The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by Alkydere

Part 5: Mad Max and the Road Warrior

Mad Max and the Road Warrior

All right guys, I'm excited! Are you excited? You should be because this is the point where the game finally lets us flex our strategy muscles! In this mission we get to select our own CO, build units, and our armies aren't pre-deployed to wipe the enemy off of the map in a handful of turns! Don't get me wrong we're still being held in by a leash but at least they're starting to give us enough line to hang ourselves with.

And I have no doubt that you're going to do so at the first opportunity, yes?

Leave it to me! Just stay here and make sure the chow's ready when I get back.

What!? Who do you think you are, waltzing in and giving ME orders, muscle head?

Perhaps he thinks he's this game's version of Hector?

Simmer down! Man, you're just like your sister, you little hothead!

'Sup! What's going on?

Look who finally decided to turn his music down and realize people were talking around him.

Hey, Jake! Gimme a hand with Rachel, will you? Black Hole forces have been spotted moving into the Tahira Range and...

And Max wants to march right out and open fire! Who's command is this? MINE! I decide who takes the field! ME! Now back off!

Rachel, last mission your response to an incoming missile strike to your command area was to roll out and strike the nearest Black Hole force for no explained reason. Max is just following your example.

Whoa, whoa... Chill! First, we've got to do some recon, then we'll talk. They haven't started anything yet, right?

Sadly, since Rachel has suddenly turned into a bitch and a control freak, that means Jake is stuck with the role of being the voice of reason.

You're right. Max was being so gung ho and headstrong that I blew my top.

And what's wrong with being gung ho?

Take it easy, Max. C'mon, let's roll!

Hey... Was this place always a desert?

Didn't there used to be more trees and stuff?

Omega Land is rapidly deteriorating into desert, and it's a serious problem. We don't know what's causing it, but my guess is Black Hole is behind it.

My guess: Lash created some sort of mutant goat that Black Hole cloned and released as a form of scorched earth policy to fuck over the Allied Nation's resources. It's not like Black Hole has ever cared what shape the land they capture is in as long as they capture it.

I don't think goats would be quite efficient enough to reduce the vegetation to nothing. More likely, a swarm of cicadas or some other insect would do the trick.

For the time being, let's focus on crushing these goons in front of us! There's a factory by the HQ,isn't there? This must be a deployment map.

So we can deploy any units we want, right?

Yep. And that, of course, means you need funds to produce units. I doubt you've *snip*

Sorry Rachel, cutting you off there because in my humble opinion I can do tutorial stuff better than you can, and because I'll be showing it off anyways with screen shots. Let's skip a bit.

Basically who cares about deserts or not? A city's a city. 1k a day. Rain, shine, or desert.

The enemy ain't far away, and their numbers are pretty small. With all this flat land, I'd say Jake is better off taking this one on his own.

I get your point, but let's discuss it a bit before we come to a decision. You know you can scout the map before taking the field, right? All you do is move the cursor around to check out the terrain and enemy units. When you're ready to start fighting, tap the menu button and choose Deploy.

No, I didn't know that Rachel. Probably because we've never been able to do that before!

All right, lets bring up the top screen because we've got a lot to cover, including some stuff that I've caught in pictures before that I never explained. On the left we have the normal terrain display screen which we've seen before and I'm sure you can all figure it out by now, so I won't go over that. To the right of that we've got a list showing the forces and bases for each army involved in the fight. The picture of a Mech represents number of units, and the picture of a cities represents total properties owned. Your income will be the property owned number times 1000 95% of the time, the only exceptions involve CO powers and Com Towers which don't produce income. To the right of that we see our CO portraits. Right now it's showing Jake since we haven't chosen another CO yet, and our as-of-yet unintroduced new enemy CO. I'll let him introduce himself before I show off his information. Those displays also show each CO's funds and have a string of stars next to them. Those stars are CO power meters, every unit you damage fills the meter just a bit and every bit of damage you take fills it even more. This is the game's way of balancing itself as a side that is losing units faster will gain CO powers faster than the side killing them. Anyways, those stars have been absent up until now, which means that this is the fist map that CO powers are unlocked.

Now that I've been over the top screen, we can look at the bottom screen. As you can see, Black Hole has quite an advantage in units, including a beefy MdTank parked on their HQ and enjoying that 4-star bonus to defense. However, we have a very big advantage that Black Hole doesn't have: two more bases than they do, both of which are factories. The building to the top left of the map and the building directly to the right of our HQ are both factories and we can use them to pump out fresh units and they each give us an additional 1K funds per turn. There's also an unowned factory within walking range of one of our Mechs.

Anyways, that's enough chat, let's go to the menu and bring out Max. While I might not have pretty effects (or a cursor) at least the menus work just fine or this game would be more or less unplayable. Anyways, the menu options are pretty much self-explanatory. Setup lets us chose our COs, and pimp them out when we start earning skills for them. CO lets us pull up information on each side's COs and Intel basically tells us victory/loss conditions. I'm sure everyone can figure out what Options and Save does and finally Deploy starts the mission.

Anyways, due to earlier popular outcry for our mystery man of muscles we select Max. In the normal campaign we have 15 different COs we'll come across and be able to use. In Hard campaign I believe you can use any CO you've unlocked.

Anyways, the battle's started so let's not waste any time. We've got two Mechs, two factories, and seven properties in total. Now, the bottom Mech can ford the river and get to the neutral Factory first turn to start capturing, but that is a bad idea. Especially since Max's buff to direct-fire units specifically excludes Infantry and Mechs. The enemy tank is guaranteed to get the first strike that way and despite the 3-star bonus defense from the factory that's just a losing proposition for the Mech since every time it's health is reduced it will take longer to capture. The Mech will die before the factory is captured and the capture counter will just reset to 20. Instead we bring our bazooka-toting soldier down and we'll put him on the city we own. That will bring our Mech in range of the Tank and draw it into a fight, but since we own the city the Mech will be healed for 2 HP every turn, giving it a decided advantage. The other Mech really has nowhere good to go so we leave it as is.

The southern tank isn't threatening anything. My approach here would be to use the mech to move back towards the neutral city and capture it, then use the north base primarily.

Now we start producing things at our factories! Remember, we're still in Tutorial Land so the game won't let us build everything yet. The most expensive unit we can get right now is an AA, so our only ranged option is Artillery and it's really not worth spending the 6K to buy Artillery with Max. We build an infantry on the south factory to capture the neutral City near our HQ and a Mech up at the north factory to help beef up our defenses near the top.

There's a new unit on the factory menu that we haven't seen before: the Recon. Recons are, for the most part, fast Infantry. They've traded the common Infantry's ability to capture property for a sweet ride and a large vision radius in Fog of War maps. Their movement type is "tires" like the Rockets and Missiles we've seen before which means that they'll cruise along on roads but forests, but plains will half their movement speed and forests will divide that speed by 3. Recons really have only two purposes: vision in Fog of War maps and fast, cheap anti-infantry units, usually at the beginning of a match to swat infantry on the frontlines and deny any neutral territory to the enemy. Since Black Hole's forces on this map are mostly armored we won't be bringing any. You can also see in this picture that the Factory (or base as it's called, I'm gonna keep calling them Factories) also has a movement type called "pipeline" listed. We'll soon get a very special unit to build from our Factories. Anyways, talking done, let's end our turn and introduce our new opponent.

Recons are indispensable in one type of map, and mostly forgettable otherwise. Their machine gun is better than footsoldiers', not as good as a mech's rockets, and they're not as tough as a tank or AA. Get them when you need them, but they're no mainstay.

Heh heh heh... I laugh only out of sheer boredom with the fools populating this inane continent. I must continue for the sake of the black crystal objective.

It's Koal! He's the second member of the Bolt Guard, and the third Black Hole CO we've seen so far. He's a smug bastard, and replaces a smug bastard from AW2. Hmm, I wonder what that "black crystal objective" he mentioned is. Sure sounds sinister.

Somewhere in here there's a joke about coal being his objective, but I'm not funny enough to say what that joke is.

Lord Koal! Enemy forces spotted!

That decrepit guerrilla force? They are beneath me. Battle them as you see fit.

Er... They're actually allied troops led by a commanding officer.

Truly? Then I shall see if there is a CO on this continent worthy of facing me. Heh heh heh...

Here's Koal, the smuggest, most arrogant bastard in the game and our Road Warrior. He replaces Adder from AW2, but his differences are slightly, ever so slightly more distinct than his precursor's than Jugger's are from Flak's. Adder's big gimmick is that he was/is the CO with the fastest charging CO meter, only needing to fill 2 stars for his COP and then two more for SCOP when everyone else needs 3 stars for their first COP. Koal, however takes 3 stars to fill his COP meter but still only needs another two for his SCOP. What does that mean? Well unlike Adder he can't store up enough star power to use his standard COP two turns in a row. What he gets back from this is kind of not great: a 10% bonus to attack on roads. Now, that's not bad, except roads only occur in lines, so you rarely have a chance to use that bonus 2 or 3 turns per choke point per turn depending on if you can smash through the enemy defenses. Roads also have no defense bonus at all so Koal's gonna take some hefty punishment in return the next turn. Fun fact: due to what is probably lazy programming Koal's air units ALSO get the 10% attack bonus when over roads.

That head is way too small for his body. He looks like a baby someone put a hugely oversized jacket over.

Due to a reason we'll see in, oh, three missions, the lack of a double-normal-CO power meter doesn't faze me much. Given Dual Strike is what it is, I'd have to say I think Koal is an improvement over his counterpart.

His powers are the exact same as Adder's, +1 movement for his COP and +2 movement for his SCOP, only with the whole "road rage" buff that I mentioned before also being increased. I'd rather use Adder simply because his COP charges faster, but both are pretty good considering how often you can unleash COPs and SCOPs with them, which give you all around +5% and +10% bonuses to both attack and defense.

Correction again. +10% attack and defense is the standard base for both COP and SCOP. The +1 movement COPs here are good at hitting enemies who are just a little beyond your reach, but on the whole I prefer storing for the higher tier power instead, since you don't charge at all while a power is active. Using your CO power a lot just seems to me like a good way to lose out on overall uses of powers.

Koal's Theme

Anyways, turn two. I move some of my foot soldiers forward, start painting that ugly white city near our HQ a lovely shade of orange and build my first tank up top in response to Koal moving his Recon and AA forward, both of which will rip our Mechs to shreds if given a chance.

Fuck. Should have saved that 3K and not bought those Mechs. THIS is what AA does to foot soldiers, that 10% bonus to his AA's attack from parking on a road didn't help either.

Is a unit's relative power listed anywhere in game, or do you have to find out the hard way that yes, the AA gun will straight up murder your foot soldiers and there's fuck-all you can do about it?

The symbols on the unit's info screen give a basic idea, with shapes in the background showing how good that attack is, but it doesn't give you anything more precise than generally good/probably avoid.

And this is what Recons do to foot soldiers. Keep in mind, these Mechs are perched up on a mountain for a 4-star defense bonus, which is the only thing that kept the losses even on both sides. In the long run though the Mechs will win this fight as they'll do another 4 damage the next turn on their attack, leaving the Recon at a pitiful 2 HP and it's attack power will be completely shredded.

Personally, I've have bought a tank on the first turn, so this whole thing wouldn't have happened. Koal's attack has now killed one and vastly weakened another of Alkydere's mechs, instead of having a tank up here that would scoff at these light units.

Yes! I think I've got it!

Dammit woman, just go away and let me play!

What are you yelling about now?

The Md tanks! I think I've come up with a strategy that'll take care of them.

How's that?

I don't think those Md tanks move unless an enemy enters their attack range.

Ah, Advance Wars, telling your players exactly how defensive AI works. Anyways, Rachel basically tells the player to basically lure the Md Tank out with a disposable unit and then hit it with Artillery. Of course, she also warns that the AI isn't completely stupid and the Md Tank will decline the bait if moving out will bring it into the range of too much firepower.

Anyways, here we are at the start of Day 3. Up to the North there's going to be a bloody slug-fest between the Recon and the Mech. Down in the South we'll have a similarly bloody battle between a Mech and a Tank, but since our Mech's healing for 2 HP every turn things aren't looking so good for the Tank. Of course, we do have to pay for the Mech's healing, paying 2/10 of it's cost every turn, but 600 money per turn is cheap.

And here's the big downside with Koal. Sure, that 10% attack on roads is nice, but then the next turn comes around and your troops have no cover. It gets even more nasty if someone like Max comes around with his attack boost.

Defense doesn't matter when dead units can't fight back. Of course, the problem is when you don't kill them, bad things generally happen.

Tanks are the mainstay of this mission. Nothing Koal has is a really good counter except his Md Tank, and he only has one of those.

Anyways, since even Max's tanks won't do much against that Md Tank but die, I go ahead and build myself an Artillery before ending the turn.

I'd've bought another tank.

Now that the enemy tank has been sufficiently slapped around, our Mech can now move up and take the neutral Factory with relative impunity. He's only at 8 HP so it will take an extra turn, but healing him would have cost a turn anyways.

Koal's recon and AA are pulling back, too. Because Alkydere didn't have the ability to kill them off, they're backing up and will get healed somewhat and generally drag this whole thing out. Try to kill the enemy so this doesn't happen.

Since most of the battle is in the North, that Southern Factory produces little more than money for me at this point. The neutral Factory will provide a fresh source of Tanks in a few turns, but it's doubtful how helpful it really will be.

The tank's forced to take action against my Mechs when they start capturing the Factory. Sadly for Koal, the end result is just one less Tank on the field, the one point of damage my Mechs took won't even be enough to slow my conquest down.

The AI has a marked preference for trying to disrupt your capturing. Here, it means one less unit to have to hunt down later.

Day 5 draws to an end and after losing his tank Koal's forces start to blink, signifying his CO power has charged. Meaning next turn's gonna sting a bit.

Black Hole CO Power

Oh balls, I wasn't looking closely enough at unit ranges and COPs. When Koal activated his COP his Mechs got the range to wade out into the river and strike my Artillery, reducing it to 2 HP and forcing me to retreat it. This would be survivable, I'd just build another after all, but the boogeyman of a Md Tank suddenly gains the range to reach the Tank that was just out of it's reach when I placed it on the city. The worst part is that the Md Tank is now on the offensive and is going to start moving forward on it's own. Max's own COP is charged, but I'm not really in a position to use it, so I'm gonna save it for a few turns. I can't even blame this flub on Max's pathetic Artillery, though his buffed Tanks will make recovering a bit easier.

I was wondering how long it would be before an Alkyderp moment came up.

This one caught me, too, first time I played.

Either the Mech or the Md Tank alone would have been bad enough, but more than survivable. After all, the Md Tank would still be sitting on a road without any defenses and in range of my Artillery...if that Mech hadn't absolutely devastated my Artillery. I'm still going to win this, since after all Koal has no Factories, but it's gonna get messy as I'm forced to start throwing Tanks against a Md Tank.

I don't like showing myself flubbing an early mission like this, but my policy is to show all my derps for your entertainment and never feign competence. I was hoping to be able to use Max's full meter for two COP beatings in a row, but it looks like I'll have to burn it on a full out SCOP use to stand any chance of making a dent in that Md. Tank.

Super CO Power

Yea...well, at least it's a dent. This is how beefy Md Tanks are, remember that Max's SCOP buffs his (non infantry) direct fire's attack power to 190% normal.

Much better. Shame I've got nothing there to finish the damned Md Tank off before it runs away with 2 health.

Yes! I pursue the Md. Tank because the last thing I wanted was to let it have a chance to sit on that 4-star HQ and heal. At full health my Max Tank could only do 18% damage, but I lucked out and got just enough bonus critical damage to put me over 20% and finish the fucker off.

The game does track damage beyond the 10 HP. I think it tracks 100 points, but I'm not certain. Bottom line is, you have a better chance of doing one extra damage to an enemy that's already hurt.

With that Md Tank gone things suddenly look MUCH better. Of course, losing his Md Tank and everything else besides his Artillery and mangled Recon gives Koal enough juice to use his SCOP. Not that he's gonna be able to do anything with it.

Black Hole Super CO Power

Flubbed a screen shot here; could have sworn I took a picture of the title screen for "Trail of Woe", but nope.

Yea, "good", that's how I'd rate this battle. It takes a couple more turns to kill Koal's Artillery as he runs it off into the desert with the bonus movement from his SCOP, but other than that the battle was over as soon as I killed that beast of a Md Tank.

How? How could I lose to a miserable band of misfits such as this?

Who you calling misfits, circus freak?

Oh, you must be that gung ho gorilla, Max, yes? I see... So Cosmo Land has sent reinforcements to join in the fun? Heh heh heh... This pleases me greatly. Perhaps you can entertain me after all.

Stop talking like that! It's creepy! How did you get here? Who are you?

I don't know why they think shouting at the enemy over a radio will get them to spill their secrets, but our friends here keep doing it.

My name is Koal. It is a name you would do well to remember, little girl.

Little girl?! My name is Rachel! And why are you so scared to tell me why you're here? Black Hole is responsible for turning Omega Land into a wasteland, isn't it?

Heh heh heh.. I'm not ready to spill that juicy secret just yet. You'll find out soon enough. This land will be as devoid of beauty as your face.


Heh heh... Farewell, fools!

Hey! He's gone!

That's a lot of sass from such a small man! You're the one who got owned!

That pasty-faced weirdo is not getting away with this!

Let's get out of here, Jake. The battle's over, but we're still in danger.

Yeah, yeah. I was just thinking the same thing...

You better watch your back, Koal!

I like to imagine that Max and Jake are busy doing important things and ignoring Rachel as she rants at Koal over a radio, despite Koal obviously being long gone.

An from Koal to Rachel, and I don't think it would surprise anyone if the whole "desertification" thing was Lash's fault. I'm starting like Black Hole.

How many herps can an Alkyderp derp if an Alkyderp herps derps? Yea, I fucked this one up...and yet still got an S rank. Guys, aren't you supposed to save the "perfect rank" for perfect scores?

Anything 280 or above is an S-rank! You only just made it.

This, however, only comes from your three main scores, not any bonus points you get from destroying certain things. Those only matter for leveling COs and getting points to buy stuff.

We...kinda have to Max. They take up nearly half of your portrait. Next time: We fight Lash again and learn all about boats!

it's in bold, okay?

AKA, the mission where no one's got relevant skills