[Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

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[Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by VX-145 » 2018-06-09 11:51am

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Well, this certainly is a thing.

Wait, what?

Hearts of Iron IV is the latest in a series of World War 2 Grand Strategy games developed and released by Paradox Interactive, a game studio based in Stockholm. Released on June 6th 2016 in order to coincide with the anniversary of Operation Overlord, the game involves the player taking control of literally any country on the planet in either 1936 or 1938 and leading them through the Second World War. Since its release, it has seen several major expansion packs and updates, some of which have changed fundamental game concepts like aerial combat.

No, but Equestria?

Equestria is the fictional country (or perhaps planet) that serves as the setting of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, a cartoon TV show premiering on October 10th, 2010. The show follows the adventures of the Unicorn Twilight Sparkle and her friends as they learn about the magic of friendship, and has recieved something of a cult following amongst those who are decidedly not its target audience since its debut. Yes, that does include myself. Equestria is nominally ruled by four Alicorn Princesses: Princess Celestia, who raises the sun each morning, Princess Luna, who raises the moon each night, Princess Cadence who... it's not really clear what Cadance does, and Princess Twilight Sparkle, who became an alicorn as part of her adventures. In practice, however, the country is largely self-ruling, and-

Just what in the name of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch am I looking at?

Oh, right. So some intrepid people decided to port the whole world of My Little Pony into Hearts of Iron IV. This mod, called Equestria at War, was released on September 17th, 2017, and features a more grim and gritty version of the setting.


Oh, and when I say the whole world...

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I mean the whole world. There are two major continents. The mane MAIN continent containing the nation of Equestria, along with the Changeling Empire, Stalliongrad (a fan-made USSR analogue), the Crystal Empire, Olenia (another fan-made nation, this time populated by deer), and a bunch of minor nations:

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These images have been taken after I did my initial setup. You'll see what that means in the first actual game post. Also, take note of those two non-green bits in Equestria - those are independant states.

and the continent of Griffonia, dominated by the River Federation (made up of Ponies) and the incredibly fragmented remains of the Griffon Empire:

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You see that blob of yellow nations? Yeah, that's all Griffons. So are all the nations in the ring around them, and a few more besides.

This second continent is the focus of the mod's most recent expansion, "Knights and Flowers", released on April 1st 2018. The vast majority of these nations have their own fleshed out National Focus tree and custom events.

Okay, but... why are you showing us this?

It's interesting and I felt like taking on a new project.

So what does this Let's Play actually entail?

We will be playing as Equestria, mostly because it's the nation I'm most familiar with. We're playing on Regular difficulty, meaning neither we nor the AI get any bonuses or maluses. I've also turned historical focuses off, because I'd like us to be surprised. With historical focuses on, the AI will choose a specific national focus path to go down, which results in the same wars happening each time you play. It will be partially narrative, because I am a story writer first and foremost, so those of you hungering for terrible fanfiction can rest assured. I might also occasionally ask for strategy input from the audience, especially regarding certain events that'll come up in the course of this Let's Play. What form that takes is yet to be determined, but will most likely just be votes on certain decisions. If any of you want to write terrible fanfiction of your own, feel free to do so. We'll probably only play up until just after the end of our first major war. After writing out the first update, I can tell you I probably won't last much longer than that, if I even get that far.

Links:
Mod's Moddb page: https://www.moddb.com/mods/equestria-at-war
Hearts of Iron IV Wiki: http://hoi4.paradoxwikis.com/Hearts_of_Iron_4_Wiki (please read through the beginner's guide on this if you're not familiar with game mechanics - I'm not confident in my ability to explain them. There are some differences between the version used for the beginner's guide and the most recent version, but I'll cover those if they become important.)

Also, I've noticed a problem where some of the images I've used are a bit too small on this forum to make out details. Could someone please advise me on how to make them bigger? This is literally my first attempt at a screenshot Let's Play, so any advice would be appreciated.

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Re: [Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by VX-145 » 2018-06-09 11:51am

Part I: January 1st, 1007 Celestial Era

Equestria, the land I love... -Opening words to the Equestrian National Anthem.

Our story begins not in Equestria, but in another universe entirely. With the stabilisation of the portal between Canterlot High School and Equestria in August 1003 Celestial Era, the way was cleared for an immense transfer of goods and ideas between the two worlds. For the most part, this was beneficial: humans gained access to magic, and ponies gained access to technologically-advanced human goods.

Equestria itself entered a period of rapid development, new factories sprouting up almost overnight across the country to meet the insatiable demand for consumer goods. Civilian development went hoof-in-hoof with military development, too; new "rifles" replaced the ancient spears of the Royal Guard, sleek iron ships replaced the aging wooden frigates of the Royal Equestrian Navy, and an entirely new branch of the Equestrian military was formed when the first non-magical heavier-than-air aircraft took to the skies in late 1004. These developments were carefully copied by Equestria's neighours, spreading the technological revolution to those nations not quite so magically-blessed as Equestria. This fact was not lost on Princess Celestia, nominal ruler of Equestria.

With new tools came a need for new ponies with new ideas, and where better to get those ponies than the world of Canterlot High? Princess Twilight Sparkle was tasked with the mission of recruiting as many human military experts as she could, but found that not many wanted to give up their positions (and perhaps more importantly, their opposable thumbs) to serve a nation they had barely even heard of. She returned to the Equestrian captial of Canterlot with barely a handful of people in mid-1006, none of whom had ever actually served in a real military. Before Princess Celestia could mount a second recruitment drive, however, disaster struck.

A Changeling infiltrator, under orders to obtain the same expertise, was unmasked as they were making the return trip. In the ensuing conflict, the changeling escaped... and the portal was rendered useless. Not even Princess Twilight could return it to working order, trapping Equestria's new "experts" in an unfamiliar country and unfamiliar bodies.

Princess Celestia wasted no further time, immediately organising these "experts" into a body known as the Special Advisory Council. They were headed by a pegasus pony by the name of Typhoon, whose sole qualification for the job was a bachelor's degree in history and some wargaming experience. New legal powers were granted to the SAC, and by the end of 1006 the body was given the task of inspecting Equestrian society and making it ready for the worst. They were second only to the Princesses, a development that troubled much of Equestrian high society.

With orders in hoof hand, the SAC immediately began a review of the entire Equestrian military apparatus and the world situation, starting with the world situation. What they found was best described as an utter mess.

Part I.a: The World Situation

Partial transcript of an SAC meeting, December 20th, 1006:

The chairman of the SAC, Typhoon, rises from his seat and glances down at his notes. Clearing his throat, he begins to speak to the assembled ponies of the SAC.

"Ladies and gentlemen... sorry, gentlecolts, I'm sure you all know why you're here and are eager to get to work."

Murmurs of acknowledgement are given from around the room.

"Well, thanks to the tireless efforts of my adjutant and several day-long stints in the Royal Canterlot Library, I can now present a basic picture of the world situation. Going forward, we'll be using this picture to figure out our long-term strategy, so pay attention."

A projector is produced, and slides loaded.

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(When zoomed out at this level the game consolidates all the division icons together. That's why it looks like we have a division in Stalliongrad.)

"On our north-eastern border, we have the Republic of Stalliongrad. Yes, it's yet another horse pun. Putting that aside, Stalliongrad is a relative newcomer to the political scene. Originally, the territory they occupy now was just considered another part of Equestria, but after the complete works of Leon Trotsky managed to make their way up there they closed themselves off. They appear to have undergone the same rapid industrialisation as Equestria, at the possible cost of their agricultural sector. Their rhetoric is violent, calling for an overthrow of, and I quote, "The Bourgeoisie Royalist Reactionary State", but their actual military potential is rather minimal at this time."

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"Moving westwards, we have the Crystal Empire. They're effectively a puppet state of Equestria, although there's an outside possibility that could change. Since King Sombra was deposed and the Empire returned to this plane of reality, they've been on a crash rebuilding and modernising program. We have a unit of Royal Guard stationed in Crystal City - the capital - to safeguard Princess Cadance and her husband, and they have some forces of their own that will help us should a war break out. That said, we don't have direct control over them, so we can't stop them from making stupid decisions."

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"Even further west, we have the Changeling Lands, which is where changelings come from. It was a changeling spy that trapped us all here, in case you've forgotten, and they've been damn persistent in their attempts to infiltrate and take over Equestria. Their queen even tried to hijack Princess Cadance's wedding a few years back. If there's one nation we're going to go to war with, it's this one. That said, we know next to nothing about their society or their military, aside from the fact that they also have access to modern equipment."

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"The last of our neighbours - sorry - is Olenia, a nation made up of deer. Yes, deer. Look, there's weirder species on this bloody continent. They seem to have gone through some sort of succession crisis recently, and their queen has put out feelers to obtain shelter here in Equestria. Other than that, they're a major power on the continent, although given their location I imagine they're also going to be the first to be eaten by changelings."

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(you see that tiny slip of green at the bottom of Nova Griffonia? Yeah, that's ours, and that bugs me. Screw border gore.)

"The rest of our continent is occupied from, going from east to west, a Griffon colony, Penguins - yes, penguins in the north, more griffons, two clans of yaks, and some polar bears. Also a small free city called "Our Town", but that's too small to really be important. Of these, the biggest threat comes from the griffon colony of Nova Griffonia and their expansion efforts in the Griffon Frontier. Griffons are notoriously greedy, from the accounts I've read, and they have the landmass to back up any attempt to conquer the local area. That said, it'll take them a lot of time to do so, and they'll probably never build up enough to actually be a threat."

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"Moving across the ocean, we come across the island nation of Haukland. It's a very minor griffon nation, used as a stepping stone by the former Griffon Empire to colonise Nova Griffonia."

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(Oh god Celestia god, why)

"Speaking of the Griffonian Empire, here it is. Yes, this map has it all in yellow, yes, that's two nations bearing the same name down there in the south, yes, this is made up of about fifty different nations. After the loss of their golden idol, the Griffonian Empire fragmented and collapsed. Nominally, the Emperor - Grover V - still reigns over the Empire, but their actual control extends to the immediate area around Griffenheim, the Imperial capital. Lots of the outlying territories have embraced human ideologies, some going Communist and others Fascist."

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"One consequence of that has been this planet's first real war, the Prywhen Civil War. After some reactionary policies introduced by the Kingdom of Brodfeld resulted in one or two massacres, a group calling themselves the Griffon Liberation Army found themselves some modern rifles and started a civil war. At least, that's the impression I get from the one newspaper article we have on it. Just westward, we have the Blackrock Bandits, a smallish bandit kingdom looking to take advantage of the chaos."

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"Moving back west, we have the Equestrian colony of New Mareland, which I think has something to do with the old country of Maretania? Look, the books I found don't really explain how this place popped up. They're in a similar state to the Crystal Empire, with their rulers coming from Equestrian nobility, and as such can be counted on as allies should something kick off. That said, if someone attacks them, we're bound by treaty to help them, which could be disastrous. You can also see some more damn griffons - if you want a real-world analogue to those griffon nations, think of the Balkans in Europe. We do NOT want to get involved here unless we have to."

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"Now, this is where I have to start questioning the validity of our maps. There's supposed to be a nation of necromancers calling themselves the "Dread League" on that peninsula, along with the Arcturan Order, a knightly order dedicated to containing them. Honestly, even for this world I think that's a stretch. Nonetheless, if they turn out to be real we'll deal with them. Also visible here are several areas of pony settlement: the Northern Tribes, Watertowns, the Firtree Villages and Farbrook. Even more interestingly, the nation of Greneclyf is rumoured to be made up of friendly changelings, if such a thing exists. Of course, right now we can safely ignore most of these nations."

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"South of all that, we have the River Federation, a large pony nation. This region is probably where ponies come from, given the legend of Hearth's Warming Eve, and yet it isn't covered in a blanket of snow. One can only presume they found some countermeasure to the Windigoes. They're the other major power on the continent, but contact between them and us is sparse for the foreseeable future."

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"Now, we're skipping over the entire Griffon continent westwards to our southern seas. Here is the home of the dragons, in the Dragon Isles. In addition to the isles, they also maintain an enclave of sovereign territory in Equestria itself, which is... annoying."

The projector moves to the next slide, which is blank.

"So that's it. Aside from some more bloody griffons, that's the entire world. At this stage, all we know is that our threats are the Changelings and possibly Stalliongrad, and I have no intention of getting us involved in the Griffon continent if we don't have to. That concludes today's session. I'll present a full report on our military and industrial situation at our next meeting in the new year."

Part I.b: The Nation
Morning in Equestria shimmers...
Princess Twilight Sparkle, August 1003.

Regardless of all the turmoil abroad, the nation of Equestria itself was still going strong.

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Those numbers basically add up to not being able to start a war or really profit from one.

A survey taken by the SAC in the winter of 1006 showed an overwhelming amount of support for the Princesses, with just 25% of the populace expressing a desire to move towards a more autocratic Stalinist system. The primary reason given was that the Princesses would veto any attempt to start a war or annex any territory not already part of Equestria.

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Oh dear. That -1.2% recruitable population is painful - it basically means we can't recruit any more divisions until we either fix that or up our conscription law. That, added to the military factory construction speed malus, makes the first few years quite difficult.

This meshed well with the peaceful nature of ponies in general. After all, why go to war when you could make friends instead? Recruitment centres across Equestria stood empty, and there was a general popular resistance against building any more factories for the military.

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I'm... not too sure why there's a war support buff here when we also have that penalty from the Magic of Friendship

The rule of the Alicorn Princesses made the nation remarkably stable and resilient to external shocks. Furthermore, it was well known that the alicorns would take to the field themselves in the event of a war, which had a remarkable effect on the soldiers' morale.

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Ponies all across the country were filled with national pride and a stubborn determination not to give in to the changeling menace.

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Hahahaha no thank you. 30% of our civilian factories are completely useless, yet another malus to war support, -35% to our research time and that's just the first few lines.

However, that national pride and the sense of security came at a steep price. While ponies had accepted the need to industrialise, very few were willing to go much further than they had already. Equestria had endured for a thousand years, it would endure for a thousand more. This problem was made worse on account of Princess Celestia, who was having a hard time grasping many of the advanced scientific concepts now being advanced.

Let's talk for a moment about the icons in the bottom half of this panel. The top row is our civilian government, the middle is our military-industrial complex, and the bottom is our military high command. Below that we have some the "Development" row, which doesn't apply to us - we're already at the top of the development chain. That's part of another mod, which has been folded into Equestria at War. Most of those posts are empty, and require political power to be filled. However, we do have our conscription law, our mobilisation level, and our trade law to change. The first affects how many people we have in the ponypower pool (I really am sorry for all the horse puns), the second affects how efficient our industry is, and the final one affects how many of our precious resources foreign nations can buy off of us. Right now, we can't actually do anything here, so we'll move on.

Across the top, from left to right, we have our political power, stability, war support, ponypower, covoys, factories, command power and army/navy/air XP.
Political power lets us change things in that box on the left, and recruit new army or navy commanders.
Stability reflects how easy it is for another nation to force our surrender - right now, they'd have to take most of Equestria to get us to surrender.
War support determines how fast conscripts come in, how much command power we gain and also affects our surrender limit. Right now, the first two are in the toilet.
Ponypower is how many people we can recruit for the military - planes and ships also take up ponypower, so one has to be careful.
Convoys are required for supplying your army overseas and conducting international trade - thankfully, as Equestria we don't need to do much of the latter, as we have abundant natural resources.
I'm not too sure why the Factories number exists - it's replicated in the tabs for civilian and military production. Civilian factories build more buildings and military factories build guns. A percentage of the total number of factories are reserved as Consumer Goods factories, which are useless to us.
Command power lets us promote generals into field marshals and potentially do other stuff which I'll get into when it becomes relevant.
The different XP totals come from fighting or drilling our soldiers, and is mostly used for making variants on our equipment. Army XP is doubly important because it lets us change the composisiton of our divisions - again, I'll get into this when it comes up.


Part I.c: The Army

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That little symbol in the middle of the screen represents a division of our army. In this case, the division consists of six Infantry (the little helmets) and one Support Artillery company (the gun icon - there's a little plus in the top-left of that icon that can't be seen). That's... suboptimal to say the least.

More game mechanics - the green bar under the unit icon represents organisation, which can be thought of as a sort of "soft" HP. A unit without organisation cannot move or fight, and will retreat if attacked. Organisation recharges by itself so long as a unit can recieve supply, but will drain by itself if the unit is cut off. The second bar represents "Strength" - i.e. how much equipment the unit has. This includes people, and as I'm sure you're aware, a unit with no guns or people cannot fight. A unit which has lost all of one bar and cannot retreat is destroyed if attacked, which makes encirclements very tasty because training a new unit takes far longer than reinforcing an existing one. As you can see, the unit has full organisation but 20% strength. Equipment is replenished automatically if it's in the stockpile, but this also requires the unit to be connected to a supply line.

"One division." Typhoon looked up from the stack of papers in front of him and raised an eyebrow at the messenger pony assigned to him as an adjutant. "We have one division defending our border with the Changelings?"

The messenger pony, a grey pegasus with blonde hair and yellow eyes, nodded.

"And it's understrength."

Another nod.

Typhoon sighed. "Okay, well maybe those three Crystal Empire divisions can help if a war breaks out."

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While technically independant, the ruler of the Crystal Empire was also one of the four Equestrian Princesses. Four divisions wouldn't be nearly enough, though - they'd need to reinforce that border, and fast. "What about the units stationed in Vanhoover?"

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Oh dear. Those red arrows indicate that this is a reserve division, and as such it is on the bottom of the priority list when it comes to equipment.

The messenger pony shook her head and passed over the next piece of paper in her satchel.

"The three hundred and second... guard... auxilliary?" Another sigh from behind the desk. Typhoon tried to push the piece of paper aside, only to shove the entire stack instead. Damned hooves. "Four thousand ponies. One hundred fighting ponies per battalion, for an effective line strength of four hundred ponies. Also currently understrength. Right. Who else do we have, army-wise?"

A few more sheets of paper were produced.

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A second infantry division was discovered near Vanhoover. Naturally, it was understrength.

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A unit of Royal Guard, with attached reconnaisance support, was stationed near Las Pegasus.

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A training regiment and another garrison unit stood ready near Appaloosa, guarding the Equestrian border with the Buffalo tribes. The Buffalo had been quiet recently, but the Appaloosans hadn't quite forgotten - or forgiven - the last raid into their fair city.

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There was at least some cause for celebration: four Royal Guard units were stationed in the area around Canterlot. These divisions, filled with well-trained ponies, were the golden children of the Equestrian military. On the other hoof hand, they too were understrength, yet another victim of Equestria's rapid industrialisation. There was also the Wonderbolt's infantry division. While the Wonderbolts were primarily a stunt flight, no-one could turn down six thousand pegasi.

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Yup, my cursor was over that one.

Make that five Royal Guard divisions. The Ponyville Guard, while new, were certainly up to the task of defending Equestria.

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On the border with Stalliongrad were two more garrison units and yet another training regiment. Enough to secure the border, not enough to resist a determined attack.

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Oh, now THIS is what I'm talking about. Tanks. Glorious, lovely, tanks. Sure, those divsions are set up in a horrible way, and sure, they're light tanks, but TANKS!

More good news came from Manehattan. Along with the Manehattan Coast Guard were the two Royal Armoured Corps divisions - the 1st "Selenian" and 2nd "Royal Daylight". They were equipped primarily with "Sparrow" light tanks, armed with a 37mm cannon and clad in 25mm of rolled steel armour plate. The problem was, they were bogged down with a sizable organic on-hoof infantry contingent. Despite that, they'd still work wonders if the Equestrian Army ever had to go on the offensive.

Other than that, however, there was mostly more disappointment. A few more Royal Guard units stationed along the coast, and a few more garrison divisons scattered about.

By the time Typhoon was done reading through the reports, the moon was shining through his dingy office's window, and the messenger pony had long since disappeared. Letting out a long sigh, he mentally prepared himself for an all-nighter.

Part I.d: The Navy

Much ado had been made about the new Royal Equestrian Navy, and for good reason. A few short years ago, the fleet consisted of a few wooden-hulled sailing ships, tasked mostly with coast-guard duties.

Now, however...

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Quick naval classification guide for the uninitiated: CV = aircraft carrier, BB = battleship, BC = battleruiser (less armoured but faster battleship), CA = heavy cruiser, CL = light cruiser and DD = destroyer.

The bulk of the ERNS Pegasopolis, the pride and joy of the Equestrian fleet, the first aircraft carrier in this world, loomed over Typhoon as a small party of Royal Equestrian Navy officers met him on the dockside. The pony at the head of the party, a dark-skinned, blonde-haired mare bearing an Admiral's insignia, saluted.

"Admiral Evening Squall, CO of the Pegasopolis," she introduced herself. He already knew her name - Evening Squall had been given the task of reporting to the SAC on the state of the navy by Princess Celestia herself.

Typhoon held out a hand hoof. "Chairman Typhoon of the Special Advisory Council. Permission to come aboard?"

"Granted," said Admiral Squall, shaking Tyhpoon's hoof. "Follow me." She gestured over to the gangplank leading up to the Pegasopolis, and began leading the party on board. "I do have to question the need for this inspection. We have the newest and best weapons in all of Equestria, after all, not to mention the best officers and sailors in the world."

"Who's currently in charge of the Celestial Sea Fleet?" asked Typhoon. The roar of a Nimrod taking off temporarily put a stop to conversation, and the pegasus craned his neck to see the biplane fighter flash past overhead. He let out a quiet sigh; the Pegasopolis' air wing was made up entirely of 45 Nimrods, none of which were fitted with even the lightest bombs. They'd serve a vital scouting and anti-aircraft role for the rest of the fleet, but it would probably be a few years before Equestria could lay claim to having a true aircraft carrier force.

Admiral Squall was taken aback. "Well... nopony, right now. Princess Celestia hasn't appointed anypony as C-IN-C Celestial Fleet."

"Mhm," Typhoon replied, stepping onto the Pegasopolis' flight deck. Just past the conning tower, he could see the squat forms of the Vanhoover and Canterlot, two of the Celestial Sea Fleet's battleships. Modelled after the British Royal Navy's Revenge-Class battleships of the First World War, they formed part of the Royal Equestrian Navy's iron fist. "We're going to have to fix that soon." He returned his attention to Admiral Squall. "How are you finding the Pegasopolis?"

The Admiral shrugged. "She's a good ship, with a good crew," she said. "I'd prefer a cruiser, or a destroyer, though. Something that works at night, with torpedoes."

"They don't call her the Nightmare of Solomon for nothing," one of the other officers muttered.

Typhoon stopped in his tracks. "I'm sorry, what?"

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Fe Fi Fo Feal, I smell an Original Character (Do Not Steal). Those buffs are pretty good, though, and she'll probably end up being our overall fleet commander.

Admiral Squall at least had the decency to look embarrased about the nickname, waving a hoof at the officer who'd spoken up. "It's nothing," she said. "Just something the pirates of the Spa Islands started calling me after I sank their king's ship and entire fleet with just a single destroyer squadron."

"Neat," said Typhoon, deliberately not responding to the Admiral's boasting. "What's the status of the fleet?" he asked, getting the conversation back on track.

There was a flash of irritation on Admiral Squall's face, but it was soon replaced by a look of professional calm. Good; she could put aside her ego if necessary. That professionalism was a bit of a rarity amongst the ponies of Equestria, in Typhoon's experience. "Aside from the Pegasopolis, which has developed some condensor trouble, the rest of the fleet is ready to sail within four hours of the order being recieved," she said. "Currently, it's organised into the Battle Division, consisting of the five Revenge-class battleships, the Crusier divison, headed by the battlecruisers Lunar Herald, Solar Herald and Sabre, and the Carrier division. Destroyers are distributed as needed between the squadrons."

"Battlecruisers?" Typhoon asked, incredulous. "Excuse me for asking, but aren't those a bit of an outdated concept? Who decided to build them?"

"The Bureau of Naval Procurement," replied Admiral Squall. "They make perfect backup to a cruiser force, and their lack of armour shouldn't be a problem if we keep them out of the battle-line."

"If", said Typhoon. "Well, if a war breaks out within the next few years we'll need them, as much as I'd prefer otherwise. What of the rest of the navy? There's other fleets stationed around Equestria, what's their status?" Five battleships was a respectable line force, but if the rumours of a Changeling super-battleship were true, equestria would need more.

Admiral Squall put on a pained expression. "There are other fleets, three in fact, but..."

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Oh well, I was going to consolidate all our ships into one fleet anyway.

"Each one only has one or two destroyers assigned to them. They're meant for coast-guard duties, and forming the nucleus of a larger fleet, and the Navy hasn't had the budget for any expansion since '04."

Typhoon nodded, resisting the urge to let out a sigh. "Okay," he said, warily eyeing a Nimrod that looked like it was about to come in for a landing. "Now, can we get on with the tour and stop cluttering up your flight deck?"

"Sure thing," said Admiral Squall.

Part I.e: The Air Force

"Ladies and Gentlecolts, welcome to the 1007th Annual Canterlot Air Show! A lot's changed since last year, and we certainly have a treat for all you ponies out there today!"

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Well, this isn't great but it isn't too bad either. As per usual, we'll get into how air combat works when we actually have some air combat, but it basically boils down to having more and better planes than your opponent. There is one interesting quirk in that planes don't travel to and from areas they're assigned to from their airfield - they just appear there.

"Firstly, a flyby from a combined bomber force from Number 7, 8 and 9 Squadrons! With their Wheatley bombers, these brave ponies can blast away rockslides and drop supplies to disaster-struck regions all across Equestria. They stand ready in bases near Vanhoover and Manehattan, with the five-machine strong 9 Squadron ready to help our neighbours in Stalliongrad the moment they ask!"

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Aces crop up randomly whenever a squadron is in combat, and provide buffs to whichever squadron they're assigned to. They can also die in combat, and shoot each other down.

"Next, a full 25-plane formation from No.2 Squadron. Led by Wing Commander Night Glider, No.2 Squadron is the largest in the Royal Equestrian Air Force, numbering a round one hundred machines! From their base in Canterlot, they guard the heart of Equestria! Just look at their perfect formation flying - not one plane out of position!"

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"And following them, we have three planes of No.3 Squadron. Flying out of the great city of Cloudsdale, Squadron Leader "Scroupy" Whitemares - you can see him there, in the pennanted machine - trains new pegasi in the operation of the Gladiator aircraft that serves as Equestria's main fighter. With their hybrid magic/oil combustion engines, these fighters let unicorns and earth ponies take to the skies, and extend the range a pegasus can fly tens of times over. A true wonder of the modern age!"

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"Trailing to the rear-right of No.3 Squadron are two planes from No.4 Squadron, also based out of Cloudsdale. Unlike No.3 Squadron, No.4 is a scouting and disaster relief squadron. Squadron Leader Vapour Trail prides himself on his squadron's impeccable response times in disaster training, and the rest of his squadron remains on standby in Cloudsdale just in case. If you look closely at their machines, you can see that they've stripped off every last piece of unneccesary weight to get to a disaster just a fraction of a second earlier! If anypony wants a closer look, Vapour Trail's aircraft will remain on the air show grounds until the end of the day. I'm... being asked to tell you all not to climb into the cockpit, and definitely not to touch the trigger on the flight stick."

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No comment.

"To their left, we have Squadron Leader "Bolty" Lolcats of No.5 Squadron. The final of the three Cloudsdale squadrons, No.5 Squadron is currently tasked with courier duties, delivering important mail and packages across the country. In fact, it looks like... yes, he's dropping a package right now! That's dedication, folks!"

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"And now the ponies you've all been waiting for, ladies and gentlecolts! The one and only... the WONDERBOLTS! I'm sure most of the ponies require no introduction, but in the third position we have newcomer Rainbow Dash flying without a plane. Now, some of you may remember Rainbow Dash from all the times she's helped save Equestria, or from her amazing performance at the Cloudsdale Young Fliers competition some years back, but since we have such a large crowd of ponies here today I thought it'd be best to reintroduce her. And now, the Wonderbolts will run through a collection of stunts both with and without planes, so relax and enjoy the flying!"

Away from the crowd, Typhoon sat back in his deck chair. The air show was going well, at least - he'd had some reservations about unveiling the "new" planes to the public, but all that talk of disaster relief and courier duty seemed to have papered over their more offensive uses. Hopefully the inevitable changeling spies in the audience took the bait, too. Finally, he could relax for the first time in months.

A hoof tapped him on the shoulder just as he was closing his eyes, and he looked up into the face of his adjutant. She was holding a message cylinder in her mouth. Wordlessly, he took it and opened it, and swore. "Couldn't even get one bloody day off, could I?"
Message wrote:PRESENT SELF TO PRI.CEL. ASAP STOP. EMERGENCY WAR COUNCIL ASSEMBLING STOP.

Okay, this was a lot more effort than I expected it to be. Next time: actually doing things in the game! (But still leaving it paused...)

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VX-145
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Re: [Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by VX-145 » 2018-08-03 10:26am

Sorry this took a while - real life interfered a little. Updates will probably be quite sparse throughout this LP, though, and a little shorter as I don't need to keep explaining game mechanics.

Part II: First Moves, January 1st to March 21st, 1007 Celestial Era

The atmosphere in Canterlot Palace as Typhoon arrived was tense. Two Royal Guards stood flanking the door, to the throne room and as he approached they barred it with their spears.

"Halt! Who goes there?" one of them barked.

Typhoon wordlessly presented the message. The guards looked across at each other, and then finally let him through.

Normally, the throne room of the Twin Princesses was filled with petitioners, unicorn nobility and all the other hangers-on of a royal court. Today, however, it was nearly empty. Only Princesses Celestia and Luna were present, sitting atop their thrones. Typhoon bowed. "Your Highnesses."

"Chairpony," said Princess Celestia, her voice carefully level. "You're early. We're still waiting for-"

There was a purple flash of light, a high-pitched bang, and suddenly a third Alicorn was standing in the space between Typhoon and the thrones. A tottering stack of books and papers towered high above her head, held in place by a hazy purple magical outline. Princess Twilight Sparkle looked... harried, for want of a better word. "I've looked through every book in the library," she opened, breathlessly, "And I can't find a single other example of this ever happening before."

The stack of books and paper lowered itself down nearly on top of Typhoon's head, and he side-stepped to avoid the inevitable toppling. "What exactly were you looking for?" he asked, feeling his unfamiliar body tense.

Princess Twilight wheeled around on the spot. "This!" she said, picking a book - Predictions and Prophecies out of the stack and thrusting it into his face. Pony handwriting was universally atrocious - not surprising, given that most wrote with their mouths - but as Typhoon read the page his eyes widened.

Sandwiched in between the infamous passage about the return of Nightmare Moon and a small rhyme about the marriage of some unicorn nobility was an entry Typhoon was certain had not been present when he'd last read the book:

Be prepared to face your fears,
for in less than a score of years,
Equestria shall know war,
and Death shall open its wings and soar.


"It's entirely new," Twilight was saying, although Typhoon could barely hear. "I don't know how, and I only noticed it when I was on my weekend Sortcation - that's where I re-organise the entire library in the castle."

Princess Celestia spoke up. "This is why we summoned you here, Chairpony. Before this came to my attention, I was content to merely ensure that Equestria kept up with our neighbours. Now, I fear that we must surpass them."

"I agree," said Princess Luna. "We have come to the decision that we must put into place the contingiencies that you and the council are an essential part of. You must ready Equestria for an all-out war."

"As a precaution, nothing more," Princess Celestia continued, looking at Princess Twilight who seemed about to say something. "Do not fail, Chairpony."

Typhoon felt weak, and barely able to keep standing. Everything seemed far away as his mind tried to process what was going on. Him? In charge of an entire country's war effort? Was there really no-one else? There was no way he could voice those thoughts, however. All he said was, "I won't."
-

The very first thing that needed doing was a complete re-organisation of the Army. Less than an hour after the meeting with Princess Luna, the SAC issued its first order: all garrison units were hereby converted to full infantry divisions, with the increased training and equipment allocation that implied. This order extended to the para-military sections of the Dodge City Police Department and the Manehattan and Phillydephia Coast Guards.

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...So we only have two artillery pieces in storage, what could possibly go wrong?

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The new Onhooves divisions, designated the 300th to 308th divisions, would go a long way towards securing the Changeling border against future infiltration attempts. The problem now became finding ponies who were qualified to command the Army; divisional-level officers weren't too hard to find, but there was a severe shortage of generals and a complete lack of any sort of high command.

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Game mechanics time - I've grouped our army divisions into one Army, which is that pony sillhouette with 21 beneath it, and one army group - the one with 1 underneath. Armies are commanded by Generals, who can command a maximum of 24 divisions in combat (72 if they're set to garrison orders, but that's not something we'll see a lot of). Army Groups are commanded by Field Marshalls, like our good friend Prince Blueblood here, and they can command 5 armies each. Each level of command adds certain buffs or maluses to the divisions under them depending on their skill level and traits - skill level is that number next to the portrait (in Blueblood's case it's 2) and traits are those little icons underneath the name. Each general/field marshall also has skill ranks for Offense, Defence, Tactics and Logistics - those icons on the right side of their boxes, respectively.

When Prince Blueblood, a prominent member of Equestria's unicorn nobility and nephew of Princesses Celestia and Luna, cornered Chairpony Typhoon and conveyed certain concerns he had regarding the security of Canterlot and, more importantly, himself, the Chairpony found a solution to one of his problems.


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"Tell you what, your majesty, why don't you take up command of Army Group Equestria? There's nowhere safer to be than surrounded by trained soldiers, after all." It wasn't as stupid an idea as it might sound; Prince Blueblood was a graduate of the Royal Guard Academy, and had been given an extensive education in the art of war. At least, as far as a hidebound pacifist nobility understood it.


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Interestingly enough, Prince Blueblood starts with two free trait slots. We can't assign them right now, however, because we need Command Power to do so. That Unyielding Defender trait looks pretty tasty, though...

Also, a peek behind the curtain - eagle-eyed readers might notice that certain divisions that have been renamed are in the division list to the left. Let's just say I had to re-capture all the footage for this update and things got a little lost in the shuffle.


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And off he goes. We'll need someone better in time, but for now he'll do.

Underneath the surprisingly co-operative prince was General Fast Clip, a career Army officer who had taken specialist courses in fortress-busting and river-crossing. While many said that General Soarin was perhaps more suited for the task, there was a lot of reluctance on the part of the Army to entrust a former Wonderbolt - effectively an Air Force officer in their eyes - with command.

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If you're able to see it at this resolution, the important thing here is the crenellated line between Equestria and the Changelings. That's a front line. Any divisions assigned to it will spread out as well as they're able to and defend it. Notice that since the Crystal Empire is our puppet, the line extends into their territory.

Finally, the new Army Group Equestria was tasked with guarding the border with the Changeling lands. Twenty-one divisions occupied one corner of Equestria, along with the Western edge of the Crystal Empire. It was the largest single concentration of force ever heard of thus far, and simply getting the ponies there presented new and interesting challenges. Thankfully, those challenges were Prince Blueblood's problem.

-

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Just LOOK at that +30% research time. We're going to be lagging behind technologically until we can do something about that.

Much had been made of Equestria's rapid strides into the modern world. It was the source of human technology, embodied by the Canterlot High-Equestria portal, and ponies across Equestria slept safely with that thought.

The reality, however, was something different.

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So this is one of the tech trees. Green icons = researched, yellow = can be researched, and grey = cannot be reseached yet. The numbers across the top correspond to in-game years - trying to research a technology before you're "supposed" to incurs a time penalty. Certain things can cancel that penalty out, and by god Celestia we will be using those. Especially since they stack. As you can see, infantry-wise we can make four types of infantry weapons (including swords?) and... nothing else.

"And as you can see, your majesty, our primary infantry weapon is the Lavender 8mm bolt-action rifle. It's perfectly adequete, don't get me wrong, but there are avenues for improvement, namely adopting crew-served weapons - mortars and the like - and modernising the infantrypony's kit. Did you know we still give each pony a breastplate which does absolutely nothing to protect them from bullets?"

Princess Twilight Sparkle let out an aggravated sigh. When the Chairpony of the Special Advisory Council had asked her to discuss Equestria's scientific future with him, she'd expected an entertaining discussion of magic and how it could be combined with human technology to achieve miracles. She hadn't been expecting... well, this. She probably should have, in retrospect; she'd hired this pony precisely because of his militaristic instincts. "Do we really need better ways to hurt each other?"

The chairpony tilted his head, considering the thought. "Well, no, thankfully. I think we can get away with ignoring most weapons development for a good year or two."

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One of the little gripes I have with this game is certain UI inconsistencies. The Infantry screen was laid out horizontally, while this one is laid out vertically. Just... why? Anyway, there are five types of tank in the game - Light, Medium, Heavy, Superheavy and Modern. Right now, we have access to light tanks, but mediums tend to be the most optimal. Also, the three icons on the right side of the tech box indicate we can research Self-Propelled Artillery, Tank Destroyer and Self-Propelled Anti-Air versions of each tank. I normally hold off on those but I'll try to show some of them off in this LP.

"This obviously applies to our armoured force as well, although I'm a bit more inclined to get some work done in this area so we can have a real tank presence. Plus, I kind of want to get a Tankwando league started."

"A what now?"

The chairpony coughed. "Never mind."

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There's a lot of stats here. I'm not going to go into detail, because no-ponyone's got time for that, but the important one for a light tank is speed. The next tier of light tank gets us a 20% speed increase, along with significant boosts to armour, soft attack and piercing. Don't ask what the difference is between soft and hard attack, because I'm not too sure myself - I just try to get soft attack as high as possible. Piercing grants a buff in combat if your piercing value is greater than the enemy armour value, and vice versa.

"Right now, we use the Sparrow as our main armoured vehicle, with a few miscellaneous armoured tractor prototypes still in service. The Sparrow, however, was mainly an experimental vehicle used to get Equestrian industry used to tank building. Plans for the Calico light tank, with an improved 57mm gun and angled armour, are already being drawn up, and it'll take us less than a year to get it into production if we fund the project. Again, not something we need, but something I'd like you to be aware of."

At this point, Twilight had pretty much given up. Yet more charts were produced.

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If we researched a heavy tank, it'd move at around the same speed as our infantry with 70 armour and decent breakthrough. Breakthrough comes into play when you're on the attack - it affects how much damage you take while doing so. Combat in this game is... obtuse.

"And, of course, who can forget the Ursa. Five turrets, the lower four with 45mm guns and the upper one with a 75mm howitzer. Impressive design, reminds me of the Soviet T-35... with all of its flaws. It's slower than its namesake, the armour's paper-thin for its size, and the proof-of-concept vehicle breaks down whenever it drives for more then fifty metres. Not to mention how expensive it'd be compared to the Sparrow and Calico. Might be worth mixing them in with our infantry, but we'll see." The Chairpony finally looked away from his charts, and noticed Twilight's expression. "...aand I can see that you're really not interested. I should probably have tailored this presentation to its audience. Okay, maybe something a bit more interesting next..."


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This research screen has a lot of useful stuff on it. The big one is, of course, the atomic research, although it'd take us until 1016 to actually get nukes. Other than that, we have rockets (which lead into jet aircraft) and electronic engineering, which gives us RADAR and computers. Computers give us a buff to research time as well as letting us get better encryption and decryption. Having better en/decryption tech than our opponents gives us a bonus in combat and - more importantly - lets us see what National Focuses they've taken. Given that all our wars are probably going to come from other countries' national foci, that's huge.

The soft thud of something landing on the table between the two ponies broke Twilight out of her stupor. She recognised the small device instantly: it was a mobile phone, like the ones she'd seen back in the human world. "I know those don't work here," she said. "There's just too much background magic; the constant electro-magnetic flux causes all sorts of problems." She lifted the phone up into the air with magic, and tried turning it on. As expected, the screen flashed twice, displayed a seizure-inducing array of colour, and then switched off. "See?"

The Chairpony nodded. "Yes, which is one of the reasons we're having this meeting in the first place. So far, we've had some success with hybrid magical/mechanical engines - notably, one of the designs for Equestria's next aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal, uses a magical steam turbine engine. So, my thinking was, can we extend that to electronic engineering? Either through insulating electronic devices against magical flux or utilising magic in their design?"

Princess Twilight thought for a moment. The idea was definitely interesting. "It... could work, sure."

"That's good enough for me," said the Chairpony. "Consider the project funded."

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The Princess had to raise an eyebrow at that. "Just like that? You know we don't have much money in the research budget, right? Weren't you talking about how you wanted tanks and stuff? What about the prophecy?"

"That all comes later," said the Chairpony. "Right now, we have the time to focus on long-term projects like this, and we don't need new equipment right this second. If war breaks out in the next few months, we're not going to have the time to roll out new weapons before being over-run. Plus, having something concrete we can point at and say "this is something Equestria came up with" might help convince ponies to give us more bits."

"I guess. What's next?"

The Chairpony flipped through his charts.

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70% reduction and it'll still take us just under a third of a year to research Hurricanes. Leaving that aside, air research is going to be pretty vital, especially if we want to expand our carrier fleet. That little icon in the top-right of the techs on the left indicate that you can make a carrier-capable version of that aircraft - you have to research it seperately, though. On the other side of the tree, we have heavy fighters and bombers. Heavy fighters are a trap option, although tactical and strategic bombers can be useful.

"Oh, yes, planes. Have you taken a ride in a Gladiator yet, your majesty?"

"No," said Princess Twilight, a little sardonically. "I do have wings, y'know."

"So do I, but that doesn't change the fact that planes are amazing. Currently, we've gotten a proposal for a monoplane design to replace the Gladiator and Nimrod fighters, as well as some demand from the ERAF for a ground support aircraft. Of course, we're also going to need bombers for our next carrier - if nothing else, they'll help carry supplies for disaster relief. On top of that, the Wheatley could apparently use a replacement, either a two-engine or four-engine design."

"Didn't you just say that we didn't need any new equipment right now?" asked Princess Twilight.

"Fair enough," replied the Chairpony. "Moving on..."

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Oh boy, yet another game mechanic to talk about. Researching this lets us research more industrial techs, which are worth their weight in gold. Just look at this one - right now, the maximum production efficiency we can have is 50%. Production efficiency is vital if you want to build up decent stocks of equipment, because the higher it is the more each individual factory makes. Given that our military factory situation is not exactly great right now, this is a solid choice.

"Right, industry. Okay, so right now every tank, every plane and every rifle has to be made by hoof or by magic, but with a bit of funding we can have some standardised machine tool designs drawn up and adopted across Equestria. Bit of a no-brainer, really."

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After we research Machine Tools we can choose between either of these. Now, normally I'd choose dispersed industry - the bonuses to efficiency are good - but 5% more raw output is also good, especially when you take them cumulatively. Note that in the base game, the tech tree would normally end at 1014, but the mod-makers folded in an extended tech tree mod to EaW. None of the other numbers really matter - we're not going to get bombed, so making industry more resilient isn't worth it, and conversion efficiency rarely comes into play.

"Some ponies are also starting to debate the merits of concentrating or dispersing industry. Both groups have some concrete proposals, but I don't think we can afford to pursue either right now. Boring stuff, even for me, but as it stands Equestria's industrial base can't sustain a war."

"And we're looking at going to war in less than twenty," Princess Twilight said. "Do you think this will help?"

The Chairpony nodded. "It'll mean we can put more rifles on the field, at least," he said. "And maybe allow us to get newer equipment in the hands of our soldiers just that little bit faster."

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Nothing much to say here. +10% factory construction speed is nice.

"And the final part of our budget is going towards investing in state construction companies," the Chairpony finished. "With better equipment, they can build whatever's needed just that little bit faster. Bunkers, factories, roads, all of that good stuff."

There was a moment of awkward silence, before Princess Twilight realised the Chairpony was finished. "Well, there are a few things you missed out."

"Such as?"

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This research tab is pretty much new to this mod, although I think it's also part of the extended tech tree mod I mentioned above. Most of the major races get their own racial technologies and special unit types that come from those techs. Ponies get Mage Companies and Pegasi, Changelings get Jaegers (infiltration specialists, not giant robots) and Griffons get Knights. The Deer don't get any special units, and the rest of the races get a generic "magic" tree.

"Earth Ponies, for a start," said the Princess. "With a little bit of funding, a lot of farms all across Equestria could really benefit."

The Chairpony gaver her a skeptical look. "I don't see how that helps."

"It'd go far towards securing our food supply, if nothing else," Princess Twilight countered. "I've read some human history books, and I think it'd be well worth the cost."

"I... hadn't thought of that," said the Chairpony, a surprised look on his face. "Anything else?"

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"Well..." Princess Twilight hesitated for a moment. "My brother once mentioned an idea he had when he was in the Royal Guard. Right now, all the unicorns in the Royal Guard go straight into the ranks, no matter how powerful they are. If we set up special companies for powerful unicorn wizards - like how skilled Pegasi fliers have their own units - they could help each other out with spells. The effect would be multiplicative, if my calculations are correct." She took another moment to think. "We could probably stand to improve everypony's magical training, come to think of it."

The Chairpony nodded. "We'll look into both," he said. Producing a pocketwatch from his jacket, he checked the time and stood up. "I have to get going; Princess Celestia's got me booked for at least eight different meetings today alone." He paused, just before walking out the door. "You wouldn't happen to know where the Starswirl the Bearded wing is in the library? I'm due to meet the head of whatever the apples an "Equestrian Development Committee" is there... about five minutes ago."

"Sure," said Princess Twilight, memories of a certain time travel incident coming to mind unbidden. "It's... right across from the main door in. It's pretty easy to miss, though."

"I'll find it," said the Chairpony on his way out.

-

EQUESTRIAN DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE STATEMENT OF INTENT JAN.1 1007

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So here's where you can see just why I've been moaning about Consumer Goods factories. We have 52 civilian factories at our disposal, but only 12 can be used to build things. Ouch. Also, welcome to the construction screen! We can build Civilan Factories (the orange symbol), Military Factories (the green symbol), Dockyards (used to build ships, the blue crane), various fortifications, naval/air bases, and Infrastructure (the railway icon). Infrastructure affects how fast units move, how many buildings you can build in a region and how many resources you mine from a region. We'll get into how Military Factories and Dockyards work in the next section, but here's where you build them. Additionally, there's some greyed-out icons. We can't build those because we lack the technology. They are, from top to bottom, RADAR sites, Synthetic Oil Plants, Rocket Sites and Nuclear Reactors. Anyway, for now we want to get more than 15 factories - 15 being the maximum that can work on one task at one time.

It is resolved to fund the construction of six non-military heavy industry plants, to be spread across the provinces of Twisted Tail Valley, Honey Forest, Bluebell Fields and Mariposa.

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We're going to need all of these, especially if we want to play around with heavy tanks and strategic bombers.

It is furthermore resolved to fund the construction of twenty-four weapons plants, spread across Equestria.

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So the more factories we have, the more Consumer Goods factories we'll need, because they're taken as a percentage of the total. Military factories cannot be consumer goods factories, so you always want to be have a few Civilian factories spare if you want to expand your production lines.

Finally, in order to sustain Equestria's armaments effort, nine more non-military plants will be funded, in addition to a last-minute expansion of eight weapons plants.

Thus ends the Statement of Intent.

-

The final item on the SAC's agenda was the re-allocation of military spending.

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We finally reach the military production screen! Yay! Only one more semi-complicated game mechanic to explain after this!

..Ahem. Right, so each factory outputs production (represented by a spanner icon), and each item takes a certain amount of production to make, along with resources. If you're short on resources, you can in most cases still build the item, it'll just take longer. We have a total of 22 military factories and 12 dockyards available. As you can see, 19 of those military factories have already been set to make infantry equipment, support equipment, artillery and Gladiator fighters. All of those are important, but we need a few other things and some factories could be taken off of infantry equipment - it's cheap enough to produce that it's not a problem. Note the little arrow icon at the bottom-right of the rifle box? that means that production of rifles is going towards upgrades, rather than being stockpiled or used to reinforce losses. Finally, each one of those factory icons equals one factory, but there are settings to have them equal five or even ten factories.


The situation as it stood was wildly inefficient. Far too much spending was going towards rolling out the Lavender rifle, when the Equestrian Army only needed about a thousand more to fully equip itself. Vitally, there was no current production of Sparrow tanks, and production of Gladiator fighters was limited to just one plant in Cloudsdale. Naval spending was in a similarly poor position, with the dockyards in Manehattan, Fillydelphia and Vanhoover lying completely unused.

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This is... better, but still messy. I've put 5 factories on tanks not because we need that many, but because it's good to keep them doing something - worst comes to worst, we'll run out of tanks long before we run out of rifles. Also of note is that more factories add linearly, not exponentially, to production - we took half of the factories off of rifles, and we're now producing half as many for half as many resources. On top of that, the red bar over the Sparrow tank production line indicates it's not at full production efficiency yet. That doesn't matter so much right now, but it's a powerful disincentive to swap lines in the middle of a war.

Funding for the Lavender rollout was halved, with the spare capacity being split between artillery and Gladiator production, while new orders were placed for the Sparrow tank to replace the armoured tractors still in use in some armoured units. It would take a while for the factories to tool up to making tanks, however.

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Naval production works slightly differently to the rest; ships are deployed automatically when built, instead of being shipped to a unit or stockpiled, and there's no Production Efficiency mechanic. We can build ships directly into a fleet, however, which is what we're doing with the V/W class DDs we're building. Convoys do stockpile, oddly enough. This game has some weird disconnects in its mechanics.

On the naval front, Princess Celestia signed a bill allowing the Equestrian Navy to order up to 12 destroyers per budget year. While already an ageing design, the V/W class destroyers would serve a vital screening and torpedo role for the rest of the fleet. A second bill greenlit an expansion to Equestria's merchant marine at a rate of two fifteen thousand-tonne vessels per month, with a third to be built every other month from private shipyards.

The question then became what to do with the new ships and planes.

-

JAN 1 1007
FROM: SAC Office, Canterlot
TO: Admiral Evening Squall, C-IN-C Pegasopolis

Admiral Squall,

Congratulations on your promotion. You are now C-IN-C CSF, effective as soon as you read this letter. Your orders are to move the Celestial Sea Fleet over to Vanhoover and patrol Equestria's territorial waters in that region. Please gather up the detached squadrons as you redeploy.

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Fleets can be set to four basic orders - Patrol, Seek and Destroy, Convoy Raiding and Convoy Escort. Each fleet can then be assigned to a total of three naval provinces (the green-striped ones in the picture) to do their thing. We're assigning them here because the AI loves naval invasions and this'll help prevent them from trying anything funny.

You will be recieving reinforcement in the way of one destroyer per month until such a time as we can outfit the Ark Royal class of carriers with modern aircraft. Make preparations to recieve three more carriers of said class within the next four years.

Signed,

Chairman Typhoon.

Another gameplay note - fleets can only have 4 aircraft carriers assigned before suffering penalites. This is not mentioned anywhere except for the naval combat screen. Don't worry, that's not the most obtuse thing we'll come across. No, that's air combat. Speaking of which...

-

"You want to do what with my bombers?" Spitfire, acting head of the Royal Equestrian Air Force, glared at Typhoon from across the narrow desk in his office.

"Get rid of them," Typhoon repeated, bluntly.

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"Or," he continued, "rather, transfer them to a civilian operator."

"Can I ask why?" asked Spitfire.

Typhoon nodded. "Simply put, we don't have the money to build more, and they'll be obsolete in the next two to three years."

The flame-haired pegasus opposite him seemed placated by that. "Fair enough. What about the Gladiator squadrons?"

"Good news on that front."

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One of the really nice features added in an update to this game was the ability to set air wings to follow specific armies. Before that update, you used to have to set them to each individual province you wanted them to cover, which was tedious.

"With Gladiator production expanding, you should be able to increase the size of each squadron to a minimum of fifty active machines. The civilian body that's taking your Wheatleys will also take some spare and older Gladiators for non-military roles."

Spitfire nodded. "Good," she said. "With that many planes, I should be able to give Prince Blueblood the air cover he's been screaming about." Both ponies laughed at that; the Prince had, in a matter of hours, established a reputation of cowardice. "Although I'd be a bit more comfortable with larger airfields, as well."

"I'll see what I can do," Typhoon said, carefully making no promises.

-

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Welcome to the National Focus screen. This sort of functions like research, only each focus is a political action and takes political power to finish. What exactly does that mean, you ask? Well, in our case we can focus on Buffalo Relations, which when finished would give us an event to either go to war with the Buffalo state or continue on a peaceful integration path. Other focuses give us factories, research buffs, various national sprits (which were last covered in update 1) and even research slots. This screen represents about a quarter of the focus tree for Equestria, each of which is about 10 lines of scripting which has to be done by hand. Not to mention the event scripting. Most of the nations in the game have their own unique focus tree, and even the generic trees have been re-written to suit the mod.

While the SAC had near-complete control over the military apparatus of Equestria, the civilian side of the state was left firmly in the hooves of the four Princesses. A substantial amount of political effort, which could have been directed towards the revitalisation of the Equestrian military was thus diverted towards the setup for the 620th Friendship Games.

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This focus will, when completed, give us a bit of political power and stability. Several other nations will get some stability, and an event will fire. We'll see that a bit later. The real reason we're taking this is simple: it unlocks an entire tree of foci for us to take, some of which are very important.

While some on the SAC decried the waste, others understood the value of normalcy in trying times. By allowing the games to take place as scheduled, they hoped to obtain the political capital needed to push through other reforms. Besides, what was the harm in a little fun? It wasn't like anyone was going to invade within the decade.

-

January 1st/2nd, 1007

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We're FINALLY unpausing the game. Look in the top-right for the date. Paradox grand strategy games normally allow you to accelerate time to various levels, and HOI IV is no exception. Because nothing important is happening, I've accelerated time to the maximum rate - one day per second(ish).

After what felt like several week's worth of effort crammed into one day, Typhoon was just about ready to collapse onto his bed and fade out of existence. If this pace were to keep up, he had no idea how he'd manage to last more than a year.

Just as he was about to close his eyes, there was a knock on the door. His new service revolver in hoof, he sprang up-

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"HAPPY HEARTHSWARMING!"

Our first event! Some events have more than one option to choose from, and some of them can trigger other events down the line. This one, however, just gives us five political power for free.

Sheepishly, Typhoon lowered his revolver. It was just his adjutant, a wide smile on her face and a wrapped box in her hooves. He glanced at the calender; "Wasn't Hearthswarming sometime last week?", he asked. It had been a little hard to miss, what with all the ponies celebrating around the castle. He'd even been roped into a session of Pin the Tail on the Pony, a party game that was somehow far more intense than its human counterpart.

"I kinda... forgot your present..." the adjutant replied, her grin becoming rather sheepish.

Typhoon took the box, fumbling a little - he still wasn't used to these damned hooves. "Thanks," he said, making a mental note to get the pony something in return. "I'll... open it when I wake up."

-

February 3rd, 1007
EQUESTRIA DAILY

BRODFELD ON THE BRINK
GRIFFON LIBERATION ARMY SURROUNDS KIVESSIN
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The Prywhen Civil War was reaching its end-game, with the Kingdom of Brodfeld losing almost all of its territory in just over a month. What would happen next was a complete mystery, especially to the citizens of Equestria.

-

February 7th, 1007

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Decisions, decisions. Decisions were added in one of the later patches to HOI IV, and basically serve as player-triggerable events. In this case, we can spend some political power and assign some factories to get infrastructure in various places.

There were many things Typhoon hated about his job, but political meetings had to be the worst. Representatives from Fillydephia, Manehattan and Canterlot had presented some plans for a railway network across the East Coast region, and then had immediately started arguing with each other about which route to build first. Canterlot wanted their connection to Fillydelphia, as did Manehattan, and the Fillydelphian representative looked vastly out of their depth. It took several hours, but eventually Princess Celestia resolved the dispute through the time-honoured method of flipping a coin. Manehattan would get their line first.

-

February 20th, 1007

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A request came in from the Crystal Empire for help them with their Crystal Fair. Given that the Crystal Fair was an essential part of the Empire's defences, the answer was obvious. Despite the unexpected cost, the Crystal Fair would go ahead as planned.

-50 political power is painful, but there's no penalty for going negative and we can't use it for much else at the moment. The alternative is the Crystal Empire not liking us as much, which is also not a problem.

-

February 25th, 1007

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Five days after the request from the Crystal Empire, preparations for the Friendship Games were finally finished. They would officially open the day after, with the hard-working ponies of the SAC given VIP seating.

Right now, however, they had to plan out where to go next. After a few hours of discussion, the options were reduced to just two:

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The rest of the foci in this chain give us permanent research bonuses of various flavours.

Option one was a comprehensive re-development of Equestria's education sector. This would go some way towards dealing with the resistance Equestrian scientists were facing in the public sphere.

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At the top of this focus chain, we have our first diplomatic focus - the first one will fire an event, which we can then use to go to war with the Buffalo state or peacefully integrate them.

The second option was a combination of foreign policy and industrial efforts. With a solution to the Buffalo problem, government spending could theoretically trigger a boom in Southern Equestria.

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This focus is hidden directly under the text box. Sorry.

Eventually, the SAC decided to go with option one. The first thing to do was to recommend the immediate public release of their situational analysis finished late last year, in order to drum up public support for the changes.

-

February 26th, 1007

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Sports had never been Typhoon's thing, but he felt like he had to attend the Friendship Games in spite of his usual antipathy. Not because Princess Celestia had personally invited him, not because failing to attend could be seen as a snub to the Crystal Empire, and certainly not because anypony who was anypony was there, but because of who was competing.

For a while, however, there were ceremonies to observe. Princess Celestia gave some sort of speech, which he tuned out from, and the flag-carriers of each different team did their thing. Some of the latter were pretty fun to watch, Typhoon had to admit to himself. Then, there were the first few events; the ground relay, the shot-put, the high-jump, the telekinetic lift, and so on. Eventually, however, they came to the event he'd been waiting for: the 200m aerial race.

"You're finally awake," the orange pony sitting next to him said in a Southern drawl as he leaned forward.

"This is the only thing I'm here for," he replied. The orange pony seemed satisfied at that, and left him alone. Down on the field, the competitors had taken their starting positions, a familiar blond-maned mare amongst them.

The official presiding over the race fired their starting pistol-

Typhoon was on his hind legs, cheering wildly as his adjutant - whose name was still a bit of a mystery, she'd given him a different answer every time he'd asked - took the lead in the first five seconds. She wobbled a little, but stayed in the course markers. Another pony, a stallion with light green skin, came up on her left side but she just about managed to stay in the lead as they crossed the finish line.

"YES!" Typhoon cheered, elated. Everybody around looked at him - the VIP box was typically quiet during events.

A blush spreading across his face, Typhoon sat back down and mentally prepared himself for another six days of boredom.

-

March 3rd, 1007


Six days later, the games concluded. Ponyville came out ahead on medals, by one, with Clousdale coming in second and Trottingham a distant third. However, there was still one thing to get out of the way before all the assembled ponies (and a few griffons) could go home.

The Crystal Fair.

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It was an astounding sight for many, with the wide streets of Crystal City packed full of bodies. Soldiers from the Crystal Empire Guard had to be stationed on every corner just to keep the crowds moving, and even the air was filled with pegasi. It was a far cry from the Fair a few short years ago, which was attended by about a hundred ponies and ran by just five.

Thankfully, the threat of impending doom was also absent this year.

The festivities - and boring official ceremonies - lasted well into the night, with the night sky lit up almost as much as the day with the sheer number of fireworks being let off.

-

March 12th, 1007

The last few shots of musket fire rang out, the constant barrage of sound trailing off as the final few Brodfeld soldiers fell. King Kloseu tried to stand tall as the Griffon Liberation Army soldiers approached, but shrank back as he caught sight of their muskets. What damned, infernal weaponry! Those guns had let the peasants rise up and stand in combat against his knights, making an utter mockery of a thousand years of Brodfeld's history.

General Redglaw stepped forward, the Liberation Army soldiers parting before her. A strange pistol of Equestrian origin dangled from her hip, and for the thousandth time King Kloseu cursed those damn fool ponies and their portal.

"Kloseu de Kissau," General Redglaw said. "I believe it's time to discuss the terms of your surrender."

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When you conquer another country, you gain some of their equipment. In this case, it really isn't worth it - both sides were still using the basic muskets (not even bolt-action rifles) by the time of this treaty.

-

March 14th, 1007

The upper echelons of the Equestrian government had essentially dismissed the news recieved two days ago as unimportant. Most affairs in Griffonia - the large, Griffon-dominated continent to the East - were.

Some, however, were not.

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"Grover V was... an unpleasant Griffon," Princess Celestia remarked at her daily Advisory Council meeting. "However, he managed to steer the decline of the Griffon Empire in a peaceful direction. Without him, with a new regency council in place and a child on the throne... I fear for the future of Griffonia."

-

March 21st, 1007

It seemed like a normal day at first. Winter-Wrap Up was in full swing, special teams of unicorns carefully melting the snow that had covered Canterlot for months. However, when Typhoon went to make his daily report to the Princesses, only Princess Celestia was present. This wasn't unusual, as of late. Princess Luna was, after all, the Princess of the Night. What was unusual was that Celestia gave him no greeting as he walked into the meeting room, nor did she so much as spare him a glance as he inevitably tripped over his own hooves. At least today, he'd managed to make it this far before falling over.

For a moment, he almost went ahead and gave his report, but something stopped him. "What's wrong?" he asked, instead.

"What?" Princess Celestia asked, her eyes suddenly upon him. "Oh, it's... it's just Luna. We had a bit of an argument last night. She's been getting lonely, and I just don't have the time to coddle her at the moment."

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DECISION TIME

So, we've reached the first major event of the game. We have four choices here - yes I know the box only has two, hear me out. We can maintain the status quo (where we'll eventually end up fighting the Changelings and maybe King Sombra if the AI decides to take that path), or cause a Celestia/Luna split. If we do the latter, we can choose to fight for Celestia, Nightmare Moon, or one of a million other factions that pop up as that war progresses.

This is where I'm going to hold a vote. The options are as follows:
A) Status Quo
B) Nightmare Moon
C) Celestia
D) Start the war, then hold another poll to see which of the minors we want to play as.

Please bold any answers. In the event of a tie, or there being no votes (and I fully realise the latter is more likely :P ), I'll go with Option A.

Voting closes on Tuesday the 7th of August (i.e. next tuesday) at... call it 10.30pm UTC/British Summer Time.

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Re: [Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by Bedlam » 2018-08-03 05:20pm

Two princesses seems better than one (even if they're Nightmare Moon or Day Breaker). Plus eternal day or night won't be much fun for anyone.

A) Status Quo

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Re: [Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by VX-145 » 2018-08-05 10:52am

So I figured I should at least look into Option D, and give a quick faction list. In an alternate timeline, we're about a month into the civil war, and so far there are currently six different factions (aside from Equestria and the Lunar Empire) at play.

In the Communist Corner, we have the Mare Republic, centred on Baltimare, and the Vanhoover Commune, which is... in Vanhoover. There's also an event not long after the final one in the previous update that'd allow me to start a communist uprising in Equestria, which I'm folding into option D for simplicity's sake.

In the Fascist Corner, we have the Disciples of Nightmare Moon, operating out of the jungles of Sierra Caballo. No, I don't know why they exist either, especially when they had to actively split off from the Lunar Empire in order to exist.

Representing Harmony, there's the Celestial State, which occupies the western half of that jungle region. They're run by Daring Do, and at least have a reason to exist.

Last and least, we have the Non-Aligned factions of the Free Jungle Nation of Tenochtitlan (run by one Dr. Caballeron) and... urgh... the Confederation of South States. The latter has its capital in Appaloosa, seems to have eaten the Buffalo tribes and I'm going to veto playing as. Yes, they're those Confederates, although so far I haven't seen any mention of slavery in their national focus tree.

To be honest, I'm not particularly fond of how many factions seem to have sprung up. It's messy, and can cause some serious problems for the player if they don't know it's coming. That said, if any of the options appeal - aside from the Confeds, who I'm veto'ing - please reply in bold and I'll make it work. Somehow.

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Re: [Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by Wing Commander MAD » 2018-08-06 11:06pm

Glad to see this did not die...

I'll vote for option A) Status Quo.

The idea of the return of Nightmare Moon doesn't feel right, what with the whole Luna creating the Tantabus and all (though would that have occurred in this timeline?).

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Re: [Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by VX-145 » 2018-08-07 06:02pm

Voting is now closed, and with two votes Option A is the winner. I'll play up until the next milestone tomorrow, and then it's a solid month or so of writing the next update :P


Wing Commander MAD wrote:
2018-08-06 11:06pm

The idea of the return of Nightmare Moon doesn't feel right, what with the whole Luna creating the Tantabus and all (though would that have occurred in this timeline?).

The short answer is: yes, it did happen in this timeline. If another option had won, then either it wouldn't have, or I'd have used her whole guilt complex as a trigger for her fall. Like many things in this Let's Play, it'd have been some messy writing, but I could make it work. Just about.

Or, to put it the long way: the timeline I'm using is a rough one year = one season approach, with Season 1 happening about six years before the game starts. The point of divergence is at the end of Season 3, with the first Equestria Girls movie. Yes, that one at least is "canon". Some events are out of order, as well; for example, Starlight Glimmer is a student of Twilight Sparkle, but the whole Equestria Games arc only just happened. Also, for some reason Discord's not around. I'm taking the same approach as the movie when it comes to him. With regards to the Tantabus, that was in Season 5(?) so it happened. There may be an "official" mod timeline that links everything together, but I decided it'd be more fun for me to bodge it together myself.

For the record, outside of some names here and there very little past ~Season 6 shows up in the game - there's a Fizzlepop Berrytwist somewhere, and the various ancient hero ponies show up as ship class names. Of course, I still need to justify why the Royal Equestrian Navy uses British Royal Navy names for their ship classes. The next class of battleship we can unlock is the King George V class, and that's going to need some explaining.

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Re: [Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by Bedlam » 2018-08-08 01:47pm

VX-145 wrote:
2018-08-07 06:02pm
Starlight Glimmer is a student of Twilight Sparkle, but the whole Equestria Games arc only just happened. Also, for some reason Discord's not around. I'm taking the same approach as the movie when it comes to him.
Well given one of the options was a communist uprising Comrade Glimmer would have to be hanging around somewhere.

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Re: [Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by VX-145 » 2018-08-08 05:47pm

Comrade Starlight hasn't shown up in-game so far, oddly enough. I thought she was one of the cabinet choices - the one that makes Communism more popular - but that's apparently someone else. I poked around at some of the events looking for her and I did find the Great and Powerful Trixie as a possible Field Marshall for said Communist uprising (if I read the scripting correctly).

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Re: [Screenshot Let's Play/No 56K] Hearts of Iron IV... as Equestria?

Post by VX-145 » 2018-09-08 11:08am

You remember how I said updates were going to be shorter? Because I sure didn't. However, there's still going to be a large gap between updates going forwards.

Part III: The Wake-Up Call, March 23rd 1007 to December 26th, 1007 CE

March 23rd, 1007

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Here we go. -50 political power does put us in the negative, but there's no problem with that.

Typhoon was silent for a moment, thinking very carefully about what to say next. This was most certainly not the job he'd been hired for. "I think," he said, finally, "you should try to make some time for her." By all accounts, Princess Luna had been making a lot of progress since Twilight Sparkle released her from being Nightmare Moon, but there was still a worrying risk of civil war. Where was Starlight Glimmer when you needed her?

Princess Celestia looked as though she was going to argue for a moment, but nodded. "Yes," she said, "I should." Her usual smile reappeared. "That prophecy has us all on edge, doesn't it?"

Typhoon nodded. "It's kept me up through the night more than once," was his off-handhoof reply. "I think we're going to need the Gala to go ahead this year."

That caused the Princess to pull a face. "I'd hoped to avoid the Gala for a while." She let out a sigh. "No matter. Make your report."

-

The day's work was unusually heavy, and it was late at night when Typhoon finally finished his duties for the day. Tonight, however, he wasn't too fussed about the overtime. It suited him perfectly.. Rather than immediately heading homewards, he took a detour out to a small balcony near the top of the castle. He took one moment before stepping out to catch his breath - he still hadn't learned how to fly. The rest of the SAC had already fully adapted, but he'd put it off for too long. Finally, he called out: "Princess Luna."

The dark blue alicorn turned at his voice. "Chairpony," she returned. "It's unusual for you to talk to someone without an appointment."

Typhoon gave her what he hoped was a wry smile. "I'm still getting used to having any sort of authority," he admitted. "It'd making it difficult to relax. How are you holding up? Princess Celestia told me you two had a falling-out."

"And you're worried I'll start another civil war?" Princess Luna asked, her face stern for a moment. "No, I'm not going to make the same mistake again."

"That's good to hear," Typhoon replied, more than a little awkwardly. He stepped forward, leaning out over the balcony. They could see for miles, here, with the whole of Equestria sprawling out beneath them. "This is all still weird to me," he said, quietly. Before Princess Luna could reply, however, he shook his head. "I need to get home. If you find yourself having trouble, remember that there's ponies other than your sister you can talk to. That goes for her, too. Twilight told me about Starlight's nightmare last year."

That actually got Princess Luna to laugh a little. "That was certainly an interesting night," she said. "Thank you, though."

-

March 25th, 1007

Typhoon had chosen, after some consideration, to make his home in Ponyville instead of Canterlot. The commute wasn't too inconvienient, and the neighbours were remarkably supportive. Compared to the stuffy unicorns in Canterlot, or Celestia forbid his old human neighbours, they were downright saintly. When he'd explained that he often got home late and thus would appreciate it if they kept the noise down in the early morning, they'd actually done so.

His was a small house, in the usual pastel yellow colour, but it was far more comfortable than the dingy apartment he'd left behind on Earth. He sat at the kitchen table on the morning of the 25th munching on a sandwich bought from a stall nearby - the kitchen itself being virtually unused since he'd moved in - and reading the morning edition of the Equestria Daily.

He took one look at the World News headline (buried on page 4), and let out a long sigh.

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Wingbardy is that purple country near the bottom-right of the image.

"Beakolini. His name is Beakolini. He's a Fascist. And the Wingbardy government let him have power. Because apparently no-one read those human history books they all bought."

-

March 31st, 1007

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Ignore the garrison regiment in the top left for now.

It took nineteen days for the Equestrian press to get around to printing an article on the end of the Prywhen Civil War. Reactions from the civilian populace ranged from "there was a war?" to "who cares?"

As the Equestria Daily afternoon edition with the article hit the streets, Princess Celestia found herself poring over a letter from Princess Cadence.

"Dear Princess Celestia, it read, The recent metting of the Special Advisory Council that I was privy to has impressed upon me the precarious state of Equestria and the Crystal Empire. In the spirit of co-operation and friendliness, I thus place at your command a full division of Crystal Empire soldiers.

Yours,

Princess Mi Amore Cadenza.


She put the letter aside, and looked down at Typhoon. "These soldiers would be useful," she said. "First Army still isn't at full strength."

The pegasus before her shrugged his wings. "I'd rather not use them." He held out a small piece of paper, and Princess Celestia used her magic to lift it to her eyes. It was a short analysis of the division, composed by a member of the SAC stationed in Crystal City.

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Welcome to our first look at a division template. Each division is made up of Combat Battalions - in this case four helmet symbols, indicating Infantry battalions - and support battalions, which this division has none of. We'll look into making our own templates when we have the capability, but I wanted to show this screen off because this is a green garrison battalion with four (4) infantry units. The AI for the Crystal Empire (and most other puppets) will occasionally make divisions for us, but like this one they'll mostly be terrible.

Why is this division bad? Because it has a whole 23 soft attack, and a combat width of 8. Combat width determines how many units you can get into a battle, and you always want the combat width of your divisions to be a multiple of 20 as most battles have an 80 or 120 width limit. Specialised divisions can get away with a width of 10, but I find that to be a bit too restricting. Yes, this is yet another one of those mechanics which is slightly obtuse.

Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough, if a civil war breaks out in the country that gave them to us (as is possible if the Crystal Empire AI decides to go the King Sombra route), any divisions they've sent us will disappear. It's a little meta-gamey, but honestly I'd rather not deal with the hassle.


"The division Princess Cadence has given us is just a garrison unit, and barely-trained besides. They won't be effective in combat; if anything, they'll be a liability. Given how worried she was about King Sombra, I think we should just give the unit back."

Princess Celestia thought for a moment, and floated the paper back to Typhoon. "I agree," she said. "I shall relay the decision back to Princess Cadence."

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Bye bye! There's no option to return them, of course, so we have to disband them. The Crystal Empire AI will keep doing this, and I'm going to disband every one of them for now.

-

April 18th, 1007

Typhoon was awoken from a strange dream by a loud "pop!" from outside his window. A second later, said window flew open, and a familiar purple pony flew in at high speed, crashing against the bookshelf on the opposite wall.

"I did it!" she said from beneath the pile of books. There was a second "pop!", and suddenly Princess Twilight Sparkle was standing in the middle of the room, a device held above her head with magic. "Okay, so I didn't really make a phone work in Equestria, but I did make this!"

"What?" said Typhoon, shaking his head to try to wake up a little. "What time is it?"

"Oh, it's about midnight," Twilight replied, shoving the device into his face. Suspended in orange wire was the actual time - 1:34 AM. "It's a clock! Okay, it seems to be a little off, but it's a clock that works on electricity!"

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"I got stuck on the imperfect mana problem, but then I realised that there's a DJ in town who uses magic-powered equipment. She was a little difficult to talk to - didn't talk at all, really - but the circuitry only needed some slight adjustments. Who knew that magic conducts itself along crystalline wire the same way that electricity conducts along copper? Not me, that's for certain, didn't spend the past month chasing red herrings and I'm definitely not annoyed about how much time I lost why would I be annoyed-"

She stopped herself, and cleared her throat. "All it took from there was a re-application of Clover's Third Law assuming that the medium was copper rather than a spherical mass of idealised steel, and then calculating all the possible outcomes until one finally worked!" Twilight looked terrible - her mane was frizzy, her eyes were bloodshot, and Typhoon was getting the distinct impression she was about one cup of coffee away from deciding to cast a curse on some minor household object.

"When was the last time you slept?" he asked.

"Oh, only three days ago," was Twilight's reply.

Typhoon blinked. "Okay, that's definitely pushing it too far. You need to go and sleep now."

It took some time after that to get Twilight to leave, along with a promise to not pull more than one all-nighter in a row. When Typhoon finally managed to crawl back into bed (leaving the pile of books for Future Typhoon to clean up), the nixie tube clock was showing 4:02 AM. He winced; he'd have to apologise to the neighbours tomorrow. Hopefully, he wouldn't have to go through the whole rigmarole again when Twilight finished work on her analog computer.


Image

-

April 22nd, 1007

April the 22nd would live in Equestrian history as the day everything changed.

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On April 22nd, the Special Advisory Council's evaluation of Equestria and the world situation was released, in full, for public consumption. Every newspaper in the country, ranging from the massive Equestria Daily to the niche Foal Free Press recieved a copy, and by the afternoon most of them had printed a special edition on the report. The general press reaction was best summarised by the Appaloosan Aggregrational: "[Equestria is] an apple realising that it's just been bucked into a Cider Squeezy 6000."

Some papers took the opportunity to criticise the Equestrian government, criticising Princess Celestia as being "slow-minded, lazy and incompetent", while others took a different tack. The Canterlot Chronicle printed an editorial titled "Millenials Killed Cuisine, And Now They're Killing Equestria", a 4-page long screed bemoaning the lack of traditional values among today's youth, penned by disgraced food critic Zesty Gourmand. A cartoon in the Foal Free Press depicted a young filly sitting up in bed, wiping her eyes from sleep surrounded by a Changeling, a Deer, a Stalliongrad soldier and a Griffon, all with exaggerated leers. A small alarm clock on her bedside table was going off, labelled "SAC Report", and the caption read "Oh dear, I hope I have not slept too long!" The phrase "A wake-up call" was repeated in no fewer than 27 different publications, and the report soon became called "The Wake-Up Call" in popular culture.

Over the next few days, the general populace would come to a consensus. For now, the vast majority supported Princess Celestia's government, many poll responses citing the government's attempt to find and solve the various problems as a sign that they were at least trying. Letters began pouring in almost immediately from across Equestria, most addressed to one of the four princesses, although a few found their ways to various members of the SAC. All of them shared one question: "What are you doing about this?"

In the Crystal Empire, however, word of the SAC Report was enough to trigger a general panic. With the King Sombra Scare still ongoing, the idea of being attacked from without and within sent many crystal ponies into hysteria. The streets of Crystal City were flooded by worried ponies, all of whom knew that the protection offered by the Crystal Heart would be utterly useless against a conventional army. Eventually, units of the Royal Crystal Guard were deployed and this, in conjunction with an emergency speech by Princess Cadence, calmed tensions... for now.

More perceptive ponies back in Equestria realised that the thing to be worried about was not what threats were in the report, but the things that the SAC hadn't covered. The report admitted to an appalling lack of knowledge about anything much beyond the borders of Equestria. The section on the Changeling Lands, the largest and most immediate threat to Equestrian security, stretched for barely two pages, most of which was taken up by descriptions of Changelings and an account of their incursion into Canterlot several years ago. Of Griffonia, the large continent to the east, very little was written, and none of that was detail. Some remarks were made about the political instability of the region, and of the Prywhen civil war, but nothing else.

Regardless of the tension and panic, Typhoon's gamble paid off. When the decrepit state of the Equestrian scientific establishment became known, donations came rushing in and opposition to increased taxes disappeared overnight. So much money was immediately available, in fact, that renovations to the Academy for Gifted Unicorns (the same school Princess Twilight Sparkle famously attended) began the same day. New electronic equipment was to be installed, making the Academy the single best-equipped research centre in all of Equestria and, hopefully, the world.

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Gotta love that missing text string. Feel free to use this once-in-a-lifetime chance to imagine it says something profound about the fundamental nature of reality itself.

-

April 28th, 1007

Lowered provincial resistance to increased taxation allowed the government to start work on the other two thirds of the planned Pan-Equestria Rail Network. Upon completion, the line would stretch from Manehattan, through Fillydelphia, onward to Canterlot and then straight over to the West Coast. When pressed for a quote by the Summerfield Sun on what exactly these new, expensive railways were supposed to accomplish, Princess Celestia gave a decent-length speech extolling the virtues of better communication and how all the money spent would go back into the wider economy and make everypony richer.

When accosted by the Sun's proprieter, one Filthy Rich, SAC Chairpony Typhoon gave a more succint response: "Three weeks to the Changeling border without the railways, three days with. Your choice."

Image

-

May 2nd, 1007

One of the more puzzling developments that came from the brief window of cultural and technological exchange with humanity was the spread of Communist ideas in Equestria and Griffonia. Equestria itself was largely untouched by the fad, the province-turned-nation of Stalliongrad aside, as many of the ideals proposed by Socialists on Earth were already entrenched in Equestrian society. Nopony in Equestria went hungry or homeless, besides those few who chose to for one reason or another, and employment was generally seen as a way to express oneself rather than the means to continue living. Inequality existed, of course, but it wasn't even close to the level seen on the continent of Griffonia, let alone Earth.

And yet, the Communists marched.

Many of the larger cities in Equestria found their streets packed with Communist ponies, marching peacefully to extol the virtues of whatever system of Communism they happened to support. Some violent clashes were seen between Trotskyist ponies, Marxist-Leninists, Stalinists and even a couple of Maoists, but nopony was seriously injured. Students of human history would be quick to point out that none of the groups actually followed any of the ideologies they claimed to profess - indeed, Trotskysits made up a large majority of the marchers simply because the name was a horse pun, rather than any ideological allegiance. Regardless, the marches and rallies were seen as little more than harmless fun; very few ponies truly believed that Equestrian society needed reform, even after the SAC Report was made public. The main exception was a faction of bloody-minded ponies led by Prince-Marshall Blueblood, who pressed Princess Celestia to disperse the rallies, with force if necessary. The Princess, thankfully, did not act on their advice, instead passing a set of reforms that outlawed certain exploitative practices in the private sector. By the end of the day, the rallies had dispersed on their own, without further violence.

Equestria would be spared the fate of Brodfeld, at least.

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I'm not sure why this event fired on the 2nd, as opposed to actual May Day, and if I tried to explain it in the text it'd be really clunky, so just pretend it's a summary of the day's events and ignore the fact we can react to them. This was part of Option D in the last poll, and would have led us into a Communist civil war.

-

May 21st, 1007

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You might not be able to see it, but Canterlot is actually built on a mountain in-game. Neat.

The article printed in the Equestria Daily painted a picture of the 1007 Grand Galloping Gala as a delightful high society affair, attended by the classiest ponies and with the classiest of entertainment.

Naturally, they glossed over just how boring such an event really was.

On the evening of the Gala, after the traditional song-and-dance (less of a metaphor in Equestria than it was back on Earth), Typhoon found himself squeezed into a suit, at Princess Celestia's personal behest. Why she was making him dress up was beyond him, at first. It wasn't long before the reason became apparent, as the first in a seemingly endless stream of Unicorn nobility and petty dignitaries approached, introduced themselves, and started blabbing on about some local issue that he had neither the knowledge, the skills or the will to properly navigate. After about an hour of this, he broke away from the Burgher-Count of Pransisco with some platitude about how justice would surely resolve the dispute over fishing rights the Burgher-Count had just explained in painful detail, and started making his way over to Princess Celestia.

She was talking to the strangest creature Typhoon had ever seen. They seemed to be some mish-mash combination of random body parts - from a quick look, he saw a lion claw, an eagle talon, one goat's hoof and two mismatched horns.

He just about heard the end of the creature's anecdote: "And that's when I said "Aren't you clad I came along?"" the creature said, in a voice that sounded oddly familiar. As if to punctuate his point, the creature's suit jacked turned into some sort of stone cladding. Princess Celestia laughed; presumably, her guest regularly broke the laws of physics without any obvious magic.

"And who might this... charming... fellow be?" the creature asked, waving his eagle claw lazily in Typhoon's direction. "Another NPC?" A little window appeared above Typhoon's head, proclaiming him to be a "Level 3 Expert Human" with 18 HP. "Ooh, a human. I haven't met any humans in a long time. Tell me, do you still go around wearing those ridiculous togas?" Suddenly, the creature was wearing a toga, the garment simply appearing when Typhoon blinked.

"Not... since the Romans, I think?" Typhoon responded, the words coming out before his brain could catch up with what had just happened. He vaguely recalled somepony telling him a story about this creature. Wait, he had it: "You're Discord, right? I've heard about you."

"All good things, I hope," Discord said, his voice tinged with a tiny hint of threat. "You must be that new advisor Princess Celestia here was talking my ear off about." Of course, Discord's ear literally fell off with those words. "She thought it was pretty funny how she managed to convince all those nobles to bother you instead of her."

Typhoon shot a glare at Princess Celestia, who had the decency to blush. "I never said that!" she said, "I simply made the comment that I was glad to have one gala I could actually take part in!"

"Your Majesty," Typhoon said, putting on his most pretentious voice, "If I have to talk about fishing disputes or water rights for one more second I cannot be held responsible for what happens next."

Princess Celestia narrowed her eyes. "I could order you back out there," she said, playfully.

"You could," Typhoon replied, his voice level.

They locked gazes for a moment, and then Princess Celestia rolled her eyes. "Ugh, fine," she relented, trotting over to the slowly-approaching horde of unicorn nobles. That left Typhoon free to make his excuses and head home - maybe he could still make the late-night train to Ponyville. A sharp tapping of a claw on his shoulder soon put paid to that idea, and he turned to see Discord staring at him.

"Yes?" he said wearily. He'd been so damn close to getting out of the stuffy ballroom...

Discord smiled, and Typhoon suddenly understood what a very small fish might feel like when confronted with a very big shark. "Princess Celestia told me you're the war pony around here," he said. This time, there was no reality bending to punctuate his sentences. That was perhaps more worrying than the alternative.

Nevertheless, Typhoon stood his ground. "I'm not a soldier," he said, "but yes, I have somehow ended up in charge of building the Equestrian military. Along with a bunch of other ponies."

"And you're a human, from Earth." An odd look appeared on Discord's face - at least, one odder than normal. "Interesting."

"I'm far from the only one," Typhoon pointed out.

"Oh, you don't know the half of it," Discord said. "You wouldn't believe the trouble you humans have been causing me. Do you have any idea how hard it is to fix a hole in the fabric of reality itself? I don't have nearly enough thread, and finding replacement fabric has been such a pain." Before Typhoon could think to ask what he meant, Discord continued. "Listen to me nattering on! I'm such an old granny these days-" and suddenly Discord looked exactly like that one old pony Typhoon had seen around town - "I really shouldn't keep you. You have a train to catch, after all."

Typhoon looked at the massive clock hanging over a nearby door, and his eyes widened. He had just three minutes to make it to the station all the way in town before the train was due to leave, and Equestrian trains were always on time. Stuttering out a quick "Goodbye," he raced out of the ballroom.

It was only when he sat down in the train carriage - just about making it on time - that he thought of asking Discord to teleport him home.

-

June 9th, 1007

Early in the morning of the 9th of June, armaments factories across Equestria recieved large crates full of new machine tools. By the end of the day, every factory manager was reporting vastly increased productive efficiency.

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The research team that had been assigned to designing and implementing the new tools was then turned to the problem of efficiently vertically-integrating entire sectors of the Equestrian arms economy. The SAC realised that this was the path towards unlocking Equestria's immense industrial potential, something that could mean the difference between life and death for many ponies.

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Another "make more stuffs" research project. Yes, they're a little boring, but they're just too indespensible, especially given our start.

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June 10th, 1007

The very next day, the refurbished Academy for Gifted Unicorns was officially opened, although the students had long since departed for the summer holiday. In the meantime, the new scientific equipment would be put to good use re-training the current generation of engineers and scientists.

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Yes, it says "Academy for Gifted UnicRons in the event popup. Thankfully, we don't have to deal with a world-eating giant robot just yet. Trust me, the event texts do get worse.

Immediately, Typhoon ordered work to begin on phase 2 of his anti-Nightmare Moon strategy: giving Princess Luna her own school. The Luna Nova academy had been floating around as an idea for over a thousand years, but had always faced stringent opposition from the Unicorn nobility and the shadowy EEA. Now, however, the reactionaries were in no position to argue.

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June 19th, 1007

Over the past few months, noble griffons and whatever serfs they had been able to keep in their talons had been gathering around the Prywhen city of Kivessin. Now, bolstered by the escape of King de Kissau, they rose up in open revolt. The city was pronounced the capital of a new Kingdom of Brodfeld, the general populace forced into submission by de Kissau's army.

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They chose... poorly. Also, hi Crystal Empire division, you're not going to be around for long.

The counter-revolutionaries were in an extremely bad position, however. Their total holdings amounted to one city, while the rest of the nation was still in the claws of the Prywhen revolutionaries. Furthermore, Prywhen's industry had finally managed to start churning out bolt-action rifles, while the Brodfeld soldiers were still at best armed with muzzle-loaders. Many were armed only with swords and shields, while a few were entirely unarmed. Rumour had it that de Kissau had intended on co-ordinating his revolt with an invasion from the bandit clans of the Blackrock Mountains, to the west, but for whatever reason the second front failed to materialise.

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I think this uprising may be scripted? It seems to happen every game. Normally, the country to the west of Prywhen also attacks, but they just decided not to this time.

In ten days, the city of Kivessin was entirely encircled. Prywhen loyalists had already begun probing attacks into the city itself, and it was only a matter of time before Brodfeld fell for good.

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RIP Brodfeld, we hardly knew ye and cared even less.

-

July 29th, 1007

Investment into state construction agencies finally began to pay off, with new equipment delivered to construction sites across Equestria. By the end of July, the effort was officially self-sustaining, with companies being able to afford their own new equipment, and taxpayer money could be redirected to other tasks.

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Look at lil' old Kivessin, somehow still holding on a month into the siege.

To Princess Twilight Sparkle, this meant another meeting with Typhoon. This time, they were meeting in the map room of her castle, in order to save them both the trip to Canterlot. Her guest entered a few minutes late, one of his wings bandaged up. "Your flying lessons still aren't going well?" she asked, trying not to chuckle. Everypony had made fun of how long it'd taken her to learn to fly, but that had only been two months. Typhoon had been trying for over a year now, and still hadn't been able to make it more than a foot off the ground without crashing.

Typhoon shook his head. "No, they are not. I just can't get the hang of these damned things." His expression lightened quickly, however, as he produced usual brick of files from his saddlebag. "So, we've hit the limit of what we can accomplish right now with infrastructure spending," he said, "and we've still got a third of the budget left over. Any ideas?"

Princess Twilight had come prepared. She produced her own, slightly slimmer, packet of files. "Well, I think it's time we introduced some of those new toys you wanted back in January. And, I have the perfect candidate."

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"Rainbow Dash was telling me that the Wonderbolts were looking for a new aircraft design," she continued, "and they're willing to help cover the costs. I've managed to pull together a tentative proposal from their requirements, called the "Hurricane", based off of the Second World War-era fighter from Earth of the same name."

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"Theoretically, the design should be faster, more agile and longer-ranged than the Gladiator, and can be armed with double or triple the armament if absolutely necessary." She said that with a little disgust - the idea of making weapons of war still didn't sit well with her. "What do you think?"

Typhoon sat, silent and blinking, for a moment. Then, he said: "You've got this better planned than I had. Get on with it."

-

July 30th, 1007

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I do love this mod, even when the event text is a little lacking. It's okay, at some point we're due one that makes up for all the lack of detail! Not in this update, though.

Equestria Daily Letters to the Editor, 30/07/07 Afternoon Edition:

Dear Editor,

I had some minor difficulty finding the review of Daring Do and the Mists of Mareida published in yesterday's Equestria Daily. This was because the review consisted of precisely five sentences, and failed utterly at being a professional review in every possible manner. Your reviewer admitted to not having read the full book, for Celestia's sake! In lieu of a proper review, I submit my own. There will be spoilers, although given that the book has sold nearly one million copies already I have no doubt that most ponies already know the basic plotline.

Daring Do and the Mists of Mareida is perhaps the best Daring Do book of the "New" quadrilogy. The novel features Daring Do (who happens to be the author's actual real-life alternate identity) finding herself and her companions trapped in the city of Mareida as it comes under siege from the tyrannical Storm King, an event which readers will recall happened in reality some months ago. The transition from her usual serialised adventure story to a war novel is seamless, and the chapters focussing on the progress of the siege are extremely well detailed. Controversially, the siege is broken by the "rainbow-haired pony" (as your reviewer insisted on calling her) performing a Sonic Rainboom to destroy most of the Storm King's airship fleet. Many have questioned this as being a Deus ex Machina, but I can state with some authority that it is precisely the danger of such a thing happening that we do not use airships in the Equestrian military.

My own complaints with the novel are that the Storm King comes across as a little buffonish at times, and that the contributions made to the defence of Mareida by the Royal Equestian Air Force and Navy are downplayed in favour of Daring Do's own efforts. Allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate No.18 Training Squadron REAF and the cadets of HM Training Ship Mareida on their proven valour in battle. Your reviewer asked if this would be the end of the Daring Do adventure series, and I would argue that it will not be, especially not given the rather large sequel hook at the end of the book.

I hope those ponies who were hoping for a proper review in this paper will find themselves placated in part by my own amateur attempt.

Yours,

Anonymous.

"You didn't write about how awesome that sonic rainboom was!" the rainbow-haired pony protested, dropping the newspaper onto the desk. "The rest of it's good and all, but come on!"

Typhoon tried to pinch the bridge of his nose, only to run into the problem of not having the opposable thumbs required to do so. When Princess Twilight had said she could get the legendary Rainbow Dash to teach him how to fly, this was not what he'd had in mind. "Yes, well, I couldn't quite fit the full description you gave me in," he said. "Not the full three pages of it."

Rainbow Dash looked a little sheepish. "I guess I got a little carried away. So... flying lesson?"

Typhoon stood up from behind his desk, stretching out. "I could use the break," he said, even though he really wasn't looking forward to crashing for the thousandth time. "Let's go."

-

August 19th, 1007

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The Luna Nova Academy formally opened its doors at midnight on the 19th. The ceremony was rather short, consisting mostly of a quick speech from Princess Luna about the hopes she had for the institution and a midnight feast of assorted snack foods. True to form, many of the classes starting next month were scheduled to take place at night, a move which had prospective students flocking to enroll. The nearby ruins of a small town - left over from the Celestia/Nightmare Moon civil war a milennia ago - were symbolically rebuilt to provide services and accomodation to the students. Luna Nova quickly found itself specialising in advanced "magitech" research, as unicorn mages exchanged ideas and knowledge with earth pony and pegasi engineers. The first fruit of this research was the prototype "Magic Rifle", a weapon that could store a small amount of magic and expel it as a bolt. The weapon was nowhere near being combat ready, however.

A part of the school was set aside for Princess Twilight, who had been invited to teach classes in Friendship. Creatures from across the continent enrolled, ranging from penguins to deer and even a Changeling defector.

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With Luna Nova open and self-sustaining, the attention of the Equestrian government turned towards a general review of public schools in Equestria. Having been dominated by the Equestrian Education Association (aka the EEA) - a shadowy group of wealthy ponies determined to keep Equestria on what they saw as the right path - for centuries, this would be no easy task.

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September 1st, 1007

In a turn of events that surprised literally nopony, the Kingdom of Brodfeld once again announced its complete and unconditional surrender to the Prywhen Republic. This time, there would be no chance of a comeback - King de Kissau had died in the fighting, and those who supported them were either executed or exiled.

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At least they held out for a couple of months?

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October 28th, 1007

It took more than two months, but eventually the SAC had managed to pin the nebulous EEA down. In the end, it had been the overconfidence of their own chancellor - whose name, Typhoon had been rather aggrieved to learn, was Neighsay - that had proved to be their downfall. Chancellor Neighsay had opposed the Luna Nova academy vehemently, going so far as to refuse to even consider accrediting it during the group's last meeting. The final straw, however, had been when Neighsay had plagiarised the Luna Nova curriculum and sold it to a pair of scammers operating out of Las Pegasus. Those scammers had opened their own school, advertising free tuition (a legal requirement for all Equestrian school) but charging through the nose for exam papers and course material. Princess Twilight had tracked them down, and the ensuing scandal was all the SAC needed. An arrest warrant was soon put out for Chancellor Neighsay, and without his leadership the EEA quickly reversed course. Some of its members agreed to become part of a new Equestrian Ministry of Education, the very body which the EEA had been fighting against for so long. The Ministry became the first pan-Equestrian government ministry since the Ministry of Defence was shuttered in 304CE, heralding a new era of centralised governance.

And, in a minor note, it brought a pair of twin unicorns to Typhoon's attention...

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I didn't get what this does in the screenshot, but it's something like -2% or -5% research time.

With the last remnants of opposition out of the way, Typhoon could turn his personal attention to the final objective of this little campaign - expanding the Equestrian research budget. The centrepiece of the final push would be the Department of Experimental Research Projects, based in Canterlot. This department would serve as the cutting edge of Equestrian science, developing prototypes years ahead of the rest of the world.

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DERP was too good an acronym to pass up. Especially with... well, you'll see.

At the same time, the Hawker design bureau formally unveiled the production Hurricane fighter. For some reason, however, aircraft factories across Equestria continued building obsolete Gladiators. Some would later speculate that some flaw in the design that needed a last-minute fix, or perhaps some accident that stopped the order to switch production from coming through. The effect, however, was that it wasn't until the 8th of November that Hurricanes finally started rolling off of the production lines.

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Yeah, I forgot to switch production. There's even a notification in the top that tells you to do so - I just somehow didn't see it. Whoooops.

In the meantime, work was begun on introducing radio communication into the Equestrian military now that the interference problem was essentially solved. This development promised a revolution in military strategy, as now troops would be reliably commanded from afar. On the other hoof, it did introduce a new problem; that of the enemy listening into one's radio signals. New encryption methods would have to be drawn up to counter such tactics in the future.

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November 16th, 1007

Corporal Apple Fritter hit the ground as machine-gun fire raced over her head. Two members of her squad joined her - the only survivors from the enemy attack. The division had deployed to protect the nearby airbase as soon as the declaration of war had come down, only to find an elite enemy tank unit already waiting for them. With the 302nd being a former Garrison division, half-trained and poorly led, the fight had quickly turned into a massacre. There was no hope of retreat, as the enemy tank ahead was between Apple Fritter and the village being held by the Royal Ponyville Guard - assuming they hadn't been pushed back or annihilated yet.

"What are we supposed to do?" asked Private Tiger Stripes, her Stalliongradian accent making it a little difficult to make out her words. "We're surrounded!"

"She's right," said Private Lightning Bolt, the squad's only pegasus, nursing her wing. She'd been in the sky when the squad had stumbled onto the second tank, and been forced to make an emergency landing. "I counted at least three more coming up behind us - they'll be on us in minutes. We should surrender."

Apple Fritter said nothing, simply checking her rifle and thinking. To her, surrender was unthinkable. She wouldn't cede a centimetre of land to the enemy if she didn't have to. On the other hoof, none of them had anything heavier than a Lavender rifle, and those were utterly useless against the tanks they faced. Maybe if they could get close, they could use their grenades, or maybe board the tank? it was worth a shot, maybe. "I think we can still escape," she said, counting off the grenades the other two had. Bolt had nothing - her equipment was especially lightweight, given her ability to fly - but Stripes had two more. Add that to Apple Fritter's lone grenade - the other having been long since spent - that made three. "We don't surrender. Not yet." Private Bolt opened her mouth to speak, but Apple Fritter spoke first. "There's one tank between us and freedom. More than that, those Guards up there don't know what's happened here. They might walk in and get caught in the same trap."

Private Bolt looked doubtful, but nodded all the same. "Whatever you say, Corp. How are we going to take it out with our rifles, though?"

Apple Fritter smiled savagely. "Private Stripes, hand me those grenades," she ordered. The other pony realised what she meant immediately, and smiled as well. With all three grenades in hoof, Apple Fritter worked quickly, stripping the explosive core from the fragmentation covering. Not exactly a sanctioned modification, but the design was shoddy - the damn casing fell off by itself, most of the time. Once that was done, she tied them together, and rigged them up so she could pull the pins simultaneously.

Now, all they needed to do was to get close.

Stripes went first, carefully pushing branches out of the ditch the three ponies had sheltered in so they could walk along it while Bolt brought up the rear, her rifle raised to an aiming position in a rather futile gesture. Apple Fritter was left in the middle, cradling her improvised explosive charge with great care. The ground shook as the pursuing tanks came ever closer, but with any luck - any at all - the three of them would be far away by the time the tanks caught up. Stripes held out a hoof, stopping the others in their tracks - the ditch flattened out, and the last few meters to the enemy tank were over open ground. Worse still, there was very little cover where they were. The shadows cast by the afternoon sun would keep them concealed, but once they were seen there'd be nothing to protect them. On top of that, the tank's turret was pointing down the road the ditch ran alongside; there'd be no chance of just making a break for it.

Unless...

"Stripes, can you hit their vision blocks from here?" Apple Fritter asked. "If you can blind them for a second, we can get close."

Private Stripes shrugged. "I think so," she said.

Apple Fritter turned to Bolt. "When we make the attack, you make a break for it," she said. "If nothing else, you should be able to get out." Again, Private Bolt looked as though she was going to protest, but said nothing when she saw the look on Apple Fritter's face. "Alright," said Apple Fritter. "On three." She took in a deep breath. "One.

Two.

Three. GO!"

A gunshot rang out as Stripes took her shot, and the three of them charged. Apple Fritter covered the ground between her and the tank in record time, anticipating machine-gun fire at any second, but there was nothing. She was now close enough to see the triangle emblem on the side of the tank. Pulling the pin on her grenades, she threw them under its tracks and dove away.

The effect was underwhelming - a slight crump - and no damage was done to the tank, but its turret stopped turning nonetheless. A horn blew, and an umpire stepped out from a nearby bush. "Alright," he said, "You three made it out the encirclement. Good job." He turned to the tank, and waved. "You lot are done for."

A hatch opened on the top of the tank, and a familiar figure pulled herself out. Apple Fritter's cousin, Orange Sorbet, gave her a high-five. "That was some crazy plan there, Fritz," she said. "Your soldier there took out my vision slit, and the umpire decided I'd been killed. Couldn't order the crew to open fire, and none of the others saw you."

More horns were sounding now, announcing the end of the day's exercises for the 302nd Onhooves and the 2nd "Selenian" Armoured divisions. Ponies from the Royal Ponyville Guards came marching in, ready to take defensive positions for the next exercise. The final result of the match: a complete victory for the 2nd Armoured, which had annihilated the 302nd, leaving only three escapees. Officers and NCOs looked over the blow-by-blow accounts complied by the umpires, devising new tactics and identifying critical weaknesses. A report even managed to make its way to the SAC, which filed it away for further review. Later, they would come to the conclusion that the next set of infantry kit would require dedicated HE grenades, along with better anti-tank gear.

All in all, it was a good day's work.

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Now we have enough of an equipment stockpile, I've set the troops to do exercises. That'll get us army XP and make the units involved a little better, but it does use equipment while they're active.

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December 5th, 1007

The immediate aftershocks of the Wake-Up Call finally ended as the year drew to a close. It had become clear that Princesses Celestia and Luna couldn't run the country by themselves - it was simply too big, with too many ponies in it. Some advocated that the SAC become part of the official government, tasked with day-to-day administration, but Typhoon soon put paid to that idea. The SAC was an advisory body, tasked with readying Equestria for war, and its members were barely able to keep up with that task alone. Instead, Princess Celestia formally created an official cabinet, to be filled with members as needs arose.

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Time to pick our first government minister! You can see what Princess Twilight'd do for us - boosts to stability, political power gain and both flavours of research speed - and the others have effects from vanilla HOI IV. Leaving Cadence aside, and taking it from the second left to right, we have: a boost to military factory/dockyard construction speed, a boost to civilian factory/infrastructure speed, a boost to political power gain, partisan suppression, a stability boost, a diplomatic opinion boost, a way to increase support for communism in your country, and another partisan suppression thing combined with a thing that makes it harder for other countries to shift our ideology.

...I guess I forgot to talk about ideology in the last couple of posts. Okay, so that pie chart in government box indicates how much support various ideologies have. Right now, it's 75% pink, which represents Harmony, and ~25% red, for communists. If another ideology gains too much support, we'd swap to them, but that doesn't come up unless the player forces it to.


And she had a good idea who to pick first. Princess Twilight Sparkle was already serving as the de facto head of Equestrian research and development, ran an entire department at the Luna Nova academy, and still found the time to carry out the Friendship Missions assigned to her by the arcane map in her castle. Thus, the young alicorn found herself summoned on short notice to Canterlot Castle, where Princess Celestia formally appointed her as Minister of Science, in addition to her current title of Princess of Friendship.

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Yeah, there was only one choice here. Princess Twilight is just too damn good. Also note the reason I've waited this long to do this is that it costs 150 Political Power to appoint a minister.

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December 26th, 1007

Mass production techniques finally became standardised in Equestrian industry, with the official remodelling of the Cloudsdale Hurricane factory.

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The next task facing the Industrial team was that of introducing turret lathes into Equestrian factories. These tools would allow for the same work station to perform multiple cutting tasks in quick succession, speeding up production even more.

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This would be the last major event of the year, with the SAC going on a late Hearthswarming break. While the year had been tumutlous within Equestria, on the world stage things had been remarkably quiet. Aside from the Prywhen Civil Wars, no conflict had broken out. Even the appointment of a Fascist in Wingbardy and the death of the Griffon Emperor had so far gone by without any fuss. A few more years like that, and perhaps Equestria would even be ready when war finally came.

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This screen lists ongoing wars. As you can see, the world is at peace.

It won't last.


-

Well that certainly ended up being longer than I expected. Originally, I thought this update would be short and light on content, and then it sort of ballooned. I'll run the next year or so on Monday the 10th of September. If anyone has anything specific they'd like me to look at, please let me know.

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