Ryan Thomas enjoys playing "Wargame: Red Dragon" as his main strategy game, particularly as France and Czechoslovakia.
Plunjing fire! Incoming! Plunjing Valley is one of Wargame: Red Dragon’s ranked maps and a common sight in a range of set ups, from 1v1s to 2 and 3v3s, all the way up to massive 10v10 battles. Despite this, it is a surprisingly difficult map, one which I find to be rather hard to play. It requires a mixture of open terrain combat, fast motorized openings, and close range forest fighting. It also has multiple valid openings and zones to fight over and features the difficulty of securing flanks. Plunjing Valley is one of the harder maps in Wargame: Red Dragon to learn how to play, requiring both dash and bloody-minded grueling determination.
Plunjing is a great example of how much command zones change around a map in Wargame: Red Dragon. It is the same exact map as another popular 1v1 map, Punchbowl, but has notable differences in how it plays—with substantially more mechanized grinding battles and different opening calculations. Plunjing has a mixed variety of terrain, which has open areas, extensive forest belts, urban conglomerations, and large surrounding forests and hills. The terrain broadly favors a mechanized deck, since it is easier to find closed terrain to fight on than to only engaged in long ranged, open field, battles, and the battle is guaranteed to be a long and difficult one due to the nature of the command zones, meaning that there is ample time for the greater cost effectiveness of mechanized decks to come into play. There is also that multiple openings leave different routes for victory: a motorized deck might have say, a much better shot at securing control of the small village in Bravo that is closer to Echo's Spawn, but a mechanized deck is generally going to hold its own side of the map across from this village in Bravo and win a grinding forward fight on the West and decisively dominate the center. Of course, with skillful play, you can still win with a less suited deck, but it still means that some decks simply have an in-built advantage.
Fighting in Foxtrot generally favors Echo, as they have a better base-of-fire line up with forests flanking both sides of the building zone which Charlie occupied, as well as a large city to garrison and forest zone which can be held very effectively. Pushing from Echo's side is reasonably effective, while Charlie, unless if they have a major deck advantage or are winning anyway, will have problems pursuing their own offensive pushing up against the enemy.
A typical Charlie-side early offensive to take the zone might see some fast motorized shock troops to seize the buildings, supported by rocket pod or attack helicopters and tank forces to deal with enemy armor, reconnaissance forces flanking and if available reconnaissance attack helicopters (such as the recon Tiger or the Ninja) to both spot and defeat enemy units early on, and armored and fire support units followed up to provide fire superiority, as well as AA of course. Against this, Charlie generally, assuming that its attention isn’t directed here, will mostly just hope to make Echo pay dearly for the position and buy time for its operations elsewhere to succeed: infantry, cost effective at holding the position, some reconnaissance assets, light AA, and above all else ATGM teams which might be able to get in some lucky hits on enemy tanks.
It is possible for Charlie to attempt to seize terrain here, but rather than attacking into the zone most often it will seek to gain control of the forest that is located between Foxtrot and Delta. By seizing control of the forest, resupply routes to Echo’s city in Foxtrot are cut, perhaps enabling it to be enfeebled to the extent that it can be taken by Charlie, offensive options against the center are opened up since the forest gradually morphs into forest belts there which can be fought over by troops, and the forest is very difficult to be retaken once seized since it is both thick and broad and with a notable lack of cover in front of it. The disadvantage to this is that there is no command zone directly seized, and that it often runs directly into the enemy’s spearhead, and if enemy units are themselves in the forest before it arrives then they have a notable defensive advantage. It is a perfectly legitimate strategy, and with mechanized decks perhaps the best one initially, but with drawbacks.
The central area (Delta and Alpha) is generally more defensible for Charlie than for Echo, due to the presence of a large city in Alpha which can be very easily fortified and thus prevent a full collapse in the event of the middle of the map being taken by Echo. There are also some forward buildings which are typically garrisoned by Charlie. These are a double-edged sword since they also can be fortified by the Echo side if taken, helping to secure a captured position. But generally, attacking from Echo to the Charlie is much harder and more difficult to do since there are far more obstacles and positions for a stubborn enemy defensive to be achieved. Echo has its own tree belts and heavily forested middle of the map in Delta, but these lack the sheer defensive utility of the city.
Typically, the middle part of the map is not very competitive initially, since the large forests make it slow to attack into and there is a defensive advantage of some sort, especially for Charlie as noted: but this can of course, vary by game. Just a few units of infantry can provide at the very least a decent tripwire and signal of enemy attack. 2-3 units of line infantry are quite useful in this regard. Attacking into the zone will often leave one’s flanks exposed, and it is exceptionally difficult to capture the city, while the closer one gets to the enemy base the more effective and difficult to intercept enemy airpower becomes. But if the game continues and the map is increasingly filled with units, flanks secured, and CVs purchased for the zones that one does have, it becomes more and more attractive to push in the center, especially with a mechanized deck. This is especially so since taking just the centermost part of the zone will result in a +2 conquest point advantage, which is enough to completely balance out the two side zones. But CVs in the middle are vulnerable to artillery and bomber strikes which are very common late in the game. Generally, one wants cheap grinding infantry, lots of mortars and artillery, and heavily armored medium tanks (such as the K1 or Abrams) to fight here.
Defending against a push when playing as the Charlie side is best achieved with lots of infantry and ATGMs to provide for the city in Alpha being defended, while tanks and FSVs (fire support vehicles) are built up behind to prepare for a counter-offensive and to provide fire support. If the enemy captures the middle part of the map, this is bad, but one can easily ensure that they progress no further, while using artillery to attrite them and prevent them from positioning a CV, building up a fire support advantage to then counter-attack. For Charlie, there are bands of forests instead of buildings, which are ideal positions for stealthy reconnaissance tanks and ATGM teams.
Bravo tends to favor motorized decks for the initial push, since most fighting will tend to happen in the village and forest which is located on the edge of the map closer to Echo. There is a good reason for this: once taken, this village is a very strong defensive position for either side, capable of being garrisoned effectively, large enough to withstand most artillery fire, and with the forest next to it providing a second line of fire which is hard to silence. ATGMs in the village and tanks in the forest next to it, plus regular infantry to hold terrain, is a very painful combination to attack into, given that there is beaten ground for both sides which must be attacked over.
While marginally closer to Echo's side, the village is close enough to both that it is a meeting engagement. Generally, one is actually fighting over two zones - the forest and the village. One wants some fast wheeled shock infantry, if possible in well-armed transports (this is part of the reason why Eurocorps, Baltic Front, and to a lesser extent Red Dragons have strong motorized openers, since their wheeled vehicles have autocannons), wheeled reconnaissance assets like the AMX-10 RC or Hachi-Nana Shiki, and armed reconnaissance helicopters like the Ninja, Tiger, and Ka-50. Rocket pod helicopters are incredibly useful if you have them at providing fire support to units in the city and if the enemy has insufficient AA, killing their units out in the open. The goal is to put infantry into the city, while if possible beating up on enemy wheeled units out in the open to prevent them from reaching the city itself. This is best paired with a simultaneous capturing of the forest area, which generally will see more mechanized units deployed, although wheeled units are useful to actually enter the site. From the forest, they can be used to provide fire support against the city and their infantry join units fighting there. Wheeled, long-range AA is vital to this all, since a helicopter drop is generally possible against less effective anti-helicopter AA.
If all goes well, and one takes both positions, then one can resupply one's units, position reconnaissance infantry in both the forest and town, a net of ATGMs, infantry in both, and some tanks to provide fire support from the forest, as well as AA. This is a very hard position to break. It is also generally a good idea to have some armed pickets between the village and the edge of the map for both sides to protect the flank and defend against infiltrators. It can make some sense to advance further into the forests which are in the empty, non-command zones, which can help to cause the enemy to divert resources here and potentially circle around to infiltrate the enemy base, but most often this is inefficient as one's main strategy: a few units of shock or commando infantry from Echo's side against Bravo's village on Foxtrot's side, attacking it from the side, is plentifully sufficient, since it might be able to take the village here and kill enemy CVs or rear-area assets. Advancing further is hard for both sides however.
For both sides, if one has secured the position, further moves depend on what the situation on the rest of the map is. If Charlie has secured Bravo, then they have won this side of the map. If Echo has secured the Bravo village, generally they don't want to push further, since it is hard to push into the Foxtrot side of Bravo, which has large amounts of beaten terrain in front of it, defensive buildings, and forest lines. Exceptions might exist if one has succeeded extraordinarily well, but most of the time for both sides after the fighting is done here, for better or worse, it is an economy of force zone.
Generally the home base CV is best protected by stealth, being hidden in unusual positions in the forest, and surrounded by a screen of infantry. This means any CV can be used. The same goes for Bravo for Charlie, where any CV can be chosen in the low-density woodland and buildings, and for Alpha. For Charlie, it is best to have an armored or infantry CV for Foxtrot, normally kept in their cluster of buildings on their side of the map, and screened via infantry against attacks from the forest to their left, from Charlie's perspective. If one has attacked into Delta, some sort of armored CV in the forests here is most useful.
For the reverse, Echo can generally place their CV where they wish in Delta (although quite commonly this is an infantry CV in the cluster of buildings closest to their base, a good position but one which sometimes the enemy knows and will attempt to bomb), and in the city on their side of Foxtrot, which can use either a jeep CV or infantry CV. But Bravo, while with two good spots for CVs (the forest area next to the city and the city itself), generally is best with either an infantry CV in the city or a tank CV in the forest, since lots of artillery fire might be directed at these two areas.
Due to substantial forests and a large map size, infiltration is a real danger. Special forces infantry, landed by helicopter, can wreak havoc behind the lines and easily come from both sides of the map. Spawn roads are in danger, as are CVs. it is possible to sneak special forces around at length, especially in the forests—and particularly against the Echo side. Defending against this is best achieved with pickets covering the forests, and on the Charlie side, some infantry guarding the houses next to the spawn road, as well as some armed reconnaissance vehicles spread out in a loose screen to protect the various zones on the part of the map between Bravo and the edge of the map.
Protecting against infiltration is extremely difficult to do since the forests’ surrounding the map are very strategically placed and massively thick. It is easy to approach the base zone under cover and even get into it entirely through the woods, and Echo's road from Echo to Foxtrot runs entirely through the woods. Nothing hurts more than calling in a CV or expensive air defense unit to go through here only for it to be killed by enemy special forces crossing through! Other ones such as Foxtrot’s road from their base to Foxtrot might not cross through the woods for the same length of time, but they too have forests on their flanks and go through the woods at some point along their length. Fully protecting all of this is impossible. Generally, a few line infantry or militia are useful pickets, as are reconnaissance helicopters early on to spot enemy helicopters flying around the edges of the map (later on they might have gone overland), and there should be units arranged around the spawn point, CV, FOBs, and places overlooking your main reinforcement routes or base to protect against them being spotted. This is rarely full proof however, unless if an excessive amount of resources is expended.
In reverse, special forces can sneak around the exterior of the base and attempt to get spots on CVs and FOBs, as well as the artillery. Charlie's part of the Bravo zone is particularly vulnerable to attacks since CVs are often placed in village buildings here or the very Southeastern side of it, and special forces can hit them from the rear from forests positioned close by. Shock forces can be used for the same endeavor, and this is a particularly common tactic to hit the Southern side of the Western zone (from Charlie's perspective), meaning that the CV is often better placed in buildings here rather than in the forest.