Historically, leading war is an essential part of Nazi German foreign politics. While you could lower your neutrality low enough to go to war as early as the end of '37, you should consider waiting not only to 1939, but to 1940. In 1940, the democratic powers outside the allies (mainly the United States) have an election. If you hold back aggression, support the German-American Bund via spies long enough and diplomatically influence the US, this industrial super power could join the Axis, practically granting you victory as no one is there to stop Japan and the allies miss important troops on D-Day, on the Invasion of Italy or in the North African war. The following strategies will, if not stated otherwise, an allied USA from 1941 onwards. Note the US could join a bit sooner, a bit later or not at all. This mainly depends on Japan.
War in Europe= == ====Albania==== Taking Albania is a very time-limited option, as Albania receives an ultimatum by Italy. The best way to take Albania is by going through Yugoslavia first.
Austria==== It is literally insane for Germany to attack Austria instead of peacefully annexing it. The only reason German-speaking/culture Austria did not seek ''Anchluss'', or incorporation into Germany, immediately following the Central Powers' defeat in World War I was because it was expressly forbidden to do so by the Treaty of Versailles. The moment Germany abrogated the treaty, ''Anchluss'' became its primary foreign affairs concern until it was achieved, a concern shared by a majority of the Austrians themselves. Therefore, war with Austria, when it can be taken for free by automatic chronological event, simply wastes men, materiel and vital time.
Belgium==== As always, Belgium is just the helpless victim that gets overrolled for the sake of it by Germany. Belgium, either as an ally or a war target, is the best way for land troops into France, especially since it is a lot closer to Paris than the direct border to France. Note that you should attack them with a Blitzkrieg and prevent them from joining the allies prior via diplomatic means (it is actually very easy to establish the National Socialists as government via espionage, but you could also just influence them if you do not want to wait for the 1940 elections), because if they do, there is a chance that France or even the UK will garrison troops there. ====Bulgaria==== Kind of a hard thing to accomplish, as the threat from declaring war on Yugoslavia and then Bulgaria might get you an Allied DOW, but the transports from Germany might not be able to land there. For best results, try knocking out France first, but beware: if you declare war on Bulgaria while also at war with the Allies, then Bulgaria will automatically join the Allies.
Czechoslovakia==== As with Austria, Czechoslovakia can be annexed peacefully. However, in the latter's case, the timing of the events that trigger the steps to annexation are decisive. If a German player isn't observant, the war could begin a year or more earlier. === =Denmark==== Denmark is the connection between Scandinavia (specifically Sweden) and Europe (primarily you). Also it has the region that is used to block off the Baltic Sea-North Sea connection. It is tactically a high value target. It blocks Britain to deliver naval help to Poland, it blocks the Soviet Union's Baltic Fleet from leaving the Baltic Sea. Also, the fact that several waterways split the islands and the peninsula from each other makes the country easier to defend (also bear that in mind when invading Denmark). Denmark is a so unnecessary target from bounty standards that just inviting the country into the Axis will make no difference at all.=== =Estonia==== Pretty much all naval because you'd have to go through Lithuania and Latvia before you can even fathom a land war, and on top of that, the USSR will likely annex them if you aren't quick enough. === =Finland==== You should not go to war with Finland at all, because they can be valuable partners against the USSR. But if you want to go there anyway, first invade Sweden and/or Norway, then go for a land invasion. Supplies into Finland are not the nicest of things, but should be offpullable if coming via Scandinavian neighbours. An invasion from the USSR is of course also possible, but that would require a very interesting order of targets to say the least. ====France==== France, always a member of the Allies, is the first one you would want to eliminate from the game. If you reach Paris, this will mostly make France surrender and you can not only take most of northern France without even going there once, but also create Vichy France in the south of the country. Vichy France, because of its extensive parts of formerly French colonies, is an interesting Axis Power to consider. France has one problem: They have very good defenses in comparison to the rest of Europe. Running into the Maginot Line will prove ineffective, as the French army stacks along the Franco-German border. Invading the country through Belgium is the best option. If you do not want to do that (there is almost no reason not to), you could try to decimate the French with air strikes before crossing the border. Avoid attacking at provinces with border rivers. They are nearly impossible to take. ====Greece==== Two words: beat Italy. ====Hungary==== Just land invade like with Poland. ====Ireland==== Crucial for Operation Sealion, just naval invade them and crush them. ====Italy==== It is getting real now. Betraying your de facto always ally can only happen if you decline them entrance into the Axis Powers always. Italy has a pretty strong army (note it will be weaker if they are at war with Britain in their colonies). Attacking over Yugoslavia or Vichy France with armor divisions to avoid mountains could be a good call. Your infantry can move over Switzerland and Austria. Cutting the north western part of Italy off supplies from Rome will give you quick advance into the peninsula itself from France. The Italian-Yugoslav border is better protected, so try to only put distraction or the least possible guards there. Note that Italy has islands off the Greek and Turkish coast, as well as Sardinia, Sicily and its colonies, South Etruria, Eritrea and Libya. It also is nearly guaranteed to either own Ethiopia or have a puppet regime there. ====Latvia==== See Estonia. ====Lithuania==== Estonia without the naval part, as they are right next to Germany. ====Luxembourg==== The easiest nation to invade. Ever. If you can get them to join the Axis, you can help them expand their rather small territory with German panzer might. ====Nationalist Spain==== Spain has mountains in the north and the south, so avoid armor divisions there. Just rush for important cities, as their colonies will not matter enough for them not to surrender mostly. ====Netherlands==== The Netherlands could be used as an allied bridgehead if you make it stay neutral. Occupying it or not makes barely a difference. ====Norway==== The invasion of Norway is pretty simple as it has nearly no military force. Just invade a naval base first. And keep the supply road for eventual new troops safe from the British. If time does not matter to you, invading Norway via Sweden is the much better and much safer idea while the UK still exists. ====Poland==== War with Poland is pretty easy. Move onward, move onward and move onward some more. There is nearly nothing you have to watch here, except maybe that the Poles will be fairly aggressive with your pocket east of Danzig, so you may want to send some additional men there before the invasion begins. You may want to secure the Danzig corridor first to keep this pocket supplied. When invading Poland, mass your tanks, motorized infantry and perhaps even cavalry and practice Blitzkrieg tactics here. Any lessons you learn will come in handy in France and the Soviet Union. Just push through, advance down the open plains, and take victory points as fast as you can. Be careful so your units aren't cut off or run out of supply, though this is unlikely given how superior you are to the Poles and how fast the war is most likely going to be won. ====Portugal==== A Poland-style war again. Just crush it from all sides (maybe except a naval invasion, that just wastes troops) and go to Lissabon If Spain is neutral or allied/comintern, you have no choice but to invade by sea. If so, try to pull off two different invasion points because that will pull the already small Portuguese forces apart. ==== Republican Spain==== Spain has mountains in the north and the south, so avoid armor divisions there. Just rush for important cities, as their colonies will not matter enough for them not to surrender mostly. ====Romania==== Wouldn't recommend this as it takes away valuable divisions that could be used to fight the Soviet beast. ====Sweden==== Sweden is vast and has few divisions, but the AI may train and position them well for winter combat. Both an invasion from Norway and Denmark (as well as by sea and Finland, of course) are possible. Try a small naval invasion to break the defenses at the waterstreet to Denmark from behind, then move your troops in from Denmark. ====Switzerland==== Also a pretty easy war, Switzerland has the special trait of its mountains. Use no armor (Just garrison armor troops there afterwards to rush into Vichy France to cut off the Italians (see Vichy France), prefer Infantry. ====United Kingdom==== Land some troops in Northern Ireland, then proceed to take Scotland and Wales, as London is pretty heavily defended and you need to cripple their IC as much as possible. ====Union of Socialist Soviet Republics==== The clash of totalitarian ideologies that is the Germany-Soviet Union war is the defining event of most HoI3 games. These nations are both geared for total war with the support of the best laws, will fight to the death because of game rules, and by 1939 have a direct, broad land connection. Defeating the USSR is also a matter of national survival for Germany, as peace can rarely be maintained beyond 1942. There are several points the German player must be aware of before attempting to purge bolshevism from the continent: # While backward technologically with poor Leadership for its size, the USSR is entirely resource self-sufficient and the overwhelming majority of these stores are located far from the European border. The USSR can and will fuel an enormous amount of Industrial Capacity if left alone, and will even begin to break early trade agreements with Germany to do so. Also, the Soviets cannot run out of manpower in normal game play. # When Germany attacks, the USSR will receive a number of progressive large bonuses to its manpower and other aspects of its war machine. Great Patriotic War in particular confers +2000.0 manpower, which is more than Germany starts the war with. # The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (non-aggression Pact) trades roughly 18 months of (mostly) guaranteed non-aggression for being several hundred miles further from Moscow. You can opt to not offer it, but most players consider this to be an exploit as a USSR attack is not guaranteed if you do not seal the Pact. That said, extremely low or non-existent 1940 Soviet neutrality will risk war. # Failure to adequately garrison the polish border after the non-aggression pact can lead to a declaration of war from the Soviet Union declaring while you are in the middle of Fall Gelb. To avoid this disastrous outcome, you need to garrison the German-Russian border in 1940 with at least 50% of the number of brigades the soviets have deployed across the border. This drops towards parity in 1941, but by then you had better be preparing for war yourself. # Whether by the non-aggression pact decay, German success against Great Britain, or the general loss of neutrality and extreme threat imposed on the USSR by Germany and Japan's actions, the Soviet Union will eventually launch its own invasion of the Reich, most likely some time in 1942. Take care of business on Eurasia before pursuing wars in the Atlantic . # Be advised that there is a particular series of events that can make the USSR far more dangerous in Their Finest Hour. The USSR draws threat from both Germany and Japan, as it "borders" both in close proximity. If Japanese declarations of war and German events move on an aggressive schedule, the USSR can lose enough neutrality to be able to declare its own local wars as early as mid-1939. A human USSR player in MP will almost certainly do this. If an AI UK then decides to play world policeman and declare war on the USSR, that will put the USSR on a PERMANENT total war footing versus the Allies, as much as two years before Barbarossa. Unfortunately, the enraged bear will still want to fight you eventually... The actual war against the USSR must be pursued on the historical Blitzkrieg idea: End it swiftly. German resources, manpower and fuel stocks will eventually be ground down and the Soviets (who have none of those problems) will break you. Winning quickly involves three principles: # Prioritize the huge Stalinist military machine that's next door. All your frontline forces must be sent to the Eastern Front, save perhaps an Afrika Korps and a mobile reserve behind Garrison troops in France. Fighting other wars now is a mistake, garrisoning the Reich with useful forces is a mistake. Either you beat the USSR swiftly or you die, it's just a matter of date. # Envelop and destroy the Red Army. The only way to cause the Soviet war machine significant pain is if you destroy units entirely. This both requires complete unit rebuilds instead of just drawing on the bottomless USSR reinforcement pool, and clears the road to the important cities of the Soviet Union. Encircle, destroy, repeat. # Use your tech advantage and bonuses to push for the 3 big targets. Between your better starting tech, greater Leadership and game bonuses, you will never be stronger versus the Soviets than in that first summer of 1941. Own the skies, crush the outmatched first generation of soviet divisions and take Leningrad, Moscow and the caspian oilfields. Losing focus on objective was the main reason for the fail of the historic Barbarossa, both in 1941 and Case Blue (Stalingrad). Plot out your advance lines and force distributions and stick to them. ====Vichy France==== On the other hand, Vichy France could join the allies. This makes no sense, both in historical as in military sense, as you will just overroll them. Note that, if you are allied to Italy (which mostly will be the case), they will take the South East of the country. The only naval base on the southern French coast is Marseilles. You should rush Armor divisions there to secure that position. If you took Switzerland and have troops garrisoned there, this will be no problem. Important cities you can take from Vichy France are Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseilles, but it is nearly impossible to trigger war with them on your own.=== =Yugoslavia==== Yugoslavia is an easy call, but an important land bridge. It can connect you to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, mostly Italian-occupied Albania and Greece, making Yugoslavia an important crossroads in South Europe. Victory over Yugoslavia will grant you the ability to create a puppet in Croatia. The war style is nearly the same as Poland, you are fighting an inferior army with nearly no troop restrictions on your own side. You even have no Danzig corridor to protect. Just make sure Yugoslavia does not stay neutral. It could be deadly to an Axis Power Italy, Hungary or even you in the late game.
===War in Africa===