Imphal 44, a well designed large scenario

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koopanique
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Imphal 44, a well designed large scenario

Post by koopanique » Sun May 06, 2018 3:45 pm

I just completed the Imphal 44 scenario (Burma Road), and this was one of the best scenarios I've experienced in OOB.
Here I attempt to summarize why I liked it so much. Be aware that there might be some "spoilers" for those who still haven't played Burma Road!

Size
It is large but not too large, meaning it's intimidating at first, but the player can quickly get a grasp on the situation and the geography of the terrain.

Balance
The scenario is reasonably well-balanced between the Allies and the Japanese, even if I have the feeling that the player is favored a bit (mainly due to surprisingly many artillery units). It's also a defense scenario, and it's common knowledge that it's easier to defend than to attack, especially if your army is about the same size as the enemy army. Nevertheless, the Japanese have a LOT of units, including a powerful air force.

Unit allocation
The scenario really gives this feeling of fighting on multiple fronts, and forces the player into allocating units to the different fronts (the Northern one, the center one (Imphal itself) and the Southern one). Reconaissance is important in this scenario in order to deploy the right type of unit to counter the Japanese units. As stated above, the Japanese have a great many units, so the player must chose wisely how many units (and which type of units) to deploy on each location. Having too many units at one place means this place is secure, but it can leave another location less well-defended. But locations do not feel so distant from each others that you can't send some units from one front to the other. It's a matter of 3-4 turns.

Advance and retreat
Then there are multiple advance-and-retreat situations during these 30 turns of play. This scenario feels alive and dynamic.
At first the player must hold their ground as long as possible. After a few turn, if they feel confident, they can start to push back the enemy and can start planning the capture of the two secondary objectives. Then the Japanese second wave is released, and the player must chose to keep pushing, or to stop to prepare their troops to weather this new assault.
Right from the beginning, there are many locations where smaller skirmishes occur. Later on, successfully defended locations can be used as a trempboard from where to launch counterattacks, meaning the more success the player has during the defending phase, the more rewarded they will be later on if they decide to push through.

Supply lines
This scenario uses the supply system of OOB to its fullest. The secondary objectives, when taken, cripple the enemy enough to significantly slow down its offensive, so even if they were not "official" objectives set by the designers, there would still be strategic value in taking these hexes.
If in a precarious situation, the player can also chose to cut the enemy supplies by simply encircling the secondary objectives, or cutting them from the main Japanese force.
The fact that counterattacks can be launched from different locations also leads to thinking on how to cut the enemy lines the most effectively. Should you focus your artillery on the enemy main force, or should you divert some of it to support the attack of such or such flank or secondary objectives?

Place in the larger campaign
And finally, this scenario also fits extremely well at this point in the Burma Road campaign. Until this moment, the campaign follows the British and Indians painfully defending or slowly advancing against superior Japanese forces. This scenario feels like the moment where the Japanese tide is weathered at last, and it wouldn't be possible without all the previous scenarios.

To conclude, I feel like this scenario has everything a scenario of this size should have. It's not just a clash of two great blocks of units, it's a miriad of smaller interconnected skirmishes that themselves form a bigger scenario, with different advances and setback that make for a very dynamic level.

I acknowledge that Burma Road is not a perfect campaign, but it definitely has great moments.

PoorOldSpike
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Re: Imphal 44, a well designed large scenario

Post by PoorOldSpike » Thu May 10, 2018 4:36 am

Yes I agree it's an excellent scenario, in fact most OOB scens are better than scens in other games, so full marks to the creators..:)
I've just been up half the night playing Imphal 44 from start to finish for the first time and amazingly got a win by taking Moreh on the last turn, despite having almost given up in the late stages!
It plays like an interesting chess game, you're constantly having to move units around to reinforce different sectors to hold the separate jap thrusts and counterattacks in check, then when you've bled him white you go on the offensive.
For the record I played at level 3 and bought 6 x Churchills as my force backbone (they went through the japs like butter), and my air force was 5 x Spitfire XIV's and 2 x Barracuda bombers.
I never bought any artillery because I planned to disband 3 Spits later (after gaining air supremacy) and replace them with 3 more Barras to give me a bombing force of 5 x Barras to use as "flying artillery" and it worked well for a while until the japs threw a bunch of fresh new fighters and bombers into a big counterattack later and I had to hastily switch some Barras back to Spits, which left me without a decent bombing force.
Lesson learnt, next time I'll buy some arty instead of relying solely on my bombers..:)

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War winner- Churchill
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koopanique
Corporal - Strongpoint
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Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 8:41 pm

Re: Imphal 44, a well designed large scenario

Post by koopanique » Thu May 10, 2018 1:08 pm

Well done on your victory. A win in these conditions always taste excellent!

I also had trouble with the Japanese airplanes; I thought my 3 Spitfires would be enough to clear the skies, but I was wrong, and I finished the scenario with only 1 Spitfire, with only 1 HP remaining...
I had a LOT of artillery though. 3 big guns, plus all the Indian artillery you're provided with in this scenario. It slowed down the main Japanese at the center thrust considerably, and focused artillery fire even allowed my troops to push deep to the S-E even though the JP second wave had already began to advance.

It's fortunate that the scenario gives the player 40RP per turn. It gives a nice feeling on not being completely on the ropes unlike in some of the earlier scenarios.

PoorOldSpike
Sergeant First Class - Elite Panzer IIIL
Sergeant First Class - Elite Panzer IIIL
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Re: Imphal 44, a well designed large scenario

Post by PoorOldSpike » Thu May 10, 2018 3:33 pm

Yes the enemy air force can be annoying until neutralised, so my first priority in ALL scens is to achieve air supremacy as quickly as possible by ALWAYS spending heavily on the best dogfighters available.
Later, when the skies are clear of enemy machines (or if his air force turns out to be small anyway), I disband some of my fighters and buy tac bombers instead, but I always keep at least 2 fighters (or fighter-bombers) on strength in case the odd enemy plane shows up later.
As regards the free Colonial Indian arty that we get in Imphal 44, it sounds impressive on paper (8 x 25-pounders) but it's scattered all over the place AND doesn't have transport and I couldn't get most of mine to keep up with the Brit mobile offensive later. We could try using the upgrade option to assign transport but the Colonial resource points are too meagre to do it wholsesale, especially as the points have to be used to keep replacing losses among the front line Colonial troops.

SPOILER ALERT!
If anybody hasn't played Imphal 44 yet and wants to (gulp) go into it blind, DON'T look at this map!
(I'm sure Koopanique won't mind if we make his thread a place of pilgrimage for interested popcorn-munching observers)
This is the situation at the start, the blue-circled towns are the 5 objectives and it's 30 turns long.
Phase 1- the Japs advance in 3 columns (red arrows) against the 3 Brit/Colonial-held objectives on the left, so the Brit/Col player must stand fast and weather the storm. I deployed my 6 x Churchills in the centre near Imphal, and because I was playing blind the Jap northern and southern thrusts caught me by surprise, so I had to split the Churchills into 2 groups and rush them north and south in the nick of time. Fortunately its good open tank country and there are good roads.
Phase 2- Round about turn 8 the Jap tide begins to falter
Phase 3- From about turn 12 after the 3 objs on the left are secure, you can get your Brit/Colonial offensive under way by striking towards the 2 objectives at bottom right.
Phase 4- Aargh, around turn 16 the Japs put in a hefty surprise counterattack from the bottom right with a bunch of fresh tanks (including a Tiger!), infantry and aircraft!
Phase 5- After hopefully defeating the counterattack force you can resume your attacks on the 2 bottom right objs before time runs out.

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