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Video Game / Wargame: European Escalation

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The last guy he played with ragequit.

Wargame: European Escalation is a Real-Time Tactics game revolving around NATO vs Warsaw Pact countries in a Cold War Gone Hot. Made by Eugen Systems and published by Focus Home Interactive. This game features a lot of real life Cold War-era vehicles and weapons. Players gain stars through gameplay which they can use to upgrade/buy units into their "deck" to use in multiplayer, resulting in a wide variety of army composition and tactics, from mechanized infantry forces, heavy tank battalions, artillery-based groups to airborne-centric armies.

A sequel, Wargame: AirLand Battle, is set in the Scandinavian theater, and in addition to aircraft it introduces Canadian, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian forces.

A third game, Wargame: Red Dragon, focuses on the East Asian front, particularly the Korean Peninsula. It introduces amphibious vehicles and landings, warships, sea command sectors, and more complex terrain. It adds the People's Republic of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Australia and New Zealand combined into ANZAC as new factons, as well as some new units for some existing factions.

A Spiritual Successor, WARNO (military slang for "warning order"), is scheduled to be released in 2022. Based on an Alternate History scenario where the two blocs go to war after Gorbachev was overthrown, WARNO is set in both Germanies in 1989.

This game provides examples of:

  • Alternate History:
    • The single-player game is a series of campaigns with diversion points rooted in real-world flashpoints, such as the Polish Uprising or Able Archer.
    • WARNO is based on the scenario where the Cold War turns hot and the two sides fight over Germany after hardline communists overthrew Gorbachev in 1987.
  • After the End: Most of the campaigns are disconnected from each other, with the exception of the last two, Able Archer and Wasteland. Specifically: the first mission of Wasteland starts somewhere between two and three months after the final mission of Able Archer... which ended with French nuclear missiles getting fired at the Warsaw Pact. No points for guessing what happened after that...
  • Artistic License – Geography: While cities outside Germany are more or less in the place they should be, Bonn has apparently moved to the Saarland (closer to the French is safer, now that they are allies), Frankfurt marched south (to avoid the tank wedge?) and Hannover, while not as badly misplaced as the others, is not really in the right place either.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Two of the Command Vehicles, West Germany's Pz.Bef.Wg. Leopard 2 and the Soviet Union's T-80UK, are both command variants of their respective country's best tank. This means that they can control sectors when stationary but also pack quite a lethal punch against any ground unit that think they're going to pull an easy kill.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Just like in real life, weapon systems can be overly complex compared to old style guns and bombs:
    • Anti-tank guided missiles: ATGMs tend to be incredibly powerful with even heavily armoured tanks only able to take two to three hits at most, far outrange small arms and even some main tank cannons. However, this game is set well before the most modern fire and forget weapons like the Javelin came into use for vehicle and infantry troops. Like real life they will go off course at the slightest provocation, have long travel time, and most vehicles have limited ammunition.
    • MLRS systems vs. standard artillery: MLRS can saturate an area, killing almost everything there, but most of the weapons in the game are inaccurate and have limited range. They can fire faster than artillery, but supply is used up phenomenally quickly, especially with the very biggest rocket systems.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: Both sides have well armed APCs. Most infantry choices can also have one of these with them if you choose, ranging from lightly armored car to IFV, transporting them directly into the battlefield.
  • Bohemians With Bombers: Czechoslovakia is a playable country.
  • Brits with Battleships: The United Kingdom is a playable country.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Played straight, receiving damage will not reduce the effectiveness of the unit, though vehicles are liable to receive a "critical" randomly that will hamper then. Infantry squads, however, basically get the Conservation of Ninjutsu compensating for them as they take damage and losses because their damage output won't get hurt from it. Players thinking about this are liable to joke the last man standing becomes some sort of Walking Armory Hollywood Action Hero.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Many units have only one useful role, and are mincemeat for anything that isn't their sole counter. Examples include anti-air or anti-tank missile vehicles.
    • Averted realistically by some units; infantry carry anti-tank or anti-air missiles, assault rifles, and grenades and a good infantry unit is capable of taking on a surprising range of units. Also, certain tanks come with autocannons as well as machine guns, making them effective against vehicles, aircraft, and infantry all in one. The best example of this would be the M60 Starship, whose main gun can fire both conventional ammo and anti-tank missiles, and also packs a 20mm autocannon to use against helicopters.
  • Cycle of Hurting: Tanks can be stunned and routed by attacks that do relatively little damage, but high morale damage, such as flamethrowers, autocannons, and rocket artillery. When a unit routs they have a tendency to break cover and run, and as soon as they stop routing (but are still in a Panicked state of low morale) they'll turn and head back towards the enemy...just to get routed again. It can be rather frustrating watching a cheap unit with an autocannon or flamethrower play yo-yo with an expensive Abrams, Leopard 2, or T-80.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Compared to the latter two games in the series:
    • There are no fixed-wing aircraft, only helicopters.
    • Campaigns are a series of separate linear missions, rather than a Total War-style overview map.
    • Vehicles must be unlocked in order to be able to include them in your deck.
    • Infantry squads can use grenades.
    • Landmarks like the Inter-German Border fences or Ramstein Air Force Base are featured on maps.
    • The various towns and villages seen on maps are given names.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted. Your units have limited fuel and ammo, and need to be resupplied in order to continue fighting. Although, perhaps for simplicity's sake, supply trucks and helos themselves don't have a fuel gauge, don't consume fuel, and they basically have unlimited range.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: Supply trucks or forward operating base (FOB) that are left unguarded can be captured by enemies simply walking up to them. Any supplies remaining can then be used by the enemy to refuel and rearm his units. See Universal Ammunition below.
  • Fog of War: You can see all the terrain but not your enemies until they come into line of sight of your units. Interestingly, guided missile units and artillery will remain hidden even when they are attacking you. You have to look at it's projectile and make a guess.
  • Geo Effects: Trees hide your units. Hills block your line of fire etc.
  • Killed Off for Real: Every unit in the single-player campaigns; you have a single TO&E per campaign and any unit you lose is dead for good. This means a careless commander may have to start the entire campaign over from scratch if early mistakes leave you shorthanded later. Additionally, units gain veteracy that carries over into later missions, making their performance significantly better.
    • Also, in any given multiplayer game, you only have a discreet (and for high-end units, surprisingly small) amount of any particular unit; in long games it's entirely possible to run out of some favored units.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: NATO has its share of missile units, but PACT is remarkable for the majority of their tanks having ATGM missiles, meaning a strong Soviet tank rush can see entire swarms of missiles flying.
  • Model Museum: All the games have a viewing feature where the player can see vehicles, aircraft, and infantry squads in a hangar-like environment. Notably, it's the only time fixed-wing aircraft are shown with landing gear deployed, which is never seen in any other context.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The single player missions. Not because the AI is intelligent. But because enemy units are everywhere.
    • In Air Land Battle, the AI has a rather frustrating and obvious recon cheat, which makes attempting to sneak units past the front totally impossible. additionally, they tend to hide C Vs in far corners of the map, which makes actually winning a stand-up fight in the campaign nigh-impossible.
  • Nuke 'em: What happens at the end of final Warsaw Pact campaign.
  • One-Hit Kill: AirLand Battle adds the French Super Etendard attack aircraft, which carries a single missile capable of one-shoting any ground unit it hits. It's a popular counter to the Soviet T-80U.
  • Ossis with Osas: East Germany is a playable country.
  • Palette Swap: Certain Warsaw Pact units are literally the same unit but with a different paint scheme and language; for example East Germany's forces include T-34/85Ms and BMP SP-1s/2s that are exact copies of USSR units but with a different name or designation.
    • The variants of any particular unit tend to be this as well. The only visible difference between an M1 Abrams and an M1A1 for example is a change in camouflage. The Pact are kings of this trope in this arena as well. Units like the T-62 can have more than six variants, without counting the identical versions used by the other Pact nations, and the only visual changes will be camouflage or the addition of ERA on later variants.
    • In AirLand Battle, the PACT T-55 has 17 variants, most of which look identical. Similarly, the UH-1 Huey transport chopper is used by just about every NATO country, just with new camo.
  • Reds With Rockets: The Soviet Union is a playable country.
  • Resource-Gathering Mission: There's a mission in the "Able Archer" campaign ("1914 Again") which is a combination of this and Hold the Line; the player has to accumulate 20,000 resources while defending themselves from a wave of invading Soviet forces. Gameplay is a balancing act between gathering the resources and spending them on more units to defend the map.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: More or less the premise of Wasteland in addition to being set After the End. Following the ending of Able Archer resulting in nuclear war, a group of former NATO and Warsaw Pact soldiers united in their hatred for those responsible for said war tear through warlord-plagued Europe before attempting to disrupt peace negotiations between the still-relatively intact USSR and USA.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Status Effects: Ranging from annoying ones like Track in mud : xx sec (Slow movement), Ammo box hit (Lose half of carried ammo) to Fire-control computer rebooting (Your tanks can't fire) and Detracked (your tank can't move).
  • Straight for the Commander: Doing so nets you a lot of points, which can be used to acquire more units.
  • Take Cover!: Certain terrain like forest gives out cover bonuses aside from invisibility.
  • Tank Goodness: This game doesn't just have tanks. It doesn't even just have tanks per classification (light tank, medium tank, main battle tank etc) - it generally has multiple different tanks per niche role and every major historical variant of every tank too.
  • Universal Ammunition: Although Easy Logistics is mostly averted, you'll notice that this generic "fuel" substance carried by your supply vehicles can turn into ammunition for any weapon in your arsenal or even replace dead troops. And if you manage to capture supplies belonging to the enemy, then somehow the enemy's supplies can be used to reload your side's tank guns, anti-aircraft missiles, etc.