Armored Brigade : Yugoslavia – Italy

From The Strategy Gamer

With the coming release of Armored Brigade on Steam I decided to pick up the Yugo-Italy expansion and dig myself back into the game. There’s been a big patch since release as well, so how does it do?

The nation pack is just that, a pack of units and TOE for the Yugoslavian and Italian militaries at the peak of the cold war. On top of that is a beautiful map covering the border near Trieste. It comes with 3 pre-made missions but you can (and should) generate your own missions and campaigns.

Southeast Finland and Fulda from the base game were both great maps, but with the mountainous terrain in this expansion they’ve really pushed the boundaries. It’s in sharp contrast to most maps that err on the side of flatness.

The terrain takes some getting used to. What works in Fulda is a recipe for disaster. Combined ops are a requirement and all it takes to halt your advance is a few well placed AT squads with infantry support. One of the most stubborn enemies I fought was a jeep like creature mounting a recoilless rifle.

This is where the nation pack shines. You get access to some weirdo, crazy, and unique stuff. Want Yugoslavian M4’s? Check. T-34’s? Of course! M36 Tank Destroyer? Absolutely!

Fighting battles with stuff like this is really great. Pulling out an old tank and pitching against Alpini is a welcome change of pace. Another example, Yugoslavian F-84 Thunderjets (with napalm). Really? That’s cool as hell.

In case you’re not familiar with how missions are generated… First you choose a map location, followed by the engagement type, and lastly you build your “army” from the available units during that time frame. Then you get some variance of placement as above. I haven’t placed the line of armored vehicles on the west edge of the deployment zone yet.

Want to go in the hills, fighting only infantry vs infantry? Done. Maybe the port of Trieste with an armored thrust versus conscripts? Easy. The map itself becomes the missions.

It’s not always perfect. On occasions the generated map puts the AI at a disadvantage (or you) and the scenario wraps up quickly with a ridiculous casualty count. Other occasions the AI Leroy’s itself into defensive positions. It’ll flank on occasion, but seems to relish in accomplishing a goal in a singular manner.

But sometimes in the real world you get a crappy task and have to do your best to accomplish it.

Working with formations is one thing I really like and hope to see more of. It drives me crazy to see games where I’m an “omniscient” Colonel directing every private and individual vehicle. I want sweeping orders that allow me to control the battlefield without micromanaging.

Each formation can have a variety of SOP that will dictate how it moves, fires, and behaves. It’s satisfying to give a contact order, tasking the units through cover, and only engaging at effective range and actually seeing it done.

Now sometimes they do stop out of cover, but for the most part I’m surprised at how well it works. I wish I had more detail as to why a unit is not moving, is it waiting for orders? A break in the action? It hasn’t received the orders yet? Little things like that it’s nice to know if it’s a problem with my orders or the games engine.

Above we have AMX F-12’s, Bersaglieri Infantry Squads, and M8 Greyhounds holding the objective while a line of M47’s creep up. Unfortunately my gimmick battaltion of SU-100’s, T-34’s and M4’s isn’t up to the task.

My preferred method is to play with a 3 minute window and giving orders only to formations. Then big massive battles don’t feel so overwhelming. It plays almost like a graphical version of Command Ops 2. Though AB doesn’t have the combined arms / task force combiner as CO2 does but the time scales are usually short enough it doesn’t much matter.

Armored Brigade will be out on Steam on October 31st. The France-Belgium Nation Pack is supposed to be in the works as well. You can get the Nation Pack now (October 13th) for $15, the base game for $40.

As a side note, I can really see this expanding to say Israel, India-Pakistan, even WW2 engagements. The larger the database of maps and units grows, the easier it becomes to have conflicts all over the world.

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