Hearts of Iron IV: Arms Against Tyranny

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Hearts of Iron IV: Arms Against Tyranny review
Samuel Corey


The Northern Front

The Northern Front

The star of the latest DLC for Hearts of Iron IV is none other than Finland. In recent years Finland is mostly known for a taciturn population that drinks ungodly amounts of coffee and produces a disproportionate amount of the world's heavy metal music. However, in World War 2 they had a different reputation: Being pound-for-pound the deadliest army in Europe. Finland had the rare distinction of fighting against both the USSR (in the Winter War and the Continuation War) and the German Reich (during the Lapland War). With the Fins acquitting themselves remarkably well in both conflicts and inflicting disproportionate casualties on their numerically and technologically superior rivals.

In game, this translates into an absurd amount of defensive buffs for the Finnish army, especially if you are fighting on your core territory. You also get a significant number of supply bonuses as well, meaning that invading troops will be starving in the far north while your boys are sitting comfortably. It seems at times like your average Finnish regiment can hold off ten times its number in Russians while surviving on sunlight and melted snow.

Your chief problem is going to be the same one that Finland faced in real life, namely that there just are not that many Finnish people. Recruiting an army that can even cover your massive border with Russia in peacetime is a challenge, and just forget about maintaining coastal garrisons. As a result, you probably won't be able to launch much in the way of offensives, at least not until the Germans start to get involved.

Nordic Brothers

Alas, not all of the other new national mechanics are as fun as Finland. In particular, Sweden is a real pain to play, as the Swedes will start to riot if you don't build enough Ikea factories and Meatball processing plants. This results in it taking absolutely ages to get to the point where you can actually go to war, and by then much of the land you would want to take is occupied by either the Germans or the aforementioned super-charged Finland. It works lovely if you plan to do a historic playthrough and simply pass the years from 1936-1945 selling weapons and materials to both the Axis and the Allies, but if you actually want to get involved in WWII in your WWII simulator it's going to be a bit slow going.

That said, the other Nordic nations that have been given unique focus trees in this DLC are actually pretty damn fun. The Norweigian historical path in particular is pretty fun as you wage a defensive war against German invaders. Even tiny Denmark can be fun to play as, though for them you will want to follow the non-historical path as surrendering after a 6-hour war and accidentally sinking your capital ship doesn't make for the most riveting game-play.

Lord of War

The new economic addition of the DLC is an international arms market where you can sell extra or old equipment in exchange for increased building speed. Conversely, you can trade some of your economic output for much-needed guns and equipment. This is not really a game changer but it does give you something to do with all your interwar equipment or sub-par equipment you capture from enemies. For the most part, you will do all your selling during the pre-war period and most of your buying after you get sucked into the conflict. Things would have to be going very well for your nation to be both at war and exporting arms.

"Special" Forces

The other general expansion is an add-on to the way special forces work. Now you can level them up and unlock bonuses and abilities using military XP, the same way that the combat doctrines already work. You have the option to focus on one branch (either marines, mountaineers, or paratroopers) from the start with the option to add a second branch after going to war.

For a week or so after the DLC dropped, Mountaineers were completely broken, as equipping them with rangers and a variety of artillery turned them into killing machines. With this bug fixed though, Mountaineers are sadly the least interesting of the three options. Much better off are the paratroopers which can now be used in a more historical fashion, being able to disrupt enemy communications and supply and make coastal areas more vulnerable to a conventional invasion.

My favourite though is the Marine commandos, who you can turn into saboteurs that can land on an enemy coastline, destroy factories and infrastructure, and then retreat back out to sea without access to a port. The AI struggles to use them, fortunately, because I imagine a game where every nation was fielding these guys would be horrendously annoying to play. The naval invasion warning is frightening enough as it is.

Cost of Victory

As with other Hearts of Iron DLCs, the price tag seems a bit unreasonable given the amount of content here. If you're a new player there is very little reason to pick this up, especially considering one of the best features (the historical Finish Focus Tree) has been added to the base game already. Sure, there are plenty of nice changes in here for veterans but a new player simply won't get much use out of them when they are already overwhelmed with different systems. For Hearts of Iron veterans though, this is one of the better DLCs overall (though still probably falling a bit short of the high water mark of No Step Back).

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fun score


The DLC makes special forces more useful, versatile, and interesting, International arms market is a fun feature, Finland is an absolute blast to play as


Some of the other new nations are less enjoyable, Price is a bit steep unless you are a Hearts of Iron addict