Chile.

Some nations have both high neutrality and low Unity, making them unfit for any kind of draft in the foreseeable future. This is yet another reason why the sovereign should not place too high a priority on the draft, and instead focus attention on agriculture to boost future manpower.

If starting manpower is short, and the demobilization strategy isn’t an option, then go with agriculture. Place agriculture research in the research queue, and give it priority. Assign a chief of staff to boost manpower growth.

If you’ve got enough starting manpower to build your army, then put off agriculture to later. Once at war, switch to Manditory Service to provide the initial boost. Then implement a 5-year plan to raise manpower using agriculture.

The draft is used in peacetime to periodically raise officer staffing levels during the upgrade cycle (see Officers and Leaders, and Upgrade vs. Build). But, be advised that drafting (1yr, 2yr, etc.) in peacetime also raises divisional manpower levels (yellow band) similar to a mobilization. This dynamic can be useful to pre-mobilize a force when preparing for a sneak attack, but for Tiny countries this dynamic can severely deplete the manpower pool, making it impossible to build additional units. In that case, one can avoid the situation by turning-off replacements to each division and HQ by pushing the aforementioned button(s). However, never forget to turn replacements back on again before mobilizing.


On July 25, 1939, before the war began, Section 2 of the Polish General Staff provided Great Britain and France with one copy each of the German coding machine “Enigma.” After war broke out the team of Polish cryptologists were evacuated to France, and later to England, where a special center for monitoring and decoding was organized at Bletchley Park.

The intelligence screen in HOI3 is designed primarily with the majors in mind, so the small country must be devious in creating innovative new strategies. For example, in the previous section (Manpower), it was found the lack of Unity was a serious impediment to the draft for many small countries. One can exploit this weakness against the unsuspecting AI. For example, Bulgaria starts the game with an all-volunteer force and Unity of 70. All Turkey need do is periodically attack Bulgaria’s Unity to keep them from achieving the draft or joining the Axis (see Diplomacy). Without the draft to bolster divisional manpower levels in peacetime, Bulgaria becomes an easy mark for future conquest.

The spy-vs-spy counterintelligence role is new for SF, so if one is going to employ intelligence services, for example, to raise the threat level of a neighboring country, then be prepared to take some losses. To ensure victory, always enter the campaign with a 3-1 advantage in agents. First access the situation by landing a few agents in the “No Action” mode. Then, switch these to an active role and see how many counterintelligence agents respond to the threat. If your agents have the necessary 3-1 advantage, then continue operations. If not, then lie in wait and construct more agents. Once the attack is started in earnest, the enemy AI will respond with counterintelligence agents, and one must then switch your agents to the counter-counterintelligence role in order to kill them. What’s different from previous versions is that once you’ve achieved some success, the enemy AI will abandon the role, cutting their losses. But, after returning to your prime objective, the enemy AI will immediately switch back to counterintelligence operations. Now you’ll be unable to respond due to the built-in delay in assignment, so you must incur certain losses until one can switch back to the counter-counterintelligence role. Now, depending on the availability of enemy agents, the process starts all over again. Thus, it will take several cycles to reduce the enemy’s numbers to zero. Once you’ve cleared the field, set a pop-up dialog to inform of future losses so one can return to deal with the threat again. You’ll still be able to get the job done as before, it just takes a little more jockeying.

Since the rules of engagement have changed, consider building-up free agents from the outset, sending them against your primary target even before creating domestic agents to reduce neutrality. South Africa has good leadership and can afford to build free agents, which will come in handy for infiltrating Portugal. Now raise Portugal’s threat level as your country makes ready for war. Attacking Portugal’s African colonies won’t antagonize the Allies, and all those South African transport ships may become useful in a surprise invasion of Lisbon!

Armed Forces

We become what we do.

General Chiang Kai-shek

The Order of Battle

The most important step in developing a small country’s army is the Order of Battle (OOB). Not all countries are alike, and one must first look to available manpower and leaders to determine the best arrangement. There are three basic formations to consider; Professional Army, Mercenary Army, and Dictatorial Army. The Professional Army is a miniature version of what the majors use, and has the best all-round performance. The Mercenary Army is a large, somewhat rambling force, which is effectively channeled by a lean core of leaders. The Dictatorial Army is a rather loose association of divisions formed around a core of elite troops.

     |		FRONT HQ's------------
     |		    |		     |
     |		    |		     |
     |		ARMY HQ's	ARMY SF HQ's
     |		    |		     |	
     |		CORPS HQ's	     |	
     |		    |		     |  
Militia, AAP	Divisions	Commandos

Manpower Rich, Officer Rich: If one has enough leaders to staff all the HQs and divisional postings of 3-5 corps, then the Professional Army (above) is the best choice. The advantages of this force are; sanctioning additional units in battle (@Theater HQ), improved organizational regain (@Army HQ), faster reserve advancement (@Corps HQ), and all the improved capabilities at divisional level that come with a vertically structured organization (i.e. Corps gives 1/2 of abilities, Army, Group 1/8, and Theater 1/16). On the downside, a large, expansive front will have difficulty maintaining radio contact. Also, if fighting a human opponent, undefended HQs on the frontline are vulnerable to bombardment.

     |		FRONT HQ's------------
     |		    |		     |
     |		    |		     |
     |		ARMY HQ's	ARMY SF HQ's
     |		    |		     |	
     |		    |		     |  
Militia, AAP	Divisions	Commandos

Manpower Rich, Officer Poor: When there are not enough leaders to staff all your divisions, then the Mercenary Army (above) is the next best choice. This force still has the advantage of additional units in battle (@Theater HQ) and improved organizational regain (@Army HQ). It is not so reliant on HQ mobility, and the HQ’s are further removed from the frontline and less vulnerable to ground attack. Even over a large expansive front, maintaining radio contact is none too difficult. The only real downside is that reserves don't move up promptly in battle, but even this can be mitigated with the proper doctrine.

     |		    |		     |
     |		    |	        ARMY SF HQ-------------
     |		    |		     |		      |
     |		    |		     |		ELITE CORPS HQ
     |		    |		     |  	      |
Militia, AAP	Divisions	Commandos	Elite Divisions

Manpower poor, Officer Poor: If one has few leaders and little manpower, don't despair, the Dictatorial Army (above) is a powerful formation that can still get the job done. This force is none too reliant on HQs, but at its core is a highly professional group that is poised for action. Also, because the total number of divisions is relatively small, there is rarely any need for a Group HQ to reduce supply consumption. The Dictatorial Army relies primarily on the capabilities of its divisional commanders, who will then advance faster in frontline combat. The downside is that reserves don’t move up promptly in battle, organizational regain is moral dependent, and there’s an overreliance on the capabilities of divisional leaders.

Elite Corps: Generally the house guard or home guard, this force is usually the spearhead of a small army. It is generally attached directly to Theater HQ, but may also report to Army Special Forces HQ for improved organizational regain and the added benefits of vertical integration.

Army Special Forces (SF) HQ: Special forces operate independently or in small groups, and therefore have little need for a Corps HQ. The SF HQ is their supply lifeline, and with expanded radio range comes the added benefits of improved organizational regain and additional mission capabilities (1/4x from the Army leader’s trait(s)). Army SF HQ should be staffed by a hand-picked leader depending on the mission, generally; a defensive or panzer specialist for advance or rear guard action, a trickster for skirmishing and intelligence gathering, or an offensive specialist for flanking and/or envelopment.

Divisions and Formations

To counter the increasing threat from Germany in 1935, the French Ambassador visited Moscow to ask whether the Soviets might help them win favour over the Vatican, to which Stalin replied: “The Pope! How many divisions has he got?”

A good deal of testing and research has gone into developing formations for small countries. These units are broken down into their expected roles represented by the vertical columns. Offensive units are designed to make optimum use of firepower without regard to stacking limits. Standard units are multi-purpose formations that will perform well on offense or defense. Defensive units are designed to pack as many brigades into the perimeter as possible, making for very stingy defense. Special forces have unique designs that focus on a particular role.

Formations: More Offensive Standard More Defensive Special Forces
Infantry Divisions:
Infantry brigades(s) (S5) 2Inf+Art+(1) (S3) 3Inf+(Art) (S2) 4Inf Commandos
Mountain brigade(s) (S3) 3Mtn+(Roc) Rangers
Marine Divisions:
Marine brigade(s) (S2) 4Mar (S3) 3Mar (S2) 4Mar Seals
Panzer Divisions:
Light Panzer brigade(s) 2LPz+(2) Fox
Cavalry Divisions:
Cavalry brigade(s) (S3) 3Cav+Roc (S3) 3Cav (S2) 4Cav Skirmishers
Militia Divisions:
Militia brigade(s) (S5) 2Mil+Art+(1) (S3) 3Mil+(Art) Border Guard
Specialized Formations:
Groundhog (S4) 1LPz+(i)Inf+(1)
Hedgehog (S4) 1LPz+(i)Mil+(1)
Road-hog 1LPz+Cav+(1)
Commandos 1Inf+MP+(2)
Rangers 1Mtn+MP+(2)
Seals 1Mar+MP+(2)
Skirmishers 1Cav+(Roc)
Scouts 2Cav
Fox 1LPz+AC+(1)
Border Patrol Mil+MP+(2)
Cossack 1LPz+Cav+Roc+(1)
AAP = Anti-Aircraft Police AA+MP+(AAP)
Gar = Garrison 2Gar 4Gar
Militia Garrison 2Mil+AAP
Artillery Park 1LPz+Inf+MP+Art
Fire Camp 1LPz+Mtn+MP+Roc
Bridgehead 1LPz+Mar+MP+Art
Chockos 1LPz+Mil+MP+Art
(i) = Optional Brigades:
MP = Military Police X
Art = Artillery 1x
AT = Anti-Tank 1x
Roc = Rockets 1x 1x
AC = Armored Car 1x 1x 1x
TD = Tank Destroyer 1x * 1x * 1x
AA = Anti-Air 1x


  • (S) = Stack max
  • 1X = Maximum one (1) per division
  • X = No maximum;
  • * = When using TD (only) with LtPz, favor engine upgrades over armor.
  • Red brigades for use with red divisions only.
  • Green brigades for use with green divisions only.
  • Some specialized formations are drawn from real life examples, others are simply a product of what HOI3 has to provide. Here is a brief discussion of each:

Groundhogs and Hedgehogs are designed to resist armored assaults by using the combined-arms advantage on defense. Groundhogs are particularly effective in woods and forest, and to be completely effective they must be deployed in stacks of five (5). The Roadhog is essentially light armor supported by mounted infantry. It is designed primarily for defense and advance guard. As with other member of the “hog” family, it uses the combined-arms advantage on defense.

Commandos are small units used for rear guard, flanking, and skirmishing. These units are patterned after examples from real life where an infantry brigade provides logistical and practical support to the role-players who are the elite forces. In HOI3 these units have no extra attributes other than defensiveness and toughness, but they do represent the least addition in terms of manpower that can be made to form a division and assign a leader. Commandos may also be provided with a range of weapons, such as antitank guns to face down panzers. There are a number of variations on the theme; Rangers are the mountain troop version, designed to operate in rough terrain, but with higher logistical needs. Seals are the marine version of commandos, which are best employed in marsh and jungle environment. These units may also be used for amphibious landings in remote locations, or to cover the flanks of the main invasion force.

The mobile line of specialized formations are principally for intelligence gathering or cutting supply lines. These units are not designed for combat, but can rise to the occasion should the moment arise. Skirmishers are a cavalry unit that are quick on the attack and quick in retreat, but not designed for sustained combat. Scouts are a cavalry unit that are faster than skirmishers, and have more sustained firepower. The Fox is the armored variant of scouts, and if provided a tank destroyer it will do double damage against infantry formations. Cossacks are a small cavalry unit with combined-arms ability generally used to harass weak enemy units and suppress partisans.

The otherwise static line of specialized formations are designed as outposts or a fall-back line of defense for front-line units. The Artillery Park is essentially a small defensive formation with heavy firepower, and the Fire Camp is the Ranger version of the same. A Bridgehead is a marine formation designed to protect critical supply lines or ports. The Chockos is an obscure Australian formation that combines militia with heavy weaponry, and is the low manpower variant of the Artillery Park.

Garrison units are fairly standard formations used for urban defense. Militia Garrisons have nearly the same defensiveness and toughness as two battalions of Garrison troops, but with one fewer manpower. Militia Garrisons are really more useful in this role because during a partisan uprising they can pickup and move while the standard Garrison can hardly get out of its own way. A sub-unit of the Militia Garrison is the Antiaircraft Police. This unit has no combat width, and may not be used in combat. However, it plays an important role by stacking with front-line units to improve air defenses, and can be used in the suppression role to guard vital supply lines.

The Corps

“Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps.” Farwell speach at West Point, General Douglas McArthur

Once the OOB is established, the next step is to decide what the force structure will be. Sometimes this is determined by starting units, but one must also consider requirements of terrain, infrastructure, and the kind of opposition you expect. The sovereign need not be restricted by starting units, and can scrap some or all in favor of a new composition. The choices for Small Country Army Corps are many and varied, and are designed with your flexibility in mind.

Corps options are linked to the available manpower pool. Simply use the total number of available manpower, and calculate out how many corps can be built using the table. Build to the max, and assume reinforcements and replacements all come from advances in agriculture, etc. If employing more than one corps, consider a mix of different kinds in order to widen the variety of possible missions. If manpower is restrictive, consider employing Auxiliaries, Advisors, or all-militia forces. But, be aware there’s a leadership liability that comes with a specialized corps. If one can’t keep-up with the technological or doctrine requirements, then don’t step-up.

Manpower Corps Type Tech's Needed
28.98 Cavalry Scouts 12
30.08 Marine Advisors 11
32.8 Militia Corps 9
34.23 Mounted Militia 16
34.98 Cavalry Corps 10
36.08 Marine & Auxiliaries 13
36.65 Armor & Auxiliaries 17
36.78 Cavalry Auxiliary 16
38 Infantry advisors 11
38.13 Cavalry Reserve 16
40.23 Mountain Cavalry 18
40.6 Infantry & Auxiliaries 13
40.8 Mountain advisors 11
42.08 Marine Corps 11
43.15 Armor & Infantry 17
44.74 Mountain Corps 14
44.8 Mountain & Auxiliaries 16
45.6 Infantry Corps 11
48.39 Infantry & Recon 13

When choosing a corps, carefully consider the terrain and infrastructure it will be operating in. Every small country should field at least one full corps with all its designated brigades. Even if one doesn’t have the manpower, it is still better to field a slightly undermanned corps as it will still be superior to whatever the AI has in opposition. In multi-player, of course, undermanned corps will meet a swift demise, in which case stay within your pool’s allowance.

Terrain Type and Mission Requirements Corps Type
All-terrain; envelopment Cavalry Reserve
All-terrain; envelopment, lower manpower Mounted Militia
All-terrain; multi-mission Infantry Corps
All-terrain; multi-mission, lower manpower Infantry & Auxiliaries
All-terrain; multi-mission, scouting Infantry & Recon
All-terrain; multi-mission, scouting Cavalry Auxiliary
All-terrain; rapid movement, envelopment Cavalry Corps
Jungle & marsh; amphibious Marine Corps
Jungle & marsh; amphibious, lower manpower Marine & Auxiliaries
Jungle & marsh; infiltrating, lower manpower Marine Advisors
Low infrastructure; infiltrating, lower MP Infantry advisors
Low infrastructure; lower manpower Militia Corps
Low Infrastructure; scouting, lower manpower Cavalry Scouts
Rough terrain; envelopment Mountain Cavalry
Rough terrain; infiltrating, lower manpower Mountain advisors
Rough terrain; multi-mission Mountain Corps
Rough terrain; multi-mission, lower manpower Mountain & Auxiliaries
Woods & Forest; anti-tank (AT) defense Armor & Infantry
Woods & Forest; AT defence, lower manpower Armor & Auxiliaries

Cavalry reserve is always a tempting option because of the low manpower requirement, but cavalry should never be deployed against a well-armored foe. A full mountain corps is very taxing on manpower, so mountain advisors or auxiliaries can be an attractive alternative. Infantry & Recon is the star attraction for many small countries, but again, don’t step-up if one can’t keep-up with the technology/doctrine requirements. Marine Corps is another attractive alternative to infantry corps for maritime/jungle terrain, and they don’t really cost more in terms of leadership. Cavalry Reserve, Mountain Cavalry, and Mounted Militia are technology/doctrine intensive, and are only recommended to supplement standard formations. If operating in rough terrain but leadership and/or manpower is a problem, consider going with regular infantry and just use Mountain Warfare Equipment.

When the sovereign absolutely, positively, must take action against a major, use Armor & Infantry or Armor & Auxiliaries. These two formations were specifically designed for defense, but they can also advance at a steady pace. Obviously, one should never deploy large armored formations unless having the necessary oil and gas, or can readily obtain it through trade. Upgrading your refinement capacity, or oil production capacity, is not an option unless one has really great leadership.

Corps Composition:

Corps Type Manpower/Composition Attached Brigades/Manpower
Armor & Auxiliaries 21.65 / 5 Militia + 5 Lt.Panzer 5Art, 5TD / 15
Armor & Infantry 28.15 / 5 Infantry + 5 Lt.Panzer 5Art, 5TD / 15
Cavalry Auxiliary 28.8 / 6 infantry + 3 cavalry 3Roc, 1LPz, 1AC / 7.98
Cavalry Corps 30.0 / 9 cavalry 3Roc, 1LPz, 1AC / 7.98
Cavalry Reserve 27.9 / 6 cavalry + 3 infantry 3Roc, 1LPz, 1AC, 3MP / 10.23
Cavalry Scouts 21.0 / 6 militia + 3 cavalry 3Roc, 1LPz, 1AC / 7.98
Infantry & Auxiliaries 27.9 / 6 infantry + 4 militia 5Art, 2LPz, 2MP / 12.8
Infantry & Recon 33.0 / 10 infantry 5Art, 2LPz, 2AC, MP / 15.39
Infantry advisors 25.2 / 6 militia + 4 infantry 5Art, 2LPz, 2MP / 12.8
Infantry Corps 33.0 / 10 infantry 5Art, 2LPz, 2MP / 12.8
Marine & Auxiliaries 30.0 / 6 marines + 3 militia 1LPz, 1Roc, 1AC, 1MP / 6.08
Marine Advisors 24.0 / 6 militia + 3 marines 1LPz, 1Roc, 1AC, 1MP / 6.08
Marine Corps 36.0 / 9 marines 1LPz, 1Roc, 1AC, 1MP / 6.08
Militia Corps 20.0 / 10 militia 5Art, 2LPz, 2MP / 12.8
Mountain & Auxiliaries 32.0 / 6 mountain + 4 militia 5Roc, 2LPz, 2MP / 12.8
Mountain advisors 28.0 / 6 militia + 4 mountain 5Roc, 2LPz, 2MP / 12.8
Mountain Cavalry 30 / 6 cavalry + 3 mountain 3Roc, 1LPz, 1AC, 2MP / 10.23
Mountain Corps 36.0 / 9 mountain 1LPz, 3Roc, 1AC, 1MP / 8.74
Mounted Militia 24 / 6 cavalry + 3 militia 3Roc, 1LPz, 1AC, 2MP / 10.23

Notes: Infantry Corps: A standard corps consists of ten battalions of infantry that may be organized into three basic configurations:

  • Offensive = 5 divisions + 1 Lt.Panzer
  • Standard = 3 divisions + 1 Special Forces + 1Lt.Panzer
  • Defensive = 2 divisions + 2 Artillery Parks

The Infantry & Recon Corps have slightly different configurations:

  • Offensive = 5 divisions + 2 Fox
  • Standard = 3 divisions + 1 Artillery Park + 1 Fox
  • Defensive = 2 divisions + 2 Artillery Parks

Light panzers and/or Foxs on detached duty during offensive operations may be used for overrun attacks. All infantry and artillery technologies are needed to the extent possible. Doctrine for infantry and artillery are Infantry Warfare, Mass Assault, and Assault Concentration. The auxiliary armor component will need Light Tank Gun and Blitzkrieg. Heavy artillery will need Barrel and Ammunition, and Carriage and Sights, while Armored Car Armor and Schwerpunct are necessary for the Recon role. Mountain Warfare may substitute for actual mountain troops.

Cavalry Corps: A standard corps consists of nine (9) battalions organized into three basic configurations:

  • Offensive = 2 divisions + 1 Cossack + 1 Scout
  • Standard = 3 divisions + 1 Fox
  • Defensive = 2 divisions + 1 Road-hog

The standard corps consists of all-cavalry formations, and their role is primarily rapid movement. Cavalry reserve combines with infantry to permit rapid envelopment (i.e. envelopment attack). Cavalry auxiliary is basically an infantry corps with cavalry for scouting and envelopment. Cavalry scouts is a militia corps with cavalry for scouting and envelopment. The technology needs for cavalry are primarily for Small Arms, because all the rest all affect speed, and speed is the essential requirement. Doctrine requirements for cavalry formations are Tactical Command Structure and Mechanized Offensive. In addition to level 3 Artillery Carriage & Sights, rockets require their own Ammunition, and Carriage and Sights. The auxiliary armor component will need Light Tank Gun and Blitzkrieg. The armored car needs Armored Car Armor and Schwerpunct for the Recon role.

Mountain Corps: A standard corps consists of nine (9) battalions organized into two basic configurations:

  • Infiltrating = 2 divisions + 1 fire camp
  • Standard = 3 divisions + Fox

These corps primary role is infiltrating over rough terrain. All infantry and rocket technologies are needed to the extent possible. The doctrine for infantry and artillery is Infantry Warfare, Mass Assault, and Assault Concentration. The auxiliary armor component will need Light Tank Gun and Blitzkrieg, while Armored Car Armor and Schwerpunct are necessary for the Recon role.

Marine Corps: A standard corps consists of nine (9) battalions organized into two basic configurations:

  • Amphibious = 2 divisions + 1 bridgehead
  • Standard = 3 divisions + Fox

These corps primary role is amphibious assault. All infantry technologies are needed to the extent possible. The doctrine for infantry is Infantry Warfare and Mass Assault. The auxiliary armor component will need Light Tank Gun and Blitzkrieg, while Armored Car Armor and Schwerpunct are necessary for the Recon role. If operating against armored formations add anti-tank guns. When using anti-tank guns also research anti-tank gun and carriage technologies, and Assault Concentration doctrine.

Militia Corps: The standard militia corps consist of ten (10) battalions, and may be organized into three basic configurations:

  • Offensive = 5 divisions + 1 Lt.Panzer
  • Standard = 3 divisions + 1 Border Guard + 1 Lt.Panzer
  • Defensive = 2 divisions + 2 Chokos

All militia technologies are needed for maximum impact. Doctrines for militia are Peoples Army, and Large Front, while doctrine for artillery is Assault Concentration. The auxiliary armor component will also need Light Tank Gun and Blitzkrieg.

Armor and Infantry Corps: A standard corps has only one configuration:

  • Standard = 5 divisions

Upgrade all infantry technologies to the extent possible for maximum impact. The doctrine for infantry and artillery are Infantry Warfare, Mass Assault, and Assault Concentration. Light Panzers will need Light Tank Gun, Armor, and Reliability, and armored component doctrines are Blitzkrieg and Schwerpunkt. Heavy artillery will need Barrel and Ammunition, and Carriage and Sights. Tank destroyers will need Medium Tank Armor, Antitank Ammunition, and Carriage.

Mixed Cavalry Corps: Cavalry Reserve, Mountain Cavalry, and Mounted Militia are considered mixed cavalry formations designed to make optimum use of cavalry in spread formation, and to provide wide-ranging perimeter defense. Mixed formations have three basic configurations:

  • Offensive = 3 divisions + 1 Fox + 1 Border Patrol/Commando/Ranger
  • Standard = 3 divisions + Fox //
  • Defensive = 1 division + 2 commando/rangers/border patrol + 1 Scout + 1 Artillery Park/Fire Camp/Chockos

In this role the cavalry need only Small Arms because the rest all affect speed, which is the essential requirement of cavalry. Doctrine requirements for cavalry formations are Tactical Command Structure and Mechanized Offensive. In addition to Artillery Carriage & Sights 3, rockets will require their own Ammunition and Carriage. Upgrade all infantry/militia technologies for maximum impact. Doctrine for infantry are Infantry Warfare and Mass Assault, while doctrine for militia are Peoples Army, and Large Front. The auxiliary armor component will need Light Tank Gun and Blitzkrieg. Armored Car Armor and Schwerpunct are necessary for the Recon role.

Militia Auxiliaries are the substitution of militia for infantry to reduce manpower requirements. In this role consider limiting militia research to Support Weapons (i.e. Defensiveness). Likewise, doctrines for militia auxiliaries should be limited to People’s Army.

Corps Advisors are simply the substitution of infantry for militia in a militia corps. Advisors provide capabilities that militia don’t have, for example, advancing 25% faster after winning a battle. If using infantry as advisors only, consider limiting their research to Support Weapons (i.e. Defensiveness). This is an especially good strategy for Tiny countries with limited leadership. Likewise, doctrines for infantry advisors may be limited to Infantry Warfare, or just Special Forces for mountaineers or marines.

Cavalry Auxiliaries are the substitution of cavalry for infantry to provide additional capabilities. In this role consider limiting cavalry research to Small Arms (i.e. Soft Attack). Likewise, doctrine requirements for cavalry may be limited to Mechanized Offense.

Armored Auxiliaries are the wholesale substitution of militia for infantry to meet reduced manpower needs. In this role consider upgrading all militia technologies for maximum impact. The required doctrine for militia are Peoples Army and Large Front.

The corps HQ plays a role as the staging area for auxiliary brigades. Initial deployment of auxiliary brigades should be to the Corps HQ, which normally stacks with its assigned divisions. In wartime especially, auxiliary brigades need to gain sufficient organization before being transferred to its division, and so long as they remain with the Corps HQ they will not be left behind or sit unguarded.

Air Force: Tactical bombers are all a small country really needs and can afford. Ground attack is useful, as are interdiction and logistical bombing. Denying the enemy their source of supplies is essential in areas of low infrastructure. Tactical bombers may also fly air cover above your troops to protect against strafing and logistical bombing. Some small countries may also begin with interceptors, and these are good for defending air bases, but little else. If there no interceptors are available, use heavy AA guns instead. For ministers, stick with Army Aviation Doctrine.

Navy: Destroyers are the best choice for small countries. Destroyers can be built in sufficient numbers to provide a useful role as transport or convoy escorts. When facing a Major it is best to keep forces dispersed as much as possible. Try to keep the enemy guessing as to your ultimate objective(s). When faced with superior numbers, retreat quickly as only destroyers can (i.e. use the button in upper-left corner of the battle dialog). Also, protect your major ports with heavy AA guns. For ministers, the destroyer proponent is the logical choice, but if he’s not available, go with Naval Aviation Doctrine as Air Force Chief.

Special Forces: A small country has few resources and little manpower to spare, so it should not undertake high risk missions with frontline corps. Special forces is the umbrella group for the black ops, rogue recon, and dirty tricks department. Special forces are extreemly useful in a number of ways, and the AI is especially vulnerable in this area. In multi-player too, one should prepare a few surprises to keep your opponent(s) off-balance. The Majors have enough things to worry about, and any little distraction can cause a crimp in their plans. Standard operations include missions against high value targets such as radar stations, airfields, or ports. The value of diversionary attacks, misdirection, or creating false intelligence cannot be understated. Special forces may also used for conventional delaying tactics, infrastructure destruction, cutting supply lines, harassing the flanks, etc.

Special forces generally run on detached duty and may be considered expendable, however they should never be used in a cavalier manner. Special forces report to a Special Forces Army HQ, which has a wider radio range (see Order Of Battle). The SF HQ should also be equipped with a few miscellaneous battalions such as armored cars, antitank guns, MP’s, TD’s, etc., something for every eventuality. Anything cheap and useful such as commandos, road-hogs, Fox, scouts, even border patrols have value in neferious operations. Certain aircraft, transports, submarines, etc. are also needed in clandestine roles. Black ops may also have their own research goals, such as paratroops or radar. The dirty tricks department may create a phantom army made of HQ’s, with a few miscellaneous units thrown to give the appearance of a larger force (the AI goes for this every time). Be sure to make good use of the Intel Mapmode, and check out every little detail before moving ahead. Even in peacetime, create contingency plans for special forces, and pre-position forces so they’re ready to deploy on a moments notice.

Leaders and Officers

“Soldiers! When it is announced that a respected and beloved leader has died in the course of the battle, do not grieve, and do not lose hope!” Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia

The General Staff is the final piece of the puzzle, and it should be continuously scrutinized and groomed so that it bends to your wishes. The chief of staff (a.k.a. army group, group HQ, or front) is the keystone of army operations, keeping the front lines continuously supplied with bread and bullets. Army leaders are the next most important role players, valued as much for their experience as their traits. Corps leaders are the tacticians, and so one really wants good traits, but will settle for experience in a pinch. The last tool in the box is division leaders, which is the crucible where great leaders are forged.

Beneath the covers are the junior officers, and they make organization and supply distribution possible. The sovereign especially wants these ranks fully staffed in wartime. It takes leadership to train them, not normally a problem for small countries, except that scarce leadership shouldn’t be wasted on inefficient training. For this reason one really needs the 3-year draft to get the most from the time and investment. Mexico, for example, starts with few officers and no draft multiplier, so it should refrain from officer training until it has the 3-yr draft.

When building your army, officer ratios can drop well into the red zone. So, during the upgrade cycle, switch to the 3-yr draft and switch ALL your leadership to officer training (see Production; “Upgrade vs. Build”). Continue in this mode until maxing out at 140%, or until switching back to the production cycle, whichever comes first.

Some countries can’t readily achieve the 3-yr draft due to high Neutrality, they are; Australia, Belgium, Bhutan, Canada, Chile, Communist China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Tibet, Uruguay, and Yemen. In these cases, plan on a longer recovery period upon achieving the 3-year draft.

Other countries can’t readily switch to a high draft in peacetime due to low Unity, these are; Albania, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guangxi Clique, Guatemala, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Slovakia, Republican Spain, Venezuela, Vichy France, and Yugoslavia. These countries must wait for a DOW, and then use Service by Requirement to build officer ratios. In 1938, Guangxi Clique starts with four regular infantry corps, unfortunately due to low Unity the country has no draft policy. So, between build cycles, switch back and forth from Volunteer Force to Service by Requirement in order to keep officer ratios from falling too far. The Japanese AI generally runs at 140%, so it’s best to maintain similar ratios to nullify that advantage.

A few countries may never be able to switch to a high draft due to the combination of low Unity and high Neutrality, these are; Afghanistan, Austria, Cuba, and Turkey. Again, it’s better to wait for a DOW and use Service by Requirement, so plan accordingly.

Leader Assignment and Promotion: As the following table illustrates, there is no simple way to address this subject. Here, the definition of a “line” officer is one with traits, including logistics snd winter, while “staff” officers have no traits. Role dependency simply means offensive traits for offensive formations, and defensive traits for defensive formations. Spot roles include; logistics for rear echelon units, engineers for cross-river attacks, and fortress busters for amphibious or land attacks against fortified positions.

HQ Level Leader Role(s) Recommended HQ Leader
Theatre Adds division to battle. Lowers coordination penalty. Passes 1/16 trait* Other staff**
Front Army Group Reduces supply consumption. Passes 1/8* trait to divisions* Logistics, other staff
Region Army Speeds-up reorganization. Passes 1/4 trait to divisions* Role dependent
Province Corps Speeds-up reserves. Passes 1/2 trait to divisions Best available
Division Passes full trait to division (see below)

Leader Assignment (More Offensive):

Unit Type/Name Unit Role(s) Recommended Division Leader
Infantry Offensive; all-terrain Offensive, best available
Militia Offensive; low infrastructure specialist Offensive, best available
Marine Amphibious assault Role dependent
Mountain Offensive; rough terrain specialist Logistics, best available

Leader Assignment (Standard):

Unit Type/Name Unit Role(s) Recommended Division Leader
Infantry Offensive or defensive; all-terrain Role dependent
Mountain Offensive or defensive; rough terrain specialist Logistics, best available
Cavalry Offensive or defensive; jungle specialist Trickster, best available
Marine Offensive or defensive; river, marsh & jungle specialist Logistics, best available
Militia Offensive or defensive; low infrastructure specialist Logistics, best available
Light Panzer Infiltrating, over-run; all-terrain Trickster, best available

Leader Assignment (More Defensive):

Unit Type/Name Unit Role(s) Recommended Division Leader
Infantry Defensive, fortified defense; all-terrain Defensive, best available
Militia Defensive, fortified defense; low infrastructure specialist Defensive, best available

Leader Assignment (Unconventional):

Unit Type/Name Unit Role(s) Recommended Division Leader
Groundhog Anti-tank defense; woods & forest specialist Defensive, panzer, unseasoned
Hedgehog Anti-tank defense; woods & forest specialist, lower manpower requirement Defensive, panzer, unseasoned
Road-hog Advance guard, intelligence gathering; all-terrain Panzer, defensive, unseasoned
Commando Skirmishing, rear guard; all-terrain Commando, unseasoned
Ranger Skirmishing, rear guard; rough terrain specialist Logistics, unseasoned
Seal Skirmishing, rear guard; river, jungle, and marsh specialist Logistics, unseasoned
Scout Intelligence gathering, all-terrain Commando, unseasoned
Fox Intelligence gathering; all-terrain Commando, unseasoned
Skirmisher Skirmishing, intelligence gathering, anti-partisan; jungle specialist Trickster, unseasoned
Cossack Skirmishing, intelligence gathering, anti-partisan; all-terrain Trickster, unseasoned
Artillery Park Defense-in-depth; all-terrain Defensive, panzer, unseasoned
Fire Camp Defense-in-depth; rough terrain specialist Logistics, unseasoned
Bridgehead Defense-in-depth; river, marsh, and jungle specialist Logistics, unseasoned
Chocko Defense-in-depth; low infrastructure specialist Logistics, unseasoned
AA Police Air defense, supply convoy security; low infrastructure specialist Other Staff
Garrison Urban defense, port & airfield security; static Other staff
Militia Garrison Urban defense, port & airfield security; low infrastructure specialist Other staff
Border Guard Border security; low infrastructure specialist Other staff

The recommended procedure is to fill all HQ’s first before staffing any divisions. If one cannot meet the primary selection requirement by role, then skip it, and fill the remaining open posts later in the following order:

  1. Best Available = Starting with highest experience (line or staff), including old guard.
  2. Unseasoned = Starting with least experience, in order of; line, staff, including old guard (or none).
  3. Other Staff = Staff officers starting with lowest experience, including old guard (or none).


Canada’s automotive industry ranked fourth in the world in the output of passenger car and trucks, even though a large part of its productive capacity remained idle because of the Depression. During the war, Canada’s output of nearly 800,000 trucks exceeded the combined total truck production of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Upgrade vs. Build: Since technology improvements add to the cost of building, the upgrade route is the best overall choice for small countries. Still, nothing is worse than spending so much time and leadership on a technology, then not having it in the field. So, consider taking a break after building each corps to switch to “upgrade mode.” When upgrading in peacetime one should also implement the highest possible draft level, both to fill the ranks and to replenish the depleated officer pool. By upgrading and mobilizing as you go your army will maintain a high state of readiness.

In Upgrade Mode the industrial slider is moved to prioritize upgrades AND industrial policy is set to Consumer Product Orientation, which maximizes IC’s available for upgrades. When using Consumer Product Orientation consider assigning an Armament Minister that boosts available ICs. One can substitute Mixed Mode providing the army is composed primarily of reserves.

The Build Mode is where the industrial slider is moved to prioritize production AND industrial policy is set to Mixed Mode or Heavy Industry. While in build mode, assign an Armament Minister to boost supply production, which shifts even more ICs over to production. Sometimes the head of government has this capability too.

Regular army units (not reserves) require consumer goods in peacetime. Likewise, reserves, when mobilized in peacetime, will use consumer goods at the same rate as regulars. Lowering neutrality helps reduce that need, and for best results neutrality should be lower than twenty (20). So, if using Mixed Mode to upgrade regular army units in peacetime, also consider an Armament Minister that reduces the need for consumer goods. Sometimes the head of government has this capability too.

Consider building an all-reserve force. Reserves don’t use as many consumer goods in peacetime, which frees ICs for other uses. The cost of reserves is regulated by conscription, so Volunteers are the best bang for the buck. Even a Tiny nation can assemble a fine corps in just a few years using all-volunteer reservists.

Tricks to improve production are many. To begin with, consider building units by brigade and not by division as the latter is wasteful. Also, practical factors are very important as they allow one to build more with less. For example, if building three (3) brigades in parallel, these will proceed at a fixed cost. However, if three are built in series, then practical factors lower the cost with each subsequent build. For maximum efficiency, assume manual control over production sliders. Reduce spending on supplies to minimum, and then apply the excess to production. When the 30-day supply alarm sounds, simply return slider control to automatic and allow the AI to build inventories levels back to normal.

Fascist governments are versatile and can readily switch between Mixed Mode and Consumer Product Orientation; the exceptions being: Nicaragua, Afghanistan, and Guatemala, which have too low a Unity. Turkey and El Salvador are on the cusp with 55 Unity, and will need to spend several years raising Unity to be able to employ this tactic.

Democracies and authoritian states cann’t get Mixed Mode except in wartime, and providing their Unity is 70 or greater. Some lucky countries begin in Mixed Mode, and should stay there because their Unity is too low to switch back-and-forth, they are; Austria, Albania, Republican Spain, and Venezuela. Those on the cusp with 65 Unity are Chile and Siam. Those with too low a Unity are: Paraguay, Bolivia, and Cuba. One can still build divisions using Consumer Product Orientation, but consider using Basic 3#Training to offset delays in production.

Communist countries have the option to use Heavy Industry, and can only achieve Mixed Mode when at war. While Heavy Industry reduces build times by five percent (5%), it takes ten percent (10%) more in consumer goods. This is simply too high a price for small countries, whose ICs are better spent with Consumer Product Orientation until one can get Mixed Mode.

Building Industrial Capacity (IC): If your small country needs a navy or an air force, it will require gobs of ICs. The formula for the most efficient building program is, “1-3-5.” In other words, after the first new factory, build three, and then five. Following this, one can build as many as needed. The bottom line is that it takes five (5) years before one can begin expanding the industrial base on a large scale. Also, make note of your home provinces, as the sovereign should avoid building in annexed territory.

The fundamentals of building new industrial capacity (IC) are time and cost. Costs are reduced by Construction Practical, while build time is shortened by Industrial Efficiency. A third factor is infrastructure, which can further reduce construction times over the long haul. So, when just starting out, consider building in areas of highest infrastructure.

The run-up to mass construction is requires some advance planning, so we’ll outline this procedure step-by-step:

a) Boost Construction Practical to help reduce the cost of the first few factories. The easiest way is to build air fields. However, this is something of a minimalist strategy as air fields add only one-tenth a point (.1 pt) to Construction Practical, and what is really needed is .3-.5 points to begin with. Naval bases cost twice (2x) the ICs to build, but yield three times (3x) the Construction Practical (.3 pts). So, one can build more airfields, or switch to building naval bases instead. The ideal formula is to build one naval base and one air field. If one can build two naval bases, that’s better. If your country can only build airfields, don’t worry as there will be time to add to Construction Practical later on.

b) Complete Construction Engineering ASAP. Completion times vary depending on your country’s starting technology, with British Commonwealth nations having a real advantage in this area. Air fields and navy bases should be finished about the same time as Construction Engineering. If necessary, restart the game and do it again as timing is critical. In multi-player, practice these moves beforehand as one may not get a second chance.

c) Place Industrial Efficiency in the technology queue so it completes about the same time as Construction Engineering. Industrial Efficiency is most important because it reduces construction time of your first factory.

d) Once your airfields and naval bases are completed, wait one full day for Construction Practical to accumulate, and then place the first new unit of industry in the build queue.

e) Continue researching Industrial Efficiency, and research ahead if possible so long as the ending date is within the target year. For example, there will be no resesarch penalty if Industrial Efficiency ‘38 is scheduled to finish in January 1938.

f) Construction Practical will decay over the fifteen (15) months it takes to build the first new industry, so during this time continue building air bases. The aim is to keep Construction Practical hovering around one-half point (.5 pts) for the next building phase.

g) Most small countries need Basic Mobilization in order to build more than one factory at a time. So, your country doesn’t have it, begin reducing neutrality at the earliest opportunity. Other small countries don’t have Mixed Mode, in which case they must begin raising Unity. One can build factories without Mixed Mode, but the five percent (5%) penalty of Consumer Product Orientation will considerably slow things down.

h) Upon completion of the first new industry, wait one day and then place three (3) new industry into the build queue. These factories should cost no more than 6.6 IC's each. Don’t wait for industrial efficiency, as it will automatically kick-in when completed. Switch to Basic Mobilization at this time if need be.

i) Begin working towards War Economy, as that will probably be needed that in the next building phase. Energy levels will begin to be affected by the new industrial policy, so make additional trades if necessary to keep energy growing in the double-digits.

j) When the above factories are completed, wait one day and then begin adding five (5) new factories to the queue, staggering the builds two (2) days apart. Staggering allows time for Construction Practical to kick-in, creating a cascading effect that continually reduces build costs. Now, one can max-out factory builds for each selected province, or do it at a later date, whichever is convenient. Each of the above builds will cost about five and one-half (5.5) ICs, so switch to War Economy if need be.

k) With continued research in Industrial Efficiency your factories should finish in less than a year. As Construction Practical kicks in, subsequent build costs will drop to between 3.8-4.4 IC. As new factories come online they add to your industrial base, allowing you to begin placing additional factories into the build queue. You’ve now reached the tipping point. Welcome to the majors!

l) The sovereign may now consider the use of Heavy Industry to speed production. Non-communist countries need a DOW and eighty (80) Unity before obtaining Heavy Industry. But, if your country cannot achieve Heavy Industry, then consider improving infrastructure (and Civil Engineering) to bring factories up to production quicker, which has a similar effect. Some countries with 75 Unity are on the cusp and can still obtain Heavy Industry, they are; Persia, Uruguay, Tibet, Philippines, Panama, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Costa Rica.

(right) Romania completes five new industry in 1940 (starting from the ‘36 scenario)


In 1941, the Dutch East Indies was the fourth-largest exporter of oil in the world, behind the United States, Iran, and Romania.

Small countries must have a strategic reserve both for war and to expand their industrial base. There will be times when trading is not an option, and without a pool of resources to draw on, a country can get into serious trouble. The worst case scenario is to run out of energy, in which case your game will quickly spiral out of control. In the early going, keep all resource monitors in the green and growing by double-digits (single-digits for Tiny countries), and accumulate as much energy as possible.

The politics of international relations needs some elaboration before exploring trading strategies. In the diplomacy screen, select your home country (a quick way is to click on a home province, then click the flag icon). Now click on the small switch beneath the “Highest Threat” flag icon. Here will appear a list of nations and their relationship with yours. Those with positive numbers are ready to do business, while those at zero (0) or below will have to make political considerations beforehand.

Understanding where a country stands will give the sovereign a better handle on business dealings. Typically, to make a trade one sorts the list on the diplomacy screen by the required resource, and clicks on a country’s avatar. Now, to see where your country stands, check the content above the option menu where it says “Current Relations.”

(left) Communist China’s standing with Sinkaing is found immediately below the flag icon.

Money and Supplies: The main goal of a trade policy is the accumulation of wealth. A small country needs a large stockpile of cash either to buy resources or obtain production licences. Money is the principal commodity in resource management, and the key to making money is the sale of supplies. As one begins stockpiling supplies the AI will generate trade offers. When the AI is in control of production sliders, it will maintain a surplus to support supply exports. The difference between the slider target (i.e. army supplies) and what the AI generates is what’s needed to sustain the sales of supplies. It may be necessary to periodically purge supply contracts in order to free-up ICs for more important uses. Another strategy is to grow a large supply surplus early in the game by taking manual control of production sliders. This accumulation will help free-up IC’s later-on when they are needed, and excess supplies may be converted to cash over time. If playing an allied minor in a multi-player game, setup three-way trading by buying supplies from cash-strapped UK, and selling them to cash-rich US. This fills a substantive need for the Majors, while your nation collects on the spread.

Energy, metals, rares, crude oil, and fuel are another source of ready cash. There is little to be gained from exporting energy, but everything else should be for sale. So far as crude oil and fuel are concerned, the small country has little need for them unless it has lots of tanks, airplanes, and/or ships. Be advised that selling resources also requires a port in the appropriate theatre, for instance, Saudi Arabia can no longer send oil to Italy once war breaks out as the Suez Canal will be closed to trade.

Another rule for the international market is, “it’s best to trade with your enemies.” Remarkably, the best deals come from your ideological opposite. Sinking can become a ruthless war profiteer by obtaining supplies and energy for free from the USSR, and then selling them to both sides of the conflict in eastern Asia. If your initial proposal fails, note your current relations. Every country has needs regardless of politics, so explore every possible avenue. Try making several smaller trades to help build-up trade relations.

One final note—Armies take supplies directly out of the chain, and one can refer to the statistics screen (#22) to determine which units use the most. The simplest and quickest actions to take are to make ministerial adjustments and/or post a logistical administrator at Group HQ (see Officers and Leaders: “Leader Assignment and Promotion”). One may also dismantle HQs as these are most easily rebuilt. Note that expeditionary forces will add to your supply burdon the same as your own troops, so return these forces promptly if they are unsustainable.

Balance of trade. An important concept in dealing with money is balance of trade, and a principal part of the equation involves the sale of supplies. For example, if the USA offers to buy $2/day of supplies from you, you should purchase $2/day of oil (or gas, etc.) from the USA. This method will help insure your trading partner(s) don’t run out of cash. In the reverse scenario, if spending a dollar a day on oil from Saudi Arabia, then offer to sell them a dollar’s worth of supplies so your country doesn’t run out of money. By maintaining a balance of trade your country can grow its most needed resources while maintaining positive cash flows.

If a partner breaks a trade (did you set a pop-up to check for this?), check their cash situation and see about restructuring the deal. Remember too, when canceling a trade one must wait a period of time for the ambassador to return. So, the rule of thumb is: “make a trade before breaking a trade.” Also, when convoying materials (either way), one can save on diplomatic points by combining orders of energy, steel, rares, etc. in the same transaction. Also, Commintern members can buy and sell in the same transaction.

Rares can get somewhat pricey, and small countries should avoid direct outlays for them if at all possible. Every small country should be independent in rares, particularly in the run-up to building ships and aircraft. To effect an independent policy, select a minister that grows resources and reduces chemical engineering decay, then research Rare Material Refinement technology. Use parallel research to speed things up. British Commenwealth nations Australia and Canada should begin researching Rare Material Refinement early-on while they still have the good chemical engineering experience.

Don’t say “yes” to every trade offered. Look to neighbors and regional partners first to avoid reliance on transports. Transports are expensive and time consuming to produce, and small countries have little hope of defending them in wartime. When war breaks out, immediately shut-down all convoys to avoid taking the hit to Unity when they are lost. If starved for resources, make contingincy plans for one or more of; conquering mineral rich provinces, improving resource development technology, or developing a fast destroyer fleet.


The most advanced light tanks of the pre-war period were the 434 LT-35 and LT-38 tanks produced by the Škoda Works for the Czechoslovak army in 1936.

Ah, the much vaulted technology tree. So many choices, so little leadership. Neutrality brings a five percent (5%) drag on research that over time will strangle technical innovation. Joining a faction solves this problem, but in the mean time the sovereign should adopt these strategies: 1) Census Tabulation Machine. This project requires two technologies to obtain, and yields a 2% gain on research. 2) Parallel research. Placing a theory in the research queue simultaneously with a new technology will speed research time by 3-6 percent depending on difficulty level (i.e. 1, 2, 5, etc.). For example, research Automotive Theory at the same time as Light Tank Brigade. The theory will finish first, and the savings passed to tank research will be 2-3%. Through a combination of Census Tabulation and parallel research one can all but eliminate the neutrality drag on targeted areas, which is a good solution since small countries tend to focus on just a few key technologies anyway.

Members of the British Commenwealth have technology handed down from the UK, and can largely skip parallel research. Other countries such as Persia and Siam have no experience in mechanical engineering, must use Census Tabulation and parallel research to get over the hump. But, don’t hold-up important projects waiting for Census Tabulation Machine either. Mexico needs Single Engine Aircraft and Destroyer to get on the fast track to industrial growth, and should go with parallel research to make that happen as soon as possible.

With the exception of radar, working on radio technology is generally not needed. Radios help coordinate complex assaults (that little Rubix cube seen in battle displays), but unless your country is going up against a Major, it’s not really necessary. Australia is one of the few small countries that have radar from the outset, so by all means, make the most of it.

Army: Doctrines are cheaper than continually upgrading units with technology. However, before committing to Infantry Warfare, People’s Army, Special Forces, etc., be sure to check your battalion’s organization numbers. The artillery’s organization should match that of the infantry (right), or your division will retreat before it’s due time. Also, don’t forget to include Assault Concentration, Blitzkrieg, Mechanized Offensive, etc. when employing mixed combat brigades. Most doctrines are time consuming, so consider First Aid and/or Combat Medicine as a parallel technology to help speed research.

(Note: Production licencing is TBD for SF as of this edition. In previous versions land and air units purchased under licence came with their own set of doctrines. One could still upgrade these doctrines, but not their equipment, that is, unless your country had matching technology, which is rare.)

Navy: Countries such as Siam, Romania, Turkey, Canada, Australia, etc. should build destroyers. Destroyer technologies are fairly easy to obtain, but consider parallel research in Naval Engineering for a faster start. Don’t wait on antiaircraft guns afore adding a ship to the build queue, because destroyer AA can be upgraded at any time. Research Destroyer Crew Training to improve destroyer organization.

The destroyer strategy goes hand-in-hand with Sea Lane Defence, which allows one to build escorts and upgrade convoy defences. It will take lots of experience to move up the research tree. As escorts are cheaper than destroyers, the sovereign may wish to wait until a few convoys to bite the dust before upgrading to Commerce Defence. One may also assign an obsolete destroyer to convoy escort duty, which can be quite useful as it picks up intelligence along the way.

Submarines are a poor man’s radar, and basic subs are useful in intelligence gathering. Some countries come with a sub to start, but you’re not going to be able to develop any doctrines for them. Should one need additional range, consider Submarine Engines. Obtaining submarine technology is none too difficult, and parallel research in Submarine Engineering will help. As with destroyers, submarine AA guns are upgradeable too.

Air Force: In the field of air combat there are few options. Small countries should focus all their efforts on tactical bombers. Romania and Guangxi Clique start with a fledgling air force, and these you’ll want to upgrade airframe, bombs, and guns (note the parallel research is Aviation Engineering). Speed kills, so be sure to increase air speed with Aero Engine. Fuel tanks may be the one shortcut, that is, if one can live with a shorter range. The main doctrine for tactical bombers is pilot training, which improves organization. To protect this valuable resource consider only one-day missions, unless of course your opponent is worse off in this area.


Strategies for this and prior versions of the Small Country Guide have all been posted on HOI3 Wiki. Readers are enouraged to share their small country experiences as well. Be the first to post strategies for a new country and help make HOI3 SF a better experience for all.

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