Strategy Tidbits: Russia

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Strategy Tidbits: Russia

#1 Post by GarlMargs » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:39 pm

This is a thread for any of your miscellaneous advice and opinions about playing Russia in Classic Diplomacy. It can be about openings, alliances, special considerations for gunboat, whatever you like. Just keep it coming! 8-)

Couple opinions of mine to start...

F Sev-Rum in Spring 1901 is almost always a crap move, even as a gesture of goodwill towards Turkey. The fleet will just get in the way and make it harder attack Austria. Not to mention the defensive risks.

- If you know you're gonna lose in Scandinavia, consider inviting England to occupy St. Pete with a fleet. Once they have St. Pete and Sweden, England provably won't have much incentive to keep going after you. Beats having an English or (god forbid) German army occupy it instead.

Tom Bombadil
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Re: Strategy Tidbits: Russia

#2 Post by Tom Bombadil » Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:43 pm

Here are some thoughts I have on Russia. It is my favorite country to play.

First thing first, Russia starts with an extra unit, but I would not consider this an advantage. The extra unit, the size of the territories that are purple, and the fact that you are likely to pick up one or two centers in the first year all are a psychological disadvantages to Russia. Russia is often viewed as a bigger threat than they are considering how difficult it is for Russia to defend centers. So if you are playing against Russia, you can use this to your advantage, but when playing as Russia, you must be mindful that people are going to perceive a 7 center Russia as more threatening than a 7 center Germany (whereas I would argue a 7 center Germany is much more threatening).

I don’t view opening moves in a traditional sense of this is a strong opening move and this is a weak opening move. Opening north to St. Pet can be great or disastrous. Opening Sev to Rum can be great or disastrous. It all depends on your press as Russia, because it is easy for other countries to invade you. This is why Russia is viewed as a very weak gunboat draw (at least in my and some gunboat enthusiasts’ estimations). In particular, St. Pet cannot be held from the south in the end, and TUR will always have an advantage in the south with regards to Black by being able to put a unit in Armenia. Warsaw is also very difficult to hold as it is easy to surround and cut support. Having a unit in Ukraine to support hold Warsaw isn’t very effective as it can easily be cut. Overall, Russia is very hard to defend.

So thinking about long-term strategy, I don’t discount any alliance for Russia as they can all work – I just think some are easier than others. The elephant in the room is a juggernaut, which can be a very effective alliance. I think it is pretty even in terms of whether it favors RUS or TUR, and give a viable way for Russia to grow and solo – with a late stab of Turkey. I won’t go into the mechanics of a juggernaut as its pretty apparent where the growth comes for both parties.

An alliance with AUS can also be fruitful, but has more risks in my opinion because of the struggle Russia has with defense. Once AUS builds all those armies from gains in the Balkans, Russia is often the easiest and quickest route of expansion. So if you are going to ally with Austria, make sure you have a plan for when she has flooded the Balkans with armies. Either build up good rapport with AUS to find another way for her to expand, or have a plan with Italy in place to surround. And war between Russia and Austria with no outside influence will always be won by Austria.

Italy is a sound ally especially as there is little tension early on because of the lack of borders. But you can run into the same problem as with Austria. If Italy controls the Balkans, you will lose that battle. So if you do end up going that route, it is important for RUS to make gains in the Balkans and have a presence there as to not get overwhelmed. Easier than with AUS however, is to DMZ the Balkans afterward as neither of the two has home centers there, and it is much easier for Italy to find a different route of expansion compared to AUS. Italy can win the game without any Russian centers – Austria cannot.

Finally, I think most novice Russia players make mistakes in the west simply by not stirring the pot enough. In a very broad sense, Russia usually wins the game by creating conflict between other players and slowly rolling west - since direct conflict with Russia usually is bad for Russia. The more tension in the west the better as you can make gains before a solid alliance is generated in the west. I believe an alliance between France and Russia is one of the very best in the game and should be fostered immediately and aggressively by Russia from the moment the game starts. You do not want to see and ENG/GER as that almost certainly loses you Scandinavia and eventually St. Pet. It is also very easy for Germany to stab Russia late for the win, so you must tread lightly with a long term alliance with Germany. England fares a bit better as a late stab of Russia by England is more telegraphed and slower than that of Germany, so it is more difficult for England to do quick mini-stab to get to 18.
France on the other hand, will rarely compete with you for centers – with the only real conflict at the stalemate line in Germany late in the game. And if you get to the point where there is conflict with France, it typically means you have positioned yourself into a small draw or solo shot. Furthermore, France and RUS can sandwich Germany and/or England between them which fosters mutual gain with virtually no downside. Your biggest risk with running this with France is that they grow more quickly, and position themselves to solo faster than you.

You cannot get by being lazy with press as Russia. You need to convince people not to attack you. If any country attacks you and you do not have help, you are going to end up on the wrong end of the conflict. Create conflict elsewhere, and always be a year or two ahead. Create visions for the other players so they know where to expand that isn’t through you.

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Re: Strategy Tidbits: Russia

#3 Post by mhsmith0 » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:47 pm

Some thoughts:

1) Sev-Rum is a poor move generally in spring 1901, and in fall 1901 essentially broadcasts your intention to attack Turkey, not Austria! Since F Sev-Rum + Build F Sev = Turkey in early trouble, whereas your'e basically giving Austria a pretty big pass (as I've heard before, a Russian fleet in Romania is the 2nd best thing for Austria, with the best obviously an austrian army there)

2) As I've played Russia more, I've found A Mos-STP to be a pretty powerful spring 1901 move, particularly if you're interested in building an alliance with France. The downside is that your southern end is temporarily weak, and you can get rolled pretty hard by an early A/T alliance (Russian Attack by Turkey + Austria in Galicia after DMZ'ing it = early Russian departure). The upside is that you can make a useful early pro-German move to secure Sweden, put pressure on England (and England plowing through Scandinavia through to STP is I think one of the biggest early game threats for Russia most of the time), and make things easier for France (who you usually want to be successful... though not TOO successful...)
But if you can arrange an early Sealion, and keep the south from going against you TOO quickly, you're usually going to be in good shape going forward.

3) I'd also agree that effective boardwide diplomacy is extremely important for Russia; probably Russia and Italy are the two powers who profit the most from managing relationships all around the board (probably also because they're the two powers who most gain from chaos).

dancing queen
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Re: Strategy Tidbits: Russia

#4 Post by dancing queen » Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:58 am

In F2F play (at least, and probably in online play), it is important to know where the "meta" is on Russian openings. For a long time, you could basically write "Sev -> Black / War -> Gal" before you started negotiating, knowing you would be getting a bounce in both places. Two factors have started to change that.

First, Peter Yeargin's Austrian play in WDC2016 - where he explicitly requests no bounce in Galicia - has given new life to the idea that there are other things to do with those units. Not everyone is a fan of Andrew Goff's choice in that game (Warsaw Hold) but it does have some advantages.

Second, the Chicago hobby has driven the Turkish S01 attack on Russia (Con -> Bul, Ank -> Black, Smy -> Arm) to new levels of popularity. Russian players are now much more aware that this opening, if not countered, can ruin their day.

These two dynamics have made F Sev -> Rum/ A Mos -> Sev / A War -> Ukr more popular. Few sane Austrians are going to side with Turkey in the fight for Rumania, and more than a few are going to try to pick up Bulgaria in the fall. This _does_ make any move to the Balkans by Russia slower, but losing Rum/Sev in 1902 is clearly worse.

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Re: Strategy Tidbits: Russia

#5 Post by ziran » Tue May 01, 2018 8:22 pm

that's an interesting move if you can see the attack coming. but what if you don't?
lets say in the fall of 1901 the relevant positions are the fairly common:

A Bul, F Ank, A Arm;

F Sev, A Ukr, A War;

A Vie, A Ser, F Alb

How would you secure Rum without giving up BLA?

Also the reverse, how do you follow up as Turkey?

Bob Genghiskhan
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Re: Strategy Tidbits: Russia

#6 Post by Bob Genghiskhan » Wed May 09, 2018 8:21 pm

First giant caveat: Press rules everything. None of these ideas are hard rules; all are subject to the ease of working with people on the rest of the board.

If I am playing Russia, I will tend towards regarding the witches of the corners as my early game foes, especially Turkey. If Turkey gets out of its box, it is almost invariably going to wind up knocking Russia at least to the Mos-War line, which means Russia is screwed, because even if it gains new units, it can really only build them in St. Pete and they are useless for digging Turkey out of Sevastopol. I worry most about England in the west because it seems to me as if it can mount the most versatile and defensible attacks on Scandinavia.

So, with this in mind, if I'm Russia and the board is going to break perfectly for me, it will break as an FGR in the west and an AIR in the east. But there's real problems for Russia with this alliance setup, namely, expansion. In the west, there's really not an external SC that Russia can easily hold against Germany if Germany decides to stab and France decides to concentrate on Italy after England is crippled. In the south, a Russian fleet in the Black Sea will usually guarantee both Ankara and Rumania, but it's easier for Austria to take and hold the Balkans excepting Greece, and Italy has the better chance at Con, Smy, and Gre.

Second giant caveat: it all depends upon what pieces are where, of course.

To me, the critical point to Russian success comes around spring 1903, when hopefully Turkey is confined to its home peninsula and there's a Russian fleet in the Black Sea, and hopefully, France has convoyed onto the British isles. At this point, Russia NEEDS to get those three power alliances that crippled the witches down to two power alliances. If things are going perfect for me, what I'm hoping for is to get a joint Franco-Russian stab of Germany going, and getting an Austro-Italian war going. If I have the Black Sea, I have no real fear of Turkey, so I will offer to help him join Italy in getting a few licks in against Austria. But I'm taking a back seat there, unless Austria is just wide open to me, in order to be able to concentrate on Germany. My thinking is that Germany's going to need to commit at least four units to keeping France off their back: three armies on the Hol-Ruh-Mun line, and a fleet to keep France from controlling the North Sea. That means Germany has a fleet puttering around Denmark or Helgoland or Baltic. Which is irritating, but not enough to stop two fleets and an army or two pushing on them from the north and east. Once Russia takes Berlin and Denmark, then the builds can be armies to crush the remnants of Austria. At that point, the question becomes: "Is France going to try and solo by hitting strong Italy, or are you looking at a likely three way draw?".

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