Last night I tried Russia for the first time and was pleasantly shocked at the results I encountered. Previously I had always assumed Russia was a "jack of all trades. master of none" civilization that would easily be swept away by stronger, specializing civs. That was not the case at all, however, and in fact what I discovered was the exact opposite. Russia can be a powerful, powerful player in any game, and can win with any type of victory. Let's briefly look at their bonuses and show you why. 1. Russia begins with more of the map visible. This is a huge early game bonus and its value can easily be overlooked. Knowing which direction to send your first few Warriors can save an enormous amount of turns and allow Russia to be the first to artifacts and barbarian gold. Alternatively, if you're going for domination, you might find an enemy capitol very close and be able to take them out while they're still out wandering around searching for huts. This also provides you with an outstanding means to scout your own future city sites ahead of time. 2. +1 Food from Plains (ANCIENT) is a nice trait if you're around plains. Having your cities grow faster is always a good thing, no matter what kind of victory you are going for. If you have plains close, go for it, but it's not worth wasting several turns wandering around looking for some. 3. Defensive units receive the Loyalty upgrade (MEDIEVAL). Ah, the bread and butter of Russia. This single bonus is the key to any victory Russia wishes to pursue, and I'd argue that it could be considered the best bonus of any civilization. If you can hold off an early war you may not have to buy any defensive units until the Medieval Era and that is the goal. Couple this bonus with a Barracks (and/or Great Leader) and you are in business! Even without the Great Leader, the Loyalty upgrade will allow you to hold all of your cities with a single army. Back them up with one catapult army each for skirmish defending and nothing will touch you. The ones that DO get to attack will just slowly level up your defenders even more. And therein lies the beauty of what this bonus allows: with only one army defending each city, you then focus on whatever you like. Go research and tech yourself to a win. Go money and push towards the World Bank. Build armies with all of the money & production you are saving and wage war with the world. Or sit at home, relax and watch your borders expand as you spread your culture across the globe. It is amazing what you can do when you don't have to worry about losing your cities or spending time and resources replacing defenders. Russia's balance allows them to hang close to specialized civs in the economic, tech and cultural arenas. Sit back for a bit and then decide which one to go after and hit it hard. What will likely then happen is the AI civ going for the win will have slow down and throw the kitchen sink at you to try and stop you... but they can't, and you'll overtake them, and eventually win. 4. Half-priced Rifleman (INDUSTRIAL) and half-priced Spies (MODERN) are Russia's final two bonuses and each can be useful in a number of ways. The Rifleman just make it even easier to defend yourself if for some reason the attackers are overwhelming, but they can also be used as a cheap offensive fighting force. The Spies can help you steal GP if you're going for a culture win or knock down fortifications to enhance your military domination, or even just knock down buildings to slow down a rival civilization's economy or research. All in all, Russia IS a jack of all trades. But in this case, being "master of none" is a good thing. Russia is the most flexible civilization in the game and allows the player to decide later in the game which direction they will go. If you haven't yet experienced them, give them a chance, I'm sure you'll enjoy the results.