The Swiss Confederation maintained a strict policy of neutrality since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. Despite its central location in the very heart of the European continent, the country has managed to remain unaligned for over two centuries and counting, its sovereignty and independence protected by a standing, conscription-based military and, perhaps even more so, by the world-renowned discretion of the Swiss bankers. Many famous - and infamous - figures, be it politcians, monarchs, dictators, celebrities or business people, used the highly secretive banking system to protect their funds from nosy tax investigators, earning Switzerland a reputation as the single most important bank in the world; a reputation which may easily be just as effective as a deterrent against foreign aggressions as the possession of nuclear weapons.
However, the traditional neutrality and lack of international strong ties eventually resulted in a number of problems as the ever increasing globalisation of the world throughout the 20th and early 21st century forced Switzerland to make a few concessions in order to remain competitive on the global scale. After all, banking can only get an economy so far, but at the end of the day, Switzerland still relied heavily on its extensive food, chemical and construction industry which struggled to keep up the pace while the growing economic interconnection of the European neighbours threatened to put the country in an isolated position. Unfortunately, the Swiss-European relationships took a turn for the worse throughout the 2010s and 20s: Years of failed economic policies in the wake of the Euro's introduction had led to skyrocketing debts in many European countries. What followed was a perpetual financial crisis in which entire economies collapsed and violent protests against the EU's strict austerity mandates became a common occurence. At the same time, the high-ranking financial profiteers withdrew their capital to Switzerland in order to safeguard it from taxation and the ever-present spectre of a possible currency swap in the affected countries, a worst case scenario which would have resulted in a fatal bank run for a harder currency.
Over the years, the European national governments consolidated more and more power in the hands of the Brussels-based central institutions which quickly started to push the blame on Switzerland, to the point of accusing it of being complicit in systematic tax evasion and erosion of the European economies. Worse yet, some of the more radical elements of the new European leadership regarded the mere existence of the Swiss Confederation as sovereign, non-aligned nation state as an insult to their vision of a fully unified Europe in which the petty interests of nations would fade away in the name of the greater good. Despite increasing pressure from outside, the Swiss government adhered to its time-honoured principle of direct democracy and asked its people to vote on several proposed compromises which would have resulted in a notable loss of sovereignty, all of which got rejected by the electorate. What started out as a political power play evolved into a protracted trade war between the European Union, which had consolidated itself as a de jure federation - albeit marred from the get-go by its intransparent decision-making procedures, perpetual instability and the totalitarian ambitions of its political elite - as of the signing of the Vienna Treaty in 2023, and the defiant people of Switzerland, whose exports suffered under the EU's punishing tariffs which were even harsher than those imposed on Chinese goods at the time.
The tensions reached an all time high merely a few weeks before the GLA slammed its teeth into the beating heart of Europe in 2028: The Swiss Army was put on high alert in anticipation of a military escalation after European fighter planes had flown over Geneva in a blatant display of sabre-rattling. In the end, the extreme political cataclysm that followed after the GLA insurrection put an end to the European Union and gave birth to the European Continental Alliance, which de-escalated the conflict and normalised its diplomatic stance towards the country. Most notably, Willem van der Meer, one of the key military planners of the ECA's new territory defence architecture, specifically asked for the advice of the Swiss Army which already had a proud history of turning an entire country into an unbreakable defensive redoubt and even though Switzerland never entered a military alliance with the rest of the continent, many exceptional pieces of European art, including the entire collection of the Louvre, found shelter from theft and destruction in the Swiss Alps during the Russo-European War.
The nation of Israel had been in a permanent state of alert ever since its creation in 1948. Since then, the small country with its population of just a little more than seven million people had survived many wars with its Arab neighbours through a combination of indomitable tenacity, brutal cunning and sheer luck. However, the early decades of the 21st century presented Israel with an adversary whose raw brutality and fiendish ingenuity surpassed everyone of its local rivals: The Global Liberation Army. The Middle East had been a dangerous powder keg for decades: After the violent civil wars of the early 2010s and the escalating arms race between Saudi Arabia and Iran that dominated the headlines throughout the later half of the decade, the entire region was only one spark short of a terrible catastrophe. Even though the GLA had its origin in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, its leader General Mohmar alias 'Deathstrike' enjoyed the benefits of an ever-growing fellowship whose pervasive influence stretched all the way from the deserts of North Africa to the mountainous land of Aldastan, a troubled nation that was born out of an ill-conceived merger between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in 2017. Destabilised by a number of regional conflicts, but rich with precious aluminium and gold, the People's Republic of China peeked at the small neighbour with envy and Deathstrike declared it the goal of the GLA to protect the region from annexation by the Red Dragon. At the same time, he regarded the decadent, amoral materialism of the West, especially the United States, as a source of corruption that poisened the hearts and minds of his people.
What followed was the GLA's infamous nuclear attack on the PRC's 70th anniversary parade in Beijing, the opening act of the Global War on Terror. Meanwhile, the government of Israel kept a wary eye on these startling developments and realised that the Middle East would soon be engulfed by the flames of war as well. The Israel Defence Forces called additional reservists into active service and proceeded to run regular civil protection drills. However, no one was prepared for the horror that was to come. In 2025, the GLA declared the first of July as the 'day of judgement': An elite fighting force of Deathstrike's most experienced warriors converged on the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. After a bitter engagement with a joint Chinese-American task force and a failed attempt by the Russian Federation to reclaim its former space port, the GLA loaded its crudely constructed toxin warheads onto a series of Soyuz rockets. One of them entered Israeli airspace and bypassed the country's supposedly impenetrable network of missile defence systems at an unstoppable hypersonic speed. The warhead, whose explosive payload was comparable to a low-yield nuclear weapon, smashed into a densely populated quarter of Tel Aviv and released a cloud of deadly chemical agents, killing tens of thousands within seconds.
In Jerusalem, all major Israeli parties agreed on the creation of a national defence coalition. Born out of sheer paranoia and heated emotions, the new government was given nigh-total authority and was formed under only a single directive: To protect the State of Israel and retaliate against those who sought to destroy it by any means necessary. Soon after the attack, the GLA made its next move, toppling the unpopular government of Iraq which had been installed on behalf of the United States and setting off an open conflict between the pro-Saudi and pro-Iranian factions in the country. Both the Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as the United States of America sent troops to gain control, resulting in a war that would eventually plunge the entire Middle East into anarchy. The military of Iran retaliated against the vital desalinisation facilities that provided the Arabian peninsula with drinkable water while the US military responded with an all-out invasion of Iran after the country was accused of collaborating with the elusive 'Dr. Thrax' in pursuit of biological weapons.
Meanwhile, Israel transformed itself into a stringent, highly secluded state behind a heavily fortified border. Swathes of barbed wire, land mines and concrete walls surrounded the country, permanently cutting off every land route while sea- and airport authorities kept tabs on all travellers. The common day-to-day routine became dominated by safety rules and the vibrant Mediterranean night life in the large metropolitan areas was subdued by regular curfews. Even the traditional flag was not safe from the wave of nationalist hysteria, its harmonious combination of white and blue replaced by a dark, ominous mirror image of pained mourning and a collective hunger for vengeance. After the GLA had gone down in a final blaze of destructive glory with its attack on Europe, the fighting in the Middle East continued: Entire nations collapsed, total war became the default state of nature and bloodshed a routine. With the destruction of the region's economic infrastructure and resources, the foreign powers lost interest in the Middle East and moved on to their next 'Great Game' in Africa, where Deathstrike eventually met his maker in 2032. The allegiance of his assassin remains forever unknown to history, but there are persistent theories which claim that his death was orchestrated by the Israeli Mossad.
In order to provide infantry forces with better protection during defensive operations, Fortifications can now be reinforced which increases their durability and renders their occupants immune to clearing hazards such as flames and toxin.
Alternatively, Fortifications can be refitted into Ammunition Stockpiles, sacrificing their fire ports for an arsenal of munitions which provide adjacent units and defences with increased firepower. Be warned however that these ammo dumps will explode violently upon destruction.
As another new option, Fortifications can also be upgraded with field engineering equipment which allows them to repair nearby vehicles right at the front line.
Last but not least, we want to use this opportunity to present you the new ROTR tech tree posters.