Call of Duty Warzone — How to dominate the Gulag

The Gulag Warzone

Call of Duty Warzone has been a huge hit among both Modern Warfare and battle royale players alike. With its fast-paced action, well-designed map, and unique respawn system, there’s plenty to enjoy here for shooter fans. One of the big differences in Warzone that sets it apart from others in the genre is that death doesn’t necessarily mean game over.  You don’t have to wait and watch your team play. Nor are you only able to return to the field if your team brings you back. Of course, teammates can still revive you with cash — but that’s not something you can control. However, in Warzone you do have a chance for another life by claiming victory in the Gulag.

What is the Gulag?

When you first die in a Warzone match, you are not hit with the typical “you lose” stats screen and sent back the main menu, and you don’t have to wait and spectate if you’re with a team. Instead, you will find yourself locked away in the Gulag, a prison inspired by the Modern Warfare 2 mission of the same name. In the Gulag, you are placed in a one-on-one arena where the victor gets a second chance at returning to the battlefield. The loser forfeits their right to respawn and instead must rely on their teammates to buy them back in.

Warzone Gulag pistol round

Considering that the cost of reviving a teammate is steep, knowing how to win in the Gulag consistently is vital. Not only does failing cost your team $4,500 per member, it also forces them to go near a buy station. Buy stations are usually hot zones where gunfights and team wipes are not at all uncommon.

The Gulag itself is effectively a carbon-copy of Modern Warfare’s Gunfight game mode. That means that if you’re familiar with Gunfight’s mechanics, you’re likely to be comfortable in the Gulag. However, that assumes you both own Modern Warfare and have played a lot of Gunfight. For the majority of players, this won’t be the case. By following this guide you’ll learn how to dominate and consistently win in the Gulag.

Get to know the Gulag’s guns

One aspect that makes Gulag fights unique is the limited pool of provided weapons. When spawning in, both players are provided a random matching class and then duke it out. Typically, this will involve either a shotgun or pistol. This is where duels can get a little tricky.


Frankly, in Modern Warfare the pistols are fairly bad. Outside of the Magnum with Snake Shot, afully-kitted M19, and perhaps the Desert Eagle, pistols are weak and seriously lack range. It’s amazing how fast these things start to suffer from damage falloff. Given that the Gulag hardly has optimized versions of these handguns, you will often be handed a second-rate weapon to get the job done.

Pistol Round 2

A typical pistol round loadout.

Fortunately, there are a couple of positives to this. For one, your opponent is also stuck with this terrible weapon. Secondly, they probably won’t know how to use it properly, either. After all, most players simply don’t practice with guns they don’t like using.

So if you want to get a mechanical edge over your opponents, the strategy is simple: go away and practice using these pistols. You can accomplish this either in Warzone or, more ideally, in a core Modern Warfare mode. Just use pistols as much as often to get used to them. It’ll be frustrating at first, but once you learn how they handle, your ability to consistently kill with them will improve. Finally, keep in mind headshots are a one-shot kill with both the Magnum and Desert Eagle. For the best time-to-kill possible, always aim high and don’t settle for body shots.


As for shotguns, they are easier to use. In the Gulag, most of the shotguns that you can spawn with are very hip-fire friendly. The only exception is the 725, which gets a substantial range increase while aimed down sights (ADS). However, these random builds do not have attachments that speed up ADS, so attempting to do so will often leave you outgunned. Therefore, the best approach is generally closing the gap, getting within the gun’s effective range, and hip-firing.

Vlk Rogue

The key to shotguns is learning all of their effective ranges. Or in the case of the new VLK Rogue, to not use it at all. Seriously, it’s bad.

Otherwise, you’ll want to make sure you’re as good at flicking as possible. By flicking, I’m referring to an aim technique where you use your muscle memory to quickly transition your aiming reticle onto an enemy. It’s the most effective way to kill with any weapon with a low fire rate. This same technique applies to snipers, the heavier pistols, and DMRs, too.

I could write a thousand words on flicking alone, but it’s essentially something you’ll only be able to learn and improve with practice. If you’re interested in improving your aim, check out LooseArrowBoy’s guide on flick-aiming in Overwatch. It’s for a different game, but the skill is relevant to just about every first-person shooter on the market.

Teammates and communication in the Gulag

In a one-on-one matchup, you’d expect teamwork and communication to be a non-factor. However, this isn’t the case at all. When dueling in the Gulag, there’s a chance your teammate will be placed in the same arena as a spectator. This usually happens when both of you get wiped out at the same time.

So you’re entering the arena and your teammate is watching from the sideline. What can they do to help you? Without a doubt, the most useful contribution they can make is calling out the enemy’s location.

Teammates And Communcation Warzone

In this situation, the call out would be “Pushing, middle.”

They have a better view of the arena than you. It’s easy for them to see which side the enemy is on, when they are pushing, or if they’re playing closer to their spawn. These three pieces of information are crucial. To call out location, they can simply say if the enemy is left, middle, or right from your point of view. It’s a lot easier for the teammate dueling if you call from their perspective.

To call out the opponent’s level of aggression, you can either call push or stay. These guidelines make call outs very easy to make and follow. For instance, if an enemy spawned and instantly sprinted right side to catch you off guard, your teammate could call “Pushing, right.” You instantly know where they are, when to expect them, and where to pre-aim.

You can also throw rocks. No, really. Throwing rocks as a spectator isn’t completely useless. If an enemy places a claymore or proximity mine, you can detonate it by hitting it with a rock. For this reason, you should always let your spectating teammates know if you have either of these.

The power of equipment

Every loadout you spawn with will have both a piece of lethal and tactical equipment. Many inexperienced players often forget about these existing despite their incredible strength. If you’ve ever watched a professional Call of Duty game, you’ll know just how powerful equipment can be when used right.

Lethal equipment

The easiest to use are claymores and proximity mines. You either want to hide them behind a wall to cut off one of the two side lanes or place them on the objective in the middle. Generally speaking, if your opponent plays aggressive, do the former, and if they play by spawn, do the latter.

Claymore Spots

Circles indicate where you would want to place claymores/mines if you were attacking from the right. Hiding them behind corners out of your opponent’s line of sight is a must.

The majority of lethal equipment including the Molotov cocktail, grenade, semtex, and C4 should be used to either pressure your opponent or prevent them from capturing the flag. If you know they are sitting back, try and use these to flush them out and force them to move. If they rush to capture, spam your lethal equipment at the flag to zone them out. C4 is especially good at shutting down any capture attempt due to its large explosion radius.

Tactical equipment

More so than any lethal option, flash and stun grenades are the most powerful equipment in the Gulag. They can be used for two purposes: one, disabling your enemy so that you can rush in for a free kill, and two, scouting a part of the map to figure out where they are. By throwing them back right or back left, you can generally figure out where your enemy is playing via the process of elimination. If they aren’t on the left side, they must be on the middle or right.

Either way, the approach doesn’t change. You either take them on head first or follow your flash for a potential flank. Finally, if you do flash or stun an enemy, make sure to take the fight from behind them. Don’t just run in front of them as they can still blind fire and kill you.

Gulag Map 2

The indigo circles are flash or stun spots whilst the yellow circles represent optimal smoke grenades spots. Remember, it’s about either creating a window of opportunity, scouting, or rushing the flag.

As for smoke grenades, they aren’t overly useful, but they still open up a few potential plays. It’s a little obvious, but a lot of players are caught off guard if you simply smoke the flag and rush to capture. Better players will just spray into the objective, however, so be aware. An alternative option is to smoke the objective as a decoy and then flank around the far side to get behind them. Once again, better players will hear you coming and pre-aim in your direction.

Aggression is king

When first entering the Gulag, many players develop a habit of sitting back and letting the opponent engage them. This is almost never a good idea. Outside of the slim chance they run headfirst into your claymore, all sitting back does is let them choose the fight. In other words, you are giving your opponent the power to pick a favorable duel.

The biggest problem with sitting back is that any half-decent player will trap you with equipment and then go for the flag instead. Your location is predictable, so spamming grenades or stuns in your direction will usually get the job done. If I hear my teammate call that my opponent is lying prone in their own spawn, I know I’ve already won.

Scout And Push

If you have both scouting and a stun grenade on your side, it’s your game to lose.

Instead, you want to start by running forward to a piece of cover and then pre-aim a corner. After a second or so of this, if your enemy doesn’t appear, assume they are on the other side of the map. Continue to play in cover and either wait for or create an opportunity to rush them. Be sure to avoid tactical sprinting outside of your first few paces as it greatly increases your sprint out time. Not being able to react fast enough will get you killed.

In both pistol rounds and 725 rounds, you might get in a situation where you get your enemy low with an early ranged shot. If this happens, always follow up and push your opponent. In the Gulag, if left for long enough, both yourself and your enemy will begin to automatically regenerate health. If you let your opposition heal back up, you’ve effectively just thrown away the advantage created by those early shots.

The Gulag is only a part of the overall experience in Warzone. If you’re new to the game and want to learn some handy tips to avoid landing in its dire confines, check out our beginner’s guide.

Kurt Perry
About The Author
Kurt is a passionate games writer who loves JRPGs, racing games, and FPS. Having grown up on Xbox, Kurt transitioned to PC gaming in 2017 but still enjoys playing a variety of platforms.