The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

by Alkydere

Part 7: Lost in the woods

Lost in the woods

Last time we a mission that was all about naval units and introducing Colin's economy powers in the worst way possible: by stripping the economy out of the level. Today we're doing a level introducing Fog of War and Sasha's economy powers in the worst way possible: by stripping the economy out of the level. Hooray! Anyways, let's begin.

And, as an added bonus, the worst match-up for showing off Sasha's CO Power!

Battlefield visibility...poor. Situation...dangerous.

Adapt. Take advantage of these conditions and ambush the enemy. Tell me, Jugger, is the placement of the black crystal complete?

Crystal placement incomplete. Lash running late.

Probably because she was playing Bathtub Admiral, only with the ocean as the tub and real units for her toy boats.

I see. We must purchase time to make up for her tardiness. Return to base, Jugger, and see to its defenses.

Order understood. Jugger rolling out.

The allied forces are closing in on the heart of Black Hole's army. Is there truly a CO among them capable of achieving our downfall? Regardless, they must be extinguished before they grow too strong. If this black crystal gambit succeeds, these mere skirmishes will be meaningless. We will sweep across the continents and seize control of the entire planet. And yet we need time. We must not lose our cool.

Well, if this was a JRPG, that CO would be Jake who's simply destined to ruin all of Black Hole's plans. Also, I think that was the longest monologue any character has had so far.

It may not be an RPG, but this is a Japanese game. I can't say I'd be surprised if something that stupid happened.

I like this little monologue for being really dumb. "Man, we've been losing handily up until now. I wonder if they can actually beat us? Naaaah."

Commander Jake! We're detecting a large number of metal objects in the region! Analyzing data...Done! Sir, it's the Black Hole Army!

Yea, but how am I supposed to see anything through this Fog of War? This looks sketchy--the enemy's got to be out here planning an ambush.

It's a good thing we decided to investigate this Coastal route, isn't it? If we hadn't seen Black Hole here, we would've suffered a nasty surprise.

No doubt. Rachel and the others are quite a bit ahead of us, too. I gave them a call, but we'd better smoke these guys before they get too big.

I see what you're saying. And yet...

What's up?

It's this fog. To be honest, I don't deal with it particularly well.

Of course, Sasha deals with fog no better or worse than any other CO. Not counting the Fog or War CO whose entire gimmick is trivializing Fog of War maps.

No worries. I can rock this myself.

No! This is something I must overcome. Please, let me have the command.

Sure you're up to it? I don't want you to get owned.

I think I can manage if you don't give me advice, Jake. That is, unless you don't want to.

That first sentence? It shouldn't have 'don't' in it. I'm leaving this transcription error in because I think it's particularly funny. Little Freudian slip by Alkydere there.

It's really just an Alkyderp moment, but you're right, it really does read MUCH better that way.

No, it's cool. I'm down with the whole self-improvement thing. I'll just hang out and give you a hand if you need it.

Thanks, Jake. Let's go take care of business!

All right, time to ignore the game's tutorial and give my own!

All right, here's our map. If you've played a Fog of War map you already know what's going on here. You can only attack units you can see, and you can only see into Forest or Reef tiles (such as the one in the pond directly north of the Recon) if you're directly adjacent to them. THIS is the map type Recons exist for, otherwise they're only good for cheap lighting raids against enemy footsoldiers at the very beginning of the map.

Anyways, since we're forced to use her, here's Sasha's CO pages. Her passive power is to get a free 100 money from every city, so she has 10% more money to play with when building things. Like her brother, Sasha is a filthy, money grubbing communist.

Her COP is pretty much the definition of "A Dick Move", and like her brother Colin it only takes 2 stars to use. It's not outright as overpowered as some COPs, but damn if it isn't frustrating. Her War Bonds ability is nice, but really not worth a SCOP slot to be honest. Basically it gives her half the damage she inflicts (based off of the base price of the enemy unit) back as money. You know those "Skills" we saw forever ago but haven't unlocked any? One of those is basically a weaker power of this ability.

So her regular bullshit power completely invalidates one of the core mechanics of the game by shutting down other people's bullshit and her super bullshit power is basically a waste of time. You'd think they switch those around, but you know, IntSys, balance.

Naturally, the first map that you use Sasha on, her enemy is Koal. AKA, the Black Hole guy with the fastest-charging CO Power in the campaign, the better to make sure you don't know how to use her right. Like the last mission, this is a very weird choice. Jugger would be better, since his meter builds up slower and thus is more vulnerable to getting nerfed by Market Crash.

Sasha's Theme

And this is probably the most out-of-place tune in the game for me. It just doesn't mesh with anything else.

Infantry and Recons can move up onto mountains and get some additional sight as well, as shown here. As long as your infantry are on mountains they have the same vision range of 5 as Recons do. Moving our infantry up let us spot the enemy Artillery and APCs. Since you never know what is or isn't in an enemy APC they're always displayed as loaded.

Anyways, here's what we can see at the end of the first round. We know from the unit counter up top that the enemy does have 9 units, one of them a damaged Artillery. And I know from experience there's a lander hidden away in that Reef as well just to force the player to capture the HQ if they didn't know any better.

They are attacking? The arrogant fools haven't learned to respect their master. Even without a complete army, I accept their challenge. Class is now in session.

Artillery's gone due to it not knowing where my Rockets were to avoid them, and the enemy Recon is nearly dead. My Recon probably could have finished off the enemy one, but I'm not guaranteed a kill. Meanwhile, Koal's capturing my cities up north and...I really don't care.

Man, I love AW:DS fog of war maps for one simple reason: The AI isn't a big, fat cheater and has no clue where your units are if it can't see them. The enemy retreats further, but Koal's tank moves up, not realizing what's ahead, and therefore can't attack me when it realizes it just walked into my armor column.

HOW? How can IntSys possibly put out two games with the same exact mechanic and have one do FoW properly and the other cheat like a motherfucker? Even if we're really charitable and say that AW:DS was the first game that had the non-cheaty AI, that still means Radiant Dawn, Shadow Dragon, and even Path of Radiance (PoR was released April 2005 in Japan, AW:DS in June 2005) were all made alongside or after this and still cheated at FoW. Why is it so difficult to copy over whatever bits of AI they used here? INTSYSSSSSSS!

Okay I'm done ranting for now

Also worth noting is that the 'sweeping' trick I mentioned last map works just fine in Fog of War, with a special caveat: your unit burns fuel when you declare the move, not when you end it. So if you try three movements, you burn three times the fuel. If you were really dumb, or just wanted to try it out, you could run all your units out of fuel on turn 1. Think twice before declaring any moves in FoW.

The AI doesn't ever try to sweep like that.

End of Day 3, Koal's down one Tank, but his Recon managed to escape sadly. His COP is charged, but he's got no way to see our units.

Well, almost no way. He runs one of his infantry forward which lets him see my Recon and my AA. Luckily, the tank hits my AA which is relatively expendable, and not my oh so precious Recon.

Anyways, now he's down a tank and has a damaged Infantry. There's no real reason to heal my AA since to do so I'd have to run all the way back, so he's gonna be a disposable scout from now on. There's no real reason for me to capture cities right now as a) I can't build anything with my money and b) they really don't give much vision. Captured property only reveals the tile it's on, which means all you know is when Infantry is capturing it.

Koal brings his troops and his APC down to try to capture the two nearby properties and promptly loses his infantry. The forces display still shows Koal having 4 units, but we can see 3 of them and we know the fourth is the Lander hiding in the reef. We've got him now.

The minus sign on the enemy APC is the mark in FoW that basically means "we're not going to tell you if this unit is carrying anything or not". All enemy units that can load others are graced by this symbol.

Oh, and just to prove I wasn't kidding about Koal having an otherwise worthless Lander in the Reef, here it is.

It's his secret weapon, you see.

The first of many, many instances of "how did that even get there?"

Anyways, I destroy Koal's Artillery and Recon, leaving the HQ wide open for capturing them. I could go and destroy his Lander and APC, but I really don't care and that sounds like work.

Your LPer, ladies and gentlemen. Effort? Psh, we don't need any of that shit around here.

Victory is ours! And I didn't lose a single unit!

Brilliant! Mission accomplished!

Dude, Sasha! You dropped that fool!

It's all thanks to your good advice.

Nah, it's all you. You should be all, like, "Whassup now, Black Hole?!"

Hah! I'll be sure to say that next time. That will surprise them.

Please don't, Sasha... Please don't emulate ANYTHING Jake does.

So since they're not-Russia, that means they'll inevitably turn against us and we can have Sasha just kill Jake, right?

Hahaha, you wish.

Too bad that enemy CO peaced out. I wanna know what he was up to.

I get the feeling they were here to slow us down and buy some time.

So you think this was a diversion? Part of some totally evil master plan?

It's possible. Let's get going and join up with the main army.

Ah, a bit slow, but still S-rank territory. Anyways, the "Boss" level of Tutorial Land is up next, and again we have full access to our COs for it. About fucking time if you ask me. Also, Blackhole throws a new mechanic in our faces as a further "fuck you!"

This is the time when the game really, truly says "fuck you this game is a BSing contest, not a tactical simulator."