The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by Alkydere

Part 2: New is not always better

New is not always better

Welcome back goons and goon-ettes. It's time for our second adventure in Wars world! Our second mission is called "The New Black" and, well, I gotta tell you that in this case New is very much not better. Anyways, now that we've done a mission, we can see that Jake has first place in the "used most times" counter as he's been used a grand total of 1 times.

Commander Rachel! We've encountered advance enemy forces!

Understood. We'll head to the battlefield right away. Have we taken casualties?

Our infantry has taken sporadic fire, but the enemy force is fairly small.

I see. Well, we've got to get in there and rescue those grunts.

After all, it would be bad for morale if we let it show how disposable Infantry and Mechs are.

The units we can buy with a single turn's worth of funds? Those guys? Something tells me they know exactly how disposable they are.

And it's 'grunt' in this case, as the unit has only 1 HP. And I don't think Private Lucky likes being called a grunt.

So, I heard some Black Hole forces wanna rumble?

Yes, they've progressed much farther and faster than I'd anticipated. I'd hoped to get some more training in, but you have to play what you're dealt.

Yeah, but there aren't that many enemy units. Just kick back and give me some tips while I mop these guys up.

That's the spirit, Jake! Sounds like we've got ourselves a plan. OK, move out!

Allied forces falling back?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jugger, the first member of Black Hole's Bolt Guard, and the one I'll probably rant about the most as you'll see in a moment.

Yes, sir! If we capture that nearby HO, our conquest of Omega Land will be complete. The enemy resistance has been pathetic, hasn't it, Commander Jugger?

And here's the Black Hole soldier portrait for you. Every faction has it's own design theme, and the Black Hole design is pretty much "faceless robot armored divisions and alien/clone soldiers". He's also talking about one of the two ways to win a map: capturing an enemy HQ. Every side in a battle (not counting special campaign missions, often with special objectives) has an HQ building. They're basically Cities but even tougher, what with a whopping 5-star defensive bonus. If a player lets an enemy infantry capture his HQ building they lose. This is opposed to the alternate victory of routing all enemy forces. Since the maps often have factories nearby the enemy HQs it's often far easier to just crush all forces.

Query: Are we inside Orange Star territory?

Oh, you thought Jake would be the only one with painful dialog? Jugger here thinks he's a computer.

Looks like it, sir.

Purge enemy from memory.


...Great. Our first antagonists are an eyeball that thinks it's a computer and a pod person. This is a sign of things to come, isn't it?

Anyways the game finally starts and we...damnit Rachel, get out of the way! As you can see we're still deep in tutorial country and this is our introduction to ranged units, APCs, healing and HQs. Anyways, we're supposed to "rescue those grunts" by taking the 1HP infantry back to our HQ with the APC, according to Rachel we'll lose if we let that infantry die. APCs are some of the most wondeful and important units in the game and I'll explain why in just a moment.

Anyways, like we said the first move is to load the infantry up in the APC and start running him back to the safe territory of our HQ. Loading's simple, just move an infantry onto a transport and select load". Once that's done we can start zipping our APC home.

Ah, the harmless, fragile, defenseless APC. Perhaps the most important unit in your army. Why? Because it fulfills several functions. In addition to carrying your infantry, safely and rapdily getting those foot soldiers to the front lines where they can capture enemy property faster, they resupply any adjacent units. Every unit has only so much fuel, and nearly every unit with a weapon has limited ammo. The exceptions are the machine guns that Infantry, Mechs, all tanks, and B-choppers carry as their backup weapon which can shoot forever If a unit runs out of ammo, they either are forced to rely on backup machine guns or are completely defenseless. What happens if they run out of fuel is a bit more complex. A ground unit will just be rooted to the spot, not having any fuel to move. However it's much worse for air or flying units, as they will instantly crash or sink the moment they run out of gas. That is why APCs are important as at the beginning of your turn they will resupply EVERY unit adjacent to them, including air and sea units. Yes, the lowly little APC can resupply a jet mid-flight.

Care to enlighten me as to how a bunch of guys running around with machine guns on foot can run out of fuel? Because I'm really not seeing that one. Also, I'm assuming that "crash" for aerial units means "instantly dies," which would be the first remotely realistic thing I've seen here.

You were the one who said they knew how disposable they are. Add in no snacks and of course the footsoldiers refuse to keep hiking. An army travels on its stomach, after all.

But, yeah, planes crash when they're out of fuel. Ships sink, too, which Alkydere tried to say and ended up with 'air or flying' instead. Those two are synonymous in this game.

Anyways, now that is done, we can start fighting back. We've got our first ranged units, Artillery. We're playing on a scale large enough that tanks are effectively considered melee units. Anyways, ranged units have a few nuances. First of all, they can't counter-attack (not counting the Anti-Tank unit in Days of Ruin, but that's an entirely different game). Second of all, they can only move, OR they can fire, not both. This means positioning is important. Finally, THEY HURT! It is laughably easy to buff Artillery, and especially Rockets, to the point they'll one-shot a tank or anything weaker. Normally those tanks would just dash past the incoming fire, but the wooded terrain slows them down which hurts them far worse than the 2-star defensive bonus helps.

For those who might not know the series' terminology, it calls ranged attacks 'indirect fire', with the normal adjacent attacking being 'direct fire'.

Ah the artillery, the cheapest, weakest of the ranged units. That doesn't meant they're worthless, far from it. Anyways, ranged units work a bit differently than our tanks, which is good. Otherwise we'd end up with slow meat-grinders at choke points. To understand how they work, you need to look at the weapon information. Artillery only have one weapon, a honking huge howitzer, or "cannon" if you want to go by the boring name. Said cannon can hit anything on the ground and water provided it's in range, hence why all ground armor categories (Infantry, Vehicle, Ship, Submarine, not counting submerged subs of course) are listed. The circles on Infantry and Vehicles means your Artillery will flatten anything on land, while the triangles on Ship and Sub means that they're not nearly as effective against stuff in the water, partly because ships tend to be built on a larger scale and with more armor. Above the Ship tile, you'll see "9/9", that's the ammo counter. Remember how I was talking about the APCs resupplying ammo? Ranged units often work best with an APC resupplying them, though Artillery can go on their own for a good while, it's the Rockets you need to worry about. Over the Sub card you'll see "2~3" with an arrow above that. The arrow designates the unit as a ranged one and the "2~3" is the range. Artillery can hit targets 2 or 3 tiles away. For you FE fans out there, think of it as "Longbow range".

I am confused, what's with all these things making sense? A mortar not being as effective when it doesn't have anything to really explode on? This isn't the Advance Wars I was promised.

Artillery also is really nifty for being a tracked vehicle (the symbol behind the move tells us what its move type is). We haven't seen the 'normal' wheeled vehicles yet, but the big difference is basically that stuff with wheels goes nowhere fast when it's off roads. The rocket unit Alkydere mentioned is one of them, which means that despite the artillery's lower actual range, the artillery very often is much more practical to actually get to the front. Artillery is very good stuff throughout the entire game; it might actually be my overall preference for the indirect fire units.


Anyways, now that we've done what we can, and moved up our tank, it's time to take a look at our opponent.

So am I allowed to revise my statement about hating all the writers? Because I'm pretty sure I want to include the character designers now, too.

*Sigh* Jugger, Jugger, Jugger. You horrible Flak-clone. You're supposed to be super smart, but your gimmick is the same as Flak from the last two games: Flailing and striking wildly. This means his critical success damage cap is higher, but he's also got a chance to get a massive negative penalty. Basically Jugger is Flak 0.9, only more arrogant, not as funny, in fact not funny or entertaining at all, and Flak was just a balanced version of Nell who could flub attacks. Let's look at the numbers I'm getting from my mysterious internet sources. Jugger can get up to 25% damage (that's 25% of the enemy health removed, not a 125% damage mutliplyer) per hit, meaning he can hit HARD, but that comes at the cost that his critical bonus can roll as low as -15%, so he can whiff pretty hard. Flak from the last two games has a damage spread of +20% to -10%. Yes, that's a 10% less damage spread, that means Black Hole's pet retarded gorilla could hit more consistently than a computer.

Disclaimer: as seen here, Flak is not literally a pet retarded gorilla. Just clearing that up because compared to some of the stuff the game pulls that would be believable and I don't want people who haven't played the Advanced Wars games being confused.

Correction again: Flak actually was first introduced in AW2, so he was only in the last one game.

The changes to the damage here are the dispersion of damage I touched on in the first update; AW2 and DS both introduced as a first real antagonist a guy who took "more random" as his gimmick, and Jugger kicks is up a notch beyond what Flak did.

Now let's look at his powers. His powers are: Increase critical spread, and Increase Critical Spread Further. The increased spread has a damned good chance of nullifying the +5% and +10% attack and defense multiplyers (yes, these are multiplyers, not bonus damage like crit) from using a CO or SCO power. Using his CO power, he can do from +50% to -25%, and with his Super CO power he can get +90% to -40%. In comparison, Flak's CO and SCO powers raise the spread to 45% to -20% and +90 to -30%. Yes, that's the same ceiling as Jugger, but with a lower failure rate. Flak is a more consistent and, with his SCO, straight up statistically superior CO than this headless golem. Why am I ranting about this when Flak was obviously replaced, like how the new leader of Black Hole is an old man with Sturms exact same powers? Well, he wasn't! He, and Adder, are still in the game as bonus COs. It wouldn't be so bad if the entire Black Hole command staff had been replaced with the Bolt Guard, but Black Hole still has both Hawke and Lash on payroll. Meaning that the game designers created carbon-copies of the two bumbling enemy COs, meaking we get bumbling enemies with even LESS personality than Flak and Adder. Jugger is a retarded Flak with 10% more spread on his critical, Koal is an annoying Adder with 1 more star to fill for his normal CO power and a 10% bonus to attack on roads. Woo.

Here's actually something I'm not sure on: the super power max damage modifier. If it really maxes out at +90%, Jugger is strictly worse than Flak, because his super power takes longer to charge (Alkydere hasn't mentioned this yet, but different powers do charge at different rates based on how powerful they are), and it has a larger change of being worse than normal but no chance of ever hitting harder than Flak's.

However, some sources I googled up say that Jugger's SCO max is +95%, which at least means that it's possible to hit harder with Jugger. Not worth the larger penalty spread and another star, even if true. Basically he's a garbage enemy to help train players.

Anyways, Jugger takes his turn and is still bogged down in the woods. One thing about Jugger I do like is his music.

Every CO in the game has his or her (or its?) own track. It's a nice touch.

Commander Jugger! Enemy units spotted!

Identify enemy commander.

He's, uhhh...a young guy.

Profile matched: Andy of Orange Star?

Ha! No, then we'd be playing with a likeable charcter!

People like Andy? Weird.

No, sir. It doesn't seem to be him.

Hey, Black Hole chumps! You think you're all bad, stealing people's stuff?

File not found... You Orange Star CO?

You know it! Now answer me!

Reply irrelevant. Reserving energy for current task: splitting you like an atom.

You're in Orange Star's house now, and you're going down!

The only reason I don't facepalm, groan or even sigh every time Jake opens his mouth is because I have played this game and know exactly what to expect.

Attack. Attack. Attack.

Yea...good luck in doing that "split you like an atom" thing Jugger.

Third turn starts. My infantry finally reaches my HQ to heal and I sent my APC up so it can start supplying the Artillery with ammo (not that I'll need that much, it's mostly habit). Anyways, Jugger's merged his two half-dead tanks into one full health tank. You can merge damaged units of the same type to get one healed unit by moving them onto the same space, with the damage unit's HP adding up to the new unit's HP. If the new HP is over 10 the excess HP is converted back into cash. That's not going to help Jugger though, he left one of his tanks in range of both of my Artillery.

Batallion sizes are very strictly enforced in the Orange Star military. They aren't above literally dismantling a tank on the spot because that would have given the troop 11 tanks instead of 10.

This is actually an exploitable bit of the AI, though; the game decided to consolidate its tanks, which meant that one of them didn't move its full reach so the other could catch up, and now Alkydere has two targets and two guns, instead of three and two and them moving forward a little more. Little preferences like this become important as the game goes on.

Turn/Day 4 and it's all over. The Black Hole tank runs up to our fully healed tank next turn but is smart enough to not suicide on it. Not that there's much of a difference in end results.

AI showing restraint? That's not the IntSys AI I know and hate love.

WOOOHOOO! Er, um... I mean, very well done. That was excellent work, Jake!

Rock on! I won!

I knew you'd deliver. You're going to be a great CO, Jake.


So you're Black Hole goons, huh? Don't you guys ever give up? And how did you recover so quickly? Last I checked, your armies were trashed after your last failed invasion.

Reply irrelevant. Initiating Jugger retreat protocol. Next time, Jugger breaks you.

Standard ineffectual villain retort. Then again, he really had no chance BUT to be ineffective, this was a tutorial level.

What are they after?

Who knows...But they're out in force and bent on destruction, that's for sure. Let's leave the intelligence gathering to the pros and focus on fighting.

Yeah. We've gotta drop these fools.

That's right. Let's take it to 'em!


S-Rank! Because it's damned hard to fuck up on a tutorial level.

Not even going to give us a new one to groan over? Anyways, next time, we get a new/old Orange Star Co to play with, and the coolest Black Hole CO returns! And hopefully enough content for a longer update...