Tropic Thunder is not played as often as other Wargame 1v1 maps—certainly not as much as say, Mudfight or Ricefield. Maps which emphasize urban combat don’t proliferate to the same degree in Wargame as more open ones, and Tropical Thunder focuses heavily on urban combat in dense cities. Not to the extent of say, Wonson Harbor, but enough to make it distinctly different from open field engagements. It isn’t that often to see it in normal games, and it doesn’t appear in ranked games, but it is unfairly villainized. Tropical Thunder is a fun map, and it's not just for re-enacting Vietnam with napalm strikes on innocent villagers and burning houses to the ground. It has real tactical subtlety and sophistication involved.
Ahh, the great jungles of Korea. Wargame: Red Dragon has some imaginative geography sometimes, what with the deserts and jungles you can find in the rather distinctly different landscapes of Korea. But however pretty the questionable landscape may be, the point of WG:RD is to fight over it. Tropic Thunder’s geography is, as a whole, enclosed in the vital central part of the map, defined by multiple urban conglomerations, cut up by merging rivers which flow throughout it, and located in a large, mostly open valley, surrounded by heavily forested hills. Although as this implies, most of the map is open. The way the command zones are arranged means that fighting is heavily concentrated on the urban zones, implying an infantry fight.
Typically, there are two cones which can be fought over at the beginning: the pain city and the peninsular/island village. Zones Echo and Foxtrot respectively. Both are a fight for the poor bloody infantry, where only limited intervention by external fire support assets is possible in the city itself.
However, there are some vital distinctions. The approach vectors to the main city are much more difficult to interdict than the peninsular village. Since they are largely covered by the city’s bulk, and usually neither side can reach the city fast enough compared to the other to direct fire on incoming transports, one can safely assume that the first contact with the enemy will happen in the city itself. By contrast, the village has open roads and bridges which mean that forces with equal speed will be capable of shooting at each other, and a faster force can gain control, such as a motorized vs mechanized force or an airborne vs. motorized force (although one must always be very attentive to motorized long range such as Crotales, Closed Arrows, ITO 90s, and HQ-7s. This can be somewhat mitigated through effective usage of smoke screens to provide for cover for your troops.
Fighting in Echo
Echo will almost always be the main battlefield on Tropic Thunder. For fighting in the main city, one generally wants as many specialized, cost efficient, anti-infantry infantry as possible. Kutei, Spetsnaz, Li Jian and Li Jian ‘90, Commandos ‘90, Korps Marinier, Fallschirmjager, and Mot-Schutzen are good examples of infantry that thrives in the intense city fighting. These should be deployed en masse, such as 3-4 per group. Especially with elite infantry, they should be cycled back to the rear area of the city to be resupplied and reinforced. Their transports should be quickly removed to outside the city, preferably stationed just far enough on the outskirts for their machine guns (if they have them) to provide supporting fire against infantry on the edges of the town, and to provide a distraction, but for their destruction to not cause a morale loss to infantry in the city. Don’t expect much of note from them, but they can help to provide a base of fire to shelter retreating troops if the city is lost, and to protect against enemy infantry immediately attacking if they are victorious in the city. But under no conditions should they be deployed with troops in the city, where they will die and mower morale.
Bombers and artillery fire are not very effective in a Wargame setting against troops in large cities due to the ability of these forces to teleport to neighboring buildings and hence dodge enemy fire. The exceptions are stunning MRLS, very heavy bombers, and some laser guided bomb planes. Uragans, M270s, and Chinese BM-24s have sufficient dispersion, large enough warheads, and stunning capability to be very useful for softening up enemy troops, and most importantly panicking them. These can be especially useful during the early game pitched infantry battle, where much of the city is held by your forces and the enemy is packed into a smaller, more dense target. Firing these area of effect artillery or heavy bombers such as the Avia 218, B-5, F-111, or heavy laser guided bomb planes such as the Kurnass and Nighthawk can achieve a significant effect. To protect against these bombers, there should be some anti-aircraft units nearby. Bushes suitable for this are marked below.
If the city is lost, the Southern side has a better time of it than the North as far as defending against a further attack goes, since there are two medium-sized complexes guarding the bridges over the river. Fire support recoilless rifle infantry such as Tanke Shashoue are very useful here. Since they can fire to the buildings on the opposite side, they are also useful in the infantry battles in the city. Entrenched infantry, with air cover and fire support are very difficult to dislodge since it is hard to bring up the mechanized and armored fire support to dig them out, with the city not being very suitable for this. Instead, one has to rely upon artillery and airpower generally.
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By contrast, the Northern side’s own village is located much further away, and the city extends further up, cutting supply lines to the island and enabling the forest in Hotel to be more easily contested. North can still retaliate with fire support assets in the forest and ATGMs in its village. But it shows that for both sides, taking the city is the most vital objective, since by doing so one has a very strong position which is hard to dig out.
How to go about taking back the city if one has lost it? It is easier to get back into the city from the North, since one doesn’t have to cross the river. One can place fire support assets in the forest in Hotel and attack directly, and while one will face a severe fight in the city itself, at least getting into it is easier. For the South, crossing the river is a huge headache. Generally, in both cases, one wants to try to panic enemy troops with artillery and aircraft, and use fire support assets to support troops getting into the city, and then play with tactics outlined above for city fighting—lots of resupplying, trying to ensnare enemies in smaller zones and then decimate them with heavy artillery and aircraft, and pumping in larger numbers of infantry and cycling them in and out.
The island in Foxtrot is important too however, particularly in 2v2 games, since it gives conquest points and additional attacking lines. For both sides, fast motorized ATGM teams are very useful in the buildings overlooking the access point. Motorized cannon-armored units can win the battle and prevent enemy units from entering, such as AMX-10s or the Finnish KT autocannon transport. Helicopters are another potent option, as well as being quite useful for fire support in those decks which get access to rocket pod transport helicopters. They are however, vulnerable to, as noted earlier, fast, long ranged AA. Generally responding to this calls for the helicopters to drop behind the city on the island, on your side, rather than in it itself, and more to the eastern side of the map. It is also good to be skilled with manually slowing down helicopters to enable a faster unloading time.
Once the zone is taken, reinforcements still must be monitored for ATGMs which can be fired from enemy town overlooking the reinforcement road. The captured terrain can be used to attempt to probe enemy defenses across the other side of the river, but against a firm enemy defense this is probably futile. It is still worth it and if infiltration infantry can be sent behind the enemy line it can be worth its weight in gold. Retaking the zone is best achieved with fire support vehicles and if one has them amphibious transports to attack on a wide front.
In a conquest game, if one has taken the two central zones, this is enough to assure an eventual conquest point victory, and one has no need, nor reason, to push forward unless if one wants to. In a destruction match, pushing might not be necessary if one has the destruction point advantage, but if one does want to, from the Northern side it is best to seize control of Delta, and then use ATGMs and tanks to provide a base of fire to send infantry to seize the heights of Bravo. At this point, the enemy can be methodically reduced under overwhelming material and firepower advantages. From the Southern side, a base of fire from the city can help seize Hotel, at which point one has a surrounding position to attack into Golf, and with all of these zones captured one has a thoroughly decisive advantage.
Command Vehicle Choice
Since most of the zones are very large and have substantial cover, they are easy to place any CV in. The only exception is Echo, the main city, which does best, if possible, with an infantry CV, and sometimes the city for the South if one is pushed back to a corner, since a tank CV can better enable enemy artillery and air bombardments to be withstood.
Protecting against infiltration is extremely difficult to do since the forests’ surrounding the map are very strategically placed and massively thick. It is easy to approach the base zone under cover and even get into it entirely through the woods, and the North’s road along their spawn runs through the woods for a brief period Nothing hurts more than calling in a CV or expensive air defense unit to go through here only for it to be killed by enemy special forces crossing through! Generally, a few line infantry or militia are useful pickets, as are reconnaissance helicopters early on to spot enemy helicopters flying around the edges of the map (later on they might have gone overland), and there should be units arranged around the spawn point, CV, FOBs, and places overlooking your main reinforcement routes or base to protect against them being spotted.
In reverse, special forces can sneak around the exterior of the base and attempt to get spots on CVs and FOBs, as well as the artillery. One can fly helicopters around and land in the rear of the enemy base, while up in the Northern area they can directly waltz into the base through the woods or use the rarely-frequented Eastern side.
Rear Security and Infiltration
Due to substantial forests and a large map size, infiltration is a real danger. Special forces infantry, landed by helicopter, can wreak havoc behind the lines and easily come from both sides of the map. Spawn roads are in danger, as are CVs. it is possible to sneak special forces around at length, especially in the forests—and particularly against the Northern side. Defending against this is best achieved with pickets covering bridge crossings to the Southern side, and on the Northern side, some infantry guarding the forests leading to the spawn road, as well as some armed reconnaissance vehicles spread out in a loose screen to protect the various zones on the Northeastern part of the map. Pressing up units to defending the crossings from the the island and occupying the buildings here, if the island is taken, is very important.