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Wargame Red Dragon: Poland Guide

wargame-red-dragon-poland-guide

Most of the time in Wargame: Red Dragon, when you see Polish units, it is either their fighter in general Redfor decks or their units scattered throughout Eastern Bloc. Few dare to play Poland on its own, and they’re generally considered a non-viable minor nation. This is probably true, but they’re still an interesting and unique faction with a notably distinct style for Redfor which is interesting to try to play to work around their weaknesses and play to their strengths.

General Strategy

Poland isn’t a mechanized faction like East Germany, it lacks the unique technology and firepower which Czechoslovakia has, and instead it relies upon a combination of motorized and airborne assets. It has some strong elements, like good medium tanks, the Mi-17 helicopter, Salamander anti-tank recon helicopter, Sokol anti-helicopter helicopters, brilliant anti-infantry elite infantry units, as well as a good, if not spectacular, 20% availability bonus.

Poland’s units however, are complicated by key lacks in key zones.

- Poland has a strong armored tree with strong medium and heavy tanks, but it lacks a real superheavy.

- The air tab is well rounded with excellent fighters, ATGM, rocket planes, and SEAD, but has a pronounced lack of a good bomber.

- Polish infantry has some brilliant anti-infantry options, but it lacks direly for heavy AT weapons

- There is no mortar, advanced fire control artillery, nor long range anti-helicopter AA.

So playing as Poland requires being able to use its strengths to a maximum while avoiding the weaknesses inherent. The area where Poland has the greatest strength is its air force and helicopter assets, where it has a reasonably complete and effective combination. It has every role filled in in the air tab, with the exception of its poor bombers, and just as importantly has a very good helicopter tab, with anti-air helicopters, anti-tank recon helicopters, Mi-35s as general purpose helicopters, and above all else the Mi-17 helicopter, which comes with cheap infantry options like Spadochroniarze or SPG-9Ds. This makes for a Polish airborne opener to be quite effective, since it can rely upon combined arms helicopter and air attacks. For example, a Salamander posted forward can spot enemy units for Mig-21MFs to hit light enemy ground units such as AA with rockets, Seria ATGM planes to kill enemy heavy armor, SEAD to suppress enemy radar AA, and with great fighter options to cover it. Mi-17s and Sokols, as well as the Salamander, can deal with any surviving unis, and fast-moving motorized units secure forward zones.

The disadvantage is that man of your units are not that effective for a grinding fight. You have to place massive importance on your line infantry, which are good in acceptable transports, because you lack massively for any good tracked transports and IFVs for fire support. East Germany gets 10 point BMP-1s, Czechoslovakia the Vydra II: Poland only gets the mid range BMPs and the 15 point BMP-1, all uninspiringas well as some extremely mediocre Topas transports, other than its motorized elements. You lack heavily for good artillery and bombers. There are very poor infantry AT capabilities, requiring close cooperation between tanks and infantry, doubly important since the tanks also provide your fire support role. You lack a real superheavy, so your Twardys will suffer against real superheavies at long range. And without smoke from mortars your ground units will lack for cover, protection, and an ability to manipulate the battlefield to their advantage. Poland is extremely reliant upon leveraging its motorized assets, helicopters, and airpower to win an opener, and struggles without this.

So therefor your strategy should be based upon a strong motorized-airborne offensive at the beginning. Try to spot enemy troops with your Salamander recon helicopters, kill their ground troops with airpower, seize forward terrain and litter buildings with Strzelcy Podhalańscy light infantry and Konkurs ATGMs. Try to keep the initiative with unpredictable flanking attacks from infantry, to keep the enemy off-balance. Conserve your Serias which are your only reliable arm against enemy superheavies: they are not as fast and as survivable as Peace Rhines and fulfill a heavier hitting role. Try to seek medium range engagements where your tanks are most effective, and rely on infantry ATGMs to hold the enemy off, with Serias coming in for the kill. It’s bold but if it works it works decisively.

wargame-red-dragon-poland-guide

Logistics

Polish logistics are generally good with some admitted shortcomings. It has a good tank CV, the T-72M1D, an infantry CV which unlike much of the rest of the Soviet-backed Redfor states has a 10 point motorized transport as well as some helicopters, a good 100 point jeep CV if you want it, and of course a FOB. With a 20% availability bonus, you can probably get away with an infantry CV and tank CV, although you will almost certainly need to buy tank CVs on most maps after using up all of your cheaper infantry CVs. However, Poland only gets 15 points trucks, which does limit its ground-based logistics capability (and they are marginally worse than the Finnish ones, although not by any margin).

wargame-red-dragon-poland-guide

Infantry

Polish infantry has both upsides and downsides. It has some excellent anti-infantry options and capable standard infantry, but it is very poor in regards to advanced anti-tank firepower, which makes it so that its infantry is very underperforming without backup tank or airpower when it comes to fighting against enemy heavy tanks and armored assets. Polish infantry is one of the biggest dictates for how you have to play Poland, since much of your strategy has to be designed around compensating for the weaknesses.

The most important asset for any nation is their line infantry, which is the backbone of most armies. Armies without good line infantry, like the Soviet Union which has to rely upon the decent Motostrelki but which are paired to terrible transports, generally have to adopt extremely unorthodox and different playstyles – which can work sometimes, but require a specific mindset. Thankfully Poland has decent line infantry and decent transports, with Piechota Zmech and TOPAS being a good pair – cheap 5 point transport with an MG, not the best since it is just a 7.62mm machine gun, but with 2 armor frontally and adequate speed. The infantry itself has gets an RPG-7, which is a pretty good line infantry anti-armor combination, with decent range, AP (14), and accuracy, much better than say, the M72 LAW’s basic form. However, It does tend to struggle against enemy armor in forests, since 14 AP is not enough to fight against enemy medium tanks and above. Also, a 20% availability bonus means that you probably can’t upvet them, since you rely massively on your basic line infantry and when upvetted you don’t have quite enough of them.

Unfortunately they have generally mediocre transports. The variants of the TOPAS with 14.5mm machine guns or recoilless rifles are bad, the wheeled transports are bad for line infantry since they cost more than the line infantry themselves and are mediocre anyway, and the IFVs mediocre, without either the Czech Vydra IIs or German BMP-1s, nor advanced versions of BMPs. So you have to rely entirely on the TOPAS.

All of the East Bloc armies get statistical clones of the Mot Schutzen from East Germany, 15 point shock infantry with RPK machine guns and RPG-7s. These are excellently cost effective anti-infantry units, but they do struggle against tanks, and unfortunately unlike East German Mot Schutzen Polish Spadochroniarze are paratroopers and motorized units, not mechanized forces – which means that their transports are substantially more expensive. Ideally you would deploy them in cheap and cost effective IFVs like the East German 10 point BMP-1, or a 5 point transport, but instead you have to rely on wheeled transports which cost at least 10 points and up, and helicopters. Thankfully they do get access to the excellent Mi-17, which they synergize well with: you get lots of them, you are really buying them for the helicopter and the infantry is cheap so the package only costs 50, it is devastatingly well armed with 122mm rockets, and the infantry is great at leading an advance and spotting enemies for the helicopter to destroy.

An alternate option is the 90s’ variant of this, but they only get a 525 meter range RPG, which trades off range for 24 AP – very impressive, but essentially the one thing it has. You can use them, but they cost 20 points compared to 15 so they sacrifice the most valuable attribute of the 15 point unit, its cost effectiveness against infantry. Its main role is as a forest fighting heavy anti-armor unit, but unlike East German Mot Schutzen there are no cheap transports so they simply are very cost ineffective in this cheap forest grinding role. You can go for them, but it's a mediocre unit.

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ATGMs are an almost essential part of any army that can get them. Poland unfortunately only gets access to base Konkurs, which get 20 AP – enough to take on most units up to medium tank armor quite well, but struggling against anything heavier unless if they get side shots. They are useful for deterrence value and controlling enemy movements. You also get the base Fagot missile, which gets 16 AP, less range, and less accuracy, but it is half as expensive. You get some other options which fill in for the Fagot role, and given your paucity of anything approaching heavy ground-based anti-armor options I prefer the Konkurs. I prefer them deployed in 10 point motorized transports but 5 point boxes are also perfectly reasonable.

This leaves you with two slots left in a standard deck. You have a combination of various options which exist: shock sapper infantry, napalm launcher infantry, Kommandosi commando infantry, SPG-9D shock fire support infantry, 15 man shock infantry (marines) in base and 90 versions, MANPADs, and light infantry.

The sappers would be great on an urban map, but only Wonsan harbor or another specialized setting is good for them and so they generally aren’t worth it, and the same goes for the napalm launchers. Generally units like this are only taken when they are being bought for their transports, like for BTR-Ts in the Soviet deck or Sappeurs in a French deck for the Panther helicopter. The SPG-9D is tempting since it is a shock fire team and it gets 16 AP, but it has the worst range of any recoilless rifle team, at just 1,050 meters, and other than the Mi-17 transport helicopter none of its transport options are very good, so it doesn’t really work. The Grom is one of the best Redfor MANPADs thanks to good range, accuracy, and the Promet transport it comes in which is a less well armored Screzhet, but it is again, hard to fit it in an unspecialized deck. Thus I generally go for Kommandosi with the 15 point Skot 2AP transport: they aren't cost effective, but for anti-infantry killers they are very good and they have at least some anti-armor capability. They really should be 5 points cheaper.

Base marines (Niebieskie Berety) could be worth it as a niche if they cost 20 points, and so were essentially Spadochroniarze but with 5 extra HP in exchange for 5 more points. Unfortunately, they are not, and they cost 25 points, which makes them atrocious. Furthermore it is generally agreed that marines are not cost effective: their only real advantage is more HP, in exchange for greater cost, and so you could simply get more infantry instead who are more flexible and do more damage. The upgraded ’90 get the RPG-7V for the same price, which is probably the best hand-held all-around anti-tank weapon carried by Polish conventional infantry, since it gets 17 AP and 700 meters range: equivalent to a Carl Gustav, with slightly less AP and accuracy. But it is again, definitively worse, and at 25 points they are expensive for pretty mediocre capacities.

The light infantry is the Strzelcy Podhalańscy who get the Metys missile, and are quite cheap, at just 15 points, with 10 point motorized transport options. The Metys won’t stop an armored assault directly, with 1,575 meter range, 15 AP, and 45% accuracy, but they are very useful defensively, since their missiles have enough AP and range to inflict damage on enemy tanks from the side and to generally kill APCs and IFVs unless if overwhelmed en masse. Unlike regular ATGM teams they have the HP to withstand some enemy fire.

Your army might vary, but I deploy an all-upvetted force of Konkurs in Skot-2 10 point motorized transports, Kommandosi in Skot-2APs (the 15 point KPVT-armed transport with improved accuracy), Strzelcy Podhalańscy in Skot-2s, Spadochroniarze in Mi-17s, and downvetted Piechota Zmech in Topas 5 point transports.

Support

If there is a tab where Poland falls down, it is probably the support tab. There are other problems bu the single biggest one is that it doesn’t get a mortar. Every other faction in the game gets a mortar, and mortars are the backbone of advanced tactics in Wargame to provide for smoke deployment to cover your superheavies, screen advances, neutralize enemy ATGM teams. You can use regular artillery to deploy smoke shells, but these are more expensive, generally get fewer shells, and most of all take much longer to aim, even though smoke shells fired from artillery do aim faster than regular HE shells. The alternative options are either 122mm SPGs or the Dana: they’re better than nothing but you will definitely feel the absence. And unfortunately the best real artillery option is the Piwonka 203mm SPG, so unless if you want to get both, you have to choose between either smoke or the best artillery. I go for the Dana, but it is perfectly reasonable for the Piwonka.

You do get MRLS HE artillery at least which is useful for stunning, with either the Grad or the RML 70 which also can deploy smoke fields. I like the Grad since I normally don’t find use for the smoke fields and the RML is significantly more expensive. In any case both are viable and useful at stunning the enemy even if they won’t cause too much damage themselves.

Air defense is perfectly viable against most targets, but it struggles to deal with 2,800 meter range ATGM helicopters, particularly the longbow. Your best option as a response to helicopters is the OSA-AKM which gets good accuracy, high mobility, and an equivalent 2,800 meter range. But unfortunately they are vulnerable to SEAD and thus require good management. Still, twin OSAs are generally enough to ensure air defense against anything but the most intense air assault, and they are the best general purpose air defense tools you have.

The other option as a heavy AA piece is the Newa, which come with either tracked (cheaper and reasonably well armored but extraordinarily slow and with very low operational range), or wheeled (faster but more expensive and less well protected), which are often a good choice since they are a great heavy AA piece given their accuracy and range. I like the tracked version. They aren’t obligatory but given the fragility of your air superiority fighters with just two Mig-29s, they are a great back up.

You have two main options as infrared anti-helicopter weapons. The Strelza and the Sopel both only get 2,625 meter anti-helicopter range, but are reasonably well stabilized and cost 45 points. The Strelza fires a 6 HE missile while the Sopel has a ZSU-23-2 with improved accuracy over the base model and Grom missiles. I generally find the Sopel to have insufficient firepower at long range, but on the other hand if you use heavy AA the ZSU-23-2 will definitely do some small damage to enemy planes, such as 1 HP, which marries very well with the 9 HE that the heavy AA gives. Since I mostly use the OSA-AKM, I find the Strelza to be a more reliable accompaniment with its better performing missile and more capable against many helicopters, such as the common 6 HP Blufor helicopters. You can also deploy a wheeled Strela, the 30 point BDRM Strela, but this is mediocre and as Poland you need some more high performance anti-helicopter AA, and some ZSU-23-2 trucks, but the same goes for this.

Reconnaissance

Poland’s reconnaissance options are low tech but generally effective. It get reconnaissance helicopters, armed fighting reconnaissance vehicles, and reconnaissance infantry, which generally combine to give decent vision awareness.

The center of Polish reconnaissance is the Zwiadowcy, which is essentially the East German Specialaufklarer but with an RPG-7 instead of the upgraded RPG-7V – which makes it significantly worse, especially since it costs the same, but it is still a shock reconnaissance infantry option with good anti-infantry and at least some anti-vehicle options. You can deploy them in Sokols, Hinds, or a variety of wheeled transports: I generally get one in the W-3T Sokol, which gets medium optics and a good 23mm autocannon, and is much cheaper than a Hind, and a Skot-2AP which gets an improved accuracy 14.5mm machine gun, both upvetted.

One odd options if the Formoza, which are reconnaissance infantry but are really intended as anti-infantry fighters, thanks to automatic grenade launchers, particularly in cities – akin to American Navy Seals in the game. Formoza are extremely specialized and there is no doubt that they are excellent against infantry, but at the same time they die to almost any transport or other armored vehicles, and outside of deep city fighters just lack functionality: they are not autonomous enough to fill the regular recon role.

There are four armed fighting reconnaissance vehicles which are good options: the BDRM-2, the BTR-40A, and the PT-76 DSHK. The BDRM-2 or BTR-40A is a debate between how much you value amphibious capacity: the BTR-40A has a far better 14.5mm machine gun with significantly better rate of fire and anti-aircraft capabilities, while the BDRM-2 is amphibious. I generally prefer the BTR-40A: it is great for flank and base defense, forward scouting, and raiding. The PT-76 DSHK is the normal PT-76 but gets a 12.7mm machine gun too, for free, which doesn’t get much ammo but it is still useful as an anti-helicopter and anti-infantry weapon. 10 HEAT also makes it quite efficient at killing 1 armor transports, and it gets some stealthy. You can choose the recon T-55, but I prefer the PT-76 DSHIK.

Poland’s most unique reconnaissance option is the Salamander, a Sokol variant which gets x4 Kokon-M missiles and 20 80mm rockets. This is a very useful anti-tank unit and with very good optics makes it a great opener unit. It also gets the Mi-2RO, which is a rather cheap exceptional optics helicopter, but unarmed exceptional optics helicopters without stealth are a dubious proposition.

My recon tab involves two shock recon infantry cards in Skot-2APs and Sokols respectively, a BTR-40A, a PT-76 DSHK, and a Salamander.

The Twardy: not quite a superheavy but sometimes close enough

The Twardy: not quite a superheavy but sometimes close enough

Poland’s pride and joy are the Wilk series of tanks. The M1 Wilk was good enough as a medium tank that it actually received a nerf last patch – from 85 to 90 points. While this does make it marginally worse, the Wilk is still a very good medium tank, with good AP, decent protection, decent accuracy, decent speed, and a small profile, as well as elevated rate of fire with an autoloader which makes it very effective at close range. It’s thus very cost effective and is the mainstay of your armored forces. You should focus on keeping them alive and building up a critical mass, and engaging in medium range fights with them.

Heavier options exist with the M2 Wilk and the T-72S. They are very similar but the Wilk gets higher ROF in exchange for costly slightly less and having 1 les armor, and not being able to fir the Svir ATGM. Generally I prefer the T-72S since I like the ability to fire ATGMs from tanks, since microing it can effectively enable AP firepower to be increased. The most powerful option you have available is the Twardy, which is an odd creature – just barely less than a superheavy, since it gets 20 armor and 22 AP, which unfortunately generally rules it out of an effective competition against other faction’s top tanks, which most often get 22 armor frontally and 23-24 AP. It relies upon closer and medium range engagements: it does get 9 ROF and decent accuracy however, which makes it consistent. It can slaughter anything less than a superheavy, but generally it fits into an unfortunate space: it isn’t capable of standing up to enemy superheavies, but at the same time it costs almost as much. Also its experience scale is unfortunate: you can either get 4 unvetted (I generally find that 3 at such level is the most one will ever deploy), or 2 upvetted, which is possible but 3 is a useful cushion number. If it had 3 upvetted it would be much better.

Lighter options are generally not worth it. The Merida is probably the best tank-tab version of the T-54, since the Dyna, the most expensive version and in the Czech tab, is basically a glorified ATGM slinger and the cost of this isn’t worth it. It gets a full-range cannon and good AP, but unfortunately it doesn’t get even medium optics so is worthless on its own (it requires supporting assets around), and generally tanks in its price range just aren’t that cost effective. You could use the basic T-54/L for a light fire support option to compensate for lacking cheap dedicated fire support IFVs, but this is generally not cost effective.

Vehicles

Poland’s vehicle tab is extremely mediocre. The ZSU-57-2 is a decent unit for base defense, but the BTR-40A works about as well, doesn’t take up another slot, and gets optics and stealth. The BTR Konkurs carrier isn’t worth it, since infantry-delivered ATGMs are far more survivable. There was a time when the ASU-85 was the go-to fire support option for Redfor, but it has since been nerfed to 15 points and there is a bug where the anti-infantry ROF is only 6 RPM, which makes it bad. The only option which might be good is a flamethrower tank, if you like that.

Helicopters

There are a huge number of different helicopters that Poland has, most based on the Mi-2. Some of them are useful for niche roles and in cheese possibilities for massive helicopter spam, but as a whole most of them are generally not well considered. The two helicopters which are the best are the Mi-24W and the Sokol, the former a workhorse gunship and anti-tank helicopter, and the latter an anti-helicopter helicopter with some auxiliary fire support roles.

The Mi-24W is essentially the same as the Czech Mi-35, with a gatling gun, rockets, Kokon missiles, on an armored 10 HP and fast platform. This makes it quite useful, although unfortunately as compared to the Czech helicopter it gets 57mm instead of 80mm rockets, which are far worse: the cost saving of 5 points is not worth it for losing the better rockets. But it is still a good general purpose helicopter. It can gun down enemy isolated infantry brutally, and kill anything but enemy heavy and superheavy tanks with its missiles, and kill them from the side by maneuvering around.

The W-SW Sokol is an excellent anti-air helicopter, with Igla misiles, an autocannon, and 80mm rockets, fast, and most importantly with medium optics. It is quite fragile but it is probably the best general purpose anti-helicopter helicopter which Redfor has.

Perhaps the one thing which the Poles received from the Soviet Union which they appreciated.

Perhaps the one thing which the Poles received from the Soviet Union which they appreciated.

Aircraft

Unfortunately Poland falls just below the 30% availability bonus which in effect gives a 50% increase to most air units, since if you have 2 aircraft (a common number for a workhorse fighter), you get 3 with the bonus. 20% gives some availability bonus for some more numerous units but not for the most essential and vital ones – fighters, ATGM planes, and SEAD.

This being said, Poland gets what is generally considered the best mid-range Redfor fighter, the Mig-29 9-13S. This is maneuverable, gets good ECM, only costs 135 points, and its x2 long ranged 60% accuracy SA guided missiles get extra range and 6 HE, which synergizes very well with lighter weapons. Generally it will shoot off x2 SA missiles in an engagement, and so it doesn’t pay extra for fighters like the Soviet Su-35 or the Chinese Su-35k, which either cost more or have less accurate missiles to get x4 missiles. It also gets good short ranged missiles with 60% accuracy and their own 5HE. It makes for a good fighter force, although Poland lacks another good fighter, since the 85 point Mig-23ml is mediocre, and so against players who deploy x2 fighter cards in their deck it will struggle. You should thus just get 1 card of x2 Mig-29s, upvetted.

The ATGM plane, the Su-24M Seria, is the best non-DLC mid-range ATGM plane. Its x2 30AP missiles have good range, it gets decent speed and ECM, and while its accuracy is only mediocre at 50% it is mostly acceptable: it is more cost effective than the Soviet Mig-27k, although the Yugoslavian Super Galeb does get better accuracy (even with its nerfs to speed). There is a strong rocket plane, the Mig-21MF, whose x4 240mm rockets have a devastating area of effect and wipe out enemy infantry, as well as most lightly armored units – and it gets better ECM than most rocket planes and is very fast. But unfortunately the bomber arm is terrible, since the best plane is the 60 point Su-7b, with x2 500kg bombs – that lacks entirely for ECM and is only decently fast. It is far worse than the Finnish Hawk 51, which gets the same bombload but also better speed, decent armament, and ECM. It is better than the 70 point version, whose x8 250kg bombs are generally worse than x2 500 kg bombs.

Poland’s Su-22M4P SEAD (suppression of enemy air defense) is an interesting plane, since the range is rather short, at just 4,200 meters, and the antiradar missiles individually don’t perform very well, but it gets 4 of them and ripple fires 2, making it extremely consistent at killing enemy AA – while it also gets average stealth so it is somewhat less easy to spot. While it probably isn’t the hands down best SEAD and I would prefer an Su-24 or Jaguar A over it, its still quite good and is invaluable for Poland with its heavy air assault component.

wargame-red-dragon-poland-guide

Specializations

In theory, Poland sounds like it would be a great candidate for an airborne deck. There are some older airborne decks which are fun for unconventional tactics using the hordes of light Mi-2 helicopters, but as far as serious gameplay goes, Poland is let down by most of its units being heavily card limited - for example, it only gets a single card of Mig-29s. So even with an airborne specialization, you can't actually increase the size of your air force or even your good helicopter strength very much.

So the best Polish specialization is motorized, although this only really shines if you can use it on an urban map - it's a great choice on a map like Wonsan Harbor, where the hordes of Kommandosi, Formoza, and Saperzy can exterminate enemy infantry. On most maps it is too specialized in the anti-infantry role to be of much particular viability.

Conclusion

Poland is a difficult deck to play, one whose strengths tend to be specialized and struggles to counter many of the most advanced technological options that enemies can bring to bear. It makes for an interesting struggle to try to overcome these shortcomings, one which helps to adopt new and intriguing playstyles and to become a more varied and adaptable player in Wargame: Red Dragon.

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