Russian Guide

Note: This guide is for the High Period, and covers the initial phase,
      which I consider to be the most important.

The Russians start out with two highly developed provinces:  Novgorod and
Muscovy.  They also have one other province with limited development: Kiev.
Pereyaslavl just has an inn, and nothing else.  All are Orthodox.

This guide is for Glorious Achievments mode, but if you are playing Conquest, it
is not too different.  I will mention where you can do things differently
depending on the mode you are in.

Preparation:

The Russians have 25 turns to prepare for the Mongol invasion, which is the
only matter of real importance to them.  The rest of the world is irrelevant
and far beyond your control.  Surviving the Mongol invasion not only results
in Glorious Achievements points, but also in the ability to expand eastward
into Vulga-Bulgaria and Khazar, and thus create an inland empire that cannot
be reached by other factions and does not require extensive military
occupation forces.

Buildings:

This sequence is crucial, so follow it carefully.  Again, you have only 25
years, and you will be building troops, agents, and conquering steppe lands
as part of the preparation.

Muscovy:

Watch Tower
Border Fort (Because of the Byzantines.)
Master Horse Breeder  (Very important! Plus one valor to all horse troops.)
Monastery  (Increases the morale of your troops.)
Cathedral  (Same as above.)

Novgorod:

Watch Tower
Border Fort
Master Horse Breeder
Monastery
Bowyer's Guild (Allows you to build arbalesters, which you will need.)

Kiev:

Watch Tower
Border Fort (Byzantine spies/assassins will squeeze through the door here.)
Spearmaker  (There is no Town Militia here, so you will need spearmen.)
Bowyer      (To help guard the bridges.)
Keep

Pereyaslavl:

Watch Tower
Border Fort
Fort, Motte and Bailey
20% Farmland
Horse Farmer  (Allows you to build Steppe Cavalry.)

Conquered Steppe Lands:

Watch Tower
Border Fort
Fort, Motte and Bailey
Town Watch  (Improves loyalty, along with two priests to convert Pagans.)
20% Farmland
Horse Farmer
Trading Post


After this sequence, you have some choices to make.  If you are playing GA
mode, keep in mind that one GA goal is more buildings in Muscovy than in any
other province.  That means any province in the world, so you are competing
with Constantinople here and others.  It might be wise to build all the
"unique" buildings here, such as Chancellery, Admiralty, etc.  You will also
have to build alot of garbage buildings, such as Inn, Gunsmith, Tavern,
Brothel, etc. even though you will not use them.  However, you have time to
build these. Always be building something in Muscovy, and do not let it be
invaded and ransacked.  If you are playing Conquest mode, then build some of
the "unique" buildings in Novgorod to keep them safe from the Mongols and to
speed up production time.

As for Novgorod, you will want to develop it into a trading center and
shipbuilding province, once the heat of the Mongols is off your back.  Do not
attempt to do this before the Mongols arrive, as there are few ports available
and shipbuilding times will leave you shorthanded when the Mongols attack.  I
use Novgorod to build Boyars and Muscovy to build Steppe Cavalry, as well as
Halberdiers.  You will also need to build priests in these two provinces, so
there will be no time to build ships.

In Kiev, you will need to try and build up the farmland while preventing the
Mongols from invading.  The Mongols will attack Kiev relentlessly, so it will
be the focus of much warfare.  Once the Mongol threat is gone, it can also be
developed into a trading and shipbuilding province.  However, by this time,
the Byzantines or Hungarians will be right on your border, and you may be at
war with them.  Kiev will always require a large standing army, and it is a GA
point province that must be kept.

You will want to keep the Inn in Pereyaslavl and use it to buy mercenaries, but
be careful.  They can easily bankrupt you.  Useful mercenaries are Vikings,
Arbalesters, Bulgarian Brigands, Italian Light Infantry and maybe some others.
Stay away from Horse units with expensive upkeep, unless they will be used on
the next turn for sure and be eliminated.  Do not develop this province too
much, as it may fall to the Mongols.  It has no bridge guarding it, and all
the battles will occur in the forest, which is  why Vikings are so useful here.
They will rip apart the Mongol Heavy Horse in the forests.  Should this
province fall, the Mongols will have access to all of your provinces without
having to cross a bridge. Do not let this province fall, and take it back
immediately if it does.  Same with Ryazan.

Troops:

At first, build Halberdiers in Novgorod and Muscovy.  You already have enough
Boyars, and it is best to wait until the Master Horse Breeder is finished
before building any more.  The Halberdiers will be your main line infantry
unit throughout the game.  You will need a fortress to build pikemen, and you
will not have money for that early on.

Hire some Vikings in Pereyaslavl and build spearmen and archers in Kiev.  Do
not fool with Urban Militia, but do build Militia Sergeants if you can.  They
are fairly dependable and do well against the Mongols.

You will need to build some priests in either Muscovy or Novgorod and move
them into the Pagan steppe lands that you conquered early on.  They will help
keep those provinces loyal and prevent the Mongols from influencing them too
much.  I put two in each province early on and just leave them there.  You might
have to build an emissary or two after the Byzantines kill off your only one.

While you are at war with the Mongols, it is best to build Steppe Cavalry in
Muscovy.  They will have high morale and good armor, and can easily chase down
Mongol Horse Archers, which the Mongols cannot replace.  You can  build Boyars
in Novgorod if you need more, and they will come out with some stars because
of the Master Horse Breeder and other buildings.

Conquest:

You will want to take control of the following provinces before the Mongols
arrive.  I take them in this order because of their worth and relative ease
in conquering at the beginning of the game.

Smolensk  (Good farmland income.)
Ryazan    (Rebels usually retreat.)
Chernigov (Prepare for a fight here, but they have no strong leader.)
Livonia   (It is a GA goal.)
Lithuania (Creates an iron curtain with Kiev.)
Finland   (Easy to take, but not worth much.)
Crimea    (Bridge battle, but resistence is minor unless held by a faction.)

Do not try and take Vulga-Bulgaria or Khazar, as this is where the Mongols
arrive. They also arrive down in Georgia, but that is not your problem. Let
the Mongols fight the rebels themselves, plus this gives you more time to
prepare while they wait out the defenders in the forts.  From these two
provinces, the Mongols must cross a bridge into every province except
Pereyaslavl, Ryazan and Crimea, so you will want to create killing zones using
Halberdiers and Arbalesters at the bridge crossings.  Target the Heavy Horse first,
then the Mongol Horse Archers.  The Mongols cannot replace either of these units,
so once eliminated, they are gone for good.  Prepare for long, tedious battles in
Pereyaslavl and Ryazan, where your men will wait out the Mongols in the forest
while they rain arrows on you.  They cannot come in and you cannot go out.  It is
frustrating, but that is how it goes.  If you have some Arbalesters or
Crossbowmen in the forest, have them duel with the Mongol Horse Archers.  They
will kill quite a few before they have to withdraw.

Never autocalc a battle with the Mongols, as it will result in disaster and the
dismantling of all that you worked for in a single turn.

The above is my preferred method for the Russians in the 25 years preceding the
Mongol invasion.  The other option is to let the Mongols take the steppe lands
and then attack them when they are spread out.  I think this is a bad option,
as it will allow them to build more units and gain money to support their
armies, while you live in poverty.  You have a greater chance against the
rebels than the Mongols when attacking, and you should not turn down that
option while it is available, in my opinion.  Furthermore, the Mongols will
not win a single bridge battle, so that alone is reason to take the steppe
lands.

Another option brought up by some is assasinating the Khan when he arrives.
This would require the building of Taverns and many assassins, which means that
if they fail, you will not have many troops to protect your homelands with.
The AI does not allow the assassination of sole heirs too easily, and the Khan is
always on the move.  I strongly advise against using this strategy, as it is
very risky.

Well, that is my Phase 1 Guide for the Russians starting in the High Period and
without any cheating. :)