Ahh, map puns - they're probably the best part about Wargame Red Dragon's collection of maps! Mud Fight, Jungle LAW, Strait to the Port, Cliff Hanger - they don't quite translate into French for most of them, which is a shame since I have Wargame set to that. But one thing's for sure: Mud Fight is an apt name for what is probably the most popular and most-played map in Wargame, which is in both the ranked games map list and which furthermore is at the very top of the list, meaning that a lot of players select it almost automatically. Mud Fight is a pure distillation of one of the most important combat phases in Wargame: the initial opener, in a mad rush to seize a key village that is a vital defensive point in much of the middle of the map. You have to be prepared to get down and dirty in an open terrain with the rush of fast motorized troops to seize the village, helicopter rushes, heavy armor duking it out in the open land, and later on securing the position against attacks from the forests - or making your own comeback through them. This all means that Mud Fight, despite being played hugely, is still a tactically sophisticated map, which offers plenty of opportunities for sneaking around, flank attacks, and which requires a carefully honed skill for the opener to seize an early tactical advantage.
The Opening Engagement
Mud Fight is one of the most intense opening engagements in Wargame, and one which is heavily based upon fast motorized attack. Since the map is rather small, there is not enough distance to enable helicopters to outpace ground wheeled transports and drop their infantry directly into the village. Helicopters are still tremendously useful, providing spotting, fire support, and ATGMs, but normally seizing the city has to rely upon the poor bloody infantry.
Generally, one wants to deploy smoke for your attacking forces, not in front of the town - this would blind them and prevent your follow-up forces from supporting them - but on the enemy side of the town, so that they cannot engage your motorized transports as they rush forward. If you have infantry with a long range, non-guided, attack, such a recoilless rifle team, this is a perfect place for them - since they can be unloaded and massacre enemy transports at the last moment. One wants to have a smoke screen which deploys enough across the front to protect them from enemy fast wheeled fighting units which have arrived on their flanks, deeper in Delta, and which might shoot them from the side where the smoke isn't. One your units are jettisoned into the town, withdrawing their transports prevents morale damage from them being destroyed, and in the case of some transports, with autocannons, might even provide some useful fire support.
This is in no way to say that the battle doesn't depend on armor. By contrast, the fight along the village road is one of the most intensive and heavy-armor centric fights in Wargame, since it is open, condensed, and naturally synergizes with mortar smoke, reconnaissance, and large quantities of anti-aircraft defense which can deal with the biggest enemy of tanks, enemy ATGM planes. There are two strategies: one can either use superheavies, fighting at a distance and duking it out, or one can rely on a larger number of mediums and smoke to close the range and use their better performance in a close-range engagement to wipe out the enemy superheavies. Both are viable strategies, but the second is more risky in the presence of enemy infantry and the closer engagement which is needed. Once one can kill off enemy tanks, then your own tanks and fire support are free to find firing angles on enemy infantry as they wish, winning you the town engagement. Your own infantry has to survive until then however, meaning that good quality infantry, and preferably a good amount of it, is vital.
When playing as France for example, my starting units might consist of x2 Legion '90 in VAB T20s, x2 AMX-10RCs, x2 Leclercs, x1 mortars, x2 shock reconnaissance infantry, screening forces on other flanks, and the balance being made up of either additional AMX-10s (probably the SB version), or infantry in Panthers for fire support. As Czechoslovakia, x2 Lehka Pehota in OT-64As, x2 Modernas, x1 mortar, x1 shock reconnaissance infantry, x1 commando reconnaissance infantry, x2 Osa AKMs, and the balance being made up of Prams, Snezkas, and Vidskari in Mi-17s.Both hinge on competent shock infantry in fast transports to get to the town, wheeled air defense, mortars, and fire support, and heavy tanks following up.
Supporting Unit Placement Zones
- Fire support assets
It is vital to have fire support units to support your infantry as they fight in the town. They can punish enemy infantry that move too far forward in the buildings, shoot at reinforcements, provide additional targets to distract enemy superheavies, and generally take the burden of combat off of your own superheavies. Some of the best units to have for this are the long range HE firing units that some Redfor nations get, like the Soviet BMPT and BMP-3, or the Czech Pram, which get 2,450 meters range on their HE firing gun - very useful at being able to reach the edge of the town from cover. Prams are particularly great at this, as they are cheap, have a Konkurs which makes them excellent at supporting tanks, and don't have to offload infantry during their attack. If one doesn't have access to these, then recon tanks are a great bet too, since they can hide in the bushes.
It is also useful to have some cheap fire support assets, cavalry and light tanks, which can push towards Alpha, getting shots on the enemy infantry. Units like base T-72s, M14A1s, base Chieftains, are very useful for this.
- ATGM teams
ATGM teams are generally best deployed in the same spot as the fire support units, but more towards the city. Their advantage is stealth and surprise. After having them advance forward, their missiles can be turned off, and they can wait for enemy tanks to have their sides turned to them, to then open fire.
- Air defense assets
Air defense of course depends greatly by which nation you are playing, as well as which nation you are playing against. Some of the more unique nations, like North Korea will have air defense largely covered save for air detection by their advancing columns themselves, with vehicles like the VTT-323 Hwasung-Chong. Others, like Denmark or coalitions they are part of, have the Otomatic, which really belongs in the fire support section. Generally, anti-helicopter air defense assets are best deployed near the fire support vehicles, but if you have longer ranged ones - like the 3,325 meter ranged infrared ones - you might get away with keeping them further back. The same goes for American HAWK pieces which serve a dual anti-helicopter, anti-air role. If one elects to have purely anti-plane pieces, these can best be deployed in the line of trees closer to Alpha.
Helicopters include both fire support and ATGM assets. Generally, the air environment over the opener will have extensive amounts of anti-air assets, meaning that it is flying into the teeth of enemy resistance. This tends to make direct combat drops and a helicopter rush into the village problematic, as it will mean enemy anti-aircraft units will be perfectly placed to engage helicopters - especially problematic in the case of long ranged, wheeled, anti-helicopter AA It can still be possible, but I think it is rarely worth it. Instead, helicopters are useful in providing fire support and ATGM capacity. Helicopters positioned behind the village, 2 kilometers or so back, can still engage targets in it, while enemy AA often might not have pressed up far enough. This is very useful with rocket pod helicopters like the Panther, Lynx AH.7, and above all else the Mi-8MTV or Mi-17.
A particularly dangerous threat to tanks for Echo is ATGM helicopters deployed in Alpha at the beginning, if your anti-helicopter units are deployed onto the Delta side. These helicopters can get side shots on your superheavies, force them to retreat, and control the engagement. Thus, having AA quickly ready to react is vital.
Napalm, Cluster, and MRLS
Since Mud Fight is one of the most predictable maps, and one where time is of an absolutely crucial essence, it is a perfectly reasonable strategy to attempt to use cluster artillery, high HE MRLS, and Napalm to block enemy advances and stall their columns. Most of the time, an enemy player will prefer to stop his vehicles form moving forward rather than moving into a cluster artillery barrage, and moving across napalm is very difficult and takes unit HP. This has twin effects: for one, there is an actual physical damage potentially inflicted on the enemy, as their units are hit by artillery or damaged by Napalm. But even more importantly, they are slowed down, giving one's own units time to reach the village before hand.
There are downsides to this strategy. I generally think the Napalm opener is the worst of them - while it is guaranteed to cause the most delay, it will also probably be shot down, since most Napalm planes are slow, lack ECM, and they are flying into a heavily contested AA environment. This will mean that one will be down an appreciable amount of points in the early opener (typically, let's say 70 to 100), which are at their most vulnerable time, and not only are these not used for ground forces, but most of the time they are directly lost. Cluster artillery, even from the Russian Smerch, is somewhat unreliable, and can sometimes simply be crossed through without too much damage. HE MRLS such as the Uragan or the M270 is the best bet, since they appear less damaging to the enemy and thus tempt them to go through - but have some of the highest suppression and stunning damages in the game, leaving units utterly combat ineffective. Furthermore, they continue to be highly useful throughout the rest of the game, and are unlikely to be counter-batteried right at the start. The question is however, whether one is willing to pay out so many points, typically around 120, for these instead of regular combat units, and their usage is somewhat unsporting at the beginning of a match to stun roads. 120 points could buy a heavy tank, or some excellent AA, or a medium tank and infantry - the choice is whether this is worth it.
If, luck, skill, and the enemy willing, you have secured the village, there is still a battle to be won. The village gives a commanding position of the center of the map, where reconnaissance units can be stationed to give eyes (in addition to those which can hopefully be pushed up forward), ATGM teams used to deny enemy units, and infantry garrisoned for its defense. The trio of these units is vital for defending it, and it functions as the cornerstone of defense in the field, liberating your tanks for service elsewhere and providing a rock to base your forces on. But it is still vulnerable to artillery strikes and air attacks. Air attacks are best dealt with through your own defensive fighters or AA, while artillery is just something you have to deal with, being most dangerous to ATGM teams. Having sufficient infantry to defend against an enemy attack (where massive usage of smoke could enable them to avoid long-range AT options), but not either tying up excessive resources there or leaving too tempting of a target for enemy artillery is a balance to strike. Dealing with enemy artillery through counter-battery and infiltration, is of course, a very useful way to improve the position.
Most importantly, control over the village enables units to transit (relatively) freely to Alpha. Relatively is a key word - while enemy tanks can be held off with ATGM teams, enemy ATGM teams and long ranged vehicles can often fire from stealth or even outside of the range of your own ATGM teams, and snipe vehicles passing by. A combination of smoke, and artillery fire to club them can do wonders to prevent this attrition, but always be wary about your units fast moving to the front line and leaving themselves exposed.
These units are necessary to dig in in Alpha, for doubtless the enemy will be attempting themselves to win the battle back, through either retaking the village or seizing Alpha's forest.
The side which holds the village has the key advantage of far faster movement in, and supporting fire from the village. But this doesn't mean that the enemy is incapable of rectifying their position. Good grinding infantry and medium tanks for close-range engagements can provide a hammer blow to strike through defenses.
Defending against this means positioning your own units in Alpha. My general strategy is to have a forward screen of units, not contesting the enemy's deep forest, but rather to absorb the blow of the enemy attack. Recoilless rifle and fire support teams are particularly good for the medium range engagements that Echo might fight along the medium sized band that is in the North of Alpha: for Bravo there is less of a band, but it does have projecting forward forest branches which give better sights on middle. Behind the curtain of these units, your own superheavies and mediums, as well as pop-up helicopters, can respond to the attack. Furthermore, these forests are perfect targets for bombers, and MRLS strikes, to stun and demoralize the clustered enemy attacks.
An important thing to remember for the side which has seized Alpha after taking the village, presuming this is on conquest, is that you have won. As long as you continue to control Alpha and Delta, and there was no attack in Foxtrot, you have no need to push - you have a 2 conquest point lead, which will build up and lead you to victory. All you have to do is to defend, and make the enemy pay dearly for his attack. If fighting turns into a quagmire where neither side is able to make decisive gains, that's great! You control the territory, and you have won. It is up to the side which is losing to attack.
I also like to position some infantry along the edge of the map, where they can detect enemy helicopters or commando forces passing by.
Foxtrot, the City, and Charlie
Normally, starting off offensive operations on the Eastern side of the map, at least in a 1v1 one, is less tempting than the village between Alpha and Delta. This is because for both sides there is much less in the way of substantial benefits, and the defensive terrain is often forbidding. For Bravo, attacking into the city between Foxtrot and Alpha is very hard indeed - it is very easy to position ATGM and infantry in it at the beginning, and these will buy time and inflict outsized casualties while units on the rest of the map can respond. At a later point in the game, it is again easy for defending infantry to maul an assault, and helicopters behind the city can provide plenty of fire support. Even if one does seize the city, one hasn't actually taken any zones, while the enemy team has presumably occupied both Alpha and Bravo.
Attacking directly into Foxtrot is more plausible, and benefits greatly from the element of surprise. It still faces the problem that even if it is carried out, there are still two other zones which have been captured by the enemy, and pushing one's lines forward so much, so close to the enemy base, means that one is very vulnerable to air strikes which are hard to respond to, given how quick the sortie times are. Still, there are definitely games where a quick strike through Foxtrot can crush enemy resistance and ride directly into the enemy base: it just depends on whether you think you can pull off a daring, and highly risky, stunt like that.
The same logic applies for Charlie, although here things are somewhat better, since one can directly threaten the enemy reinforcement road to the rest of the map if one pushes far enough through. It generally is not chosen however, because it is risky and exposed to enemy air power, and it is easy for enemy units rushing to the village to switch targets to there.
Infiltration and Spawn Defense
There are other maps which are even more open to infiltration than Mud Fight, but Mud Fight is still a map where one has to be very careful to secure one's base and flank areas against enemy infantry and special forces sneaking through. Since there are substantial forests around Echo's side, it is easy for infantry to sneak into the base - and worse, the forest to the West is so close to the deployment road that infantry with 700 meter AT weaponry can get side shots. Little is worse than losing a superheavy, a high value AA piece, artillery (or even multiple artillery pieces if they are parked there), or a CV as they are crossing to the front! Even if AT weaponry isn't turned on, they can still enable the enemy to see exactly what is coming. Positioning some infantry in here is vital: a few squads of cheap line infantry or militia up and down the forest edge helps give a trip wire. Thankfully, the threat overwhelmingly comes from the West: the more confined nature of the map on Echo's side means that it is very hard to get infiltrators into the Eastern side.
For Bravo's spawn, the situation is somewhat more complex. It is possible for helicopters to fly around the Western edge of the map and deposit reconnaissance special forces in the field behind, who can either spy on reinforcements, spot artillery and FOBs, and if they quarter themselves in the buildings behind the river, even get shots onto reinforcements - or they can cross the bridge, and enter the base itself, possibly killing command units. It is also fully possible for infantry to be snuck in from the Western forest, where they can spot units moving up through Charlie, or themselves push on into the base. A final, niche, and rarely used, but possible technique is that if one has an amphibious vehicle, and the East is not well defended, a unit (such as a Snezka, AMX-10 RC, or LAV-25) can go along the river and pop up in the base, killing artillery, CVs, and spotting FOBs. To defend against all of these, positioning a few of your own good optics armed reconnaissance vehicles if you have them, like again Snezkas or LAVs, in forest stands, as well as some pickets by infantry in regions where forest is denser.
All of the zones on Mud Fight have forests or regions of cover where CVs can be hidden, and the two base zones have great town areas where infantry CVs are at their best - they can be easily moved around to dodge enemy artillery fire, they are very stealthy, and they can be counted on to survive for a short while if enemy special forces infiltrate, and can normally be shifted away through buildings. However, Jeep CVs do work for both sides for their home bases, as well as for their immediately adjacent zones, Foxtrot and Charlie - although in Foxtrot, one should be careful about where one stations the jeep, since the bottom forest will often be bombarded by artillery as the enemy attempts to destroy it. There are other places to hide it though, such as the thin strips of cover to the west.
The CV question is more interesting about Delta and Alpha. In Delta, there are quite a few bushes on both sides that can be used to hide infantry CVs, but there are not quite so many that the enemy cannot artillery them into dust. While they can generally not be sure whether it is a tank or an infantry CV, an infantry CV is still very risky! A tank CV is much more survivable, but more expensive and can be spotted more easily. It depends on the situation and who you are playing against, but generally I prefer infantry CVs.
Alpha on the face of it seems like it would be perfectly fine with infantry CVs, since there is so much woodland. However, often assaults which are taking place have to be confined to a narrow zone, and this means that the number of locations for enemy artillery to shoot at are limited. Thus, getting a tank CV may sometimes be preferable.
Adapting for 2v2 and Destruction
2v2 matches offer three different possibilities - either one chooses to attack on both flanks, you and your teammate double the town, or your teammate provides support, air defense, air attack, etc. Generally the middle option is the best since the same reasons for an offensive on other sides of the map being problematic still apply, while one cannot be sure that the enemy will not themselves double you - which would result in your painfully outnumbered units being destroyed! Given the increasing number of points available, it becomes increasingly attractive to start the game with an artillery bombardment of the road, so be aware of this.
Destruction offers a clear possibility to start with 2 CVs, and if you feel confident 3. After one has secured the village and Alpha however, one still has to actually attack or kill enemy units to win. With a major point lead from these additional points, I'd suggest either moving slightly into Foxtrot or Charlie to place a CV there, and using the then overwhelming point lead to aggressively crush resistance.