Hearts of Iron IV Mod: The Resource War
Hello! This is my first blog-post I've made here on my portfolio site. I like to review my own process every now and then, as well as share and discuss the design techniques I stumble across, so maybe I'll make these from time to time!
I'm a big old Paradox fan. I'm especially fond of their latest grand strategy; the World War 2 game Hearts of Iron IV. There are a few things I'd love to add to this title (and since it's quite modable, I can!), but one in particular has been itching me for a while: the economic cat-and-mouse of the Second World War and how it's represented in the game's mechanics.
WW2 was a war of starvation. It commenced with the Allied blockade on Germany, more severe and more organised than the WW1 blockade. Since Germany lacked colonial resources and was mostly bottled-up in the Baltic, the hope was to starve them into submission. Yet Britain and France, too, were in precarious situations; the former in particular relied in imported goods - food above all - and Germany wasn't going to leave that unexploited. A long campaign of U-Boat warfare set to work cutting off British imports from the USA, Latin America, and elsewhere. For the first few years of the war (before the Allies seriously stepped up their anti-sub game) this was remarkably effective. Churchill once said of the Battle of the Atlantic:
"The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril."
Hearts of Iron IV does model U-Boats! It also models strategic bombers, some degree of industrial flexibility, embargoes, trade routes; the devs have certainly paid their homages to the Resource War. Yet among the six game resources - Steel, Chromium, Tungsten, Oil, Rubber, Aluminium - maybe there's something missing? Food.
The German invasion of the USSR, according to Peter Frankopan's Silkroads, was primarily motivated by a desire for food; rations in the Reich were severe, and were about to get worse. A hungry populace is not a war-fighting populace. Meanwhile, Europe's breadbasket - the Ukraine - was within German grasping range, and defended only (so they perceived) by a semi-industrial and crumbling Russia. The solution to German leadership was obvious and cruel; take the Ukraine, starve the Soviets.
Oil, too, was a game-changer in the war, especially regarding the navy. And oil does appear in Hearts of Iron IV. However, it behaves identically to other resources; it's consumed during production, and remains in a unit's composition as a largely static number. You don't lose oil over time. Your tanks won't run out of fuel and stop functioning. Paradox themselves have suggested fixing this up, and making oil (and perhaps grain) more vital than any other resource; a lack of oil might shut down your entire army, no matter how many tanks you've built. While we wait for this mechanic, I figured I'd pursue a substitute.
And finally, there were many, many one-offs and clever political moves regarding the Resource War. In Operation Pike, the Allies conspired to bomb the Soviet oil-fields (despite Soviet neutrality at the time), cutting off Germany's primary import source, but essentially declaring war on the USSR. Operation Fish saw Britain shipping its gold reserves to Canada, and out of Axis hands should an invasion occur. Such tidbits are perfectly handled by HoI4's political focus system; a tech-tree-esque mechanic that handles all the strange political moves of the war where mechanics cannot, such as the Anschluss of Austria and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
New resources, oil upkeep, and extended political focuses. These are the features I hope to deliver in my work-in-progress mod - The Resource War. I'm looking to sharpen my skills in economic balance and content implementation, while also cutting my teeth on some good old modding. As of writing, it's been a real challenge and a real blast. Stay tuned for some examples of how I work and what I'm up to.