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Wargame: Red Dragon, Ranking the Ranked Maps

Nuclear Winter is Coming is an example of what I see as a good map from the ranked maps list.

Nuclear Winter is Coming is an example of what I see as a good map from the ranked maps list.

It's hard to objectively rank a map in Wargame, since to a great extent it is a matter of feeling and preference, and to be fair none of the maps are too terrible. I like short, quick, decisive fights, motorized openers, and open terrain: other people hate this. I for example really like Mud Fight, which is a map that revolves around an initial motorized fight, where winning the very opening battle can give a decisive advantage for the rest of the battle. Other people hate it for just this reason.

So trying to deal with this, I came up with a 1-10 system of ranking five criterion that define a map. These try to ignore the individual element to focus on univerasl comparable parts. These are:

  • Balanced. Perhaps the most important thing is that if the two sides are evenly matched. Some maps, since they don't have a symmetrical design, naturally, have some inequalities. For example, the reinforcement roads from the secondary spawn on Highway to Seoul lead across bridges to the other side of the highway on the map. Bravo's roads are easily interdicted by controlling the two central zones, while Foxtrot is not, a disadvantage for the northern side, Alpha.
If you control the two central zones as south, supply routes for the north to the eastern side of the map are disrupted.

If you control the two central zones as south, supply routes for the north to the eastern side of the map are disrupted.

  • Promotes dynamic gameplay. This is one of the more subjective category, but some maps are prone to bogging down in a stalemate, since defensive geography makes it hard to attack. Thankfully most ranked maps avoid this problem, but a good map should promote a fluid combat. For example, if you win on Nuclear Winter is Coming in the center of the map and hold on in the other zones, it can be hard for the enemy to come back given the defensive geography in all zones.
  • Flexibility or suitability to many deck types. Some maps are exceptionally well suited to some deck types, such as Hell in a Small Place, which is great for mechanized decks given its close range fighting and small size, but are terrible for other decks. A good map should offer a capability for a wide range of different decks to fight, while not being obviously artificial.
  • Complexity or different options. There is a selection of different choices which each side has. Mud Fight for example, does have options for pushing in the open field of Foxtrot or into Charlie, or in a very bold and risky move into the central city in the map, the only orthodox move is a rush to the village. All other options have various drawbacks, and so a lot of early action on the map is railroaded into this choice.
  • Vulnerability to unfair gameplay. Although it doesn't pop up in most matches, there are definitely unfair gameplay styles in Wargame. The most infamous one is a helicopter rush, where you take a massive number of helicopters and most often a command vehicle in one of them and drive them directly at the enemy base. There are some maps which are more vulnerability to this: the least vulnerable ones are the ones which have multiple spawn points which are difficult to assassinate all at once.
BalancedPromotes Dynamic GameplaySuitable to many Deck Types or FlexibleComplexity/Different OptionsVulnerability to Unfair Play

Paddy Field

6/10

4/10

8/10

8/10

2/10

28

Mudfight

8/10

4/10

4/10

8/10

2/10

24

Nuclear Winter is Coming

6/10

4/10

8/10

10/10

8/10

36

Highway to Seoul

4/10

8/10

8/10

4/10

6/10

30

Punchbowl

8/10

10/10

6/10

8/10

2/10

34

Plunjing Valley

6/10

8/10

6/10

6/10

1/10

27

Hell in a Small Place

2/10

8/10

2/10

8/10

2/10

22

As a short description of the maps

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  • Paddy Field has plenty of open terrain, but much of the fighting tends to happen in columns. The initial opening is important, but fighting goes on past this. Mechanized and armored decks are the best for this map, and there are a number of different options and fighting areas to go to. It is vulnerable however, to unfair gameplay - it is relatively easy to cut off both reinforcement roads, and a helicopter rush is a genuine threat.
  • Mudfight is overwhelmingly open, although it has some extensive woods on one side of the map with a central area which has lots of medium-high density forest. Much of the fighting revolves around a fast rush to the central village. Armored decks are the best for this map, motorized decks being the second best, and with mechanized decks being less useful, although in the long run they can win in the aforementioned forest zone. A helicopter rush is simple to execute and the rush to the central village is easily targeted with artillery or napalm.
  • Nuclear Winter is Coming is a large map, with a very extensive range of terrain to fight over. There are lots of open ground areas, but there is also a central city, and extensive small forest or building belts. There are two spawns, which makes helicopter rushes easier to deal with. Motorized and airborne decks are best on the map.
  • Highway to Seoul is another large map, with twin spawns and two divided fighting sides. It is mostly medium density forest, although there are some scattered open zones. The reinforcement roads to the other side of the highway are easily interdicted against the northern side. This makes mechanized decks the best specialization, although given the wide size unspecialized decks are probably the best as a whole. Artillery or napalm strikes on the opening roads are reasonably common, but a helicopter rush is generally less successful due to twin spawns.
  • Punchbowl is generally correlated with two zones, with twin corridors on the left, a central city, and a right side with forests. It makes for a map where you can have lots of different openings. It's hard to choose a single deck types which does the best for this, since you can easily leverage your strengths if you choose the initiative for each area. It is however, still vulnerable to a helicopter rush.
  • Plunjing Valley has, like Punchbowl, three different sides, and its twin sides on the edge are best taken by motorized or airborne forces, but the central area is best as a mechanized struggle. This makes it suitable to multiple deck types, although mechanized is probably best. It is somewhat biased against the side without the central city, since it is much easier to push into their zone. The extensive forests and single spawn makes it extraordinarily vulnerable to unfair gameplay.
  • Hell in a Small Place is overwhelmingly close to medium range fighting, with multiple different zones to go to. Power is very dispersed on the map, making it hard for motorized strikes to achieve much. Mechanized decks are by far the best. The southern side is in a worse position than the norther side, since it is much harder to attack along the corridor on the left side of the map for them and if they lose the central plateau they are in a far worse position. It is also vulnerable to helicopter rushes.

Generally, ranking them from best to worse then:

  1. Nuclear Winter is Coming. There are a wide range of different options available, a lot of different specializations that work, it is hard to engage in "cheese," ie. unfair gameplay.
  2. Punchbowl. I find Punchbowl to be a difficult map to play, since it has so many options to guard against and is complex, but it does offer lots of different options, a good range of deck specializations which work, and while cheese can be used on it, in normal play it is reasonably fair.
  3. Highway to Seoul. Like Nuclear Winter is Coming, Highway to Seoul is big and diverse. This gives lots of options. Two spawns makes it less vulnerable to helicopter rushes, but it does have to deal with opening artillery and bomber fires, and the northern side is in a worse position than the southern side due to the way spawn roads work.
  4. Paddy Field. With plenty of different options to go to, Paddy Field gives a good mixture of zones to fight in, and a good range of specializations which work, but it is vulnerable to cheese. Furthermore the geography somewhat favors the northern side.
  5. Mudfight. A great motorized fight to seize the central village, as well as an example of an armored battle, Paddy Field does suffer from a lack of other options as well as being slanted against other deck specializations.
  6. Plunjing Valley. Plunjing Valley is extremely vulnerable to cheese and it can often devolve into a mechanized grind in the center which other decks struggle against, and it is unfairly biased against the side without the central village. But it does allow for other decks to have initial and meaningful success along the flanks and there are a wide range of options available.
  7. Hell in a Small Place. The most singular map, overwhelmingly a mechanized one, Hell in a Small Place is biased against the northern side, with only some of the greater ease of conducting behind-the-lines strikes against the southern side balancing this: this just speaks to its vulnerability to unfair play however. While there are plenty of different areas to go to, it is hard to avoid any strategy which isn't a mechanized grind.

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