What Country Should I Play?

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This article is to answer the most agonizing question in any Paradox Game: who do I play?

Along with the discussion of the gameplay and features of the nation, this table includes:

  • Difficulty: How hard is this nation? (ranked by Civilian, Recruit, Regular, Veteran, and Elite)
  • Lore: what real-world/fictional nation is the culture and lore most similar to?
  • Gameplay: what HOI4 vanilla nation(s) does it play most similarly to, if any?

Equus

Country Gameplay
Equestria
Equestria

Difficulty: Regular (pre-Great War)
Recruit (post-G.W.)
Lore: MLP:FiM
Gameplay: USSR (during G.W.)
U.S (post-G.W.)

A very powerful but peaceful nation, the player will need to slowly adapt for the invasion from the technologically superior Flag of Changeling Lands Changelings. Most military reforms will only unlock just before the war begins, causing less experienced players to have great difficulty holding off the Changeling advance. However, the more land the Changelings take, the more their blood will dry, which can reward the player for their patience.

After the Great War, Equestria can become a superpower, with the ability to take on even Griffonian majors.

The player should be cautious, however, as war requires reforms to the peace-loving country, and Celestia may not take it well...

Changeling Lands
Changeling Lands

Difficulty: Veteran
Lore: MLP:FiM / Germany
Gameplay: Germany

The Flag of Changeling Lands Changeling Lands start with the best tech and armies in the game, and on a war footing, though its industry is inferior to Flag of Equestria Equestria's. The main goal is to build up a powerful army to smash through Equestria, whose defeat will leave you unbeatable.

The early game will focus on defeating Olenia, a weaker nation but with low infrastructure, a cold climate and lots of mountains that can bleed you.

The starting tech lends itself to a high armour strategy.

There is an alternate harmonic route with a civil war, but that route is largely uneventful, assuming Equestria stays harmonic.

Kingdom of Olenia
Kingdom of Olenia

Difficulty: Elite (no Equestrian help)
Regular (Equestrian help)
Lore: Nordic countries
Gameplay: Finland in Winter War and France in WW2

A decent nation, Flag of Kingdom of Olenia Olenia has the unfortunate position of being the first target of the hugely powerful Changeling Lands. Geography and natural advantages favour you, with icy cold, no infrastructure for the changelings, fort construction bonuses and troops that are specialised for winter and mountain operation.

However, the changelings so strongly outgun you that all of this is likely to be irrelevant.

Olenia can go harmonic and seek an alliance with Equestria. Although Equestria is not on a decent war footing so early on the game, the combined strength should make the battle winnable if played correctly.

Crystal Empire
Crystal Empire

Difficulty: Recruit (with allies)
Veteran (Sombra)
Lore: MLP:FiM
Gameplay: No real vanilla equivalent. Favours magical research and units.

The Flag of Crystal Empire Crystal Empire starts as an integrated puppet of Flag of Equestria Equestria. With terrible infrastructure and very low industry, they have a rough start. However, through quick industrialization by focuses, they can gain a respectable economy for its size and prepare for the looming war. Their focus tree has multiple strong buffs to magical research.

The Crystal Empire can stay as an Equestrian ally, providing a key hold area against the Flag of Changeling Lands Changelings, have a communist revolution and align with Flag of Stalliongrad Stalliongrad or even bring back the dreaded King Sombra, who can conquer Equestria with the help of the Changelings, Stalliongrad or the Flag of Lunar Empire Lunar Empire. The last option provides the highest ponypower amount for later expansion. Overall a very flavourful nation.

Nova Griffonia
Nova Griffonia

Difficulty: Regular
Lore: Mix of Western Griffonian cultures/Yiddish
Gameplay: No vanilla equivalent. Build up then go to war with or ally neighbours.

Flag of Nova Griffonia Nova Griffonia starts with a decent industry, good tech, and research ability, and the Flag of Griffon Frontier Griffon Frontier as its puppet of which you will eventually annex. With powerful industrial focuses, they can easily become the dominant nation in Northern Equus. The only major threat they has to worry about is Flag of Stalliongrad Stalliongrad.

Nova Griffonia remains non-aligned for 2 years; In 1009 can choose between 5 political paths, including a capitalist path that allows them to sell mercenaries to other nations. Other paths will see them become expansionist and gain war goals on their neighbours. The exception is the harmonic path which will instead see them creating a faction with their neighbours.

Kingdom of Yakyakistan
Kingdom of Yakyakistan

Difficulty: Regular
Lore: MLP:FiM/Mongolia
Gameplay: Defensive

The Flag of Kingdom of Yakyakistan Yakyakistan starts with a weak industry and as an agrarian society which gives heavy penalties to industry and research. They can eventually gain core on the Flag of Jaki-Clan Jaki-Clan and industrialise, making them a key player in Northern Equus. Research ability is quite low with a max of 3 research slots.

The main threats are Flag of Nova Griffonia Nova Griffonia who will attack Yakyakistan in most of its political paths and Flag of Stalliongrad Stalliongrad if Sinister was elected as general secretary. Has an opportunity to create a faction with the Flag of Polar Bear Communities Polar Bear Communities and the Flag of Kingdom of Pingland Kingdom of Pingland.

Griffonia

Country Gameplay
Kingdom of Wingbardy
Kingdom of Wingbardy

Difficulty: Recruit
Lore: Italy
Gameplay: Italy except strong

While Wingbardy starts off crippled by several national spirits that needs to be removed via its focus tree, Its one of the most powerful nations on the Griffonia continent with a high industry and the leader of an already established faction.

Unless Wingbardy is Harmonic its gameplay tends to be aggressive as it will usually expand into its weaker eastern neighbours and eventually attack the Flag of Griffonian Empire Griffonian Empire.

Communist Wingbardy is generally agreed to be fairly OP at present.

Griffonian Empire
Griffonian Empire

Difficulty: Regular (normally) / Recruit (if Republican Pact doesn't form)
Lore: Holy Roman Empire
Gameplay: No vanilla equivalent. Blob rapidly, everyone tries to kill you.

The Griffonian Empire starts small but respectable, plus a very large collection of loose vassals. Half of these will secede and you will spend the next few years integrating your remaining vassals and conquering the breakaways.

This will give you excellent manpower and industry, which you can use to steamroll the rest of the continent, becoming the continental superpower. The only thing going against you is that everyone on the continent wants you dead, as defeating you will give them cores on the Empire.

The Griffonian Empire is locked into an expansionist path. It can't go Communist or Harmonic.

Kingdom of Aquileia
Kingdom of Aquileia

Difficulty: Regular
Lore: Revolutionary / Monarchist France
Gameplay: No vanilla equivalent. Reconquer and blob, form alliances, defeat the Empire.

Aquileia starts out small with 4 vassals, below average technology and a relatively weak industry. However, all paths allow you to annex some or all of your vassals and neighbours and gain their lands as cores, which allows you to turn into a resource-rich populous powerhouse with a strong industry. Focuses also let you to reach good technology fairly fast. The republican path allows you to form the Entente with the Flag of Griffonian Republic Griffonian Republic and Flag of Skyfall Trade Federation Skyfall, which can aid you greatly when facing the expansionist Flag of Griffonian Empire Griffonian Empire.

Aquileia has harmonic, socialist and supremacist paths as well as two non-alinged paths.

Skyfall Trade Federation
Skyfall Trade Federation

Difficulty: Veteran (no allies) / Regular (allies)
Lore: Venice / Amsterdam / Hanseatic League
Gameplay: Build lots, strong navy, fight the Empire.

Skyfall starts in an apparently poor position, with low resources, and stuck on Free Trade law. However, with a very strong navy, insanely powerful production bonuses, the help of trade partners and a lot of civilian factories, Skyfall punches far above its weight, and will give difficulties to any of the major powers.

Flag of Griffonian Empire Griffonian Empire will likely take you on, especially on the Archon path. However, Flag of Kingdom of Aquileia Aquileia can form the Entente if you are both Harmonist, giving you the support you need to take over the Empire.

Grand Duchy of Feathisia
Grand Duchy of Feathisia

Difficulty:Varies - typically Veteran
Lore: Netherlands
Gameplay: Poland / Austria

Powerful vassal of the Flag of Griffonian Empire Griffonian Empire who will be one of the first to withstand its onslaught. Should they hold off the Empire, they will emerge as one of the most powerful nations on the continent.

It has an extremely unique political mechanic around forming Coalition governments, with a huge number of very detailed paths (including secret ones) and potential for an unusual civil war.

A Harmonic / Non-Aligned route will allow you to attempt to marry with the Duchess of the Flag of Strawberry Duchy Strawberry Duchy, merging the two nations or even taking over the entire empire.

Commonwealth of New Mareland
Commonwealth of New Mareland

Difficulty: Varies (Many paths)
Lore: Australia / British Dominions / Memes / MLP:FiM
Gameplay: Australia / Czechoslovakia

NM's experience varies because of its whopping 15 different political paths - the most important decision is whether to work with Equestria or not, which can help protect you late game. Alternate paths support neutral or even very aggressive plans.

But the main paths will be familiar to any player of vanilla Australia, NM has conscription and economic laws locked away for a long time, which compounds the problems with the small population. Flag of Kingdom of Wingbardy Wingbardy, a very powerful nation, will likely try to attack you in the mid-late game.

NM has a variety of ideas and spirits to support defensive play, and works well with fortification focuses. Late game, its powerful variety of national spirits give it some very strong bonuses.

Griffonian Republic
Griffonian Republic

Difficulty: Veteran (no allies)
Regular (allies)
Lore: Varies (Danish, Chinese, German, OC)
Gameplay: Unique

The Griffonian Republic starts off with several internal problems and a game-ending civil war can occur if not properly managed. Will have to pick difficult choices on how to solve these issues with there generally being a faster but less beneficial option and a longer but more beneficial option. At the end of its focus tree it can embrace the 3 Principles of Griffon which gives several powerful bonuses.

The Flag of Griffonian Empire Griffonian Empire will eventually attack you. With much lower manpower and industry it will be difficult to defeat the Empire. However you can choose to ally with Flag of Kingdom of Aquileia Aquileia, Flag of Skyfall Trade Federation Skyfall, and other smaller republics which can greatly improve you chances of victory.

County of Longsword
County of Longsword

Difficulty: Regular (Communist and Non-Aligned) Veteran (Fascist)
Lore: Nazi-occupied Lithuania
Gameplay: Fight against opponents far stronger than you

Most notably has a very unique civil war which always happens several months into the game. It's basically three nations bundled in one, each with several unique focus trees and paths. The fascist path is notoriously difficult, and it requires a skilled player to defeat the forces of the military junta and the socialists.
Ordensstaat Hellquill
Ordensstaat Hellquill

Difficulty: Regular (Harmony and Non Aligned) Veteran (Fascist)
Lore: Teutonic Order
Gameplay: Fight against opponents far stronger than you

The Knightly Order of Hellquill is an interesting minor nation to play in the more eastern parts of Griffonia. The main player path is embracing the fascist Reformisten and leading an enjoyable, difficult if not morally compromising war against the entire Riverlands.
Gryphian Host
Gryphian Host

Difficulty: Regular
Lore: Ukraine / Cossacks
Gameplay: Varied

The Gryphian Host is an interesting nation because of its large amount of expansion options in Southern Griffonia. If Fascist, it can easily defeat Lushi, Gryphus, and Brodfeld/Prywhen, establishing a Southern Pact and eventually taking out the River Federation. If Communist, it can do much of the same except you have options to ally with the Griffon Liberation Army. With that you have the opportunity to be a vital ally in the fight against reactionary monarchism in Griffonia!

However, many Riverlands nations have options to go to war with the Gryphian Host, including Lake City and Wittenland. One who wants to play the cossacks of the South should look closely at what the nations of the Riverlands are doing and plan accordingly. In the harmonic path, you can try to join the River Coalition.

A skilled player should have no trouble succeeding as the Host, unless they are severely impaired by an expansionist AI River Coalition.

Yale Rectorate
Yale Rectorate

Difficulty: Regular
Lore: Country ruled by universities
Gameplay: Survive against the Empire, then inherit their position

Yale is a small country that starts as a vassal of the Griffonian Empire, but has an enormous amount of content and a wide variety of paths to choose from. You can remain loyal to the Empire, conduct forbidden experiments for surprising results, keep the universities in power and form a technocracy or rise up and create a militant anarchist commune. Yale has good industry and excellent research, making it easier to fight against the Empire. Once the Empire has been defeated, a new extension to the focus tree is unlocked depending on what path you chose, allowing for further development and conquest.
River Republic
River Republic

Difficulty: Regular (Normal), Veteran (Caramel Haze)
Lore: United States, Yugoslavia, Soviet Union
Gameplay: Unite the Riverlands one way or another and defend them against the Empire

The River Republic is the founder of the River Coalition and as such starts as its leader. They have communist, non-aligned and harmonist paths. Which path you go down is decided during the first focus "Divided government" and its associated events and decisions. Harmony path will focus on either internal development and the coalition (this path gives an extra point for the federation race) or securing the outer borders of the Coalition in the Golden Curtain path. The non-aligned path will focus on destroying the Flag of Griffonian Empire Griffonian Empire before it can threaten you. The communist path has two branches, market socialist and Stalinist. The former will try to unite the Riverlands with unique subversion and influence mechanics while the latter will simply go to war with the ENTIRE COALITION.

The Republic also has a diverse military tree which contains several interactions with other coalition members as well as unique decisions.

Nimbusia
Nimbusia

Difficulty: Civilian (Stay with River Coalition) / Veteran (Leave River Coalition)
Lore: Ancient Greece
Gameplay: Protector of the River Coalition or war with the River Coalition

A powerful member of the River Coalition. Nimbusia's strength lies in its strong army although many other aspects of it does suffer. Nimbusia starts in a favorable position with no direct threats and weak neighbors in the south to annex. It has a unique political struggle at the start that will require balancing party popularity and stability. The important decision is what foreign policy path it will follow which is available depending on which political faction won the political struggle. 2 of the foreign policy branches will allow it to stay in the River Coalition while the other more difficult branch will see Nimbusia leaving and going to war with the River Coalition.

It also has access to the unique sea cloud carrier unit and bonuses to its army from its focus tree. Overall it is a very unique and flavorful nation.

Lake City
Lake City

Difficulty: Civilian (Stay with River Coalition) / Veteran (Leave River Coalition)
Lore: Serbia, Japan
Gameplay: Usually goes on the offensive against the Coalition's enemies.

Lake City stands as one of the most powerful nations of the River Coalition and has a multitude of ways to expand into their Griffonian neighbors, with a particularly strategic position in regards to its proximity to Griffon nations. Lake City has an event chain at the beginning that will allow you to choose between many different paths, including a monarchy that as the ability to proclaim the Holy Pony Empire and conquer the entire River Coalition. Its paths allow it to pursue numerous ideological paths and foreign policy positions, such as a Harmonic path that will invade Flag of Griffon Liberation Army PLA (Prywhen) but also race for the River Federation, and militaristic Non-Aligned and Fascist paths that can conquer most of Southern Griffonia and the Griffking River Basin.

Zebrica

Country Gameplay
Chiropterra
Chiropterra

Difficulty: Recruit
Lore: MLP canon, Nazi Germany
Gameplay: Italy(?) posses both a good industry and navy, but they aren't quite a world power at the start, quite capable on your own but you'll constantly be helping other, pehaps more powerful nations.

This is a nation that has a massive split of 2 paths right at the start, dependent on Equestria's actions, and both are worth playing, one taking you to Equus and the other focusing on North Zebrica and both the Equestrian Civil war and the North Zebrican war can be decided by you, but your allies will help carry theit weight so you don't have to do so alone (and it also allows beginners to mess around a bit).


The political situation is centered around 2 factions working together and the leaders you choose though the decision carry with them advisors that change the balance from moderates to radicals, but otherwise simple to learn.

Tobuck
Tobuck

Difficulty: Veteran
Lore: The Country is essentially a city-state run by a façade Democracy led by a gun runner and warlords.
Gameplay: Netherlands/Belgium: Small territory, but room for economic growth and expansion.

Tobuck is caught between a rock and a hard place, with Chiropterra and Zarantia both looking to expand and take you out relatively quickly. On top of this, your first year of gameplay is dedicated to helping the country leader embezzle money out of the county. While it is certainly a interesting story with a unique mechanic, it also hampers your growth in the early years.

However, Tobuck has a variety of different paths you can take, and has lots of different outcomes and choices, making it a very interesting and replay-able nation.

Yarildom of Chital
Yarildom of Chital

Difficulty: Recruit
Lore: A foreigner elite rules the country, creating an unstable nation in an already unstable region.
Gameplay: Brazil (a normal fish on a small pond)

This nation is the largest in it's area and doesn't enter in conflict with other major powers until the late game, unless the player actively pursues otherwise. The political situation is well told and understandable, while the paths you can take are clear and easy to follow.