With the release of Hearts Of Iron IV: By Blood Alone new focus trees were added to three of the title’s nations, Italy, Switzerland, and Ethiopia. Some canny people have noticed that Paradox Interactive added a bonus focus tree for the Sultanate of Aussa and the various regions that make up Ethiopia. However, did you know that there is a whole other secret nation with a mini focus tree in this DLC? Well, if you are reading this you probably do. And are likely wanting to know how to get it, so it is a good thing I wrote a guide for KeenGamer teaching you how to do it.
This guide will teach you the tricks of how to unlock the Papal States in Hearts Of Iron IV and their hidden branch of the focus tree. Teaching you all the steps that need to be taken to unlock it and what you will gain by doing so. No mods required. I should point out there is no achievement attached to unlocking it. There is one for unlocking it and then forming the Roman Empire, and one for capitulating the Soviet Union as the pope. But this guide will not be covering those. Mostly due to the fact Ol’ Chris here hasn’t done those yet. But, with all that said let us dive into the guide!
When your campaign starts you will be at war with Ethiopia. Before you unpause the game you need to decide if you want to win that war or not. As such you have two options, one is to stay and fight, and the other is to pull all your forces back to your territory. If you stay and fight the process of unlocking the Papal States will take longer, but you will gain more territory, a few buffs, and an intelligence agency with a bonus slot early. If you withdraw you will be able to attain the Papal States sooner, and can then use that lost time to gain focuses on improving your military, developing your foreign policy, and boosting your industry amongst other things. It depends on what your wider goals are and what you wish to do.
If you want to withdraw, just pull all your forces out of Ethiopia, and then take the decision Withdraw From Ethiopia. Around this time the pop-ups The Northern Front Stalls and Ethiopia Accepts Italian Peace Offer, be sure to take the option A staggering failure on both. This will auto-complete the focus Struggle in Ethiopia. Which in turn will allow you to take the focus Undermine the Duce, then Conspiracies in the Shadows, and then Convene the Council. This will reduce Mussolini’s influence to 0%. And then you can take the focus Depose Mussolini without taking any additional decisions.
If You Fight in Ethiopia
If you chose to stay and fight I recommend bringing your entire army and air force to the front in Ethiopia. Whilst your initial forces there can defeat them if you want to do it quickly get everyone. You can micro this if you want or just battle plan, either way, they won’t be able to stand for too long. Doing this however will mean that you will need to take decisions once the balance of power mechanic is unlocked to remove him.
So whilst you are fighting be sure to gain as much military, naval, and air experience as you can. You will need at least ten of each. Your goal is to reduce his influence to zero so that he can be removed. Once these decisions have been taken you need to select. You will also need to select Criticise the War Effort, Slander the Duce. Do not take any focuses or decisions to expand your territory. As this will only increase the influence of Mussolini and make this process take even longer. More detail on that can be found in the section below.
Something to Be Aware Of
Gaining territory and winning wars will increase the influence of Mussolini or the King. So if you decide to dive into Yugoslavia, Albania, or anywhere else you will only be making them more powerful. Some decisions to reduce their influence can be selected multiple times, but these can take up to a year before they can be done again. It isn’t impossible to expand your territory and get rid of them. But it all depends on your plans and how quickly you want this to happen. Honestly, the balance of power mechanic is the only thing that makes this guide on how to unlock Papal States in Hearts Of Iron IV as complex as it is.
For example, taking the decision Albanian Occupation will increase the balance of power in favour of Mussolini (even when he isn’t in power) or the king by 5%, and sending an ultimatum to Yugoslavia (and gaining it via that or defeating them in war) will increase it by around 10%. These can be counteracted, but it takes time. Depending on your goals it might be worth taking the hit to influence so that you have a better base to build up from. However, that choice is yours. I personally found it easier to hold off and just build up my army. As most of my targets remained weak for much of the game anyway.
Regardless of if you defeated Ethiopia or withdrew your next step is to remove Mussolini. Your goal is to reduce his influence to zero. This will allow you to take the focus Depose Mussolini which will remove him from power. Your next goal is to increase the political influence of the non-aligned party to over 25% so that you can unlock the next focus. Get the Staunch Moncarcist as an advisor, as this will increase the influence of non-aligned.
At this point you can take focuses to expand your territory as well as justify on nations you wish to invade; once you unlock the king the influence level will be reset to zero anyway. And given how long it can take to reach 25% now is as good a time as any to do it. As explained in the section above, doing this when the King is in charge or whilst Mussolini is in power will only make this take longer. So you are best of doing it now rather than later where you can essentially lock yourself out of the path if you aren’t careful.
Gaining the King
Once you have reached 25% influence for non-aligned you will be able to take the focus Monarchia d’Italia. This will make Vittorio Emanuele III the leader of the Kingdom of Italy with any buffs you have gained for him by defeating Ethiopia now coming into effect for the time being. Even though you are now locked into the correct path your work still isn’t done. From here you need to continue to improve the influence of the non-aligned in your nation. This time to 50%. The best way to do that is through launching political raids, banning political parties, and press censorship.
Remember, as stated previously territorial expansion will increase the influence of the King. You don’t have to sit on your hands and do nothing if you don’t want to. As you might have noticed in this guide, many of the screenshots I have used are from a playthrough where I did engage in a few wars. So you can build your empire up if you want to. Besides, you are going to be waiting for the balance of power options and for non-aligned to gain influence to continue. So the option is there, provided you don’t want to drag this out a little longer than needed. But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Unlocking the Papal States
Once you have gained 50% influence you take the focus Power to the King. From here you need to take the focus Seek Papal Support. This will remove the council from the balance of power and replace it with the His Holiness. From here take Agents of the Church, Disband the Blackshirts, and Strengthen the Papacy. And do the decisions Liturgical Reforms, Expand the Lateran Treaty, and Condem Fascism. Your goal is to increase the support for the Pope to over 60% as this will result in them taking control. Ideally, you will not have taken any decisions to increase the support for the King, and where possible kept influence in check.
Just completing the listed decisions and focuses will help you reach 60%. However, you will need to wait a year before you can take the decision Liturgical Reforms for a second time to get over 60%. Once done the pope will be made leader of Italy. Once this happens wait for the event to fire and this will unlock the mini-tree for this version of Italy. Then all you need to do is take The Papacy Reborn to get the name and flag changed. A screenshot of this tree can be found in the section below. These focuses will add extra stability, defensive buildings, unit buffs, and a super heavy tank design called The Hand Of God. You can also demand the United Kingdom gives you territory amongst other things.
Needless to say that the Papal States does feature some neat focuses. And whilst I wouldn’t say they are OP they do provide you with some neat options for whatever path you end up going down. Given where this version of Italy ends up it does give you options on which direction to take. You could join the allies against Germany if (like I did in my recent play-through) you guarantee Austria and join the faction before the Anchuls. You can form your own faction which, can grow to become rather massive with the right focuses. Or you can join Germany against the Allies in a slightly strange world war. Do bear in mind that creating greater Italy or the Roman Empire will require war with France, the UK, and other great powers. But that will open the door to deus vult’ing the USSR and getting the achievement later.
So there we are. You now know how to unlock the Papal States in Hearts Of Iron IV. I hope you find this guide useful. If you did be sure to share it with your friends. And if you have any tips you’d like to share with your fellow players or if there is something you think I have missed then leave a comment down below. For more guides, reviews, and gaming news updates follow KeenGamer on Twitter. Go on, it’s free!