Canadian goose unfortunately, are not a unit in Wargame Red Dragon, since I am sure that the vicious birds would be excellent shock infantry. But even without the Canadian Goose in all of its violent squawking glory, the Canadians have an army with some excellent infantry and unique and interesting units. Certainly not a viable nation in competitive play, and lacking a coalition beyond NORAD (which is dubious compared to just playing the USA itself, already a strong and well rounded nation), Canada gets little attention. But despite this it can be fun to play with its unique units, its strong infantry, its capable air force, and massive availability bonus which enables you to deploy a massive army of its cost efficient units.
What sort of strategy works best for Canada? Every factions in Wargame has both limitations and strengths, and it is a synthesis of the two that figures out what assets it brings to the table. Canada strengths are:
- Strong infantry. Canadian Airborne ’90 get very strong AT weapons with good range, accuracy, and motorized transports, as well as competent anti-infantry capability. Combined with Canadian Rifles ’85 with improved LAW weapons over American riflemen, and newly buffed Highlanders which are a great cheap way to deploy Eryx anti-tank missiles on the battlefield, Canadian infantry is quite capable.
- Cost effective tanks. Canada gets the Mexas and Leopard C2, which are very good medium tanks, as well as some decent fire support Centurion tanks. While the Chimera, its heaviest vehicle, can’t confront superheavies and is tactically inflexible, it doesn’t come out of the tank tab and overperforms for its price in pure AP and armor terms.
- Potent air tab. Despite missing an ATGM plane, Canada gets SEAD, a strong light bomber, an excellent cluster anti-tank plane, a good workhorse fighter, and various anti-helicopter and rocket planes. Combined with a massive availability bonus and you can pour in swarms of aircraft.
- There are decent motorized options with the Cougars, Javelins, Bisons, and the infantry within is good.
The weakness list however, is long.
- There are no superheavy tanks and no ATGM planes. To deal with enemy superheavies you either need to catch them at close to medium range, hit them with cluster bombs, or use your TOW-2 and ADATS systems.
- There are no infantry ATGMs, which are generally a crucial part of deterrence and area denial.
- The helicopter tab is extremely lacking, with just niche units.
- While motorized transports are good, the tracked transports are often less efficient than they should be, such as the M113A1 only getting 1 armor instead of 3 armor on the American M113A3, and the TH-195 IFV is broadly considered to be overpriced nowadays. This hurts mechanized potential.
- Canada’s support tab lacks heavily for artillery and heavy AA pieces, requiring swarms of Javelins and fighters to deal with enemy aircraft. The Javelin lacks range against enemy helicopters with advanced ATGMs.
With this said, what sort of strategy works with Canada? You need to be aggressive and get stuck into contact, given your lack of long ranged firepower. You have a reasonably good motorized opener, so seizing forward ground at the beginning is a definite possibility, with Canadian Airborne or Highlanders being able to take villages and with their good AT weapons hold against enemy counterattacks. You have swarms of medium tanks and competent infantry, so fighting at close to medium range works well – tanks and vehicles providing fire support for the infantry, although the lack of a well armored 5 point tracked transport is unfortunate. You need to leverage your forces to keep the fight engaged and not allow the enemy to be able to bring their superior artillery firepower to bear. If the enemy does get closer to your base, this is perfectly fine since you have lots of aircraft which become more effective as the enemy gets closer, so don’t worry too much about taking risks: you can bounce back reasonably well.
Canada has a great logistics tab, with the 30 point supply truck, generally viewed as the best option, a good command tank that isn’t too expensive, good transport options for its infantry CV, and plenty of other vehicles options. While none of this is a game changer, it makes for a comfortable experience. It's a simple but complete tab, and with the availability bonus means you will never have to worry for CVs nor logistics support.
The big advantage for Canada is its infantry tab, most often the reason why it is chosen in NORAD over just playing straight USA, when people take this option. America’s big weakness is its lack of 10 man shock infantry squads, since the USA only gets its marines – widely viewed as overpriced as well. Canadian Airborne are excellent shock infantry, useful as reasonably cheap grinding shock infantry in their base form, somewhat akin to Danish Livegarden, and in their upgraded form are all-around infantry with a very effective anti-tank weapon. In Bison transports (fast and with 2 armor) they make great general purpose motorized opener infantry and very good for shock action.
Since their buff, Highlanders ’90 are a very potent anti-tank infantry as well. Previously costing 25 points, the same as Legion ’90, despite only having regular instead of shock status, they are now just 20 points, which means they are extremely cost efficient against tanks if they are fighting from buildings or wood lines. They are however, mediocre in the anti-infantry role, since they are just line infantry. It’s often best to lead with other infantry which are more efficient against infantry, with Highlanders ’90 being used to provide defensive troops and in the ambush and anti-tank role. Base highlanders are decent in the purely anti-tank role but are sort of niche as a whole.
The third component of the infantry trifecta are the Canadian Rifles ‘85. Canadian Rifles ’85 get the M72A4 LAW, significantly improved over the base M72 LAW that American Riflemen get. While this has become standard since among many basic line infantry, such as Jaakari ’90, Sochong-Su ’85,or Roviat ’85, but the Canadian Rifles ’85 are still a potent weapon. This makes them much better in the anti-tank role than American riflemen, with much improved accuracy and AP (enough to one shot two armor). Unfortunately, they have a mediocre transport, the M113A1, which only gets 1 armor unlike the American M113A3, so their transport is much less survivable. The TH-195 is also less effective than in the days when it was a 15 point, 2 armor IFV, and at 20 points with 3 armor on the front and sides, it isn’t nearly as cost effective, but it is still a good unit. Most of the time I deploy a unit of Canadian Rifles ’85 in M113A1s and another in TH-195s.
The final unit is much more variable, but you have a variety of options. There are various flamethrower infantry options, which could be useful for forest fighting since you don’t have too many options but are generally too specialized for the role given their lack of AT power, the MAW as a cheap fire support infantry, the Eryx for the cheapest way to get the Eryx on the field, and the Javelin as a MANPAD (or the atrocious blowpipe but it is best to not mention that). None of them are bad options per se, but I like the Eryx.
Given Canada’s availability bonus, you can upvet everything.
If the infantry tab is Canada’s greatest strength, the support tab is one of its bigger weaknesses, since Canada lacks some of the heavy support assets which are nearly universal in other factions. Particularly, Canada lacks for heavy anti-air radar guided missile pieces for usage against enemy aircraft. Rather, it has a triple arrangement of the Javelin, ADATS, and Centurion Marksman, none of which have the anti-plane killing firepower of heavy radar SPAAGs. They are quite good if enemy aircraft attempt to fly over your position, particularly the Javelins which are cheap and can put up a hail of missiles, but defeating enemies that drop from stand-off distance is difficult. The ADATS has a long ranged, high AP, fast, accurate, AT missile, but much of the time it is too expensive and fragile to see much use: the enemy will assuredly concentrate ATGM planes and artillery fire on such a vulnerable target, and it has to be carefully guarded at long range. Still you should get it since in your deck you lack for alternate high AP options to deal with enemy heavy armor, and well used it can be a severe threat to the enemy, as well as providing your best long ranged anti-helicopter AA. The Centurion Marksman is mostly effective at stunning enemies, and providing a bridge between the two: it isn't as prohibitively expensive as the ADATS, and still has 2,800 meter range.
Artillery is very mediocre, with a choice of base 50 point M109 howitzers, or the upgraded intermediate 80 point M109A2s, which do get somewhat improved accuracy and range but still are very poor performing and keep the same terrible aim time of the base M109s. The base M109s at least are very cheap on supply cost and deployment points, and are useful for saturation bombardment. There are only 81mm mortars, but these do perfectly fine for delivering lots of smoke. Given your lack of alternative options for artillery, I get the base M109s which are nice for saturating areas like a long duration MRLS.
Everything should be upvetted given the availability bonus, except for the mortar where you want more smoke dispersion. I get an ADATS, Centurion Marksman, Javelin, M109, and 81mm mortar carrier.
Canada has some good commando and elite recon units, as well as some good recon vehicles, but it lacks for heavy AT firepower as well as standard shock recon. Thus you rely upon a combination of your recon vehicles and commandos. Pathfinders get elite training and are brutally effective against enemy infantry but unfortunately only get the LAW as an anti-tank weapon, which is woefully ineffective as an anti-tank arm with its awful AP and subpar accuracy which elite accuracy buffs only go some way towards fixing. They still provide for some fighting reconnaissance infantry potential but they can’t be used autonomously to the extent of say, Spetsnaz GRU, Teukjeonsea, Specialni Jednotky, and other commando reconnaissance infantry.
So for rear area raiding, it’s probably best to rely upon the Recce with their C15 LRSW which is a sniper team with an AP armament. This makes them great at shooting up poorly armored rear area targets like artillery, lighter CVs, and air defense platforms. It gets 1575 range and 1 AP so its scaling gives it quite good AP against lighter targets, and against things like 5 HP, completely unarmored CVs, it can often 1-shot them. With the excellent stealth it is a very good rear area infiltration unit.
Although the Cougar Recon doesn’t look like much, it is surprisingly effective. 2,100 meter range for just 20 points, combined with good mobility and 10 AP HEAT is a decent bargain, and they can fire from stealth reasonably effectively. As good as the French AMX-10 RC or the South African Rookiat? No, but it gives surprising motorized firepower at the opening engagements, although by the late game
The Coyote by contrast isn’t as well optimized, since it costs 45 points and yet is still just an autocannon vehicle: the extra price comes from having very good optics which generally aren’t worth it. It does serve some role for escorting Cougar columns but it isn’t that good as a whole.
I like to get all of these upvetted, with two cards of Pathfinders in Bison, a card of Recce in a Chinook, and a Cougar Recon.
Canadian tanks peak at the C2 Mexas, but fortunately this is a very effective medium tank, getting good rate of fire, decent AP and armor, good mobility, excellent accuracy, a stabilizer, reasonably cheap price, and plentiful numbers. While it isn’t capable of dealing with superheavy tanks it is good for general purpose fire support and at close to medium range can perform efficiently against heavier vehicles. The Leopard C2 is less expensive and less armored, but otherwise mostly identical: it won’t perform as well at close range but is fine for an auxiliary tanks.
Below this there are a host of cheap fire support tanks, mostly Centurions. The Centurion Mark 5 at 25 points is probably the best one out of the bunch since it has good armor at the price so it makes for a good survivable fire support asset.
Canada has some useful vehicles and some very odd ones. Most bizarre is the Chimera, a heavy tank which is found in the vehicles tree – but which is a turretless assault gun. Trading off stabilizer, rate of fire, and offensive tactical flexibility for armor and AP, the Chimera is the heaviest option which you get, and also has the advantage of coming in the vehicle tree, which economizes on conquest points.
Still, given your absence of other anti-tank options, the Jeep Tow 2 is the best high-end anti-tank option you get. Cheap at just 40 points, the Tow 2 is the highest AP weapon you can get, and the jeep is both small and fast. It is a significantly better option than the more expensive Tow 2 carriers such as the INSERT, which get more missiles but still are just as vulnerable to the enemy, even more so in fact given their larger size. There are a variety of other TOW 2 options but they are all more expensive in exchange for doubtful increases in armor or ammunition, so none are useful like the Tow 2.
Unfortunately the rest of the vehicle tab is mediocre.
Unfortunately Canada’s helicopter tab is terribly lacking. It only gets some light utility helicopters. There is the CH-118 SS-11 which gets SS.11 missiles, which are awful with slow speed, terrible accuracy, and mediocre range and AP, so except as a joke unit it isn’t worth taking. There are two somewhat viable options: the CH-118 s an odd but interesting helicopter, with x14 HEAT rockets, which means that it is quite effective against heavy tanks – two of them can kill any superheavy, since heat rocket does at least 1 HEAT damage if it hits against any armor no matter how heavy. It is hard to get the CH-118 into range and it costs a lot, but if you can then it is a surprisingly potent tool. The final helicopter option is the CH-115, a helicopter tab verion of the normal rocket pod transport helicopters: it is worse due to the way Wargame mechanics work which penalize non-transport versions of units, in that it fires volleys of 7 rockets and then waits, then fires another, but it still does have the same 28 rockets so it isn’t bad, and it is a cheap way to get rockets on the battlefield. Plus it can easily be confused for the CH-118, and enemies not react accordingly. Given how many activation points you have, I recommend both of them.
Almost every nation with an availability bonus of 30% or more is by virtue of this a strong airtab, since it gets a de facto 50% availability bonus when it has 2 units (such as going from 2 fighters to 3) which means that there are far more aircraft that it can deploy. Canada is no exception, and other than the unfortunate lack of an ATGM plane, it gets a very good air force as a result.
The star of this is the CF-188, a mid-range workhorse fighter costing 130 points. Although it only gets SA guided missiles, it has excellent short-range infrared missiles, good speed, good ECM, and the SA missiles are decent themselves: it makes for a good workhorse fighter, and with three of them, if you use them carefully, you can easily establish control of the skies.
The other standout performer is the cluster bomber version of the plane, the CF-18 which is very similar to the Danish F-16A Block 1. It is fast, well protected, and drops a vast number of cluster bombs. Reasonably well protected, fast, and with a massive area of effect, the CF-18is the best anti-tank plane you have. It doesn’t really replace an ATGM plane but it can be useful in particular due to the fact that enemies are not used to the usage of cluster planes: they will deploy smoke to guard against ATGM planes and then you drop cluster bombs on the smoke.
Thankfully you have SEAD to protect this, with the Electric Voodoo, which is remarkably cheap at 90 points for 50% ECM and good maneuverability and speed, paying for it with only twin relatively mediocre anti-radiation missiles. But you get a fair number of them, although you can't upvet them and still get more than 1 unfortunately so you get 3 downvetted. It’s a very useful mid range SEAD aircraft.
There is a cheap and effective rocket plane, the CF-104 Starfighter, which gets twin AIM-9J missiles, a Vulcan, and a hefty rocket package for 70 points, which makes them both a good helicopter hunter with the 750 kilometer speed and useful against most infantry and lightly armored vehicles. I think it is a cost effective and useful aircraft, and you get a lot of them.
Your best bomber option is the CF-117, which gets a hefty bomb load, x3 500 kilogram bombs, for a very cheap cost – 70 points. It doesn’t have ECM nor any particularly great performance characteristics, but it is cheap, cheerful, and you can pair it with your SEAD and use cluster bombers to strike potential enemy infrared sites. With SEAD support it is a great pocket bomber which is cost effective.
An odd little aircraft is the Voodoo, which is a cheap helicopter hunter plane. It gets Falcon missiles, which have abysmal 25% accuracy, but they have 5 HE, 1 second reload, and on elite you still get 4 of them, and they have good performance characteristics otherwise. They’re a reasonable aircraft but you have lots of other options which I prefer over them.
All should be downvetted save for the Electric Voodoo
Canada’s best available option is motorized, where it suffers little in terms of lost units except for the Canadian Rifles. But like other very small nations, Canada’s unit pool simply isn’t big enough to have much viability in a specialization. Other than this there aren’t many other good alternatives as Canada.
As a much overlooked minor nation, Canada can be surprisingly fun to play. It might be an adjustment to get used to its light units and to rely upon special niche assets which are rarely deployed in other decks, but when you succeed with it it is a real accomplishment and an intriguing difference from the norm.