Chairman Mao once said "People who try to commit suicide - don't attempt to save them!... China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people." It is the secret of the mainstay of Red Dragon motorized - an overwhelming wave of fast motorized infantry to crush and overwhelm the opposition. Thousands of soldiers may die in a single match, but who cares - there are always more in the infinite ranks of Red Dragons motorized, to fight and die in the name of Chairman Mao and General Secretary Kim Il Sung!
Red Dragons is generally regarded as one of the worse coalitions in the game Wargame: Red Dragon, as it has critical missing capabilities such as generally quite awful artillery and poor helicopters, as well as its standard bread and butter infantry and transports often being overpriced. But motorized for Red Dragon sacrifices few of Red Dragon's strengths, other than perhaps some of its questionable heavy artillery and T-90S tank, while retaining and accentuating the strengths that it has: it is a surprisingly well rounded and flexible deck, which draws upon large numbers of good infantry, backed up by reasonably powerful tanks, useful fire support sections, excellent AA, an array of effective aircraft, and a useful number of special units.
A motorized deck in Wargame: Red Dragon is based upon the strength of its opening move, in its ability to attack quickly and decisively seize territory at the beginning of a match. It has a higher amount of infantry, recon, and vehicles than a normal deck, and what it does have has a higher veterancy level. In exchange for this, many of the tracked options found elsewhere are gone: infantry only have wheeled and helicopter transport options, most tracked support artillery pieces are removed, and tanks heavier than the level of light tanks or somewhat equivalent are gone.
Red Dragons motorized fits this scheme. Its advantage is a powerful force of infantry capable of a strong opener, but its disadvantage is that it lacks the staying power of a mechanized deck. It has the advantage, not unique to it among mechanized decks but very important nevertheless, that it is notable more well-rounded than many motorized decks: its tanks have high AP, it has powerful reconnaissance tanks, exceptional tank destroyers, and an air arm capable of effective air to ground support. All of this helps to keep the momentum rolling for a fast motorized attack with sufficient arms to support it. If the frontlines gel however, then Red Dragons has the problem of lacking much in the way of heavy, useful, artillery, heavy tanks, or cheap cost effective infantry in heavy IFVs or cheap tracked vehicles. This puts them at a disadvantaged against heavier and more cost effective decks.
An optimal Red Dragons strategy will thus focus on seizing terrain quickly, and then holding it, utilizing tank destroyers and high AP tanks in defensive roles, its long ranged AA, and short ranged rocket launchers to stun enemy concentrations. With the advantage in resources in a destruction match, or conquest points in a conquest map, the route to victory is clear.
A question which can be asked is if North Korea is still necessary and whether China motorized might be sufficient. China motorized has the advantage of providing another 5 activation points, and 10% more availability. North Korea generally brings whatever artillery there is, Hwasung-Chong IFV/air defense vehicle popularly called the Igla bus, and the T-90s, to the combined faction, all of which are absent in the motorized. Certainly, China motorized national is not terrible, and is a strong national deck: however Red Dragons motorized still benefits from a variety of crucial Korean contributions: the cheap Mi-25, B-5 bomber, better recon helicopter options. infantry ATGMs (surprisingly good for their relatively low AP value), and above all else excellent general purpose special forces in excellent transport options, something which Chinese special forces lack as they come in bad transport options and lack greatly for all-purpose anti-tank firepower. North Korea is still worth the cost, and playing without them feels clunky and less smooth than Red Dragons.
Red Dragons motorized unfortunately has an exceptionally poor logistics tab. It has a FOB of course, and infantry CVs - in decent transport options, with helicopters, trucks, and 10 point transports for the North Koreans. Unfortunately things end there. There are only 15 point trucks, much less efficient logistics wise than 30 point trucks, and there are no good tank CVs. As a result, Red Dragons motorized (much less regular Red Dragons) is incapable of survivably capping a restricted area, as its infantry CVs are vulnerable to artillery bombardment. Thankfully, Red Dragon's way of war is not too reliant upon massive amounts of supplies, except when large amounts of BM-24 rocket launchers are used.
The centerpiece of any army in Red Dragons is its infantry, and Red Dragons motorized for more so than others. Red Dragons motorized has both advantages and disadvantages: its most striking feature is that it has no shock infantry, only militia, line, and commando. This means that for offensive operations one will often have to rely upon commando infantry, with line infantry providing support and filling gaps.
There are four commando infantry options: Li Jian, Li Jian 90', Yuckjeondae, and Yuckjeondae 90'. Lian Jian are the more specialized of the pair: both are best at anti-infantry combat, fighting in cities and in forests, with limited range SMGs and for the 90' version, napalm launchers. Yuckjeondae, are much more flexible, being equipped with assault rifles and then carbines, and the 90' version have reasonably good anti-tank firepower. I would personally recommend using more of the Yuckjeondae 90' due to their good all-around performance, with two cards of Yuckjeondae 90', and card of Lian Jian 90' for city fighting. One card of Yuckjeondae 90' is best in the cheap 10 point transport for all-purpose cheap fighting, while the other should come in the excellent BTR-80A, providing a very powerful wheeled vehicle capable of a powerful motorized opener, fire support, and with reasonable survivability. The Lian Jian can either come in China's cheap 10 point transport or their 15 point WZ 511, depending on preference.
The lack of shock infantry means that the next units to rely upon are line infantry, where the choice is between the cheapest option - Bochongsu in 10 point transports, for 20 points - or 15 point Zanshi 90' in the 15 point WZ-511 for 30 points. Generally I think that the higher AP capacity of Zanshi 90' and the good firepower of the WZ-511 make sit worth it, but your mileage may vary. Reservists are also available, but in a coalition deck are not worth the space.
Fire support is an area where Red Dragons excel, thanks to the very good Chinese Tanke Shashou 85'. With 16 AP, they can destroy even lighter tanks and medium enemy vehicles, which is married to 1,400 meter range, high suppression, and 2 HE. They are reasonably stealthy in buildings, and make useful units to support the front lines from immediately behind them, just out of the range of enemy fire but firing with impunity. Their cheap cost, at just 15 points, makes them very affordable.
North Korea's contribution of the Ban-Tank Fagot is not just good for jokes about the awkward name in English: it also is a legitimately very useful ATGM weapon. They are very affordable, can be purchased in large numbers, and the 16 AP weapon can kill most lighter enemy vehicles or enemy tanks from the side. This makes them good at the ultimate purpose of ATGMs: area denial, in forcing the enemy to avoid a zone or to invest more resources into it via smoke to prevent ATGM fire.
The final infantry piece to consider taking for Red Dragons is the Chinese QW-1 MANPAD, which has decent 2,450 meter range against helicopters, 5 HE which makes it effective against planes as well, and which is cheap and affordable. Generally in a motorized deck one has enough space to make something like the QW-1 a decent option to take, and that includes Red Dragons.
Red Dragons are the only major factions which has no 10 seconds FCS artillery. What artillery it does have tends to be inaccurate, often overpriced, and generally bad. North Korea's artillery is marginally better than Chinese artillery, since the Koksan provides a 9 HE, long range, high accuracy gun, still worse than 203mm pieces found elsewhere, and the Tokchon for a basic 7 HE short ranged area bombardment system - but neither are available in Red Dragons motorized. Red Dragons motorized only gets access to 122mm artillery for its long ranged options. Perhaps you might still take them, to give at least something for long ranged counter-battery and precision striking options, but there is no doubt that they are terrible.
The only good piece of artillery available to Red Dragons is the Chinese BM-24 MRLS, which provides an 8 HE blow from each of its 12 rockets, for only 50 points. Accuracy is horrible at long ranges, but at short ranges, a few kilometers away, it can achieve reasonably good accuracy - certainly no sniper weapon, but enough that a few of them can generally evaporate infantry units, even in buildings, and destroy most lightly armored units. This makes them surprisingly effective, and the supply cost is not too prohibitive. Against a concentrated zone, Red Dragons can use 7 of these to inflict crippling morale, and against non-heavily armored targets, material, damage. But this still means that in counter-battery artillery roles and for hitting small targets, like air defense units or CVs, Red Dragons motorized is far less effective than other coalitions.
Thankfully, the picture gets better in other areas. Mortars are not special, but are quite good, with the 40 point, 120mm mortars which are for most nations the best that one can get. Anti-air defense is assured by a Chinese copy of the French Crotale, providing long ranged and accurate anti-helicopter, infrared, AA, while the HQ 61A is a surprisingly good radar artillery piece for anti-plane work: wheeled, fast, with 4,200 meter range and 60% accuracy. Both units lack armor and survivability, making them very vulnerable to enemy fire. and require supply trucks to support them, but have the advantage of being fast and cheaper than many foreign options.
The final options in Red Dragon motorized for support is whether one wants to take a SPAAG or a stabilized AA piece to escort advancing formations, particularly columns at the beginning of a match. Personally, I find that the AA is generally sufficient with the two pieces from before, and so I go for a long ranged artillery piece to give at least some counter-battery options and sniping capabilities, despite the very mediocre capabilities, but certainly the option is available. I recommending upvetting both AA pieces, as with 5 each when upvetted, there are still plenty for breadth.
A motorized deck often has its greatest shortcomings in regards to tanks. The most expensive tank which any nation can access in motorized is worth 80 points - while by contrast a superheavy tank costs up to 180! Even when motorized tanks have good guns, their armor tends to let them down, and neither can be as good as a real superheavy tank. A superheavy tank can take on and defeat many times its worth in lighter tanks when a fight is at long range.
This is true for Red Dragons as well, but the situation is somewhat improved compared to other motorized factions, since Red Dragons gets the highest AP value of any motorized deck with the ZTZ-85-IIA. Its armor is much weaker, at only 14, but that still means that it surpasses the crucial 13 armor value - the point at which it requires more than 1 30 AP shot to kill it, and armor penetrating values in Wargame cap out at 30 AP. It is thus guaranteed to survive against any single enemy attack and shoot back. The disadvantage is its relatively paltry rate of fire, at just 7 rounds per minute - but at least it is autoloaded, so it will keep this rate of fire up regardless of its morale state, and its HE value is 4. This makes it a very good medium tank for providing at least some chance against enemy tanks, aided by that it tends to punch up better against more powerful enemy vehicles. At medium ranges, it can be relied on to trade effectively against enemy super tanks.
Other than this, there is really only one choice in the tank tab: the ZTZ-63-II, with a quite good 17 AP gun (with 2,275 meter range, not always the case for a vehicle at its level), a long ranged and stabilized Bastion laser guided anti-tank missile, and which is fast and amphibious: it provides a very useful light tank. Armor is of course, poor. The other options generally are superfluous, since fire support is provided by the vehicle section. Both tanks are best taken upvetted. .
Red Dragons generally has decent reconnaissance, although there are some gaps. It has decent shock reconnaissance infantry in the form of Li Rien, with good AP power and a nice variety of transports - trucks, 15 point reconnaissance vehicles, 15 point WZ-511 which give them impressive organic firepower, and speedy and powerful autocannon-armed (albeit lacking in a turret) Z9-A helicopters.
North Korea also has an elite sniper recon team, the Jeongchaldae. Unfortunately, their transport options are not so good- they have a truck and a decent 10 point transport, but their helicopter is very slow. Generally this leads me to choose Li Rien for helicopter operations, as their helicopter is so much faster and more capable.
North Korea does offer a decent exceptional optics helicopter, but generally exceptional optics aren't worth it. Its base 40 point recon helicopter is probably a better choice than the Chinese 35 point one, since the Chinese one is simply so slow, and 5 points is not really much of a difference. The lack of armed recon helicopters is unfortunate, but not terrible. There is no excellent optics ground vehicle, but this is not too catastrophic since this is very niche anyway.
The pride and joy of Red Dragons' reconnaissance is the ZTQ-62G, a 60 point reconnaissance tank with impressive 17 AP power, very good optics, 8 armor, and above all else medium stealth. This medium stealth means that if the enemy lacks their own good, or very good optics, it is difficult to spot it when firing from cover, making it exceptionally useful at ambushes, and very capable of firing from cover when unspotted. While unfortunately the inclusion of the same reconnaissance tanks in the new DLC factions has taken away some of the luster of the ZTZ-62G, it is still a very good reconnaissance tank and will often constitute the majority of tanks that one has on the map at any one time.
The final useful option is the North Korean M1992, which has a combination of a Konkurs missile and a grenade launcher. Unlike most missile tank destroyers, the medium stealth on the vehicle makes it much more survivable, while the grenade launcher can shred infantry: still it only has 20 AP, next to no armor, and is still very vulnerable to effective usage of smoke. In a North Korean deck I would take it every time: unfortunately it is hard to find the place for it in a Red Dragons' deck. A possible choice, but generally not quite good enough to make it in Red Dragons motorized.
Red Dragons has plentiful vehicles to provide for fire support. An excellent one is the Su-100, which for only 15 points provides a 3 HE, 1.925 meter range unit with 4 frontal armor - very useful for providing direct support to infantry units with a cheap, expendable, and decently armored unit. With 11 AP it can even be somewhat effective against light enemy vehicles. There are also flamethrower tanks, and the ZSU-57-2, effective for stunning enemy units and providing base defense. A unique gun tank destroyer, the PTZ-89, has an incredible 21 AP for just 65 points - but pays for this by only having very marginal 5 armor, and no stabilizer. Although a good defensive unit, generally I find the lack of stability to make it not worth using compared to the ZTZ-85-II.
The pride of Red Dragon's vehicles however, is the WZ-550, a wheeled tank destroyer, equipped with 2,925 meter range missiles packing 26 AP, high speed, and 70% accuracy. Capable of keeping up with advancing motorized columns, and picking off enemy units at range, and with enough ammo to do so very well, the WZ-550 is vital to Red Dragons being able to respond to enemy heavy tanks. Unfortunately, even such fast missiles can be countered via the usage of smoke, which means against a good player, they can simply advance under the cover of smoke and kill the WZ-550 with their tanks. But still this requires time, and the high speed, range, and missile speed of the WZ-550 can make it very effective at surprise angles.
Red Dragons lacks the powerful rocket pod helicopters which other factions boast. None of its helicopters have more than 57mm rockets, which makes them less effective against infantry or light vehicles. This goes for both fire support helicopters, and infantry transport helicopters. However, there are still some good options in Red Dragon's tab.
Firstly, it has a very cheap, general purpose, Hind - the Mi-25, which although equipped with bad anti-tank missiles and mediocre 57mm rockets, has the advantage of being cheap at just 60 points, providing much more survivability than Blufor helicopters, and a 12.7mm Gatling gun. which makes it excellent for hunting down isolated enemy infantry squads or light vehicles. North Korea also has the option of AGS-17, an automatic grenade launcher armed helicopter, which can provide a lot of anti-infantry firepower, but this is generally too fragile, niche, and specialized to get general usage.
China provides the remaining useful helicopters. There are two useful ATGM helicopters which China brings, the SA .342 HOT, a cheap 40 point helicopter with 2,625 meter range 22 AP ATGMs, but most of the time the chosen helicopter is the Z-9A HJ-8, which provides ,2800 meter range 24 AP missiles. The extra range is very useful, and while it won't do much killing of superheavies from the front, against almost everything else it is a very effective tank destroyer, with the extra range making it quite useful defensively.
China has probably the best singular dedicated anti-air helicopter in the game, the Z-9A TY-90, equipped with Chinese clones of the French Mistral missile - but with 8 of them, and is very fast. Unfortunately, it is also expensive at 90 points, it has to have a recon helicopter for vision range, it is fragile, and it only has anti-air missiles - making it only useful against enemy helicopters and to a limited extent enemy aircraft. All of this makes it a large investment which must be thought about carefully.
Red Dragons has an effective, if mostly unremarkable, air force for supporting ground units, but is handicapped by difficult fighter selections. It does cover most options, but not always in the best way.
To start with, it has a decent choice of dedicated anti-tank planes, with the JH-7 which gives a reasonably survivable fire and forget anti-tank missile plane, with unremarkable 26 ap missiles, somewhat equivalent to the Peace Rhine of West Germany - somewhat worse in my opinion since it isn't as cheap and doesn't have the Peace Rhine's excellent cannon, but still useful. The other option is the North Korean Su-25K, which offers an armored platform which can take much more punishment from the front and rear, a powerful gun, and 28 AP missiles - but only SA, rather than fire and forget, which means it has to dive deep into the enemy air defense network to engage. Personally I prefer the JH-7.
Both North Korea and China have rocket pod planes, if one wishes to use them. Their cluster bombers are generally bad and not worth taking. There are cheap throw away napalm bombers if one wants to bomb roads to delay enemy advances. SEAD is expensive but decent, with the Feibao - somewhat akin to the Tornado ECR, at 150 points with powerful anti-radar missiles, high speed, but slightly lower ECM at 40%. One can get 2 of them, albeit at rookie status.
Bombers are where there start to be serious choices. There are 3 bombers worth takeing in Red Dragon's deck. The Q5-D is a generally unremarkable smart bomber, decent enough but unremarkable - certainly nothing like the fast and hard hitting Israeli Kurnass, which really does hit like a sledgehammer. Still, it does tend to mostly hit, unlike the Japanese F-1, and can serve to bolster anti-tank firepower. The J7H is a surprisingly effective "cookie" bomber, with a 1,000 kilogram, 20 HE bomb, fast but without ECM and quite cheap at 80 points - often worth it even if it lost to throw at a target, and with 4 of them in Red Dragons, they can be spammed. But the final choice is the most famous: the B-5, with an impressively massive 30 HE 3,000 kilogram bomb, 15 health, a huge turning circle, a massive 160 points price, and no ECM,. Labeled the nuke bomber, the B-5 is unique in its capability to utterly clear an entire area with a massive blast of any infantry or light vehicles, and its huge area makes it difficult to avoid in cities. Any of them are valid options, but one only really has space for 2.
Fighters are the other option. Red Dragons has 3 options that are generally viewed as viable, but unfortunately has no "superfighter" and what might be viewed as a "workhorse" fighter - the 120 - 150 point range - only has the SU 27SK, expensive at 135 points and with good ECM and reasonably good missiles for most stats including HE and accuracy, and good turn rate although only 900 kilometers speed - but which pays a premium for having 4 long range missiles, and which are only fire and forget. It can also only be brought at veteran. Following this is the Chinese J8-C, which is cheap at only 100 points, has high speed, good turning performance, but with less accurate missiles and which have an inferior HE performance - 5 + 4 from the long range and short range missiles respectively, unable to kill an enemy plane even if both hit. The final option is the North Korean Mig-23 which is 15 points cheaper still, but slower, only comes at hardened, and with some slightly worse short range missile states as well as worse ECM and turning radius. Generally the J8-C and SU-27SK are the best options, and their usage is up to player preference.
I generally prefer a card of 5 planes for Red Dragons Motorized, as being motorized leaves plenty of spare activation points for aircraft.
A Standard Battle
The above shows the depiction of what a standard deployment might be for myself as Red Dragons:
- Four Yuckjeondae 90's in BTR-90As, to provide the main attacking infantry and for fast motorized firepower
- WZ-550 to provide fast motorized anti-tank firepower
- 2 ZTQ-62Gs as both reconnaissance and medium tank assets.
- 2 HQ-7 missile launchers for anti-helicopter and some limited anti-aircraft defense.
- 1 Mi-2 recon helicopter for vision
- 1 ZTZ-85-IIA to provide additional anti-tank and armored capabilities
- 2 Tanke Shashou to provide additional firepower in the tank
- 2 Ban-Tank Fagots for anti-tank defense once a position has been secured
- 1 VTT-323 120mm mortar to provide smoke if necessary.
- 1 Li Rien in a WZ-511 to provide reconnaisance infantry.
This is on Nuclear Winter is Coming, and in this situation all of my resources would be to take the central city. The objective would be to use the combination of heavy motorized firepower, recon tanks, and tank destroyers to destroy the enemy initial advance, with HQ-7s to do the same if against helicopters, and seize the city. Once this is accomplished, one would either fortify, or keep on pushing forward to attempt to annihilate the enemy if the situation is sufficient, and buy CVs to gain a conquest point advantage or destruction point advantage (the above set up is presumably for a conquest match since in a destruction match I would probably get more CVs at the beginning).. If this initial attack failed, retaking the city would occur with the usage of BM-24 rocket launchers to stun the enemy, B-5 bombers for wiping out large concentrations, Yuckjeondae 90s as assault troops, and supporting SU-100s and BTR-90s to provide direct support firepower. While this is just one map, hopefully it shows the principles behind Red Dragons motorized: an effective rapid motorized attack, digging in or exploitation, and using a combination of airstrikes and rocket launchers to keep the offensive moving.