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Armored Brigade, the real-time tactical sandbox which covers a vast swath of Cold War gone hot possibilities, has received its first add on...

Armored Brigade - Italy-Yugoslavia Pack + Campaign Generator Armored Brigade - Italy-Yugoslavia Pack + Campaign Generator

Armored Brigade - Italy-Yugoslavia Pack + Campaign Generator

Armored Brigade - Italy-Yugoslavia Pack + Campaign Generator


Armored Brigade, the real-time tactical sandbox which covers a vast swath of Cold War gone hot possibilities, has received its first add on content. It's called Nation Pack: Italy-Yugoslavia, and as the name suggests, it adds two unique new nations to the game. I won't go too far into describing the base game, since Robert did a good job of that here. Suffice to say, this a 2D RTS that will feel familiar to anyone who has played Close Combat or Combat Mission. 



What really sets the game apart is its vast scope. The game covers theoretical war in Europe between the years of 1965 and 1991. Accurate army rosters are available for 7 different nations in the base game, with this add-on increasing the count to 9. The other significant feature of the game is how it generates battlefields. Rather than having hand crafted maps or randomly generated ones, the game ships with several gigantic, accurate maps of various interesting locales in Europe. Individual maps are then generated from this by simply drawing a box of your desired size on that big map, and there you go, a new place to fight over. Combat can scale from company sized skirmishes to brigade sized brawls. This is the beauty of the game, it can be stretched and squeezed to give you exactly the sort of battle you want. 


Infantry squad knocks out a T-55 after losing their ride into town.
This new nation pack extends that sandbox even further by giving you two new nations to play with and a new map that covers 61 square kilometers of the Italian-Yugoslavian border. The two nations combined add over 250 new units to the game. That's a lot of new toys to play with! Now, I'm no aficionado of the Italian and Yugoslavian military makeup in this era (or any, really), so I'll link to the official description here which has a nice summary of the strategic thinking in those nations during the Cold War. The short version is, these nations were not the titans of the world, fielding first rate tanks and elite infantry. These are the oddballs, nations that had no desire to fight WW3 to begin with, nor did they have the resources to match the big boys if they wanted to. I've loved playing these sorts of secondary powers in every wargame since I got Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin as a kid. It's always fascinating to dig around in the OOB and see what kinds of units are available, and then figuring out how to fight a battle with what you've got. Here I was especially interested in some of the earliest formations, which include plenty of WW2 leftovers. I know lots of people are clamoring for the game to be expanded into a full on WW2 game, but here you can at least get a taste. 



Now, let's look at the new map a bit, as it offers a great variety of terrain to fight over. There are constricting mountain valleys, wide open plains, urban zones, coastal areas, and lots of rivers to cross. I have not fully explored the map yet, of course, but every battle so far has been on a tactically interesting battlefield. Where the map really shines is when you combine it with the new campaign generator.

The one great shortcoming of Armored Brigade (besides the lack of multiplayer) is that the game does not come with any campaigns and only a handful of scenarios. Those scenarios are mostly tutorials, and after playing around with them you are left with only one-off battles that you generate. While the battles you can generate are excellent, and created exactly the way you want, they are still just one off battles with no narrative or larger stakes to consider. That has all be changed with the free update launching alongside this nation pack, which adds a dynamic campaign generator to Armored Brigade, even if you don't have the DLC. 


Each green box represents a potential battlefield for the campaign. It can be much shorter, of course, or feature much larger battlefields.
This campaign generator is analogous to the single battle generator in that it is very flexible and easy to use. You just click on the map to indicate the general track you want the campaign to take, tweak the settings and scope as you please, and away you go. Each campaign starts off with a meeting engagement, and then the winner will advance and the loser retreat. As the battle moves towards one end of the campaign track or the other, the defender will be able to get more supply points and be able to build fixed defenses like pillboxes and such. If the momentum of the battle shifts and the fighting passes back over old ground, the destruction of the previous fights will be evident. This can change the landscape of a battlefield that is fought over several times, creating an immersive narrative for the player. Losses also carry over from one battle to the next. The player will receive a certain amount of supply points after each battle, and these can be used to repair and refit units lost in the fighting. 



This is a feature that the game desperately needed, and I'm happy to see it added as a free update. Really the only thing that I didn't like about the base game was that the battles never felt like they carried much weight, since they were just randomly generated one-off affairs. Now you can have a narrative arc, with real consequences for your losses and poor (or brilliant) decisions in battle. I haven't had enough time with the game to play out any epic campaigns just yet, but I imagine many players will be firing up a titanic US vs USSR campaign that spans the length of the Germany map. The especially cool thing is that everyone's campaign will be unique!

So, if you have been enjoying Armored Brigade so far, this is an easy recommendation. The two new nations add some extra variety to what is available in the base game, and the new map is excellent. If you were on the fence about Armored Brigade, the free update including the campaign generator has given it a lot more value, and I suggest that you take another look. I imagine we will be seeing several nation packs similar to this one over the next couple of years, and I look forward to trying them out. In a sandbox of a game like this, you can never have too many toys or too much sand.

Armored Brigade and the Italy-Yugoslavia Nation Pack are available directly from Matrix/Slitherine.

- Joe Beard






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