Every game with national factions tends to get accused of bias towards the country which made it. It’s most pronounced with Russian games like Warthunder or World of Tanks, but maybe a little of it seeps into Wargame: Red Dragon, with the potent French arsenal granted to the country by Eugen Systems. With the AMX-10RC which is widely considered one of the best reconnaissance vehicles in the game, the best fighter with the Rafale, excellent infantry, some great air defense assets, superb artillery, and what is often thought of as perhaps the best superheavy in the game, France is a very strong contender. But it is also a unique faction which has some severe limitations, which means it requires a special playing style and thought.
France’s clear strongest trait is its motorized capacity. There are an excellent array of motorized elements which provide for an excellent opener capacity. The AMX-10 RC is a great fast wheeled attack vehicle which despite its nerfs still is a very useful unit due to its speed, optics, stealth, decent combination of armament, cost, and range, and general fire support capacity. There is also the Crotale, an excellent wheeled infrared anti-helicopter piece, and the VAB T/20 as an autocannon armored transport – not as good as the WZ-551 or the South African Ratel 20, but the best 15 point wheeled transport in the game otherwise. Its mortars aren’t very efficient since they are wheeled but at least it has them.
There are other assets. France has an excellent 5-point transport, some good IFVs, a very strong reconnaissance tab, great fighters, and very good artillery. It also has a strong superheavy tank. These help make it more than just a motorized faction and also capable of exerting a significant armored and artillery presence. The helicopters are very powerful which helps in the opening and gives continued importance throughout the game.
By contrast, the weaknesses lie in basic infantry and the middle level of the armored tree. France’s base chasseurs are the worst 10 point line infantry in the game, due to a dreadful AT weapon and submachine guns, even if they get a very good 5 point transport. It lacks a real medium rank, ie. a vehicle possessing at least 13 armor, which can be guaranteed to take at least one hit from any KE weapon, and a 26 HEAT weapon (such as a Maverick missile). The combination, alongside other than line infantry and some sappeur units all other infantry being motorized, makes forest fighting difficult when you aren’t able to effectively utilize your artillery assets. It also suffers from some suboptimal planes, although it does have every role covered at least.
With France, you should try to win the motorized opener. Use your fast motorized battle groups with Legion 90 in VAB T20s, Crotales, mortars, and AMX 10s to knock out enemy units and seize crucial positions, to be solidified by follow up tanks and Milans. Constantly sneak around and look for enemy targets of priority to kill with artillery fire. Try to avoid getting stuck in in close range, brawling fights in forests or towns: instead, use MRLS fire to stun enemies and move in to mop up the zone. Panthers and helicopters should be used to provide flanking heavy firepower, concentrating at key points of the map to destroy the enemy from unexpected angles.
France’s logistic tab is somewhat lacking. Although it gets a good range of transports for its infantry CV, its tank CV is very underwhelming, since it is quite lightly armored: it only gets 1 armor on top and limited side and rear armor. So I tend to rely upon the jeep CV and the infantry CV. There are only 15 point trucks, which aren’t as efficient as 30 point trucks, although they mostly get the job done and they do enable faster supply.
Infantry is probably the single most important tab in Wargame: Red Dragon, and thankfully France gets a quite good infantry tab with a good selection of transports. Its basic militia (reservistes) and line infantry (chasseurs and chasseurs ’85) are mediocre, but they do get some very good transport options: the AMX-VTT which gets 3 armor and a .50 caliber machine gun as well as good speed, as well as the AMX-10P which is a strong base fire support IFV (only available to the chasseurs). And Chasseurs ’85 do admittedly get a decent, if unexceptional, AT weapon, the LRAC F1.
It is in the shock category that the excellent French units come in, with Legion and RIMA. Legion and RIMA get unexceptional basic forms, both reliant on the LRAC F1, but the upgraded Legion ’90 and the RIMA ’85 get ERYX and APILAS, both brilliant AT weapons. The ERYX gets excellent AP, 1,050 range, and high accuracy, although it is guided so it can be disrupted by suppression. The RIMA’s APILAS meanwhile is 23 AP, 50% accuracy, and 20 rounds per minute, so in forest fights against tanks it is brutally effective. Both get good machine guns with the Minimi and assault rifles and so are competent anti-infantry forces, although admittedly not that cost efficient, and the VAB T20 is their best ground transport option. The RIMA also gets the Panther, a very good fire support rocket pod helicopter, although due to its cost it is less affordable to deploy en masse.
Commando infantry is less stellar, although not bad. Commandos Marine are 15 man commando teams with a decent, if not brilliant, AT weapon, the LRAC F1, and are very effective against enemy infantry in town fights. They have the Panther available as an option, as well as the ubiquitous VAB T20. I don’t take them personally but they’re a viable choice.
The last conventional choice is the Milan series of missiles, from the Milan F1 to the Milan F3. They’re all decent, but in France you get a 20% availability bonus so even upvetted you still get 5 Milan F3s, which is much better than in Eurocorps where upvetted you only get X, and the Milan F3 hits like a truck with 26 AP as well as having better accuracy than earlier Milans. I like to get it in the VAB.
Probably the best MANPAD in the game, the Mistral gets great range, 5 HE, and accuracy, as well as a 5 man size (which is a double-edged sword since it means that it lacks the same stealth of 2 man teams, but it is more survivable), so it is capable of killing most aircraft in 2 hits as well as Hinds. But it is hard to fit into a regular deck.
Sappeurs are generally considered questionable, but they’re useful in a French deck since they are a cheap way to get the Panther on the field with a 10 HP infantry unit which can advance to the enemy, soak up fire, and reveal positions for the Panther to fire on. It’s a niche unit but surprisingly good.
With all of these options, it’s hard to decide which one gets deployed. I like base chasseurs in an AMX-10P as units to soak up fire and get cheap IFVs on the field, Milans F3 in a VAB, RIMA ’85 in a VAB T20 as a forest fighting element, Legion ’90 as the primary shock and initial motorized opener force, and Sapperus in a Panther as a cheap way to get a rocket pod helicopter on the battlefield. You can generally upvet these all, with your 20% availability bonus. But there are many different variations.
Most lower French tanks are defined by exceedingly poor armor, but good guns, good mobility, and mediocre stabilizers. The AMX 10 RC SB is often overlooked due to the presence of the basic AMX 10 RC, found in the recon tab, but at 40 points it is very fast, gets a very accurate, 2,250 meter range, 16 AP gun, and 4 armor makes it pretty well protected against autocannons. It does lack a stabilizer, but other than this it is more cost effective than say, the Vickers Mark 11 or the Rookiat 105, the premier non-reconnaissance canon-armed wheeled vehicles.
The AMX-30 series is almost never taken, since they are extremely fragile, in a bad price range for tanks, and don’t offer much interesting. The AMX-30B is somewhat interesting since it gets a HEAT shell so theoretically you could mass a bunch of them and use them to kill superheavies, since every shot does 1 damage to any armor, but this is very niche and it is extraordinarily cost ineffective and fragile in almost all situations. The closest the French have to a medium tank is the AMX-40,which gets a great gun, with 19 AP and high accuracy, but its armor is just insufficient – 12. You need 13 to be able to withstand maximum AP scaling, and 12 makes it too fragile. If it had just 1 more armor it would be far better. Given a lack of alternatives it is still good to take, but it is really only useful as a long range sniper vehicle, which is better fulfilled by other assets.
Penultimate of French armored units is the Leclerc. Although recently nerfed from 3 tanks to 2, the Leclerc is still one of the strongest superheavies in the game. It only has 22 AP and 21 armor, 1 less respectively than the standard super heavy, but it gets 70% accuracy, a perfect stabilizer – 70% as well – and most importantly 12 ROF. The French machine gun. Although it suffers at long range against enemy superheavies, at medium and close range it will annihilate them, and at medium and long range it absolutely chews through enemy medium tanks.
In keeping with the motorized alignment that the French have, the recon tab is a very strong asset. Its recon infantry is consistently excellent: the Commandos Paras are some of the best shock recon infantry, with only American Rangers or Swedish Falkirmjagers providing the same role as a capable shock recon asset capable of both anti-infantry and anti-tank option. Although the Hussards, the regular recon infantry, are rarely used since regular recon infantry is less taken, they get free LRAC F1s which gives them much more AT firepower than most recon infantry. By the same token the VAB T/20 is available to both of them and is the best wheeled IFV available on Blufor outside of South Africa.
The Gazelle Canon has been somewhat outpaced by the South African XH-1 Alpha, but it is still a great reconnaissance helicopter. Most of the time good optics are perfectly acceptable, and the Gazelle Canon’s package of good optics and a cannon, plus good speed, for just 30 points is much better than most recon helicopters which most often cost at least 40 points and are unarmed, albeit with very good optics. Not only are they great for scouting, but they can kill lightly armored vehicles if they get close enough, and a few snuck behind enemy lines are brilliant raiders.They are also perfect flank defense assets.
Most notable in the French deck is the AMX-10RC. The AMX-10RC was for a long time the premier cannon-armed reconnaissance vehicle. It received a major nerf to 40 points, since it was widely considered OP, which makes it less cost efficient and so not the go-to fire support asset that it was before: however, it’s still an excellent opener asset, fast, with decent AP, range, and accuracy.
Given your lack of alternative cheap fire support options, commonly found in the vehicle tab (but which is relatively lackluster), by far your best fire support option is the AMX 13/90 in the recon tab. This gets an incredible rate of fire thanks to its autoloader, decent range, accuracy, and stealth, all for just 25 points: they are a go-to for annihilating infantry, as well as destroying lighter vehicles (HEAT rounds however, means it lacks scaling so it isn't good against most medium tanks, although theoretically enough of them might be cost effective against heavy tanks)
There are some cheaper recon vehicles like the AML 90, but these are bad. The final option to go for is exceptional optics vehicles if you potentially want them, but this is really niche and generally not adviced.
I get commandos paras downvetted in a VAB T20, commandos paras upvetted in a Puma Pirate, AMX-10 RC, the Gazelle Canon, and the AMX 13/90
One of the biggest strengths that France has is the support tab, where it has a formidable collection of heavy artillery and anti-aircraft assets. Most of these are based around fast motorized elements, and in conjunction with its strong combat ground motorized assets makes for a very good opener.
The Crotale has had various more advanced versions introduced, such as the Crotale NG in Finland, or the South Africa Cactus SAHV, featuring greater accuracy and/or range, but the basic Crotale continues to be one of the best anti-helicopter options, featuring great range, speed, and accuracy for a very affordable price. It might be limited for ammo and so you need to pair supply trucks with them, but it will often be the backbone of your air defense. The Roland 2 is your best pure anti-plane option, and by contrast it is much less optimal: it is most comparable to the OSA-AKM as a mid range, 3,500 meter anti-aircraft and 2,800 meter anti-helicopter unit, capable of fulling both roles. However, it trades off HE in exchange for accuracy, making it quite accurate but without the possibility to one-shot an enemy aircraft even if it crits the enemy. The biggest deficiency however, is that it fires in salvos of two, and then has to reload, instead of firing in salvos of 3, 4, or continuously like most other AA units. It’s still worth taking but you need to use your aircraft most often for air defense purposes.
Various lighter AA options complete the options. There are some SPAAGs, like the Oeil Noir, perfectly decent, and the VAB AA, also good as a cheap non-radar motorized SPAAG. There is a Mistral truck, but it is hard to see why it is necessary to take it when you already have the Crotale. I personally don’t take any of them in my unspecialized deck, but they’re all perfectly workable.
The twin kingpins of French support are the M270 and the CESAR. The M270 is the HE variant of the system, far better than the cluster version. Recently nerfed to 140 points and with increased supply usage, it is still an extremely dangerous, even game-changing, unit, since it has a massive stunning effect. Using it on entrenched infantry in a town can stun all of them at once, and if one of the rounds lands in the right place then it can annihilate entire infantry squads. It’s decisive and a must-have. The CESAR is a good high end howitzer, extremely mobile, accurate, and with a decent onboad shell supply of 18 rounds, so it is somewhat less chained to a FOB than other units although it still needs near constant resupply. Given that you lack a good bomber, both of them are very useful to have, the M270 for suppressing broad areas, the CESAR for sniping precision targets.
The main downfall for the French is their mortars. All of the mortars are wheeled, which is generally unnecessarily and pumps up the precise, and most of them are 60mm – which don’t produce enough smoke to hide units well, and whose HE output is dismal. The conventional mortar is 120mm, but it costs 60 points and it is too precise – you don’t want one that is too accurate since this makes it problematic to deploy smoke screens, where you want more spread. Plus it has less shells than befits the price. Despite the extra cost I take the VPM 120 since at least it produces large enough smoke clouds.
France has a good selection of helicopters, including anti-air, and gunship helicopters. The Gazelles have some good AT and AA options, with cheap ATGM Gazelle Hots which are fast and pack a good punch if they flank around, while the Gazelle with Mistrals is a good AA helicopter. There is also the Cassiopee, armed with a surprisingly good GIAT 30mm autocannon, which can shred most other helicopters and is very effective against light ground vehicles or even tanks if it can get directly over them.
The most powerful performers however, are the Tigers, which get stealth, medium optics, and combined guns, rockets, and either Mistrals or Hot 2 missiles. While the German Recon Tiger, now nerfed, is the most famous Tiger, they’re both good options. You milage may vary with all of them, I take the two tigers and the Cassiopee.
Most of the vehicles tab is pretty mediocre. The recoilless rifle jeep is bad and completely unnecessary in the context of how much motorized firepower you have. The Sagaire could theoretically be a decent fire support asset, with 3 HE for just 20 points, but it lacks for armor and 20 points isn’t that cost effective anyway: you are better off relying on IFVs, AMX-10s, AMX-13s and artillery. Various Milan ATGM vehicles are bad without adequate range to really engage in the enemy tanks comfortably. The only unit which might be worth taking is the HOT 1 armed vehicles, with a choice of either a tracked or wheeled option: they both cost the same with the wheeled version having slightly fewer, but still plenty, missiles at 8 of them. I like the wheeled one. It’s useful due to the extra range and while 22 AP isn’t that great, it is enough against most targets other than heavy tanks.
Although France doesn’t get a superlative air tab, it does get a complete one, with fighters, SEAD, bombers, and ATGM planes. The fighters are the best part of it, since the Mirage 2000 is a good workhorse fighter, and the Rafale is largely considered the best fighter in the game. It’s common to get both since France’s anti-aircraft AA is mediocre, and many competitive decks get twin cards of fighters themselves. The Mirage 2000 comes on elite at 120 points, and although it lacks somewhat in range, its performance is good otherwise as far as SA guided aircraft can be. The Rafale gets the most accurate missiles in the game, 50% ECM, and unlike any other fighter medium stealth which makes it significantly harder to spot at long range, and if you don’t have very good air detection units on the field, then almost impossible.
SEADis a good mid range platform, the Jaguar A, which gets good speed, unfortunately no stealth, but good SEAD missiles and decent ECM – somewhat equivalent to the Soviet Su-24, exchanging medium stealth for better missiles. It’s a very useful plane.
Unfortunately the air strike assets which these units protect are less formidable. The Mirage III bomber is a mediocre plane, with a poor payload and bad ECM and less speed than the German Tornado IDS. You might be best off not using it at all but it does make for a useful strike asset at close to medium distance where you cannot hit targets with your MRLS or CESAR: you should still rely much more on your artillery than your bombers.
You do have a better cluster plane, the Mirage FICT, which gets x6 7 AP cluster bombs, great speed, and good ECM. But cluster bombers are often a questionable investment anyway and it is an uneasy mix between the ultra high AP, low area of effect bombers like the Viggen 137, and the F16 Block A5 with a larger spread. It’s a decent choice but not obligatory.
If you want napalm, the Mirage IIIC does provide for a good napalm strike since it can lay down a lot of napalm, but it lacks entirely entirely in ECM. It is more of a throw-away area denial weapon than a sustainable bomber.
The Super Entendard is your ATGM plane and is the penultimate SA guided AT plane. SA guidance is generally regarded as worse and it probably is, but the Super Entendard does have 30 AP missiles, high accuracy, and good range, but being SA it dives down towards the enemy tanks and its missiles lose guidance when confronted with smoke or line of sight disruptions. There is the advantage that if you are attacking say, a cluster of enemy tanks, and the first missile kills a target, it will shoot another missile and possibly kill another. But overall it is worse, but still is a dangerous plane that is well worth taking.
All aircraft you take should be downvetted save for fighters.
France is overwhelmingly a motorized deck. It has some decent IFVs and tracked vehicles, as well as tanks, but its star performers are motorized assets. Thus, if you are to choose any specialization, it will probably be for a motorized one, which gives you even more hordes of Legion 90, Commandos Marine, and RIMA to throw at the enemy. As a motorized deck you are the normal French strategy on steroids: you need to strike hard and fast, win initial fights, and constantly flank and hit the enemy from unexpected angles. Thankfully you do have good helicopters, artillery, and some aircraft which give additional firepower.
France is one of those nations which is just really comfortable and fun to play. They have tools for almost any scenario, and are perfectly designed to have fast, hard hitting units which make use of a skilled player using them to their fullest. If you like shock, speed, excitement, they're one of the best factions in the game, while still being balanced and durable enough to continue being useful throughout, long after the initial motorized battle has ended.