Order of Battle WWII: Burma Road Specialisation Guide11 Sep 2017 0
To save or spend? That is an oddly pertinent question in Order of Battle: WWII's Burma Road (BR) expansion, reviewed here recently by new Wargamer.comrade Ian Boudreau. (See our reviews and a myriad other OoB articles for the series’ history/background.) Following up on my pre-release special prior to the OoB: Blitzkrieg DLC, I decided to revisit the game’s Specialisation system to see what’s new and noteworthy, and how you can apply it to your game.
Looking closely, there aren't a whole lot of 'brand new' specialisations for Burma Road - the tech tree for the British being a combination of generic specialisations, specialisations taken from other trees and then some unique to the British themselves. Because a nation's tech tree carries over any other DLCs where you can play as the same country, currently a great deal of what is included appears to be largely redundant other than as a prerequisite to something desirable. For example, Magnetron Radar grants a radar range of 8 to all warships, yet is not directly useful in BR because player-controlled ships do not appear in the campaign; at the same time it’s a prerequisite to Scrambling – which was introduced in the Kriegsmarine DLC – which I found eminently useful (fighters can take off and move/attack on the same turn). It's worth pointing that, if/when the British turn up in another DLC campaign, their tech tree will be the same as it is in Burma Road (unless specifically tweaked), so Magenton Radar might be more relevent there if it's a more naval focused experience. Spec trees are for nations, not campaigns.
Other general Specialisations that have carried over from previous DLCS include War Economy and Female Factory Labour, the former now a prerequisite to the latter, each costing 5 Specialisation Points (SP) and each granting a cumulative +2 Naval and Land Command Points (CP). Again, however, although Naval CP don’t enter into the equation in BR, I’m sure most players will find the Land points handy. Prior to those, Lend-Lease, at 3SP, is the first actually new Spec available and affordable, which enables the purchase of certain American and British tanks: Stuart, Sherman, and Wasp flame. Here, a player is presented with one’s first decision as well.
On my initial campaign game with this new DLC, I chose it right away. About three or four scenarios in, however, I restarted, this time forgoing it in favour of saving up for later and more expensive Specialisations: the aforementioned War Economy and Female Factory Labour, as well as Mag Radar and Scrambling. I normally end up filling my Land CP as soon as possible, so saving a slot – in addition to Resource Points (RP) – for a later foreign tank purchase seemed a questionable strategy.
On the other hand, Special Services is available relatively early (3SP; enabling SAS, SBS, and Chindit commandos). Note that the game’s web page states that, “Commando(s)… will be essential”, and indeed I found them indispensable in “Op Longcloth” (not ‘Loincloth’!) as well as later on, albeit not as much as in this scenario. The rest, including newbies Metal Detector, Hobart’s Funnies, and Proximity Fuse (not sure if that one’s new to BR), were of dubious value, either enabling too late to be of use or for other reasons, which I will elucidate.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Front…
Since SP are earned so slowly even while completing most Secondary Objectives that grant bonuses, it pained me to spend them on such things as Specialised Training, Tank School, and Flight Training (each bestowing one experience star to infantry units, tanks, and aircraft, respectively). I found that experience seems to be earned fairly quickly, and again, I wanted to save up for others. I made an exception for Flight Training only as a prerequisite to Pilot Rotation (10SP!; aircraft repair cost reduced, experience retained), but as it turned out, I ended up not buying it, so if I had a do-over…
Metal Detector (3SP), which proofs engineers from taking damage when blundering into minefields, and allows them to move and clear on the same turn, might in retrospect have been a wise purchase, but I didn’t take it. This is a new spec that I'm told will be made available to other trees at some point, but it hasn't happened yet. Drop Tanks (7SP; +2 turns in the air for fighters), which enables early, could also have been valuable, especially in the end scenario (don’t believe intel that the Japanese air force is smashed!), but that’s another I didn’t acquire. Centimetric Radar (5SP; 5 Radar range to aircraft, 12 to warships), enabled by Magnetron, also appeared of limited use. Similarly, Proximity Fuse (5SP; AA do more damage), enabled later on by Magnetron Radar as well, seemed of low priority, as I only had one AA throughout the whole campaign; players with more AA units may find it of higher value, however.
Next I took Advanced Aeronautics (and questioned it afterwards), but in the end I felt relatively satisfied with the choice; it activates the advanced aircraft earlier on for "only" 7SP, but it does not itself unlock until 1944 -- which is of course late in the campaign. If, however, a player can afford the upgrades, later ‘Marks’ – Spitfire Mk.XVI, Beaufighter Mk.X, etc. – become available. Even so, at higher difficulties – I played no higher than Captain – I suspect its selection might be questionable, with more limited RP to spend on upgrades.
Similarly, Hobart’s Funnies, the last enabled Spec in Burma Road, enables minesweeper tanks for purchase and allows Churchill tanks to build pontoon bridges. Again, although I bought it, I didn’t actually use it; see above re: filling my CP, but – unforgivably! – I didn’t even have any Churchills! Time for another do-over…