Historical Perspective

Ivan the Terrible
The Russians had its origins with the ancient nomadic Scythians who in the 7th century B.C. migrated north into the areas around the Black Sea. These early Slavic tribes over the next millenium gradually spread throughout the Steppe lands of Russia and into Eastern Europe. The majority of them eventually settled into village life, but some retained their free roaming horse based culture. In the 8th Century A.D. the Vikings began to migrate south to first set up trading posts, but then ceasing control altogether by the end of the 9th Century A.D. This established the largest kingdom in the world at the time, called Rus. During the 10th and 11th century A.D. the Rus (or Russians) became greatly influenced by the Byzantines after the adoption of Christianity. However, the dawn of 13th century saw the Mongols began their conquests across Asia and Europe. The Russians became under the control of the "Golden Horde" for the next 250 years. Finally in 1533 A.D. Tsar Ivan IV (or Ivan the Terrible) through the efforts of his predecessors inherited a once again unified state under Russian control. Russia throughout its history depended on its climate and vast territory to defend itself from invasions. When Napoleon in 1812 A.D. and Germany in 1941 A.D. attempted to invade, the Russian strategy of letting time and the cruel Russian winter to sap their foes strength, eventually led them to victories against these two determined and powerful foes. By the modern era the autocratic rule of the Tsars was ended in 1917 A.D. by Vladimir Lenin. He established the Soviet Union and put Russia and its subject states under a communist government. The communist era of Russian history made significant strides in modernizing the country. The Soviet Union became a military superpower and an ardent foe of western democracies. However the economic inefficiencies of the Communist system eventually led to its collapse. Russia again was on its own, and now struggles to redefine itself under a market economy, while being the inheritors of the immense Soviet military machine.

In ancient times, the Russian Steppes were inhabited by the Cimmerians. During the 7th century B.C. a nomadic people known as the Scythians from the Volga-Ural Steppes began to migrate into the area North of the Black Sea in Southern Russia. The Scythians were the predecessors of the various Slavic peoples today. The Scythians as they migrated into the Cimmerian homeland found it useful to form an alliance with the Assyrians, and eventually drive out the Cimmerians. Those who did not flee were assimilated by the Scythians. The alliance attempted to conquer new lands but the Scythians were contained by the other powers of the time to their Steppe lands. In 514 B.C. the Persians under Darius the Great attempted to invade Scythia with 700,000 troops. But the nomadic Scythians in what would beckon the Russian strategy would conduct a strategic retreat while harassing the enemy advances. They avoided meeting the massive Persian army head on. Without any cities to plunder or armies to defeat the Persians eventually gave up their invasion. The Scythians however began to become more sedentary and over the next few centuries began to settle into villages. Some tribes kept their nomadic ways but by the 4th century B.C. most were farmers rather then nomads. Some retained their free roaming ways and did not abandon their love of horses, and it would remain a part of their culture until modern times. This time also saw the Scythians come under unified rule under king Atheas. He expanded the Scythian Kingdom greatly, and this was a time of its greatest political and economic development. The Scythians established themselves as the breadbasket for the Greeks, and middlemen between the Romans and Scandinavian tribes. In 339 B.C. King Atheas was killed in battle against Phillip of Macedon. While the Scythian kingdom remained strong and wealthy after the lost of their greatest King, Successive nomadic migration began to whittle away at the Scythian Kingdom. These later nomads absorbed the Scythian as they had done to the Cimmerians in the past, and the Scythian Kingdom became splintered into small independent principalities.

St. Basil's Cathedral

In the 8th and 9th century A.D., various Scandinavian tribes began to expand their trade and colonies across Europe. A Viking tribe known as the Varangians began to establish trade settlements with the Slavs, along the Neva River and Lake Ladoga. The Vikings did not only build trading posts but also fortifications to protect these settlements. So eventually in 862 A.D. a Viking warrior by the name of Rurik defeated the strongest of the Slavic principalities in Novgorod, and founded the Rurik dynasty. However the south was still ruled by the Slavs. So in 880 A.D., Oleg the successor of Rurik turned his attention towards the Kiev and unified the region under one King, establishing the State of Rus. The name Rus was derived from the Viking word ruotsi, which means oarsmen. It is from the Vikings that Russia got its name. The City of Kiev became the center of trade route between Scandinavia and Byzantine Empire. This relationship benefited the Russian State greatly. In 989 A.D. Vladimir I decided to strengthen his rule by establishing a state religion. He considered a number of different religions but was impressed with the opulence of the Byzantines and thus adopted the Greek Orthodox Church for the Russians. It was said that Vladimir had rejected Islam on the grounds that he believed his people could not live under a religion that prohibited the consumption of alcohol. Besides its religion, the benefits of the association with the Byzantines also brought along its rich culture, architecture and the Cyrillic alphabet.

However in 1054 A.D. due to internal power struggles and raids by a nomadic tribe known as the Cumans, the Russian Kingdom began to fragment into regional principalities again. It is at this time that Moscow began to immerge and grow in importance as Prince Yuri Dolgoruky establishes the Rostov-Suzdal principality in 1124 A.D. in Northern Russia to strengthen his rule over the region. Into the 13th century A.D. the Russia faced its greatest threat, when the Mongols began their conquest across Asia and Europe. In 1237 A.D. Batu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan invaded and laid waste to all but two cities of the Russian principalities. The Russians were forced to become a tribute state to the Mongol Empire for the next 250 years. One of the Princes of these two remaining cities was Alexander Nevsky. He was the prince of Novgorod and managed to save his city from destruction through shrewd negotiations. He would also convince the Mongols to appoint him as the Grand-prince of the "Empire of the Golden Horde" in Russia, and his son as Prince of Moscovy, the other city that escaped destruction. Alexander Nevsky was not only a good politician but a great warrior as well. He received his surname when he defeated an invasion by the Swedes on the Neva River in 1240 A.D. Then in 1242 A.D. he defeated the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, a branch of the order of Teutonic Knights, in the "Battle on the Ice" on Lake Chudskoye, arresting German territorial ambitions into Russia for centuries. Throughout his life he worked ceaselessly for the welfare of the Russian people and was eventually declared a Saint by the Russian Church at the Council of 1547 A.D.

St. Alexander Nevsky

Peter the Great

The period under Mongol rule for Russia was not particularly pleasant for the Russian people, much of its income were sent away as tribute. There were some uprisings but it wasn't until 1480 A.D. that Russia was strong enough to begin to throw off Mongol rule. It started with Grand Duke Ivan III of Moscow (or Ivan the great), who liberated the city and tore up the charter that bound it to Mongol rule. Culminating with his grandson Ivan IV (or Ivan the Terrible) in 1556 A.D. when he freed the last of the Russian cities from Mongol control. Once again Russia was unified and under Russian rule. He also expanded Russian territory into Siberia during his conquest. Ivan the Terrible was succeeded by his son, Fyodor. However he was not up to ruling in the shadows of the autocratic Ivan, and left most of the governing to his brother-in-law Boris Godunov. In order to secure the throne for himself, he murdered Fyodor's younger brother Dmitri in secret. When Fyodor died, Godunov made himself the Tsar of Russia. However his ascension to the throne was not fully accepted. A number of pretenders came forward claiming to be the lost heir Dmitri surfaced to laid claim to the Russian throne. These claims were often supported by Polish armies. However in 1613 A.D. the Poles were finally driven out by Mikhail Romanov who lead a force of Russians forces against the interlopers. The nobility promptly elected Mikhail Romanov, Tsar of Russia to settle the leadership void. The Romanovs were a influential family related to the wife of Ivan the Terrible and would go on the establish the Romanov dynasty. As they had done since the 14'th century, a Cossack army aided the Russian forces in their time of need, this time in repelling the Poles.

The Cossacks were a horse based culture that inhabited Russia around the Black Sea, and the Ukraine. They were ardent Christians and militaristic. They had often shared the same enemy as the Russian State. They are not so much a separate nation as a distinct community with a particular adherence to a cultural tradition that isnt followed by the common Russian. As the Russian monarchy was the center of Christian Othodoxy after the fall of Constantinople, the Cossacks eventually came to serve the Tsarist regime. They defended the Tsar from any external as well as internal threats, especially during the Romanov Dynasty. They formed a sort of military caste within Russia and served it faithfully, while never bowing to the state's beaucratic and social controls. They loved Russia but valued their freedom. This was also why some of them choose to side with the Germans against the Stalinist regime during the Second World War. However in the post Soviet era their enrollment into the Russian military is twice the rate of the ordinary Russian.

Catherine the Great

In 1704 A.D. Peter the Great as he would be known came to power. Peter was raised in the countryside and grew up being in contact with the ordinary citizens of Russia and experienced many adventures throughout Europe as well, sometimes under incognito and even worked as a ship's carpenter. He grew up with a great fascination with Sailing and Armies. He was one of Russia's most enlightened rulers. He did much to pull Russia out of its Feudal State to be on par with her European neighbors. He introduced reforms in almost every aspect of Russian court life, military and society. He was responsible for opening up a southern sea port into the Black Sea for Russia by defeating the Turks who had controlled the region up until then. A lot of his reforms were not popular with those who wanted to maintain the status quo, and much of it had to be financed by heavy taxation, unfortunately causing more peasants into serfdom. As a result many of social reforms did not hold after his death. In 1762 A.D. a German princess who would be called Catherine the Great, deposed her husband who was Peter the Great's grandson as Tsar. She was intelligent and shrewd, while her husband was feebleminded and within a year of his reign managed to offend virtually the entire Russian court. Catherine continued the modernizing and social reforms of Peter the Great, and was herself a skilled diplomat. During the end of her reign however, the populous ideals of the French revolution caused her to become increasingly defensive and conservative in her policies, and many of the liberal reforms she instituted early in her career were reversed and again the peasantry grew further towards distress.

In 1812 A.D. Napoleon invaded Russia with a force of over half a million men. Marshal Kutukov of the Russian forces knew he could not defeat Napoleon's massive army head on. So he conducted a defensive campaign, raiding the French Forces whenever the opportunity presented itself. By the time Napoleon made it to Moscow, he has lost two thirds of his forces, and found the city deserted and devoid of supplies and even shelter. The Russians were still not ready to surrender, and waited for Napoleon to grow tired of waiting in Moscow for peace terms, which never came. Napoleon was forced to withdraw empty handed, unfortunately by then winter began to set in. His already withered forces were forced to endure a long match through a vast land battered by the Russian winter, and pursued by the Russian forces. By the time they returned to France, only 10,000 troops remained. Ironically, Russia emerged as more powerful and respected as a result of this invasion then she had been previously.

The Russian crown since the time of Ivan the Terrible enjoyed near autocratic rule over the nobility. This was done largely at the expense of the ordinary peasantry. By the 19th century, this form of control over the people was no longer tolerable. The Russians also had expanded its territory at this point all the way to the Pacific Ocean. This caused the Japanese to be concerned about Russian territorial ambitions that would get in the way of its own. So in 1905 A.D. the Japanese attacked and defeated the Russian navy. A decade later, the Russians were drawn into the First World War, and again found itself unprepared in many aspects for modern warfare. These military defeats and the reactionary government eventually led the long-suffering people of Russia to finally revolt. In 1917 A.D. Tsar Nicolas II and his Royal family were murdered, ending the Tsarist Regime. This plunged Russia into a civil war and what emerged was a communist government led by Vladimir Lenin. Thus the Soviet Union was born.

Vladimir Lenin

Joseph Stalin succeeded Lenin in 1924 A.D. He ruled the nation with an iron hand, and executed or jailed anyone he did not trust or couldn't control. It was during his rule that Russia was again invaded by a foreign power. This time it was the Germans during the Second World War. Stalin originally made a non-aggression pact with Hitler hoping to buy time for Russia to fully modernize itself, in particular its military. The Germans caught the Russian ill prepared for their invasion, and managed to push far into Russian territory. However in a battle of ego, Hitler decided that the taking of Stalingrad, the city named after the leader of the Soviet Union, was paramount. Stalin in turn thought the defense of the city was vital also. Siege was followed by counter siege, and the Germans found themselves running of time and supplies, as the Russian winter came. This marked a turning point for the Germans. The Russians were eventually able to push them all the way back to Germany, taking as plunder many German Scientists. As soon as the war ended, the Russians began to exert its influence on the nations of Eastern Europe. Their system of government was diametrically opposite to those of its western democratic allies during the Second World War. Thus the so-called "Cold War" began. The Soviet Union and Western powers with the United States as its leader fought in a game of political and scientific "one-up-menship". Indeed, the Soviet Union was the first nation in the world to successfully launch an artificial satellite in 1957 A.D, Sputnik I. These two superpowers also fought in a series of proxy wars. However, the economic inefficiencies of the communist system eventually caused the Soviet Union to collapse. Russia still possessed the awesome military might of its former Soviet Empire, but now struggles to retain control of them and re-invent itself within the realities of a global market economy. However with its vast land and resources this struggle will at least be aided by opportunity.

Sputnik I

Overall Strategy for Players Using Russia

(T-34) Breaking of the Pomeranian Wall
by David Pentland
Russia in rise of Nations is perhaps the most well rounded of all the featured civilizations. They start with some important bonuses from the early game, good raiding potential mid-game and pack a powerful punch in the late game. The extra villager to start and the Russian winter power will allow the player using Russia, a strong start economically, without having to worry about an early rush attack.

It has been said that while China had the Great Wall, the Russians had the Cossacks, except that the Cossack "Great Wall" was mobile and fast moving. You couldn't just go around it! So come the classical age to the enlightenment age, the Russians are equipped with the Rusiny Lancers and Cossack line. These fast moving troops will be useful in defending the player against any attacks mid-game, meeting them wherever they penetrate into the Russian player's territory. Anyone who would attempt it would have to mount a large force and be well supplied. The Russian player should use these fast moving troops to attack the enemy supply lines so that the Russian Winter can work its magic on any invaders. The Cossack line can also play a vital role for the Russian player who wishes to attack early. Their speed will at least attenuate attrition effects, but being light cavalry, their attack potential will also likewise be not the most effective. However they can be great at raiding out laying enemy economic units. This should give the Russian player the time needed to make it into the later ages where they really shine as a civilization.

Their extra villager as mentioned should give them a great start economically, and this should translate to a great economy all game if the Russian player manages their economy wisely, as any player should. It is simply vital in the Russian player's case not to squander a huge bonus as having that extra push in the beginning. Their oil collection bonus will be a big contributing factor to support the Russian's late game army. The Russian's late game army is indeed a powerful one, comprising of three separate units lines, artillery, infantry and tank. This well-rounded combined-arms set should be sufficient to take on any adversary and achieve ultimate victory, assuming of course that the Russian player has managed that vital economy.

Russia as modelled in Rise of Nations

Unique units

  • Light Cavalry Line
Rusiny Lancer (Medieval Age)

Cossack (Gunpowder Age)

Don Cossack (Enlightenment Age)

  • Artillery Line
Katyusha Rocket (Modern Age)
Anti-infantry Bonus

  • Modern Infantry Line
Red Guards Infantry (Modern Age)

Shock Infantry (Information Age)

  • Tank Line
T-80 (Information Age)

Unique powers (Power of the Motherland)

  • Enemies take double attrition damage from "Russian Winter"
  • Attrition research upgrades received for free
  • National Border recieve +1 bonus per Civic Research
  • Gathers Oil 20% faster
  • Cavalry does +25% damage to enemy supply and artillery units
  • Russian spies are 50% cheaper and remain hidden until power is activated

Written By: One Dead Angel


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