Order of Battle: Pacific

By Nik Gaukroger 30 May 2014 0

Reviewing our coverage of Slitherine?s Home of Wargamers I realised that we had inadvertently left out one game ? Order of Battle: Pacific. I?m sure Lukas Nijsten of The Artistocrats, the developers, will forgive us for this, especially as it means he gets a whole article to himself ?

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Just for a bit of history Lukas used to work with The Lordz Games Studios and was part of the team that created Panzer Corps ? so that seems like a reasonable pedigree in creating a successful game. Order of Battle has now been in development for just over a year and it is lined up for an autumn/fall release if all goes well. Certainly what we saw was looking pretty good; however, Lukas did say that there was still much work to do to get it into shape for release ? mainly around the scenarios and game balancing. The plan is for PC, Mac, iPad and Android releases as is becoming the norm for Slitherine Group games these days.

The basis of the game is, unsurprisingly, the Pacific Theatre of Operations in WW2 and stretches from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor through to the planned, but ultimately not needed, invasion of the Japanese home islands. There will be campaigns for both the Allies and the Japanese and the latter will end with the (again planned but not carried out) invasion of Australia. Both single and multi-player (up to 4 players) options will be catered for and there will be a comprehensive editor for players to create their own scenarios.

Given The Artistocrats background it is no surprise that the game has something of a Panzer Corps look and feel about it, as these screenshots show:

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As you might expect I asked Lukas about this and he was quite frank about the inspiration; a certain degree of ?if it ain?t broke, don?t fix it? I think, plus it is a familiar look for the target gamers who are going to be the sort of people who like Panzer Corps. I suppose we can?t expect revolution with every game alas ? The aim is that more things will be represented visually for example dug in units will sprout sand bags to show this, and to help keep game play moving you will not have to wait for animations to finish before activating another unit. Commanders, who will have special abilities, can be attached to units and supply, and the effects of going out of supply, is going to be a key part of the game ? if you look at some of the screenshots you?ll see a red line that indicates the limits of supply. Oh, and of course, naval action will play a fair part as well, including supply to troops landing on enemy shores.

Suggesting to Lukas that the game is going to just be a series of ?island hopping? scenarios he explained that this was not going to be so ? quite emphatically in fact. Yes there will be some, but only if they are important and interesting ? so you?ll get the ?biggies? such as Iwo Jima ? but a lot were quite dull in terms of a game, so there will be more variety than that. However, he did slip in that he was thinking about a possible ?Marine Corps? DLC which would cover more island assaults for those who want them and/or are real Marine Corps fans. We also chatted about other parts of the war in Asia and if these are on the agenda for future expansions. Again Lukas already has some ideas and he is clearly looking for this to be a series of games to be developed over the next few years. Mentioned ware China and Burma, which would be a bit different, and Lukas immediately started to speculate about the effects of weather that could be modelled for Burma especially in order to get the feel of those jungle campaigns. Can?t fault the man on his scope of ideas. The thing he was wary of though, was that he?d need a load more units represented, and he said there are 450+ in the game already.

Scenarios will include some purely naval ones, and these are the ones that are proving most difficult to balance it appears. The key according to Lukas is setting the objectives. As these will tend to revolve around carrier forces use of your aircraft in CAP will need to be handled carefully as CAP effectiveness deteriorates as action occurs ? modelling battles like Midway where the initial US aircraft attack by torpedo bombers pulled the Japanese fighters to low altitude allowing the dive bombers a clear(ish) run in to devastating effect.

Finally he mentioned a couple of ?stealth? units that feature in the game, although I got the impression that these are still a bit in development ? ?commando? type units and subs. The former will be able to operate behind enemy lines and be somewhat ?invisible? to carry out raids on enemy supply lines and the like. Air dropping them may well be a possibility. Subs can operate either submerged or on the surface. Submerged they move slowly, have a short LoS, but are hard to spot, whilst on the surface they move fast but are vulnerable. All sounds reasonable to me, and gives choices to players which is good.

Overall it?s looking good, I think my only concern is if they are trying to pack a bit too much into this game. Hopefully beta testing will thrash that out.

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