This item has been banned because it violates the Steam Terms of Service. It is only visible to you. If you believe your item has been banned mistakenly, please contact Steam Support.
This item is incompatible with Wargame: Red Dragon. Please see the instructions page for reasons why this item might not work within Wargame: Red Dragon.
Current visibility: Hidden
This item will only be visible to you, admins, and anyone marked as a creator.
Current visibility: Friends-only
This item will only be visible in searches to you, your friends, and admins.
200-Page Guide to Wargame: Red Dragon
I wanted to do something a little different with this guide. I wanted to create a guide that taught a new player all they need to know to dive right in - a one-stop shop to teach all the basics, mindset, and units of the game instead of having to read a few dozen different tutorials - and hopefully shorten that period of learning the ropes tremendously...but I also wanted to write it in an informal, down-to-earth style that lacks the sterility and even the objectivity of most user guides.
So I wrote a guide with an informal tone and a lot of general rules-of-thumb and opinions to go along with the objective information. As a courtesy, I seperated out all the subjective details and made them easy to distinguish. This is a remake and expansion of my 176-page guide for Wargame: AirLand Battle. If you've read that, a lot of the information still applies, but a lot of it is new, too.
Please feel free to leave a comment pointing out any errors or outdated information. As with last time, Steam's crappy guide editor just makes it too damn difficult to regularly update - so a live updated version will be on Google Docs.
So, welcome to Wargame! Let’s start off by discussing the important questions - “What’s a Wargame? Is it like Starcraft or Command and Conquer? Red Dragon is a stupid name, do the developers not speak English very well or something?”
Wargame: Red Dragon is a real time strategy (RTS) game made by developers Eugen Systems. These guys are pretty damn good developers, all things considered. You can expect this game to be lovingly supported with balance patches and even free DLC, just like the games that came before it, Wargame: European Escalation and Wargame: AirLand Battle.
It is absolutely nothing like Starcraft or C&C. If you play it like you play other RTS games, you will get your♥♥♥♥♥kicked. If you are new to Wargame, it is best to approach it like a new experience, and not to rely on the lessons learned in other games. Eugen takes the “Wargame” moniker quite seriously, and this game more closely resembles a fast-paced tabletop wargame than most video game RTSes.
The name Red Dragon comes from one faction of the game (collectively referred to as “REDFOR”) and Dragon because...dragons are...neat, I guess? I don’t know, I think it’s a silly name too.
In the previous guide to ALB, I used the name to segue into a point about Wargame and realism - many of the tactics in this game are taken from real-world tactical necessities, rather than video gamey tactics. If you talk to halfway-decent players, they are going to talk about real-world concepts like “combined arms” and “American armor is not invincible or even particularly good” rather than zerg rushes. You will learn more from the study of real-world tactical discipline than you will by improving APM or other silly video game concepts. If someone boasts of their APM in Wargame, ignore them, for they are idiots. Oh, and the developers are French, and sometimes their English can be a little idiosyncratic.
After you sign in (or, if this is your first time, making an account - use the Link Account button to input your registration key after you register) you’ll notice two important things.
Over to the right, you’ll see a chat room. Under that, you’ll have a panel in which you can change chat rooms and see a list of players on your friends list or muted. If you’re new, this list is probably empty. Under that, you’ll see a row of buttons:
The red button allows you to mute a player, and this button is probably the single greatest addition to Red Dragon from ALB. To mute a player ,select them in the panel above (usually under Recent Contacts; to get them in this list, just PM them in chat by clicking on their name in the chat) and press the red button. It’s that easy! The blue button adds a player from the chat to your friends list in the same manner. The green button opens and closes the chat panel entirely. I recommend not bothering with the chat. It’s full of complete freaking idiots. And finally, the orange panel clears the chat panel.
To the bottom right, you’ll see this:
Well, sort of. Hopefully it won’t have my screen name and Steam avatar on there; instead, it will have yours. If you click this card, it’ll bring you to your profile page in the center of the screen, where you can see your friends list, statistics, and view your replays. More on this later. You can also change your display name. Note that you still have to login with the same screen name you started with - if you want someone to add you as a friend, you have to give them your login name, not whatever name you’re currently displaying as.
The real action is to the left, here:
Multi brings you to multiplayer lobbies. Skirmish lets you play against AIs.
Deck brings you to the deck builder and armory. In it, you’ll find a few starter decks, an American Battlegroup deck and a Soviet Battlegroup deck and some naval decks. These decks aren’t very optimal, but they’ll suffice until you have a few games under your belt and are ready to dive into deckbuilding.
Profile brings you to the aforementioned profile page, and Options...do I need to say it? I recommend not diving into the interface options until you have a handle on the game. After which, feel free to change things around if you find the HUD icons and other UI elements too large or small or whatever.
One other thing to note is the last numbers at the very bottom of the menu bar. When a patch is released, those numbers will change to the new patch version - pictured here is patch v74. If you get a “failed to join game room” error while trying to join peoples’ rooms, make sure you have the latest patch.
So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss the factions, coalitions, and nations of Wargame: Red Dragon. There are seventeen nations in two factions. These factions are not identical. The nations within are not interchangeable. Each nation is unique and has unique units. And yes, some nations are outright better than other nations - this is because this is simply a historical fact. If someone whines that America has units that Polish decks have no good counter for, that’s because Poland was objectively militarily weaker than the United States. Deal with it.
There are two factions - the generically-named BLUFOR and REDFOR, short for “Blue Force” and “Red Force.” In each faction are multiple coalitions, or multi-nation groups. In Wargame: Red Dragon, you can choose to play as any individual nation, or any individual coalition, or an entire faction at once.
As seen here, not every faction has an equal number of units either. Generally speaking, the Soviets on the REDFOR side and the USA on the BLUFOR side are the easiest nationalities to get into for new players, since they have the largest selection and variety of units. However, most coalitions are also relatively complete and well-rounded, as well.
BLUFOR, comprised of NATO and its Asian allies, is our first faction. It consists of the USA, Britain, Canada, the ANZAC forces, France, West Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Japan, and South Korea. As a faction, it has more nations and more units total. As a general rule of thumb, most BLUFOR nations have higher technology and better air power than their REDFOR opponents. Note that many people refer to the faction as NATO out of habit carried over from previous games in the series.
The first nation in the BLUFOR faction is the United States of America. They are by far the largest faction in BLUFOR and usually the one new players rush to first. This is not necessarily a bad thing; they are also the easiest BLUFOR nation to play.
They have the widest variety of units of any BLUFOR nation and so generally can fill any given role with a strictly national deck. They have the best-quality Air Force in BLUFOR and are generally spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing aircraft. More on that later. However, they do not have the best armor in BLUFOR, as many of their main-line options remain heavily overpriced or of limited availability. Their infantry as a whole is generally unexceptional, although American decks have decent options for transports. Finally, they have rather terrible anti-air and infantry ATGM options.
Additionally, it’s a priority that you know most American equipment offhand, for two reasons - the first is that most BLUFOR players play America first when they’re new, and the second is that many BLUFOR forces use American equipment as well.
Our first coalition in the BLUFOR faction is the British Commonwealth. This coalition contains three nations: The UK, Canada, and ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps). This faction represents the Commonwealth of Nations, an organization of nations mostly comprising the former territories of Britain back when Britain was a relevant power. Because Eugen is French, the British forces will always be slightly inferior to
The UK generally favors slow, heavily-armored tanks that are excellent on the defensive. Also, all British tanks have facilities for heating tea using the heat from their engines. True fact. Canada and ANZAC have generally lighter, weaker armor. The coalition as a whole has a wide and interesting variety of heavy infantry.
Our next coalition is the Eurocorps. This coalition contains two nations: France and West Germany.
French units are generally fast, light, and hard-hitting, but with poor armor. This is due to an obscure historical fact - after the Second World War, most French armor was developed out of stale baguettes, which proved ineffective against modern HEAT warheads and kinetic penetrators. Most of their units are best used in fast, hard-hitting ambushes and mobile warfare. However, they are very poor in static slugging matches and in static defenses. Most of their tanks lack stabilizers (more on that later), making them also poor at fighting retreats.
Contrasting France is West Germany, which combines high-tech, high-strength vehicles and heavily armed infantry to fill the gaps in the French lineup. Between the two, they also have a powerful air force and great gunship support, and they comprise one of my personal favorites of the game’s coalitions.
The next coalition is Scandinavia, which is comprised of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Finland isn’t included with the rest of Scandinavia, because Finland is an utterly irrelevant nation in the face of the Soviet Union and has never ever[en.wikipedia.org] posed any military relevance against such powers anyway.
All three nations are rather inadequate in Red Dragon, but together form a decent coalition that lacks in heavy tanks and almost cripplingly lacking in anti-air, but has excellent infantry, a decent air force selection, and the one of the best artillery units in the game.
Note that this coalition is outdated. Supposedly, future DLC will update it to the same 1990s standard as the other nations.
Blue Dragons is our last BLUFOR coalition. It consists of Japan and South Korea, two nations that have a long history of mutual cooperation and love, two nations that don’t have any grudge between them at all whatsoever. Both nations present an interesting mix of old, outdated American equipment (dating back to the 2nd World War and the Korean war) and recent, modern, high-end equipment.
You’ll notice a lot of American equipment, particularly airplanes, helicopters, vehicles, and light transports. When their decks are made well, this coalition is capable of supporting heavy modern equipment with large numbers of outdated equipment to fill out the ranks. This coalition shines when these elements are mixed properly.
REDFOR, comprised of the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact, and their Asian allies, are the other faction in the game. It consists of the USSR, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, North Korea, and China. As a faction, it has more units per nation and more units per coalition on average. As a general rule of thumb, most REDFOR nations have better armor, more practical low-tech forces, cheaper air power, and heavier gunships than their opponents. REDFOR also has much lower unit diversity - many of their units are straight copies of Soviet units. Note that many players call them PACT out of habit carried over from previous games in the series.
The first nation in the REDFOR faction is the Soviet Union, aka the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). They are by far the largest faction in the Warsaw Pact and the largest faction in the game, and usually the other one new players rush to first. This is not necessarily a bad thing; they are also the easiest REDFOR nation to play.
They have the widest variety of units in the game and so generally can fill any given role with a strictly national deck. They have the best Air Force in REDFOR and are generally spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing aircraft. They also generally have some of the best heavy armor in the game. They have unexceptional line infantry, but decent specialized infantry forces and a good variety of transports.
Additionally, it’s a priority that you know most Soviet equipment offhand, for two reasons - the first is that most REDFOR players play the Soviets, and the second is that every other REDFOR faction heavily relies on Soviet equipment as well.
The Eastern Powers (popularly called NSWP, which stands for Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact) is the first of two REDFOR coalitions, and in general are a more plentiful, lower-cost Soviet alternative. Their three nations are East Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Their armor and air forces are very homogenous, with many variants of familiar Soviet tech. They do have many good infantry options, the ability to field large numbers of units, and Czechoslovakian players will field many, many puns on the word “Czech.”
The key to playing them is to learn to make do with weaker forces in greater numbers. They do have several higher-end options, but generally much fewer than the Soviet Union.
The Red Dragons coalition is the last coalition in the game, and the one the game is named after. It consists of China and North Korea. The Red Dragons coalition, containing Best Korea and its faithful ally, is realistically unbeatable. The spirit of the Eternal President guides North Korea’s invincible forces to glorious victory against the imperialist aggressors.
Like the imperialist, backwards Blue Dragons, the glorious Red Dragons coalition mixes few high-end modern units with a large number of outdated but numerically superior forces. North Korea has glorious long-range artillery options and the equally glorious T-90S heavy tank, while they both sport the ability to mass infantry in decent transport options.
How To Play Wargame: Red Dragon
Okay, so now you know what the factions are, you’ve familiarized yourself with the menu, you might have even played the tutorial! So, you know how to play, right? I mean, you call in units, you select them, tell them to kill the other guy’s stuff, so on and so forth. Let’s go kick some♥♥♥♥♥ right?
Then you go and rush into your first multiplayer match, and you get your♥♥♥♥♥handed to you. “This game sucks!” you complain. “It’s so unrealistic! I sent in like twenty Abrams tanks and they got slaughtered by some stupid Soviet unit when everyone knows American armor would kick their asses!”
No, my made-up friend used for a rhetorical device, it is not Wargame that sucks, it is you that sucks. Yes, you. You suck.
But that’s quite alright, because I’m going to teach you to not suck. Not sucking at Wargame requires one thing, and that thing is some common freaking sense. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to write a guide on the Internet to teach common sense, so instead, I’m going to teach you all the general knowledge, basic usage conditions, and advanced techniques you need to recognise, appreciate, utilize, and counter every unit in the game. Yes, all ~1470 of them. I’ll also teach you all the basic mechanics and some of the crucial advanced techniques you’ll need to master, and help familiarize you with the UI.
First, though, let’s start with the general basics of how to play Wargame right. This will require a little knowledge and education, and if necessary, the un-learning of bad habits learned from more popular RTSes.
First off, this will require the teaching of some basic concepts. These are listed in no particular order. These concepts are not strategies you can choose to employ sometimes. They must be habits. They must be things you must do all the time. When you fail to employ these concepts, you will lose every time against an even remotely competent player.
“The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat--let such a one be dismissed!“ - Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Basics: Combined Arms
First off, it is important to learn that Wargame is not about spamming two or three units in combination. Wargame does not have ~1470 units so that you can use three of them. If you spam only a couple types of units, your opponent is going to bring in their counters, and your units are going to die like a ♥♥♥♥♥. Wargame absolutely requires the effective use of combined arms. I cannot stress enough that combined arms operations are not optional.
So, let’s consider this as an attacking force:
Looks good, right? That’s, like, almost 40 T-80s! There is no way we could possibly lose!
Ahahahaha. No. Do you know what I think when I see something like that coming at me? I think, “Holy♥♥♥♥♥♥ how did you afford that many units, that must cost like 3,240 points!” I then think, “Oh, good, this will be easy.”
You know what happens after I see something like that? This!
See how it says “Stunned!” over all of those T-80s? That’s actually a translation error Eugene hasn’t fixed yet. What it really should say is “Kill me now! I’m helpless!” You know what’s going to happen after that?
Okay, you ask, but how does combined arms fit into this? Simple. Wargame is fundamentally a game of counters. There is not a single unit in the game that does not have another type of unit dedicated to killing it. This means that if you spam one type of unit, your opponent will simply spam its counter. If you spam two types of units, they will spam two types of counter (or better still, one unit that counters both). Any halfway competent player should know the units of the game by heart, and intuitively know what units in their deck will counter them. Thus, you have to build balanced forces that can flexibly adapt to a wide array of potential tactical scenarios. Don’t buy a ton of heavy tanks and only a token few escorts. It should be the other way around - a few heavy tanks should be well-escorted by support vehicles. Your basic general-purpose forces should look something more like this:
Notice how there’s really only a handful tanks? You can have more than that depending on what the force is actually going to be needed for, but the point is, the majority of these forces are supporting the heavy armor, not the other way around.
“But, player’s guide,” you protest, “I’m not stupid! All strategy games have units that counter other units!” I don’t think you quite understand. Okay, so you know not to spam a single type of unit. But Wargame is different. Wargame has a huge variety of units, all of which must be accounted for and prepared against. The force pictured above has heavy armor, but it’s supported with medium armor, recon elements, IR SAMs, Radar SAMs, AAA, support guns, mortars, and gunship support. It is capable of answering most types of enemy attacks that can be thrown at it. This is a robust force that can flexibly answer most enemy responses; a larger number of a single type of unit is not flexible in this manner.
Wargame is deeper than the tactical rock-paper-scissors approach of “heli beats armor beats infantry beats heli” that many other “strategic” games employ. And if this sounds overwhelming, trust me - it will become second-nature after a little experience. It honestly is not that hard. With a little knowledge of real-world weapon systems, you will find it very intuitive. The hard part for most new Wargame players is not learning Wargame’s units and how they interact, but “un-learning” other games’ habits. Use real-world logic, not video game logic.
Recon is another one of those things that is not optional. You must have sufficient reconnaissance to spot enemy forces. The vast majority of units do not provide their own vision to an appreciable degree. Wargame does not have a convenient “fog of war” that shows you where enemies might be. You can see the whole map at all times. There could be an enemy infantry squad right there, in your spawn zone, spotting all your precious high-value targets for artillery strikes and exposing every surprise you ever attempt, and you could go the whole freaking match without knowing it. Don’t believe me? I do this against other players all the time, so I certainly know the value of this fact.
Observe the importance of recon. Here is the command sector Boris:
Peaceful, right? So let’s capture it with a command vehicle, right? Here is the exact same scene, after moving a recon unit in:
Holy♥♥♥♥♥♥ Aren’t you sorry you went waltzing your blind, oblivious command vehicle into that peaceful little spawn zone like an idiot? This is important enough to bear repeating: Wargame has no visible fog of war effects. Any enemy can be anywhere at any time. You can always see the entire map. You must use recon to spot enemy forces. Consider an American military aphorism: “If you can see it, you can hit it. And if you can hit it, you can kill it.” Spotting a target is always going to be the first step in engaging it, so why would you ever skimp out on being able to spot your targets?
Set up a few recon squads of your own on your flanks, and on the sides of the map, and on the tops of steep hills, where they can keep an eye on things. Without recon, you won’t know what the enemy has, where they’re oriented, and how to counter them until they’re right on top of you. You have to be proactive with recon, always seeking to sneak your recon units just a little bit forward, to get just a little bit clearer of a view, and to take the time and effort to blind your enemy’s efforts to do likewise.
Have you ever fought an opponent who just seemed to beat you at every possible turn? Like he just magically had on hand the worst possible units you could’ve run into? Guess what - he had hidden recon units scouting out your forces, and you failed to respond in kind and failed to hunt and kill their own recon.
Remember, recon is the difference between victory and defeat. You cannot possibly know what the enemy is doing or how to counter what the enemy is doing if you can’t see what they’re doing. Specific advice on the use of individual types of recon units will be in a later section. As a general rule, though, you must always have recon to be effective. Any experienced Wargamer will tell you without fail, “You cannot have too much recon.”
Basics: Concealment, Stealth, and Terrain
You’ve learned about the importance of recon - concealment is the other side of the coin. It is generally advisable to assume that any unit out in the open on flat ground can be seen by the enemy. If you want to achieve tactical surprise, you must learn to use cover and concealment. Cover is a factor of terrain and concealment. Any unit can hide in forests or swamps or in hedgerows. You can tell where terrain is considered concealment because the cursor turns light blue when you mouse over it.
Forests are the thickest cover. Inside a forest, even recon units will not see other units until they are practically within knife-fighting range. This can be an asset or a liability. If your tanks get cornered in short range by concealed units, they are going to die like a ♥♥♥♥♥. Even against other tanks - more on how distance affects armored warfare later. Also note that vehicles are going to move through forests very slowly. Oh, and infantry in forests are really hard to spot.
Swamps will also hide your units, but not nearly as effectively as forests. Swamps are also rough terrain that will slow down your tanks. Finally, helicopters can land in swamps, unlike forest. More on the effects of terrain later.
Hedgerows are the third major type of terrain cover. Unlike forests and swamps, hedgerows are not easy to see if you zoom out - but zoom in closer to the ground and you will be able to differentiate them. Hedgerows will conceal your units, but not as effectively as forests. Generally speaking, hedgerows provide concealment when other places of concealment are unavailable or too obvious.
This is an important point of note - it doesn’t matter that your units are concealed if it’s particularly obvious where units would be concealed. If there is one single small patch of forest in your command sector, don’t freaking put your CV there. That’s exactly where any Wargamer would expect it to be and that forest is going to get targeted by artillery or bombed to hell and back. It is a common-enough technique to send bombers or artillery to blind-attack limited cover points hoping to get a lucky blind CV kill. Hedgerows are very good for this. In sectors with hedgerows but limited forest land, it’s generally a better idea to hide your CV and anti-aircraft pieces and whatnot out in the hedgerows where their location is less guessable. Hiding your CV in a dense forest is preferable, but only if you can secure the forest (it doesn’t have a wide open border that enemy forces can sneak through) and it’s too large to reasonably expect a blind barrage or airstrike to get lucky.
So, you know where to conceal units, but why? The first reason is generally obvious - units that are concealed are less likely to be seen by the enemy. However, even when your forces reveal themselves by firing or being spotted by enemy recon, the enemy still won’t know the extent of your forces. This will force them to be cautious or to take risks, which is good for you. Never give the enemy information you don’t have to give them. Many times, I’ve managed to hold off a force that could’ve easily steamrolled me with a pathetically small amount of force by the simple fear that I was concealing better units where I wasn’t.
There are certain units you should always endeavor to keep concealed. Command vehicles out in the open can be spotted by any passing recon helicopter or any other passing unit. This means they’re going to be targeted and killed quickly. Ambushes on enemy movements should also be kept hidden - this allows them to get the first shot off when they engage, which is often decisive. You should keep the recon units that are not moving with your front concealed as well (also considering disabling their weapons - more on that later), that way they are not interfered with at crucial times.
The second advantage to concealment is that they not only hide what units you have and where they are, but when and where they move as well. If there is a large forest near an enemy-held sector, and they are not fortifying that forests themselves, it’s like leaving an open door for you to waltz on in and take the sector from them. Forests are a great place to move recon units around and keep an eye on enemy positions. This is also highly important for lightly-armored ATGM carriers, such as TOW jeeps, which are best used in a shoot-and-scoot manner where they fire missiles, then retreat out of sight before the enemy can get close enough to engage.
The third advantage of concealment is you can tell when concealed units have been spotted. Don’t underestimate this crucial advantage - it’s often your first and only warning that enemy recon units are about before the pinpoint-accurate artillery fire starts falling. How do you know when a concealed unit has been spotted? Hidden units will pulse between transparent and opaque, while spotted units will be opaque. Observe:
See the difference? Always keep an eye out for when units that should be hidden suddenly aren’t. It’s very easy to spot, just look for the opaque bright dot in the midst of the terrain and the non-pulsing unit marker. That almost certainly means there’s enemy recon about. Bear in mind that this applies to your enemy, too. If you have recon sneaking about and spot a hidden unit, consider killing it quickly to avoid revealing your recon’s presence.
Basics: Static Defensive Positioning and Cover
Okay, so you’ve got some decently mixed forces, and you’ve got some recon scattered around the map and heading in front of your forces. You’re good to go, right? Now you can get to killing some bad guys?
So you run right into their defensive line, and get promptly slaughtered. What gives? You brought counters for things! You scouted them out! And then when you attacked, they destroyed you! This game is clearly broken and the other guy’s units are OP and need to be nerfed!
No, you’ve just discovered the power of appropriate positioning of your forces. Consider this defensive line:
This is a fair example of combined arms - you’ve got your recon units, heavy armor up front, infantry, anti-air support, and support vehicles. But they’re all clustered together and given no positioning whatsoever! A single artillery strike is going to render that entire defensive line useless, which is going to promptly follow with them getting steamrolled.
Consider this basic defensive line, instead.
These are similar forces - they’ve got combined arms, anti-air support, with heavy armor up front, recon spread out, and support. So what’s the big difference? The difference is that these units are spread out over a wide area and positioned in cover. They’re positioned at the end of bridges and narrow paths that will turn into chokepoints. Units in cover cannot be seen from as far away as units out in the open, and they take less damage from enemy attacks. Being spread out over a front makes it significantly harder for enemies to target them all at once, while making it easier for my units to engage enemies from multiple directions. Additionally, being spread out allows flanking recon troops to see around smoke, which allows your vehicles to fire through it.
Spread units are much more difficult to target with artillery, mortars, or airstrikes than concentrated targets are. Consider these four T-72A tanks.
See that circle around them? That’s an artillery unit’s fire radius. Now, with these exact same T-72As and the exact same artillery unit, let’s see how well this works with literally just one button press. The “Spread” command is extremely useful and underappreciated. The default keybinding is “X”. Just select a stationary unit and press “X”. That’s it! That’s all you have to do! Now, let’s see what happens when we issue the T-72As a Spread command:
The exact same artillery unit went from being able to target all four of them to being able to target only one of them. When I see expensive, useful, or fragile units bunched up like that, I immediately reach for my artillery’s hotkeys and get ready to fire. Don’t let that happen to you because you were too lazy to press a single key. Any time you have units in a grouping together sitting still, consider spreading them out.
Basics: Offensive Maneuvers and Flanking
Okay, you know the basics of creating a defensive line, but how does that help you when you’re attacking an enemy’s defensive line?
It doesn’t. Attacking the enemy’s defensive line head-on with zero preparation is stupid and suicidal unless you have an overwhelmingly superior force. Consider this: “Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.“ Do you know who said that? Sun Tzu! The guy who literally wrote the book on warfare. If you don’t listen to me, listen to him. Let your forces flow around obstacles like water, not barge through them while incurring heavy losses. Even if you win the battle you can lose the war by doing this. Don’t let your proud army’s advance turn into a Pyrrhic victory.
So, how does one accomplish this? Well, real-world commanders understood just as well as Wargamers the difficulties of assaulting a fortified position. And so, there are many types of units and weapon systems designed specifically for circumventing the defender’s advantage.
The first and most obvious technique is to avoid the defensive line altogether. Understand that assaulting a static defense is always going to give the defender the advantage, even if you can negate that advantage somewhat. I know this is not always possible. Sometimes, the enemy is just plain between you and where you need to be. But before you ever attack a fortified, prepared enemy, first ask yourself if you can simply go past them instead. Encircling enemies is vastly superior to allowing them to make a fighting retreat, incur friendly losses, and retreat to regroup and resupply.
Second, know that the Smoke Position command is the most underappreciated asset you have. What is Smoke Position, you ask? Artillery and mortar units have an oft-unnoticed feature that allows them to shoot smoke rounds instead of explosive ones. Let’s see what smoke looks like when it hits the entrance to a town:
If this town were occupied by enemy forces, I would now be free to approach it along that road. “But why use harmless smoke rounds when I could be hitting the enemy with HE shells instead?” you ask, noobishly, as you ignore one of the best features in the game. It’s simple. Smoke break lines of sight. All those prepared ATGM positions just waiting to turn your shiny tanks into scrap metal are going to fail to fire if they can’t see those shiny tanks.
The defense’s recon can’t see through smoke, either, so they won’t know what forces you’re sending until they’re already breaking through the lines. You should never, ever attack a static defense without using smoke to blind them first. Drop it right in front of them, practically on top of them even, then rush your advance forward and engage them when you’re right on top of them. This turns their strengths into weaknesses and gives you the advantage. Oh, and remember that smoke works both ways, your units are not magically able to see through it, either.
Third, know that infantry in buildings are very strong. If you attack infantry in buildings with your precious armored forces in close quarters, they are going to get freaking destroyed within seconds. You must take measures to remove enemy infantry from the premises before rolling your vehicles through a town. More on urban warfare and the amazing capabilities of infantry in buildings later.
Fourth, understand and take advantage of morale and its effect on accuracy. Okay, so you’ve covered your advance with smoke, so the enemy can’t see you. Now you rush in and sweep them out, right? Well, not yet. First, you have to panic and stun the defenders, if you want the ability to actually get in the first shots when your forces arrive. Use heavy artillery bombardment and air power to suppress and shock defending forces before you assault them. This sets their morale state to panic (more on that later) and ruins their ability to fight effectively. This is also one of the few legitimate uses of rocket artillery (again, more on that later).
Finally, napalm never goes out of style. Even The Art of War has a whole chapter dedicated to the attack by fire. Napalm and incendiary weapons are great at forcing defenders to move out of their carefully-prepared positions and into the open where your units can cut them down. More on the use of fire later.
Attacking the enemy’s prepared defenses is never ideal, but it is frequently necessary. But these tactics are not freaking optional. These tactics are the difference between smashing your army and smashing theirs.
Basics: Economy of Force
“Okay,” you complain, “fine, I’ll use recon and put my units in cover and mix them up and stuff. Now can I get to the explosions?”
Nope! There is another key difference that you must adjust to. In Wargame, your units are not generally disposable. Consider these numbers, from my personal Soviet deck.
So what does that mean? That means my deck, which specializes in armor, only has 38 tanks. And eight helicopters. And seven whole airplanes. When you lose a unit in Wargame, that unit is gone for the rest of the match. You can not buy more of them. Dead men do not get do-overs. I already explained that using the right units for the right roles is vital, but this is why. If I recklessly get even just ten tanks killed, I have lost 25% of my armored forces with no means of recovering them, which puts me at a huge disadvantage. Remember, even if you have to occasionally retreat, it is generally better if your units live to fight another day than die stubbornly. Yes, sometimes you have to make a tactical sacrifice, but for the majority of purposes, your units’ lives are too important to waste.
Economy of force is also important. You’re generally not going to start a match being able to afford units for every contingency and do all the things you want to do. Of course, you have to bring in more units as the situation calls for it and as you get more income. This means that sometimes, less is more. Nobody ever measured a general’s worth by their army’s technological superiority. Yes, there is a time and a place for having superior units, but consider these two selections of Soviet armor:
Both have 38 tanks total. But holy♥♥♥♥♥♥ One is nothing but high-end heavy tanks! So having more of better units is better, right?
Nope! I would take the latter deck over the former every time. Your deck must include lower-cost workhorses. High-end high-tech high-price heavy armor is not this workhorse. They are the tip of your spear - your force must be filled out with cheaper, more practical solutions. So while T-62Ms are not particularly great tanks, they are half the price of a high-end T-80BV. Many a noob rushes headfirst into a game, deck full of T-80s, and then finds that they can’t afford a serious force because they lack cheap alternatives to their best units. Don’t be that guy. Be the guy who always has some affordable, practical units he can start out with and rely on. Your decks should always cover a range of expected uses.
This is also important for another reason. If you take a bunch of expensive units and they get killed, you just helped the enemy get closer to victory. All your expensive units did was feed them points. Every single T-80 variant you buy has to kill 80 to 180 points worth of stuff to have been cost-effective. A T-62M has to kill only 65 points worth of stuff to have been cost effective. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should just bring large numbers of cheap, ♥♥♥♥♥♥ units either. Large numbers of cheap units just means it’ll take slightly more ammo for your enemy to win. You must find a balance between lower-cost workhorses and high-cost powerhouses. Everyone’s ideal balance is a little different, and it depends on the units you have available, the enemy forces present, your tactical objectives, and the player’s personal style.
Knowing when to conserve and when to break out the big guns is a large part of mastering Wargame. While everyone’s strategy varies, a good rule of thumb to start out with is that you should comprise your general forces of medium-cost medium-strength workhorses, and break out the big guns when you need them to fill their primary role.
I used tanks as an example here, but this applies to all types of units. Many a noob fills their decks with high-end shiny-looking Ka-50s and Mi-28s and finds they can’t afford and don’t have the points and the availability to use their forces well like they could’ve if they brought some cheaper, more practical Hinds instead. Remember, don’t break out the heavy armor until you actually need an armored spearhead, don’t break out the expensive gunships until there’s an armored column to destroy, and so on and so forth.
Basics: Unit Organization and Grouping
As we already saw, units come in groups of one to four. (Helicopters only come in groups of two. They otherwise work the same.) When ordering new units, you can order four at a time in one group by control + clicking them instead of just left-clicking them. However, it is not always better to have units in groups of four. Knowing what numbers to group your units in is the difference between your units being effective and dying like a ♥♥♥♥♥.
Groups of units move together and are ordered together as if they were one unit. This can make units easier to manage, but it also limits tactical flexibility. You can’t order one group to attack two different targets the same way you can order two groups. Groups of four also tend to bunch up together on their own, making it easier to hit all of them at once with artillery, rockets, or airstrikes. You can organize your units’ grouping with this panel:
And you can hide this panel with the Show/Hide Formations button. Split splits the grouping into individual units, while selecting multiple like units and clicking Regroup forms them into one grouping. Spread forces them to move away from each other as demonstrated earlier.
In general, your heavy armor should not usually be in groups of four. While armor is certainly effective in numbers, they draw fire way too quickly for that. I prefer to keep my tanks in groups of two for most purposes. It’s better if you have two groups of two instead of one group of four, because it allows you to order maneuvers, targets, and movements while still being relatively manageable. Artillery should also never be in groups of four. This creates redundancy (overkill) and causes a waste of ammunition. Depending on the type of artillery, they should be used solo or in groups of two. More on the specific use of artillery later.
Units that require a lot of micromanagement, or “glass cannon” units like gunships, should usually be used individually. Anti-aircraft units should also be in groups of two or solo, so that you can spread them out and cover a wider area against a larger number of simultaneous aircraft. This also renders your air defenses less vulnerable to being sniped by artillery. Finally, having recon vehicles in groups is completely idiotic. Recon units are not meant to fight your battles, they’re meant to spot for the units that do. So if you have two or more recon units in one group together all but one of them are literally nothing but redundancy and waste. If you ever have cause to bring recon units in a group of two or more, immediately stop and ask what use they are in a group.
And for the love of all things sacred, never call in your units like this:
Calling in units en masse like that violates so many basics of the game it’s not even funny. First off, it’s spamming a single unit, which always results in the other team just spamming its counter. Second, they’re clustered together, which means it’s going to result in this:
And finally, bunched units in groups of four are a wasteful redundancy. I know I can make it look stupid with a few timely screenshots, but noobs often panic and forget this in the face of a heli rush or other emergency and call in as many single-unit counters as their deck can give them all at once. This may work against a dumb spammer, but that’s just what a smart spammer wants you to do. For example, a smart spammer with a large heli rush damn well knows you’re going to spam your best anti-helicopter SAMs, and if you deliver them in the tightest grouping possible you’re doing half the work for them. This goes for any counter to any type of rush.
Be sensible. Call them in in pairs and spread them out. That way, they cover a much wider area, and you don’t have single groups flinging four shots at a time at a single target. Remember that a group will only target one enemy group at a time, which is especially an issue for ATGM and SAM vehicles who generally have very limited ammunition but don’t need many shots to kill a target.
However, line infantry is generally best in larger groups, especially in urban warfare. Grouped infantry can concentrate their fire on enemy infantry or light vehicles, which will quickly stun them and then gun them down. Additionally, one infantry group can fit in an urban sector at a time, regardless of how many squads are in that group, which favors group size rather than number of groups. Infantry in bulk generally has a morale advantage over individual squads, and with the exception of specialist infantry (MANPADS, ATGMs, recon squads etc.) they work best in larger numbers. Urban warfare will be covered in detail in the next section.
Basics: Urban Warfare and Buildings
As I said before, infantry in buildings are amazing. I have entire decks built around this simple, universal fact. If you take on my 10-point Motostrelki with your 180-point M1A2 Abrams, I’m going to win every single time. Infantry in buildings are amazingly cost-effective. So, the answer to cheap infantry is better infantry, right? Ahahaha - not even sort of. Well-managed infantry in towns are amazing, whether the infantry is expensive or cheap. But the infantry has to be used correctly.
Generally speaking, infantry are at their best in urban zones. You can of course just bypass small urban zones, but this is a nuisance - crossroads are almost always at towns, and more importantly, this gives the enemy a prepared fighting position where he can place infantry-borne ATGMs and MANPADS to harass your forces and inflict losses. Plus, urban zones teeming with infantry make great defensive positions, especially since infantry are incredibly cost-effective. Finally, infantry in buildings are in cover and stealthed, making it difficult to judge their forces from a distance.
The first rule of urban warfare is you never, ever, ever send your tanks into, through, near, or alongside an unsecure town. They will die like a ♥♥♥♥♥. Almost all non-specialized infantry units carry anti-tank rockets. In close quarters, they will cheerfully use them to waste your tanks. Tanks are at their best covering open territory. They are not instruments of urban warfare. The only possible use tanks have in this type of conflict is being parked outside of towns where they can fire into the side of town, at ranges beyond the reach of RPGs.
So, if not by heavy armor, how do you take a town held by enemy infantry? First off, know that fighting over an occupied town is going to be messy. When done right, much of warfare in Wargame involves your units hard-countering enemy units. The best battles in Wargame are when your forces completely rout the other through superior positioning, training, weapons, and counters, while incurring few losses. This is not the case for close-quarters infantry fighting. Forcing an enemy from a held town will be bloody, difficult, and you will lose infantry of your own. This is one major reason why cheap infantry in numbers are superior to expensive infantry.
There are three different weapon systems that are most effective. The first is HE bombs dropped from aircraft.Especially 1000kg bombs - these bombs are powerful enough to kill infantry squads outright while in cover; they also have an immense stun radius. If you can safely deliver them, do so, you will see little clouds of +20 +20 +20 +20 +10 +10 +10 +10 whenever they drop in enemy towns. However, be wary of MANPADS in the town, even if they’re not ideal vs. jets, it’s still embarrassing to lose a 200-point plane to a 15-point Stinger squad.
The second is napalm. As previously mentioned, napalm never goes out of style. Napalm will instantly panic and stun troops, then burn them alive. Additionally, napalm is an instant smokescreen - if you burn certain sectors, you can move in right behind it and the enemy will get a nasty surprise once the smoke clears. Flame tanks, as previously mentioned, should not approach towns directly without support, but napalm aircraft or the Soviet TOS-1 “Buratino” napalm launcher are absolutely devastating against dug-in infantry. However, there is a “but” to this, and it requires knowing how urban sectors work. Napalm can be rendered ineffective if a sector is not wholly covered.
This brings us to the second rule of urban warfare. The second rule of urban warfare is you do not talk about urb- nah, sorry, that’s just too easy. It’s that you must understand how urban sectors work if you want to succeed.
“What’s an urban sector?” you ask? This is:
See the little white outline over one part of the town? That’s a sector. Mouse over any town and the sectors will be individually highlighted. So, what’s the big deal about sectors? Sectors dictate what the infantry occupy, not individual buildings. A sector can be a very large building, a street corner, or even a whole block. Only one group of infantry (up to 4 squads) can occupy a sector at a time. If you try to move two groups of infantry into one sector, the second group of infantry will just stand out in the open. Infantry out in the open are vulnerable and can be killed easily.
To occupy a sector, you merely move your infantry into it - they will “snap” into the sector automatically. You can also unload a transport inside of a sector and the infantry will immediately occupy the sector as they unload. Occupied sectors will turn blue or red (depending on if you’re BLUFOR or REDFOR) to show you that your infantry control that sector.
Infantry in a sector are stealthed, in heavy cover, and freaking difficult to kill through firepower alone. Also understand that infantry squads can move rapidly, as if teleporting, from one side of a sector to another. This means if your napalm weapon only covers half of a sector, the infantry squads will simply move to the other side of the sector. This is the cause of the “napalm doesn’t work on towns!” complaint people so often have. Napalm DOES work perfectly well, but not if you give the infantry a safe place to hide by missing part of a sector.
By the way, while only one group of your infantry can occupy any one sector, infantry from both sides can occupy a sector together, thus making a “contested” zone outlined in purple. Infantry with the [CQC] tag on their machine gun can use it in a “contested” zone against the enemy infantry, which gives them a huge advantage. Also, infantry from neighboring sectors can provide fire support on a contested sector. This means that if you are contesting one sector and the enemy holds all of the surrounding sectors, your infantry are going to be taking fire from every occupied sector there.
The third rule of urban combat is the use of the third effective weapon in urban combat. As many NATO troops will tell you, it always comes down to the infantryman and his rifle. There is no good substitute for having your own troops in the town. When napalm or 1000kg bombs are not enough to clear a town that you have decided you must take, do not make the common mistake of wasting thousands of points trying to clear out a couple hundred points’ worth of infantry. The best way to seize a town in a straight-up infantry battle is the ballsy technique of ramming a wave of infantry straight into them. This is a technique I use to great effect, but you must use the principles of urban combat and the advice of attacking defensive lines to make it worthwhile.
Basics: Sample Infantry Blitz
Let’s walk through a sample infantry blitz of an occupied town, shall we? For the purposes of clarity and simplicity, we’ll forgo the use of supporting fire from tanks or napalm, but know that these are never a bad idea.
This is our target. We are attacking from the bottom of the screen into their front. (I know this violates the rules of flanking and maneuvering, but this is for the purposes of example only. In a real game, I would attempt to sneak in infantry from the top right first, in response to this disposition of forces.) The town is held by filthy, dirty Canadian Airborne heavy infantry. We are using Motostrelki, Soviet line infantry.
Our first order of business is to smoke them and hit them with artillery, rocket artillery, or mortar fire (notice the Stunned! tag) at the same time. You should also be using bombers, napalm bombers, flame tanks, and supporting guns to inflict casualties and morale damage on the targets.
Using smoke is not optional. You will lose many infantry units if you fail to do this. Why? Because if infantry transports die while still loaded, the infantry within die as well. The more RPG rockets these Canadians get off at the approaching transports, the more infantry they’ll be able to kill before the fight even starts. Be sure to definitively cover all the sight lines with smoke, if the smoke lands too far inside the town, they’ll be able to shoot regardless. The smoke comes BETWEEN your forces and theirs.
With the opposing infantry stunned and blinded it’s time to assault. Issue the Move Fast command (this is among the only times it is acceptable to use Move Fast in a direct attack) and quickly move your transports through the smoke inside the city. Notice something here: We have a lot of infantry. While this is a little excessive, numerical superiority is very important here.
Once your transports are forcing their way into the city, zoom in. Smoke is going to make it impossible to see clearly, so rely on the HUD elements (unit tags, sector border colors, etc) if necessary. Some of your infantry transports will be destroyed, this is expected. This is one area where cheaper infantry shine over heavier infantry, because it’s okay if you lose some cheap infantry. Force the transports to drive right at the enemy-held sectors and then click the Unload command as soon as they arrive. Your infantry will unload, snap to the sector, and thus make the zone “contested”, outlined in purple above. By the way, if you have mortars, they should be firing as fast as they possibly can.
By the time the smoke clears, it should look something like this. Your infantry has contested or occupied the zones nearest the road, and if you’ve micromanaged well, you might have some stragglers (odd survivors of transports being destroyed, mostly) not in a sector. This can be hard to micromanage rapidly, don’t fret if you’ve got a spare infantry group not in a sector, just order them to the nearest unoccupied or enemy-occupied sector. The important thing you want to see is this:
See that ! symbol? That means the squad is on the verge of breaking their morale - when that happens, you will see a Rout! tag. Routing forces are totally useless in battle. That means your artillery and rapid infantry blitz have done their job. More on routing and panic later; for now, just know that it is a very good thing when enemy forces rout and a very bad thing when your forces rout. Investing in some veterancy (again, more on that later) is an essential way to make sure this goes in your favor. Oh, there is one more thing you’ll see:
That’s a line of dead transports. Your dead transports. This is perfectly normal. The important thing with your transports is that you unload them on target as fast as possible. I don’t care so much if the transports die after they’ve transported the infantry. This is why cheap transports are preferable to expensive ones for the purposes of this kind of offensive. If I’m using five- or ten-point, it doesn’t feed the enemy many points if I lose them. You will lose many of the transports to RPG fire.
While they have other uses that will be discussed later, you do not use expensive IFVs, such as Bradleys, Marders, or BMPs, to assault towns in this manner. They will die just as fast at such close range to enemy rockets, but they’ll feed the enemy a ton of points before they do. Use the cheapest transports you have available - anything more is just feeding points.
So, to recap infantry blitzes in urban zones:
Use fire and HE bombs, particularly 1000kg bombs.
Tanks should only approach if there is no ATGM fire; aircraft should only approach if there is no MANPADS fire. You can use artillery to stun missile fire and give your forces an opening, if need be. Tanks should never get within 800m or so where they can be hit by RPGs.
Smoke Position and use artillery or mortars to stun the defenders.
Move Fast along the road into town.
Unload your troops right on top of them to contest the zone. Minimize the amount of time infantry spend in transport because the transports will die to RPG fire.
Expect losses. Even when done correctly, this is rarely a “profitable” strategy in sheer point terms - its real value is the ability to reliably take defended ground without wasting too many points.
If you must secure a town held by enemy infantry, this is the only reliably effective means of doing so.
Basics: Types of Move Orders
There are four types of move orders in Wargame. You have to know which one to use, when. Many noobs make the common mistake of not appreciating the differences between types of move orders, and this leads to inefficient or outright dangerous moves. The four types of move orders are Basic Move, Move Fast, Reverse Move, and Attack Move.
Basic Move is your basic right click. Select a unit, right click a destination, and the unit moves there as straight as possible. You can also right-click-and-drag to order units to move and form up in a line or snap to cover positions. Use this to set up defensive lines along the edges of cover. You also use Basic Move for general purpose movements where the other three movement types are not necessary or desirable. Note that any unit moving on non-road terrain will automatically use Basic Move unless you tell them otherwise. You should NOT use this as your only form of cross-map movement. Your units will never get anywhere.
Move Fast is the next type of movement. The default keybinding for Move Fast is ;, followed by left-clicking a destination. Move Fast tells units to use roads to get to a destination as fast as they can drive, using roads, and with greater supply efficiency. Most units have a faster road speed than their off-road speed. You need to use Move Fast to get any significant distance quickly. You should use Move Fast to get across the map to your front lines quickly. Additionally, any unit called in will default to using Move Fast to drive to their destination. However, never, ever use Move Fast to press an attack except under very unusual circumstances (like the infantry assault in the previous section, where the units being ordered need to reach their destination rather than engage enemies). Why? Simple:
Units with a Move Fast order generally travel in tight, easy-to-bomb groups who can be mass-stunned by rocket fire, flame weapons, or other such things. They also travel along predictable paths (roads) and don’t stop to engage targets, making them easy to ambush. Noobs often think that Move Fast is always the best way to move because it’s the fastest, and then send their entire armed forces careening into the enemy defenses at top speed like an idiot. Don’t be that idiot. Use Move Fast to get them close, then spread them out and use Attack Move to actually press the assault. Oh, and helicopters and infantry and aircraft all lack Move Fast for reasons that should be obvious - they don’t travel on roads!
The next type of move is called Reverse Move. This tells a unit to move to a destination driving in reverse. Its default keybinding is the G key. While it is slower than Basic Move, this is important because it allows your units to move away from enemy units while keeping their frontal armor pointed towards them. Why is this important? Consider the armor of a T-80U.
Notice something? The frontal armor is an exceptional 20, but the rear armor drops down to mere three. Rear armor is almost always thinner than frontal armor. Sometimes, you’ll need to move your units away from enemy units, but if you just use a basic move order to pull them back, they will turn and expose their weak rear armor to the enemy. Reverse Move allows them to pull back while keeping their heaviest armor directed at them. Your tanks’ frontal armor should generally always be oriented towards the enemy’s most powerful weapons. Reverse Move is what allows you to do this. Additionally, Reverse Move is absolutely essential to dynamic defense maneuvers (more on that later).
The last type of move order is called Attack Move. Attack Move tells your units to move to the indicated position as with a basic move, but to stop and engage any targets they come across as they move. This is essential for sending your forces on the attack. Unless they have Exceptional-tier stabilizers, moving units suffer a noticeable penalty to accuracy, which is a problem when they’re facing static enemies in prepared defensive positions. Attack Move lets units move, but stop to engage (and thus have no penalty to accuracy), and then get moving again all on their own.
There is a time when you need your units to get from A to B first and worry about enemies second. Attack Move can cause your units to stop in the middle of prepared killing zones, which of course is not good. When managing an attack or defense, you must alternate basic move, reverse move, or attack move based on the specific tactical needs. Attack Move is also quite powerful when used in combination with Smoke Position - it’s basically an automated system for moving your units right up into the enemy faces, then stopping to engage them. at point blank range. Using Smoke Position and Attack Move in concert can be a very powerful asset.
If you use the wrong types of move orders, your units are going to be horrendously ineffective. This is not just a good habit to get into, it is essential to tactical mobility that you use the right orders at the right times.
Basics: Morale and Veterancy
Wargame takes another factor into consideration, and that is morale. Morale of units is individually tracked, and tends to go down when units take fire or are even near-missed by enemy fire. Exposure to flames, damage, or seeing friendly units die also reduces morale.
The five morale states are, in order from best to worst, Calm, Worried, Shaken, Panicked, and Rout. As morale drops, unit effectiveness goes down. Rate of fire drops and accuracy plummets. This means that units with low morale are less effective in combat. They will get off fewer shots and those shots they do get off will be unlikely to hit. This is especially crippling to guided missile units. Also, if a unit drops too low in morale, it will rout - this means it will stop responding to your orders and run off in a random direction all on its own, which is usually followed by it dying like a ♥♥♥♥♥.
Units also have veterancy levels. The levels of veterancy go from Rookie, Trained, Hardened, Veteran, and Elite. Veterancy levels are also individually tracked, and passively improve from exposure to enemy units, combat, fire, or other things. It’s important to know that veterancy is not magic. It will not magically make a tank withstand heavier impacts or shoot bigger bullets. However, it does affect all the realms of crew input. Veteran units shoot more accurately and stay cool under pressure. Very importantly, units with more experience will have higher morale in battle. They aim faster and engage targets faster. Veteran units get several bonuses (rookie units have no bonus):
The accuracy bonus is rather considerable. Consider the Elite bonus - that makes a unit with only 50% accuracy have instead a rrespectable 66% accuracy! Oh, and this accuracy bonus is on top of their higher morale (which translates to lower penalties to accuracy) so you can consider it a double-bonus. Let’s consider this tank force from earlier. For a moment, let’s forget what we’ve learned about unit balance and pretend a force of so many heavy tanks is acceptable.
What’s wrong with it? That’s 38 pieces of glorious Soviet armor right there! Isn’t it great? No. Why? Because they are all only rank-two veterancy! Those heavy tanks are going to panic under pressure and get their asses kicked. When you’re choosing units for a deck, observe these options:
In every unit, you have the option of choosing veterancy levels. Higher levels of veterancy equals lower levels of availability. In this example, you can get eight trained T-72B tanks per card, or six hardened Abrams tanks per card. These are heavy tanks, it’s generally more balanced to take fewer per card but ensure they’re more effective.
As in all things Wargame, you must also consider the tactical necessities involved when making this decision. Units that will certainly have to take on other units in close quarters should almost always be up-vetted at least one tier if you don’t want them to get trounced. But if unit availability is more important than unit quality in one unit’s case, take the lower veterancy. Generally, you should aim to cut it as close as possible to running out of units without actually running out of units in the normal course of things.
Some other notes on veterancy - veterancy is the hidden beauty of national decks. National decks give you the largest bonuses to unit availability, which could give you either great numbers, or superb veterancy ability while still maintaining sustainable units per card. This is why good national decks can mix it up with mixed or coalition decks despite having fewer unit choices. Secondly, don’t overlook a thematic deck’s XP bonus. Every deck “theme” (more on this later) gives a flat one-rank promotion to all units in a specific type. For example, the “Armored” theme gives a flat one-rank promotion to every card of tanks you get. One final thought, don’t take rookie units if you can help it. They just panic too damn easily to be of any use to you at all in a fight.
Basics: Terror Weapons and Fire
So, now you know how morale and veterancy improves how units fight. You’ve committed to maintaining your own troops’ morale by occasionally investing in their veterancy rank. How do you use this knowledge offensively? By the use of terror weapons, of course. Terror weapons are weapons that do low physical damage but high morale damage. Rockets, rocket artillery, mortars, fire, and machine guns and autocannons against light and heavy armor, are all examples of terror weapons.
Terror weapons are useful for stunning and panicking forces, generally so that your own forces will have an easy time of eliminating them. Artillery in general make good terror weapons - while they are capable of inflicting damage and casualties as well, don’t underestimate the value in their ability to panic everything they hit shortly before your troops attack. This is especially true of slow-firing barrage artillery, which can sustain a rain of shells over a long enough time for you to attack.
Another useful feature of terror weapons and artillery is stunning. Remember this?
Counters are one reason, and terror weapons are the other reason why masses of tightly clustered expensive units are literally worse than useless. Units that are stunned will temporarily be unable to respond. While this doesn’t last more than a few seconds, it often means the difference between evading fire and being killed by it. Generally, you should try to hit enemy units with artillery or mortar fire or terror weapons immediately before engaging them with your conventional forces, in order to get off a shot or two before they’re even capable of moving.
Using autocannons against heavy armor, or machine guns against light armor, isn’t likely to do a lot of damage. But they will do very high morale damage, to the point of causing tanks to play yo-yo as they panic, rout, move backwards out of the line of fire, then recover and move forwards only to get stunned and routed again. This gives cheap autocannon vehicles like the M163CS or the ZSU-23-4 “Afghanskii” a great utility when mixed in with your forces. Additionally, units under fire also have a random chance to get in-battle malfunctions. Observe:
These malfunctions can hamper a unit in battle, rendering them immobile, causing damage, blinding them, making them run out of fuel or ammo, or any other number of things. Autocannons are great for causing these types of malfunctions.
Of course, the ultimate terror weapon is fire. Once again, napalm never goes out of style. Do you know what happens to commanders who think napalm has gone out of style?
That. This stuff is amazing. It can burn enemy infantry out of buildings and forests. It can instantly stun and panic any ground units. It can instantly stun and panic helicopters. It can force units out of defensive lines. It can grind an offensive to a halt. You can pre-emptively drop it on major roads to delay enemy movements. You can drop it right on top of the spawn lane in an enemy spawn zone to prevent them from bringing in troops to counter a push into that zone. Fire is a great terror weapon - and if napalm is dropped in forests, those forests will continue to burn for some time, which means any unit that passes through them takes morale damage.
Oh, as an aside, if you get the “repetitive unit voice” “glitch” that people complain about, nine times out of ten it’s because you have a unit who’s sitting next to or on top of a burning flame, and thus taking morale damage. Glance over your units and order the unit away and it’ll stop.
Basics: Supply and Logistics Management
Another factor separating Wargame from most of its kind is logistics. Units have three different type of logistical needs: Repair, Ammunition, and Fuel. Units without fuel will be unable to move. Units without ammunition will cease to fire. Know that while ammunition is tracked per-weapon (an Abrams tank that is out of ammunition for its main gun, for example, can still fire with its machine guns) ammunition is refilled as a whole.
Logistics vehicles, helicopters, or FOBs resupply forces within a radius around it. This radius is denoted by a wide yellow circle. The types of supply being taken on are shown by fuel, ammo, or repair icons next to the units. Any logistics unit also has a yellow-colored bar next to their name; this bar gradually empties to give you a quick at-a-glance estimation of its remaining supply capacity. You can also see its supply capacity by selecting it and looking where other units have their current fuel levels displayed.
Your logistics vehicles are really important. It is an absolute truth that an army fights on its stomach. In this game, its stomach is its supply line. Any extended operations will need supply to continue fighting in top shape. It is generally advisable that you bring logistics before you need them, not after. However, logistics vehicles are incredibly flimsy and fragile, and explode when killed (due to being filled with things like fuel and ammunition). This explosion can kill units that are clustered immediately next to it - this is mostly important for supply trucks kept in groups of 2 to 4, so it’s never a bad idea to use the Spread command on clusters of supply vehicles to prevent them from all being blown up when one is destroyed. Nonetheless, things like repairing damage and having ammunition are actually kind of important to an army, so try to always have some supply trucks handy.
Logistics capacity is abstracted as a generic “supply” value. Ammunition, fuel, and spare parts (repair) are all abstracted as being from the same pool of supplies. This means that you can (and sometimes must) choose whether it’s most important to refuel, rearm, or repair units. How do you do that? Like this.
When you select any logistics unit (logistics trucks, helicopters, or FOBs) you see this instead of a unit’s weapons. See how it says “On” there? Click it, and it will disable using the truck’s supply capacity for that particular category. By the way, this applies to ally units using your supply as well - if you have some idiot rocket and arty spammer for a teammate, tell your FOBs not to resupply ammunition to keep him from draining all the supplies your front needs.
Supply vehicles are unique in one other way, and that is that logistics units can be captured by the enemy. Any un-escorted supply vehicle or FOB will be captured if enemy units get within a few hundred meters of them without friendly units nearby. Be aware of this, and if you see enemy supply trucks out in the open, feel free to scoot a unit over there and nab them. Rations taste extra sweet when your enemy’s taxpayers paid for them. However, be aware that if your supply vehicles get caught unescorted, they can be captured as well. There’s nothing quite as bad as spending points to fix up your enemy’s vehicles so they can continue shooting at you with them. Oh, and because of this fact, your units will never shoot at enemy logistics vehicles without orders - this is fine if you’re going to capture them, but if not, and your units aren’t otherwise engaged, know that you’ll have to specifically tell them to shoot enemy supply vehicles.
“So, guide,” you ask, “what do I do with empty logistics vehicles?” Well, for starters, logistics vehicles can be refilled by FOBs. You’re not going to manage to bring enough supply just in trucks unless you really strive to do so - but FOBs give you a whopping 16,000 supply for 75 points. Moving empty logistics vehicles back to your FOB and moving refilled logistics vehicles back to your front is an important and oft-overlooked task that one should not start to overlook in the heat of battle. Also importantly, Supply helicopters can refill supply trucks. Use lulls in the fighting to resupply your forces and keep them in top shape.
Basics: Defense-In-Depth and Counter-Offensives
So we learned how to set up a static defense earlier, but we also learned that static defenses can be pushed through, even if it’s not ideal to do so. Static defenses do have the disadvantage of being, well, static - which means when the enemy knows where they are, they’re probably going to send airstrikes or artillery to attack it. So what do you do when the enemy is pushing against your static defenses?
The answer is the defense-in-depth, also referred to as dynamic defense. Unlike a static defense, where the objective is to “hold the line” and stop the enemy advance without moving back yourself, a dynamic defense moves along with the enemy’s advance, always hitting the enemy but never stopping long enough to get steamrolled. While I’ll talk in more detail about stabilizers later, for now know that stabilizers allow tanks and other such units to fire accurately on the move, and are absolutely necessary to a proper dynamic defense. Also necessary is the reverse move command. You must use this appropriately to pull off a dynamic defense, it is not optional.
In its most basic form, a dynamic defense involves reverse-moving your tanks across open ground, so that they can constantly be shooting at enemy targets without allowing the enemy to close the distance. This means the enemy cannot easily race past your defensive line and surround your forces. This prolongs the amount of time your units can shoot at their units, which means more enemy casualties. It slows down enemy offensives and allows you time to bring in reinforcements or call for allied assistance. It forces the fight to be on your terms, where you decide to lead them, and in your SAM bubble and not theirs.
However, dynamic defense is not as simple as “reverse-moving tanks”. We already covered reverse move. Lighter vehicles play a role in dynamic defense as well. Consider ATGM trucks - they are at their best when they can get off one or two missiles at enemy armor and then flee out of range to fire again. This is called shoot-and-scoot, and light vehicles excel at it. Additionally, gunships truly shine in dynamic defense, where they can rapidly move around the targets, firing rocket pods, autocannons, and ATGMs to turn an armored spearhead into a stunned, panicked, and burning mess. Infantry are not mobile enough for a dynamic defense, but they also have a role to play.
Defense-in-depth also suggests having defensive units spread out behind your front lines - this can bog down an armored breakthrough quite effectively. The problem most new players have is that if you manage to break through their defensive front, there’s pretty much nothing left standing between you and their entire side of the map. Even if all you do is scatter some cheap recon, MANPADS or other anti-air defenses, and infantry through your sectors, that can still keep your eyes on the target and prevent them from just lancing through all the way back to your starting zone unopposed. There is an obvious tradeoff between defense-in-depth and static defense - any unit sitting idle in a defensive zone is a unit not on your static defensive line. As with all things, you must find a balance between the two, and that balance depends heavily on your personal playstyles and the tactical necessities of the map and opponents.
So, you’ve kept your tanks alive and your front somewhat intact by reverse-moving, and the enemy forces are getting strung out as their heavy armor outruns their support to chase your own armor. But how do you really turn the tables? You do this by counterattacking. A counterattack is an offensive push you make to destroy or at least force a retreat of an enemy offensive. It is not the same as attacking into enemy territory, although a well-orchestrated counterattack can lead into an attack into enemy territory if the enemy is sufficiently off-balance. Consider this example:
Notice that the counterattacking force comes from a different area from the rest of your forces. You should aim to hook around behind them once they’re sufficiently strung out, and so engage them from the side or behind. Remember what we discussed about side and rear armor? That’s where you want to hit them. If they’ve outrun their air defenses, gunships are great for this task because of their high mobility; if they did bring too much air defense, then do this with armor instead.
Some people advocate always keeping a reserve force or quick-reaction force (QRF) of tanks and mobile vehicles behind your lines specifically so you can send them to intercept enemy attacks. Others advocate always keeping a few hundred points banked so you can quickly buy whatever reinforcements are needed in case of attack. Keeping a QRF behind your lines gives you the ability to react very quickly to an unexpected circumstance (hence the name), while banking the points instead gives you optimum flexibility to buy the best counters available to whatever pops up even if it takes longer for the reinforcements to arrive. While whichever technique you choose is up to your personal preference and style, I prefer to always have points banked and just buy whatever counters I need. Experiment and figure out what works most efficiently for you.
A properly-executed dynamic defense is very hard to counter, and if you find yourself facing one, it’s best to abandon the pursuit and try something else instead. Don’t ever let the enemy lead you where he wants you to go. Instead, attack elsewhere or with other forces and thus make him react to you, not the other way around. Remember, fight on your terms, never on theirs.
Basics: Tactical Mobility and Maneuver Warfare
At some point, your guys and their guys are going to come into contact with one another, attempt to have a civil discussion about the relative merits of communism and capitalism, and that civil discussion is going to turn into a shooting war. It is the nature of the 80s, I’m afraid. But this is not the first world war - if all you do is line up your guys against their line of guys and see who’s left standing when the shots stop coming, you’re doing it wrong. While there is a time and a place for your units to sit still and shoot, the majority of your time will be spent moving your forces around the map.
Even in a fight, staying in motion is important. Why? Remember this?
Every tank has weaker side armor and very flimsy rear armor compared to their frontal armor. If all you do is stand in a line and shoot at their line, you’re hitting them where they’re strongest. The basic concept of maneuver warfare is in bringing your units’ strengths around to where the enemy is weak. Remember, you always want to bring your strengths against their weaknesses, not against their own strengths and never the other way around. And how important is maneuver warfare?
Zelasko could probably tell you, couldn’t he? While those results are pretty drastic, don’t think that superior units will always beat inferior units. I would rather have a weak unit in the right place than a strong unit in the wrong place. Many of the techniques already discussed, like dynamic defense, the direction of a proper counter-offensive, and flanking offensives, are examples of maneuver warfare. Observe this diagram:
In this diagram, the blue force is performing a basic flanking maneuver against the red line. Note that a single vehicle on this red line cannot orient its frontal armor at both forces simultaneously. This means that they must either retreat, or get hits in their weaker armor and die. That is exactly what you want to have happen.
Helicopters are excellent at maneuver warfare. They can fly over rough terrain with no loss in speed and are significantly faster than even the fastest ground vehicles. However, they do require significant micromanagement and will die like a ♥♥♥♥♥ to even cheap SPAAGs that get within range. Generally, IFVs and other fast, lighter vehicles should be used as your instruments of maneuver warfare while heavy frontal armor draws all the enemy fire. You should seriously consider using tanks with good stabilizers as your flanking force as well, but tanks without good stabilizers should always be used as your static force. Again, stabilizers allow a tank to fire accurately while on the move, which isn’t necessary for a static defending force and vital for a flanking force.
Thwarting enemy attempts to outmaneuver your forces is the key reason why you should always bring some flank security. Put some cheaper tanks and SAMs or SPAAGs along the outer fringes of your front, and they’ll at least forestall an enemy flanking maneuver long enough for you to hit them with artillery, airstrikes, or your heavy armor.
Basics: Defense vs. Offense and Strategic Objectives
So how do you know when to attack, and when to hunker down and defend? Sometimes it’s obvious - if the enemy is choosing to attack in force, it’s better to defend and let them throw units into your defensive lines, while if you know the enemy defense to be insufficient, it’s better to attack. But between relatively even forces, when it is necessary to attack and when is it necessary to defend?
First off, know that in Wargame as in real life, the defender usually has the advantage. Between two forces of equal strength and equal skill, the defender will usually win. So if you try to press an attack just for your teammates to scramble and tell you to stop, it may not be that they’re cowardly, but that the move is too risky. Even if your attack succeeds in its operational objective it can fail its strategic objective. Every move you make should be in the service of achieving the strategic objective of the match. Nobody’s going to care that you managed to take Alpha sector if the other team managed to win because of it.
Now, what is our strategic objective? It would be a specific match’s victory condition. Knowing when to attack and when to defend demands consideration of the game’s victory conditions. You can see these in the lobby.
There, see? In this case, the game’s victory conditions are set at Total Destruction (no point limit) and a time limit. Let’s go through the game’s various modes and what they mean for offense and defense.
In Destruction mode, points are gained by killing the other side’s units. Your main strategic objective is to accumulate the most points while feeding the enemy as few points as possible. An alternative way to win is by killing every command vehicle on the map - however, you’re generally going to hit the point limit before you pull that off except in very unusual circumstances. This means that it is generally better to defend, because defenders usually get more points than attackers. Victory is judged not by how much of the map you control at the end of the match, but by who first reaches the point limit. The exception is Total Destruction mode, where there is no point limit. In Total Destruction mode, you win by having more points at the end of the time limit (unless that is disabled, too) or, more commonly, by destroying every enemy command vehicle. In Total Destruction mode, it is generally better to attack. Obviously, this is subject to the specific circumstances of an individual game - if you’ve only got ten minutes on the timer left, the enemy team is turtling hard, and your team is massively ahead in points, then you might as well just wait out the timer rather than risk letting the defenders close the points gap. However, you will usually be aiming to kill every enemy command vehicle in Total Destruction. Total Destruction is my favorite mode; I find it’s the one that most encourages aggression rather than defensiveness.
In Economy mode, you win by your team reaching the required command points, not score points. This means that cost-efficiency is the order of the day. If you buy a bunch of expensive units, your team is going to hate you because that sets back the entire team. In Economy, it is essential that you find the right balance between buying enough forces to seize and defend command sectors (which give your team income) without buying so much that the other team pulls ahead. In Economy it is generally better to grab territory quickly, then defend, because, again, defense is much more cost-effective than offense. It is doubly better to defend instead of attack in Economy because your enemies will be banking more points, which means it will be significantly easier for them to call in reinforcements in an emergency. However, if a command sector can be seized on the cheap, don’t hesitate to do so - sometimes you have to spend points to earn points, especially if your team is at a significant economic disadvantage, in which case it is better to attack. Know that particularly cost-effective tactics, such as infantry in urban zones or using deep-insertion of special forces behind enemy lines to spot and kill enemy command vehicles, is a very good idea in Economy.
In Conquest mode, incomes are fixed for both sides and victory points are accumulated by holding sectors. Like in Economy mode, it is generally better to grab territory quickly, then defend. If you can manage to take “half plus one” of the map and start setting up defenses, you force the losing side to be the one on the attack, and since incomes are fixed for both sides, attacking can become very difficult. When defending in Conquest, remember to keep a good reserve or a QRF and plenty of air support to respond quickly to attacks - the attacking team may be the one currently losing, but they can concentrate their attacks in just one sector. Use air power and especially napalm to stop attacks in their tracks - remember, even if you have to sacrifice a bomber, it may be worth it to blunt a massed attack in its tracks. Because the losing side is the one forced to attack, I find Conquest to be a less interesting mode of play; I feel that Conquest is decided in the first few minutes of the game moreso than other modes. However, those who don't like Destruction or TD generally play Economy.
Basics: Choosing When To Attack
Now that we understand the game’s victory conditions and how to pull off an offensive maneuver, when and how in a tactical sense is it appropriate to attack? Well, as stated before, force the enemy to fight on your terms, not the other way around. Don’t attack into their prepared defenses, that’s what they want you to do! Attack when you see weaker fronts or gaps in the line. Be opportunistic - opportunities multiply as they are seized. Attack from unexpected directions and with unexpected forces. Realize that people tend to see hills and water as obstacles - use that against them, drive IFVs over the tops of hills or swim amphibious units across water where they’re less apt to be prepared. More on the use of terrain in the next section.
In general, offense requires decisiveness, speed, and aggression. It’s a common belief that attacking in Wargame is discouraged or even impossible - that’s quite simply wrong. But few people are willing to be decisive and sometimes recklessly aggressive - most people want to be overly safe to the detriment of offense. One thing I saw a lot in the nearly 700 hours I’ve spent playing the previous game, AirLand Battle, is that people tend to get stuck in a defensive mindset. What most players do is get stuck in a “lane mentality”, where they part out areas of the map and then focus only on seizing and holding that area. There is a time and a place for this, but it’s not a universal habit one should always rely on. This led to most games I saw having a fairly predictable opening - both players in any given “lane” would rush to the center, duke it out in an early clash, the winner would set up camp in the center area and the loser would retreat a little ways and do likewise. Ditto for every player in the match.
This leads to what is derisively called “trench warfare,” where both players build up defenses to secure themselves against attack before seeking to push forward only to find the enemy did the same thing. What follows is a sitzkrieg, where both sides get too nervous to attack and so build up more defenses instead and rely on artillery sniping and other such tactics in a vain struggle to gain an edge. It’s an overly-cautious mindset that throws away one of the most important things you can have in war: momentum. It’s true that Wargame factors in many important things that can slow your progress - getting strung out too far will leave you vulnerable to airstrikes, counterattack, flanking, and just plain running out of fuel. But the opposite is also problematic: Stopping too early can spare your enemy’s forces and attention and allow him to make it harder to attack later. Attacking should be deliberate and well-supported rather than spammy and ill-prepared, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile endeavor. If you force your enemy back, only stop if your forces are absolutely exhausted as well! Don’t give them the rest to repair and reinforce their position!
Attacking early is difficult, but disproportionately rewarding. I’m a big fan of early aggression and later defense, which is the opposite of how most people approach the game. It’s a lot harder to be aggressive later in the game, when a whole team buys more air power, artillery, and sets up more solid defensive lines. Attacking early means your enemy is less likely to be able to afford an appropriate counter and doesn’t have the air force necessary to bomb your forces into oblivion. But it also means you have to prepare for it as well - you won’t have enough starting points to fill out a solid defense and throw a useful attack forward - not when the enemy has the same amount of starting points you do. But if you know how to attack with decisiveness and also with skill, if you know how to interfere with an enemy’s attempts at defense through terror weapons and stealth, and your starting force is designed to attack and take advantage of an attack, the risk can be effectively mitigated - even if your attack gets halted, you can still pull back or ask for assistance through appropriate use of dynamic defense. And the beauty of the early attack is that losing your starting force is a nigh-insurmountable
This is why being decisive in your actions is so important. Even if an early attack fails its operational goal, it might still help your team win at the end of the day - remember the game’s victory condition! A unit or a group of units doesn’t have to “pay itself off” in points gained or lost, they might still have been worth it if they last long enough to seriously hamper their team or take some early command vehicles with them.
If you can slip a fast-moving force past or through an enemy’s starting forces and make a beeline for territory they assumed was safe, you can often snag some command vehicles, artillery, or just plain hold their attention while they scramble to stop you, letting your allies pull off land-grabs of their own while the enemy team is distracted or better yet, pulling off some extra maneuvers of your own while the enemy is distracted. And trust me, nothing will distract a whole team better than their teammate suddenly crying for help as a dozen tanks and SPAAGs storm towards their spawn zone. Even attacks that aren’t really that hard to counter are a lot harder when you don’t yet have the income and reserves to counter it.
Most players panic when they see this and start buying some “panic button” units like heavy gunships or bomber aircraft, which means they’re not buying units for their own lane’s defenses and they’re not buying units for an effective counterattack. Meanwhile, you and your team can either support your attack, take the time to capture command zones and get an income or Conquest point advantage, or use quick, heli-borne infantry to fortify towns on their side of the map or sneak special forces around while they’re distracted. Remember, the best defense is a good offense!
Basics: Know the Map, Terrain, and Fronts
Before the game starts, in the Deployment phase, you have to buy your starting points’ worth of forces and place them in your starting zone and so on, you probably already figured that part out. But, especially while you’re still learning the maps, take the time to scan the map and the terrain before the match starts. Take note of important features. Ask yourself some basic questions about what’s ahead of you.
Where are the midpoints of the map, and from them, where are the fronts likely to fall? On most maps, the front lines usually settle around a relatively visible mid-point of the map, often around towns, mountains, or rivers.
What are the major roads where your forces or enemy forces will likely Move Fast through? Are there crossroads you might preemptively napalm to block enemy movements? Look for roads leading from the enemy’s spawn to the middle sectors of the map; the most direct routes will be where most players Fast Move their starting armies.
Where are the spawn zones and air lanes, and based on the direction of those air lanes, where should you place air defenses? More on air defense in a later section, but for now, know that aircraft usually come from the direction of their spawns.
Are there wide sides on the edges of the map where you or your enemies might try to sneak helicopter-borne troops or other forces? Are there large forests that infantry can roam through? Large plains for armor to roll over? Are there mountains or ledges you can take advantage of? Do the enemy rear zones have “back doors” or blind spots, like mountains, that you could sneak special forces through? We discussed earlier the importance of stealth and how forces can move through forests unseen. Take note of areas you might consider moving troops through.
Before the match begins, you should be coming up with ideas for movement and unit placement. You also need to familiarize yourself with terrain. Terrain affects movement speed and line of sight for all ground units. A unit’s line of sight can be seen as a white line when you select them and order them to fire at something. That white line can have three parts:
The white solid line is the unit’s effective weapon range. The transparent white line is their line of sight. A dotted white line shows that their line of sight is either at its limit, or blocked by a terrain feature. Features like dense forests, mountains, and buildings block line of sight completely, while features like shrubs and hedges can be seen through, but degrade the LOS range beyond it. If your unit isn’t firing at something within its range, take note of this line to see what’s blocking it.
We already discussed cover features like swamps and forests and hedgerows, but know that the type of ground affects unit movement speed. Units will move faster on roads and flat land than they will in tall grasses and up mountains. Over rougher terrain, like swamps or clumps of hedges, movement can cause units to slow down with Rough Ground debuffs.
The other important terrain feature is height. Units situated on a ledge or otherwise with a height advantage have an improved line of sight and can potentially see over obstacles as well. Defending a ledge gives you a clear line of fire at the ground it overlooks, which is a particular advantage for defenders.
However, it is difficult to target units directly at the bottom of a ledge. This leads to a technique called the reverse-slope defense. Observe:
In this instance, units on the bottom of a hill can usually get the first shot off at units coming over the top of the hill, since it’s hard for forces at the top of a slope to target units directly below them because of the limited camera angle. Additionally, static forces at the bottom of a hill can hit targets breaching the crest of the hill one at a time as they emerge into their LOS, allowing these forces to pick off enemy attackers one at a time.
Unlike Wargame: European Escalation and AirLand Battle, in Red Dragon terrain is not flat. Most maps have rolling hills, steep mountains, cliffs, and ledges that affect where your units can see and move. Mountains are not impassable terrain. Most vehicles can drive straight up that mountain if you try. Many players see rough terrain like mountains as impassable obstacles. They’ll set up their defenses in the valleys and roads running around them. Let’s take a look at one of Red Dragon’s hilly maps:
You should take the time to look at maps from a low-level, not just the zoomed-out top-down perspective you move forces around with. This perspective makes it obvious where sight lines can be broken. See that ridge to the left of the road? You could keep a gunship flying at low level (more on helicopter altitude later) and forces traveling down that road would never see it until you ordered it to change altitude for a pop-up attack. If you put recon vehicles or infantry up one side of those hills, they’ll have great sight lines on one side and be blinded by the terrain on the other side. You could use those hills to attack from an unexpected direction - if they’re guarding the road, attack over the crest of the hill instead. think through ideas like this regarding the terrain wherever you’re intending to go.
Another feature new to Red Dragon is amphibious units. Be aware of what units are or aren’t amphibious. Take note of rivers and water features on maps that can provide an alternative route for amphibious vehicles. Some players get so caught up camping bridges and other chokepoints, they forget that the open ground way off to the side cut off by a river isn’t an impassable obstacle at all - not until BMPs are storming into their lines from the side or marauding through their undefended rear zones! On the other hand, be sure you keep recon watching the whole length of a river - the downside to units in water are that units are totally out in the open, with no cover to hide them from recon.
Finally, maintain situational awareness of the game’s other fronts. By habit, you should always keep abreast of the changing tactical situation that your allies’ fronts are facing. If one of them gets their own front pushed back, you could be exposed on a flank you had assumed was secure, or rush ahead unsupported and get surrounded. Additionally, knowing what forces your enemies are facing could give you forewarning of what your own units might face - if I see an ally getting hit by a plane-heavy enemy player (an air spammer) I’ll buy extra SAMs for my own forces in anticipation of having to face the same thing later. As a bonus, it never hurts to give your allies some useful supporting fire when you’re able to, even if they don’t ask for it. Don’t spend so much time gawking at your allies’ movements that you neglect your own, but always keep an eye open to them - zoom out from time to time and scroll around, just to make sure everything is where you thought it was.
Basics: Control Groups, Order Queueing, Keyboard Shortcuts
Wargame has several useful keyboard shortcuts. I’m not going to go over all of them, under the assumption that you are not in fact brain-dead and have probably played strategy games before. But I recommend taking a glance through the game’s options to review the key bindings. I take it one step further - I mapped several useful key bindings to extra buttons on my mouse.
First off, something some people think is blindingly obvious and others slap their foreheads at how they missed that after hundreds of hours: The shift key lets you queue orders. Hold the shift key down and issue orders. This is actually rather useful - order a transport to move fast to a location, unload, and then move fast back behind the lines. Tell artillery to fire and then move to avoid counterbattery. Tell that ATGM helicopter to attack that tank, then go back to your FOB and land to resupply. The possibilities are endless - just take care with airplanes, in my experience they don’t work very well with shift-queue like other units.
As with most RTS games, Wargame lets you map specific units to control groups using the 0-9 keys. This is an important feature that you should be using. To map a unit to a control group, select that unit and press Ctrl + [number]. To select that unit, press that number. This has several really good uses.
First is obvious - it allows you to quickly select an off-screen unit without having to go look for it. As such, your artillery batteries should always be individually mapped to a control group. This means you can select all of your artillery pieces without moving the screen away from the front. It’s trivially easy to just press a number key, then Fire Position or Smoke Position, and thus be always able to provide supporting fire to your front (or anywhere else on the map) without leaving it. Some people advocate doing the same with aircraft, but I prefer to just leave the Airport Panel open at all times.
The other major use is less obvious - Double tapping a number key will bring you directly to that unit. If you have to manage multiple fronts, map an important unit to a control key so you can instantly switch between fronts. This is also useful for moving your artillery units around to avoid counterbattery fire (more on this later).
Finally, use control groups to speed micromanagement. Certain units, such as ATGM carriers, Radar SAMs, and most helicopters, must be micromanaged frequently to be most effective.
Oh, and as an aside, the Spacebar will bring you to the last “event,” including units getting killed, and flares being dropped. If you hear the new-flare ring, hit spacebar to jump towards it instantly. Ditto if you suddenly get a unit-killed warning. This is very useful when a unit gets killed unexpectedly, so you don’t have to zoom out and scan around looking for what happened.
Basics: Aircraft Maneuvering, Handling, and Response Times I
“Every time I call in aircraft, they get killed by the enemy,” you complain, noobishly, “but their aircraft always seem to kill my guys and get away clean!” Why is that? Because using aircraft is not as simple as clicking on them and clicking on a target. This is not World in Conflict where aircraft constituted off-map support and were generally invulnerable. Although they are based off-map, your aircraft are your units exactly like all your other forces. This means their kills count as much as other units’ kills, and being killed feeds the enemy points - and typically a lot of points - just like any other unit. In this section, I’ll teach you how to use aircraft in general; in the next, I’ll teach you how to defend against them. I will provide specific advice about the different types of aircraft and their different weapon systems later.
First off, know that aircraft handling is a little idiosyncratic. There are several particularities that aircraft have, and understanding how aircraft handle is crucial to using them successfully.
Aircraft, as previously stated, are based off-map. They enter the map through air corridors, which are like spawn corridors but for aircraft. They can leave the map from any position, via the evac command (default keybinding: V). They only have, at max, a couple minutes’ worth of fuel before they must leave to refuel. If they run out of fuel, they will auto-evac, this is called Evac Bingo. ‘Bingo’ is NATO code term for having only enough fuel to return to base (and thus necessitating leaving immediately). If they expend their ordinance, they will also auto-evac, this is called Evac Winchester. ‘Winchester’ is NATO code for being out of ordinance or ammunition. When aircraft evac, they immediately turn away, climb, and will disappear from the map in a few seconds. Note that aircraft tend to evac in the direction of the air lane they spawned from.
When aircraft are near enemy forces, you must be ready to evac them at a moment’s notice in case they run into unexpected SAMs or get stunned by AAA. If your aircraft are in danger of getting destroyed, evac immediately. Don’t suicide a 160-point plane to take out a 55-point tank. Remember, with few exceptions aircraft are glass cannons that should shy away from SAMs.
Once aircraft evac, they will have a cool-down period before they can be called on again. The length of this period depends on the resupply that the aircraft needs. The status of your aircraft can be seen in the Airport Panel.
You can use this panel to quickly select aircraft currently in the field (“In Mission”). Aircraft with colored icons like the Su-24M above are ready to be used. Aircraft that are being resupplied have between one and five icons, and will display their resupply status (the Su-27S is further along in its cooldown period than the MiG-29S and Yak-38). Because aircraft that took damage will take longer to resupply than aircraft that don’t, it’s always preferable to keep your aircraft out of the line of fire when possible.
Aircraft have to fly straight at their target in order to drop their bombs, and this is the source of the “aircraft flying over without dropping weapons” problem. If the aircraft is still turning to align with their attack vector, they won’t drop their weapons. This sends them careening into enemy air defenses. They also have to be several kilometers away from the air corridor to release weapons, which means there is a radius under the spawn point of aircraft where the distance is too short to release weapons. Aircraft will also fail to release and will fly straight and level if they have been stunned by AAA. Oh, and sometimes aircraft just inexplicably fail to fire their weapons for no apparent freaking reason. I’m sure there is a reason, but very rarely, even though they’re flying over flat terrain and not turning, they just fail to drop. If this happens to you, it is usually best to evac immediately and try again. Generally speaking, you won’t get more than one pass before taking anti-aircraft fire unless you’re 100% sure you’ve destroyed enemy air defenses.
When aircraft are ordered to a location, they will fly in a circle around that location. Aircraft have varying turning radiuses, some of which can be quite wide. in general, faster aircraft have wider turning radiuses, though of course there are variations. This is less important in bomber aircraft who will generally drop all their weapons in one go and then automatically Evac Winchester, but it is essential that you understand how aircraft turn. Unlike in AirLand Battle, in this game aircraft will always turn to the side on which you set a move order. If you want an aircraft to turn to the left, click to the left, and vice-versa for the right. This seems obvious, but ALB vets will remember having to click on the opposite side or zoom very far back to get aircraft to behave predictably.
Aircraft turning radiuses are important for one other reason - aircraft with tighter turn radiuses will generally out-fly aircraft with wider turn radiuses in a dogfight. This is why your cheap MiG-21 just killed their Tomcat in a dogfight. In a dogfight, aircraft will generally close by launching short-range IR missiles (such as the Sidewinder) and then try to finish each other off with guns. The aircraft that gets behind the other will generally win, because aircraft can only attack targets directly in front of them. If your aircraft is in a dogfight and the other aircraft gets behind it, evac immediately. It’ll overshoot when your aircraft turns and pulls away, and by the time it turns around to engage again, your aircraft will be gone.
Basics: Aircraft Handling, Maneuvering, and Response Times II
Of course, it’s impossible to use aircraft well if they’re taking mass missile fire. SEAD is an important part of air operations. SEAD, or the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, refers to any strikes performed to neutralize enemy AA in preparation for a large or important air attack. This can be done with SEAD aircraft like EF-111A Ravens or Su-24s - these aircraft have anti-radar missiles that can automatically target radar SAMs like Buks or Roland 2/3s or Hawks. They also target radar AAA like Gepards or Shilkas. A more generic SEAD activity is using artillery to kill, or at least panic and stun, enemy AA. You should always try to kill anti-air units when it’s convenient to do so, since every one you kill makes air operations a little easier. You should especially go to lengths to target AA units first if you’re preparing for a mass air attack. Now, consider this enemy SAM:
The best way to attack this SAM is to order a SEAD aircraft to a point several kilometers short of the target. SEAD aircraft fire their missiles automatically - they don’t need to be directed at a specific target, just at an area. If you order it right over the target, it’ll shoot at the target but then continue on after it before turning.
Now, on to attack vectors. An aircraft’s attack vector is the direction from which they launch their attack. Consider this simple defensive line. Note that the heavy armor is accompanied by recon, supporting vehicles, and AA. Should your aircraft come in from vector 1 flying straight at their line, or vector 2 coming from the sides of their line?
You should always choose an attack vector that flies over as much of the enemy line as possible. In this example, Vector 2 is most wise (although, of course, you should always attempt to suppress enemy AA first). The biggest reason to use a side-vector is that bombers drop their bombs in a line along their attack vector. In the above picture, a line of bombs across vector 1 will damage/stun the center Bradleys and Chaparrals and cargo trucks only. If you want maximum effectiveness, angle your bomber aircraft so that all of their bombs fall across the line, rather than perpendicular to their line.
The other reason for this is that after dropping its weapons, the aircraft on attack vector 2 can turn into friendly territory in order to evac, while the aircraft in attack vector 1 will go careening straight over enemy territory, including enemy AA. Additionally, if the enemy sent interceptors of his own when he saw your aircraft, the plane on vector 1 is now heading straight for them! Always consider your aircraft’s attack vector and where it may take the aircraft before calling it in. Call in aircraft off to one side and wait until they get there to issue the attack order- remember that you can direct aircraft to the voids off the sides of the map, too!
Basics: Integrated Air Defense Systems
Okay, that’s how you use aircraft, but how do you defend against them? Obviously, with anti-aircraft units! While I’ll go over the specific types of anti-aircraft units and their uses later, for now, know that:
Self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, or SPAAGs, are vehicles with AAA weapons. Some have Radar capabilities, and some do not. Those that do are generally more accurate and have longer range. They can kill helicopters in range, but they can generally only stun and panic jets and even then only if they fly around over them or in large numbers..
Radar SAMs are SAM vehicles that use radar. They are generally longer-ranged and more effective when fighting jets. However, they are also good against mass helicopter rushes because their missiles have a wide splash damage radius. They tend to be your best and most expensive SAMs.
Infrared SAMs are SAM vehicles and MANPADS that do not use Radar. They are generally longer-ranged against helicopters than against jets, but they are an important backup to ensure that SEAD aircraft cannot eliminate your entire defense.
Fighter aircraft are jets that specialize in taking on other jets in short range. They are generally armed with short-range missiles and guns and are capable dogfighters.
Interceptors are jets that specialize in taking on other jets at long range. They carry long-ranged missiles and are terrible dogfighters.
While I’ll discuss in greater detail the specific uses of each type, know that proper air defense involves using multiple types of air defense in concert. It is not enough to lazily bring along a SAM vehicle or two - if the enemy sees that that’s all you have, they will simply target it first and then send in as many bombers as they can afford. This is referred to as an integrated air defense system or IADS. It’s an air defense system that integrates multiple components. Simple, right?
So, why do we need to have such a complicated setup? The first and most important reason is that each type of system works in different ways and against different types of enemy air. Thus, to achieve maximum tactical effectiveness against aircraft, different systems must work in concert.
The first thing you must do is consider where enemy air attacks are most likely to come from and in what forms. Look at where enemy air lanes are, and where their forces are in relation to yours. Watch how they use planes as well - do they send in a SEAD aircraft first? Do they send in a bunch of planes at once, or one at a time? Do they use them before a ground attack or during one? Do they use transport helicopters at the front? Do they use gunships offensively or defensively? Independently or with other forces? Once you know the most likely patterns of air attack, and so your IADS should be spread out to absorb and defeat air attacks in those patterns.
So, how does IADS help with this? Each type of AA complements another type’s weaknesses. Radar SAMs are the best at denying airspace to the enemy, but they’re counterable by SEAD aircraft. So, you couple them with SPAAGs and IR SAMs. Some types of anti-helicopter weapons can actually be outranged by heli-borne ATGMs, thus making it essential that you have other anti-helicopter weapons that can maneuver in or jets that you can call. Point is, every type of anti-air counter has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, and IADS allows you to create a well-rounded system with no obvious flaws.
The other important reason to use an IADS concept is redundancy. Just like any unit you field, sometimes, the enemy is just going to get lucky or just plain outmaneuver you and manage to kill a part of your AA network. When I play, I consider all SAMs to be high-value targets and attempt to eliminate them as often and as fast as possible. I know that most decks have a relatively limited number of SAM systems, and so killing off even a few pays dividends in the long run. Having redundant, overlapping systems makes it significantly harder for the other team to use aircraft safely, which means your men will get bombed less.
The last important reason is to counter SEAD. As a defender against air power, fear SEAD, hate SEAD, and be ready for SEAD. Pretty much all players are going to want to bring out their aircraft as fast as possible, as they tend to be hard-counters to almost every expensive unit in the game. The problem with SEAD aircraft is that the best ground units for shooting them down are also the units these aircraft are built to destroy. This means that you need to disrupt the SEAD aircraft action’s first by using other parts of your integrated air defense network. This can be very simply laid out if you know their probable attack vector - observe:
The general gist is that you stun them with AAA first, or at least waste their munitions on lower-value targets, and then use the expensive Radar SAM to finish them off while they’re stunned. Aside from that, IR SAMs and interceptors make a great way to get some extra missiles off against SEAD aircraft, which can be very difficult to kill due to their usually exceptional ECM.
Additionally, radar units require micromanagement to maximize safety against SEAD aircraft. Radar weapons are helpfully labeled in the HUD. Let’s see this on a Tunguska anti-air unit:
As you can see, the Tunguska has a 30mm Radar-guided anti-air gun and a SACLOS (non-radar-guided) anti-air missile. This means that the Tunguska can be targeted by SEAD aircraft. However, you can do this:
Elmpt’s Tunguska is now immune to SEAD aircraft. Any Radar unit can have its Radar weapon turned on or off to disable it in exchange for being invisible to SEAD aircraft. The general strategy with them is to have them turned off until the SEAD aircraft passes overhead, then turn them on and fire a missile or AAA up their tailpipe (remember, aircraft can only fire at targets in a cone to their front). Some people prefer to leave their Radar weapons off at all times and only turn them on when they spot a SEAD aircraft operating overhead, while others prefer to leave their Radar weapons on and hurry to disable them when SEAD aircraft are spotted. Both approaches have their merits, and whichever you decide to do is dependent on your attention span, skill at micromanagement, and personal preference.
Finally, there is one other thing to note. Consider the British expression, the bomber will always get through. This phrase came about before the Second World War, and was an influential part of strategic thinking in that war and in the Cold War. And it lives on in Wargame, too - know that near your front lines, a sufficiently determined bombing force will manage to drop their ordinance, whether they survive or not. It’s simply not practical to set up a firm AA screen in front of your forces, for obvious reasons. However, even a dedicated air spam deck will run out of aircraft long before you should run out of missiles to fire at them.
Understand this and be prepared for this - this is why having air defenses is no substitute for being properly spread out and on your guard. While obviously the ideal is to prevent the use of enemy air power, you will sometimes have to settle for merely killing those aircraft when the enemy does decide to use them. Often, players will see sacrificing a 50-point aircraft to bomb several hundred points of targets to be a worthwhile trade. Or they’ll just get frustrated and throw so many aircraft, your defenses can be overwhelmed. Point is, know that this will still happen and be ready and have your forces oriented to ensure that this tactic will not be a repeat
Basics: Placement of Command Vehicles
While I will go into further detail about the different types of command vehicles and their varying uses later, by now you should know that command zones are captured by having a command vehicle placed inside them and not moving.
For starters, you should never ever do this at the start of a match:
See how that flare says “Sandy’s CV”? As will be discussed in the next section, this is a standard way of informing your team of who will be leaving a command vehicle in that zone to prevent wasteful redundancy. That means the other player who left a command vehicle here is an idiot. You should always make sure someone intends to leave a command zone in any area you want capped, especially your starting spawn zone. If nobody mentions it, ask. If nobody volunteers, do it yourself.
Controlled command zones split their income across the whole team equally - there is ZERO bonus to having your command vehicle in a zone instead of someone else’s. Additionally, command vehicles do not stack their income, meaning having two CVs in the same zone is a completely useless waste of an expensive and vulnerable unit. Additionally, there is no good reason whatsoever to ever have two expensive, vulnerable, and important units right next to each other where they can both be bombed at the same time. If your command vehicle is immediately next to someone else’s, one of you has done something seriously stupid and one of those vehicles needs to move ASAP. Too many commanders spoil the regiment - there is absolutely no reason for command vehicles to ever work together. Even keeping a “spare” is a waste of points except in highly unusual circumstances.
Now that that’s out of the way, where should you place your command vehicles? As discussed in a previous section, it’s always preferable that they be hidden in cover, of course - but in situations where cover is unavailable or too obvious, it’s better to hide them behind buildings or at least in distant corners where they’re less likely to be blind-guessed. Additionally, never put your command vehicles next to artillery, SAMs, or other units that might get shot at by artillery. It’s embarrassing as hell to lose a command vehicle to the other team by accident, is it not?
Additionally, even though you can get command vehicles with armor, guns, or even outright tanks, you should never attack with your command vehicle, ever. Why? Because of this:
Attacking enemies with your command vehicle is the worst thing you can possibly do. Command vehicles are ALREADY precious and important units that your enemies will go to great lengths to target and destroy. Putting them on your front lines is doing the hard part of their work for them. Even the dumbest player is able to figure out that even if they have to sacrifice a plane to kill an exposed CV, it’s generally worth the cost. Remember what I said about the bomber always getting through?
At best, a command vehicle’s weapon is useful only in emergencies where it’s that or nothing - but you should never voluntarily enter such a situation! Remember, command vehicles should always be behind your front and well within your IADS zone.
Basics: In-Game Etiquette, Flares, and Team Communications I
Okay, so you know how to talk like a Wargamer and how to fight like one. But how do you talk to them? Wargame is a team-based game, and this means that proper communication with your team is essential. There is no excuse for you not knowing what your team is doing or for your team not knowing what you are doing at all times.
There are two major methods of team communications: flares and in-game chat. You can press Enter to bring up the in-game team chat, or Shift-Enter to bring up the all chat. Don’t be that idiot that announces your plans in all-chat instead of team-chat.
The fastest way to direct your ally’s attention to specific points on the map are flares. These are fast because you can press the spacebar when you hear the flare tone to instantly jump to its location, as I mentioned in a previous section. These four buttons underneath the minimap allow you to place flares:
You can place these flares anywhere on the map, at any time, and your allies will see them and hear a ringing sound effect. Flares don’t go away in the deployment phase, and in the battle itself, they’ll fade away after one minute. You can place up to four flares on the map at one time - place a fifth and the first will disappear. There are three types of “standard” flares.
You will hardly ever need to use them. Why? Because you can also make a custom flare. The fourth button allows you to type a short message to go along with the flare, and it is almost always preferable that you use a custom flare instead of a standard one. Why? Simple! Let’s say you’re in a game, and your ally leaves this flare:
Attack? What does he mean? Is there a unit under that flare that he wants you to attack? Does he want you to launch an attack on that entire sector? Is he going to attack in that general location? Does he want you to hit that specific spot with artillery? Noobs use the same flare to mean all of these things. This means that the stock flares are not specific enough to be useful. Instead, do this:
It wouldn’t even take you two whole seconds to type that up, but given that it says “enemy CV here” and is over an enemy sector, I know all I need to know. The enemy command vehicle is there. Maybe I should send artillery or air power to eliminate it. Simple! Do the same for any other time you need to draw your ally’s attention to something.
It’s generally expected that you use flares at the start of a match, in the deployment phase. I always leave at least two types of flares in the deployment zone. The first type says “Sandy’s CV”, and denotes the sectors I intend to leave or move a command vehicle to, and the second type says “Sandy attacking/Sandy defending/Sandy supporting” so my allies know what sector I intend to move my initial forces to. I might also send other helpful notes before the fight starts, like “Sending fighters here” or whatever else it is I happen to be doing. You should always do this. Why? So the team can very quickly see if there are obvious gaps in the team’s deployment, such as a sector that went “unclaimed” or a starting zone with nobody volunteering to leave a CV in it. It’s a sure sign of a disorganized team when none of them leave a CV in their own spawn zone because they each expected someone else to do it.
Oh, and unless your name also happens to be Sandy, obviously you should use your name and not mine. Be sure to add your name when you’re identifying your forces - if you just say “me” or something, we have to mouse over the flare to see who left it, which is an annoying waste of time. You don’t have to name every flare you drop, just the ones where it’s important that your allies quickly identify who sent it. And if your name does happen to be Sandy, hi Sandy!
Oh, and there is no reason to ever, ever do this:
Don’t be a hyperactive idiot. We can see one flare just as well as a dozen. All spamming flares does is make a constant annoying ringing sound. It will irritate your teammates and not communicate anything important. Worse, see that wide cloud of opaque red smoke and those overlapping banners? They make it harder to see and click on units under them. Why would you ever want to do that?
Use flares to call attention to anything your allies might need to know about. When you hear a flare ring, you can quickly zoom to where it was left by pressing spacebar (which brings you to the site of important events, like flares, spawned units, and destroyed units). Be specific when using flares. The most common things you’ll need to leave flares over in mid-game are enemy high-value targets you passingly spotted, like command vehicles, artillery, or air defenses. Also point out where there are hidden units, like SAMs or ATGMs, which pose a threat to your allies, or when you spot units sneaking past your recon screen, like heli-borne infantry or troops hiding in forests. Try to put these flares directly on top of the units when possible, so that you or your allies can use them to blind-bomb them with some precision.
As for the in-game chat, use it for discussions and long messages that aren’t tied to an in-map location or are too long for flares, such as discussing team strategy. Clear tactical communications are vital. Try to always communicate when you’re pressing an attack or defending from a major enemy attack, so that allies know how and when to support you. Don’t assume your allies know what you know. They have their own fronts and forces to manage, and while every good Wargamer tries to maintain situational awareness, you’re always going to know the situation on your front better than they will. And especially when you need allied support, be specific as to what kind of support you need and what the relevant threats are. I’ve lost countless aircraft trying to give my allies some close air support because they failed to inform me of enemy air defense capabilities.
I cannot overstate how important it is that you communicate with your team at all times. It mystifies me how many people play team-based games and never speak a single word of what they’re doing, what forces they have, or when they need help. If you don’t want to work with a team, go play 1v1s! A 4v4 is not four 1v1s across four lanes - it’s a team of four people who will do so much better if they communicate. This starts in the lobby. Say hi, see who replies and who doesn’t. Try to get a sense for whether or not your team will actually communicate. Show that you’re wanting to communicate with them. This is possibly the single greatest advantage organized teams have against public players - not experience, not coordinated decks, just the sheer willingness to work together.
Basics: In-Game Etiquette, Flares, and Team Communications II
I’m not going to nanny you and tell you to say please and thank you, but there are some general etiquette tips you should be aware of. First, you don’t have to be a grammar nazi, but do at least try to use something resembling proper English. When I see someone chat in goddamned text-speak or illegibly bad grammar, I instantly think that this person is an idiot and adjust my plans accordingly. I mean no offense to players who don’t speak English well, but people don’t want to play with players who don’t share a language with them. Remember what I said about communicating as a team?
Secondly, and this is important enough for bold text, do try to exercise some sportsmanship. Don’t harass and insult players on either side. It’s no fun to watch some ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ spamming up the chat with “trash-talk” even when they’re on your team. If I wanted to get cussed out by someone who sounds like he’s twelve years old, I’d go back to Xbox Live.
Don’t use tactics to delay or draw the game out just for the sake of getting back at someone else for beating you. What I mean is tactics like sending your CVs off into a far corner of the map in a Total Destruction match just to force the other team to waste time trying to find it. Stalling tactics, such as doing this to wait for reinforcements or as a temporary retreat, are perfectly fine. But when you know that all is lost, do the honorable thing and let it end.
Oh, and never, ever ♥♥♥♥ing ragequit, ever. Rampant quitting is one of the biggest problems Wargame has. I have won many more games by getting the other team to mass-ragequit than I have by actually defeating the other team. It is always frustrating to have a victory cheaply handed to you because your opponent couldn’t be bothered to actually play the game. At its worst, it gets like this:
If you have ever ragequit because a plane got shot down or something equally inane in the first minute of the game (or just as bad, because another teammate ragequit and left you alone, thus creating a cascade where the entire team quits one by one, which is what happened here back in ALB - and happened to me many, many times since then), please take a vow of silence or something to atone for your sins. No, you are not being “economical” and “saving time.” Some of us actually like playing Wargame, and quitting denies all the other players - it’s essentially saying “I’m more important than everyone else here.” No, you are not being “polite” - there is nothing polite about screwing over your team and forcing them to stop playing. No, the average game is not decided in the first five minutes.
Quitting whenever you’re losing - or, as many quitters disingenuously claim, when they’re no longer having fun, which strangely only happens when they’re losing - is rude and selfish. If you sabotage my games by ragequitting a few minutes in and leaving your team high and dry because something minor went wrong, I will ban you on sight from my lobbies. This “let me win or I’ll quit” attitude is toxic and hurts the community as a whole. Don’t join a game you’re not willing to play to completion. Don’t join a team you have no intention of sticking with. And don’t tolerate the selfish children who do.
Most important of all, quitting robs yourself of the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Learning how to handle when things go wrong is a big part of learning Wargame. Studying what you did wrong and learning how to recover from losses and screwups is the difference between good players and bad players - that more than anything else. I relish the replays from when I lose matches - I watch them repeatedly, studying what I failed to do, what opportunities I failed to seize, and why I failed to make up for it effectively. I’d be robbed of all that if I didn’t stick around. I’m not some amazing super-meta tournament-winning super-wargamer with a seven-figure esports endorsement deal; I’m just an average player. I didn’t get born with the “guide-writing” gene in my DNA or something. Studying my screwups and mistakes when I was new is how I got better, how I got good enough to think I had pages and pages and pages of Wargamer wisdom to share in a guide. This isn’t anything unique to me - it’s nothing that isn’t available to every player out there.
If someone on your team is doing something stupid, ask them what they’re doing (they may know something you don’t, after all) and then gently explain what you think they should do instead and why. If they don’t listen, don’t take it personally - in my experience many people are happier in their ignorance and don’t like being corrected, even when they’re making wildly stupid moves. Don’t get mad and start calling them names or harassing them, either. Again, that’s no fun. If they argue with you and get hostile, just drop it, it’s really not worth it. If they get really hostile and teamkill you or something, there is a thread on the official forums[www.wargame-ee.com] for reporting that, but there’s really nothing else you can do other than try to work around them and try to remember their names and avoid them in the future. Arguing with these people just makes the game worse for you and your sane teammates, so don’t bother. Zero ♥♥♥♥s given. Move on and have fun.
As a final thought, being nice to your team, or the other team for that matter, is never a bad idea. If a teammate sent his own units to support your front instead of his, it really can’t hurt to thank him. Maybe they’ll be more apt to support you later. It also never hurts to ask instead of demand when you need support. Your allies will usually have their own engagements to worry about and it’s never fun having some jerk demanding you give his front your attention instead of your own. And nothing feels quite as good as being complimented by your own team or by the other guy when you pull off an impressive maneuver.
Basics: Lobby Settings
Let's take a quick glance at the lobby.
There’s more options this time around than previous games gave us. Thank God. At the top, the lobby will show its lobby name and any restrictions the lobby has - national/coalition restrictions, deck type restrictions, and deck era restrictions. More on deck types later. Off to the right, you’ll see that the general chat has changed to an in-lobby chat.
Under that, you’ll see a variety of game settings. Battlefield lets you choose the map - the map’s minimap will be displayed to the right. The Game Mode menu lets you select the game type, from Destruction, Economy, to Conquest. Opposition allows you to choose between BLUFOR vs REDFOR (Confrontation) or BLUFOR or REDFOR only. Accessibility lets you choose if/when the lobby will appear in the public list.
Under Victory Conditions you can choose the starting and victory points. The standard starting points is usually 1000 per player, but you can choose more or less. You can also set a time limit. Finally, you can adjust the game’s income rate, from +/- 20% or 40% or even zero income. Below that, you can change your deck and view other players’ decks. It’ll show a flag for national/coalition decks and show their deck type and era restrictions, if applicable.
Click on a player’s name and you can add them to your friends list, or view their profile’s statistics. This is really useful for a lobby host in deciding if you want to play with someone or not. Don’t be overly judgmental and kick-happy - it makes for a toxic community and an unplayable game - you only hurt yourself if you don’t let anyone play with you. But at the same time, use it once in a while. This is really useful if you want to make, say, a “noobs only” lobby or an “experienced players only” lobby - just look at everyone’s profile and if they don’t fit the criteria, kick them.
Basics: Naval Strategy
With the way the game is balanced currently, the only truly workable strategy for naval seems to be "play REDFOR."
Coming soon - whenever the balance is fixed enough to test and learn naval strategy more thoroughly.
Basics: Campaign Strategy
“That’s great and all,” you say, “but get to the shooty part already! I only opened this guide to scroll down to this section and see the descriptions of the killy stuff”
Well, since you’re apparently an Ork, congratulations on learning how to read. Fine, then - let’s go through all the 1470 units of Wargame section by section. Yes, all of them. Recognising the units of Wargame by sight, and knowing what they do, is one of the best advantages experience will get you.
Follow along in the Armory as you read this section. Really, load up Wargame, open this in the Steam overlay, and shift-tab through this section while eyeing the various vehicles available. I cannot overstate how important it is that you recognise units on sight. There is no true substitute for experience in this matter, but the more you see them, the more you’ll get to know them. Knowing thyself and knowing thy enemy is absolutely basic and essential. It’s The Art of War kind of basic. It’s important.
New to Red Dragon, the armory finally has some sorting and display features. At the top bar you’ll see this:
This can let you view what units are or aren’t available in any theme or era restriction (useful for deckbuilding, which we’ll get to later) and let you filter units by their role or attributes. If you want to, say, compare every napalm aircraft, just use the filters to select only aircraft with napalm weapons. Simple!
Oh, and by the way, you can change the unit type icons between fake “RTS style” icons, and the real-world standardized symbols used by NATO to show unit types at a glance. It’s under Interface options.
See? There it is. This feature was great in European Escalation and AirLand Battle, and I highly recommend switching to them while you’re still learning. Why? Because they’re easier to tell apart once you learn them - observe:
These are just better, they’re easy to differentiate, they look cooler and more professional, and you’ll learn some of the actual NATO standard symbology, not just fake icons made up by Eugen. Don’t worry, they’ll look like squares and Xes and circles and other useless♥♥♥♥♥♥at first, but there is a method to their madness and you can find a guide to reading them anywhere.
Units: Unit Information Panel I
So, how do you learn how the units perform? Well, the most immediately useful information is collated in a unit’s unit information card. First off, you can use the T key to bring up a unit’s information card in mid-game. This is a very vital feature while you’re still learning the game, use it frequently. I bound an extra key on my mouse to ; just so I could click on any unit and see its information card in mid-game. You don’t need to memorize specific numbers, but it’s very, very helpful to memorize basic facts.
And how do you read unit information cards? Here’s the unit information card of the T-80U tank:
Across the top are the unit’s nationality, command point cost, name, and unit symbol. Already, just from the top panel, we know that the T80U is a super-heavy Soviet tank..
Below the title bar is between one and three weapons of that unit. Every weapon has an icon and its name, and then its tags and caliber.
What are tags?
In the above picture, you can see the [KE] and [AoE] tags on the 2A46M cannon. Tags denote special weapon effects, restrictions, or uses. Not all weapons have tags, and you can mouse-over them to display what they do. Let’s go over the tags in the game:
[AoE] Area of Effect - This weapon fires anti-personnel explosive rounds. Its HE value applies over an area of effect.
[CQC] Denotes an infantry machine gun that can be used in close-quarters combat and on the move, unlike most infantry machine guns, which have the [STAT] tag.
[CORR] Corrected Shot - This weapon may provide indirect fire above obstacles. It may improve accuracy if a friendly unit has a direct line of sight on the target. Only artillery units have this tag.
[DEF] Anti-missile Defense - This weapon will target enemy missiles within a limited range. It will automatically fire and attempt to destroy them in flight.
[F&F] Fire & Forget - Once fired, this missile doesn’t require any more action from the operator. Note that all guns and unguided shells are fire-and-forget, so this tag only applies to missiles. This is as opposed to [GUID].
[GUID] Guided - This missile is guided. Its operator needs to stand still and aim at the target until the impact. This is as opposed to [F&F].
[HEAT] High Explosive Anti-Tank - This weapon fires anti-armor chemical rounds. Its AP value will remain the same whatever the range to the target. This is as opposed to [KE].
[NPLM] Napalm - This weapon uses napalm. It is likely to start fires in woods or buildings, but is also a terror weapon affecting the target’s morale within an area of effect. Note that this tag is generic to all incendiary weapons even if they are not technically napalm-based in reality.
[KE] Kinetic - This weapon fires anti-armor kinetic rounds. The closer it gets to its target, the higher its AP value will rise. This is very important to know - weapons with the [KE] tag, including most autocannons and tank cannons, will do significantly higher damage close to the target. This means that even very weak guns will do good damage in tight quarters.
[RAD] Radar - This weapon uses radar guidance, making it vulnerable to anti-radar missiles. Turning the weapon off will avoid this threat.
[SA] Semi-Active - This missile is guided but can be fired on the move. Its operator needs to aim at the target until the impact. This is sort of a halfway between the [GUID] and [F&F] tags.
[SEAD] Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses - This anti-radiation missile will lock on enemy radar and be guided on them as long as they remain active. These weapons tend to fire automatically at the first radar they see.
[SHIP] Anti-ship - This weapon may only target naval units. It is designed to effectively destroy ships, and only ships.
[SMK] Smoke - This weapon fires smoke rounds. Smoke screens don’t deal any damage, but block any ground unit’s line of sight. Only artillery units have this ability.
[STAT] Stationary - This weapon can’t be fired on the move.
Units: Unit Information Panel II
All weapons also have a caliber. This is good to know because in general, higher caliber equals longer range and higher damage. Caliber also shows you Radar weapons. Underneath that are each individual weapon’s performance ratings in eight categories. Let’s consider the T-80U tank’s main gun:
Quality is color-coded for your convenience; the colors range from red, orange, green, to blue. While I find it helpful to consider the actual numbers instead of just looking at the pretty colors, this can do in a pinch.
The first three categories are the weapon’s range against ground targets, helicopters, and airplanes. Very few weapons can target all three categories at once. Range affects your weapon’s hit chance and, in weapons with the [KE] tag, damage as well. Close range applies a damage bonus to [KE] weapons that increases in closer quarters, which means even a relatively weak gun can do major damage at very close range.
Below that is base accuracy. Accuracy is given in base chance to hit. This base accuracy is multiplied by the unit’s veterancy multiplier to figure its useable accuracy. Remember this?
Doing a little math, this gives a Trained T-80U tank a 43.2% base hit chance, and a Veteran T-80U a 49.6% hit chance - meaning the veteran tank starts with a 6.4% better base hit rate!
Accuracy increases at short distance. A high-veterancy unit in close quarters can occasionally get a greater than 100% chance to hit - when this happens, the extra hit chance is added to critical hit chance. You probably won’t need to worry about that in battle, but just so you know.
Accuracy decreases when moving; this decrease is a function of the unit’s stabilizer - the stabilizer is the unit’s accuracy when firing on the move. Accuracy also decreases with unit morale, to the point where a panicked unit will be hard pressed to hit anything at all. Units without good stabilizers should not fight on the move. Use the Attack Move command to get them to move, but stop to fire at targets. Units with stabilizers put up an exceptional fighting retreat with the Reverse Move command. As you will see, movement usually applies a steep penalty to accuracy, even with bad or decent stabilizers. This is why attacking involves so much more than merely running at the enemy, and why defenders have such an advantage.
A weapon’s power is given in two values - AP and HE, or Armor Piercing and High Explosive. A weapon need not have both AP and HE characteristics. AP damage is the base damage applied to enemy armor - if you have a 12 AP gun and hit an armor rating of 10, you will do 2 damage. The formula appears to be (it does not seem to be officially confirmed) damage = (attack value - armor value)/2 + 1
For [KE] weapons, if the target’s Armor value exceeds the AP value of a shot, the unit will not fire on that target and attempting to do so will see an Inefficient! error. The unit will have to move close enough for the proximity bonus to AP value to exceed the target’s Armor value. HEAT weapons will always do at least one damage per hit.
HE power is like AP power, but HE does not damage armor like AP does. However, HE shells deal splash damage and are significantly more effective against infantry and unarmored targets.
Suppression is morale damage per shot. Higher values are more likely to stun targets, and will reduce enemy targets’ morale state faster. Of course, all of this is multiplied by the rate of fire. The rate of fire is, obviously, the rate at which the weapon fires when engaging. Higher ROF means the damage and suppression values are applied faster. In artillery units, rate of fire shows you how many rounds per salvo are fired.
Below the weapons are the unit’s armor values.
As you can see, every unit has four different types of armor: Front, Side, Back, and Top. The frontal armor is always the heaviest, while Top and Rear armor are always the lightest. Armor value decides the damage caused by hits. We already discussed how side and rear armor necessitate maneuver warfare, but know that top armor is hit by direct hits from artillery pieces and from bombs, and maybe from helicopter autocannons (this doesn’t seem to have been officially confirmed or denied, to my knowledge).
Units: Unit Information Panel III
The bottom of the unit information card gives other assorted important information.Some of these stats have a range that goes None, Bad, Poor, Normal/Medium, Good, Very Good, Exceptional.
The strength figure denotes how many hit points a unit has. In infantry squads, it denotes how many men comprise a squad. In infantry, strength also determines the firepower with the primary weapon, due to more troops firing it!
The size figure affects enemy hit chance - large targets are easier to hit than smaller targets. A Big target gives a slight bonus to enemy chance to hit, while a Small target gives a slight debuff to enemy chance to hit. This appears to be five to ten percent either way, but the exact figures are apparently not publically known. Size does not affect range or chance to spot a target, despite popular belief. Oh, and in aircraft, this stat is called ECM, and gives you a percentage debuff of missiles' chance to hit..
Optics dictate at what range a unit can spot other units. Recon units, obviously, usually have Very Good or Exceptional optics, while non-recon units generally have Poor or Bad optics. There is one important thing to know here, and that is that all units actually have two recon values, of which only one is shown - those are optics for ground units and optics for air units. Anti-air units show you their optics value for air units (Air Detection), while all other units show you their optics value for ground units. This is why Radar AAA and SAMs frequently have Exceptional optics on their unit card. Recon units will generally be able to see both air and ground units well.
Speed and Road Speed are two different things - Road Speed is your speed during Move Fast orders, while Speed is the base speed for basic move. It is Speed that can be affected by things such as terrain, morale, and so on. The fastest road speed vehicles are 150km/h.
Stealth does what many people think Size does - they affect enemy chance to see the target; stealthy units can get closer to recon units before they are spotted. Few vehicles have decent stealth, while most small infantry squads have good stealth.
Fuel Capacity, measured in liters, measures how much fuel the vehicle can hold. Autonomy, a related figure, shows you how far a unit can travel before running out of fuel completely. Autonomy divided by fuel capacity gives you fuel efficiency (gas mileage), if you’re curious.
Amphibious will tell you which units are amphibious, and at what speed they move in water.
Year and Type are irrelevant to gameplay, but important to deck building. Category B restricted decks may not use units with a Year later than 1985, and Category C decks may not use units with a Year later than 1980. While we will go into more detail about deck types later, for now know that Type shows all of the thematic decks that a unit is available for.
The last slot will display if a unit is a prototype. Prototype units can only be taken in National or Coalition decks, and are not available in mixed decks.
Finally, know that most units come in series, with several variants. For example, the T-80 tank series has six variants: The T-80, the T-80B, the T-80BV, the T-80A, the T-80U, and the T-80UM. In general, more expensive variants will have improved capabilities or better weapons than cheaper variants; it is up to you to decide on the variant you want based on your needs.
Now that you know how to read unit information, what are the units of Wargame: Red Dragon? Well, Wargame has a fantastic armory viewer that allows you to view every unit in the game. The units are divided into nine different categories:
LOG - Logistics
INF - Infantry
SUP - Support
TNK - Tank
REC - Recon
VHC - Vehicle
HEL - Helicopter
PLA - Plane
NAV - Naval
The distinctions between these categories are very important for deck construction, but for now, we’ll just go through them one category at a time. In each category of unit there are multiple different types, and here I’ll offer examples, advice, exceptions, and my personal experience and opinions on how to best take advantage of each units’ capabilities or weaknesses.
Units: Logistics: Command Units
Ah, logistics - so boring, yet so vital. Our first category includes command units and supply vehicles and the game’s only buildable structure, the Forward Operating Base (FOB).
Our first Logistics unit is the humble command unit. You should already know how command units control sectors and the importance of keeping them safe and protected, but now we’ll go into the five different types of command units and how they are used. The five types of command units are command jeeps, command APCs and command IFVs, command helicopters, command tanks, and command infantry. All command units are highly expensive, and all serve the same general purpose of capturing command sectors. Oh, and command units are the only mandatory unit in deck building - all decks MUST have at least one card of command vehicle and command ship.
Command jeeps are the cheapest command units, ranging between 100 points and 110 points. Every nation has one. They are all unarmed, save the American Humvee CP. They all have relatively identical stats, except the more expensive ones are slightly faster. They are all unarmored, and will die if enemy forces so much as poke at them. They are:
Command APCs and Command IFVs are armored command vehicles that are lighter than tanks. Every nation has at least one. While there are differences between APCs and IFVs, the differences are a little arbitrary and blurry for the purposes of command vehicles. In general, IFVs are better armed and armored than APCs but are more expensive. They generally have lighter armor, 1 to 2 points, and range in cost between 120 and 160 points. While they have light armor, they will still die to any serious effort to kill them. They are:
Command helicopters are helicopter command vehicles. They have the advantage of being significantly faster than any ground-based command vehicle, but they are very squishy and will likely die if they pass a lucky anti-air unit. They can be used to quickly seize a forward point, especially a forward spawn zone, but be careful not to outrun their guards! They are:
Command tanks are the final category of command vehicles. These are fully-functional tanks that also operate as a command vehicle. They are expensive, very limited, and while they are as armored as their non-command counterparts, they will likely draw all the fire an enemy can put on it. They are best used behind a combined-arms force in assaulting enemy spawn zones, where they can park and thus “neutralize” the contested zone. This is essential for stopping enemy reinforcements. It’s important to remember that even though they are tanks, they are also expensive command vehicles, and you should not use them to do your fighting for you. Think of them as any other command vehicle, but limited and with the ability to survive artillery strikes and fight their way out of minor situations. This category also contains the game’s single most expensive ground unit, the T-80UK. They are:
Command infantry are a new form of command units for Red Dragon. They are small, vulnerable, lightly-armed infantry squads that come in normal infantry transports (more on infantry in transports in their own section). They are extremely squishy. They will not survive in any real fight. But what they are is stealthy, able to be slipped into forests or towns unseen. Use them to sneak into enemy zones and neutralize them, if you’re on the ballsy side. Better yet, sneak them outside of enemy spawn zones right before sniping their CV, then quickly capture the zone and spawn an army on them. Every nation has one, and they all cost 100 points.
Now that you know the different types of command units, let’s discuss their differences and how they are individually used. First off, it bears repeating that ideally, command units should never get into a fight, ever. If one does get into a fight, you have already done something wrong. That said, you should prepare for the possibility - in your relatively secure rear zones, this means flank security, recon, and an effective IADS zone. In your front, it means you should retreat and regroup if a threatening force manages to break through your lines and guns for your command vehicles.
Command tanks should only be used for seizing zones at the front. Leaving them in rear zones is a totally useless waste of points and limited units - you’d better serve them by investing those points in a recon unit and some MANPADS to scatter around instead. A good general rule of thumb you can use is that the closer your CVs get to the front, the more likely they are to have to evade enemy fire, and thus the more armor they should ideally have.
Some people prefer to use the unarmored command jeeps as their general-purpose CV, while others prefer to use cheaper command APCs and forgo the use of command jeeps ever. I prefer to use command jeeps, and see the points spent to get an APC as being an unnecessary waste, but it depends on your personal tastes. As with all of my opinions, experiment for yourself and see if you agree, I am certainly not the final word on that debate. As for command tanks, I only take them in my decks designed to make armored breakthroughs. Command helicopters are rather interesting; it can be worth taking them once you have more experience - they’re nice to have if you manage to find an unguarded path towards the enemy’s rear. Nothing seals a game faster than suddenly stealing the enemy’s spawn zone! Command infantry is also interesting - they're really squishy and so shouldn't be used near the front, but they're great for sneaking into zones through forests or towns.
Units: Logistics: Supply Vehicles
The other section of the Logistics tab is supply vehicles. We’ve already learned about the importance of logistics and supply management - these are the vehicles that make that happen. Supply vehicles come in two flavors, supply trucks and supply helicopters. Aside from the obvious difference, these units act the same. This section also includes the Forward Operating Base. One other interesting point of note is that supply vehicles have unlimited range, as they do not consume fuel when moving.
Supply trucks are your staple logistics vehicle. Though they vary in speed, capacity, and availability, all of them are trucks that ferry supply to your front line. They are all very squishy, and explode when killed. This means you should try to avoid bunching them up, where one death will kill the rest in chain reactions.
Supply helicopters are just like supply trucks, except airborne. They have a speed advantage over trucks, in that they fly over obstacles instead of following roads and move significantly faster. However, they can be spotted from a great distance when they’re airborne, so you should never use them for resupplying hidden forces the enemy doesn’t know about - when I see an enemy supply helicopter landing somewhere I thought was empty, I immediately reach for my artillery and a recon chopper to check it out. Don’t betray your hidden troops! The best way to use these is as portable miniature-FOBs, keep them well back from your front and use supply trucks to ferry their supplies to the front.
Finally, there is the Forward Operating Base. All nations have an identical FOB, each one costing 75 points, coming at 1 per card (2 per card in some national decks) and supplying 16,000L of supply. They are the most cost-efficient supply sources, and the most card-efficient too, at 16,000L per card. You can calculate card-efficiency by multiplying how many vehicles per card you get times the amount of supply capacity of a single vehicle. FOBs are peculiar in that they must be placed in the deployment phase of a match and cannot be brought in later. So, any FOB in your deck that you do NOT place with your starting forces is wasted. Like your first command vehicle, your first FOB is automatically placed and deducted from your starting pool of points. FOBs can and should be used to refill supply vehicles as well as artillery. They are also notably durable, taking quite a bit of directed fire to actually kill.
I prefer to take one card of FOBs for my artillery and two cards of the most card-efficient supply trucks available. I do not like supply helicopters, they’re expensive, fragile, and tend to betray the location of hidden units.
Units: Infantry: Overview
As some troops will tell you, it always comes down to the infantryman and his rifle. Though they are uselessly slow on-foot and vulnerable to many types of attacks, infantrymen are highly cost-effective, cover a variety of roles, are as previously discussed great in buildings, are very stealthy, and suffer no loss of speed in forests. They are capable of gunning down anything without armor and almost all carry some form of anti-tank rocket or missile as well. They are best used to seize and hold territory and operating in forests, and come with a variety of great mobility options. Ergo, they are indispensable when used correctly. However, they do require some knowledge to differentiate the various roles.
First, let’s discuss infantry weapons. Different types of infantry firearms behave differently. All infantry come with a primary firearm and a secondary weapon. Some also carry a squad machine gun as a third weapon. Understanding how these weapons work is important - they showcase how these units are best utilized and why cheaper infantry sometimes outclass heavier infantry. First, know that infantry rifles have different types of accuracy, and these are accuracy when stationary at range, accuracy when moving at range, accuracy when stationary in CQC (in contested urban zones), and accuracy when moving in CQC. The accuracy value given in the unit information panel is the stationary ranged accuracy value. This is why some troops with lousy submachine guns suddenly kick♥♥♥♥♥in urban warfare.
These are different types of firearms modeled in Wargame:
Assault rifles are what arm the majority of infantry. These are guns like the AK-74, M-16, Vz.58, etc. and are usually in 5.56mm or 5.45mm. They are jack-of-all-trades firearms just like in real life, they do not excel in any one category but are also not lacking in any category. They have decent accuracy both static and mobile, are reliable in CQC, and have decent suppressive power.
Battle Rifles such as the FAL, G3, etc. are semi-automatic 7.62mm rifles. They tend to have high power, long range, and good static accuracy, but less ammo than assault rifles and they don’t perform as well in CQC. While they are very accurate when stationary, they are very inaccurate when on the move.
Carbines and submachine guns such as the CAR-15, AK-74SU, or SMGs like the MAT-49 have low base accuracy, but don’t lose much in movement. They tend to come in assault rifle calibers for carbines, or 9mm PB for SMGs. They are best in CQC, but lack suppressive power and hitting power relative to other firearms.
Bolt-action rifles such as the MAS 49/56 and the Mauser rifle, are mostly older WW2 surplus rifles used to arm cheaper infantry. They have surprisingly great static ranged accuracy, but suck on the move or in CQC.
The above are all primary firearms, but there are three different third-weapon-slot firearms that infantry squads carry as well:
Static machine guns like the PKM, SAW, M60, MG3 etc. provide powerful suppressive fire to most squads, but cannot be fired on the move. These will suppress and kill infantry out in the open very well, and are a threat to unarmored vehicles too.
Close-quarters machine guns like the l.MG3, RPK, etc. are lighter variants of static machine guns and can be fired on the move and in CQC. This makes them really, really good for urban warfare.
Sniper rifles are long ranged, highly accurate single-shot weapons that will instantly kill an infantryman and instantly panic an entire squad.
Second, know that infantry come with transports. When selecting infantry for your deck, you must also choose which transport they come in, and the cost of the transport vehicle is added to the cost of the infantry squad. The choice of transport is very important, and hinges on how you intend to use the infantry you’re transporting. Infantry transports will be discussed in their own section.
Also, you’ll notice on infantry unit cards that infantry have training values. These values range from Militia, Regular, Shock, and Elite. Better-trained infantry will be much more destructive per-man than lesser-trained forces.
Finally, there are different types of infantry to consider. These types are line infantry, ATGM infantry, Tank Hunters, MANPADS, Sappers, heavy infantry, Special Forces, and Reserves. Additionally, there is also recon infantry, but they will be covered in the Recon section as they are under the Recon tab. But know that they follow the same combat rules as other infantry.
Units: Infantry I
Line Infantry are your basic, all-purpose infantry forces. They are generally unspecialized, and usually come with an assault rifle, an RPG of some kind, and a static machine gun. They are generally useful in all infantry roles, but are not specialized. They are usually 10 to 15 points, and come in squads of 10, and have Regular training. Let’s consider the line infantry in this game:
These are your bread-and-butter infantry, and are quite useful in assaulting towns and on the defensive. They can bog down enemy forces in urban zones and annihilate tanks in close quarters, and are cheap enough to afford in sufficient numbers. I consider no deck to be complete if it lacks line infantry in affordable transports (20 points total) - they are that important.
ATGM infantry are small squads that carry ATGMs with them. They are mostly small (with strengths of 2 or 5) squads and their price varies with the quality of their missile. They are not for taking on armor in close quarters - they are for sniping armor at long range. Because they are relatively cheap but a hard-counter to tanks, they are quite good on the defensive and very cost-effective. They remain one of the reasons why securing towns at crossroads is so important, for they are able to harass passing enemy forces and damage or destroy even heavy tanks.
These are pretty great on the defensive, and are a great way to kill tanks on the cheap. Higher-end ATGMs can knock out even heavy armor. Put them on the outer edges of towns so they have clear lines of sight. Alternatively, put them on the sides of hills so they have LOS over the surrounding forests and they can snipe at passing armor.
Light Riflemen are a cross between line infantry and ATGMs. They are line infantry who carry typically lower-end ATGMs instead of RPGs. Use them as line infantry but with the standoff range of ATGMs, and back them up with RPG-armed troops to kill tanks that get too close.
I like using these on the occasion I get to do so. They’re quite versatile, and versatility is always an asset for infantry.
Tank Hunters are infantry squads with high-end RPGs or recoilless rifles. They are not line infantry or ATGM troops - their sole purpose is to hunt tanks at close range, using anti-tank weapons better than they usually come at their price. Use them in forests or in towns, where they can get right up close to a tank before engaging. Note that these support infantry have an HE value on their weapons, and can target infantry and other vehicles effectively, too!
I’m not a fan of tank hunters, especially in Red Dragon where most line infantry updates have great anti-tank weapons anyway. Others disagree, so use them for yourself and see if you find them useful. They do have a useful HE value on their support weapons, and so they can hit infantry, too.
Man Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADS, are infantry units with small SAM launchers. They are generally the cheapest SAMs available, and are the other major reason to take towns at strategic location. Because of their low price, you can afford to scatter them around in numerous locations. They are not SEAD counterable. Because of these facts, they can make up a crucial part of your IADS zone, allowing you to keep cheap SAMs in less pressing areas so you can keep your high-performance expensive units near the front where they’re needed most. They also deny the enemy the ability to cheaply bomb your troops in a town.
I consider these to be absolutely essential not-optional must-haves. I LOVE leaving these all around the map, especially in loose buildings and on mountaintops, just to make sure no place behind my lines is relatively safe for enemy air to operate. They’re also good at denying helicopter rushes and for placing on the edges of the map to deny attempts to sneak helicopters past your lines. Oh, and I try to always keep one near my CVs, as well. They’re cheap insurance and a great way to fill out an IADS zone on the cheap. Oh, and note that Blowpipes are hilariously bad - they’re the Dragons of MANPADS.
Units: Infantry II
Sappers, or flamethrower infantry, are infantry bearing either flamethrowers or incendiary rocket launchers. They excel in removing enemy infantry from cover, and as such have a unique and useful role to play, especially in urban combat. Know that their rockets or flames will not harm armored vehicles, but they have an unmatched capability to send enemy troops running.
I don’t like sappers all that much, and rarely use them. However, the current “meta” favors them, and lots of people spam them. Incendiary rockets can kill large numbers of infantry quite quickly.
Heavy infantry, also called shock infantry, are higher-end infantry usually that come in larger squads of 15 and generally have better weapons than line infantry. They include Marines and Paratroops - these two types of infantry are generally used for similar purposes, but in different thematic decks. They can do everything line infantry can do, but are tougher fighters and more durable. They have Shock level training, and so can outgun regular line infantry. However, they are also more expensive, generally ranging in the 20-30 point range.
I used to dislike these guys, finding them not good enough to be SF but too expensive to be used like line infantry. But they've gotten better in my opinion, able to hold their own against heavy enemy attack and coming out on top against enemy line infantry. They're sturdy, powerful, and reliable - if you don't mind the price premium.
Special Forces are the true kings of infantry. These badasses mostly have carbines that are like SMGs but better in every way, they have CQC machine guns, and typically have very good anti-tank weapons as well. They are great, well-rounded, powerful troops who should not be underestimated. They are also very fast, running at 30km/h, which means they’re surprisingly mobile even through hills or other places their transports can’t go. They’re generally multipurpose and great as ambush troops or for operating behind enemy lines. They have the Elite training level, and will gun down superior numbers of other infantry. However, they are also the most expensive infantry in the game, and they will die to anti-infantry counters pretty much just as fast as any other troops. Finally, note that many countries have special ops troops in the Recon tab; they are not listed here.
I love these guys. You will not be sorry taking an up-vetted force of special ops troops in helicopters. Sneak them behind enemy lines and they will absolutely wreak havoc. They’re great for assassinating HVTs, and are agile enough to flee into forests or hills and thus remain out of the enemy eye. Additionally, they’re great for force-landing in enemy towns by surprise, and can generally hold their own until relieved by line infantry in numbers. They’re very, very good when working in concert with recon infantry, as well. If you’re considering using heavy infantry, consider investing the extra 5-10 points and going for specops instead. You will not be disappointed.
Reservists, also called conscripts or militia, are the last category of infantry. These guys are 5 to 10 points and are generally cheap, providing a low-cost-high-availability alternative to line infantry. They can generally do whatever line infantry can do, but not as well, usually with less effective firearms and hand-me-down antitank weapons. Don’t underestimate them, though - they still have working firearms and antitank rockets, and while they may need several shots to kill a decent tank, they’ll still get shots off rapidly in tight quarters. Additionally, many of them come with SMGs, which are surprisingly effective in CQC. SMG-armed reservists in large groups are perfectly capable of driving off heavy infantry all on their own. Unfortunately, these are all national prototypes, only available in national and coalition decks.
I used to pass these guys up, but their excellent availability and low cost makes them surprisingly useful. They come in large numbers and are great for filling out towns with infantry or for pulling off infantry blitzes without wasting a lot of points. I take them whenever I can.
Units: Infantry: Transports
Of course, infantry are going nowhere fast without their transports. There are four classes of infantry transports: Trucks, APCs, IFVs, and Helicopters. The choice of what transport your infantry come in can be just as important as what infantry you take. These transports are not interchangeable and should not be chosen arbitrarily - instead, they are a reflection of your tactical doctrine. When selecting infantry in a deck, you also select their transport at the same time.
Transports have their own availability seperate from infantry - you might be able to take, say, three cards of Motostrelki, but only one card of BTR-90s to carry them in. Observe this in the deckbuilder:
As with infantry, expensive transports are not always superior to cheap ones. If you shell out the cash for more expensive transports but never use them to their potential, that’s money you needlessly wasted. Oh, and note that transports are visible in the armory under the Vehicle and Helicopter tabs, but for the most part can only be purchased with infantry. And know that for all transports, you can order infantry to board empty transports again by selecting the infantry and right clicking the transports.
Trucks are the first type of transport. These are all unarmored, mostly unarmed trucks that are strictly only for transports and having little or no fighting capability. These are tricky to use - don’t ever send them with your front lines into a fight, they will die even to splash damage and get your infantry killed. Their advantage is that they're cheap, fast, and don't add much to unit cost.
Armored Personnel Carriers, or APCs, are lightly armored troop carriers that are generally armed with medium or heavy machine guns, though high-end ones may have autocannons or ATGMs. They generally have one point of armor all around, and some variants may have additional capabilities, like ATGMs, and cost between 5 and 20 points. They are a halfway point between unarmored trucks and IFVs. Don’t expect them to survive any serious fire, but a little bulletproofing can go a long way. They’re best when you want the cheapest possible option to survive a little gunfire, and some provide some interesting capabilities. Also note that wheeled APCs are faster than tracked ones on roads.
I generally use APCs when I want the cheapest possible transport that is not a truck. Don’t expect very much out of them for the most part, but don’t pass them over too quickly either - they’re an affordable solution to trucks’ lack of survivability and a good way to keep costs down. Some models provide autocannons, AA guns, or ATGMs that can provide a significant source of extra firepower.
Infantry Fighting Vehicles, or IFVs, are transports that are also armored fighting vehicles. They usually come with decent armor and potent autocannons or other weapon systems that provide your troops some serious fire support. Their downside is being expensive, with more expensive variants being the sort of thing you buy for the vehicle while also getting an infantry squad for free. However, infantry when backed up by autocannons and higher-end ATGMs can be a serious force even in relatively few numbers; don’t underestimate what a handful of survivable autocannons can do. These are also very good for accompanying your front-line forces, where they often can contribute even to outright tank fights.
I like these things, but with the caveat that they’re no replacement for cheap infantry. If you’re looking for some variety in your infantry, consider bringing some of these as well as some cheaper transports for the same type of infantry, so you cover a wider range of options. With some high-end vehicles, like the Bradley, you might as well just consider yourself as paying for the vehicle and getting a free rifle squad with it. Drop off the infantry, then use the vehicle as part of your forces, or as fire support for the infantry.
Transport helicopters are, with a notable exception, usually lightly armed helicopters used to transport infantry. They are very fast, but they’ll die pretty quickly if engaged. Use them as a light, rapid assault or response force, just like they’re used for in real life. It’s best to send them to rapidly seize urban zones before the enemy forces get there, or to encircle enemies and occupy towns behind them. Note that in general, PACT has heavier-armed and more expensive helicopter transports than NATO, who have smaller, lighter-armed, and much cheaper options.
The Mi-24/25/35 series are full Hind heavy gunships which are also transports, and NATO has no direct equivalent. These can make infantry incredibly expensive to bring in if you don’t also have cheaper options. Consider using Hind gunships with recon infantry in a hunter-killer team, or for providing deep-insertion infantry with heavy anti-armor support, or even with command infantry to assault a spawn zone and then capture it for yourself!
At the same time, I find these indispensable but also warn not to overestimate them. They will die too quickly, with the exception of the Mi-24 series, to be of any real use in a fight. However, they have other uses. I try to always have heli-borne special forces and/or recon infantry in my general-purpose decks. An advanced technique is to sneak these helicopters along the fringes of the map around their recon screen and get them behind enemy lines, where infantry can do all sorts of damage before they’re spotted. This is much harder to pull off against experienced players who watch for this sort of mischief, though.
Units: Support: Artillery I
The Support tab is one of the most valuable areas of your deck. This tab covers two critical categories: Fire Support and Air Defense. Considering both of these are indispensable and have a variety of tactical options necessary for maximum utilization, your Support cards are going to be one of the harder choices you’ll make in your deck. The true problem is almost that you’re too spoilt for choice!
The first category of support units is artillery. Artillery pieces actually come in four flavors - mortars, barrage artillery, tube artillery, and rocket artillery. These types of artillery are each used differently and in different roles, and it’s essential to your understanding of the game that you are able to differentiate them at a glance. There are, however, some concepts that apply to all artillery pieces.
First off, you must understand the importance of counterbattery fire. Even if you don’t have recon eyes on enemy artillery pieces, the shots they fire can be seen, which means you can pinpoint where a shot came from if you can glimpse where the shots originated from. This is not a gameplay flaw; it is an abstraction of real-world counterbattery techniques. If you do glimpse where shots came from, either send your own artillery at that point or at least flare it with “enemy arty” or something along those lines.
You should also get in the habit of moving your own artillery pieces after every salvo. Why? Because smart enemies will send shots back at where your artillery came from, too! Against smart enemies, you’ll frequently see shells hit shortly after your own shells fire. You don’t have to move them clear across the map - just do slow circles around your FOB. The important thing is to get in the habit of moving after every shot. It’s just a small precaution but it can save your artillery from destruction. Oh, and don’t park your artillery next to your CV, for obvious reasons.
Second, understand differing time-to-target. Time-to-target refers to the amount of time it takes for an artillery piece to go from receiving a fire order to the shells landing on target. This can vary based on range, aiming speed, and type of artillery. This is particularly vital when trying to hit moving targets or when you need shells to land ASAP. Honestly, time to target is just something you will have to have practice with - you will develop a sense for how much time it takes for shells to reach distances from different artillery systems.
Now, on to the different forms of artillery:
Mortars are very short ranged in comparison to the others (typically between 3000 and 5000m, the longest-ranged ones are 7700m). These are best kept a short distance behind your front lines. Their advantages include fast aming time, fast reload time, short time-to-target, and most of them are relatively accurate with a small impact radius. They are nigh-indispensable in urban warfare for their ability to hammer one sector without touching another. They also carry a lot of ammunition, which means they won’t run out without constant resupply.
Their downsides are their relatively weak HE power - you're not going to kill tanks with these things. They're also micro-heavy, since you have to keep them at a safe distance behind what should be a moving front AND keep them moving to avoid counterbattery fire.
On the defensive, they are excellent for stunning/panicking advancing enemies with their short time to target. On the offensive, their short time-to-target allows them to hit enemy ATGM infantry with good effect, deliver smoke and support assaults on towns. They can also deal good morale damage to armor.
While mortars are very good at their role, I generally only use these in my armored front-line decks where they’ll get the most use. They can often replace barrage artillery in concert with a card of heavy artillery. However, if you’re playing NSWP, you really should just take Danas instead. They can do everything mortars can, but better.
Barrage artillery, also called medium artillery, is your basic artillery piece. They have moderate range (between 10,000m and 30,000m typically) and moderate spread. On medium maps they can generally stay with your FOBs; only on the largest maps should you bother moving them. However, there are some that have much shorter ranges, that you should consider moving behind your front lines, sort of like much heavier mortars. They are moderately supply-heavy.
Their advantages include being able to pound enemy armored advances and provide a wider array of smoke than mortars. They can cause a fair amount of damage and even casualties in clustered enemies. They aren't as micro-heavy as mortars, though it's still a good idea to keep them moving back and forth because they will attract more counterbattery fire - this is because they have more distinctive and very long firing sequences.
Their disadvantages come mostly from lack of specialization; they aren't accurate enough to "snipe" nor are they fast enough to provide the same degree of supporting fire as mortars. They have longer time-to-target than mortars, so they're best used against non-moving enemies or for pounding areas of forest or so on where you know there to be enemies.
These are best used as jack-of-all-trades artillery; they're capable of causing damage and killing lighter armor in enemies, provide a good amount of morale and stun damage to targets, and aren't too supply-heavy. They really shine in providing smoke, since they can hit a wider area than the others. By the way, faster medium artillery pieces like the Czech Dana are also really good at accompanying front lines; they can be kept further back than mortar pieces, and can provide more heavy fire than mortars. This can make them effective mortar-replacements in a deck.
Units: Support: Artillery II
Heavy tube artillery are the other category of tube artillery. Noobs often confuse them with your basic artillery because of a similar visual appearance and lack of general distinguishing in the unit stat sheets. They are devastating when used right, but lackluster when used wrong. They have extreme range (30,000m+, the Malkas have over 40,000m) and can hit clear across the map even on large maps. The other thing you'll discover, though, is that they are highly accurate at extreme range without shot correction. This suits their preferred role perfectly - use them for sniping high value targets and for counterbattery fire. Additionally, they have the best HE damage of any artillery piece, which means they can kill most units on impact, even tanks.
Their downsides are their extremely long time-to-target, which makes them nigh-useless for attacking a moving front, and their low shot count. Don't use this as tactical artillery to back up your front lines - leave that for the others. Additionally, they're usually more expensive than other artillery. They also take much longer to reload than mortars or barrage artillery. Their low shot count and low spread also makes them relatively less useful for smoke, too, but they’re better than nothing in a pinch.
Keep them hotkeyed so that you can quickly select them without scrolling away from your field of view. Use them as your personal sniper rifle, not as fire support. They're excellent for taking out static CVs, SAMs, or for counterbattery.
Rocket artillery is the last type of artillery. Noobs LOVE rocket artillery because of its visually impressive firing sequence, but don't understand how to use it at all. Rocket artillery has very long range, but low accuracy, and shot correction does not help. This actually makes it more suitable for its primary purpose, but leads to a lot of misuse. Their advantage is their ability to morale-damage a wide area. Used correctly, rocket artillery can stun an entire front line, leaving them vulnerable to an assault or turning a relentless enemy advance into a panicked mess. A more nebulous bonus is that human players (well, noobs) often panic at the sight of a huge wave of rockets hitting their precious forces, which causes them to recklessly overreact.
Red Dragon adds cluser rockets to the fray, as well. Unlike HE rockets, these can damage and destroy vehicles in a wide area, rather than spreading morale damage. These are extremely useful for covering a wide area and damaging many targets at once, or for counterbattery fire with a little luck. It also adds the ATACMS, a unique weapon on the US M270 MLRS - a tactical ballistic missile. Use it like a heavy tube gun, but taken to extremes.
Their disadvantages are numerous. They are EXTREMELY supply-heavy. They will eat FOBs in a few salvos at most. If you use allied FOBs to resupply your rockets, your team will get hugely irritated at you. This is, in fact, a common form of griefing, or just plain retardation. They are also highly expensive. They are almost guaranteed to draw counterbattery fire and must be well-defended with AA systems and micromanagement. They have extremely long reload times - don't bother trying to hit the same situation twice with one battery. They also have long minimum ranges. You can't use recon to make them more accurate.
These are much more useful than they were in AirLand Battle. Use them on large, wide concentrations of enemies just before attacking with conventional forces, to make the most of their high morale damage. Be sure to keep them mobile and defended, because they WILL be targeted.
Units: Support: Air Defense
Air defense systems are the other half of the Support tab. However, there are some non-radar SPAAGs which instead fall under the Vehicle tab. This will be important later, as it allows you to accept some downgrades in exchange for freeing up a precious Support slot in your deck. We already went over the different types of air defenses under the Integrated Air Defense Systems section, but these are the ones that fall under the Support tab: Radar SPAAGs, non-radar SPAAGs, Radar SAMs, and non-radar SAMs. In general, radar-guided units are superior to non-radar-guided units, but are also SEAD counterable.
The problem you face when deck building is that it’s almost impossible to have a perfect IADS and a perfect artillery complement at the same time. The Support tab is a perfect example of why deck building is so variable and so fun - you’ll never have everything you need. So you’ll have to make decisions about what parts of your IADS are most lacking or most vital.
Non-radar SAMs are generally more useful against helicopters than against jets. They generally have lower range and less capabilities than Radar SAMs, but they also are not counterable by SEAD aircraft and are generally cheaper and more plentiful - which means they’re an essential part of building a thorough, robust IADS zone.
I consider these to be an indispensable, non-optional part of a deck. If you can’t get non-radar SAM vehicles, get good MANPADS infantry in the hopes of covering for this lack. They’re not just good at killing SEAD aircraft, they’re a great way to make sure enemy aircraft have nowhere to hide if they shoot past your lines. And because many of these options are cheap, you can afford to bring extra early in the game where points are precious. Oh, and several of these lack the [STAT] tag, which means they can fire on the move - this is essential for escorting mobile tank forces!
Radar SAMs are SAM vehicles that use radar. They are generally longer-ranged and more effective when fighting jets. However, they are also good against mass helicopter rushes because their missiles have a wide splash damage radius. They tend to be your best but most expensive SAMs. These are your heavy-hitters, and these are definitely the star jet-killers.
Another essential part of your IADS. If you lack IR SAMs, definitely stock up on these. However, know that they’re expensive and limited, and protect them and micromanage them well.
Self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, or SPAAGs, are vehicles with AAA weapons. SPAAGs with Radar guidance are superior in performance to those without. They’re generally more likely to kill helicopters than jets, but they can also engage jets and at the least stun or panic them, which makes them sitting ducks for SAMs. As such, it’s best if you place them at your front, with SAM launchers further back so they’ll have the easiest time of engaging targets.
Don’t underestimate SPAAGs! They’re affordable, mobile, come in decent numbers, very lethal against helicopters, capable of stunning jets, and they can stun tanks and kill light vehicles, too. I really like them and consider them an essential part of my IADS zones.
Unguided SPAAGs are just like Radar-guided SPAAGs, but cheaper, less capable, and they lack the [RAD] tag and thus the ability to be targeted by SEAD aircraft. Some unguided SPAAGs are in the Support tab, and some are in the Vehicle tab. However, they are generally used in the same manner as guided SPAAGs.
I don’t like taking these if there are better options available. The reason is, Support slots are highly valuable and limited, while Vehicle slots are generally underutilized. If I’m going to take unguided guns, I’m going to do so in the other category. However, they can do in a pinch, and they can still kill helicopters and stun ground units if you use them correctly.
Units: Tanks: Overview
Ah, tanks. Truly the fun part of any deck. Knowing how to use tanks is a huge part of knowing how to play Wargame. As previously discussed, movement, cover, and distance are critically important; it’s nowhere near enough to simply shove your armor at their armor and hope for the best. They are the heaviest, heaviest-armored, and some of the most expensive units in the game. Their cannons can destroy anything on the ground with enough shots. However, just like every other unit, you need to understand the basics of tank warfare to be effective.
Because they’re so useful, just like in real life there are many units in the game whose sole purpose is to destroy tanks. Sending tanks against these units unsupported is asking for them to die like a ♥♥♥♥♥. Don’t do that. When using heavy armor, you must guard against anti-tank units. I know it sounds obvious, but people forget to do this all the time. Then their tank rushes get slaughtered, and they get frustrated, because an expensive fighting force was just effortlessly ruined. Remember, the key to using tanks to their full effect is to liberally surround them with support so they can do their best work without worrying about hard counters.
So, if they get countered so easily, why are tanks useful? They’re useful because tanks are your heavy armor. They’re the units that take hits and keep on moving. They should be absorbing enemy rounds into their heavy frontal armor so that your fragile support units don’t get killed. They are the wall between you and all those squishy specialized units you have set up. They’re what keeps enemy armor from steamrolling your IADS and your artillery and your logistics. They also provide a significant portion of your firepower - while they are not as efficient as ATGMs at killing enemy tanks, they’ll still comprise much of your fighting capability.
One of the important things you need to understand about individual tanks are their stabilizers. As previously discussed, stabilizers allow a unit to fire accurately on the move, and this is absolutely critical to using tanks correctly. Tanks without stabilizers will not hit jack♥♥♥♥♥♥on the move; they should be used in static defense, ambush, or with the Attack Move command. Tanks with good stabilizers are absolutely at their best when on the move. Tanks with good stabilizers should not be standing still. If you use your stabilized tanks as static units, you’re throwing away what is usually their biggest advantage! Use them as part of a dynamic defense, or as instruments of maneuver warfare, but for your mens’ sake don’t throw your advantage away when you have it. When your tanks move, it forces the other guy to move his forces in response - and this is crucial in seizing and holding the initiative in a fight.
Next, you need to understand how range affects tank warfare. Most tank guns come in one of three ranges:
While this seems insignificant, the range advantage dictates how tanks are best used. If you send your cheaper 1925m-ranged tanks up against longer-ranged tanks, they’ll generally get a shot or two off before your tanks could even possibly shoot back - and this means they’ll take damage and take morale damage, which ruins their accuracy, which means the enemy will get more shots off...and your tanks will die like a ♥♥♥♥♥. Additionally, longer-ranged tanks apply the [KE] damage bonus and the accuracy bonus at a longer range, too. Accuracy and AP power stated in the unit info card are at their maximum range, and increase as the target gets closer.
Generally, always use the range advantage when you have it. If your tanks have the range advantage, keep the enemy tanks at range! If enemy shorter-ranged tanks rush towards your longer ranged tanks, why would you sacrifice your advantage when you could just Reverse Move and keep them unable to return fire? Conversely, if you have cheaper tanks that lack the range advantage, use maneuver warfare tactics or the Smoke Position command to get your tanks right up close, where their disadvantage is negated by the close distance and shooting first is most important.
Finally, understand how a tank’s various stats relate to one another, and try to intuit how their various stats dictate their role. The three general categories that armor are judged on are mobility, firepower, and armor. Just because a tank sucks in one category doesn’t mean the tank sucks, if it makes up for it in another category. Generally, you will not get exceptional stats in all categories without a seriously high price to go along with it. You don’t need to spend 120+ points per tank to get a good vehicle - you just need to know your units’ capabilities and limitations.
Mobility refers to tactical mobility - the ability to move around the battlefield quickly. This is a function of autonomy, off-road speed, and stabilizers. Units with good stats in these areas are said to have good mobility, and so are best at maneuver warfare and dynamic defense.
Firepower is pretty obvious, and is a function of the quality of a unit’s main cannon. Range, AP value, and rate of fire determine a tank’s firepower rating. Better firepower makes a tank better at destroying other heavy armor.
Armor is even more obvious - it refers to a tank’s survivability. Heavy armor is usually the antithesis of high mobility, but not always. The heavier your tank’s armor is, the more effective they are on the defense and for absorbing fire so that lighter units can engage safely.
Again, you can only get all three in the most expensive tanks. It’s far better to have just one or two strengths and to use them most effectively.
Mixing Firepower and Armor, but lacking mobility, like Britain? You’re best in a static defense, but be sure to guard your flanks so you don’t get surrounded.
Mixing Mobility and Firepower, but lacking in armor, like France? You’re best in maneuver warfare, ambush, and quick shoot-and-scoot raids. The point is to keep moving and keep the enemy shooting at something else.
Mixing mobility and armor, like Russia? Stay ahead of your front lines and absorb enemy tank fire while friendly ATGMs or aircraft deal the real damage - alternatively, rush in close to take advantage of the accuracy and AP bonuses that [KE] weapons get in close quarters to negate your lack of firepower.
Any combination of these features will tell you what to do with any single unit, if only you apply a little logic and your knowledge of the game’s mechanics.
Because of the arbitrary and difficult classification of units in the Tank category, for this category I’ll instead discuss every series of tank individually. Yes, that’s right - all of them, individually. Know that most tanks in Wargame fall into the category of main battle tank, meaning they are “line tanks” that, like line infantry, aim to cover general-purpose tank roles. However, there are exceptions.
Units: Tanks: BLUFOR I
BLUFOR armor is more diverse than their REDFOR cousins - most BLUFOR nations have their own unique line of tanks, although some use imports. BLUFOR generally has lighter armor and better guns than their counterparts, but ATGM-bearing tanks are very rare. Additionally, BLUFOR armor works best in mixed-nation or coalition decks, where you can use mixes of forces that cover different specialties.
AMX-13 Harpon: This French-only tank, at first glance, seems pretty useless as a tank. It has a frontal armor rating of two, and it only gets worse from there. On top of that, it has a weak 6AP gun with only a 1575m range - but a whopping 19 RPM! - and an underwhelming machine gun. However, it comes with four useable ATGMs and has decent mobility - save for lacking a stabilizer. Additionally, it has a Small size, one of the few units in the category to have such. Use this tank for ambush, or for rushing behind enemy units and shooting into rear armor at point blank range. For 20 points, it really isn’t that bad, especially for being an ATGM carrier.
Many people like these as cheap, spammable ATGM carriers. I don’t often play in a style that needs that concept at all, but if you do, give these a close look.
AMX-10 RC SB: This French light tank has exceptional mobility (save for lacking stabilizers - an annoyingly common trait in French vehicles!) at 85km/h offroad and a 150km/h road speed. Like the AMX-13 Harpon, it has relatively weak armor, and will die in one shot to any serious tank. With its great mobility and decent firepower, it should be used in ambush roles or for a maneuver force; in a French-only deck it’s also useable as a flank-screening force for your AMX-30s.
At 30 points, they’re actually pretty useful, and perfectly capable of taking on cheaper PACT tanks if you keep them shooting and scooting. I actually like these, especially for their plentiful availability and role in decks that don't have heavier armor.
The AMX-30 series is France’s main battle tank. They cover the AMX-30, the AMX-30B, AMX-30B2, AMX-30B2 Brennus, AMX-32, and AMX-40. Generally speaking, all of them have great firepower and mobility for their price range. Even the 40-point AMX-30B has a 2100m gun, which gives them a range advantage against most tanks of their price range. Additionally, all of them above the base AMX-30 have a 20mm autocannon in addition to their main gun, which makes them surprisingly survivable against helicopters if they can get in close enough to shoot them. However, all of them have very flimsy armor for their prices - even the 100-point AMX-40 has only 12 points of frontal armor, while the M1 Abrams has 15 for twenty points cheaper! Finally, all French tanks have an irritating lack of stabilizers, which means they have to stop moving to use their excellent guns.
Because of this critical lack of armor, the secret to French armor is to use AMX-30s like light tanks. If you know how to use light tanks to maximum effectiveness, these can be a seriously great force. I also love mixing later tanks in this series with Leopard 2 - use the Leo 2’s heavy armor to absorb blows while the AMX-30’s great gun dishes out the damage. Don’t let the terrible frontal armor scare you off - if you’re a little ballsy and good at dodging bullets, these are a really good investment!
The obsolete Centurion series of tanks is shared by multiple countries, including:
In their prime, Centurions were just a good, solid tank. But nowadays, these are generally low-end and unexceptional BLUFOR tanks without much to commend them, and don’t shine in mobility or armor or firepower. The Canadian Mk.SAT Centurion has the same Harpon launcher system as the French AMX-13. Other than being cheap, they don’t bring much to the party.
The Chieftain series is the British main battle tank. They cover the Chieftain Mk.2, the Mk.5, Mk.10, and Mk. 11. They typify the British armored doctrine - heavy armor and decent firepower but with low mobility. The Mk.2 has very decent frontal armor for only 40 points, while the Mk.10 and Mk.11 is one of the better BLUFOR medium-price tanks with a very nice 14 frontal armor and a 2100m gun for only 65-80 points.
I love the Chieftain series on the defensive, and the Mk. 10 rarely lets me down as a Cat C line tank option. Take some with some veterancy upgrades and they’ll make a great static defense, or keep them in front of AMX-30s for a great combination of heavy armor and heavy firepower in mixed national decks.
The British Challenger series is the first of BLUFOR’s major heavies. It covers the Challenger 1 Mk.1, Mk.2, Mk. 3, and Challenger 2. They typify the British armored doctrine, and it’s easy to see them as the Chieftain’s heavier cousins - large, heavily armored tanks with great firepower but relatively lacking in mobility.
The South Korean K1 and K1A1 are South Korea’s heavy armor. They’re broadly comparable to the M1IP and M1A1 Abrams tanks from the US, but a little more expensive. The close resemblance is not an accident - the real world K1 tank was a South Korean-produced tank modeled after the XM1, as it was known at the time.
The MBT-70 family is a strange beast from America and West Germany. The American MBT-70 mixes the unexceptional Shillelagh-C ATGM with a decent HEAT-only gun and a decent autocannon. The German KPz-70 Keiler, however, nixes the ATGM in favor of a decent 2275m gun taken from the Leo 2 and a good stabilizer, while retaining the autocannon. This is one of the best Cat C tanks BLUFOR gets, and the American version is one of very few BLUFOR tanks with ATGMs. They both have decent frontal armor and good mobility, but the German version is much better at a mobile fight with the long-ranged gun and good stabilizer.
I am unimpressed with the American MBT-70, but the KPz 70 is one of West Germany’s better units. It’s a staple of my Eurocorps decks, filling out with AMX-30B2 Brennus for medium tanks and accompanying Leopard 2 heavy tanks in assaults.
The M48 Patton series is an outdated series of NATO tanks. They include:
While they were good in the late 40s and early 50s, by Wargame’s time they’ve long since been outclassed. Cheaper M48s even fail to have a 1925m gun, having only a 1750m range! However, they are one of BLUFOR’s light, spammable tanks, starting at only 15 points. They’re also Cat C available and, in the USA’s case, available to Marine decks.
If I hadn’t made this obvious, I don’t really like M48s. In general, I don’t like 15-point spam tanks. However, like all cheap tanks, they’re perfectly capable of killing things in close quarters or for filling out the lines in between better options. But I still prefer to shell out the cash for something better.
The Kyu-Maru Shiki is a Japanese super-heavy tank, broadly comparable to the later Leopard 2 series. Its performance falls between the Leopard 2A4 and 2A5. This tank is the heaviest armor available to the “Blue Dragons” coalition, and capable of going toe-to-toe with almost any REDFOR tank.
The Leclerc is France’s only super-heavy armor, and one of the only tanks for which France decided to retire the stale baguettes and try real armor instead. The Leclerc has an excellent gun, one of the best tank guns in the game. Its other stats are comparable to the Kyu-Maru Shiki above.
Units: Tanks: BLUFOR II
The Leopard 1 series is a BLUFOR staple. They’re also much like REDFOR tank series in that they cover a range, from old, low-end, and spammable to decent mid-range tanks. They cover
All of them have surprisingly decent mobility with 65km/h off-road speed and stabilizers that don’t sacrifice much accuracy. At around the 50-point mark you’ll get 2100m guns, too, and units above that mark make perfectly serviceable medium-cost line tanks. Most of them have good frontal armor for their cost. At whatever price point you need them, the Leo 1 variants are always a choice worth evaluating when you’re building a BLUFOR armored deck.
The Leopard 2 series is the West German successor to the venerable, but dated Leopard 1. It covers the West German Leopard 2, 2A1, 2A4, and 2A5. This is generally the best of BLUFOR’s heavy tanks in terms of overall stats. With high speed, good stabilizers, and heavy armor, these will not steer you wrong, even if the Leo 2 and Leo 2A1 don’t have great guns for their prices..
These will be your real heavy armor in any Eurocorps decks. Despite their high price, thy are all-around excellent, formidable tanks. I liked them in AirLand Battle and I like them in Red Dragon.
The M1 Abrams tank series is the biggest series of BLUFOR heavies, and generally the most beloved by noobs and/or Americans. This consists of the M1 Abrams, the M1IP (“Improved Protection”, not “M11P”), the M1A1 Abrams, the M1A1 HA and HC (Heavy Armor and Heavy Common) and the M1A2 variants. The original M1 Abrams has a surprisingly mediocre gun, with only 13AP. The original and the IP variant only have mediocre stabilizers, but the rest all have very useful stabilized guns. They also have both a .50 caliber machine gun and a 7.62mm machine gun, and so can put out some good fire against close helicopters or infantry in a pinch. They have heavy frontal armor, but good mobility (except for the -A1 and later variants, which drops down to a middlish 60km/h).
The base M1 Abrams is priced more like an expensive medium tank, and the later ones comprise one of the staples of BLUFOR heavy armor. I find them somewhat overrated, though, and prefer the comparable Leopard 2 series.
The M41A1 Walker Bulldog series is an obsolete American light tank used by both Japan and ANZAC. They’re ten-point spam-tanks, nothing more or less, even worse than the M48 Pattons. Why bother?
The M551A1 Sheridan light tank, and one of the game’s few Airborne tanks. The first thing you’ll notice is that, for a tank, it has practically no armor at all. The other thing you’ll notice is that it’s one of the few ATGM tanks in BLUFOR, but also has a relatively inaccurate, HEAT-only main gun. Since it derives no advantage from proximity, use this thing not as a tank, but as an ATGM carrier.
I consider this thing to be absolutely worthless. It’s decently fast, but its HEAT gun makes it much less useful in maneuver warfare. If you want an ATGM carrier, BLUFOR is certainly not lacking with the superior TOW series of ATGMs, head over to the Vehicle tab. Additionally, its armor is like paper - 12.7mm or 14.5mm machine guns can pierce it! This might have had some value in the Vehicle slot, but don’t take this where you can take an actual tank.
The M8 AGS is an American prototype mobile gun system. Let’s discuss that - it is a mobile gun, not a tank. If you get it into a slugging match with tanks, it will die like a ♥♥♥♥♥. It has armor that even the French would scoff at, but it has great mobility and excellent firepower - for 50 points it has the same gun as the M1 Abrams tank, with a very good stabilizer, and a 50% ROF buff over the Abrams.
Don’t underestimate this thing - even though it’s not a tank, it’s a very, very good instrument of maneuver warfare for Cat A American decks. They mix amazingly well with M1A1 Abrams tanks; use the expensive tanks to reverse-move while putting out effective fire, then circle around with these and wreak havoc on their AA systems, ATGM carriers, or the rear armor of their own tanks.
The M60 Patton series is the American series of main battle tanks. It covers the M60A1 RISE Patton, the M60A1 ERA, the M60A3, and the Super M60, as well as the M60A1 USMC and the M60A1 AOS. The USMC and the M60A1 variants are pretty cheap and underwhelming, but the rest have decent mobility and medium stabilizers for their price. The M60A3 has the same gun as the M1 Abrams for a third less, while the Super M60 improves upon the A3 with much better armor and two more AP for its gun.
These aren’t my favorite line tanks, but they serve well in American decks; they’re roughly comparable to other BLUFOR line tank series like the Leopard 1.
The American M60A2 Starship series covers two models, the E1 and E2. They’re one of the few BLUFOR tanks to carry an ATGM, the Shillelagh, with only 6 accuracy and 16AP. They couple that with a 152mm HEAT-only gun. The E1 model has a .50 caliber Browning, while the E2 trades up to a 20mm autocannon. They both have the same armor as the RISE Patton, and are both pretty slow, with no stabilizers.
I consider Starships to be absolute garbage. They have lackluster armor and terrible mobility, a HEAT gun instead of [KE], and the Shillelagh sucks as an ATGM. Why would you ever rely on it when the US faction gets TOWs all over the place instead?
The Nana-Yon Shiki series are Japanese line tanks. They have weak armor for their price, but better guns than most at their price point, not unlike the French AMX-30 series, and they're best used similarly. The “G” model has a Mk.19 grenade launcher instead of a machine gun, making it rather excellent at fending off infantry.
The Roku-Ichi Shiki is another ten-point spam tank. Compare it to the M41A1 tanks - it has much heavier armor than the M41 and a longer-ranged gun, but it’s even less accurate and still only reaches out to 1750m.
The Scorpion Light Tank used by both the UK and ANZAC forces is a lot like the Canadian Cougar vehicle - right down to having the same gun! While it is slower than the Cougar, it also has a Small size and so is a little hard to hit at range. Unfortunately, it has only HEAT weapons, and so can’t really defeat heavy armor except with a rear or side shot. It also has almost uselessly low accuracy.
The Swedish Strv 103 series, including the 103B and the prototype 103C, are an oddball amongst tanks. The first thing you’ll notice is the S-tank’s lack of a rotating turret - they more closely resemble WW2-era StuGs than BLUFOR tanks in that regard. With their 50km/h speed and total lack of stabilizers, they really suffer in a lack of mobility. But they have great frontal armor for the 60-75 point range and a high-ROF 15rpm, 2100m-ranged gun. Additionally, note its Small size, which gives enemies a decreased chance to hit.
I really like the 103B, and the 103C is the best tank in Scandinavia. It’s truly amazing in static defense, or in ambush roles. Don’t expect its 12AP gun to kill heavy Soviet armor at max range, but it can destroy anything in its own price range in a slugging match and in a short-range ambush at side armor it can one-shot a T-80. These are a must-have in Scandinavian decks.
Units: Tanks: REDFOR I
REDFOR’s armor, unlike their BLUFOR opposition, are highly homogenous. For the most part, all REDFOR nations use variations of Soviet equipment. REDFOR generally has heavier armor and more ATGM-equipped tanks than BLUFOR. Also know that Soviet armor is generally the best - this is a historical fact; the Soviet Union preferred to arm its allies with slightly out of date weapons so it would always be militarily superior. Also, the Soviets inversted a lot more in tanks with ATGMs than the Americans did, and so most higher-end variants have ATGMs and weaker guns than their BLUFOR counterpart. Finally, most REDFOR tank series act like the Leopard 1 or M60 series - thanks to modernizations programs, most series cover a range between low-end and high-end, which means that lower-end variants of newer tanks compete with higher-end variants of older tanks. We’ll start with the special tanks, and then move on to the five main series of Soviet armor: the T-55, the T-62, the T-64, the T-72, and the T-80.
The Russian PT-90 is one of the few Soviet light tanks. It mixes a pitifully weak gun with the Malyutka-P ATGM. It isn’t very maneuverable and has very weak armor. Essentially, it is a vehicle for delivering more ATGMs to the battlefield.
I don’t like the PT-90 at all; REDFOR is never short on choices for ATGMs and the Malyutka only has 15 AP. The only time you might need this is if a Cat C or Marine or Motorised deck needs ATGM carriers.
The Russian BMP-685 is the other Soviet light tank. For its price, it has an accurate but not very powerful gun. But it does have a 70km/h offroad speed - this gives it some use as a maneuver warfare vehicle or for rushing right up close to the enemy to engage.
I don’t like this either, but it does have some value if you remember its lack of armor and account for it - it has a 55% base chance to hit and 11AP, which is nothing to sneeze at for 30 points.
The Polish PT-76B Desant is another Pact light tank. This is one of the cheapest tanks in the game, but it shows - it has a whopping 2 frontal armor and a 76mm HEAT-only gun with 4 accuracy and 10 AP power. It’s critically slow at 45km/h offroad, and its only real advantage seems to be a medium stabilizer and a small size, and only 10 points.
I consider this to be absolutely awful, worthy only of distracting players or filling out a spam deck - and even then, why not take the same-priced T-34 instead with a [KE] gun and better armor?
The Sinhung is a 25-point amphibious light tank unique to North Korea. It’s broadly comparable to the Soviet PT-90, with a similar gun and ATGM setup.
The ZTZ-63 series are a pair of Chinese amphibious light tanks. The “I” model is a 20-point low-end tank, with pitiful armor but a good gun for the price. The “II” model goes up to 50 points but has a Bastion ATGM and improved stabilizer, as well as a machine gun and marginally improved armor. I recommend the ZTZ-63-II in particular.
The ZTZ-88 series are Chinese line tanks, very extensively modified from locally-produced copies of the Soviet T-54 in the real world. The entire series are gun-only tanks ranging from medium to heavy tanks in price and capability, and are comparable but not usually superior to Soviet gun-only tanks in the same price range.
The T-34/85 series are cheap, outdated tanks used by the Soviets, East Germans, Polish, and North Koreans. Yes, that T-34. The one from World War Two. Yes, they seriously were still in service in the 1980s. Their gun only reaches out to 1575m, and has only 3 accuracy and 8 AP power - but for ten points, what do you expect? They’re pretty slow, have no stabilizer, and only 3 frontal armor. The only serious use these things are going to have is if you can sneak them around behind enemies - remember, [KE] guns do much more damage at point-blank range.
I still consider these pretty worthless. Yes, you CAN use them up close if you maneuver, but why the hell would you? Even the base T-55 is only 10 points more and that at least has frontal armor to show for it. These were a good tank in 1943, but warfare has come a long way since then.
Units: Tanks: REDFOR II
The T-55 is the first of our common series of REDFOR main battle tanks. They were also the most produced tank in history! Their variants are:
The base T-55 is a 20-point low-end tank. The T-55A (called the L variant in Poland, otherwise identical) is a five-point improvement that adds a machine gun and improves the main gun into something useable. Like all low-end tanks, they really need numbers or close range to be seriously useful. All of them above the base model have medium stabilizers and most are generally slow off-road at 50km/h. Most models have decent, but unexceptional frontal armor for their prices. Higher-end T-55 variants compete with cheaper T-72s and T-64s, but many have Bastion ATGMs and surprisingly good guns.
Low-end T-55s are spam tanks, especially in Cat C decks. However, don’t dismiss high-end T-55s, I actually prefer the T-55AMV over the same-priced T-64A as my Soviet medium-cost line tank. While high-end T-55s have relatively lackluster 11AP guns, they’re a cheap way to get decent ATGMs onto the field. While Bastions aren’t going to one-shot heavies, they’re decent in numbers, and are a good way to deal some damage to BLUFOR armor before they even get in range to respond.
The T-62 is the next series of REDFOR main battle tanks. It did a brief stint as the Soviet Union’s main battle tank, but wasn’t well-received and was replaced in that role by the T-72 less than a decade later. It also wasn’t widely exported. Its variants are:
The base T-62 is the cheaper than the T-55A, and has one point more of frontal armor, a better gun, but still no stabilizer, no machine gun, and lower mobility. The 1972 revision added a machine gun, and later models include better armor and ATGMs. The Czech T-62cz is identical to the T-62 1975 revision. The M and MV1 models adda ATGMs, with a great 2800m range and over 20 AP. All T-62 variants have low mobility and none have terribly good armor at their price range. All of them have a very low ROF on their gun, at only 6rpm.
I don’t like most T-62s at all - I find almost none of the variants to be as good as other tanks I can get in their price range. I do like the T-62M compared to the T-55AM2, and most other variants are a more interesting comparison to their T-55 counterparts than they were in ALB.
The T-64 series are Soviet-only main battle tanks. Unlike the T-62, this was never exported for being too good, not for being too bad. The five variants are the T-64A, T-64B, T-64BM, T-64BVI, and T-64BV.
Though most of the time later tanks are better than earlier tanks, the T-64 was actually superior to the later T-72, but was more complex to manufacture. The T-64A starts at 55 points, but jumps up to 80 points for the B variant, going on to 100 and then 125 points and up to 150 points from there. The T-64A is comparable to the T-72A as a main line tank, while the more expensive variants are better used as more expensive high-end tanks.
All of them have bad stabilizers, which is actually historically incorrect. They have decent armor in their price ranges, and aside from their lack of stabilizers are decently mobile off-road. The Kobra ATGM has a 2625m range, having only 40% accuracy but a considerable 20 AP power that jumps up to 22AP for the Agona ATGM on the T-64BV. Interestingly enough, these tanks are all surprisingly cost-effective. Compare the 100-point T-64BM with the 140-point T-80BV. In fact, the T-64BM is nearly a straight upgrade over the T-80B, while costing the same price!
Because of this cost-effectiveness, I always bring T-64 variants in my Pact armored decks. The base tank is comparable to the T-55AMV as a line tank, while the B and BM variants are very cost-effective. The BV variant is one of Pact’s best heavy, high-cost tanks.
The T-72 series is the most the second-most numerous and varied series of Pact main battle tanks. It replaced the short-lived T-62 and the more venerable T-55 as the main battle tank of the Soviet Union, and was widely exported. Its variants are:
As with the T-55, the base T-72 models are identical, and the T-72A/M model are also almost identical. Low-end models have very poor main guns and no stabilizers, but very good frontal armor for their price. This is a common feature to T-72s - they have good armor and decent mobility, but relatively lackluster main guns. High-end models have better guns and very good frontal armor, but almost all still have a low 7rpm rate of fire, and only the top-end Soviet variant gets an ATGM - the exceptional Svir ATGM, which is surpassed only by the T-80 lines Refleks ATGM. Because these tanks combine armor with mobility while sacrificing firepower, they’re generally best used as a front line tank where they can absorb enemy fire while T-64s or T-80s provide the firepower with their faster-firing and more accurate guns.
I didn’t like T-72s in general in ALB, but after some rebalancing they’re competitive options in most REDFOR decks; almost all of them sport weaker guns but good armor for their price ranges.
The T-80 series comprises the Soviet’s biggest heavies in this game, and like the T-64, only the Soviet Union has them. This line includes the T-80, T-80B, T-80A (yes, confusingly, the A variant is better than the B variant, unlike everywhere else), the T-80BV, the T-80U, and the T-80UM.
These are not line tanks - even the cheapest tank is 85 points, and the T-80UM is the best and the most expensive tank in the game at 180 points. The entire line has medium stabilizers, and all but the base model have either Kobra or the exceptional Refleks ATGM; the T-80UM has the Invar ATGM, the best tank-borne ATGM in the game.
Like all expensive high-end tanks, use these as the tip of an armored spearhead, or keep them behind cheaper armor like T-72s so they can fling their high-end ATGMs with impunity. The T-80A and the T-80BV are identical in price, so take a look at both of them and see which you decide you like more.
The T-80UM is one of the best tanks in the game, resting at the apex of the triad of mobility, armor, and firepower. Its side armor is heavier than most T-55’s frontal armor, and it has a huge 20 frontal armor. On top of that, it has an incredible 22 AP value for its main gun! It’s for this reason that the T-80UM is considered incredibly hard to kill. BLUFOR players generally panic and overreact when they see one.
I like the later T-80 tanks, but I generally take T-64s over the earlier ones. The T-80U and the T-80UM won’t fail you as your heaviest firepower, if you can get over their insane price. Just to put it into perspective, you can get four T-72s for the price of a single T-80U and still have ten points left over. But when you absolutely, positively have to kill every last capitalist on the front - T-80UM, accept no substitutes. Oh, and they’re great for baiting BLUFOR players into traps.
Units: Recon: Overview
Ah, recon. We’ve already discussed the importance of recon - but it bears repeating that you can never have enough recon. Nobody has ever lost a match of Wargame because they were able to see the enemy too well. Recon units are what allow you to see the enemy at range and what allow your units to fight at their maximum range.
Of course, just like every other category, recon units come in different groups. They are recon jeeps, scout cars, scout tanks, recon IFVs/APCs, recon infantry, recon special-ops, and recon helicopters. As with all units, these categories are not interchangeable, and must be understood if they’re to be used most effectively.
All recon units have one role in common, though - they spot targets for your forces. This means that their primary job is being in the right place, not fighting. While some recon units can fight - and indeed some are quite powerful - if you’re sending your recon unit into a fight, stop and ask why you’re sending it and not a dedicated fighter that doesn’t have a more important job. In addition, since your recon forces’ job is to spot targets, having recon vehicles in groups of two to four is usually a bad idea. They don’t provide any additional sight to your forces, and that’s the job of every single unit in the Recon tab!
Instead, spread your recon out, so that they provide overlapping lines of sight and thus protection from being blinded should one unit perish. Scatter the rest of your recon forces wherever they can lay low and watch, and thus be able to see enemy forces moving around. Secondly, consider disabling your recon units’ weapons if they are meant to be hidden and not moving. Recon units often reveal themselves inadvertently as they open fire on passing units, which gets them killed. Unless they’ve already been spotted and need to fight to get away, or are quickly ducking in to assassinate high-value targets that can’t be killed by other means, they won’t often need their weapons unless they’re built for specialized roles.
By the way, to emphasize the importance of optics, I’ll color-code every unit in this category by their optics rating:
Red: Medium or worse
Green: Very Good
You should always prefer better optics to worse optics, all else being equal - optics are what makes a recon unit recon!
An advanced and real-world technique is called the hunter-killer team. A hunter-killer team comprises of a recon vehicle (the hunter) and a vehicle with a powerful weapon (the killer). An example would be mixing the AH-64 Apache with a recon helicopter, using the recon helicopter to spot high value targets for the Apache’s Hellfire missiles. The same thing can be done using a recon vehicle and a heavy tank or ATGM carrier, or even a recon infantry squad and a special forces team. The gist of it is that the hunter spots the targets, and the heavy hitter only comes forth to kill the target. If the hunter is chased, it can flee back under cover from the killer.
Finally, I advocate having three different types of recon in any deck: Recon infantry, recon helicopters, and recon vehicles for accompanying the front line. Your style may vary, of course, but I find this to be an ideal mix of forces. I also don’t typically up-vet my recon units, since having more means covering more of the map.
Scout cars and Recon Jeeps are our first category of recon vehicles. These are unarmed or lightly-armored, fast wheeled recon transports. They usually only carry machine guns or are otherwise lightly armed, which means you should never get them into a fight except under very unusual circumstances. Since they’re pretty likely to get killed if they’re engaged, you shouldn’t bring them to accompany your front lines; instead hide them in terrain and use them to cover your flanks to expand your recon area on the cheap.
Recon APCs and Recon IFVs are recon variants of armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles. They have heavier armor and usually better weapons than scout cars, and are best suited to accompanying your front line. Some of them have ATGMs and/or autocannons that can contribute to your front lines’ firepower, or provide some additional capabilities to your forces. However, IFVs can be significantly more expensive
I like recon IFVs for accompanying my front lines in my armored decks, even though they’re costly. Their autocannons provide a decent force for stunning armor or destroying lighter vehicles, and they’re pretty survivable.
Scout tanks are light tanks that double as scout units. Not all nations have them, and they’re generally used like recon IFVs are - as a recon escort for your front line, where their armor might survive a hit or two if they have to. Unfortunately, most of them lack in optics, which is sort of a problem for recon units.
I don’t like these scout tanks at all - I find them very lackluster and lacking in a use. They’re not “real” tanks that will provide much to your armored thrust, and I find that having recon tanks encourages recklessness that gets them killed. Additionally, most of them have mediocre optics, which defeats the whole point of recon units!
Recon squads are one of two categories of recon infantry. These are lighter-armed infantry with only basic weapons, that are best used as sneaky recon troops that hide in forests or on mountains. They’re also great for sneaking around behind enemy lines, since they’re hard to spot. They’re not very tough, though, so don’t get them into fights if you can help it! Oh, and this is important: Recon infantry cannot use their optics from inside a transport, so be sure to unload them when they reach their destination.
I love sneaking recon infantry behind enemy lines. I consider them indispensable, especially when in transport helicopters where they can rush across the map before landing and hiding. Scatter more recon infantry alongside towns or on the fringes of your front, on the tops of mountains...anywhere!
Recon Special Forces are the other class of recon infantry. Unlike basic recon infantry, these guys are special ops teams - they generally have much higher grade weapons, like high-end anti-tank weapons and CQC machine guns, meaning they can mix it up well with enemy infantry or tanks. Unlike recon infantry, these guys are just as good at being a self-contained hunter-killer team, able to sneak around, spot targets, then eliminate them. They’re also excellent as ambush troops, just like other special forces.
This category also includes scout sniper teams. These are two-man squads with exceptional stealth and sniper rifles, able to engage any infantry from outside their own range. They should be some of the hardest infantry to spot - even vehicles with exceptional optics need to almost be right on top of them when they’re hiding in cover! However, know that their sniper rifles make a distinctive sound (actually the noise of RPGs firing) and so if you want to take advantage of their stealth, consider disabling their weapons.
I like these guys just as much as recon infantry - if I don’t have special forces in the Infantry tab, then I’ll have them here. They have all the benefits of normal special forces, and the sight of recon troops. What could be better?
Recon helicopters are the last category. These are, obviously, helicopters with recon optics. They aren’t very sturdy, but they’re highly mobile, allowing you to patrol large areas quickly, or fly over water or the fringes of the maps relatively unbothered. Pair them with gunships or ATGM helicopters for an excellent hunter-killer pair. Some helicopters are armed, but since they’re fragile, only use them for hunting enemy recon helicopters or unarmed command vehicles.
This category also includes recon gunships, such as the Apache Longbow, the Ka-52, and the West German Tiger. These units are extremely useful, but also extremely expensive. The key is to micro them intensively. Don’t treat them like normal gunships that just happen to carry weapons - treat them like high-end gunships that spot their own targets. Don’t move them too far away from your AA either, unless you want them to be shot down by aircraft.
I consider these an essential. Their mobility and usually excellent optics are highly useful, just remember to keep them away from enemy AA or even machine guns or autocannons.
Ah, the Vehicle tab - this is the closest Wargame has to a “miscellaneous” category. In general, the Vehicle tab consists of any vehicle that is not a logistics, support, tank, or recon vehicle. In the armory, this tab includes infantry transports; however, infantry transports cannot be bought on their own.
The categories in the Vehicle tab include tank destroyers and mobile guns, recoilless rifle carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, ATGM carriers, flame vehicles, and the Buratino. Because Vehicle is such a varied category, it can be difficult to give generic advice on how to use it. It’s generally one of the lesser-used categories in deck-building, but don’t overlook it; some of the vehicles here are fantastic, while others are a decent way to fill in some lacking capabilities.
Tank destroyers and mobile guns are tank destroyers that are not tanks. This category also includes some light tanks not in the Tank section. Some of these are highly mobile and useful in maneuver warfare, but the majority are slow, weak, and lacking in impressive stats. These are mostly best used in ambush roles, or for providing extra firepower to your forces on the cheap. Don’t expect them to take out heavy tanks, but they can kill infantry perfectly fine and can kill lighter tanks, especially from behind or against side armor. Oh, and pay attention - some of these have the [KE] tag, and some have the [HEAT] tag.
Recoilless rifle carriers are usually light vehicles that carry a recoilless rifle. These HEAT weapons usually have low AP, but some have very good rates of fire and most of these are available in large numbers. Use them to plink away at tanks, dealing 1 damage per shot even on the heaviest tanks, or to attack infantry transports at longer range than RPGs.
These might not be the best alternatives in cat A unrestricted decks with tons of options, but don't overlook them entirely - they're cheap, plentiful, always attack from max range with their HEAT weapons, and have decent HE values for hitting infantry too.
Infantry Fighting Vehicles, or IFVs, and support vehicles, are just like their infantry transport counterparts - armored fighting vehicles that can provide autocannons or other fire support to a fight on the front lines. They’re great for stunning vehicles, killing troops, or even gunning down helicopters if they stray within range. Support vehicles are miscellaneous vehicles with smaller weapons on them meant to lend their weapons to infantry or vehicle engagements. There are also some unguided SPAAGs in this category that weren’t in the Support category.
ATGM carriers are units whose sole job it is to ferry ATGMs into the battlefield and launch them against enemy armor. These are a hard-counter to tanks, but are relatively fragile; try not to get them shot at, as low morale will make their missiles miss uselessly. Set them up for long-range ambushes, shoot-and-scoot in a dynamic defense, or keep them behind your front line so your heavy armor can absorb fire while they fling ATGMs with impunity. Just remember to keep supply trucks close at hand; they generally have low ammunition and they’re pretty much useless without missiles. Oh, and be sure to micromanage them, else you’ll be wasting valuable ATGMs against useless trucks. What you want to look for is quality ATGMs on fast transports with good off-road speed, to better utilize their shoot-and-scoot abilities.
These are relatively indispensable. They often come with high-end ATGMs, like the TOW-2 or Konkurs, and can shred heavy armor while being very cost-effective. If you’re lacking in ATGM carriers, stop and ask what you have to make up for them!
Flame vehicles and Flame tanks are vehicles with a long-ranged flamethrower as a weapon. The TO series of tanks are fully functional T-55s (or T-62) which also have napalm launchers, making them double as effective fire support vehicles. Use them to create a small wall of flame along roads or at chokepoints such as bridges to blunt enemy advances, or as instant smokescreen generators, or to douse an urban sector in flame when preparing for assaults - keep in mind these flamethrowers have longer ranges than infantry RPGs!
The TOS-1 Buratino is technically a rocket artillery piece, but it's easier to consider its Russian designation as a "heavy flamethrower." It is not really used like other rocket pieces. Instead, it fires napalm rockets. Its advantage is probably obvious - it can set a wide area aflame. If you're fighting a BLUFOR player stupid enough to cluster an entire assault force in a small group, you will wreck that entire force with one blow. Its disadvantages are lack of availability and high cost (140 points, you only get get two per card) and very long reload time (it takes several minutes to reload a Buratino). It also takes a long time to for the Buratino to aim its salvo once the order has been given, meaning that it must be protected while it gets ready to fire. Additionally, they are one of the most supply-hungry units in the game, a single salvo will eat a good portion of an FOB alone. You will only need to use your Buratino a few times in a match, in pivotal moments.
They are tricky to use. You must keep them mobile, bringing them up to the front quickly and then scooting back to safe zones for resupply once their rockets are fired. They are high-value, high-damage targets, and so BLUFOR players WILL try to kill them on sight with as much vigor as they'd give a command vehicle. But they can break a determined defense in a town (by burning the entire town to the ground) and can stunlock an entire enemy offensive single-handedly when used correctly, and so they are very useful in the right context. Don’t use it as a general artillery piece is the key - save it for the best possible moments.
An advanced technique is to intentionally near-miss your Buratinos with tank shells to bump it up to Worried status, which increases its impact radius but doesn't seriously diminish its capability to stun things inside its impact radius. I recommend practicing this in an empty skirmish match where you won't be pestered for a while, so you can learn the distances needed. Alternatively, also consider pausing its rocket barrage and issuing a new fire-position command in mid-salvo to spread its rockets out.
Units: Helicopters: Overview
The helicopter section covers all of the game’s helicopters. In the Armory, transport helicopters are shown too, but they can’t be brought on their own. This section will cover three types of helicopters; ATGM carriers, anti-air helicopters, and gunships. There are a few special-purpose helicopters that I’ll cover seperately as well.
Way back in European Escalation, helicopters were the sole reason to bring anti-air defenses with your forces, since there were no jets. Even then, air defenses were absolutely essential. Considering air defenses are even more vital in Red Dragon, many people see helicopters as having become significantly less essential than they were before. But they’re wrong - helicopters, when managed correctly, are great. They can scoot around the map like aircraft, but they have the staying power of regular forces. They’re the kings of maneuver warfare. They’re also some of the best ATGM carriers in the game!
In general, helicopters are some of the most mobile forces in the game - they’re able to quickly move around to wherever they’re needed while ignoring terrain. This makes them ideal for anything involving maneuver warfare. However, they do have some handling idiosyncrasies, and in general helicopters will die quickly to their counters. If you fly a helicopter over an enemy autocannon, expect it to get stunned and killed off before you can safely get it away. Most tanks, some vehicles, even some command vehicles, are equipped with machine guns that can hit helicopters, too. Since they usually lack armor, this means that helicopters need a high degree of micromanagement to be used effectively, else they’ll get stunned and then gunned down.
First off, helicopters have altitude that must be managed. There are three altitudes: High, Low, and Land. Observe this helicopter at high and low altitudes:
At high altitude, helicopters are easier to spot and engage, but can see and shoot over cover. At low altitude, they can be protected from return fire, but can be hit by artillery and explosives. When landed, they can be targeted by tanks and other ground forces, like ground units. Altitude can be managed by the Advanced Orders panel:
The keyboard shortcut for Change Altitude is Z. In general, helicopters will fight at high altitude, where they can shoot their ATGMs or rockets without obstruction. They’ll duck to low altitude to hide behind terrain. Oh, and helicopters sometimes default to low altitude when they don’t have a target, which is a feature I find really annoying. They’ll move back up to high altitude to move around, then duck back low. So be sure your helicopters are at the altitude you actually want them at! Also, know that the Land order tells helicopters to land at the ground they were flying over at the time the order was given - so if you tell a helicopter to land while in motion, they’ll overshoot and turn around before landing, which could be a fatal waste of time if they’re getting shot at.
Secondly, helicopters do not respond instantly. If you tell a tank to stop driving forward, it brakes to a stop nearly instantly. However, helicopters have momentum and must slow to a stop, which causes them to rear back like this:
They can turn on a dime when stationary, but have a turning radius while in motion. This is realistic, if a little annoying to deal with. When zoomed out, it isn’t very clear that helicopters have this problem, which is the cause of that “slow to respond to orders” problem that people often complain about with helicopters. This is a weakness when fighting along a mobile front, so be aware of it!
Finally, some notes about the weapons of helicopters. There are six types of weapons helicopters have:
Rocket pods, which deal good damage to unarmored targets and, more importantly, stun clustered armored forces, which can bring a tank rush to a screeching halt
ATGMs. We already know what ATGMs are, but they’re particularly noteworthy when paired with helicopters’ high mobility.
This includes Hellfire missiles, which unlike all other ATGMs, are fire-and-forget. This has a big implication for micromanagement - in order to not waste missiles, be sure to disable the weapon immediately after firing and then re-enable it and select a new target, else Hellfire carriers will fire a second missile after the first, wasting it.
Air-to-air missiles. There are several advantages to having an airborne anti-air platform, which will be discussed later.
Machine guns, which arm lighter helicopters.
Automatic Grenade Launchers, or AGLs. Only available on a few helicopters, these are great for stunning pretty much anything.
Autocannons, which are great on helicopters. Why? Because of the [KE] tag and the ability to hit top armor! While they have to get fairly close to kill tanks, autocannons on helicopters can kill tanks with surprising efficiency.
Be aware that helicopters are not simply offensive weapons - because of their mobility and firepower and ability to stun armored columns, they are great at dynamic defense. Since they arrive quickly and rocket pods are good at stunning tightly-grouped advances, call them in as reinforcements too.
ATGM carriers are our first breed of helicopter. These are helicopters which specialize in getting in, firing their ATGMs, and fleeing back before the enemy can respond. Because the majority of them are rather cheap but carry decent-to-great anti-tank weapons, they’re very cost-efficient. Notably, the longest-range missiles can outrange their counters!
Because of their fragility, keep them the hell away from enemy air defenses. These are generally best used at their maximum range, inside of your own air-defense screen where enemy aircraft can’t charge at them without getting themselves killed in the process. However, they usually have very limited ammo.
These are pretty damn good, in my opinion. They’re like ATGM carriers in the Vehicle tab, except even faster. Like their vehicle cousins, they’re lightly armored and won’t survive gunfire, but these are even faster and more capable of the shoot-and-scoot maneuver. They also make great hunter-killer teams when paired with a recon helicopter.
Anti-air helicopters are helicopters that carry anti-air missiles. These make great anti-helicopter counters, because they can chase down enemy helicopters much faster than ground-based SAMs can. They’re also frustrating counters to SEAD, since they aren’t targetable by SEAD aircraft or artillery, meaning they’re a good mobile backup to an IADS zone, able to scoot in quickly and make up for a sudden gap in the air-defense network.
Don't overlook these. I like taking them early, in my starting force - most players will send helicopters forward quickly, and shooting down some heli-borne infantry early on can screw up an opponent's plan from the first minutes of the game.
Gunships are the last category of helicopters. These are usually expensive, but have the benefit of being multirole - most of them mix an autocannon, rocket pods, and ATGMs. All of them have multiple different weapons that cover different uses. They’re devastatingly effective if you can keep them away from enemy AA fire, and a lot of them have higher strength ratings and better yet, a point of front and side armor, that allows them a little survivability.
Gunships are great once you learn how to manage helicopters. They’re exceptional on the defensive, and some come with great ATGMs. Their rockets are great for stunning enemy armor in their tracks, which allows their ATGMs or your other forces several free shots at them. Just be sure to keep them moving in between engagements, and know that it takes a lot of supply capacity to resupply them.
The American UH-1C Hog series, the Canadian CH-135 Gunship and the Soviet and Czech Mi-4A, and the North Korean MD 500D Rocket are a few helicopters which don’t fit into the categories above - they are rocket-carriers. the UH-1C Hog has 48 FFAR rockets, while the Heavy Hog variant adds an AGL as well. The Mi-8T transport helicopter is this, as well. The Canadian CH-135 shoots HEAT rockets, and can drain any tank’s armor rather quickly! Use the rest like all other heli-borne rockets - for stunning clustered forces.
The French Gazelle 341F Canon and Puma 330H Cassiopee, the American AH-6C Little Bird, the British Lynx AH.7 20mm, the North Korean MD 500D LG and the Polish Mi-2 US, are several other unusual helicopters - they are autocannon carriers (the Little Bird and North Korean equivalent is an automatic grenade launcher carrier). While autocannon-equipped gunships can do everything they can do, they’re often too valuable to risk in close-range fighting, which does give them an interesting role in the fight.
I really like these, and I liked them in EE and ALB too. Noobs often underestimate them, but they’re exceptional tank-killers if you can catch tanks without AA escort. Because of the [KE] tag most of them have, once it flies in close, it’ll drain a tank’s armor really fast. The Little Bird is a nimble little helicopter that can swoop in and blanket an area in grenades quite rapidly.
Units: Planes: Overview
Ah, the air war. Controlling and properly utilizing the airspace is key to victory. Air-defense units can deny the airspace to the enemy, but only with aircraft can you truly seize it for yourself. Aircraft are generally fragile; almost no planes have any armor and rely totally on their ECM rating to survive enemy missiles. Low ECM values mean an aircraft will get shot down very easily by enemy missiles, while high ECMs can generally be expected to dodge at least a couple missiles - but remember that by no means is ECM going to make any aircraft invincible!
We already discussed the general handling and micromanagement of aircraft, but this section will discuss the specific types of aircraft and their best uses. Aircraft cover a very wide variety of roles - and some cover more than one role - so this tab has numerous categories. They are short-range dogfighters, medium-range interceptors, long-range interceptors, ATGM/CAS aircraft, rocket attackers, cluster bombers, HE bombers, napalm bombers, SEAD aircraft, and among those aircraft, many fall into the secondary category of multiroles.
First, though, we’ll discuss two weapon types common to almost all aircraft:
Guns - Most aircraft have a gun, which can be used against aircraft and helicopters in close range, and can also be used against ground forces in strafing runs. While they’re deadly to infantry and can kill unarmored vehicles, don’t expect most guns to do much to tanks except stun and morale damage unless they have [HEAT] or [KE] tags and an AP value.
Short-range AAMs - Many aircraft carry short-ranged AAMs, like Sidewinders, in addition to other ordinance. While this is a neat secondary capability, don’t think an aircraft is a capable dogfighter just because it has some self-defense capability.
Also know that aircraft can fly off the sides of the map, which is surprisingly useful for sneaky flank attacks. Also, you can roughly judge the value of bombs and rockets by looking at their caliber - a 500kg bomb is going to do much more damage than a 250kg bomb, after all.
Finally, a lot of aircraft are multirole aircraft. These aircraft retain some dogfighting capability or air-to-air capability while being bombers or attackers. Plenty of attacker aircraft are built on fighters, and still carry short-ranged AAMs and decent guns, meaning they can do as fighters in a pinch. They won’t overcome dedicated air-superiority platforms, but they can fill out your air cards and still provide a decent ability to attack enemy aircraft or helicopters. I’m a big fan of multiroles when they’re available. There’s a bit of a price premium, but it’s extremely useful to have the secondary capability when you’re filling the limited, expensive air slots in your deck.
Now, on to our different types of aircraft...
Units: Planes: Fighters
We’ll start by discussing fighters - aircraft that specialize in fighting enemy aircraft. They come in three flavors - short, medium, and long range - and are generally divided by how they’re used best.
Short-range Dogfighters are our first category of air-to-air aircraft. These aircraft are intended to get right up close to enemy aircraft and shoot them down inside of gun range. They lack the medium- or long-range missiles of the others, and generally rely on guns and short-range missiles to get in close and shoot down enemy planes. They also generally rely on small turning radiuses and high maneuverability to get on their enemies’ six.
They’re best used when they can get into knife-fighting range against enemy attacker aircraft, or if you can manage to overwhelm long-range interceptors with them.
These somewhat pale in comparison to modern high-end air-superiority platforms, but they can be surprisingly useful in limited decks because they’re generally cheap and plentiful. They’re especially good against high value helicopters; many of them are cheap enough to be worth suiciding to kill a high-end gunship costing twice as much as the plane.
Medium-range interceptors are our next type. These aircraft are generally not as good in a dogfight as short-range dogfighters, though there are exceptions and that varies per-aircraft. They’re generally armed with medium-ranged, mostly semi-active or F&F missiles.
They’re best used to intercept enemy aircraft, hitting them with their medium-ranged missiles and then closing in to finish them off with short-range missiles, guns, or friendly IADS.
Long-range interceptors are our last type of air-to-air aircraft, and there are only two of them. They are the Soviet MiG-31 series and the American F-14 Tomcat (only available as a Naval slot). They carry extreme long-range F&F missiles, but make very poor dogfighters.
They are best used by keeping them circling around well behind your lines, safe within your IADS zone, so that they can fling their long-ranged AAMs at enemy aircraft while being relatively safe from dogfighters. They’ll be quickly out-flown by tight-turning fighters, but they’re a very good long-ranged AAM truck.
These used to be truly great, but now they’ve been demoted to merely somewhat useful. As long as you can keep them circling behind your lines, though, they’re great at flinging AAMs at enemies and some of my decks do have these.
Units: Planes: Attackers
Attacker aircraft, including bombers, are our other category of aircraft. These aircraft are used to destroy enemy ground forces. They are generally divided by what weapons they use - ATGMs, rocket batteries, cluster bombs, HE bombs, and napalm bombs.
ATGM attackers are our first class of attacker aircraft. They rely on ATGMs to destroy armored advances. Some of these attackers also have very powerful guns and armor, allowing them to destroy armored vehicles in strafing runs and survive some AAA fire. These are very good for providing CAS (close air support) to your front line, destroying enemy armored advances, or sniping high-value vehicles.
These are best used against armored columns that have outrun their air support, or in conjunction with SEAD aircraft so that they can do their work unmolested. Some of them have small numbers of high-end or long-ranged ATGMs; these are best used to snipe high-value or high-armor targets in a single pass. Others have powerful guns, armor, and plenty of missiles, and provide excellent close-air support.
These are pretty great at killing armor. Of course, the A-10 is famous for this purpose, and don’t overlook its unique gun. I don't love those with low-end missiles, they miss too often to be reliable.
Rocket attackers use rocket batteries to provide close air support. These aren’t going to kill heavy armor except when used en masse, but will stun and panic tightly-clustered forces, damage things, and destroy lighter vehicles like APCs.
These are best used against lighter forces than ATGM attackers, or for stunning and panicking tightly-clustered forces instead of artillery. Think of them like pinpoint-accurate rocket artillery.
Don't overlook these - most of them are cheap, and while they don't do the mass damage of large HE bombs, they're great for suddenly striking single targets or groups and they can always be bought quickly due to their generally low prices.
Cluster bombers are our first category of bombers. These fly in and drop their bombs in one pass, then Evac Winchester, which is good for avoiding enemy air defenses. This category drops HEAT cluster bombs, which are anti-armor weapons that deal damage to armored targets in a wide radius. Note that cluster bomb are unlikely to kill armor in one shot unless they’re already heavily damaged, but they can damage and panic armor in a decent radius at least, and they’ll kill lighter vehicles reliably. They are not effective against infantry.
Use these against clustered armor to damage things, or blind-bomb forests when you know there are enemy vehicles in them. Bombers with smaller-but-more-numerous bombs, like the Aardvark, are best used to bomb columns in a line where all of the bombs can hit. Oh, and cluster bombs can hit helicopters with a little timing.
A lot of people don’t like cluster bombers, but I do. They won’t kill fresh tanks on a first pass, but they’re great when particularly stupid enemies cluster their forces tightly and I have great luck blind-bombing forests where I see AAA or SAM fire coming out of, since they have good dispersion.
HE bombers are attackers that drop high-explosive bombs. Don’t expect high explosive bombs to kill armor except with a lucky strike, but they’re significantly more effective against infantry and unarmored targets. This category includes 1000kg bombers, whose 1000kg bombs are some of the most powerful HE weapons in the game.
These bombers are best used against clustered enemies, or for bombing in lines through un-scouted terrain like forests. They’ll stun and damage enemy armored columns, but they really shine against unarmored targets. You can sub-categorize these bombers based on the size of their bombs; only 1000kg and 500kg bombs have very significant power, while smaller bombs are usually carried in large numbers and dropped in a big radius.
This category also includes the F-117 Nighthawk, a relatively unique aircraft with an oft-misunderstood role. The Nighthawk has exceptional stealth but bad ECM, meaning they’re great for sneaking past IADS zones but not very good at surviving if engaged. Don’t run these things at air-defense units with good anti-air optics like an idiot and assume that because it’s a stealth fighter, it’ll never be seen. That will promptly be followed by it dying like a ♥♥♥♥♥. Instead, sneak around like a stealth fighter should do and bomb HVTs with that fantastic guided 1000kg bomb. Also remember that the Nighthawk is usually briefly visible when it drops its payload, so plan accordingly
These are your typical bomb attacker. I love 1000kg bombs, though - bring them as much as you can, they will not fail you. 500kg bombs work fine too, but 227kg bombs only work well in large numbers.
Napalm bombers are our last category of bombers. These are aircraft that can deliver napalm across a surprisingly wide area, turning whatever it hits into an instant firestorm.
As we’ve previously discussed, napalm never goes out of style. Napalm is great for blocking off roads, burning spawn points during an assault on a spawn zone, burning infantry out of buildings, burning units out of terrain cover, forcing enemy assaults to back off, or denying areas to the enemy. Napalm bombers can be used in all of these roles - so while napalm won’t kill much on its own, don’t dismiss them!
Napalm is great. I love it. Bring these along in any deck you can get them in, especially the Su-7BKL, since they’re really cheap but drop a lot of napalm.
SEAD aircraft, more properly called electronic-warfare aircraft (hence the E/W in their NATO symbol), are aircraft that specialize in hitting enemy Radar units. We’ve already discussed SEAD and Radar previously, and these are the aircraft that carry those out.
Don’t think that just because they have good ECM and anti-radar missiles that they are immune to IADS zones. They will still take fire from enemy ground and air forces, and if some SPAAGs manage to stun them, their ECM isn’t going to do jack♥♥♥♥♥♥to save them. They’re best when they fire one missile at max range and then turn away - it takes a little practice, but instead of sending them straight into enemy IADS zones and trusting them to evac, practice ordering them a few kilometers or so in front of their frontmost Radar units so they turn away just as they’re firing, and circle over neutral or friendly territory or evac safely if they’re hit. You’re basically playing chicken with missile fire. This allows you to safely open up a hole in enemy air-defense zones that your bombers can exploit.
If you can get ‘em, I highly recommend bringing a SEAD aircraft. It’ll make your use of air power much easier if you can suppress some of the enemy’s best SAMs first. Note that having more missiles isn’t necessarily better, since they’ll be flying at enemy air defenses and so will probably need to evac fast anyway. Why bring more missiles if you won’t use them? That’s not to say they’re a bad thing though, either.
Deck Building: A Guided Tour
“That’s a lot of units,” you say, staring in awe at the legions of tanks at your disposal. “But I think I have a handle of them all now! Now can I go kick some♥♥♥♥♥”
Haha - almost! Now that you understand the basics of the game and have a working knowledge of its units, it’s time to bring those units together into a deck. Remember the Deck menu from the main menu?
In the decks menu, you’ll see a list of all your decks, along with icons noting their restrictions and other information. Unless you already made a deck, you should see two decks, the Soviet and American Battlegroup decks. From this menu, you can select your decks, rename them, edit them, delete them, or import or export decks - what this feature does is give you a long string of characters you can copy and share with others, or use Import to paste a similar string of characters and copy over someone else’s deck. But at the bottom-left is the Create button.
Yeah, unless you want to use the Soviet and American Battlegroup decks forever, you’ll need to build your own decks. Deck-building is, in all honesty, one of the most entertaining and well-made features in the series. It’s where you get to experiment with new styles and strategies and fine-tune your armies into whatever you deem fit.
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect deck. The first thing you’ll have to come to accept is that no deck is going to have everything you’ll want. In non-specialized decks, you can only bring five cards in any category. If you specialize to get a full lineup in one category, you’ll have to sacrifice units from the others.
Deck-building is essentially a series of trade-off choices. Do you want more tanks, or more aircraft? More artillery, or more air defenses? What infantry do you want, in what transports? You’ll be making decisions and compromises on every area of your deck.
For now, you may want to consider just creating some “general purpose” jack-of-all-trades decks that cover a wide variety of roles. But once you have enough experience in the basics, start experimenting with some different playstyles until you find some that you enjoy.
Once you have a working knowledge of the game’s mechanics and units, you can launch into creating a deck of your own. When you do, you’ll see this:
For the purposes of learning the game, let’s walk through building a basic, general-purpose Soviet deck. You don’t have to make a Soviet deck, you can make any deck you want, a full-faction deck, a national deck, or a coalition deck. Hey, you paid for the game, you can play it how you like! But for demonstration purposes, let’s go with a Soviet deck, because they’re a nation with a full, complete lineup. Having more choices is often a detriment to new players, since having an entire faction’s worth of choices can get a little overwhelming, whereas having a single nation's choices focuses your decision-making.
Deck Building: Making a Custom Deck
Name the deck whatever you want, and select a REDFOR faction and USSR national deck. Leave Type and Era restrictions where they are for now - I’ll cover that later. It should look like this:
Once you click Create, you’ll be confronted with an empty deck:
If starting from scratch seems too intimidating to start off with, you can always copy one of the premade battlegroups and then edit them - you’ll come to the same screen but with a pre-made deck for you to edit. But I recommend starting from scratch - that way it’s really yours.
Now look at the upper right corner. It shows your activation point counter. You didn’t think you had five choices in every category, did you? Hahaha. No. You have sixty activation points, with which you “buy” cards to add to your deck. You can see the cost of adding a card in the boxes - the more cards you have in one category, the more the cost of adding a new card rises. Some categories, like Plane, are more valuable and expensive than others. The Naval category has a cost of zero - there’s no reason not to fill every available slot!
Click the highlighted box in any category, and you’ll wind up at a screen much like the armory, in which it will list all available units in that category. Let’s start with Tanks. Click the first box in the Tank row.
You’ll see a bunch of different options. You’ll also see the cards you have selected along the top bar, and a view of whatever unit you’re currently viewing, as well as that unit’s info card - just like the armory. Now, what tanks do you choose? Well, that’s up to you! Remember the advice on combined arms, on economy of force, and the advice given on how to use tanks. For a general-purpose deck, you always want a range of options.
You can double click any unit to add a card to your deck at its lowest veterancy. Don’t ever do that. Always consider your unit’s veterancy when adding it to your deck. When you select any unit, you’ll see its veterancy options. Let’s see the availability of the T-72B heavy tank:
Its availability is at 8 trained or 6 hardened. I’d rather have 8 tanks on its own, but Trained is too low a veterancy for heavy armor in my opinion. I’m not gonna spend 120 points on a tank for it to panic, miss all its shots, and then die. So I’ll click Hardened to add a card of Hardened T-72Bs to my deck. The first card of tanks has a cost of 1, so it takes 1 availability point out of 60. Now at the top, I can see the tank I selected in my deck:
I now have six tanks in my deck, taking up 1 availability point. That’s not enough for a decent general-purpose deck obviously, so I’ll go add more tanks until I have as many as I want. The T-72B icon in the armory now looks like this:
See that “1/2" in the lower left corner? That’s the number of cards available over the total number of cards available. That’s right, you can’t just make a deck of nothing but your favorite unit, unless that deck is hilariously tiny. Unit availability has two relevant factors - availability per card, and number of cards available.
Once you’ve selected the tanks you want, you can switch to another category to go back to view your deck as a whole. I’m not going to walk you through every section step by step - now go fill out your deck, in every category. Refer to the Units section if you need advice on what to look for in units, or read on for a basic guide to help with choosing units.
The only two units you need to have in a deck are a command vehicle in the logistics category and a command ship in the naval category. The entire rest of the deck is up to you. Don’t get overwhelmed by options - take your time and look through what’s available, use filter options if you need to narrow the selection down, and try to keep in mind what you really need.
Remember the basics. A balanced force with good recon options and tactical alternatives and wise veterancy options is always going to be better than a random assortment of units that looked cool. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to experiment. I discovered most of my favorite units in the field after trying out some units that caught my eye.
For general convenience and to give you a place to start, I’ll attach a basic recommendations list for a general-purpose deck. Please note that this is just a basic guide to get you started, not gospel by which all decks must adhere to. Not even all of my decks adhere to this. But it’s a handy basic guide to get you started on your first, non-themed non-year-restricted deck. I will use this color code for recommendations:
Again, before all the experienced players reading this out of curiosity start leaving angry comments, this is just a basic guide for general-purpose decks to get you started. You absolutely don’t have to follow my guidelines - not even all of my own decks do. As you figure out a style that works for you and start gaining some experience and developing techniques of your own, you can easily modify your decks at any time. The best deck is the one you have fun with, not the one that best fills out a checklist.
Once you’re done, your deck should look something like this:
It’s okay if you don’t have the same units I do. This deck isn’t perfect. No deck is perfect. Every deck will have compromises and make sacrifices. You are never going to have all of the things you’d like - and that’s why deck-building is fun. It’s honestly not possible to objectively answer a question like “Should I take the MiG-29 or a second card of T-64Bs?” It really depends on what else is in your deck and how well you like using them. The point isn’t which units you have, but whether you, personally, are satisfied with your selections.
Once you’re satisfied that your deck looks acceptable, go ahead and play a few matches with it just for play-testing. Take notes on what units you end up relying on, what units you run out of, what units underperform or outperform your expectations, and so on. A deck is never truly complete until it’s battle-tested and tweaked to perfection. And it’ll never reach perfection. My best decks are always being slightly updated as I try slightly different approaches or decide to swap out less-utilized units or encounter new enemy strategies, or even as patches re-balance the game.
Deck Building: Bonuses
Okay, now you’ve gotten a handle on building a basic, general-purpose factionwide deck. Now what?
Decks can have three different types of bonuses, which modify how the deck is used by adding restrictions in exchange for higher activation points, XP, lower costs, more slots for cards, or higher availability. These bonuses are used to specialize decks, locking out alternatives but giving bonuses to specialization. There are three different types of specializations: Nationality/Coalition, Type, and Category.
The first type of restriction is one we already saw when making our starter deck. Every unit has a given availability, and that availability can be increased by choosing a nationality or coalition deck. Additionally, some high-end units are prototype units, and can only be taken in these restricted decks.
The availability bonuses are as follows:
So what does that mean? It means nationality and coalition restrictions give you more units per card. For minor nations with more limited lineups, this availability bonus can be rather considerable! An East German or North Korean deck has significantly more forces total than a USSR deck, for example.
You can also choose one of six deck types. A deck type (or theme) gives you higher veterancy, lower activation point costs, and more card deck slots for certain categories, in exchange for restricting the deck to only units of that type. The bonuses are as follows:
Don’t overlook that one-rank veterancy promotion. They can be a great way to increase the effectiveness of your fighting forces if you’re willing to put up with the type restriction. Unfortunately, said restriction can get rather hard to deal with; most of these are simply not viable for nation-restricted decks except for the larger nations. Fortunately, this can be overcome with multi-nation decks. In general, this system provides more interesting and potentially useful options than it did in AirLand battle, so experiment for yourself and see what combinations of coalitions or factions and deck themes you come up with!
The last type of bonuses are Era bonuses, also referred to as category restrictions. Category A is the default, and allows any unit in the game. Category B and C restrict you to units dated up to 1985 or 1980, respectively. In exchange for restricting yourself to older units, you get +5 or +10 activation points to spend, respectively. This is especially useful for capitalizing on the extra slots in some deck themes, so don’t overlook this. Try looking through some of your cat A decks and ask yourself, how many of those units are cat-B or cat-C available, and are there alternatives for those that aren’t? You might be surprised!
Of course, these bonuses could be mixed and matched to have stacking effects, too. You could have a Soviet-only Category C Armored deck, if you so choose, and overwhelm the opposition in waves of T-72s. Picture it!
Deck Building: Do's and Don'ts
Just because you can make a deck any way you want, of course, doesn’t mean there aren’t wrong ways to go about it. I’m not going to rehash too much of the basics, but if you’re considering any general-purpose deck, ask yourself some of the following questions:
Does this deck have enough numbers for the type of game it will be playing?
Does this deck have enough supply to last the entire length of a game?
Do I have a sufficient variety of forces?
Will I actually be able to afford my forces in the game mode I’ll be playing in?
Do I have enough recon?
The above is a trick question. If you don’t get it, shame on you.
What are the units my deck absolutely cannot afford to lose? What do I do if those units get killed? (“Panic” is not an acceptable answer.)
Have I filled out the naval category? The slots are all free, so there is no reason not to.
You don’t have to limit yourself to one playstyle. Some people love using tanks - others love using infantry - and so on and so forth. But don’t use the existence of thematic decks as an excuse to spam. It’s possible to focus your deck and specialize - especially if playing with friends or clanmates with complementing decks - without being a one-trick pony.
The problem with deckbuilding is that lots of new players make wildly unbalanced decks that force them to only do one thing. Against anyone who actually knows what they’re doing, such a one-sided deck will only bring you to a rapid loss. This is a huge contributor to Wargame’s ragequit problem - players make decks capable of only doing one thing, and as soon as it gets countered, they get frustrated, think they have nothing left they can do, and quit. Don’t be that idiot who has absolutely nothing left to do except ragequit five or ten minutes into a match.
In addition to having forces for most contingencies, try to cover a range of prices in every category - those 140+ point tanks won’t help you early in the game when you can’t afford to, you know, buy any of them. On the other hand, those 60-point line tanks are going to come up short against the enemy’s own heavy armor.
Getting Started I
“Oh, finally!” you say, “a part of the guide you didn’t just copy from your last one.” Yeah, well, don’t be a smartalec. This section will address the number-one request my guide for AirLand Battle had - a simple runthrough of the game’s UI and how to get started.in a basic multiplayer match. You know the basics of gameplay and you know what units do what, but how does it all come together? That is to say, once you’re in a game, how do you put all this theory into practice?
Well, let’s refer back to the lobby screen.
Whether you join someone’s lobby or make your own, you’ll see the same kind of information. Choose your preferred deck, and take the time to say hi to the lobby and see who answers you and how they act. I always take it as a good sign when my teammates are willing to be sociable, and a bad sign when they aren’t.
Once the game starts, you’ll see something like this:
Your starting zone or zones are highlighted in red - these are the zones you’ll deploy your starting forces. The array of forces you choose to start with is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the game. In the top left, you’ll see this:
The number might be different, but that’s your current command points bank. This is the bank you will buy new units from. Click it (keyboard shortcut: ~), and your deck will open up.
You’ll start with one FOB and one command unit deployed. You must have one command unit deployed to start, and can’t delete your last command unit. Now, what units to select? Well, that depends on what you want to do. Hit Enter, and the chat will come up (hit Shift + Enter to type a message visible to all players, or just Enter to type a message just to your team)
You and your teammates should be sorting out where you’re going using this and using flares. Where you intend to go should dictate what forces you’ll bring. Don’t bring a ton of tanks into an urban zone - remember what we said about urban combat and armored vehicles? Don’t bring a ton of infantry into a big open field. Remember the types of units and how to use them. How do you choose which area you want to go? Well, it depends on what you’re good at, what your deck is designed for, where your allies are going, and so on. Zoom out and take a look at the map.
This should be getting covered with flares, laid down by your allies indicating where they intend to go. If your allies aren’t indicating where they’re going, don’t be afraid to just ask. That’s what the team chat function is for.
Let’s say we intend to attack Dmitri-Elena. You can generally draw a line across the mid-points of the map to roughly determine where the fronts will end up, unless your side or the other side does something unusual - always have a contingency plan if they do something unusual, like spamming units, sneaking units, or so on. Most players will head for the mid-point of one area of the map - honestly, I prefer a deeper attack at the start, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we need to learn to walk before we can run, no? If we’re attacking Dmitri/Elena, we’d lay down a flare there. Now, what next?
Take a close look at where you intend to go - in this case, Dmitri/Elena. What’s the terrain like? Where are the chokepoints where the majority of enemy forces might get held up? Where are the roads enemy forces will Fast Move towards? In this case, we have two bridges here, and another to the left. Those make useful chokepoints. We also have a lot of urban area - this means infantry is the order of the day.
Now, what’s off to our flanks? There’s more towns to our left, and open fields to our right. Keep an eye on both areas, lest you get flanked by the enemy. Don’t let them cross that bridge to your left either, or they’ll simply go right around your forces.
Now that we know what we plan to do, let’s buy up the forces needed to do it, shall we? There are a lot of choices that you need to make here - and make them fairly rapidly, because you’ll only have a couple of minutes to lay down your starting force. This is part of the fun of Wargame - you never have all the time you need to thoroughly think through everything. This is real-time. You’ll need to operate on instinct and training as well as strategy and tactics. All the same, don’t buy the first units you can - be calm and thorough. Festina lente - slow is smooth, smooth is fast. It may take a few tries before you get the hang of it, but don’t worry, after a few games you’ll be making these snap judgments and decisions with plenty of time to spare.
See that road connecting our spawn zone to our sector of interest? That’s where you’re going to place your forces - on the road leading to your area in the spawn zone closest to the area you’re traveling towards. Since we’re going into an urban zone, let’s start with infantry. If we were attacking different types of terrain, we’d bring different units - there is no one “optimal” opening. Work on judging what you need based on the situation at hand.
This may not be your exact assortment of infantry, but if you’ve followed the basics of deckbuilding it should be something somewhat like this. Our fastest infantry is always going to be in helicopters, our next-fastest will always be in 150km/h ground transports (in this image, those would be the BTR-60PB and BTR-90, not the BMP-2 Obr. 1986). It doesn’t do us any good if the enemy gets there before we do, of course, so let’s order up some helicopter infantry first. My only helicopter infantry is Gornostrelki ‘90 - light infantry in Mi-8TV transport gunships. I’ll order four of them in two pairs of helicopters. I’ll also order some Motostrelkis in BTR-60s as backup - always be prepared in case your enemy attacks your helicopter transports with anti-air helicopters or jets. It kinda sucks getting your entire starting force shot down with no backup, and the Motostrelki are cheaper to boot. When you select units, you can place “ghosts” in your starting spawn zones, where your units will be when the game starts.
Once you’re done with that, choose the rest of your forces. Try to go for medium-cost or cheaper forces that cover a decent range of contingencies and keep your options open. Consider what you really need - will your units need to resupply very early on? If not, buy your logistics trucks later. Don’t dump all your starting points in a few high-end units in most cases, either - I’d rather have several medium tanks to one super-heavy tank.
Getting Started II
Once you’re done, it should look something like this. See how all the units are clustered around the road? Speed is important in the opening moves - I like doing this because the inevitable Move Fast order will be complied with immediately - I won’t have to wait even the few seconds it would take for these units to drive onto a road and begin moving to the front. Again, it’s not so important that your force is made up of the same units mine is, the point is that this is a fairly balanced force that covers a wide range of contingencies. Your style may be slightly different, but there’s no one unit or approach that will totally irreversibly, inevitably screw me over like this, and that’s preferable. Note that helicopter units don’t need to be on the road, for obvious reasons - I prefer putting them over forests so they’re already in the air at game start, they won’t have to take a few moments to take off if you do that. Leave any artillery you have next to your FOBs, where they’ll have some room to move around to avoid counterbattery fire.
Don’t have too large a reserve - every point you don’t spend weakens your starting forces. But don’t feel like you have to spend every single point either. Usually, I like having 50-100 points left over, just so I can quickly buy an appropriate counter if something urgent comes up. Whether or not you do this too is totally up to you. If you’re satisfied with your starting force, click this button:
That signals that you’re ready, and if you’re the first one to click it, it also starts a countdown. Once that timer reaches zero, the game has started, ready or not. The timer doesn’t show unless you click the button, so don’t get caught off-guard if you take too long!
Once your forces are all bought and laid down and it’s counting down to start, glance over your ally’s forces too. It’s important to know in advance what your allies are doing and teammates don’t always say. It’s also important to know if the guy on your flank is an idiot or not. There are a few telltale signs - a dozen artillery pieces, or a hundred T-34s, or so on. Ask your team if they have any assets that might benefit you - such as interceptors or air-superiority fighters to intercept enemy attackers preying on your fast-moving starting force. If you have likewise, tell your team that.
Once you’re comfortable with your forces and familiar with your ally’s forces, take a glance around the map. The minimap is in the top right corner.
It’s useful for orienting yourself and for navigation. Now consider a few factors: Where are the enemies going to come from? They’ll likely do what you’re doing - taking the most efficient path to the front. In our area of interest, these most speedy routes intersect at the front:
Those roads lead up towards the enemy spawn zone, so it’s likely where they’ll rush in from. If you decided to take a napalm bomber, consider using it there - it’ll at least slow them down and let you get there just a little bit faster. This is especially useful at chokepoints or crossroads, and less useful on flat open ground where units can just drive around it with relative ease.
Take yourself on a tour of the map until the timer’s about to reach zero. Look around the flanks. Where could you sneak some recon or special forces? Where are your allies setting up, and where will you go if you need to help them? Where are other routes? Where are the spawn zones, where your units might spawn if they’re captured or where enemies might attack from if they’re seized by the opposition? Look along the flanks of the map, and along the roads. Look for covered ways to approach or attack likely enemy positions. Look for places you can set up a fall-back position should you get pushed back.
Do what I do when I’m learning new maps, and turn the camera around to face your forces from the enemy’s point of view. It’s amazing how much the map can change if you just turn it upside-down for a moment. If you were on that side, where would you send forces? Where might they try to sneak units around where you wouldn’t see it? Take the time to try and anticipate enemy movements, it comes in very handy.
When the countdown is finished and the game starts, the UI will flash and beep. Move quickly. Every second counts. Select all your front-line forces and fast-move them towards the front. This is not a time for finesse - just select all of them and get moving. You can fine-tune your orders while your forces are on the way, it’s a more efficient use of your time.
Once your forces are on the move, select them individually and give them any necessary fine-tuned orders - order your tanks to move fast into the cover you want to put them in, order your helicopter gunships to attack-move ahead of your front (attack-move will get them to stop and open fire once they see enemy forces, which is what you want for your gunships but not your transports. Get it?). Use shift-queue to order your helicopter and ground infantry transports into the urban area and unload when they get there.
Getting Started III
By the time your first ground transports are arriving in the area, the enemy should be arriving as well. Note that I chose to land across the river on their side - I always prefer to go further forward. It’s better to fight on their side of the midpoint whenever you can. And if the enemy is too quick for you, if they’re already fortifying or your gunships, napalm, or other fast-forces can’t hold them off, then it’s better to have shot high and fallen short than to be pushed back from the midpoint, isn’t it?
When your infantry forces are in an urban zone, be ready to unload them immediately. Once your helicopter transports are unloaded, either get them out of the line of fire or use them. Once your Radar SAMs (or any SAM with the [STAT] tag) arrive near the front, tell them to attack-move forward so that they’ll stop and fire if any aircraft enter their range. Refer back to the types of move orders and decide what movements are appropriate for what units.
Those Mi-8s have rocket pods on them - great for stunning columns of advancing forces, so I’ll make them hover with line-of-sight on the roads so they can stream rockets down on any enemy advance. It takes time, but you’ll learn what forces are armed with what, and what they might be useful for at any given moment.
If you’ve done everything right, you should be rapidly moving your forces into a basic defensive line, the enemy’s forces hopefully repelled or at least stalled.
Once you’ve caught your breath and claimed what’s yours, your next move depends on what’s happening in the battle at large. Are any of your allies in need of support? If so, it might be best to just dig in and instead go help your ally - it doesn’t help if you advance only to find the enemy seizing your spawn zone from another area of the map. Are any of your allies breaking through and pressing the attack? Consider buying some additional forces and helping them out - or attack on your own side while they’re distracted. Consider the game’s objective and whether or not your team is on track to achieve it.
Don’t get complacent and sit still - you should always be moving or preparing to move somewhere new. Keep the pressure on your enemies, make them fight to your pace rather than fighting to theirs. If you no longer need every single unit you have on the defensive, make a probing attack - even if the attack is repelled, it’s still forcing them to defend rather than prepare their own attack and it gives you information on their capabilities and what they are or aren’t prepared for.
What comes next is up to you. Keep the basics in mind. Work with your allies. Ask if anyone needs help. Ask if anyone intends to make a big push. Contribute to defending a besieged front. Exploit weaknesses, try to sneak around the sides, or any other technique. This is your game, now go have fun!
And remember, this is just one way to play. I’m not advocating the “rush to the mid-point and defend” gameplay as being superior, merely suggesting it as an easy way to learn the ropes. Don’t limit yourself to having the same opening every time. Once you have some experience, try alternative approaches. Deep-strike around the flanks of the map. Double-up on one side and overwhelm an opposing player’s starting forces. Use helicopters to seize areas behind enemy lines. Sneak recon and special forces around. Do what you like - there are many different ways to play.
“Oh thank God,” you mutter to yourself, sick of being called noobish and vaguely starting to wonder if this guide is actually going to end or if you got sucked into a weird, infinite time loop thing and are doomed to read the neverending Wargame guide. “I think Conclusions means it’s over.”
Well, it is, but I feel compelled to leave off with a few thoughts. Sorry about that. You can honestly stop reading now and go play the game if you really want.
Wargame is a tremendously complex game, as the length of this basics guide can attest. But at the same time, it has a very fast pace - its games last no longer than that of, say, Starcraft or Command and Conquer. What does this mean in gameplay terms? It means that, in my opinion, Wargame is an ideal mix of the depth of tactical tabletop games and the pace and fluidity of video games. You don’t have all the time in the world to ponder your next “turn” - you have no turns. You don’t have the relaxed time of a tabletop game to perfectly micromanage your forces.
You are going to screw up. You will forget units. You will suddenly lose units and not really know where they were. You will forget some of the basics. You will forget to smoke a position before sending a column of infantry careening straight into enemy troops. You will fearlessly charge your tanks at that lone enemy shadow, only to hurriedly haul♥♥♥♥♥away when it turns out to be a Leopard 2A5. You will call in an aircraft for an airstrike, move on to quickly micromanage something else, and notice half the game later that the aircraft you called in just vanished and you have no idea where or how. You will suddenly realize you haven’t had a recon vehicle along your entire front for at least 20 minutes. You will watch replays and realize you spent the whole game preparing to defend against an enemy sector that had gone totally forgotten by them, held only by a pitiful skeleton force that you were convinced was a massive army. You will order an artillery barrage ahead of your moving front to stun the enemy, misjudge the time to target, and end up blowing your own forces apart. You will get aircraft shot down because you stupidly decided that they could probably survive a few Buks and Osas if you evac’d them fast enough. You will see enemy tank forces show up in your spawn and silently wonder how the hell those things snuck across your entire half of the map. You will realize you sent your men to their deaths because of a risk that, in hindsight, was blatantly obviously never going to pay off.
Now, how do I know you’ll do that? Because I’ve done all of those things. Hell, I’ve done all of those things in the time it took to write this guide, not just in my newbie adjustment phase! And I’m certainly not about to cede that you might be better at it than me, and that means you’ll do them, too.
Don’t get frustrated. Those sort of things are half of the fun of Wargame. There is never a minute in the game in which you are not doing something, and that means you will screw up, make mistakes, and overlook things. Relax. Understand that that is a part of the game, and a big part at that.
It’s realistic. This sort of crap happens in the real world too, and any student of history can tell you that. Wars are not glamorous affairs where gentlemen officers meet on the field of honor. Neither is Wargame. War is more akin to a bunch of shockingly incompetent individuals trying to sort through dizzying amounts of information while taking fire in the hopes of killing the other guys slightly faster than the other guys can do the same. It’s confusing, messy, and merciless; and it punishes every single mistake, every single time a commander fails to observe the basics, in the most natural and obvious way possible.
And that struggle to constantly stay one step ahead of the chaos is exactly why we love Wargame.