Requester thank you for the excellent outline of the strategy we discussed in the Bright Skies thread and the start of the discussion on this Russian strategy.
My view is that in any case, the first build of Russia should be ideally artillery and mechanized infantry. You already have a lot of infantry at your disposal, but not much artillery (3 total) or mech (2 total) while both of them greatly enhance your already existing infantry. While they add the same defense value when combined in a stack, artillery double the attack value of your already existing infantry while mechanized infantry can attack from longer distances or reinforce stacks faster.
Especially reinforcing stacks is noteworthy, as Russia has limited production output. Only Moscow can produce 10 units per turn, while Leningrad and Stalingrad only 3. Ukraine will be lost in any case, but also holds least value for Russia. Leningrad however is a big IPC swing into German favour, and also ensures losing Archangel next turn and thus the S125 NO. Losing it is a 20 IPC swing in the Germany vs Russia battle. However reinforcing Leningrad can only be done in time with mobile mechanized infantry, normal infantry would take to long. Also, in case Germany ignores Leningrad, normal infantry would be too slow to react and will lag behind in both offense and defense.
Therefore I will always be building a mix of 9 artillery / mechanized infantry. Only when the defense of Moscow is imminent, I might buy infantry instead.
The greatest proposal for infantry instead of artilery / mech infantry is the amount of numbers. Yes, on the defense, you can mass 3 more infantry per turn, a difference of 12 units before G5. However my assumption is that the threat a mixed force provides consisting out of the initial infantry supported by build artillery and mechanized infantry, makes up for the numbers, as it can counter-attack when Germany has different stacks besides 1 big concentrated group.
This is based on the same idea that Japan needs to concentrate its fleet when the USA is active in the pacific. This forces Japan to pick one goal and go for it, while without the USA attack threat, Japan could disperse its fleet and attack multiple locations at once, therefore expanding faster.
A bit more about the ideal situation for the Red Tide. The ideal defense perimeter is Novgorod + Bryansk, as they can reach most of Russia, while combo-attack a German force trying to sneak to Moscow through Belarus. Also mechanized infantry from Russia can reinforce both strongholds fast, while both Novgorod + Bryansk fast movers could reinforce or attack each other in case of tactical retreat.
All warfare is based on deception. This sort of warfare greatly enhances your possibility to deceive your enemy. In my last game Germany marches to Leningrad with overwhelming numbers. In both Vyborg as Karelia was 5 infantry while most forces + tanks were in the Baltic States. I had build 6 artillery in Novgorod in my three turns while mechanized infantry from Russia. I divided my big stack of Novgorod in two attacking groups to Vyborg and Karelia while I moved my fast movers to Smolensk and Archangel while my Bryansk stack (also with 6 artillery) remained in place in case he did not took the bait of Leningrad. Therefore my force was divided into 4 much smaller forces, while I took out 10 infantry with minimal losses. Germany took the bait and took Novgorod with its main stack, but the airforce he had concentrated had no good targets. He also reinforced Finland with some troops and airplanes. In my turn, all 4 groups attacked Leningrad, and combined they were bigger than the main German stack, that had lost the 10 infantry from Scandinavia and had its airplanes in another zone. I destroyed the German stack while I lost all my infantry (the 18 initial ones) but my artillery and mechanized infantry survived to directly pressure German more defensively for 1-2 turns as he had to regroup / reinforce. The deception of my different groups led to him taking the bait. The buys of artillery and mechanized infantry had allowed me to set up the bait and massacre him in different steps, while I was on the offense instead of defense. So even when the dice were not going into my favour, I could have retreated into one of the zones I was attacking from.
This reinforced my assumption that favour is with the attacker, as that is the one who controls what happens and when it stops.
Another thing that mechanized infantry allowed me to do. First it destroyed the German main stack, however the Axis attacked with all its forces and Japan was now close to taking Moscow with about 10 tanks and 10 airplanes. The mech could quicy reinforce to my eastern flank and attack those tanks with artillery that I build in Moscow. Also the 3 starting planes were highly effective all my turns. The supply lines for Japan were so far and with his tanks destroyed, he had no choice than to retreat its planes. My troops and focus on the north + japan had in the meantime allowed Germany to get to Rostov, able to take Caucasus and Stalingrad next turn. Again the mech could relocate and take back the Caucasus + reinforce Stalingrad just in time.
In short, the mechanized infantry allowed me to be everywhere on the right time, which made the Axis attacks very frustrating as even while he attacked me on all flanks, I could be where needed because of my mobility and good use of Russia geography.
We combined this Russian strategy the Red Tide with a Taranto attack + Bright Skies USA strategy. If Italy wanted any chance of survival, Germany had to help. All that help is less focus on Russia. My brother that played the UK played a very good game, even while rolling terrible in the first 3 rounds. Luck was absolutely at the Axis side, but our avoidance and counter-attacks won us the game.
I do not see how in case of 100% Russia, Germany is going to prevent the early death of Italy and liberation of France, as the USA has its invasion fleet ready to attack Gibraltar after USA1.