The French and Belgian forces enters the fray in the second expansion for Armored Brigade
Genre: Strategy, Simulation
Developer: Veitikka Studios
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd.
Release date: 31 Oct, 2019
The nations packs for Armored Brigade adds pretty much exactly what their names imply. Two new factions and a new map themed to these nations. In the case of the France and Belgium pack, you unsurprisingly get France and Belgium. It’s not a massive expansion that changes anything fundamental in the game, instead you get some new twists on things that were already there. All in all, about 200 new units are added, between the two factions, and the new map is similar in scope to the ones already present in the game.
The star of the show here are the two new factions, that bring their own unique playstyles. The game is still firmly based in real history when it comes to military equipment, so a main battletank is still going to function roughly the same, no matter who owns it, but both France and Belgium have their own ideas on how to fight, that’s not identical to that of any of the existing factions.
France relies heavily on mechanized units and faster armoured vehicles. Their tanks do generally speaking have weaker armour than their counterparts in other armies, but make up for that with a higher top speed. Many of their vehicles also mount quite powerful guns, making them capable of punching well over their weight class, but they don’t fare well if the enemy can shoot at them first. And French infantry has some unusual equipment, like sniper rifles, making them play a bit differently to their counterparts in other armies. France might also be the faction where early and late-era armies differs the most, with early-era armies having the greatest reliance on speed, while late-era armies have a bit more staying power, at the cost of mobility, although France still maintains a mobility advantage over most of its foes.
Belgium on the other hand does not share France’s reliance on fast vehicles and heavily mechanized infantry, and does for the most part use equipment that they’ve got from other NATO-nations. Much like the Polish, some of their equipment is a bit out-dated, but this does not make Belgium weak, as their infantry are real beasts. Well trained and well equipped, their elite infantry are a threat to anyone who dares get close. Their reliance on infantry makes Belgium a more defensive-oriented nation than most, and makes them feel very different to France.
Apart from the two new armies, there’s also a new map , the Ardennes, focused around the Belgian town of Bastogne. The Ardennes has a good mix of heavily forested areas, more populated areas surrounded by farmland and also some tricky rivers. There’s no single feature here that you would not get on another map, but it still manages to feel distinct from all the others.
The France – Belgium nation pack is an interesting addition to an already very content-rich game. Both new factions bring something unique to the table, and don’t just feel like rehashes of things that already existed in the game. In fact, I would argue that these are the NATO factions that feel most different compared to all the other ones. Belgium’s really strong infantry makes them amazing in any situation where they can move through cover or hide. France on the other hand has a mobility advantage, and can respond quickly to what the enemy is doing, or just take up good positions and capture valuable ground before the enemy has the chance to do so.
I would highly recommend this expansion to anyone who wants more Armored Brigade, or anyone who finds the French and Belgian armed forces of the cold war interesting. The new map is also quite nice, and I found myself using it often when generating new battles and campaigns. It has enough variety that even in a small campaign, you can experience vastly different battlefield conditions.