Russia in 1836 has problems, a large but undertrained army, a barely literate population and a small industry.
But she also has enormous advantages, huge sweeping areas of land, a large but undertrained army, vast resource gathering operations to generate cash , colonial claims and and potentially a strong diplomatic position.
The gates to central Asia are wide open for Russia to expand into, a weak China lies at its feet, and the potential historic glittering prize of British India awaits. Dare you play the Great Game as the Tzars did?
Russia is more of a challenge than the UK but not by much, even if you get beaten up badly and have to give land away in peace deals, what does it matter? Russia has limitless lands and can always rebuild and reconquer.
Diplomacy and sheer military might are the keys to Russian supremacy. But care will be needed when industrializing to avoid finding your Empire riddled with communism.
It may be beneficial to satellite the Ottoman empire through an event or by helping the Chinese to resist British incursion. A satellite Ottoman empire will disable the Crimean war so that you do not need to face the UK when you do not want to.
Sending army technology to China will not only help China to resist the UK, you may benefit later on when Russia and China enter into a defensive alliance through an event as China often sends expeditionary forces to help Russia. On the other hand, conquering China and India provides immense economic and military benefits.
Because of Russia's low literacy rate, it is best to fight wars using sheer weight of numbers. Research wisely as you will be behind in technology race with the other Great Powers. Note that researching too much culture will render your capitalists useless as they require more and more resources which you can't provide at a reasonable price and you need capitalists to improve your infrastructure and build you new factories.
As Russia it is easy to survive but hard to manage perfectly. Playing Russia effectively means that you will need to know how to manage a large nation very well. Memorizing the shortcut keys, as well as learning how to use the ledgers effectively will help you to manage Russia better. Russia's potential is limitless, world conquest with patch 1.03 is possible with Russia.
One of your main objectives is to avoid the Crimean War, baceuse you may not want to fight the Ottomans, French and British all together. You only must to engage the Ottomans before the real war, its advisibly to get the "Tsar of all Slaves" event, for it you must control Beograd (930), Tiranne (939), Budpest (979), Istambul (971) and Sofija (921) is needed.
If you're going to survive in the Great War, follow some of these instructions.
1. Germany and Austria are going to beat you in Poland and Eastern Europe in the beginning, but if you redeploy some troops from the East you might be able to defend long enough for new divisions to be built.
2. If you need an ally, don't worry. Romania almost always offers a defensive alliance, and the Balkan states look to you as their champion. As they are also the same religion, it is possible for them all to be allied with you by 1917.
3. Invade Austria through Galicia and slowly take Budapest and Vienna. They will probably beg for peace, if you do it right.
4. Distract Germany long enough to send divisions through East Prussia to Berlin.
5. The Ottomans are hard to subdue by land, so I would get transports in the Black Sea and land at Istanbul and surrounding provinces to knock them out of the war.
Great War Second Tactic
As was advised to the Tsar and later Kerensky, you do not make any grand offensives against Germany. Austro-Hungary is the soft underbelly of the Central Powers and a drive there will win the war, gain you all of Poland, Armenian and the Straits.
I. First Moves
1. Build an iron wall descending from the Memel down to the Austro-Hungarian border. It's advisable to place at least 10 divisions in each province on this line and keeping a reserve 10 divisions close by. A) It will be hard for the Germans to break through as you'll likely have numerical superiority, B) Your reserves can come to the rescue if needed, C) The loss of Poland temprorarily will be annoying, but hardly damaging in the long run.
2. On the Ottoman border, place 5 divisions on each province. The Turks won't be able to break through, and any advance in these territories will end in a waste of divisions, material and men and will weaken your Western borders where the war really matters. Forget about Constantinople.
3. Place the remainder of your divisions on the Austro-Hungarian border and build artillery divisions when you can.
II. Brusilov (1914)
1. Brusilov had the right idea, so will you. Smash through Galicia. The Austro-Hungarians will be unable to hold up until you hit the Carpathians, pass that mountain range and you will be within striking distance of Vienna. Use your artillery divisions to make a push to Vienna and take it. This is almost as easy as it sounds, even with Furious and Really Hard on. However, remember to watch the Germans and make sure to defend your provinces from their attack. Don't lose a province, don't make an attack. Take Vienna, and the Empire will crumble and cede you Galicia. Unless the AI has gone wonky (as it happens often) and thus Germany has made a white peace, there are two options. One, Germany might surrender, or you'll still have to face the Preussens.
III. Samsanov's Revenge
1. Tannenberg was a disaster for Russia, the equivalent of losing your Queen in the first 3 moves in chess whilst the enemy still has everything. This will luckily not happen now. With the Habsburg Empire disolved, Berlin is distinctly weaker. Place the remainder of your troops on your territories bordering Germany and advance! The steamroller will actually function this time and you'll liberate Poland, then push deaper into Prussia. Eventually you'll near Berlin and use your entire might to take the city. The Kaiser will fall.
1. You'll gain Galicia from the Austrians, all the land given to Poland (including East Prussia), Armenia and of course the beloved straits. Tsar Nicholas could very well be remembered as one of the greatest tsars...
- Jan 2, 1837 First Russian Railroad: Prestige +2, France +50
- Feb 1, 1837 Pushkin dies +1% education, Prestige -1
- Jan 2, 1846 Committee for Polish Independence, Militancy of the Polish +3 or +4
- May 2, 1849 Petrashenski Circle, consciousness capitalists -1
- Apr 11, 1851 Pan Slavic Movement (optional), +30 prestige, -100 UK, -100 France, -100 Austria
- Feb 1, 1852 The Erimitage, Prestige +5
- Feb 1, 1855 Shiboda Treaty, Japan +100