Hearts of Iron 4 (HOI4) – Which Country is Easiest to Play?

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New players who want to start playing Hearts of Iron 4 can make huge mistakes by selecting the hardest possible country, thinking their power is going to make everything relatively easy.

Well, usually, the countries with the highest number of territories are actually the hardest ones to play since they have a lot of things they need to take care of and handle.

Recommended Read: How to Core States in Hearts of Iron 4

This is why veteran players, such as ourselves, are very useful here since we have experience with most of the countries in HOI4 and can tell you which are objectively hard and easy as a new or even intermediate player.

The easiest country to play for beginners in Hearts of Iron 4 is Romania since you can be a sidekick to Germany for most of the war and can switch sides at any time if things go the other way.

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Countries to Avoid as a Beginner in HOI4

There are some countries that HOI4 beginners will think are good choices since they are big and they look strong.

However, most of the time, a huge country with an important role in WW2 will be incredibly hard for someone who doesn’t know how to play.

The UK

The most common mistake that new HOI4 players make is to choose to play as the United Kingdom.

The UK is probably the worst country a beginner can play as in HOI4 since it is incredibly hard.

Most beginners will look at the UK and think it will be an easy playthrough, considering they already own a quarter of the world at the start of the game. However, the UK isn’t as powerful as they appear.

As the UK, you will need to control the seas with your Navy while also helping out all the Allied troops on many fronts. This is a lot more complicated than it sounds.

Your Navy is the most powerful aspect of the playthrough, and naval combat and management are incredibly hard to understand as a new player.

You will need a dedicated playthrough just to learn that, and the UK isn’t the best one to experiment with, considering you can lose the whole war if you don’t know what you’re doing.


Though the USSR looks like the strongest country in HOI4, it is ripe with problems.

Stalin is incredibly paranoid, and you will need to eliminate most of your political advisors and generals in his Great Purge.

This, combined with the horrible supply lines, the extremely large border with the Axis, and the pure offensive power of Germany, make the USSR a very hard country to play as a beginner in HOI4.

Though you have a very powerful industry, you will need to figure out how to successfully prepare before Germany attacks you and make the best defensive divisions that HOI4 has to offer if you want to stop their advance on Moscow, Stalingrad, and Leningrad.


Though many players say that Italy is the little brother of Germany and that they will do most of the work for you, Italy can be very intimidating for a beginner.

The main reason why Italy can be a very bad choice for new HOI4 players is the heavy reliance on the Navy and the importance of naval supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea.

You will have a very important role in securing the African front, and Germany will mostly be occupied with fighting the Allies and the USSR.

Since you will also have Ethiopia, you will have two fronts with the Allies in Africa, and you will need to make sure you know how a Navy works first.

Otherwise, a random Commonwealth country might end up navally invading Sicily, ending your game early.

Easiest Country to Play as a Beginner in HOI4

The easiest country to play as a beginner and to learn the mechanics of HOI4 is Romania. It is one of the best situations since you can learn about all aspects of the game by playing as them.

Since it starts in a relatively interesting situation where the king keeps creating problems for the country, the player will have to learn more about how the focus tree works and how to use it to their advantage.

When it comes to the army and industry, Romania is at a horrible point at the start where they are on the negative with their infantry and support equipment.

Since you have a decent industry, you will learn how to prioritize what you need to produce and how to make good divisions without a lot of equipment.

You will also join Germany as a useful sidekick since you will have a direct front with the USSR, where you can learn how to fight without truly risking losing the war since the Germans will be there to help.

Romania can also change sides whenever they want if they feel like Germany is losing, allowing them to join the USSR in pushing back Germany once you get closer to the end of the war.

You also have the necessary industrial power to produce planes and mess around if you want to be Germany’s little brother since you can experiment as much as you want on the Soviets.

Romania also has one of the more powerful national focus trees, allowing players to mess around a bit after learning how to play to also do small conquests in the Balkans to learn how to lead their own wars.

The Problem with Romania

The only problem with Romania in HOI4, besides the horrible debuffs Carol II gives you, is the fact that both the Axis and the Comintern will abuse you. Hungary and Germany will ask you to give away Transylvania.

Later, Germany and Bulgaria will ask you to give up on Dobrudja, and then the USSR will make you give up Bessarabia or risk a war with them.

This can be very intimidating as a new player, but if you already know it will happen, you can prepare properly and avoid building in those provinces.

So, avoid building anything in North Transylvania, Dobrudja, Bucovina, Bessarabia, and Southern Bessarabia.

Once you gain more experience, you can turn Fascist a bit earlier than normal and join the Axis, only losing North Transylvania and Dobrudja.

When the USSR asks you to give up Bessarabia, you can decline and force an early war between the Axis and Comintern.

Normally, you would join the Axis and turn Fascist after the USSR demands Bessarabia.

Best Country for Beginners to Learn How Naval Warfare Works

As we’ve stated in the previous paragraphs, the Navy is probably the hardest aspect to understand as a new HOI4 player.

Many players can have hundreds of hours into the game and have still not learned how to properly use their Navy since they chose countries that didn’t need one.

This is why at some point, you will need to play as a country that can experiment as much as possible with their Navy without risking losing anything until late in the game.

The best country for beginners to learn how to use Navies in HOI4 is Japan.

Japan is an amazing choice as well to learn about land and air warfare as well, due to their early war with China.

During this war, you get to experiment with anything you want, allowing players to challenge themselves by testing how early they can capitulate China each playthrough.

During the Chinese War, you will have time to experiment and learn how to use your Navy and how to set up naval invasions.

In the worst case, you can learn even more when you fight the Allies and have to island hop around the Pacific Ocean.

The reason we recommended Romania before Japan is that you will need to know a bit about how to fight land battles before playing Japan since the Chinese could push you back to Korea if you don’t know what you are doing.

This would result in a very early end game since you won’t actually have any power to do anything interesting for the rest of the game if the Chinese defeat you.

Best Country for Beginners to Learn How Industry and the Focus Tree Work

Military and Civilian Factories are a huge part of the gameplay in HOI4.

If you know how to build them efficiently and how to use them, you will even know how to win games with incredibly underpowered countries like Luxembourg.

The best country for beginners to learn how to build up their industry and turn into a powerhouse just by standing around in HOI4 is the USA. The US has the advantage that they don’t need to take part in WW2.

This allows them to build an incredibly powerful industry before they join the war.

During this time, you will also learn a lot about volunteers and lend leasing, considering you will have to help the Allies survive the Axis before you get to join them in the war.

The USA also has a lot of debuffs at the start, so you will learn how to handle the starting debuffs that most countries have at the start of HOI4 without the risk of getting conquered before fixing your problems.

Countries like France, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, and even the UK have a lot of debuffs at the start of the game, and you can get rid of them through the focus tree.

However, these countries don’t have a lot of time for players to figure out how to fix them, as opposed to the USA.

This is why the USA can be a really fun experience for HOI4 beginners who won’t get bored just standing around for a few years since they will have all the time in the world to figure out how to handle most domestic affairs as this country.

Best Country for Beginners to Learn How Supply Works

One of the most annoying mechanics in HOI4 is the supply system. As you prepare to fight various countries in the game, you will see that your troops keep having supply problems.

If you really wanted to learn how the supply system works in HOI4, then there is no better country to play as a beginner other than the USSR.

Considering their huge, undersupplied territories, you can start learning about how supply works before the war even starts.

Just create a frontline with any neighboring country, and you will notice that your divisions already have supply problems.

Since they have a very powerful civilian industry from the start, the USSR will allow you to build Supply Hubs and Railways all over the country.

This is a huge opportunity to experiment and see how the supply system works, so you won’t lose the next time you fight against the USSR and have 0 supply in their territories.

Still, the reason the supply system is so low in this article is because it is a relatively hard thing for beginners to understand, and the USSR is a very hard country to play since it can be very overwhelming.

So, in the worst-case scenario, you can also mess around with Brazil if you want to learn more about supply since the Amazonas state is a huge supply killer.

With Brazil, you can also learn more about the basic focus tree and can mess around with changing your government and playing ahistorical HOI4 games.

That’s everything you need to know about the easiest country to play as a beginner 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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