From Russia With Love

Russia in the Modern Variant

Vincent Mous-Harboesgaard

Brief Introduction

Welcome to the ninth article in my continuing series about the Modern variant. In the first article you got an introduction to the modern variant, as well as some information on how to get started playing it. In the next six articles I discussed the opening strategies for Britain, Egypt, France, Germany and Italy. Then, I took a break and conducted a review of those six articles, before starting to discuss the remaining five modern powers, beginning with Poland.

In this article, I examine the position and opening choices for Russia, the largest power in Modern, and possibly the most intimidating. Though this initial size makes Russia seem strong, it also makes Russia the initial target of the Early Leader Syndrome in Modern, and typically a Russian earns the immediate enmity of one if not more than one of his neighbours. Combined with a homeland that is difficult to defend, this makes Russia one of the most vulnerable powers early on in Modern. However, Russia's mid- and late game flexibility make it a very interesting power to play, and possibly one of the hardest to stop once it gets going.

"Marks out of 10 for potential (no-press):
Italy - 10
Britain - 9
Egypt - 8"
Poland - 5
Germany - 3
France - 2
Russia - 1"      -- Toby Tyrell

Recently Finished Modern Games

As always, before getting underway, I'll take a look at recently finished Modern games. Don't forget, however, that you can get the latest on the variant at the Modern Variant Homepage, including the Overall Modern Hall of Fame, and the Halls of Fame for 1996 and 1997. Soon, the overall 1997 Modern champion will be announced and the Modern Hall of Fame game for 1997 -- pitting the top 10 players of 1997 against each other -- will start. Check it out!

Other interesting recent developments have included the start of a few non-English-language Modern games (two in French on the FROG judge, three in German on DEAC), as well as three non-judge games on the CAT-23 list. One of the CAT-23 members, Cavebabe, has made a page on Modern Strategy -- visit it if you haven't already. It offers a lot of interesting tidbits from such luminaries as Ramses, Cleopatra, Sun-Tzu, and Alexander the Great, and even covers some powers not yet reviewed in my articles.

Five games ended since publication of the article on Poland. Continuing Germany's strong showing this year was Rudy Vonk in Gdansk (USEF, press). His Germany reached 31 SC's, two short of a solo win, before being brought back to 27 SC's and a four-way draw by Thomas Lutz, Erik McConathy and Michael North, playing Italy, Russia and Turkey.

In the next game to finish, two previous lightweight powers in Modern -- France and Ukraine -- battled it out for supremacy. The game was called "Norway" (on the NOTR judge, no-press), and Gordon Aickin and Kent Liljegren, playing France and Ukraine, settled for a four-way draw with Britain and Turkey, led by Eric Person and Peter Taylor.

France was also present at the end in Ukraine's first solo-win in the game "Details" (USEF, nopress). Robert Rehbold masterfully exploited differences in his opponents, and with his second stab of Poland, came up with the magic 33 SC's, despite the best efforts of France, Spain and Poland.

Next to finish is a game I am sure you are all interested in -- the Modern Hall of Fame game for 1996, "ModHOF96" (USEF, press). One of the shortest Modern games ever, it ended in 2003 with a relatively even three-way draw between France, Germany and Turkey, led by Joseph W. Carl Jr, Chris Fridrich and Toby Tyrrell. To show how quick and brutal it was, only two other powers, Italy and Russia, reached seven or more centers, though they were certainly both a factor in the game.

The most recent game to finish was "euro96." It too ended in a three-way draw between relatively equal powers. This time, Egypt, France, and Poland, played by Jeff Serandos, Steve Stackhouse and Murray Grelis, were the powers to share in the draw. By the way, if the current trend holds out, it seems that the top two powers of 1997 will be Germany and Ukraine, which is fitting since they were the bottom two powers of 1996.

Anyhow, on to the article itself. I'll be looking at Russian openings and strategies, and will then, as usual include a section of player comments concerning the play of Russia.

List of Openings for Russia

Neutral/Defensive Openings

Apparatchik Attack
Army Moscow -> Estonia. (*void*)
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland.
This opening was used in a Cat-23 (non-judge) game. Obviously, the result was not very good, with both Moscow and Gorky effectively holding their positions. At least Russia had three units that did move. A perfect example of what can happen when the apparatchiks take control.

The Gulag
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Urals.
Russia tries not to offend with this opening, using a mix of defense and offense while maintaining her options for the fall and following year. This is probably a bid to take Bielorussia, while maintaining some defense against Ukraine by moving to CRP instead of Latvia. Since Russia did not move to Volga, then Ukraine might be more willing to accept the move to CRP, even though CRP borders two Ukrainian home SC's. The opening also has the advantage of being able to kick Ukraine out of Volga in the fall, should he have moved in, without having Ukraine retreat behind the lines.

There are more effective attacks and defenses available to Russia, and better uses for the Murmansk army than sending it to the Gulag. This opening should only be used when the diplomatic situation warrants it.

Leningrad Defense
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg HOLD.
Army Murmansk -> Finland.

Another opening that seeks to offend few. Russia leaves her northern fleet as a peace offering to Poland, and hopes this is enough to make Poland give up Bielorussia (either that or Poland has already agreed to this). This could have been accomplished just as well by moving Murmansk to Lapland and the fleet to Finland -- Britain would have been annoyed, but Sweden would at least have been almost guaranteed. As the move to Bielorussia will most likely bounce, even with the expected Ukrainian support (and there is no reason to move this way unless Ukraine has promised support), the army in Gorky will probably stay where it is as well, leaving Russia open to a Ukrainian opening to Volga and/or CRP. All in all, I believe this is a weak opening.

Russian Bear
Army Moscow SUPPORT Army Gorky -> Volga.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland. (Finn Variant) --or--
Army Murmansk -> Lapland. (Lapp Variant)
One of the better defensive openings. Russia protects the vital Volga area, as well as its Rostov port, by sending a unit southwards. Ukraine should be content with this opening, as Russia did not move to the CRP, which borders two Ukrainian SC's, and the Rostov fleet moved south. Likewise, Poland should be happy, as Russia stayed out of Bielorussia.

Meanwhile, Russia's options are completely open for the fall. Sweden can be virtually guaranteed if need be, or the northern fleet can be sent to take the Baltic and set up a 1996 attack on Poland. If Ukraine cooperates, Bielorussia could be taken in the fall from an unsuspecting Poland. An attack on Ukraine can be pursued, supporting Moscow south into CRP now that Volga is secure, or sneaking into Donbas while moving Moscow to CRP or Volga. Turkey can be pressured as well, either by sending Volga south to the Caucasus to put more pressure on Georgia, or moving it to Kazakhstan to pressure Iran. Moscow can even be sent to Volga to further the southern attack.

Though the opening cannot withstand a combined opening assault from Poland and Ukraine, it is a strong choice, especially if used with good diplomacy that gets either Ukraine or Poland to attack the other. Be wary though, as some players of Poland or Ukraine will require a stronger initial show of support to trust you.

Spartak Moscow
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
oving Gorky to Moscow (and Moscow to Bielorussia or CRP) is not my favorite choice, although I suppose if there is a good Spartak Moscow hockey game on, the troops' morale could be raised. This is because if Moscow is bounced, then the move to Moscow will fail. Russia will only get Bielorussia if Poland does not support itself in and Ukraine supports Russia in so there will mose likely be abounce. A better move for capturing Bielorussia would be to ask for Ukrainian help in the fall, and move Moscow to Latvia rather than Bielorussia. Either of these leaves Russia open to Ukrainian openings to CRP and Volga however, so only use them with caution.

Stalin Strategy
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
Stalin's strategy was to consolidate his position at home and only attack others with a strong alliance (the partition of Poland with the Nazis, and then of Eastern Europe with the Allies) or if they were too small to defend themselves (Finland). This opening follows the same lines. The supported move to Volga consolidates Russia's defense of both its interior and its southern port. Two units are moved on Sweden, to ensure its capture, and an attempt at Bielorussia is made, presumably with a Ukrainian alliance. The latter move will probably fail, but will also prevent Poland from getting Bielorussia, and Russian and Ukrainian reinforcements can be sent the following year, while the fleet in the Gulf of Bothnia can be moved south immediately if it isn't needed in Sweden.

Though Georgia is given up, this opening is a reasonable one. The above scenario of an attack on Poland can be changed to one on Ukraine if necesary, and at least Turkey should be grateful for the 'gift' of Georgia.

White Russian (Theo Kermanidis)
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland. (Finn Variant) --or--
Army Murmansk -> Lapland. (Lapp Variant)
Similar to the Stalin Strategy, the White Russian gives up the support for the move to Volga to try for Georgia. If Ukraine really is going to support Russia into Bielorussia, then the support into Volga wont be needed. In the worst case, both will bounce, and Russia will lose no home SC's, while still being almost guaranteed Sweden and having a shot at Georgia. In the best case, Georgia, Bielorussia and Sweden will be captured (and Russia's northern fleet will be in the Gulf of Bothnia) and Russia will be looking very good indeed.

The actual result will probably be somewhere inbetween, but this will remain one of the more popular openings, especially since it has produced one of the two Russian solo wins.

Pro-Turkish Openings

Black Sea Alliance
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Turkish Fleet Ankara -> Eastern Black Sea.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland.
Russia gives up Georgia to Turkey and also supports Turkey into the Eastern Black Sea. This is likely to anger Ukraine, but Russia

moves to Bielorussia from Moscow -- not to CRP -- which seems to indicate she is expecting Ukrainian support. In any case, this will upset Poland as well, so the alliance with Turkey had better pan out, since Russia will be facing both Ukraine and Poland unless she can come up with some good explanations, especially since Sweden is the only neutral she will acquire.

I would at least change the support of Turkey from EBS to Georgia in a no-press game, as Ukraine might not be so offended.

Georgian Gambit
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Turkish Fleet Ankara -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland. (Finn Variant) --or--
Army Murmansk -> Lapland. (Lapp Variant)
A better opening than the Black Sea alliance, and a more popular one as well. The move to CRP instead of Bielorussia is superior, as it does not offend Poland and increases pressure on Ukraine. It is generally best for Russia to choose only one of Ukraine and Poland as a target for initial conquest, so as not to push them together into an alliance. Again, the only sure SC is Sweden, as Turkey is given Georgia, but Georgia is never a sure thing anyhow, and it is better to give it away and make a friend of Turkey, than to fight for it and lose to Turkey.

Turkish Treaty
Army Moscow SUPPORT Army Gorky -> Volga.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Turkish Fleet Ankara -> Eastern Black Sea.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland.
Similar to the other pro-Turkish openings, Russia's target is Ukraine. This time, she makes sure to take Volga, while giving up position in CRP to Ukraine if Ukraine opens there. This is usually an acceptable compromise, as it isn't certain that Ukraine will go for CRP, and Russia will be able to move to defend Rostov if that is attacked.

Pro-Ukrainian Openings

Hammer and Sickle
Army Moscow SUPPORT Ukrainian Army Kiev -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> St-Petersburg.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Ukrainian Fleet Sevastopol -> Eastern Black Sea. --or--
Fleet Rostov HOLD.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland. (Finn Variant) --or--
Army Murmansk -> Lapland. (Lapp Variant)
Russia uses two units to support Ukraine -- one against Poland, and the other against Turkey. If Ukraine goes along, this can be a good alliance, and Russia or Ukraine can usually take Georgia in the fall. Russia therefore still has a shot at capturing two SC's in 1995, even though she doesn't move to Georgia immediately, and at least one, Sweden, is virtually guaranteed.

Northern Opening (Jeff Behan)
Army Moscow -> Latvia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Ukrainian Fleet Sevastopol -> Eastern Black Sea.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
Says Jeff Behan, "F Rostov S Ukr F Sev-Ebs is simply a sign of peace to Ukraine, my first choice as a ally. Russia is so outgunned in that region anyway that if the Ukraine decides to attack, Rostov is lost. It appears that Ukraine/Russia would make a good alliance as well, if they choose to team up.

"A Mos-Lat and A Gor-Mos amount somewhat to a declaration of war against Poland. If Ukraine doesn't grab Bie right off the bat, Russia will have two forces to use against it. If she does, R/U haven't butted heads to start. The thinking is that it allows Russia to take Bie in the Fall and gives a fair defensive position against most Ukr or Pol openings.

"Concerning F StP-GoB, I feel all fleets should open up to sea. Obviously the sights are on Swe.

"A Mur-Lap brings leverage against Sweden with an option to mess with Britain over Norway."

Polish Partition
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov CONVOY Ukrainian Army Kiev -> Warsaw. (*void*)
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
A no-press opening, the fleet in Rostov is used to indicate the wish for an alliance to Ukraine, while Moscow's move to Bielorussia is a request for Ukraine to support Russia in -- though Russia obviously hopes for this as well. Turkey will be pleased with the opening as well, as he gets Georgia, while Britain will be somwhat upset by the move to Lapland rather than Finland. This might help with Ukraine though, as it is a definite sign that Russia is interested in an Atlantic strategy, and that Britain, not Ukraine might be the next target once Poland is gone.

Soviet Alliance
Army Moscow SUPPORT Ukrainian Army Kiev -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> St-Petersburg.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
[NOTE: Army Gorky -> Moscow was used in Sedan, an obvious mistake.]

Similar to the Hammer and Sickle, this opening proposes an alliance with Ukraine, and offers Bielorussia to Ukraine. The move of Gorky to St-Petersburg is probably the best choice if Russia does not want to move Gorky to Volga (as this might not be viewed kindly by Ukraine), since Moscow is not going anywhere. Russia remains vulnerable to an initial attack by Ukraine however.

Aggressive Openings

Black Sea Fleet
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Eastern Black Sea.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
This opening will likely offend all Russia's neighbours, though the move to the Black Sea can perhaps be explained to Ukraine as an attack on Turkey and vice-versa. This opening is at least a bit more subtle than the Zhirinovsky Offensive, as well as a more defensive, with the move to the Volga.

Politburo Shuffle
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
Once again, an opening where Russia attacks in all directions. The move to CRP threatens two Ukrainian home SC's, but instead of moving to Volga and attempt to take Kharkov, Russia moves Gorky to Moscow, setting herself up to take Bielorussia and therefore threatening Poland. Moves to Georgia and Lapland finish off the aggressive moves, possibly annoying Turkey and Britain. This opening should not be attempted without some heavy diplomacy to accompany it.

Zhirinovsky Offensive
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Donbas.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
An all-out attack by Russia on everyone -- Poland in Bielorussia, Ukraine in Donbas, Britain in Lapland. At least Turkey was not attacked, though that is probably because of the lack of southern units. This opening is vulnerable to an initial move by Ukraine to CRP and Volga.

Anti-British Openings

Russia House
Army Moscow HOLD.
Army Gorky -> Murmansk.
Fleet Rostov HOLD.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
Two Russian units, Moscow and Rostov, stay at home, while the others move towards Scandinavia. Sweden is almost guaranteed, and Norway is likely the next intended target. Turkey will be happy to get Georgia uncontested, and Ukraine and Poland will also be pleasantly surprised to see Russia's troops turn their eyes elsewhere.

Scandinavian Strike
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> St-Petersburg.
Fleet Rostov -> Volga.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
Another opening where Russia makes as much of a play for Norway as she can. The opening offers more defense against a Ukrainian attack than the Russia House however, by moving the Rostov fleet to Volga. Ukraine is also hopefully helping against Poland, and the attack on Scandinavia might be diverted south to an attack on Poland.

Anti-Polish Openings

Baltic Annexation
Army Moscow -> Latvia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov HOLD. (Rostov Variant) --or--
Fleet Rostov -> Volga. (Volga Variant)
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland.
Simon Withers advises: "F Rostov-Volga defends against a Ukrainian Kharkov-Volga while not being as aggressive as Gorky or Moscow-Volga. Georgia is sacrificed to keep Turkey from going to war on you, and may even keep Turkey from preventing the Ukraine from helping your assault on Poland. Because Poland will want to pick up CZE, Bielorussia is vulnerable to a two on one assault in the fall, and that is exactly what Moscow and Gorky are doing. Definitely that army in Latvia will prove handy when trying to take Lithuania.

"Murmansk to Finland is chosen over Murmansk to Lapland as the leverage in Norway is not in your best interests. Germany and Britain are very likely to go to war, and Germany needs to take Sweden to take Norway. Not in your best interest at all, so why not show Britain that you're on their side as soon as the opportunity arises.

"St. Petersburg to the Gulf is pretty self-explanatory, but remember that a cunning way to get the drop Poland is a convoy through the Baltic to Prussia...."

Catherine the Great
Army Moscow -> Latvia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Eastern Black Sea.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland.
Catherine the Great, or Catherine II, ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796. She extended the Russian Empire to the shores of the Black Sea, and took over large portions of Poland. She also made Russia into a great European power. This openings attempts to do this by starting with the first part -- extending Russian control over the Eastern Black Sea with the Rostov fleet, and moving on Poland with the Moscow and Gorky armies. The move to EBS is an interesting one, as it will cause problems for both Turkey and Ukraine if it succeeds, and still allows Russia to try for Georgia in the fall.

Ivan the Terrible
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> St-Petersburg.
Ivan the Terrible was the first Tsar of Russia, crowned in 1547. His reign was noted by the conquest of Siberia and extension of Russia to shores of the Caspian Sea, but also by the disastrous Livonian War, waged against the Germans, Swedes and Poles. This opening sets up Russia for another disappointment of the same type, with the conquest of Sweden possibly blocked by Germany, and a war with Poland shaping up with the move to Bielorussia. The Rostov fleet is also moved to Georgia, seeking to expand Russian influence further along the Caspian. Of course, the outcome of these moves will not necessarily be the same as for Ivan the Terrible, but essential to this opening are probably an alliance with Ukraine, and an understanding with Germany about Sweden.

Minsk Accord
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky HOLD.
Fleet Rostov -> Volga.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Finland.
Army Murmansk -> St-Petersburg.
This opening counts on an alliance with Ukraine to get Russia into Minsk, the Bielorussian capital. The St-Petersburg fleet is sent to take Sweden, while Murmansk is moved south to St-Petersburg, and presumably on to Latvia to add pressure on Bielorussia and Lithuania. Rostov moves north to Volga, to defend against a possible Ukrainian betrayal, but perhaps also offering Rostov up to Ukraine as the price for an alliance. Holding in Gorky seems like a wasted move however -- it should at least be moved to Moscow in case the move to Bielorussia succeeds.

Nevsky Plan
Army Moscow -> Latvia.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
Alexander Nevsky ruled the state of Novgorod in the thirteenth century, and is a direct ancestor of the first Tsars of Russia. He successfully fought the Swedes and Germans from Livonia and ruled an area from the White Sea to the Urals. He was also later canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Similarly, this opening makes sure that Sweden is taken, whether the Germans get involved or not, by sending two units to Scandinavia. Control is also extended to Livonia -- modern day Latvia and Estonia -- perhaps to be convoyed to Sweden or to exert pressure on Lithuania or Bielorussia. The Nevsky Plan also defends against an early Ukrainian attack, and possibly an attack on Rostov, by moving Gorky to Volga, while attempting to take Georgia from Rostov.

Peter the Great
Army Moscow -> Latvia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> St-Petersburg.
Peter the Great ruled Russia from 1689 to 1725 and is considered to have layed the foundation for the Russian Empire. He is also responsible for the inception of the Russian Navy in 1695, on the Black Sea, in a campaign to take over the Sea of Azhov. He also founded St-Petersburg in 1703 and secured Russia access to the Baltic Sea, and eventually Estonia, Livonia, Poland and the western shores of the Caspian Sea.

This opening secures Russia's Baltic Sea port by moving the army in Murmansk south to St-Petersburg, moves on Poland with the armies in Moscow and Gorky, and sends the Rostov fleet to Georgia along the western shores of the Caspian. It is probably one of the better Russian openings when Ukraine, Turkey and Germany are neutral or friendly, but would be substantially hurt by a Ukrainian opening to CRP and Volga.

Red Army Assault
Army Moscow -> Bielorussia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> St-Petersburg.
With as direct an assault on Poland as can be made, Russia tries to send its three armies against it by land, but depends on Ukrainian assistance to do this. Both Sweden and Georgia are sought, but neither is secure. A reasonable opening, but a Ukrainian opening to CRP and Volga would again be very damaging.

Red Storm
Army Moscow -> Latvia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
One of the more popular openings, this is probably the most effective way for Russia to make a play for all three neutral SC's that are reasonably accessible to her in 1995 -- Georgia, Sweden, and Bielorussia. The opening even allows Russia to exceptionally try for Norway or Lithuania should those become available, though taking Sweden from Lapland and moving the northern fleet to the Baltic Sea in the fall is probably preferrable to bouncing Britain in Norway. As many other pro-Ukrainian openings though, Red Storm leaves Russia vulnerable to an initial Ukrainian move to CRP and Volga.

Sidler (Rick Desper)
Army Moscow -> Latvia.
Army Gorky -> Moscow.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland.
Rick Desper calls this opening "Anti-Polish, working with Ukraine." Almost identical to the Red Storm, this opening gives up possible pressure on Norway, hopefully for better relationships with Britain.

Anti-Turkish Opening

Volgan Defense
Army Moscow SUPPORT Army Gorky -> Volga.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Gorky.
Four of Russia's units are involved with moves south, the most of any opening. Because of this, the hold on Sweden is lessened, but with Moscow's support, Gorky is sure to make it to Volga, and thus defend Rostov or move on to Caucasus, for more leverage on Georgia or to Kazakhstan, to make a play for Iran, all while sending a second army to Volga. Though I put this opening under Anti-Turkish openings, it is also a defensive opening, and Russia will seldom lose an SC using it. Also, nothing vital to Turkey is attacked in the first move, and Russia can change her mind and attack Ukraine instead.

Pro-Polish/Anti-Ukrainian Openings

Almost all anti-Ukrainian openings are pro-Polish openings. There is not really any reason for supporting Poland into Bielorussia as he can do so himself, so one will not often see a direct support of a Polish unit, except perhaps in a nopress game.

Brezhnev Opening (Jouni Tikkanen)
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Gorky.
Says Jouni Tikkanen, "The intention is, of course, to attack Ukraine as heavily as possible. If Ukraine and Poland ally against Russia, Russia will be in serious trouble. But if Russia has any luck, Poland will join it against Ukraine. It is still hard to get that first SC from Ukraine, especially if he bounces th move to CRP.

"Murmansk moves south instead of to Lap or Fin. Because of this Russia may not get Sweden and will also have weak defence against British or German attack. Hopefully they start to fight against each other. Because F Ros gives support, Russia may not get Geo either. If things go really wrong, Turkey joins P/U and tries to grab Rostov. However, this is a bit unlikely, because Russia is not (like Egypt and Ukraine) a big threat to his national security. The move A Mur to Gor (and not to StP) because it can then reach both Volga and Moscow."

The Clencher (Amy Williams)
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland. (Finn Variant) --or--
Army Murmansk -> Lapland. (Lapp variant)
Amy Williams reflects that "the only reason anyone would use this opening, was if Russia would be to be friendly to Poland."

This is an appropriate comment perhaps, as the opening was used in spartiku, the only Polish win to date. However, this is not a bad opening against Ukraine, as it can possibly lead to the capture of Kharkov if Ukraine is caught unawares, and has been until now one of the most used openings for Russia. Its weakness is probably that it leaves Moscow unprotected from a Polish stab in the fall from Bielorussia, and be sure that Ukraine will be pressuring Poland to do just that.

Mother Russia
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Eastern Black Sea.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
One of the two openings that have led to a Russian win in Modern to date. Like the Clencher, Russia can possibly take Kharkov if the moves to Volga and CRP succeed, and Moscow is still vulnerable to a Polish stab from Bielorussia in the fall. The southern fleet is moved to the Eastern Black Sea though instead of Georgia. This is probably a good move for two reasons -- it gives Turkey Georgia, hopefully making him an ally against Ukraine, and it puts more immediate pressure on Ukraine, threatening Sevastopol, and possibly forcing Ukraine to move back to it and forego a neutral SC, and thus a build.

Southern Attack (Rick Desper)
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Eastern Black Sea.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> St-Petersburg.
Rick Desper calls this opening, "Anti-Ukraine, with a surprise."

This is identical to the Mother Russia opening, but the army in Murmansk is moved to St-Petersburg instead of Lapland. That means that Sweden is no longer as sure a thing as otherwise, but Moscow is also no longer vulnerable to a Polish stab from Bielorussia in the fall of 1995.

Reunification (Rob Serandos)
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Eastern Black Sea.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Gorky.
Rob Serandos comments: "The Stp fleet hopes for Sweden, but if its not there, then the fleet will remain in gob as a deterrent to a Polish offensive. Mos-CRP assures Russia that either Gor-Vol will succeed or Ukraine will not get CRP. Gor-Vol will usually succeed without support since Ukraine does not want to waste a move bouncing there. Ros-EBS puts pressure on sev while still overseeing Georgia if that center is available in the Fall. The move to EBS may stem a Turkish offensive as well. By making anti-U moves and attempting to prevent invasions from Poland or Turkey before they start, Russia hopes to make Ukraine the early target in the east.

"(Unlike the Southern Attack), the opening uses Mur-Gor, not Mur-Stp. The army would dead-end in Stp if the hoped for Polish alliance came about. An army in Gor though could go to Volga if the army in Volga moves in the Fall."

Rotation South (Jim Kloss)
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Georgia.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Gorky.
Says Jim Kloss, "This opening is designed to try to gain two, not overtly attack anyone, and to better align your forces to stop the expected attacks from Poland and/or Ukraine, and/or Turkey. It gambles that Germany will not go to Denmark on turn one. If it does, and if Turkey orders Ada - Arm, then you may get no builds. However, one of Russia's advantages is starting with more units, so quick initial growth is not as important for Russia as it is for a country like Poland."

Ukrainian Reannexation (Charles Dauphin)
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Donbas.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> St-Petersburg.
Charles Dauphin says, "I was impressed by the opening. The key moves are Mos-CRP, Gor-Vol, and Ros-Don. Of course, you have to lull Ukraine into a false sense of security. Once that is done, though, Kharkov is yours."

Similar to the Southern Attack, the Rostov Fleet moves to Donbas instead of the Eastern Black Sea, threatening Turkey even less. If Turkey opens to the Eastern Black Sea, Sevastopol could be taken through cooperation. Like the Southern Attack, Murmansk protects Moscow from a possible fall stab by Poland in Bielorussia.

Vladimir Offensive
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> St-Petersburg.
Jeff Zahnen says, "The move to STP is to cover Moscow from Bielorussia, while the Bothnia fleet moves into position to hit Poland. The Vol/CRP moves are to take Kharkov from Ukraine. Basically, the opening is anti-Polish. It avoids the blitzkrieg Russia suffered in dickens. If Poland wants Lit/Bie, Russia cant stop them, but the army in STP stops them from moving further east while the fleet moves into position."

Volga Boatmen (Earle Ratcliffe)
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Finland.
Earle Ratcliffe says, "I'd go for Ukraine off the bat. By going through him, you can get to the Balkans, the largest concentration of centers in the game. That puts you on good terms with Turkey and Britain. Maybe Britain can support you into Sweden next year, if you don't get it this year?) Turkey is offered Georgia in exchange for help against Ukraine. Turkey might let you into Georgia for another Ukrainian center, depending on your build situation elsewhere. Hopefully, Poland will jump on the bandwagon, and you can pick a new target quickly."

Volga Maneuver (Rick Desper)
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov SUPPORT Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
Rick Desper says this is a "strong anti-Ukraine" opening. It is a similar opening to the Clencher and Mother Russia, Russia makes sure that Gorky gets to Volga instead of trying for Georgia or moving to the Eastern Black Sea. Though it seems that it increases the chance of taking Kharkov from Ukraine, by getting around an opening move to Volga by Ukraine, it remains more likely that Ukraine will open to CRP instead (or as well). It does allow Russia to support a move to CRP in the fall though, should it have failed in the spring. Watch out for the Polish army in Bielorussia!

Yaroslav the Wise
Army Moscow -> Central Russian Plateau.
Army Gorky -> Volga.
Fleet Rostov -> Donbas.
Fleet St-Petersburg -> Gulf of Bothnia.
Army Murmansk -> Lapland.
Cait Glasson remarks that "in all the Modern games I've seen, Russia and the Ukraine end up at war nearly immediately. If one doesn't start it, the other does. And the best defense is a good offense. Quiet Flows the Don. In the north, Fin could be substituted for Lap, if the English are very chummy, but Lap offers more options."

Yaroslav the Wise was one of the great rulers of Kievan Russia, reigning from 1019 to 1054. He was one of the leading monarchs of his time, marrying sons and daughters to many royals accross Europe, and thus forging alliances. He was also responsible for the Russkaya Pravda, the first Russian law.

The opening attempts to reestablish Russia's rule over its birthland, the area around Kiev. It is similar to the Ukrainian Reannexation, but the Murmansk army moves to Lapland to secure Sweden, rather than to St-Petersburg where it would defend against a possible Polish stab at Moscow in the fall.

Statistics on the Use of Openings for Poland

Table 1. Ongoing Games
GameOpening UsedYearSC CountStanding
modt97aRussian Bear (Lapp Variant)200824 1st
modt97eRussian Bear (Lapp Variant)1999101st
ptolemyThe Clencher (Finn Variant)19955 1st
todayRed Army Assault199791st (tied)
heuteRed Army Assault199671st (tied)
ablePolish Partition2004162nd
lastcoinIvan the Terrible199892nd
marinettThe Clencher (Finn Variant) 2004122nd (tied)
sedanSoviet Alliance2001122nd (tied)
modt97fVolga Maneuver199772nd (tied)
zwoelfaHammer and Sickle (Lapp Variant)199672nd (tied)
modgameRussian Bear (Finn Variant)2008123rd
novgorodVolga Boatmen199883rd
reaganRussian Bear (Lapp Variant)200093rd (tied)
taunt3Reunification201193rd (tied)
milosYaroslav the Wise200874th
wilhelmUkrainian Reannexation199665th (tied)
norm11Georgian Gambit (Lapp Variant)200545th (tied)
modt97cThe Clencher (Lapp Variant)200446th (tied)
modt97dReunification200046th (tied)
ooRed Storm199747th
therockSpartak Moscow200138th
ericWhite Russian (Lapp Variant)199758th (tied)
crazyWhite Russian (Lapp Variant)199838th (tied)
dip202 (Cat-23)Apparatchik Attack200018th (tied)
kyyivBaltic Annexation (Rostov Variant)199729th (tied)
beneschRussia House1997410th
nowadaysRed Storm1998310th
peterWhite Russian (Lapp Variant)1997310th
bogardanVolga Boatmen2003elim.
brakerMother Russia2001elim.
dip158 (Cat-23)Black Sea Fleet2005elim.
dip174 (Cat-23)Black Sea Fleet2002elim.
euro97Volgan Defense 2004elim.
frontlinRed Storm2012elim.
hamburgWhite Russian (Lapp Variant)2016elim.
izmir2Black Sea Alliance 2010elim.
modt97bVolga Boatmen2007elim.
naderWhite Russian (Lapp Variant)2011elim.
norm7Catherine the Great 2008elim.
perotVladimir Offensive2017elim.
sardThe Clencher (Finn Variant)2016elim.

Table 2. Finished Games - Russian Win or Draw
GameOpening UsedResultYearSC CountStanding
auroraMother RussiaR2009361st
day2dayWhite Russian (Lapp Variant)R2009341st
despairNevsky PlanFIR2012271st
euro95Red StormERT2023231st
natoPeter the GreatEGRS2007162nd (tied)
gdanskHammer and Sickle (Finn Variant)GIRT201474th

Table 3. Finished Games - Russian Loss
GameOpening UsedResultYearSC CountStanding
rostovPolitburo ShuffleI 201574th
thisthatMinsk AccordG 200435th
academy4ReunificationEIS 2009elim.
blitzzWhite Russian (Lapp Variant)BEP 2017elim.
buchananNorthern OpeningBEPSU 2022elim.
cairoThe GulagIPST 2009elim.
deleriumBlack Sea FleetE 2008elim.
desireZhirinovsky OffensiveGSTU 2008elim.
detailsNorthern OpeningU 2023elim.
dickensWhite Russian (Finn Variant)EFG 2015elim.
euro96Brezhnev OpeningEFP 2017elim.
gun1994The Clencher (Finn Variant)G 2009elim.
izmirRed StormEIS 2005elim.
katrasGeorgian Gambit (Finn Variant)BIPT 2012elim.
liarliarWhite Russian (Lapp Variant)T 2007elim.
lie2meTurkish TreatyT 2007elim.
lyonThe Clencher (Lapp Variant)BPST 2011elim.
milanRussian Bear (Lapp Variant)BES 2014elim.
minskLeningrad DefenseGTU 2019elim.
modhof96White Russian (Finn Variant)FGT 2003elim.
modsquadStalin StrategyU 2009elim.
norwayScandinavian StrikeBFTU 2020elim.
odessaRussian Bear (Lapp Variant)EPS 2022elim.
sevilleThe Clencher (Lapp Variant)I 2014elim.
spartikuThe Clencher (Lapp Variant)P 2004elim.

Russian Strategy

How should one play Russia in Modern? What should the initial and overall strategies be? There are many answers to these questions, all of them valid. I will try to examine the possibilities, as well as Russia's strengths and weaknesses, possible paths to winning, and its relationship with other powers. Along the way, you can read player comments on the same subjects.

Naming Confusion

First however, I want to present alternatives for a couple of SC's in and around Russia. It turns out that Russia's propensity for changing the names of their cities has got me in trouble. For most of the time between 1901, when the Standard variant starts, and 1995, when Modern begins, St-Petersburg was, as everyone probably knows, Leningrad. There is not where the problem lies. It turns out that Gorky's name also changed around the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and is now known as Nizhni Novgorod, Russian for New Novgorod. I will keep using Gorky, though, in the article. The other point of contention is White Russia. I have used Bielorussia for it in the variant, but common usage has become Belarus. This is not a change in the Russian name for White Russia, but a change in the English name for it -- just like one day Peking suddenly became Beijing. I have an encyclopedia (Collier's) showing it as Bielorussia, and since the three letter abbreviation for Belarus conflicts with that used for Belgium, I decided to use Bielorussia for the variant.

Initial Strategy

Once you get over the confusion about names, you might start wondering about Russia's initial strategy. With five starting units, Russia has more opening combinations that any other power in Modern - approximately 5000, if one does not count supports. While this may seem daunting, it is possible to develop a coherent strategy by examining the SC's that Russia can reach in 1995 as well as longer term considerations. The list of SC's within two moves of Russian units is actually reasonably long - Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Warsaw, Krakow, Kiev, Kharkov, Sevastopol and Ankara. Of these, however, Russia can amazingly only attack two - Sweden and Kharkov - with two of her own units. Since Kharkov is a Ukrainian home SC, that means Sweden is the most Russian of neutral SC's, and by sending two units towards it, Russia can come close to guaranteeing it (Poland and Germany could work together to keep Russia out, but this would involve Poland giving up a build, and is not likely to happen).

Let's examine the other SC's within reach. Norway is also in Scandinavia and can be reached by one Russian army and two British fleets. Russia can go after it by sending an army to Lapland, forcing Britain to support herself to take Norway and possibly lose a build in Belgium. The most Russia can really expect though is to keep Britain out of Norway. Fortunately, Lapland also borders Sweden, so the army could be used to take Sweden or support a move there. In any case, a move to Lapland is likely to earn Britain's distrust, if not anger, so this should be taken into consideration.

A second neutral SC on the list is Lithuania, the only SC in the Baltics. Russia does not really have any chance of taking it, however, as Poland can reach it sooner than Russia and support himself in. As Poland will usually take Lithuania with his fleet though, Russia will be able to send her northern fleet to the Baltic Sea in the fall of 1995. This sets up a reasonable attack on Lithuania in the spring of 1996, threatens Gdansk, and best of all might allow Russia to convoy an army from Latvia to Prussia, likely fatally outflanking Poland.

The two remaining neutral SC's within Russia's reach, are also the closest - Georgia and Bielorussia. Georgia is a definite possibilty for Russia, and acquiring it would go a long way to making Russia's position in the Caucasus more defensible. Turkey is just as close to Georgia though, and can send a second unit to make sure it can take it in 1995. The fate of Georgia should therefore be a matter of negotiation. Russia probably wants an ally in Turkey to counterbalance Ukraine, whether Ukraine is a friend or not, and especially does not want Turkey attacking Rostov. Russia's interest here is therefore a friendly resolution of Georgia's status.

Bielorussia is another case though. Like Switzerland, it is bordered by one home SC of two powers, as well as two home SC's of a third power. As with Switzerland, this usually means that the power with two home SC's is the most vulnerable if it does not capture it, and will make it one of its prime objectives to do so. Bielorussia will therefore almost always be a Polish priority, and contesting it will confirm any anti-Russian tendencies the Pole may harbor. The only way Russia could take Bielorussia in the spring of 1995 would be if Poland does not support himself in, and Ukraine supports Russia in. The other way to capture Bielorussia is by moving Moscow to Latvia and Gorky to Moscow. If Poland already moved one of it's armies to the Czech Republic, Russia will be able to take Bielorussia alone unless Ukraine supports Poland. If not, Russia will have to get Ukraine's support to take Bielorussia, but Poland will also have to choose whether to take the Czech Republic or defend Bielorussia, and will therefore at least lose out on one SC. I feel therefore that this is the superior way to attack Bielorussia in 1995, but be aware that it is an attack on Poland.

The other SC's that Russia can reach in 1995 are home SC's. Two of them are Poland's, and are only reachable through Bielorussia, and so should not figure in any Russian plans for 1995. Two others - Sevastopol and Ankara - can only be taken with help that will seldomly be coming. Threatening Sevastopol however, could be worth it in conjunction with an attack on Ukraine, as it might rob Ukraine of a build as Ukraine rushes back to port to defend the Crimean peninsula. All Russia gives up to do this is its shot as Georgia, which is by no means a sure thing, and she might gain Turkey as an ally as a bonus. Threatening Ankara is a more dubious affair, though it threatens Sevastopol at the same time, but it might allow Russia to sneak into Georgia if Turkey chooses to defend Ankara with the unit that would have captured Georgia that year. This should only be done if Turkey's friendship is not needed however, and only when sending Gorky south to Volga to be able to defend Rostov.

Another consideration in Russia's opening is defense. The Ukraine, if left unopposed, can mount a serious attack on Russia in 1995 by moving to Volga and CRP. Combined with a Polish move to Bielorussia, this could be the death knell for Russia. To keep Ukraine from taking Volga, Russia just needs to move there from either Gorky or Rostov (don't forget the canal joining Rostov and Volga, which allows the fleet to move there), as Ukraine cannot support a move to Volga. A move to CRP cannot be stopped if it is supported by Ukraine, but if Ukraine moves to both Volga and CRP, then both will bounce. Russia can gain the advantage here by supporting her move to Volga, though this probably means the loss of Georgia, or not trying for CRP.

The best way to defend Russia, however, is to make sure that you don't get attacked. If you can manage to get either Poland or Ukraine on your side - or even better, both - then your diplomacy will have resolved the problem much better than your initial units could. A P/U alliance is very dangerous for Russia - I would even go so far as to say that vulnerability to an initial P/U alliance is Russia's main weakness in Modern. Therefore do what is necessary to break it up, preferrably before it starts. This could include offering support into Bielorussia to either or both of them, promising not to contest a neutral SC, promising several of the others home SC's, but of course the specifics will vary from game to game and depend on who is playing Poland and Ukraine.

Midgame and Endgame

Once Russia has gotten past the first few years and grown in size to a comfortable level, Russia's strengths start to become apparent. With 3 ports, Russia can build fleets to support it's activities on 4 seas - the Arctic seas, Baltic sea region, Black Sea and Caspian Sea. This means that Russia is very flexible in it's midgame and endgame strategy. Few bottlenecks will stop Russia, as it can bring the necessary land and sea forces to bear in many areas. Russia shares with Germany access to the Baltic area and the Atlantic, and like France and Spain, access to both sides of the Gibraltar. This advantage will be lesser if Russia's south was attacked early in the game and Rostov taken by a strong Turkey, as it is possible for Turkey to hold on to Rostov against an attack from the north if he uses sufficient forces to defend it. Russia might also be stopped by sufficient forces at Istanbul, kept in the Black Sea, but diplomacy exists for a rason.

The most difficult decision for Russia is probably where to attack in the midgame. If Russia builds fleets north and suddenly faces an attack from the south, her weaknesses in defending herself will show up again. The same goes if Russia builds many fleets to the south and faces an attack in the north. The north is particularly weak, as Murmansk cannot be held against a determined attack unless Russia has a fleet in the White Sea. If Murmansk is lost, then occupying Estonia and Latvia become just as important in trying to defend St-Petersburg. If both of these are lost, then I believe Russia can be pushed back to the shores of the Black Sea.

Nonetheless, at this point in the game, such an attack is less likely, though it must be guarded against. I feel that to maximize Russia's strength in the midgame, a minimum of fleets should be build. Keeping the navy down in size will increase Russia's options, as the armies can head in all directions, while the fleets will be separated from one another. This does not mean not building any fleets, but a Russia with four armies and six fleets is probably unbalanced. Later in the game, fleets can be built rather quickly and provide the impetus for an nearly unstoppable Russia. I would say that a twenty SC Russia is more fearsome than any other power of that size. A well-timed stab could then give Russia five builds, and propel her towards a win.

Relationship with Other Powers

Russia's relationship with Poland and Ukraine have already been covered to some extent above. To recap, it is vital to Russia that they do not ally with each other. I believe it is neither harder nor easier to work with one of them than with the other. Poland might be wary of Russia's northerly position, but Ukraine will be worried that Russia initially surrounds him. Both these issues can however be resolved. With Poland, the occupation of Bielorussia is probably the most critical issue. However, a DMZ here, or perhaps even better a mutual bounce every turn would allow both Russia and Poland to feel safe enough to work with each other. Similarly with Ukraine, Volga and CRP should be demilitarized, perhaps Kharkov and Bielorussia as well. Giving Rostov to Ukraine is an option of course, but this slows down a common attack against Turkey, and perhaps Russia can be allowed to keep Rostov, Georgia and perhaps get Ankara too.

The next most important power for Russia is probably Turkey. Turkey can help in attacking Ukraine or keeping it in balance. Whether Russia allies with Ukraine against Poland or vice-versa, it is probably best to have Turkey on side to help if Ukraine becomes a problem. At the very least, this will keep Ukraine distracted and focused on the south, but Turkey can be active help against Ukraine, attacking him in the Balkans and along the Black Sea coast.

Russia's relationship with Germany may seem similar to that with Turkey - Sweden can be contested by both (like Georgia) and Germany is in a similar position with regard to Poland as Turkey is to Ukraine. Germany however has moved against Poland less often than Turkey against Ukraine. Perhaps this is because Germany has three other close neighbours - Britain, France and Italy - while Turkey only has two. This doesn't mean Russia should not try to get Germany on side though, as they can cooperate against both Poland and Britain, and an R/G alliance could be profitable to both.

Of other powers, Britain is probably the one Russia will come into contact with first. With Sweden usually falling to Russia and Norway to Britain, the two will be neighbours after the first year. Nonetheless, the rest of their SC's are quite distant from one another, and Russia's earlier interests here are either to keep the peace in Scandinavia, or to steer Britain - south (if Germany is going to help against Poland) or against Germany (if Germany is making claims on Sweden). No matter what, it is unlikely that a very strong Britain is in Russia's longer term interests, as a strong Britain could block Russia's entry into the Atlantic.

Egypt is also not that far away from Russia, especially if Egypt or Russia capture Iran from Turkey at some point. Russia's relationship with Egypt is a bit contradictory. Russia wants Egypt to stay as a counterbalance to a strong Turkey, but not pose such a significant threat to Turkey that Turkey wont threaten Ukraine. Once Ukraine is gone, Egypt can prove a valuable ally in taking out Turkey if that is what Russia chooses to do. However, if Russia wants to get out of the Black Sea, Egypt can easily block Russia at Istanbul. Therefore, it's probably best to have a weaker Egypt helping Russia against Turkey, one that will not be able to grow quickly enough to prevent Russia from moving into the Mediterranean. This may make the fight against Turkey a tougher one, but if the southern seas are Russia's goal, it is probably the way to go.

The powers that remain are France and Spain. Being on the other side of the map, they are mostly useful for gathering information and spreading disinformation in the early game. Their actions may however have repercussions felt all the way in Russia. A France fighting Spain along with Britain might increase the chances of Germany coming to the help of Russia, for example. Also, a strong France or Spain provides a welcome to powers who might otherwise turn their forces to defend against Russia.

Russia in General

Looking at Russia's record in finished games to date, one finds an interesting pattern. Russia had 23 eliminations, as well as eight survivals. Furthermore, of these survivals, there were two wins and four draws. This shows both a very high elimination rate, as well as a high success (win/draw) rate when Russia does survive. This confirms Russia's do or die position in Modern. On one hand, its share of problems early in the game is usually larger than that of other powers. On the other hand, Russia's flexibility and growth potential however make it a formidable force in the midgame and endgame.

All in all, I believe that Russia is one of the most interesting powers to play in Modern. A unique position, unique challenges and unique possibilities. Hopefully this article will help you to move beyond the problems that face Russia and take full advantage of her strengths. But remember, your size will intimidate your neigbhours - let them know it's "From Russia, with Love.'

Player Comments On Russia

General Comments about Russia

"I played Russia in euro97 and was eliminated rather early. Three glaring mistakes were evident. The first was tactical, allowing Poland to take Bielorussia in exchange for me taking Lithuania and a peace treaty. The second was strategic, allying with Poland against Ukraine. After about two years of fruitless border skirmishes with Ukraine (while Poland acquired neutrals without a fight), Poland viscously stabbed me and I was eliminated within two more years. Bielorussia was their jumping-off point. The third mistake was ignoring Poland's construction of a second fleet, which he used to great advantage in his stab. My advice to Russians:

  1. Sabotage a P/U alliance at any cost!!! P/U alliance = death for Russia, unless Turkey is your supremely loyal friend.
  2. Polish occupation of Bielorussia is unacceptable. Bie is rightfully yours - take it.
  3. Reach an agreement with Turkey about Georgia before the opening turn. Stick to it - a friendly Turkey is a wonderful insurance policy against Ukrainian aggression. Also use the idea of a powerful Ukraine to Turkey's north as rhetorical ammo against a U/T against you during your negotiations with Turkey.
  4. Poland is your most dangerous adversary. Ukraine cannot harm you without help - all they can do is engage you in border skirmishing, especially if they have to worry about Turkey. Poland can mount a successful invasion if they have Bie and use the sea to their advantage (which Ukraine can't do outside of Rostov). More than one Polish fleet is a red flag for trouble." - Clark Valentine (euro97)

"I allowed Poland to grow large the first year to see if a large Poland would be an asset to Russia. In all the games I've seen Poland gets the tar kicked out of them and I wanted to see something different. Just for the record it was a bad idea and next time you run Russia I advise a quick Polish demise like usual. I think the attack on Ukraine had potential but not enough gains in general. Better to bounce Poland and take Bie. Anyway, that's what was going on in my head and I thought I'd share the experiment since it just blew up in my face. :)" - Anonymous (academy4)

Russian Initial Strategy

"In my opinion, play low profile in 1995. You don't have a lot of free provinces to choose from. Be strong through strong alliances with your neighbors." - Charles Dauphin

"Take all steps to avoid a U/P alliance. Promise the world to either one. Involve Turkey, Germany, or Italy." - Rick Desper

"Russia, like Germany needs to pounce on a heap of SC's quickly if Russia is to do well. A stagnant Russia is a Russia in trouble, as the Russian homeland is not too easy to defend. Fortunately, Russia can see success in almost any direction. Wherever you end up going Poland will end up in your way, so getting Italy or Germany into the Austria and looking at the Czech Republic is a good start. Germany probably will be harder to convince than Italy, and you'd probably rather have Italy as an ally anyway as you are not in each other's way. Regardless of your choice of first target (Ukraine or Poland) you must make sure you have allies ready to help you take out the other. Once both Poland and the Ukraine are eliminated and you've got a fair chunk of them you are free to try any number of interesting ways to get your winning centers." - Simon Withers

"The first 3 centers you want are Belarus, Sweden and Georgia -- in that order of priority." - Paul Rosenzweig

"Do anything/everything you can to avoid an alliance between Ukraine and Poland. If it occurs, do everything you can to break it up, and to find someone to come to your aid by attacking one of them, typically Ukraine." - Jim Kloss

"First off, I think moving an army north at the start is utterly wrong. Russia should try to negotiate his way into Sweden and try to use it as a bargaining chip later on, but there are too many other problems to waste time on a Scandinavian strategy. The biggest danger Russia faces early on, in my opinion, is the Polish-Ukrainian alliance. Poland is almost certainly going to attack, so the key for Russia is Ukraine. Ukraine probably won't attack Poland, so Russia should try to convince him to go after Turkey or into the Balkans, preferably after Turkey. At the same time, Russia should encourage everyone within reach of Ukraine to harass him. An early exit for Ukraine greatly improves Russia's chances. Of course, an early exit for Poland would be even better, but this is not usually a realistic option. If Ukraine will go after Poland, that changes everything, but Russia should certainly not rely on it." - Jeff Serandos

"As per Austria in Standard, do what ever it takes to get Poland to war with Ukraine and vice versa, and maintain Turkish neutrality." - Theo Kermanidis

"I would say to achieve slow growth. Seek to gain one or two SC's at most. Russia is too wide open and spread out to go for more right off the bat. Come to an agreement with Turkey over Georgia and stick to it. Turkey is far more valuable as a friend than as an enemy, especially if Ukraine is unfriendly. Bie is a very important space - don't let Poland get it without major concessions elsewhere." - Clark Valentine

"My best advice? To win the game, natch! ;^) Well, securing a build or two would be nice. Russia is fairly unique in not having any guaranteed neutrals. Geo, Bie and Swe can all be contested. Try to get at least of of these." - Earle Ratcliffe

"If Ukraine seems to be reasonable in opening negotiations, I think Russia should give serious thought to voluntarily giving Rostov to Ukraine in exchange for an alliance (and probably some other sort of remuneration can be arranged as well.) It could be especially good if they could arrange to have Russia's southern fleet disbanded. Ukraine will be quite relieved that Russia does not need any naval presence in the south, while Russia, hopefully, will gain Ukraine's alliance, preventing the very dangerous PU alliance. Although this is not any specific opening per se, I would suggest that this tactic be called the Rostov Gambit." - Chuck Carroll

"Initial strategy? Diplomatically, work on a deal with one of Poland, Ukraine or Turkey to work against the others. Russia's got enough reach, with five initial units, to gain centres in almost any direction, which makes her capable of vastly different offers to sweeten deals with a good ally. Tactically, seizing Sweden is important, and perhaps winning the race to Iran. Though Russia has the largest starting position, she has perhaps the smallest growth potential in the early game." - Cait Glasson

Player Comments on Winning as Russia

"Oh come on, I'd be ecstatic is I could simply survive as Russia. But seriously, I'd see an Britain-Poland-Russia alliance as hard to beat. Germany and Ukraine would fall in short order. However, an alliance with Poland might be mid-game limiting for Russia. It could only go south, opening up to a Polish stab. I'd say secure an alliance with Turkey and Britain and/or Germany ASAP." - Clark Valentine

"Russia is second only to Spain in having the most diverse roads to winning. Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, Austria, Czech Rep. Lithuania, Bielorussia, Hungary, Rumania, Ukraine, Georgia and Russian home SC's makes 25 centers. The remainder depends on where you build your fleets. If Rostov is where the boats are, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Iran, Serbia, Croatia and Venice are withing your grasp. If you're looking at Britain, there are the 4 island SC's, Belgium and Holland, and the change left over from a push into Switzerland, France and or Spain." - Simon Withers

"Form a binding alliance with either Poland or Ukraine, the latter being preferrable." - Theo Kermanidis

"Pick a direction, make allies in the other direction, and smash nations through sheer weight of metal. Thus, if you pick Poland as your direction, you make chums with Ukraine or Turkey, and you kill Poland till he's dead. Lather, rinse, repeat." - Cait Glasson

"Very difficult. Truce with Ukraine and Britain in the first years, try to split Poland with Germany. Share Lit and Bie with Ukraine. After that's done, make a deal with Turkey and Italy and dismember Ukraine. Then it's the classical RT alliance sweeping west..." - Charles Dauphin

"How to win as Russia? By taking 33 centers before anyone else (gawd, I'm just full of it today!). I think in Modern Russia is much more of a Northern/Atlantic power than a Southern one like in regular Dip. Russia needs fleets in the North, along with a lot of armies. I'd try to pick up as much as I could in the south, but the real front is up north. If you can get into the Balkans, you've got it made." - Earle Ratcliffe

"How to win? By getting 33 SC's. :) Or...get Turkey to distract Ukraine at the beginning. Move with strength into Volga and CRP, and take inland Ukrainian SC's. Move west against Poland, keeping alliance with Turkey. Once Polish lands are secured, secondary targets are Britain and Turkey. Encourage Italy and Egypt to 'contain' Turkey, while France, Germany, and/or Spain 'contain' Britain. Grow on whichever front is available. Probably easier to go South first. Slide army through Kazakhstan, or if necessary shift a fleet to Caspian, to attack Turkey's flank. Build at least one more Black Sea fleet, and take Sev, Odessa, Rumania, Georgia. Move through Balkans. At this point, you should be getting builds at a rate to build two Northern fleets per year. Push through Germany and Britain for the win. You will most likely not need to invade Egypt of France. This is how Russia beat us in day2day." - Rick Desper

Player Comments on Russian Strengths

"Russia's greatest strength is in the Mid to End Game, where Russia does not need to worry too much about being stuck building fleets only on the wrong side of Gibraltar." - Simon Withers

"As in standard Diplomacy -- Russia is the only country whose size gives it immediate interest in both northern and southern halfs of the board." - Paul Rosenzweig

"Strong initial starting position, with five units, fleets north and south, and ports on three different seas. Lots of neighbours means lots of potential allies." - Cait Glasson

"Russia's strengths are more apparent in the midgame than the opening. Once he is the dominant power among Poland, Ukraine, and himself, he can roll west as a land power or south through Turkey building a couple of fleets along the way. If Egypt has moved west through Africa or into Italy, it is surprisingly easy for Russia to attack him once Turkey is gone. Finally, in the endgame, he can build northern fleets and go through Scandinavia, so he should not find it difficult to avoid a stalemate." - Jeff Serandos

"Well, the number of home centers allows for some big gains, and the ports in the north and south allow a strong Russia to grow faster than the rest of the pack if need be. The corner position allows for a good defensive position, while the extra home centers allow for a good offense." - Earle Ratcliffe

"A board corner to put your back against is always a strength." - Clark Valentine

"Russia's strengths are a sea port in Rostov and Murmansk, possibly Volga too." - Theo Kermanidis

"Russia can build a lot of fleets quickly. Russia has access to a lot of SC's. Russia can build fleets in North or South. Northern four SC's are reasonably defendable. With five home SC's, Russia can grow faster than anybody else." - Rick Desper

"IMHO, the partitions in Norway and the northern seas allow more protection against Britain (than in Standard dip). Russia should seek to exploit that. Maybe at some point in the game when Russia controls the Baltic and most of Scandinavia, he should build a fleet in Murmansk and prepare an invasion in Norway (but that should not be the primary concern)." - Charles Dauphin

Player Comments on Russian Weaknesses

"Again, the size. Poland particularily might be afraid of the fact that Russia has two ore home centers than he does." - Earle Ratcliffe

"The Southern front is very weak. It is important to maintain some Black Sea presence, and not let either Turkey or Ukraine dominate. The Northern front is not very strong, either, but that's usually not a problem until at least midgame. Poland can present a problem, as often Poland has no enemies, and has many armies aimed East." - Rick Desper

"My list of Russian weaknesses:

  1. Your forces are spread out. Expect Rostov to fall fast without a Ukrainian alliance.

  2. The fact that you start with five SC's makes you a marked nation to start.

  3. Few easy neutrals nearby. Early war with Poland or Ukraine is almost guaranteed." - Clark Valentine

"In my opinion, Russia's opening position is terrible. Poland/Ukraine is a very natural alliance. It is very easy to maintain and the enemy is always Russia. There is a possibility that Turkey or even Britain will join in, but even without a third enemy, if no one attacks Poland or Ukraine, Russia has virtually no chance. I would expect Russia to be the first one out more often than any other country." - Jeff Serandos

"Russia's #1 weakness: Volga." - Theo Kermanidis

"The biggest Russian weakness is the proximity of Ukraine, which could prove uncomfortable throughout the game. Turkey can also invade from Russia's backfield. The general closeness of the other countries and the poor supply of available SC's." - Charles Dauphin

"Again, as in standard an unfocussed Russian can spread too thin and get killed for it." - Paul Rosenzweig

"Spread-out initial starting position, with five separated units north and south, and no two ports on the same sea. Lots of neighbours means lots of potential invaders." - Cait Glasson

"Russia has very limited early game options - Ukraine or Poland. And Poland basically has the same choice between Ukraine or Russia. Admittedly Russia, does have some weird options like trying to hit Britain or Turkey early and then dealing with closer neighbours later, but these are unlikely to succeed. Russia also has no neutral SC's that cannot be just as easily contested by another power, and thus Russia has to be worried about getting no builds in the first year." - Simon Withers

Russia - Advantageous or Disadvantageous Starting Position?

"The starting position doesn't leave much to Russia. He can get at most two new SC's the first year, and after that he has to fight his way through his neighbors. Compared to Italy or others, he is slightly disadvantaged." - Charles Dauphin

"I'd say advantageous. Controlling the corner is helpful, but don't expect to get a lot of early builds. Still, even if limited to one (or no) build, you still stand a good chance." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Neither. I would rate it about middle." - Rick Desper

"In my experience of standard games, Russia has a deserved reputation as a major threat. Looking at the Modern map, it seems that you have made Russia even more potent." - Steven Goode

"Terrible. No sure builds. An almost useless northern fleet. The location of neutral supply centers draws Poland east and Russia's position is split by a hostile country. His first year is spent trying to plug holes in Volga and the Central Russian Plateau and build a defensible line. And he is at the mercy of Turkey. If Turkey denies him Georgia, Russia is in deep trouble." - Jeff Serandos

"The board corner helps, but the lack of neutrals nearby, and the fact that you're bottled in by P and U makes Russia's starting position poor, IMHO." - Clark Valentine

"If the Russian player can make something cohesive out of it, then good. An opening that focuses on one, or possibly two, initial axes of thrust, will make best use of the starting position. It's easy as Russia to be lured into the "I'm the biggest kid on the block" trap, and try to take over the world in two turns." - Cait Glasson

Russia Three Most Important Spaces

"Belarus, Belarus and Belarus."- Paul Rosenzweig

"Bielorussia and Volga. If they are held Russia's southern defence is good. If not, Russia is vulnerable. For a third choice, and lacking anything better: Venice, because if Russia can take it and hold it, Russia should be on the verge of a win." - Simon Withers

"Only three? From a Polish viewpoint I'd have to say Lit, Bie and Bal. From a Ukrainian viewpoint: CRP, Vol, EBS. And in general, I'd have to choose Bie, CRP and Vol." - Charles Dauphin

"Volga, Central Russian Plateau." - Theo Kermanidis

"Volga - it's the avenue for invasion in every Modern game I've seen where Russia has died (i.e., every Modern game I've seen). Moscow - it's the one centre that Russia can least afford to lose, because it's bordering on two others, and it's right in the middle of the country. Lose Moscow, and the country is split in half. Switzerland - it's centre number 33 for a northern or eastern strategy." - Cait Glasson

"I'd say Sweden, to allow both ports access to the Atlantic, Volga, to march armies southward (lose it and you lose Rostov) and Bielorussia, to give you a westward overland path of expansion." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Well, aside from the Northern Four (Gorky, StP, Moscow and Murmansk), I would go with Volga, CRP, and Georgia. Volga is extremely important. It connects Rostov with the other SC's, allows access to the Caspian and Kazakhstan, and sets up the flanking position on Kharkov." - Rick Desper

"Bie, Vol, CRP. (Also, Fin, GOB, BRN - any foreign move to these is an act of war against Russia). CRP is the scene of many bloody battles in many games between Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish forces. Don't let anyone take this space - take it back immediately. Expect Ukrainian complaints if you open here. Volga is vitally important. If Volga falls you're in trouble. If Volga and CRP fall, you're in serious trouble. Watch that Ros-Vol canal! That Ukrainian fleet can bite you here! Expect violent Ukrainian complaints if you open here." - Clark Valentine

Bottlenecks About Which Russia Should be Aware

"Russia probably has less of a need to be concerned with bottlenecks than any other player." - Rick Desper

"Heh... The Baltic Sea, for one. There is also Volga. If Ukraine punches through, the fleet in Ros can be isolated and lost easily. Otherwise, it looks to me as it's going to be a 'front' war. Just establish an enemy and set up your front line." - Charles Dauphin

"Send the army in Murmansk south. I believe there is no future in going to Scandinavia." - Jeff Serandos

"Most importantly the Poland line from LIT south along the Polish SC's to CZE, and then across the south of Germany. This can be broken by a fleet in the north, but otherwise will stand. Secondly, Istanbul. IST can be blockaded from both sides. Thirdly, Kazakhstan. Like IST, KAZ can be held easily from both sides." - Simon Withers

"Bielorussia can be a bottleneck." - Theo Kermanidis

"There's a significant one in the south, with Kaz on one side, and Geo/Arm/Cau on the other. The Caspian sea is useful in getting past these. To break through, you'll need fleets (Caspian or Black)." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Istanbul and Volga. If Russia does well in the south - which is hard, the Turks have two ports on the Black, as do the Ukrainians, to the Russian one - then they can be effectively stuffed back into the Black Sea for good by an Egyptian with a couple of fleets. And ain't no way the Russian will get out of that, short of a long, long walk from Rostov to Cairo. Volga is a large territory with several important borders: Gorky, Rostov, Kazakhstan, and the Ukraine. But it's only one province, and often has several needed uses at the same time." - Cait Glasson

Most Important Advice for Russia

"Beg that Poland and Ukraine never ally themselves." - Theo Kermanidis

"Lay low at the beginning. You don't want to draw too much attention to yourself, especially since you're starting with 5 units." - Charles Dauphin

"Don't try and win fast. Starting with five units means you're an easy target for DCM (diplomatic countermeasures). Turkey says to the Ukraine, hey, you can fight me, but if you do, look at that behemoth behind you. Start out by being generous with your allies, and ruthless with your enemies. Recognize the existence of unit envy." - Cait Glasson

"Choose you're friends, not your enemies, because your enemies will choose you." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Make it to the midgame. Don't abandon the Southern front. Ukraine is bigger, but Poland is probably more dangerous." - Rick Desper

"The most important advice for Russia is, and I can't emphasize this enough, to break up any P/U alliance at all costs!!! P + U = Doom for R!!! The only way that I see to survive is for Turkey and Germany to come to your rescue and this is unlikely for Germany who'll be busy with F and B." - Clark Valentine

Player Comments on Russia and Bielorussia (Belarus)

"For me, Belarus should be a plum offered to Poland or the Ukraine to ensure happiness among allies." - Cait Glasson

"Bielorussia is a possible ignition point between Ukraine and Poland and every advantage should be taken to ensure that occurs. Declare neutrality over Bielorussia and then wait for requests for support by either power to Bielorussia. Then use your diplomatic guile to start a war between Poland and Ukraine." - Theo Kermanidis

"Bielorussia is one of the two most important provinces for Russia, and must be owned. Try to get two armies against it in the fall of 1995." - Simon Withers

"Vitally important. Gateway to Moscow. Don't let Poland have it unless you get significant concessions elsewhere, then insist it remain DMZ'ed. Any foreign army in Bie is unacceptable." - Clark Valentine

"I'd try for it, but if it meant the difference between having an ally and having an enemy, give it up. If allied with Poland, I'd let him have it, seeing as he's smaller and all (perception is key). If allied with Ukraine, I'd want it, so my armies don't have to take the long way into Poland. By mid-game, Russia needs Bie to get the armies moving." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Belarus is more important to Poland than it is to Russia. Taking it means Russia is doing well, but it should not particularly be an early target. It is more sensible to take Belarus after flanking it either to the north or south (usually the south)." - Jeff Serandos

"It's not as important as a lot of people believe. At the beginning, at least, let Poland have it." - Rick Desper

"Obviously, I think it is critical. Russia must solve the Ukraine, Poland triangle. Any solution that does note have Ukraine and Poland ganging up on Russia is acceptable. Any other solution is not." - Paul Rosenzweig

"Bie is the easiest SC in Russia's reach. You can't count on Lit, because if Poland has a truce with Germany, he can have

three units around Lit before F-1995. So, Bielorussia is a sensitive point. (In a lot of openings though), Bie is out of reach, and you can only ask Poland to bounce Ukraine there in exchange for giving him Lit." - Charles Dauphin

Russia and the Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia)

"Latvia and Lithuania are your route into Poland - use them." - Simon Withers

"Estonia is only good for retreats. Latvia is interesting in the event that you have two fleets in that region. Lithuania will be essential if you want to push into Poland." - Charles Dauphin

"Again, unless Poland is your initial axis of advance, let the Pole have Lithuania. It will make him happy, and could lead to a visit to Sweden for the Russian northern fleet, as well as bouncing the English out of Norway." - Cait Glasson

"Well, since there's only the one center, just make sure no one else gets them (except maybe Poland in Lith). If they're DMZed, then you have no worries there." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Poland should not be allowed north of Lithuania." - Rick Desper

"Estonia is a great help to Russia because it prevents a fleet in Latvia from attacking St Petersburg. As long as Russia prevents an enemy army (fleets are okay) from occupying Latvia, the Baltics should not of much concern. From an offensive standpoint, a Russian army in Latvia is very helpful, but will not usually be practical until Russia is doing fairly well. Early on, Russia's armies have more important duties." - Jeff Serandos

"Poland will rightly view Russian forces here with considerable alarm. Lit is to Poland what Bie is to you. This will take some negotiation, but try to DMZ it unless you're going to war with P." - Clark Valentine

"Estonia is important only when defending StP from a hostile power. Latvia is always a potential ignition point for conflicts between Russia and a hostile power (probably Poland) - territory to declare as a DMZ. Lithuania is Polands glass jaw and an obvious launch point for a campaign against Poland." - Theo Kermanidis

Russia and Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Lapland)

"A key area for Russia. To make the breakout into the Atlantic, you need Scandinavia. You've also got an extra front to attack Poland/Geramny from. I'd go for Scandinavian domination as soon as it's feasible." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Norway: later in the game... much later. Sweden: within reach the first year, however, the key is Finland and getting A Mur there in S-1995." - Charles Dauphin

"I think Sweden should be negotiated for with the idea of bartering it away later on in exchange for either British neutrality or a German attack on Poland. Lapland is an important DMZ. It makes it much easier for Russia to obtain a neutrality pact with Britain." - Jeff Serandos

"Russia should secure Sweden. If he can keep an army in Finland, so much the better. Scandinavia is not a primary front. The

purpose of being over there is to prevent German or British breakthroughs." - Rick desper

"Scandinavia is a point of contention between Britain, Germany, Poland and Russia." - Theo Kermanidis

"For Russia to win, he needs to take and hold Scandinavia as a forward defense against Germany and Britain. This is actually possible, with some early fleet builds in Murmansk and St.Petersburg." - Cait Glasson

"I think you want stability here. Don't concentrate on this too much, the South is far more significant for you. Come to a quick agreement with B, G, and/or P over the division of Scandinavia and then leave well enough alone. Come back to it midgame. Finland is all yours and fight for it. There is no such thing as a defensive army in Lapland - anyone (including you) who moves an army there is on the attack, in my opinion. Same with GOB." - Clark Valentine

"Until you can hold it, in Scandinavia, a balance of power is the best possible position, with Britain having a unit in Norway, Germny a fleet in Denmark, and you holding Sweden. Lapland is the road to Murmansk and so enemy units should not be tolerated, however as Britain is not too likly to try for it until the mid-game you are probably safe not defending until then." - Simon Withers

Russia and the Caucasus (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia)

"Keep the peace with Turkey." - Theo Kermanidis

"Russia should really try to get Georgia. This is a front for secondary development, once primary problems are taken care of." - Rick Desper

"Georgia can play the same role Belarus did in the centre; it can be offered as a plum to an ally. If Turkey is the ally, offer him Georgia uncontested as a way to keep him happy while you're adventuring in the north." - Cait Glasson

"Depends on relations with P and U, and also T. But minor in the early stages." - Charles Dauphin

"Make an agreement with T over Georgia and stick to it. You need T as a friend." - Clark Valentine

"Depends on relations with Turkey. I'd try to diplomatically take Georgia, seeing as the other neutrals are easily contested. If Turkey's friendly, DMZ the entire area (maybe setting up a bounce in Geo between Ros and Ank?)." - Earle Ratcliffe

Russia and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Iran)

"Russian interests here are to keep it DMZ'd. Turkish or Egyptian units in Iran aren't a big deal, but any move to Kaz means trouble for you." - Clark Valentine

"If you can sneak into Iran, you've got it made. A good long term plan would to ally with Egypt and get his support into Iran. That opens up a backdoor into the Turkish centers. If Turkey is your ally, then you can keep an army in Kaz to keep him from sneaking in you backdoor." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Keep it empty." - Rick Desper

"Either take it, or defend against it. Once again, uncontested access to Iran can be a plum for the Turk, to keep him happy and keep his eyes off Rostov and Moscow." - Cait Glasson

"Kazakhstan is a good space for Russia. Since Russia is normally in Volga, Kaz makes a good launching point for a surprise attack on Iran. On the flip side, its presense as a buffer zone may make it easier to convince Turkey not to keep an army in Iran. Plus, a surprise move to Kaz by an enemy is not as effective as a Russian move because it does not border any Russian centers." - Jeff Serandos

Russian North

"Ural and Siberia: retreats... (hope it never comes to that). However a fleet in the Urals combined with a fleet in Murmansk can be a life saver in the case of a British invasion. You should keep those regions empty unless you plan a massive strike against Britain." - Charles Dauphin

"The north is a fall back line in defense - otherwise vacate when on the offense." - Theo Kermanidis

"Murmansk should go to take Sweden, eitehr Lap or Fin. Urals and Siberia allow you to move armies north and south reasonably quickly." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Hopefully, never ever see a foreign face there. Xenophobia's the order of the day..." - Cait Glasson

"Ideally, Russia should have no units in this area. If he does, it means he is being attacked from the north which is a very big problem." - Jeff Serandos

"If you have to worry about Ura and Sib, you've lost. IMHO, you can't move to Lap defensively. Any foreign army moving to Lap means an attack on either Swe or Mur, and soon." - Clark Valentine

Russian South

"Volga and CRP are the heart of the Russian position. His chances improve if he can occupy these two provinces (along with Moscow). If an enemy gets into Volga, Russia has one foot in the grave." - Jeff Serandos

"Make a move to Volga mo matter what. If Ukraine gets it, you're dead. You can drive him out, but he'll retreat behind your lines and cause all sorts of problems. Even if you bounce, at least Ukraine isn't there. Rostov should go for Georgia, probalby Russia's most secure build in the early going." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Attack Ukraine. By no means let Ukraine into Volga. A primary point here is that the Russian player must recognize that the fleet in Rostov can move to Volga, and therefore it can support actions into Volga. That's a great move for Russia." - Rick Desper

"For my money, hammer Ukraine. Ukraine is my initial target of choice, unless they're willing to make a pretty good deal to keep my interests elsewhere." - Cait Glasson

"Use Volga and CRP to gain the advantage over Ukraine if not allied. Keep Rostov open for potential builds, but if neutral with Turkey build armies only so as not to upset her." - Theo Kermanidis

"This was the big battlegound in euro97 between R and U. If U is an enemy, expect to lose Ros unless T is a firm ally. Watch out - a U fleet in Ros can support attacks into Vol due to the canal!!! Defend Vol and CRP as if you life depended on it - for it does!" - Clark Valentine

Russian Navy

"How much of a navy does Russia need? As much as it takes to keep P out of GOB, B out of Brn, and contain U. If this can be done diplomatically, so much the better. Russia has never had a very good navy; don't go against hundreds of years of history. Russia is a land power." - Clark Valentine

"I think Russia will need a significant Atlantic navy in the long run. To win, you'll need Scandinavia, Poland, Germany and as much of Britain and the lowlands as possible. Any gains made up north are that much less you need in the south. Besides, to take on Britain, you'll need lots of naval firepower." - Earle Ratcliffe

"You can manage with just the one fleet in StP for the early stages. However if you are fighting Poland and/or Germany, the first

thing you build is F StP. You'll need it." - Charles Dauphin

"I'm a bad one to ask, as I'm fascinated by seapower in diplomacy. I think a southern navy is an unlikely possibility, unless Turkey and Ukraine are both getting hammered by, say, Poland, Italy and Egypt, in which case the Istanbul bottleneck works both ways. In the north, however, a strong navy can be a gamewinner, as a fleet built in Murmansk one turn can be off the coast of Portugal two years later. The sea spaces are =big=, which means fast, and the ability to convoy that army to Portugal is a joy to behold." - Cait Glasson

"Russia initially a minimal navy. Later, in campaigns against Germany or Britain, it is important to gain the edge with naval strength." - Theo Kermanidis

"Not much (of a navy) is needed until the mid game." - Rick Desper

"I don't think Russia needs much of a navy at the start, especially in the north. In the south, an extra fleet or two can be very helpful. A second fleet in the south should definitely be a goal as soon as it is feasible to build one. In the north, a navy will hopefully not be needed until the endgame. If Russia is allied with Turkey, he should try to arrange for a second fleet fairly early while Ukraine is still a plausible threat. Turkey will object strongly later on. Russia may find himself in a position where an extra army would greatly ease his defense, but is not absolutely necessary. In that case, he should prefer to build a second fleet in the Black Sea even if it puts him a bit more at risk of a land assault." - Jeff Serandos

Russia and the Arctic Seas

"As long as no one else occupies it, not much (important). You can get out to the Atlantic just as quickly along the coast." - Earle Ratcliffe

"If these spaces are occupied early on or even in the middle game by either Russia or another power, Russia is probably in trouble. Russia should strive to hold off building a northern fleet as long as possible." - Jeff Serandos

"Minor importance in the early stages of the game. Can be vital for retreats or supported invasions of Norwegian Sea or NAO." - Charles Dauphin

"The primary goal is to keep the Brits out of Barents. Well, if anybody is in the White Sea, Russia is in big trouble." - Rick Desper

"Very important. If Britain comes knocking, this is the garden path for them." - Cait Glasson

"It's Russia's back-door and failure to keep it locked can be exploited by a hostile power. Can be important when intending to get around a British blockade or other naval power in the region." - Theo Kermanidis

Russia and the Baltic Seas

"Very important if you are pushing west. I'd say it's the most important thing and you should focus all your energies towards its

control." - Charles Dauphin

"Important only in offense against Poland or Germany and campaigns in Scandinavia." - Theo Kermanidis

"You must dominate this area to win. You'll need all the centers on the Baltic, so you might as well try for it early." - Earle Ratcliffe

"The Baltic Sea is only important as a gateway to GOB." - Clark Valentine

"It is important in that it can be used as a flank against Poland." - Rick Desper

Russia and the Black Sea

"Another major concern. The early going for Russia should be to dominate either the Black Sea, Baltic Sea or Bielorussia. You'll need them all to win." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Almost purely defensive, in my experience." - Cait Glasson

"Quite important in your alost inevitable war with Ukraine. Try to get Turkish help here." - Clark Valentine

"This is tremendously important." - Rick Desper

"This area is very important, as the presence of a Russian fleet is a threat to both Turkey and Ukraine. Important to keep either or both neutral, as the situation requires it. Possible use to exploit weakness in Ukraines position. Important not to upset Turkey in the process. Should the latter occur, withdraw the fleet if intending to keep Turkey neutral/friendly." - Theo Kermanidis

"Depends on your relations with Ukraine/Turkey." - Charles Dauphin

Russia and the Caspian Sea

"Minor strategic importance, unless you wish to take Iran from Turkey and consolidate your position there. Otherwise, don't waste your fleet there." - Charles Dauphin

"Yes, it can help with a midgame attack on Turkey." - Rick Desper

"The Caspian Sea is of no importance, as any threat from the south can be easily blocked with army units." - Theo Kermanidis

"The Caspian is only important if you have to fight over Iran or the Caucasus region. I recommend against both, at least in the early game." - Clark Valentine

"Not really strategically important. It can be useful to break teh Kaz/Geo/Aze bottleneck, but you probably should be able to do that diplomatically. If not, though, it remains an option." - Earle Ratcliffe

Russia and Poland

"Russia's relationship with Poland? Conquest." - Charles Dauphin

"An alliance with Poland would solve most of Russia's problems. However, it is highly unlikely. It never hurts to talk, but Russia is better off concentrating on his other neighbors." - Jeff Serandos

"Don't let them ally with U under any circumstances!!!" - Clark Valentine

"Well, it depends on the relationship with Ukraine. I think Poland makes a slightly better ally than Ukraine, though. Poland can help you in Scandinvia, while Ukraine stands in the way of the Balkans. By giving Bie over to Poland, he should be able to help you into Sweden by the second year." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Russia should seek out a strong alliance with either Poland or Ukraine." - Theo Kermanidis

"Remember Poland must die. There is virtually no hope of Russian success while the Pole alive. you may find a use for him in taking out the Ukraine and make sure that this possibility is explored, but in the end, he is a vital 5 SC's on the road to victory. Remember Bielorussia is yours. It's named Bielorussia for a reason." - Simon Withers

Russia and Ukraine

"The Ukraine can be a great ally against Poland, and if he can be convinced to stay out of your way, can be an ally well into the game, but never, never let him move an army into Volga. Defend it with two fleets (or armies if he lets you), one in Volga and one in Rostov, or else you are asking for a stab." - Simon Withers

"In a press game, I would try to ally with Ukraine against our common threats, Poland and Turkey. In the free-for-all conditions of no-press, I would attack Ukraine, hoping to draw blood early so the sharks would circle another's centers." - Rob Serandos

"Be friendly at first. Can be your strongest ally." - Charles Dauphin

"If Ukraine can be convinced to attack Poland, then Poland should be Russia's target. More often though, Russia should commit a considerable effort to making Ukraine's life miserable. Both Turkey and Italy should be encouraged to move against Ukraine and Ukraine should be the first Russian target. An early Ukrainian exit is usually very good for Russia.

Naturally, Russia should also spend a lot of time talking to Ukraine. If he can be convinced to take just one step in another direction, be it the Balkans, Poland, or Turkey, Russia will have improved his survival chances considerably. In particular, he should be encouraged to attack Turkey." - Jeff Serandos

"Don't let them ally with Poland under any circumstances!!! Ally with Ukraine against Poland or vice versa. Eliminate one or the other ASAP." - Clark Valentine

"I think U/R is an alliance that can work. I'm not so sure about P/R." - Rick Desper

"If Poland doesn't want to ally, then talk to Ukraine. R/U can work well. The problem here is the competing interests in the Black Sea. For this to work, you're going to have to give up influence in the Black sea (then again, in alliance with Poland, you have to give up some influence in the Baltic, but you'd still probably remain the dominant power there)." - Earle Ratcliffe

Russia and Turkey

"Russia needs a Turkish alliance. Turkey should never be the target of Russian aggression in the opening. Ideally, Turkey will come under attack from either Egypt or Ukraine, but not both. The worst case is that he is at peace with both Egypt and Ukraine - unless he is just the peace-loving type, Russia is in lots of trouble." - Jeff Serandos

"Be friendly. You don't want a bunch of turkeys in your backyard." - Charles Dauphin

"Russia and Turkey can't fight each other effectively. If Russia gets Geo, there shouldn't be a problem. Another option would be for Turkey to give Russia Iran in the second or third year to help against Egypt." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Turkey can be a very valuable ally. I'm not sure that peace with U is possible, so T can be a very useful friend. Make an agreement over Geo and stick to it. Don't even think about attacking them unless either P or U is gone and the other is weak. And don't allow a P/U/T triad under any circumstances - you cannot survive this onslaught." - Clark Valentine

"Turkey is most useful to keep the Ukraine in check while you gobble on Poland. Just make sure no ideas about sneak attacks from Iran or through Caucasus are brewing." - Simon Withers

"R/T alliance is nice. Be sure to avoid U/P." - Rick Desper

"Respect the likely DMZs you will be offered in the Black Sea. You've got plenty of potential enemies, no need to make Turkey mad too." - Jim Kloss

"Neutral. Neutral. Neutral." - Theo Kermanidis

Russia and Germany

"Germany is too often a supporter of Poland, and also will want Sweden to get into Norway then the North Sea. Neither is good for you." - Simon Withers

"Encourage peace between Britain and Germany, at least initially. It would be very nice to see at least one German army come east." - Jim Kloss

"Germany can help with conquest of Poland." - Charles Dauphin

"Encourage Germany to seek expansion to the west. Stay neutral during British/German clashes." - Theo Kermanidis

"Potentially useful against Poland, but unlikely to help you, they tend to face west against France and Britain." - Clark Valentine

"As long as he lets you into Sweden, everything should be honky-dory. In the mid-game, he makes a wonderful ally against Poland and Britain." - Earle Ratcliffe

"If Poland is a problem, get Germany interested in Czech Republic, etc." - Rick Desper

"Germany (as well as Egypt and Italy, for my money) should be part of whatever plan you make in the primaries (Poland, Ukriane and Turkey). Each of them has a natural enemy that is similar to one of your three initial targets. The hammer can fall much faster with an anvil underneath it." - Cait Glasson

"Sure, you'd like Germany to attack Poland immediately, but it is really not in his best interests and you will likely lose credibility if you badger him about it. What you want most from Germany at the start is access to Sweden and neutrality. Stay in touch, though. Germany is a good midgame ally. Later on, if Germany has solved his opening problems, he can be a very valuable ally against Poland. It is at this point that you should start seriously talking to him about attacking Poland. Also, if Britain is building a northern force to attack you, Germany will probably also feel threatened and should be approached about an anti-British alliance. In this case, your ideal achievement is to get Germany to present a unified front with you before Britain attacks in order to convince him to look elsewhere. Prior to the endgame, you don't want war with Britain if it can possibly be avoided. Even if you win the war, you will likely lose significant ground elsewhere." - Jeff Serandos

"Germany could be brought into the anti-Polish coalition." - Rob Serandos

Russia and Britain

"Britain, being Germany's most natural enemy is a great friend in Scandinavia. Use that to your advantage." - Simon Withers

"Britain represents a major long term threat. I'd consider working with France/Spain/Germany to get rid of him quickly. If he gets entrenched, then he'l be hard to take out, and you'll have to dominate the south entirely, not an easy task." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Be friendly. Very." - Charles Dauphin

"Try to keep Sweden from being a British target." - Rick Desper

"You've got enough potential enemies, so be nice to Britain." - Jim Kloss

"Britain should be held at arm's length wherever possible, hopefully with sweetness and light, but if necessary by a small group of fleets in BRN, White and Mur. A breakout for some Atlantic raiding can drive the British to distraction." - Cait Glasson

"Britain can be a useful ally in Scandinavia to help offset Polish or German ambitions there." - Clark Valentine

"Be cordial initially and encourage Britain to look south. Stay neutral during Britain/German clashes." - Theo Kermanidis

"Neutrality, first and foremost, should be Russia's relationship with Britain. Beyond that, you don't want Britain to steamroller Germany, but you don't want the two of them to be best of chums either. If they are, Scandinavia, northern Russia (Britain) and the Baltics (Germany) are a natural place for them to work together. Usually, it will be best to offer Sweden to Britain as a concession as some point. If things go well, you may be able to offer Sweden to Germany in the midgame in exchange for Germany attacking Poland." - Jeff Serandos

Russia and Egypt

"Don't worry about it too much at the beginning. Neither of you want Turkey to be too big, but Russia may very well need a big Turkey." - Rick Desper

"Encourage Egypt to expand into the Middle-East and engage Turkey." - Theo Kermanidis

"Try to foment discontent between Turkey and Egypt. You don't want Turkey and Egypt allied, because that will encourage Turkey to take Georgia and Rostov away, and if Turkey wants to, it can. A secret, undeclared alliance with Egypt is helpful." - Jim Kloss

"If Turkey is hostile, Egypt can make a good counterbalance. He also can give the necessary support to break the Kaz/Aze/Geo bottleneck." - Earle Ratcliffe

"Irrelevant, unless you want to take down Turkey. Keep good relations, they could be useful in the future." - Charles Dauphin

"It would seem natural to encourage Egypt to hassle Turkey to reduce the chances that Turkey will attack Russia. But this should not be the first choice. First choice is to convince either Turkey or Ukraine to attack the other. In that case, you'd just as soon Egypt left Turkey alone. Still, you shouldn't push too hard. Egypt is likely to resent any attempt by Russia to influence his policy early on. And it is better to have Turkey attacked by both his neighbors than neither one." - Jeff Serandos

"Egypt could help against Turkey." - Rob Serandos

"If T is your friend (and they should be) try to help T against them (diplomatically - feed them false info, etc.) If there is a U/T alliance against you, Egypt might be able to help." - Clark Valentine

Russia and Italy

"Heh... beware of Italy!! Grows fast and can stab RU with a strong IG alliance." - Charles Dauphin

"You know, Russia is closer to Italy than to Egypt. A strong Italian presence in the Balkans is good for Russia, as it keeps Ukraine and Turkey busy." - Rick Desper

"Russia and Italy should be very friendly right from the start. Italy should be encouraged to adopt a Balkan strategy in the opening. Later on, Italy can be helpful against several potential enemies - Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, or Egypt. Britain is about the only one Italy can't help against." - Jeff Serandos

"Encourage Italian expansion into the Balkans. This will turn the attention of Ukraine, Poland and Turkey to the region. Seek neutrality during clashes between the powers in the region." - Theo Kermanidis

Russia and France

"Could be useful in the event of a strong Italy or Germany." - Charles Dauphin

"Nothing really until the middlegame and the odds are at least one of you won't get there. After that, it depends too much on the particular game to make any guesses." - Jeff Serandos

Russia and Spain

"Irrelevant, period." - Charles Dauphin

"Friendly. As the two powers in extreme positions on the map Spain can be a useful source of information, and possible supply misinformation too." - Theo Kermanidis

"Not much you can do in the opening but hope. And what you hope is that he doesn't attack Italy so Italy can head east/north-east". - Jeff Serandos

"Stay friendly with them in the early game. Trade information." - Clark Valentine

"Encourage Spain (and possibly France) to distract Britain, largely, so Britain's fleets stay largely south." - Cait Glasson

Vincent Mous-Harboesgaard
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