Part 4: Mission 3: Andy's Time (or "Black Cannon, or White Elephant?")
Mission 3: Andy's Time (or "Black Cannon, or White Elephant?")
Black Hole's resident evil teen genius, Lash, has been building a new toy to play with:
Aww, come on Lash, in NC you go all over the top about it and yell "Flak! Flakalakalakalaaaaaak!!!". Where's the fun in just saying "Flak"?
Got it. Thanks, Lash. Now I'll smash 'em good!
Don't forget, you promised to be a guinea pig in my next experiment!
Hmmm... Yeah, I remember.
Well, I'm off! Toodles! Have fun! Oh, yeah! Almost forgot, Hawke said to hurry and conquer Orange Star!
Hawke said... Crush. I gotta crush 'em here. I have to... crush 'em all...
Thank you. Send him in.
Hey, Nell! How're things looking?
That's what concerns me... Do you see that giant cannon?
A cannon that size is a first for me, too. The Black Hole Army seems to be much more of a threat than last time.
Max? What are you doing here?
C'mon, Nell. This job's too much for Andy. You need someone with my strength to take out that cannon.
Hey! I can do this!
Knock it off, Andy. War isn't a game. You'll just get hurt.
Max, I have faith in Andy. Even if he's not as powerful as you are, he can do things no one else can. I think this will be a good experience for him, so let's let him handle this.
Hmph! Don't come cryin' to me if he gets hurt! Yo, Andy! You sure you're up for this?
You know it! Sit back and watch, Max!
So okay, Flak's got a giant cannon this time round.
Oh well. At least we've got an airport this time.
What's an airport, again?
... wrong game, Andy. We told you what an airport was in the first game. This time you need to know what a continent is.
Oh, right. Sorry.
But yes. If ports are where we build ships from, airports are where we build planes and helicopters from. We've met one air unit so far, the battle copters from the first mission. We'll meet a couple more this time round.
Okay, let's check up on this giant cannon thing.
It's known as a Black Cannon: on the right is a shot showing all the squares it can hit. Pretty long range. Unlike lasers, Black Cannons can only hit one unit at a time, but the bad news (for us) is that they'll never target Black Hole troops. Put simply, Black Cannons pick the most expensive unit in range, and fire on it. Like lasers, they deal 5 damage but can't actually kill a unit; they can only reduce it to 1HP. The weak point is the door on the front: we can target and destroy that,just like we did in the first mission. And if we focus on going round the sides of the map rather than trying to take it head on, we can avoid it most of the time! Although note that that central base is in Black Cannon range. The mission ends when we destroy the Black Cannon (we can't win any other way), so from our point of view that base is pretty pointless. Still, we should at least make sure that we stop Flak from getting the base.
We also meet some Minicannons this mission. Minicannons are, well, smaller Black Cannons. Their range is a lot shorter, and they only deal 3 damage a turn (with the 1HP caveat again). Note that the two cities south of the Minicannons are just out of range of them, so our infs can safely capture them.
Okay, let's get this party started by building two infantry.
Flak follows suit. He can't really do much else: those two bases are all he starts with (well, other than all the cannons I guess).
Now we've got this airport, it's time to introduce the units that come out of it. B-Copters, you've met, they're a bit like flying tanks. Well, transport copters (or T-Copters) are like flying APCs that can transport infantry from landmass to landmass. To compensate for this extra mobility, T-Copters can't supply units like APCs can. Bombers are pretty much the most powerful attacking unit in the game, capable of devastating almost any ground or naval unit: their main weakness is fighters. Fighters rule the skies, with a very large movement range and the firepower to knock out any other air unit in one hit, but they're powerless against ground and naval units. For now, let's just build a T-Copter to help our infantry with capturing.
One of my infs loads up into the T-Copter, the other starts heading towards some cities, and I build another couple of infs.
Flak moved his infantry around.
I move my infantry around and build a tank. Always one step ahead
Flak sets about building up his base.
A lot of capturing happens this turn. The tank moves up level with the infs, ready to start the attack on the minicannons, while the T-Copter moves over so that it can get the infantry over to the south-western-most city ASAP. And I build an artillery to help take down those minicannons.
Flak's starting to get a base going now. Looks like he wants to send an infantry down to that central base: we'd better do something about that.
A B-Copter to cross the lake seems like a sensible idea.
My tank moves up into the minicannons' blind spot and attacks one of them. It doesn't do that much damage (Black Hole structures take damage at the same rate as Medium Tanks, so you're best off attacking with indirect units or bombers).
Artillery moves up, T-Copter picks up a passenger and moves them over to the south-west island.
Flak's starting to advance on that island.
This looks like a nice spot to put the B-Copter, just out of cannon range.
Artillery moves up into the minicannons' blind spot, a recon and another arty join the party.
Yep, that infantry's started capturing the base.
We'll see about that.
We don't take kindly to strangers 'round these parts.
Same goes for you, infantry-that's-capturing-city-in-the-north. Meanwhile, my artillery knocks the left minicannon down to 24 health.
I'm a bit worried about that other infantry there. If he joins up with the capturing infantry, then Flak's probably going to take that base. Also, there's a tank in range of the artillery blowing up the minicannons. That's not going to end well.
Yeah, unsurprisingly my artillery got attacked. More surprisingly, Flak decides he'd rather try and capture some random city rather than shore up the infantry capturing the base. Nice strategic thinking there, AI.
Anyway, time for some revenge.
Well, a bit of revenge.
Let's shuffle out that damaged artillery and bring in a fresh one. Meanwhile, let's see where that anti-air Flak's just built can hit.
So I'm fine if I attack this square here then. Jolly good.
Recon moves up to dish out more infantry damage, and...
Ooh, only just noticed that base. Looks like a nice spot, out of cannon range, an artillery there would be in a great position to attack the Black Cannon. Guess I'll send my T-Copter up to check that out.
And, because it looks like we're going to lose an artillery, best build some new ones.
Yeah, Flak's tank moved down and finished off that 3 health arty. I'd lament more, but I end up losing a few units this mission so it would seem odd to get protracted about it. The good news is that he didn't attack my full-health artillery, which means...
... the left minicannon is down.
My tank and recon move in and kill some more infantry
The dead artillery gets avenged by one of my B-Copters, and I move some more arties up.
Hmm. My T-Copter can't cross the Black Cannon's firing field in one turn, so it's going to get hit. At least the infantry inside it will be safe.
Finally, I'll just adjust the position of the B-Copter guarding the central base a little, so the Anti-Air can't hit him.
The AA opts to attack my artillery instead. Leave them alone!
Yep, my T-Copter got hit. The first and only hit that Black Cannon's going to record this mission. And it looks like Flak also has his eyes on that northwestern base.
I saw it first, Flak.
There, now that AA's surrounded. Even the B-Copter came up to take a pot shot (nothing more fun than B-Copters attacking wounded AAs). The other B-Copter sees about stopping that other infantry from capturing the base.
The artilleries move up into a formation that neatly avoids the squares that the minicannon can hit.
The T-copter's looking quite a bit worse for wear now, but it's done its job admirably - first as transport, and now as a sacrificial blocker while my infantry captures.
Flak's AA and infantry in the east bite the dust.
With this obstacle removed, my main force moves up.
And my infantry in the north-west starts capturing that base.
An excellent question, Flak.
However, you appear to have neither thought nor fought. Is anyone keeping count of the number of CO Powers that Flak's now wasted?
The north-west base is now mine.
And the second minicannon falls in the east.
Time to start spreading out into Flak's base. Victory isn't far away now.
To underline just how screwed Flak is, let's build a bomber.
As previously mentioned, bombers are very powerful attackers: they can one-hit kill many units, and even medium tanks get reduced to a tiny sliver of health. Bomber vs. Anti-air is essentially "first strike wins". Bombers are helpless against fighters though.
Well, that's my T-Copter gone. I can't really say he fought bravely, but he transported and blocked very bravely indeed.
The capturing infantry takes up the blocking position, and I build an artillery in the north-west.
Tank attacks AA, B-Copter attacks Tank...
... and the rest of my units pile in.
Owch, lost a lot of units on Flak's last turn. Wonder what my stats are looking like.
Hmm. I'm going to have to spam units, and not lose any more, to get 100 Technique here (<20% of units built getting killed). Spamming is easy enough, but how not to lose more?
Oh well, while I think about that, let's start damaging this cannon with the new artillery.
A couple more units attack, and... oh hey, Super CO Power. This is going to go a long way to making sure I don't lose more units.
Andy's Hyper Upgrade restores 5HP to all units (although obviously they can't go beyond 10) and gives them an attack boost and +1 move. Which reminds me, I haven't done a little profile for him yet:
Paul.Power's CO Notes: Andy "Andy's Anthem" A pretty awesome guitar cover
Andy is an all-rounder CO: all of his units have the default stats. His CO powers heal and repair his units, which under the right circumstances can give you a massive boost. Andy is pretty much the quintessential "vanilla" CO, and the one designed for beginners so that they can get used to the feel of the game early on.
Background/Personality: Although he may be a mechanical wizard, Andy's role as the "naive newcomer that new players can identify with" is often played to a worryingly ludicrous extent, giving one the impression of someone who's an idiot savant at best, and a total thicko at worst. Still, Andy's boundless enthusiasm and lack of any weak points makes for a useful ally and a tricky opponent, and he is central to the plot of Advance Wars 1.
This should help a lot.
The bomber joins the party and gets ready to do ridiculous damage to some poor tank.
Look out below!... too late.
Huh? What's this? It looks like a map to a lab... Is this lab hidden in some city?
I do recall that Commander Sami was discussing plans to attack a lab.
Oh, I did hear something about that! Some new Black Hole weapon thingy... And that there might be hints to it hidden in our neighboring countries.
That's correct. Shall I deploy some infantry to follow up?
No... Just send her the intel! Sami can take things from there. If we don't take care of business here, we'll never live it down!
Understood! We'll proceed as ordered, sir!
Good! Let's show these creeps who they're messing with!
Oh hey, almost forgot about this. In each of the four main countries, there's a lab mission that lets you gain access to a secret Black Hole weapon. To gain access to these missions, you have to find the maps by capturing certain cities in other missions. This city is one such city.
My technique spam's coming along nicely, so let's finish this.
Would you do the honours, Mr. Bomber?
BOOOOM (you can't see it here, but the screen shakes).
Grrr! Now you've done it, runt!
I'm no runt! My name's Andy!
Manners, Flak. You didn't like being called an ape, after all...
Name!? I didn't ask for your name! Argh! I can't lose any more units! I can't! Sound the retreat! Head back to base and regroup!
As long as I'm here, you'll never take Orange Star!
Yo, Andy... You OK?
Max! How was I? Did you watch the whole thing?
Yeah... I watched. That was a little close.
Hey! Those tanks back there... Are those your troops, Max?
Hm? Oh, um... those are...
Commander Max! We received your orders and moved out at once!
Well, no one ordered you to broadcast it to the entire world, soldier!
What?!? It's a training exercise! Gotta check those engines every now and then! Geez... C'mon, boys. Let's go home.
You know, Nell, I'm really glad to have Max on our side!
So am I, Andy. So am I.
The technique spam and Hyper Upgrade save the day for us, so that's another 300-pointer.
Tune in next time for...
... well, I don't know yet. Because, ladies and gentlemen, as the game starts to open up and become less linear, it's your turn to decide where I go next! We have a choice of four different battles. I'll do all four of them eventually, but I'd like you guys to select the order I do them in. Three of these missions are unique to hard campaign, replacing tutorial levels that the devs didn't think could be spiced up the way Border Skirmish, Orange Dawn and Andy's Time were. The fourth is the lab level, from the map we just found.
Option 1: POW Rescue. Max vs. the creepy-as-hell Adder. A Fog-of-War mission that might take a while. Save the prisoners of war before they become fodder for Lash's experiments!
Option 2: Mountain Ops. Sami vs. Black Hole's evil-genius inventor, Lash. Not actually the lab mission where we can gain secret Black Hole tech, this is a big long slog through some mountains. You might want to get it out of the way, or you might want to leave it, I dunno.
Option 3: Sea For All. Andy vs. Sturm's second-in-command and his leader of field operations, Hawke. A quirky little mission against Black Hole's least quirky CO.
Option 4: Test of Time. Andy vs. Flak, who we should all know by now. This is the lab mission associated with that map we just picked up. Quite a tough mission - there's a time limit on it, you only get seven in-game days - but this very time limit means it should make for quite a quick post. And of course, we'd get that secret Black Hole tech (about which I remain annoyingly vague).
So, votes please .