I think it's a very good challenge for the Soviet player to manage the artillery--you have a lot of them, but they aren't individually as effective as the German arty, and the frequency of German breakthroughs means you lose a lot of battalions to marauding Nazis. But the heavier Soviet guns in particular can be crucial for breaking up German attacks on key cities, so you have to figure out how to best use them.
And I agree, questions about the AI won't be answered before many more games are played. I'm pretty happy with the challenge right now, as I lack the patience to be meticulous and the AI, even as the Germans, makes me pay for my impatience. :)
Interesting thread, I can't wait to see the outcome of the AAR. One thing I would say is that it would be hard to draw definite conclusions on some issues until a few games have been played.
On the question of Soviet Artillery, they are restricted to one shot per hex precisely to simulate the situation in which the Soviets found themselves.
I remember that before the First Gulf War some people in Australia had looked up Janes and worked out that Saddam Hussein had purchased some fearsome artillery (South African from memory) and were wringing their hands over potential Allied casulaties.
Now its true that Saddam had some good guns. What he lacked was a front line that would stand still, reliable information about the location of the enemy, adequate command and control to order the guns into action against an actual target, robust mechanisms for spotting and correcting fire or a logistics system capable of resupplying guns that did manage to fire at something. As a result, his guns were worthless.
The Soviets face all these problems, to varying degrees, which is why their guns are limited in the game.