Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hearts of Iron Semper Fi - Strategic Warfare in a Few Clicks? - Part 1

Past June 6th was D-Day for the new "Semper Fi" add-on to Hearts of Iron 3 (HoI3). And boy, at every release/add-on/patch this series never fails to set discussion forums ablaze.

Due to their complexity and incredible amount of features, reviewing a Hearts of Iron game is like reviewing the internet. I have zero experience with strategy games so I'm ill-positioned to review this one. I'm looking forward to see what the pros have to say about the Semper Fi add-on.

I must be getting old, because I no longer judge games for what they can't do but rather for what they do best. I'm also focusing more and more in the big picture rather than on data worshiping. For games like HoI, I will not be complaining if the AI Allies don't launch an airborne operation even when the conditions scream for doing so. Neither I will pull my hair in horror if the Bf108 is listed as a fighter aircraft rather than as a staff taxi. Old doesn't mean wiser, though. :)

When I launched HoI3-Semper Fi, my question was: to which extent one can wage a war without too much micromanagement?

I chose an scenario called "Attack on the West", playing as the Germans and gave the AI control of (yikes!) everything (diplomacy, production, research, trade, etc). I don't mean to play the game in such way in the future, this is just a test drive.

The ability to create and modify Theaters of war is a new feature in Semper-Fi. Theatres of war are assigned to HQ units of enough hierarchy to manage such a big affair.

Please click the image for a better view. The East (blue area) and West (pink area) Theatres. Note how the command structure of the units in the East Theatre is depicted as blue and green lines. More on command structure later.

These Theatres of war have a great influence on what the friendly AI does if you choose to automate them. These AI actions cover the frontiers and the interior lines of the Theatres. After a quick glance on the deployment of forces in the West Theatre, I decided to "push the units west" by shrinking the West Theatre quite a tad. Even when I will not interfere by manually moving a single unit, I want all the war machine near the front.

A slimer West Theatre. Much better now. It's time to invade France.


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