Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

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AlbertoC
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Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by AlbertoC » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:19 pm

With the upcoming release of Burma Road DLC for Order of Battle, we wanted to take a moment to fill you in on what's been developed by The Artistocrats in association with Demon Wings Interactive.

Order of Battle is returning to the war against Japan in the region of Southeast Asia. Many battles were across the Malaya Peninsula, India, and of course Burma as the Japanese sought to acquire war materiel such as oil and rubber while the British and Allied forces stood against them.

Unlike the island hopping campaign of the United States across the Pacific, the Southeast Asian conflict was coloured primarily by ground warfare. Such warfare was markedly different from the land war of Europe and Afrika as dense jungles were ever present and presented a major obstacle for both sides. That's not to say the entire campaign consists of skulking through the jungles of Burma, battles such as the action at Imphal in 1944 were sizeable affairs fought with many armoured units engaged in major fighting.

One very important campaign tenant is the concept of presenting degrees of success in almost every battle. Because of the nature of a game like this, where a Pyrrhic victory is as good as a defeat since it effective ends your ability to continue a campaign, we've taken extra measures to help lessen the seriousness of such a situation.

These degrees of success are very important and very prominent throughout the campaign, and to explain them succinctly, they are bonus objectives that reward special units, commanders, resources, and specialization points are very challenging to acquire, especially for a player trying to acquire every single one of them, while primary mission objectives that continue the campaign progression are more accessible to complete. It's up to the player to find the difficulty level that suits them best, and then within that difficulty level, they can still experience many degrees of success ranging from simple scenario finishing or true scenario domination with all bonus objectives fulfilled.

On the other hand, if the player is struggling they might want to hold their forces back from full committal for a scenario or two, focusing only on the minimum objectives required and not over-extending their forces in an attempt to grab all the glory. Then once they are back to strength, they can start hunting for those extra difficult bonus objectives once more in the remaining scenarios!

So with that in mind, we have some content diaries to share with you regarding the history and gameplay of a few of the scenarios this DLC will have in store.


Visual Map Diaries

As has been mentioned, we've taken special care to make the scenarios and maps of this campaign strongly resemble history. That's not to say the battles are 1:1 representations of every situation, we absolutely want to push strong and entertaining gameplay elements first and foremost, but a little historical dressing really gives excellent context and relevance to those gameplay elements. We'll now talk about a few of the scenarios and exactly how this worked out for each of them.

We'll be looking at a few locations in Burma as well as a location in India, and this illustration will give you a good idea of where in the world these events are taking place!

Image


Scenario V: Sittang River

Location: Sittang River February 19 1942

A historical map we found of Sittang and the surrounding area looks like:

Image


And the battle itself reflects the names and geography of the location we saw in image above.


Image


Scenario VII: Quit India Denied

Location: India August 7 1942

In a scenario we plan to discuss in detail in the future, we visit the city of Bombay. This city, known as Mumbai today, is where Gandhi's Quit India was launched from.
To roughly rebuild the city for the game, we had to find a non-modern map of the city, and we primarily used this reference to aid the designs.

Image

And here's how the city appears in the scenario preview image. The semblance of the shape of the city to the historical map is instantly recognizable!

Image


Scenario VIII: Operation Cannibal

Location: Arakan region January 7 1943

This scenario turned out to be a bit trickier, because it wasn't suitably covered in any single map. The operation was launched from a place called Cox's Bazar, and the end goal of the operation was to reach Akyab. Today Akyab is called Sittwe, but Cox's Bazar is still Cox's Bazar, and it's really called that too!
We used these 2 maps which when placed together, fit together to show the layout of the terrain and locations from Cox's Bazar all the way down the coast of Burma to Akyab.

Image

Image


Scenario IX: Operations Longcloth

Location: Behind Japanese lines, February 13 1943

For this particular scenario, we actually found a non-digital map to help us out. On page 109 of Stilwell: Ballatine's Illustrated History there is a great little map that marks the names and locations of various resupply points that the Chindits used, as well as some directional arrows mapping out the Japanese routes of attack on Imphal and Kohima. Being a non-digital map we don't have a link for you, but it looks something like this:

Image

And in game during this mission, you will encounter these historically named locations, and they serve to provide your troops with supply, an important feature of Order of Battle. Without reaching these vital supply drop locations, your forces suffer severely as their efficiency rating drops into the red!

Image

AlbertoC
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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by AlbertoC » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:20 pm

Scenario Diaries


Scenario I Operation Krohcol


Historical Setting:


In December of 1941, the Imperial Japanese forces launched a series of surprise attacks across the Pacific. One of these attacks was aimed at taking control of the Malay Peninsula, whose capture would grant Japan control of Singapore as well as the primary sea route to the Indian Ocean.

Thought to get to their objectives, the Japanese had to get through Thailand. While Thailand would later join Japan as an ally, it was still neutral at this stage of the war. This situation created a very unique situation where there were three warring factions present in this battle. First there were the Japanese, landing troops at locations such as Pattani and then moving through Thailand to attack down the Malay Peninsula.

Then there was the British and their allies, who had planned for this contingency with Operation Matador, an invasion of Thailand to challenge Japanese amphibious attacks on the Malay Peninsula. But Operation Matador itself was pre-empted by of the swiftness of the Japanese surprise attack, and only the smaller scaled Operation Krohcol would be initiated.

Lastly there were the neutral Thai, who were actually caught in the middle and since they had not taken either side, the Thai ended up having to fight both factions that were encroaching on their sovereign lands.


Scenario description:

The opening scenario of the Burma Road DLC campaign explores this historical situation with all the features that the Order of Battle game offers. This small battle provides the foundation for starting your army on its long campaign ahead. With absolute control over all British forces, the player must make their way through Thai territory to challenge the Japanese attack which is advancing south to secure roadways for the rest of their invasion forces.

Though British forces are under complete player control, there were also other Allied forces, especially Indian units which we see here and throughout the campaign ahead. These units will appear as auxiliary forces for the player, and they may be player or AI controlled, depending on a scenario by scenario basis. There is the historical objective to destroy the Ledge, a hillside location whose destruction would block a major road for the Japanese advance, and there are more bonus objectives that will provide the player with degrees of success.

So while the player has to fight their way through the Thai to reach the Japanese, the Japanese are also fighting through the Thai to reach the player's forces. Caught in the middle, the Thai police forces fight hard, but such a situation's result is generally inevitable. However on some higher difficulty settings, the Thai forces are actually much more potent, meaning that sometimes slowing down your own advance and letting the Thai and the Japanese exhaust themselves against each other helps quite a bit in the pursuit of your own goals! Let them fight!



Scenario II Sinking of Task Force Z


Historical Setting:

As part of the Allied response to the Japanese invasion of the Malay Peninsula, the two largest British capital ships in the region, the battlecruiser Repulse and battleship Prince of Wales, of Bismarck fame, were dispatched with escorts to intercept the Japanese invasion fleets. Though the carrier Indomitable should also have been part of Task Force Z, that ship was currently under repair and unavailable.

When a Japanese submarine spotted these ships off the coast near Kuantan, land based aircraft operating from Saigon were diverted from their attack on Singapore to engage the British Task Force. In a short engagement not unlike the attack on Pearl Harbor, the aircraft would once again prove it's worth over the modern capital ship as both Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk at the cost of only a paltry few Japanese aircraft.


Scenario description:

So when I read about the unique history of this engagement, I thought it would make for an exciting battle. Not only would it serve as the scenario where the player begins to form their Air Corps that will serve them for the rest of the campaign, but because there was no accompanying land based action in the area, this battle also represents a special case where the player only has aircraft at their disposal. With the unique systems of Order of Battle, such a scenario in fits very well by keeping all of the player's ground forces in reserve for future use while only allowing the purchase and deployment of aircraft.

Because of the nature of this air only battle, this scenario also has unusual objectives. There are no victory hexes to capture, instead the player is tasked to deploy their fighters and bombers to attempt to defend Task Force Z and also perhaps find and inflict some damage on the Japanese invasion fleet the task force was originally hunting for. The scenario plays out very historically (spoilers warning!) right down to the mission of the escorting destroyers that remain in the area to rescue the survivors of the sunken capital ships. These warships will need your protection too!



Scenario V Sittang River


Historical Setting:

The date is now February 1942. By this time, the battle for the Malayan Peninsula ended only a few days ago. Singapore has fallen, and the Japanese invasion of Burma has been underway for some time now. As before, the few Allied troops in the region are caught off guard and unprepared for the Japanese onslaught. The Japanese advance towards Rangoon is so fast that they actually manage to cut off the badly mauled and retreating Indian 17th Division. The struggle to get battered allied troops to safety and not leave them cut off by the rapid Japanese attacks was fought at the Battle of Sittang Bridge.


Scenario description:

Here we have a perfect example of a scenario's design being influenced entirely by history. There's little need to take liberties, the events speak for themselves and translate extremely well directly into fun and compelling gameplay elements. There's no steamroller battle to be fought here, your typical race against time to cross the map and wipe out all opposition in your path. In fact, the more adventurous you are in this scenario, the more trouble you might find yourself trapped in. This is why this particular scenario does not have distracting side objectives to complete, it has a laser focus on a single task: Getting Indian troops across the Sittang River to safety. That is all that matters, both in the historical battle and in the game battle.

And it's certainly enough of an uphill battle. Not only are the Japanese already in front of the player blocking their path, but once the Indian units begin their long march to safety, repeated Japanese counter attacks threaten player control of the Sittang River crossing as well as the path their Indian allies are trekking. Once the road is cleared, vigilance is key to holding on to your position long enough for your allies to make good on their escape. Though the Indians ended up leaving most of their heavy weapons and equipment behind, troops can always be re-armed and re-supplied, but dead men can't be fixed or replaced so easily.



Scenario VI Rangoon Falls


Historical Setting:

Only days later after the Battle of Sittang, the Japanese were within striking distance of Rangoon itself. Rangoon, known as Yangon in Myanmar of today, was absolutely vital to the Allies. Its major port facility marked the starting point of the Burma Road, the primary Allied supply route to China.

With the Japanese and Chinese at war since well before the official start of World War II, the Allies were keen to keep their Chinese allies supplied and the Japanese were eager to cut this avenue. In fact, once the Burma Road was cut by the Japanese, the primary supply route to China was done by air, the infamous Hump Airlift. Through it, the Allies were able to keep forces in China supplied, but it's inefficiency demonstrated how much of a blow losing the Burma Road was to the Allies. It's estimated that to fuel and arm one bomber for one mission required four flights of transport planes over The Hump.


Scenario description:

In a similar vein to the previous scenario, I let history dictate the course of this battle. By the time your beleaguered force finally retreats back to Rangoon, the order is given to abandon Rangoon in the face of the unstoppable Japanese advance. So once again, the player is forced to fight their way through Japanese lines to reach safety.

Keeping to history, however, there was a very real question of what to do with all the Allied supplies that were being kept in Rangoon that were not possible to transport out in time before the Japanese arrived. As tragic as it was to destroy their own vehicles, fuel, ammo, and other supplies, the Allies had to ensure that these materials would not fall into enemy hands. So as a bonus objective, the player can set the supply yards of Rangoon aflame and destroy all Lend Lease equipment that could not be carried off by the Allied retreat.

The more the player is able to destroy, the bigger bonuses they will receive. However with the overwhelmingly powerful main Japanese attack force enroute to Rangoon, the player has to balance retreating their forces to safety with the need to take so much extra time to destroy the equipment stored in Rangoon.



Scenario IX Operation Longcloth


Historical Setting:

A year after the fall of Rangoon in 1942, the Japanese have consolidated their positions in Burma. Now 1943, the frontlines haven't changed significantly. The Japanese are mostly content with their conquests and are focused elsewhere, and in a previous scenario, we see the Allied attempt to return to Burma fail in the attack on the Arakan region.

An intrepid and charismatic Brigadier Wingate has a different approach to brute force with operations aimed at deep strikes at enemy supply lines. With the experience of these guerrilla operations executed in East Africa years ago, Orde Wingate is summoned by General Archibald Wavell to organize a unit to strike at the Japanese behind their lines. The unit would be come to known as the Chindits, a corruption of the name for a mythological Burmese creature.


Scenario description:

This battle is utterly unique in campaign gameplay. As a deep strike operation, a special Chindit infantry unit has been added to the Order of Battle unit roster to specifically operation in this mission. That's especially important because none of the player's main campaigning force is present or can be deployed anywhere on this mission! It's entirely up to the auxiliary Chindits under the control of the player to execute the mission, a true behind the lines operation many miles from normal military support structures.

The goal of the mission follows the historical objectives of the Chindits, to cause mayhem behind Japanese lines. Striking at rail yards, blowing up bridges, attacking airbases and grounded aircraft, and generally being a major nuisance to the Japanese in Burma. Of course the Japanese patrols are everywhere, and the player must carefully weigh the lives of the Chindits against all of the possible bonus rewards they can reap for their primary campaigning force. History remembers this operation both for its morale boosting successes and also appalling casualty rate.



Scenario XI Imphal 1944


Historical Setting:

No Southeast Asian conflict would be complete without the massive and critical struggle that took place at Imphal, India, in the Spring of 1944. With fortune turning against the Axis and Japanese across many fronts, a gamble was made to marshal a major contingent of Japanese Army units and send them on an invasion of India.

The goal would be to cut the newly forming Ledo Road, the Allied replacement road being built to supply China by land once again, and to also capture the major Allied staging ground and depot the Japanese knew was being set up at Imphal. The resulting monumental battle would be the largest military defeat of Japanese forces in all of history, up to this date and time.


Scenario description:

With relatively flat ground and a huge historical battle as precedent, I worked to create a grand battle for the Burma Road DLC with the battle at Imphal. Going back to my Panzer Corps roots, I was more than happy to litter the battlefield with all manner of heavy tanks and artillery, something that is otherwise very rare to see across combat in the Pacific Theatre.

To bolster the player against this Japanese onslaught of tanks and troops, major Indian forces are present under the command of the player as auxiliary troops. Their primary goal is to defend the frontline of Imphal itself. It falls to the player to defeat the heart of the Japanese strategy though, which were two pincer movements aimed at encircling Imphal.

These flanking attacks aimed around the north and south of Imphal are aimed squarely at the player's deployment zones, and they face a major battle to blunt the waves of Japanese troops. The more adventurous of players may also find themselves able to go on the counter offensive to attack the Japanese supply depots, possibly crippling the Japanese supply state and capturing or earning a prize or two in the process.

AlbertoC
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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by AlbertoC » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:21 pm

We hope you enjoyed reading some insights and historical background to a few of the scenarios of this upcoming campaign. Stay tuned for next week when we cover the possibly extremely controversial suppression of a civilian riot in India, one let by none other than Mahatma Gandhi himself!

Image sources:
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/world_cities/bombay.jpg
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/burm ... f46-10.jpg
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/burm ... ne47-9.jpg
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/burm ... f46-10.jpg
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/burm ... f46-14.jpg
https://chindits.files.wordpress.com/20 ... y-1944.jpg
https://www.amazon.com/Stilwell-Ballant ... 0345022610

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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by DarthPooh » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:48 pm

Oh, nice. Can't wait for the release :P

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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by GUNDOBALDO08 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:41 pm

Next week we hope you release dlc... or not?

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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by Andy2012 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:46 pm

Marvelous. I must say, it has obviously been a very astute decision to hand over the mission design and background research to another company. This has obviously eased the strain on the Artistocrats and allowed some really dedicated stuff to emerge.
I am impressed already.
Please keep this pattern up guys. For future DLCs, let somebody else worry about research and design and you guys focus on programming. To be frank, OoB until now always played like a game brilliantly conceptualised but a bit sloppy in the feel of missions. Some stuff like Raate Road, Moscow, Kiev and Bataan defense gave you just a glimpse what would be possible if more time and manpower would be invested. With this, OoB really seems to have a shot at being the next Panzercorps.
Gentlemen, to the Steam store (or whereever you guys buy your things...). :D

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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by mhladnik » Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:21 pm

Oh wow, this all sounds very exciting and enticing!

Could we also hear some more about the cooperation setup with Demon Wings Interactive itself? I haven't heard about this new situation before this post.

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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by VPaulus » Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:36 pm

Kerensky (Demon Wings Interactive) is the designer of the Grand Campaign expansions for Panzer Corps.
He's the designer for the Burma Road. :)

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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by kongxinga » Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:19 pm

A skimmed through and want to confirm. Do we ever get Chinese (Nationalist Chinese/ KMT) units in your core?

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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by best75 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:36 am

Looks good and makes me more excited for the Bruma campaign

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Re: Order of Battle: Burma Road - Campaign Diary!

Post by koopanique » Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:06 pm

This thread has 2 merits:
1) It's very interesting and entertaining to see how the campaign is made and with what resources
2) From a marketing pov it works really well, count me in for this campaign, it looks awesome with lots of interesting gameplay elements

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