Basic Russian Opening Strategy


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    If you are serious about the 1942.2 map, you have to read Black_Elk’s sticky post on “All the Russian Openings” at https://www.axisandallies.org/forums/index.php?topic=35487.0. It’s the single best piece on this bulletin board, and it will change the way you see this (and other) maps. That said, I know that some of you won’t read or can’t understand such a long and theoretical post, so here’s my short, practical summary of what to do when you’re playing Russia so that you don’t get ground into the dirt in the first 5 turns.

    Step 1: Build Infantry and Artillery. You already have 2 planes and 4 tanks, which is plenty of mobility to support your foot soldiers. You can’t afford the luxury of even more mobility, and you also can’t afford to build nothing but infantry because infantry alone won’t be able to launch proper attacks. On the first turn, build 4 infantry and 3 artillery. On the second turn, build 5 infantry and 3 artillery. Try to keep up that approximate ratio for the rest of the game. If the Russians get a bid, your first priority should be one artillery for the Caucasus, followed by as many infantry as you can afford in Moscow, Archangel, and Karelia.

    Step 2: Hit Ukraine with Planes and West Russia with Tanks. On turn 1, whatever you send into the Ukraine will die, and whatever you send into West Russia will live, because West Russia is going to have a huge stack of Russian units surrounded by mostly-Russian territories, but Ukraine is going to have a tiny stack of units surrounded by mostly-German territories. The solution is to send your planes to the Ukraine, since they can attack there and then land somewhere safer. I like to attack Ukraine with 3 inf, 1 art, 1 tnk, 2 ftr, and then to attack West Russia with 9 inf, 2 art, 3 tnk. If Russia gets any bid at all, then Ukraine becomes 3 inf, 2 art, 1 tnk, 2 ftr, which is a much more profitable battle. Don’t make any other attacks on turn 1; you can’t afford them. Do fight to the death in Ukraine; trading 1 Russian tank for the German tank and fighter is a good deal for you.

    Step 3: Trade Leningrad. Don’t bother building anything in Leningrad, don’t bother leaving any units in Leningrad. From turn 1, your plan is to trade the Karelia factory every turn, not to try to hold Leningrad. Your factory alone will stop the German blitz, so on turn 1 you can leave the territory entirely empty. On turns 2, 3, and 4, if Germany takes Karelia lightly (4 or fewer units survive), then you can send a similarly sized force backed up by airplanes to lightly trade the territory, which will prevent Germany from using the Karelia factory to build any units. If Germany takes Karelia with his full stack, you should be able to trade your West Russia stack for the Karelia stack at a profit, wiping out most of the German tank corps and buying critical time for Russia. After turn 4 you will probably have to retreat from West Russia to Archangel or Moscow, but that’s ok – you don’t need to survive forever; just long enough for the Allies to gather momentum against France or Japan. If Moscow survives until turn 8, you’re doing fine. If you can stop Germany from producing any units in the Karelia factory on turns 1, 2, 3, and 4, then the factory isn’t going to have a huge impact on the game for the Axis. If you find that you’re not able to trade the Karelia factory at a profit through turn 4, make sure that the UK is doing its job by sinking the German Baltic fleet on turn 1, and that Russia is sending all of the starting infantry from Yakut and Evenki due west to reinforce West Russia. Also, starting on turn 2, you can evacuate Stalingrad so that you can stack even more forces in West Russia. You don’t need the production from the Stalingrad factory (8 units in Moscow per turn is fine), and you should be able to trade Stalingrad the same way you can trade Leningrad, which prevents Germany from getting any use out of your captured factories.

    These steps won’t win you the game (that’s the job of the UK and the USA), but they’ll keep Russia alive long enough for the western allies to get an interesting offensive together. I’m not a fanatic – I do recommend playing with a large bid for the Allies – but many new and even intermediate players assume that Russia is doomed from the start, and in my experience that’s just not the case. If you play smart, build an affordable mix of infantry and artillery, avoid frittering away your forces in secondary theaters, and have the courage to use your forces to fight bloody battles in the primary battle zone of West Russia / Ukraine / Archangel / Karelia, then Russia can remain a strong and active power for many turns.



  • While I concur mostly with what you have posted, I can’t fully agree on #3… while there’s nothing inherently wrong with trading Leningrad every turn, giving ANYTHING away for free (leaving  Leningrad completely empty) by Russia is just something I can’t endorse.

    Some reasons are:

    1. Chance… even leaving one infantry behind gives you the chance, no matter how small of the German player getting “diced” and losing far more value than one infantry

    2. Make the German player have to think and/or possibly over commit… because of #1, the German player may change plans he otherwise would have committed to had the territory been left open… leaving as little as one troop behind may save you losing a territory elsewhere.

    3. Attrition… Russia’s biggest contribution to the Allies is being a meat grinder to German forces and causing them to lose forces for every territory they take as the game goes on… Infantry defend better than they attack, and it’s better for Russia to use infantry defending than attacking.

    4. Be flexible… no battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy… while infantry/artillery purchases are a sound strategy and good advice for Russia,  by no means is it always the best option.  A lot of what Russia should do is determined by how Germany is playing… there may be a change of plans if something alters the standard German playbook against Russia… there may come a time to favor a tank mix, or possibly even the luxury of a fighter (which has the added bonus in retaking territories without committing it to be lost in a counter attack).

    Bottom line,  as Russia,  I would NEVER recommend leaving a territory completely empty as there’s always something to be gained by leaving at least one infantry behind  (if not more). If Russia can’t afford to sacrifice one infantry in an attrition war with Germany, you’ve already lost the war…


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015

    Good posts as usual  : -)

    I personally like to add more tanks for Russia until they have at least 6.  8 would even be better though not easy due to the tight budget.
    Also, I now prefer to attack Belorussia than Ukraine due to its risk factor.

    I do agree with #3 and keep Leningrad completely clean (and caucasus too some time) if I know there is no hope to keep it.  I like to accumulate as many Russia troops as possible the first few turns until I have enough power to fight back.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    NowhereMan, there’s nothing wrong with leaving 1 infantry in Leningrad on your first turn – as you say, you can spare one infantry. The problem comes when people use that same logic all over the board. If you spare “just one infantry” for Leningrad, and “just one infantry” for Stalingrad, and “just one infantry” for China, and “just one infantry” for Siberia, then pretty soon you’re frittering away enough of your core force that it really does become the difference between whether you have the strength to keep Leningrad as a ‘dead zone’ for Germany…or whether you don’t.

    Innohub, I’ve seen people recommend the Belorussia attack instead of the Ukraine attack, and if you’re playing with zero bid, then that can make sense. Germans have a 15% chance to win in Ukraine with no bid, which is more than some people are comfortable with. Why do you want to have 8 tanks? What would you do with them?



  • I wasn’t saying leave one infantry everywhere,  and certainly not on inconsequential fronts… I certainly never championed that… I’m all for pulling back and consolidation… when I mentioned leaving an infantry behind,  I was speaking specifically about Leningrad because you KNOW the Gerns will go there, and because RNG is RNG, there’s always the chance the Germans could get diced, and for Russia,  that’s a gamble I’ll take every time.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015

    Hi Argothair,

    I like to have more tanks so they can work as a group and help defending India, China and Key Russia territories at the same time when needed.  4 is a bit too little to me and 6-8 makes a decent number to strike back.  I like the mobility of tanks as well as its better attack/defense power.  Also, in round 2, Germany has less chance to stack the Karelia if I have 6 tanks available compared to 4 tanks.


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