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"Wargame Red Dragon": Riding the Dragon with China National

Chinese infantry on patrol in 1969 during the Sino-Soviet Border War

Chinese infantry on patrol in 1969 during the Sino-Soviet Border War

Although more often found paired with North Korea as part of the coalition Red Dragons in Wargame: Red Dragon, China is perfectly playable as a national deck in of itself - and in fact even better than as part of a coalition in some ways, due to the increased availability bonus and the larger number of activation slots. It is certainly not as good as the top tier factions and decks in the game such as Entente, Eurocorps, Baltic Front, or the USSR, but is still fun and enjoyable even on its own, providing a deck with lots of motorized units, waves of infantry, useful tactical support artillery, and an aggressive, hard-hitting air force. Unlike other 30% availability nations like Sweden or Japan, or worst of all Australia, it tends to have most areas covered, with a wide range of flexible units and some particular highlights in the reconnaissance, air, and infantry tab. This guide tells what units to take, and a general idea of how to use them as a whole.

My standard China deck

My standard China deck

Logistics

While hardly a breaking feature, China's logistics are poor in Wargame, as it has to rely upon 15 point trucks. These are less supply efficient and more vulnerable than larger supply trucks, the optimal size of which is probably 30 points. But thankfully the rest of the Chinese deck selection is decent, as it has a good selection of infantry CVs (with 10 point transports, helicopter transports, etc.), a tank CV which has 2 armor all around which makes it much better defended against artillery, some very good 110 point, amphibious, jeep CVs, and of course the normal FOB.

Infantry

In theory, and in some cases in practice, infantry should be one of China's greatest strengths. It does have some very good units, but also some significantly weaker ones as well as some categories where it entirely lacks for capabilities. It has some excellent 15 point transports and good 5 point transports - but lacks any good rocket pod helicopter transports, although the the Z-9A makes for a surprisingly potent autocannon-armed helicopter,

China's line infantry, the Zhanshi, are very good in their basic version, armed with a 700 meter range, 14 AP, 40% accuracy RPG, and come in the excellent 5 point APC, the ZBD-63, which is fast, has 2 armor, a heavy machine gun, and is even amphibious. Complemented by assault rifles and a decent MG, they make for cheap and good grinding infantry. Their 85' version gains access to an average AT weapon, with 19 AP and 700 range, but unfortunately only 40% accuracy, but also get the excellent WZ-551 transport - very fast, with a great 25mm autocannon, amphibious, and most importantly 2 frontal armor, making it much more survivable than most other units in its category.

China's basic shock infantry, the Lui Zhandui, is essentially a copy of the East German Mot. Shutzen. Mot. Shutzen are some of the best shock infantry in the game, offering a competent, reasonably well-rounded, shock infantry unit for just 15 points, with a great choice of transports. Lui Zhandui meanwhile, get 2 more RPG rounds, and somewhat higher machine gun ammo and a slightly better machine gun rate of fire - a tiny buff, which costs them 5 points. This removes the great cost affordability of the Mot. Shutzen and makes base Lui Zhandui ineffective for their price. Lui Zhandhui 90' by contrast, get a quite good 20 RPM, 60% accuracy, 700 meter range, 21 AP, which makes them decent for their cost. The transports they come in are also good - they get an option for the same very good 5 point trnasport as Zhanshi, but also the excellent tracked ZBD-90, which is one of the best 15 point tracked transports in the game thanks to great armor, a good 25mm autocannon, and nice mobility.

Commando infantry come in two forms, the Li Jian and Li Jian '90. Both are geared towards anti-infantry operations, with the Li Jian being a cheap SMG-armed commando infantry, very useful as town-grinding anti-infantry infantry with their SMGs which permit close range combat, while their RPG-7s give at least some usability against enemy tanks. The Li Jian '90 take this anti-infantry logic to the final conclusion, being armed with napalm launchers: one of the best in the game, since they spit out three napalm rounds quickly before having to reload, enabling them to get their damage in quickly. They are brutally effective anti-infantry killers and can annihilate huge chunks of enemy squads with their napalm launchers very quickly, but unfortunately they are completely and utterly helpless against enemy vehicles with more than 2 armor - and generally not very effective against vehicles in general. This means they have to be paired with supporting infantry with anti-tank firepower or used purely in town fights. The Li Jian '90 is better off in the WZ-551 or the Z-9A transport helicopter, while the base Lian Jian has to use the 10 point wheeled transport which is exceptionally mediocre.

Chinese fire support infantry includes one of the best recoilless rifle teams in the game: the Tanke Shashoue 85', which have significantly improved 16 AP compared to their base counterparts, a great 1,400 meters range, and get the excellent WZ-551 option, making them into one of the best combinations for fire support in the game. Stationed in buildings, Tanke Shashoue can provide excellent medium range fire which is difficult to spot, kill lighter vehicles and sideshot tanks (especially useful in less open environments where a missile will not have time to hit, while in-game a Tanke Shashoue shot causes damage instantly), and provide a very difficult defensive line to break. The same can be said about them when stationed in medium range encounters in a forest line. However, their low rate of fire compared to other first support infantry means that at very close range they are not cost effective.

The big lack for China, and which makes it rather like the US (the only other reasonably large nation which lacks for it), is that it does not have an infantry ATGM team. This is one of the reasons for why Red Dragons does hold definite advantages over China national: North Korea at least has Ban-Tank Fagots, which while they are not individually very powerful, with only medium range for ATGMs, 40% accuracy, and crucially 16 AP - still means that North Korea can project a bubble to deny enemies a zone, with far more effort being needed to suppress them and play around them than their very cheap cost necessitates. 16 AP also means they can reliably kill any 2 armor unit, neutralizing most of the 5 point transports, and are dangerous in sideshots to enemy tanks. Without them, China's longest ranged fire support is the Tanke Shashou - which are very useful units, with one of the longest ranges for a recoilless rifle team, but which still only reach out to 1,400 meters.

This means that when playing China, one has to rely upon shorter ranged weapons, point defense, and supporting tank destroyers and reconnaissance tanks instead. Most of the time strategy will be the same, but the lack of a real ATGM team is a handicap for defensive strategies.

There are some other infantry units, but these are mostly unnecessary, and only really come into use in a mechanized or motorized deck where there are enough slots to afford them. China has the useful Igla-N MANPAD in the form of the QW-1, which has a decent 2,450 meter range against helicopters, and 5 HE which means that it only takes 2 hits to kill aircraft. Unfortunately, finding a slot for it is normally too difficult. There are also Fáng Huà Bīng flamethrower infantry, but normally flamethrower infantry is too niche to take and it doesn't get any special transports.

What sort of logic does the Chinese infantry tab have? There are good wheeled transports which offer a strong motorized opening, and upgraded infantry have sufficient anti-tank firepower to stand against enemy medium tanks, although none are dangerous to enemy super heavy tanks from the front. Closed country meanwhile, offers an opportunity to put the shock infantry in their IFVs and Tanke Shashoue. In any case, basic 10 point Zhanshi in their good 5 point transports make for excellent spam infantry for soaking up firepower and providing additional mass. A significant advantage of the 30% availability bonus is that essentially all infantry units can, and should, be taken upvetted.

My infantry selection consists of base Zhanshi in their ZSD-63C 5-point transport, Zhanshi 85' in a WZ-551, Lu Zhandhui '90 shock infantry in a ZSD-90 transport, Lu Zhandhui '90 in the ZSD-63C with the intent of using them as somewhat affordable general purpose shock infantry, and Tanke Shashoue in the WZ-551 as fire support and tank hunter teams. All are upvetted.

The HQ-7 is a Chinese clone of the French Crotale anti-air missile launcher, and is one of the best anti-helicopter weapons in the game - with good accuracy, high mobility, high damage, and superb range, with its only limitation being limited ammo,

The HQ-7 is a Chinese clone of the French Crotale anti-air missile launcher, and is one of the best anti-helicopter weapons in the game - with good accuracy, high mobility, high damage, and superb range, with its only limitation being limited ammo,

Support

China's support tab has the odd feature of having both some brilliant air defense units, excellent short-ranged artillery, good mortars - and absolutely atrocious long range artillery. This makes it great at providing short ranged tactical support, stunning, and suppression, and notably less good at long-range interdiction missions and hitting pinpoint targets.

One of the best helicopter air defense tools in Wargame is the Crotale, which is also very useful in providing some additional infrared air defense against aircraft. With the second longest anti-helicopter range in the game, 3,325 meters, invulnerable to SEAD, highly mobile, accurate at 60%, and reasonably cheap (60 points compares well to most other platforms with similar performance missiles), and whose 6 HE makes it very effective at killing most helicopters, the Crotale is a superb part of the French arsenal in Wargame So what if somebody copied it? Of course, China did exactly that, and the HQ-7 has all of France's strengths!

The HQ-61, an excellent anti-plane radar missile piece in Wargame.

The HQ-61, an excellent anti-plane radar missile piece in Wargame.

Another excellent feature is the HQ-61A anti-plane radar missile piece. For the type, the HQ-61 is relatively cheap at 60 points, accurate at 60%, good 4,200 meters range, and is highly mobile. In effect, in exchange for trading off the anti-helicopter range of many of the Western SAM systems, and for a reduced ammunition capacity - from 3 to 2 missiles - the HQ-61 gets a better price, and its wheeled status makes it much better for keeping up with the army. It is however, highly vulnerable to any damage, since it is completely unarmored and only has 5 HP. The necessity to keep supply trucks constantly paired with them is frustrating, but then this is no different from systems such as the HAWK with 3 missiles. When well protected and supported they give China very competent air defense.

There are a number of other air defense options, but all of them fall under the category of "nice to have" rather than "vital." The SPAAGs have some unique features, such as the PGZ-88 which is quite cheap at just 35 points, and yet is both radar directed and has 7 frontal armor. 2,800 meter range against helicopters means that it is sufficient for engaging them, but normally one doesn't buy it for its damage dealing abilities, although this is a nice bonus, especially with its suppression values. Instead, being so cheap and armored enough to survive lower AP anti-radiation missiles fired by SEAD, as it will take up to 21 AP.. Both Shrikes and HARMs will require two hits to kill, making it an excellent sponge for soaking up enemy anti-radiation missiles.

The PZG-88 is more similar to a conventional SPAAG, costing 70 points, and is rather like a Gepard but with better secondary infrared missiles. If one likes SPAAGs, it is a perfectly decent unit to have, but normally isn't necessary with HQ-7s and HQ-61s. The final SPAAG is the PZG-80 which is the thoroughly ancient 57mm ZSU-57-2. Although its low accuracy and HE output means that it will struggle to kill enemy helicopters, it does have great range and suppression values, and is very cheap and reasonably well armored, so it is a reasonable choice for stunning enemy helicopters, providing base defense (where it will also kill any enemy infantry infiltrators), and some air detection. Generally not worth it however.

The BM-24 looks like something from Stalingrad but is an incredibly useful support system.

The BM-24 looks like something from Stalingrad but is an incredibly useful support system.


China has a good 120mm mortar - with a decent amount of rounds and mobility, providing a good, if unexceptional, 120mm platform which is great for smoking and precision bombardment. Its best artillery however, is the BM-24. Other nations have what seems like a WW2 relic as well, but their crucial distinction is that they have the napalm version of the BM-24, which is essentially entirely useless. Even buying a full card's worth of napalm BM-24s cannot hope to cause any serious damage to a zone due to the lack of explosive effect, and the fire is too scattered to seriously cover a zone. By contrast, the Chinese BM-24 has, unlike most light MRLS which have 7 HE, an 8 HE warhead, which is massively superior at actually causing damage. A few BM-24s massed together, and firing at a target a few thousand meters away, can cause unspeakable damage on entrenched infantry or a forest, and definitely leave the survivors stunned and panicked. China can get up to 8 with its availability buff, which is great for exactly such manuvers. Their supply cost is low, cost cheap at just 50 points and mobility high. However, they are extremely fragile and should be scattered and moved constantly and not put in a constrained area to avoid enemy counter-battery fire, and well protected against enemy recon or attacks - a stray helicopter or autocannon armed vehicle can scythe through these unarmored, 5 HE vehicles like butter, killing them all in a pitifully short period of time. But keeping them reasonably close to the front is vital: beyond 5 or 6,000 meters, they are completely useless and become basically fireworks.

What about the tube artillery which China does have? Compared to modern 10 second aim time artillery in Wargame, it is very bad - taking forever to aim, much less accurate, and often with inferior rates of fire - particularly when the additional aim time for each salvo is taken into effect. Cheap base M109s on the NATO side or the Soviet 2S3 have similar problems - but they are cheap and can saturate an entire area with relatively high HE payloads. China by contrast only has access to probably the worst class of howitzers in the game, other than the uniquely awful 105mm howitzers - the 70-80 price range units, which have slightly improved range and accuracy, but still have bad aim times. The PLZ-70's 6 HE makes it far less deadly at 50 points, and so generally one is best off with the PLZ-83, but since it costs 75 it is not as affordable as 50 or 55 point artillery, while still having pretty much all of their important flaws. Still, a card of them may be useful - if one likes to conduct deep area reconnaissance that is, for when bombarding an enemy FOB or a static CV they are still just as good as an advanced howitzer, and actually use up substantially fewer supplies.

None of the other support options are very good, as many of the MRLS are napalm, which is as mentioned before terrible.

Tanks

China's tanks are not exceptional. There isn't any way to put it except mediocre: none of its vehicles would be taken, in say, a Redfor unspec deck. Generally it is lack of armor which dogs them, although its medium tank has a low rate of fire as its biggest problem. But they also still give some armored presence, and generally have good firepower for their price - the typical glass cannon. There are a number of light tanks, which other nations might select for offering cheap infantry fire support (this is less common nowadays, but is still possible), but China's SU-100 in the vehicle tab makes this unnecessary. Instead, there are three main tanks which China can find useful: the light ZTS-63-II, medium ZTZ 85-IIA and heavy ZTZ 85-III.

The ZTS-63-II has impressive gun stats, with 17 AP, full range, and with a Bastion 17 AP, 2,625 meter range, stabilized ATGM, plus high speed and is even amphibious. At 45 points it makes for a cheap but effective light tank.

Other points in the 50-70 point range won't see any use because instead one will just use the reconnaissance tank, which has somewhat lower armor but is actually more survivable due to the stealth.

The ZTZ 85-IIA is a mediocre medium tank since it has relatively low ROF at just 7 rounds per minute, only decent speed, and 14 armor - but it does get 19 AP, and 4 HE, which is very good for 80 points. This makes it the heaviest affordable tank one can get, and thus even if it isn't the best, it is still an invaluable medium tank.

The ZTZ 85-III.is the heaviest tank China gets, but only has 19 armor frontally. This is a decent threshold since one no longer fears being destroyed by Peace Rhines and other 26 AP armed, twin-missile planes, but it still leaves it vulnerable in a prolonged engagement with enemy superheavies. Its gun is better, but at 22 AP is still lower than most superheavies, and it only has 7 ROF - but this is not as important since most often tank micro at this expense level involves moving tanks quickly in and out of smoke, shooting, immediately withdrawing, which thus renders the rate of fire less important. While incapable of matching enemy super heavies at long range, it can still hope to compete reasonably effectively at medium range and to fight against medium tanks, making it a useful addition to the tank arsenal. There is also the great advantage of its availability being higher at 5 on hardened and 4 on trained.

The original stealth reconnaissance tank, which continues to be very useful in China.

The original stealth reconnaissance tank, which continues to be very useful in China.

Reconnaissance

China's reconnaissance options are mostly rather vanilla, with a major exception. Its shock reconnaissance infantry, the Lie Rien, are the best non-DLC (and arguably best overall, depending on your views on Sissi) shock recon infantry in Redfor, with a 19 AP launcher with 700 meters range whose mediocre 40% accuracy is ameliorated by their improved training, a good machine gun, and decent primary weapon, and best of all an excellent 15 point transport with the WZ-551. The Z-9A is also a helicopter transport option for them and is surprisingly quite good as a reconnaissance helicopter for deep penetration raids: it can strike multiple targets with its autocannon, kill lightly armored artillery and logistic vehicles, and can do so multiple times unlike rocket pod helicopters which expend their ammunition in one or two salvos.

China's main special reconnaissance unit is the ZTQ-62G, the original heavier reconnaissance tank introduced into the game. Since then, it has been somewhat surpassed by other vehicles, the best of which is the Finnish T-55M Pionpsv, whose significantly better frontal armor and better accuracy is more than worth the 5 additional points. But the ZTQ-62G is still a good medium reconnaissance tank, offering high 17 AP values, stealth which permits it to shoot while remaining unspotted much of the time in cover, optics to spot the enemy, full 2,250 meter range, and armor which protects it against most IFVs and many lighter vehicles. The other reconnaissance tanks are possible to take since they are cost effective for their price, but generally unnecessary.

The Chinese version of the BTR-40A makes for a really useful light wheeled armored fighting reconnaissance vehicle

The Chinese version of the BTR-40A makes for a really useful light wheeled armored fighting reconnaissance vehicle

While seemingly insignificant by contrast, the ZZC-56 is surprisingly useful and not to be underestimated. Cheap, at just 15 points, very fast, and with a twin 14.5mm heavy machine gun, the ZZC serves an effective role in giving a fast wheeled reconnaissance vehicle, useful to lead motorized formations to give good optics, has the range for deep area penetration missions, excellent for spamming around flanks for security against infantry teams (which it is very good at suppressing and then killing) or light vehicles, and can be quite useful against lighter enemy helicopters.

The M-1 gives one of the cheapest very good optics helicopters on the field, for only 35 points, but is also one of the slowest at just 180 kilometers per hour. It is still sometimes worth it to take it, but often I get along with the ZZC-56 instead.

Chinese SU-100s on parade in the 1950s. Wargame Red Dragon's game mechanics make 1940s tank destroyers still relevant on a 1990s battlefield.

Chinese SU-100s on parade in the 1950s. Wargame Red Dragon's game mechanics make 1940s tank destroyers still relevant on a 1990s battlefield.

Vehicles

A surprisingly strong and useful vehicle tab gives China useful options for fire support, tank destroyers, and if one wants, close range ground fire SPAAGs. The SU-100 might not be as good as the best pure fire support platform in the game, the South Korean M36 - which is 5 points cheaper and yet has somewhat better accuracy, the same rate of fire, and the same HE - but it is still very cheap, for just 15 points, and the combination of 1,925 meter range and 11 AP can make it surprisingly decent against some IFVs or even lighter tanks. 4 frontal armor is enough to protect it against most long range autocannon fire and even to take a hit from many tanks.

By contrast, the WZ-550 is the most powerful non-DLC tank destroyer in the game, giving a 26 AP, 2,925 meter range, high speed, 70% accuracy missile on a highly mobile platform. Its drawbacks? Terrible armor at just 1 on all sides which means it is instantly destroyed by essentially anything that shoots at it, and it is expensive at 80 points. But it can still give a powerful anti-tank punch and requires very careful micromanagement of smoke by the enemy to deal with it - or fighting on a map where the more enclosed conditions prevent it from being able to fight from outside of tank range anyway.

China gets the PTZ-89 as an interesting tank destroyer, getting 10 rounds per minute for 21 AP, for just 65 points - a really incredible deal! The problem is it has no stealth and it is very vulnerable with 5 frontal armor, enough to commonly get one-shot by superheavies at long range, and at 65 points it hurts to lose. Generally it isn't worth deploying.

The PGZ-83 is the final potential option, providing a ground fire support rapid fire converted SPAAG, with 37mm guns. But generally I find it too specialized to include.

Helicopters

Helicopters are an area where China's available options are not bad - but are sharply limited.

There are two choices for ATGM helicopters, the SA.342 HOT and the Z-9A HJ-8. The SA.342 HOT is a cheap anti-tank helicopter, but for just 40 points one gets 4 reasonably accurate, 22 AP missiles, on a fast and small chassis - good for flanking enemies and sideshotting enemies and responding to enemy medium tanks. The Z-9A HJ-8 is substantially bigger which makes it somewhat less survivable, but it has 2,800 meters range, and improved 24 AP, 60% accuracy missiles, so it can stay further away and thus is less vulnerable to AA weapons. I personally take the HJ-8 and it helps to provide quick deployable anti-tank firepower and a response to enemy medium and heavy tanks, and a deterrence to superheavies.

The TY-90 is China's anti-air, or more commonly, anti-helicopter helicopter. There is no doubt that purely in terms of anti-helicopter capability, the TY-90 is the best in the game, packing 8 missiles with long, 2,625 meter range, high 60% accuracy, and 6 HE - meaning they can one shot many enemy helicopters, while the 6 HE TY-90 requires two hits most often to kill in return. The problem with the TY-90 is that this all comes at a great cost, for it has no stealth, poor optics, and no role other than shooting enemy helicopters. The KA-52 gives SEAD, the MH-60L DAP provides a very effective autocannon to shred ground units, the Sokol rocket pods which are deadly against infantry, the Tzefa E is a very effective general purpose gunship, and the Ninja is stealthy and with excellent optics, perfect for scouting. By contrast, the TY-90 not only is useless if the enemy doesn't deploy helicopters himself, and requires scouting and reconnaissance to even spot the enemy helicopters it is fighting. While still a useful asset, it is a very specialized superweapon indeed.

Unfortunately the transport helicopters and the fire support version of the MI-4, the Z-5A, are bad since they only have 57mm rocket pods, which are very underwhelming, and the Z-5A is expensive at 40 points too.

The Su-27K, China's most potent jet fighter in Wargame: Red Dragon

The Su-27K, China's most potent jet fighter in Wargame: Red Dragon

Aircraft

A common feature among the 30% availability nations is that they tend to have a strong air tab. This is not necessarily the case - Sweden's lack of a real bomber, its mediocre ATGM plane, and its lack of SEAD, makes it a very defensive air force, with a few gimmicks like an excellent cluster bomber. Japan's lack of SEAD, its mediocre fighters and bombers, absence of an ATGM plane, and the bugged nature of its laser guided bomb plane makes it a poor air force. Australia would be excellent, if not for the bad fighters and lack of SEAD. But Czechoslovakia, China, and South Korea all have a strong air tab, and even the other nations have air tabs which are significantly strengthened than they would look on paper - since they have a 30% availability boost, which means that they get dramatically more planes, since in effect this functions as a 50% availability boost.

For China, this is a massive benefit. China's air force is relatively complete - it has decent, if unexceptional fighters, SEAD (mediocre but still present), some excellent bombers, a functional laser guided bomb plane, a rocket pod plane, and an exceptional ATGM plane. Other than a lack of an effective cheap helicopter hunter plane (the J7H can do some work in this regards, but it does not compare nearly as well at this as the Czech Albatros, or the East German Mig-21 bis LAZUR) stands out in its arsenal.

There are a choice of two fighters that China can choose between - the Su-27SK and the J8-C. In China national, one gets 3 of both, but the J8-C comes on elite, while the Su-27SK comes on veteran. The Su-27SK however, is the better choice in my opinion. Although it is a distinctly average medium range fighter, since it pays too much to have x4 SA missiles (normally one only gets x2 SA missiles off in a head-on engagement), it still offers 8,400 meters range compared to a short 7,000 on the J8-C, higher accuracy, 6 HE warheads on the long range missiles and 4 HE on the shorter range ones (making 10 total, enough to kill an enemy plane while the J8-C only has 5+4), the infrared missiles have better range as well, 40% ECM compared to 30%, a tighter turning circle, and its only real shortcoming is that it is slower at 900 kilometers per hour compared to 1,000. Although coming on veteran reduces some of the accuracy, it is still broadly worth the increased cost.

Q-5 planes under construction in China

Q-5 planes under construction in China

The Q-5D is nowhere near as good as the best laser guided bomb plane in the game, the Kurnass, which packs a massively greater punch with x2 20 HE bombs, significantly greater 900 kilometer speed, and better anti-plane capabilities (not that this is terribly important, and since both planes are taken at low trained status, they will not hit anything with decent ECM), which the Kurnass gets for just 20 more points. But taken just in of itself, the Q-5D offers a reasonably survivable, decently cheap way to kill enemy tanks, infantry groups, and which can be deployed in good numbers. In the Red Dragons coalition, it is probably better to take the B-5 bomber, but the Q-5D is a great asset in a China national deck - especially since with the standard availability boosts, one can get 3 of them.

Other offensive air assets are also good. The JH-7H is an ATGM plane, similar to the Peace Rhine with x2 50% accuracy 26 AP ATGMs, a cannon, and infrared air-to-air missiles. While it has a higher ECM than the Peace Rhine, the missiles are slightly shorter ranged, and it costs 20 points more - which as a whole makes it in my opinion slightly worse, but it is still acceptable and China can get 3 of them, providing for effective planes to kill anything but a superheavy frontally - and a superheavy can be killed if all of them are massed.

The J-7H is China's best iron bomber, which lacks utterly for ECM but is extremely fast at 1,000 kilometers per hour, and carries a great offensive payload of a single 1,000 kilogram, 20 HE bomb. Since it costs just 80 points and one can get 4 of them in a Chinese national deck, they can be spammed in massive numbers to bombard a position with a rain of massive bombs.

wargame-red-dragon-riding-the-dragon-with-china-national

Unfortunately, China's SEAD, the Feibao, is not very good. A cost of 150 points means that it is exceedingly expensive, it is only 900 kilometers per hour, and it only has 40% ECM. Compared to the only other Redfor 150 point SEAD plane, the Mig-25BM, the Mig-25 has better ECM at 50%, faster speed, and its missiles are essentially the same for the vast majority of cases. The Feibao has a higher AP value, at 30 vs 28, and marginally better accuracy at 70% vs 65%, but these are normally irrelevant. The best SEAD aircraft for a 1v1 match are normally cheaper aircraft. But at least the Feibao does provide SEAD, and despite being inferior to the Mig-25BM, is still very powerful in absolute terms, with good ECM, very long range and massively powerful missiles, capable of being deployed in substantial numbers in China national (up to 3), and has medium stealth, along with secondary armament that can make it useful as an auxiliary fighter.

If everything goes right, China's air tab can be one of its greatest strengths, providing a swarm of hard hitting, very fast J-7H bombers, backed up by reasonable fighters, SEAD, and anti-tank planes to strike targets. The main thing to be aware of is coordinating SEAD to protect the low-ECM bombers, and conserving fighters, particularly against the blatantly overpowered fighters of Baltic Front. Of course, against Yugoslavia it is probably simply not possible to strike offensive with aircraft, since its AA is almost entirely radarless, and thus has to either be constantly risked or suppressed with huge MRLS volleys.

Specializations

China does have a number of plausible specializations, but I would not define any of them as viable. Each one of them runs into a number of problems: they lack key units, they have card availability penalties, or they require North Korea to complement them in Red Dragons to produce a well rounded force.

Motorized

A motorized Chinese deck

A motorized Chinese deck

Based purely on the units it has, China motorized seems like it would be a very potent deck. It loses access to the heavy tank, and the tracked transports which does hurt for grinding as well as the absence of shock infantry, as well as the command tank, but otherwise has everything else still present. Unfortunately, the motorized specialization is let down by a significant failing: insufficient card availability. China only gets one good wheeled transport, the WZ-551, which is one of the best 15 point transports - but it only gets 2 cards of it. This means that one has to choose very carefully what units are taken in it, and the rest have to be taken in the vastly inferior ZSL-56, one of the worst 10 point transports, being slow, poorly armored, and only armed with a 7.62mm machine gun. Red Dragons offers North Korea which complements China with general purpose elite infantry in the excellent BTR-80A transport, as well as simply better standard 10 point transports, and dramatically improves the infantry capabilities of the faction.

Mechanized

A mechanized Chinese deck

A mechanized Chinese deck

China mechanized is an even more doubtful choice. China's 5 point ZBD-63C is an excellent APC, and the 15 point ZBD-90 one of the best 15 point IFVs in the game, but it loses massively in its support arms and special tools, as well as the WZ-551. Gone are the HQ-7 and HQ-61, dramatically neutering the air defense capabilities and leaving one entirely dependent on SPAAGs, gone is the BM-24 which removes the only good artillery, gone is the WZ-550 which is the only potent anti-vehicle weapon it has, and it doesn't get access to the 140 point heavy tank. In general, it costs too much to carry out a basic IFV and APC infantry spam.

A Chinese marine deck

A Chinese marine deck


Although equally not recommended for regular play on a normal map, China's marine specialization is reasonably good by marine standards. As compared to the regular deck, it continues to have most of its aircraft intact - typically one of the biggest weaknesses for a marine deck - and only really suffers the loss of the JH-7H bomber. Given how cheap activation points are for Marine aircraft, taking rocket pod and cluster bomber planes is possible. The SU-100 is gone, but there are still plenty of good IFV options in infantry, the reconnaissance tab is fully intact, support only loses the 152mm howitzer, and infantry the line infantry. A command CV is gone, but those are optional anyway. The big loss is that the heavy tanks are gone, even if it does have the 45 point tank, and this is the main reason for why it doesn't really work anymore on most maps - but if one ever finds a naval or maritime map in Wargame, it can be a genuinely good deck!

Strategy

China's advantage is that it has a strong motorized component with a combined arms force of powerful, autocannon-armed transports with potent fire support infantry, mortars, long-ranged wheeled tank destroyers, and fast wheeled AA, supported by reasonably competent follow up reconnaissance tanks and medium tanks, which makes it mostly capable of winning an opening motorized engagement. There are exceptions: it can struggle against Eurocorps in particular, due to Eurocorps' AMX-10 RCs. But in most cases, it should win handily.

Presuming this is won, one can seize a vital forward terrain feature. At this point, one can buy additional CVs, dig in with Tanke Shashoue, reconnaissance infantry, supporting tank destroyers, and air defense.

Use BM-24s liberally, massing them in groups of 3-4, and moving them around and resupplying them constantly, striking enemy strong points and troop clusters. They will stun, demoralize, panic, and heavily injure enemy troops, leaving them shattered for attacking you, or easy prey for an offensive or counter-offensive.

In more closed terrain, spam large amounts of Zhanshi in their 5 point transports, to soak up enemy fire and kill some units with a cheap, cost effective, well-rounded line infantry, supporting them with Tanke Shashoue, IFVs, MRLS, artillery, and medium tanks. These can make for an effective grinding option as a whole.

If one has to fight in an open terrain, fight defensively when possible, using coordinated WZ-550s to fire at longer ranges, smoke to shroud units, and ATGM planes to destroy enemy superheavies. If one is attacking, then use the MRLS systems and bombers to try to panic the enemy before launching an assault.

Although deep area reconnaissance options are always useful, be aware that one lacks the artillery to decisively exploit it.

Overall, China relies upon aggressive early actions to seize and hold terrain, then its cheaper units to provide meat grinding options to fight and protect it. Its greatest problem is an open field engagement where its lack of superheavy tanks can hinder it, and it has to play around this with its tank destroyers and aircraft.

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