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"Hearts of Iron 3": Research, Technology, and Leadership

Technology and Leadership window at a glance.

Technology and Leadership window at a glance.

Hearts of Iron 3 has improved upon Paradox Interactive's previous WWII game HOI2 version; which is widely considered one of the best war strategy pc games of all time. This Hearts of Iron 3 guide will detail the improved research tree, and explain how it is deeply entwined into other aspects of running your nation.

Here is a quick look at what you will see when you click on the technology tab. I will explain this in-depth below, for now just notice the different windows and values. You can see in the upper left how much of Imperial Japanese leadership I am allotting to Industry/Military research, and how much is being used to train officers, spies, and diplomats. Industrial technologies are currently selected and displayed in the main window. The icons to the left of each technology are the required skills to research it, the icon to the right is what research skill will increase when the technology finished researching. The skill level greatly effects research speed, and if you focus on one area you can quickly pile up the bonuses, but neglected skills will slowly fall.

At the bottom of the technology screen, you are shown your current skill level in each specific category. While researching a skill will increase your skill in that area by 1 full point, every skill also deteriorates at about %1 a month. This means if you start with a skill of 5.0 and don't research a related technology all year, it will drop by almost an entire point during that time. Since most technologies take 3–6 months to research, only the largest nations in the world are able to keep a high skill in every major category. To make it even harder to stay skilled in every area, each basic branch is broken down into "theoretical skill" and "practical skill", so you will really need to have an idea of what you need for the future, and focus on a few main areas of research.

Education Investment Is the Main Way to Increase Available Leadership

Base Leadership Value and Effects

Base Leadership Value and Effects

I have not discovered what all the factors are in a countries BASE leadership value is. It does not seem to be affected (at least not largely) by your total industrial power. The US starts with low 20's, and the UK has a base around 18 or 19. It seems to be largely based on the overall University, Military Training, and Industrial Technology level of the nation in the mid-1930s. The most effective way to raise available leadership is to raise education spending. At maximum funding, this will increase your leadership total by 20%, while greatly reducing your available income. Money in Hearts of Iron 3 is very important, and quite essential for trading.

Theoretical and Practical Research Ability and Strategic Effect

The research window may look complicated or confusing at first glance, but it was made this way for a very important reason. Once you learn how it effects other areas of your nation, it will begin to feel much more natural and you will see how it makes for a more realistic war game. There are a whole bunch of values listed at the bottom of the technology window, and these are how skilled or practiced your current nation is within each subcategory of research. The icons are pretty self-explanatory, infantry knowledge is a little person, tanks look like tanks, carriers like carries, planes are sized accordingly, you will begin to learn just by looking at the icon pretty quickly.

Within most categories there are two types of research skill:

  • Theoretical research skill, represented by a green icon, is how able your nation's researchers are at coming up with the design, theory, and ideas behind new units and doctrines.
  • Practical research skill is shown as a blue icon in the technology window. This is how able your country is at implementing the theory, or idea, and putting it to use in the factories and battlefield.

Take a quick look at the images below. You will notice that both practical and theoretical skills are needed for almost every technology. But researching new technologies only results in an increased theory skill. Also shown below are the various bonuses that higher skills bring.

How to Increase Practical Skill and Why It Is Separate

Separating each skill into practical and theoretical research is not just to complicate the game and irritate players, it actually adds quite a bit of depth and realism that was missing from Hearts of Iron 2. One of the main reasons the US launched operation torch was to get the valuable combat experience from north Africa and southern Italy. Hitler sent wings of aircraft fighters and bombers into the Spanish war for this same reason. No amount of planning or industrial schematic can replace the importance of real-life action, or running an efficient assembly line. Combat experience and industrial training are vital to improving a nation's capacity for waging war, and Hearts of Iron 3 attempts to illustrate this importance through practical research skill.

It is actually quite simple to improve this skill, the only requirement is that your nation is at war and using its land, air, and naval forces. Although it isn't yet perfectly balanced, the importance of military experience is a great addition to the Hearts of Iron series. You can no longer sit and build up your industry for 5+ years, and still keep up the same military doctrine levels and equipment improvements that a nation who is constantly fighting and learning can.

Another large weakness of the Hearts of Iron 2 game, was that it encouraged you to research an advanced tank, or infantry design, before actually building a large number of forces. To combat this, and make it more realistic, Paradox Interactive has added practical unit production skills in addition to the above-mentioned land, naval, and air combat experience. To raise this skill, you need only build units of the appropriate type. This encourages you to constantly be building and learning from your designs, much like you would improve production rates at a factory as the workers become more skilled. Your practical skill level greatly effects your build speed, as illustrated below:


Well Thought Out Research = Deeper Strategic Gameplay

The result of all these different skill ratings, which drop slowly over time, is that you really need to have an overall strategy and plan for your nation. You need to decide how you are going to wage war, and focus on improving your ability to produce and research the best units possible for that type of fighting. The generic "1941 infantry unit" "1939 medium tank" Hearts of Iron 2 research scheme is finally gone, and you now feel like your nation is molding its units to fit a specific strategic design.

In Hearts of Iron 3, the player must not only research efficiently but also consider raising practical unit production and combat experience so that those advanced units and doctrines can be quickly implemented on the battlefield. Hearts of Iron 3 has one of the most in-depth and enjoyable research designs of any strategy PC game to date.

© 2009 Suspect20


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Suspect20 (author) on October 28, 2009:

Thanks for the response. Check for more Hearts of Iron 3 guides in the near future. I have been meaning to add them, but this soon after a game release there are always a lot of patches and information being changed. This is a testament to the quality of the community, and interaction between the game developers and its players.

Version 1.3 of Hoi3 is due out in just the next week or so (First week of November). I plan on setting aside a nice chunk of time to play and see the effect of the pretty major updates that are planned for the 1.3 patch

After that time expect to see updates to this guide, as well as additional guides added to the collection.

Skafsgaard on August 27, 2009:

very good guide, keep up the good work!