Ryan Thomas enjoys playing "Wargame: Red Dragon" as his main strategy game, particularly as France and Czechoslovakia.
Wargame: Red Dragon is a game of strategy where your overall management of forces and ideas are the keys to victory. This is more important than the micromanagement of an individual unit. A good, well-conducted strategy will beat a lack of strategic sense, even if the strategically worse side plays their cards well. And for the most part, once one has the basic concept of combat down, it is mostly intuitive. Of course, these basic concepts can be hard, but c’est la vie…
This doesn’t mean that micromanaging units individually doesn’t play a role in tactical success. Some units, and some unit classes, can benefit tremendously from micromanagement. This article covers such units, how they work, and what individual control can do to help them. There are some general tips beyond this which apply to all units, such as turning off arms on units so that they avoid getting spotted by shooting if they are in stealthy locations, or disabling their weapons to prevent excessive ammunition consumption if they aren't likely to hit anything, but these are units that greatly benefit from specific micromanagement.
1. Meme Mig (Mig-29 9.13)
Despite its recent nerfs, the meme mig, otherwise formally known as the Mig-29 9.13, continues to be considered the best fighter in Wargame. It has decent speed, it's survivable thanks to good ECM, it's maneuverable, and it's reasonably cheap. Its greatest asset is the high rate of fire of its twin missiles, ripple fire in essence, with high accuracy weapons that shoot effectively and instantly. Other than a mediocre gun, this is the only armament of the aircraft. This means that there is no point in keeping around once it has fired. This is its greatest advantage since it can be immediately evacuated, leaving little vulnerability to enemy fire, unlike other aircraft that can be shot at. A well-managed meme mig is essentially invulnerable.
This is, however, dependent on your reaction time in evacuating the plane, and sometimes you can forget about it. It is a sad story to lose one of your meme migs (of which you just get two) to a simple mistake! To get around this, you can turn off the gun so that, when the missiles fire, the plane automatically evacs. It will remember this setting in future sorties, and this makes it an easy way to make the meme mig even more effective and fool-proof.
2. Radar AA
The radar anti-aircraft units are probably the most important class to learn how to micromanage at first. These are normally vital to your anti-plane defense, and they often offer anti-helicopter and sometimes even anti-ground firepower, as the Otomatic attests. Radar AA tends to be expensive too; they're often at least 60 points for the heavy pieces. Losing it is painful. The normal hunter of radar AA is SEAD, which is an aircraft (and helicopters in some rare cases) class that detects radar and then fires missiles that can kill AA. It normally takes one shot since they have high AP values and there are now HE missiles used by South African SEAD that can kill clusters of lightly armored AA.
To stop your AA from being slaughtered, turning the radar weapon off means SEAD cannot target it. Radar weaponry is identified with a [RAD] tag, so look at which units have it and turn them off. The unit will not be detected, and the missile will not fire. Most of the time, you probably want your radar AA to be off since it is better to be conservative rather than to lose it to an SEAD plane you did not spot—particularly against nations with stealthy SEAD, such as the USA, which has the Raven with good stealth. This means even weapons with very good air detection will only spot it relatively late.
It is also possible to “SEAD bait.” If you turn off the radar while the AA is moving, the anti-radiation missile will continue to fly towards the last known location of the radar piece. This means the missile will smack harmlessly into the ground (unless if by some stunningly bad luck another unit happens to be in the wrong place at the very wrong time, such as in the video below). This can exhaust radar missiles, and then your AA can open fire on the enemy SEAD. This works particularly well against SEAD helicopters, like the Ka-52 or to a lesser extent the Supercobra (which unfortunately has TOW-2 missiles that make it perfectly capable of killing the unit with regular missiles).
Most infantry in Wargame, other than reservists or specialists, have three weapons. They have a rifle or a primary weapon, a machine gun, and an anti-tank launcher. But the key is that only one of these two secondary weapons can be used at once. It's either the machine gun or the anti-tank weapon, but not both. Generally, the more potent weapon is engaged, such as an RPG being automatically shifted to after a machine gun when a truck drives into range. However, there is the key rule that once a target is engaged, a new target won’t be shot at until the old one is dead. So if an infantry unit is engaging an enemy infantry unit and a tank enters into range, it will keep shooting at the infantry unit until it is dead and ignore the tank. The infantry will likely be slaughtered by the tank.
This is where the odd feature of Wargame’s combat economy comes in. Infantry, as a rule, is what can be called the “tank” class in a role-playing game. Infantry absorbs damage far more cheaply than armored vehicles do. So an infantry unit, particularly in a forest, will soak up damage, while a tank can serve as the main damage dealer. It is a common tactic for forest fighting to unload infantry, send them forward, and once enemy infantry is engaged, follow up with your own vehicles.
To deal with this, other than manual retargeting (which might be impossible since the infantry might be panicked or stunned and have trouble retargeting, and tanks will usually get the shot off first and stun your units), you can manually turn the machine gun off so that enemy tanks and vehicles are automatically engaged by the infantry. Of course, this cuts into your anti-infantry damage output, so you will have to judge the situation.
4. ATGM-Armed Tanks
Even when a weapon is off and another weapon is used, the off weapon continues to fire. As odd as it sounds, in a tank that fires missiles from its gun, it continues to load the missile while the gun is firing, and vice versa. This can be an easy way to get a useful boost to firepower: the tank gun fires, then the gun is disabled, and then a missile is immediately fired. When it hits the target (or misses), you can turn the tank gun back on and fire it since it is now reloaded.
Missiles fired by tanks and IFVs vary widely, but a common tank version is the Svir, which is found on a wide range of Redfor tanks. This gets 22 AP, which means it can inflict significant damage on most enemy medium tanks. The combination of a tank gun round followed up by an ATGM will inflict a lot of damage. It will probably kill an enemy medium tank outright before they can get the second shot in to kill you.
Russians love their comically over-armed vehicles. The BMPT has a 100mm HE launcher cannon, a 30mm autocannon, and an automatic grenade launcher. This makes the unit a rolling arsenal. No wonder it has been called the terminator in its modern versions! There is only one problem: in Wargame, you can typically only use two weapons at a time out of three possible weapons on a unit (with notable exceptions for the Zelda or less infamously the BUffalo IV), so normally one of the weapons is useless in a standard fight. Most of the time, given the role of the BMPT, a close range forest fighter, you want the autocannon and grenade launcher, but it has a tendency to prioritize the 100mm HE gun. Turning off the gun can help to improve efficiency in the forest.
If you want even more firepower and are willing to devote the time, there is also the possibility of alternating the gun and the grenade launchers. Turn off the main gun so it uses the grenade launchers, and then turn the main gun back on to fire, and then repeat. The firepower is effectively doubled. But of course, this requires significant attention from the player.
6. Flamethrower Tanks
Flamethrower tanks are not the meta in WG: RD. Perhaps because they take a long period of time to aim. During this time, infantry can often get the first shot off, and no flamethrower tank has particularly good armor values, even if they can typically withstand intermediate level AT weapons. But you can make them more effective by deploying them with manual targeting, particularly in forests. Use fire position commands, set the forest on fire on front of them, and advance through the flames.
7. Laser-Guided Bomb Planes
Typically, given the power and accuracy of laser guided bombs, you only need a single unit to take out a soft target, such as an infantry squad. So a laser guided bomb plane which has more than one bomb (currently all LGB planes in Wargame) is inefficient if it only hits a single target, unless if it is striking a heavily armored enemy target, such as a superheavy tank. It is possible to use the bombs better by using the brief interval of reloading between the laser-guided bombs to choose a second target to strike and splitting the bomb load. Practice it in skirmishes and have fun wiping out full enemy convoys!
8. SEAD Targeting
SEAD anti-radiation missiles can only target enemy radar pieces if they are turned on. With a SEAD plane, you can right click on enemy radar pieces to attack them if the are spotted already. But if they are turned off, they are not valid targets, and so the plane will not register the attack move. Thus, if you want to use SEAD to attack already spotted enemies, click on them to attack. All other weapons should be turned off if you have them. You will be able to tell if their radar is on if the attack order is received.
You can also improve your SEAD effectiveness by accompanying SEAD with ATGM and rocket planes. SEAD spots enemy radar for all units, so if there are lots of enemies, you can kill them with a combination of SEAD and ground attack aircraft.
As a commander in Wargame, you automatically get a counter-battery radar. You can see where artillery and mortar shells come from so you can possibly fire back. Not everyone does counter-battery fire, but it is a dangerous threat to your thinly-armored artillery units—especially against units like ATACMs. To avoid this, queue up a bombardment, followed by movement, and then more bombardment.
The ATACM is the closest thing Wargame has to a “one hit, one kill” system given its 20 AP is delivered to top armor directly underneath it. This is enough to kill any non-naval armored unit. An ATACM fires two missiles independently, but due to the way that any single missile will kill any unit it strikes, the second missile is mostly useless, at least if you aren’t firing it at a moving column. Anything you have fired at should already be dead, and the second missile will hit either empty soil or destroyed enemy vehicles. So normally, you want to cease fire after the first shot and target something else or let it wait. Given the long reload time, and the supply cost, you don’t want to waste missiles.
A different but similar logic applies to regular MRLS units. It can make sense to split a salvo for HE MRLS since they are mainly designed to stunning. Firing all at once at one location is often overkill, and you can split the salvo to fire eight missiles at one site and four at another.