Oh, the weather outside is frightful!
Theater of War Mission Pack: Operation Barbarossa
Mission: Moscow Approach
Difficulty Level: General
Commander: Any will do. I like the one that provides 120mm mortar teams, shock troops, and IL-2 CAS. Definitely never use a commander with call-in KV-1s (if you want KV-1s) as that ability is broken now and when active will put KV-1s into tech level T4 (where T-34s are), greatly delaying your ability to get them.
It’s winter and soldiers freeze to death quickly when blizzards come. It’s a new map, of some place “near Moscow.” And it’s tougher than usual for the Soviets, as the Germans swarm the map early, and sometimes get lots of StuGs and Pz4s in the first 10 minutes. Also, because it’s a co-op battle and your Soviet CPU ally is weak, you’ll be fighting two German forces largely on your own.
Despite all that, you can win without much trouble. A strategy that works for most of the 1941 Russian ToW missions is simply to bring in a scout car, mount your engineers in that and start capping VPs, then bring in lots of penal squads (8 or 9), upgrade them with PTRSs when you can, and provide them with one or two trucks for mobility/reinforcement, and a mortar team for basic indirect fire support. You won’t need tanks or field guns, or even HMGs (though you might capture one or two German HMGs). This strategy gives you a stronger early game with more consistent map control (which makes it easier for your CPU ally to be useful), and though you won’t be able to base-rush as easily as you can with tanks, you can win in ~16 minutes with early three-VP control. Also be sure to hold muni points and routes back to base in the early game to feed your PTRS upgrades.
Alternatively, if you prefer using armor, use the standard KV-1-based approach:
Send your starting engineer squad to take any one point on the way to the right fuel point, and then that fuel point, and then find cover and defend the fuel point against the German pio squad that will arrive around the 3 minute mark. Meanwhile bring in 4 or 5 conscript units and use them to hold the points leading clockwise from your base around the map edge to the left VP and fuel point—as well as they can, for they will be attacked almost constantly. The aim is to keep Soviet fuel flow above 20 units/minute, and if you hold both fuel points, that flow will be closer to 40/min and will also delay German armor.
Before your engineer squad is killed off, retreat it to base, and use it to build the HMG building and then the KV-1 building. You should be able to get your first KV-1 out by the 9 minute mark, and the second one by the 11 minute mark. Use the first tank to strengthen your hold on the left VP and fuel point. When the second comes, the two tanks can head for the German strongpoint (bunker, LMG-grens, mortar, pios) across the road from the left fuel point, destroy all German units and bunker there, and then proceed to the top of the map, to the W side of the German base. Keep bringing in KV-1s until the German base is kaput. Should take no more than 16 or 17 minutes.
You can win with similar strategies when playing from the right-side base.
[updated 14 Feb 2021]