Am getting my backside kicked hard by an opponent who (unlike most) took Lithuania to accelerate his attack on the USSR. Now, his strategy is very conservative elsewhere (which has had consequences, see below) but he definitely put a lot of effort into Barbarossa. How did it go?
1) USSR mobilised early and I got all of the new units ahead of his attack. I promptly moved most of them well out of the way, while sacrificing a couple to 'slow down' the panzers (aka get slaughtered). I'd probably overspent on research, trying to get AT units +1, and (I think) I built another HQ (since I had not expected to rescue Budyenny from the border). This, combined with an illfated attack on Finland (which failed because the one tech I needed, armored warfare, stubbornly refused to go to 1 and because I put my ship in the wrong place to reduce Helsinki's port value), meant I have been short of units, despite the early mobilisation. I note that the MPP cost of moving units (and their resulting lower morale) might actually have been to his benefit. Maybe I should have sacrificed the lot?
2) His taking of Lithuania (combined with me knowing Finland was coming in) made me very wary about losing Leningrad. As a result I heavily fortified Leningrad (2 lines of defences) which is great - Leningrad is definitely safe but... I overread his ploy which was aimed more at Moscow. I am now at December and he's knocking on the Kremlin door while the south is going to fall soon because I threw everything into holding Moscow.
3) My desperate defence of the Motherland would probably have gone even worse but for the fact I'd done some diplomacy on Greece, and when the coup in Yugoslavia occurred, Greece swung into the war unexpectedly. A small sacrifical Soviet Amphib diversion into Bulgaria helped too. So some Hungarians, the Bulgarian corps and at least one panzer got left behind for some turns helping mash Yugoslavia and stiffen the Italians in Greece, where he is just about to break me since I could not get the right British units in there in time.
4) His conservative strategy (no u-boat campaign, complete surrender in the desert by Italy) has however had a bad outcome for him. THE RN rules supreme in the Med, and I've had the Rhodesians fight their way into Turn with 4 carriers for air support and am bringing in all the troops I can muster (using the fact Vichy is neutral to guard the rear). Spezia has just fallen so I might have a transport option soon as well as amphibious. The cream of the Italian army are in greece too. And now the USA is in, Soviet morale gets the double boost from landing and US entry.
So, end result?
Really hard to tell yet since the positive benefit of Lithuania was massively offset by USSR early entry (he was I think 1 turn late in being ready... USSR joined in May, and he was planning June Barbarossa), BUT, the gambit spooked me into over-defending Leningrad. Had I been playing conservatively vs Finland I think the Lithuanian adventure would have been catastrophic. But, had he been more aggressive in the Med (or at least fought a defensive campaign and distracted RN with subs), then the resulting stronger Italian position would have given him more time and troops in Russia. I also cannot tell if the right Soviet strategy is to throw away the forward troops or save them (excepting the obvious, like the HQ)
So in the end, perhaps my advice is actually for USSR - if Lithuania gets taken, don't over think Leningrad and instead play more conservatively, hoarding MPPs for a bitter fight in the north until winter and mud. I have also noted that I need to be more careful in what I spend on research so the flaws in my current situation are mostly my fault and not because he was gazumped by the early DoW by Russia. His tactical play is outstanding.
If I were to try as Axis to take Lithuania I would be planning well ahead for an April Barbarossa, weather permitting and, potentially, trying to fake Russia into a northern defence, while massing panzers south instead. EG use it as a deception even if that seems counter-intuitive.
An interesting read! Care to show later development?
I would personally vote against taking Lithuania. 20-25% mobilization swing may easily translate into around 700 additional MPP's for Soviets. They can invest it in additional tech or some units. For example, a Heavy Tank, perhaps only unit on par with German ones in early war, costs around 300 MPP's. With some planning you can get two and cause a lot of pain to GER. Is being about 2 turns closer to Leningrad enough compensation? Doubtful, because Leningrad is possibly the least important of 3 main soviet cities.
On the other hand, Lithuania annexation is one of the most interesting DE's in the game and can warp dynamic of whole Eastern Front. I am very glad it is in the game.