Part 30: Sonja Vs. Operation HQ Road TripPART 30 - Sonja Vs. Operation HQ Road Trip
Today on "my dude is shot in the foot by his own lack of tactical ability", we're onto the first Sonja mission.
Divide and conquer? Please tell me she means the COs and not the map itself; my army being separated would be very fucking annoying. I can't think of anything worse.
Never mind, I thought of something. Fog of motherfucking War.
Alright, let's just get this over with.
Not here, thankfully.
Also not here. I'm neutral on Sami.
Don't look at me! Why the hell would I know where they are?
At least the strongest CO stuck around. They'll probably be fine - let's just keep punching Sonja until she tells us what happened.
Sonja. You know, the person we're fighting? She was on the mission intro screen.
Oh, that's what you were saying "Huh?" about.
Also, Max says this and yet this first screen shows absolutely no enemy units whatsoever. Evidently Max also cheats in Fog of War, just like the AI.
Where the fuck are you looking? I can't see anything!
Oh my god. Look, I'll just take over from here. Go sit in a corner until I need you to make Tina go from "one-shotting everything" to "nuclear bomb in tank form".
And here's the map, folks. So, strategy... you'll be unsurprised to hear that this isn't my first attempt at this map. Not nearly as bad as some of Eagle's maps, but it isn't a walk in the park.
I've yet to come up with a solid strategy for beating it, but I do have an idea. However, before I can talk about that, let's take a closer look at Sonja herself. May as well see what her deal is.
Interesting. I'm not sure how exactly they all help, especially considering how hax the AI is in this fucking game, but eh, it's a curious set of abilities. The hidden HP one sounds more annoying than strategically sound. I feel like a better skill would be masking how much damage the enemy can do to you in the combat forecast.
Ooh, that would be interesting, actually. I was intending to see if I could design a My Dude CO... maybe that should be one of his abilities. Anyway, onward.
Oh, fuck you.
It's not nearly as irritating as a lot of abilities but this can seriously fuck you over if you're relying on trees to avoid getting rocketed to death.
Say, for example, in a level where the enemy has lots of rockets and there's plenty of trees around, and it's Fog of War. Also, wow, Sonja is very Fog-of-War-heavy. Which is annoying, because I can only assume the next three missions are all going to feature Wog of Far. My favourite mechanic, yaaaay.
Oh, interesting. Didn't Kanbei's dossier say he dislikes computers? But likes Sonja. Also, that quote down there is quite nice, and for once, the enemy has a point: we'll be minimising our raw damage output and instead taking a more strategic approach to beating this map.
Just before that, though, we have the first of Sonja's many "Fuck You"s to attend to.
Here he is. Right in range of basically all your starting units. God, this guy's an asshole.
And when I say Sonja has many "Fuck You"s, I'm not kidding. There's several rockets hanging about the place, and for additional fuckery, a couple of artilleries, too. I learnt all of this through painful trial and error - and I hadn't actually made much progress on the map during my failed runs, so this one could just as easily go wrong depending on how many more units Sonja has up north.
The Von Panzer Volksturm is just enough to take this dick out.
OK, one problem out of the way. On with the strategy.
So, I'll be splitting the army into two main segments: the bulk of the army is remaining down here, defending from the north and east. Sonja has a couple of tanks on the way down, but once they're gone, the way to her HQ is mostly clear: Michael will be ferrying Gareth up to it, going from forest to forest, followed by Von Panzer and the Arthur Assembly (who is a tank for this map) and the Gordon Gang, who will use his mystical recon abilities to let me know whether there's any more murderers up north.
The rest of the army - such as Tina, Ingo, Alfonse, Barold and Fred - will stay on the defensive, keeping out of range of any of Sonja's rocket squads, and with any luck, we'll have this mission done pretty quickly. First, though, the first wave of Sonja's troops.
I set up my army like so. The two tanks are coming to the east, I'm pretty sure. There's another tank that comes from the north but I don't know if it charges like the other two. It only seems to attack if there's something in range, but hey, we'll see how it goes. Sonja's turn.
God, the dark looks foreboding.
Huh, she knows my name.
Well, if there is one thing we can do, it's hit things pretty hard. Combat is our forte.
The rest of Sonja's turn is taken up by the usual noises of vehicles we can't quite see just shuffling about in the dark. Nothing actually shows up yet, though.
OK, my turn. We're almost ready to begin our quest north, but first, gotta wait another turn for those tanks.
I decide that I want to get the Vladimir Volunteers over to the northern side.
I park him on a mountain for additional view, but still don't reveal anything.
Also, I'm still nervous about the possibility of a tank around this area, so Tina should prevent anyone going for Michael.
Alright, end turn again. I promise I'll actually start doing things after this.
Sonja, send in your fucking tanks already. I'm bored.
But hey, there are the tanks!
Alright, here we go.
Despite Max's inability to use rockets effectively, they do still help every so often, like right now.
The Fred Fusiliers are pretty handy.
But wait! Gareth can help too!
Which is good, because I was worried that I didn't have enough firepower to take out both of them in one turn.
Also, I just wanted to draw attention to Sonja's face here. For some reason, Sonja's general face sprite in battle is the smuggest fucking thing and I love it.
But then when we kill her units, she looks like she's about to cry. Boo fucking hoo, Sonja.
Von Panzer goes for the other tank. He can't quite kill it because nothing in this god damn map has gone my way.
But hey, he does alright. The Arthur Assembly can finish it.
Finish it, Arthur, so our road trip can finally begin.
Yeah, the whole "health is hidden" thing Sonja has going on really is useless, isn't it? Max's units virtually one-shot everything, and anything they don't one-shot is left more crippled than the average Make-A-Wish Foundation kid.
Also, we can't get the lads-on-tour road trip started without everyone's favourite albino, Michael! Get over here, Michael!
It's the Sonja period of the day, folks. I wonder why both COs get a day to themselves? Do we have the morning and then the enemy have the afternoon? What, is there a changeover period during lunchtime?
Speaking of changeover, this guy paints this city gold. I don't know why he's proud of himself, it's not the property capturing map anymore.
Alright, are we all finally ready? Got the snacks and the Spotify playlist? Excellent.
First things first, the Gareth Group get into Michael. He's the one who will be capturing HQ, with any luck. It is still a long way off... we'll see how this goes.
Also, just to get you to understand how careful I have to be, this is Sonja's CO meter. That's why I've not been attacking the infantry, and why I will continue to play defensively: if I do any damage at all, she'll proc her power and instantly vaporise the Michael Multitude. All we have to do is reach HQ without attacking her, and we're golden.
Well, we're red, they're golden, but you knew what I meant.
Here's the setup at the end of the turn. Up ahead is the Arthur Assembly, followed by Michael, then Von Panzer, all situated in forests for safety. Eddie's here too, but he's not yet concealed, which is why I've not moved him up yet. The movement penalty for forests (2 for treads and fucking 3 for tyres) is going to become one of the major problems of this strategy, as it means everything happens soooooo sloooooowly.
Now we pray that nobody discovers us.
This dickhead is now muscling on my turf, and as much as I'd love to punish him for it, I can't attack. Not without risking an Enhanced Vision proc right in the middle of Operation HQ Road Trip.
Man, I come up with the best Operation names.
But luckily, nothing else of note happens. So, let's continue!
"This is pretty relaxing, actually." Michael says. "Nice to not have to fight so much to win."
"Michael, you're an APC driver. You don't fight anyway." sighs Dave. "Enjoy your road trip whilst we sit and defend HQ, being as paranoid as possible."
"It's Fog of War. You can't be too safe." Tina replies. "Ingo, Fred, we'll be counting on you to take on anything that does threaten us. But let's hope that doesn't happen..."
We continue to move people from forest to forest.
"This playlist is boring. Can I put on Imagine Dragons?" asks Michael.
"No." reply Von Panzer, Eddie and Arthur simultaneously.
Back at the home base, I need to block off these guys, which Bill, Tina and Vladimir can do pretty easily. Unfortunately, Vladimir is kind of a weak link, but he's the tankiest dude I've got left, so I guess he'll have to do. Hopefully they aren't too interested in shooting him.
Oh god here comes trouble.
Ah. Seems like the only trouble is infantry doing the same shit they've been doing for the entire game: capturing pointless properties.
And nothing else happened. This strategy is... actually working! I'm impressed. Let's see if we can keep it up just for a few turns longer...
Michael moves up here, ready to hop to the last forest before the enemy HQ, whilst he waits for his tank buddies to back him up. There could be anything up here, and provided it's not a medium tank (which would be the dickest of moves, let's be real) Von Panzer and Arthur should have it covered. Also Eddie exists.
Speaking of, my tank bois head up here. Von Panzer's still on the right - he'll catch up, don't worry.
Another day, another monstrous abuse of the AI.
Sonja continues to not attack me and also not know that I have a ton of units heading in her general direction. She's... yeah, for the intelligent one, this map isn't showing it off much.
The Michael Multitude heads into the last forest, on the tail end of the road trip! And what an emotional journey it's been.
"I'm hungry!" shouts Arthur as he drives into a forest.
"Shh!" hisses Michael. Gareth shakes his head.
"Who the fuck brought Arthur on the silently-sneak-up-on-HQ mission?"
"My dude works in mysterious ways." shrugs Eddie.
"True that." replies Von Panzer, suspiciously glancing over at the Orange Star HQ. I shiver, feeling someone's eyes on me.
And on the seventh day, the Lord said "Wait, I think I made this joke like twenty parts ago."
Whatever, it's Sonja's turn, but nothing happened. Back to the road trip, where the cool stuff is going on!
Arthur heads north to this forest, so he can be ready to step in once Michael drops Gareth off at HQ and everything goes to shit.
I'm not too familiar with how many troops are up here, but I'm just assuming everything is going to go to shit. It just seems to happen whenever I go-
WHAT THE FUCK
"Yes!" I imagine Sonja shouting, somewhere in the fog. "You just activated my trap card!"
And indeed we did.
But in this case the trap card was a forest and the trap was a fuckload of rockets. Or the second "Fuck You", if you will.
...he said sarcastically, weighing up his options.
See, it's not like the rocket is a threat. I can erase it with Von Panzer just like I did with the first "Fuck You"... but that'll give Sonja her CO power. Michael would be a sitting duck, and we're so close to victory...
So... what's the best course of action?
Arthur isn't in any danger, but being in the open will probably leave him a target for any more tanks that Sonja has around. And once literally anything attacks him, it'll be enough to proc Enhanced Vision, which will then allow the rocket to blow Michael to fuck.
I set Von Panzer on it. I have a plan.
OK, Sonja's got her power, so now we just have to strap ourselves in, pretty much.
It doesn't matter whether Michael's in a forest or not now, so we may as well surround him on as many sides as possible...
Annoying, Eddie couldn't reach the space to the right of Michael, which is more likely going to be closer to any murderers than the lower one. Eh, either way, only one thing can attack him... provided there's no more godforsaken rocket or artillery units around.
That will have to wait until next time. I've got my good ol' university end-of-year exams in the next few weeks, but I didn't want to take a full two weeks away from Let's Play Advance Wars - as such, you're getting shorter updates for 30 and 31. Then I'll do a longer update to celebrate the beginning of summer. Hang in there, folks.
But yes, next time. For now, please enjoy My Dude's Playlist, because that joke about a Spotify playlist wasn't a joke. Revision gets really boring, you know? So I made this. Don't ask.
Edit: couple of people have said the link isn't working, some have said it has. So, uh... I'm not sure? Copying and pasting it directly into the bar seems to be a workaround for those that it isn't working for.
Alright, see you next week for the exciting conclusion to Operation HQ Road Trip.
The Barracks: Bill and Ingo 2
Ingo, hey! Bill says. Uh, are you doing OK?
Ingo, annoyed at having been accosted in the corridor when he just wanted to get a coffee, fixes Bill with an aggressive stare. Im acceptable. Look, I dont care what my brother said. You dont have to worry about me. Stop asking me if Im OK.
I just feel like Im not doing enough. Bill replies, flailing his hands uselessly. Im not good at, you know, interacting. But I want to help.
I dont need help! shouts Ingo. Im not gonna falter just because my just because Eri just
At the realisation of what he is saying, Ingo can barely finish the sentence, and looks at Bill. For the briefest of moments, he has a look akin to desperation in his eyes, and then Bill pulls him into a tight hug. Ingo shakes for a moment, and Bill can hear the muffled sounds of tears.
Its OK its alright. I know. I can barely deal with it myself. I can only imagine what youre going through.
Its weak. mutters Ingo, sniffling.
No. Bill replies, somewhat more fiercely. It isnt weak. Not at all. Everyone is carrying the deaths of their comrades with them, and you cant just edgelord your way through it. You have to ask for help.
I Im just worried about death.
Understandable. Bill says, with a friendly smile.
Ingo looks up at Bill. Bill. Why are we doing this?
Our families. Our friends. For the people who cant defend themselves. Bill replies. The world is unclean, and as we defeat the evil that threatens Orange Star, we cleanse it.
Ingo considers this for a moment, then turns back to his room. I see.
He doesnt say anything else, and begins to walk away.
Ingo, its going to be OK. Ill look after you if you need it.
Ingo turns back to face him. I Ill think about it.