Hoi4 Special Forces – For Times Where Infantry Isn’t Enough.

Hoi4 Special Forces Cover

The battlefield in Hearts of Iron 4 is a brutal and complicated place. Put simply, in many cases – you will find yourself at a significant disadvantage against your enemies. Whether it’s Germany, fighting against both the Allies and the Comintern, China fighting for survival or Italy trying to hold onto their holdings in Africa.

Every power in the game can have a situation where they find themselves on the backfoot. It is in exactly these situations where special forces are at their most useful. These elite units can change the course of an individual battle or even the entire war in some cases. So, in this Hoi4 special forces game guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about these elusive units, and how you can best use them in your games.

Firstly – What Are Special Forces Units?

Special forces are the most elite infantry style units available. To balance this strength – they are limited by a value known as the “Special Forces Cap” – as opposed to standard infantry – which you can more or less train as many of as you want.

The special forces cap can be influenced and increased in a few ways. To start – the formula to calculate the base special forces cap is as follows:

Hoi4 special forces

So, assuming you have under 480 regular battalions, you will receive the minimum 24 battalions worth of special forces cap. If you go over that number – your special forces cap will increase, with a ratio of 5% compared to your fielded regular battalions. So for example:
If you had 600 regular fielded battalions, your special forces cap would be 30 – as 5% of 600 is 30.

Hoi4 special forces
One battalion is represented by one of the slots in the division designer – so this division would have 9 battalions.

One thing that you can do to exploit the cap is to train as many one battalion divisions as possible – and then convert those units into much larger divisions, such as 20 widths. These units will be completely un-equiped, so you just need to train to your max special forces divisions as fast as possible, and then delete the junk divisions you just trained – you’ll now have lots of special forces (even if their strength is terrible – it’ll increase later).

Are There Any Other Ways Of Increasing Special Forces Cap?

With training so many battalions without exploits being a major drain on resources, it’s only reasonable to look for alternative methods of increasing the cap – there aren’t many unfortunately, but they do exist.

  • The first is one that everyone can do – simply navigate to the “Special Forces” section of the “Infantry” tech branch (we’ll cover this in more detail later.)
Hoi4 special forces
  • Right at the bottom of this section, you’ll see this tree, you then simply need to follow the bottom path: “Expanded Special Forces Program” – which will grant you an additional 10% of “Special Forces Capacity Multiplier”. In real terms, this actually triples the number of special forces you can field, so you’ll only need 160 regular battalions to exceed the minimum of 24 special forces battalions.
  • This means that if you had the 480 regular battalions as discussed previously, your special forces cap would be 72 battalions. We’ll discuss whether this branch is better than the alternative later on in this article!
  • The next way of increasing your special forces cap is very unique – that being national spirits. There are two national spirits which increase your special forces cap, the first – is limited to nations with the generic focus tree.
Hoi4 special forces

To get this modifier – you must complete the army branch of the generic tree – upon which you’ll receive a national spirit that grants a 2% increase to your special forces cap.

The next national spirit is much more interesting – granting a massive 75% increase to your special forces cap multiplier. This national spirit is the default starting spirit of the nation of Nepal: the “Royal Nepalese Army”.

Hoi4 special forces

Of course – this modifier is only available to Nepal – but, if you wanted to see how many special forces you could field – with the maximum possible bonus from techs and spirits – you would be able to field 92% of the number of your regular battalions as special forces – making Nepal, at least on paper, the undisputed king of special forces.

Now That We Know How The Cap Works – What Are The Available Special Forces Types?

The Hoi4 special forces come in three varieties: Marines, Paratroopers, and Mountaineers. Upon unlocking each of the varieties, they each have two additional techs, which increase the soft attack and organisation of each type.

To begin – let’s take a look at the Marines:

Hoi4 special forces

Marines, as their name would suggest – are specialised to situations involving water. Their strongest position is during naval invasions. In this capacity – the 50% buff that these units have here can make a major difference when trying to take a fortified coastal position, such as during the battle for North Africa, Sealion or D-Day.

They also receive smaller – albeit still notable bonuses for attacking across rivers and in marshlands – making them a potentially strong pick for invading the Soviet Union, which has a lot of marshlands, or the US, which has a lot of rivers.

The next special forces type is the Paratrooper, which are specialised for airborne operations. They lack significant fighting capabilities themselves, but can create significant openings for more combat ready divisions to make a breakthrough. In addition, these units are invaluable for exploiting the AI – with France being a perfect example. France can be knocked out of the war almost immediately using an airborne operation targeting Paris and other major cities.

Hoi4 special forces

It is for this reason that paratroopers continue to be a valuable tool in Hearts of Iron 4 – especially against the AI in singleplayer.

The Final special forces type are the mountaineers:

Hoi4 special forces

These units are specialised for fighting in rugged terrain – such as in mountains or hills, with the bonuses being stronger in the former. In these situations they can be a significant advantage, but simply put – you never really want to be pushing into mountains if you can at all avoid it, so that just leaves the defence and movement bonuses – both of which are dwarfed by simply having more entrenchment.

So, are they useful in very niche situations, yes – but are there other options which are far more useful? Absolutely.

Hoi4 Special Forces – Quality VS Quantity

Now that we’ve discussed which special forces are worth using, we can move onto the final thing to decide upon when using special forces in Hearts of Iron 4 – that being whether to prioritise quality, or quantity.

As touched upon earlier – this decision can be found at the very bottom of the “Infantry” research tab within the “Special Forces” section.

The first option, officially titled: “Advanced Special Forces training”, prioritises making your special forces as strong as possible – at the expense of the number of special forces you can field – and having them take longer to train.

Hoi4 special forces
Hoi4 special forces

As you can see, the primary bonuses here are with regards to how your forces deal with climate variation, with a small bonus to supply grace – which will reduce attrition.

The other option, officially titled: “Expanded Special Forces Program”, prioritises making as many special forces as possible, at the expense of additional bonuses.

Hoi4 special forces
Hoi4 special forces

The main bonus here is obviously the additional cap multiplier, but the reduction in training time is nice too.

So, when should each be used? Generally speaking, the “Advanced Special Forces training” branch will be superior for larger nations whom can recruit a lot of regular divisions to fuel their special forces cap.

On the other hand – quantity is more useful for smaller nations who cannot field as many regular divisions, or those larger nations who need lots of marines or paratroopers for their invasion plans.

Hoi4 Special Forces – Conclusion

So there we have it – everything you need to know about special forces in Hoi4! If you enjoyed this guide, or found it helpful, be sure to check out our other Hoi4 game guides – and have a great day!

Avatar for Emmet Bramley

Emmet started his gaming journey as a young child in the early 2010s. Sat in front of his Xbox 360 screaming at other children in Modern Warfare Lobbies... Since these early years - Emmet has continued to diversify his gaming portfolio - by mostly playing the same strategy and survival games for the last 7 years. Regardless, Emmet joined the Console Bandit team in order to share his opinions and insights on his favourite games with a larger audience, and bring a more cinematic perspective to discussing certain games.

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