I buckled during the sale and I have to say, it's absolutely fantastic. It's a lot more approachable than HOI3 ever was. It took a lot of time to organise the whole division into HQ into HQ thing in HOI3, now it takes just a few clicks to set up an army and organise a whole front with offensive and fallback positions. The new system isn't entirely optional, as it is seemingly the only way you can setup amphibious landings and paratroopers now, and units organised with the planner receive some hefty planning bonusses, so now I understand why fans of the old games expressed their disappointment in the reviews. The new 3D stuff you see when zoomed in, like soldiers marching and shooting, tanks driving, ships sailing and aicraft flying is entertaining to watch, and feels much more informative about what's actually going on than watching NATO icons teleport around provinces in the old games.
Besides playing through the tutorial, featuring Italy during the second Italo-Ethiopian war my first playthrough was with germany. I managed to take poland in a little under 3 months without signing the molotov-ribbentrop pact, without angering the UK enough to provoke a reaction. So I had Poland all for myself without sharing it with the Russians. When I invaded Czechoslovakia though, the UK formed the allies together with France, and started WWII against me. Neither the French nor myself was able to make any gains near the Maginot line, but the British invaded me near the poorly defended Bremershaven region, first game over.
My second playthrough was as Brazil, remembering it was a fairly easy nation to learn the game with in HOI3. I turned my country in a fascist regime, and set my sights on conquering all of south-america for it's vast resources, of wich brazil only has a relatively small percentage (there are huge amounts of aluminium and oil in the north, and large quantities of steel in the west, and some of the smaller states contain good quantities of things like tungsten). My first target was the socialist/communist state known as Paraguay. This angered the Comintern enough for the Soviet Union to declare war on me, as well as their allies. Promptly, Germany invited me into the Axis proper, an offer I figured would be wise to accept. Germany and Japan started sending me some equipment. Eventually, the allies got dragged into the war as well, and declared war on me, too. This ment their colonies - British Guiana, French Guiana and Suriname - became contested territory, and my soldiers started the long trek through the amazones from Paraguay to the northern borders. I was not very succesful, I managed to book some small succeses, like taking one of their ports and a massive supply of aluminium. But reinforcements kept pouring in from the north seemingly regardless of how many convoys my subs sunk in the Caribean and the Atlantic between South America and Africa. Eventually, the United States got involved with the allies, wich marked the beginning of the end. Initially Their reinforcements had little effect on the northern frontlines, although it made any advancements impossible for myself. So the US started trying to do amphibious landings against my territory proper. I managed to beat back 4 landing attempts by the USMC, having the forethought the US would try to do this, and having created my own little South American version of the atlantikwall, wich was decently manned. The fifth attempt proved to be a killing-blow though. It managed to land on a relatively weak spot, and gained a quick foot-hold. The ~400 aircraft strong airforce I managed to build with the alluminium I took from the European colonies proved to be no match for the hefty CV support the marines had. Second game over, atleast I managed to survive untill 1943 this time! Can't wait to give it a third shot soon, hopefully on my day off, this wednesday.
Would recommend to pick it up the next time it goes on sale.