Russia/Russian Empire/Российская Империя (Russian)
Leader at 1901: Tzar Nicholas II
Color: Purple (White in American edition)
Neighbors: Germany, Austria, Turkey
Home supply centers: Moscow, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, Sevastopol. (Fleet at St. Petersburg starts the game on the South Coast)
At first glance, Russia may seem to be the strongest power, as she begins the game with four units, compared to the three allotted to every other power. However, Russia has the largest territory to defend, and can find herself in a very vulnerable position. She must fight either England/Germany for control of Scandinavia or Turkey/Austria for control of the Balkans. If attacked by Germany through Moscow early on, Russia may encounter a three-front war and find it difficult to prevail. Thus, Russia must rely on her diplomacy, and hope that her neighbors do not ally against her. Fortunately for Russia, well-coordinated attacks by multiple alliances are rarely successfully staged against one power early on. Not until that power's growth rate is too large and becomes a clear threat to all the others will they ally, and by then it may be too late.
18 Center Goal
4 home supply centers, Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark, Sweden), Turkey (Constantinople, Ankara, Smyrna), Austria (Budapest, Vienna, Trieste), the Balkans (Serbia, Bulgaria, Rumania,Greece) makes it 17. The remaining one most likely would be Venice, Tunis, or Munich.
Russia has the largest and most robust choice of openings out of any power on the board. She can attack England, by moving A Moscow to St. Petersburg, challenging Norway, attack Germany through Silesia, attack Austria through Galicia, or attack Turkey through the Black Sea, all on the first turn! Russia's opening position, however, is almost as vulnerable as Austria, and The Bear can be forcibly brought down by her neighbors if she is not careful, or strong enough to defend.
A MOS - STP: The Northern System
The Northern Opening flexes Russia's diplomatic muscle—now relations with England, France, and Germany become equally important as the relations with the Eastern powers. The army in St. P may be used either to bounce England out of Norway in Fall 1901, crippling his growth, or St. P may slide into Finland in Fall 1901, establishing a chokehold in Scandinavia. Either way, the idea is to capture Norway in 1902 or, more rarely, transition southwards towards an anti-German attack on Denmark with English help.
A WAR - GAL: The Octopus
Named because Russia stretches all of its units out in all directions, threatening Austria, Turkey, England, and Germany. It provides maximum flexibility, as well as a shot at multiple builds. Russia can sometimes even convince England to give up NWY by opening to STP. Richard Sharp considers this Russia's strongest opening. Also known as the Austrian Attack
A WAR - UKR: The Squid
Extremely pro-Austrian, this opening is named because a squid is like an octopus, but with two weak legs. The opening gives Russia more say over RUM, but at the cost of losing some traction with Austria, who can make a grab for RUM or WAR in the fall if he moves to GAL.
F SEV - RUM: The Jellyfish
A weaker version of the Squid takes RUM as quickly as possible, and is terribly pro-Turkish to the point of groveling. A shrewd Turkey will take this opportunity to attack Russia, possibly with Austrian help. If Austria and Turkey make their most common moves (A Vie-Gal and F Ank-BLA), then your southern position is extremely compromised and likely already lost.
A MOS - UKR: Southern Systems
More popular than the Northern System by a fair margin, the southern system is safe, though not likely to inspire fear in England or Germany, and almost guarantees a build in RUM.
F SEV - RUM: The Austrian Defense
While this move order virtually guarantees Rumania, it is slightly illogical since a fleet in Rum is useless in an attack on Austria. If the goal is to attack Austria, then holding F Sev in Spring 1901 and then supporting Ukr-Rum in Fall 1901 may be the better option.
A WAR - SIL: The German Attack
Usually suicidal. An unsupported attack on a German home center is no better than 50/50 and the move to Sil means Germany will certainly block you out of Swe (if Germany moved F Den in Spring 1901). Save this one for those rare situations where you are certain Germany will move F Hol, feel confident in holding the south, and can count on French or Italian support to Munich in Fall 1901.
A MOS - SEV: Sevastopol Openings
- F SEV-BLA
Although the Black Sea may seem unimportant because it is so small, it borders five supply centers, one of which is a Russian home supply center, and two of which are Turkey's. Of course, should Fleet Ankara make a surprise move to Armenia, you will have to move Fleet Sevastopol back, unless you want Ankara. If the fleet move to Black Sea fails, however, then so will Moscow to Sevastopol.
- F SEV-RUM
This tricky move preserves diplomatic options and offers a back-door attack on Turkey via Sevastopol to Armenia in Fall 1901. Best used in conjunction with F Rum-BLA and A Ukr-Rum in Fall 1901, though this maneuver can be difficult to arrange without a compliant Turkey and a trusting Austria.