This article is not considered accurate for the current version of the game. Its status was last updated for Vanilla.
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Switzerland starts the game almost entirely amongst friends. It shows some animosity against Austria and Savoy - the latter quite understandably - but otherwise enjoys neutral to friendly relations with its neighbors. The five starting provinces are waiting to be joined by two more captured by Savoy in a recent war in the southwest, and there's even a handy mission ready to do just that. Gaining good relations with France and building a solid defense against Austria are two reasonable goals in the mid term.
It is also the fourth largest independent nation in the HRE. Austria, Bohemia, and Savoy are the largest respectively.
Switzerland is faced with one major enemy in the beginning: Savoy. It is recommended for the player to ally with Milan, Burgundy, France, or Austria in an attempt to destroy the Savoyard menace. It is in the best interest of the player to 'retake' the western part of modern day Switzerland, followed by the vassalization of Savoy. From there, there are three main options that a Swiss player will encounter.
Invading Burgundy or France
French and Burgundian land are perhaps the best provinces in the game. However, it is necessary to first defeat the French inhabitants. This is only possible for a Swiss player to achieve if Burgundy or France are at war with each other or with the English. This is the riskiest strategy, but it has the highest turnoff.
After securing Savoy, the next logical step may be to push into the boot of Italy. This decision is probably the best of the three choices, as it allows for a Swiss naval force as well as expanding out of the HRE in due time. However, the Italians are not initially a culture that Switzerland accepts. Over time, the high naval forcelimit and base tax of Italy will allow for the Swiss to catapult into Germany.
Invading Germany after the vassalization of Savoy could eventually lead into the formation of Germany. However, the player will be left with little to no ports and he/she may incur the wrath of the Holy Roman Emperor or of any border nation like Burgundy or France. The best part of this plan is that Switzerland is already German, so expanding into fellow German provinces is fairly logical.