I played a bit as revolutionary Iran. Here are the notes.
Playing as a minor:
• there are three tiers of nations - majors (special focuses, tons of research slots), European minors (3 research slots), rest of the world (2 research slots)
• you can unlock one extra research slot fairly easily by focuses, there are two more to unlock later, but if you're playing as a minor you'll need to blob hard and join or start a faction - by late 1941 I still had only 2+1
• you sort of need to research industry tech, land doctrines, research bonuses, infantry tech, and support companies
• that leaves very little research available for air force (or doctrines), navy (or doctrines), tanks, artillery etc. - you can squeeze it one of them (I did basic artillery), maybe some light tanks or basic aircraft
• the only thing making research possible is that you can spend your focuses on research bonuses - unfortunately even then you're really far behind
• I started by mass building civilian factories, hoping to get to military factories later - then I captured a lot more civilian factories - all the time I had huge military factory deficit and armies with missing or obsolete equipment
• so I couldn't have tanks and air force because of both research and lack of military equipment
• Iran starts with 10 civilian and 1 military factories or something like that. For its army it needs 4 types of equipment (infantry, support, motorized, artillery) and it has 2 types of planes. That would require at least 10 military factories to produce in any meaningful amounts. Focuses only give 3 extra military factories, and these are fairly poor focuses otherwise.
• I suppose playing as European minor would mean enough research, assuming you don't care for navy and want only minimal air force and tanks. Strangely even big countries like China or Brazil are treated same as Bhutan.
• first war with Iraq my whole plan was to rush Bagdad and win this way, turns out that was not enough victory points - the game really needs to show how many victory points I need to take somewhere, preferably before the war
• after that I cut Iraqi forces from supplies, but my forces were also then cut out of supplies - it was fun double encirclement (layers West to East were Iraq - my army - trapped Iraqi army - Iran)
• that was fairly embarrassing, after that Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and Afghanistan were fairly straightforward
• then I attacked Turkey - it was like WW1, multiple slow pushes against entrenched infantry, mostly due to number of rivers and mountains everywhere
• I asked Soviets for military access and I wanted to draw battleplan from both my and Soviet territory - apparently that's not possible. Why?
• Turkey naval invaded Mecca with one division - I ignored that for quite some time, as they didn't try to reinforce the landing and move towards my unprotected territory - I ended up sending two divisions there later to clean it up
• all the campaign I used zero units to garrison the country, everybody was on the front lines all the time
• battle planner AI is really fucking dumb - not just suboptimal, totally retarded. You can use it in war like Germany vs Netherlands maybe, in anything remotely close to a real war turn it off
• but you really need the planning bonus - so you have to go through ridiculous steps of creating plan, letting AI accumulate the bonus, and then when war stars, deleting the plan (while keeping the bonus) and doing everything manually
• the whole idea of planning bonus to make people use battle planner - that's a huge game design failure
• one thing battle planner is OK at is just holding the line if you want your troops to rest a bit
• army mana is reasonably plentiful after you start fighting, it would be nice if everyone started with some army mana to setup divisions some sensible ways (like by including artillery and support companies) instead of being forced to fight first war with dumb divisions
• or just make division templates not use army mana, it's really pointless - it can still be used to make tank model variants etc., just like air/navy mana is used (there are no air/navy templates)
• due to the way combat width system works, you pretty much have to build combat width 20 (7 inf 2 art or 4 inf 4 art plus all supports) or combat width 40 divisions (11 inf 6 art plus all supports); of course none of existing templates are like that, so you get huge advantage over AI
• fuhrer mana is reasonably plentiful except very early
• you can use excess mana to support your ideology in foreign countries - most majors have some resistance, but it's not that huge; the only downside is that you want to do it as soon as possible, but early on mana is most limited
• that's weirdly one area where minors and majors (except Hitler who gets huge fuhrer mana bonus) are matched equally - or it's even easier as a minor as you don't need to spend any on navy/air force leaders
• Poland started a faction, Soviets attacked its ally Latvia, started big war, Poland seems to be losing, but it's still ongoing
• Germany tried to give some Romanian land to Hungary, Romania told them to fuck off, started WW2, weirdly Romania took over all of Hungary, Italy fell to France, so Axis in Europe is doing poorly even without Soviet involvement
• Japan conquered China, first time I see that
• all the unscripted minors do exactly nothing
• I was wondering if any of the countries I attacked might join a faction and screw me over, but none did - not sure about mechanics here
I don't think there's all that much point playing after conquest of Turkey, so I'll just leave it.