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This is a beginner’s guide on Hearts of Iron 4 division templates and tank design which will require the No Step Back DLC. This guide is intended for use in single player against the AI, which does not build advanced divisions of its own.
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Hearts of Iron 4 Division Templates & Tank Design (No Step Back DLC)
This is a beginner’s guide on division templates and tank design. This guide is intended for use in single player against the AI, which does not build advanced divisions of its own. These divisions are generalized templates. The combat stats of these divisions will change depending on which doctrine branch you decide to go down, however, this will not matter much as these divisions are more than enough to destroy the AI. I am using the USA which has the Superior Firepower doctrine unlocked by default.
Keep in mind that a good division is worth nothing without proper support. Ensure that you have good supplies and air superiority whenever possible and ensure that your divisions are always attacking with friendly Close Air Support (CAS) within range. Also think about where you are placing these divisions. It is never a good idea to use tank divisions to attack entrenched infantry in mountainous terrain nor is it wise to stack dozens of large divisions together on a narrow front line. With that being said, let’s start off with the early division templates
Early Infantry Templates
Every country will start off with one or two basic infantry templates of some sort. These starting division templates usually range anywhere from 8 to 24 combat width. I recommend modifying these templates so that they are no bigger than 18 or 20 combat width.
The 10 combat width infantry division should only be used under a garrison order (or manually placed) to cover your ports and the surrounding tiles. They are relatively cheap to produce and will work in a desperate defense in a pinch until your stronger combat divisions arrive
The 18 combat width infantry division is a more general purpose division and I recommend that you use this division both to garrison your ports and to fill the front line. For the support companies, that depends on how many military factories you can use to produce support equipment. I believe that this division should at minimum have an engineer support company with support artillery or a cavalry recon company being highly recommended.
Introduction to Tank Classes
If you look at the tank research tree, you will notice three distinct tank types: Light, Medium, and Heavy (With amphibious tanks and super-heavy tanks being outliers). I recommend only using 1936 light tanks until you research and are able to produce medium tanks and I strongly advise against using the 1934 heavy tank in most situations.
In single player, the medium tanks can do everything the heavy tanks can do but cheaper. However, I am not stating that you should never build heavy tanks; just note that if you decide to build heavy tanks, understand their role a bit. Medium tanks are general purpose vehicles while heavy tanks with heavy cannons are slower and specialize in dealing massive damage to enemy armor and entrenched and fortified infantry divisions. Each tank class has their own pros and cons.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some early tank designs and their respective division templates.
1936 Light Tanks and 1938 Medium Tanks Designs and Templates
A simple light tank following the US historical interwar tank doctrine of “stick as many machine guns on it as possible”. Emphasis on speed and cost-effectiveness with the basic auto-cannon.
An alternative light tank design. the Close Support Gun is unlocked after researching the improved 1936 artillery upgrade. More expensive but more soft attack.
Just like the M3 Lee itself, these tanks will be the stopgap solution for heavier armor and breakthrough until you research the 1940 medium or heavy tanks. These tanks still focus on soft attack since around this time, the AI will have almost no tanks in their armies yet. Note the high amount of engine and armor points spent on this design. This will prevent the tank from being penetrated by other tanks that use the basic high velocity cannon (which the AI does use in their tanks, most notably Germany), however this extra armor really slows down the tank. This can be negated by adding sloped armor to the design, but I’d rather keep the extra soft attack from the extra machine gun.
These are the respective divisions. Since they are early war divisions, they are small so that they can be quickly fielded into your army. Despite this, they still do pack a considerable punch against enemy infantry divisions, especially when supported with CAS. Also take note of the division organization. You want to keep this number at or higher than 30, otherwise the division will not be able to sustain a prolonged offense or defense.
1939 – 1941 Infantry and Tank Designs and Templates
At the end of 1938 is when you want to start producing your main combat divisions. These divisions should be some of your strongest as they will drive and support the spearhead of your assaults. In general, these divisions should try to fill the combat width of the battle, which means that these divisions should be anywhere from 25 to 45 combat width. The following templates will be used until the end of the game. They will be upgraded with better equipment as the game goes on, improving their overall stats. My personal favorites are shown below.
This is my alternative to the tried-and-true 7 inf / 2 art division or the 14 inf / 4 art division. It is smaller than the 14/4 division while being stronger the 7/2 division meaning you can have more of these divisions on the front line without sacrificing too much on overall firepower. Note: For motorized or mechanized infantry divisions, I keep the template design the same as my regular infantry divisions. Simply just duplicate the infantry division template and replace the regular infantry battalions with motorized/mechanized infantry battalions.
This 1940 tank design will serve as the basis for my future medium tank designs all the way up until 1945 when the modern tank can be researched. The medium cannon offers a good balance of soft attack, hard attack, and breakthrough and the armor can withstand fire from tanks with basic high velocity cannons without much modification due to the addition of sloped armor. I like to add the stabilizer and extra ammunition storage for the extra breakthrough since this design has some extra reliability to spare. This tank chassis and design alone can be used all the way until the end of the game except under extreme circumstances which I will mention later. You can always upgrade the modules with newer, more advanced versions as you unlock them. There is a small checkbox than you can click which will automatically do this for you, it is to the left of the box that shows your current army XP. Just note that if you wish to use a future tank chassis, you will have to design the tank again using the new chassis.
I would also consider making a medium self propelled gun (SPG) for use in your medium tank divisions to create more soft attack. This particular design uses the medium howitzer, light armored superstructure, and sloped armor as to not bring down the overall armor of the division. SPGs get penalties to breakthrough, so keeping a radio or any module that adds breakthrough on this design isn’t really worthwhile. You can also add extra machine guns for extra cheap soft attack if you so desire.
The 1940 heavy tank design and division template, just like the medium tank, can be used throughout the whole game. The heavy tank emphasizes high armor, high hard attack, and high breakthrough so that you can smash through heavily defended or fortified positions as well as enemy tanks. The heavy cannon, stabilizer, armor skirts, sloped armor, and interleaved road wheels allow such a possibility. Note the high cost. You can produce two jack-of-all-trades medium tanks for the price of one quality heavy tank.
This is a basic medium tank division with mechanized infantry battalions. Mechanized units are a straight upgrade to motorized units so produce them as soon as possible. This division is only worthwhile for smaller nations with not much industrial capacity like Romania or Canada. For major nations, double the amount of battalions as shown below.
This 40 combat width division offers a balance of soft attack, hard attack, and breakthrough. This division should be spearhead for all offensive operations except when attacking in rough terrain like mountains or straits.
This is a larger alternative to the previous division which includes two SPG battalions for extra soft attack. One medium tank battalion is removed to reduce the combat width to below 45. Take note of the reduced breakthrough.
The heavy tank division is the same as the medium tank division but better in every way. However, compare the production cost difference between the two. This division costs 3x more than a medium tank division. Only produce these if you have enough resources to sustain these beasts.
Special Forces Templates
Against the AI, special forces aren’t really needed unless you really want to bully the AI. In this case here are my favorite templates.
With CAS and shore bombardment, nothing will stop these marines. Ideally, naval invasions will be carried out on plains tiles (i.e. Normandy or the shores of England along the English Channel) where the combat width is 90, so having two of these divisions attacking the same spot will really mess up a garrison’s day.
The combat width of mountains is very narrow, so having a small division is ideal. Once these divisions entrench themselves, any mountain range will become impassable.
Paratroopers are meant to capture important targets behind enemy lines, mainly victory points, supply hubs, and airfields. More often than not, the AI will not have divisions on garrison order guarding these points. This division is meant to seize and then defend the location until reinforcements arrive. Having them be small and cheap is ideal to replace losses since any kind of dedicated counterattack will destroy these divisions due to them suffering from the encirclement penalty.
1943 – 1946 Bonus Tank Designs
If you’ve made it this far into the game, AI USA and an uncontested Germany will start putting out some decent, albeit small, armored divisions with advanced tank and mechanized infantry battalions in them. To counter this, here are some more advanced tank designs.
A further improvement of the M4 Sherman. More armor, more piercing, and more breakthrough.
A heavy tank that is impenetrable to all but the most heavily armed tank destroyers or modern tanks.
A true main battle tank. A 1943 heavy tank on steroids.
As stated previously, these are generalized division templates and tank designs so feel free to modify these to your own will. These are what work for me and my personal gameplay style. In the future I may cover more specialized tank division templates based on the bonuses given by the Mobile Warfare doctrine or I may cover the basics for naval gameplay and ship design. If you found this guide to be useful please let me know and give me a topic for a future guide to cover and I will gladly work on it.