Verfasst: 27. März
Wargame: Red Dragon’s ambitious scale, complexity and depth are both its major draw and the main cause of an intense learning curve that will likely keep all too many players away.
Wargame is a gorgeous game. Whether you’re zoomed in on an individual vehicle or structure, or zoomed out to see the entire map at once, Eugen has paid close attention to every detail. It is unfortunate that in many cases, you’ll be zoomed all the way out to look at the map as a whole, or perhaps zooming in to watch a couple sectors. It’s seldom that you’ll have the luxury to view things up close like in the promo shots.
Much like Supreme Commander, you’ll spend the bulk of your time in Wargame looking at your units as a mass of icons. And this works, it makes sense. But darned if it’s not a waste of those lovingly crafted vehicle and structure models. But even at a distance, Red Dragon has a lot to offer visually. The user interface is utilitarian in the extreme, which is unsurprising given the density of information the game is asking you to parse and process constantly. I am, however, always a sucker for a fancy user interface, and can't help but wonder if they couldn't have done something slightly more appealing this tme around.
Wargame both is, and is not, frustratingly and even mind-achingly complex.
At its core, it’s actually built on some fairly simple and straightforward concepts: build a ‘deck’ of units, go into combat, kill the other guy's units. No production facilities, no reserch, just divide and conquer. Units in the game are broken down numerous ways: they're divided into 2 main factions, and 9 major categories. The factions are BLUEFOR, including the US, the UK, France, West Germany, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, ANZAC (Australia and New Zeland), South Korea and Japan. BLUEFOR is typically deemed simpler to play or even downright better than REDFOR from a balance perspective, but that's highly subjective. I came to personally prefer REDFOR. REDFOR, in its turn, is East Germany, the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, China and North Korea. The Asian factions are new additions to this game, and are the origin of the game’s name (as should be painfully obvious).
Deck building is an art, and without guidance van be a formidable task. There are guides on Steam, and the game’s subreddit has a weekly deckbuilding thread, but for the uninitiated, simply deciding what units to bring with you can be an incredible challenge and point of contention with more veteran players.
Combat is unforgiving. Deeply so. Being caught out in the open, or by your units counter, is a sure, swift and humiliating defeat. And more than combined arms is necessary – the counterplay of these units goes several levels deep, often requiring multiple types of aircraft and anti-air in addition to artillery, tanks, and infantry combined. Naval warfare and naval units have their place in the game: mainly, via amphibious infantry carriers and other shallow water units. Larger vessels exist, but aren’t used particularly often in my experience. Deep sea units and combat feel gimmicky beside the much more polished and refined air/ground combat mechanics, into which riverine units fit much more neatly.
Wargame is amazing. I love it, I’m addicted to it. It has tons to learn and master, and mechanics that I can only describe as deeply satisfying. But its learning curve, the burden of knowledge that goes largely unsupported, is undeniably and unavoidably steep. With an afterthought tutorial, and so much opacity involved both in what units to bring into combat and in actual engagements with the enemy, Wargame is uncaring towards the plight of new players, an attitude often adopted by the game’s very community, which is at times shockingly virulent towards new players.