Does Russia Start the Game Too Weak?


  • '14

    I haven’t had a chance to a play through a complete game yet, only one round so far. I played the CPs, while my friend took on the role of the Allies.

    Besides the German navy being ridiculously successful in its North Sea breakout, my friend pointed out that Russia appears to be too weak and the CPs far too successful from the outset of the game.

    Do you agree? For a country with a substantial standing army (though with equipment problems), should Russia have more units on the board from the get-go? In most frontier territories, it has at most six infantry. From what I recall, this seems a bit weak. Russian strategy relied on a substantial force in Russian Poland (2/5 of the army, if I recall what I read in Keegan) because the railroads were intentionally kept to a minimum to avoid an enemy breakout.

    If you do agree, how would you remedy the initial startup for the Russians? To me they seem to be too easy to defeat, esp. with the RR rule in effect.

    Thanks!



  • The problem is that the Russian Revolution at this point seems to help the Allies about as much as, if not more than, the CP. The Revolution does NOT provide the CP with a capital they need to win, although they still need to commit significant resources to making the Revolution occur, which makes the motivation for causing the Revolution to reduce the size of the fronts a dubious ground at best.

    Another issue is that the general interpretation so far is that the CP is in trouble.
    If Russia is  made stronger, the other Allies need to be weaker in some way.

    It seems like the more units the CP send to Russia, the more Russia WANTS to trigger the revolution, and the less troops the CP send, which would mean they are trying to knock Russia out and win with Rome and Paris, the more Russia will want to resist and the more capable they will be.

    Perhaps Russia does not compare accurately to the CP in terms of sheer numbers, but another thing to consider is that in quality of fighting units, the proportion might be pretty close to right.



  • In the 4 games under my belt, the central powers have had no problem taking out Russia. We have also not experiemented with the UK lending any help to the Russians. I don’t know if it is even possible to send troops to help Russia.

    My thoughts so far on Russian strategy. Send all the units that you can into Poland to slow German advance to Moscow. Pray that Austria does not mobilize Romania turn 1. If Russia has a chance to mobilize they have a much better chance at lasting a while in the Balkans. They just don’t have the money, troops, or assistance to hold out against the 3 pronged attack which is the Central powers.

    I think they were designed to fall, and to just be a bee sting for the Central powers to overcome. The real challenge for the Cp’s is France, and UK.


  • Customizer

    A British transport fleet can shuttle large armies to Russia via Karelia, then on the return journey pick up same from UK and bridge them over to Picary/Belgium.

    From India a large force can be sent through Persia/Sevastopol.

    The trick is to lure the CPs deep into Russia, trigger the Revolution to deny them Moscow, then attack any tts they still hold in Russia which effectively holds down any forces they might have wanted to send out west.

    A battleship and a couple of fighters is also a smart early purchase for Russia.



  • Well, if the question is whether or not Russia is weaker in the game than in real life, the answer is of course.  Read Tuchman’s The Guns of August if you want a good analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each side.  Russia had a huge army, but it wasn’t well-equipped because of corruption and bad decisions in the higher ranks of the army.  Russia didn’t have enough artillery, shells, bullets or rifles when the war started.  The other disadvantage Russia had was that it didn’t have enough forces close to the front.  The Schlieffen Plan concept was that by throwing most of Germany’s force to the West and quickly defeating France, Germany could win a victory in the West before the Russians could fully mobilize, and then swing the victorious armies East.  Hindenburg and Ludendorff pulled off a miracle at Tannenberg because the Russian Army advanced before it had reached full strength, and even then it was about twice as big as the German army, and the Germans had to decide whether or not to evacuate East Prussia completely or try to fight a force twice as big as their own.


  • Customizer

    This is my suggested 12 Victory City map. Nothing else has been changed, but Munich, Petrograd and Tsaritsyn have been added as Victory Cities and Production Centres. India is also now a Victory City.

    Having three areas to place units must give more flexibility to Russia, especially in defending Sevastopol.

    Axis&Allies1914FullMapLarryH6VC.PNG



  • Why Tsaritsyn?  It was a small provincial town with a population of fewer than 100,000.  It was only after Stalin won a victory there in the Civil War that it was renamed Stalingrad and then became a powerhouse of the Soviet industrialization drive.


  • Customizer

    Its sort of a projection of its future importance; would you suggest Kazan?

    It does have an important strategic location.



  • Russia does start the war too weak- but what would you do instead?  Historically they were knocked out (into Revolution) essentially anyway.  If the CPs have any chance to win the game Russia must be dealt with quickly.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Well said BJCard.



  • Does Russia Start the Game Too Weak?

    Not in our experience, even if Russia is forced into a revolution, she generally takes many CP units down w/her. Do you realize how many units Russia can pull into the Ukraine in the early going? Just about every unit they start with can get there on the first turn, in the the second turn you can get the rest there, plus the units you built in the first turn. I think the key might be to not get caught up trying to stack Romania or Poland in the first turn. These are death traps for Russia as the CP have superior numbers there. She is better off being patient IMO, and conserving her strength, then pick her moments to set up defensive stands so the CP are grinding their armies into the Russian wall. If you consolidate your units and flex your muscle you can delay the CP for a little bit. Then they need to decide if they want to attack into a 50-60 unit Russian wall (wipes out whom ever goes first), or divert more reinforcements  your direction (will help the western front).

    As Russia I think your job is to tie up the CP, and grind out as many of their units as possible. If you can delay, or over come the revolution (or the siege/capturing of Moscow) you have done your part. The western front should be collapsing on the CP.



  • Yes, I have found that an aggressive Russia only seems to bring about its demise quicker.



  • @protevangelium:

    if I recall what I read in Keegan

    Sorry, off topic, but I have to know: Are you talking about John Keegan, the late British historian? You’ve read his books?


  • '14

    @Auztria:

    @protevangelium:

    if I recall what I read in Keegan

    Sorry, off topic, but I have to know: Are you talking about John Keegan, the late British historian? You’ve read his books?

    Yes. It’s been a while since I have read The First World War, so I may be off on my numbers or assessment. But my general impression was that while the Russian military suffered serious command and equipment problems, it was both a.) large and b.) capable of inflicting serious defeats on the Central Powers at various points in the war.

    I suppose what stands out to me with the current A&A 1914 setup is that the concentration of Germans in the east is very large. Austria does not bother me as much, since they were among the first to mobilize and their war plan called for a large, central reserve group. But the Russians seem too sparse, especially in the northern border with the German Empire. It just does not seem to reflect the unexpected superiority in numbers they had there in 1914, and the initial German miscalculation of their capabilities.

    What happens beyond that point is up to Russia!



  • @protevangelium:

    @Auztria:

    @protevangelium:

    if I recall what I read in Keegan

    Sorry, off topic, but I have to know: Are you talking about John Keegan, the late British historian? You’ve read his books?

    Yes. It’s been a while since I have read The First World War, so I may be off on my numbers or assessment. But my general impression was that while the Russian military suffered serious command and equipment problems, it was both a.) large and b.) capable of inflicting serious defeats on the Central Powers at various points in the war.

    I suppose what stands out to me with the current A&A 1914 setup is that the concentration of Germans in the east is very large. Austria does not bother me as much, since they were among the first to mobilize and their war plan called for a large, central reserve group. But the Russians seem too sparse, especially in the northern border with the German Empire. It just does not seem to reflect the unexpected superiority in numbers they had there in 1914, and the initial German miscalculation of their capabilities.

    What happens beyond that point is up to Russia!

    Well, it’s all due to the playability vs. accuracy model. If Russia had a huge army in Poland, plus the reinforcements it’ll be steadily receiving for at least a few turns, the German East Prussia army would just be overwhelmed, especially if it is scaled down to historic levels too. They couldn’t put 7/8 of the German strength in the West here, as there’s no way to simulate the problems and shortages the Tsar’s army had at Tannenberg.



  • @protevangelium:

    @Auztria:

    @protevangelium:

    if I recall what I read in Keegan

    Sorry, off topic, but I have to know: Are you talking about John Keegan, the late British historian? You’ve read his books?

    Yes. It’s been a while since I have read The First World War, so I may be off on my numbers or assessment. But my general impression was that while the Russian military suffered serious command and equipment problems, it was both a.) large and b.) capable of inflicting serious defeats on the Central Powers at various points in the war.

    I suppose what stands out to me with the current A&A 1914 setup is that the concentration of Germans in the east is very large. Austria does not bother me as much, since they were among the first to mobilize and their war plan called for a large, central reserve group. But the Russians seem too sparse, especially in the northern border with the German Empire. It just does not seem to reflect the unexpected superiority in numbers they had there in 1914, and the initial German miscalculation of their capabilities.

    What happens beyond that point is up to Russia!  Â

    Slightly off topic as I understand what was done to Russia for game purposes, but as Keegan points out well, while the Russian army did have some serious drawbacks, it was a much more potent force than I think people realize. Aside from Tannenberg the Russian army spent the rest of 1914 basically winning every engagement it went into, including giving Hindenburg a very bloody nose the first time he ventured into Poland. In the end, less than stellar leadership (the Tsar taking command really was a terrible idea) and more importantly an under-developed economy were the biggest factors for Russia’s defeat, as militarily she conducted herself rather well up until 1917.

    This is the Russia that diverted millions of German troops away from the west, effectively killed off Austria-Hungary and kept and decidedly weakened the Ottomans.



  • Yes. If they truly had a historically accurate setup, Russia would have almost as many troops at start as Germany and Austria-Hungary combined. The Ottoman Empire would have no fleet, Germany would have extra cruisers in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, Britain would have just 1 infantry, and Africa would be even more barren. Of course they can’t do that, simply for gameplay reasons. If Russia could conquer Galicia and East Prussia effortlessly every game, people would quickly grow bored.


  • '14

    @Auztria:

    Yes. If they truly had a historically accurate setup, Russia would have almost as many troops at start as Germany and Austria-Hungary combined. The Ottoman Empire would have no fleet, Germany would have extra cruisers in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, Britain would have just 1 infantry, and Africa would be even more barren. Of course they can’t do that, simply for gameplay reasons. If Russia could conquer Galicia and East Prussia effortlessly every game, people would quickly grow bored.

    But you see… I went to school to be a historian! I will have to do a little bit of experimenting with the Russian infantry bordering Galicia and East Prussia. Naturally, it raises my hackles that the Russians can’t do much more than poke the CPs on this front. The Russian TTs containing six infantry probably ought to have eight (on the western border). Any attack they make in Prussia or Galicia is going to be bulldozed by a massive A-H or German attack with at least 12 infantry in each case to throw at the hapless Russians.

    I have a soft spot for those intrepid Bulgarians c. 1915. This has led to some experimenting on my end to make them a playable country in lieu of a country in the direct Ottoman pale. Instead of collecting income, they would do something like China does in A&A:Pacific 1.0–crank out people or arty (no planes, tanks or ships). I even thought about allowing the Germans to give them a subsidy (1 IPC or something along those lines). Australia is often talked about for its commitment to the war (and justly so), but I was blown away when I read the Bulgarian stats. 1,200,000 mobilized out of about 5 million people!!  If Italy is in this game, surely Bulgars can’t hurt…


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