Ryan Thomas enjoys playing "Wargame: Red Dragon" as his main strategy game, particularly as France and Czechoslovakia.
I don’t know if the desert map of Hop and Glory matches the universe of Wargame: Red Dragon. Even for the plains of Manchuria, it seems far too dry. Then again, I’m no expert on the geography of East Asia, and maybe Eugen Systems isn’t either. Whatever it may be, with Israeli and Finnish units fighting in the deserts of Manchuria, it's hard to choose what exactly is the odd one out here for Hop and Glory. It’s a large map in any case. It's extremely open and biased to long ranged armor combat, although there is a collection of towns and forest groves. This makes for a tactically complex and interesting map.
Hop and Glory is most often played as a 3v3 map. It tends to naturally produce a three-section combat game. In tune with many such maps of this size, there is a reasonably even margin of both destruction and conquest matches played on it. There are a large number of zones. There is a base zone on each side, a reinforcement zone for each, a secure zone, a zone which is generally secure but can theoretically be seized by an aggressive enemy, and two zones intended to be fought over. A river runs through the center of the map, but due to the way reinforcement routes are set up and zones arrayed, the river plays a little role in the map. The three main fighting regions are reasonably distinct, so they have to be treated individually.
One of the most common combat zones is Golf, which is composed of two forest groves separated by about 1,000 meters at closest to nearly 2 kilometers at longest range. You can generally expect fighting to take place at around 1,500 to 2,000 meters between tanks. It is integrated into a single command zone to control the entire area. You can expect a close to medium range aggressive fight since either you or the enemy need to attack directly in. Armored or mechanized options are the most useful here. The zone is closer to North’s lines of communication since their additional reinforcement route is located next to it, but this only supplies land units and the road access is worse, so the deployment possibilities are broadly similar.
Generally, you want a heavily armored force to slug it out with the enemy tanks and support your infantry advancing. If you have high tier medium tanks (M84As, Leopard 2A1s), heavies, and superheavies, these are what you want to bring. Air power is both a tool to use and to defend against as the distance is about equal from both bases and in large team games like this it is very common for large amounts of aircraft to be deployed. The enemy forest (and your own) is not that large, so MRLS stunning bombardment can inflict very severe morale damage and enable you to push in easily.
If you succeed in taking the entire zone, there are limited offensive possibilities. Since attacking Charlie, the reinforcement zone for for North, is extremely hard given the intense logistics problems of sustaining an offensive at such a distance from your resupply zone directly into the enemy reinforcement zones, a direct assault is out of the picture. The same goes for the north side attacking south, since it is an extremely long trek around the edge of the map without any command zone in the way to try to take the enemy base. In a conquest map mode, if your ally on the other side of the map held his own, you are fine just to defend and maybe help out your ally if they gut pushed too hard. Send recon infantry to the front of the woods, back them up with ATGMs, position infantry behind them (but not too much infantry, expect major artillery bombardments), and in the second grove, some AA and additional reserves such as tanks. You can, however, assist other players, principally in mid, but that belongs to the next section.
The center map zone only has one command zone, which is almost always taken by south since it is so much closer to its base, but it is still a common engagement for both sides. There are two towns, one verging on an city in size, separated by each other by several kilometers. Helicopter attacks are a reasonably common opener in both sections. For north, this aims to take the zone itself and to conquer the command points associated, while for the southern side, the objective seems more hazy: after all, there is no command zone to take. But this is a useful area since it gives a defensive glacis in front of Foxtrot which blocks enemy progress from their reinforcement from Charlie, and until the area is taken it is very hard to bypass the village and it exerts a zone of control over routes leading to the forests on the left side of the map, so it is very hard to control this zone if your flank is threatened and reinforcements face constant interdiction. Responding to this menace can come with a counter-helicopter attack with AA helicopters, or a fast motorized long range AA contingent such as Crotales.
After north secures the village, they have the option of attacking directly into Foxtrot. This is a difficult prospect since the city has a large cleared zone in front of it and it is naturally hard to attack urban zones in Wargame. If you are in destruction, this should only be done if you want to completely destroy enemy forces, and there is almost never a reason to do it in conquest. If you pursue, you probably want to use massed MRLS fire to stun the defenders, followed by commando and shock infantry, either with fire support behind them if the enemy doesn’t have ATGMs, or if you have recon close enough, of a smokescreen to cover the advance if not. If you don’t attack, common CV hiding spots are the bushes in the rear.
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Separated from the other areas by a river, the right side of the map also has the peculiarity of being based around a major hill outcrop for what is the most common combat zone here, Echo. Due to the way this curves out, it is hard for both sides to gain full control over this zone, since it requires attacking around the mountain and exposing yourself to enemy troops behind it. Reinforcement lines are particularly close for South from Juliett, since their reinforcement sector is directly adjacent.
This being said, the zone generally is relatively open so it is easy to find range, on the right side of it on the map edge. Armored decks are often the best here. The South doesn’t have any forest cover, but it is easy to place the CV in the section behind the hill where it curves back. Most often this should be an armored CV, since extensive enemy artillery fire is to be expected. By contrast, the northern side has a crescent of tree cover stretching into the zone: as with the other side, extensive artillery fire is to be expected, so it is best to use an armored CV here. ATGMs from the town in Delta can fire at enemy armored units pushing around the mountain on this side, so it is necessary to place infantry in the zone to provide the mainstay of the fighting, or use extensive smoke.
To drive the enemy out entirely requires a sustained offensive which defeats the enemy in front, drives them back, and occupies the ground taken with defensive troops - the forward forests particularly. This is a difficult matter to do thanks to the defensive advantages, that the North has and the close communication lines the South possess. Often combat in the zone will thus tend to be defensive and attritional.
An alternate approach for South is to attack the city in Delta. By taking this zone one has the possibility of cutting off reinforcements to Echo from the North, and you thus hold it by default. Combined with the conquest point advantage generated by the town, it is a massive boost and almost certainly game winning. However, it is relatively close to the enemy spawn point, which means that it is often difficult to take, in that an airborne attack will tend to run into enemy motorized AA and be destroyed. A motorized overland attack can work sometimes, but it too is risky. Generally you need some way to delay the enemy from getting to the zone, such as MRLS fire on the road to force them to pause.
Thankfully, land reinforcement distances are relatively short given the distance to the second land supply route, so both sides are equally matched: expect a bitter grinding fight at close range to medium distance given the build-over nature of the grand with substantial forest outcroppings, small building clusters, the town, and the hill to the top left. Be sure to have extensive AA as it is close to the enemy base and you can expect substantial intervention by enemy airstrike units.
Most zones are safe given their large size, lack of enemy combat threats, and extensive cover, so you can get away with cheap CVs everywhere. The exceptions of course are Golf and Echo. In both zones, if you don’t fully secure them, the area you can put your CVs is extremely limited to just relatively small forest groves or to restricted regions in shadow from enemy direct detection. Thus it is best to use, as a rule, heavily armored CVs in these zones. If you do take the entirety of them, you have more options to be unpredictable and this can enable you to use cheaper CVs.
Infiltrating units into the enemy rear is of course, almost always always helpful, but due to the way secondary reinforcement zones and deployments are set up, this can be difficult and it is also asymmetrical: it is more effective against the North than against the South.
Since both sides have reinforcement zones and deploy there at the beginning, you have to expect that it is impossible to get around the edge of the map. Thus, you need to use helicopter-borne infantry, around the right side of the map, from the South, and the left side from the North. These need to be fast and sent out at the very beginning to get to position, flying around the very edge of the map to hopefully avoid being detected and killed. Unfortunately the reinforcement road for the southern side still lies across the path, so it is hard to get forward to spot everything in the enemy base: theoretically you can insert raiding infantry into buildings behind the base and prey on reinforcements, but it takes a lot of luck to get a good target. Although you can spot some FOBs, enemy CVs are most often hidden. The situation is better on the northern side, where there are some excellent forest lines overlooking the enemy base, and it is possible to descend into it and often take out enemy CVs, as well as raid the enemy supply lines as they traverse the woods.
To counter this, a recon helicopter is a good idea, or some pickets in the woods above North’s base, or one in the hills behind South’s.
Hops and Glory is a tactically complex map thanks to its large size, the key role of geography, and multiple reinforcement routes. Hopefully this guide gives an idea of what to expect on it and how to adapt to it and win.