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Wargame Red Dragon: How to Play North Korea

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Let us incinerate the American imperialists in a sea of fire! Show the world that True Korea isn’t a famine-wracked wasteland but a rightful superpower! Reveal the true power of the general secretary! Reunite Korea under the Juche spirit! For the Dear Leader!

Let these lines echo through you when you play North Korea in Wargame: Red Dragon. North Korea is one of the more effective micro-nations in the game, not competitive as a major faction but with a surprisingly well rounded army for its ranking. In Wargame Red dragon, nations and coalitions are ranked in power by the availability boost they get, with greater availability boosts being provided as compensation for weaker factions. Thus, the leading coalitions such as Entente or Eurocorps get none, the US, USSR, and Israel get 10%, France or Blue Dragons gets 20%, Czecshovaloakia or Japan get 30% and the weakest get 40% such as Canada, Denmark, Norway, and finally North Korea. This isn’t fully accurate since some, like Czechoslovakia, almost certainly overperform relative to their power level, but it is a good guideline. North Korea is unique in that it is the only Redfor nation that gets such a large availability buff, and this is important since Wargame Redfor nations tend to have more homogenous armies with more standardized militaries than Blufor, so are more complete: there are less gaping holes or weaknesses like some of the smaller Blufor militaries have, which can make factions like North Korea more powerful than they would appear.

As a point of comparison, most other 40% availability bonus factions have major, severe, weaknsesses. All Blufor ones lack superheavy tanks, infantry ATGMs, or advanced artillery, Canada lacks radar AA, and has a severely limited air force, Denmark has few motorized assets and Norway has next to no good anti-tank possibilities. By contrast, on paper at least, North Korea has a surprisingly well filled out arsenal, even if many of these units have deficiencies. It has a superheavy tank, a medium tank, MRLS, heavy if old artillery, infantry ATGMs, commandos, both motorized and mechanized options, gunships, ATGM planes: there are comparatively few holes. Its big issue isn’t so much its weaknesses, although it does have severe ones, but rather that other than the B-5 bomber and Hwasung-Chong transports, it has very few unique strengths

I don't know what magic makes North Korea's B-5 be able to carry a 3,000 kilogram instead of say, 1,500 kilograms for Finland's equivalent, but it is glorious

I don't know what magic makes North Korea's B-5 be able to carry a 3,000 kilogram instead of say, 1,500 kilograms for Finland's equivalent, but it is glorious

What are these weaknesses that it does have? It has no high AP ATGMs, no good 10-man shock infantry, CVs and logistics are mediocre, it has a lack of IFVs, very bad reconnaissance options without either shock or regular reconnaissance infantry, bad radar AA, no long ranged anti-helicopter AA, no modern fire control artillery, no tank destroyer helicopters, a lack of good fighting reconnaissance vehicles, no conventional good ASFs, no SEAD, no fire and forget ATGM plane, and while the bomber North Korea has is one of the best in the game, it is hard to make use of it due to the lack of SEAD and good fighters. But there are some real advantages too. It has good line infantry in decent transports, diverse if uninspired artillery, dirt cheap fire support infantry, ATGMs, the BTR-80A transports, the Hwasung-Chong AA transports, a well-rounded recon tab, commando recon snipers, commandos, helicopter tab base Hinds, and above all else the B-5. It makes for a surprisingly well-rounded and versatile army.

Logistics

Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics - an old cliche, but logistics are often underestimated in Wargame. You don’t know the pain of a terrible logistics tab until you have played as japan, and North Korea isn’t that much better. But at least it gets a 15 point logistics truck. There are some decent transports for infantry, since it gets a good 10 point motorized APC. But it lacks a CV with 2 armor on all sides, making it vulnerable to enemy artillery fire.

Cheap line infantry are the backbone of the North Korean army, and rely on massed numbers

Cheap line infantry are the backbone of the North Korean army, and rely on massed numbers

Infantry

The backbone of North Korean infantry is the Bonchongsu line infantry. These are competent, if unexceptional troops: cheap, available en masse, with decent, if uninspired transports and a reasonably good AT weapon, the RPG-7, as well as a conventional machine gun, the Type 73, which does have an oddly poor range admittedly. They function just like any other line infantry: hold positions, soak up fire, and fight in forests. Their main transport should be the BTR-50, which is a decent cheap transport with 2 armor and a .50 caliber machine gun, but has terrible speed and only 1 armor on all other sides. There is also a ZSD 5 point transport, but this lacks the armor of the BTR-50 and gets a worse machine gun. The alternate transports are the VTT-323, which gets a twin 14.5mm heavy machine gun which has good anti-infantry and light anti-armor capabilities, for the price of just 10 points, a Malytka variant for 15, or a BMP-1 for 15 points. normally none of these are worth it, although the VTT-323 probably comes close. Wheeled transports are not worth it for Bochongsu, since you want them cheap and en masse.

There is one unique transport which is all but obligatory in a North Korean deck, the VTT-323 Hwasung-Chong, which is one of North Korea’s star units, which has x4 fully stabilized Igla missiles. This is the backbone of North Korean air defense, since the Hwasung-Chong is a cheap way to get vast quantities of Igla onto the battlefield, and 3-4 of them can normally reasonably securely kill almost any plane that flies over them. While their range is disappointing, that it is stabilized means it is surprisingly effective offensively when fast moving down a road, and being fire and forget means it will often kill enemy helicopters even if it dies itself.

The only infantry anti-tank missile option is the Ban-tank Fagot, wonderfully amusingly named. Fagots seem like an awful ATGM when you first look at them, but they are very cheap, 16 AP means it is capable of killing transports with 2 armor, and even tanks, presuming they are hit from the side, will take serious HP losses, while they normally do well against anything with less armor than that. They are great area denial and ambush units. Since they are so cheap, at just 10 points, it is probably best to take them in a 5-point transport, so that they can be employed en masse across the map. They are generally obligatory units that you always want.

A wide variety of other infantry options exists. Light infantry, with recoilless options, existed - under the name of Gonbobyong. These get the worst recoilless rifle of such units, compared to Lehka Pechota, Broska Pes, Hudou ren, and Norrlandsagare, since they get the worst range of them all, with 1 less range step (to 1,225 compared to 1,400 meters) than any other unit, and are tied for the lowest AP, at just 12. They get no benefits in terms of a superior primary arm, which is a standard assault rifle, and a machine gun of below-average quality, particularly in terms of range which one wants for a unit fighting at range. It isn’t a terrible unit, but it is extremely mediocre. The fire support variant - Bibanchunpo - are better in my opinion since they are dirt cheap at just 10 points and have identical primary arm statistics otherwise. They are worse individually than the Tanke Shashoue ‘85, the best recoilless rifle fire support unit in the game, but at least they are very cheap and are very good at defending buildings and providing additional firepower to your infantry in medium terrain fighting against enemy infantry. Deployed in 2 or 3 stacks they can even hope to attrition down enemy tanks while fighting from buildings.

Typically, you will want a motorized elite unit for openings: there are two main options: either shock marine infantry - Jeogockade - or commando infantry with elite status but only 10 men, Yuckjeondae. Both get base variants with basic assault rifles, machine guns, and RPG-7s, but their ‘90 variants are far better with carbines, and the best RPG that North Korea has access to, the Type 69-III, with 23 AP. It isn’t as good as the top tier AP weapons of other factions, since it only has 700 meter range, 10 ROF, and 50% accuracy, but this accuracy is acceptable in commando hands and most importantly, it is the best that you get. For this reason alone, the elites are far preferable to the base units (you already have plenty of basic anti-infantry weapons), and you get access to the best IFV North Korea has, the BTR-80A, with a good 30mm autocannon, 2 armor, and high speed, making it very strong in openers (and throughout the rest of the game) and far better than the mediocre BTR-60 14.5mm vehicles that North Korea gets otherwise. Normally, commando units are viewed as better than 15 man units, since you pay extra points for a 15 man squad which has no extra offensive firepower and takes morale damage at the same rate, so as a rule the Yuckjeondae ‘90 are your best bet.

Generally, my choice for North Korea’s infantry line up is entirely upvetted given the excellent availability bonus, with Bochongsu, Ban-tank Fagots and Bibanchunpo in 5-point BTR-50PKs, and a card of Bochongsu in Hwasung-Chongs, and Jeogockade in BTR-80As.

The M1992 SPAAG

The M1992 SPAAG

Support

Much like the rest of North Korea’s assets, North Korea has a support tab that is technically filled out, but has deficiencies for many of its units. There is, on the upbeat side, a very good mortar - a 120mm piece for 40 points with plenty of shells. Other than this, there are few remarkable units.

AA is in large part provided by the Hwasung-Chong, but you still need air detection to actually spot enemy aircraft: this could be provided by fighters but generally it is more efficient and safer to use ground AA. North Korea’s Pon’gae 2 is its best radar heavy AA piece, and is cheap, mobile, and has good range and air detection, as well as 9 HE. But unfortunately it is let down by terrible accuracy at just 45% (meaning it should always be taken upvetted), so a single rocket will not down an enemy aircraft and it rarely gets critical hits (which are in part determined by accuracy), it is very fragile, and it only gets 2 missiles. But it is your best option for heavy AA. I normally just get a single one for air detection, often with its weapons off so it isn’t spotted by SEAD, and rely on Hwasung-Chongs for standard air defense. Sometimes however, it can be very useful, particularly during openers against helicopters since it can 1 shot almost any helicopter, and it has 2,800 meter range.. But it shouldn't be relied on for this given its accuracy, although at least it is fast enough to keep up during the opener.

There are some other AA options. The best is probably the M1992, a basic radar SPAAG which gets full 2,800 anti-helicopter range and decent 2,625 anti-aircraft range, and is somewhat similar to say, a mid-range Gepard. It is probably the strongest single anti-helicopter piece. Given a lack of motorized AA, the BDRM Strela, which is fast and quite cost effective (at just 25 points) is a tempting option but it is niche and only useful during the opener given its mediocre range and only possessing 4 HE, so it is hard to justify this. The Pon’gae 3 is tempting and a good alternative to the M1992 if you want a non-radar option, and was recently buffed to 6 HE so it pairs well with the Hwasung-Chong which has 4 HE, since a missile from each one will kill an enemy aircraft, but it lacks a full 2,800 meter anti-helicopter range. Some cheap SPAAGs are interesting but probably too niche: the Type 80 is a non-radar ZSU-57-2 anti-air piece which has very bad damage output although it does get good suppression, the non-radar ZSU-23-4 s good as an anti-aircraft piece in forests but largely overlaps with the Hwasung-Chong in its role, and an AA tab version of the Hwasung-Chong exists which is not worth the extra cost in exchange for the extra missiles and air detection.

With your air defense covered, what about artillery? Again, there is formally both rocket and tube artillery, but neither are that splendid.

The Grad rocket launcher: good at stunning, if not much else

The Grad rocket launcher: good at stunning, if not much else

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A Koksan 170mm

A Koksan 170mm


The Grad received some decent buffs, decreasing costs to 65 points and decreasing supply costs, which doesn’t make it great, since it still is poor at actually inflicting damage, but it is good at stunning and does so over a wide area. It does however, take a good chunk of time to fire its full 40 rockets, so be wary of counter-battery fire: it is very fragile. The BM-24 napalm MRLS by contrast, is mostly worthless.

Tube artillery is mostly bad. The Tokchon 152mm seems tempting as a very cheap 152mm howitzer, with 7HE for just 50 points. This seems like it would be like a base M109, which is also just 50 points, but the Tokchon is substantially worse: it is less well protected, and its range is only 12,000 meters, a major reduction from the already rather insufficient 14,000 that the M109 gets. As an area bombardment tool, the Grad is better. The Tokchons 122mm and 130mms are decent in specialized decks for the sole purpose of bombarding enemy FOBs, but the best artillery piece you have access to is the Koksan, a 170mm piece. This only gets 9 HE, unlike 203mm artillery with 10 HE, but it is very accurate, has extremely long range, and fires 4 shell salvos. This means that it is a the best choice for precision removing a single target, and can effectively kill enemy FOBs or soft units - if they stay in one place long enough. Most of the time, mortars are you best choice for direct support.

The in-game render of the Ch'ŏnma-ho V tank.

The in-game render of the Ch'ŏnma-ho V tank.

The only tab that North Korea comes close to a completely full, and competent branch is the tank force. There, there is a surprisingly well round up of cheap infantry support units, medium tanks, and superheavies.

The T-90S is the most vanilla superheavy on Redfor, comparable to the Leopard 2A5 in having no real exceptional characteristics - but on the same hand it has no real weaknesses, and makes for good competent superheavy, and you get 3 of them on trained status, something no one else gets for a superheavy possessing 23 AP and 22 armor. There isn’t too much to say: it is well worth it and makes for North Korea as probably the most powerful heavy tank force in the game, with only the United States possessing better tank forces outside of special matches where the Soviet Union or Japan might deploy more cards of superheavies.

More interesting is the Ch’omna-Ho V, a good medium tank with good (19) AP and decent armor (16 isn’t that good since 17 is a better number since it means it survives 1 30 AP missile and can take 2 24 AP HEAT), and while its speed isn’t the best it is workable. Medium optics is also good and it gets a KPVT which is useful at close range against enemy IFVs and APCs. It only has 3 HE on the main gun and not 4 like most other Refor tanks. It sort of feels like a reversed version of the South Korean K1, focusing on offensive armament rather than decent. It is essentially mandatory to get, since medium tanks are so useful.

Tanks below are more optional. The T-72M has received extensive buffs, reducing the cost to 60 points, while it has impressively high AP at 18 for its price range. Unfortunately, it only has 2,100 meter range, so it isn’t suitable for open field fighting, and this means that compared to other tanks that 1 more range step, its AP is actually the equivalent of 17 - they get another AP point for the extra range. Crucially, it only gets 12 armor frontally, which means it can be 1 shot by 30 AP opponents, such as enemy tanks at point blank range in a forest fight, and this ruins its value as a forest fighting tanks. Despite being quite cost effective, its two crucial lacks make it far less effective than it seems on paper.

The Type 59-1B received additional buffs as well, and for 40 points it gets good AP and interestingly a Strela MANPAD, but normally tanks in this price range simply aren’t taken. They are not cheap and numerous enough to be taken in large numbers, while they lack the survivability to be any better in a fight against medium tanks than cheaper units. The same goes for most other low level variants, and for its other Strela tank, the Ch’omno Ho IV

The one exception is the T-62D, which has as its main plus being extremely well armored for 25 points - 10 armor frontally, which makes it very resistant to base LAWs, as well as most lighter enemy guns and autocannons. It also can normally take an ATGM hit. Its principal deficiency is that it only gets 6 ROF on its main gun, but it is still effective as an infantry support tank. This is probably the third option that you will take, making for cards of Ch’omno Vs, upvetted, T-90s, downvetted, and T-62s, upvetted.

North Korea's sniper team is also the only female unit in Wargame.

North Korea's sniper team is also the only female unit in Wargame.

Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance is the tab that North Korea struggles the most with. Perhaps outside of the game they compensate with the all-seeing eye of the Dear Leader, but in-game, he doesn’t seem to avail himself of it. The most important reconnaissance asset in the g ame is the recon infantry, the sole unit with stealth, vision, and the ability to take advantage of cover, and regular or particularly shock recon are the mainstay of them. Unfortunately, North Korea only gets a sniper team. This does have the advantage of exceptional stealth, but sniper teams lack the numbers and versatility of regular recon units, and you have to rely on them entirely. Also, the Mi-2 transport helicopter is the only one available, making your helicopter drops or openers worse due to its extremely slow speed. The trucks or BTR-60Ps are your best bets normally to provide reasonably fast and cheap ways to get the sniper teams onto the field.

The BTR 40A is a useful opener vehicle, since it gets a ZPTU-2 14.5mm twin heavy machine gun, good optics, speed, and only costs 15 points - meaning it is great at providing some mobile vision at the beginning of a match, and as base defense since it it performs well enough against enemy infantry, light enemy ground vehicles that drive right past, and enemy helicopters that fly overhead. Other ground options include a collection of recon tanks, none of which are great but which aren’t terrible either, with a recon T-55 at least including a heavy machine gun too unlike many other variants. The most potent unit is the M1992, which packs a Konkurs missile and an automatic grenade launcher, and it can fire both at the same time. This is the best ground-launched ATGM you have. Recon status makes it more stealthy, so it is more difficult to spot and survivable, which is good because it is very thinly armored. Worth 45 points? Definitely not cost effective, but very good optics, good stealth, and the Konkurs does give it a place. The only other option to consider is the Mi-2 recon helicopter, an uninspiring but decent option.


Vehicles

There are two three options which you can get for vehicles. If you don’t want to depend on the T-62D, the Su-100 is cheap, at just 15 points, gets a reasonably decently performing gun, and 4 frontal armor, which makes it an effective anti-infantry fire support vehicle: from Operation Spring Awakening to the 1990s! The progress of years has made its 100mm D-10T anti-tank gun useless against enemy medium and heavy tanks, but against light vehicles and IFVs it still has a useful role.

Other than this, there is the ZSU-57-2, a useful SPAAG for base defense and stunning enemy infantry, but probably not necessary given your profusion of similar units, and the To-55, a flamethrower tank which is nice but useful. The rest are a motley collection of overpriced assault guns and awful ATGM carriers.

The Mi-24 is the best helicopter that North Korea gets

The Mi-24 is the best helicopter that North Korea gets

Helicopters

North Korea’s helicopter tab is uninspiring, but it has some interesting units. Its lighter ones are mostly worthless, with some terrible ATGM helicopters, and an interesting but niche automatic grenade launcher helicopter, but it has a useful Hind. A base Hind that doesn’t have to be bought with infantry in it makes it useful for a unit to hunt down enemy lone infantry units and operate in secondary areas where there isn’t much AA. With a Yak B gatling gun it can mow down enemy infantry, and it has the armor to protect itself. Not the best but useful.

If there is one unit which stands out for North Korea, it is the B-5, which is an IL-28 bomber, dropping the most powerful bomb in the game, a massive 3,000 kilogram piece with a huge 30 HE load. This can devastate entire city blocks, obliterate full columns of enemy troops, and clear vast stretches of forest - but with a steep 160 point price. And if it has the worst turning radius in the game, as well as no ECM, although it does get 15 HP (meaning it takes 3 hits from most missiles to kill it). The rear tail gun is mostly useless, although sometimes it has gotten kills incredibly enough. Keeping it alive is a problem, since Best Korea lacks for SEAD and only has niche or mediocre fighters. Recently buffs have however, increased its numbers to 2 per card, which means 3 in a North Korean national deck - downvetted, since the extra experience is worthless for such a bomber. Survival tactics for it can include sending F-6Cs in front as decoys, since they only cost 40 points and have the same speed. Enemy AA will automatically target the first unit in range, shooting the F-6C instead of the B-5. Grad bombardments can help to suppress likely AA positions.

Other strike assets incnlude the A-51 cluster bombers, an ok but unexceptional cluster bomber, the F-5B, a cheap rocket plane, and the Su-7BMK, which is a much more capable rocket plane and my preference, since it is much more reliable at killing lightly armored enemy ground units than the F-5B. A mostly worthless napalm plane shouldn’t be taken. The most important plane is the Su-25k which gets 2 front armor and 4 Kh-23m missiles, with 28 AP. These are SA guided, so it has to dive down into the enemy anti-air network, but this does let it use its HEAT gun, and this means that along with the missiles it is capable of reliably killing most tanks frontally. It lacks the anti-infantry ability of the Su-25k which the Soviet Union or Czechoslovakia get, with their x4 10 E rockets, but its anti-tank role is untouched, and its price is 110 instead of 130 points.

This is good, since the Mig-21bis and Mig-21 PFM anti-tank planes are horrifyingly bad. They look good superficially - 1,000 kilometers per hour, and with x2 28 AP missiles, for just 65 and 75 points respectively, but their SA missiles have mediocre range and so the plane’s top speed means you can never fire more than 1 in one pass, and this missile only has 30% accuracy. The ECM is only 0 and 20% respectively. With only 3 planes per card in North Korea, they’re worthless.

The Mig-29 9-12B is a unique plane, the highest performance anti-helicopter plane in-game. All of its weapons can be used against enemy helicopters, and can all fire at once, which means enemy helicopters die when it gets in range, quite simply. Unfortunately, you would really prefer a normal anti-aircraft fighter than than an anti-helicopter one. But if you can get it within range of enemy fighters it is a quite reliable killer, and can normally kill even superior enemy fighters since both missiles fire at a decent range for non-radar weapons, 4,200 and 4,500 meters, have 60 and 45% accuracy respectively, and do 5 and 6 damage respectively, meaning that its damage output is very high. ECM is reasonably good, the maneuverability is great, speed is acceptable: its only problem is that again, it lacks any long-range missiles that typically have 7,000 or 7,700 meter range. So one has to be clever to try to get enemy aircraft into range: try to lure enemy aircraft out too far, use aircraft as missile sponges, try for pitched battles where enough of them can get into range of the enemy. It certainly isn’t the best, but three of them on elite makes for an incredible helicopter hunter and a unique fighter.

The alternative option, and if you like having 2 cards of fighters, one that can be taken at the same time, is the Mig-23ML. This has the same name as a Czechoslovak counterpart which is reasonably good: unfortunately the North Korean isn’t, since it only gets 7,000 meter range and 40% accuracy rather than 7,700 meters and 50% accuracy like on the Czechoslovak unit. Worse, it only comes on veteran status with 4 units rather than 3 elites, which further significantly harms accuracy. 85 points instead of 100 means it still isn’t very cost effective. It makes for a decidedly mediocre fighter card, very limited and painfully unreliable due to being so inaccurate.

My normal North Korean air tab is 1 card of B-5s, for 3 downvetted bombers, 1 card of Su-7BMKs, with 4 downvetted units, 1 card of elite F-6Cs, as 4 missile sponges and auxiliary anti-helicopter aircraft, an Su-25k card for 3 anti-tank aircraft, and 3 elite Mig-29 9-12Bs as the main fighter.

Playstyle

North Korea has a few capable units on a sea of mediocracy. It relies on mass and large numbers of troops, forming spongers that fire support assets support. Masses of Bochongsu, supported by Hwasung-chongs for air defense, and swarms of T-62Ds for fire support, while medium Chong-hos and T-9às for heavy assets. If you can, use Yuckjeondae ‘90 to seize forward areas at the beginning of the battle, when they aren’t up against coalitiosn like Eurocorps or Baltic Front or South Africa, which have exceptional openers. Scatter Ban-tank Fagots around widely to defend against tanks, Bibanchungpo as garrisons in buildings, and M1992 in cover where applicable in order to defend against heavier tanks.

You should try to keep your Hwasung-Chongs alive, in order to form a critical mass against enemy aircraft. Don’t throw them away casually, like many IFVs are used. This should be an ideal, with Best Korea: you lack heavily for tactical subtetly or grace, but you can get mass on your side and point for point your units are highly cost effective.

One of the biggest advantages is the B-5, the hammer of the General Secretary. If you face a large concentration of enemy troops, use a B-5 on them. Have F-6s in front as missile decoys, and if possible suppress enemy AA with Grads. If you have enough points, have another B-5 behind them to bombard the enemy AA firing location, which will annihilate most thin skinned enemy AA. But be aware that B-5s are expensive, and don’t go hunting enemy AA since losing them is a very heavy blow.

The other big advantage is the T-90, as you get three of them on veteran status. If you can keep units alive, they are an unstoppable force. Surround them with AA and smoke. As with other assets, try to build up sheer mass. There is little subtle room in North Korean tactics, just sheer mass.


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