HOI4 Dev Diary - Soviet Union Historical and Common Branches (Part-2)
ManoDeZombi, Content Designer
HoI4 Dev Diary - Tank Designer
Archangel85, Oberbefehlshaber, Content Design, HoI4
Further down the tree, we have Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, which will grant you your 5th research slot, The Road of life and the Soviet Atomic Bomb Project.
Hello, and welcome back to another DevDiary about content coming in the 1.11 “Barbarossa” patch and its accompanying DLC. As always, keep in mind that the things shown in this DevDiary are still under development, so the numbers and UI might change before release.
Ever since we revealed the ship designer in Man the Guns, people have been asking about a similar system for tanks. We did, however, want to improve a bit on the ship designer. In particular, we felt that the ship designer was encouraging too many generalist designs. Part of the problem is that ships have a very long lead time before they become available, so it is difficult to iterate on the designs in a timely fashion. When your ship takes two years to build, you can’t really specialize it too much, because you can’t always accurately predict the situation in two years.
The Road of Life were the transport routes across Lake Ladoga (water routes during the period in which the lake is navigable and ice routes in winter) to Leningrad during the Second World War. They were the only Soviet surface routes into the city while it was besieged by the Germans (if you want to know more about the Road of Life, I can recommend watching a fantastic episode centered about the siege of Leningrad, as part of the documentary “Soviet Storm - WW2 in the East”. I find the whole documentary very interesting and enjoyable, by the way).
Thankfully, tanks require a somewhat smaller investment (although our QA certainly has tried to make designs that rival ships in cost), so you see a new tank design in the frontlines much sooner than a new ship, allowing you to react to new situations much faster.
In-game, this focus represents the desperate yet brave and daring supply methods used by the Soviets in the direst of times. It will become available as soon as one of the key Soviet cities is threatened by enemy troops, and it will provide some bonuses to winter attrition and supply.
Another thing is that ships usually had trade-offs between different capabilities, in the sense that the space (or module slot) taken up by a torpedo launcher could also be taken up by an AA gun, making the ship better against one or the other type of enemy. But rarely did you want a ship that had no AA or no way to defend itself against surface targets, so you always wanted some AA and some ship attack.
The Soviet Atomic Bomb Project was the military project, part of the Soviet atomic program for nuclear research and development, aimed at developing nuclear weapons during the war. It was greatly stimulated by the activities and achievements of scientific institutions and military industry of foreign powers such as the German Reich and the United States of America.
Tanks, on the other hand, don’t usually have trade-offs in the same way. You don’t usually design a tank, wondering if you should put on another AA gun or a second gun against surface targets (unless, of course, you are German and it's 1944).
But Tanks still have trade-offs in their design, and we wanted to represent those. Traditionally, tank design revolves around three aspects: Mobility, Firepower, and Protection. A well-armored tank is slow, a fast tank can’t carry a big gun, and a big gun requires a large tank, which is difficult to armor. During the war, different nations tried different approaches, and learned different lessons from their observations - it is no surprise that the last German tanks of the war were heavily-armored vehicles carrying massive guns, but the first post-war design was the comparatively lightly armored but well-armed and quite nimble Leopard 1.
Initial efforts were hampered by the German invasion and remained largely reliant on the intelligence knowledge gained from the Soviet spy rings working in the USA's Manhattan Project.
The focus requires having built at least 7 Academies of Sciences, and it will provide an array of bonuses and tools to infiltrate enemy atomic programs and develop your very own nuclear bombs, including an extra operative slot and a new historical operative.
So we wanted to make you think about these three aspects, and have it be a trade-off between them. However, in a grand strategy game, other aspects also matter more than in the typical comparison of tank designs - the best tank in the world is useless if it breaks down on the way to the battlefield (Panther fans take note), and it is even more useless if you can’t afford it. So we wanted cost and reliability to also matter when designing a tank or armored vehicle.
Now let’s talk about the army branch.
In contrast to ships, we wanted to make you think more about specializing your designs to fill a certain niche, and optimize it towards a specific role. While you will probably still want to have a somewhat middle-of-the-road design for your main production medium tank (one might call it “the Sherman”), there is a place for more specialized designs as well.
As part of this approach, we will be making changes to the reliability system and the armor system. The details will be forthcoming in a future dev diary (together with other combat changes), but the broad strokes are that reliability will not just affect the rate of attrition, and that the armor system will become less binary. As part of these changes, we also decided to give mechanized equipment some upgrades, so that it can keep up with tanks.
The Army Branch is one of the most important ones in the tree, and it has a lot of content related to it, so let’s focus on the key aspects of it, starting with the initial National Spirits.
Under the new system, reliability is meant to represent both the likelihood that a given piece of equipment breaks down as well as the likelihood that it suffers catastrophic damage when hit and the effort necessary to repair it. In effect, reliability also represents the carrying capacity of a given chassis, so you effectively have a reliability budget for every chassis to work with. The more armor you put on it, the bigger the weapon etc., the more reliability drops. Heavier or more advanced tank chassis generally have more reliability (over 100% on the base chassis in some cases).
The Military was highly politicized, making it dangerously inefficient, even though political discussions (and indoctrination) among the troops also had its benefits for the Party. Politicized Military can be improved further down the branch.
As you can see below, The Red Army has a lot of red modifiers, how fitting, right?
Well, no worries, most of the focuses in this branch will deal with those red modifiers, gradually putting your unreliable army in very good shape.
But enough of the basics, let’s talk about what you really want to know: What’s the Kampfwagenkanone Zweiundvierzig in game terms? Is the weird hybrid-electric drive of the Elefant represented? Do we get to set the exact angle of the front armor or just the thickness?
Much like ships, tanks are based on a hull (called a chassis) and a number of modules that define the actual stats of the final design. These modules act a little different from the way the ship designer works. While the main armament is fairly self-evident, other “modules” represent something like “design features”. These features are meant to be distinct enough that even someone who does not have an in-depth understanding of armor development during the war can at least understand that different armor types are good for different things.
Once you Strengthen the Mobilization Plan for some manpower and mobilization speed, you will be faced with a decision to make: Restore Cossack Units or opt for Cohesion First.
After the Russian Civil War, Cossack troops were disbanded, since many of them sided with the white movement. However, in 1936, the restrictions on conscription of Cossacks for the Red Army were lifted and some cavalry divisions received the status of Cossack Divisions. The wearing of the previously prohibited Cossack uniform was also restored (although it would only last for a few years), and in this uniform walked the Cossack units in their first military parade as part of the Red Army in 1937, and later on at the Victory Parade on June 24, 1945.
Instead of scripting in a gigantic list of armor types with different thickness, armor is represented by a thickness and a production method: Riveted Armor is the cheapest kind, but also the weakest. Cast Armor is the strongest, but also the most expensive.
In-game, Restore Cossack Units will grant you small bonuses to cavalry, a new general and a few divisions, including a new Cossack cavalry template. To be fair, this template is inspired by the composition of cavalry divisions (not necessarily Cossacks) later on, around 1941, but I really wanted to offer the player an interesting cavalry template from which to work on.
Welded Armor is a compromise between the two extremes, making it the most cost-efficient (arguments can be made either way between cast and welded armor since welding does require specialized equipment and training).
Cohesion First will instead boost your division organization, in exchange for some extra training time.
Armor thickness is changed through something much like the old, vanilla upgrade system, with up to 20 different levels. You start with being able to put up to 5 levels of armor (roughly equivalent to 50 mm of armor) on a tank, but research allows you to put more on. Higher levels of armor protection require more resources, such as steel and eventually chromium. There is no limit to the amount of armor you can put on a chassis as such - if you want to make a light tank with the armor protection of a Tiger, you can (it’s called a Panzer I Ausf. F). The amount of armor upgrades on the vehicle translates to an actual armor value based on the type of armor you have selected, so 5 levels of riveted armor are still weaker than 5 levels of cast armor - but much cheaper.
The old Rehabilitated Military and Military Reorganization have suffered some changes. Rehabilitated military will be available once you get rid of Stalin’s Paranoia and the purges (more of this later), and will help you recover some valuable organization.
Engine types are also meant to be simple to understand. Gasoline Engines are faster than
Military Reorganization has now become an actual reorganization, during which you will have to deal with some nasty penalties that will be applied when you start the focus. However, once the focus is completed, not only will you get rid of said penalties, but your national spirit The Red Army will also get useful bonuses to modifying division templates.
Similarly, Desperate Measures and Lessons of War have also suffered significant changes.
Desperate Measures can only be taken while at war against a major power, and will grant a temporary boost to fielding divisions, as well as a set of decisions to help you contain the enemy invasion.