From: Phoenix, AZ
Well, I played HOI2 MP for years and our group just didnt make the migration to HOI3. The big part was the game was in such poor shape on release. Granted, an expansion and a few major patches, it's much better all the way around...but still games released in poor condition leave a bad taste that's hard for many players to get over.
Our group currently runs HOI3 games on various nights. Anyone interested in trying, register at www.warplanorange.net (the name actually comes from our original timezone affiliation before we went global and the love of the pacific war of the founder, and has nothing to do with the WPO mod here).
Anyways, from someone who's been playing HOI3 since long before it's release, the game has gotten gradually better and better with each iteration. It's easily twice the game it was on release. No real details on feature additions coming from the new expansion other than Battle Scenarios (which have a lot of good potential).
The ground combat is the game's best feature. If you love ground fighting, you will grow to appreciate that aspect. The game can be overwhelming, especially if you are used to the HOI2 Corps/Army scale. I would not recommend using the tactical AI for anything other than rear area fighting. I would have to say, that all ground units are NOT the same. Doctrines make a big difference and a Level 3 Armor with many more levels of Blitz doctrine is far superior than not. Also, leaders have a very deep and significant impact. How you get a superior army for say Germany, is that you have a massive headstart on researching tech, doctrine and the best generals in spades.
However, where the game begins to lose it is the continuing balance issues in industry, MP and resources. The Naval model is much improved. CV warfare is at least attritional in nature, but after that you have to let go of reality and just play the game mechanics set before you. Air combat is also difficult to manage because of the teleporting air units and no meaningful way of tracking air combat results, or watching them as they happen. All these issues have been acknowledged to a fair degree by pdox designers, the question is if they can or will do anything about it.
One of the biggest gripes I have is about 2 design decisions:
1) The unabstraction of supply and logistics. In HOI2 the ability to supply your units was about a working convoy route and TC (transport capacity), which indicated how well you supplied your units. One of the biggest grips was that it was completely impossible to cut off supply to a landing. The best you could do was put 10 BB off the coast and sing 30 convoys a day. But if you're Japan, and the US lands and has 4000 convoys to burn...that 2 million man army that just landed south of Tokyo in '1940 isnt going to go hungry anytime soon. The new HOI3 model made supply at least needing a port, and choked it based on port size...however the inability to completely blockade supply is still there. Add to that the logistics model has all kinds of oddities along with the complete inability to indicate where supply goes or how it's stockpiled it's a sin for any real armchair general to cope with.
2) Weather is the biggest machine resource hog and has virtually no affect in the game. They might as well remove it. In most MP games, the soviets get face rolled in '41 because the winter comes and nothing really happens. Unless the Soviet players are all-stars and are able to get out waves of BT's and T-34's before then...the soviet infantry west of the Urals is gonna die.
Other than all that, it's a great game...
So here's to putting faith in another expansion....
Grog Virgin fanboy