How to Play Hearts of Iron III - A Brief Guide

How to Play Hearts of Iron III - A Brief Guide
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Where Are My Men?

Depending on your starting location, it can be tricky to even find your armies, let alone order them around. Continuing our example from the previous article, most of France’s armies are visible in the starting map, though details such as how many units are stacked in a region, or how many air or navy divisions are housed in a particular base, can’t be seen.

And, while France’s colonies may not be the first thing on your mind in the Fall of 1939, the Outliner is a quick way to see where all of your units are, wherever they may be on the globe. It will also show us which units command others, a very important facet of controlling and using them. Click on the little plus sign at the right of the screen.

Finding and Selecting Units with the HoI III Outliner

HoI III is a lot easier when you start using the Outliner

The Outliner defaults to show you everything going on with your military units, but clicking the little green buttons across the top will remove some headings if you want to focus on one thing or another. Click on one of the land listings. This will select a Head Quarters or Theater Command Unit, the info panel for which now shows up on the left. This also unpauses the game, so pause it again for now.

Note the unit’s name, and that no other name appears above this. That means this unit does not take orders from another unit. Moving downward, note the bar that reads “No Objectives” and the little flag. This is how we will define settings for AI control of units, which we will look at soon. Below the little buttons which you can ignore for now (or mouse over if curious) is a list of brigades in the selected division. There is only one brigade, which is normal for a Head Quarters.

Below this are the list of units under the selected unit’s command, but we can’t see them all without scrolling. Also, the unit will be highlighted in white on the map, and units under its command highlighted in light blue. Clicking the little plus sign in the Outliner will let us see all of these units listed.

Using AI Objectives and Stances in HoI III

Setting AI Objectives in Hearts of Iron III

Using the Outliner, it is easy to see where all of our units are and how their command hierarchy works. If you start ordering movements and attacks without knowing the command structure, you will get your fighting units too far from their HQ’s, and they will incur all kinds of penalties. We will cover giving specific orders to individual or groups of divisions in the next article. For now, we are going to set up some operations for the AI to conduct, which we can tweak as things play themselves out.

With C and C North East selected, the blue highlights make it pretty obvious that this theatre is already in a pretty good position to defend the front, which is what we want. We just click the flag in the unit panel and select “Defensive Stance” from the drop down menu. Let’s move around and make sure all of our armies have some standing orders.

We will just set Dimashq and Saigon theaters to defend since they are pretty small and surrounded by neutral territories. North Africa looks a little more interesting though, click on theatre command, then click on the little flag in the unit panel. Now, right click where you want to eventually conquer. Set the stance to “Prepare” and the theaters’ troops will get to work positioning themselves to pour over the border as soon as you give the word. Italy is still neutral, or we could go straight to Attacking Stance.

We will save Marseilles to show how commanding units by hand works in the next article, then we are ready to enjoy the organized chaos!