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Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« on: February 25, 2017, 12:23:32 AM »
Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!

Innovation in wargames is a hard thing to achieve. New ideas are rare and it’s even rarer to find new development studios willing to bring these ideas to life. Nevertheless, once in a while, someone comes along with an innovative concept, a different approach.

Armored Brigade is one of these rare projects that are the best candidates to evolve an entire market.

“Wargaming is one of the longest running genres out there”, says Iain McNeil, Development Director of Matrix Games. “We have been in this market for so long that we know how hard it is to capture a new idea, a new concept and bring it to life. Armored Brigade is definitely a title that aims to keep itself true to the complexities of a traditional wargame, but also tries to enhance the experience with new gameplay ideas. We are very proud to be working with Veitikka Studios on this project and we are looking forwards to helping make this game the success it deserves to be”.

The game uses a real-time engine and focuses on maximising the realism of mechanised warfare during a possible escalation of conflict between NATO and the WARSAW pact countries during the cold war.

Large maps, modelled upon real terrain make each battle a true test of wits. Weather and visibility all play a role and with several munition types, including air to air combat and artillery, no battle will be the same. Exciting and challenging tank warfare only adds to the level of realism.

There are a variety of different nationalities within the game including US, USSR, West and East Germany, UK, Finland and Poland. Everything is modelled to a high level of detail to achieve a truly original game.

But this is just the beginning!

Get more information about Armored Brigade from its official Product Page: http://www.matrixgames.com/products/product.asp?gid=685


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Armored Brigade Developer Interview
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 02:01:45 PM »

Armored Brigade Developer Interview



Juha Kellokoski is the main programmer and game designer of Armored Brigade. Together with his three fellow comrades Sam, Nikola and Dmitriy, they form the team developing the game.
We met Juha and we had the chance to ask him some questions about its latest work.

First off, thank you for answering these questions about upcoming game, Armored Brigade


Matrix. Would you like to tell us what has been the driving force behind its design?

Juha Kellokoski. The starting point was to make a game I like to play. I've combined elements from games that I have enjoyed, including wargames and simulations, and even flavors from outside these genres. I've been an avid gamer since the mid-80's. The original Steel Panthers is perhaps the greatest inspiration, if I had to name just one, but I'm sure that the players of many other PC wargame classics will feel like home when they try Armored Brigade. Also, especially in the earlier days, I did a lot of research about what the players think is missing from other games, and did my best to make sure Armored Brigade won't be lacking in those respects.

M. When it was available for free, Armored Brigade got a strong reputation among wargamers. What is the story behind this incredible project?

J.K. Armored Brigade was actually my first game project. The initial steps were taken as early as 2004 when I decided to do something else than just modding the games of others. I considered different ideas, including a “Roguelike” game concept, but with real graphics. A bit later it evolved into making a Steel Panthers clone, with turn-based gameplay. I think the current real-time concept matured in late 2005, and later the '87 equipment became the data set. Since then it's been expanding and expanding in all directions. Basically, everything has been redone several times, and even now we're ditching old stuff we know can be done better. The first freeware version was made public in March 2008. It was a very sincere effort, like “Hey, I made a game, do you want to try it?” I was fairly ignorant about the “grognard scene” and all that. I started receiving emails from the grognards, (ex-)servicemen and established publishers, saying very positive things about the game, even in its early, crude form. Unfortunately, I wasn't very responsive those days, and even left some of the emails unanswered. Hopefully I've improved from that. Around the same time the discussion forum was opened, and I got feedback and help from the players, and kept developing the game. All of the current team members were “recruited” from the forum. I'm still the only programmer and the project leader. Sam is mainly responsible for the textures, Dmitriy makes the maps and additional artwork and Nikola is building the database. In 2016 I decided to work on this project full-time, to give it all the polish and chrome it deserves. For that purpose, I established my company, Veitikka Studios, and signed a contract with Matrix Games. That's where we're now.

M. How is Armored Brigade different from other Real Time Tactical Wargames?

J.k. I think the uniqueness comes from the combination of detailed combat, and from being able to zoom in and see the tank commanders scanning around and the individual men and casualties, and then zoom out and witness the tactical map that has enough space to cover a full 122mm artillery range. The game is very flexible and supports multiple ways of playing it; in pausable real-time or in custom-length “rounds”. All that comes with a dynamic AI opponent and unlimited replayability. There are features rarely seen in wargames, such as asymmetrically placed objectives (different for both sides), identifying enemy units as hostile before engaging, fake “neutral” units etc. It's a very unique package, never before seen in computer wargaming.

M. I’ve seen some maps and they look fantastic! How have you created them? Are you using real topographical and geographic settings?

J.K. Not many strategy games can boast of their realistic maps (and the number of RTS games with such maps is even smaller), so realistic that you can easily compare the real map and the map in the game. I have not seen such maps of this size yet. These maps are based on real terrain, real elevation and real details, and also, on original military maps of the era: in the game, you'll see roads that are not there today, and learn that some of today's roads did not exist in the 80's. Abandoned factories and railways are in their correct places.
Map creation is done in stages and with the help of several tools: geo-programs, graphic editors and even in-game developer tools. The process of using these tools together is rather difficult, but we hope that in the future we can develop a full-fledged and self-sufficient map creation tool for newcomers.
Our goal was not only to make the units and their behavior as realistic as possible, but also to create terrain as realistic as possible. Forest has different types and densities, there are different types of roads, rivers and lakes, bridges, houses, factories, warehouses, even churches, all with real elevation data, and with support for all seasons of year! Of course, creating maps of such size and detail is extremely resource intensive and requires a lot of effort, but we're doing our best and feel confident about meeting our ambitious goals.

M. The “Cold War turning Hot” situation has always been an intriguing setting. What fascinates you the most about this fictional confrontation?

J.K. Personally, I admit that the main attractiveness of the era, especially the 80's, may come from its nostalgic feeling. Tom Clancy stuff, MicroProse games and so on, especially flight simulations such as Gunship and Stealth Fighter play their role here. I spent countless of hours loading the missions from the Commodore 64 cassettes! One of the aspects I want to simulate in Armored Brigade is the gradual (or sudden) destruction of environment into debris, with burnt forest for miles around. You can turn the map into a “post-nuclear” battlefield by changing a few scenario parameters. I think this important feature has always been missing from “Cold War turned hot” simulations. After all, it's perhaps one of the first things that come up in WW3 nightmares.

M. If you could list three game’s unique and main features, what will you include?

J.K. Even if they perhaps cannot be fully considered as never-before-seen features in wargames, if taken out of the context, I think the combination of huge selection of units and equipment, combined with the ability to pick tactical maps from large master maps, and the dynamic AI opponent make Armored Brigade a unique “sandbox” wargame. That's how I like my wargames, and that was the starting point when the system was designed, even if now the game has much more to offer than just generated skirmishes.

M. Another important element of this game is the AI ‘s responsiveness and adaptability. Could you give us more details on it?

J.K. The AI is fully dynamic, meaning that you can throw in any combination of map, forces and scenario parameters, and the AI is able to handle it. No scenario plays the same way twice. One very interesting feature in the game is the so-called “dummy objectives”, which is a very rare feature in wargames. Just like in the real world, the opposing forces don't always have the same goals. In most wargames, both parties are trying to control the same piece of ground or hexes. So, in Armored Brigade you can have a “dummy objective”, which both sides see in a different location. That makes the AI behavior less predictable. On top of that, such objectives don't even affect scoring. That should make you think twice (or more) before stacking your units to defend one single objective. The AI opponent may not even be coming that way! Overall, the AI is certainly above the average wargame AI level. It can be aggressive and knows how to synchronize the land, air and artillery assets.

M. Most Cold War wargames are set in central Europe for obvious reasons, and Armored Brigade is no exception. Will we see other scenarios?

J.K. One of the master maps and branching campaigns will be set in South-East Finland, which can be seen as a fairly exotic Cold War location by the majority of players. There's at least one desert map planned, but it probably won't feature campaigns. We haven't really reached the phase where we will focus on producing scenarios, so there are still open questions in the air. Nothing prevents the community from making and sharing additional maps and scenarios, because they have a very open and easily editable format. Armored Brigade features a full-blown in-game data editor, making it easy to modify and add factions, units, weapons etc.

M. I guess that designing a wargame like this hasn’t been simple, with so many elements to consider. What has been the most challenge so far? And what, on the contrary, pleased you the most?

J.K. I think from the game design perspective the AI is probably the most challenging aspect. Making it realistic, unpredictable and challenging is a challenge indeed. Unlike in many other wargames, which have a scripted AI, the Armored Brigade AI is fully dynamic, and that brings in its own nuances. For example, I can say that it's almost impossible to make the AI conduct a river crossing in a “realistic, unpredictable and challenging” manner. The game should take into account all the complexities, planning and synchronization at the tactical level that we have in the game, without making it a turkey shoot for the human player. So, because we want the AI to be very good, we need to consider it in other elements that we incorporate into the game. As a basic rule, if the game has a piece of equipment then the AI must know how to use it properly. I don't want it to be like in some other wargames, where you may perhaps have all the equipment in the world, but all the AI can do is to drive them straight into a minefield, without any coordination with other forces.
I think the most pleasing thing has been to see how it all comes together. The game is more than the sum of its parts and has massive depth under the relatively simple user interface. We're working on the branching campaign system, the top-level layer that merges it all into an epic wargaming experience.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 02:47:24 PM by Asid »

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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 02:03:09 PM »
Armored Brigade Developer Interview : HERE

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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2017, 05:07:27 PM »
Armored Brigade Screenshots


Hello everyone!

It's been a while since we last talked about Armored Brigade, but today we finally have some news about it!

The development is proceeding pretty well, and we're really happy to see that the developers are proud of their game.
This is why today we're here to show you a bunch of screenshots from the game!

Although these screenshots are from an early-development stage of the game and do not represent the finished product, they do show how interesting this game will be when it comes out nonetheless.
We hope you like them and that now you're waiting for Armored Brigade even more!

These new Alpha version screenshots show off elements of the new UI design and the new Finland map


















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Offline Beef

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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2017, 06:05:01 PM »
This looks extremely interesting. I will be paying attention to future updates from here on with great interest.

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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2017, 07:07:36 PM »
I remember playing this when it was free  :thumbsup

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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2017, 12:25:58 AM »
Keeping an eye on this as well.

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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2017, 04:55:23 AM »
This game looks pretty good to me. I can't wait to see how it develops. Thanks for the updates!

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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2018, 02:11:23 PM »



Hello, my name is Dmitriy Maksimov and I am creating maps and an interface for the game Armored Brigade.
For the past 10 years I have professionally practiced graphic design, illustrations and visualizations in quite a variety of ways, but mostly in the digital sphere.
The task for drawing maps seemed to me extremely interesting and curious, because it affects a huge layer of information design, which is very important and interesting in a wargame.



The genre of strategy has always been a complex genre, but the wargames, I think, bring this genre to the highest level of uniqueness and exactingness.
Their unusualness lies in almost every detail of the game. Fans, and even just wargame-lovers, as a rule are very demanding people - they know many historical nuances, details and subtleties and are able to operate them.
Such a nuance makes huge demands on the game, but at the same time it sets a certain challenge for creating a really interesting product.

READ THE FULL ENTRY HERE


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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2018, 03:56:48 PM »
Armored Brigade Screenshots Update



As the development of Armored Brigade is proceeding pretty fast, we would like to publish new screenshots coming from the Alpha version.

A selection of these screenshots has been shown during the War Room Media event we had in Milan a couple of weeks ago, but this is the complete package.

We hope you like them!

















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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2018, 05:23:08 PM »
Armored Brigade Dev Diary #1 - Artificial Intelligence




The Armored Brigade artificial intelligence (AI) is fully dynamic, which means that it can handle any scenario within the game parameters, without a need for any scripting from the scenario designer. This approach has been the basic foundation of the game. I've always found the procedurally generated game content fascinating, and that can be seen in the design philosophy of Armored Brigade. In Armored Brigade, there's an undefined number of maps, units, environmental conditions, and so on. The system must build a readable representation, process the input and then produce output that creates a credible impression of intelligence that behaves in a realistic, unpredictable and challenging manner. That's quite a challenge indeed. A "chess AI", where you have a finite number of possible states, is out of the question. Even if warfare of this era can be considered symmetric, the highly lethal long range weapon systems and the great variety of units in the game can make the battles very erratic. The general rule is "if you can see it, you can kill it". There are no "front lines", and in the game it's common that a unit can hit another unit from the other side of the map.



In Armored Brigade, there are three mission types: advance, defend and meeting engagement. From the AI perspective, the advance and meeting engagement missions share the same basic characteristics, as the AI is trying to occupy objective locations it doesn't own in the beginning of the scenario. In a meeting engagement the player has the same goal, and both sides are maneuvering their formations, whereas when one side is defending the situation is usually more static. To make the battles less predictable, Armored Brigade features "dummy objectives", that can appear in different locations for both sides. There's never a guarantee that the opposing side will be heading to that exact spot on the map. This way the player is less tempted to stack his units on a single objective, and the AI plan becomes more a mystery.



Obviously, computer software doesn't "see" or process information like we humans do. What we still have is 0 and 1 binaries. Armored Brigade uses a common technique called "influence mapping" to help the AI to construct a representation of the situation. The basic idea is quite close to img processing, and is easy to mimic in img editors. For example, we may have a game map and we want to know which areas are dangerous. We know locations of a few enemy units, and consider them to be dangerous, so we want to keep distance to them. If it was an img, we could mark the area around each enemy with the red color. When we combine the dangerous areas in a 2D grid we get an easy-to-read input data for the AI to use. If in one location we have several enemies and their zones of influence overlap, we can see that this area is especially dangerous and should be avoided. The pathfinding algorithm can find the safest route around them, because we know (or think we know) which areas are perfectly safe, which ones are somewhat dangerous and which ones are the most dangerous areas. This is just a simple example, but this method allows us to combine a large amount of varied data. In Armored Brigade, if we want the AI to find a valley with closed terrain, e.g. forest, then we read the terrain elevation data and combine it with the terrain cover and concealment data. We can identify high trafficability zones, open or closed terrain, forward or reverse slopes etc. The AI finds the best approaches to the objectives and the spots where it can ambush the player.

When the AI is advancing, it organizes most of its units into "main efforts". They are sort of task forces that consist of different types of platoons, companies and sections. For example, such a group could have a mechanized infantry platoon, tank platoon, HQ, anti-air section and mortar section. The AI tries to distribute its assets evenly between the groups. One important element is the scenario "force type" setting. The available options are 'armored', 'mechanized' and 'infantry'. These function as behavior templates for the AI. If the force type is 'infantry' then infantry units usually lead and tanks follow, supporting the advance. The infantry advances dismounted, even if they have transports available. This is very important for the scenario designer to consider. The infantry force favors closed and covered terrain. The other force types, 'armored' and 'mechanized', favor open terrain. Low elevation is generally considered good when advancing towards the objectives, even if it's common for water obstacles to be located in depressions. The main efforts advance in an organized and synchronized manner. When they meet bottlenecks, such as water and bridges, the AI knows to change the formation shape so it's easier to pass them.



Most of the assets that are not included in the main efforts are assigned to "supporting efforts". They operate in a more autonomous way and flank or distract the player. They may be able to draw the player's attention from where the main efforts are coming. After capturing an objective, the AI may assign a formation to guard it against counterattacks. All units don't move even when the AI is advancing; for example the static anti-air and mortar units. This must be considered so that they're not easily detected by the player. Such units may be placed to a distance from the player, behind hills or hidden in covered terrain.

When defending, the AI conducts defence in depth. Terrain elevation plays an important role. The AI uses influence mapping to determine forward slopes and reverse slopes. Reverse slope defence is a common and very effective tactic, because when you cross a hill you may be spotted from far away, and if you try to go around the hill then you expose your weaker side armor. The AI recognizes closed terrain and open terrain and estimates which spots suit the different units best. It can be the best to place anti-tank units in closed terrain. The AI can conduct ambushes by letting the player come close and then opening fire simultaneously with all units in the formation. Recon, tank, anti-air and other units can benefit from having plenty of open space around them. When the player captures an objective, the AI may counterattack.



The AI can use mechanized recon units to scout the player rear areas. Even when defending, the AI conducts counter-recon to harass the player's recon units and forward detachments, and to locate hidden units as targets for artillery and close air support aircraft.

The AI synchronizes artillery smoke with the main efforts. In addition to using vehicle smoke generators to cover the advance, the artillery is used to create smoke screens. At night the AI uses illumination flares, and can concentrate them where muzzle flashes are detected. The flashes are easy to detect in low light conditions and can be seen from long distances. In some cases the AI can try to disturb obstacle breaching with artillery strikes and even to close the breach with artillery mines.

There's a 'developer mode' available for the scenario designers who want to test how the dynamic AI behaves. When the mode is enabled the designer can see all the AI units and main effort paths. An Armored Brigade scenario never plays the same twice, and this may be a challenge for the designer.


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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2018, 02:47:45 PM »
Armored Brigade Dev Diary #2 - Planning the Battle



Juha Kellokoski, main game designer from Veitikka Studios, will give us a short overview on a very important topic: how to effectively plan and manage uour units during a battle! Kudos to Juha for this great article

Armored Brigade Dev Diary #2 - Planning the Battle

In this Dev Diary entry I will show one way to manage a defensive battle plan. As an example, I've decided to play as the United States Army, defending against the Soviet Union. Armored Brigade battles have three phases: the setup phase, the action phase and the after action report phase. Here I'm going through the setup phase. The player must designate his target reference points (TRP) and place obstacles, if he has any, and optionally he can plan unit paths, fire missions etc. After finishing the setup phase the real-time action is started. Armored Brigade scenarios have two different startup schemes. The first way is to generate a fresh skirmish in the Battle Generator wizard. The player has an instant access to an unlimited number of battles. In this approach, the player is always free to place his units as he wishes. The second way is to load a pre-made scenario. In these scenarios the unit positions and some other variables can be optionally 'locked'. Both methods can include a 'player character' unit that represents the player on the battlefield. In the pre-made scenarios, the player can be locked to a role of a certain unit that cannot be changed. If used properly, this can create very interesting and hair-raising scenarios. The battle I'm showcasing is a 'pre-made' scenario. The unit positions are locked and the player is assigned to a HQ unit. It doesn't really matter here, because the user can create the exactly same situation straight out from the Battle Generator output, but I wanted the readers to be aware of the choices the game offers.



The battle is located east from the city of Fulda. There are two objectives that I must defend: 'AUTOBAHN' (north) and 'VILLAGE' (south). In the northern portion the objective is located in a critical autobahn and highway intersection. The southern objective is in a village surrounded by open fields. We must stop the enemy here so he cannot enter the more densely populated areas in the west. The Soviet deployment zone is a few kilometers to east. It's dominated by the forested hill in the north. It's not optimal terrain for a mechanized force, and should be a good observation post for our infiltrators. There's a valley in the middle of the deployment zone, and elevation rises gently in the south. The municipality of Dipperz is in this area, and a highway that is a straight connection to our objective AUTOBAHN. I'm fairly certain that the Soviet mechanized force will follow the highway and tries to avoid the hill and other high elevation terrain. If they will reach the northern autobahn intersection they may try to flank the other objective in south. There's no doubt that some of his force will be heading straight for the objective VILLAGE, probably avoiding the hills in the southern edge of the map.



In Armored Brigade, waypoints can be placed without allowing the unit to immediately execute the path plan. This is done by disabling the waypoints when they're added, and activating them later when the player thinks the time is right. By doing it this way there's no command delay if the waypoint was placed in the setup phase. If the disabled waypoint is placed in the action phase, the command delay must pass before the order will be ready to be executed. About the command delay we can say now that it's based on the faction attributes, radios, nearby HQ units etc. So, when I want to add a new disabled waypoint, I select the waypoint type and then I hold down the 'ctrl' key and click on the map to place the waypoint. That's it. Later, when I want to activate the waypoint, I hold down the 'ctrl' key again and click on the waypoint. Simple?



As the heavy hitter in this scenario, I have a dug-in M1A1 tank platoon. That can be a very nasty thing to have as your opponent, unless it's possible to destroy it with DPICM (Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition) artillery or air strikes. Our side has air superiority, so I'm not concerned about the air strikes, but the Soviet DPICM and rockets can make short work of them, and the tank platoon is an attractive target. That's why I need to plan a safe way out from the dug-in positions. The platoon is placed on a forward slope, and I want them to reverse back to the other side of the hill when it becomes too risky to stay there. For maximum protection, when they will abandon the positions, I'll order them to start the smoke generators and pop smoke. That's out of the scope of this article though. Now, I'm placing the 'reverse' waypoints by using the method I described earlier, with the first waypoint in the 'disabled' state. During the action, whenever I'll want them to start moving, I hold down the 'ctrl' key and click on the waypoint. If the tanks move backwards they don't have to expose their weaker side or rear armor. Note that many Soviet vehicles have an extremely slow reverse speed, so for them this tactic may require extra consideration.



The objective AUTOBAHN is defended by an M2A2 mechanized infantry platoon. They're armed with the TOW-2A, that is a powerful long-range anti-tank missile. Ideally the targets should be engaged from a distance that's close to the missile maximum range, which is 3750 meters. Their 25mm M242 chain gun is very effective against lightly armored vehicles. Now, here's the dilemma. Should the vehicles stay close to the infantry and support them, or should the vehicles leave the dug-in infantry and move to positions where they can use their powerful weapons for maximum effect? In Armored Brigade, when a unit abandons its fortified position there's no way to re-enter it. The infantry is well hidden from the enemy when dug-in. Minefields are laid in front of the mechanized platoon's position. The platoon is thus able to overwatch them, and the general rule is that no obstacle should be left without attention.



In the south, the objective VILLAGE has another mechanized platoon, but the vehicles are much simpler M113s. They don't have any anti-tank capabilities, so I cannot even think about using them to destroy enemy armored vehicles. So, as an option, I could withdraw them to safety, and later support the infantry with their heavy machine guns. If they will meet any AT weapons the M113s will be instantly wiped off. This objective has some villages with light buildings close by. The minefields should slow down the enemy dismounts before they can enter the village complex. Again, the infantry is overwatching the obstacles. Hopefully the enemy will be stopped before getting this far. The mines make it harder for him to flank this position by sticking close to the southern edge of the map.



Behind the objective VILLAGE there's a hill and a section of M901A1 ITVs (Improved TOW Vehicles). From this hill they can engage the enemy up to almost the TOW-2 maximum range. That's great, but they'll inevitably attract the enemy artillery at some point, so I've done the same I did with the M1A1 tanks, and planned an escape route for them. However, when they will leave the dug-in positions they lose one of their advantages, which is the small 'turret'. It's hard to hit the vehicle as long as it is hull-down, but otherwise it's a fragile box, just like the M113.



I have ordered the dismounted recon section to hold fire, since this is an excellent position for observing the enemy advancing in the valley. I wish their vehicles won't run into these scout teams, as there are roads next to them. One kilometer west from the scouts are TOW-2 ATGM teams overwatching the highway. They may be able to kill a good number of vehicles, especially if they will be able to stay hidden and use their LAWs to engage the enemy if he decides to follow the road close to the map edge. I see at least three options here. I could let them fire at will, order them to wait until the enemy is on the highway in front of them or tell them to hold fire until I will give an order to open fire. The last option is very effective for creating an ambush. I'm trying to make them use as much of their precious ammunition before the teams are detected and lost.



The forested hill in the northern region of the enemy deployment zone offers us interesting tactical opportunities. I've decided to send the mechanized recon section around the hill. In case they'll make it there alive, they may be able to see what's been hiding in the enemy rear. I don't know what will happen right after the setup phase, so I want to make my plan as flexible as possible. On the one hand, I want them to execute my carefully placed waypoint plan without a delay if I'll see it to be the best course of action. Again, I disable the first waypoint. If I wanted I could add more disabled waypoints along the path, so the scout section would wait for my command before proceeding. The section formation type is set to 'march', and that makes them follow the road without me placing waypoints on every road bend. I could have used less waypoints than I did here, but I'm satisfied with this as the initial plan. The waypoint type is 'scout', which makes the units advance more cautiously, and the vehicles can pop smoke and move out of the LOS if they detect an enemy.

About 500 meters south is a dismounted scout section. They're nicely placed, one of them being in a large warehouse with an excellent view to the expected enemy approach. I could leave them here, or I could take a risk and order them to 'infiltrate' the north hill, potentially giving me more options later in the battle. The chance for success depends on the infiltrator's training level and on how deep in the enemy deployment zone the target location is. If a hostile unit has a LOS to the unit in the destination then the attempt will fail. I use the LOS tool to make sure that the target location is not seen from a distance. Dense forest is an ideal place. I select the formation and the 'infiltrate' command, and click on the target location. The circle size and color depend on the success rate and the area where the unit will likely end up, if successful.



Last but definitely not least, I've assigned myself to the leading HQ unit. What I'll hear from my speakers depends on what is heard in this position. I'll probably be hearing a wall of noise from distant armored vehicles. My anti-aircraft missile team has dismounted and has climbed to the roof of the warehouse, that offers a good observation post forward. As our side has air superiority, the unit has a very limited use in this scenario. There's a section of heavy mechanized mortars close to my command post. They may be able to provide support for the infantry defending the objectives. The infantry and mortars are within my command radius, so I can give them HQ contact bonus if the enemy will assault the objective locations.



I'm planning the TRPs and artillery fire missions. The fire missions that are planned in the setup phase have no delay, but since we don't know where the enemy is they're of limited use. The first thing to do is to designate TRPs, to minimize the fire mission delay in critical hot spots. I'm expecting the enemy to be in the points along the highway, so I'm placing the TRPs there. As the indirect fire observers in these locations, I have scout units with radios but unfortunately no HQ units. In the game, HQ units and the 'player character' are the best artillery and mortar observers, and should be used for maximum indirect fire accuracy. I have just two TRPs available, so I'll need to be careful. The green crosshairs are the TRPs, and the dashed circles are their maximum radiuses.

Finally, there's a pair of AH-1F Cobra helicopter gunships that need to have their battle positions (BP, the blue dashed circles) and TRPs (the blue crosshairs) designated in the setup phase. When the helicopter flight is called, it flies low level to the BP 1 and keeps "popping up" there, each time trying to get a line of sight to the TRP 1. The maximum helicopter pop-up altitude is 50 meters. In the air support menu, the player can order the helicopters to move to the BP 2 to overwatch the TRP 2. HQ units and the 'player character' unit can call helicopters for help. If there's an on-map helicopter flight available, it will fly to a position close to the caller, and engages any enemies there.

Hopefully this brief glance succeeded in making you more familiar with the possibilities and tactical depth Armored Brigade possesses. Thanks for reading.

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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2018, 12:50:00 PM »
Armored Brigade Dev Diary#3 - Night Time Operations



written by Nikola


In this Development Diary entry, I will illustrate how Cold War-era tactics, equipment and thinking can reflect in the game. While the game covers any period from 1965 to 1991, and a wide array of situations can be chosen, in this case we will concentrate on a single aspect: night-time operations and importance of thermal sights on tactical battlefield.

Night-time operations present extreme challenges. Intensive and rigorous, constant combat takes its toll on front-line soldiers; they crave sleep, fatigue is increased, concentration levels fall. At the same time soldiers need to be alert, alive to the threat that could be just moments away. One obstacle might stand in the way, the rules of engagement are different; it’s pitch black – anything can happen and will.

However, the night-vision equipment dramatically enhances capability in murky world of night-time operations, providing significant tactical benefits for armed troops. It can support all types of operations from reconnaissance and contact with the enemy to supporting retreat and delay operations.

This was especially the case when forward-looking-infrared (FLIR) weapon sights (aka thermal) were introduced in the late 1970s. This technology provided soldiers a different way of observing the battlefield at night as well as during the day. The theatre of combat became round-the-clock activity, enabling personnel to carry out operations that otherwise would not be possible, even in the most difficult of conditions.

There are two main classes of night-vision devices: image intensification and thermal. Intensification relies on the existing light to enhance an image. Thermal, by contrast, uses heat emissions to identify objects. Sights such as those on the M1 Abrams or M60A3 (TTS) tank, the Bradley, or Apache helicopter are of the latter type.

On the other hand, the Soviet Union invested heavily into former, producing top-notched image intensification systems, but the performance of thermal technology by far outstripped even the best Soviet light amplification system at that time. In hindsight, it is quite clear that pursuing light intensification technology instead of investing in prospective thermal imaging sights was a huge mistake, one that ended up setting back the Soviet Union by nearly a decade in this field.

To exemplify that disparity in performance, we will set our scenario in 1989, pitting elements of a US Armor Cavalry Squadron against a Soviet tank regimental force advancing in early morning hours, still very dark. Our force consists of an A (Apache) Cavalry Troop and D (Dakota) Tank Company, for a total of 18x M1A1 Abrams, 12x M3A1 CFV and 2x M106A2 107mm self-propelled mortar. They are also supported by an off-map howitzer battery consisting of 8x M109A3 155mm guns and a flight of Apache helicopters.

The action takes place across the western half of the valley running south from Schenklengsfeld down to Eiterfeld and Großentaft, on a northern approach to Fulda. The plan is to rely on mobility, protection and firepower to allow both stealthy and forceful maneuver, fully utilizing technological advantage of the thermal sights to destroy the enemy before he can even see us. 



First step is to deploy our forces and plan target registration points (TRP). Latter are special locations on the battlefield which have been "pre-registered" for an artillery strike (the green crosshairs). We also have a pair of AH-64A Apache helicopter armed with potent fire-and-forget Hellfire missiles. They too require having their battle positions (BP, the blue circles) and TRPs (the blue crosshairs) designated in the setup phase.

It is important to note that helicopters operate in a fundamentally different way than fixed-wing close air support. Since the advent of anti-tank helicopters in the early to mid-1970s (as opposed to the gunship helicopters of Vietnam era, or similar Soviet Afghanistan COIN experience) the tactics have been the same. Helicopter commander receives orders to plan for deployment on order to the designated battle position. This is a zone with a line of sight to the desired engagement area and some sort of protective terrain to hide behind. These battle positions are usually designated at brigade or higher HQs in coordination with supported units (for example, attack helicopter formations in the US Army are never OPCON to an echelon below brigade).

In nearly all cases, they are allocated before the battle during the mission planning process. The point is that helicopters do not cruise across the terrain looking for targets and making moving firing passes the way an aircraft would. Helicopters are too valuable and fragile asset to allow ground commanders to make precipitous and possibly ill-advised on-the-spot redeployment decisions. That aspect might come as a surprise to an average wargamer, but it is based on real-life tactics.
But I digress. 




On above screenshots you can clearly see the difference between a unit with a night sight, in this case thermals allowing to spot and engage the target as far as 3,500 meters, and infantry unit relying on Eyeball Mk.1 reaching only some 600 meters at best. Our strategy will clearly rely on increased precision in locating targets at greater standoff ranges to reduce own casualties while maximizing enemy losses.




However, commanders fight the enemy, not the plan. No plan survives intact once contact is made. The enemy rarely acts exactly as predicted. In this case, already in the first minutes of the battle our opponent has used another night-operation technique which predates night vision devices by a long shot: the battlefield illumination. Artificial lighting of the battlefield is the simplest way to penetrate the darkness.

In this case an illumination shell (the white circle) was used, which is an artillery projectile used to give night-time illumination over a target area. Illumination and obscuration missions are important functions for artillery or mortar sections, but it should be kept in mind that factors like atmospheric stability, wind velocity, and wind direction can affect their performance, as for example wind can drift the flare.

In this case the AI correctly estimated our positions by using reconnaissance in case of our armored reserve east of Eiterfeld, or muzzle flashes and tracers in case of our forward M3A1 sections which encountered the bulk of enemy forces. Latter unfortunately perished, while formed still had to relocate to a reserve position as it was compromised and could have been engaged by artillery.

This teach us that even a technologically inferior opponent should not be underestimated, and that constant maneuver is imperative even in conditions of total darkness.




Possessing a superior night time vision in form of thermals can encourage the commander to seize the initiative and perform actions that otherwise would be extremely risky in daytime. In this case, a platoon of M1A1 Abrams tanks used a secondary route in relative safety of the night to flank the enemy, take them fully by surprise and engage their rear forces with deadly efficiency.

Nevertheless, a single tank was lost when it was ambushed by a lone BMP-2 hidden behind the building, reminding us that caution should always be exercised. The outcome of engagements, battles, and major operations depends on not only superior information, but also on superior decision-making based on that information.




It should be noted that a successful delaying action or fighting withdrawal, in which the retreating force remains in good order while in contact with the enemy, seeking to inflict as much damage and delay on the superior attacking forces as possible, is considered among the most difficult of military feats, if not the most. In this battle, under the cover of darkness and with greater standoff ranges offered by thermal sights, the delaying force had time to break contact and to find and prepare favorable positions for renewed resistance, as the situation dictated.

As the sun rose, the red dawn grew above the burning wrecks of Soviet tanks and vehicles spread across fields of barley and buckwheat. Smoke and dust swirled all over the battlefield. The earth shook from the powerful blasts. Despite five-to-one numerical disadvantage, US Armor Cavalry stood fast and has decimated its opponent for little loss.

Of course, this scenario has been simplified serving as an illustration. The anticipation of an effectively blind unit moving across hostile open terrain, encountering obstacles, taking enemy fire from unidentified locations, and finally assaulting an enemy that is dug-in and capable of shooting anything that moves is enough to faze even the strongest commander.  Nevertheless, I hope this short overview of night-operations have shed some light on one of large variety of tactical scenarios this game can offer.

Thanks for reading!

Get more information about the game on its official product page

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Re: Armored Brigade Is Officially Announced!
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2018, 02:38:27 AM »
The Reds are coming #1

October - 1967

The Soviet Union expands its forces considerably, the West starts worrying.

Final briefing on October 8th, 2018 http://twitch.tv/slitherinegroup


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