Part 26: Mission 21: A Mirror Darkly (or, "Nature Walk Reprisal")
Mission 21: A Mirror Darkly (or "Nature Walk Reprisal")
What is this? There is no enemy in sight. Sonja, what's the meaning of this?
You're right, Father. There's no one here... This is an important piece of the puzzle, though. The enemy must be targeting this area.
If they're here, Sonja, show me where they're hiding. If there is no enemy, there can be no battle. We must move ahead to the next battlefield.
I suppose you're right, and yet, something seems strange...
I've no time for your stubbornness! Come, Sonja! We must go!
Hmmm... Yes, Father. I understand.
Does no one in Yellow Comet have a brain? Oh well, I guess I'll just march right in and capture their HQ.
Took your time getting here, didn't you?
Who? Sonja!? You're not supposed to be here! I was told your army had moved on!
Sorry to disappoint you. That intel came from me, actually. It was false. It took some doing to get my father and Sensei to agree to this plan, but... I was beginning to wonder if you would take the bait.
Wait a minute... Are you saying that YOU trapped ME?
Surrender. There are rockets on both sides of you, and artillery waits ahead. If you try to get to our HQ, you'll be wiped out.
It's not like you're a combat specialist or anything, right? I really wonder if you can take me.
I have a pretty big army here. If I keep marching, I think I'll take your HQ and win. Don't you agree?
Impossible. My calculations are not wrong. Your army will be destroyed before you even touch our HQ.
I think I can make it. Care to bet on it?
If you really want to try, who's going to stop you? Oh, that's right. I am. How's this? If even one of your units gets to our HQ, you win. Let's determine which of us has the better grasp on reality.
Yay! A game! A game! Tee hee hee!
Er, I think we can already guess which of you has the better grip on reality...
This mission is essentially "Nature Walk Reprisal". Recall that in Nature Walk Lash was sitting on our HQ, and Grit had to get a unit to it to win (whereas Lash had to get a rout or HQ capture to lose). Now we lose if Lash reaches our HQ, but we have to rout her to win. Shame that we're not sitting on her HQ, eh? That'd make this a lot easier. Oh well, I guess it wouldn't be as much of a challenge or something...
As Lash noted, she has a "pretty big army". That's a bit of an understatement: it's a very big army. Oh well, we've routed numerically superior foes plenty of times before now - most notably in Tanks!!!, a mission that shares similarities with this one. Our forces mostly consist of rockets (to shoot stuff), recons (to see stuff) and mechs (to climb mountains and see stuff). These guys are distributed either side of the centre of the map, which is blocked in by mountain ranges: no vehicles can get into or out of the centre, although mechs and infantry can climb over the mountains. We also have a few units around the HQ: think of them as our "goalkeepers". It's their job to finish off anything that makes it to the HQ area.
General strategy: get spotters and shooters into good positions and fire away. In general, our priority order of unit attacking roughly goes
Neotanks - fast and strong, would really mess up the HQ area if they made it intact.
Units posing a threat to our rockets - i.e. indirects in threatening positions, footsoldiers that have crossed the mountains
Tanks - fast and pretty strong.
Recons - weak but very fast, and would mess up our "goalkeeping" rocket and artillery given half a chance.
Medium Tanks - strong but a bit slow, will arrive at the HQ area a little later than other stuff.
Targets of opportunity - basically everything else that happens to be in rocket range.
Also, I'll be looking to maim as many units as possible with my rockets rather than focussing on killing individual units, for a few reasons: 1) There's an awful lot of units, and getting the AI to join units makes my job easier, 2) it's easier for the "goalies" to deal with lots of 4HP units than a few full-health ones, 3) with Sonja's bad luck there's no guarantee of being able to pull off one- and two-hit kills anyway.
Now then, let's get some intel on the size of Lash's army by sending some mechs mountain climbing...
Moving some more units reveals that this big army also has an advanced guard of small tanks.
Nothing to attack this turn, it's mostly a case of getting things into position so I can start attacking next turn.
I will do one thing of note, though: shuffle my "goalkeepers" around into a better formation. Replacing the rocket on the HQ with a medium tank is the most important part: now if Lash wants to get a unit onto my HQ, she'll have to get past this guy. Naturally, he's not going to move from that spot. The two indirects go off and hide in the forests, while the other middie stations itself on the city in front of the HQ, ready to intercept any "undesirables".
Lash has shown rather more of her hand, and it contains a whole bunch of neotanks.
Oh well, you should know what we do with neotanks by now. Call down the rain of curly arrows.
Next up we'll target a couple of recons...
... and then that advance guard of tanks. One of them's already reached my "interceptor" middie. He can move off his city to attack, as long as the HQ middie stays put.
And we'll finish with an attack of opportunity on this AA.
Hmm, one of my mountain scouts got attacked by a Lash mech.
Further up the battlefield... gee this is a mess.
Let's clean it up. As my goalies focus on taking out the nearby small tanks...
... rockets further down keep assaulting the neotanks.
Throw in an attack on a tank and a middie, and an attack (from just off-screen) on an APC, and we're done for the day.
Blimey, that was fast. Then again, I have been doing a heck of a lot of damage.
Whoops. Some infantry unit got over the mountains and damaged a rocket. Oh well, not the end of the world.
I guess that didn't go so bad.
Time for the counterattack.
I SEE YOU!
More work for the goalies as they keep clearing out the units that have made it as far as the HQ area.
A trio of rockets fire at various Black Hole units. Annoyingly, that 8HP neotank is out of range of everything. Not the end of the world, though.
Now then, this infantry that had the temerity to attack my rocket...
... well, uh, I can't do much about it. Not yet. Meanwhile one of my mechs tries to take on one of Lash's and comes off worse for wear.
Oh, well, let's keep on trucking. Artillery attacks a rocket that decided to park itself in range, rockets attack a middie and a small tank.
A pair of rockets attack a pair of medium tanks, and some mechs join in the fun by finishing off a tank and attacking a middie.
General unit moving.
Lash keeps moving up.
First I take out some random medium tank...
... before the goalies continue their stirling job.
In the south, that artillery finishes off its rockety opponent.
That 8HP neotank from last turn decided to try and attack a mech on a mountain rather than disturb the goalkeepers. Doesn't bother me, that means it gets lured into rocket range, along with a bunch of other tanks.
Joining a couple of damaged mechs together.
My recon finishes off that rocket-attacking infantry from earlier.
My 5HP mech gets a little more adventurous now that Lash's column is moving up a bit.
The 8HP one here, though, has to move out of rocket range. Meanwhile, I resupply a rocket launcher with my APC (rocket launchers run out of rockets surprisingly fast).
Good grief, she only used this two turns ago. Oh well, I guess it means I'm doing a good job of inflicting tons of damage.
Nothing really bad happened, though.
She didn't even try attacking with the full health medium tank she has near the HQ. Hmm.
As the teacher in charge of chess club once said when I did a particularly stupid move against him one time, "I believe in gifts".
Rocket finishes off 2HP neotank.
A series of rocket attacks, followed by more mech joining and more supplying of rockets with ammo.
Another "target of opportunity" shot as one of my rocket attacks an infantry in range. Waste not, want not.
Trying to get as close to the mountain range as possible to maximise targets.
I must say, Lash has a lot of nerve rolling a 5HP medium tank up next to the HQ like that.
Nerve doesn't cut it though.
The "interceptor" medium tank leaves its city to swat the artillery that was threatening it there, while rockets continue to clean up.
doo be doo...
Swapping rocket and recon to get the rocket closer to the action.
And other general stuff.
Whoops, I left that 5HP mech in rocket range. Oh well, at least it keeps the rocket from retreating...
Lash is down to her last few units.
Oh well, she should never have attacked me in the first place.
Artillery takes out mech, rocket takes out infantry.
Rocket attacks APC, while in the south my 6HP rocket takes a shot at Lash's rocket.
As I move in for the kill, spot the ludicrous mistake.
Did you spot it?
Ugh. With hindsight, this move might have cost me 300 points here - a full health medium tank would have finished things off a lot more easily here.
Hmm, Lash's other artillery went into hiding.
Well at least we can do something about that.
There we go.
The mechs move in closer.
Just a quick check up at the top of the map to see if there aren't any APCs lurking in corners. It can happen all too easily.
Not much to say really.
Just the one unit to go!
... and he's gone into hiding. Figures.
Ah, there he is. It means I've put my mech in harm's way, unfortunately. But at least giving the arty something to shoot at means that it'll stay still next turn.
Moving the pieces into place.
Looks like I'm going to make the technique and power requirements easily enough, but with all this dallying around chasing artillery, speed is the question...
Okay, let's finish this.
Rocket knocks the artillery down to 2HP.
Middie rolls in to clean up.
And there we go!
Aaaah... I lost. Oh well, I still have plenty of pieces to play with.
P-Pieces?! I can't believe you said that! This isn't a game! You're not on some kind of playground!
Oh, but it IS a game. A wonderfully fun game between you and me! I know you feel the same way. Come on, you can tell me.
Don't... Don't be silly... I'm... nothing like you, Lash.
You're exactly like me. You and I. We're the same. You're always thinking about it, right? Which move will bring victory? You enjoy war like a good game of chess.
We're not different at all, Sonja. You'll feel it someday, the joy that war brings. Wait... You feel it now, don't you? Oh, Sonja! Tee hee hee! Toodles!
Wait! Hold it! Am I really... like you? I won't become you, Lash. I can't...
Now this is interesting - at least from the point of view of me, the player and you, the reader. We know this is a game, and a lot of AW players play like Lash anyway, not caring if they lose units. So is it really Lash who has the better grip on reality? Or am I talking twaddle? Oh well, it's something to chat about between missions.
Looks like I took longer than expected, which is annoying really, given I only took 12 turns. I guess all that messing about in the last few turns cost me a bit there. Oh well, it's still an S-Rank. For the curious, my current average score is just under 291, so hopefully (assuming I understand how this works) I'm still well inside "Hard Campaign S-Rank" territory.
Apparently beating this mission opened up the factory mission, but we've got unfinished business here that we need to conclude. In particular, another Sensei vs. Adder fight. So,
Tune in next time for...
... peace treaties??
... pipes galore!
SENSEI VS. ADDER