Part 39: Mission 29: Rain of Fire (or "Little People Pancakes")
Mission 29: Rain of Fire (or "Little People Pancakes")
Time to indulge in a spot of vulcanology.
Why? He's supposed to be implementing my plan elsewhere.
He said he's got something to talk to you about.
Very well. Send him in.
Heard you were launching an attack.
Near the volcano.
Which is why we're doing it. The volcano disrupts the air currents. Our enemies will be unable to use their best troops, their air force.
But there's lava flying everywhere. Our own troops are being injured, too.
Which means what to us, exactly? Any losses we incur are acceptable in the name of victory.
Owch. That's cold, Hawke
But the strength of the enemy forces attacking my front...
Now I see. This is all about you. Pretending to be concerned about the troops when it's your own skin...
Whuh!? No, that's--
Before you question my plans again, I suggest you win a battle with one of your own devising.
The lava's going to make little people pancakes! Tee hee hee!
Nominating this for my favourite line of Lash dialogue
What're you going to do, Eagle? You can't fly near that thing.
In that case, we'll meet the foe on the ground.
Hold on, Eagle! You know you're not at your best on the ground. Let me take care of this. Ground combat's my specialty.
Hey! Jess! Stop right--
Does she think she can decide who's going? Who does she...
Eagle... Jess is right. Let her take care of this.
Yes, I know she's right. I'm just letting off steam.
Once you get past the fact that there's a volcano (and that Hawke has a whole bunch of mechs scattered throughout the mountains), this is a pretty straightforward War-Room-esque mission. You even start with the same number of properties as Hawke, although he does get four bases to your three (not that he ever really takes advantage of this). The mechs look scary, but they never really try to attack en masse and it's reasonably easy to deal with them one at a time. Lava blobs do five damage to any unit they land on, although again they can never kill units (so a unit with 5HP or less gets knocked down to 1HP). But here's the thing...
... the volcano's pattern is predictable. It has only two firing patterns: on days 2, 4, 6 and so on, lava lands on the squares with green dots. On days 3, 5, 7 and so on (there's no lava on day 1), it lands on the squares with red dots (Interestingly there are a lot more lava gobbits on odd-numbered days). If you know these locations (available in all good strategy guides), then you can avoid the worst of it. Beyond this, the strategy's fairly simple - we have a main front in the north (which I've labelled Front #1) where our primary attack will come from, and a decoy front in the south (Front #2) to draw Hawke's forces away from his HQ, leaving it open for an eventual capture.
We'll start things off by sending the APC with an infantry north, towards this first base, with the AA and one of the tanks for company. I could have moved the AA one square further north, but I'm wary about this volcano - that square's a hit square, and even though it's an "odd" square and it's an even-numbered day tomorrow. I tend to be very cautious like that here, which isn't really a bad thing given there's no time limit here beyond what we need for 100 Speed (21 days, incidentally).
The remaining tank and infantry head east towards the second front, and I build a few more infantry to back that up.
Eagle? What is it?
It seems that the lava from the volcano falls in a set pattern. If you can decipher it, you might be able to use it to your advantage.
That's good intel. Thanks.
Don't endanger yourself by trying anything foolish. Luck be with you.
Look at me, I made GIF animations of the volcano, aren't I fancy (thanks to SupSuper for helping me to compress these things down a bit). But yeah, hopefully you should be able to spot the pattern I mentioned above. Six lava globs on even days, a whopping 13 globs on odd days.
Anyway, let's get to work.
As the infantry get to capturing, I move my southern tank out of harm's way. I guess I could have attacked the mech, but I'd rather deal with it once it's down off the mountains.
APC drops off its load on the base, and I set up the other units so they're out of mech range. Again, I'm playing rather cautiously here, and that's a theme you'll be seeing a lot. I'd rather not have little people pancakes, thanks.
More infantry from the bases, and a third tank.
Forgot to take a video of the lava pattern here. Oh well, there'll be one on day 5.
Incoming recon, although it seems to have decided to follow the road around rather than come for my infantry directly.
The APC's blocking an attack from the west, and it can't reach me from the east. That of course is the disadvantage of recons: fast on roads, but a tank'll easily beat them over plains.
Well, I'll leave the APC blocking and start capturing this base. I also withdraw my tank a little bit so that, once again, I'm making Hawke's mechs come to me.
Meanwhile in the south, I capture that one neutral city on our starting island, and notice that there's an incoming mech.
Well, let's set this up so that, if he wants to attack us, he's going to have to attack from the river. That'll give us a nice sitting duck to aim at (Meanwhile, I crank out an artillery to deal with some of the heavier units that'll be coming at us shortly).
Let's get the first attack of the game up on the board. That mech's come down off his mountain now, so he's an easy target.
As predicted, that mech's now a sitting duck. There's also a recon incoming.
We'll deal with them in a minute, but first let's get this base captured. Hmm, that APC's looking the worse for wear.
So we'll retreat it a bit and bring up a tank to smash up the recon that attacked it.
And then bring up that artillery and these infantry to reinforce this front.
Now then, back to the action in the south. One tank takes out the "river mech" while the other knocks the recon here down to 2HP. Then an infantry unit finishes off the 3HP mech.
Moving infantry up, and building a second artillery.
As promised, here's the "odd days" volcano in action.
And as it turns out, two of Hawke's units got hit by the volcano that turn. I bet attacking near the volcano doesn't look so good now, huh Hawke?
Anyway. 6HP infantry retreats from the tank that just attacked it, and then my own tank rolls in to attack. While I'm here, let's build another tank from my shiny new base.
Moving the other units up, putting the artillery in the centre of the formation so it can get a good shot next turn.
Now then, let's look at the south. Hmm, medium tank approaching.
Not much we can do about it for now, so let's just attack this smaller tank.
And move the artillery up to the chokepoint.
A rather suicidal move from Hawke here as this tank attacks in the north.
Two rather better moves from Hawke in the south, though - 5HP tank taking out 4HP infantry, and then his medium tank taking out my 7HP tank. Oh dear.
I love how the AI went "let the medium tank attack these tanks here? Naah, I'll attack with the damaged small tank and block the middie from getting a shot in..."
Anyway, thanks for that. Artillery takes a pot-shot at the medium tank while my 5HP small tank finishes off Hawke's 2HP one.
... I probably shouldn't have. But at least I chipped another hit point off.
We'll have another artillery here to help out at this chokepoint, and move the other units along a abit.
As for front #2, Hawke's units are closing in but still out of range of my arty.
I can attack with a tank though, to clear out his 5HP tank.
Glad you think I'm the better combatant, Hawke
A slightly different effect here - Black Storm is a purplish colour, whereas Black Wave is actually black.
Looks like I lost that defending tank to mech and medium tank fire.
But hey, we can turn this around.
My artilleries get to work on the marauding mech and medium tank.
Meanwhile, my anti-air heads out to put a stop to the mech that's trying the capture the base to the north.
In summary, all of this stuff. I tried finishing off that medium tank with my remaining small tank, but it didn't really work out.
With this area mostly clear, time to move the infantry in to capture.
In the south, my tank got knocked down to 1HP by Hawke's middie there, so I've retreated it back behind the chokepoint. Can this infantry unit hold out against the medium tank?
... no. But it did its duty, protecting the artillery from harm.
With a medium tank on my doorstep, this looks like a nice time for Overdrive.
Recall that Overdrive gives Jess's vehicles +2 move and +40% attack (on top of her normal +10%, for a total of +50%, and supplies all units.
That extra attack'll come in very handy here for stopping this medium tank.
That'll teach 'em to slaughter defenceless infantry, or something.
In the north, we can keep capturing these cities for the very useful income they bring.
AA finishes off the capturing mech, 3HP tank takes out medium tank... although it's put itself in harm's way for some sort of retaliation from Hawke's AA.
But let's move these artilleries up behind the meatshields, and build a fresh tank to replace the one that's likely to die.
Speaking of meatshields, let's have a fresh infantry unit to guard this bridge. At least the damaged medium tank can't one-hit-kill them now.
Yep, that AA did take out my 3HP tank .
But it also left itself vulnerable to artillery fire.
Arty hits, and my new tank cleans up. I finish grabbing those cities too.
It looks a bit dangerous leaving this 9HP artillery out in the open, but no enemy unit can reach it so we should be safe here for now.
Off in the south, I finish off this medium tank...
... and forge ahead, building an APC and a recon to help with the push.
Here come a whole bunch of mechs.
They're largely ineffectual, though. Artillery fire softens them up...
... for my tank and AA to finish the job.
Infantry move up, and I build another APC because the one up here is looking worse for wear.
There's a tank down here...
Let's set up just out of range of it.
Welp, another mech to kill.
So let's do just that. We can leave that APC alone for now since it's harmless.
The convoy moves up, as I load my new APC with an infantry and build another tank.
In the south meanwhile, that tank we set up out of range of decided to move up anyway. So let's take advantage of this gift.
Arty and tank take down tank.
Banking on the nature of mech AI here to go for the capture instead of attacking my own capturing infantry.
But just in case, let's bring up reinforcements in the form of an artillery and a recon.
Yep, it went for the capture.
As it happens, that city's kind of cursed: it's going to get hit by lava next turn. I could wait for the mech to get hit...
... but why bother, when I can take it out now?
The other units move up as Front #2 gets ready for its role as "decoy front".
So back to Front #1. Moving up a newly built tank, capturing a base.
Arty and AA fire takes out the nearby recon.
And let's surround this APC (the square I left empty is about to get hit by lava). I decided to drop off this infantry unit to try and grab a city - it was a tricky decision, given Black Wave and so on.
And of course it ended up being the wrong decision. But it's nothing serious.
Well, that APC of Hawke's managed to break free thanks to one of his AA destroying my own one .
Take that, you units you!
My tanks mop up after the artillery barrage.
Moving up. The irony is that I needn't have dropped off that infantry unit to capture at all, as the other infantry had finished capping the base and was in a position to cap this city anyway.
Oh well, enough grumbling. It's time for the moment you've all been waiting for...
... Green Earth's first neotank division! And, as has been noted, in the hands of the person best equipped to use them.
Exciting times, but let's check what's happening in the south.
I decide to capture that "cursed city" after all. As the lava hit it at the start of this turn, I should have enough time to get that city captured before the next gobbit of lava comes my way.
Setting things up with the 9HP recon as bait to lure Hawke's anti-air unit forward... right into the path of two of my artillery.
Saying that though, technique-wise things aren't going great - I've lost six units when I've only built enough so far to compensate for the loss of five. My power's not looking amazing either. But we've got plenty of time to put both of these right.
The AA takes the bait.
Recon took a lot of damage, but it's in a good cause.
The good cause of smashing things up with artillery. Saying that, though, that tank's looking threatening.
So let's shove some weaker units out front to protect the arties. Once again that recon looks vulnerable, but I guess it's more expendable than most of the units here. I also bring a fresh tank up to join the party.
Back on the main front, my newly-built neotank moves up and I capture another city.
The other units form up in front of it. The only enemy unit nearby is that retreating APC anyway.
As I noted earlier, our technique score looks a little worrying. So it's time to start infantry spamming.
Saluting the brave recon that gave its life so that we might smash things up with artillery
Lava watch: that retreating APC just got hit by a chunk.
Oh well, let's move on, and we'll start out by loading this APC.
The front #1 units just generally move forward a bit, keeping out of the way of lava. Nothing else really to report.
Back at base I crank out a second neotank, this one destined for the second front.
The arties take out the tank that destroyed my recon, and the 4HP tank retreats.
And a fresh tank takes up bait/meatshield duties.
Hawke suddenly decided to RACE almost all of the units guarding his HQ down to the south, leaving behind a rocket launcher, a newly-built tank and a 2HP APC. Er... thanks, Hawke. I know the south's supposed to be a decoy front and all, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite this effective. This is going to make capturing the HQ easier than I thought.
Oh well, more tanks to kill.
Arty and 4HP tank take out tank, and my 6HP and 4HP tanks join together.
It's going to take a turn or two for my new neotank to reach the southern front.
Can't afford a third neo, so we'll have a medium tank instead.
And let's take advantage of this relatively unguarded HQ to score a hit on Hawke's rocket launcher.
The other units form up outside of rocket/lava range.
A quick view of both fronts, noting that two more of Hawke's units got hit by lava - his tank in the north that just attacked my tank, and an anti-air in the south.
Storming the HQ, eh? Seems like a good time for some Overdrive.
Seven squares to the rocket launcher? No problem!
Right here we have the definition of overkill.
APC drops off its payload, ready to start capturing next turn. And the arties move in to block up bases and shield my crucial infantry unit.
Back here, my medium tank and APCs are moving up the field.
More infantry spamming...
Yet more smashing things up with artillery...
And bringing that neotank up to defend the line here.
Well, Hawke may have sent most of his units down south, but he still has bases up here, and he's cranked out a rocket launcher.
I like the idea, Hawke, but you need to work on your timing.
Artillery, tank and neotank smash up Hawke's "guardians".
And it's time to start capping. 10 capture points down, 10 to go.
Another unit suicidally approached the neo and arties. Can't remember what it was. Probably the 5HP anti-air on the basis of what's missing here.
These numbers still don't look amazing, but we can work on them. I'm going to need to take four, maybe five units down in one turn for my power score - which I don't remember doing so far - and I'll need a few more units for technique.
But other than that, things look pretty rosy.
So, I said I'd need to take out four or five units on a turn to get my power score.
With that out of the way, let's keep on capturing. The capping infantry took a bit of damage last turn, but it should still be able to finish the job tomorrow.
All seems well.
Even the scoreboard looks rosy.
I've got enough money now that I can throw a neotank into my infantry-spamming routine. Just because I can.
Last turn. Shall I take out a few more units with the neotanks before finishing off the HQ capture?
Well, why not. The neotanks are what you guys have come to see, after all.
Ugh, stupid recon.
The medium tank finishes it off.
And that's game over.
Hey Hawke, when are you going to win a battle with a plan of your own?
Tell the troops they fought well under these terrible conditions. Tell them I'm proud of them.
Jess, that was well done.
It was all the soldiers' doing. I just nudged them along.
That's exactly right.
Eagle, stow that bilge.
However, you weren't terrible, Red. Try to continue not screwing up.
Now, hold on a minute, Eagle... Where did he go?
Jess, believe it or not, he meant that as a compliment.
I know that. I was just wondering if he couldn't find a better way to do it.
Two 300-pointers on the trot. Am I turning Green Earth around, or is it a false dawn? Oh well, we'll see. Either way, I now need to score an average of 234 points per mission over the last five to make it to a Hard Campaign S-Rank. There are still some tough missions to come, of course, but these last two missions have given me a real confident boost. Anyway, To the Rescue was only narrowly defeated in the poll, so we'll be doing that mission next. So...
Tune in next time for...
... yet more devious Addery machinations!
... Sami's predictable response!
... Embarrassed Green Earth Soldiers!