The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by cosmicPostman

Part 37: Chapter 37 (Battle) - The Mask Cracks

Update 37 (Battle) - The Mask Cracks

It's time to get on with the next map! The CO votes are in - there weren't too many votes, so it was Javier and someone else of my choice. And hey, we're field-testing one Green Earth CO, so I figured I'd bring the other one too.

And, as promised, let's have a peek at what they can do.

Jess is mostly unchanged from last time - bad botes, fantastic vehicles.

And her CO Powers are just "vehicles go more". And hit a lot harder, too.

As we saw in that previous battle, Javier's big thing is comm towers and ranged defence.

His CO Powers really lean into this, too. My man's got exactly one niche, and he's sticking to it.

Hawke's back! He still hates incompetence.

And his powers are completely unchanged - I mean, why fix what isn't broken? It's a good damn pair of powers, and I absolutely hate going up against them.

But anyway, we've had a quick look, so let's get on with breaking this map wide open, shall we?

And, as always, the deployments.

Today’s Deployments
Howard, Infantry
Arqa, Mech
Abelard, Mech
Michael, APC
Cassandra, Anti-Air
Henry, Anti-Air
Von Panzer, Tank
Julian, Tank
Selena, Medium Tank
Dave, Medium Tank
Sebastian, Artillery
Petra, Artillery
Ingo, Rockets
Matilda, Rockets
Mulligan, Missiles
Adelaide, Lander

Lots of new Green Earth units today! And they’re all old friends from the last campaign. We’ve finally got all four nations united!

Age: 29
Personality: Sometimes stressed, often relaxed.
Proficiencies: Infantry, Fighter, Missiles, [unknown]

Age: 51
Personality: Competent veteran of war.
Proficiencies: Medium Tank, Sub, Mech, Megatank

Cassandra Morgenstern
Age: 36
Personality: Brilliant and determined soldier.
Proficiencies: Anti-Air, Tank, Mech, Medium Tank

Age: 22
Personality: Loves to make puns.
Proficiencies: Tank, Anti-Air, Missiles, Medium Tank

Age: 24
Personality: Meek, friendly and recently-single.
Proficiencies: Artillery, Lander, APC, Rockets

Age: 19
Personality: Talented pilot making strides.
Proficiencies: Anti-Air, Fighter, Battle Copter, Artillery

Age: 30
Personality: Looking for fulfilling companionship.
Proficiencies: Medium Tank, Rockets, Bomber, Artillery

Age: 38
Personality: Level-headed, gives second chances.
Proficiencies: Infantry, Missiles, Fighter, Tank

Age: 24
Personality: Single and making the most of it.
Proficiencies: Lander, APC, Transport Copter, [unknown]

If we think before we strike, Javier, I think we can come out on top.

Attention all forces! We attack! Follow me!

Right! So what's the plan here?

Well, we've got intel that there's a lab map to find, and indeed there is - on the bottom right island. It's very out of our way, but we have Adelaide to ferry a foot unit over. The other problem is that it's right next to some pipes, so if the piperunners are around when we drop our foot unit off, they'll get slaughtered. As such, we can't move in on the island until the piperunners are somewhere else or dead.

We also have the cannons, and Hawke's army. We're going to go with a risky strat of "ignore Hawke's army and then just choke it at a point later", and put our focus on getting those cannons dealt with. Our ground forces are heading left, whilst our indirects will stay on the right to deal with the piperunners once they arrive.

So, first things first, Adelaide comes in.

Vanessa picks up her transceiver from HQ. "Arqa? Come in, Arqa!"

"Right here, Commander. What do you need?" Arqa asks.

"You've been doing fantastic work lately. I'm entrusting a very important mission to you - go with Adelaide and capture the lab map at Cape Houdan. Got it?"

Arqa nods. "Thanks for your faith, Vanessa. I'll do my best!"

"I know you will." Vanessa replies.

Arqa hops on board - as does Howard, but he's bound for a different target than the lab map.

"Hey, Howard," Mulligan says over the transceiver. "Look after yourself, alright, dear?"

Howard rolls his eyes as another voice pipes up - Petra's. "Aw, cuuuute! You guys are something else!"

"Stop embarrassing me, Mull, god..." Howard replies. "...I'll be alright. You keep safe too. See you later."

There isn't really a whole lot for Abelard to do, but he hops into Michael so I can carry him around, just in case I need something capturing later.

Sebastian, the artillery, and Matilda, the rockets, have positioned themselves very carefully here. This is to deal with a particularly irritating threat next turn. Petra's the other artillery, who is placing herself where I expect the piperunners to be in three turns, ready to stomp them. We need Ingo, in the other rockets, to also get into piperunner range, but he needs to shoot a seam first. Like I said, they're not gonna be here for three turns, so there's really no rush.

Ingo blasts the rightmost seam. "Direct hit! It shouldn't be too hard to break through now - is someone taking care of it?"

Von Panzer rolls up. "Hmph! I shall destroy this pipeline!"

Indeed, he will - Von Panzer does enough damage to take out the pipe next turn without ranged support, which means my indirects can get on with positioning themselves in preparation for the piperunners.

This is how my units stack up at the end of the turn. Mulligan, my missiles, is in position on the city, whilst my ground units cram around the seam, ready to pour through once it breaks. Dave and Selena, as my medium tanks, will be on cannon-smashing duty, but we've gotta get the bro copters and bomber out of the way before they can go to town.

We also need to figure out who's gonna be blocking of Hawke's forces once they arrive. I mean, who could possibly hold off- who am I kidding, it's gonna be Von Panzer.

Hawke's first turn. This shouldn't be too bad - we haven't even murdered anything of his yet, unless you count the seams.

Madam Director, are you in position?

I am. They won't escape - not this time.

Good. Your conviction is admirable.

This is why we moved our indirects over here! This infantry will capture this base and give Hawke some early production. We definitely don't want that, so we're putting a stop to him immediately next turn.

The copters fly in, as does the bomber. Opening the seam is going to be quite dangerous whilst that's hanging around.

The rest of Hawke's army begins charging through the top. The piperunners have to take the long way round, thankfully, so they're not gonna be here for a little while yet. They might have limited movement, but 9 movement is still impressive, so they'll be here sooner than you think.

The black boat drops the infantry off down here - he's going for that god damn silo, isn't he?!

Don't worry. We planned for this. I'm getting that silo first.

So, first, Matilda lands a brutal blow on the infantry.

And Sebastian can finish. There will be no dicks capturing property today!*

* a dick will still capture a property later in the map

And now that Ingo's done what he needed to do, he can join Team Murder All The Piperunners.

Adelaide drops the folks off down by the silo. This is what Howard's going for - the silo. Some silo support is going to be pretty crucial in holding off Hawke's army, though his CO Power makes it less effective than against other COs.

"Uh, Vanessa, did Rose miscalculate or something?" Arqa says as she looks over the battlefield in fright. "Howard, there's a bomber and it's way too close to us! We'll be crushed if we go for the silo!"

Howard shakes his head. "I wouldn't worry. Normally I'd be stressed out too. But, thing is, bombers like that..."

"Mulligan's always waiting for them."

Yeah, no, I have no idea why Hawke's most threatening unit just flew right into range of the one unit I've got that can kill it in one hit. I'm not complaining, though.

So, with the bomber out of the way, Von Panzer can break open the seam safely!

The cannons can't quite reach my units if they're right next to the pipe, so we can sneak in and start kicking ass and taking names.

And the anti-airs are going to be the ones going first, since the copters won't even dare attacking them. Henry crushes this infantry in a single hit. On a forest, no less! Jess' vehicles are wonderful.

I don't want to move my tanks in yet, though, so this is how the turn ends. Once the copters are gone, we can start making a move on those cannons.

I don't imagine Hawke is going to do anything particularly competent on this turn - though it's not his fault, considering that most of his army is like, on the opposite side of the map from where the action is.

But sticking two of your copters right next to units that can oneshot them definitely isn't competent either, and he has no excuse for that one. Hawke, man. You're better than this.

The rest of his army's making slow progress. The forest and mountains are working to my benefit here, slowing his powerful tanks down massively.

Right. Let's carry on, shall we?

Henry slams the first bro copt-

My dude! Pay attention!

What are you-

Fuck. Whoops. He'll be fine, it's only 3 damage.

It's a good job he's done all he needs to on this map.

Cassandra takes out the other bro copter. We've pretty much got this map in the bag, now, since nothing over here can even hop to contest our anti-airs, let alone our medium tanks. Those cannons are toast... in 3 to 5 days.

This city up here is an ideal spot to hold off the enemy forces. It's Black Hole-owned, so we won't heal on it, but we'll still get the defensive boosts, and that's what we need.

I'm sending Von Panzer up, whilst Julian brings up the rear.

Arqa hops back into Adelaide after briefly stretching her legs, ready to head for Cape Houdan.

The piperunners should move further up, to where my indirect squad are, next turn. So we should be fine going for the lab map now.

Howard's gonna missile some dudes, in the meantime.

And this looks like a pretty ideal bunch of fucks to hit with it. The weaker we can make those Neotanks, the better.

G-gah! Direct hit... I'll need to make some repairs at the black boats. I'm not going to allow any more of this.

The tank squad has moved through the seam, in the meantime. I can't actually finish off all the cannons until I have the lab map, so there's no rush, really. But I want to be in position to win as soon as the map's been collected.

Now then... all we need is for the piperunners to get into my indirect squad's range and this map is as good as over.

Henry gets shot.

Twice! Fuck. Forgot that he was in range of two of them. Ah well, like Rose said, he's done everything he needs to on this map. I don't think he's going to be much use in tanking Hawke's entire Neotank fuckery division.

...Hawke. I didn't expect to be crossing you again.

Black Waaaaaaave. Booooooo.

All of those units I smacked with the silo are healed for 1HP...

And all of my units lose 1HP. Henry's taken fucking 7 out-of-combat damage this turn now. That's impressively poor luck.

"Looks like I might have to... wave goodbye soon!" Henry says, chuckling. "I'll head back to base to make repairs."

There's an infantry up here capturing this base. I'm not too concerned - we'll be choking that point soon enough, and the map will be over because Hawke can deploy anything super dangerous.

You can see how tight the timing was, though - that tank is the frontrunner of Hawke's army, and I'm just barely going to reach the city to block it in time.

But the important thing is that I AM going to block it on time, so let's not worry.

Annoyingly, only one of the piperunners was a moron. The other one's slightly more intelligent, and has hung back somewhat. Still, that's fine: the important thing is that neither of them are in range of the lab map now, so we can move in and capture it with no worries.

So hey, let's do that. We still have to keep out of its range whilst we move TO the island, though, so Adelaide's gonna hang back for a second. She's in range to drop Arqa off next turn, though.

The other one is just going to eat some rockety death.

I use my rockets to take out the piperunner, since the other piperunner can fire on Petra, and I ought to move her out of the way.

I move Petra up and out of the way.

And just so I can fire on anything that Hawke produces from this factory, I move Sebastian over here too.

Meanwhile, Selena lands a heavy blow on the minicannon. It's halfway dead already.

Henry moves back to heal up. He's not got much better to do, so I may as well.

And I move Von Panzer onto the city. As we all know, Von Panzer is literally unkillable, so there's no feasible way he dies here. Neotanks? Pfft. Shmeotanks.

Dave finishes off the first minicannon.

He growls as he opens fire. "Down you go!"

BOOM! Those explosions are so satisfying. I love destroying minicannons.

And this is how my units are arranged. Most of these guys are kind of finished with everything they need to do, so they won't be moving around very much from now on.

Right, time for Hawke to stick a tank in front of Von Panzer and then not attack, effectively trapping the rest of his army behind it.

This Dick Captures A Property: 34

What did I fuckin' tell ya. This game is easy.

Right, let's carry on then. We're safe from Hawke, so it's just the formality of getting that property captured before we take out the other cannons.

Arqa gets dropped off. Turns until victory: 2.

Dave harasses the next cannon. "This one's yours, Selena!"

"On it." Selena replies, readying her bazooka to fire.

We're making good headway. Selena and Dave can splatter this cannon once Arqa's got the lab map, so we just have to sit and wait now.

This guy might be an issue, though. Von Panzer doesn't deal well with ranged threats, and he can't hold a chokepoint if a piperunner's harassing him every turn. We'll have to use our indirects to stop it from wanting to move any further west.

This arrangement should do. If it moves anywhere near Von Panzer, it'll be murdered.

Right! Back to Von Panzer walling off the entire army.

Here's the dumb tank that isn't-

Soldier! Retreat for now - I'll take care of this myself. Got it?

Yes, Madam Director!


Oh, fuuuuck. It's the Director and she's in a Neotank. Hold out, Von Panzer!

"So, you are Von Panzer. I have heard that you're an unbreakable wall, but now you face the might of Black Hole's Neotanks, unmatched in their strength and fury." the Director says, glaring forward, the half of Sturm's mask she wears glinting in the cold snow sunlight. "Your lowly tank is nothing. Be crushed under my heel!"

The Director opens fire, and with a Neotank against a tank, the outcome is... pretty clear. Von Panzer


"Nein, it is you who will be crushed, and you who are nothing!" Von Panzer says. The Director's eyes widen.

"You really are as mighty as they say. As unbreakable."

"I knew it!" Dave said. "She IS getting insider information on all of us!"

"Wait, you're not suggesting there's a mole in the army?" Julian says.

"Funny you should speak up, Julian..." Michael replies over the transceiver. "You're the only one here who's not served in previous campaigns. You said you worked in intelligence. You've been giving information to the Director, haven't you?"

"Are you-" Julian replies. "Are you serious?!"

"Yes, he is!" Dave says fiercely. "You sold us out!"

"I would never- I LOVE Orange Star!" Julian replies, incensed. "I might not have served in previous campaigns, but by no means would I sell my own country out. What do you take me for?"

"He's right."

The new voice shocks the others into silence. Dave speaks up.


"He's right." Selena says quietly. "He's not the mole. ...I am."

"What?" Dave whispers hoarsely. "Selena, you..?"

"Don't get me wrong. I only realised it recently. It was... unintentional. My letters home..."

Rachel's voice pipes up on the transceiver next. "Your letters home?! Why were they not being censored?!"

"I... I didn't think anyone was reading them!" Selena cries, on the verge of tears. "I didn't think I'd need to censor them. As far as I could tell, they were just being tossed in a back drawer, or the bin, or a fireplace..."

"My dude, did you know about this?!" Rachel asks furiously.

Selena gulps. "Commander my dude, I... I..."

I can't believe it. I can't imagine that Selena, of all people, would be the unwitting mole in the army. But I also know that Selena would never willingly betray the Allied Nations.

I lie for her.

"I did know." I say at last. "Selena stopped writing letters at the start of this campaign, so Black Hole has no recent information to work with. I... signed off on each letter. I'm sorry."

"Oh, of course! Of course you'd let something like this slip through the net!" Rachel explodes.

"I don't understand, though." Michael says. "How were Black Hole intercepting your letters to your family?"

"They weren't." Selena says miserably, and as she says this, the Director freezes, staring up in horror at Von Panzer. "The letters were going to Black Hole... or more specifically, to my sister, Lena Hartford - the Director."

"Wh..." I gasp. "Lena's the Director?!"

The Director glowers and grips her mask tightly. "Selena, you..."

"Please, let me go to her! I can talk to her, I can-" Selena says desperately.

"Not a chance, soldier!" Rachel replies. "Focus on your mission. We'll... talk about this afterwards."

With that bombshell out of the way... we'd better finish this map off, then.

Let's, uh, do that.

First things first, we need to buy just oooooone more turn for Arqa to get that base, so Julian joins with Von Panzer, now that I know he can survive Neotank hits on a city. Fucking crazy.

Arqa's making a start on the city. Nearly there!

Everyone else just sits here. Really not much else to do.

Hawke's got one last chance to mess up my plans. But without even his CO Power, there's no way he's breaking through Julian/Von Panzer.

He's gonna try, though. The Director takes another shot.

"Oh, oh, I can talk to her!" Ridiculous. Selena, you can't heal the hurt in my heart. Nobody can.

The piperunner reaches Von Panzer/Julian, but thankfully, it can't move and shoot. So hey, we're done!

Let's finish things off, then.

First things first, a lab map, if you please, Arqa!

There it is, beautiful. Hawke does not seem terribly bothered about losing it.

Selena prepares to fire on the last cannon. "Lena..."

"You alright, Selena?" Dave asks.

She nods. "I just... wish there was something I could do."

Dave fires on the final cannon. "We'll find her again, and when we do, we'll figure it out. Just... I can't believe that the Director is..."

And KABOOM! The final minicannon is down, and the battle is won!

One can only assume the meddlesome Desolate Flower and Embodiment of Victory are here, too.

Hawke! You! You're still with Black Hole?

You're not seriously going to fight us again, are you?

I have no desire to trade blows with you. I'm going to bow out for the time being. There are some things I must investigate before I commit myself to this.

Madam Director, are you coming?

...I have no choice. I... I chose this path. I can't turn back.

I wouldn't be so sure. You joined the Black Hole Army for a noble purpose - to exact revenge on the country that wronged you - but I don't see a noble purpose here. Not with him in charge.

...What are you suggesting..?

Come. We must investigate the matter.

There he goes. What is it with that guy? Even when he loses, he acts like he won.

His bearing speaks of an unusually strong character.

I didn't know Black Hole had COs as bad as that dude. What do they need black crystals for when they've got him?

More to the point, how did Hawke go from taking command of the Black Hole Army to somehow being just another CO? Who's pulling the strings?

I don't think you're the only one wondering that, my dude, based on his manner. I wonder if there's some kind of rift within Black Hole itself. He said there was something he wanted to investigate, didn't he?

He did. Perhaps he has reservations about the current direction of the Black Hole Army.

Either way, we need to get going. Where's the next stop on our little road trip?

Way out west. We've got reports of a big desert and a massive energy spike.

Energy spike? That's got to be them.

From the way the enemy troops keep getting stronger, I'm guessing it's the enemy HQ. I'm curious about what Hawke's up to. We'll have to check that out sooner or later.

On our way from the battlefield, Rachel corners me and Selena.

"You two. We need to talk."

I nod. Selena is staring at the ground.

Rachel lets out a sigh. "Look. Selena. I can't deny that this is a huge violation of conduct, and I was extremely angry before. But if you haven't written any letters since this campaign began, then there's very little workable information that Black Hole have, besides the names of soldiers from the previous campaign and their talents. And... you really love your sister, don't you?"

Selena chokes out an answer. "Yes. I didn't want to believe it, but... why has she turned against us?"

"I don't know. I scanned through your file; it seems that your sister didn't have the best life growing up. Perhaps Black Hole offered her a chance to take vengeance on the country that had wronged her, or that she felt had wronged her." Rachel says.

"So, what are you saying?" I ask.

"I know what it's like to have a sister that seems so much better than you in every way." Rachel murmurs. "So, soldier, I'm going to ask you one question."

Selena looks up, dead ahead, staring into Rachel's eyes, praying to see compassion there.

"Do you think your sister can be saved?"

There's a moment of silence, and Selena nods. "I do."

Rachel seems satisfied, and places a hand on Selena's shoulder. "Then, next time the Director is deployed in battle against us, I want you to go to her, and talk to her. Save your sister... however you can."

"And it'll strike a huge blow to Black Hole." I add.

"Correct. Do you understand, Selena?"

Selena salutes, and though her eyes glimmer with tears, she's smiling. "I do, Commander. I'll save the Director if it's the last thing I do!"

She walks away, leaving me stood with Rachel. She turns to me.

"I'm not gonna get forgiven, am I?" I sigh.

Rachel lets out a sigh, and the fight leaves her. "Well, I'm not even that mad at you anymore. I mean, I'm annoyed at you basically all the time, but other than that, I'm not angry about this. I get it. She just made a mistake. We were all young and foolish once."

"You're like, twenty-odd, aren't you? Selena's older than you."

"I wasn't talking about Selena." Rachel replies, and I nod.

"Oh, I see. Yeah, I guess we were all young and foolish... let's just hope the Director's mind can be changed when we run into her next."

Anyway, after our tidy S-rank, our new COs get some experience. I don't know if there's enough missions to even get them all over rank 1 or 2. Wonder if the game's a bit easier if you stick with the same couple of COs? Guess it depends how important skills are.

Pfft. 'Stache. I'm gonna call him that from now on.

A very stylish victory, if I do say so myself. I absolutely embarrassed Hawke.

So, before we finish here, let's take a look at what the next mission's got waiting for us.

Oh, dear... If they found us, it means that little Hawkie-poo and Little Miss Mask have failed miserably! Well, what can one expect from Macro Land COs? Such riffraff!

You speak wisely, Kindle. No singular CO can compare to the might and experience of the Bolt Guard.

Bolt Guard statistical assessment: Powerful. Smart. Handsome. Bolt Guard intent: Smack-laying in a downward direction.

Never change, Jugger. Best goddamn lines in the whole game.

Aha ha ha! Stand back, my vassals. I'll deal with this rabble by myself. I'll prove that you shouldn't send a Hawke to do a woman's job! Aha ha ha ha!

Oh, this is what they meant by Spiral Garden. Fuck, this doesn't look fun. This is just "break seams or run out of fuel", they're the two options.

I think you're right, Jake...

Wait, we're here for piperunners? Fuckin...they're not even that good. I bet they're really expensive.

Aren't your favourite things to deploy medium tanks and bombers, my dude?

...Yes. OK. I see your point.

You know, I just don't get Black Hole. How could anyone live in such an odd place?

Aha ha ha ha! Finally! I've been waiting so long I had to reapply my makeup.

Ho! This must be Kindle, the Black Hole's most witchiest of witches!

Javier! You can't just call someone a hoe!

Oh, it's Sir Javier! A middle-aged swordsman with a child's brain... Bonjour, friends! I'm sorry you came all this way for nothing!

OK, just finish whatever you're saying and then shut up so we can stomp you.

I will never surrender my piperunner! This new invention is my pride and joy!

What? I thought that was one of Lash's inventions!

Aha ha ha! You should let the Homo sapiens do the thinking, Cro-Magnon!

That's...such a specific insult. And rather unkind.

Yeah, maybe it's just because I've not fought her in a hot second, but I do NOT remember her being this obnoxious last time.

Yes, Lash designed the piperunner, but I was the one who conceived the device! I told the girl to build me a magnificently powerful weapon...and she did!

For all intents, that means full credit for this fabulous invention belongs to me! The real work happens in the idea phase... All that brat did was copy my ideas!

Sometimes true wisdom must make itself known to those who cannot see. Your words and ideas, Kindle, are worth a king's ransom in gold!

Kindle processor power: 5 Ghz and clmibing. Lash processor power: 486 in molasses.

Aha ha ha! All true... But you both forgot to mention my beauty! Now, praise me some more! Revere me! Bask in the unholy glory of Kindle!

...That is one strange group of people...

Oh my god, they're actually insane.

They have such a... simple relationship. To put it slightly more charitably than my dude.

...It's kinda like me and Sasha...


In our house, if I ever speak out of turn, why, she gets all...

Zip it, Colin! Say one more word, and I'll have you on KP duty for a year!

I-I'm sorry! Forgive me!

Wow, you have him wrapped around your fingers, huh?

From what I hear, your relationship with Nell is identical, so you're not one to talk.

Hah hah! Very true. Once, Nell managed to make my dude clean up a dining table after a sixteen-person dinner party just by glaring at him!

Oh, come on!

Ah ha ha! Now that my ego has been sufficiently stroked, listen up! The properties on this snowy plain each have an independent energy source.

You'll never maintain a large army without them...and the same applies to us. I propose that our battle ends when one army captures 15 properties!

Property capturing... heavens. What a time to be without Sami.

Only a person with ne sais quoi could possibly use the piperunners! Not like that pale, unsightly little girl with no makeup on!

How dare you!

Hm... In my day, we'd never have insulted a child like that. Especially not one who could beat you with her hands tied behind her back, heh heh!

Oh, you are NOT talking about Rose right now.

Forgive me for speaking in a less than polite manner, everyone, but...stand aside. I'm going to DESTROY this woman.

Aha ha ha! Now I will show you the true horror of my invention!

Hawke gave us a tough time with his piperunners...

It was medium at best.

Now these people have them, too! All right, troops! The battle ends when we capture 15 properties! Pay special attention to the movement of their infantry units!

So, here's the upper part of the map. Kindle's got a few units dotted around, but nothing major.

This is the only airport on the map, though - if we can nab that, we'll have a huge advantage. Just need to get rid of that medium tank and artillery before Kindle's piperunners or infantry come over to ruin my fun. Guess we'll see how it goes - who are we bringing?

With the sheer number of COs we have, now, feel free to vote for up to 4 COs - that's Jake, Rachel, Max, Colin, Sasha, Grimm, Sensei, Jess and Javier!


Update 38 (Intermission) - Race For The Title