Hearts of Iron 4 (HOI4) – Ethiopia Strategy Guide

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Ethiopia is probably one of the hardest countries to play in Hearts of Iron 4, especially if you are fighting a real player as Italy.

However, Paradox Interactive has managed to make a really fun national focus tree with a lot of paths that will allow players to constantly replay the country.

Recommended Read: Hearts of Iron 4 – USA Guide

Once you’ve learned how to defeat Italy, there are a lot of regional goals to free Africa which will pit your small little country against the world, allowing you to constantly free everyone on the continent.

In this guide, we will show you how to play Ethiopia in Hearts of Iron 4, how to defeat Italy every time, and what to do afterward to conquer all of Africa.

Table of Contents

General Strategy for Ethiopia in HOI4

Though there are a lot of cool focus paths for Ethiopia, the best one is the communist African Union. This focus will allow you to work on freeing all of the countries in Africa and also get you cores on all of these puppets.

Though the King of Kings path is also very fun and allows for a lot of interesting roleplaying scenarios, the African Union path will make your country one of the largest ones in the world with full cores on all of Africa, something you won’t get with the Empire of Solomon.

So, the first thing will be kicking Italy out of Africa completely. If you get the peace offer before kicking Itay out of Eritrea and Somalia, they will still keep it. This means that we need to defend our territories and also push them out of the continent.

After that, we will get a peace deal to keep all the African territories, and then we can concentrate on the other colonists.

The Freedom at Gunpoint focus will allow Ethiopia to kick out the colonizers from Africa, freeing the other countries in the process.

These wars can be ended in White Peace, which means you don’t need to capitulate the UK or France.

Later, we will form the African Union, and we can integrate the newly released puppets in the union, getting cores on their territories.

How to Start as Ethiopia in HOI4

Ethiopia starts with a hard war against Italy. The best thing we can do is hold our ground for a while and escalate the war by protecting the north and the south, giving Italy huge debuffs and our country a lot of buffs.

Once we manage to get guns from the Soviet Union, we need to quickly push Italy out of Africa, otherwise they will send a peace offer early, leaving them with territories on the continent.

National Focuses

The most important focus at the start of the game is the Soviet Rifles one. This will get you 10k Infantry Equipment, which will result in an easy win against Italy by allowing you to create a lot of new divisions and fully supply the ones on the frontlines.

After that, Renewed Offensive with Northern Thrust will give you all the necessary buffs to defeat them once and for all.

Again, be careful since they will likely want to send a peace offer earlier than you’d want, which would mean you either have to restart or land in Italy and win it all.

Here are the focuses to pick as Ethiopia in the first years:

  1. Military Communism
  2. Anti-Imperialist Agitation
  3. Defending Our Homes
  4. The Second Italo-Ethiopian War
  5. In the Name of the People
  6. Soviet Aid
  7. Soviet Rifles
  8. Renewed Offensive
  9. Northern Thrust
  10. The Lessons of War
  11. Ecole Militaire Haile Selassie 1er
  12. Develop Shews
  13. Clearing the Skies


For most countries, industry is very important at the start of the game since many can mess up their whole game up here.

However, Ethiopia has the worst possible industry, which means there’s nothing really interesting to talk about here.


Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no way to build something at the start of the game.

Ethiopia starts with 2 Civilian Factories. One of them will be used for Consumer Goods, and the other should be used to get Steel.


With the 2 Military Factories that you have, leave them on Infantry Equipment.


Ethiopia starts with 21 divisions, 14 in the north, 2 in the center, and 5 in the south. Make two armies, one with the 14 northern armies and one for the 7 in the south.

Put Ayalew Birru, the Mountaineer, in charge of the ones in the north and Beyene Merid, the Desert Fox, in the south. Though Nasibu, the Hills Fighter, might be a better choice in the south, we’ll lose him when turning Communist.

For the northern front, set up a fallback line from Gondar to Aussa, going through Dessie. You should have the line on 4 Mountain provinces.

Though you don’t have Aussa yet, Italy will conquer it, and you can quickly move into it before they get there.

For the southern front, set up a fallback line from the Hill province in the Sidamo state (the province southeast of Irgalem and northeast of Moyale) to the province east of Harar. All these 3 provinces where the troops will stand will be Hills provinces

The main idea is that in the north, you just hold, and in the south, you let the Italians die from attrition and push back way earlier than in the north.

Balance of Power

For the start of the game, you will lean left, but once the Italians have been defeated, it would be a good idea to stay somewhere in the middle.

How to Defeat Italy

When time starts, your troops should start moving toward the fallback lines. During this time, you will likely lose some battles.

After a few days, select the decision to Recall Bacho Safo since we need all the help we can get. This Balance of Power decision will give you a free general and a special division with Infantry and Cavalry combined.

Sometime in early February, Italy should annex Aussa. Immediately move troops into the city of Aussa and hold it. If necessary, pin the Italian divisions coming in to protect the province. Aussa will be very important since it will get you 1 extra Military Factory.

When you’ve collected 25 Political Power, pick the Support Local Road Development for some free Infrastructure in the whole country.

Once you get 50 PP, there are a few cheap Military Staff you can hire. Don’t. You’ll lose them when you switch over to Communism.

Now, there will be a chance that the Italians will manage to push you in the south. Don’t panic and move the fallback line to protect Gaba and Harar.

If you lose either one of these two, prepare to restart your run. Don’t be afraid to use your Command Power to often use the Last Stand command.

Each time you are losing a battle, move the division into a new army, assign a new general, and use the Last Stand command. Then, put the division (or divisions) back in their original army once you have troops to reinforce.

Once you get 35 Army Experience, get the Professional Officer Corps Spirit of the Army since you will need the extra Command Power.

The War Escalates

4 May will be a very important day since the war will escalate, and you will likely gain a lot of Political Power for free. If that happens, change your Economy Law to War Economy.

In the middle of May, Italy will lose both of its missions to conquer the south and the north of Ethiopia, which will give the country debuffs against you.

By this time, you should have enough Command Power to promote one of the Generals into a Field Marshal and still have enough for the Last Stand command.

The best choice would be Mululugeta, the Infantry Leader, since he will buff your overall army and has level 2 already.

In June, the Communists will take over the country, and you will gain 5 free divisions with full Strength, ready to join the southern front.

We also have a decision now in the Balance of Power, which will give you another 2 extra Black Lions divisions. Use it only if you feel that a province is getting close to falling.

Get Imru Haile as a Military High Command to boost the capabilities of the Infantry and wait for the Soviet guns to come.

Once they do, set up 16 divisions for training and set them on high priority. Then, pump them out and start preparing for the offensive.

When the Northern Thrust focus is complete, start pushing on both fronts. It’s time to kick the Italians out of Africa. Set up frontlines and plans to get some planning preparation and start beating them up.

Kicking Italy Out of Africa

To win the war, you will need to micromanage everything! If you let the AI do anything, they will push in all the wrong places, and you won’t be able to win the whole thing.

Your main goal will be encirclements. If you can hold the main bulk of their army inside the continent while you manage to capture the ports, the war is won.

The southern front will be easier since there are more territories and everything is a Desert.

However, the north is full of Mountains, so you will need to pin them here and there to start advancing the front.

With a lot of micromanagement, you should be able to kick out the Italians out of Africa. If they offer you a peace deal before you conquer everything they have there, you’ll need to restart or consider landing in mainland Italy.

You only get one peace deal from the Italians down the Soviet Union path, otherwise you’ll lose out on Eritrea and Somalia.

What to Do After the Italo-Ethiopian War

Keep the People’s Militia or Expand the Revolutionary Army

One of the biggest choices Ethiopian players will have is to decide if they want to use the Irregular Infantry that Ethiopia gets for free or start modernizing and using real divisions.

We recommend going with the Revolutionary Army since players can make really powerful divisions with more advantages than the militias. The real beauties of this path are the Old Reliable and The Common Soldier focuses.

These will allow you to use a full Infantry army to defeat the colonizers around you and not think too much about your Production lines with huge bonuses to Infantry attack and defense from the Italian war.

Freedom at Gunpoint

Once Italy is out, the most important focus in the tree becomes Freedom at Gunpoint. This will give you decisions to attack the colonizers of Africa to free the countries on the continent. Our main goal will be to free Djibouti.

France usually has no troops there, and the war will be very short. Once you get the territories, you can send France a peace deal for 50 Political Power.

You will need at least 150 PP ready since they can decline the peace deal, which means you’ll have to send more of them.

Now, there are two ways to proceed. Do you want to be a little bit nasty or do you want to play this the right way?

Cheaty Way

Declare war on Vichy France, not normal France, to get Djibouti. This will bring the Axis in the war and will allow you to get Military Access with the Allies.

Send your troops to occupy the Victory Points in the UK and then attack them to liberate anything.

For the peace deal, give everything in Africa to Djibouti. Once you create the African Union, you can annex them using decisions and get cores on all of Djibouti’s territories in Africa, even if they weren’t its cores.

Use the same strategy for Vichy France, and you will have all of Africa under your leadership, with full cores, by 1942.

Normal Way

The “intended” way to do this is to slowly liberate countries all over Africa and annex them using the integration mechanics of the African Union.

This can be really fun, considering you can peace out the Allies or Axis at any time during this process if you manage to conquer the intended territories.

The only problem with this method is that integrating an African country into the union will cost you 3% Base Stability. There are a lot of countries to liberate, which means you will lose a lot of Base Stability.

If the war with Italy went perfectly and you also made choices that increased Base Stability, you should still be able to integrate 10 African countries and still have Base Stability above 50%.

The focus tree will allow you to get an industry going, and you’ll have more than enough Military and Civilian Factories to fight a big war in Africa.

The main idea, though, is to always use Infantry battalions. It might be a good idea to go down Superior Firepower and make the divisions overpowered with Artillery and Support Companies.

Just remember that your enemies don’t have to accept your first peace offer when you manage to liberate one of the countries in Africa, so prepare for longer wars, even maybe joining the Comintern in the war against the oppressors.

How to Play with Haile Selassie in Power

Haile Selassie’s King of Kings path is actually easier from some points of view since you can peace out the Italians at any time you want.

Generally, the strategy is exactly the same as what we talked about for Communist Ethiopia, but we just don’t get a huge influx of guns.

You can still get 2k guns if you remain in Ethiopia, and you get a lot of powerful buffs, with Selassie as a very powerful Field Marshal for the whole army.

That’s everything you need to know about how to play as Ethiopia in Hearts of Iron 4!

Have any input or suggestions for this guide? Let us know in the comment section below.

Adrian Oprea

Based in London, United Kingdom, Adrian Oprea is a Guides Writer. As a professional single-player RPG player, Adrian has often been stigmatized. He has decided to pour his frustration into writing guides!

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