I’ve been all over the place with R1 builds. I used to swear by (inf/art/arm) 3/1/2, but I’ve also done 2/2/2, 5/1/1, and even something involving an R1 ftr. Now I almost always go with 3/0/3. Having a large tank force is generally the best stack to be running around with, and really the best R can hope for in round 1 is to make Germany think twice about going into Kar. 3/0/3 gets some more infantry into the field, but can potentially deadzone Kar–and easily deadzone Belo and Ukr.
With combats, nothing beats Ukr+WRus. I play LL, so I like to go with all available into Ukr (minus one arm) and then all available into WRus (perhaps leaving an inf in Kar). This way, in Ukr, I have a good chance of burning off 5 units and then pulling my tanks back to Cau. If there was a G0 bid in Ukr, then I bring in that extra arm.
I guess I’ve never tried any of the snazzier openings that bring in Nor and/or Belo attacks, but that’s because I don’t think they’re very appealing. I can’t think of any situation besides just plain messing around where the WRus or Ukr attacks could be ignored, and since Kar is pretty much all that can be used against Nor or Belo, you’ve gotta pick one. But what’s the benefit of one of those attacks? WRus will have say 2-4 fewer inf on it by G1, and that’s really where you want to be strongest. I haven’t done any major number-crunching, but it seems like adding a Nor or Belo attack will just make you lose about 4-6 inf more (from both the extra attack and increased WRus casualties) while only costing Germany slightly more inf and maybe that Nor ftr.
Who cares if Germany is down one less ftr? It’s not that big a deal. And it could put Germany in a position to temporarily lurch east (or set up a faster permanent eastward march). Just one 3-ipc territory is one more inf for Germany, one less for Russia. Who cares about one ftr.
I think I read in a different thread about how a riskier R1 opening is fine because in the face of uncooperative dice, Russia can simply retreat, but I can’t think of an R1 retreat (aside from a good strafe of Ukr) that isn’t a huge blow to Russia–though I can think of bad ones.
Norway or Belo retreats back to Kar: Germany strafes Kar–or smashes it b/c Russia had too many R1 casualties and just can’t deadzone Kar at this point.
WRus retreats to Russia: Russia will take longer to start trading Kar/Belo/Ukr (if it ever does) and will have a smaller income while Germany has a larger one.
Ukr retreats to Cau: If Belo and Ukr have enough units, WRus could be in serious trouble. This could in turn lead to the result from 2–Russia swapping Arc/WRus/Ukr when it should be further west–or even more catastrophic things such as Russia being really short on units or losing Cau early.
So because retreats aren’t looking too good it’s pretty much all or nothing with the extra attack. And even if Russia successfully takes Nor or Belo, Germany could strafe away those Russian units. That’s even more lost units who would otherwise be safe and sound in Cau. If Germany never retakes Nor, UK would be down that income, but it probably doesn’t hurt for Russia to be up 3 at the expense of the UK.