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Italy is a major nation primarily located in the Italian peninsula and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia to the west. It also contains territory in Zara (on the Dalmatian coast)and the Dodecanese (Aegean sea), with African colonies in Libya, Eritrea and Somalia. Its terrain is mainly made of hills, with the peninsula having some coastal plains on the east and west sides of its rugged central spine - important defensive terrain if fighting up or down the peninsula. Its location in the center of the Mediterranean causes Italy to be a dominant force in the region. In game the country has a modest to respectable military, with the navy being its strongest asset. Both branches have immediate adversaries to face, as the French to the west are a constant threat, while the British also vie for control of the Mediterranean Sea, and both powers maintain rival colonies abroad.
- 1 Historical background
- 2 Events
- 3 National focus
- 4 Technology
- 5 Politics
- 6 Economy
- 7 Military
- 8 Strategies and Guides
- 8.1 Addressing the Nation
- 8.2 War Preparations (Early game)
- 8.3 Early-game actions
- 8.4 Mid-game options
- 8.5 Miscellaneous Tips
- 9 Achievements
Italy was a member of the victorious Entente when World War 1 ended in 1918. In exchange for promises of significant territorial expansion, Italy had sided with the French and British. With the war's end, Italy had anticipated its promised reward would be commensurate with Italian losses in the Alps. But at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference the three pre-eminent powers (the US, the UK and France) largely broke with their promises to lesser allies: Italy gained only the provinces of South Tyrol and Trieste, while the British and French divided the colonial world between them. Regions Italy had long considered as Italian, such as Corsica and Tunisia, remained under French control, while what German colonies there were went mostly to the British.
Italy conquered ( Ethiopia and Albania) prior to its entry into World War II. Despite the Pact of Steel with Germany, Italy did not join in the war until June 1940, planning to get a share of Allied territory with the defeat of France. Italy's war effort went beyond poorly, With Italy suffering a humiliating defeat in Greece. Later, Italy invaded British-controlled Egypt but the attack was beat back handedly and the Italian army was pushed back into Libya and eventually expelled from Africa completely. The Allies launched a naval invasion of Italy in the summer of 1943 and Mussolini's government collapsed.
The new royal government of Marshal Pietro Badoglio signed an armistice with the allies, but most of the country was quickly occupied by the Germans who established a puppet government under Mussolini's leadership, the Italian Social Republic, in Northern Italy. Badoglio and the king escaped to Brindisi without giving any order to the army. The royal government remained in control of the south, declared war on Germany, and declared itself as the government of all of Italy shortly before the end of the war in the spring of 1945. Significant partisan actions took place in northern Italy. Italy would eventually recover from the war and, along with France, Germany and the low countries, would become one of the founding members of the European Union. However it lost the region of Istria and the Dalmatian city of Zadar to Yugoslavia, and all its colonies.
- Main article: Italian events
- Main article: Italian national focus tree
Italy, as one of the seven major powers, gets a unique national focus tree.
Italy has an interesting national focus tree with five different branches:
- Ethiopian War Logistics
- A smaller tree which focuses on industrial build up.
- Army Primacy
- Strengthens your army research.
- Mare Nostrum
- The big naval strengthening tree.
- Light Ship Focus
- Destroyer & Submarine benefits.
- Triumph in Africa
- The big political and diplomatic tree, where you have lots of different choices on who to befriend and conquer.
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.3.
Italy starts with four research slots and can gain one from its focus tree.
|Army Technology||Naval Technology||Air Technology||Electronics & Industry|
- Acceptance of Communist Diplomacy: −10
- Acceptance of Democratic Diplomacy: −10
- Acceptance of Fascist Diplomacy: +10
- AI Modifier: Focus on Offense: +50%
- Justify war goal time: −5%
Italy starts at war with Ethiopia, which is something they will be focusing on for the first months of the game. The Italian technological superiority pretty much guarantees that they will win the war. The new transportation mechanics makes it less of a hassle to strengthen this theatre, and less of a hassle to move back troops afterwards. At the 1936 start date, Italy has no alliances, but is guaranteeing Albania.
The political parties in Italy and their popularity remain the same in both the 1936 and 1939 scenario with Benito Mussolini's Partito Nazionale Fascista ruling with overwhelming support, followed by the democratic Partito Popolare Italiano with significant popularity.
The following table may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.5.
|Conscription Law||Economy Law||Trade Law|
| Limited Conscription
|| Partial Mobilization
|| Limited Exports
Italy's industry is quite modest compared to other major powers. The country's limited production and construction power will seriously undermine its war effort if not dealt with swiftly.
19 Military Factories
11 Naval Dockyard
20 Civilian Factories
These numbers represent the available resources, depending on trade law a certain amount may be traded away.
Italy has 39 divisions in 1936. Of these:
- Two are Raggruppamenti Celere with 4x cavalry and no support.
- Five are Divisione Alpina with 6x mountaineers, engineers, support artillery, and high reinforcement priority.
- Five are Divisione Coloniale with 6x infantry, no support, and low reinforcement priority.
- Three are Divisione Celere with 4x cavalry, 2x motorized infantry, 1x light tank, and high reinforcement priority.
- The remaining 24 are Divisione di Fanteria with 6x infantry and engineers.
The land borders of Italy's core territory (France, Switzerland, Austria - later German Reich - and Yugoslavia) are all mountains or hills (except for the city of Nice), and naval invasions will be necessary to control the Mediterranean, so a mix of mountaineers and marines is recommended for special forces expansion.
In terms of technology, Italy's support weapons, armour and artillery are outdated, the only special forces available are mountain infantry, and the only support companies available are engineers. Modernization and research will be needed.
|1936||SPA Dovunque 41||Motorized I|
|1941||Fiat 665NM protetto||Mechanized I|
|1943||Breda 61||Mechanized II|
|1945||SPA Dovunque 35 protetto||Mechanized III|
|Name||Type||Techyear||Tank Destroyer / SP-Artillery / Armored AA Variants|
|Great War Tank||1918||None|
|L3||Light Tank I||1934||None|
|L6||Light Tank II||1936||None|
|L8||Light Tank III||1941||None|
|M15||Medium Tank I||1939||M.43 105/25 (TD) / M15/42 Carro Contraereo (AAA)|
|M16||Medium Tank II||1941||None|
|M20/43||Medium Tank III||1943||None|
|P75||Heavy Tank I||1934||None|
|P26||Heavy Tank II||1941||None|
|P43||Heavy Tank III||1943||None|
|Il Duce||Super Heavy Tank||1943||None|
Examples of alternative division template names for Italy include:
- Mountaineers - Divisione Alpina
- Marines - Divisione Marine
- Paratroopers - Divisione Paracadutisti
- Motorized - Divisione Motorizzata
- Mechanized - Divisione Meccanizzata
- Armor - Divisione Corazzata
The Regia Marina is rather sizable, it is however not very modern. The only 1936 naval tech that Italy possesses is the Caio Duilio battleship, though it does possess upgraded versions of the 1922 heavy cruiser, light cruiser, destroyer, and submarine. Italy also has several ships under construction. 2 Caio Duilio Class battleships that are about 20% finished. A Montecuccoli class light cruiser that is almost finished along with two Maestrale Class destroyers and a Sirena Class submarine.
|Soldati Class||Destroyer II||1936|
|Ciclone Class||Destroyer III||1940|
|Medaglie d'Oro Class||Destroyer IV||1944|
||Light Cruiser I||1922|
|Duca degli Abruzzi Class||Light Cruiser II||1936|
|Capitani Romani Class||Light Cruiser III||1940|
|San Marco Class||Light Cruiser IV||1944|
||Heavy Cruiser I||1922|
|San Giorgio Class||Heavy Cruiser II||1936|
|Pisa Class||Heavy Cruiser III||1940|
|Garibaldi Class||Heavy Cruiser IV||1944|
|Caracciolo Class||Battlecruiser I||1922|
|Principe Amadeo Class||Battlecruiser II||1940|
|Conte Di Cavour Class||Battleship I||1922|
|Caio Duilio Class||Battleship II||1936|
|Littorio Class||Battleship III||1940|
|Impero Class||Battleship IV||1944|
|Regina Margherita Class||Super Heavy Battleship I||1936|
|Regina Elena Class||Super Heavy Battleship II||1944|
|Giusseppe Miraglia Class||Carrier I||1922|
|Falco Class||Carrier II||1936|
|Aquila Class||Carrier III||1940|
|Sparviero Class||Carrier IV||1944|
|Perla Class||Submarine II||1936|
|Marconi Class||Submarine III||1940|
|Pietro Calvi Class||Submarine IV||1944|
48 Close Air Support
72 Naval Bombers
288 Tactical Bombers
Upgrading the interwar fighters and bombers to at least 1936 level is a priority for the air force, as is simply expanding the country's contingent of fighters to a size that can achieve air superiority over the home land and sea regions to fend off strategic bombing and port strike missions.(The Allies (AI) can easily send over 1000 bombers and fighters respectively to Italy.) If carriers are to be built, naval variants of fighters, naval bombers, and perhaps close air support will also be needed as a priority, otherwise the carriers are useless.
|Name||Type||Tech year||Carrier variant|
|Fiat CR.32||Interwar Fighter||1933|
|Macchi C.200 Saetta||Fighter I||1936||Macchi IC.200 Saetta|
|Macchi C.202 Folgore||Fighter II||1940||Macchi IC.202|
|Fiat G.55 Centauro||Fighter III||1944||Fiat G.55S Centauro|
|Reggiane Re.2007||Jet Fighter I||1945|
|Reggiane Re.2008||Jet Fighter II||1950|
|Breda Ba.65||CAS I||1936||Breda Ba.65bis|
|Breda Ba.88 Lince||CAS II||1940||Reggiane Re.2001G/H Falco II|
|Breda Ba.201||CAS III||1944||Breda Ba.201bis|
|Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero||Naval Bomber I||1936||Savoia-Marchetti SM.79-II Sparviero|
|Savoia-Marchetti SM.84||Naval Bomber II||1940||Savoia-Marchetti SM.84-II|
|Savoia-Marchetti SM.89||Naval Bomber III||1944||Savoia-Marchetti SM.89-II|
|Caproni Ca.101||Interwar Bomber||1933|
|Fiat BR.20 Cicogna||Tactical Bomber I||1936|
|Cant Z.1007bis Alcione||Tactical Bomber II||1940|
|Cant Z.1080 Leone||Tactical Bomber III||1944|
|(No name)||Jet Tactical Bomber I||1945|
|(No name)||Jet Tactical Bomber II||1950|
|IMAM Ro.57||Heavy Fighter I||1936|
|IMAM Ro.58||Heavy Fighter II||1940|
|Savoia-Marchetti SM.92||Heavy Fighter III||1944|
|Piaggio P.50||Stategic Bomber I||1936|
|Piaggio P.108||Strategic Bomber II||1940|
|Piaggio P.133||Stategic Bomber III||1944|
|(No name)||Jet Stategic Bomber I||1950|
Strategies and Guides
Addressing the Nation
The Kingdom of Italy is a very ambitious nation, a little too ambitious perhaps. It is counted as a major power, yet its industrial capacity and population are inferior to that of the other European major powers (at just 50 factories, split between 19 military factories, 20 civilian factories and 11 naval dockyards), being more on par with some of the bigger minor countries, like Brazil for instance. If Italy wishes to realize its ambitions of forging a New Roman Empire, the country will have to increase its industrial capacity by a noticeable amount in order to bring it up to par with other European major powers. With Waking the Tiger expansion out, one option for italy is to convert all the Military factories: of Piedmont(158) state into 7 Civilian factories: thus will give you a massive boost in construction building time for the rest of the game.
As far as the Italian military is concerned, Italy starts off with 39 divisions, a decent number, but most of the division templates are of somewhat sub-par quality and most of, if not all of them, will have to be rearranged and redesigned in order to make them more modern. Luckily enough, Italy starts off at war with Ethiopia, making it an easy source of early-game military experience. Considering that Italy is a peninsular nation and a lot of Italy's early-to-mid-game activity is going to be happening in and around the Mediterranean Sea, it would also be a wise choice to invest into building up Italy's naval capacity, the Italian Navy is decently sized, but somewhat outdated for the time. New ship designs will have to be invested into and the Italian shipbuilding capacity expanded, as a final note, it may also be a good option to invest some time into fortifying the Italian coastline or at least parts of it as Italy is very vulnerable to naval invasions should the Italian Navy be overpowered by an enemy or Italy itself be caught off guard.
War Preparations (Early game)
Regardless of the player's faction choice, Italy should spend the remaining time until late 1939 strengthening both economy and army: this is the time to research the industrial focus tree, which will give Italy a good number of both civilian and military factories, and most notably two free oil refineries in Benghazi, along with 8 oil in Sirte, a critical asset for any future vehicle and aircraft production, since Italy has no oil nor rubber in its territories. Military technologies should have the priority: improved artillery, anti-tank guns, the 1936 light tank and fighter, and military hospitals should be the player's first concern. If Italy annexed Yugoslavia and Greece, their combined industry will allow the player to easily replace most of the divisions' outdated equipment by 1939, otherwise the process will be much slower.
A sizable force of fighters should also be prioritized, since Allies usually employ large numbers of strategic bombers to cripple their enemies' economy. Additional troops and ships are a welcomed choice, especially a few more mountaineers and tank divisions, and some light cruisers to boost the fleet's anti-air weaponry. Troops should be sent to bolster the defense of Lybya, since losing its oil would be a great blow to Italian war production, while Ethiopia has a much lower priority: if the player feels strong enough, a few colonial divisions can be deployed between Eritrea and Addis Abeba as a decoy, thus securing a supply route through the Eritrean naval base and keeping buisy most of the Allies' colonial troops in Southern Africa.
Abyssinia A Noi!
Italy starts off at war with Ethiopia, unlike other nations. That being said, Ethiopia is a poor African nation with very little in terms of technology, so defeating them should not be hard in singleplayer. Ethiopia also presents Italy with an easy source of early-game experience for its military and generals, perfect for updating the Italian division templates. Also, most of Ethiopia's provinces are mountainous, making the war a great way to earn the Mountaineer terrain trait, which will be useful in many theatres of operations. That being said, Italy also has a very limited manpower pool with just 42 million population so a protracted war is not desirable. As mentioned below, an Italy First campaign is made much easier by speeding through the Triumph in Africa branch, thus winning the Ethiopian war within 70 days is desirable.
Once the war is won, how to deal with Ethiopia is the next question. While annexation is simple and historical, there is a strong case for puppeting Ethiopia. Its one state has no resources, very little industry, but a core population of 10 million, making for a formidable manpower pool if left intact, particularly since fascist Ethiopia, as a minor with a generic national focus tree, can get a whopping extra 7% manpower from its fascist sub-branch, easily hitting 1 million manpower and just needing a steady stream of lend-lease to field a land force which can give the Allies a very rough time on the continent.
Nobody expects the Italian inquisition...
(This section is not strictly a conquest option, instead it is more like a strategy)
After defeating Ethiopia, not long after that, the Spanish Civil war will likely break out, pitting the nationalists (fascist) against the republicans (communist). This grants Italy another source of early-game experience and it also comes with the possibility of allowing another fascist regime to take root in western Europe, which if successful, will grant Italy another potential ally to work with (the Support Nationalist Spain and Spanish-Italian alliance national focuses are made for just that). That being said, Italy is under no obligation to assist Nationalist Spain and choosing not to do it is a sound choice as well, if manpower and resources are at a premium. In addition to that, Italy can also demand that Nationalist Spain cede the Balearic islands to Italy, which will grant Italy a second naval stronghold for guarding its western seas flank (alongside Sardinia). One danger that the player will have to be aware of is that the power balance in Western Europe can drastically shift after the Spanish civil war, depending on the conditions; If France becomes communist, they will have access to an assortment of national focuses to assist Republican Spain and if the republicans emerge victorious, this could potentially result in the rise of a new Communist faction in western Europe (France can form an alliance with Spain via its national focus tree if both countries have matching ideologies, in this case communism) consisting of France and Spain.
Needless to say, all subsequent conquest options listed after this one will require Italy to expand its military.
You go first, Slavia.
Located just east of Italy lies Yugoslavia and the Italian national focus tree grants the player two options for dealing with the country. Resource-wise; Yugoslavia has access to a substantial amount of Aluminium and Chromium which Italy can find useful.
The first option is to befriend the Yugoslavs via the Befriend Yugoslavia national focus. Doing so will improve bilateral relations between the two nations and will also cause Yugoslavia to experience an increase in the popularity of fascism. This opens up the possible avenue of forming a faction with Yugoslavia, the Italy First national focus is perfectly suited for just that. Taking the focus will have Italy form a faction with Bulgaria and if relations are good enough, Yugoslavia could become a good second member to add to the Italian faction. Note that the German national focuses Demand Slovenia, First Ljubljana Award, and the Fate of Yugoslavia will partition Yugoslavia betweeen Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria, thus if it is intended to take the historical route and join the Axis, befriending Yugoslavia is largely pointless.
The second option is to fabricate claims on Yugoslavian territory, as per the Claims on Yugoslavia national focus. This path will worsen relations between Italy and Yugoslavia and is more tailored towards conquering Yugoslavia rather than trying to make friends with them. When preparing for an attack on Yugoslavia, one strong option is to execute a two-pronged strike to score a quick victory. Italy borders Yugoslavia in the north and also controls a small portion of land on the Dalmatian coast (named Zara). When attacking Yugoslavia in this fashion, the main contingent of Italian forces should be stationed on the Yugoslavian border in northern Italy, with a smaller contingent stationed in Zara. When the war breaks out, Yugoslavia will move the majority of its forces into Slovenia to meet the Italian forces, this is where the two-pronged strategy comes into play. Once the Yugoslavian forces are in Slovenia, the player should launch an offensive from Zara and race northwards, up to Vojvodina (located northwest of Belgrade) and cut Yugoslavia in half. Doing this will sever supply lines to Slovenia and allow the Italian army to decisively rout the Yugoslavian forces in just a few engagements. That being said, if Yugoslavia chooses to do the opposite and moves the majority of its forces to Zara, simply push forward through northern Italy into Slovenia and onwards into Croatia and Bosnia. If the player can afford to wait a little, the Albanian Occupation national focus will (if successful) allow Italy to annex Albania, granting the player the ability to attack Yugoslavia from three different directions.
In general, the conquest route is more beneficial for Italy when an Axis campaign is intended (as Yugoslavia will almost certainly be annexed or drawn into WWII on the Allies side via German national focuses), whereas in a Novus Imperium Romanorum campaign, the advantage of controlling Yugoslavia's industry and resources directly must be balanced against the advantage of an allied Yugoslavia making use of its substantial core manpower. As always while playing a Fascist, bear in mind that Democratic powers can issue guarantees once world tension hits 25%, thus any planned Yugoslav campaign (or follow-on campaigns, e.g. against Greece) should be timed to negate a United Kingdom guarantee which would start WWII at a disadvantageous moment.
Pact of Steel or Italy First?
The major strategic choice facing the Italian player is whether to create an Italian faction via Italy First or forego that and join the Axis (led by the German Reich) via the Pact of Steel national focus. In 1936 Italy is quite definitely the last and least of the major powers, and attempting to fight more than one major power at once is a very long shot for an Italy without German assistance. This makes joining the Axis a relatively safe and straightforward option compared to going it alone; doing so encourages the player to take the focus branches which work well with Germany's historical path.
Germany (at least when set to historical), will use its focuses to partition Yugoslavia and Greece in 1938-39, thus an Axis Italy player has no reason to befriend either and every reason to conquer them before the AI takes their resources for itself. A common and powerful tactic is to take the focuses which grant war goals on Yugoslavia and Greece, prepare invasion plans, and simultaneously declare war on both (without inviting Germany) in Summer-Fall 1937, before Japan has driven World Tension above 25% with its invasion of China. This prevents the UK from guaranteeing either of them and allows for a full annexation of both (note that this will tend to speed up Germany's invasion of Poland by causing the national focuses which require Yugoslavia or Greece to exist to be bypassed). As Italy you will now be in better shape to contest the Mediterranean against the French and British forces while Germany pushes forward in northern Europe.
If the player does not intend to join the Axis then the Italy First national focus will form a faction named the Novus Romanum Imperium (New Roman Empire) with Bulgaria (who will be removed from a different faction if it is already in one). Beyond Bulgaria, Italy's national focus tree encourages inviting Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Portugal.
As mentioned above, befriending Yugoslavia rather than attacking them has a strong advantage for a solo Italy, as its ~13.5 million core population makes for a strong army for a minor power, and its aluminum and other resources will still be available via trade.
If Death or Dishonor is not enabled, then Romania has the disadvantage of tending to go down the neutral branch of the generic national focus tree, which makes inviting them to your faction extremely difficult unless the AI considers itself to be in mortal danger. However, in the base game Romania also has elections, the first one in January 1937, thus immediately boosting fascism for the first year of the game can force an early ideology flip and make them easy to recruit, at the cost of 100-120 political power. If Death or Dishonor is enabled, then Romania will only change ideology via their unique national focus tree, and boosting fascism would be a waste. Note that the USSR's national focus tree will eventually lead them to attempt to extort land from Romania, potentially propelling you into war with Comintern with little warning.
Greece and Turkey are mutually exclusive allies: you will be able to ally one and get a war goal on the other. Turkey has considerably more population and vast quantities of chromium, whereas Greece has more ships, a few more factories, and a wide variety of metals. Given the strength of core manpower and their position on the borders of the USSR and France, Turkey makes a better ally (and Greece is easier to conquer), but it is also worth considering that Greece tends to be guaranteed by the UK early on and the USSR will eventually get a war goal on Turkey.
Spain, sadly, is for no apparent reason difficult to acquire as an ally via national focus. The German equivalent of your national focus to befriend them, Alliance with Spain, removes the Spanish national spirit Recovering from Civil War, (which gives the AI a massive -200 penalty to faction join desire while active), but your version, Spanish-Italian Alliance, does not, meaning that you will have to wait to ally Spain until Germany takes that focus (and be careful to invite Nationalist Spain before Germany does) or until the national spirit goes away naturally in 1942. Portugal, however, can be allied normally (denying your enemies trade for its vast tungsten reserves) and therefore the Spanish Civil War sub-branch is not worthless, just disappointing.
As said above, even with the addition of the various minors who will join your faction via focus, Italy is still very disfavored against any two majors, particularly when one is the UK and brings the Commonwealth along for the ride. Thus declaring on the Allies after France joins them is very risky, even if Germany is fighting them separately (and Germany tends to reap the lion's share of the rewards via their free creation of puppet Vichy France if they win the race to Paris). One strong alternative is to fight France before they join the Allies.
With historical settings turned on, France will take its focus to join the Allies early in 1938. Italy has a national focus, Go after France, gated behind Italy First which gives a conquest war goal. Therefore by winning the Ethiopian war in the first 70 days and rushing down the Triumph in Africa branch, war can be declared in mid-late 1937 before the UK and its allies will be on their side. While all of the alliance-gaining focuses will have to be post-poned, Italy alone with Bulgaria (and puppet Ethiopia if the player chose that approach) is quite capable of dealing with a France with no Allies.
Once the French war is won, it is very important to carefully consider how to handle the peace. While a puppet France, with its considerable manpower reserves, may be tempting, AI Germany will still take its focus to attack a fascist France, thus you will be propelled into war with Germany in late 1939 unless you either fully annex France or leave whatever you don't annex fully independent (Similarly, Japan's focuses can send you to war with them if a puppet France still owns Indochina). Going to war with Germany may be advantageous; the Allies will be as well, and the war should be quite winnable. However, under no circumstances should a puppet France be allowed to keep Paris, as the powerful Vichy France event is triggered by Germany taking Paris and capitulating France; it is entirely possible that a setback on the Western Front would abruptly flip your entire French puppet to the Axis! Therefore annexing France entirely is the safest move to make, while puppeting it permits the potential for an early conquest of Germany with Allied help.
After befriending or taking down Yugoslavia and (presumably Albania as well), Italy's next target would be Greece. Greece once again, presents Italy with a choice; friendship or conquest? It is also very important to note that the diplomatic choices taken when dealing with Greece also affect what Italy is able to do with Turkey, another country found within Italy's sphere of influence.
Electing to befriend Greece will lock out the option to do the same with Turkey but will once again allow Italy to potentially expand its growing faction with the addition of another country from the Balkans. Successfully befriending Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia and adding them all into the Italian faction will grant Italy a noticeable asset for projecting power throughout the Mediterranean region.
Electing to attack Greece on the other hand will allow the player to befriend Turkey later and Greece happens to possess a rather substantial amount of various metals for its size which Italy no doubt can put to great use as well. Conquering Greece will also allow Italy to lock down the entrance to the Adriatic Sea which allows Italy to more easily protect itself from naval invasions. If Italy chooses war, it should always be kept into consideration that such actions will steadily rise World Tension; more than 25% World Tension allows democratic countries to guarantee other nations (and they will guarantee Greece if given the opportunity), and since Germany and Japan begin their aggressive policies in mid-1937, thus bringing World Tension over the 25% threshold very easily, Italy should act quickly, setting aside any economic focus and concentrating instead on the political tree in order to complete the "War on Greece" focus before the guarantee threshold is reached. Italy can easily defeat Greece alone, but a war against the Allies in 1937 is an almost certain defeat.
When attacking Greece from any direction, Italy should be aware of the fact that Greece is rather mountainous, with relatively little flat terrain, which means that Mountaineers can be a very useful asset for navigating the country. Greece also has an unusually high national unity of 90%, which means that even if Italy conquers the Greek mainland, there is a possibility that some of the Greek fores might retreat to the island of Crete south of Greece. A naval invasion or a Paratroop assault will be needed in order to dislodge this nest of defenders.
After Greece, the next country that Italy can deal with is Turkey. Turkey is, yet again, approachable via two avenues and this will depend on what choices Italy made when dealing with Greece earlier. Turkey has access to a very large amount of Chromium which can give the Italian war machine a significant boost in resources.
If the player decided to attack Greece, then Turkey will be open for befriending, allowing Italy to improve bilateral relations between the two nations and increase the popularity of Fascism in Turkey. Just like before, improving relations and realigning the government to a sufficient degree can make Turkey a possible candidate for adding to the Italian faction if Italy has created it. Having Turkey in the Italian faction alongside the other Balkan nations will round out Italy's dominance in the eastern Mediterranean and grant Italy a possible pathway into attacking the Soviet Union from the south. If Germany decides to launch Operation Barbarossa, Italy could potentially lend a hand by attacking the Soviets from the south and capturing the Caucasus Oil Fields. All that being said, Italy is not obligated to make friends with Turkey, even if the national focus for fabricating claims on Turkey isn't available, Italy can always justify a war goal against Turkey manually.
If the player decided to befriend Greece, then the only available path for dealing with Turkey is war. Attacking and conquering Turkey will grant Italy access to approximately 344 pieces of Chromium and will also grant Italy a bridgehead for launching attacks into the middle east. As for geography, Turkey is a mix of hills and flat land. Especially the eastern part of the country is very hilly so Mountain Infantry is a good tool for maneuvering through the Turkish terrain. As for attack directions, Turkey can be attacked from two directions (three if Italy has garnered enough allies and four if Italy also controls Cyprus) and launching multi-pronged attacks is a good option for faster victories and easier progress. The main direction is to attack from Eastern Greece through Istanbul into Turkey proper. The downside of this attack direction is that it requires the Italian forces to pass through a bottleneck, specifically, they have cross a strait near Istanbul. Crossing straits inflicts considerable penalties to unit stats which can give the Turkish troops a chance to repel the attacks. The second, third and fourth attack directions consist of launching naval invasions against Turkey. The first option is to launch a naval invasion from central Greece to the west Turkish coast. This can be a helpful course of action if an attack through Istanbul is not feasible or the Italian forces have been bogged down trying to cross the Istanbul strait as successfully executing a naval invasion can allow Italy to then strike northwards and encircle any Turkish forces defending the Istanbul strait and from there advance into central Turkey. The second option is to launch an naval invasion from eastern Romania, across the Black Sea into northern Turkey, be advised that this path requires Italy to have Romania as an ally or puppet. If Italy controls Cyprus (which is normally controlled by the United Kingdom), then the third option is to launch a naval invasion from Cyprus into southern Turkey.
Versailles the other way around
Further down the National Focus tree, the Italian player will find the national focus named named Go after France. This national focus is based around the idea of expanding Italy's western border by attacking France and annexing the states of Savoy (735), Provence (21) and Corsica (1). Along with that, attacking France also grants Italy the opportunity to expand its colonial territories by occupying and annexing French Algeria.
Attacking France, however, is likely not going to be as easy as would be the case with some of the minor nations mentioned before, as France is a true major nation and is very likely to have joined a faction by now (1938-1940). This faction can vary quite drastically depending on how the ideological situation in France has played out;
- The most common case is one where France stays democratic and joins the Allies. In that case, any attacks directed against them are going to lead to a war against the United kingdom and its dominions. In this case, it may be advisable to join the Axis as even though Germany tends to be excessively thirsty for war, at least Italy doesn't have to face the Allies completely alone. If Italy on the other hand has formed a faction of its own and garnered up a decent number of allies in the Mediterranean (puppets or otherwise) then a skilled player may be able to take on France by themselves and emerge victorious.
- If France on the other has adopted communism as its ruling ideology and the Spanish Civil war resulted in a republican victory, then it is highly likely that France will form a faction with Republican Spain which, while it does mean that the Allies won't get involved, it also means that Italy will have to defeat both France and Spain in order to gain victory.
- The worst case scenario is where France adopted communism and the Spanish Civil war did NOT end in a republican victory, in which case France is likely to attempt to join the Comintern which happens to be lead by the infamous Soviet Union. A war with both the French forces and the Soviet horde at this stage is, to put it mildly, going to be quite a ride for Italy to get through all that.
As for the actual attack, Italy should aim to push westward towards the French Atlantic coast and then northward towards Paris. France has very low national unity early on in the game so occupying just Lyon, Marseilles and Bordeaux (and the surrounding area) should be enough to bring the country down (if not, just continue towards Paris). The French heartland is composed mostly of plains, hills and forests so most heavy vehicles (barring tanks in some cases) should be able to traverse the terrain without too much difficulty.
France's performance in terms of military factories is quite sloppy. Out of 50 starting factories, just 6 of them are military factories and 8 are naval dockyards, the remaining 36 are civilian factories. Barring player intervention, if done early enough, Italy can actually, with a sizable enough force, take down France without too much of a hassle if they can encircle and destroy enough French divisions as the French military industry will be hilariously ill-equipped to replace the losses.
The Italian Navy is likely to be facing down the French Navy in the western Mediterranean so building more ships and expanding the Italian shipbuilding capacity is highly recommended here as France, once again, lacks the ability to easily replace lost ships early on in the game. Successfully invading and occupying the coastlines in southern France, Corsica and French Algeria will allow Italy to shut off the French naval presence in the Mediterranean and push the French ships out into the Atlantic.
With France down, once again, Italy can choose; Puppeteering or Annexation? France can make for quite a potent puppet as even though it lacks sufficient military industry, it has a good manpower reserve and any equipment shortages can be (at least partially) mitigated through Lend-lease. Annexation on the other hand will allow Italy to gain control of the entire French industrial capacity as well as its resources, which is a mix of Steel, Aluminium and Chromium in rather sizable quantities.
- The puppet show: Besides befriending or conquering the above Balkan nations, there is also a third option that Italy can take when dealing with its neighbors; namely puppeteering (this is only true if the Together for Victory or Death or Dishonor DLC is active). Italy's base manpower reserve is a little below that of the other European major powers, so trying to address that problem with puppet troops is a perfectly sound choice. In addition to that, once the puppets have served their purpose (their manpower reserves are exhausted or they have become redundant) Italy can also integrate them by reducing their autonomy down to zero, allowing Italy to annex the puppets peacefully.
- A Treasure Trove of Chromium: Italy could always go for a pure conquest, and conquer Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, and annex them all completely. Successfully doing so could allow Italy to gain control of roughly 27% of the global Chromium production. This wealth of resources can be used for both personal consumption as well as for trade to gain some extra civilian factories. Just remember to conquer the aforementioned nations before Germany starts meddling with them, as per the "Demand Slovenia" National focus in the German focus tree. A less radical version of this strategy would be to conquer Yugoslavia and Greece, and to befriend Turkey: while the former two would be weak allies at best, and a hindrance at worst, thus making them much more suited for annexation, Turkey is able to build up a somewhat decent army and (more importantly) a rather sizeable fleet, which could be used to patrol the Mediterranean Sea while the Regia Marina ventures outside. Also, it should be noted that the Chromium from Turkey would bring almost no benefit to Italy: the Chromium from Yugoslavia is more than enough to fuel Italian production, and the Chromium from Greece can be sold outside, but since Italy is a fascist power (and thus quite low on trade opinion) only a few nations would import resources from it, thus leaving the Turkish Chromium almost untouched for most of the game.
- A Treasure Trove of Tungsten: Located to the west of Italy, behind Spain, lies Portugal. Portugal has access to one of the (if not the) largest deposits of Tungsten in the game, at a whopping 376 units! And you would not believe that Portugal only has 14 factories (2 military factories, 2 naval dockyards and 10 civilian factories) in the whole country to resist you with! That is a recipe for an extra juicy conquest target as 376 units of Tungsten can allow Italy to field an artillery force big enough to demolish almost anything they plan on attacking.
- Moneybags: Switzerland is an easy picking at any point in time for Italy, and it will provide some extra factories and Aluminum for your efforts.
- Early war with Yugoslavia: Declaring war to Yugoslavia too early also always bring Czechoslovakia into the war because of some obscure guarantee system (this is only true if the Death or Dishonor DLC is active). So, I recommend to make a war justification on Hungary as early as possible prior to the Claims on Yugoslavia national focus. By not doing so, you will still be at war with Czechoslovakia after annexing Yugoslavia and you'll get landlocked by Hungary ... Also, if your war justification is too late on Hungary you'll trigger United Kingdom and France to both guarantee neutral Hungary when world tension hits +25%. I've found that the best timing is to declare war on both Hungary and Yugoslavia at the same time to annex the three countries before 1938. Thus you'll be in an excellent position for the rest of the game.
- Mediterranean Power: As Italy, you have several focuses that allow you to acquire war goals. By rushing down Triumph in Africa, you will be able to gain claims on Yugoslavia, and whilst justifying a war goal, you could annex Albania, giving you a southern flank. Then, by going though Italy First, you could form an alliance with Bulgaria and turn many other nations fascist. Usually, by justifying war goals on other European nations, which the allies will guarantee, you could also invade Greece without going to war with the allies, as they will not be able to afford to guarantee Greece. A war with Greece is pretty easy to win if you navally invade Athens & attack Thessaloniki from the north.