[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.

-

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.

-

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?

-

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.

-

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.

-

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

Post by VX-145 » 2018-10-14 12:45pm

Part IV: Hotting Up, January 2nd, 1008 to January 1st, 1009 CE

January 2nd, 1008

Princess Twilight announced the completion of her mechanical computer prototype. The machine she unveiled would be able to perform simple calculations far faster and with far more precision than by hoof. In her usual fashion, this announcement was made late at night the moment she finished work.

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More research time buffs! When we finally break out of the stagnation of harmony, we'll actually have one of the fastest research speeds in the world.

However, the research had hit a wall. Right now, there simply wasn't enough theoretical groundwork to really begin constructing more advanced computers. While the current generation would suffice in performing menial calculations, the complex calculations required for cryptography were still a little too much.

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Yikes. Look at that "ahead of time" penalty - this is why research buffs are so important.

Thankfully, theoretical work was far cheaper than development. Funds were thus freed up to look into mounting torpedoes on aircraft. The initial design, designated "Swordfish", would be incapable of carrier work, but it would serve as a useful proof-of-concept for carrier designs. With some luck, Equestria would have a useable carrier fleet within the next few years.

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Yeah I don't know why the non-carrier variant is the Swordfish either. This is actually a problem in the base game, not the mod.

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January 3rd, 1008

Late last year, large deposits of copper had been discovered under April Grove, enough to allow Equestria's industry to grow for decades to come. Bearing in mind the numerous uses of the metal, Typhoon personally ordered that mines be dug to extract it. There would be no stockpiling of useless shells under his watch. The digging would slow down other construction projects a little, but not enough to be concerned about.

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I wanted the +15% industry research buff. Later, I'd forget I had it. That's how these games tend to go.

-

January 6th, 1007

It had taken just over a whole year, but Typhoon's work was finally finished. Equestria now had a government body dedicated solely to research and development. He'd had to plan the Equestria Games, shake Equestrian society to its core and even help take down the former overseers of Equestrian education, but by Celestia he'd done it.

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The only problem was: what to do next? Equestrian High Command still needed staffing before the Army could be used as anything other than border guards. So far, however, the average pony on the street still seemed to think that the past year of reforms were good enough. Prince Blueblood was agitating that Equestria do something about the succession crisis in Olenia, but there was no way anypony else was risking war. Not with the Changelings still making the occasional threatening noise across the border.

Instead, Princess Celestia decided to focus on taming Southern Equestria. While on maps, the south was painted Equestrian Green, the truth was a little different. Besides the Buffalo and Dragon enclaves, there could be any number of potential threats in the area. The Storm King's aborted attack on Mareida, along with Aoihzotal's nearly daily attempts to carve out an empire, had taught the Princess that her usual hooves-off policy wasn't working. She was left with a region that could implode at any minute on one hoof, and an advisor who was lounging around content just to do his day-to-day work in the other.

History does not record Typhoon's exact reaction upon being told he was to start working weekly trips to the Buffalo tribes into his schedule, but one can probably guess.

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Narrative aside, the second unlockable research slot is down this tree.

The new Department of Experimental Research Projects directed a team to begin work on getting the Calico tank into service. Unlike the Sparrow, the Calico was designed from the ground up to see combat service, and took lessons learned from First Army's exercises into account. Improvements to the initial design included a dedicated commander's cupola with added machine gun, better vision blocks for the rest of the crew and the addition of smoke grenade launchers.

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Contracts for equipment production expired towards the end of the month. The SAC took the opportunity to re-jigger production priorities, and pre-emptively make room for new weapons coming into service in the future. In addition, money was re-allocated from riflesmithing to aircraft manufacturing, a logical move given the massive stockpile of Lavender rifles sitting around in Equestrian arms depots.

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Okay, maybe the Lavender's not quite in the "millions made" level, but we really don't need too many more.

-

March 10th, 1008

"I hear Pantsushenko won the Stalliongrad election," the vendor pony said as Typhoon paid for his morning sandwich. "That good or bad for us?"

Typhoon resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Ever since the Wake-Up Call, pretty much every pony he'd talked to had had some question or pithy comment. He'd been careful not to reveal anything sensitive, of course, but giving his opinion on current affairs had gotten old very fast. Yet another thing he never thought he'd think back on Earth. Nevertheless, brushing the question off wasn't an option either - the Equestria Daily and the Sun would have a field day if they found out. "Probably a good thing," he said. "She's very much focused on internal reforms, and won't be causing any border friction with us. Plus, the election was pretty hotly contested, which can only be a good thing. It means they're serious about the whole "democracy" thing, for now at least."

The vendor didn't look too convinced. "But won't that just mean they'd be stronger if they go to war with us in the future?" she asked, "Y'know, if they're building themselves up and such."

Typhoon shrugged. "There's a big difference between continuing collectivization efforts and gearing for war. Sure, it'll make their foundation stronger, but we'll be in a better position as well. And that's not forgetting that Vasiliy Pantsushenko's a genuine believer in socialist ideas. She's not going to force her people into a war unless she absolutely has to. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to eat..."

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Don't worry, Stalliongrad doesn't get a Rainbow Dash clone army.

...if they did, we'd be playing as them.


-

March 17th, 1007 - March 20th, 1007

It took two months for the SAC to figure out exactly how to send an envoy to the Buffalo Chiefdom. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, the Buffalo Chiefdom, while nominally a single brown region on the SAC's maps, was actually made up of mutliple different tribes. This meant that Typhoon had to talk to each individual tribal chief and get them all to agree on a single point of contact for future envoys. Eventually, they settled on Chieftess Strongheart, on the basis that she'd had more experience with ponies than most. Thus, a small office was allocated in the new Capitol Hall of Strongheart's tribe for an embassy.

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The second problem was on Equestria's end. Prince-Marshal Blueblood, despite his position as C-In-C Army Group Equestria, still had the opportunity to occasionally sit on SAC meetings. Mostly, he kept his involvement to that of a spectator, only speaking to ask for another refill of his drink or more snacks. When they met to discuss who exactly to send to the Buffalo to negotiate a friendship treaty, however, he came out with another suggestion.

"Why don't we take the army we've been building up this past year and just take the damn place, if it's such a problem?"

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So while your first reaction as a player might be "hell no" to this, it actually could help. The path to fixing the Stagnation national spirit can only be unlocked during war. Plus, it makes pretty borders a certainty rather than leaving it to the AI to decide.

Thanks to the meticulous minutes kept by the SAC, history does record Typhoon's reaction to this suggestion. It was surprisingly restrained. He simply stood up, cleared his throat, and spoke: "I did not spend two months of my life trekking through the desert every damn Wednesday just for you to decide to take the Army for a walk, wreck the government's reputation and possibly ignite a civil war!"

That was the end of that suggestion.

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.

Pinkie Pie and Sherrif Silverstar were sent out to negotiate, meeting with a council of Buffalo chiefs. There was some minor opposition from certain tribal elders - including one just called "The Elder" - and those who had had the misfortune to witness Pinkie Pie's disastrous "You Gotta Share" song, but eventually they hammered out a basic treaty of friendship, and agreed that something needed to be done about the Buffalo problem.

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Yes, they can refuse this.Interestingly, these events fire exactly one day after each other. This is because the AI needs to have their event fire and then decide what to do Also, we got some political power back from this event.

Thus, Typhoon no longer had to walk around aimlessly through the desert every Wednesday. No, now he had to sit in a hot, cramped office, working out how best to integrate the Buffalo into Equestria instead.

He didn't think it was much of an improvement.

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-

March 22nd, 1008

After several months of effort, radios finally became standard equipment in the Equestrian military. To say this simplified Equestrian command and control would be like saying that a knife "simplifies" the Gordonian knot. Co-ordination between branches became a practical possibility, rather than an ideal, leading some on the SAC to begin agitating for a dedicated Close Air Support aircraft. The civilian sector had not been overlooked; the first official broacast of the Equestrian Public Broadcasting Company occuring at around mid-day on the 22nd.

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The broadcast opened with a short introduction of the service, followed by a quick speech by Princess Luna (who was chosen simply because she happened to be to hanging around the studio in Canterlot Castle) and, most exciting of all, coverage of the first Equestrian motor-racing cup. A strange array of various vehicles, ranging from a Super Cider-Squeezy 2500 to an old Applewood derby cart and even the prototype Calico light tank, had been drawn up at the starting line, and let loose at 1pm. Immediately, half the racers crashed into the sides of the specially-constructed racetrack, unable to control their vehicles. The organiser of the race, a unicorn noble called Fancy Pants, was privately glad he hadn't gone with his first idea of having the cars race down the mountain. It took a while, with many stops to refuel and change out magic crystals, but eventually the driver of a Detrot Motors automobile came in first. The Calico came in second by default.

The race sparked the public's imagination, and within the week every town in Equestria had at least one car. Driving lessons were made a mandatory part of the public school curriculum, with some schools even offering flying lessons as optional extras. With this new wave of new drivers the SAC could begin planning something that previously hadn't been thought possible: motorising the Equestrian military. A competition was announced, with all comers welcome.

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-

March 27th, 1008

SPECIAL MINISTRY OF INTELLIGENCE LOGISTICS AND ENFORCEMENT EXTERNAL MEMORANDUM
CONFIDENTIAL
EYES ONLY

Your Majesties, Chairponies, and other assorted hangers-on,

I accept that perhaps S.M.I.L.E has been a bit lax when it comes to the foreign intelligence role. However, I feel the need to remind you all that this Special Ministry's primary role is that of containing dangerous monsters and magical artefacts, not dressing up as spies and reading foreign newspapers. Has some tyrant tried to take over Equestria with a half-baked scheme and an artefact of unlimited power recently? Aside from the Storm King, no. So, to Chairpony Typhoon's memo asking, and I quote, "Why in the deepest pits of Tartarus wasn't I told about a regime change in Olenia?", I respond thusly: "If you want to be told these things, go found your own intelligence agency."

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Yeah, the game doesn't tell you every time if something like this happens. Olenia then promptly took the National Focus that leads to them declaring war on the Changelings and... didn't. On the one hand, that's good - Olenia always loses that fight - but on the other hand, it means nothing happens on this continent.

In the spirit of inter-departmental co-operation, I attach the transcript of Allsh Allsherj JURVA's inaugural speech. Perhaps that should illuminate the new regime's attitudes and basic strategy.

In the meantime, I have a bugbear to catch. Again.

Yours,

Special Agent Sweetie Drops.

ATTACHED FILE:
Allsherjargodi Jurva wrote: Brothers and Sisters of the Rike, we are victorious!

No longer shall the nations of the world look down upon Olenia! We have reclaimed our rightful place in the world, that place which, for so long, we were denied! For a thousand years, we have been enslaved by a royal family and their hypocritical devotion to Harmony amongst nations.

No more!

Our ancestors look upon us, and they find us wanting. Failures. For we have denied our true nature, and the natural order of the world, misled by those who simply wanted to take the fruits of our labour! Why should we be content with our lot, when Olenia once held dominion over all the oceans of the world?

"Oh," but the ponies of the east mewl, "we can accomplish more if we work together!"

This is nothing but a lie, and a lie shall remain a lie no matter how many times it is said! Equestria is strong because of the land it occupies, not because of the strength of its people!

But our people - the Olenian people - are strong, and we will use that strength.

Let the Changelings come. We will exterminate them like the insects they are.

And then, we shall show the world what it means to be a Deer!

In the name of the thousand-year Rike!
-

April 21st, 1008

Collected excerpts from the diary of Chairpony Typhoon:

21/4/08

Another meeting with Strongheart. Framework in place for the next stage of official negotiations. Taken a while - complexity another reminder of home. Brexit &c. Glad I moved out. Still too hot here.

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Sent telegram to Canterlot before bed - money for roads in south now available. Reply came back - turret lathes now standardised. Still barely understand what a turret lathe is, but good for us I guess.

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The "research finished" popup is hidden, but this was the best screenshot I could get.

Sent second telegram - ordered more consolidation of industry. Army needs more guns, Air Force needs more planes, Navy's fine for now.

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Wing cast came off today. Will resume flying practice tomorrow. Fish for breakfast, not a fan. Lunch was a working lunch - sandwiches & a bottle of Apple Family cider. Dinner was traditional Buffalo chili and Appaloosan apple pie. Bed at midnight.

22/4/08

Long day. Lots of paperwork.

Pinkie has formally asked if the Buffalo want to become Equestrian citizens. Pony scares me - pretty sure she's part Discord. Strongheart needs time to ask chiefs, some sort of public referendum, but reply will be tomorrow. Ended up roping me into helping.

Blueblood's suggestion keeps coming up in my head. Not even going to consider it.

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Usual telegram to Canterlot. Muffins has been doing well in my absence. Should promote her, really. Will ask Celestia when I get back.

Flying went poorly. Not many air currents here, out of practice &c. No injuries, thankfully. Breakfast - sandwiches. Lunch - sandwiches. Dinner - sandwiches. Bed at 2am.

23/4/08

Official response from Strongheart. No to full annexation, yes to being an "autonomous region" - so long as we pay to modernise them. Not a problem. Money already allocated. There'll be a different name on the map, but it'll still be green. Good enough.

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Telegram to Canterlot beat newspaper, just about. What the ED lacks in journalistic integrity and basic English Ponish skills, they make up for in speed.

Princesses sent congratulations. Don't have to go south-east for a while - roads there can build themselves. Well, they can't, but they don't need me there.

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Flying went well - actually managed to stay in air for more than ten seconds. Breakfast was cereal. Skipped lunch. Dinner was celebratory meal at local restaurant. Italian style. Wonder what Ponies call it. Had pasta - decent enough - and some cherry juice drink. Ice cream for dessert. Bed at 8am - Pinkie threw one of her parties. Girl's terrifying, but you can't deny she knows how to throw a party.

Still no war this week.

-

May 19th, 1008

"Well, Wingbardy's done for."

It was a typical morning commute; the 9:35 Express to Canterlot was sparsely occupied, with Typhoon and Muffins making up a quarter of the population of their carriage. They'd taken a slightly later train, what with the preparations for this year's Gala bringing in ponies from all over. Typhoon was sitting next to the window, leaning against the carriage wall with the second morning edition of the Equestria Daily. In retrospect, the name was remarkably inaccurate.

Muffins was staring out of the window, taking in the sights. There was always something new and interesting to see. Once, a Gladiator biplane had pulled up alongside their carriage, matching speed for a whole minute! Now, it was spring, and the hills were filled with baby animals. "Lambs," she said, pointing at a flock of sheep.

As per usual, her friend/boss wasn't really paying attention. "Exactly!" he said, whacking one hoof against the newspaper. "With this, Wingbardy'll be a totalitarian state in six months, maybe less. After that, probably a general war on Griffonia. These "moderates" are like lambs to the... well, I suppose that metaphor doesn't really work in Equestria, what with everypony being vegetarian and all -" He looked up from the paper and followed Muffins' outstretched foreleg. "Oh hey, lambs! How cute!"

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-

May 21st, 1008

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The events in Wingbardy and Olenia were pretty much all the guests at the Gala were talking about. For Typhoon, this was a both a blessing and a curse - on one hoof, it meant that nopony was bothering him as he did his best impression of a wallflower. On one of the other hooves, however, it meant he had to listen to unicorn nobles try to talk about the world situation.

One such group had drifted within earshot, mostly made up of older unicorns. "Good on Wingbardy, I say!" a particularly ornery bearded unicorn said. "Sorting that socialist rabble out! It's about time somepony stood up to them! We need a Beakolini over here, I tell you!"

"You can't be serious," an old mare replied, saving Typhoon the hassle, "Beakolini's such a boor! You haven't had to sit through his speeches. All "foreigners this" and "national pride that". Princess Celestia asked me to go over and see what all the fuss was about, and I have to say those Griffons don't have an ounce of decency. There were so many protests when I was there, and everyone was calling each other all sorts of names. I don't think there's a call for that - it's only politics, after all."

Typhoon took a deep breath. One of his few qualifications for this job was his patience, after all. He wouldn't get anything by ruining his reputation, even if these ponies really-

"Well, I say if those socialists are going to go around calling everybody a fascist, then it's their fault that Beakolini banned them! What did they expect, being so rude?"

For a split second, Typhoon's vision went entirely red. Very calmly, with the utmost professionalism, he crushed the glass he'd been sipping from and walked away.

Sometimes, he had to wonder why he'd taken this job.

-

June 30th, 1008

"You look a little distracted," Princess Celestia remarked. "Is the heat getting to you?"

Her advisor shook his head, and looked alert for the first time all day. The two - along with a small Royal Guard contingent - were being driven down the new Tenochtitlan road as part of its opening ceremony. Truth be told, Celestia was been a bit put out - she normally found Typhoon's discomfort a little amusing, but this was just boring. "Sorry, Your Majesty," he said.

"I suppose you're probably sick of these roads by now," Celestia continued. "I have to say, you've done a splendid job this time. None of the surveyors thought it was possible to build a road through this jungle."

"I didn't do much," Typhoon replied. "The Army engineers were the ones who plotted out the firmest ground."

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"And this is only part two of the "Southern Plan"," he continued. "We're already funding the Buffalo State's development, of course, but we're going to divert a few more bits and kick-start their industry. Who knows, maybe they'll even find some oil."

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Spoilers - they're going to find oil.

"Honestly, all of this is pretty much running itself right now."

"So what is the matter?" Princess Celestia pushed.

Typhoon took a moment to answer. "I had a disturbing report from our S.M.I.L.E agent in the Changeling lands. Chrysalis is acting in ways I didn't really expect her to. The border raids have slowed down, she's recruited new Jaeger divisions..." He shrugged. "I'm sure it's nothing to worry about."

-

July 14th, 1008

JUL 14 1008
FROM: Ponyville Telegraph Office
TO: Admiral Squall, C-IN-C Celestial Sea Fleet
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just Navy Things

Hey Eve,

The guys down in Cloudsdale have finally figured out how to put a torpedo on a plane without either exploding. It's more difficult than it sounds - I'm sure you remember the story I told you about the US Navy's Mark 14 Torpedo back on Earth.

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So, in-game, naval bombers were/are a little OP - they perform sorties against enemy ships every single day, whereas your own navy has to look around for them. Not sure if they've patched that out recently, though. I'm probably not going to build land-based naval bombers, however, just because we don't need them.

Bad news is, they haven't figured out how to get it to land on a carrier without it exploding. I told 'em two out of three ain't bad, but also that the whole point was that it was carrier-based. Sure, we could build a bunch for the REAF, I guess, but then we'd have all sorts of inter-branch hassle. Anyway, the team's working on what they're calling the "Blackburn Shark" which doesn't make a lot of sense - it's basically the same plane, designed by the same ponies?

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Whatever. Anyway, please send your latest report. Or just re-send the last one, I know it's pretty quiet over there right now.


Catch you later,
- Typh

-

July 18th, 1008

"It is beau~tiful!"

Applejack looked skeptically at the zebra beside her. The two of them were apparently on some sort of "reserve officer" list, which meant that every so often they had to go inspect various factories. "It looks like a hunk o' metal to me," she said. "This is what got that Typhoon fella all worked up?"

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"Honey, I don't think you fully appreciate the importance of this here machine," the zebra - Caltrop Deekay - said. "This beauty isn't just better armed and armoured than the Sparrow, but she's faster too. You realise what they had to do to get all that in such a small machine?"

The Calico light tank in front of them looked like it was easily twice as big as Big Mac back at the farm. "Small?" Applejack asked, raising an eyebrow.

Caltrop laughed. "Small compared to an Ursa, honey. Cali here's small for a tank, y'know. She's not much bigger than the Sparrow. They even managed to fit a radio in there, Celestia alone knows how."

"So we're tellin' him that it's good to go?" said Applejack. "'cos Big Mac can't hold down the whole farm by himself right now."

"She looks good, honey," Caltrop replied. "I'll go make the report, you can run on home."

-

Production of the Calico tank started as soon as the plans could be delivered to the factories, replacing the now-obsolete Sparrow design.

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-

With the Calico tank officially ready for service, money was freed up in the R&D budget for another major project. Having noticed that Equestrian infantryponies were equipped with just a rifle and some grenades, the SAC decided to investigate the esoteric concepts of "machine guns" and "mortars".

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-

July 27th, 1008

TO: ALL REAF STATIONS
FROM: HRH PRINCESS CELESTIA
RE: REAF Expansion

My Little Ponies,

I would like you all to give a warm welcome to this year's flight school graduates. They have all worked hard to reach the exacting standards demanded by the Royal Equestrian Air Force, and I am sure they will do you proud. With the surplus of "Hurricane" air-craft provided by Equestrian factories, I have seen fit to authorise the expansion of the REAF. Each squadron will now consist of one hundred air-craft, for a total of eight hundred such machines. Some may have to pilot "Gladiator" air-craft for a short time, however please rest assured that this is a temporary measure.

I have been advised that further expansion will occur at a later date, so please make ready for such an eventuality.

- HRH Princess Celestia

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I did this for all the squadrons. I'll probably expand them to a full thousand each once we get airbases and, of course the ponypower to do so. Pay no attention to the ponypower number behind the curtain!

-

July 28th, 1008(aka the very next day)

TO: ALL EQUESTRIAN MILITARY STATIONS
FROM: SAC OFFICE, CANTERLOT
RE: Ponypower crisis

I'm sure it has not escaped your attention that we are running short on volunteers for the military. We are, in fact, pretty much out of reserve ponypower at this time. Please note that this is not yet a major crisis - we are not at war, we are not losing ponies, this just means we're expanding a bit too fast. As such, I have cut naval production and shifted orders over to the civilian-operated merchant marine. This should free up enough new recruits to cover the recent air force expansion. The Army will continue maintaining strength for now, as planned.

- SAC Chairpony Typhoon

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Normally, this would be an incredibly bad thing. Without ponymanpower, you can't maintain a military in wartime for very long. However, we still haven't upped our conscription rate nor gotten rid of that annoying penalty to ponypower. We've got substantial reserves, we just can't use them yet. So long as no-one declares war on us until we can, we'll be fine.

I'm not bad at this game, honest!


-

August 18th, 1008

Princess Twilight Sparkle, Equestrian Minister of Magic, Research and Education stared down SAC Chairpony Typhoon. "You're serious," she said, flatly. Unbidden, a memory of Nightmare Moon saying something very similar all those years ago flashed in her mind.

For his part, Typhoon's face was impassive. "They're highly qualified," he said. "Their work in the Buffalo state-"

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"Flim and Flam are a pair of con-artists!" Twilight retorted. "They tried to drive my friend out of business! You helped arrest them once! And you want to give them a ministry?!"

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This seems like a good idea. Oh well, it's a civilian construction boost, which we could really use.

"...I mean, yes?" Typhoon ventured. "Look, economics really isn't my thing. Or any of the SAC's, for that matter - we've been getting by, but it's only a matter of time before we mess something up. Luckily, this looks like more of a Moist von Lipwig situation than a Borgia one. They can't really get away with anything too egregious if they answer directly to Princess Celestia."

"Vetinari hanged Lipwig first, you know," said Twilight. "And there's nopony else who's qualified?"

"Apparently not. These two were the only applicants."

Twilight sighed. "Urgh, fine! Just... don't complain to me when they figure out a way to legally steal half the country."

-

September 8th, 1008

"Oil!"

The Buffalo workers stopped what they were doing, and looked up as a spout of viscous black liquid spurted out from the ground. Some began cheering, and many took the opportunity to sneak a quick break.

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It wasn't the biggest oil well in Equestria, but it was perhaps one of the most significant. It was a well discovered by Buffalo, using Buffalo-made tools and capped with Buffalo-made equipment. It was a clear sign to the hold-outs in Tenochtitlan that they wouldn't just end up being dominated by Canterlot. While some of the San Palomino oil would end up being used by the budding Equestrian government, the vast majority would remain in the hooves of the Buffalo who lived there. Southerners who had once adamantly refused bits from Canterlot now turned around and accepted the aid, allowing the SAC to finally implement phase 4 of the Southern Plan: establishing the University of Tenochtitlan.

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With this, we'll have finished my initial setup plan. I'll put what we do next to a vote.

-

October 1st, 1008

The selection of the Jackalope AS-3 truck caused some controversy in the Army. There were concerns from traditionalists that the new vehicles would be too expensive and logistically-complicated to use effectively, while some forward-thinking officers had preferred a conversion of the Calico light tank. However, the competition wasn't exactly fierce. The Calico conversion had the benefit of armour, but was cramped and had poor strategic mobility, while the others consisted of a pony-drawn chariot (which was instantly rejected) and an 8-ton behemoth monster truck. In comparison, the Jackalope was reliable, easy to produce, with reasonable cross-country mobility and sufficient cargo capacity.

With the AS-3 in hand, Field Marshal Blueblood and the SAC began exploring the implications of a motorised army. The idea of a true combined-arms force began to take shape in those discussions. However, official Equestrian army doctrine - what little of it there was - still placed an overwhelming emphasis on simply holding the border against all comers. There was no provision for spoiling attacks or even a counter-offensive. While this certainly suited Pony psychology, it was undoubtedly a poor military doctrine. Something would have to be done.

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I put this into production a little later.

A second design competition was immediately announced, this time to produce a new carrier-based fighter to complement the Swordfish.

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-

October 3rd, 1008

EQUESTRIA DAILY
FIRST MORNING ED.

PRYWHEN DECLARES WAR ON BANDIT QUEEN
Cites "constant border raids" and "historical ownership of territory" as cassus belli

KIVESSIN If the Blackrock Bandits thought that their refusal to join in the Second Prywhen Civil War had earned them any clemency, then they were wrong. Formations of Prywhen infantry poured over the border just past midnight on the 3rd, easily overwhelming what few professional soldiers the bandits could muster. The mood in Kivessin is jubilant, and the citizens seem to be fully behind the war. With tensions rising in Aquelia, and a critical vote in the Wingbardy parliament in three days, the world wonders: just where will the next Griffonian war break out?

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You know, given how much I talk about Griffonia, one can almost be forgiven for assuming we're plaing on that continent. Regardless, RIP Blackrock Bandits.

-

October 6th, 1008

Canterlot could hardly be called a peaceful city. While it wasn't a bustling as Manehattan - or even Ponyville - it was still a large city with quite a few inhabitants. It was therefore a little odd that any one pony could scream loud enough to be heard by the entire city at once. And yet, every pony in the city reported hearing a single, aggrieved scream, as though the scream-ee was so sick of whatever they were screaming about that they managed to momentarily break reality itself. Some therorised that it was similar to the well-known phenomena of ponies occasionally breaking out into song and performing perfectly-coreographed dance routines. Princess Celestia personally investigated the scream, and came out of the castle later in the day with a distinctly harried look on her face. When asked what had happened, she simply said that it was "an understandable reaction to certain world events" and that "it would not happen again".

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-

October 19th, 1008

FROM: CLOUDSALE AIR TESTING GROUND
TO: ADM. EVENING SQUALL, CPY TYPHOON
Re: Blackburn Shark

Admiral, Chairpony,

I am pleased to announce that the Blackburn Shark has formally passed service trials and is now ready for production. Performance is the same as the Fairey Swordfish, but it is now capable of carrier operations.

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I have taken the opportunity to begin development of a Hurricane variant, designated Mark V, with twin 40mm cannons for close air support duties. Optionally, it can carry light bombs. Additionally, we have begun planning a successor aircraft designated "Typhoon", after yourself and the Earth aircraft of the same name.

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FROM: CPY TYPHOON
TO: ALL CLOUSDALE AIRCRAFT FACTORIES, DETROT MOTOR CORPORATION

Please find attached new production orders for the next quarter.

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Be aware that the Blackburn Shark design is currently considered the lowest priority production item. As such, factories which take up orders for the Shark should maintain flexibility. HM Government will of course ensure that any factories that require subsidies will recieve them.

-Typhoon

-

November 18th, 1008

The revolution, to an outsider, looked like it happened overnight. One minute, Aquelia was a monarchy, with any mention of democracy mercilessly stamped out. The next, it was a Harmonic democracy, with the old King awaiting trial and probable execution. However, it didn't stop there. The First Aquelian Republic had been dismembered by the old Griffonian empire, aided by Aquelia's neighboring Duchies. Those Dukes had taken vast swathes of Aquelian land, and now the Second Aquelian Republic wanted that land back.

As such, Theodore Verany - acting Prime Minister of the Second Aquelian Republic - formally declared war on Aquelia's neighbours.

All of them. At the same time.

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The war declaration notifications are hidden behind each other, but yes, Aquelia did just declare war on all its neighbours.

-

November 21st, 1008

And as one war started, another drew to a close. In a turn of events that shocked literally nopony, the experienced, well-equipped veterans of Prywhen overwhelmed the scattered bandit groups of the Blackrock mountains. The resulting Treaty of Creeper Mountain was little more than a reciept for the land Prywhen had conquered, although negotiations were disrupted when some local fauna blew a hole in the side of the fortress used for said negotiations.

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-

December 8th, 1008

Typhoon's wings flew open as he dived off of the balcony. Every part of his body tingled as adrenaline rushed through it, and a smile appeared on his face. He caught the wind, gliding down towards his destination - the plaza just before the Canterlot Armoury - without any effort. Two and a half years had passed, but he finally felt confident enough in his flying to pull this trick off. A few dozen metres before his target, he spread his wings wider, using them as brakes rather than lift surfaces, and skidded to a halt just short of the spot he'd chosen.

Muffins, who despite being a pony her entire life still had trouble with co-ordination, gently landed exactly where Typhoon had meant to... upside-down.

Quickly, the two of them brushed themselves down and proceeded inside. "Well, at least your flying has improved a little," Typhoon remarked as they made their way through the crowd. The Canterlot Armoury had become one of the busiest places in the palace complex, at least on a day-to-day basis. "You didn't crash through the door this time."

Muffins smiled, and said nothing. Typhoon's recently-promoted second-in-command was a pony of few words, but she more than made up for it with her work.

A pony blocked their path. "You two are late," she said. "The demonstration is already in progress."

Typhoon waved a hoof. "Sorry, Commander. Princess Luna wanted to go over the plans for Hearthswarming."

Commander Harshwhinny let out a snort, and turned away wordlessly. The three of them continued into the testing range, which was filled with the sound of gunfire.

"And as you can see," the announcer pony was saying, "The new-model Minim machine gun can be carried and set up by a team of just two ponies. Now, please make sure you're all behind the protective screens, as we're about to demonstrate the Hoofield seventy-five milimetre mortar."

Typhoon, Muffins and Commander Harshwhinny took their places amongst the assorted officers of the Equestrian army. There were even a few Buffalo and Griffons present, a result of some exchange program or another. A team of Army ponies brought out the aforementioned mortar, and put it through its paces - a single shell to demonstrate operation, then a max-range and min-range shell, then max fire-rate, then different shell types including a star-shell for night-fighting.

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Despite the technological terrors on display, however, the real military advances were happening in a small, private conversation between Typhoon, General Fast Clip, Prince-Marshal Blueblood and General Whiplash.

The subject was simple: What would the Equestrian Army look like after the next few years?

This is the first of today's votes. It's simple enough: Pick a land doctrine for us to use. I'll redesign our divisions (when XP becomes available) and reassign production to match.

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Prince-Marshal Blueblood: The Equestrian Army will stick with what works. We will lure the Changeling scum into our killing fields, and counter-attack them with meticulously-laid Grand Battleplans.

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General Fast Clip: Speed is life, and mechanisation is speed. The Equestrian Army must abandon hoof-mobile infantry and mechanise for Mobile Warfare!

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General Whiplash: Nonsense! A single infantrypony can kill twenty Changelings, and they don't need some fancy doctrine to tell them how to do so. We'll simply recruit as many ponies as we can and launch a Mass Assault on the Changelings!

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Typhoon: Equestria has the best industrial base on the planet. I suggest we use it - build artillery, tanks and planes en masse and annihilate the enemy with our Superior Firepower.

Feel free to ask for details about what exactly each choice entails.

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Vote two: I can't belive it's not narrative edition! We've finished the initial focuses I wanted to aim for, now we need to decide where to go next. I'm not going to give too many options here - some we can't use, while others would be useless.

We have roughly three paths to take:

Path 1: "I will finish what you I started."
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With this path, we will finish the leftmost tree and confront the Dragons over their enclave. We probably won't go to war with them, though. Additionally, we'll get a couple of minor research boosts from finishing the Education tree - I left those out because research slots are just that damn important.

Path 2: "We require additional factories."
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Taking this path will mean focusing on those foci in the middle of the screen, minus the Crystal Empire ones. These will get us more factories, some decent research buffs and... more factories.

Path 3: "Ready for War!"
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This is the military focus path. With the first focus, we'll unlock Princess Luna as a Field Marshal (pretty sure you can do that even if you abandon her), and from there we'll get some more airfields and fortifications on the Changeling border. We can't do the tree on the right, however, until we go to war - and if a war breaks out unexpectedly, I will drop whatever path we're on and rush that tree. It's too useful to not unlock ASAP.

Please put your votes in bold, as usual, and voting will close at... call it 10pm GMT/whatever the time zone is in the UK on Wednesday.

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

Post by Bedlam » 2018-10-14 03:08pm

Superior Firepower and I will Finish what I started

No need to put to many ponies in harms way and although the factory option would probably go better with it I'd like further research and I don't think ponies would be all that aggressive


If you've hired Flim and Flam I hope you have good auditing I wouldn't be surprised if a chunk of their budget ends up financing construction in Los Pegasus

The race sparked the public's imagination, and within the week every town in Equestria had at least one car. Driving lessons were made a mandatory part of the public school curriculum, with some schools even offering flying lessons as optional extras. With this new wave of new drivers the SAC could begin planning something that previously hadn't been thought possible: motorising the Equestrian military. A competition was announced, with all comers welcome.
Not sure how you can have driving lessions when it doesn't sound like you've got a standardised control system yet, plus I'd guess flying lessions are already part of most pegasus education.

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

Post by VX-145 » 2018-10-14 05:04pm

Bedlam wrote:
2018-10-14 03:08pm

Not sure how you can have driving lessions when it doesn't sound like you've got a standardised control system yet, plus I'd guess flying lessions are already part of most pegasus education.
Hmm... thinking back on it (these updates are written over the course of several months), most of the lessons in the first few months would probably be theoretical, moving on to practical lessons when cars become available. Cars themselves have been around for a while. Detrot Motors, for example, was a reasonably well-established company even before the race. There's some control standardisation, but very few ponies actually know how to drive, which led to the situation described in the narrative. With the race, ponies just entered with whatever came to hoofhand, hence the variety of vehicles on offer. Think of it more along the lines of cars going from a luxury novelty to something every village needs one or two of. Behind the scenes, I needed a narrative justification for Motorisation research and a certain national focus we'll be seeing later, and I also felt like establishing that Wacky Races was a thing in this version of Equestria. Maybe Typhoon'll even get that Tankwondo league he's been after.

RE: flying lessons, they're for aircraft-flying, not Pegasus-flying.

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

Post by VX-145 » 2018-10-17 05:02pm

Voting is now Closed, and I'll run the next gameplay segment tomorrow. I'll be aiming for another year, but we'll see what happens.

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

Post by VX-145 » 2018-11-01 11:55am

Part IV.V: You Can (Not) Predict, December 8th, 1008 to December 10th, 1008

December 8th, 1008 (cont.)

The discussion at Canterlot Armoury produced results almost immediately. Swayed by a reminder from an anonymous officer that Equestria simply didn't have the ponypower to sustain many of the proposed doctrines, Prince-Marshal Blueblood ordered the new General Staff to prepare a doctrine based around Equestria's superior industrial base. The first step would be retraining the officer corps to use suppressing fire, and encouraging individual troops to make liberal use of ammunition.

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So, unlocking doctrine techs unlocks battle tactics, represented by that picture in the middle of the tech box. Tactics are what I'd call a grey box - you can see what's going on if you look hard enough, but you have little control over it and it's not worth the effort to exercise control in most cases. Basically, each tactic gives different buffs/debuffs, and can be countered by different tactics. If your general is better than the enemy's, they can pick a tactic specifically to counter the enemy.

Also, +20% soft attack to all main battalions is nice.


Production orders were changed again to focus more on artillery pieces, which would soon be in high demand.

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And, finally, it was time to look at re-organising the standard Onhooves divisions of the Equestrian Army. Before re-organisation, each division consisted of six Infantry battalions and a single artillery battery attached to the HQ. This arrangement didn't provide nearly enough artillery to implement any of the new ideas coming out of the General Staff, and it was a difficult formation to maneouvre.

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Combat width of 12, soft attack of 51... blech. We can do better.

It was Prince-Marhsal Blueblood who proposed the major changes to the Onhooves division. Firstly, he added two Artillery battalions, formations which had been entirely theoretical up until this point. This increased the number of artillery barrels per division from 12 to 84, vastly increasing its firepower. Then, to round out the division and make it large enough to have a properly-delinated combat space (yes, those were the exact words he used), he added a single extra Infantry battalion. The changes were approved by Princess Celestia (who was still Commander in Chief of the whole Equestrian military) and were implemented immediately. For now, this would be a mostly theoretical execise - there was still a ponypower shortage, after all. However, events would soon change that...

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This is much better. Double the soft attack, plus a combat width that fits nicely into 80/120. I considered going 4 artillery/4 infantry for a while, but I might just do that as its own division.

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December 9th, 1008

Muffins got into the SAC office late, a victim of unusually-heavy traffic. When she got there, the place was in chaos - ponies running to and fro, shouting over each other, and generally being disorganised. A single voice cut through the chaos, and she followed it over to Typhoon's personal office.

"No," the pegasus' voice was saying, "I don't know why this has happened now! This is utter insanity!" Muffins walked in. Typhoon was on the phone, while writing something with his other hoof. "Yes, I know it makes no strategic sense, that's what I just said! Now get off the damn phone and do you bloody job!" With that, he slammed the phone down. It was then that he noticed Muffins, standing in the door. "Glad you're here," he muttered. "Olenia just declared war on the Changelings."

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So you know how I said that the Olenian Rike decided not to declare war? Turns out, the instant I unpaused the game, the AI went full Leroy Jenkins. Yeah, even OOC I don't know why it's done this, other than to make me look like an idiot.

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10th December, 1008

The County of Pomovarra, a place nopony in Equestria had even heard about, declared war on... Pomovarra. Even the Equestria Daily had no comment on the matter.

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I have no idea where Pomovarra is.

This was not necessarily because nopony cared about what was going on in Pomovarra (although that seemed to be true). Instead, something else dominated the front pages of every newspaper and the radio broadcasts of every station.

Conscription.

It was clear that Equestria could not defend itself on a volunteer army. Yet, Equestria had never had to resort to such drastic measures before either. The debate had raged in Canterlot for the past two days over what exactly needed to be done, only for the SAC to present pre-prepared plans for mobilising the Equestrian state. The first of these plans was a complex piece of legislation that effectively gave the state free reign to intervene in the civilian economy should the situation demand. The second, and far more controversial, plan was the introduction of conscription. Two varieties were on offer - a limited draft, targetting only adult ponies who met a strict set of criteria, or a more expansive option of drafting nearly every pony who wasn't engaged in war work.

Ultimately, the decision would fall to Princess Celestia...

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These decisions unlock when world tension reaches a certain amount, which normally happens about a year from now. Thanks Olenia, you won't die in vain. Without these, we cannot change our economy laws, and they let us get conscription ahead of the curve.

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VOTE

This is going to be a little different from normal, in that I'm not giving you guys all the options I can pick from. Firstly, we're choosing the option that lets us change our economy laws. That's too useful. Secondly, we are going to introduce some form of conscription. Thus, the "Do nothing" option is off the table.

The options you guys have are:

A: A Limited Draft: This costs us less political power - only 150, as opposed to 300 - and gets us less ponypower, netting us 2.5% of our total population. In real numbers, that's about 2-500k, from what I remember from previous playthroughs.

B: Extensive Conscription: Double the political power for double the ponies (5%!), and we also get the normal debuffs from this level of conscription. At this stage, it's nothing more than a 10% increase to division training time, but they get much worse if we go further. We also get 10% war support!

Personally, I tend to go for A, but don't let that influence your choice. Remember that option B gives us double the ponies of A.

Yes, I am slightly annoyed that I only got two days worth of gameplay, why do you ask?

*cough* Anyway, voting closes at 10pm Sunday, November 4th, GMT.

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

Post by Bedlam » 2018-11-01 03:21pm

I'd say option A, it sounds like it gets up plenty of ponies and I don't think we need to go overboard about things at this point.

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

Post by Wing Commander MAD » 2018-11-04 03:29pm

I'll second, or perhaps third as the case may be the choice of option A.

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

Post by VX-145 » 2018-11-04 05:03pm

Voting is Closed, with Option A winning at two votes. Maybe the next update won't be literally two in-game days.

If I'd have known this was going to happen I'd have just run both votes at the same time, but nooo, Olenia's AI just had to bug out...

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

Post by VX-145 » 2019-01-18 11:08am

An update! Sorry for the delay. I was ill for the entirety of December, and only recently managed to get back into my schedule. Technically, this is only half of the recorded content, but in the interests of not making the post too stupidly long, I've split it into two. I also have to apologise in advance if the images take a while to load.

Part V: The Olenian-Changeling War, December 10th, 1008 to December 31st, 1009

December 10th, 1008 (cont.)

The first two Acts of Equestrian Parliament passed with a near unanimous vote.
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However, this did not come without cost, regardless of how powerless parliament truly was. Having rammed these two acts through, the SAC could no longer justify major changes to the fabric of Equestrian society, at least not without some further sign of Changeling mobilisation. Thankfully, protests against these laws were few and far between - for now.

On the same day, Prince-Marshal Blueblood ordered a line of forts constructed across the entire Equestria/Crystal Empire/Changeling/Olenia border. These fortifications were little more than a paper-thin curtain of pillboxes and bunkers, along with scattered reinforced and protected assembly areas, but they would hopefully allow the Equestrian Army to hold back the Changelings once the war broke out. It was no longer seen as a mere possibility, now. The Crystal Empire agreed to extend the line of fortifications into their land, so long as Equestria paid for them. All Equestrian state construction companies were mobilised for the effort, suspending all other construction projects in the process.

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Anticipating the influx of ponies from conscription, Typhoon ordered new divisions to be formed. Firstly, three Onhooves divisions would flesh out First Army, bringing it up to its full strength.

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This is the first time I've actually trained troops in this LP, so let's go over it quickly. To train a division, you click the "train" button in its listing, and then select one of your provinces. It can be assigned to a frontline order by clicking the little circle-with-an-arrow-through-it on the left. The divisions will then take their needed ponypower and equipment, and begin training. You can deploy them early to get warm bodies on the field should you need to, but they will come out at Green experience level (-25% to combat ability).

Secondly, sixteen more Onhooves divisions would be trained to form the core of a new Second Army. However, there were not enough trained ponies to allow the Army to raise those divisions all at once, so they would be raised in two batches of eight. Similarly, plans to augment Second Army with armoured, Pegasi and Royal Guard units would have to wait.

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December 14th/15th, 1008

Flight Lieutenant Snowfall turned his Hurricane fighter into a sharp bank, revelling in how responsive the controls felt compared to the Gladiator biplane his unit had just finished upgrading from. And, if the rumours were to be believed, a company in Bales was drawing up designs for something even better!

He passed over one of First Army's assembly points, and dipped his wing as an infantrypony waved at him. He didn't envy the poor sods; not only were they stuck doing constant exercises, but when the war started they'd be stuck crawling through the mud and snow. Opening the throttle, he set the plane on course for his operation area. For the past two years, that had been in the Featherfall region, but today was different.

Today, he crossed the border.

Twenty-two of No.2 Sqn's aircraft had been assigned the mission of aerial reconnaisance, ordered to give High Command as much information as they could. This wouldn't be much beyond what the normal recon flights would report back, but someone was optimistic. Besides, it sent an important message to both Changelings and Deer: Equestria rules the skies.

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I decided to see if setting planes into another country's air zone would do anything. Turns out, no, but it gives me some neat narrative options.

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Tenochtitlan had, until very recently, been a ghost town. Between Aoizhotal's constant plots to take the city over, and marauding bands of raiders, nopony really wanted to live there. Now, however, police patrols and the attention of Canterlot, along with some not inconsiderable amount of help from Daring Do, had tamed the city. To cap it all off, the first university of the Equestrian south-east was opening today. Crowds thronged the city's streets, vendors hawked their wares, and civilian aircraft flew overhead. Princess Twilight was present, and cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the university's research department. The first class of student ponies wouldn't arrive until September, of course, but like Luna Nova before it, the Tenochtitlan State University would immeasurably help the Ministry of Education's efforts.

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Their first order of business was a result of a direct request from Chairpony Typhoon. The University's humanities department was asked to look back through the ancient records held in Tenochtitlan and report how best to integrate unicorn wizards into a modern military.

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Princess Twilight began work on another of her long-term projects: formalising the study of magic itself, beyond simply teaching unicorns how to throw spells. Many unicorn mages were content to simply research the mysteries of magic by themselves, and few ever shared their research. Princess Twilight intended to change that.

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December 17th, 1008

The brief and mysterious Pomovarra civil war came to an end, with the County of Pomovarra officially becoming the nation of Pomovarra. If this news hadn't been published in the Equestria Daily, nopony would have noticed.

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-

Just under two weeks into the war, and the Olenian Rike was already on the defensive. The Deer had made one fatal mistake: they had sent their armies in tight groups, expecting the Changelings to seek a field battle. In reality, the Changelings took a more practical approach to matters, simply slipping between the Deer lines with their mobile armoured and motorised units and cutting their supply lines. Where the Deer were able to fight, they held remarkably well, pitting light infantry units against tanks and still somehow holding the line. Where they couldn't force an engagement, however...

Reports were already coming in to Canterlot of a major encirclement in the north-western sector of the front. Chairpony Typhoon, who could hardly be called outgoing at the best of times, sequestered himself in his office even further, poring over the scraps of information available to him. Something about the Changeling's strategy, the way they baited Olenia's attack, felt maddeningly familiar to him. But how?

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Olenia never goes into this war with enough divisions to cover its border with the Changelings. That is, incidentally, why I made sure to get a head start on recruiting a second army - our land border's going to be just as long.

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December 22nd, 1008

"I'm not entirely certain why you asked us to come here, boss," said Flim, gazing out over the snow-packed moor. "This doesn't seem like prime factory land, does it, brother?"

"No, brother, it does not," Flam replied. "Not a single road or railway to be seen for miles, not to mention the lack of a readily-available workforce. So why have you brought us all the way out here?"

"I need you to build me some airfields," said Typhoon. "This is the largest expanse of flat land in the county. Figured you two could make use of it."

Flim and Flam exhanged a look. "Umm... Boss," Flim began, "You are aware of the one small flaw in this plan of yours, right? We build factories, not airfields."

"That's not to say we're not capable of building airfields," Flam cut in, "But our expertise lies in a different direction. Why not get the Army engineers to do it?"

"Because they're still building fortifications along the border," Typhoon replied. "Just get it done, you two. Work to commence once the forts are complete."

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We need the space for CAS squadrons and more fighters - right now, our airfields are a bit crowded.

-

December 31st, 1008

Equestria Daily Afternoon Edition, December 31st, 1008:

GRIFFONIAN EMPIRE DECLARES WAR ON NEIGHBOURS
ARCHON EROS VII CLAIMS ADVENT OF A NEW "IDOL AGE"

As loyal readers will know, tensions in Griffonia have been simmering ever since the Prywhen Rebellion began. With the death of Grover V, and the rise to power of the Council of Three, the Griffonian Empire has been steadily marshalling its troops, and today launched an all-out offensive on the Barony of Angriver, the Free City of Romau and the Yale Bandits. Archon Eros VII, head of the Council, declared that "The time for the reunification of the Griffon Empire was nigh" and that he would lead the country into a new "Idol Age". Imperial troops have already secured most of the border towns, and are massing for a major offensive. At this time, no comment has been made from the leaders of the attacked nations."

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January 6th/9th, 1009

The first major event of the New Year, aside from some minor kerfuffle involving Starlight Glimmer and the Great and Powerful Trixie, was the official adoption of a navalised Hurricane as the Royal Equestrian Navy's carrier fighter. Somehow, the "Sea Gladiator" name had stuck, adding another layer of confusion to the lives of both logistics staff and future historians. The project also brought Equestrian science the gift of a new, slightly magical and more importantly lighter alloy that was suitable for use as gun-metal.

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Work commenced on reviewing exactly what kit an Equestrian infantrypony needed in order to perform their duty. The breastplate each infantrypony was supposed to carry (which, in practise, none of them did) was the first item to be eliminated.

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Over in Griffonia, the Griffonian Empire was steadily beginning to chew through its neighbours, while the Second Aquelian Republic was, on paper, faring worse. The Duchies of Riga and Vinovia both held Aquelian territory, and from an outside perspective one could imagine the Republic losing the war in short order. However, the Republic's military was far more mobile than either of the Duchies', and they were pushing towards key terrain while allowing the enemy to occupy useless fields. Already, the tendril extended by the Duchy of Riga into Aquelian territory had been cut off from its supply lines, and it was only a matter of time until the pocket was reduced.

Prywhen, renamed to the "Griffon Revolutionary State", simply sat and watched, alongside Wingbardy.

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-

January 15th-February 4th, 1009

The collapse of the Olenian army was inevitable and sudden. From an outside perspective, the first sign of trouble came when the bulk of the Changeling forces were suddenly in view of the city of Seaddle. The vast bulk of the Olenian soldiers protecting the city had been encircled days before, leaving just a single division in position to actually defend it. Streams of refugees began to swarm the border, despite the Olenian laws against interacting with ponies. In a testament to Deer heroism, the 5th division single-hoovedly held the so-called "Seaddle Corridor" for nearly a week against the unstoppable Changeling armies, allowing civilian refugees to cross into Equestra and, they hoped, safety. In Equestria, the 5th Olenian Division became something of a legend, its soldiers combining keen tactical prowess with a stubborn refusal to quit the fight.

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The dramatic events unfolding on the border, however, were merely a minor setback to the Changeling army. Across the entire front, Olenian forces were pushed back, encircled and slowly digested. Reports surfaced in Equestria of Changeling abduction squads, responsible for kidnapping hundreds of thousands of Deer and enslaving them as feedstock. Yet, the Olenian Rike still stubbornly refused any offer of aid. It would seem their leaders would rather Olenia burn under Changeling rule than submit to Pony aid.

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What, you thought I was joking when I said Olenia didn't stand a chance?

-

February 5th-15th, 1009

Historical inevitability ran its course on the continent of Griffonia, as first the Griffonian Empire...

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and then the Aquelian Republic...

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began the process of forcing treaties on the countires they'd conquered. Like those signed in Prywhen over the past two years, the treaties were little more than a legal way of saying "your stuff belongs to us now." While this placated those far enough away from the aggressor nations to consider themselves safe, the remaining neighbours began to plot their defence.

These events, however, went mostly un-noticed by Equestrian ponies, overshadowed by the war closer to home.

-

February 17th, 1009

Seaddle had fallen.

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The city was no stranger to changing hooves; it had originally been founded by ponies from Equestria, and had been signed over to Olenia as it sat on the wrong side of the River Doe. Even in the modern age, there was still a sizable community of ponies living in the city. Now, one could add an occupying Changeling army to the census. The last few refugee convoys had escaped along with the city's defenders some hours before, leaving just under a million deer and ponies to the mercy of the Changelings. One of those ponies just so happened to be an agent of SMILE.

Silenced automatic in hoof, Special Agent Sweetie Drops moved from street to street, detaching herself from one shadow and attaching to another. Her orders were to find out what the Changelings were doing with all their captives, and to bring back proof if need be. Soon, she found what she was looking for amongst the deserted streets: a Changeling patrol. She was especially lucky, too; they'd just broken down the door to a small house, and were in the process of dragging the occupants out kicking and screaming. They were a pony and a deer, which was a little odd. The government discouraged the two species from getting overly-familiar with one another.

Her orders were strict, so as much as she wanted to face down an entire Changeling rifle squad with nothing but an automatic pistol, all she could do was watch and take photographs. She produced a camera from her bag, and - making sure she was well-hidden - got to work. One of the Changelings sprayed some green substance over the pair, which quickly set. Then, the squad picked them both up and loaded them onto a nearby cart, which on closer inspection seemed to be filled with "cocooned" creatures. Finally, the squad began making its way back to the west, where the Changeling command was probably based. With a sigh, Sweetie Drops resigned herself to following them. Simply showing the world that Changelings were abducting people wouldn't do. No, she had to show what they were doing with those people.

-

The first heavy construction vehicles began to appear on construction sites across Equestria. These were primitive designs, little more than tanks without armour or a gun, but they were greatly appreciated nonetheless. Especially on the border, where the Army was desperately digging in before the Changelings were done with Olenia.

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After a year of slow progress, material science and mathematical theory was finally up to the task of creating a fully-automated computing machine. The applications in research were obvious, but Typhoon also knew from history just how invaluable the machines would be in codebreaking.

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-

February 23rd, 1009 - March 16th, 1009

"Have you seen the Chairpony around?"

Muffins looked up at the sound of a young filly's voice. The girl's mane was blue, done up in curls, and she had a rook as her cutie mark. Muffins had seen her around occasionally, helping Princess Twilight with this and that. "Headmar- I mean, Princess Twilight sent me," the filly continued. "She's been ever so busy with her government work and running the school." Muffins accepted this - the filly had gotten past the guards, after all - and shook her head. She hadn't seen him since the fall of Seaddle; he'd been taking a lot of trips to the Changeling/Equestrian border.

"That's... argh, I needed - I mean Princess Twilight needed - to get his approval on something. Can you pass on a message?" At Muffins' nod, the filly continued: "Princess Twilight said that some of the wizards at the latest Magical Studies conference found some dusty old records in the Archives about the old unicorn empire's military. I don't really understand it, but she said you needed some information about how they used to organise their armies?"

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This gives us a research buff or two.

Muffins nodded again.

The filly waited for a moment, and Muffins got the feeling she was waiting for something. "I'm sure it's all very interesting," the filly eventually said, "I really do think you ponies are doing such a good job here; it's amazing how much Equestria's changed." Another awkward pause. "So, Princess Twilight asked me to ask him to sign off on her new magical education syllabus. She's still coming up with it - her and Shining Armour have been working all through the night - but if he's not here, then..." A small smile spread across the filly's face. "You're in charge while he's away, right?"

Another nod from the golden-maned pony.

"Then if you could just sign here..."

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More research buffs and a nice national spirit. We could really use the division training time buff right now.

-

Enough Unicorn wizards had signed up to the Equestrian Army for them to be able to field separate "Mage Companies". None would be formed for a while, as there was no space for them in the divisional structure, but the SAC had plans to assign a company to every division in the Army.

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These are good, but I don't have the XP to attach them anywhere right now. They can be semi-customised with research, with two different branches - one for offensive buffs, and one for support buffs.

Meanwhile, the Canterlot Armoury was directed to work with Macintosh Arms to create a new generation of squad support weapons. The key requirement was to make them lighter and easier to move without sacrificing ammunition capacity or firepower, something that could only be achieved with the new lightweight alloy developed for the Sea Gladiator.

-

On the Second of March, the Griffonian Empire was at peace again. This was not a peace negotiated with an equal, or a desparate peace against a superior foe, or even a settlement with a defeated power, but the peace of having nogriffon left to fight. The Free City of Romau had finally fallen, the last hold-out against the Empire reclaiming its core territories.

As per usual, the Treaty of Romau was little more than a rubber stamp.

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-

In Equestria, the Powers that Be were beginning to react to Changeling aggression. Aside from Chairpony Typhoon's mysterious trips to the border, the Royal Navy was brought to high alert and the First Armoured Division, known as the "Royal Daylight" division, was stationed next to the city of Seaddle. Unofficially, patrols of obsolete Sparrow light tanks, crewed by exiled Deer but maintained by the Fist Division, began crossing the border and escorting refugees home.

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I'd also like to point at the ponypower number. We have some!

-

Flim and Flam,
MAR 11 1009
Mane Oil Co.,
416 Lasso Way,
Appaloosa,
A14 LX2

Dear Flim and Flam,

The Princess has recieved many complaints about certain business practices Ponies have been utilising in Buffalo territory, and has seen fit to relay them to my office. Now, while I am sure that such esteemed - and, might I add, reformed - gentlecolts such as yourselves would not stoop to such levels as I have been hearing about, I do need to make one thing clear.

If these practices do not stop within two days of your reciept of this letter, my next missilVe will be sent by way of a Blackburn Shark. I am currently labouring in a high-stress environment which you are not making any less stressful, and it would quite frankly please me to undertake the aforementioned course of action.

Do not test me.

Yours Kindly,

Typhoon

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The choice here is a no-brainer; the other option is a bit more political power for a bunch of maluses to our relations with the Buffalo State.

-

MAR 16 1009
TOP SECRET
FROM: Prince-Marshal Blueblood, C-IN-C AG EQS
TO: Ponyville Telegram Office, care of Chairpony Typhoon or designated Lieutenant
RE: New Divisions

Hark, for this missive is sent from the hooves of the Prince Blueblood, Nephew of the Sister-Princesses, commander of Army Group Equestria himself.

It pleases the Prince to report that our forces continue their training and exceed themselves at every opportunity. The Prince is confident that the soldiers will be able to repel any attempt to attack our fair nation, regardless of whomsoever launches it, with the aid of the grand fortification efforts undertaken by your office. Furthermore, the Prince is pleased to report that training has begun for two new Royal Guard divisions, the Solar and Lunar Guards, with two more scheduled to begin training once sufficient facilities are available. The Prince would like to remind your office that Equestria's continued security rests entirely upon the shoulders of himself and the soldiers at the front, and as such he requires you to redouble your recruitment efforts.

Be at ease, for this is the end of your Prince's missive.

-

March 19th-April 3rd, 1009

"He'll get more ponies when the damn war starts," Typhoon muttered to himself. He was hunched over a small metal desk, crammed into the corner of his berth aboard the ERNS Pegasopolis, and the long days at sea were beginning to take their toll. The ship tossed in yet another wave; they were using a storm as cover from both Olenian and Changeling naval patrols. Nocreature else - not even the Seaponies who had told them of the storm - would be dumb enough to sail through here, let alone with an entire fleet in tow. He'd even started to wonder if this plan was really worth it. There was still time to call it off; all he had to do was open the hatch and utter a few words to the sailor on guard outside. Instead, he let out a sigh. The Prince-Marshal really didn't understand the tightrope the government was walking. It had been hard enough to enact the limited draft; Typhoon had had nightmares about trying to get something harsher passed. Then again, he wasn't about to help matters.

There was a knock at his cabin door. "Enter," he said.

Admiral Evening Squall stepped inside as the guard opened the hatch. "We've had a report from the mainland," she said, wasting no time. "Changeling forces have pushed to the outskirts of Vaverfront."

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Damn, Typhoon silently cursed. He'd hoped for another few days. Vaverfront, while not the capital of Olenia, was still vitally important. While Vaverfront stood, Olenian refugees could still be evacuated through the city's docks and across the Bay Bay (he still didn't quite understand how that name had evolved). If the city fell, the only settlement with docks large enough to handle freighters was Hjortland, which barred Equestrian ships from docking. On top of that, a certain member of deer royalty was living in unofficial exile in the city, one who was personal friends with Princess Celestia.

Hence Typhoon abandoning his post in Canterlot and setting sail with the full might of the Royal Equestrian Navy. However, he still hesitated a moment. He'd sent civilian ships ahead, to load as many people as possible, but he now had to weigh the risk of starting a war versus those ships, their crews and the refugees they carried.

"Typh," said Evening Squall, sensing his hesitation, "If we don't move now-"

"Commence the operation," he ordered. "You have my authorisation." Evening Squall nodded curtly, and left. Seconds later, the deck beneath Typhoon's hooves shook. The Pegasopolis' engines were coming up to full speed. If he played the next few days perfectly, maybe he wouldn't start a war.

Maybe.

-

Captain Jane Hooffield was damn glad to be out of the blasted storm. Sure, it was probably alright for the big battlewagons, but her light cruiser, the Applepie, had nearly capsized three times in the past two days despite her rugged construction. They'd had to send the destroyers the long way around, taking full advantage of their superior speed. Now they were out, and the skies were... well, not clear, but at least not completely clouded over. She shivered in her naval greatcoat, stamping out the mid-spring chills, and turned to her first officer. "Are we on course?"

"Yes, ma'am," the officer replied.

"Switch the flags, then." At the first officer's pained expression, she rested a hoof on his shoulder. "I know, it don't sit right with me, neither, but if we're gonna save those deer then we have to do this the Chairpony's way and he said no colours." She let out a sigh as the young colt departed back into the bridge, relaying her orders. On the horizon, she could just about see the city of Vaverfront through her binoculars, just starboard of the forward 6-inch gun. Smoke was rising from the city, both from the siege and the fleet of refugee ships that were desperately taking on passengers at the docks.

The portside lookout tapped her on the shoulder. "Ships, ma'am," she reported. "Bearing one-nine-five. They look like they're steaming towards the city."

Captain Hooffield followed the lookout's direction. Damn. There were ships, alright, ships bearing the flag of the Naval Swarm. Changelings. She pulled out her recognition guide, and examined the silhouettes closely. Two heavy cruisers and four destroyers, probably a patrol element. Wait, no, the leading heavy cruiser... she had wing turrets, that was a damn battleship! She felt her blood turn to ice. The rest of the Equestrian fleet was probably half an hour behind, and if the shooting started the Applepie would be all alone.

She stomped back onto the bridge. "All hooves to battle stations," she ordered. "Engines to Combat Speed, and get me the Admiral and the Chairpony on the horn. Now!"

A turret on the battleship flashed, and Captain Hooffield reacted instantly. "HARD TO STARBOARD!" A hoof offered her a radio headset. She put it on, trying to stay standing as the Applepie swung hard to starboard.

"What's the situation, Jane?" Admiral Evening Squall's voice was a little distorted, but audible.

"Changeling battleship and escorts," Captain Hooffield hurriedly replied. The enemy battleship's first salvo splashed into the water several hundred yards away, and she covered the microphone with one hoof as she shouted: "HARD TO PORT! GET US WEAVING!" She was betting that the Changelings weren't experienced enough to account for a target changing speed and direction; the Equestrian Navy had only just introduced fire control systems that could. "They're shooting at us, Admiral!"

-

Admiral Squall glanced at Typhoon. There was silence for a moment, as they both processed the message. Then, they were both moving, shouting orders. "Push the fleet to maximum speed!" yelled Evening Squall, "All ships, make ready for combat!"

Typhoon, meanwhile, was yelling for a Seapony messenger. When one arrived, he scribbled a short note and sent them on their way. Should everything go wrong, Canterlot would at least have a few hours of warning.

-

Aboard the Applepie, things had gone from bad to worse. They hadn't been hit - yet - but the Changeling shells were coming closer and closer. On top of that, their destroyers had broken formation and were racing towards the Equestrian ship, torpedo tubes swung out in anticipation of the attack. That, however, was bringing them within range of the Applepie's 6-inch guns. The forward gun crew had their gun trained on the lead destroyer, and aside from a slight whirr as the crew kept it on target, the cramped turret was silent as they waited for the order to fire. For the past ten minutes, the Changeling battleship had rained shells down on them with impunity, and they were impatient to return the favour.

In the engine room, the Chief Engineer was trying desperately to keep the engine running at full speed; it had never had to run this hot for this long before, and it had threatened to overheat twice already. Magical sparks bounced around the room from the hybrid turbine engine, and he knew that if something didn't change soon, there wouldn't be much of a ship left.

On the bridge, Captain Hooffield was a picture of icy calm. She was staring down the impudent Changeling fleet, almost as though she could will them away. Occasionally, she would bark an order - a course change, a request for information - but otherwise she was silent. In her head, however, she was sweating bullets, desperately trying to maintain her cool in front of her crew. She had to; right now, all the Changelings were doing was firing warning shots - officially speaking, obviously. So long as she didn't return fire, they would have no cause to sink her ship. There was always the chance that the Changeling fleet commander might not want to pay lip service to diplomatic niceties, but if they had been ordered not to pull Equestria into the war, then her gamble would work.

So she stared, and hoped they'd keep missing.

-

The Changeling Commodore commanding the onrushing destroyer squadron was tense with anticipation as her ships closed to torpedo range. Just another few seconds, and they would strike the first blow against the foul ponies! There was no way the bloated cruiser could escape or fight them off with its pathetic armament. Her orders were clear: if the Pony ship didn't turn back once the destroyers reached their range, then she was to sink it. She was just about to give the order to launch torpedoes when her first officer patter her on the foreleg. "Commodore! Equestrian aircraft!"

Muttering a curse, she turned her gaze to the horizon. Sure enough, a squadron of low-winged monoplanes were bearing down on her destroyer squadron. With their machine guns, they wouldn't accomplish much, but if there was a torpedo bomber squadron following behind them...

Reluctantly, she gave the only order she could: "Signal the squadron! Break off the attack!"

-

An hour later, the Equestrian fleet pulled into Vaverfront's harbour. The Changeling Army was already pushing through the city's suburbs, and it was clear that the city would only last a few more hours. This was most especially apparent to the city's inhabitants, who were crowding the gangplanks of the docked freighters and warships. Most of the fleet wasn't able to dock, and waited in the harbour. A small group of Equestrian Marines, rifles in hoof, pushed through the crowd and headed towards the city's temple, while the rest tried to maintain some semblance of order. The fleet had been in harbour for less than ten minutes before the docked ships had to trade places with one of the waiting ships, each being dangerously over capacity. Some measures were taken to try to weed out Changeling spies, but with the sheer number of creatures waiting around, it was impossible to screen everyone.

Eventually, the squad of marines returned, escorting the former Queen of Olenia, Velvet. She marched imperiously through the crowd - prompting much swearing - and up the gangplank of the Pegasolopolis, and right to Chairpony Typhoon, who was directing civilians into makeshift refugee camps on the flight deck.

"Your highness," he said, with a slight nod of the head. "I'm glad you're safe. Your escort will... escort you to your quarters."

Queen Velvet ignored the hint. "We must depart immediately. Give your admiral the order to cast off."

"We have six ships still empty," replied Typhoon. "We'll leave when they're full."

"I am the Queen!" Queen Velvet intoned, drawing herself up. "And I order you-"

"You're not my queen," Typhoon calmly said, "And we will leave when the ships are full or the Changelings reach the docks. Now, please proceed to your quarters."

Realising that she wasn't going to get her way, Queen Velvet retreated amid a storm of promised retribution. She would have his job for this, or his head, preferably both. Before Typhoon had to think of a witty response - he hated having to do that - she and her escort of marines were swallowed up by the crowd.

-

April 3rd, 1008

From the final broadcast of a unknown Deer:

BRoADCASTER: "The- the Equestrian fleet's out of the harbour now, they're going to full steam. There's still... my god, there's still thousands of people down there, some of them are being pushed into the water! I-I can't watch any more, there's... Looking west from my broadcast centre at the top of the Rikestower, there's a convoy trying to make its way to the captial, but-"

The broadcaster's words are drowned out by a loud droning noise.


BROADCASTER: "-Changeling bombers passing overhead, I don't know where they're bombing-"

More noise, whistling this time, interrupts the broadcaster. Then, several loud explosions can be heard.

BROADCASTER: "Deer Lord, they're hitting the docks! There- no, I can't- most of the bombs hit the water, I don't know what they were aiming for. I just... I just need a moment."

Eighteen seconds of ambient noise - the broadcaster breathing, the sound of the radio equipment, the distant whine of the bombers - follows.

BROADCASTER: "The Changelings are in the town centre now, I can see them- they're cocooning Deer, loading them onto some sort of carts, I don't know where they're taking them. There's-there's a Changeling Panzer driving towards the tower-"

The broadcaster is interrupted by a crashing sound. In the background, the sound of rifle fire can be heard.

BROADCASTER: "He just rammed the tower! They're in the building now. I don't think I can get out. The soldiers downstairs are fighting, but I don't know how long they can hold out."

There is an explosion, and the rifle fire slackens off. Then there is the sound of hooves climbing stairs.

BROADCASTER: "They're coming-"

The door to the broadcasting room is broken open.

CHANGELING SOLDIER: "Put the microphone down!"

BROADCASTER: "No! Get the hell out of my damn country, you insect!"

There are sounds of a struggle, a gunshot, then the broadcast cuts out.

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-

April 5th/6th, 1009

The Pegasopolis returned to Vanhoover on the morning of the 5th, along with the rest of the Celestial Sea Fleet and a sizable number of refugee ships. Queen Velvet was the first to reach Equestrian soil, spirited away by a modified Wheatley bomber that landed on the Pegasopolis a few hours before the carrier finally docked. A steady stream of Olenian refugees - civilians and soldiers alike - made their way into the city, where they were met by Vanhoover police. They would be escorted into temporary camps on the outskirts of the city, to be properly integrated into Equestria. The sheer volume of people would be difficult to handle, but the Army had promised to provide ponypower. All that remained for Typhoon to do was to sign an order authorising the Pegasopolis' air wings to exhange half their Sea Gladiator fighters for Shark torpedo bombers, something which in all honesty he should have done months ago but simply forgot.

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Now our carrier actually contributes to naval battles!

-

Meanwhile, around the same time, the city simply known as Our Town, once famous as the village run by Starlight Glimmer, voted to join the nation of Stalliongrad. The was a relatively minor event, all things told; Our Town was small enough that the opening of a single factory put a substantial strain on the populace. However, the news made huge waves in Equestria, not because Stalliongrad was expanding or even because of Our Town's connection with Princess Twilight, but because of the Equestria Daily's article on the event.

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Okay, I'll be fair here and say that AFAIK the mod-makers don't have English as their first language, and they've done good work on some of the other events, but at the same time the actual event this article is talking about is covered up by the damn "Fine." prompt.

The article, from an anonymous writer, became infamous in Equestrian literary circles and schools as an example of how not to write for a newspaper.

-

April 13th, 1009

The Hurricane Mark V was approved for service, becoming Equestria's first specialised Close Air Support aircraft. With its twin 40mm cannon and optional mountings for bombs or rockets, it was clearly going to become the bane of any armoured force that dared attack Equestria.

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This is why I started upgrading those airfields - we're going to need space for CAS squadrons, along with larger fighter squadrons.

The Canterlot Armoury began an intensive upgrade programme with the Army's artillery park. Specifically, the engineers hoped to reduce the weight of Equestria's mainstay Model 8 field artillery piece while additionally developing a shell with a more powerful high explosive filler.

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+10% soft attack without having to put a new item into production? I'll take it.

-

May 4th, 1009

The new magical training curriculum was formally unveiled. Strangely enough, in the time between Princess Twilight writing out the proposal and today, it had shifted from being Princess Twilight's project to Cozy Glow's. The young filly had certainly earned some recognition; Cozy Glow had been the one to negotiate with both the Ministry of Education and the Equestrian military's training facilities to implement the curriculum, but perhaps not as much as she now recieved.

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There was no time to dwell on such matters, however, as Princess Celestia's attention was drawn to the Dragonlands. For milennia, the dragons had possessed an enclave in Equestria, maintaining it through a combination of force and bribery. While Equestria's relationship with the dragons had improved since the accession of Dragonlord Ember, the enclave still represented a strain on said relationship. On May 1st, a group of dragon adolescents had kidnapped a group of Pony children on a school trip, and seriously injured their teacher in the act. When pursued by Equestrian police, the dragons absconded back into the enclave.

The reaction in Equestria was explosive. By May 3rd, three petitions to immediately declare war on the Dragonlands had arrived in Canterlot, and it was clear that the situation had to change. Typhoon was sent to negotiate with the dragons, along with a cadre of diplomats and a sizeable military escort.

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The Badlands - the land we're taking this focus (and the next) to acquire - are literally worthless. AFAIK there's no resources in the province, and you can't build buildings. I'd skip this focus, but it does finish one of the trees we started.

-

May 27th-31st, 1009

Peace broke out in Griffonia, as the Second Aquelian Republic annexed the Duchy of Vinovia. Those who had expected - or been gleefully anticipating - the republic cutting a bloody swathe through Griffonian nobility were, however, disappointed. In order to avoid the fate of the First Aquelian Republic, which had been stomped into the Stone Age by nearby royalist powers, the Second Republic had chosen a peaceful alternative. They simply exiled the disposessed nobility, stripping them of as much wealth as possible on the way out.

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The Olenian Rike was still losing their war against the Changelings. The port city of Sakara had been cut off, and was desperately disgorging fleets of refugee ships into the Great Ocean, while Changling forces continued their unstoppable advance towards the Hjortland, where the head of the Olenian Church was preparing his last stand.

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Meanwhile, in Equestria, infantryponies began being issued new kit, turning in their old breastplates for two extra grenades and a fashionable helmet. The Pegasopolis finished taking on Shark torpedo bombers at the same time.

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With the new kit in mass-production, Canterlot Armoury staff were free to collaborate with ponies from the Luna Nova academy on their magic rifle prototype. Using magic-bearing crystals as a power source was nothing new; many of the Navy's newer warships used hybrid magic/coal or magic/oil engines. What was new about the Luna Nova rifle was the way it used that stored magic to fire a beam with the same power as a bullet. Theoretically, the new rifles would be lighter and require little-to-no reloading in the field (one crystal being enough for hundreds of shots). However, said magical crystals were also rare enough that re-equipping the entire army with such rifles would likely be impossible.

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So this research gives us a new thing to manufacture, which can be used by specific units in place of normal Infantry Equipment. Right now, only Magical Infantry (the unit this research also unlocks) can use them, but we can also equip our Special Forces (i.e. pegasi, paratroopers, marines, mountaineers), motorised and mechanised divisions with them. We cannot, however, give them to our mainline infantry. They also require magical crystals to make - no, I'm not just making that up as part of the narrative.

I also start putting various things into production.


-

June 6th, 1009

Sakara was the oldest city in Olenia, a holdover from the country's beginnings as a loose confederation of raiding clans. Other cities had since grown larger, and the government had moved somewhere warmer and more convenient, but Sakara remained the spiritual heart of Olenians everywhere. Every year, the Twelve Jarls met in the wooden city hall to re-affirm their allegiance to the royal family, and many Deer made a point of visiting the city at least once in their lives.

Now, the city burned.

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Changeling Jaegers had infiltrated the city weeks ago, slipping through the scattered Olenian defenders, and had planted a bomb in the city hall. Just as the next attack from conventional units began, they detonated the bomb and launched their own attack from behind the defenders' lines. Within hours, Changeling Panzers were in sight of the city, and somewhere a fire had started. Later, stories would be told of the city's inhabitants rising up as one, lighting the fires to hold back the insectoid menace as they fled with their families. Changeling propaganda would spin a tale of cold-hearted Olenian soldiers setting fire to their own city to deny it to the Changelings, gunning down civilians when they protested. Whatever the case, the fire spread quickly through the timber buildings of Sakara, a fierce blaze consuming all in its path. Scattered bands of refugees - soldiers and civilians alike - flocked to the docks, only to find Changeling U-boats waiting for them in the harbour.

There would be no repeat of the Vaverfront Miracle.

-

June 8th/9th, 1009

The Equestrian delegation to the Dragonlands arrived without incident. After the kidnapping and the dire threats Prince-Marshal Blueblood had made towards the dragons, Dragonlord Ember wasn't taking any chances. In addition to the Equestrian Army contingent, consisting of a half-platoon of modern Calico tanks and a platoon of infantryponies, the Dragonlord provided her own royal guard as escort. The following negotiations were short and to the point; Typhoon handed over the list of Equestrian demands (release their citizens, hand over those responsible for the kidnapping and allow Equestria to annex the Badlands enclave), and Ember replied that she would have to consult with the other dragons.

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Another one of these where completing the focus fires an event for the AI. I've never seen them accept this, either.

Meanwhile, Equestria's Second Army began to take shape, with four Infantry divisions passing their first muster. These would be placed under the command of General Soarin, whose close ties to the Wonderbolts (and by extension, the Air Force) would hopefully lay the foundation of tight co-operation. For now, the General and his army was stationed along a small section of the Changling/Equestrian border, to await the rest of Second Army.

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If we can get a third army going, I'll be in a comfortable position to hold back the Changelings when they attack.
-

"The dragons have reviewed your demands," said Dragonlord Ember, in her best imitation of a royal voice.

She didn't elaborate, so Typhoon asked: "And?" It had been months since Vaverfront, and he still couldn't get the sight of those docks, crammed to bursting with desperate Deer refugees out of his head. Princess Celestia had given him a stern talking-to, telling him in no uncertain terms that he should have sent a destroyer, not the whole fleet, and that he wasn't to risk igniting a war with the Changelings. Then, she'd sent him down here - back into the hottest part of Equestria - to untangle this diplomatic quagmire when there were far more important things to be getting on with! He was sitting in another bloody conference room, hewn roughly out of a cave, while Chrysalis and her soldiers were cementing their hold over Olenia.

"My royal guard has been dispatched to apprehend the criminals and release your children," the Dragonlord replied. "However, your third demand is simply unacceptable. The Badlands are where dragons migrate to every year, and we cannot simply hand them over without a fight."

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"Especially not to weak little ponies!" a dragon halfway around the round table from the two of them interjected.

Typhoon answered with what he hoped was a withering glare. "Tell me," he said, "how does dragonhide fare against modern weaponry?" Before anyone could speak, he held up a hoof. "Don't worry, I already know. Against simulated dragons, even our bolt-action rifles are deadly." He left out the fact that those tests had been with special hard-core AP bullets, and the targets had simulated adolescent dragons, not the full-grown monsters that struggled to fit around the table. Those would require a tank or artillery piece to deal with. "The days when dragons can bully ponies are long since over." He took in a long breath, and calmed himself. "That being said, there's no reason for ponies to become the bullies. Equestria accepts the outcome of this round of negotiations, but rest assured that there will be more."

I didn't get a screenshot and the video capture's long since gone, but I started on part 2 of this focus line, which basically does the same thing.

-

June 28th, 1009

Excerpted from The Wages of Abduction: The Making and Breaking of the Changeling Economy, Chapter IV: The Deer in the Headlights
:

While Equestria continued its military build-up, starting a second wave of recruitment in the middle of the month...

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...the Changeling-Olenian war came to a bitter, yet inevitable end. With Changeling forces occupying most of Olenia, and Queen Chrysalis pronouncing dire threats of retribution should the war continue much futher, the High Patriarchs of the Olenian Rike forced Jurva to start negotiating for peace. The terms dictated by Queen Chrysalis, and signed by her and Jurva on the 28th of June, were copied word-for-word from the peace treaties forced upon defeated powers in the Griffonian wars - in other words, they amounted to little more than a complete annexation of Olenia, along with the surrender of its vastly depleted stockpiles of weaponry.

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Historians have, in the decades since the war, universally assumed that, like the Griffonian treaties, the Treaty of Cervus was little more than a rubber stamp, an acknowledgement of a de facto state of affairs - something which marked the end of an event, rather than an event in and of itself. However, figures from the Vesalipolis Hive Archives show a marked increase in incoming Deer (and, to a much lesser extent, Pony) food-slaves following the treaty. Changeling Army units, freed from combat duties, were instead free to abduct as many Deer as possible. Considering the not insubstantial prestige (and, perhaps more importantly, monetary rewards) given to Changeling soldiers who abducted food-slaves, it is not surprising that some units abandoned their posts altogether.

The effect this influx of food-slaves had on the struggling Changeling economy cannot be overstated. As we have seen in previous chapters, the Changeling Empire was on the brink of a food crisis, and the intense recruitment efforts that had raised the army that crushed Olenia had also stripped the Empire of much of its prime workforce. A few days before the fighting had finished, General Thorax (again, no relation to the political agitator of the same name) had issued a warning that the Army had just two weeks of ammunition left. A nascent black market had even began to take shape, with access to slaves being traded directly for work or favours. Now, all these problems were solved at the stroke of a pen, and Changeling settlers were free to begin the long process of "taming" Olenia.

The Treaty of Cervus brought the Changeling Empire time to regain its strength and build up its forces further, and everybody - from Chrysalis to the lowliest Jaeger - knew who would be next.

Equestria.

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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 » 2019-02-08 09:51am

Part VI: The Aftermath, July 6th, 1009 to December 31st, 1009

July 6th, 1009

Equestria had been distracted by the Olenian-Changeling war for most of the year, but now it was over, the country's focus shifted. Public outcry over the Badlands problem had cooled somewhat, fortunately, but Princess Ember was now well aware that should she make one wrong move, Equestrian tanks would roll over the Dragonlands in an unstoppable tide. So, when the second envoy arrived from Equestria, led by Spike (Princess Twilight's dragon companion and sort-of adopted son), she made sure to get prior permission from various dragon elders to negotiate without restriction.

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Meanwhile, the provinces of Stableside and Saltwiater (sic) raised money for the construction of naval bases. Typhoon and the Equestrian parliament signed off on the plan, allowing construction to begin immediately. The work would be undertaken by private companies, so as to prevent any delay to the now-essential fortifications on the Changeling border.

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All of this paled in comparison to the bloodshed happening in Nova Griffonia. The day had started with the murder of its Imperial Governer, Teafeather, on the steps of his own mansion, and had only gotten worse from there. The assassin escaped into the crowded streets of Weter, and the Gendarmarie cut a bloody swathe through those same streets in the pursuit. Word spread like wildfire on the newly-installed telegraph lines, and within hours there were riots and uprisings in every settlement in the colony. Weter itself changed claws six times before mid-day - from Communist, to Fascist, to Harmonist, to Harmonist again (there being multiple factions of such) to Imperial, and finally back to Fascist. By evening, however, the flames had mostly burned out, and an uneasy quiet reigned over the Griffon colony, as though everygriffon was just waiting for someone else to make the first move.

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July 7th, 1009

The negotiations had been a disaster. Having ponies and dragons in close proximity for a whole day had been a bad idea from the get-go, but then some idiot - or, possibly, a saboteur - had forgotten to provide any pony food. So now the ponies were insulted because the dragons had provided them with inedible rocks, and the dragons were insulted because the ponies were turning their noses up at fine gems. Spike had managed to smoothe things over a little by ordering pizza from a town just across the border, only to have somedragon decide that the deliverypony really, really needed a workout and chase them halfway across the Badlands. Needless to say, when the conference finally began it devolved into a shouting match within an hour.

As dragons made threats of fire and brimstone to ponies, and ponies promised dragons cold steel in retribution, Spike cornered Ember in a corridor.

"What do you want, Spike?" Ember asked, before he could speak.

"I don't know," said Spike. "I just want to go home already. This whole thing's been a disaster! But if I go home now..."

"There'll be a war," Ember finished. "When did you ponies get so aggressive? What happened to singing songs and dancing? You know, the whole "magic of friendship" thing."

"Equestria... feels different now," Spike answered. "Ever since Seaddle. Ponies are on edge. Like we're just waiting for the Changelings to attack, or something. Pinkie Pie even threw a "we've not been invaded yet" party the other week, except I think she was just looking for a theme to use. She had foam dart guns and trenches and everything."

There was silence for a second. Then: "I need a way to spin this, Spike," said Ember. "Or a concession. I can't just give this place away."

"What if the dragons were allowed to keep using it?" Spike ventured. "Like, in a treaty. And we'll say it's so that we can focus more on stopping the Changelings."

Ember thought on it a moment, then let out a sigh. "I never thought being Dragonlord would be such a... well, responisbility," she said. "But it'll have to do."

They returned to the main hall, and over the next few hours hammered out a basic treaty. The Dragonlands would sign over the Badlands to Equestria, in return for continued occupation rights, taxation rights over certain business if they ever moved to the Badlands, and a lax dual-citizenship policy.

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Having never done this focus before, I legitimately thought I'd have to go to war before the Dragonlands backed down. I guess I could have gamed the Equestrian focus tree slightly that way, but I prefer this narrative.

-

July 22nd, 1009

A private inventor by the name of Doctor Hooves submitted an improved design for Equestria's standard mortar, which would allow it to lob shells further and with better accuracy. The design was accepted, and pushed out by the Canterlot Armoury along with the next model of 7.7mm light machine guns.

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I, uh, forgot to screenshot starting to research this, but I did. +5% more defence for all soldiers, always a decent buff.

Meanwhile, the Friendship Railway Company made a proposal to the SAC (which was still acting as Equestria's military procurement agency) to design and build the first ever medium-weight tank. The initial design was basically an enlarged Calico tank, mounting the same 57mm gun on a larger - and thus more heavily armoured - chassis. A new engine from Stronghoof Engineering would be used, rated at 1.5 times the power of the Detrot Motors engine used in the Calico.

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-

August 10th/16th, 1009

Work finished on the new chain of naval bases across Equestria's southern coast.

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And, with that task complete, it was finally time for the SAC and fledgling Equestrian Parliament to turn to the task of mobilising Equestria's economy for war. The first steps would be tentative; a pair of factories funded by the first of many bond drives.

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This was nothing more than a trial run, of course, for the sweeping changes being discussed in hushed tones behind closed doors. These would, eventually, culminate in the so-called "War Plan", which called for the SAC to be granted wide-ranging powers over Equestrian society and presented a strict, detailed timetable for how those powers would be used. If the War Plan was ever enacted in its full form, some feared the end of Equestrian society altogether - and very few were convinced the cost could ever be worth it.

-

The time had also come for Equestria to flex its developing industrial muscles. The Pegasopolis, while a beautiful ship and a valuable test-bed for carrier design, was also simply not capable of giving the Celestial Sea Fleet the air cover it needed. Three more carriers, of the newer Ark Royal class, were ordered from shipyards. In order to build them quickly enough, production of V/W-class destroyers was cancelled, and merchant marine shipbuilding was scaled back dramatically. The effect was stunning; only one other nation on the planet could even build aircraft carriers, and it would have taken the Changelings half a decade to accomplish what Equestria was scheduled to achieve in just two years.

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-

September 3rd/5th, 1009

"Miss Pommel? The Chairpony will see you now."

Coco Pommel nervously clutched her handbag as she stood up, nodded at the secretary who had summoned her, and walked into the Chairpony's office. What was she thinking? When her friend Rarity had suggested she apply for a government post, she'd never thought in a million year she'd be accepted, let alone given a personal interview with one of the most powerful ponies in Equestria.

His office didn't seem to reflect that power. it wasn't small, but it was cramped - every wall covered in shelves, bookcases and maps. On one wall there was even a rack of weapons - swords, spears, guns of all sizes, and what looked like a strange, blood-red helix-shaped bident. There were no fewer than four desks in the room, bowed under the weight of even more papers and maps. The pony himself was leaning over one such table, staring at some of the papers. He looked up and grunted as Coco shut the door. "Coco Pommel, right?"

"That's right," she said.

The Chairpony stepped over a disassembled autocannon, and extended a hoof. Coco had been forewarned about this, so she shook it. "Chairpony Typhoon. Sorry for the mess. These things have a tendancy to pile up if you don't stay on top of them. I'd ask you to sit down, but..." There were two chairs in the office, both of which had even more papers piled atop them. "So I'll make this brief. You took a test when you applied, did you not?"

Coco nodded. Was this some elaborate way of telling her she'd failed that test so badly they wanted to exile her?

"Well, the good news is you passed. With a remarkably high score, I might add."

"What's the bad news?" Coco asked, the question coming out of nowhere in her mind.

That actually put the Chairpony a little off-balance. "I'm sorry?"

Coco scrambled to cover for her sudden outburst. "It's just... when someone says there's good news, there's normally bad news too."

The Chairpony smiled, an unpleasant shark-like grin. "Rarity was right on the mark. You're really not afraid to speak your mind. The bad news, Ms Pommel, is that I'm offering you a ministry. You'll be Minister of Armaments. It's an odd job, but broadly speaking it'd be your job to get armaments factories built, and then making sure they actually build weapons."

"And if I say no?" Coco asked, feeling a sudden chill.

"Then you go back to Manehatten to continue your fashion career. I'm not a monster, Ms Pommel. If I were, I'd be working for Chrysalis." Was it her imagination, or did the Chairpony sound a little unconvinced by his own words? "So, do you want the job or not?"

Coco thought for a moment. She didn't need the money, nopony did, but the chance to make her mark on history? That was why she had gotten into fashion in the first place. "I'll do it," she said.

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Military factories and dockyards now build faster. And, now we have all three of our Ministers! I can start spending political points on other things now!

-

All artillery pieces in the Equestrian Army were officially brought up to Model 8A1 standard.

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I've talked about this upgrade, but a reminder: makes all our arty better, for no cost.

Princess Twilight's Magic Research division was asked to add illusion magic to the (entirely theoretical) Mage Company training regime. This would enable them to support the rest of the division better, and learning illusions would help prepare unicorns to learn the complex art of teleportation. Unfortunately, this did mean that there would be less time to cover direct-combat spells, such as shields and fire magic.

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These two branches are mutually exclusive, and I have to admit I'm taking this one mostly for flavour - the other branch involves learning dark magic in the later techs. That said, the other branch also reduces the reliability of the company, increasing our attrition. This particular tech doubles the company's breakthrough, the stat used for defence when the division is on the attack. Other techs include healing magic and eventually teleportation magic, which isn't as broken as it sounds.

-

September 21st-28th, 1009

Three separate research projects came to fruition within the same week. Firstly, the Luna Nova rifle was officially approved for manufacture...

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...and a new computing machine became available for research purposes...

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...and, finally, the framework for an official Equestrian Army doctrine manual was completed, which stressed the employment of Equestria's vast artillery park.

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There was no time for Equestria's scientists and generals to rest on their laurels, however. Immediately after the first manual was published, a second was being drafted, calling for the formation of new "Field Hospital" companies to handle battlefield casualties and the implementation of delaying tactics.

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This line of techs gives us a support company, which in turn lets us get ponypower back when we take casualties, and is thus something I'm planning on sticking on all our infantry divisions.

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An organisation bonus to our infantry, and a new tactics card. Useful.

Meanwhile, ponies at S.M.I.L.E began creating a decryption program to run on the primitive computing machines, using Changeling codes captured by Olenian volunteers during the war. With any luck, it would provide Equestria with all the information she needed to defend herself against the Changeling menace.

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Having a better level of decryption than another country has encryption allows us to see what national foci they are taking and gives us a minor combat buff. So, these techs are mandatory.

Most of the world was quiet, either recovering from recent wars or waiting with bated breath for the next event. In Nova Griffonia, however, things were different. The Socialist and Harmonic factions had put aside their differences, after a Socialist partisan cell had captured the assassin who had murdered Governor Teafeather and proved beyond a doubt that the plot had come from the Fascist party. Over the past few months their combined forces had forced the Fascist factions to their knees. Dramatic events unfolded in Weter, as Nova Griffonian soldiers, partisans and gendarmarie clashed with each other. At first, it looked like the Fascists would still carry the day, until a last-ditch assault spearheaded by Equestrian-made and Griffon-crewed Sparrow light tanks took the Governor's Palace. Marshal Highill, the self-proclaimed leader of Nova Griffonia, was killed in the fighting, and without a leader the Fascist forces were soon routed.

This did not put an end to all of Nova Griffonia's problems, but for now, Harmony had prevailed.

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I actually thought this event had gone the other way, where Nova Griffonia becomes fascist, until I read the text as I typed this update. Normally, that's what the AI chooses, but we are playing without Historical Focuses, I guess.

Under the supervision of Coco Pommel, the new piliot factories for Equestria's armament plan came online.

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A new aeronautic company in Bales put in a bid to design and build the new Spitfire fighter. While there were more established companies in Cloudsale and Las Pegasus, the proposed design was innovative enough for Coco Pommel and Typhoon to approve the suggestion. Once the design was complete, the aircraft would still need prototyping and testing, but the savings - in both money and time - would be significant.

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A research buff for fighter techs and a free factory, and this focus leads to an equivalent one for tanks.

October 6th/28th, 1009

The Equestrian Army's Summer exercises came to a close. While many of the issues flagged up, such as the lack of infantry anti-armour weaponry, poor communication within units and a general lack of tank divisions, were already known to Army High Command and the SAC, one other major problem had been revealed. The Wonderbolts' Ground Division had taken part this year, as part of the OPFOR, and had proved itself invaluable for scouting. However, when they had finally been pinned down, the division had been too small to defend itself adequetly, and had subsequently been wiped out. A pair of Pegasi-only divisions were being formed as part of Second Army, and even more had been planned for Third Army, but their structure - and the structure of the Wonderbolts' Division - would be changed. Four more companies of Pegasi infantry were added, giving the division enough strength to survive on the line.

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More division editing! I don't have the XP to add support companies yet, but simply bringing this division up to a good combat width is enough.

Updated spellbooks were released for combat mages, with a new chapter on Illusion magic replacing the short section on magical shields.

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It would take some time for that knowledge to filter through to all the potential recruits, and as such there was no point re-re-writing the spellbooks for a while. Instead, funding was made available for Earth Ponies who had agricultural experience to go and train others in farming. This, along with agricultural lessons in rural schools, would hopefully increase the efficiency of Equestrian agriculture, freeing up more ponies for the military.

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+10% monthly population is only about 20-40 extra ponypower per month, but it's an 83-day tech and it will add up.

November 16th/27th, 1009

The Spitfire plant in Bales opened on the 16th, the site going from an open field to a fully-operational aircraft factory in record time. For now, it would produce Hurricanes, but it was built to be switched to Spitfires as soon as the design work was complete.

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Inspired by this success, the Friendship Railway Company asked for a similar deal for its new tank design. In order to sweeten the deal - work on the Cerberus having already cost the government a significant amount of time and money - they submitted an early proposal for the next medium tank design, codenamed Riptide. This tank would feature a larger 75mm gun, a five-pony crew and revolutionary sloped armour.

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This focus is the reason I started researching the Cerberus - we can get tier 2 Medium Tanks well ahead of schedule.

At the end of the month, the final few of Second Army's core of Infantry divisions officially passed muster. Second Army thus assumed responsibility over the south-western section of the Equestria/Changeling border, stretching from Vanhoover to the west bank of the River Shortcake. Already, plans were being drawn up for a Third Army, which would be the maximum Equestria could sustain in peacetime.

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-

December 5th, 1009

Twilight Sparkle blew a stray strand of mane out of her eye, and tried to focus on the computer in front of her. Again, the damn thing was spitting out gibberish. She'd intercepted a pair of messages from the Changeling Empire the previous day, while trying to rig up an automated message encryption/decryption system, but they were encrypted - with an S.M.I.L.E code. Even so, no matter what she tried, they just kept translating as the same gibberish: one read "Comet Smooch" and the other "Wild Smooch". If she couldn't crack this problem, then she couldn't get the system working at all.

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I have no idea what these refer to - I've even looked in the game files and didn't find a single reference to "comet smooch" or "wild smooch".

And, of course, Typhoon had decided to drop in and pay a visit to her school. She'd fobbed him off onto Cozy Glow for now - the girl was surprisingly useful, if a little ignorant sometimes - but a knock on her door told her it was time to do her job. She took a second to tidy herself up with magic, and then said, "Come in."

She needen't have bothered tidying herself up; Typhoon looked far worse than she had. Dark circles under his eyes told her that, just like Twilight, he hadn't slept for a day or two, and his suit was covered in stains. "Princess," he said, bowing tiredly.

"You look exhausted," said Twilight. "What's wrong?"

Typhoon shook his head. "I've been trying to get the refugees settled in before Hearthswarming," he said. "It's taken longer than I thought it would - we have to check each and every single one to make sure they're not Changelings. How goes your work?"

"Well..." Twilight thought for a moment. It couldn't hurt to tell him about the problem, right? She gestured to the machine, and gave him a brief description of the problem. About half-way through, she noticed he wasn't listening. "What is it?" she asked.

Typhoon didn't respond for a moment, then broke out laughing. Twilight glared at him until he stopped, and then with tears in his eyes he explained: "The machine works perfectly. It's just... S.M.I.L.E is too paranoid for their own good - these are code words, they only mean something to the intended recipient. Which, in this case, happens to be me."

"You." Twilight let out an exasperated sigh. Well, at least her machine worked... and had been working for two days now. "So where do they come from and what do they mean?"

"They're from our agent in Changeling territory," said Typhoon without hesitation. "One of them confirms that the Changelings are setting up food-slave camps in Vesalipolis and the other major cities, and the other..." his voice went a bit sombre, "The other confirms a suspicion of mine. That the Changelings had the same idea as Celestia, four years ago."

Twilight, being an intelligent unicorn, immediately understood. "They recruited someone from Earth, too," she said. "And taking out the portal to Earth wasn't their main goal." It would explain why the Changelings had become so organised, so well-armed, so quickly.

Typhoon nodded. "I thought their strategy - in the grand sense - seemed familiar. Chrysalis seemed like the type to take on the bigger threat, that is to say, Equestria, first. And their designs are just too reminiscient of Second World War Nazi crap for it to be a coincidence. Well, at least now we can prepare properly."

Twilight hoped he was right.

-

December 31st, 1009

And so, 1009 came to a close. When the year had started, the Olenian Rike and the Changeling Lands had been locked in a deadly combat, with few daring to venture a guess as to the victor. Now, the Changelings ruled the entire western coast of the Equestrian continent, and were looking with hungry eyes across the border. The attempted coup in Nova Griffonia had been extinguished, and the dragons had accepted their place as a secondary power on the continent. All else was silent, for now.

In Griffonia, the patchwork quilt of fiefdoms and petty kingdoms had given way to the rise of four great power blocs - the old Griffonian Empire, the Republic of Prywhen, the Aquelian Republic, and Wingbary. Only a few buffer states stood between them and all-out war.

Equestria herself had continued her build-up. New weapons and tactics were being introduced at a startling rate, and her armies had doubled in size. The economic impact of conscription had been offset somewhat by the flood of Olenian refugees pouring into the country, many of whom were more than willing to turn around and sign up for the Army. The Navy had proven its worth (albiet in secret) and the Air Force was finally coming into its own.

The only question on everycreature's mind was: "What next?"

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A nice look at the border for a year-end gift. We currently outnumber the Changelings in terms of raw numbers (most of our provinces have 3 divisions stacked on them, while they don't even have all of theirs defended), but they can easily push through the Crystal Empire. I don't expect war for another year or so - half a year if the Changelings bee-line their foci, and they don't seem to be - so there's plenty of time for the balance of power to shift.

-

Also, I also found out recently that there's a wiki for Equestria at War... which goes into the backstory. So, rather than having to work the story out for myself, I could have been using that as a foundation all along. :banghead: Oh well, I kind of prefer it this way - you get to see all the twisted leaps in logic I have to make to fit a WW2 storyline in My Little Pony. Also, they seem to have updated the mod, adding a few new story things and so on.

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

Post by Bedlam » 2019-02-08 02:19pm

but Princess Ember was now well aware that should she make one wrong move, Equestrian tanks would roll over the Dragonlands in an unstoppable tide. So, when the second envoy arrived from Equestria, led by Spike (Princess Twilight's dragon companion and sort-of adopted son)
And Ember's potential Snuggle Muffin.
Spike had managed to smoothe things over a little by ordering pizza from a town just across the border, only to have somedragon decide that the deliverypony really, really needed a workout and chase them halfway across the Badlands.
Damn it Garble! Do you have to be a dick all the time?

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

Post by VX-145 » 2019-05-13 11:14am

As per usual, this update took forever to write... because it's more than ten thousand words long, counting tags. Anyway, in the time it took me to write this update, an expansion to Hearts of Iron 4 came out which revamped the naval system, and it's difficult if not impossible to update the save file to the new expansion. I'm going to keep the gameplay explanations in because they're relevant to the LP, however. I've had to break this update up into two parts because it exceeds the character limit, as well.

Part VIIa: War has Changed, December 31st 1009-January 1st 1011

December 31st, 1009 (Final)

Silver Crown pushed through the crowded entrance to Ponyville town hall. The building had, along with its normal civic duties and occasional use as a wedding venue, been set aside as a recruitment post for the Equestrian armed forces. Well, "Recruitment Post" was a bit of a misnomer in the age of conscription; indeed, most of the ponies present were conscripts signing in and being evaluated. Or their families - she watched one fat stallion in an Equestrian Navy uniform being browbeaten by an elderly mare while her daughter - a unicorn who looked about the same age as Silver - looked on with some embarrasment.

Silver, however, was different. Silver was volunteering. She'd been speaking with a few Deer who had escaped from Olenia during the invasion, and she couldn't stand the thought of something similar happening in Equestria. Having always believed in putting deeds to words (and needing something to do for a New Year's Resolution), she'd tidied herself up a bit, done some research and now found herself in a lengthy queue.

An hour or so later, she was in front of a unicorn with a chipped horn, who reminded her vaguely of that one mare who had made the news a few years back. When Silver remained silent, the unicorn let out an audible sigh and asked: "Draftee, volunteer or other?"

"Ah- I'm a volunteer," Silver said.

"Uh-huh," replied the unicorn, unimpressed. Well, Silver hadn't exactly expected applause, anyway. "You're in luck, the Air Force and the Army both want ponies. Navy's full, though." In the background, the elderly mare was still arguing with the fat stallion. "Any experience with planes?"

Silver shuddered. "No, thank you, I can't stand the idea of flying, and I've never been good with machines."

"Well, I'd have said you could be a mechanic, but we've plenty of those. Army, then. Now, if you'd have come down yesterday, I'd have nothing for you - we've more than enough ponies to replace those who discharge out - but as luck would have it the Princess wants fourteen more divisions on the line in the next six months." The unicorn filled out some forms, and passed them to Silver, who took it with her mouth in the old-fashioned way. "Fill these out, mail them in, and they'll get you sorted out. If you want my advice, try for one of the line infantry divisions - the Royal Guard may look shiny and elite, but the way I hear it, the line divvies get far more firepower and first dibs on the border bunkers."

Silvern nodded, her mouth occupied with holding the forms, and left. Behind her, the unicorn called "Next!"

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Third Army's going to be smaller than First and Second, because I straight up do not have the ponypower to train 24 divisions. Take note of this moment, as well - this comes back and bites me in the arse in a major way later on in this very update!

-

January 1010
A lot of research happened this month, so I'm not going to use my normal format.

Rationalisation efforts for Equestria's agriculture sector began to pay off in mid January. It would take some time for the expected ponypower to show up, but already Equestria's food stockpiles were growing. In the short term, this would provide a buffer against sudden crop failure, and in the long run it would free up the substantial number of poorly-paid and overworked temporary farm labourers for other jobs in the cities. On Earth, the poor unfortunates who had been turned off of their land in the Agricultural Revolutions had been forced into jobs that paid just as badly, and had even worse conditions - to say nothing of the temporary labourers who were simply rendered destitute. In Equestria, however, the nascent socialist movement and the presence of Earth history books - and a genuine respect for the lives of ordinary ponies - ensured that there were adequete labour laws and unions already in place.

That's not to say some exploitation didn't occur - one needs only look at the storied careers of the brothers Flim and Flam to see how impossible such a scenario was - but the end result was far less oppresive than on Earth even in the short term.

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Again, +10% population per month. That translates to us gaining about 250 ponypower total every month, which is useful.

The next project was less a focussed effort and more the formalisation of something which had been happening over the past few years. Unicorn magical literacy rates had been skyrocketing year-on-year, and the SAC felt it was finally time to capitalise on that. Starting from March, every Unicorn in the armed services would be trained in basic telekinesis techniques, and drilled in how to use them effectively in combat.

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This makes our units entrench faster. It's not that great a buff - most of our units have been sitting in the same place for literal years now, so they're as entrenched as they're gonna get - but it leads to some good army-wide bonuses. This tree is mutually exclusive with the tree next to it on the left, which focuses on giving better bonuses to Mage Companies. However, given that our normal companies outnumber the maximum possible number of Mage Companies by an order of magnitude... yeah, I'll take the army-wide buffs.

The Friendship Railway Company unveiled Mustang Developments, its new subsidiary responsible for tank design and manufacture. Using the money they'd recieved from the government, Mustang Developments had already set up a factory and made significant progress towards making the Riptide servce-ready. If things went well, the tank could be in service within the year - incredible progress, considering that its predecessor hadn't even entered service yet.

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Flush with success, the SAC turned their attention to Manehatten. The city had always had a huge demand for steel - massive amounts of the stuff was required to build the skyscrapers that were the city's signature - but now demand for the metal was skyrocketing across all of Equestria. Some private businessponies had seen an opportunity to make money, but there was still not enough supply. To that end, Princess Celestia tasked Flim and Flam with getting new steel mills opened - under strict observation, of course.

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Two free civilian factories and some steel. Both are going to come in useful - especially if I decide to upgrade the border forts again.

The Army's Doctrine manual doubled in size with the addition of new procedures for fighting delaying actions. At its core was a simple principle: hold the enemy until artillery, armour or air support could be brought to bear.

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Exercises began focussing on exploring how best to defend an area with mobile forces. This immediately caused a small split in the Army, with the colonels in charge of Equestria's tank divisions fighting to prevent their units from being split apart into penny-packets, where they would be rendered useless for any operational purpose. Prince-Marshal Blueblood saw no problem with that course of events - after all, in his eyes the Infantry were the main weapon of the Army, and everything else was merely meant to support the Infantry - and for a short while it looked as thought Equestria's nascent Armoured Corps would be strangled in its metaphorical crib. However, a few strongly-worded letters from General Fast Clip managed to convince the colonels under his command to stop trying to poach other ponies' soldiers, and the colonels under General Soarin followed their example. Chairpony Typhoon and Princess Celestia took note of the Prince-Marshal's handling of the matter, and together resolved to find a replacement as soon as possible.

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+20% defence for all infantry/motorised/mechanised, and a new tactics card. Nice, but not game-changing.

February 8th, 1010
Special Ministry of Intelligence Logistics and Enforcment
EXTERNAL MEMO
TOP SECRET
EYES ONLY
HOOVES OFF!
08/02/1010

As per SAC memo dated 05/02/1010, S.M.I.L.E has been ordered to "share what [we] have with the rest of the class". To that end, attached are all the decryption keys developed by S.M.I.L.E's SIGINT division. That's "Signals Intelligence", which means decoding enemy communications. We thought we'd clarify before Prince-Marshal Blueblood sends us another letter asking us to "not be so damned mysterious all the time". For the love of Celestia (are we still allowed to say that?), please don't use them too much, or everyone will figure out that we have them and simply change their codes.

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Also, the SIGINT guys are working on better codes for our own communications. We'd like to thank Princess Twilight Sparkle for developing the machines we needed to do this. That doesn't mean you idiots will be able to just keep boradcasting orders in the clear like you have been; you have to actually use the codes we give you for them to work.

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As mentioned before, encryption basically works as defense against decryption - if we have the same or higher level encryption, the enemy doesn't get their buff and other players can't see what foci we've taken.

Yours Faithfully,

S.M.I.L.E Director Sweetie Drops.

March 1010

The Army reported that every unicorn in the ranks was now proficient with basic telekinetic combat techniques. Commendations were issued to the ponies in charge of that training, as it had been completed within a span of just two months.

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-

The "Northern" Aircraft plant was relatively new, even by the standards of Equestrian industry. It squatted over a small airstrip, which the company used to test the aircraft the factory built - Hurricanes, both Mark I and Mark V variants (Marks II through IV being specialised civilian types). Today, however, a different fighter sat on the runway. Where the Hurricane was angular, this fighter was sleek, with smooth, elliptical wings and a rounded bubble canopy. It was larger, as well, and had a larger, three-bladed propellor.

It was the prototype Spitfire, tail number K5054, and today was its first test flight. It was supposed to be uneventful, eight minutes of level flight just to make sure the airframe would stand up to it, but the pilot - the plane's namesake, Spitfire, just to make things confusing - had other ideas. How she had ended up at the controls, history would fail to record. What it did record, however, was how she flew.

Immediately on takeoff, before even building up any speed, Spitfire put the prototype into a barrel roll, then an Immelmann turn - and the Spitfire pulled off both maneouvres without even threatening to stall. She threw the plane into loop after loop, lining up imaginary strafing runs on the control tower, and finally brought the prototype in to land - not because she wanted to, but because the plane had only been loaded with a small amount of fuel. It came in fast and low, an approach other planes would have struggled with, but Spitfire barely had to correct at all.

A Hurricane would have stalled on the first maneouvre, and the Spitfire was much heavier - and thus theoretically more prone to stalling. The difference between the two was the Starswirl Magicrystal/Oil hybrid engine mounted in the plane's nose, capable of putting out more than double the ponypower of the Hurricane's single-fuel petrol engine, and the Spitfire's unique elliptical wing design, which provided much more lift per metre of wingspan than other designs. To top it all off, the design could carry much heavier weapons than the Hurricane - the prototype was unarmed, but carried weights in its wings to simulate four 7.7mm machine guns and two 20mm cannon.

There was no doubt in anypony's mind at that point; the Spitfire would be Equestria's next front-line fighter. And soon.

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Even with our 45% research buff, it's still going to take 220 days to research this. Well worth it, though. Also, IRL the Hurricane and the Spitfire used the same engine.

-

As work was finishing on the Cerberus design, Mustang Developments began taking on more and more responsibility for tank research and development, to the point where even Detrot Motors began consulting with Mustang Developments' design team. In March 1010 the arrangement became official. The Equestrian Government would pay to retain Mustang Developments as a permanent consultant for all matters regarding the design and construction of tanks. While this would have little effect for the moment, in the future tanks would be built with the Friendship Railway Company's proven (and patented) magicrystal engines, making them faster and more reliable.

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-12% research time on tanks, plus some minor bonuses to speed and reliability, all for 150 political power. It only effects tanks researched after I select this, but our main medium tanks are just about to be researched anyway.

-

Following this, Equestria's first medium tank - the Cerberus - began rolling out of factories all across the nation. It was half again as big as the Calico, and while it possessed a 57mm gun, the same caliber as the Calico, the 57mm fitted to the Cerberus was longer, with more internal space for ammunition - and, most critically, space for a dedicated loader. These improvements would allow the tank to fare much better in combat than the Calico, and - hopefully - most Changeling designs. The rest of the extra space was taken up by the tank's engine, which allowed it to achieve speeds comparable to the Calico despite its larger size and thicker armour.

However, it could not fill the same role as a light tank; its size and the slight speed difference between it and the Calico made it unsuitable for scouting, and so it was decided to segregate tank battalions by weight class. So far, none of the armoured divsions in Equestria had space in their organisation for a medium tank battalion, nor were there ponies trained to operate them, so the Army decided to hold off on deploying the Cerberus until stocks built up.

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And the Cerberus was just a stopgap measure. Even as production of the Cerberus started, plans were being drawn up to get its successor - the Riptide - into production. Despite all the measures taken to get it out the door as soon as possible, there were still some design issues to be worked out - namely, mounting a Starswirl engine in the back of the damned thing, allowing it even greater performance than the Cerberus at double the weight.

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Just look at that - ~250 days to research a tank two years early. For comparison, 1012 is roughly equivalent to where you'd see the T-34 or Sherman come into service IRL, with the Cerberus being equivalent to a T-28, M3 Lee/Grant or Matilda. Or, to put it in IRL years, we're getting a 1941/2 tank design in 1938/9.

Of course, that doesn't matter if we can't build enough of the damned things...


-

An official Table of Organisation and Equipment was released for Field Hospital companies. By treating casualties closer to the front lines, the Army hoped to free up hospital space in Equestria for more serious cases, and retain the services of ponies who weren't too seriously injured. For now, a minor shortage of trained medics prevented any companies from being formed, but they would remain a theoretical option in the future.

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Field Hospitals are a support company that prevent some unit veterancy loss from losing ponypower, and returns 10% of lost ponypower back into the pool. Better versions of this tech make those effects better. Problem is, I don't have the army XP to spare right now.

The government, on the advice of the SAC, took a strategic gamble. Given that the Army and Air Force were already in the process of upgrading some of their equipment, it wouldn't add much extra stress to develop new infantry weapons and maybe even an artillery piece to replace the aging Model 8 Howitzer. Money was allocated to the Canterlot Armoury to find and produce a new standard infantry weapon capable of semi-automatic or fully-automatic fire. A few different designs were already under consideration: the Rose, a semi-automatic variant of the Lavender rifle, the Granny Smith, an entirely new design from Macintosh Arms, and the Lavender, a 9mm sub-machine gun. Additionally, designs for anti-tank rifles were drawn up, based off of the rifle designs already submitted.

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Well, I guess you guys know which is going to win that competition. Regardless, while this research may not be 100% necessary, it's probably best to get it out of the way now rather than in the middle of the war.

-

April 6th, 1010

FROM: MANEHATTEN TELEGRAPH OFFICE #37
06/04/1010
TO: SAC OFFICE, CANTERLOT
RE: Our Magnificent, Stupendous Success With Raising Steel Production

Boss,

Our intense efforts, our long, sleepless nights and tireless days of work have finally paid off. You ordered us to get Manehatten making more steel - cruelly tearing us from our vacation in Las Pegasus in the process, might I add - and Manehatten is making more steel than ever before. Enough steel, dare I say, to make a whole fleet of battleships and all the tanks you could ever want on top of that!

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Now, as anxious as we are to get back to our vacation (we are being compensated for the lost time, right boss?) we can go one step further with a bit more money. We found some ponies who have some really exciting ideas to increase production even further, but they need a bit of funding to get off the ground, as it were. It won't cost much, and it'll get our hooves in the door with some very influential - and rich - ponies. Just send the money to the usual account, okay boss?

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Industrial tech boost and some more steel, but more crucially this is the last focus we need to take before we reach the capstone of this tree.

And can you please tell your S.M.I.L.E agent to stop going through our mail? It's really demeaning.

Yours faithfully,

Flim and Flam, Entrepeneurs Extraordinaire

-

May 1010

Peace had reigned in Griffonia for the past few months. Some Griffons had even voiced the hope that, perhaps, the wars were behind them, and they could get back to living their lives.

Of course, such hopes were at best forlorn, at worst utterly naive. Where did they think they were? Equestria?

The Griffon Empire kicked things off in early May, declaring war first on the County of Bronzehill...

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and then the Duchy of Griffenheim.

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Legally speaking, the lands of both nations belonged to the Crown, but in the centuries since the loss of the Idol they had drifted apart. Now, it seemed that fleeting independence was at an end.

The Griffon Revolutionary State (formerly known as the Republic of Prywhen) then decided that it, too, wanted on the action, and declared war upon the Gryphian Host to its east. This move was not just an act of naked imperialism (although that was a substantial facotr), but a way of securing the nation's eastern border before its western neighbours began to amass forces to end the communist state.

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Blobs. Blobs everywhere.

-

S.M.I.L.E shared their encryption methods with the rest of the Equestrian government. These would be used widely, across all branches of the military and for sensitive civilian communiques. Some minor resistance was anticipated form a certain Prince-Marshal, but the stallion in question didn't question the move; after all, in order to do so he would have to be familiar with the technology, and that was unthinkable.

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One of the weakenesses of Equestrian industry was infrastructure; despite repeated modernisation efforts, the simple fact remained that Equestria's road and rail networks, along with its nascent power grid, were all geared for passenger and domestic use. 90% of rail cars, for example, were passenger carriages. Factories often sat idle for hours on end, simply waiting for raw resources that were waiting at the steel mills, or oil refineries, or crystal mines. Seeing the bottleneck, Princess Celestia ordered funding to be diverted to solving the problem.

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We are desperately going to need this. Having all our main equipment advance at once will put a massive strain on our factories, and the +15% output will go a long way to fixing the problem.

-

"And, heave!"

Sergeant Apple Fritter pulled on the rope in her hooves, lifting a two-ton solid block of concrete and steel over the foundation hole. Of course, she wasn't doing it by herself; the rest of her squad had their hooves on the rope as well, but she certainly felt like she was the only one doing anything. Then again, she'd been feeling that way ever since she made Sergeant.

A few minutes later, the engineers finally figured out that the block was, in fact, over the right hole, and the squad could finally slacken the rope. Slowly, the block descended, slotting into place next to its fellows. The engineers immediately swarmed over the damned thing, fussing over it and bolting it into place. It was a familiar and exhausting process, one her squad had gotten very good at - which was why the bloody builders kept asking for them.

For her part, Apple Fritter was just glad to be done. With this rampart, and with the whole line of defenses strung across the Changeling/Equestrian border. Oh, yeah, one of the bunkers up north was behind schedule, but as far as her squad was concerned? No more building work. It even looked impressive, from her infantrypony's perspective; this rampart, sited atop a small ridge with clear views almost to Vesalipolis, was just the first line, with two imposing bunkers giving it enfilade fire and a prepared mortar pit a few hundred metres back. It might even hold out decently against an armoured force, if they got the new anti-tank rifles the Leftenant had been babbling about.

Or so she hoped.

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-

FROM: MANEHATTEN TELEGRAPH OFFICE #37
24/05/1010
TO: SAC OFFICE, CANTERLOT
RE:RE:RE:RE:RE Our Magnificent, Stupendous Success With Raising Steel Production

Hey Boss,

Looks like those local bigwigs came through for us after all. The Manehatten Steel Corp. guys have put those neat ideas we were talking about into practice; should save you some time and money if you decide to make them official. Never say we don't do anything for you, boss!

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We're heading down to Fillydephia tomorrow, boss. We were chatting up - I mean, speaking respectfully with - some mares at some fancy shin-dig (trust us, you'd have hated it), and they let slip that some Detrot Motors engineers left the company recently - some "creative differences", if you will. We think they might be up for starting a company of their own. Now, we're not saying we should put government money into private business - you know how much we hate sharing the profits - but if you were to have some spare money you could throw our way, well let's just say we'd be sure to return the favour.

Regards,

Flam and Flim.

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Now, this is a focus I've been waiting for. 6 military factories? and for free? Too damned useful to pass up.

-

1010's spring apple harvest was unexpectedly good, a cause for celebration throughout the whole nation. After all, more apples meant more apple pies, apple betties, apple strudels, apple lattices, apple cakes, apple fritters, apple-and-cinnamon sticks and, of course, cider. Cider was perhaps the most treasured of Equestria's delicacies. Something about the pure, concentrated apple flavour, combined with carbonation and maybe a mild alcoholic kick, did something to Pony brains. There had been riots over cider, albeit riots that burned out as soon as ponies got ahoof of the glorious liquid.

Demand was so high that even with modern industrial techniques and Equestria's stupendeous apple farms, it was virtually impossible to get ahoof of any outside the two harvest seasons. In order to prevent a large-scale mutiny, the armed forces had set aside a few days for cider season and stockpiled vast quantities of the stuff. Some infantryponies started a rumour that instead of a press, the Army-provided cider was squeezed by running a tank over baskets of apples, which was, of course, ridiculous. One tank wouldn't have been enough to provide that much cider, so an entire battalion was used.

However, there was one problem. The hype over cider, and the vast quantity of labour needed to harvest the apples to make it, had one minor, almost inconsequential effect.

There were no ponies for the Army to recruit.

Plans for Third Army had to be scaled back somewhat. It would contain ten fewer infantry divisions than had been planned. The shortfall would be made up with armoured divisions, as they needed fewer ponies to reach their TOE strength.

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I may have tried to recruit too many divisions, too quickly.

The first elements of Third Army - the tenth through thirteenth Royal Guards and the 22nd through 31st Infantry Divisions - were brought up to operational status around the same time. They would join First and Second armies on the Changeling border, and General Whiplash (the last of the fully-trained Equestrian Army commanders) was appointed to lead them into battle. For now, since they lacked numbers and armoured support, their job was to hold a smaller section of the line and allow the other two armies greater operational freedom.

-

Part 2 to follow shortly!

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

Post by VX-145 » 2019-05-13 11:17am

Part VIIb: War Continues To Change, December 31st 1009-January 1st 1010

June/July 1010

Preperations began being laid for six new armoured divisions: the 5th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 42nd and 79th, to replace the same number of infantry divisions in Third Army. At the moment, there weren't enough tanks to equip them, but ponies could be trained on obsolete equipment for the time being.

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Let's go over the recruitment interface real quick: you should be able to see each division being recruited. The first bar on each plate is how much equipment they need, and the second is how much training they need. A unit can only be trained to use the equipment it has - basically, the training bar can't progress any further than the equipment bar. Note that the first bar is entirely empty for half of these divisions. This is why I need more military factories.

-

"So, what's your opinion on this letter from Firtree, then?"

Typhoon paused, sandwich halfway to mouth. The question had come from that one filly who seemed to hang around the office a lot. She had clearance from Princess Twilight herself, so there wasn't much he could do without causing a scene. Nonetheless, he really didn't appreciate being bothered while eating lunch. "Excuse me?" he asked, putting the sandwich back down before the mayonnaise began to drip out. The filly at least had the deceny to look properly chastised, so he continued: "You're talking about the tender they put in for aircraft designs, right?"

The filly nodded. "Rainbow Dash said one of the Wonderbolts went over with a Hurricane, and flew rings around all the competitors!"

"Mhm," Typhoon mumbled. Truth be told, their victory in the competition had more to do with the fact that everyone else was still flying biplanes, and the Changelings hadn't taken part. He'd been banking on that when he'd approved the entry, hoping to glean some intel on the bugs' aircraft designs. "Well, I'm not going to say anything specific on the matter, but it was encouraging that our pilots and planes can outperform the competition. There's good reasons to go forward with the sale; part of the deal is that they'll give us feedback on the design, which we could use to improve it. That said, I can also find reasons to block it - I don't want to end up having to fight our own weapons, after all."

The filly departed, looking slightly disappointed - she'd probably hoped to weasel his plans out in the conversation. Truth be told, he'd already approved the sale. After all, the Hurricane would be obsolete soon.

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Despite what I said in the narrative, there's no reason for us to not do this. We're never going to end up at war with these guys, and the air XP will come in handy when the Spitfire finishes researching.

-

The Griffon Empire's enemies, the County of Bronzehill and the Duchy of Griffenheim, had formed an official alliance in an attempt to fend off the assault. Such efforts were, of course, in vain; the County of Bronzehill was completely occupied by the 17th of June, and it looked like its ally would soon follow.

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This is the first time we're seeing a capitulation, so I'll go over it briefly. Basically, when you're part of a faction, if you lose a war and you still have other faction members the war will continue. Any units you had in your home territory are disbanded, but you can continue the fight with units stationed abroad. Annoyingly, any allied units in your territory don't disband - which leads to a lengthy clean-up if you're on the offensive.

-

Socialist Union!

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Due to a printing error, the headline for the Equestria Daily's June 20th morning edition was printed without an accompanying article. The error wasn't found until the first edition had hit the shelves, and it took most of the day for the Daily to re-print and re-distribute copies of the paper containing the article. In the meantime, however, the error provided no small amount of amusement for everyday ponies, which were quick to latch onto the latest craze. It really was quite droll; one pony would, for example, say to another: "Knock, knock," the other would ask "Who's there?" and the first would reply "Socialist Union!".

That aside, the news they had tried to report was interesting indeed; the former colony of Nova Griffonia had elected a socialist government, which had then immediately asked for an alliance with Stalliongrad. While certain princely figures saw this as an aggressive act, as Stalliongrad trying to gain allies for a fight with Equestria, such fears seemed baseless in the SAC's estimation - for now. The West Griffon Union, as Nova Griffonia was now known, was still recovering from a devastating civil war, and in no state to fight an offensive war. No, it was more likely that the alliance was an attempt to stave off the inevitable reactionaries, and give both states long-term protection from the Griffon and Changeling empires.

-

Griffonstone had once been the capital of the First Griffon Empire, a grand city of spires and great libraries, of palaces and wide, glaming thoroughfares. Now, it was little more than a shell of its former self, razed to the ground centuries ago as jealous monsters sought to take the Idol of Boreas for their own. Nevertheless, the Griffons of Griffonstone had not forgotten their past splendour, and they had guarded their independence from the Second Empire ferociously. The city itself was of little strategic importance, but it was a symbol.

Which was why the Griffonian Liberation Army wanted it. Even though they were fighting a war on the other side of the country, the republic felt that it could easily deal with Griffonstone as well. However, such a move was bound to draw attention from the other powers seeking hegemony in Griffonia...

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-

JUL 3 1010
TOP SECRET
FROM: Chairpony Typhoon, SAC
TO: AG EQS Forward HQ, care of Prince-Marshal Blueblood, C-IN-C AG EQS
RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE: Exercises

Your Majesty,

This is not the first such message I have had to send to you, so I will be blunt. I have yet to recieve any but the most shallow reports on how the latest exercises progressed. When I made enquiries as to why this is the case, I was informed that you were the one who is responsible - and not through the incompetence I have come to expect from you. Do not attempt to deny your blatant obstructionsism. I have sufficient evidence - including signed orders from your own hoof - to prove that you were acting maliciously. Need I remind you that the job you were given by Princess Celestia was to oversee the development of the Equestrian Army, not turn it into your own personal fiefdom? That the freedom and lives of every pony in Equestria is riding upon our efforts? And yet, I find you suppressing the results of an exercise because they conflict with your abominable worldview.

The Princess was not happy when I relayed the results of my little investigation to her. Expect a letter.

Yours,

Chairpony Typhoon.

-

Dear Prince Blueblood;

Cease foaling around.
Princess Celestia.


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This decision allows us to trade some command power for Army XP, which I desperately need. "Command Power" represents the head of state - Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, in this case Princess Celestia - giving a direct order to the military, and can be used to buy traits for generals and activate certain skills.

-

August 1010

"The next thing is that the Ministers of Industry came through," Typhoon said, off-hoovedly. Around the circular table in the meeting room sat the Four Princesses, each of whom looked extremely bored with the whole meeting. That wasn't exactly fair; it hadn't been his idea to hold a three-hour-long conference on Equestria's industrial and logistical capabilities. They paid him to pay others to deal with all this boring stuff. "Flim and Flam say their investment into the Fillydelphia automobile has paid off. Even allowing for their usual exaggerations, I'm inclined to agree. We've doubled the industrial capacity in the region, and the state owns at least a quarter of each new plant."

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"And this is important, because?" Princess Twilight asked, her head leaning on one hoof.

"Because this means we can devote more money to building weapons, and we have more plants with which to place orders," Typhoon countered, wishing he could get away with being so openly bored. "Plants we will desperately need in the next few months, with an entire new generation of weaponry being developed. Plus, we have some money available for another side project - one that falls within your wheelhouse."

Princess Twilight raised an eyebrow. "And that is?"

"Opening an entire new wing of the Nova Luna academy - and your own School of Friendship - to develop new magical devices," answered Typhoon. "One of Flim and Flam's buddies expressed an interest, and is willing to put up the money if you can find the ponies."

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So, this focus gives us three -50% research buffs for electronics techs - computers, radar, en/decryption etc. I'm probably going to spend most of them on computers, because each level of computer tech gives us a permanent boost to our research speed.

-

A minor shortage of Tungsten temporarily stalled artillery production, leading to a diplomatic first: Equestria signed a trade deal with Stalliongrad, exchanging cars and fashionable clothes for eight hundred tonnes of the metal per month. Technically, Equestria's military only needed thirty, but between a desire to future-proof the production line and an annoying worldwide trade standard that forced the purchase of resources in multiples of eighty, five hundred excess tonnes of the stuff flowed directly over the border into a stockpile.

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So, I haven't talked at all about resources in this game, and that's because they're a bit of a mess. Despite what I said in the narrative, there is no stockpiling of resources, aside from Fuel in the newest DLC, which anyone with a passing familiarity of WW2 should be able to tell is kinda off. Anyway, each production item uses X amount of various resources, which are made by various spots on the map. If you don't have enough, production is slowed - stopped, if you have none of the required resources. You can trade the output of one civilian factory for eight units of any resource, which is what I've had to do here. However, unless you have an overland path to the nation you're trading with, you need convoys to trade, and thus you need to protect those convoys when you go to war. It sounds like an interestingly complex game system, right? Except, in my experience, it either results in you not having resources at all (either because there's none available or because your boats keep sinking) or just coming to this screen every so often and clicking the button that says "buy as many of this resource as I need."

-

The Griffon Empire continued digesting its neighbours, forcing the Strawberry Duchy to sign a humiliating cease-fire ahead of a formal peace deal with the Griffonian Protection Alliance.

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Blob gonna blob.

-

Since the Firtree Bomber Competition, and since the creation of Second Army, the Royal Equestrian Air Force had undergone several re-organisations. These came to a end (for now) around the end of August, with each squadron being reinforced up to one hundred machines, three fighter squadrons being detatched from First Army and assigned to Second, and finally two Close Air Support squadrons of a hundred planes being formed - Nos. 8 and 9 Sqn, REAF. Each Field Army was assigned one of these squadrons, to be broken up amongst its constituent units.

Hopefully, these measures would be enough to secure air superiority when war broke out.

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-

Dear Chairpony Typhoon or other Occupant of 402 Mane Street, Canterlot City,

I am writing this letter to represent the people of the Socialist Republic of the Free Griffons. While Equestria has never been a firm ally of the Socialist states, it has not been a relentless foe, either, and this gives us hope that it is possible for us to trade fairly. We would like to license production of your Hurricane single-engined fighter to equip our Air Force. As you are aware, recently multiple large power blocs have formed on the continent of Griffonia, and we fear for our safety. We are willing to trade a fair sum and any feedback we can provide to improve future designs.

In the name of Griffonia,

Featherblade

-

TOP SECRET
30/08/1010
TO: Equestrian Embassy, SRFG
FROM: SAC Office, Canterlot
RE: Licensing

Let them have the damned thing. It'll be obsolete soon regardless.

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-

Chaos reigned in Canterlot, and not the amusing Discord brand of chaos, either. Everypony was running around, dashing this way and that way, asking strangers - "Have you heard? Have you seen?". The city's railway had come to a standstill, with the drivers and conductors both taking part in the chaos, and the roads were at a complete standstill. The Royal Guard were powerless to help the situation, for many of them had gone into shock upon seeing the news. Appeals from the Princesses were late, and ineffective when they arrived, for the news was just that shocking, so impossible:

The Griffon Revolutionary Army had won its war against the Gryphian Host, and rather than annexing the land they had taken, they had set up a puppet government in the new Gryphian People's Republic.

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Seriously, this is the first non-total annexation I've seen all game. These are rare, even in the base game, and I can't think why the AI would do this.

-

September 14th, 1010

An expected, yet inevitable, consequence of developing an entire new generation of weapons while simultaneously tripling the size of the Equestrian Army was that Equestria's industrial base - one of the most well-developed in the world - couldn't keep up. There were already shortages of artillery pieces and Calico light tanks, and more would soon develop. Stockpiles had to be built up of the Cerberus medium tank before it could be fielded, and the Spitfire fighter and Limestone sub-machine gun were due to come into service soon as well. Luckily, the SAC had commisioned a huge production run of specialised equipment - radios, demolition charges and so on - all the way back in 1006, allowing Typhoon to shift production to those areas that were lacking.

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Not much to say here, but keep this in mind. The fundamental problem is I need two and a half armies - preferably three - to defend against the Changelings, but that costs a lot of equipment. We should be stable before the war begins, but it'll be a close thing.

-

September 25th, 1010

"Now, the Lavenn'er rifle's a great bolt-action, don't get me wron', but it's jus' that - a bolt-action. Max arr-o-eff, fourty arr-pee-em with a goo' riflepony. This, on the ot'er hoof..." The Sergeant-at-Hooves passed the Lavender rifle aside to an aide and hefted a boxy gun. Compared to the Lavender, it was made of far more metal - the only wooden part being the stock, which could be replaced with a steel version should wood become scarce. It featured a longer, narrower magazine, and a stubby foregrip. Princess Celestia made an appreciative noise, hoping to look attentive. Maybe this was Typhoon's revenge for all the diplomatic missions she'd sent him on. "This," the Sergeant-at-Hooves continued, "Is the Limestone. She takes nine-milly roun's - thir'y o' 'em, and fires the bligh'ers at four hun'nred arr-pee-em. This's what mos' of the lads and lassies'll be carryin' - they'll work great up close and pers'nal like. We've also got the Rose-" he pointed at a sleeker version of the Lavender, fitted with a scope - "for lon' range work, an', for all your anti-tank needs, the Colts rifle." This was a much larger rifle, one that was longer than Princess Celestia was tall. She would be surprised if anypony could use it in battle - perhaps it was meant to be fired from an emplaced position, like the heavy cross-bows of old? "It won' do much to a tank, but it'll give the fillies and colts somethin' to stave 'em off wi'."

"Very good, Sergeant," said the Princess. "And these are ready to equip our soldiers?"

The Sergeant grinned savagely. "As soon as the fac'ries begin churnin' 'em out, sure."

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"I'll have the orders placed by the end of the day," Typhoon said, speaking up for the first time since the Sergeant had started his demonstration. "And we're working on the Model 17, as well - a one-ten millimetre field artillery piece with as much mobility as the old seventy-fives. It'll put a strain on our industry, but we can do it, and the firepower'll be well worth it."

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The Princess, at a slight loss as to what to do, nodded. "Very well. Good work Sergeant, Chairpony."

-

October 9th, 1010

The Mark 0 Spitfire was a thing of beauty to Rainbow Dash's eyes. It was sleek, it was powerful, it was dangerous! She'd seen one fly, and while she was still faster, still sharper, the Spitfire was damned close. And, it had the advantage of carrying far more firepower - and for longer distances, too. The specimen in front of her was done up in REAF livery, with the Equestrian Air Force roundel on its wings and a tail number painted just behind the cockpit, and it was the first Mark 0 Spitfire in REAF service.

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And the last. Next to it was a Mark I Spitfire, with an upgraded Starswirl engine, a five-bladed propellor, and a hundred other improvements Rainbow Dash had been told about but was unable to recall. It was even faster and even more agile than the Mark 0. Work on the Riptide medium tank and reports from countries in Griffonia had resulted in the upgraded version of the plane being ready before the original was even scheduled to enter production, and Rainbow Dash couldn't wait to talk her way into one.

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This is the first time we've seen this screen, so I'll quickly go over it. You can spend Army, Navy and Air XP to create variants of equipment with upgaded stats. Sometimes, this is a tradeoff - if we increased the Spitfire's firepower, for example, we'd reduce its agility and reliability. In this case, it's a straight upgrade, and thus well worth it - especially because IIRC the main stat that makes planes better is agility. This is why I chose the option to give licenses to other countries - it got me the air XP I needed to make this.

-

Between funding raised by Flim and Flam, and technological advances brought about by the Riptide and Spitfire programmes, even more advanced machine tools were being developed. These used basic mechanical computers and servomotors to automate the entire tooling process - allowing ponies to be freed up for other, more important tasks in the factory, and reducing waste.

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-

October 11th, 1010

Barely a month into the school term, and already the effects of Twilight Sparkle's focus on magi-electrical education was beginning to bear fruit. Many new promising leads were found, just waiting for money to turn them into useable techniques and machines.

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Typhoon and the other members of the SAC began drawing up plans to re-instate the Ministry of Defence. The office had lain empty since the banishment of Nightmare Moon a millennium and a decade ago, and with war on the horizon once more it seemed fitting to resurrect it. Many of the junior and mid-level positions were already filled - a mix of military officers and civilian oversight - but the cabinet post itself was a subject of some debate. Who would fill it? Would it be an Army officer, or a civilian?

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This focus unlocks the entire "military" side of our tree, including the foci to get rid of the penalties we've been under since the start of the game. I can actually take those right after this, if I really wanted - there's enough World Tension to do so. That aside, it gives us some political power, war support, army xp... and as I'm sure you've noticed, gives us Princess Luna as a field marshal.

October 20th, 1010

TOP SECRET - EYES ONLY
20/10/1010
TO: Chairpony Typhoon, SAC, SAC Ponyville Office
FROM: Prince-Marshal Blueblood, C-In-C AGE, Army Field HQ, Vanhoover
RE: Proposed Changes to Armoured Force Composition

Listen here, you little jumped-up peasant: I did not suffer through a year of officer school just to have some upstart come along and tell me I'm doing everything wrong. It is bad enough that my own officers undermine my every decision, without you sticking your dirty hooves into my affairs. Who are you? Some young commoner - and from another world, at that. You have no royal blood, no worthwhile education, no authority whatsoever. My lineage stretches back for milennia; I have the blood of gods running through my veins!

Regarding your latest abomination unto the natural order of things: the reason our armoured units are, as you say, "tied down" with infantry is because the armour is there to support the infantry - not go running off on its own fool errands and wasting the money we've sunk into those overpriced monstrosities.

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Time to edit a template! We have three problems, here - there's infantry in this armoured division (slowing it down), it's above its combat width (blech) and we need somewhere to use those shiny new medium tanks we have.

I would have been willing to place these new "medium" tanks in place of our old "light" tanks - though I do not see why they would be called "mediums". Surely, given that they are the heaviest tanks we field, they should be called "heavy" tanks? Just another example of your byzantine incompetance, I suppose. However, the tone you have taken with me in the past shows blatant disrespect for my lineage, and thus I shall not listen to your advice any further.

Mine faithfully,

Prince Blueblood.

-

TOP SECRET - EYES ONLY
20/10/1010
TO: Prince-Marshal Blueblood, C-In-C AGE, Army Field HQ, Vanhoover
FROM: Chairpony Typhoon, SAC, SAC Ponyville Office
RE: RE Proposed Changes to Armoured Force Composition

After consultation with Equestrian Army staff officers and Princess Celestia, the changes I proposed will be implemented in full. Please co-operate with the instructions you will be given.

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That looks loads better - aside from the part where we don't have that many tanks in stock. Oh well, we should be up to spec before the war starts. I've been saying that a lot, and I really hope it's true - I'm writing this part about two months after playing the update, and for all I know past me left me with a deficit of equipment right on the eve of war.

On a personal note, a recent conversation with the twin Princesses turned to your lineage, and from what I understand: you were adopted into the family as an adult. I thought this relevant, given how often you talk about this matter.

Yours,

Typhoon.

-

October 24th/27th, 1010

After intense efforts, Equestria's infrastructure was now up to the task of feeding its industry. Factory output was up by 15% across the board, and several factories had consolidated, clearing room for new facilities to be built in their place without sacrificing output.

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After that, it was time to focus on computers. Prototypes for programmable vacuum tube computers were already around, but were yet to see production. Their applications were endless, especially when combined with magic, and petitions were coming in from across the country for time with said prototypes. The solution was obvious: build more.

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Another research time buff, and unlocking the next en/decryption level.

-

In a turn of events that surprised nopony, the company responsible for the single most advanced aircraft design on the entire planet was rewarded with a standing contract to provide experts to develop the rest of Equestria's air fleet. The "Northern" Development Bureau focussed more on fast, agile designs, rather than the heavier planes of Hoofley Page or the "strap a plane to the bombs" attitude of Las Pegasus Aeronautics, and this philosophy appealed the the Twin Princesses. Was elegance not the Equestrian way?

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-

October 29th, 1010

S.M.I.L.E EXTERNAL CORRESPONDENCE
EYES ONLY
HOOVES OFF!

Your Majesties,

Attached is my report into foreign interference vectors. Please note that as we have yet to discover an efficient way of un-masking Changelings, this report should be taken as a floor-level estimate.

Leaving the Changelings aside, I have discovered signifianct efforts from Stalliongrad to disseminate propaganda inside our borders. As many as three in every ten Equestrian civilians have become exposed to such propaganda - a number that you simply cannot ignore. We must not allow the Reds to turn our own citizens against us! Please, simply give the order, and I will have those responsible removed from our country immediately.

Your eternal servant,

Senior Agent Twinkle Bell

-

Dear Senior Agent Twinkle Bell,

Your letter to me earlier today was an unexpected pleasure. I was not expecting missives from an S.M.I.L.E letter, but it is always nice when one of my subjects takes the time to write to me.

However, it also filled me with disappointment. I understand that there are genuine efforts by unfriendly powers to infiltrate and subvert our society to their own twisted ends, but I think you are jumping at shadows - if you will excuse the idiom. The source of this "propaganda" you wrote about is a legitimate newspaper that is printed within Stalliongrad by enterprising ponies. While I am given to believe that it is biased towards their government's view, and is often critical of our own, this is to be expected. It is hardly a concerted efforts to forment revolution in Equestria - and, more importantly, is a representation of our good-will towards their nation. To "remove them from our country" would be to undo all of that hard work.

I will be assigning you to a trade mission to Stalliongrad, so that you may see with your own eyes that they are not the enemy you think they are.

My best wishes,

Princess Celestia.

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This is a weird event, because there's no reason to take the other option - its effects are all negative. There doesn't seem to be a follow-up event, either. On the plus side, it worked out nicely, in terms of narrative.

-

November 7th, 1010

Equestrian field tactics continued to evolve, with the implementation of fluid reserves into defensive plans.

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One problem that was persistent throughout exercise after exercise was that second-line formations, such as the Mage Companies and HQ Artillery batteries, simply could not co-ordinate properly with front-line battalions. Various measures were being trialled to fix this, ranging from increased radio saturation to simply bringing the second-line units further forwards.

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This is a split path in our doctrine; we can either give minor army-wide buffs or smaller specialised buffs. Given that we're using mage companies and support artillery, I chose the latter path. Plus, more organisation is always good.

November 17th, 1010

"So, what was the point of buildin' that there Cerberus if you'uns were just gonna build somethin' better a few months later? A bit like takin' a pig to a spa an' giving it a mud bath, ain't it?"

The assorted lab-coated technicians at least had the decency to look a little ashamed at Applejack's question. Once more, she'd been brought in to look at something she didn't fully understand - sure, she had expertise with farm machines, but the block of metal in front of her was as close to them as she was.

It looked... angular. More dangerous. The gun was certainly bigger. She frowned, trying to come up with any useful critique. "So it's better than the last'un, too?"

One of the techs perked up. "Better? Oh, you have no idea. The Cerberus was great, sure, but little more than an oversized Calico. Hardly revolutionary. The Riptide's bigger, sure, the gun's better, a seventy-five rather than a fifty-seven, there's all sorts of little improvements - stuff we learned from the Cerberuses- Cerberi? - in the field, but all of that's just incremental improvements. Like a larger apple-bucking bucket, or... I don't know, I'm not a farmer. No, the real cool stuff is in the armour and the engine. You see how the armour's sloped?" He didn't even wait for Applejack to respond before continuing; "That lets us get twice the performance from the same plate of armour - and the armour's thicker, too. Then there's the engine, which we took from the Spitfire fighter and tuned for ground-level work; much better performance than the Cerberus at three-quarters the weight. The suspension's all-new as well, and..."

Applejack began to regret her words. It looked like she'd be here a while.

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With the Riptide project completed, funds were made available to invest once more into Equestria's state-owned construction companies. These funds would be used to upgrade their fleets of vehicles once again, incorporating lessons learned from the Army's motorisation scheme and the Riptide project.

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-

November/Early December 1010

The ancient captial of the Griffons fell to the Griffonian Revolutionary State on the 18th of November; a foregone conclusion, given the disparity in equipment and experience between the two states.

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There wasn't much opportunity for the GRS to celebrate, however, as first the Kingdom of Wingbardy...

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then the Kingdom of Aquileia declared war upon the aggressive nation.

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...I think this is supposed to be the Aquileian Republic? Also, apparently I've been spelling "Aqueileia" wrong this whole time.

Military access was negotiated through the County of Franmistira, allowing the two nations to actually fight the GRS. Despite favourable terrain and a short front, the Griffon Revolutionary Army found itself being pushed back through early December, a result of its sheer exhaustion after ceaseless campaigns. Lead elements of the co-belligrent armies reached the outskirts of Griffonstone by the 4th, and it was unclear if the GRS would be able to survive the onslaught.

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-

December, remainder thereof, 1010

Yet another generation of machine tools was rolled out across Equestria.

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Some of these, along with new engineering vehicles and improved techniques, were beginning to find their way into the Equestrian Army's field engineer companies. The nascent Ministry of Defence decided to implement the best of these on a universal basis, allowing for better field fortifications and easier river crossings.

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-

It seemed that there was a shortage of wars on Griffonia, and that the Free Towns of Gryphus had decided to take matters into their own talons. With the major powers on the continent distracted with their own wars, they declared war on their neighbour: the Union of Free Cities.

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-

Development work finished on the Model 17 110mm Field Howitzer, rounding out the current generation of Equestrian weaponry. The Model 8 would remain in service for a time, as Equestria had built rather large stocks of 75mm shells for them which needed to be used, but production of the old piece would be suspended immediately.

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There were, however, issues with the first batch of Model 17s issued to field units. When designing the piece, the Canterlot Armoury had anticipated it would fire the Navy's 110mm shell design (used primarily on destroyers and some secondary batteries), which had thick armour-piercing casings. While this was a valid idea - after all, the Navy had plenty of shells - this was a stop-gap measure, and tests using purpose-built shells indicated that they could get 10% more firepower out of the gun - if it had a longer barrel to allow the shell to get up to speed. An upgrade programme was proposed and approved, continuing the fine Equestrian tradition of obsoleting a piece of equipment as soon as it entered service.

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-

For Typhoon, the work was finally finished. Five years ago, he and a select few other humans had been hired to teach Equestria how to use its new weapons and employ its new technology, and today that objective would be accomplished. With the official formation of the Ministry of Defence, there would be no further need for the Special Advisory Committee, and he could retire. Given he was still under thirty, he was quite looking forward to it. All he had to do was sit through one final meeting discussing who the Minister of Defence would be, then he was done. It'd probably be Prince Blueblood - the stallion was qualified, and had connections to boot, even though he was a prick - but that was Princess Celestia's problem.

Which is why it was a little bit of a shock when Princess Celestia turned to him and said "I'd like you to be my Minister of Defence."

Prince Blueblood was the first to break the silenced with a well-placed: "HIM? But he's not- he can barely even-"

Typhoon took enough time to compose himself. "For once, I have to agree with the Prince," he said. "I was barely even qualified for the job I'm doing now, let alone an actual government post!"

"We both know that's not true," Princess Celestia replied, regal as ever. "You've been performing this duty for five years now, and more besides. I cannot afford to lose you as war looms with the Changelings."

Princess Luna spoke up, a rarity in these meetings: "And I will be there to help you should you struggle. My sister and I have seen fit to reinstate me as a Field Marshal in the Army. And, of course, you can keep your current staff."

The implications of that little tidbit weren't lost on Typhoon - with a second Field Marshal available, Prince Blueblood could finally be replaced, ridding Equestria of a bloodthirsty officer - a well-trained one, but one Typhoon was sick to death of. The Prince seemed to have grapsed that fact, and was glaring at all of them in turn. Thankfully, he also seemed to grasp that speaking up right now was a bad idea.

Typhoon weighed his options; he could retire now... but it felt like he hadn't done enough. Like Princess Celestia had said, war with the Changelings was coming - recent S.M.I.L.E intelligence had reported a drastic uptick in anti-Equestrian propaganda - and if ponies were willing to put their lives on the line, then he could attend a few dozen more meetings and do vast quantities of paperwork. Besides, what would he even do if he retired? Wait for war to break out and then get drafted regardless?

"Alright, fine," he said. "But you're giving me a payrise."

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Moving into the new ministry took less time than he'd expected - it turned out Muffins had been told what Princess Celestia had planned - so Typhoon could turn his attention to his next order of business: readying the populace for imminent war. He asked the newly-annointed Princess-Marshal Luna to tour the country, along with veterans from the Changeling attack on Canterlot nearly a decade ago. They would speak about the Changeling threat, and along with some adverts in Equestria's newspapers, should help convince ponies that war was coming whether they liked it or not. As part of the campaign, new airfields were to be constructed near the border to provide a sense of security.

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So, while I could start on the main part of this tree, I decided to do this one first - it'll give us better forts on the border, and makes more sense narratively.

On an unrelated note, Flim and Flam (now freed from Typhoon's oversight, albiet now directly under the Four Princesses) appointed the Clousdale Weather Factory as Equestria's official industrial research contractor. They would help state-funded researchers put their ideas into practice in model factories, which would allow new techniques and machines to reach the factory floor that much sooner.

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Before the Princess-Marshal could set off on her tour, however, Prince-Marshal Blueblood made his move. In an interview with the Equestria Daily, he denounced the "weak and spineless" Four Princesses and Equestrian Parliament, calling for an immediate return to an absolute monarchy... with him in charge. It was a last-ditch attempt to remain in power, for he knew his time was limited.

Needless to say, his idea went down like a lead balloon tied to a diving whale. Within hours, Princess Celestia had officially stripped him of his command, and appointed Princess-Marshal Luna in his place.

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The new Field Marshal proved to be immensely popular with the troops, and morale soared. In exercises, troops fought with far more ferocity than they had ever showed with Blueblood in charge. Her staff made efforts to cultivate her image, presenting her as shy, yet unyielding when the fight came, while the Princess herself studied the art of defensive warfare.

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This is the screen where we can pick traits for our Generals and Field Marshals. As you can hopefully see, we need a spare trait slot and 15 Command Power to assign a trait, in this case "Charismatic". Before I talk about that trait, let's talk about the two Luna comes with: Godess of the Night and Warrior Princess. The first gives her some pretty nice buffs when units are fighting at night, while the second shortens the combat width of units under her by 10% (which, if I had noticed, would have meant I could add an extra 2-width battalion into every division) and ups the rate of their organisation recovery by 7.5%. Charismatic adds an extra 10% boost on top of that - although, since she's a field marshal all those bonuses (except for the combat width one, IIRC) are reduced. Some traits can unlock special tactics and orders, as well, although I don't think we're going to see any in this playthrough.

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I also give her the "Defensive Doctrine" trait, which adds a bonus to the defence (or maybe entrenchment?) of all divisions under her command - I think +10%, although I can't remember the specifics. I chose this over Offensive Doctrine (a slightly lesser attack boost) mostly for flavour reasons, but also because we need our units to stay in the fight longer - in previous playthroughs, I've always been outnumbered by the Changelings.

And so, another year came to a close. Wars continued to rage in Western and Central Griffonia, Stalliongrad huddled together with its new ally, the Dragons were content with their islands, and Equestria waited with bated breath to see if the Changelings would attack, or if peace would reign for another precious year.

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Bedlam
Jedi Master
Posts: 1320
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Location: Edinburgh, UK

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

Post by Bedlam » 2019-05-13 02:23pm

The Mark 0 Spitfire was a thing of beauty to Rainbow Dash's eyes. It was sleek, it was powerful, it was dangerous! She'd seen one fly, and while she was still faster, still sharper, the Spitfire was damned close. And, it had the advantage of carrying far more firepower - and for longer distances, too. The specimen in front of her was done up in REAF livery, with the Equestrian Air Force roundel on its wings and a tail number painted just behind the cockpit, and it was the first Mark 0 Spitfire in REAF service.
I would have thought the Mark 0 Spitfire would be the leader of the Wonderbolts, she did come first afterall.

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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 » 2019-05-13 03:13pm

Bedlam wrote:
2019-05-13 02:23pm

I would have thought the Mark 0 Spitfire would be the leader of the Wonderbolts, she did come first afterall.

There's a bit of a split in the REAF between those who, since Mark 0 is now taken, refer to the Wonderbolt as Mark I (in that she's the root of the line,) or Mark [whatever the current production model is +1] (e.g. Mark II right now, because she's superior to any possible machine). Eventually, the split became so infamous that it inspired a famous plot-line in the Wonderbolts' official comic book, later adapted into a feature-length movie.

In actual fact, the reason behind the controversial "Mark 0" name was marketing. A "Look at us, we made a plane that flies circles around anything else and it's our base model!" sort of thing.


*ahem* Out of character, the reason I used Mark 0 was because of a slight mistake I made when designing the Mark I variant. By default, the first variant you make is named the Mark I, and yeah I didn't change the name before saving it. I could have fixed it immediately thereafter - renaming things doesn't cost xp - but for some reason I didn't - I recorded this update so long ago I don't remember why.

So, when I came to write that part of the update, I had to come up with a narrative justification as to why the second version of the Spitfire was called the "Mark I". That reason was "Because they called the first model the Mark 0".

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