Dev Diary 6 d'Hearts of Iron 4 - Division design
Hello, and welcome back to another Hearts of Iron IV developer diary! Today I'm going to talk about the new Division Designer we're making. In a Hearts of Iron game, you spend a lot of time with your Division, and being able to customise them gave it a personal touch - You're not just using any Infantry Division, you're using your patented Infantry/Tank Destroyer/Artillery combination which makes them winning a battle all the more satisfying.
For those who don't remember, let's recap how it worked in HoI3: There, any time you made a division you mixed and matched 2-5 Brigade types to create a Division. While you had to research a tech to use 5 Brigades and the Combined arms system in Their Finest
Hour gave you bonuses for using a variety of types, there was no limitations on what you could do. This meant that players could use their knowledge of WWII and game mechanics to instantly re-organise their army along the optimum lines for their situation. More importantly, any time you wanted to change your Division makeup you had to deploy new Brigades and rearrange them into your divisions, it was a lot of clicking! For HoI 4 we want to keep the idea of customising your Divisions, but make it both harder to jump right to the optimum setup and easier to carry out your changes.
So, what's new? The key thing now is that you do not design each Division, you design a Division Template per type of Division you want to use and then build copies of that Template. If you decide to change your Division Template you will be told how much Equipment and Manpower it will cost (or return, you might make your units smaller or swap, say, Anti-Tank guns for Tank Destroyers, etc.) to upgrade all Divisions and then all your Divisions will start upgrading to the new design, subject to things like having enough Equipment and Divisions being in supply and not in combat.
A Division Template is made up of Brigades which are made up of Battalions, this is represented by a grid of cells in 6 columns of 5 rows with each column being a Brigade and each cell being a Battalion - With the exception that the left-most column are Support Units of varying sizes. Support Units are different in that they either lend useful abilities such, as an improved reconnaissance ability, or powerful direct or indirect fire to your frontline troops.
If you can build a type of Division, you have access to a basic/historical Division Template, and you can customise it using Land Combat Experience. You can use Experience to swap out Battalions, or unlock either new Brigades or Battalions, but you cannot simply optimise your division makeup on day 1. Despite the name, you earn a little Land Combat Experience even while at peace, but the primary gain is from combat. The rate of gain depends on the proportion of your units in combat, the more of your units that are fighting, the faster you gain Experience. This also means that smaller nations do not necessarily earn less than larger nations, as it's not the total number of units that matters, and large nations will likely not get much Experience when rolling over small ones.
Certain techs can give you a Combined arms bonus from combining certain unit types within a Division, when you unlock these techs you may simply enjoy more powerful Divisions, but alternatively you may want to down-size those divisions and re-use the returned Equipment to outfit more Divisions of approximately the same combat power as your units before you researched the tech.
The division design screen also gives you an overview of your divisions expected performance in different terrain, so in the example above the tracked vehicles will give it a movement advantage in deserts, but penalties on river crossings despite fielding engineers because of the heavy vehicles.
You can, if you wish, have multiple Division Templates for a given type, for example perhaps you want a Line Infantry Division to be you main frontline unit, and a Heavy Infantry Division type to assault heavily defended areas. You can copy and split off Templates as much as you want, however you must buy upgrades for each Template separately so having too many will limit the customization possible for each type.
Oh, and don't pay any attention to the stats yet, it's all under construction