Ryan Thomas enjoys playing Wargame: Red Dragon as his main strategy game, particularly as France and Czechoslovakia.
Normally, in Wargame: Red Dragon, South Korea is spotted in the Blue Dragons faction. There are good reasons for this—Blue Dragons is a coalition which adds additional units onto South Korea, including real superheavy tanks, ATGM infantry, reconnaissance vehicles, shock reconnaissance infantry, some great reconnaissance helicopters, and better anti-helicopter vehicles. But this doesn't mean that South Korea on its own is bad—it hits the important threshold of 30% availability bonuses, which make its air arm vastly better due to an effectively 50% increase in planes. Most of the Blue Dragons coalition is composed of South Korean units rather than Japanese ones. South Korea on its own is an interesting and intriguing deck to play, which has a mixture of great infantry, strong medium tanks, a well-rounded and cost effective air force, and effective supporting arms, which makes it, if not a well-rounded faction, one which is probably the most capable one on Blufor in Wargame for fighting on its own in a conventional battle.
This guide shows what units to take for South Korea, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and what sort of strategy works for it. Below is my deck for South Korea, with what units, and what sort of veterancy I take for them.
South Korea's logistics are mediocre, since it only has a 15 point supply truck - although this is vastly better than its Eastern neighbor, Japan, the other normal member of Blue Dragons, since Japan only gets a 10 point supply truck, terribly cost inneffective. and the worst in the game. The rest of South Korea's command tab is reasonably good however - it gets good transports for its infantry CVs, a very good command APC, the K277 which has 2 armor all around, making it more resistant to artillery fire and cost effective at just 130 points and capable of being brought in numbers, and the normal FOB.
Before the introduction of Israel with the Roviat 90' in the Zelda transport, and the Finnish Jaakari 90', the South Korean Sochong-Su 85' in the K200 transport was probably the best line infantry unit in the game - and still continues to be a well rounded, highly cost effective, extremely effective line infantry unit, whose anti-tank weapon can one-shot two-armor transports, cheap, and who come in their own very good K200 transport with twin machine guns, good speed, and 2 armor. Sochong-Su give South Korea a highly effective grinding infantry unit, and they also come in other excellent transport options, particularly the KAFV 25, a 15 point 25mm autocannon armed transport on the same chassis which provides excellent supporting fire.
There are also some great shock and reasonable commando infantry options. The Haebyung '90 are South Korean marines, with an excellent Panzerfaust 3 AT launcher with 24 AP, 70% accuracy, and 700 meter range, while they also get good machine guns and rifles, and a 15 man-size gives them additional health - for a cost of 30 points. While they don't get any particularly good transports, their 10 point wheeled transports at least get a Browning heavy machine gun and are fast, even if they lack for armor, while the 5 point LVPT-7 gives a cheap 5 point box, although again lacking for armor. The UDT/SEALs also offer respectable, if worse, AT capability with their Carl Gustav launchers, but they lose health and their MG is somewhat worse, in exchange for a better primary rifle. Although still a legitimate choice, the Haebyung '90 are probably the better unit.
South Korea's fire support infantry is mediocre, with the Jiksa-Hwagi Ban offering 1,400 meter range line recoilless rifle units with 13 AP: they provide at least some stand-off anti-tank capability and fire support, and they get the KAFV 25 transport. I've experimented with using the KAFV40/50 which gets a Browning heavy machine gun and a grenade launcher, but this grenade launcher is substantially worse than other Blufor equivalents and it generally isn't worth it.
Probably South Korea's biggest lack is an ATGM infantry team. Other nations don't have this too, such as the United States, but they have the advantage of being excellently honed for open terrain fighting. South Korea isn't, and it lacks terribly for open terrain options. Without an ATGM team it is very difficult to deny open terrain. South Korea has to rely upon its TOW tank destroyers and Peace Pheasants to deal with tanks in the open.
Unlike most nations, South Korea might seriously consider taking a MANPAD. It has one of the best in game - the French-origin Mistral, which has 2,625 meter range against helicopters, improved health with 5 men (although at the cost of reduced staelth), 5 HE damage, 2,100 meter range against aircraft, and 60% accuracy - which combined make it very useful and effective. Unfortunately, South Korea doesn't get a vehicle-mounted anti-air infrared missile, and has to depend on SPAAGs and the HAWK series of radar-directed missiles. Since South Korea doesn't get an infantry ATGM like other nations, it might be thought of as filling in for this.
There are also reservists who get a great transport, but are generally too niche, and flame launcher infantry, who again are generally too niche. If one likes them, they can be taken ,but generally aren't worth it.
Thus my line up consists of '85 line infantry in the KAFV 25, '85 line infantry in a 5 pointer, recoilless rifle fire support infantry in the KAFV 25', '90 marines in KM900, and the Mistral in a KM900 - all upvetted.
While South Korea doesn't get any 120mm mortars, its 107mm mortars are decent. The top mortar is not worth the additional cost, so that means that the KM106 is the better option.
While South Korea does technically get a multiple rocket launcher, the K136 pays for its relatively massive range for a light multiple rocket launcher (28,000 meters with 130mm, 7 HE rockets) with greater supply cost, reduced availability, general cost (80 points), and long reload times. This makes it similar to a slightly worse Grad. It still can stun targets reasonably well, but it is an expensive tool for this.
Other artillery options are better. The base M110 howitzer is a surprisingly useful unit - only costing 70 points and yet the massive 10 HE shells can effectively suppress large regions, at low supply costs, providing a major suppression and area bombardment tool. The keystone of the artillery arsenal is however, the K9 Thunder, a 10 second aim time fire control system howitzer. There isn't anything particular special about the K9: it is decently mobile, armor is sufficient to be able to withstand most light counter-battery fire but still requires it to move, its rate of fire is acceptable, its ammunition capacity is good, accuracy is good, range is good - nothing really bad, nothing really good, with the only special factor perhaps being that its salvo number is rather low at just 3 shells per salvo, requiring many salvos to be cued to have an effect on the enemy.
Korea's biggest lack is that it has no effective infrared AA, and all of its AA is radar-guided. This leaves it exceptionally vulnerable to SEAD, and only the KM163 offers a vehicle-mounted non-radar piece, but its short range (2,450 meters against helicopters, and 1,750 against planes, plus inferior accuracy), leaves it a highly marginal measure at most. The Mistral is an excellent MANPAD and could serve to cover the gap, but generally MANPADs are not good to have since they take up a space in the highly valuable infantry slots. Typically, you will just have to get used to managing your radar against enemy SEAD.
Korea's tank tab is special in that it gets what is regarded as one of the best medium tanks in the game - the K1 - and not much else. The K1 is an excellently balanced medium tank, but with a priority placed on frontal armor - 17, while the gun lags behind slightly, at 16, but still has full range and good accuracy (60%) and stabilizers (50%), while it is very fast, has acceptable range, a good rate of fire of 9 rounds per minute, and even has twin machine guns which further improves its forest fighting capability. Medium optics give it at least some capability to spot its own target, and for all of this it is reasonably affordable, 90 points, and one can get a lot of them in Korea national - 9 on hardened or 13 on trained.
With these attributes, what role does the K1 serve? It can handily destroy enemy IFVs, APCs, provide fire support, and challenge enemy medium tanks. Against enemy superheavies though, it has to be close so that AP scaling will enable it to penetrate them: it generally needs a 2v1 numerical advantage at medium and close range. Its big advantage is that it is flexible and can be used for many purposes at affordable cost, with the disadvantage being that it does not trade well upwards against enemy heavy tanks, since it has weaker offensive armament than its armor.
Other than the K1 however, the South Korean tank tab is mostly barren of important units. There is the K1A1 which provides the heaviest tank around, with many of the soft stats of the K1 kept. But it reverses the K1's attributes, with a much better gun than the armor - but still not as powerful as a superheavy tank since most get 23 instead of 22, and its armor is certainly far behind at 19. It can still reasonably challenge an enemy tank at medium or close range, and destroy enemy medium tanks easily at longer range, but it is overall mediocre. Still worth tanking to provide at least some deterrence from enemy superheavies, and more available at 5 on hardened and 4 on trained, but not nearly as useful as the K1.
Other than this, the only choices are cheap M48 versions. The best one has a impressive gun for just 45 points, 17 AP, but this is more of a gimmick, and the terrible 5 armor makes it a complete glass cannon. The other ones are just light fire support.
South Korea's reconnaissance options are vanilla, but generally adequate. Although it has no shock reconnaissance infantry, it does have both commando and regular reconnaissance infantry, in decent transports, a tracked fighting reconnaissance vehicle, and a reconnaissance helicopter. While it lacks wheeled reconnaissance fighting vehicles and fighting reconnaissance helicopters, what it does have is sufficient for most purposes. The only times one might find the reconnaissance struggling is against decks like Eurocorps with their cheap and highly cost effective AMX-10RCs.
Since South Korea has both commando reconnaissance infantry and regular reconnaissance infantry, it really requires both - the commando reconnaissance infantry are normally not available in sufficient deployment numbers to cover reconnaissance needs across the map, and even if they were their cost would be hideous. With shock reconnaissance infantry, it is possible to get around this normally with just one card of them - they cover the middle ground between the two, generally offering sufficient combat performance for any situation while simultaneously being cheap and numerous enough that they can be deployed en masse. But playing with South Korea is actually somewhat refreshing and a teaching experience: most of the time, one doesn't need shock or commando reconnaissance infantry. One needs the vision and stealth that reconnaissance infantry provide, and regular reconnaissance infantry does just as well at this job, in far greater numbers, and at significantly lower cost than their more expensive and limited, higher trained, brethren.
Thus as South Korea, I run one card of Susaek-dae regular reconnaissance infantry, in a truck, and commando reconnaissance infantry, the Teukjeonsa, in the KM900. Both are upvetted. The Susaek-dae are remarkably cheap - just 20 points - and can be scattered around the map easily to provide reconnaissance. A more expensive reconnaissance infantry would hurt if it was killed in a vulnerable vehicle like a truck: it doesn't matter nearly as much for Susaek-dae. While their combat capabilities are limited, they are only there really to spot. Meanwhile, the Teukjeonsa provide for fighting reconnaissance, the tip of the spear - and the fact that their transport actually has good optics on it is great for providing some forward detection for the initial push.
This of course, is just for ground deployments. Another card of Teukjeonsa in a UH60P (expensive and not cost effective, but only a few air deployment units will be sent out in any match), provides for a fast, long ranged (the 300 kilometers on the UH-1H means they often run out of fuel in flanking movements), deployment option to infiltrate reconnaissance infantry behind the enemy lines.
South Korea has two fighting ground reconnaissance vehicle options, but only one of these is viable. The FIAT 6616 is the bad one: it costs 45 points, but only has a 20mm autocannon and a grenade launcher - which crucially cannot fire at the same time. It pays the extra cost for very good optics, which are normally not worth it on a reconnaissance vehicle - good optics is normally plentifully sufficient. The most comparable vehicle would be the West German Luchs, but the Luchs only costs 25 points - and unsurprisingly, almost no one uses the Luchs A1, which has similar very good optics and slight other improvements, but whose price rockets up to 45 points as well.
What instead, is the effective fighting ground reconnaissance vehicle option? The KAFV 90. The KAFV 90 can best be said to be a tracked version of the AMX 10 RC, the fighting, cannon-armed, reconnaissance ground vehicle par excellence. Unfortunately, the KAFV 90 is worse - it is about the same in combat stats as the AMX 10 RC, but it loses 1 armor, and is tracked, not wheeled. But being worse than the best in the game doesn't mean it is bad, and the KAFV provides a combination of stealth due to its status in the reconnaissance tab, firepower, and some protection that makes it an invaluable unit for providing flank protection and gaining at least some protection from enemy units such as the AMX 10 RC itself.
It is a supreme irony that the most efficient and cost effective infantry support vehicle in the game is the thoroughly ancient M36 - and shows the strange nature of Wargame's logic, which makes a 50 year old tank destroyer into a star jewel of fire support on the 1990s battlefield. The M36 tank destroyer was an American 90mm-armed variant of the M10 tank destroyer, itself a variant of the M4 - and in Wargame provides an incredibly cheap, 10 point vehicle, which nevertheless gets 40% accuracy, 1,925 meter range, 3 HE, 8 AP (which with AP scaling at +1 AP for every 175 meters, means 11 plus AP, up to 19 AP - so that it can actually penetrate the armor on everything except a superheavy), plus 2 armor and 8 rounds a minute! For cheap fire support, there is no better vehicle in the game, and it can even be useful at shooting enemy APCs and even some IFVs if it gets the first shot off. The downside is bad autonomy and poor off-road speed, but for such a cheap vehicle it is more than worth it. What is more, one gets 21 of them at hardened - more than enough for almost any battle.
Other vehicles are less unique. The main one of interest is the K113 TOW-2, which gives a 40 point TOW-2 carrier, with great AP and long range, plus good mobility. While these vehicles are generally mediocre due to their low stealth meaning they get instantly spotted, it does provide useful long-range oversight AT fire.
There is also a quad browning truck, but the lack of protection and limited range limits its versatility - at least Denmark gets good air detection with its version of it, which costs the exact same. Otherwise, there are just the standard recoilless rifle vehicles, and napalm vehicles, as well as some less effective ATGM units.
Although the helicopter numbers for South Korea might be limited, and it lacks any real armed transport helicopters, the combat helicopters it does have are generally quite good. It has the AH-1J, a very effective 55 point Cobra variant, combining lots of rocket pods and a 20mm Vulcan, quite good for fire support, and a 90 point AH-1T, which trades off some of the rocket pods for TOW 2 ATGMs - whose 25 AP, 2,625 meter range, and 70% accuracy make them excellent missiles against even enemy superheavies. While it lacks for anti-aircraft helicopters and doesn't have any niche capacity helicopters like some other nations do - SEAD or stealth, or good pure tank destroyer ones - it generally covers most objectives.
With aircraft covering every option - anti-tank plane, rocket plane, SEAD, fighter, iron bomber, and helicopter hunter - South Korea has a very good air force, which is only improved by it being a 30% nation.
The KF-16 fighter that South Korea gets is unique, and before the introduction of Finland was one of the most cost effective long-range air to air fighters. It gets high ECM, at 40%, 1,000 kilometer per hour speed, a superb 300 meter turning radius, and x6 AMRAAMS, one of the best air to air missile on Blufor - and all this for just 130 points! The catch? It doesn't have any short-ranged air-to-air missiles, making it much less capable at shorter ranged engagements. But a pair of them provide some of the most cost effective long-range fighters in the game, except against the Finnish Mig-29 which is by far the best in the game.
SEAD requires one to make a choice though - recruit or elite, 3 planes or 1? Normally this isn't a big question - one will almost always go for the recruit status. But South Korea's SEAD is special, since it is actually a fighter - the KF-16C Block 52D, which as a fighter behaves very similarly to the KF-16, but also carries x2 HARM missiles for SEAD. This makes it a very multi-purpose plane, since using it both is ambiguous - the opponent isn't sure necessarily whether it is being used as a fighter or a SEAD plane - and when it is used, it strikes at precisely the best time for the missiles to be used - when air battles are taking place and enemy air defense would be activated. Unfortunately, taking it at rookie status greatly limits its anti-air capacity, but I generally think this is use it: SEAD after all, will upvet itself naturally given how high value the targets it attacks are.
South Korea's attack aircraft options offer some great choices, with pride of center being the Peace Pheasant II - of which it is possible to get 2 cards of 3 if one wants. The key to the Peace Pheasant II is that they can normally reliably kill any tank from the front, since they have x4 fire and forget 26 AP, 40% accuracy missiles, which they fire in pairs. While this means that they dive much deeper into the AA network than Peace Rhines would for example, they have far more AP capacity against tanks. Furthermore, their cheap cost at just 90 points makes them very affordable.
The Peace Pheasant I is a capable bomber, since while it lacks in ECM for just 20%, and is only marginally fast at 900 kilometers per hour, it has a great bomb load - 25 10 HE bombs, which makes it good at carpet bombing a whole area, for an expensive but not too prohibitive 120 points. The rocket launcher planes are also good - the F86F Sabre gives a lot of 4 HE rockets for just 65 points, which means it can scythe through infantry or light vehicles.
There are also napalm bombers, but generally these are considered as not worth it, and a decent anti-helicopter plane with the K5-SE - giving a good autocannon, decent short range missiles, and just 75 points. The Peace Bridge by contrast, is probably too costly at 100 points. Fitting it in can be hard however. The Dragonfly, with a mixture of both cluster anti-tank bombs and HE bombs, is probably not worth it by contrast- it is slow, lacks any ECM, and most of the time you want cluster or HE, not both.
There are a number of potential specializations for South Korea - motorized, mechanized, armored, marine, support, and airborne - but only mechanized really works effectively for South Korea. Motorized loses armored CVs, the tracked transports (with the K200 and KAFV 25 both being star performers which are gone), shock infantry, artillery, high tier SPAAGs, all of the medium and heavy tanks, and the reconnaissance tab is not large enough to take advantage of the extra slots. Armored has the problem that Korea doesn't have enough tanks to even fill up its armored tab, much less filly it up with good units - it only has 3 cards of good tanks, with two K1s and the K1A1. Its reconnaissance options suffer, it loses some vehicles, and its infantry no longer has shock or commando infantry, and the infantry CVs are gone. The marine option has losses all across the board and the air tab is not large enough, and the helicopters generally too mediocre, to even imagine taking an air specialization. Only mechanized is still decent; the transports for the infantry are kept, and while it loses the commando and shock infantry except for bringing them in in helicopters, they perform better globally thanks to the experience buffs. While the 10 second FCS howitzer is gone, there are still decent 203mm options for area bombardment, the all-important K1 remains, reconnaissance loses its commando infantry but is acceptable otherwise, and the rest is untouched. While it isn't an exceptional deck, mechanized does play to South Korea's strengths of infantry and medium tanks.
South Korea excels in close range engagements in broken terrain, such as in forests, short stretches between them, rugged country, where its cheap, numerous, and effective infantry and well-armored medium tanks can be brought to bear. It fares substantially less well in open field engagements, where its tanks with their focus on short-range combat can be gunned down mercilessly by heavier enemy vehicles. While the South Korean air force in the game gives some opportunity to fight in the open, since the Peace Pheasant II is a good anti-tank plane, this is generally not reliable.
The logic as much as possible should be for a mechanized engagement. Use the cheap and effective line infantry to screen for tanks and to outmass and outnumber enemy units in forests and close-range fighting, using smoke to close off ranges where possible. This sort of grinding mechanized fight is perfect for South Korea, with its cheap infantry and well armored tanks. Close to close ranges with the medium tanks when fighting against heavier tanks, using their better short-range performance to fight against enemy superheavies. A mixture of good fire support options help to enable assaults on cities or defended positions.
When one is confronted with an open terrain, again, a combination of good smoke, reconnaissance, artillery, and air-support is needed. Use smoke to protect tanks as they advance, long-range tank destroyers to provide defensive firepower, and mix together SEAD and ATGM aircraft to kill off enemy tanks and enemy air-defense while one is at it. The Peace Pheasant II's low cost is a great asset: since it is relatively cheap and available in large numbers, it can be flexibly bought and thrown at targets of opportunity.
For air defense, rely upon the SEAD version of the F-16 with the pure fighter version, alongside a HAWK and a Bino - the HAWK will cause 9 damage to enemy aircraft, while the Bino will provide the last 1 HE hit. Always deploy the fighters in pairs against enemy fighters, although against bombers one of them alone is fine.
Use commando reconnaissance to seize key positions at the start of the game and to sneak around the map, behind enemy lines. They can either kill enemy artillery and soft targets on their own, or if they detect them and don't want to be exposed, South Korea's K9 Thunder artillery can shoot them.
The combination of cost effective units and fire support is what makes South Korea good, but always be wary about how to position them, particularly air defense since it lacks flexibility. But with a good understanding of map deployment areas and terrain, it is fully possible to put their best strengths to work while minimizing their weaknesses.