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Xibei San Ma
Estonia is one of the hardest nations to play in Hearts of Iron 2. Estonia is generally in a great danger to be attacked and conquered by the Soviet Union. Soviets may declare war on Estonia if Estonia is in a war with any other state or if the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact will be concluded, they will usually attack Estonia in 1940. Estonia can't build an army that is able to resist Soviets, especially in the given few years. Diplomacy is its only chance.
Do not play as Estonia if:
- Soviet Union is human controlled, or
- you are new to this game.
Estonia is weak in all aspects of its society. The worst thing is its location, for it is placed alongside its historical enemies, both of which are superpowers, and all potential allies are located too far.
The Estonian industrial capacity is horrendous. For this reason you should first research machine tools and everything else that helps increase IC efficiency. Each of these tech upgrades will give a +5% IC increase and this gives the Estonian small economy a big boost. With more IC you can afford to research more advanced infantry units.
If you've got an ally to give you blueprints, first research the techs you have already have blueprints for.
Land doctrines are important too. It's a way to upgrade your army without having to use your valuable IC for it.
Do not even think of researching Armor & Artillery, Naval, Naval Doctrine, Aircraft, Air Doctrine and Secret Weapons. They require either lots of IC or time for realization, neither of which the small nation can afford.
Moving the economy slider towards Central Planning gives Estonia +25% IC after four moves. Being too democratic doesn't let you move the economy slider too far right, so it is recommended to move the first slider towards authoritarian until it's possible to move the economy slider more right.
Switching the Armaments Minister to Jüri Uluots gives the Estonian economy a 10% IC bonus. He is already available from 1936.
Intelligence is expensive. Don't use it.
You must produce enough Consumer Goods to keep the population happy. Dissent is very bad for you and declaring war to other nations will only make matters worse.
The best trading partners for Estonia are firstly the neighboring countries Latvia, Finland and Lithuania. Trading with potential allies such as Germany, UK or France is also a good idea, because it improves the relations between the countries. Those three usually become Estonia's main trade partners, because they have a great amount of resources and can afford the best deals.
Building factories may be more important than building an army. Factories cost 5 IC for 360 days, which can be modified by sliders to shorten the time but not the cost. If you want to achieve any success, you need to augment your IC by all costs. Building factories is better in the long perspective.
In order to be able to produce any troops, you will need to incorporate alternative measures to enhance your industrial capacity. Consider the conquering strategies mentioned below.
The smaller your armies are, the less military potential you have, and thus the better negotiator you need to be.
You begin with three infantry units in 1936. Unless you're expanding in territory, you will lack the IC to build a bigger army.
When you do achieve a considerable increase in industrial capacity, you will need to upgrade your divisions to make them any useful.
You may use the cheap and quickly built militia units for controlling territory and occupying empty provinces. They can also be used for combat, but they are far inferior to infantry units.
Filling your border with as much divisions as possible makes unfriendly nations afraid of you. The AI opponent simply counts the number of divisions at the border, without noticing how strong they actually are. A big pile of militiamen might deter the Soviet Union.
Armies containing both Infantry and Militia are the most effective. Infantry supplies the Soft Attack factors, and Militia supplies the extra organization.
Cavalry is basically just as tough as Infantry, but almost twice as fast. They are expensive and thus to be avoided with a low industrial capacity.
If you have survived the beginning of WWII, improved goodly your IC and have some time to relax, you may build some motorized or armored units. Remind that there are things more necessary.
Don't build naval or air units unless you're planning an invasion. In such a case, only produce transport ships and make sure you don't travel far with them.
A left-wing coup d'état
If Estonia is at war with Germany between January 1, 1944 and December 30, 1947 and the Soviet Union controls both Minsk and Lublin, a left-wing coup d'état may happen.
If the coup succeeds:
- Authoritarianism set to 10
- Political Left set to 10
- Change of government to Stalinist
- Dissent -1
If the coup is crushed:
- No effect
Alliance and War Strategy
Estonia has a lot of neighboring countries. With great effort you can battle
- the Latvians
- the Danes
- the Finns
- any of the three major factions (Allies, Axis, Comintern)
First, remember that unless you alter the historical chain of events, the Soviet Union will invade the Baltic States by June 1940.
One way to defend against the attack is by building land forts, either in Voru and Tartu (Narva is naturally protected by a river) or Tallinn only (the only province with victory points). However, it is advised not to focus on fortresses. They give you no more than a few months and when all the Red Army marches to Estonia, you can't hold them back with forts. Above all, keep in mind that fighting the Soviets alone is a very bad idea.
Estonia can ally with Finland since the Soviet Union attacks them in 1939. Allying while Finland is at war will drag Estonia in the war against Soviets, where Estonia and Finland must hold out until March 1940, when the peace event fires. If you can't take control of the Finnish military, Finland is useless for you, because there is a sea between you and Finland. If you control their military, you must have Transports to take their divisions to Estonia to defend it from Soviet annexation.
You may simply leave the alliance with Latvia and annex their territory by taking the unprotected capital. Once you have it, you can annex the country. This gives you a little bit more of everything, helping you establish a defensive line against the Soviets.
You can also avoid annexation by acquiring remote provinces with victory points. The easier and more effective way is to buy one from France. The alternative is to annex a remote country. Denmark is a nice nation to be annexed if you are allied to Germany. You need to build some transport ships for that. Declare war on Denmark and let Germany occupy Kolding and push Danes out of Copenhagen. Then make beachheads to Copenhagen and Århus to claim them for yourself. Once Denmark is annexed, the Soviets can't annex you without conquering the Danish territories as well, but their transport ships are too far away to reach Copenhagen.
Estonia can defeat Finland with 5 divisions and transport ships. First take undefended Turku. Once the AI moves troops out of Viipuri, take it. Then you can take Helsinki. Finally take undefended Vaasa by an amphibious assault and victory is yours.
You can fight Germany after having survived the Comintern. Once Germany begins its downfall, invade it to receive extra provinces. This strategy may be more effective if you're allied to a major alliance.
You can try to invade Great Britain, although you can't annex the UK. You should first build many submarines. Southern and Eastern provinces of the British Island are the natural choices for an amphibious landing. The best province depends on the province's garrison as well as its adjacent provinces' troops. If the province is lightly defended but an adjacent province has a very large army, you should think twice since that large army may obliterate your landing troops. The AI defends the Great Britain very badly, and about 20 divisions will be enough to take Britain.