An Argument in Favor of Trucks (or The Utility of Trucks)

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An Argument in Favor of Trucks (or The Utility of Trucks)

Postby Citadel » Thu 20 Mar 2014 06:00


(TL;DR: A way to call in infantry without full-price transports, plox)

So far, the most popular ideas are:
- Let infantry be called in without transport at all
- Make trucks blind/immobile unless unit is inside
- Make trucks have very limited fuel, to discourage front-line use

The most common counter-arguments are:
- Real-world (as in Cold War never went "hot") armies generally did not use trucks as frontline transports, nor do they today.
- The re-introduction of trucks invites "truck spam kamikaze scouting", where players abuse the vehicles to perform recon-by-exposure


Though, in history, decreasingly used by the nations represented in Wargame Red Dragon (WGRD) during the time frame depicted, I argue that truck-borne infantry should make a return to available options in WGRD. Here is my argument, broken down by major talking points. Full disclosure, I am an infantry proponent, and changes which effect infantry have a disproportionately large effect on the way I play and enjoy the WG series. For my brothers and sisters who aren't bothered much by this change they see in RD, I ask only for your open-mindedness and honesty about how this issue affects you.

- Precedent
- Balance
- Plausibility

One of the features which advanced the WG series was the addition of one-point trucks to deck-building and deployment which occurred in WGAB. This addition made it possible for commanders to, effectively, call infantry into battle on foot. Whether a player loved or hated this new feature, this became one of the core features of infantry play. Removing this feature would be a step backwards for this series, and an entirely unnecessary one. The removal of features in a game such as WGRD seems to counter what makes the WG series so wonderful. At a time when this series is pressing ahead at full speed (pardon the naval pun), the thought that we would be cutting out features, however small, seems an odd choice. Because it was done successfully in the previous game, I advocate that trucks be returned to WGRD.

Horus has made an excellent argument against my position in this thread here : LINK. Go read the thread, as its arguments are well constructed and thoughtfully made. The conclusion (and recommended change) is really reasonable, and I'd like to think that (s/z)he and I would agree on most points on how to deal with "truck spam". We certainly see the same problems with it.

I am here, however, to argue that a uniquely low-cost transport option, available to most if not all deck types, is worth the risk of abuse by rougish players. Considering the high costs of late-model transport vehicles and the low costs of infantry units, the economy of purchasing additional infantry units beyond the "first wave" (as any airborne deck player might be familiar with) becomes increasingly difficult to rationalize. In destruction games, particularly, the low offensive combat power of many transport vehicles, combined with their low defensive statistics, means that most vehicles over 5pts/vehicle end up in great big "parking lots" of wasted points, as the options available to the player are limited by their opponent's agency. The player can choose to either waste those points by keeping the empty transports idle, or by using them in "suicide rush" tactics, neither of which I think are really good options, particularly when the player is forced to call in yet more of the very same vehicles for each new infantry squad.

Instead, if infantry can be summoned cheaply (even on foot, if that was reasonable), there is a reason to preserve and protect one's more costly transport vehicles. These transports can be re-used multiple times in WGAB, increasing the economy of their purchase, and opening up interesting cost-effective strategies for the use of expensive transports. In short, the addition of trucks made transports re-usable beyond their first encounter, which totally changes the way a player can use them. It certainly changed the way I use transports for infantry, and completely for the better.

With the outbreak of war at a non-specific time between '75 and '80 (perhaps even as late as '86), it is doubtful that both the Warsaw Pact and the NATO powers would have been able to maintain fully equipped mechanized and armored divisions for much longer than several months, if not several weeks. Most military formations as large as a division required over 1,000 tons of supplies a day during combat operations, which means the roughly 100 divisions posted by the Warsaw Pact in Germany would have required several million tons of advanced-placed materials per month[1]. Even being highly conservative with our estimates, the inability of nations to move war material, much less produce it, in a hotly contested theatre would mean, simply, shortages. It is not inconceivable that, in the rush to have more soldiers holding guns than the other guys, we would see a regression of hardware on several fronts. Trucks, simple, humble trucks, would suddenly find themselves pressed into service as infantry divisions are hastily formed from conscripts and volunteers who need a way to get around between battles. While this may not be strictly canon, it is certainly plausible.

So, in conclusion, I argue that for purposes of precedent, balance, and plausible theming, the re-introduction of inexpensive ways to call infantry units onto the battlefield regardless of deck specialization is a positive feature for WGRD.

[1] James F. Dunnigan (1982) How to Make War, page 318. This book has been reprinted many times. A Russian tank division needed 1073 tons of supplies per day. Information retrieved from HERE.

[EDIT 20 Mar 14]
Counter-points so far:

"It's not realistic."
This is a pretty normal counter-argument to something like this, but I feel I argued well in my "Plausible" sub-point above how we might very well find trucks involved in World War Three's battlefield as battle-taxis. I'm proud of my fellow WGRD players who were in the military and have personal experience with these matters, but we're talking about a computer game with very made-up complications like balance and gameplay fidelity. Besides, given the chaotic nature of armed conflict in the 20th century, and the wide variety of opinions on the topic, I'm sure we can find intelligent, rational arguments for a whole array of stances on this particular topic.

"People made a lot of noise before about this, so there was obviously a problem."
This counter-argument worries me the most because of how it is both a logical fallacy and probably right at the same time. There are two assertions being made here; that lots of people were upset by the decision to add inexpensive trucks, and that the level of being upset was an indicator of an issue. I'm going to be (dangerous) honest and say that this argument is probably technically correct. There were probably plenty of people who were upset, and plenty who complained about a very real gameplay issue. I would simply point out that it is far less likely for players who are indifferent or in favor of a design decision to come out and voice concerns about it. How many "hooray we have planes now!" threads were there during the early days of WGAB, compared to "X unit is broken"? I am simply one of the perfectly content folks who was okay with trucks.

"This is silly/game breaking/dumb, etc"
I'd really appreciate more thought being put into counter-arguments. I've even linked you guys to Horus's thoughtful argument against my position, so you can just quote him or say you agree with his ideas.

[Revised Position]
I'd be perfectly happy with a game function which simply offers the UTILITY of trucks at the economic level. Hell, I'd be happy if I could just call in troops on foot who just walk their rear ends in from the edge of the map. Good luck getting them to anywhere on the map without transports! Really, I'm not interested in having the TRUCKS per se, but in having inexpensive ways to summon more infantry to the field. The rest could very well be left to the creativity of the players.

Some ideas I'd agree with:
- 5pt trucks (not a total fix, but a worthwhile compromise)
- Trucks without infantry in them are immobile/blind (I would have never thought of this. Good thinking.)
- Trucks automatically drive away when emptied (Thought of this, but I'm not certain that's the best solution. Still better than nothing.)
- Infantry can simply be called into battle without their attached transport. The player must find a way to transport them.
- Trucks are not classified as "vehicles" for purposes of being fired upon; ATGM units will not expend munitions trying to destroy them
- Trucks are treated as supply vehicles when empty, the player can select before (or during) battle whether or not units fire upon them automatically
- Trucks are immobile and blind when not occupied by an infantry squad.
Last edited by Citadel on Fri 21 Mar 2014 19:40, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: An Argument in Favor of Trucks

Postby griffor » Thu 20 Mar 2014 07:16

tbh i doubt they will come back the complaining on the forums was quite loud about how people would use them to check atgm lines etc, so for balance sake i doubt they will reappear.
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Re: An Argument in Favor of Trucks

Postby Mitchverr » Thu 20 Mar 2014 07:29

Very few complain on this.

The biggest boon of it is that transports are no longer considered "expendable", which is a good thing.(ie no real "1 point truck scout")

It is highly unlikely to return.

Also, destruction seems to have taken a back seat to conquest.

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Re: An Argument in Favor of Trucks

Postby Bryan » Thu 20 Mar 2014 07:42

Inauthentic, game breaking, silly and hope will never ever return.

Hit me up if you want to know more. I know people in Infantry Regiments and Motor-Transport.

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Re: An Argument in Favor of Trucks

Postby Zoring » Thu 20 Mar 2014 07:53

Some units already have trucks like the ANZACS, make them 5 points and have limited cards since we can do that now. Done

Currently I can choose for my ANZACs the 10 point Truck, the 10 Point M113, or the 10 Point ASLAV with 2-2-1-1, MG and 100/150 speed. What an amazingly easy choice...
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Re: An Argument in Favor of Trucks

Postby NATO Potato » Thu 20 Mar 2014 08:05 no army in the world would think about assaulting enemy positions inside those kinds of trucks (unless no available substitute could be found). it just promotes gimmicky gameplay, the removal of them made the game better in my opinion.

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Re: An Argument in Favor of Trucks

Postby hammerfist » Thu 20 Mar 2014 08:48


I think there's more room for trucks to be abused rather than be useful.

For escalation of infantry squad price, we could just buff the

combat effectiveness of transports just above the level of 5pt shopping carts

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Re: An Argument in Favor of Trucks

Postby ExeTick » Thu 20 Mar 2014 09:26

Keep the 1 point trucks away from Red dragon! not having to worry about truck spam so a player can see where your units are firing from then bomb the same place afterwards with planes. ehm no thank you.

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Re: An Argument in Favor of Trucks

Postby Bryan » Thu 20 Mar 2014 09:38

Zoring wrote:Some units already have trucks like the ANZACS, make them 5 points and have limited cards since we can do that now. Done

Currently I can choose for my ANZACs the 10 point Truck, the 10 Point M113, or the 10 Point ASLAV with 2-2-1-1, MG and 100/150 speed. What an amazingly easy choice...

ANZAC has a specialist vehicle like the humvee, its called the STOLLY. But it is not really a 'truck' per se.

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Re: An Argument in Favor of Trucks

Postby kinera » Thu 20 Mar 2014 09:54

i want truck.
only reserve forces. for 5 points.

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