So, after a MP game last night in which i was basically forced to play Novgorod over muscovy (20th April beta with "bugged" conquer Finland mission), it got me thinking: Which of those two nations is actually better for forming Russia? If you are willing to play really, really gamey you can be a administrative Republic (with a decent Free Trading slider) Russia with sliders almost ready for westernization by 1450 (Forming Russia around 1430 or so).
In contrast as muscovy you may be able to form Russia reliably around 1420, but after that you have a "bad" form of government, "bad" sliders and little advantage. What do I miss? (besiders Missionaries, but thats a general problem of westernizing countries)
Points of note: The muscovite missions that give +bt and +mp CAN be done as novgorod if you know how.
Beating Muscovy is not that hard, thanks to the admin Republic and a decent supply of good generals combined with the stupid AI
Getting the cores required for Russia mainly depends on knowing how to get the right missions and a little luck.