First Wargame: Red Dragon Teaser Trailer Makes Me Randy

By Graham Smith on January 8th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

Krakaoooow!

Wargame: Red Dragon was announced at last year’s Gamescom, but there was very little to see of Eugen’s latest large-scale real-time tactics game. Maybe nothing? I don’t know, I wasn’t really there. Now the first teaser trailer has been released and it has boom, bakoosh, skadoosh, krekekkkckckck, ra-tt-tt-tt, fwoosh, skrooooosh and fump-fump-fump. Even the YouTube logos at the end make exciting war noises.

The Wargame series has the scale of Supreme Commander, the dynamic campaigns of Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, the tactical nous of Eugen’s own RUSE, and it seems there’s a new entry in the series every year. I’m pretty sure we should all be playing these games.

As the name suggests, Red Dragon is the first Wargame to take the series out of Europe and set it instead in Asia. It’s still a Cold War-ish affair, this time set between 1975 and 1991, but with 450 new units including tanks and planes from China and North Korea. Multiplayer returns also, for up to 20 players.

I haven’t played these games, but I want so badly to play these games, except that I haven’t played these games. Everyone I know is in a similar position, so let’s examine these feelings a little.

Why I want so badly to play these games

– War is cool.

– They look pretty.

– They’ve got big wars in. Big wars are the most impressive wars.

– RUSE, which Eugen developed, was excellent. It was a World War 2-set RTS in which deception was part of your active abilities. Poker was the metaphor used: you could spread misinformation to make it look to your multiplayer opponent as if you were sending tanks one way, when actually it was a clever ruse, and your tanks were already outside their base. It was tactically intelligent, original, very pretty, and a lot of its tech and ideas are present in Wargame.

– Everyone I know who has played them says they’re good, including The Flare Path’s Tim Stone.

– Dynamic campaigns are boss.

Why I haven’t played these games

– Very few people I know have played it, though they all say they want to.

– It’s called Wargame. The last one was called Wargame: AirLand Battle. I know where that comes from, but it’s a bit like naming your shooter Shootergame: ManJeep Fight. Questgame: OrcsElves Loot. (John: “Adventuregame: InventoryClick Wait”. Adam: “Artgame: AbstractSorrow Observe”). I guess more broadly there’s a thematic issue: I don’t care about the setting that much. It feels like the theme for this strategy war game is “war and strategy”.

– They’ve got big wars in. Big wars are the most time-consuming wars.

– I’m lazy????

Red Dragon looks exciting, but obviously I’m ill-equipped to make a decision. Decisions. So I’m willing to hand control over my life to the commenters. We’re all friends. Should I throw down tools and go play AirLand Battle right now? Should I wait and start with Red Dragon? Don’t make me do something I’ll regret, but I could play one of ALB over the weekend…

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63 Comments »

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  1. Misfire42 says:

    Play ALB. I’m still new to the game and can’t even begin to understand its various complexities, but it’s good. It’s not the easiest to get into (although I’m also new to this type of strategy game, so that doesn’t help), but it’s good, and when you begin to understand it a little bit and something goes well it’s good. It’s also good when things go kind of badly and you have to panic while getting everything back in line. It’s not as time-consuming as you might expect, either – my admittedly brief experience seems to indicate that matches rarely last longer than about 30 minutes. It’s good, you should play it.

    Also, as the guy under me suggested, I can tell you from experience that having someone to help you is a really good thing.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      There are some really excellent Steam guides which are almost essential reading. This one was the weighty volume that made me fall in love with WALB, despite its hugeness.

      http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=153388204#

      In fact I think its the complexity I find so appealing. I love the idea that its going to take me ages to be any good at it – and that means my wins are something real and derived from skill and learning.

      • mouton says:

        Still appeals to me more than trying to learn Dota 2

        • Misfire42 says:

          I think I played DOTA 2 for about 10 minutes. There was no tutorial that I remember (if there’s one now, it was before it was added.) I won’t be playing it again.

      • Misfire42 says:

        Yeah, I read that, and it certainly helped, but I didn’t really feel like I knew what I was doing wasn’t totally lost until a friend walked me through it. Part of the problem is that now single player isn’t very good (not because of difficulty, just because I don’t like it much), but I’m afraid to jump into multiplayer with my limited skills.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Thurgret says:

    You should play AirLand Battle right now, absolutely. The name is indeed rubbish, but that’s what comes from naming their game after American Cold War doctrine.

    Personally, I think the single player is pretty naff, although opinions certainly differ on that. The multiplayer is where it’s really at, for me, especially if you’re on TeamSpeak, Mumble, or some such other service with the people on your team. I think there are more than a few RPS readers who play it. Perhaps you should cajole them into showing you the ropes? (Personally, I’m using a mobile dongle for Internet access, so that pretty much rules that out.)

    • Premium User Badge

      bills6693 says:

      Agreed, it is by far better to play with other people on teamspeak or skype or something like that.

      I for one know a great teamspeak to play on, some very good players but always welcoming new people and inexperienced players to play side-by-side with.

      The game really is something you should try out if you have an interest in RTS games. It really brings a fresh approach and plays very well.

  3. Haztopian says:

    As a long-time RPS reader, I registered to say this:

    Play Wargame ALB right now. It’s great fun, and not at all daunting to get into. It’s an RTS which takes itself seriously, but is still reasonably approachable and polished. I think it’s significant that Wargame made me care about the difference between a T-64B and a T-64BV even though I really didn’t before.

  4. CookPassBabtridge says:

    WALB makes me feel like no other game out there. When I lose, it feels crushing – so much invested in setting up my units, planning a strategy, only to see a squad of enemy decimate all my tanks, that feels bad in a way that no FPS ever does.

    When I win it feels like I just knocked out a really big mean dude. You know – THAT guy. With one punch.

    Very few games have me punching the air when I win, not even Dark Souls. This one does it every time.

  5. Velko says:

    Strategygame: NestedMenu Ponder

  6. Scissors says:

    Didnt like the first one. Clickfest with Usain Bolt infantry and Formula 1 tanks. If you like Counter Strike and want the same from an RTS, this is the one.

    I just hope the new Men of War is good.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hanban says:

      I am by no means an expert so maybe I’m just doing it wrong but I find that it is less click heavy than the majority of multiplayer RTS games. The focus is rather on making good decisions before and during battle.

      • Premium User Badge

        Thurgret says:

        I average about four to six clicks a minute in Wargame, myself. More if I’m fielding a force with expensive MBTs or aircraft which I feel a particular need to micromanage. There’s certainly less clicking than in other RTSes I play.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      If you think Wargame is fast I think your head would explode if you tried to play other RTSes. You can easily compete at the highest level and win with SINGLE DIGIT clicks per minute in Wargame. Most other “RTS” games require in excess of 60, and Starcraft (ridiculously) prides itself on requiring TRIPLE DIGIT apm.

    • mouton says:

      Frankly, your comment makes me think the only games you played in the last two decades were turn-based strategies.

      Clickfest? Seriously? Well, at least you did not compare it to COD.

  7. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Adam mentioned during the Seasonal “Games Wot RPS Liked Bestest” articles that he was going to attempt to play WALB – did he dip his Chobham-armoured toe in the depleted uranium filled water yet?

  8. Masterpwny says:

    And now it will have ships.

    I still remember Men of War: Red Tide’s botched attempt at adding naval units to a beloved strategy title. This looks to be what I have been waiting for for a very long time.

    Couldn’t enjoy ALB enough,

    They REALLY improved upon the single player aspec in ALB turning it from a drab tutorial campaign into a grand strategy affair where you control different battlegroups (sort of like RISK) with very different strengths and weaknesses leading to some great asymmetrical scraps across Scandinavia.

    The enemy AI, and audio feedback could use work, however there is nothing else like it out there.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Don’t worry about the ships. Eugen have done Naval on top of a previously non-naval RTS before. And they did it brilliantly.

  9. hotmaildidntwork says:

    It has some of Supreme Commander’s scale, but does it have its nuance?

    I never quite wrapped my head around Wargame when I played it, but it ultimately came off as kind of flavorless and uncommunicative. Maps were squares of contiguous land with some largely ignoreable terrain types, units were a massive heap of inexplicable and seemingly irrelevant stats and ultimately I would always get tired of trying to be clever and knowledgeable, summon a bunch of tanks, and roll over whatever was marked as an objective.

    Compared to SupCom’s world of large bodies of water and impassable cliffs, easily automated unit production and transport, well defined units, and totally badass nukes it doesn’t seem worth the trouble.

    What am I missing?

    • Premium User Badge

      Thurgret says:

      It’s altogether deeper than Supreme Commander. The terrain is hugely important — something that may take some time to come to appreciate, along with how reconnaissance functions. Unit stats can be viewed intuitively, at first, although after a few games, you’ll almost certainly come to appreciate what they mean a little more. Playing it in multiplayer may help, too.

    • bvark says:

      It has a place in my heart (alongside Supcom, but obviously not Supcom 2 since there was only one Supcom), because it provides an grand-scale RTS game mode that doesn’t rely on an economy race.

      Multiplayer is where the nuance lives.

    • P.Funk says:

      I can see why you’d be confused about the units. Most RTS games design units so that they’re easy to recognize in terms of their individuality and their purpose in the balance. Wargame units are more or less the exact same as their real life counterparts so if you don’t have a lick of knowledge about real life military nuances then it can be daunting.

      Here’s a tip. Nobody really reads stats that go beyond the very obvious. Speeds on and off road, range of weapons, especially Anti Tank or Anti Air missiles, as well as missile accuracy. With tanks you want to care about things like optics and stabilizers.

      The biggest thing about Wargame is the scale. The scale of how units interact is fascinating compared to other RTS games. In most RTSs you’re mashing units close together to create melees. In wargame you can kill units well beyond 2km. You have to have an understanding of how to control terrain defensively to know how not to just get slaughtered walking into death.

  10. WinTurkey says:

    There’s a guy on Youtube called ICBMRaptor2, he does some very good commented Lets Plays of Wargame.

    Start by watching some of them, it’ll give you a good idea of what to expect, although if you enjoyed RUSE I can’t imagine you won’t enjoy Wargame, since it’s basically what Eugen wanted RUSE to be if Ubisoft hadn’t kept them on a creative leash.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Also much love here for VulcanHDGaming’s channel too :)

      • Fergus says:

        I’ll 2nd that love for VulcanHD!

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Its great how he breaks down and critiques plays, describing why it did or didn’t work. It makes me chuckle chuckle when he gets milidly irked by other peeps occasionsl flubs, as well as his own.

  11. Smion says:

    I wish i had the multitasking skill required to actually be any good (or at least not outstandingly bad) in RTSes of this size.

    • P.Funk says:

      If you play with a friend its often easy to focus on one side of the map. You can relatively easily find the battle focusing on one screen space and the presence of your units in places off screen is enough to discourage pushes there.

      Control a bridge crossing between two control points and its not a healthy place to fight for either side, but neglect to defend it and you left a backdoor open. You are committed to placing units there and that distracts your economy slightly, but overall battles tend to focus on key terrain and avenues of approach that are better for the attacker.

      Also, any skill with multitasking means primarily that you understand the thing being handled. Time playing makes multi tasking easier. This game is not an APM festival. Its actually pretty modest in terms of its clicks per minute.

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    AngelTear says:

    It’s a shame this is the only post tagged “Secret Best Games” D;

  13. Yargh says:

    I love the Wargame games even though I find them rather overwhelming. This is likely due to needing to know what the various units can and can’t do than too much going on at once.

    There is definitely a large part of properly positioning your little guys before you can let them do their stuff.

    • P.Funk says:

      Most Arma players have a ridiculous head start with the unit comprehension part.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Arathain says:

    OK, so here’s my pitch for why any long-standing PC gamer, including all critics, should play Wargame: AB.

    For a great many of us PC-loving types, there is an RTS firmly wedged into our memories. It’s Dune 2, and then the first C&C, for me. These games came to us when we were young and impressionable, and were a fresh new awakening in what was possible for a game. Colourful and attractive, responsive and intuitive, exciting and full of action, these games delivered a feeling of power and accomplishment the like of which we had not known we could have. For years thereafter, the RTS was a regular feature in the significant games of any given year- your C&Cs, your War and Starcrafts, Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander, as well as Ground Control, World in Conflict, Company of Heroes, Homeworld, and others.

    Over time, however, the RTS has lost its grip on the majority. Starcraft 2 embodied a sense in many that the genre was bound by tradition and pandering to a hardcore minority. While an excellent title in its own way, it felt too conservative, too gamey and unintuitive, too fussy and clicky. RTS titles are increasingly rare, to where the second Company of Heroes and Planetary Annihilation seem to be exceptions. There has been serious, sensible talk about the death of the conventional RTS.

    No-one told Eugen, however. As the RTS was starting its decline, they released RUSE, an elegant, clever title, with great pacing and strategy, and accessible even to a multiplayer newbie like me. They showed that they hadn’t given up on the genre, and that they had some life and ideas to breath into it. Forward to Wargame: AB, a game of such grand scale and ambition as to make RUSE look like something from a game jam. A rich, deep game, with hundreds of units serving many different roles on a huge, gorgeous battlefield. It seems daunting at first, but the beauty of the game is how the complexity adds depth without taking away from the intuitive nature that makes RTS fun. Play for a little while to get a sense of how each type of unit interacts, an you’ll start to experiment with strategy. Then you’ll want to see if there’s a unit that’ll fit that strategy better, and before you know it you’ll be delving happily into the stats to get just the right tool for the job.

    The campaign is a classic weakness for the genre, with scripted missions leaving little room for improvisation. This has what we always wanted from the RTS- a dynamic strategic map where the strategic and tactical layers deeply inform each other. Each battlegroup has its own composition, and fights in a certain way. Casualties are permanent, so as the war continues each group gets depleted and exhausted even as it becomes battle hardened and elite. Sending your fresh, green armour group to support the weary commandos defending the objective is a decision you’ll make, and it plays out on the battlefield.

    Here’s the tl;dr. The RTS genre is core to the experience of being a PC gamer, despite the hard times it finds itself in. Wargame: AB is a game that breaks the malaise by being clever, fresh and uncompromising, and having one of the great RTS campaigns- a purely dynamic, unscripted struggle full of personality. Consider yourself a veteran of the PC? You have to play it, or do the platform and its history a disservice.

    • Akke says:

      Hear Hear.
      Great post. The only things missing was mention of Myth, which had a great campaign even if it was static. The story and voice acting tied the missions together perfectly.

  15. MartinWisse says:

    Wait a minute. That’s an Ilyushin Il-102 at 0:51.

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      RedViv says:

      Yes. The alternate history settings of the Wargame series allow for quite a few prototypes to shine as regulars, where they in our world were just abandoned.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thurgret says:

      Yup. Like RedViv said. To elaborate, for multiplayer games, if you construct your deck of available units such that it only contains unit types available to one particular nation, you get, amongst other bonuses (to make up for your restricted options), the ability to pick so called ‘prototype’ units — things which didn’t go into full production historically, but have been assumed to in Wargame, what with war breaking out.

  16. Kohlrabi says:

    And this game is one of the few top-notch titles on Steam which run on Linux.

  17. Universal Quitter says:

    This game (AirLand Battle) is really good, but is at heart a multiplayer experience. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they really shouldn’t use that “Dynamic campaign” as a main selling point.

    Acquired tastes shouldn’t be advertised. and that campaign is most certainly an acquired taste.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Really? That campaign is the only way I will ever play it. It’s really not bad at all. I’ve also heard others say the same. Are you sure it’s an ‘acquired taste’ or is it just that you don’t like it?

      • Premium User Badge

        Hanban says:

        At first the campagin was a bit daunting but I’ve ended up enjoying it quite a bit. As soon as you (or someone like me, rather) gets past the whole fact that it’s not a Total War-style mash your units into the enemy type deal it gets quite interesting.

        My only gripe is the fact that you cannot auto-resolve battles which means that it’s a bit time intensive to play. Hence my dynamic campaign playing happens in short bursts every day.

  18. wrcromartie says:

    If you like strategy games, Warland AB is a worthy play. The multiplayer can be extremely deep and competitive. SP makes for a good proving grounds.

    The most important difference between Wargame and all other RTS’ is the importance of recon units. If you don’t use recon units to properly provide line of sight to your tanks, you will lose every time. In Wargame, you *cannot* simply produce one type of unit and expect to have any success. It is all about gathering information about the enemy and building an appropriate response.

    As some posters have said, there are some really good guides on the Steam page which should be read before playing.

  19. a1ml3ss says:

    EE and ALB are the only games I’ve played with any consistency online for years. I’m over 30 and ridiculously busy with work and life, and cant keep up with clickfests. These games I can get away with 10 clicks a minute and compete. Also, best game where you fight over terrain and it’s worth retreating….

  20. Calculon says:

    Sorry. Gotta disagree with the above posters. Its terribad (Not just terrible and bad, but Terribad, which is a whole new level of…well you get it).

    Ive had RUSE (which was ok), (Now Im opening up steam because these products are poorly designed that I cant even recall their names) Wargame European Escalation, and Wargame: AirLand battle. Its entirely possible, their interface design has gotten WORSE over the course of these releases, and that’s the main reason I refuse to play it.

    The use of the mouse and ‘hotkeys’ (or lack thereof) are so poorly designed that it ends up being a Mouse+BoxClick+Click smash fest rather than a carefully planned out tactical battle.

    Not only that but you have to understand the Pro’s and Con’s of each unit type, and read through all of the stats, and its entirely possible that you could select a crappier unit for the same cost as a much better unit, and not know it until you carefully review your list again..and again…and again.

    I’d call it a cluster youknowwhat rather than a tactical battle simulator/game.

    • The Universe says:

      Hello. I’m here to inform you that you are wrong. But thank you for taking the time to express this opinion (that is incorrect.)

      • Calculon says:

        Why thank you Universe for kindly stopping by and showing me error of my ways.

        (But seriously I still stand by my assessment)

      • trashcanman123 says:

        You don’t seem to understand what “opinion” really means.

        Annoying aspects of Wargame EE include:
        -Can’t pause and issue orders.
        -Can’t set the direction of units (I don’t want them facing the wrong direction, there are such things as “fronts” in war)
        – Can’t place units in cover easily (due to not being able to set direction)
        – Can’t set auto retreat, hold fire on all weapons, auto refuel points

        The lack of automated orders or standing orders means you have to micromanage (ie. this is what people mean when they say clickfest, they don’t want to have to micromanage the boring and tedious aspects of war like resupply, or retreat, or select each unit individually to ensure they move to cover and not where the group formation puts them)

        Let me tell you how much it sucks to micromanage without “pause and issue orders”. Really bad. You lose, and waste time, and then stop playing.

    • P.Funk says:

      Are you actually complaining about unit variety and depth being too great?

      Since when has a deep multiplayer RTS been about overly simplistic unit balance where you don’t need to pay attention to anything but the resource cost to know a unit’s relative value and effectiveness?

      Also, if you can’t figure out how good a unit is within 3 battles by once or twice glancing at the unit card and then watching that unit perform against various opponents, you might not be paying good enough attention.

      Part of the fun of a deep deck of options is that you can use dozens of units, and use them well, and turn around and find better ones or different ones and you have to weigh their cost against their value. Its also not just about an individual unit but its value in the combined arms effect of your deck design. Thats why there are decks, because units are co-dependent, and some have value only when there are others on the field, or only in the execution of particular strategies.

      • Calculon says:

        I could deal with the unit variety if the interface was well done – but it’s not. It’s terrible, from the information presented to the control options.

        • P.Funk says:

          Like I said, it doesn’t take a lot of thinking to figure out how your units actually perform. I don’t actually look at the stats in game, I mean who really does? The game moves too fast for that kind of tosh.

          In the end when I build a deck I look at the primary and maybe secondary use a unit has. Range with Anti Tank is supremely important. With anti-air its often a range versus accuracy thing, so you often have multiple layers of defense based on knowing which unit does what.

          The unit cards in the deck builder present all the info you need and rather well I believe.

          As for the command interface… uhhh what player serious about any RTS doesn’t use hot keys? Now I will admit that the default key bindings are garbage, but you just rebind them and get it over with. Its not like you spent much time doing anything other than Move, Move Fast, Attack, Reverse. With air you want to be able to Evac. Put them on hotkeys and memorize.

          I will concede that the unit icons can be a bit cluttered and imprecise, but again, nothing that really hampers you because this game doesn’t move as fast as Starcraft, so you’re not often going to be damned by it.

          I think your complaints are absurd and about laziness more than anything. Maybe you just aren’t very good at it. I remember when I sucked at European Escalation I blamed the game. Then I sucked it up and realized I was just shit.

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      Goodtwist says:

      You’re aware that you can customise the UI, right?

      Go to the Settings menu.

    • sinelnic says:

      It really isn’t badly designed at all, IMHO. I will concede it needs you adapting to it, though. Once you do, once you push the basic game actions to subconscious automation, you can create extraordinarily rich strategic and tactical approaches to battles and execute them flawlessly.

  21. GreatBigWhiteWorld says:

    I love this game to bits and am not afraid to say that I touch myself whilst spending hours browsing the Armoury.

  22. Chiron says:

    I’ve been interested by the Wargame series for a while but only just bought it in the Steam sale.

    I do not regret it at all, fantastic fun and its done what seemingly no game was able to do which was to stop me wasting time playing World of Tanks almost exclusively (seriously, I spent so much damn time on that game, its just so easy to fire up and get into a battle)

    There are a vast swathe of units and yes certain ones are going to be better but the entire game just feels more atmospheric and involved than games like C&C or Dawn of War. I love the deck system a lot and the scale is very impressive, actually feels like a true battlefield, its huge if you zoom right in.

    It reminds me a lot of the difference between playing something like Warhammer 40k (simple, 1-2 hour game, basic rules) and Epic (more complex, morale actually matters, your no longer fighting “EPIC BATTLES!!11 with 2 men and a dog but actually using assets in the right role)

    Its pretty much the RTS I’ve wanted to play for a while, would be nice if some elements of Ruse found their way into it though as deception is a sadly underused part of the genre.

  23. 0WaxMan0 says:

    I was on the line about Wargame:EE and Wargame:ALB for a long while having been massively turned off RTS’s with their rote win strategies, and rush macro gameplay.
    I can say Wargame:ALB is so far away from all of the negatives of more recent RTS’s that I have a hard time calling it an RTS. It has so much more in common with strategic turn based wargames but with an excellent fast paced, detailed and smooth gameplay that makes it fun rather than tedious.

    Anyone who picks this up needs to find other people to hang out with while playing, about 10 – 15 of my friends picked it up or reinstalled it after the steam sales and we can spend longer between battles discussing decks / tactics and comparing units than we do playing games. That does not include some fantastic AAR’s helped along by an excellent battle recorder (this just needs a rewind and share function to be perfect). Just try not to play against people you know it is a very very good way of destroying friendships (quite an emotionally intense experience).

    It is one of those games that after picking up you immediately set aside the cash for the successor.
    If you can’t bring yourself to try it out now then do not be cruel to yourself and not get Red Dragon when it comes out.

  24. sinelnic says:

    Well what I think ALB does better than anybody ever is ‘reducing’ the subject of its simulation without ‘empoverishing’ it. The game presents you with the same kind of decisions a true war commander would have to make. Take logistics for instance, which works as a (crucial) minigame. Or how the use of smoke, cover and fog-of-war can turn a very simple ‘town assault’ into a spiraling drama worth a couple of movies.
    The icing on the cake is its speed. This is intense workout for the brain, and it’s awesome. It really deserves a lot more praise.