How to Play Russia
Russia begins the game with a psychological disadvantage. It not only starts with one more unit than any of the other Great Powers, but the amount of real-estate it takes up on the map makes Russia look dangerous to the others; - a serious diplomatic disadvantage.
To make matters worse, your initial position is quite precarious. Russia can't even be sure of a build in year one, since Germany and Austria can easily deny you the obvious neutrals of Sweden and Rumania. You also face an immediate point of conflict with Turkey over control of the Black Sea. (No prizes for guessing the object of Turkish diplomacy)
Russian diplomacy should be targeted to ensure at least one build in the first year. One build will ensure you remain a viable contender. Two builds will give you the momentum to become a major contender.
Initially, you should find it easy to negotiate a deal with Germany. Germany will be looking for growth in the Low countries and Denmark. They'll have enough problems there without looking to open a front with you. They should be amenable to a DMZ over Sileseia in return for providing unopposed access for the St Petersburg fleet into Sweden.
Next comes England. At game start, England's safest bet for a build is Norway. You have the power to frustrate that by moving Mos-Stp, then Stp-Nor for a stand-off. You don't really want to do this, because it will leave the South too vulnerable, but it is a useful negotiating tool. Wouldn't England prefer a peaceful demarcation of the Scandinavian territories? Try to get them to agree to take Norway with a fleet.
It lowers their potential for offensive action later. With England, you are trying to attain some stability in the North, so you can free up resources in the South.
The South is make or break territory for Russia. A situation which calls for real diplomatic effort. Austria is well aware of the threat you pose, but they are equally aware of the Turkish threat. Austria will want to ally with Italy, but Turkey will be actively trying to enlist Italy as an ally against Austria. Italy may also prove to be a useful ally to you. Russia-Italy is quite a powerful combination in the middle game, so don't burn any bridges with them unless you have to. Just stay focussed. In turn one you want Rumania.
Turkey will also be talking to you. Ultimately you won't be able to prevent them acquiring the Black Sea. You don't want them to have it in Spring 01 because that gives them leverage on Rumania, but at the same time, you don't want a full-on Turkish attack via Armenia as well. It may be possible to negotiate a deal, and maybe even an alliance with Turkey, but be very careful.
The great thing about Russia's Southern front is that you have the potential for deals with Italy, Austria and Turkey. They may all be potential foes, but rarely do they work together. There is always an odd one out - someone for you to do business with.
In order to win, you will eventually need the lode of supply centres controlled by either Austria or Turkey. (They need your centres for the same reason). Such problems are for the future. You've yet to survive year one.
How you play the middle game will depend, but try to play to your strengths. Russia is primarily an army based power. In the South, Russia rarely becomes a major naval power. It takes too long for fleets to get into the Med.
It's true that she can become a naval power in the North, and fleets from St Petersburg have been decisive in corroding the standard naval stalemate lines formed around the MAO and Spain, but unless specific tactical situations require it, put the bulk of your effort into armies.
f Stp-GoB is the 100% best move for this unit. If you don't do it, the other players will wonder if you know what you are doing. Not good for your credibility.
a Mos-Ukr a War-Gal (Probable bounce) f Sev-Blk (Probable bounce)
This opening denies Turkey the Black Sea, and gives you a supported hit on Rumania in the fall if necessary. Try to take Rumania with the Ukrainian army. It's more flexible. If you make Galicia, you're laughing, but either way you've prevented the Austrians from having additional leverage on Rumania. (Sometimes it's wise to tell the Austrians of the move in advance - that will guarantee a stand-off, without making Austria an enemy. (In these uncertain times etc..)
We trust TurkeyEdit
a Mos-Sev f Sev-Rum a War-Gal
This has a 99% chance of making Rumina in the Spring. Trouble is:- besides ceding the Black Sea to Turkey, what can you do with a fleet in Rumania? Not recommended. If you really have a deal with Turkey, the trust No-one option is better.
We trust GermanyEdit
a Mos-StP f Sev-Bla a War-Gal
This is basically anti-England and pro-Germany. It's a quick attempt to seal the North. In the Fall, army StP hits Norway. Probably a stand-off, unless the English & French have made a deal over the English channel, (In which case the Poms will present a supported attack on Norway). Either way, you'll have secured your North, and probably gained Germany as a full ally. In the South, unless the Turks went for Armenia, You'll still have a shot at Rumania in the fall.
If Russia opens well, the momentum gained positions you very well to take on the rest of Europe. Maybe even single handed (then again ...) Good Luck!