Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
If you haven’t gotten the chance to try Hearts of Iron IV out yet, I suggest you fix that. As a huge fan of World War II history and the strategy genre, I can’t get enough of games like these. Smelling strongly of Axis & Allies — the family-friendly Hasbro game pitting five friends in total war as Germany, America, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the USSR — HOI4 had me swoonin’ from the get-go. But having kicked numerous hindquarters as all five major powers, I needed a new challenge.
In my first few games, I tried my hand as Brazil, Greece, and Latvia; relatively small players (if at all) in the global turmoil of the mid-20th century. While I got the challenge I was looking for, managing trade agreements and what little resources I had in comparison to the main belligerents, I found myself left wanting. Each country had its own unique strengths and weaknesses geographically, sure; I favored mountaineers, light tanks, and mechanized infantry in Greece, while I tried to bolster Latvia’s political influence and defensiveness to hold back the Red tide, leveraging what support I could from my neighbors.
And while countries like Germany, the UK, France, and Japan have their own specialized National Focus trees, the little guys were left again to fend for themselves, equipped with the same generic template. Not all is lost, however, as Paradox has armed its community well, leaving the modders to write their own history. Admittedly, it’s my own dabbling in working on a HOI4 mod that’s been distracting me from writing articles as often as I should.
I know. Excuses, excuses.
Though you’ll learn soon enough about my own project, I’ll share some of works of talented modders I’ve drawn inspiration from with some slick National Focus mods of their own. Of the hundred-some mods already out there, the few I’ve played have added a nice layer of new strategies for countries like Iran, Finland, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Canada. If you’re not frantically clicking to subscribe to them already, you’re messing up… again.
Get your act together, Pyle. AND PAY ATTENTION. If you intend on victory, you’re gonna need some of these. So listen up and listen good:
On top of a brand new National Focus tree for Iran, Master Splinter‘s Persia Rising mod is overhauling the Middle Eastern country with new events, decisions, and balances. Alongside the whopping 72 focuses (foci?), Iran’s been rebalanced with a higher (historically accurate) population; more infrastructure, victory points, and active military units with their own special templates; and nine new cities.
In comparison to vanilla Iran, Persia Rising gives you a fighting chance. While trying to conquer your neighbors in Afghanistan or Iraq might still be rough (those mountains make for costly invasions), this National Focus mod lets you fine-tune your strategies, from faction-specific bonuses to boost diplomatic prestige to unique civilian and scientific buffs reflecting Iranian history.
Now with all these shiny new toys to play with, two things are left unaddressed: who will you wage war against? And will the revolution against the Shah come early?
Lords of Winter
While we’re on the topic of stuff looming on the horizon, winter is coming in the form of Finnish resilience. Indeed, Lords of Winter made by Nightingale grants Finland over 60 new national focuses to stave off the Russian bear, the German eagle, and any other unwelcome creatures you’d care to name.
From fortification ideas such as the Second Mannerheim Line or diplomatic strategies like reviving the Kalmar Union between Norway and Denmark, Lords of Winter gives Finland more Sisu than it knows what to do with.
The Dutch Lion Roars Again
Ahh, the lands of the Nether. A country of canals, windmills, and cheery folk who wear less wooden clogs than I initially hoped. But this Central European utopia wasn’t always as free and fantastic as it is now. Like many bordering the angsty Third Reich, the Netherlands watched warily while worries of war whipped ’round the world. In Patchwerk‘s The Dutch Lion Roars Again mod, you’ll have the chance to make the Netherlands great again. Failing all the other extra tactical options, then directly through the “Make Netherlands Great Again” focus included within.
It’s that easy. Well… no, not really. But extra territorial claims do help.
Still, whether you wish to expand your campaign throughout Europe or your colonial holdings in the Pacific, The Dutch Lion Roars Again gives you 63 new national focuses with some extra flavor enhancers (like flags and national spirits). Though it’s great as is, there’s even more in the works. With extra events, leader updates, and even more focuses, it’ll be fun to see Germany’s smaller neighbors get the buffs they desperately need to keep the Reich on the other side of the Rhine. Or, if you’re lucky, claim the other bank for yourself.
The Dutch do like banks. Or at least, so I’m told. Whether riverbeds apply to that definition is for you to decide.
Ordem e Progresso
Okay, so I lied a little bit on this one. While it intends on becoming a National Focus mod, Ordem e Progresso is still a work-in-progress(o). Still, as someone desperately looking for a superpower to shake up America’s iron grip that is the Monroe Doctrine (damn them for enforcing the independence of all Western Hemisphere countries from European intervention), cmburns88‘s mod loads Brazil to bear.
What Ordem e Progresso lacks in national focuses, it adds in 35 new provinces to the vast South American country. In addition to other industrial and economic buffs, the mod also throws in new events, ministers, weapons/equipment designers, and political influence to the mix. Much like Persia Rising, this mod seeks to make Brazil feel like its own unique experience rather than just add a new National Focus tree.
In the meantime, we still have to deal with the generic template, but at least there’s a lot more to work with, giving players the added edge they need to conquer the New World — or assert itself as the true protector and superpower of the hemisphere.
In both my playthroughs and my adventures under HOI4‘s hood, I’ve grown increasingly salty about America being so OP compared to every other country on that side of the world. Even as an American myself, the bloated blue mass that is my homeland could stand to be a little less in your face about how much it enjoys war. While Ordem e Progresso strengthens the south, Zeress‘ Better Canada (if you couldn’t guess) bulks up our neighbor to the north.
With over 40 new focuses and some new events, Canada is a bit more versatile and dynamic, even offering Quebec’s secession and various outcomes in response. While the mod’s description suggests an interest in keeping Canada a minor nation, its dual interest in Quebec and adding more variety and details to both countries makes up for lack of buffs in comparison to other mods.
But even then, with Canada’s close cultural ties to Europe, Better Canada might be all that’s needed to threaten American sovereignty should your goal be to expand your land claims. Of course, there’s still Quebec to deal with… and the matter of Newfoundland and Labrador still being controlled by the British.
Where to begin, where to begin?
Bonus: God Bless the Enclave
It wouldn’t be a good day unless I plugged Fallout somehow, somewhere. While God Bless the Enclave is but a mini-mod that repaints the Silver Legion of America as the Enclave, those of the Fallout universe know that things labeled “mini” shouldn’t always be under-estimated.
Provided you can turn the United States into a nationalist country, you’ll soon find the Enclave emerge with its own national spirit and Colonel Augustus Autumn as its head (Kewsor, the mod’s creator, is still looking for a good headshot of Richardson or Eden so Autumn’ll have to do). Again, it’s not one of the big ol’ National Focus mods listed above, but you can still play as the friggen Enclave. And national focuses, ministers, and even vertibirds and lore-rich companies to supplement the war effort, God Bless the Enclave will grow alongside the might of the American people.
In the words of a great man, “It just works.”