Ryan Thomas enjoys playing "Wargame: Red Dragon" as his main strategy game, particularly as France and Czechoslovakia.
Bloody Ridge is one of the more commonly played team game maps in Wargame: Red Dragon, typically with three players per side. This is quite natural since it is has three lanes of combat. This three-lane strategy is common in video games, but the distinct feature of Bloody Ridge in Wargame is that each zone is very distinct from the rest, enough for hugely varying play styles. It requires real team cooperation in order for the relative advantage of each player to shine.
Bloody Ridge has a large number of command zones—some 11 of them—which provide for massive amount of points in a destruction game, as well as a large number of zones to capture in a conquest mode. The division of the map into 11 zones produces two side areas where each side has one zone unless if they capture the enemy’s, and taking a side entirely is quite a stomp of the enemy team. The central zone is the sole one to have a central point which is inherently contested by both sides, and makes it into a fiercely disputed part of the map.
There is a wide range of geography present, but typically it is based around tree lines and medium sized forest patches, with mostly open ground and towns of sufficient size to require in-depth fighting. The open terrain is usually enough for medium and long range engagements, although not for extremely long-ranged vehicle based ATGMs. A more open map would be needed for them, such as the 38th Parallel, Mud Fight, or the 3v3 version of Paddy Field.
The large map size makes for short-ranged aircraft struggling to engage at length on the other side of the map (the Czech Albatros aircraft for example, will almost run out of fuel just flying to the enemy base), while scrambling fighters at the last moment will fall most often on empty air, and they have to be sallied early.
Town Deck Types and Delaying
The fiercest initial fighting often happens in the town on the side of the map between Echo and India. This is a large, deep, city, one where the interior cannot be easily engaged from outside, and infantry will be king. Due to the nature of combat mechanics in Wargame, where infantry, hops, essentially teleports, between buildings, and artillery attack is mostly fruitless in such dense areas save for very wide area, stunning bombardments from MRLS units or very heavy bombers.
Motorized, airborne, or mechanized decks are the most useful for town fighting. Mechanized decks have the advantage of greatest cost effectiveness, and normally greater supporting assets, and thus higher fire power and staying power. But motorized decks can be very useful for seizing the city quickly, and establishing a strong defensive position, with entrenched infantry, ATGM teams, and reconnaissance infantry, and if it has them, long-ranged fire support teams and light infantry. This can make storming the city almost impossible since there is enough cover in front of it for them to have a good kill zone.
Airborne decks often take a privileged role in this war, since they get to the spot fastest and the large distances of the map means that unlike smaller, city-centric fights such as Wongsong harbor or Mud Fight, the helicopters can arrive before AA gets into position—but it will be a close call against wheeled, long-range AA such as the Crotale, Closed Arrow, HQ-7, or ITO 90. Still the advantages of helicopters means that it is common to expect them, particularly in larger matches. The best response is fast motorized AA, anti-helicopter attacks with AA helicopters, and fast helicopter-hunter aircraft to spot them, such as the L-17K, LAZUR, Mig-23ML in the Soviet deck, F-104, Crusader, etc. These are reasonably cheap, fast, and can most often reliably kill a helicopter, but they cannot kill such a large mass of enemy units. They can however, assassinate high value targets and provide vision.
Against any foe, slowing them down to give your troops time to reach the city, or to delay the enemy enough to provide for an even fight if you are facing faster troops (such as fighting against enemy motorized forces with your own mechanized forces, where reaching the city at the same time will give you a huge advantage due to the greater cost effectiveness of your troops) is a good strategy. There are two standard ways to do this: either artillery bombardment or napalm bombing of the approach roads.
Napalm has the advantage of a guaranteed block on the road, but the disadvantage of this block being easily visible, so that units can be rerouted, and that it is a very-well known gambit, so that the other side will commonly invest in an opening fighter. Since this will shot down a slow, low-ECM bomber, a fast, high ECM one is needed, which is expensive. Of course, the enemy fighter is also expensive, but it could have been bought by another player on the enemy team rather than yourself, and it will almost certainly survive and kill your bomber, leaving a substantial point victory for the enemy. You could also buy fighters to protect your bomber, but even a cheap ASF typically costs more than 100 points, making for a substantial investment at the beginning of a match. Let’s say you play Eastern Bloc with the Polish Mig-29 air superiority fighter which costs 135 points, protecting the Czech thermobaric Mig-29 napalm bomber which also costs 135 points. 270 points is a massive amount, and an enemy which invests everything in ground forces could simply overwhelm you with superior numbers even if it does take them longer to reach the city.
Artillery fire is the other option, and generally a safer, and often more effective, bet. Here, MRLS are generally the star. Cluster munitions like MARS or Smerch are useful for blocking a road, and the HE M270 or Uragan are even better since their morale-suppression effect will stun enemy units on the road, slowing them down, and making them completely combat ineffective if they do reach the city. the Swedish Bkan can also provide a high enough rate of fire to achieve the same effect. The ATACMs can often pay for itself with just a few shots, given the packed road which has high value targets, but it will generally not hold up an advance like the other artillery systems. Most other assets are generally too expensive with an inadequate rate of fire, accuracy, or aiming time to be worth it.
The artillery had the advantage of being much more safe and dependable than a bomber, and generally is a more effective option to my eyes.
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Fighting in the city itself is a simple proposition, once there at least! Attempt to swamp the enemy with superior mass and firepower of your infantry. Kutei, Spetsnaz, Li Jian and Li Jian ‘90, Commandos ‘90, Korps Marinier, Fallschirmjager, and Mot-Schutzen are all excellent options here. Transports are something to consider at length about how far to deploy them into the city, since if you have a motorized deck and the city appears deserted you might be able to push them far enough up to be able to take the edges of it before an enemy mech deck arrives—but if an unloaded enemy catches you before you unload your troops, it will be a terrible slaughter, killing and stunning your troops. Even if the transports unload, the morale penalty is still atrocious. Finding the right balance of the fast-moving transports getting as far forward as possible before unloading, but not so far forward as to be caught and destroyed by enemy infantry, is vital.
If one succeeds in taking the city, then one can either push onward or dig in it. Which one depends on the circumstances. In a crushing victory, where the enemy has few back-up assets or immediately available reinforcements, or where your element have sufficient firepower available integrally (such as Eurocorps or Baltic Front where many of their transports have autocannons and they have some excellent support assets), it is possible to roll over the survivors and push forward into the further zone. This can immediately secure yet another zone and one where infantry-heavy armies are well placed to hold due to substantial forests.
More often however, victory shall leave the victory sufficiently blooded that an immediate attack is ill-advised. In this case, bring up supply vehicles to resupply infantry and replenish their numbers, position ATGM and reconnaissance teams forward, and put armed reconnaissance vehicles in the adjoining bushes flanking the town where their stealth will give them survivability. Rocket pod helicopters landed behind the town can pop up to obliterate enemy infantry attacks, since if the enemy AA intervenes, it will be spotted and killed by town-based infantry. heavy AA can protect against enemy bombers from a comfortable range behind the lines, in the forest, or if one has MANPADs in their deck they can shoot down planes themselves. The infantry in the town can move around to dodge enemy artillery fire. Attacking the town in such circumstances is very difficult indeed. Eventually one can use it as a base of fire to drive the enemy from their zone, or economize and help other fronts.
Coming Back From Defeat
Losing control of the town is a major set-back, but it can be overcome. Of course, much depends on context, and if the city is not fully lost, an effective application of reinforcements can often turn the tide of a losing battle. But what if indeed the enemy has entirely obliterated one’s entire forces in the city? Capturing the city has the problem of confronting a substantially more resilient, entrenched, enemy force. The advantage the attack has is that he can choose when and where to attack, but in a narrow environment like this, such an advantage is largely theoretical for the geographic position. For time however, it is real, and a fixed target is available to be hammered by firepower. One wants to assemble a sufficiently large infantry force, supported by IFVs and fire support vehicles, but above all else with stunning firepower like the Uragan, M270, and Chinese BM-24s, as well as very heavy bombers like the B-5, to panic and destroy enemy defenders and to leave them demoralized for when your own attacks come in. Press reconnaissance infantry as close as possible before hand to spot ATGM teams, support with massive ground based firepower and rocket pod helicopters if available and usable, stun enemy infantry, press your own infantry in and overwhelm them. It requires superior resources, ruthlessness, and determination, but it can work.
There are some map areas which are naturally amenable to heavily armored combat, and the center of the map is just such an area. Relatively wide open fields, cover belts present but not overwhelming, flat terrain, a lack of buildings in the center of the map: heavy armor is needed here, alongside cheap spam infantry to soak up firepower, mortars for smoking, reconnaissance, and heavy air defense.
An important opening forest is the one on the side of Foxtrot closer to Echo and India By taking it, a base for future offensive operations and additional vision can be gained. Another common deployment is substantial ATGM teams in the bush lines, as well as in the forest which is on the left (for the ocean side). Generally, ranges are just sufficient here to avoid being spotted. High AP Milan ATGM can be particularly good gien the intermediate range. Stealthy reconnaissance vehicles can play their role too, particularly ones such as the M84-AN with good AP and armor, although medium stealth missile-armed vehicles generally find the range too short. But this shouldn’t ignore that the main element here will be the superheavy, supported by reconnaissance, lots of spam infantry, smoke, and air defense.
In the event of either side losing, there are tree lines to retreat to and towns to fortify, but of course this abandons the central zone, disastrous in a conquest game, although more acceptable in destruction.
An armored or unspec deck is recommended for this area. While the fighting here is intense, there isn't that much that really is complicated: use smoke to hide your superheavies, trade shots, and hopefully win and press forward.
The most defensible and commonly least active zone is on the left of the map. A narrow front to attack through, hemmed in by cliffs on one side and a ridge on the other, and a city to attack on the other end makes offensives a risky business. Attacking generally requires an initial helicopter rush or for the enemy to severely miscalculate the weight of an attack. This makes the zone amenable to support players or unspec players, who can economize in this zone and support others, with airpower, artillery, air defense, or direct combat forces. Sometimes attacking here against the enemy might work since as with many passive zones, the worst players will choose it, but you will have to genuinely be very bad to lose this zone presuming you don't comically underestimate defense needs.
Most zones on the map have plentiful forests, and many hiding spots, which makes CV placement easy. Even jeep CVs are quite defensible. There are also buildings where infantry can be posted in almost every zone, save the base. The sole exception to this possibility to use soft CVs is the central zone, where there is substantial usage of artillery and bombers which means it is preferable to have an armored CV
Although CVs are reasonably easily protected, this doesn’t mean that infiltration is useless. There is a substantial, mostly poorly protected, India and Echo flank of the map, which although one must be careful about using initially due to the large helicopter rush, is generally easy to use for flying command reconnaissance infantry in. This is particularly potent against the Juliette spawn, since there are substantial bushes overlooking the spawn road, enabling enemy reinforcements to be spotted. Not as much of the Alpha side can be spotted in this way, although CVs are more commonly placed in nearby bushes, which makes them more vulnerable. FOBs can often be spotted and destroyed on both sides.
There is also the path around Charlie and Golf .Helicopters are not as useful, although they can sometimes work, since they will often be spotted in this narrow corridor, but it can work at times. Special forces recon infantry can simply walk through the cliffs however, and then walk around the edge of the map to get spotting information on the enemy base.