热那亚开局时是一个拥有7个省份的小国，3个在意大利，1个在爱琴海，还有3个在克里米亚。它星罗棋布的省份给了它许多扩张的潜在目标，不过也带来了内部与外部双重的潜在威胁。只有意大利的省份是国教导致了热那亚低下的宗教统一与潜藏的叛乱。热那亚四面皆敌：意大利地区中至少 萨伏依、 米兰与 佛罗伦萨足够强，并且全都觊觎着繁华的贸易中心，热那亚的首都。 阿拉贡、 普罗旺斯和 教宗国也可能感兴趣，同时 奥斯曼会通过任务或事件开始宣称所有的海外省份， 克里米亚也对黑海殖民地有着狂热的兴趣。 默认的商人设置是有一个在孤立的克里米亚地区收集贸易收入的商人。然而，比起更富有的热那亚，这会导致-50%的贸易力量惩罚并且没有来自3个商人的30%力量加成。
The first thing Genoa needs to do with so many potential threats from all sides is to get some strong allies. The preferred choices are 奥地利 and 卡斯蒂利亚. 奥地利 is strategically located to be able to help out defensively in Italy as well as against the 奥斯曼. Also, an alliance with the emperor will prevent the demand to return unlawful territory within the HRE. 卡斯蒂利亚 has a big enough navy for it, together with the Genoese navy, to challenge the Ottoman fleet, but can also be used offensively to accomplish the Greed in Gibraltar mission against 格拉纳达 and potentially take Sardinia from 阿拉贡 by promising land. If either of those isn't interested in an alliance 波兰 and 法兰西 are good alternatives for Austria while Aragon and 威尼斯 are good alternatives for Castile.
The third relations slot should be used for an Italian nation to help out with any expansion opportunities within Italy, as Austria won't help against fellow HRE member and Castile is likely not interested in such a distant war either and favors take long to earn with more powerful countries. The 教宗国 is a good choice as it's one of the larger Italian nations and strong papal relation will help to earn Papal Influence faster. 威尼斯 is also a great ally as it's the strongest independent Italian nation that will be able to help out both in Italy and against the Ottomans. If neither of those is willing 萨伏依, 米兰 or 佛罗伦萨 will also do.
The fourth slot will be taken by the the Trade League if Genoa decides to form it. It is advised to do so as it will act as a defensive pact and help steer trade. 拉古萨 usually starts friendly and since it's guaranteed by the Ottomans, it can be a good idea to add it before they change their attitude, as the Ragusa trade node is critical to steer the Black Sea trade back home. They can always be kicked out without penalty if the times comes to declare war on Ragusa. Alternatively, one can gamble and hope they will start a trade league of their own with 阿尔巴尼亚, although this is not guaranteed as sometimes they'll actually ally the Ottomans. Other good candidates that are useful in gaining trade power in critical nodes and that are usually willing to join are the 医院骑士团, 塞浦路斯, 锡耶纳 and 卢卡. Also keep an eye on the Champagne trade node. It doesn't start with any eligible candidates but 巴尔 might get released and 洛林 might be relegated to one. If one doesn't own the Mare Nostrum expansion and thus can't form a trade league one of the alternative allies previously mentioned can be used.
Since Provence and Firenze are strong nearby trade provinces that compete for trade and would solidify Genoa's trade income if conquered, Provence and Florence make good rivals. Rivaling Aragon would help gain Castile as an ally, and rivalling the Ottomans helps with an Austria/Poland alliance.
If you happen to get access to an inquisitor, take him and convert your Orthodox and Sunni provinces.
As a merchant republic, Genoa is effectively limited to 20 provinces. This means expansion should focus on high trade value targets that can establish trade power in trade nodes so trade can be steered back to Genoa. Genoa will get permanent claims on trade centers Tunis, Firenze, Ferrara (can't be steered back but is necessary to get the claim on Ragusa), and Tangers. Iskandariyya and Gibraltar also get claims, but are not trade ports. The former can be take to make regular claims on Rashid and Dumyat, which are estuaries.
Local expansion should be limited to bridging Genoa with potential trade centers like Firenze, Provence, and Ferrara. Naploli is another good one, but don't take Roma unless you have converted away from Catholicism.
Trade provinces Sugla and Selanik in the Aegean can be claimed from your island province Scio. These two trade provinces can provide the trade power in Constantinople and Ragusa nodes necessary to link your Crimean trade with Genoa. Powerful allies such as Austria or Poland will be necessary to beat them out of the Ottoman Empire though.
Note that if the player isn't colonizing, it is highly beneficial that a strong Castile and Portugal does it for you. This way, the overseas trade will go to the Seville node (rather than to France or the English channel) where your Tangiers trade power can draw it to Genoa. Your trade bonuses will also help pull trade to Seville. A strong Spain will also help protect you from France, which usually takes interest in Northern Italy. Just be careful to not take too many of Aragon's provinces, or make them drop those cores in later wars if you do, in case it becomes a junior partner of Castile's.
Genoa starts fragmented with a low religious unity and following the missions will only make it worse. Humanist ideas are therefore a great choice as it saves the player a lot hassle sending armies across the Mediterranean Sea to defeat rebels. An alternative could be religious ideas, especially if the player plans to use the Crimean possessions as a base to conquer the hordes.
Plutocratic ideas is a great choice, as this group also contains a -2 national unrest and has many other useful bonuses.
If either Gibraltar or Tangiers has been conquered exploration ideas are choice. Colonies in the Caribbean and South America will help to make the Genoa trade node even richer and the naval force limits modifier is very welcome as well. An additional advantage is that the ‘Colonialism’ institution will have a good chance to span in Genoa, as 葡萄牙, 卡斯蒂利亚 and 英格兰 are the only competitors. Colonization with a merchant republic is made more difficult by the 20 province limit, which means you will have to forgo Mediterranean expansion to allow the 5 colonies necessary to make a colonial nation.
If the player has no interest in the colonization game maritime ideas are a good alternative, naval ideas are not recommended, as they do not help with trade. As this idea group is also needed for the powerful ‘Confirm Thalassocracy’ decision, it can also be taken in addition to exploration in a later stage.
A military idea group is recommended to spread out the point cost. If not taken earlier plutocratic ideas are still a good option, but quality ideas are also very useful as it boost both the player's army and their navy. Another valid alternative are the defensive ideas, as some forts on the player's fragment lands might be able to buy the player some time to send troops in case of a rebellion or surprise attack and the morale boost stacks nicely with the one from the plutocratic ideas.
From the administrative ideas there are many valid choices depending on the objectives of the player. If the player plans to conquer lots of Italian or Berber and Caucasian lands administrative ideas are a solid choice as the high development of Italian provinces make them expensive to core and the Berber, Circassian and Georgian national traditions have an increased coring cost modifier. The mercenary bonuses of this group are also welcome as Genoa has a relatively low manpower pool and even the -1% interest idea stacks nicely with the Genoese traditions. Expansion ideas are a great choice if the player wants to colonise as the player can steer the spice trade through Alexandria after it has completed the ‘Ale in Alexandria’ mission. It also provides another merchant and another relation slot to compensate the on used by the trade league and has great synergy with the Genoese National Ideas. One should also keep policies in mind when choosing the later groups. Due to this innovative ideas or economic ideas might also prove to be desirable.