February 2006

First Impressions: Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday


Thanks to the good folks at Paradox, I’ve been graced with a preview build of HOI2 Doomsday, the new expansion pack for Hearts of Iron 2. (I can only conclude that they think I’m THE BESTEST HOI2 FANBOY EVER, which is, in fact, true.) This article is the result of a few hours spent with that build, from the viewpoint of someone who plays HOI2 entirely too much.

Doomsday (at least this early version) comes with one new campaign, appropriately titled “Doomsday”. The scenario starts with the Soviet Union and its various newly minted puppets at war with the Western Allies, in October of 1945. It starts off with a bang… quite literally, if you’re the Soviets. (note: this screen, along with the rest, links to a high-res version.)

Yes, the US goes nuclear. Fast. And nukes hurt. I confess to never actually using nuclear weapons in HOI2, but based on how badly these hurt, I’m going to have to start. After that tender visit by the USAF, Moscow went from 12 IC to 0 (rebuilding to 7), 70 infrastructure to 3, and 12 manpower to 3. It was such a nice city.

Thankfully, the US only has 2 nukes (otherwise it would be a fairly short scenario), so playing as the Sovs, I get to blitzing. My troops reach Hamburg and Venice in short order, but Patton’s command in central Germany doesn’t budge, to the point where I try to encircle the Americans by driving through Austria. Meanwhile the UK is sending troops into Turkey to drive into the Caucasus, and my navies are getting picked off everywhere. Oh well, at least Korea falls quickly.

Some new features appear pretty quickly. Most of them revolve around leaders. Interestingly, leaders can now pick up traits during battle, as seen here. The traits are context-sensitive (a general fighting in the mountains can pick up the Mountaineer trait, for example) and seem to happen fairly often.

Leaders also have a history stored with them, as seen in the screenshot below. I’m not sure how much of this is stored; it seems like your more active leaders would get a full history pretty quickly.

The tech tree also recieves a minor makeover, as befits the timeline’s expanding to 1954. Only a few techs are added in the appropriate spots (for example, infantry can train up to “Elite Infantry”, a 1951 tech which gives you 1951-era infantry), which is fine by me. The CORE mod for HOI 2 proves to my satisfaction that insanely complicated tech trees are not necessary the best thing in terms of playability. (That being said, the rest of CORE is great – make a copy without the new tech trees plz) There’s a few new concepts, such as a “Hospital” tech line in Infantry which improves your attrition rates and a “Guerilla” land doctrine which trades 10% max organization for all your units for miltia units with 50% more morale.

The final new feature for Doomsday is the Intelligence subgame, which is an all new money sink for sneaky players to engage in. Using spies, you can use propaganda to drive up an enemy’s belligerence score (thus causing wavering neutrals to possibly declare war), engage in industrial sabotage or espionage stealing blueprints, or even assassinate problematic enemy ministers. Sick of Germany getting 10% more IC just for keeping Hjalmar Schacht around? Do something about it. Not sure how much this affects the game balance yet but it certainly seems fun (if pricey).

In addition to the “omgz we’re at war right now!” Doomsday scenario, you also can play all of the other HOI2 scenarios in the Doomsday engine and ruleset – yes, that means you can play from 1936 to 1954. If that isn’t enough time for you to conquer the world, you may have issues.

I normally wouldn’t even mention stability for an early build like this, but it hasn’t crashed to desktop once yet. Paradox may finally have their stability issues licked.

As befits an expansion, Doomsday is an absolute must-buy for Hearts of Iron 2 afficiandos. It may not attract new players unless you absolutely want to play a fantasy World War 3 instead of a realistic World War 2. Still, Hearts of Iron 2 is absolutely the best WW2 grand strategic game on the market today, and Doomsday just adds more to it.

Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday is scheduled to be released this April. More screenshots are available from Paradox’s Doomsday site. If you’ve got any questions about the game, post them in the comments, and I’ll respond, assuming I can tear myself away from dislodging those infuriating Americans from the Fulda Gap.

Proof that if you want me to be funny, submit your questions in WRITING.

I was interviewed by an Australian radio show last month for my recent book (the show billed me as a “well known guru” and a “notorious nerd”), and the audio recording’s up now. Questions include RMT, wacky media stories about MMO players, a world filled with roleplayers, and Blizzard banning gay guilds. Warning – I’m MUCH funnier on the web than if you actually try to talk me.

Episode 315, about 12:30 in.

No snappy headline today.

As of this afternoon, I’m no longer an employee of Mythic Entertainment.

The parting was on good terms on both our sides… and driven more than anything else by my family and I’s simply wanting to return to the Southwest.

The fact that I’m moving on to a really fantastic opportunity (which I’m not sure I can talk about yet) also doesn’t hurt. 🙂

At any rate, as you can well imagine, things are REALLY HECTIC for me right now. More later.

Some endorsements you probably don’t want!

From a press conference held by the sysadmin of the Great Firewall of China:

Mr. Liu also said the powers that the Bush administrations gained under the Patriot Act to monitor Web sites and e-mail communications and the deployment of technology called Carnival by the F.B.I., which allows it to scrutinize huge volumes of e-mail traffic, are examples of how the United States has taken legal steps to guard against the spread of “harmful information” online.

“It is clear that any country’s legal authorities closely monitor the spread of illegal information,” he said. “We have noted that the U.S. is doing a good job on this front.”

Why, yes, this IS why I am in the MMO industry.

Second Life Escort Ratings (NSFW)

It’s not all handcuffs and cream in Cyboria, sadly…

This is all pretty good. But then things went wrong, because the people in charge of Amsterdam are skilled in banning, but not in looking after their facilities. Thus I got exposed to the extremely annoying hassle with animation balls that are completely misplaced. Nude people flying the air. Nude people standing on their heads. The kind of thing people go to the circus for.

Clearly he did not go to the same circuses I did as a child.

Sadly, one of the few things not rated in his conclusive guide: how many of the “escorts” are actually female.

A word from our incipient overlords…

Joystiq has a fascinating interview with Hoyt Ma, project manager for World of Warcraft’s Chinese distribution.

The subscription model for WoW in China is different from other parts of the world. Instead of a monthly subscription fee, Chinese gamers purchase WoW Points cards for 30 Yuan ($3.64) that are worth 600 points. Points expire at a rate of 9 per hour of play, so this amounts to 66 hours and 40 minutes of play for each card at an average of .45 Yuan ($.06) per hour.

The Three Reblogs Of Palmer Eldritch

1) Someone went to the trouble of analyzing profanity usage online in Halo 2. Sure, you knew it was there, but did you know there were 0.23 more racial epithets than averrals of sexual preference per hour? 0.23. Hm. That would be, like “ga” but you know, that could really go either way so I’m thinking the stats may need work.

2) Critics love movies like “Big Momma’s House 2”. No, really, they do. Because it lets them exercise their creativity in that way only irredeemably bad movies can.

“A partial list of things that are more amusing than Big Momma’s House 2: Beverly Hills Cop, Fletch, the original Big Momma’s House, every sitcom currently on TV, open-heart surgery.”
— Kyle Smith, NEW YORK POST

“Big Momma’s House 2 is an atrocious film. But what’s even more frightening is that Hollywood thinks people will find it funny.”

“If you thought Big Momma’s House was funny, then two things are probably true: 1) You are stupid. 2) You will also think Big Momma’s House 2 is funny.”

“Its idiocy is boundless, its senselessness without end, its unendurability beyond description…”
— MaryAnn Johanson, FLICK FILOSOPHER

The winner? The writer who completely ignored the movie itself and went on a page-long riff about Big Momma 2’s unintentionally deep PR announcement.

3)\’c2\~ Some statistics for you this morning:


  • “Yulgang”, a Korean MMO, hits 260,000 peak concurrent users in China
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  • “Audition”, another Korean MMO I pointed out earlier, hits 400,000 peak concurrent users in China
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  • “World Of Warcraft”, technically not a Korean MMO, hits 500,000 peak concurrent users in China

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to learn Mandarin.