Hearts of Iron II is a grand strategy game. The player can build land divisions, aircraft squadrons, and naval ships/fleets, and combine these into corps and armies. The player also has the ability to control the appointment of commanders of forces under their nation's flag or that of controlled nations as well as to control the appointment of individual government ministers and military commanders in key General Staff positions. The player also has a broader ability to control the heads of state and government; however, this option is only available to democracies and only then through elections, in which the player chooses the winner. Technological research is controlled by the player. All this is on a global scale, with the player simultaneously dealing and interacting with nations across the world. The game can be paused at any point.