The recently released “nation pack” for last November’s Armored Brigade is a great example of why you can never have too much of a good thing. The two nations included in the DLC, Italy and Yugoslavia, bring Armored Brigades already fulsome roster up to nine cold war combatants.
What’s more, players who purchase the nation pack will also have access to the new 61×61 Km map of the Italian-Yugoslav border, making for plausible randomly generated missions between the starring nations of the DLC. Or should I say plausibly generated campaigns, as Veitikka Studios, to coincide with the release of the nation pack, co-released a free dynamic campaign generator, adding an aspect to Armored Brigade that was sorely needed since launch.
As the core content of the DLC, Italy and Yugoslavia are both a blast to play, and can present a novel challenge for seasoned Armored Brigade vets, both commanding and playing against, especially Yugoslavia. The now defunct country’s units are a mishmash of very high and very low-quality infantry, with mostly older Soviet armor accompanied by a few oddities. I had to minimize the game the first time I saw a Yugoslav M36 tank destroyer, and check to make sure I was right that they were using an American vehicle from World War II. My favorite Yugoslavian unit in the pack, however, is the lowly “Territorial Defense Unit”. Super cheap, low stat units packing semi-automatic rifles and submachine guns, useful for affordably clogging up en masse just about any area on the map you want to make annoying for your opponent to move through. The Territorial Defense Units work especially well in conjunction with Yugoslavia’s terrifying T-12 100mm AT gun, for when you absolutely must deny the AI freedom of movement.
The Italian forces present are equally plucky, if not marginally better equipped. Designed to protect Italy’s mountainous eastern border, the army is at its best when defending. In addition to their low quality, high quantity infantry reserve units, the Italians also have the exclusive “Alpini” infantry units. These mountain troops boast high stats and a relatively purchasing cost, but are hamstrung by archaic equipment, such as MG42s and AT rifle grenades. A nice selection of Leopard tanks notwithstanding, I found Italy has a hard time pushing with the same assertiveness as some of the titles other nations. The same can be said for Yugoslavia, and while this can result in some lopsided beatings when pairing one of these nations against the USSR or US, pitting Italy or Yugoslavia against another minor player can yield some very fun match-ups. For example, Poland has their own “Territorial Defense” units, and having literal swarms of Polish and Yugoslavian cannon fodder units duke it out in a city map with nothing but their sub-machine guns and grenades was the most fun I’ve had wargaming in a while.
Speaking of maps, the newly included one of the Italian border is a treat. With multiple large cities, an archipelago, peninsulas, and hilly forests on the eastern edge, this map has a little bit of everything. Some of the more mountainous terrain may be off limits depending on the scale of the game your looking to set-up, as the game set-up screen let me know multiple times, “impassable terrain prevents AI planning”. Luckily, this isn’t the case with the more aquatic battlefields of southern Italy, so players can go nuts setting up maritime invasions. Prior to the release of the nation pack, there was only one map featuring water and islands, so this inclusion is nice for players, like myself, who love epic beach landings.
As was mentioned, Veitikka Studios was kind enough to release a dynamic campaign generator for free to coincide with the release of the nation pack. Prior to gameplay, the player plots out a series of waypoints where battles will take place and selects a cadre of forces he must try to preserve as the campaign wears on. Also factored into campaign gameplay is ammo and supplies, which really changes up the Armored Brigade formula. In addition to giving context and a larger purpose to the individual battles, the campaign also works tough decisions out of the player in terms of choices they make between battles. Support assets and unit replacements are both spent from the same pool of points, meaning today’s casualties can make the next day’s battle hopeless with no artillery or air support. I would like to emphatically reiterate, players do not need the nation pack to get access to the campaign generator, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it and what it has done for Armored Brigade. My time with the nation pack’s new units and maps has been almost entirely within this new mode, and apart from experimentation and testing, I don’t see myself going back to playing my battles in a vacuum.
Overall, this latest DLC has me excited for the future of Armored Brigade and I hope the developer continues to expand their title in such a way going forward. The cold war is a setting rife with material, and I am eager to see what Veitikka has up their sleeve (Southeast Asia anyone?). Also worth mentioning is the affordable price tag ($15) which nets you two armies and a gigantic map for the price of lunch. For those still on the fence about Armored Brigade, the nation pack probably won’t be enough to convince you to take the plunge, but for fans of the game looking for a challenge and to inject some more variety into their game, this DLC is a no-brainer.