Anytime man, it’s a fun board. For a casual dice game, if you’re not trying to bid it out, Allies can still come out with the edge, but takes more energy and greater risks. I’ve probably seen a good half dozen openers I like with the Russians.
From a purchasing strategy standpoint I think you’re better off producing some combination of 7 or 6 units/hitpoints, and taking the advantage on more counter attack options from your units, as opposed to the Classic 8 inf units/hitpoints for your starting 24ipcs. The Russian endgame is always about stacking infantry. But unlike in earlier boards, the Russian position is not as strong. Germany has teeth and Karelia is pretty much hopeless for an opener. I find if you don’t give Russians something to work with on offense you just get squeezed out of the center too quickly.
Two schools, one says destroy max german units in the first round for the minimum investment, buy max inf for the duration and count on UK/US to handle the entire offensive threat to G.
Other says conserve infantry in the opener, risk the bare minimum in battle round 1, and imstead try to bait G, by pulling their ground forward into favorable counter attack trades during the second round.
Some things I’ve seen include full W. Russia stack 4 tanks and all the goods, bait G into Caucasus at the cost of giving them the cash, at the cost of 1 inf destroyed. With UK retaking or else, Russia in round 2 with aims to hold thereafter.
Ukraine attack. Some feel it is critical to take the territory to destroy the 6th German fighter right away and avoid the land attack on Caucasus. Others prefer to strafe off the German ground and retreat their armor if possible. Most just go 3 tanks to ice it. But I’ve seen arguments for just taking 2 and putting 2 tanks into W. Russia instead of 1. It’s a tough call. Problem with W. Russia attack is no control over how many hits G will put up.
Still others like a Belo Blast in combination with W. Russia, rather than Ukraine.
Or the Baltic gambit with 1 inf 1 art 1 fighter vs the german inf and tank. Hoping for a lucky sweep.
Some options that are interesting for purchase at seven units/hitpoints are…
4 inf 3 art
6 inf 1 tank
At six units/hitpoints…
2 inf 3 art 1 tank
4 inf 2 tanks
At 5 units/hitpoints (dangerously low for controlling the center against full Axis press, but still)…
2 inf 3 tanks
3 artillery 2 tanks
For me the 7 unit buys are optimal, but if you go any lower it should be to try something high risk with a strong payoff. And then after you gamble big, you walk out of the casino and max produce infantry and artillery from then on out 😉
Whatever you buy, it’s helpful to have the heavy hitters coming out of Moscow, since you may have to trade in Caucasus. I think if you’re not going to max buy 8 infantry in round 1, then it’s important to conserve your starting infantry in opening attacks. The hits you sustain in W. Russia can determine so much of what Allies can do. If the Russians get in clean you just have a lot more options with UK. If you get hammered by Germany in W. Russia, it’s immediately rescue Russia mode for UK/US.