7 Best Defensive Nations To Play in EU4This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Some nations in EU IV specialize in building up defensible, unconquerable territories. Playing as these nations can be especially fun in multiplayer, since no player will bother trying to siege your land after a point.
In single player, it can also be fun seeing the AI desperately trying to siege down your mountain forts, losing all their manpower in the process. A small and effective army should be employed to occasionally beat them in the mountains and send them packing.
Of course, picking defensive ideas and stacking all available bonuses to increase your “fort defense” and “attrition for enemies” modifiers is highly advised.
This list will rank the best defense-focused countries based on how fun they are to play, plus their geographic location (how defensible their “core” terrain is), and their access to the relevant defensive bonuses.
Albania begins the game in great peril.
The Ottomans have cores on your land, and you are bound to be an early target of theirs, possibly the first. Luckily, you have the tools necessary to turn the tide.
Albania starts with a +20% fort defense bonus and both its provinces are mountainous terrain with forts.
As Albania, you will get the feeling of playing as a fortress from day one. Taking advantage of your mountain forts is the only way to beat the Ottomans with your allies’ help.
However, the rest of the campaign will see you being far more often on the offensive. Driving the Ottomans back will be the main concern of the rest of your early campaign.
Albania doesn’t enjoy any “attrition for enemies” modifier, which is the other major bonus defining a nation as defensive. Lacking discipline and combat ability in its national ideas, Albania falls short of the competition.
Still, with a unique achievement “Albania or Iberia” available only by playing as Albania, the nation is always a consideration for a campaign.
Mushasha in my opinion is one of the most underrated nations in the game.
It can easily transition to other formable nations in the area, while its early game can be quite explosive.
However, the lack of unique achievements understandably contributes to its lack of popularity.
Let’s see why Mushasha is part of this list though:
It’s important to note that Mushasha begins the game with a lot of marsh provinces. Many people forget that these provide -1 dice roll to attackers, much like hills.
This marshy terrain is the explanation behind Mushasha’s +20% fort defense and +1 attrition for enemies. Conquering the nearby Persian highlands can make you an impregnable fortress when combined with defensive ideas and policies!
In general, the Persian idea set is superior to your starting one, but for a unique playstyle it can be fun to form Persia as Mushasha and keep the Mushasha idea set.
It’s always fun seeing unending Ottoman stacks desperately trying to siege your fortress while you occasionally drive them back with all the defensive bonuses in your favor.
Maya is a formable nation in Mesoamerica, and it can be a pain to form.
However, after reforming the native religion and forming the unified Maya confederation, you are rewarded with an uninvadable powerhouse.
While it has only +15% fort defense along with the standard +1 attrition for enemies, Maya makes up for it with its military bonuses from its national ideas and religious reforms.
The development cost reduction from the national idea set allows for a comfortable tall gameplay even in harsh terrain.
With a few grassland provinces amidst jungles and hills, developing your lands can be a hard task.
On top of all that, its isolated location works in the Mayan’s favor defense-wise.
With only two narrow land stretches connecting Mesoamerica to the rest of the continent, fortifying them will be a cheap investment.
Investment in the navy is also a good idea here, so you don’t ever have to defend the coastline. Although with your military bonuses, amphibious landings can end in a disaster for your enemies!
Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, couldn’t be missing from our list.
Afghanistan enjoys a +25% fort defense bonus along with the standard +1 attrition for enemies.
Its mountainous terrain gives you plenty of options regarding fort placement. But Afghanistan’s national idea set doesn’t provide any noteworthy military buffs in terms of troop quality, sadly.
This lack of military capabilities along with better formable nations in the area makes playing as an Afghan fortress nation a not-so appealing option.
Even in multiplayer, it’s unlikely the region around you will be crowded, so you can always go for the Persia or Mughal formables.
There are more fun “fortress nations” out there, while Afghanistan’s gameplay usually will involve rushing to conquer Delhi and form the Mughal empire.
Georgia’s core land is a natural fortress. Protected by the impassable mountains of the Caucasus to the north, and surrounded by mountain provinces to the south, everyone will think twice before attempting to strike into the Georgian heartland.
Georgia enjoys +25% fort defense, but no attrition for enemies. This isn’t a huge deal; fort defense is your main concern.
And Georgia makes up for it with some awesome military modifiers that are geared towards punching above your weight.
An incredible -20% infantry cost and +10% infantry combat ability, along with bonuses to manpower recovery speed and monthly war exhaustion reduction, give you the necessary tools to sustain prolonged defensive wars.
Georgia can also be employed as a march in your campaigns as nearby nations.
In a Persian run, for example, a Georgian march is everything you can ask for. Among all the amazing military buffs, a march vassal enjoys another +20% fort defense!
Italy finds itself in the unique position of being a natural fortress due to geography alone.
Even if the nation had zero ideas relevant to defensive capabilities, I’d still include it in this list.
Italy has +20% fort defense in its national idea set which further reinforces the argument.
The Italian peninsula lies in the shadow of the impassable Alps to the north. There are only 5 entrance points into the peninsula, and all of them go through mountainous or hilly terrain.
You can literally make the peninsula a fortress with only 5 strategically placed forts!
Of course, you’re still vulnerable to naval invasions.
But a unified Italy comes with a whopping +20% galley combat ability, which you can further buff by investing in your navy. Even if some troops sneak through, beating them in a single battle means they are wiped. They have nowhere to retreat.
Italy gets only two modifiers for its army, but they are enough to make them a powerhouse. +33% manpower and +15% infantry combat ability will drive back any and all armies trying to cross the Alps.
Switzerland undoubtedly takes the cake in our ranking.
Across the Alps from Italy, Switzerland is a natural fortress.
The Swiss also have access to a permanent +10% fort defense from their mission tree, on top of the +25% from their national ideas.
The northwest part of the country is exposed, as the core Swiss lands include 3 grassland provinces.
However, all three of these provinces can be protected by a nearby mountain fort. Avoid building forts on the plains; keep to the mountains!
Switzerland is in a better position regarding gameplay when compared to say Georgia or Afghanistan.
In multiplayer, most of the action will be in Europe. You can keep to your mountains and rent out mercenaries to the various warring states.
In single player, Switzerland has a unique achievement, “Switzerlake” available.
While the achievement wants you to conquer 99 provinces, you can always have a chill defensive campaign and finish the achievement after a conquering spree in the late game.
Remember, vassals are also an option early on!
Your military capabilities as Switzerland are excellent too, as the nation enjoys a couple of strong buffs including discipline. The focus on mercenaries is a unique aspect that can offer an alternative style of gameplay – one that compliments your potential lack of manpower.