Ahh where to begin. Well, this certainly isn't your average RTS. Far from it in fact. This is frankly the kind of strategy game I've been hoping to see for over ten years. Now, I have heard some say that you really need to be a military or cold war history enthusiast in order to appreciate Wargame. I may be biased as I have studied military weapon systems since I was a little kid, but I have to disagree. From the standpoint of an RTS game, I believe it is unmatched and I will give some reasons why.
It’s actually a bit difficult to compare to other games... see with many RTS games you're building your base, having little skirmishes toward the beginning to gain unit experience, with the ultimate goal of massing units for a big push. With Wargame, there is no base building... it is all actual military maneuvers, weapon system knowledge, use of cover and concealment both for survivability and ambush, use of recon to spot enemy units for more combat oriented units, gaining Line of Sight (LOS) prior to and maintaining it during engagements (more difficult than it sounds), use of support systems such as Artillery, AAA, and SAMs to provide cover for advancing infantry and armored units, use of special forces infantry to wreak havoc behind enemy lines, capitalizing on terrain features to enable better LOS, spreading out of units so that a single airstrike won't eliminate half your assault force... but not so thin that they cannot cover each other. At the beginning of a match, there is usually a push to gain strategic positions (which supply reinforcement points) and dig in, then using recon to find gaps in enemy defenses and pushing through, encircling the enemy and/or simply cutting off their supply routes and territories. So... Wargame really is an interesting combination, it’s slow like a chess game at times... and then in a matter of literally seconds it can turn into a massive brawl.
In multi-player, which is really the heart of the game, it utilizes a "Deck" system where you will pick and choose what units you wish to deploy into battle not terribly dissimilar to the Total War series of games. Thinking of it like a deck of cards, each one can only field a certain number of units... and once they're gone... they're gone. More advanced or higher trained units will mean that you will only be able to field a very limited number of them, making highly specialized extremely advanced Decks very difficult to play with as EVERY unit loss is a major one... but if you are very careful, and very clever, you can win.
Bringing more units into battle requires reinforcement points, which are gained by capturing strategic points on the map. While this system will sound familiar, it plays out differently than in most RTS games in that not just any unit can capture and hold a point. In fact, a single insignificant and vulnerable command jeep or other "CP" unit can capture and hold a point. If the enemy discovers this command unit, then you are just one artillery or air strike away from losing the point and having to bring forward another CP unit to secure it again.
Another system worth mentioning is support via supply trucks and helicopters. Every unit can run out of ammunition, and any unit utilizing a combustion engine will run out of fuel. The only way to keep your units in the fight is to resupply them utilizing cargo transports. These supply units are very vulnerable... they have no defensive weapon systems, and little to no armor. Special Forces units can ambush and capture enemy supply units, so if your enemy is pounding you with a constant barrage of weapons fire... chances are there is a major resupply operation in progress and if you can disrupt that, you can deal a crippling blow to your adversary. With resupply made impossible, your opponent's constant spam of shells and bullets will render his units helplessly dry on ammunition... easy targets.
Air forces are a big part of the game. Frankly a single well executed air strike can shut down an entire assault, and force your opponent into a defensive posture... but that is not to say that attacks from the air are TOO powerful. In fact, aerial units are very easy to shoot down, very expensive, and fixed wing aircraft can only fly for a short period of time before they have to bug out due to low fuel. Jets can also be particularly difficult to utilize effectively because most of the time the enemy will cover their ground forces with AAA and SAM units. However, in the off chance your opponent miscalculates or sends his forces in with little to no cover... responding with a couple A-10 Warthogs along with fighter cover and witnessing the destruction they are capable of is truly mezmerizing.
Now, I haven't messed around so much with the naval aspect introduced in Red Dragon... but there are some balance issues and tweaking to be made there. However, for ground forces, the game is amazing, made even more so through the use of amphibious units. Your opponent think that you're helpless against his wall of tanks overlooking the lone bridge in the area? Not a problem, send in a group of amphibious tanks or anti-tank missile equipped vehicles to traverse the river around the flank and put fire into the sides of the aforementioned problem. Did I mention that all vehicles, armor, helicopters have differing top, front, back, and side armor levels? Tank armor is usually very strong to the front, and weaker in the rear or side... makes flanking maneuvers or ambushes on unsuspecting armored units quite devastating.
In closing, the learning curve is high, the 1300 units is daunting to think about, and the pacing may not be what everyone is looking for. It can be very slow and almost chess-like at times, and then turn into a firefight with unrivaled intensity. If you're looking for a unique blend of game and simulation, that you could play for years and still learn new things, it's tough to beat Wargame.