The excellent tactical-level strategic warfare game from publisher Slitherine and developer Veitikka Studios Armored brigade recently got their third DLC and it is a serious game changer.
Billed as a “Nation Pack” featuring playable forces from the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia, the impact of the latest DLC on gameplay and overall enjoyment is incredibly understated. And all thanks to the inclusion of the title’s first linear campaign.
But before we get there, let’s talk about what Armored brigade is and why I am so eager to sing his praises.
Simply, Armored squad is a single player Cold War sandbox. There are some 700 units by my count, each with its own set of stats, amazingly detailed maps, and more systems in place than you can shake a cursor.
The big idea here is to represent both historical and fictional individual battles of the Cold War in the most finite and measurable details. The gameplay is simple: you place your units on a map, decide how they should engage by toggling orders and standard operating procedures, and then start the timer.
During play, you can issue orders to your individual units, but the units will not react instantly. This is to simulate the command delay (your units don’t magically receive the message all at once and when they finally do, they have to plan the best way to execute before rushing to do what you tell them to do. ). This forces you to plan your movements well in advance.
And speaking of planning, this isn’t the kind of real-time strategy game where you just care about health points and swarming. In OF You’re forced to factor in things like line of sight, weather, lighting, command delay, ballistics, sound detection, and dozens of other variables affecting every unit on the map.
It all comes down to a game you can pick up and start playing in about five minutes, such as checkers or chess, but it could take years to deepen its minor nuances enough to master.
It can be a bit intimidating for new players, however. Fortunately, the third DLC responds to this.
As far as I know, the previous two DLCs just added a few developer-created scenarios and a plethora of new units. Make no mistake, the new units alone add hundreds of hours of playtime for those of us who view games like a digital collection of war toys to play with. But the new DLC, as mentioned before, brings a linear campaign to the mix, and because it’s so easy to dive into, it’s helped me get into the game enough to appreciate its robustness as a sandbox.
Typically, I turn to WWII games because I know a lot more about the narrative behind them than the Cold War engagements. But the historically accurate linear campaign (as far as I know so far) included in the short story OF Nation Pack works well as a story-based motivator to win, and that’s all I really needed.
I have performed the same missions over and over again to optimize my strategy and each time I learn something new. In fact, the interface is so simple yet robust that I feel like I’m improving on battlefield tactics in general, not just in OF or in video games, but in life.
As a sandbox it is meant to be played the way you want it to. But I want an isolated and thoughtful experience. Typically, these games need multiplayer to make them interesting, as AI is usually pretty easy to munch on. But OF It doesn’t really suffer because, at least the way I play it, winning isn’t the biggest challenge.
You can fire up the game and dive into a battle in seconds if you want. All you have to do is choose your scenario, choose your side, generate your units, then hit start. You can always take a break to place orders.
But I tend to spend 30-60 minutes examining, placing, and configuring my units before the match even starts. I love the mindfulness of this exercise, it forces me to visualize battle in the exact same way real world military leaders must to issue high level commands. As Sun Tzu writes in The art of War, “Every battle is won or lost before it is even fought.” This game captures that feeling in a bottle and lets you sip it anytime you want.
Once I am convinced that I have prepared my assault / defense, it is time to start the game and move from a strategy focused on evolving tactics to one focused on deploying strategy. With the clock and command delay still present, the true art of combat is revealed in a way that transcends video games.
I found myself replaying entire battles just to see the incredible differences that come with changing my battle plan. And I’m always happy to see the AI trying different approaches or reacting to my changes in unexpected ways.
I really like Armored brigade because it doesn’t try to be anything other than a wonderful single player war game, and there aren’t many of them. This is a game for people who could press the pause button for 15 or 20 minutes while researching the story of a single weapon used by a unit in the game just for fun.
Armored brigade It’s very easy to get in, but it also allows you to get as far as you can in tactical command without becoming an officer in the armed forces (and inventing a time machine to go back to the days of the Cold War. ).
If you have played other tactics based war games such as Combat mission or Close combat and you enjoyed these titles I’m sure you will love it OF. And if you’ve never played a hardcore war game, this is a great entry point.
Check out this Let’s Play from Time And Tactics:
At the end of the line: The graphics on the map are great, the 2D unit sprites do a fantastic job of showing what’s going on and invoking a little nostalgia for my old plastic army parts. The sound is top notch, rather than playing a game with canned music and sound effects, you’ll hear some of the most faithful battlefield sounds I’ve ever heard in a game.
What makes the sound OF so special is that it is related to POV. So if you listen from the point of view of the mortar team, for example, the sound of shells firing is completely different from what you listen to 100 or 400 yards away. It’s this attention to detail that brings the battlefield to life in a way that no million dollar CGI chart can.
I recommend Armored brigade (with the third DLC for the linear campaign) to almost everyone, but to those who absolutely don’t like any strategy games. If I had to describe it in one sentence, I would say that compared to big budget shooters and other popular war games, Armored brigade is like a great novel and these games are like Hollywood movies. They all have their place, but OF is as deep as your imagination.
You can purchase the base game and the new Nation Pack with units from the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia (and the brand new Linear Campaign!) Here on the Slitherine / Matrix Game publisher homepage or here at Steam. Happy hunting, stay frosted!