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With Blitzkrieg, Order of Battle visits the main European theatre for the first time. Germany in 1939-1941 was waging a type of warfare which was completely different from the one fought in the Pacific or in Finland during the Winter War. How is it represented in game? How is this campaign different strategy wise?
Blitzkrieg is the first purely offensive campaign of the game - at least as far as overal scenario objectives are concerned. And while armoured warfare played a smaller role in the Pacific theatre, the harsh terrain of Finland and the Sino-Japanese conflicts, the Germans practically invented it.
This is immediately visible by the large variety of different tank types and Ausführungen that are available in the 1.5 years of war covered by this campaign. Besides the Panzer I, II, III and IV series the Germans have access to Czech 38(t) tanks and even captured French equipment through the Beutepanzer specialization.
On a tactical level, many scenarios are designed entirely with armoured pincer attacks in mind. Players will find that using historical large scale encirclements - using Panzer units to spearhead the attacks - will provide the best way to assure victory. This is largely achieved by the simple-yet-effective supply system of the Order of Battle series, but is further emphasized by primary and secondary objectives. In particular during the invasion of the Soviet Union players will have a hard time grinding through the massive Soviet armies frontally. By instead pushing aggressively around the flanks of these forces and eventually closing the encirclement, huge amounts of units will be trapped and easily wiped out.
Blitzkrieg adds a multitude of new units (over 200!). Many vehicles – do you think that Blitzkrieg expands on the concept of combined arms and mechanized warfare in Order of Battle? How?
While the German Panzers take much of the glory, the only way to assure that their advance does not grind to a halt is by providing selective and effective artillery and air support. Stuka dive bombers and motorized artillery are essential to preserve the strength of the Panzer arm by breaking enemy strong points and AT positions.
Equally important is the follow up of infantry forces to mob up any remaining resistance and securing the supply lines of the armoured spearhead. The AI is particularly effective at cutting through the player's supply lines, so careless play will quickly cripple the potential firepower and mobility of an isolated Panzer division.
Blitzkrieg doesn’t add only Germany, but many other countries as well. Could you tell us something of their army rosters?
As Order of Battle grows and visits new theatres of war, many units and nations are being added. France and Poland now have a respectable and varied amount of unit types available while the British - already present since the Pacific campaigns - have received further additions to their arsenal.
Besides these, players will encounter many new units when facing the minor Allied nations of World War 2 such as Belgium, Norway, Greece and Yugoslavia.
What about the AI: has it been improved and adapted to the new type of Blitzkrieg warfare?
Besides various general fixes and optimizations of the AI code, specific attention went to retreat mechanics.
Besides strategic retreats in specific scenarios such as the evacuation of Dunkirk and the breakout attempts of encircled Soviet forces during Barbarossa, the AI will now retreat badly damaged units from the front lines. Rather then sticking around indecisively until the player delivers the final blow, these units will now retreat to the rear or attempt to leave the map entirely. This behaviour can even be consciously used by the player to meet the strict time-table of the German offensives: Destroying every single enemy unit is time consuming, and while secondary objective encourage the destruction of enough enemy forces, some can be "allowed" to escape to assure a quicker conclusion of the current battle.
What’s next in the future of Order of Battle? What can you tell us?
Blitzkrieg ends in 1941 with the Battle of Moscow. Needless to say we are not yet done with the Germans! A total of at least 4 more German-oriented campaigns is planned for 2017, including some rather unique content.
Equally important, the long announced - and requested - Skirmish Mode is now the focus of our attention. Without any other major theatre changes coming in the near future we hope to finally find the time to finish this exciting feature in the coming months.