The Proper Use of Russia
"Russia is a little bit more advanced than France, and they require someone who is familiar with the game to play them well. However, I find Russia to have the most potential in WW1 when used correctly."
In Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, you have the opportunity to take control of many world powers, one them being the Russia. Russia is a little bit more advance than France, and they require someone who is familiar with the game to play them well. However, I find Russia to have the most potential in WW1 when used correctly. They have some very diverse strategies, and some very interesting units, and they have all the firepower you need to bring your opponent to the submission of the Motherland.
First off, let’s examine the bonuses that the Russians have:
Communism (villagers are cheaper): This is an excellent bonus. Not only do the Russians start out with the more villagers than any other WW1 civilization, they’re the cheapest to build and replace as well. This bonus gives Russia a lot of options economically, and they can start up a very good economy earlier in the game before anyone else.
Proletariat (You start off with more villagers than any other WW1 civ): This is a great bonus complemented by the Communism bonus. With these extra villagers, you can get a good economy going in no time.
Russian Winter (faster hunting and fishing): A good bonus that many often overlook. Remember, you should not be farming any time before 15-20 minutes in game, so fishing and hunting is vital.
Re-issue equipment (You get some of your resources back every time a unit dies): I love this bonus. Even though when a conscript dies, you might not notice that 5 food and gold sneaking into your stockpiles, over time, trust me, it adds up. If 20 conscripts die, and it gives you back 5 food and gold for each dead conscript, right there that’s 100 extra food and gold which you just got back for free, and with which you can build even more units. Don’t underestimate this bonus!
Revolutionaries (Villagers can become suicide bombers): This power is usually only used in a last-ditch attempt to get the enemy out of your base. I have used it offensively sometimes, but the steep wood cost, and the fact that one shot from an enemy kills the bomber, often makes it not worth it unless you are defending your base and have no other choice. If you do happen to make it and hit an enemy, it does do a nice amount of damage with good area effect! But, when I am playing against Russia, I will always have one gunman assigned to a control group who I specifically use to shoot any suicide bombers.
Now, you might be looking at the small number of bonuses Russia gets and be wondering how they can be so good with the small number of military and economic bonuses they get. The true power of Russia lies in their units. Russia is strange you see, when you first play them, you’re looking at their weak conscripts and their frail armored cars and you think to yourself “What?? This is the weakest civ around!” and then that’s when you make a Commissar or Cossack out of curiosity and you’re blown away at how powerful these units are.
You see, with Russian units, there is no middle ground. They’re either really weak and cheap or really expensive strong. You have to make a good balance between the two types of units that Russia has. But remember, those weak and cheap units can be extremely potent when massed. Think of Russia as the Zergs from Starcraft, everyone knows that first you send in the zerlings to scout, harass and annoy (Yes, yes, the infamous ZERG RUSH KEKEKE ^___^), but the initial zerglings never win the game. It’s while you’re harassing with your zerglings that you build up the stronger, more expensive units that the zergs have to offer, and they come in as clean up crew to finish off your weakened enemy.
This is how Russia is meant to be played. When I play with Russia, I attack in waves. First 5 minutes, it’s nothing but constant streaming and harassment with conscripts. 10-15 minutes from there, I break out the armored cars, then get an armory up and go for Cossacks. From then on, I expand to air power if need be, That’s the basic unit build outline for Russia, use it well.
Now let’s go over each main Russian unit individually, to explore their uses, strengths and weaknesses:
Conscript: This is the basic gunman unit for Russia, the weakest and cheapest basic infantry in the entire game. Weak as they may be, their light cost makes these things easy to mass. First 5 minutes playing as Russia is all about managing your conscripts. If you’re going defensive, keep them around your houses for healing. Remember, conscripts will never win against any other gunmen 1 on 1, so you MUST focus fire for them to be effective.
Cossack: My personal favorite Russian unit. You might be wondering how a horse with a spear could do anything useful in an age of machine guns and tanks, but you’ll see. I think this is the best raiding unit in the game, except for maybe the French freedom fighter. This is the unit you should be focusing on as soon as you get your armory up. Expensive, yes, but an army of Cossacks + Anti-tank +Anti-air is pretty much unstoppable. Cossacks absolutely rip through infantry, and are the best at taking out artillery. Tanks kill these guys pretty fast though, so if it’s past 20 minutes into the game, you MUST have Anti-tank to support them. These are great raiding units, they kill villagers in 2 or 3 strikes of the spear, and can move very fast, great for hit and run and they do decent damage to buildings. Cossacks are quite the hot unit.
Commissar: The official Russian support unit. They’re only really useful if you’ve massed conscripts, which I rarely do since past 15 minutes I am massing Cossack +AT + AA. But, massed conscripts are a viable strategy, and backed up by commissars, they can pack a punch for a low cost. The Molotov cocktail power is great, anything within the radius of the blast is instantly killed. I’ve seen entire games decided by one single Molotov cocktail. When going against this, and you see those commissars, you better bust your butt trying to kill those things ASAP or get ready to move at a seconds notice once you see that wicked thing coming towards you. The other power they have is “for the motherland” in which your commissar shoots one of your conscripts to encourage the others around it to fight harder. A mass of Motherland’d conscripts is not a nice thing to go up against, I know that from personal experience!
Sniper: This is a really under-used unit that I see a lot of potential in. It’s under-used because it requires a lot of micromanagement to take full advantage of it. I will never forget one game, I took out 6 full mills of my opponent, each full with villagers, with one sniper, absolutely destroyed his food income. And I just ran away before he could figure out what was going on. I would not use snipers in full front overt combat, only for harassment and villager killing.
Armored Car: An excellent anti-infantry unit that’s very cheap and easy to produce. Until you get your armory up, your forces should consist of conscripts + Armored Cars. The faster you get these out, the better, because compared to other tanks, they are very weak. You’d be surprised how powerful these things can be when used in game under 15 minutes.
Anti-tank 38mm gun: This gun is for taking out enemy tanks and it does its job well. It is the main support unit along with Cossacks and Anti-air. Not much to say about this unit, other than that even though it’s anti-tank, it does surprisingly well as Anti-infantry too.
37mm AA Gun: Makes those planes come down in flames. Keep these in the back of your forces, since anything other than planes can kill these really easily. But don’t put them so far back that your front forces get bombed while they’re too far back doing nothing.
Heavy Artillery: Compared to the French Artillerie and the German Big Bertha, the Russians have the worst heavy artillery like this in the game. It’s the weakest, very easy to kill. Only make these if you have a large amount of units to put it behind, or this won’t last very long since artillery is usually what the enemy first targets.
Anatra-DS Fighter: A good fighter plane for a low cost. Like all fighters, they can attack both and ground units. As Russia, I only go for air when I need it, usually the game is won before air power is needed. This is one of the better fighters out there cost wise, so you will be able to relatively easily mass produce these.
Ilya Mourmetts Bomber: A very good bomber for it’s cost. I usually tend to not make bombers unless I see some places for good air raid, since fighters can attack ground units anyway. But if you’ve spotted some far out enemy gold mines or something, make a bomber or two and blow it to smithereens. In combat, these bombers are very good out taking out infantry, but their effects on enemy armor are minimal. I use this bomber and pretty much all bombers for raiding my enemy economy while my fighters take care of the battlefield.
Notable WW2 units:
Katyusha BM-13: A mighty wicked artillery unit, the best in the game. It fires such a wide barrage of powerful missiles, one of these can turn the fate of a doomed battle. These are the first things I make when I arrive in WW2, the only drawback is that it takes mana to fire their rockets, and they have to recharge a long time before they can fire again.
KV-8 Flametank: A very cool and unique unit that I usually just build for fun. A very effective anti-infantry unit, it charbroils and soldiers who will get in your way. However, other tanks eat these things up pretty quickly, so I usually just use them to do a sneak raid on the enemy economy while his focus is elsewhere (i.e. fighting me!)
So, that’s the low-down on all the Russian units. Now, how do I get these out so I can use these effectively? What’s the first thing I should do? When should I build this? Have no fear, here’s the best Russian strategy, the Fast AC Start.
Fast AC Start (The basic Russian build order):
With your seven starting villagers: four begin on your forage patch, while the other three begin constructing a settlement between your forage patch and wood. First villager produced should build a house towards the front of your base. Once your settlement between forage and wood is done, take one of the settlement builders and put him on forage with the other four, so you now have five on forage, and now you have two on wood. Your next two produced villagers should go to gold, and once your house building villager completes its house, it should go to gold. So, now you have three on gold. From now on, continue streaming villagers to wood. Once you have 175 wood, build a barracks in the vicinity of your house, once it’s completed, pump out conscripts.
You have two choices once you get your conscripts: You can go harass your enemy with your first conscripts in a hope to deter his economy and annoy him a bit, but that risks you possibly messing up your Armored Car time. Or, you could just play defensively a bit until you get your first armored car, and then go for the attack. I usually choose to play defensively until I get my Armored Car, as it allows me to focus on my build and get the best possible time for getting out my first Armored Car. So, you’re now constantly producing villagers to wood, and have a steady stream of conscripts coming out of your barracks. Watch your wood count. At the first millisecond you have enough wood for your tank factory, immediately grab six of your wood cutters and have them go build a tank factory next to your barracks, leaving the rest of your wood cutters chopping. As soon as they complete the tank factory, queue up as many armored cars as possible ASAP. Put three of your six builders on forage, and the other three on gold. If executed well, you should be getting your first Armored Car rolling out at around 6:30 to 7:00 minutes F11 time. As soon as you have your first AC, one thing is on your mind: “GO GO GO GO GO!!!!”. Grab your conscripts and Armored Car and head over to your opponent and raise some hell. From then on, keep a constant stream of Armored Cars coming non-stop to your enemy’s base.
Since the foremost thing on your opponent’s mind will to be to get Anti-tank out as fast as possible, you need to be ready to counter that, and that’s when the Cossacks come in. During all the time you’re attacking, you should have had enough wood for and built an Armory, thus allowing you to produce Cossacks. Usually as soon as your enemy sees that first Cossack galloping in, he knows it’s all over. If somehow the game keeps going, progress to air, go for fighters first, then bombers only if the situation gets really icky. Ideally though, if this is all done correctly, the game should be over in under 20:00 minutes F11 time. You must micromanage your Armored Cars. I often take one villager along with my first attack force to build some forward houses for a healing center. Your conscripts are really just there for a meat shield, it’s the Armored Cars you really need to focus on, manage them to the best of your ability. Once the one that’s getting hit is under 25% health, send him back to the healing center and cycle another one to the front.
Now then, that’s really the only build order you need to know when playing Russia. There’s your platform, feel free to improvise off of it. The start that I spoke of right up to making the barracks is the standard start for all Russia strategies. Where it begins to split strategy wise is the time where you have the choice to build a tank factory: Do you want to do a fast AC, maybe a double barracks boom, with tons of conscripts backed up by commissars and conscripts? Or, do you take a risk and trust that your enemy won’t rush you, build a barracks, and then focus on wood until you have an armory and try to get a Cossack out before 5:00 minutes, and then back them up with Anti-tank? It’s really very open, and there’s not really a wrong way to play Russia as long as you build up as I told you to the point where you make your barracks. Russia is just versatile like that, which is why I like them so much.
Vs. France: France is the toughest opponent against Russia. Cossacks actually aren’t very good against French infantry because Poliu can go into the woods, thus out of reach of the Cossack melee type attack. However, knowing that France is an infantry dependent civilization, especially in the first part of the game, I suggest following the fast AC start as I wrote it above. I have lost very few games to France when I do a fast AC, however, since French Poliu are so superior to conscripts, I really do not advise that you do a double or triple barracks based strategy, UNLESS you plan to have major Commissar support.
Vs. Germany: This is probably the easiest opponent for Russia, since Germany is so weak early game. However, if the game has gone past 20 minutes and Germany is still alive and well, Russia’s proportionally weaker units simply stand no chance to the late game power that Germany can unleash. Therefore, rush rush rush! I advise doing the Fast AC Start as above, while being aggressive with your first couple of conscripts OR doing a fast Cossack, backed up my more and more Cossacks, because Germany doesn’t really have an answer to Cossacks until late game when they can start producing their tanks, and by then, they should have been obliterated. Yes, Cossacks are the bane of Germany, use them well.
Vs. United Kingdom: It’s tougher than it sounds, you might think UK would be a push over for Russia. A good UK player will always make a starting tower, thus nullifying any chance of early conscript raiding. I advise build up as usual, playing defensively, and attack with your first AC. Your object should really be to NOT let him expand, hurt and harass him as much as possible. For a while, that tower will be keeping you away from hitting the heart of his base, so in the meantime harass, annoy and keep him on his toes with constant raiding and harassment, until you think you have a big enough force to take down the tower. UK is a ticking time bomb, the longer you leave them alone, the more dangerous the situation gets, you need to work and raid fast, and DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT let them expand un-harassed!
Vs. USA: USA is the most underpowered and underdog civilization in the game, thus I feel kind of sorry for my opponent when I play against USA. Pull off a perfect Fast AC no problem, you’ll cripple them with ease. Just don’t play defensively and let them build up, hit them hard, fast and without mercy, and you’ll be fine.
Vs. Russia: I really hate going up against the same civ, whatever it may be. Because it’s always a guessing game of counters and counter-counters. Since your opponent can always mimic your moves, it can be quite annoying. For safety, do a Fast AC as described above to defend against an early Cossack attack, and just keep on your toes. If you spot him building an airport, make AA quickly. If you spot him making lots of Armored Cars, get those Anti-tank out to answer him. Scouting is key, and use your knowledge of your own civ to defeat him.
That’s pretty much all you need to know. Good luck on the battlefield, and remember, you won’t become perfect overnight, practice is the key. Russia is an excellent civ, one that I have played many a great game with! Good luck, have fun and enjoy!