- +25% National sailors modifier
- +50% Naval force limit modifier
- +0.10 Yearly inflation reduction
- +1 Merchant
- +10% Trade range
- −10% Development cost
- +2 Naval leader fire
- +5% Marine force limit
- +3 Tolerance of heretics
- +10% Siege ability
- +10% Land fire damage
- +15% Trade efficiency
Holland starts in a personal union under Burgundy; its cores are the provinces of Holland, Den Haag, and Zeeland. They share their national ideas and some events with the Netherlands. Getting independence from Burgundy is fairly straightforward, as Burgundy's central position makes them a wanted target for large European powers.
If the King of Burgundy Dies! event fires, all provinces owned by Burgundy and its subjects are claimed by another country (typically by the Holy Roman Emperor, which is usually Austria). However, human-controlled countries can never be inherited (see Artificial intelligence), so for a Holland player this results in instant independence. Once independent, Holland is in a very good position to form the Netherlands as they are surrounded by easy targets for expansion and probably have one or more very strong allies to assist them.
Land Reclamation in Holland
Holland (97) gets the permanent province modifier “Development of Amsterdam” for the rest of the campaign with the following effect:
Form Dutch Nation
AI Burgundy will not take this decision.
- Main article: Dutch missions
As Holland starts the game inside the HRE, they will not have to fight the emperor when fighting inside the empire. Forming the Netherlands will result in all owned provinces and the nation itself being removed from the HRE. Expanding inside the HRE will then become considerably harder as the emperor will be called into each war, and Holland won't be under the protection of the emperor anymore. Outside of the HRE expansion will be just as tough, as the Low Countries are surrounded by strong nations competing for land and trade income. The Forming the Netherlands should be taken as soon as possible, as the Netherlands have access to a strong government form and country specific events, but the player has to decide between forming the Netherlands and possible expansion within the HRE.
Breaking free from Burgundy
Holland starts in a Personal Union under Burgundy, which restricts them from making allies and declaring wars. Strong nations such as France and Austria tend to rival Burgundy from the start of the game, so Holland can reliably ask for support of their independence. The choice now is to either declare an independence war and take some provinces (do not forget to fabricate claims) from Burgundy and its other remaining vassals or wait until Burgundy releases Holland voluntarily. Taking the rich Lowlands provinces early can give a powerful boon to Holland, as both the raw income from the high development province and the added trade power in one of the richest trade nodes can propel it to a regional power within the HRE. Especially Antwerp is a very interesting target because of its trade center status, and Breda is interesting because it is needed for forming the Netherlands. Make sure to not gain too much aggressive expansion penalty, as an early coalition war may prove disastrous. Seeking independence should be the number one priority, as no territorial expansion can be achieved and an early Burgundian Inheritance would very likely result in either France or Austria annexing the Low Countries, severely slowing down the possible rate of expansion. When the independence war is over the player will be allied to all countries that fought on their side. If Burgundy voluntarily releases Holland, no alliances will be formed. At this moment, the player should make sure that the allies are not at odds with each other, as conflict between them will not turn out favorably for the now more vulnerable Holland. Alliances should be reconsidered, formed and maintained with closer nations with comparable power, as they will be more likely to join in wars.
The early expansion opportunities will most likely be eastwards inside the HRE, as England, Burgundy and France will be too strong to take on early. Look for opportunities to unite the provinces in the Low Countries (e.g. when Burgundy is weak) as they are needed for forming the Netherlands and the added trade income is very useful. Key for maintaining a steady rate of expansion is good management of aggressive expansion, especially inside the HRE where aggressive expansion penalties are higher. A coalition war will almost always result in major setbacks or even game over. Having good relations with neighbors and not taking too much land in a single war will keep the aggressive expansion penalty manageable. Taking administrative ideas as a first group will be a nice addition because of the high coring cost in the Low Countries and HRE, and the cheaper mercenaries are always useful for small countries with low manpower pools.
Because of their naval and trade oriented national ideas, Holland is an optimal candidate for a colonial strategy. Their position in Europe will mean that they will reach the New World later (around diplomatic technology level 9) than Portugal and Castile, so taking an idea group other than exploration will prove more useful early on. Focusing on taking provinces with special modifiers (e.g. estuaries, centers of trade) first will secure funds for further colonization. Because of the English Channel being an end node, all trade flowing into it can be collected by the Netherlands. Combining this with the Dutch trade bonuses, the English Channel will quickly become the richest trade node and make Holland very wealthy.
Later in the game the player can try establishing colonies in Asia. The spice islands in Indonesia are a good choice as they have great development and produce valuable goods. Make sure that the trade will actually reach the English Channel, as any countries along the trade path may steal valuable profit.
Forming the Netherlands
As stated before, the Forming the Netherlands should be taken as soon as possible, as forming the Netherlands will come with major benefits but hamper expansion inside the HRE. When the country is strong enough to take a stand against larger neighbors (or having strong enough allies), the decision should be taken. Alternatively, becoming an elector and taking the decision will prevent leaving the HRE, but it may prove difficult.
The Netherlands are in a favorable position to dominate trade. A good strategy is to build as many light ships as possible and protecting trade in nearby nodes such as the English Channel and in Lübeck, and generally any nodes that may feed into the home node. Trade ideas can be taken to amplify the already massive trade profits. Challenging Castile/Spain, Portugal and England, who will be the biggest competitors in both the colonial and trade area, should be the primary focuses. Maintaining a large fleet with heavy ships is key to being able to maintain trade profits.
Keep friends close, and enemies even closer
France makes an excellent ally both early and later in the game, but it is important to watch as the game progresses and as the great powers struggle for supremacy. France is also a competitor in the English Channel trade node and is very likely to go colonial, making them an even greater target. If France finds itself overwhelmed with enemies it may be best to find another power as an ally at this point. Take good notice of France's situation, and be prepared to take advantage when the situation arrives to do so.
Generally speaking, the player should seek alliances with strong nations not competing in the same trade nodes or the same land but willing to go to war with nations that are.