Ryan Thomas enjoys playing Wargame: Red Dragon as his main strategy game, particularly as France and Czechoslovakia.
Every nation in Wargame: Red Dragon has some sort of flavor. The French have fast moving wheeled vehicles and combat units, with a heavy focus on reconnaissance and quick attacks. The British are slow but with tough and heavily armored vehicles. The Americans have defensive firepower to excess, with "unicorn" units ruling over mediocre infantry and a superb air arm, superb at defensive action. The Soviet Union has mindbogglingly massive amounts of offensive firepower and tank units, to smash through any defensive line. The East Germans have the endless spammability of the infamous Mot-Schutzen, with mechanized units to grind through any battle through sheer infantry attrition.
What about Czechoslovakia? Is there something beyond just the endless stream of puns that one makes when playing them? "Czech this unit out!" or "We cannot be czeched!" are fun but only go so far. If I was to compare it to one faction, then it might be to the Americans - the two are jack of all trades, with a sprinkling of "weird" or "gimicky" units on top of the rest of the army which is rather standard, although for the Czechs these are not necessarily expensive high tech ones. Czechoslovakia is like the Americans focused on defensive actions, with a proliferation of ATGM vehicles and infantry. Of course, this only goes so far - but nevertheless in some ways Czechoslovakia is sort of a low tech America. This is part of what makes Czechoslovakia unique - in that alone of the non-DLC minor nations on Redfor, it is capable of being played alone as a general deck, and not in a coalition.Czechoslovakia has an answer for almost everything – if not always the best answer - and has a capability for almost any need, with admittedly a few major exceptions. An availability bonus of 30% is helpful as well in light of some unique bonuses it grants from some Czech units. It might not be as good as the new DLC fare like Yugoslavia or Finland, but playing and winning as Czechoslovakia is satisfying, in knowing that you took a nation which is often overlooked and brought it to victory. The following is a guide about what units to use for it, and what strategies work.
Logistics and Command
Czechoslovakia's logistics tab is not exciting – but it is solid and dependable. It has good 30 point logistics trucks, which offer a good compromise between cost, availability, and supply tonnage, as well as 40 point trucks for those preferring more supplies. It has command infantry which can come in helicopters - on in a good choice of wheeled vehicles, including both very cheap trucks and amphibious wheeled vehicles. Although they lack shock training like East German CV infantry, such a nice bonus is rarely missed. A 100 point command jeep – without the speed penalties that equivalent NATO jeeps pay for – and a reasonably well armored 160 point command tank complete the picture. There are no glaring weaknesses like with other nations, where some lack real heavy trucks or command tanks.
Infantry is the bread and butter of any army. Nations with normal infantry that is perceived as bad - such as the United States – have to compensate elsewhere. Czechoslovakia's infantry is a mixed bag. It has decent 10 point regular infantry, equipped with assault rifles, a better version of the American LAW anti-tank weapon with better AP (15) and accuracy, and which still retains the excellent 20 rounds per minute fire. The shock infantry are clones of the superb East German Mot-Schutzen. Its Lenka Pecnota light infantry are good, if unexceptional, with enough firepower to kill off enemy light vehicles.
The problems with Czechoslovak infantry are linked to their poor transport options Motostrelci, the basic 10 point infantry, do not get a very good 5 point transport – while it has 2 frontal armor and is amphibious, it has only a 7.62mm machine gun instead of at least a 12.7mm machine gun, and only has one - putting it far behind some newer transports such as the Israeli Zelda with 3 machine guns. Worse is the shock infantry, who get the choice of either only helicopters, or the Czechoslovak OT-64. The OT-64 is a wheeled transport which costs 15 points, and has a 14.5mm machine gun which at least gets 1 AP, meaning that at close range with AP scaling (+1 AP for every 175 meters closer to the target) it can do a surprising amount of damage to enemy vehicles. But its accuracy is terrible, at only 10% when stationary and 5% on the move, and the ammo capacity poor, and the rate of fire only mediocre. Furthermore, it only has 1 armor on all sides, making it very vulnerable to being destroyed and killing all the troops within. Even with the poor Malyutka ATGM added on in the OT-64C – which costs nothing more and costs nothing in availability, so it doesn't hurt to add it - 15 points is without doubt overpriced. The Malyutka does something to buff up an ATGM line, but with dismal accuracy,,slow speed, only 2,450 meter range, and only 13 AP accuracy, the Malyutka is one of the worst ATGMs in the game. In some cases it can even be a negative, as it opening fire leads to the vehicle being targeted and killed. Still, it is something, and there are occasional instances where it is useful – and when it is free, there isn't much reason not to have it. But the result of this poor transport choice is that Czechoslovak shock infantry cost more than other factions who get 10 point wheeled vehicles – or at least they don't have the firepower available to their East German counterparts, who get a similar 14.5mm armed vehicle, at the same cost, but with better armor and a machine gun with twice the accuracy.
Still, not all is woe. Motostrelci get an excellent OT-62 Vydra II IFV, with a 30mm autocannon for only 15 points. For providing fire support to infantry units, the Vydra II is an excellent option - its autocannon is even better than that which is found on some BMP 2 vehicles, due to better range, and has excellent suppression capabilities and can shred enemy helicopters. Granatomet further add to the good firepower available to Czech supporting arms, with automatic grenade launcher fire support infantry. Almost all Czechoslovak units have access to the excellent MI-17 helicopter, whose heavy 122mm rocket pods can annihilate enemy infantry and light vehicles.
Czechoslovakia also has the excellent Konkurs-M ATGM infantry, whose long range ATGMs and 23 AP have decent speed – not as good as the Chu-Mat or the new Spike missiles which have been added for Israel and Finland, but still making it much more accurate than the Milan II, especially once its superior range is factored into account.
There are two things which Czechoslovakia lacks: It has no good MANPAD and it has no elite infantry, with the lack of commando units making it very difficult to fight in a deep city area where Czechoslovakia's fire support options cannot be used. Both do much to limit Czechoslovakia's desirability in being used in mechanized or motorized decks - neither of which are good choices for Czechoslovakia it must be noted, although motorized is a much better option that mechanized.
Czechoslovakia's availability bonus means that pretty much all infantry can be upvetted to the maximum and there will still be enough of them. I would personally take a Motostrelici in a Vydka II for forest fighting and general autocannon fire support, a base Vysadkari in an OT-64C as the standard initial shock infantry motorized rush unit, a Vysadkari '90 in an OT-64C as a heavy anti-tank unit for forest fighting, Konkurs-M as ATGM infantry, and with the final option being either Lenka Pecnota or grenade launcher infantry with MI-17 helicopters as fire support or to seize initial destinations - but the latter of course is risky without any anti-aircraft helicopters.
Czechoslovakia's support deck is not spectacular, but it has a good mixture of air defense, mortar, and artillery units which is workable. Its main weakness is the lack of an MRLS and a 2800 meter+ anti-helicopter option.
To begin with, Czechoslovakia has a good mortar unit, in the form of v85 Pram-S, which offers a 120mm mortar with good performance stats - not too accurate like some mortars, so it makes smoke spread out better, good autonomy, 7,700 meters of range, a high ammo capacity of 81 shells, and a good price at 40 points. It might not be the best 120mm mortar - which belongs to the German HS 30 mortar platform, which despite having poor autonomy has the cheapest price for a 120mm mortar, at just 30 points – but it is much better than Russian options that cost substantially more and carry less shells, and at least it has some top armor against enemy cluster ammunition unlike the East German 120mm mortar.
Czechoslovakia's artillery is not impressive, but is workable. It does have a 152mm artillery piece with advanced fire control – the Ondava. But this shoots slowly and puts out a lengthy salvo, so it has to be checked in on to prevent counter-battery fire from destroying it. However, it is fast which helps it out – and with the Czechoslovak availability bonus, one can get 3 of them, as compared to just 2 in a normal East Bloc deck. There is also a decent 203mm howitzer, which although chained to an FOB or supply truck by low ammo counts at just 4 shells, does fire all of them in a salvo, and can be useful for area bombardments. Although tube artillery is not amazing, it does get the job done.
Air defense has good anti-aircraft performance, with the Kub-M, which has 4,500 meters range, 65% accuracy, and 9 HE – meaning that in some cases it will one shot enemy aircraft. Two of them probably are enough to make any sector a no-go zone to enemy air defense. They have low mobility, autonomy, and armor, so must be carefully deployed, and require a supply truck due to only having 3 missiles – but their good range means they can be kept well back from the front. The other option is the OSA AKM, which is cheaper at 65 points, carries 6 missiles, and wheeled, but only has 3,500 meters range, has lower accuracy, and only has 7 HE power compared to 9. Both have 2,800 meters anti-helicopter range and so can serve as useful anti-helicopter defenses in a pinch - particularly against large swarms, where the massive 9 HE missiles of the Kub-M can destroy large groups.
Unfortunately, Czechoslovakia lacks a 2,800+ meter range anti-helicopter option. Its closest bet is the Strop II, which has a 30mm non-radar autocannon which reaches 2,800 meters, decent accuracy, and is most importantly, wheeled, so it can keep up with the initial push of units. However, its autocannon is not stabilized so it must be ordered to stop and shoot, and while its range matches the Longbow and its equivalents armed with Hellfire missiles, it will lose in a 1v1 duel against them – their missiles will reach the Strop II before it kills them with its autocannon. It has decent Igla missiles to back up its autocannon, which are stabilized, and these can help to improve anti-plane performance in particular. Against most helicopters, the Strop II is an excellent defensive unit, and its high rate of fire makes it useful against infantry units in an emergency scenario for defending itself... but the lack of ranged anti-helicopter options hurts against particular NATO helicopters with 2,800 or greater ranged missiles.
This absence is also matched by the lack of a good MRLS system – there is a weak 3 AP cluster ammunition MRLS, but this is only workable against light vehicles or for stunning and is generally not recommended. There is no HE MRLS to stun and demoralize targets before attacking, or heavy MRLS like the Uragan for placing heavy HE warheads on a target. Czechoslovak tube artillery's greater numbers can compensate for this to some extent.
I personally take a Kub M4 as my anti-aircraft artillery, a Strop-II as anti-helicopter artillery, 120mm mortar, an Ondova, and a 203mm howitzer as my Czechoslovak artillery – with the first two being upvetted and the rest being downvetted.
Czechoslovakia has a very good armored tab, with the most heavily upgraded T55 in the game, good medium level tanks, and a superheavy - the quite unique T72 Moderna.
The T-55AM2 DYNA-1 is better thought of as an armored ATGM platform than a standard combat tank, since its gun performance is distinctly subpar, with only 2,100 meters range and 15 AP - but it has the Arkan missile, with 2,800 meters range, 21 AP, and very high speed. With a supply truck to resupply these missiles, it can make a very useful long-ranged sniper unit.
There are also excellent medium weight tanks, with a decent T72M1cz, offering 14 armor – which is enough to survive a 30AP attack, the most powerful anti-tank attack in the game - and with a 2,275 meter range cannon with 16 AP and an autoloader. The main workhorse of the Czech tank forces will often be the T72M1M, which has further improved top armor - including an excellent 4 top armor - and continues the Czech obsession with gun-fired ATGMs, with 22 AP offering a very hefty punch. The T72S is a good heavy tank, capable of destroying all lighter tanks while not being quite expensive enough to make it a priority target like a super heavy tank. The negative for these ATGMs is that the tanks cost 5 points more than equivalents without them - and they have 1 slower rate of fire, with 8 ROF meaning that if both tanks fire at the same time, if a NATO tank isn't panicked, it will generally get in its second round first and kill the Czechoslovak tank. However, panicking does impact the rate of fire of NATO human-loaded tanks, so this isn't as bad as it would seem. All Czechoslovak 125mm guns have 4 HE, which gives them a decisive advantage in anti-infantry firepower compared to most NATO 120mm guns with only 3 HE.
Czechoslovakia's Moderna superheavy is however, the pride and joy of the Czechoslovak tank force, something which only the USSR and North Korea have for Redfor as far as superheavies go among non DLC nations. It has more limited armor at "only" 21 frontally, and its gun has lower accuracy and only 8 rounds per minute. But it still has 23 ap and it definitively is a superheavy, if the lightest of the bunch. What makes it special is its 30mm autocannon which can also engage air targets, giving it much better capability against infantry and in taking down numerous light vehicles, as well as emergency anti-helicopter defense, than any other superheavy: it is much more capable of being used close in. Just the presence of a superheavy gives much more in the way of capabilities to Czechoslovakia than the average Redfor nation which cannot stand up against NATO heavy armor in the field. Playing as national Czechoslovakia also means that one can get 3 Modernas at hardened – much better than other nations which only get 2 superheavies at trained.
I take 1 card of Dynas for long-range ATGm fire (although I have been considering dropping this as it is a niche role), a T-72M1cz for a general workhorse tank, a T-72s as a heavy tank, and Moderna as a superheavy - all upvetted.
Czechoslovakia has a good reconnaissance tab, with some special units. It has a good shock recon infantry, the thoroughly unspellable Pruzkumnici, equipped with a sniper rifle which is surprisingly useful at killing enemy ATGM teams in particular and laying down fire at longer distances. The real pride and joy of Czechoslovak reconnaissance infantry, is the Specialni Jednotky, an elite reconnaissance infantry which in their 90s form have an excellent anti-tank weapon with 20 AP,20 rounds per minute, 700 meters range, high accuracy (made even better by their high training), and whose high training and anti-infantry load out enable them to decimate anything that isn't an elite enemy commando unit.
There is also the Snezka, a BMP-2 based reconnaissance vehicle, armed with a 30mm cannon and with rather good frontal armor at 4. Although I think it somewhat overpriced – 25 might be better – it still is very useful at being able to often fire from concealment without being spotted due to medium stealth, providing vision, defending against helicopters, and at close range with its auto-cannon it can shred lighter vehicles - it reaches somewhere around 12 AP, and at very close ranges almost every shot will hit, meaning it can annihilate even medium armored targets.
Unfortunately, Czechoslovakia does not have an armored reconnaissance helicopter, but its standard Mi-2 variant still can offer useful suicide scouting options to detect approaching enemy forces in the initial deployment, and reconnaissance infantry can be deployed with the excellent MI-17 helicopter. The lower availability on Specialni Jednotky compared to regular shock recon infantry means that generally both the shock recon infantry and the Specialni Jednotky are necessary, and thus a choice is necessary between helicopter-borne rear area infiltrators, or exceptional optics recon vehicles if one likes them - generally I go for the former.
Thus I take a squad of Pruzkumnici in OT-64As to provide a somewhat survivable and fast recon option (the OT-64As mean that they might survive if hit by enemy fire, while a truck won't), Specialni Jednotky in a truck to keep the cost down (on the belief that these are elite combat recon and so I will better micromanage them and prevent them from getting hit by enemy firepower), another Specialni Jednotky, this time in an Mi-17 for rear area infiltration, a Snezka as my combat reconnaissance vehicle, and an Mi-2 as my reconnaissance helicopter.
Vehicles are often the last tab which one will fill out when building up a deck in Wargame: Red Dragon, but Czechoslovakia has a real jewel in the form of the Pram-S assault gun. If you remember reading the word Pram-S and you're scrolling up to see that there is a mortar named that - good memory! There is both a mortar Pram-S and an assault gun Pram-S, with the assault gun version having a 2,450 meter range HE gun with 5 HE, very useful for infantry support - as well as a 20 AP Konkurs missile. Relatively low cost at just 35 points means they can be sprinkled liberally around the battlefield and function as tank destroyers, and their mortar armament enables them to provide good direct support to infantry. A very clever and effective support vehicle.
Otherwise, Czechoslovakia's support tab is nothing to write home about, and I just get the flamethrower tank it has because I don't have anything else to spend points on.
One of Czechoslovakia's big weaknesses is its lack of an anti-aircraft helicopter, which makes it slow to respond to enemy helicopters appearing on the flanks or in the rear area - this is one reason why the Eastern Bloc with Poland is useful, to get the Sokol helicopter. But it does have the advantage of the MI-35, one of the best gunships in the game, with a good 12.7mm gatling gun which is quite effective at stunning everything, destroying infantry, and shredding light vehicles,, 80mm rocket pods which mean death for enemy infantry, and good Kokon ATGM - not enough to kill superheavy enemy tanks from the front with just 20 AP, but from the sides or against lighter targets positively devastating, and with an excellent 2,800 meter range. It has armor as well, and high health, which makes it quite survivable. Its cheaper Mi-25 counterpart is cheaper at 75 points to 90 points, and has an inferior ATGM and less of them - but does have 240mm rockets which do as much damage as a 203mm howitzer shell, and the same gatling gun. They make for useful anti-infantry units and helicopters to throw into battle when points are lacking.
Czechoslovakia's air tab is unique. It has the very good Mig-29 9-12A which is equipped with thermobaric weapons, which unlike most napalm weapons actually do explosive damage and make them very useful in some situations, such burning down patches of forest or forcing enemy units to move, and in general bombardment roles. 40% ECM and 900 kilometers per hour speed makes it somewhat survivable as well. There is also the option of the Su-22M4 which has x2 1,000 kilogram bombs, but is much less survivable and lacks the same flame effect.
There is also SEAD with the SU-7B, which while the weakest SEAD aircraft in the game, does have the advantage of getting out very quickly - it only has 1 missile so evacs immediately once it has fired! It is cheap enough to be spammed in good numbers, and does a lot to complicate enemy air defense.
Unfortunately, Czechoslovakia is somewhat let down by its interceptor and anti-tank units. Its anti-tank place, the Mig-23BM, has 28 AP missiles so normally, if both missiles hit, it can kill an enemy super-heavy tank from the front - but these missiles are both SA, meaning that it must dive to attack the superheavy and fire them in succession, instead of being able to fire both from longer distance like with a fire and forget plane, and against enemy smoke, the missiles will lose lock. ECM is also nothing to write home about at just 20%. The advantage is that it is cheap, at just 100 points, and there are up to 4 of them - and at least the capability exists, but it is not survivable and doesn't have the sheer firepower of the typical East Bloc ATGM plane, the SU-22M4 Seria of Poland.
The greatest lack in Czechoslovakia's air tab is its outdated fighter, with only the Mig-23ML, with just two long ranged SA guided missiles and 4 unimpressive short range missiles. It has poor ECM as well, at just 10%, and only 900 kilometers per hour top speed. An interceptor aircraft, its turning circle of 400 prevents it from dogfighting. It does however, have a decent cannon, and is reasonable cheap at 100 points, and 3 of them can bought at maximum veterancy. It cannot be used offensively as it will be shot down by the enemy air defense network - but defensively it makes a good interceptor.
Czechoslovakia has the advantage of a good infantry ATGM, superheavy, good workhorse tanks, special reconnaissance infantry, autocannon armed reconnaissance vehicles, a strong gunship helicopter, good bombers, good anti-plane firepower, decent infantry with strong fire support options, strong tube artillery numbers, a good logistics tab,and that most of its units can be taken as upvetted due to its availability bonuses.The disadvantage is a lack of a good workhorse or super fighter, no 2800 meter+ anti-helicopter options, limited motorized firepower to support motorized infantry in the initial rush, no good cluster MRLS, no good HE MRLS, no anti-aircraft helicopter, and no anti-tank helicopter with high powered missiles capable of dealing with heavy enemy armor. Although there are many weaknesses, most can be worked around, and it leaves Czechoslovakia as more flexible than most minor nations - but still requiring alterations to play style to work.
This is part of why Czechoslovakia is a particularly good defensive nation, with its mixture of ATGM armed infantry and tanks, good helicopters, and tanks. It does not grind (a term used in Wargame for pitched combat in forests or cities where it is all a question of attrition infantry battles at close range) as well as East Germany due to the poorer transport options available to its infantry, but it can still do so decently due to having decent 10 man shock infantry teams and powerful infantry fire support options. Playing Czechoslovakia requires a good knowledge of how maps normally play, to be able to seize ground initially with the fast moving motorized infantry while tracked fire support comes up, establish defensive formations, and then utilize its fire support options to push the enemy out of their own territory with a combination of artillery, assault gun fire, tank pushes, and bombers. In a purely motorized battle without supporting units, Czech forces will lose against enemies such as Eurocorps or even just autocannon armed wheeled vehicle nations like Red Dragons.
One of the worst nations to go up against with Czechoslovakia is the United States, who have a combination of superheavy armor in the form of the M1A2 Abrams, which is a very difficult foe to deal with utilizing the Moderna, and its Longbow, which is a difficult enemy for the Strop II. Factions including Germany also pose a problem with the recon Tiger, whose speed and stealth makes it hard to kill it with the Strop II, although if the Strop II gets into range it normally wins a battle against the Tiger. The Czechoslovaks have the advantage against the Americans of better motorized deployment, and can generally win against Eurocorps if they get into a grinding match - but special attention must be played with each. In general, Czechoslovakia requires defensive lines with ATGM installations and anti-aircraft forces distributed around the map, which is one of its key problems for flexibility - it lacks efficient fighter forces and without an anti-aircraft helicopter, it has trouble quickly responding to threats. Czechoslovakia forces you to think ahead.
Compared to the newer DLC nations like Yugoslavia, Finland, and Israel, Czechoslovakia has been power-creeped. But it continues to be a fun nation to play, with a wide range of capabilities, a minor nation which is able to be seriously played like the big nations. If you ever grow tired of the big nations - the Czechoslovakia might be a good nation to reach out for and try, and I promise you you will have a lot of fun doing it.