Hearts of Iron IV: The Netherlands Guide

By 1936, the Netherlands stands at an important crossroads. Having been left crippled by the turmoil of the Great Depression and a weak government, do you maintain neutrality and eventually side with the Allies or do you seek a change in course diverging towards the extremes of the right or left? With Holland’s new focus tree, there is a variety of options you can take. Our guide to the Netherlands in Hearts of Iron IV should help you out.

HOI4: Netherlands Guide – The Liberation of Eindhoven in 1944


The Netherlands was one of the nations to receive a revamped focus tree as part of the latest Man the Guns expansion. Before this, Holland was a rather dull nation to play being easily swept up as part of German expansion. But now, the developers over at Paradox have provided players with an intriguing focus tree that provides you with diverse options. Admittedly, even with the new focus tree, you’re going to struggle to compete with Germany’s army and Britain’s navy, but the new focus tree makes the Netherlands an interesting country to play nonetheless. This guide for the Netherlands in Hearts of Iron IV should, therefore, provide a brief introduction into the nation and deliver some basic tips allowing you the freedom to experiment and conquer.

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General Advice

As usual, I will begin the guide with some rudimentary principles that are worth following, even if you ignore my military tactics and political ideology. Following these will give you a greater chance of success.

  1. Build up your military as it will be essential for whatever path you take. If you go fascist, you will need at least 24 divisions (18 infantry and 6 motorised) to get a respectable war score in France. Moreover, if you go democratic, non-aligned or communist you will need a strong army to defend against Germany – you should focus on infantry, forts and naval production as it will be easier to compete with the Germans over Britain’s immense navy.
  2. You should place more attention on your navy rather than your air force. While you’ll struggle to compete with Britain, having a decent surface navy (a mix of destroyers, light cruisers and battleships) will help you in naval invasions. In addition, the new focus tree gives you some stupendous bonuses towards your navy granting further dockyards for production.
  3. Move your twelve fighters to Holland (they are in the colonial territory by the Dutch East Indies) and produce fighters to have air superiority in your mainland. Using two military factories should be enough – make sure you place your main focus is on infantry equipment, artillery and motorised.
  4. Go down ‘Mobile Warfare’ land doctrine prioritising motorised bonuses instead of tanks (the left side of the research tree). Motorised work well for smaller nations as they are easier and cheaper to produce and defend better than tanks

National Focus and Political Power

This is a more challenging area. You need to pick your side before 1939 before Hitler does the ‘Around Maginot’ focus. Yet, at the same time, Holland gets a few horrible traits like -50% recruitable population and decreased construction speed meaning you either risk war or begin the game with a meager industry. With this, I’ve listed below what are the most important focuses fulfilled in an efficient manner. Of course, with the focus tree being so large now, I thought it would be wise to only list the most important focuses for ease of reading.  

HOI4: The Netherlands Guide – To ensure your survival you should side with Germany and focus on building your army up

  1. Abandon the Gold Standard
  2. Continue the Public Works
  3. Form New Government
  4. Gateway to Europe (start giving trade bonuses to Germany over Britain)
  5. Overturn Military Budgets
  6. Prepare the Inundation Line
  7. Protect Against Britain
  8. War on Pacifism (it’s important that you do decisions to get rid of Shell-shocked Spectator of the Great War trait that decreases your overall manpower)
  9. Cave to the Germans (continue this branch seeing you ally with the Axis forces – if you’re fascist going it alone will likely result in war with Germany due to their war goal from ‘Around Maginot’)
  10. Finish the Noordoostpolder
  11. The Maastunnel
  12. Expand the Artillerie Richtingen
  13. The Zuiderzee Works (it’s a long focus, but will get rid of any negative industry traits)

By doing your focuses in this order, you will be able to get rid of all of the Netherlands most negative traits as soon as possible seeing you pick your side by 1939 and begin to be able to build up your armed forces and industry. After this, you can begin to modernise your army and navy and be able to make decisions over your colonial territory such as giving rights to resources to Japan to avoid conflict there.

Research in Brief

The priority of your research remains the same no matter which nation you play. You should always begin by placing attention on industry, electronics and equipment. With the Netherlands, it may be worth adopting free trade (does come with the Gateway to Europe focus) as this will give you greater research bonuses – though turn back to export focus when you go to war to keep more resources. Find the list of the most important things you should begin to research below:

HOI4: The Netherlands Guide – Your national focus tree gives you the chance to increase naval production (the boat is a replica of the Batavia, a flagship of the Dutch East India Company built in 1628)

  1. Electronic Mechanical Engineering (continue this path down – research, encryption and decryption bonuses etc.)
  2. Industry (concentrated – not much land)
  3. Land Doctrine (mobile warfare giving you bonuses to motorised divisions, though it may be worth adopting superior firepower should you side with the Allies or Soviets)
  4. Artillery (pretty straightforward – improves the effectiveness of your divisions)
  5. Infantry and support companies (engineer, recon and signal companies are useful – avoid field hospitals as they use a high amount of motorised equipment and don’t benefit your army)

Division Templates

The minimum amount of divisions you need is 24 – I recommend getting about 36 (a mix of infantry and motorised). This will give you enough troops to help capture France and launch a good naval invasion on Britain. Bear in mind, these are very similar to what I would use if I were playing another European nation such as France or the UK. Here is my list below:

  1. Infantry: 7 infantry, 2 artillery, recon company, engineer company and anti-tank. This template has a combat width of 20 (which is ideal for European conflict), high organisation and soft attack and is great with any land doctrine.
  2. Motorised: 7 motorised, 2 infantry, engineer company. Motorised divisions will provide speed helping you to encircle divisions and capture Paris quickly giving you a better chance of capitulating France before they strengthen.

Final Tips

Arguably, the most important thing to remember with the Netherlands is to use your resources well. Ensure you have a decent industry and high manpower, achieved by removing your negative traits and using the speed of motorised divisions to your advantage. With a formidable army, the Netherlands can become a robust force and can go on to become one of the key naval powers in the world once Britain has been defeated. This will give you the chance to fight the United States; one of the aspects I like most about the new focus tree is your claims to former territories like New Jersey – a neat and interesting feature.  

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If you’ve enjoyed this guide, please be sure to check out the others in our HOI4 nation guides. So far, we have covered nations like the German Reich and Communist China and will look to cover either Mexico or Non-Aligned Britain next – two nations that have been overhauled in the Man the Guns DLC. Moreover, if you have any suggestions or feedback, please let me in the comments.