Starting the Clock – A Hearts of Iron III Quick Start Guide
by: J. F. Amprimoz
; edited by: Simon Hill
; updated: 8/16/2012
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Something as simple as moving a unit involves making many decisions in HoI III. The UI is actually very efficient in this regard, once you know how to use it. Read on and march to victory!
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Our previous article showed us how to find and learn more about units using the Outliner, and how to set up stances and objectives for armies and set them to AI control. In this article, we will continue our example as France during the Blitzkrieg Campaign and set up the defense of southern France using a combination of AI directives and direct command.
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Moving Units in Hearts of Iron III
The first thing to note is that if a unit already has its AI turned on, or the AI of a unit higher than it in its chain of command has its turned on, the unit will ignore your commands. With the unit selected, you can use the info in the unit panel to find who has the AI turned on. If the unit doesn’t have a green flag, but has a stance or objectives, click on the next unit name above its own name in the unit panel until you find the culprit.
If you turn on the AI of a unit or a unit above it in the chain of command, it won’t necessarily stop performing the last order you gave it. For instance, most of the commands we issue in setting up Marseilles’ defense stay the same when we turned on the HQ’s AI and set the stance to defense. An exception was telling the HQ itself to move to Marseilles itself. It seems they were more comfortable further from the front.
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Strategic Redeployment or Normal Movement
There are two main ways to move land units in Hearts of Iron III. Strategic redeployment is a fast and cheap way to move people away from front lines. The real world equivalent is that it is cheaper and faster to put tanks and soldiers on trains than it is to have them march and drive. Continuing this notion, the speed of redeployment depends on the Infrastructure ratings of the provinces being crossed.
The draw back is you don’t want your infantry to show up in combat on a train and start lining up to get their rifles from the baggage car. This is reflected by the troops taking an organization penalty that grows over time as they are redeploying (they take similar penalties when loaded on ships or planes). Simple movement uses more supplies and fuel, and is slower, relying on the unit’s movement speed, but doesn’t hurt organization on its own. Marching through a hot, steamy, pathless jungle will carry its own penalties, though.
To order a unit to move to or attack a nearby province, you just select the unit and right click where you want to go. We have some mountain infantry, the Corps Expeditionnaire hanging out in Marseilles. If they were garrison type infantry, I might be tempted to leave them there, but these Alpine specialists would best be used in, you guessed it, the Alps. I will drag a box around the unit stack in Marseilles, trying not to include the naval or air base.
I will get a list of all the land units in the unit panel, and depending on my clicking skills, air and naval units. Use the little Xs to remove any air and naval units, and the HQ as well, since we don’t want to move that right to the front. Just right clicking in the target province, Briancon, will get the troops marching, indicated by the green arrow, which will fill up as the unit approaches its goal. Right clicking on an enemy held province will launch an attack, indicated with a red arrow.
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Ctrl-Right Click Movement Options
Let’s move that Corps Expeditionnaire’s HQ closer, but not all the way, to the front. By holding down control and right clicking, you get the movement menu. Here, you can decide what kind of movement you want to undertake, and at what time you want to arrive, which is important when coordinating attacks with other units or trying to fight in the daylight.
We want Strategic Redeployment, which is the default option. Click accept and the unit’s movement will be shown on the map by a cyan/turquoise looking arrow.
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Moving Air and Naval Units in HoI III
Planes and ships offer more options when moving than land units, so right clicking will bring up the movement menu every time. The most common option for both is rebasing. If the province you right clicked has an appropriate base (air for plane, naval for ships), this will be the default selection. Naval units can only operate within their range, so rebasing several times can be necessary during a long ocean crossing. Air planes also have an operating range in which they conduct missions.
Interestingly, naval units can only rebase within their range, while Air units can rebase well beyond it. Both, however, are subject to range restrictions when conducting other operations.
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Hearts of Iron III: Air Wing Command
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Hearts of Iron III Air and Naval Unit Operations
Right clicking with an air or naval unit selected offers options specific to that unit. Air units can engage in air superiority to patrol an area for enemy aircraft. Air intercept will scramble planes to an area if the enemy is incoming. Ground attack will go after ground forces, focusing on those in combat, while interdiction focuses on those on the move. Note that just because a unit can do something, doesn’t mean it should do it. Interceptors don’t do much to help ground attacks, and bombers are useless in air combat.
Naval units have even more options. The default is to just move to an area, where it will engage (or flee) from enemies. Intercept is the same as with air units, and patrol is the naval equivalent of air superiority. Sortie will send the units out to look for trouble in a certain spot, and if there is none there, come back. Convoy raiding is like patrolling but with the focus on enemy supply and resource convoys. Escorting, which will only appear if there are convoys going through the province you right clicked, involves protecting your own convoys.
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You are ready to let slip the dogs of war! Unpause and use what you have learned to make your mark in the history books. If you have been following the guide since the first article, you will need to finish setting up your Production and Technology Windows. You can set them to AI control, or check out the following articles for more info: