Hearts of Iron IV Mods The New Order and Thousand Week Reich: How one succeeds while one disappoints

The Second World War is to a lot of people one of if not the most interesting times in human history and, because of this, there are some games that capitalize on people’s interest in the time. One of my favorite games is Hearts of Iron 4 because you can go ‘off the script’ of World War 2 and play an alternate history path with your friends in Hearts of Iron 4 roleplay, or you can drench yourself in sweat by playing HOI4 esports. Whichever way you choose to play the game, the warfare and industry mechanics are difficult to start playing. However, once you understand the basics, you can start to experiment with how you play or settle into the meta and bring the world to its knees.

After around 300 to 500 hours of HOI4, the gameplay gets boring, and Paradox Development Studios just made content for South America instead of anywhere even vaguely close to where World War 2 happened. This does make me concerned for the state of Paradox Interactive, but I have a solution to their lack of listening to the community: just let the community make the content, and with the power of the Steam Workshop, we can! Going to ‘Most Subscribed Mods’ commonly shows you the best mods with large communities and teams of developers. Some of my personal favorites are ‘Kaiserreich’, the most popular mod based on the concept, ‘What if Germany won World War 1?’ Another one I love to play is the ‘Great War Redux’, which turns HOI4 into a game about World War 1 where you can rewrite history in several ways. I like these mods a lot – I play them constantly. However, there are 2 mods I find more interesting: ‘Thousand Week Reich’ and ‘The New Order: Last Days of Europe’.  Both are based on the same idea, ‘What if Germany won the Second World War?’, but they vary in gameplay and lore.

Image: Thousand Week Reich Steam Page

The first of these 2 mods I am going to talk about is Thousand Week Reich (TWR). Its gameplay does not vary much from normal HOI4 with some changes to peace treaties, but it is very close to the base game as far as popular mods go. The lore of this game is praised for its realism: Germany wins, but barely. After the encirclement at Dunkirk, Britain surrenders to Germany while France is put under German rule. Due to this, Britain is humiliated and several independence movements rise in their colonies. Germany then turns to attack the eastern threat of Russia for what they think will be an easy war, but drags on for 4 years as the Russians desperately hold on after years of fighting the soviet government until Stalin went missing the remnants of the government fled to perm and the Urals which led to the collapse of Russia into warlordism. While Russia was being defeated, the US and Britain were beating Japan in this universe, but it took far longer and for 4 nuclear bombs to be dropped. After this the USA occupied the far east of Russia and supported the nationalists in the Chinese civil war which led them to victory. Though the nationalists won the civil war it still had lots of issues and warlords were still in charge of large parts of China. There was mass corruption in the government, and hyperinflation which led to China putting the blame for their problems on Vietnam to distract the population for the conditions they live in. This leads to the USA condemnation with strained relations it could potentially lead to a Sino-American Cold War . In 1952 Germany’s military spending caught up with them which  led to economic stagnation, but this isn’t the biggest issue facing Germany Hitler is severely ill and several people claim to be his successor this could lead to a civil war.

While TWR focused on the realism of historic events, the creators of The New Order (TNO) believe in teaching people about the horrors of Nazism so people in real life do not support their beliefs by knowing what would happen if they won. This leads to them taking some jumps in realism for the sake of this 1984-like world. In this mod, no one is a good guy. America basically has segregation with laws against it that are not enforced at all in the workforce and a population with no hope for the future, Germany has slavery which “totally” doesn’t result in revolts and with Adolf Hitler growing old there is infighting about who will become the new leader of Germany, and Japan is a corrupt state with megacorporation having massive government influence. Now you might be wondering how Germany won World War 2. The approach of the developers is just to weaken the strongest allied nations. Before World War 2 Nikolai Bukharin took over Russia and failed to industrialize till the 1930s with this they got destroyed by Germany. While Russia was still a deindustrialized nation stuck in the past it would fall to Germany within a year. The USA was still feeling the effects of the great depression till 1944 making sure it couldn’t put up a fight against Japan. By 1944 they were beginning to turn the war around, but right as they were preparing to liberate Asia a German jet taking off from a Japanese aircraft carrier dropped the first atomic bomb on Hawaii. At this point the people of the USA wanted peace and an end to the war because of the pressure the USA surrendered and lost all their overseas territory.

TNO in terms of gameplay completely revamps economy mechanics. instead of constructing factories to construct more, you have a GDP with growth, inflation, spending, and debt. At first glance you may think you have to have an economics degree to play this game, but it’s a lot simpler than it seems. You commonly do very little, but some national focuses and decisions to grow your economy are very much optional for most major nations to manage too much. The major change is in government policies. Instead of pressing a button to change them to a better policy you need a focus tree to do anything related to policies. The thing that replaces policies is societal development. It is a set of institutions like schooling, working expertise, military professionalism, bureaucratic efficiency, and agricultural mechanization just to name a few. There are 3 factions in the cold war: the Co-Prosperity sphere of Japan, the Organization of Free Nations, and the Einheitspakt. The main members of each of these factions (Japan, America, and Germany) will intervene in wars to get points for who is winning the cold war. These points are given out based on economy, military power, and victory in wars. These points determine your score in the cold war eventually when they add the 1980s and 90s to the mod whoever has the most points wins the cold war. 

Depending on what elements of HOI4 you like it will influence which mod is better in your mind. If you prefer action and combat, I think TWR is more your mod, but if you prefer story and detailed focus trees then TNO will be more your type. TNO has had a troubled development history with doxxing and team lead shifts and getting into controversy with the TNO Redux team leading to lots of moments where the development is without direction. Thousand Week Reich has had no such controversy and is getting a large amount of content in its next update, so it could get some more in depth focus trees.

Despite these mods starting from the same concept, they took very different approaches due to their goals for the mod being very different. TWR wants to be seen as the realistic one out of the two starting out wanting to be the gritty realistic mod, while TNO wants to make its own world without the limitations of Realism even if the world has a person who committed mass genocide becoming a hero.

Personally I love the worlds both mods create. They are such horrible worlds to live in where everyone does bad with America just being less terrible than the other places in the world, but I prefer TNO over TWR for the countries that do have content despite having less just having more immersion of the world while playing. I can enjoy it due to the amount of time put into a single playthrough of one country, but it can get boring waiting for a playthrough to get interesting. When playing TWR I don’t like having to look at a spreadsheet of paths to understand how I get a one leader in charge and having to restart on one miss click. While this is an issue in TWR, TNO commonly has a few paths which are obvious on how to get and very linear. For these reasons I find TNO better, but I hope TWR the new update improves how convoluted sub paths are or adds guides to make the game a little more playable.

I do think TNO is better, but there are several changes that TWR could make to increase my enjoyment of it. One of the major ones is to make the focus trees easier to understand (or a path guide) this would mean that you aren’t spending half the game alt-tabbing looking at events or decisions you need to pick. The next change I would say is to add more content for nations because for nations like Japan you can get Emperor Hirohito back and reform the empire, but you’re not able to invade anyone (this is an example of how not to make a focus tree). Either let nations fight or give them internal issues to solve then make Something for the military to be required like a civil war or a proxy conflict. Despite TWR wanting to keep its identity from other mods, but one of the best mechanics from a mod is the proxy wars in Kaiserreich and TNO, so people have something to do before they go to war with each other, or if they don’t go to war at all. This could add to the feeling of having it take place in the cold war times where each country has a superpower backing them. These changes are only what I think would make the game a bit more fun to play, but it could sacrifice Realism. 

To summarize both TNO and TWR cover the same topic of axis victory, but it takes different approaches to what it means and how to execute it. TWR goes for realism for the sake of an interesting thought experiment, while TNO intends to teach people about the horrors of fascism and why we should avoid letting them get into power through understanding why it is hated at the cost of realism with a larger focus on immersion. Both mods are fun to play, but I find the lore of TNO and how it focuses on a proxy war style of conflict to be more interesting to me than just standard hoi4 , but you can’t go to war. Despite me personally preferring TNO, I still enjoy playing TWR. It just doesn’t have the incredible focus trees, immersive world and powerful message that TNO does, so I deem it worse by my values. This is just my opinion and you’re valid to keep your own. You should play both mods yourself and make your own decision about which one you prefer. I do appreciate how both serve the same lesson of what could have been if History played out just a tiny bit different.

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