Hearts of Iron 4 (HOI4) – Soviet Union (USSR) Strategy Guide

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It can be assumed that there is no harder challenge in Hearts of Iron 4 for newer players than leading the Soviet Union to victory against the Germans.

Though there are smaller countries around Europe that won’t last a day against this aggressor, having to take care of so many territories can be an amazing challenge even for the veteran HOI4 players.

Recommended Read: How to Build and Use Rockets in Hearts of Iron 4

If you want to win as the USSR and defeat Germany and the Axis, you will need to prepare your troops for an incredible struggle.

In this guide, we will show you how to play as the Soviet Union (USSR) in HOI4 and defeat Germany before they have a chance to reach Stalingrad or Moscow.

Table of Contents

General Strategy for the Soviet Union (USSR)

The USSR is in a horrible starting situation in HOI4. Stalin is ready to purge all of the political advisors and generals, there is a Civil War looming, and Germany is preparing to conquer all of Europe.

As the USSR, you are the only hope of the world to stop Germany from this aggressive expansion and save everyone. However, this is going to be very hard.

Depending on how you want to play, you will either have to face the troops of the Axis on a defensive front or push back and stop their supply of Oil forever.

You will also have to choose if you want to keep Stalin or have a Civil War to change the leadership of the country. The easiest path to win the Civil War would be to try to get the Romanovs back in power.

Ignoring all of that, the most important thing will be the war with Germany, where, if you want to do everything historically and through the national focus tree, you will have to face in a defensive battle.

We will first talk to you about how to handle the Great Purge mechanics as Stalin, then tell you about how you could also play as the Romanovs, followed by how to defeat the Germans in 1943 or even as soon as 1940.

Historical Stalin Path for the USSR in HOI4

For this first part of the guide, we will only talk about how to follow the focus tree for the USSR in HOI4 and how to make sure you have great Stability and industry before the war starts.

We will talk more about how to prepare your armies and your industry in the next segment, where we talk about how to defeat Germany.

First, we will need to rush the Great Purge, since the mechanic is horrible and it will make you lose most of your advisors/generals.

If you let the Political Paranoia increase, you will lose random advisors and get random debuffs that weren’t really necessary to complete Stalin’s path.

So, the USSR has a special mechanic if you keep Stalin in power where his Political Paranoia increases weekly based on various factors.

This mechanic will appear on April 4, 1936. Until then, you have time to complete some other national focuses to get some bonuses:

  1. Heavy Industry
  2. Found the PCDI
  3. Strengthen the Mobilization Plan

As you Strengthen the Mobilization Plan focus is almost done, you will get the event where the Paranoia mechanics appear. Now, we must start the Great Purge and make sure that the Paranoia mechanic completely disappears.

The Great Purge

At the start, you will get +2 Paranoia every week. Most of the focuses down Stalin’s tree will lower the Political Paranoia by 10.

This is why now is the moment to pick The Path of Marxism Leninism focus, since the focus will finish in 35 days, lowering the Paranoia close to 0.

After this, we quickly rush to get the First Moscow Trial by taking these focuses:

  1. The Center
  2. The Stalin Constitution
  3. The Zinovyevite Terrorist Center

This will get us the first Purge event which will eliminate many political advisors.

Since you will lose a lot of people along the way, make sure to avoid using Political Power to hire advisors or military staff since you might just lose them.

As long as your Paranoia is above 25, there is a chance that you will get events to lose even more people if you don’t want to spend PP to save them.

To continue the Purge, 175 days will have to pass. So, we take the following focues to advance the focus tree:

  1. Socialism in One Country
  2. Secure the Administration
  3. The Collectivization Process

Once these are done, wait for a day to pass and pick The Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center focus. This time, you will lose some more political advisors.

You should also start having relatively high Paranoia at this point, so use the Produce Satisfactory Production Reports decision to lower it as often as possible.

There will also be choices where purging a person might be better than gaining Paranoia and losing Political Power, so make sure to consider if you want to employ that person in the future or not.

The End of Trotsky

Now, choose The Workers’ Dictatorship focus to advance. You will have another 105 days to wait for the next purge.

We should try to advance toward the extra Research Slot from the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute focus and also build a network in Mexico. This is going to be very important in the future.

Pick Military Engineering University and PC of Mechanical Engineering, before coming back to the Stalin focus tree.

Complete The Military Conspiracy and lose some generals and military staff. After this purge, you can start employing military staff without worrying, since the generals are safe from Stalin’s wrath now.

Behead the Snake is the next focus that you will need to pick to get rid of the -15% PP gain and -20% Stability debuffs.

This will give you a mission to assassinate Trotsky in Mexico. Select the option that takes less time but that is risky, since getting rid of him is a priority.

You can also finally get the extra Research Slot by picking The Means to Wage War and Leningrad Polytechnical Institute focuses.

Now, complete The Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites focus and finally end the Paranoia mini-game, allowing you to play as a normal country, once and for all.

After this, you should start choosing focuses that help your economy and prepare you for the war with Germany. Ignore the focus to conquer Finland and just get the Baltic states, since they will generally accept the ultimatum.

Romanov Empire Path for the USSR in HOI4

The Romanov path for the USSR in HOI4 is the only Civil War route that isn’t almost impossible.

This one doesn’t cause as much Paranoia as the other two, and it also gives you pretty good focuses to try to conquer the world.

As opposed to the Stalinist path, you will need to rush the path from the start, ignoring all other national focuses. Rush the left part of the Beaten, but not Defeated focus tree, avoiding the following focuses that would be useless to our strategy:

  • Covert Operations
  • Organize the Wreckers

Otherwise, complete all the other focuses on the left side of the focus tree since they will be very useful after the Civil War as well.

You don’t have to get all the optional focuses along the way since rushing the Civil War is the best strategy to quickly recover before Germany comes.

Winning the Civil War

Before the Civil War starts, change all of the unit templates into a 2 width Artillery division. This division will not be able to move and will have 0 Organization.

Once the war starts, immediately change your HOI4 divisions to your normal ones and destroy the Soviet Union.

They won’t stand a chance, since they will have to create new divisions from scratch. They won’t think to change the division templates of the troops you left them, allowing you a swift victory in the Civil War.

You will have much less territory than them so make sure to make your divisions cavalry or motorized infantry, since you will have to walk a lot through the territories of the empire to capitulate the USSR.

Cavalry divisions might be a better idea at this point in time, as long as you also give them good support companies and some motorized artillery for the extra soft attack.

What to Do Next

This path of the USSR focus tree in HOI4 will allow you to conquer Poland, Scandinavia, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia before Germany starts WW2, if you move fast enough.

This is the Romanov Reconstruction path, not the Fascist path or the one where we place the Patriarch in power of the country. Unless you want to be known as the Third Rome.

With all this power behind you and without all the disadvantages that the USSR gets with Stalin in power, the war with Germany should be extremely easy.

In this scenario, since you might want to also get the Romanovs laugh last achievement, it would be a good idea to follow the guide to world conquest we’ve written below since you will need to be a bit more aggressive than normal to get it.

Attacking Turkey from the start will be the key to getting this achievement, as having both Romania and Turkey in the USSR before the Civil War will make the conquest of Germany and Hungary much easier.

How to Defeat Germany as the USSR in HOI4

First, we will talk about how to fight Germany as the USSR in HOI4 by defending.

This is the historical way to beat them, and it can be the most satisfying one if you like to see green bubbles all over the screen.

So, to beat them, you will need to give up on the western part of the USSR completely.

You will need to create multiple fallback lines next to Daugava River (the one to the north that ends in Riga) and Dnieper River (the one that goes from Smolensk to Kiev and Kherson).

Hearts of Iron 4 (HOI4) - Soviet Union (USSR) Fallback Line

You can see in the image above the exact line that you should set up.

The border with Germany will be lost relatively fast. However, if you set up level 3 forts all along the fallback line we have shown you above, you should be able to hold the line.

The strategy is to set up your troops behind rivers to get a big defensive bonus while the Germans get a huge offensive debuff.

The second part of the start is that you will make the Germans die from lack of supply here, since we will control all of the Supply Hubs in the area.

All of the Railways around that part of the USSR will be either level 1 or 2. If you don’t touch them at all and you control the Supply Hubs close to your borders, Germany and the Axis wil suffer from huge attrition.

This is why we must hold Vitebsk, the province east of Bobruysk, Kiev, and Dnipropetrovsk.

In these 4 territories, it would be a good idea to get level 5 or even higher level forts since they will make sure that the Axis doesn’t get any type of supply in your provinces.


From the start until the end, all you need to build is Military Factories, Railways, and Forts. Excluding the Intel Agency, this is where all your Civilian Factories power should go.

You should build all your Military Factories east of the Ural mountains, in Siberia, since you will also get free extra factories if you do this, and it will be safe from the attack of the Axis.

You should have at least level 3 Railways all over the front, coming directly from Moscow. Otherwise, you will lose a lot of equipment and Manpower for no reason.

When it comes to Military production, just focus on ground equipment. Planes won’t be extremely important.

However, you will need all three types of artillery, trucks, mechanized, support, and everything to do with amazing, high quality division templates.

Defensive Template

The next thing that matters a lot to win the war with Germany as the USSR in HOI4 is your defensive template.

Generally, you should switch to something that is extremely high quality, with very high defensive stats.

A big template with a lot of infantry, line artillery, anti-air, anti-tank, and medium tanks should be more than enough.

The medium tanks will give you the armor and breakthrough that you need and the artillery should give you the defense to destroy the German troops.

If you have around 150 divisions along the fallback lines and forts all over the place, you have a huge chance of keeping the line safe forever.

How to Deal with the German Air Force

You have no chance of defeating the German Air Force as the USSR in HOI4.

If you use enough Military Factories to try to contend their Air Supremacy, you might just not invest enough in your land troops, losing your war from the start.

It might be a better idea to give up on planes altogether and start producing a lot of anti-air for your divisions to combat the Air Support of the Germans.

If you have one or two line anti-air battalions in your templates, you should be good.

When it comes to the Navy, you won’t really be able to do anything amazing. Your best bet is to build a lot of Submarines and destroy all of their Convoys.

If you can destroy their supply of resources, you can make sure that they can’t produce any equipment properly and that they don’t have any Oil for their Tanks, Trucks, Planes, and Navy.

Germany gets their Oil from Romania, Iran, and Venezuela. So, if you can stop that supply from happening, you can stop Germany from conquering the world.

Offensive Strategies Against Germany

If you don’t like the idea of holding the line against the Germans and just waiting for them to lose all of their troops and supplies, there is a good strategy to go on the offensive.

The northern front with Germany is impossibly hard to break through.

However, the southern front with Romania is extremely weak. You can try to capitulate them quickly before the Germans even start deploying their troops there.

If you manage to conquer Romania before Germany comes to help, you can also advance on Bulgaria and completely annex them.

This will completely cut off Germany from any source of Oil, making them waste fuel extremely fast. If you can hold Romania properly, Germany will run out of fuel in 1 or 2 years, allowing an easy victory against them.

Luckily, the border with the Axis in Romania is in the mountains, allowing you to easily hold the line.

The only problem will be supply since the area has really badly positioned Railways. However, the Axis will also suffer from this problem as they try to attack you.

How to Do a World Conquest as the USSR

The best way to conquer the world as the USSR in HOI4 is to instantly justify a war goal on both Denmark and Turkey.

If you declare war on Turkey, Romania will join the war since they guarantee their independence.

Getting them both in 1936 will allow you to completely seal off the Black Sea and stop Germany from getting Oil from anyone.

The Danish territories are important to set up a naval invasion against the UK. You will be two tiles away from their homeland, allowing you an easy invasion of the hardest country to conquer in the late game.

You can also start justifying on Bulgaria since it would be a good idea to conquer them fast as well.

Bulgaria can be a very annoying ally to Germany, so getting rid of them and properly stopping any problems in that region early will be very important.

Annex Turkey and Bulgaria, since their focus trees can still cause problems, even as puppets, and puppet Romania.

This way, you make sure that Germany doesn’t get their Oil, and you will only have one front with Germany, the Polish one.

Conquer the UK as fast as possible once you finish all the other wars before France joins the Allies and annex them, stealing their fleet in the process.

Defeating Germany and Conquering the World

At this point, you will have to start preparing your army for the war with Germany.

You won’t be able to handle them very well at the moment, and you will still have to deal with Stalin’s Great Purge in the meantime.

You should actually start preparing for an early war with Japan, since they will be distracted with China. Bring all your navy and prepare for a naval invasion of their mainland.

Defeating them shouldn’t be hard if you manage to place troops on the Japanese islands.

Considering you have the navy of the Allies, Japan shouldn’t be able to stop this naval invasion. Take their fleet as well and prepare to fight Germany the moment they start fighting France.

The war with Germany shouldn’t be extremely hard considering you have half the world under control, but be careful anyway, since they can be extremely overpowered in 1939.

That’s everything you need to know about how to play as the Soviet Union (USSR) 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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