Ever since the release of the ‘No Step Back’ DLC, the META (most effective tactic available) for Hearts of Iron 4 division templates has been in flux. Whereas before, players had only to decide between one or two division templates to make the best division possible, now there is much more room for variation.
While I am happy to see the game add some strategic depth to give the player more options, it can also be a little confusing, especially for newer players, when trying to decide the best route to take.
In this article, I will give you what I believe are the best division templates and why I think so.
- To repeat: After the NSB DLC, there really aren’t any division templates that are objectively ‘the best’. Each design has pros and cons. The best template for you will depend on the country you are playing and its current situation.
** A great resource when experimenting with division design is this website: https://taw.github.io/hoi4/
It allows you to play around with division composition. You can customize everything including tech level and doctrine. For this guide, I used 1940 tech (usually when the decisive fighting begins) and left the doctrine blank so as not to skew the stats for any battalion type.
Previously in HOI4 the ideal combat width for division templates was easy to decipher. As the combat width was 80, some multiple of 80 be it 40, 20, or 10, was desirable. Now, all that has changed. Combat width now varies depending on the terrain in which the battle takes place. (For a more in-depth look at terrain, be sure to check out our guide on land combat here. Hearts of Iron IV Tutorial Land Combat)
The game devs made sure that there was no one ‘perfect’ division width that would fit every terrain. Now players must settle for optimum width most of the time.
In my opinion, the most efficient width for divisions is 21. To get this number I simply looked at all of the terrain widths (except marshes, mountains, and hills) and picked the number that was divisible into each with the least remainder.
*I ignored marshes because they are rare and hills and mountains because only specialized mountaineer divisions should be fighting there. More on that later.
Taking attacks and additional attacks, which add width, into account, 21-width divisions and 42-width divisions are the ones with the least ‘wastage.’
To demonstrate, I will provide an example. Forest tiles have a combat width of 84 with an additional attack direction adding another 42 for a total of 126. 84/21 = 4 remainder 0 for 0 ‘wasted’ width. 126/21= 6 remainder 0 for 0 wasted width.
Thus for forest tiles, a 21-width division is perfectly optimum with zero wasted frontage.
Below is a table that shows how much combat frontage is wasted by some popular division widths.
|Plains & Desert 90/135||0+9 = 9||6+9 = 9||9+0 = 9||24+3 = 27||6+9 = 15||2+3 = 5|
|Forest & Jungle 84/126||12+0 = 12||0+0 = 0||3+18= 21||18+27 = 45||0+0 = 0||40+38 = 78|
|Urban 96/128||6+2 = 8||12+2 = 14||15+20 = 35||30+29 = 59||12+2 = 0||8+40 = 48|
|Total Wasted Width||29||23||65||131||15||131|
The clear winner from the table is the 42 width division with only 15 combat width wasted across all terrain types (except mountains, hills, and marshes).
So why do I recommend 21-width divisions as opposed to 42’s? Simple. Support companies.
Support companies in HOI4 act as force multipliers. They are a way to add modifiers or raw combat power to your divisions without taking up any combat width. This in essence makes them ‘free’ combat power (other than their IC cost of course).
I can field 2 21-width divisions for every 1 42-width division for the same cost in manpower. This means twice the benefits from support companies!
Additionally, while stacking breakthrough and defense in large divisions was the META before, with the addition of the coordination mechanic in NSB, it is no longer decisive.
Hearts of Iron 4 allows you to include up to 5 support companies in a division. Below, I will give you what I believe are the 4 most essential. The fifth slot is left open intentionally in order to be flexible depending on what country you are playing or situation you are in etc.
- Support Artillery – Support artillery is a great support company because it adds a significant amount of soft attack, which is the most useful combat stat for a division. Adding soft attack without taking up any additional combat width is always a win in my book.
- Engineers – Engineers are the premiere force multiplier company. They give entrenchment bonuses as well as bonuses for defensive battles for many different terrain types. They are simply too good to pass up.
- Support Anti-Air – Support AA adds a fair amount of piercing and hard attack which can be especially useful for infantry divisions as it may be the difference between piercing enemy armor or not. Shooting down enemy CAS with their air attack is also a nice bonus that trades well as far as IC costs are concerned.
- Logistics – Logistics is basically mandatory after the NSB update. Reducing the total supply cost of the division allows for more divisions to be present in a given sector of the front. A literal force multiplier.
- Empty – As stated, the fifth and final slot could be filled by a number of options depending on your country and situation. The following are decent choices.
Support rocket artillery is great for the same reasons that support artillery is but it does require some research.
Maintenance is useful if you are playing as a country with a weaker industrial base say Italy or France. Reduced equipment attrition and more captured enemy equipment means it more than pays for itself IC-wise.
Light flame tanks are a popular choice for tank divisions for the extra breakthrough. Although, do remember that if your tank division already has more breakthrough than the enemy has attack, it is a wasted stat.
Finally, I like recon. Many others write off recon as it has negligible if not negative benefits as far as direct combat is concerned. However, that’s not why I get it. The speed bonus it gives to your division (especially armored car recon) when combined with other speed bonus buffs (looking at you Mobile Warfare Doctrine) can be significant. And remember the military maxim “Get there firstest with the mostest!”
For most countries hospitals, MP, and signals aren’t really worth it simply due to the opportunity cost of not selecting the support companies mentioned above.
10 Infantry, 1 Anti-Air; 21-width.
This infantry division is similar the standard ‘10/0’ infantry division. The only difference is the added anti-air battalion which adds a fair amount of piercing, hard attack, and air attack for a small increase in IC and manpower cost. It also makes the division have 21 width which, as we discussed, is important.
The infantry division’s job is mostly to hold ground against attack whether from other infantry or armor. This division’s high defense and organization allows it to do just that.
4 Medium Armor, 6 Motorized-Infantry, 1 Motorized Anti-Air; 21 width.
The tank division’s job is to breach an enemy’s line and then exploit the breakthrough to create encirclements. (check out our guide for creating encirclements here Link to encirclement article). To do this, it needs to have high breakthrough, high speed, high soft attack and as much hardness and armor as possible.
The tanks give it breakthrough and make it hard, the motorized-infantry make it have enough HP and organization to give it some staying power in combat, and the motorized AA makes it 21 width.
When you have the tech and industry, I recommend you upgrade the motorized-infantry to mechanized-infantry. This will increase the attack and most importantly, the hardness of the division.
10 Mountain Infantry; 20 width.
You may notice that I don’t use 21 width for my mountain divisions but rather 20. That is because as mountain divisions, they should ideally only be fighting in hills or mountains. 20-width is well-suited for this.
It is also important not to dilute the mountain and hill combat bonus the division gets by adding in other battalions.
Mountaineer divisions will do an excellent job at stopping anything trying to attack through mountains or hills.
While they do have more breakthrough than standard infantry, I do not recommend attacking with them even in their advantageous terrain for the simple reason that you should always try to avoid attacking through that kind of terrain. However, if there is no other way, then this is the division you want.
These are the basic divisions that I use when I play Hearts of Iron 4. However, don’t just stop here. Experiment a little. Find out what works for you and the country you’re playing. Maybe you need more hard attack as France to stop German Panzers. Maybe you need more AA as Japan to help mitigate some of the overwhelming Allied air onslaught.
Hearts of Iron 4 is a game where the tactics and counter-tactics are constantly evolving. To remain set in your ways and stubborn, is to be eventually swept away by inevitable change.