Ironman mode in Hearts of Iron IV

In my article, if Hearts of Iron IV is a turn-based game, I hinted that there is an Ironman mode. Let’s answer most of the questions you have about this mode and explain how to play it!

This game mode is the recommended game mode for Hearts of Iron IV and the reason for this is that you can’t help yourself by using cheats, modifying files or even saving the game gradually, doing an action to evaluate the impact and then trying another move.

In this mode, the idea is that you play and you can’t go back. I understand that for new players this path can be a bit more difficult, but the fact that you can quit at any time and have to think about the game more is magical!

Why play with Ironman mode?

The big advantage is that in this mode you are counting stats and then you can see how you progress through the game. At the same time during the game in ironman mode you can get achievements, which are in HOI4 differently complex and their fulfillment is a great interest…

… and I believe you’ll find it an interesting challenge. After all, once you try and get the first achievement, I believe you will want to play other games with this mode only.


As I wrote above – in this game mode you can earn achievements which are in the game a total of 172. Their purpose is not just to make them look good on your account – one of their goals can be to set a goal and a task that you can accomplish while playing…

… and if you look at the picture above, some of the challenges like “By Beer Alone” are really interesting and thematically good. The developers have succeeded!

Career Profile

In addition to achievements, you can also use the “Career Profile” to save interesting statistics only in Ironman mode, which you can then evaluate and see how you actually fared during the game…

… I believe that one day we could do some kind of ranking of the best StrateGGames readers, I’m sure there are some of you who are significantly better at the game than me!

What are the rules of Ironman mode?

  • Cannot play with modes that modify checksum. (Graphical modes are allowed)
  • You only have one save for each game. You cannot save a game by yourself.
  • The game saves automatically as you make decisions.
  • Where you leave off during play you will resume the next day.
  • Files are saved to Local or Cloud but are encrypted.

How do I set up Ironman mode?

In order to set up and play Ironman mode, you need to start from 1.1.1936 and choose level Regular or higher and then check “ironman mode”. So unfortunately you can’t play with “custom game rules” or other settings…

… the cup with the checkmark symbol next to the start button shows that everything is correct. When you click on the start button, you will select the “ironman save game” option and name your last game correctly there. You only have one slot per game, so I recommend differentiating the names. 🙂

If you play on multiple devices or on your PC and GeForce Now at the same time, you can take advantage of the cloud and have your game available on both devices at virtually any time.

Is there any way to make Ironman mode easier?

Apart from the classic questions like console or disabling ironman mode (which I will answer below), I found at least one “relief” in the latest version. Every time I go to the menu I can see the states and their relative strength compared to the classic game. The popup looks like this…

… and you can tell what your relative strength is compared to the others. So, for example, here you can see that the Soviet Union is the strongest in the current session on the overall score (under the asterisk) but I’m stronger than them on armies, ships and factories and that I’m a bit weaker on aviation, so next time I go into the game and prepare to attack them I know I’ll have to work on aviation and ships.

Can you open console in Ironman mode?

From time to time there are exploits in which people show that it is possible to open the console when the saved files are slightly changed. But I don’t think it’s fair to show you this and I don’t recommend doing it. I believe Paradox is gradually patching these holes.

Can you disable Ironman mode while playing?

Again, another route I wouldn’t try. Apparently you can edit the files somehow and turn off Ironman mode for that save. But supposedly you can’t turn it back on. And personally, I’d be afraid of corrupting the save game files and actually losing progress. I don’t recommend that route either. 🙂

Does it make sense to have an ironman mode in the games?

Finally, let me answer the question of whether games have a mode ala “ironman” that limits when achievements can be earned and when stats should count towards overall gameplay. They all have the same basis for how to play and when everything can be completed – same rules and similar progression…

… there are different game modes and the game can be set up in almost any way. Then it wouldn’t make sense to compare individual game achievements. This way everything is more balanced and the achievements are more telling.

You could see above that I’m low on points. This is because I play little of this mod because I’ve been playing on smaller levels and also I find it easier to create articles for this site (I can go back and take pictures in a calm way). But after this article, I know Ironman is the only way to play HOI4. Even if I find it harder to take pictures for this site.

Where are the file locations?

If you use local storage, you can find the files here:

  • (for Windows) Documents\Paradox Interactive\Hearts of Iron IV\
  • (for Mac) ~/Documents/Paradox Interactive/Hearts of Iron IV/save games/
  • (for Linux) ~/.local/share/Paradox Interactive/Hearts of Iron IV/save games/

If you use cloud storage, you can find the files here:

  • (on Windows) C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata\<STEAMID>\394360\remote\save games
  • (on Mac) ~/Library/Application Support/Steam/userdata/<STEAMID>/394360/remote/save games 
  • (on Linux) ~/.steam/steam/userdata/<STEAMID>/394360/remote/save\ games/
I'm Martin, the main creator of this site. I love city builders, transport, and war strategy games. So I create this site to share my love with others! Let's make Tycoon games great again!