Poor mans army

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Although the major powers in the HOI2 environment have hundreds of ICs, tech teams and manpower at their disposal, some aren't so lucky. This guide will focus on those unlucky countries whose Industrial Capacity only reaches the high 30's, if they're lucky. But they're not.

Economics - Managing Scarce Resources

As stated earlier, ICs can be scarce, thus building more can be of importance in developing a self-reliance on Consumer Goods, Supplies and such. Unlike major powers, some countries do not have the technical know-how to do this from the start. In which case, research into "Basic Construction Engineering" should be funded. Then again, one can also develop a foreign policy of converting non-domestic ICs to domestic, but this probably requires some military might - then again, you know you want to.

Self-Defence Forces - Guns or Butter

It is still possible for relatively small powers to attain a capable military force. In most cases, however, this will only be limited to a ground force with light equipment. Although different types of Infantry is discussed in On the subject of ground troop investments , the units discussed there are of less interest for the minor or micro powers, since Infantry is the only real viable option with its versatility and affordability.

Minor power 's and Micro power 's will probably be more focused on analysing the different aspects of Infantry versus Militia or Garrison troops.

A discussion on Footsoldiers

The major units reviewed and compared here will be the early Infantry ('18, '36), Garrison ('18) and Militia ('36)

[Table 1 - Infantry ('18, '36), Garrison ('18), Militia ('36) and Cavalry ('18, '36)]

When comparing Infantry ('18) and Garrison ('18) one can only see slight differences in combat capability in favor of Infantry. The difference between Infantry ('18) and Militia ('36) is quite big, however. Militias have no HA, only 40 % of Infantry SA, 61 % of Defensiveness, almost no Toughness, and lower Air Defence and Suppression capabilities.

The main disadvantage of Infantry is however that they are very costly for small powers. In comparing the economical aspects of the different types of divisions, Militias are, by far, the cheapest to both field and maintain (although they can be a possible manpower drain). Supply-wise, they cost only a fifth of Infantry and slightly half of Garrison ('18).

In relation to Militia, until the development of "Rear Area Supply Dumps", Garrisons are completely fixed. In a small state with only one or two VP locations, this might not be of major defence concern. However, when waging a war of aggression, "Rear Area Supply Dumps" are essential in safeguarding the rear. This is however something that can be done by Militia units as well, but the higher Suppression values of Garrisons (4 compared to 1 for Militias) and better combat characteristics of a Garrison can almost guarantee a safe rear.

In conclusion, one could say that Infantry is the backbone of any Ground Self-Defence Force, with Garrisons securing the strategic terrain (VP or IC concentrations etc.), both assisted by Militias, that is capable of holding off numerically inferior units from the Great War (with the exceptions of Armor). This is however a largely defensive land doctrine; an option might thus be to add a component mostly dismissed by Major powers: Cavalry.

For minor and micro powers, Cavalry can be vital, since its basically just as tough as Infantry, but almost twice as fast, and thus capable of penetrating into enemy territory much faster. On the economical side, there isn't much difference, but Cavalry consume 20 % more supplies and take a whole extra IC when in training!

A discussion on Brigades

As a result of the economic restrictions Minor power 's and Micro power 's (MMPs) have, and the effect this has on research, it might be fair to state that the Brigades available to there states will generally not be of the self propelled ones, with the exception of Armored Cars. To this one can assume that the stats will at most get Basic or Improved kit.

Engineers - This is probably one of the most cost effective Brigades one can acquire as a MMP. It increases both Defence (5), Toughness (3) and Speed (0.5). On the supply side, it roughly consumes as much as a Militia, yet can have the drawback of actually needing Fuel (0.1). Compared to the other brigades it is generally slightly less costly to field (4ICs) and can be ready for deployment in only 45 days.

All in all, it can give your precious units the extra needed protection they need, both on the defence and on the offence (especially when crossing rivers etc.), and ability to move slightly faster. It does however require that you research "Rear Area Supply Dumps".

Artillery - If you're aiming to boost your ability to decimate the enemies soft targets this is a good add-on. It also gives a slight boost to Defence (2+) yet slows your units down (Speed -1), especially if you are fielding Heavy Artillery from the Great War (-2)

Anti-tank/air - Since you probably won't have access to Armor/Air, chances are your enemy MMPs won't either. However, having the possibility to manufacture Early/Basic Brigades of these types can be beneficial should the need arise. This is especially true for AA if you do not have and airforce capable of intercepting enemy bombers Otherwise, producing Engineers or Artillery is more suitable (if you can supply them).

Police - With a limited boost to Organization (3%), this element focuses more on the social dimensions that comes with holding ground. Since you might not have several divisions to suppress the risk of revolt in a province, this might be a cost saving alternative. Hardly needing a large industry over periods of time (2IC á 35d), it neither uses upp more supplies than an Engineer Brigade.

Armored Car - Although it does give a slight boost to Suppression, it also increases the combat characteristics of the unit it's attached to (2SA, 1Defence, 1Toughness) as well as increasing the units Organization (5%). On the logistical side it uses up as much resources as Early Artillery, yet it uses 60% more Fuel as an Engineering unit. It is however rather cheep to field (3ICs).

Air Force

Although having an air force is possible for a minor power, having a decent one that is up to date is probably more of a problem. One has to evaluate what type and what role the air force is to play. Also, with the limited industrial capacity your country has, every IC put into the air force has to count. See the Effective Use of Airpower posted in the associated guides section.

Since the country only has a limited amount of ICs and thus only a few research slots (with probably lousy tech teams), you should carefully plan what you research. Both the strategic and CAS options are highly specialized towards their specific unit types. The tactical option does however give you a wide range of options since tactical bombers are so versatile. They can fill the role of all the other bombers (although not as perfect).

The tactical branch of the tech tree also gives you ability to do airborne assaults and boosts the organization of naval bombers as well. This latter part might be of great value if your country is situated by the sea yet has little or no navy - that, unlike naval bombers, cannot be upgraded.

When it comes to fighter cover, there might only be very little room for expansion and maintenance, especially since both AA guns and AD brigades are probably a more affordable alternative. Escort fighters can be of interest however in keeping your bombers safe.

Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday In HOI2:DD, Escort fighters are managed and produced like Brigades attached to bombers. Thus, this might be a very affordable way of keeping your bombers safe from enemy fighters. Also there is a tech in the tactical branch of the tech tree that gives +30% bonuses to most tactical air missions. 

See the Naval Primer in the Associated Guides section.

Yes, a navy is possible but the same rule applies to the air force - one needs to trim the tree. Every navy needs a capital ship and a support ship. Of the capital ships the only choice is the heavy cruiser. It is the cheapest out of the three and it can perform shore bombardments. Now the heavy cruisers will need to be screened and the destroyers are perfect for it. Cheap and able to fend off submarines. when building them have at last a 1:1 ratio of capital ships to screens. The doctrine of choice for your fleet should the British one or the German one if you with to include submarines in your fleet. Submarines are also a great choice for a minor power. They can give the punch against the more expensive capital ships and are not expensive to build. Remember, ships cannot be upgraded and my suggestion is to build only the type of ship you need on Level 4 and above. If you do know you will enter a sea conflict before 1939 then level 3 ships are acceptable.

So all in all it is simple. Heavy cruisers, destroyers and possibly submarines all at level 4 that are improved through sealane interdiction doctrine(if subs are built) or the "fleet in in being" (British doctrine).

Research - Tree climbing on paper

Research Basics

Everything that is explained on the research page obviously applies to smaller nation research too, so reading that is a very good start. Research for small nations in a short version looks a lot like this:

  • Never research ahead of time. Bigger nations can do that, as they usually have the more tech slots and better tech teams. You however, as small nation, usually have bad tech teams, so researching ahead of time would be a lot of wasted time taking into consideration that you only have 1 or maybe 2 tech slots.
  • Research techs with blueprints first. If you perhaps have an ally that gives you blueprints, it is very wise to research the techs you have blueprints of first. Sometimes you might want another tech researched first. But nothing is more frustrating then researching a tech and when you reach 80% your ally suddenly gives you a blueprint, as that means a lot of wasted research time.
  • Matching fields of expertise. Get as much as possible matching fields of expertise.
  • Skill levels. Always research with the highest possible skill level.
  • Don't research anything you don't need!

Industrial Research

Important techs to research are no doubt the Machine Tools techs. They give you an extra 5% Industrial Efficiency each, and give your small economy a big boost. Being a small nation you usually have low manpower, but also low IC. So running out of manpower wont happen soon. It is however not a bad idea to research the Agriculture tech line, giving you 5% Manpower Growth bonus for every researched tech. That extra manpower might be handy if you go to war. If you find yourself having extra slots, and no techs to research left that year, researching the Cryptography tech line or a few of them also isn't a bad idea. It's not necessary however as your enemies probably wont have them researched either. Don't bother researching any other techs, as you wont either have the tech teams for them, or the time, or the IC to build them after researching them. (e.g. Rockets, Radar, Nuclear Bombs)

Military Research

Being a small nation, you probably only have infantry, so that's also where your research focus will be. You can try researching a bit of naval and air if you really need them, but it will cost you a lot of time. Concentrating on Infantry means that you will only be researching new Infantry Divisions, and some important techs. The Rear Area Supply Dumps is fairly important, as it lets you build Engineers, but mostly of all Strategically Redeploy your units. If you have cavalry, Researching new versions of them also isn't a bad idea. Also you might want to research new versions of whichever brigade you are using. I suggest using/researching Artillery brigades, as they don't take very long to research. Doctrine research is another very important thing for a small nation. It's a way to upgrade your army without having to use your valuable small IC for it. Here I advice to only research land doctrines, as there are really too much air doctrines to even begin there before they have a decent effect, and naval research also requires you to research a lot of doctrines you're not interested in before you could ever research those few that would be interesting. The only naval doctrine that might be interesting is the Convoy Sailing Doctrine, because it will allow you to build convoy escorts, and they might be vital if you ever plan on attacking a country abroad. The Land Doctrine that you should research is usually the on that you start with in the beginning, as for those, you'll most likely only have one tech team, specialized for the doctrine you start with. Don't bother researching any doctrine you don't have matching fields of expertise for, as that will literally take years to complete.

Other Research

If you have researched everything stated above and still have spare research slots, I think you aren't playing a small country, and should be reading another guide. Normally you will never reach any secret weapons, or very advanced doctrines or units.

Definitions for this text

Minor Power - Less than 40 ICs
Micro Power - Less than 10 ICs
MMP - Minor and Micro powers