As Russia, you will invariably be the target of a massive German attack early on in the game. If this attack succeeds, the Axis will almost surely win. If it fails, you can destroy Germany with the other Allies. Therefore, a bit of preparation for the onslaught is required. But how to prepare?
Purchasing for the Defense
In the start of the game, you have four Industrial Complexes: in Moscow, Leningrad, Ukraine, and Stalingrad. You also have 37 IPCs to spend. But on what? I think the best purchase is six tanks, split between Novgorod and Ukraine, with a tactical bomber or artillery every now and then. This provides for lots of power on offense, while also providing lots of units for defense. However, this combination is missing a few notable things:
#1: Strategic bombers. They’re a complete waste of I.P.C.s. For a start, you are going to be defending for the early part of the campaign, so having units that defend on a 1 is useless.
#2: Infantry/Mechanized Infantry. You already have enough infantry, and for the early stages of the defense, you don’t need any more. Use what you have as cannon fodder, and once the German blows have fallen, build some in Moscow or Stalingrad.
#3: Fighters. Although they do defend on a 4, they are too expensive to be worth it. The only time that you should build fighters during this early stage is for a last-ditch defense of a Victory City.
#4: Any naval units whatsoever. You will not see hide nor hair of the German navy during this stage of the war, and probably never! An amphibious assault against Leningrad is unlikely, but in any event, if you follow the strategy given below, Leningrad will be so well-defended that an amphibious assault is unlikely.
#5: AA guns. You start the game with a good number, and what you do have will likely be enough. You have enough in Leningrad, and the AA guns in Moscow (out of reach even of strat bombers for several turns), can reach the Ukraine in 2 turns. Also, the two AA guns in Buryatia can move towards the front, but they’ll not likely reach it in time.
In sum, tanks are the best all-round purchase for your defense. However, there is a strategy that you should employ to help soften the blows…
This strategy will not miraculously prevent a German breakthrough, but it will buy you a good bit of time. Here it is:
Move your forces in Karelia and Vyborg into Novgorod, minus one infantry in each. Move one of your Bessarabia infantry into Western Ukraine. Move one of your Eastern Poland infantry into Belarus, and move two of your Baltic States infantry into Belarus. Also, move all of your forces in Volgograd and Rostov into Ukraine. What have you gained by doing this? You’ve created a buffer zone that Germany cannot blitz through, or move its aircraft into. If the Germans attack these territories, you can counter-attack next turn, while still building more tanks in Ukraine and Leningrad. This may not be enough to save Leningrad and Ukraine, but it will buy you a fair amount of time to evacuate or build up in those territories. In spite of this, a G1 attack will upset many of these plans.
Defending Against a G1 Attack
A G1 attack is dangerous, but not fatal. Your biggest advantage is the dice. Germany cannot make up losses as easily as you, as you have two ICs right at the front, and another two safely behind your own lines. Germany, by contrast, cannot reach Bessarabia with land units at all, and reaching Eastern Poland/Baltic States uses up a tank/artillery’s full movement. The only potential IC site- Finland- won’t be ready until G2. However, the Germans will have 49 IPCs on hand on G2, while you’ll only have 35. Still, you can buy 3 tanks in Leningrad and 2 in Ukraine, plus an artillery in Ukraine. This should tie down the Germans for a good while. In the center, retreat wherever possible. Move your Belarus units (assuming an air attack hasn’t killed them) into Smolensk. There, they can link up with your Moscow units and defend effectively, right next to a major IC. The units in Rostov can also support Ukraine. In Western Ukraine, evacuate your infantry and artillery to Bryansk, where they can be supported by the IC in Moscow. This will buy you some time to conduct a defensive campaign, but the Germans may still get to a territory bordering Moscow. How to defend your capital will be the subject of the next installment…