How the tides of fortune reverse themselves! Wargame: Red Dragon, seemingly left for dead by Eugen Studios, has returned from the grave with a significant balance update and the introduction of a new faction, South Africa. This is a fitting time to revisit Czechoslovakia in the new meta, and see what has changed with additional experience since the last time this most unique of minor nations was visited.
Czechoslovakia had four principal direct changes: the base T-72 was buffed to 40 points from 45, the Vydra II's availability was increased (although in Czechoslovak national you rarely have to worry for availability anyway), the Mi-17 was nerfed from 30 to 35 points, and the SU-25K was buffed from 140 points to 130 points. The PRLK S-10 also received an HE buff on its missiles from 5 to 6 HE, but it is rarely taken. Since the Mi-17 is a larger component of the Czechoslovak playstyle than the SU-25k or the T-72, the main impacted units, it probably is about a neutral balance change, with one important nerf for two marginal buffs. However, most major competing factions, such as Eurocorps, Entente (on the Yugoslav side), and Baltic Front, received nerfs, and medium tanks from many other factions, such as the Mag'ach 7C Gimel,, K1, M84, and Mexas were nerfed or had prince increases, which buffed Czechoslovak tanks in comparison.
Little has changed from before for logistics, and Czechoslovakia continues to enjoy the substantial benefit of being a 30% availability buff nation, which means it doesn’t need to use a jeep CV to get sufficient numbers of CVs. I believe infantry CVs are the most survivable in standard zones, and I use infantry CVs in trucks for affordability - since Czechoslovakia only gets 15 point motorized transports, inflating costs. One can buy infantry CVs in helicopters, which would be useful for larger maps in particular, and they also provide a useful additional starting unit, but this is optional: I like the cheapness. Other than this, the T-72 command tank is useful for zones where there is danger of artillery fire, as well as for maps with many zones. A 30 point truck, and FOB - useful for Czechoslovakia with its artillery, AA, and helicopters, although not obligatory per se - sums up the picture.
The Mi-17 continues to be vital to fire support for Czechoslovakia, but its price nerf makes keeping it affordable even more important. This is why I prefer to take it with base Vydskari, who function as effective shock infantry, useful for drawing fire so the Mi-17 can engage, as well as being good defensive, general purpose infantry. Above all else, they are cheap: combined with the Mi-17, the price tag is only 50 points. Still 5 more than before, but far better than say, VDV with the USSR. Vydskari ‘90 are generally too specialized and cost too much more to make them worthwhile, and simply aren’t cost effective for what their weapons make up would seem to suggest them for, forest fighting to deal with enemy heavy tanks, since they lack a cheap ground transport.
Motostrelci are the bread and butter of ground units, as solid line infantry, and although they unfortunately only get 15 AP instead of 16 AP on their AT weapon, the RPG-81, it is in other respects very similar to the M72A4 LAW: 40% accuracy which is reasonably decent, and 20 rounds per minute rate of fire. In forests, they are quite efficient, and masses of them can even be good against enemy tanks since they fire so many rounds that they will cripple their morale, and chip away at their health 1 point at a time (since every HEAT round will always do 1 damage). And they are cheap and can be deployed with a decent 5-point transport, the OT-62a, which has decent speed and 2 frontal armor, although only a 7.62mm machine gun and 1 side armor. This is an almost mandatory choice to provide cheap grinding infantry.
There are quite a variety of other infantry combinations which can be used. I prefer a motorized and general shock action force of Lehka Pechotas in OT-64Cs. This is a change from Vydskaris before. While Pechotas are more expensive, they are excellent at providing area of denial with their recoilless rifles, and are brutal city fighters thanks to the SMGs. They are not very cost effective since the OT-64C is a mediocre transport, but neither were the Vydskaris for the same reason, and once they are actually in a building they will be of far greater use at holding it and providing support to surrounding units. One of the tips in Wargame is that if your transport costs as much more more than the infantry unit in it, you are buying it for the transport. While the OT-64C isn’t terrible, it definitely isn’t worth the cost on its own: a 35 point instead of 30 point cost is well worth it for the dramatic capability increase, during openers particularly. Use them to seize forward buildings, garrisoning the infantry in the buildings for the defensive bonus, with the OT-64s retreating if possible to provide fire support with their Malytkas and moving up to provide fire support with their KPVTs if safe. They are fragile, and during the initial motorized engagement should always be smoked off from enemy fire when possible.
ATGMs are another almost mandatory element. There is a perfectly good case to be made for the Fagot, which is cheap, one-shots 2 armor with its 16 AP, and is excellent at denying an area. They can be scattered around the map en masse. By contrast, the Konkurs-M is less readily available, and costs 2.5 times as much, at 25 points instead of 10, but is more accuracy, has longer range (which also helps accuracy), and is far more powerful at 23 vs 16, meaning it can one-shot up to 9 armor and is capable of confronting anything frontally up to a superheavy. I prefer the Konkurs-M, since due to Czechoslovakia’s availability bonus, they can be upvetted and deployed in reasonable numbers. Unfortunately, Czechoslovak transports are limited to 15 point wheeled transports, 5 pointers APCs, helicopters, and IFVs. For affordability, I thus generally go for the 5 point transports: what a shame there isn’t a 10 point wheeled APC! If you choose the Fagot, they should always be deployed in the 5 pointer vehicles.
The final choice is the hardest one: Panzercovi, Motostrelcis, Saperi, or Granatomats? One of Czechoslovakia’s best features is its strong IFVs, and the starring options are the Vydra-II or the BVP v.86. The Vydra II is a cheap, general purpose autocannon IFV, comparable to the KAFV-25, AMX-10P, or YPR-765-25. The BVP v. 86 is a long ranged ATGM unit with the Konkurs M. I prefer the Vydra, since the V. 86 is a missile slinger in an army well equipped with ATGMs, from helicopters, tanks, and infantry.
Saperi are genrally too specialized and unnecessary: there are decent combat infantry options, and they suffer against enemy armored units. The other three are valid, but the fragility and range of Pancercovi favors the Granatomat. These are very effective against infantry but struggle against vehicles, and I generally have found them too niche. Your mileage may vary, but I prefer another card of Motostrelci, this time in Vydra IIs, since they provide general purpose troops, great meatshields during an attack, supported by the Vydras to provide fire support.
These can all be upvetted, since the availability bonus helps so much.
Czechoslovakia has a good 120mm mortar, a fire control system, 10 second aim time howitzer, and some good AA options, but it lacks for a 2,800+ meter anti-helicopter piece, and a stunning MRLS. Its cluster MRLS is too weak to be effective as a rule. This makes for a support deck which is adequate but unexceptional.
To start with the standard: the mortar and Ondava howitzer. The Pram mortar has an excellent 120mm mortar, with good range, good accuracy, enough dispersion for smoke, and lots of shells for a 40 point piece. 1 armor on top makes its lightly less vulnerable to enemy artillery. The Ondava is a relatively mediocre howitzer, due to a low rate of fire and a long salvo length, but it aims just as quickly as other pieces, it is accurate, carries lots of shells (to the extent of not relying on a FOB if necessary), and is very fast, making avoiding counter-battery fire easy - but it will have to do that often, due to the long salvo length. it is generally worth inclusion, downvetted, since the reduction from 3 to 1 pieces is excessive and sometimes you don’t want quite as much accuracy.
My preferred option for a standard anti-plane, and anti-helicopter piece is the OSA-AKM. It is the best anti-helicopter platform when paired, since it gets 2,800 meters range, fast missiles, good accuracy, and 7HE is the minimum amount that will kill 10 HP planes with a critical hit - which does happen from time to time. It also has a 3,500 meter anti-aircraft range, and will keep shooting until its 6 missile magazine is exhausted - generally a sufficient load out, only requiring resupply after a battle phase, without a truck needing to always be attached to it. This makes it much better than the Roland, its closest equivalent, as the Roland only has 2 missile salvos and 6 HE missiles instead of 7 HE, meaning it is far more limited in its engagements and cannot one shot enemy planes. 2 Osas can, in normal circumstances, provide for good all-round aircraft cover, and it is mobile enough to keep up with forward troops. It is good to upvet since the 5 upvetted pieces are normally plentifully sufficient in 1v1 matches.
The remaining air defense options are the Kub-M, Kub-M4, the PLRK S-1M (motorized Strela) and PLRK S-10M (tracked Strela), Strop 1, and Strop 2. Normally, the Kub-M4 (the base variant lacks accuracy although it can be fun) is not necessary due to fighters and Osas, but it is a strong AA piece, being accurate, long ranged, and 9HE, and even decent defensively against helicopters with 2,800 meter range and massive damage (but its terribly mobility and low autonomy, makes it hard to use proactively like the Osas, while it is also very badly armored like the Osa). Furthermore, it isn’t that much better than the Osa in killing planes, since you will still probably need a pair of them due to the 9HE, and it is common not to hit 2 shots during its engagement windows. 2 Kubs, at 150 points, is a hefty investment which is almost never worth it in all but the most intense air assault scenarios. I prefer to depend on Osas and fighters.
The Strop II is a good anti-helicopter option when enemy SEAD is expected: it can reliably kill most helicopters save for a few high end ones such as the Longbow or Nimrod. It is also effective against enemy planes if they overfly the position. But it is expensive, and its 2,800 anti-helicopter range is just acceptable, and against planes it won’t do too much except if they, as noted, overfly it directly. I only get it when enemy SEAD is an extreme danger.
Generally, an auxiliary AA unit on a secondary front is useful: Czechoslovak MANPADs are bad and they aren’t recommended in a regular deck anyway. The Strop 1 would be a great choice for this, but it has atrocious autonomy, just 200 km - 200 seconds, since autonomy is actually a timer in the game. It often runs out of fuel before even reaching the front! This leaves the two Strelas. I prefer the motorized one for a fast opener to give at least some deterrence against a flanking helicopter, but the PLRK S-10M is also an available choice if you play in a mechanized style. It also recently was buffed from 5 to 6 HE, although this isn’t that large of an improvement.
Czechoslovakia has a complete tank tree, with a superheavy, heavy tank, medium tank, long-range missile slingers, and infantry-support tanks. The Moderna is a unique superheavy, somewhat weaker with 23 AP and 21 frontal armor, only 8 rate of fire per minute, and 55% accuracy on the main gun;, but it is cheaper at 160 points, has an autocannon (with limited ammunition unfortunately), good speed, high autonomy, an autoloader, and medium size. Best of all, it has an availability of 3, which in Czechoslovakia means that it gets a boost to 4. This is enough that it is possible to upvet them and still get 3, normally more than sufficient and which helps with the accuracy.
The T-72M1M is an excellent medium tank, and unaffected by the nerfs. Fast, its full-range, autoloaded, 125Mm gun gets decent accuracy, 18 AP, 4 HE, and vitally the ability to fire the Svir ATGM. This is very fast, accurate, and gets 22 AP. It isn’t just a long range weapon like one would think, since it is possible to fire the main gun, turn it off to cause the ATGM to fire, and then once the missile hits to turn the main gun back on. Due to the way weapons work in Wargame, this gun has been reloading the whole time (even though the Svir is actually fired from this very gun), and so it is probably reloaded. This can, against enemy medium tanks, basically double DPM, while its main gun has enough AP to threaten superheavies at close range. Fast, and with acceptable armor, it is a potent tool.
Below it, the T72M1 lacks the ATGM tool, has only mediocre AP at 16, and is less armored. This makes it just slightly too weak to be a good medium tank. The T72M is an unhappy cross between a medium tank and a fire support vehicle, without either good armor or armament, and its 55 points makes it just too expensive. The T-72 is a decent infantry support tank, with 4 HE, acceptable accuracy, mediocre but acceptable range, and armor that makes it protected against most threats save good quality AT weapons, and capable of withstanding autocannon IFVs easily. It is a good choice but not obligatory, since Vydra IIs, Mi-17s, and Prams can also fulfill the cheap fire support role. Also bad optics means it must always be supported.
The Dyna is an intriguing long-ranged missile support tank, armed with the Arkan missile - extremely fast, accurate, and with a 2,800 meter range. The tank however, costs 65 points, only gets 4 Arkan rounds, the Arkan only gets 21 AP, nd the gun is distinctly underperforming for the price and only gets 2,100 meters range. If you want a missile slinger for very long range sniping, it is useful, but generally too niche to make it worth it compared to more conventional Svir and Konkurs missiles which have higher AP on more flexible and cost efficient units. There are only rarely maps where the extra 175 meter range actually makes a difference, and the rest of the platform is too mediocre.
The final standard choice, other than the cheap T-55 and T-62 variants which are of very dubious value, is the T-72S heavy tank. This gets the Svir, 20 AP, and 18 armor, for 125 points. T his makes it effective against standard medium tanks at range. But generally, it is somewhat nice since medium tanks are about as effective against most tanks, while the heavy tanks are still vulnerable to superheavies at all but very close ranges where the medium tanks would be about as effective. It isn’t bad per se, and the 20 AP enables both full AP scaling at point blank range (19 AP necessary), and 1 shotting 2 armor at max range, which needs 20 AP. But it is not an essential unlike the Moderna or T-72M1M
Czechoslovakia gets access to a decent, if unexceptional, reconnaissance suite with very good recon infantry. Průzkumníci are good shock recon infantry, with the same RPG-81 (adequate if unexceptional), as Motostrelci, and a sniper rifle, which makes it surprisingly useful sniping enemy infantry, particularly in cover and from buildings with the range and accuracy. It is even surprisingly stealthy. The Speciální Jednotky ‘90 are commando recon infantry ,and are brutally effective against infantry, while their RPG-26 has better range, accuracy, and 20 AP, while still having 20 ROF. With their accuracy bonuses they hit almost every time. They are very good for both exploitation behind the lines and front line combats, and since they have the best AT weapon among Czechoslovak infantry, they are useful in forests to deal with enemy tanks. Transports are unfortunately mediocre, with the OT-64s and trucks being the main ground options. Both are fragile and the KPVT is mediocre. But at least the OT-64 has at least 1 armor (while a truck only gets 5 HP and no armor so dies to essentially anything, often killing the infantry within immediately), is fast, and provides some fire support, so I choose it over the truck. Mi-17s are great fire support support and I like Specialni ‘90 in Mi-17s for a card of air-dropped infantry: the Mi-17s can kill lightly armored CVs, FONs, and are reasonably fast .
There are also some decent recon vehicle options. The Snezka has been in relative terms buffed since the biggest predator's, the AMX-10 RC, was nerfed. It continues to be an effective stealthy fire support platform, flank defense, and flanking unit. While it loses to cannon-armored enemies typically, against autocannon-armored opponents it generally triumphs due to its heavy armor, and it normally can withstand a hit from most cannons.
The task of fast opening recon with good optics is a relative weakness, especially due to te poorly armored nature of motorized transports. There are three options: the OT-65, OT-65 Vydra, and Mi-2 reconnaissance helicopter. Generally, even if it is not meta, I choose the Vydra , which is fast and has good optics as well as being cheap, at just 15 points. It has a recoilless rifle which is the same model as on the Lehka Pechota, which would seem promising - except it only gets 20% accuracy instead of 40%, which makes it useless most of the time. 12 AP however can normally one shot 1 armor and the 1,400 meter range gives some decent accuracy scaling. For a picket for base defense (it also has a 7.62mm machine gun), and the initial spotting role, it is cheap and functional. A 10 point version exists, without the recoilless rifle, but the 5 points extra is worth it given that few will be deployed. The Mi-2 is a decent basic recon chopper, but I prefer ground recon. Exceptional optics also exists in both tracked wheeled versions, but generally this is too niche.
The Pram-S is a great fire support vehicle, very useful for long ranged fire with its 5 HE, 2,450 meter range, direct fire gun, and the Konkurs missile. A few Prams are very useful to stun and panic enemy tanks with their HE gun, sheltered behind friendly tanks, and their Konkurs missiles are good against almost everything, save heavies and superheavies, and even against them are very strong from the side. 35 points makes them a bargain.
Otherwise, the fire support tab just has the napalm tanks, sometimes liked, and generally overpriced units like the Konkurs carriers or the 10 point fire support vehicle. There are no cheap anti-aircraft guns like the ZSU-57-2 for base defense or general fire support, which is a shame. It’s fine, since there are other assets in other tabs that fulfill the same functions, but it certainly doesn’t match say, the US or Soviet tabs.
The Hind is present in the Czechoslovak arsenal, in the troop transport variants (generally not worth it compared to the Mi-17), and in the helicopter tab as the Mi-24-S and Mi-35. Generally, the Mi-35 has the best characteristics of a workhorse helicopter, with long-ranged Kokon missiles, 80mm rocket pods, the Yak-B gatling gun, and 1 armor so it withstands infantry fire (althoguh it still gets panicked if it flies directly over). It isn’t useful against superheavies frontally due to only 20 AP, but 8 missiles, good range, and accuracy makes it effective against all others.
The Mi-24-S is an interesting choice due to 240mm, 10 HE rocket pods, but it has very mediocre AT capability, and generally the Mi-17 is better at rocket fire support. Other than this, the rest of the line up is mediocre Mi-2s.
Due to a 30% availability bonus and a complete air tab, Czechoslovakia has an extremely strong air force. Viable options are the:
Mi-23ML - a good interceptor, very cheap at just 100 points with good missiles packing 60% accuracy, 5 HE, and 7,700 meter range, but which has to be useful carefully - it hardly gets any ECM, it is only acceptably fast, it doesn’t turn well, and its infrared AA missiles only get 4 HE, meaning that it has to close to gun range to finish off enemy fighters commonly. But you get 3 of them on elite, and they make for good defensive interceptors. Get them in pairs when possible.
Su-7b - a SEAD plane. It isn’t the best: compare it to the Soviet Su-24, which gets two of the same missiles, 30% ECM, better speed, and medium stealth for just 5 more points, but it is still a SEAD plane, the speed pairs well with the Su-25k, and you get 3 of them on elite which makes the 1 missile reasonably accurate, and when it fires the missile it evacs immediately, making it more survivable. It probably deserves a price buff to 70 points, but it gets the job done.
Mig-23BN - an anti-tank plane with x2 28AP; 2,975 meter range, 50% accuracy SA missiles. This makes it a decent superheavy killer, since presuming both missiles hit it will kill anything save for a Challenger II frontally, and you get 4 of them. But the missiles are short ranged enough that if the enemy is advancing, it won’t be able to fire off the second missile (900 kilometer speed is both a blessing and a curse compared to slower planes, while its ECM is mediocre in light of the diving role it carries out to attack enemy tanks), and I often find it unreliable for this reason as well as lacking in survivability. It is a decent choice in any case.
SU-25k - an AT and CAS plane. Recently buffed to 130 points, the Su-25k gets 2 armor frontally which makes it very well protected (it halves incoming HE damage, making it effectively 20 HP, although unfortunately it isn’t armored from the rear), 4 of the same missiles as on the Mig-23BN, 750 kilometer per hour speed, 250 meter turning radius, 20% ECM, a gatling gun which gets HEAT ammuntion meaning it harms enemy tanks, and x4 240mm rockets. I prefer it over the Mig-23Bn - it is somewhat more survivable, although still not that great since it still has to dive down into the enemy AA network, you can use it against a wider range of targets, and it is far more reliable - it will generally kill anything it is targeted at.
L-39ZA Albatros - the Albatros doesn’t look like much, as a lighter bomber which is very slow, only gets 10% ECM, and only drops x2 500 kilogram bombs. But it is much better in practice, since it is actually more of a helicopter hunter, since on elite its combination of x2, admittedly weak infrared 3 HE missiles and a Vulcan-style autocannon means that it can reasonably reliably kill enemy helicopters, since it flies so slowly that the autocannon has plenty of time to shoot. This even makes it dangerous against enemy aircraft: use it as a sponge to soak up damage, or to accompany your own fighters, and if it gets into close range it will be surprisingly effective. And it still is a useful auxiliary bomber, useful for point bombardments.
Mig-21Bis - if you want a faster helicopter hunter, the Mig-21 bis exists, with better missiles and the same autocannon - but it generally is too fast to be able to put out enough damage. It also lacks the auxiliary bombing role.
L29R Delfin - the cheapest plane in the game, the Delfin is a niche but interesting unit. It still has 10 HP, like most other planes, and it drops bombs - which means that it can be useful as a missile sponge, protecting other aircraft with its HP, and if it is ignored it can drop its bombs on enemy AA positions. It can also be used in proximity to friendly troops in woods since the 250 kilogram bombs aren’t very poweful, but can still kill spotted enemy troops when dropped directly on them. It is probably too niche, but is an interesting choice.
Mig-29-S-35 - an extremely unique bomber which drops thermobaric bombs with both explosive and napalm effects. This makes it decent at general bombardment, but afterwards its flame will continue to stun and panic enemies. In forests such an effect is particularly devastating. It has very good ECM, at 40%, good turning radius, and decent speed, which makes it highly survivable, while its infrared missiles are quite good and makes it useful at close range against enemy aircraft. Good as a regular bomber or as a napalm bomber to hit roads at the start of the match.
The main lacks are fire and forget ATGMs, and superfighters. But the alternatives work decently. I choose 5 planes, all upvetted save for the Su-25k and the Mig-29: the Mig-23ML, Su-7b, the Su-25k, Albatros, and Mig-29-S-35. This gives a well rounded air force with fighters, SEAD, close air support and AT, helicopter hunters and auxiliary bombers, and bombers.
Czechosloavakia’s greatest advantages are its relatively strong opener, good tanks, capable fire support, a powerful air arm, and high availability, making it strong initially and capable of playing the long game due to cost effective units and the massive availability bonus which enables everything to be upvetted while still giving enough left for the battle.
The opening synergizes well with OSA-AKMs, Lehka Pechotas, Speciální Jednotky, Mi-17s, mortars, and motorized reconnaissance vehicles. Use the motorized infantry to secure a forward building, and, if possible, supported by Mi-17s for fire support, with your units shielded from the enemy by mortar smoke to protect the vulnerable OT-64C transports. Follow up tanks aid these forward units by providing fire support and using the buildings secured as an anchor in the line, while the Lehka Pechotas help with providing a denial to the enemy. A screen of recon infantry should be pushed up around the line, with infantry ATGMs stationed in bushes and buildings to enable tanks to be economized so that they only need to be thrown into the battle at crucial moments. Motostrelci provide cheap units to garrison buildings and to be pushed en masse into vulnerable forests. Reconnaissance infantry should be pushed to the side and around to provide spotting against enemy units, which can be bombed, mortared, and shelled. The key to this is how well rounded the army is: you have the motorized units to take the initial lead, and the follow on tanks and mechanized IFVs and line infantry to provide for the mass to help defend the taken positions.
The main weaknesses are vulnerability on other fronts and large forests. On secondary fronts, the weaknesses of Czechoslovakia’s reconnaissance suite comes into play - it is hard to oppose say, AMX-10RCs or the Rookiats with just Snezkas, and you lack a fast, reasonable cheap, sustainable AA piece like a MANPAD. A motorized strela, recon infantry, Snezka, and ATGM, will be enough to give at least some fight, but they won’t hold out against a dedicated offensive, and these small unit engagements aren’t Czechoslovakia’s forte. You need to have a good sense of maps, where to deploy units, and principal enemy threats to minimize the risk of being caught out and having to rapidly respond to powerful enemy threats, and on some maps, like Punchbowl, with its large number of different engagement vectors, this is hard.
Forests are an even bigger problem, since there is no effective, high AP infantry. Vydskari ‘90 are not cost effective due to their transports being so expensive, medium tanks are more focused offensively than on armor, and there are no close range support IFVs like the M163 CS or M728 CEV. The reliance on swarms of Motolstrelci, and if enemy AT is weak, cheap T-72s, as well as medium tanks, is enough to hold out against some opponents, but against the most dangerous foes like Scandinavia or Israel it is a real pain to fight in forests. One of the best tricks is the Mig-29 thermobaric bomber, since three of them can set a huge swathe of forest aflame as well as directly killing enemy units. If there are maps with small sizes and large forests, this can be devastatingly effective, such as Hell in a Small Place, where they can sortie right from their air spawn, bomb the forests, and evac, with minimal fear of enemy fighters and their high ECM protecting them. If the forest is close to the enemy, it is best to avoid this as Czechoslovakia does not forest fight effectively without bomber or artillery support.
Overall, a combined initial motorized push, followed by a mechanized strategy, is possible and effective. High firepower and cheap units, but a lack of forest fighting potential and a lack of any ultra stand out units make for a generally conventional playstyle. This makes for a brutally powerful and cost effective, and generally flexible playstyle - but one which lacks for a full range of flexibility and still struggles in openers against some of the most powerful decks.